I keep coming back to the notion of freedom of late. Its quite a big topic, personal freedom, a nations freedom, freedom of speech, free markets, free economy, free west, free expression. A line from a song keeps going around and around my head, ' Your freedom just ain't free'.I can't find out who it was that said 'your freedom is never free'.
there is different ways that this can be interpreted, our current freedom was paid for by the blood of our forefathers in wars against fascist, nazi's etc, women's freedom to vote paid for by suffragettes, there has always been oppressors and always freedom fighters. Looking into the history of the notion of freedom, it seems to be very much on the lips of the american forefathers, massively important during the civil war, then later on cited as the primary reason to invade other oil rich countries and take away their freedom.
We are consistently told how free we are in the west, how lucky we are, how superior we are to other countries in the freedoms we enjoy. I'm not so convinced our freedom is free.
Can i say what i want when i want? Can i paint what i want, eat what i want, live where i want, work at what i want, study what i want, express my feelings? As long as we conform, don't speak out, don't rock the boat, buy at tescos, watch TV, wear high street fashions, wear a size 8 - 12, paint a celebrity flavoured smile on, aspire to be like the rich people and don't make a fuss. Yes we're pretty free. Of course given the civil liberties in some countries we are much better off, most of us have healthcare, education, power, roads, sewage systems, water and some sort of housing. This is provided, go out & try to produce it yourself, go off grid, and see how long you stay free, before health and safety, environmental health, planning social service, public order acts etc kick in. No, we are free to consume but not to produce or be self reliant.
Other countries look to us and think we are oppressed, we look at them & think they are oppressed. We are all toeing the line we are told to, all sold a false notion of how much better off we are than 'them'. When i visited Russia, I was astounded and enraged to find how free i felt there, how for the first time in my life it was okay to be me, it was acceptable. We've been spoon-fed so long we don't even see how sheep like we have become in the UK. Unless of course you are rich, then eccentricities can be bought. The rest of us have to shut up, watch our backs, blend in with the crowd, heads down, grey and banal, unless we want to be picked on by peers, bullied, harassed, victimised, blamed, vilified, ostracised, driven out and put down. It's clever stuff, we don't need the state to oppress us when we've been trained to turn on each other so much, minority groups and freaks picked out, categorised, branded and labelled by the tabloids and marketing men, exploiting the human need to hate 'others' the different ones, the 'not us'. Aye we're free, just be free quietly, and do what you are told okay?
Freedom can be a lonely and rocky path.