It’s close literal relative is the word, liberty (Merriam-Webster) …
The term freedom blends in with liberty in political and social philosophy in the sense that freedom or liberty is a state of being not coerced or constrained by another or a government, which is essentially considered to be negative freedom where it is freedom from something. Instead of bouncing back and forth between the words freedom and liberty, I will just use liberty in this essay.
Coercion used in this context includes the direct forms of command and prohibition through sanctions or superior power, as well as several indirect forms such as molding (like government controlled schools) and manipulation (like government and media controlled by political power), which determine or affect the alternatives available to the populace.
If one looks up liberalism in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is not recognizable in terms of the economical meaning it has today, but does refer that a political liberalism “considers government as a crucial instrument”, especially in social engineering …
…[b] a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard; [c] a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; …such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequalities as in race, gender, or class.
Republicanism, once again at Merriam-Webster dictionary …
Of course the political party named after that form of political philosophy has certainly not upheld its traditional, historical or ethical platform they pretend or choose to ignore, in so far as the political establishment elite who are the focal point of power within that political entity.
The idea of republicanism is an old concept established in ancient period of history which are neo-Roman with roots from great philosophical literature of Cicero in ancient Rome and Niccolo Machiavelli of the medieval period in history.
Classical liberalism has disappeared just as the enforcement of constitutional law is in the progress of doing. Those that call themselves “liberal” in the political view, believe that they are committed to liberties, specifically freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and economic freedom. If so, they are deluding themselves by choosing to back a political entity or political individual that belongs to either the Democratic Party or the Democratic-Socialist progressive movement. It is opposite of what liberalism, in classical inception, represents and was meant to be. The liberal today consider themselves progressive and delude themselves into thinking they are for democracy without understanding how democracy evolves into something else.
American founders, like Jefferson and Madison are considered to be the ground breakers for the foundation of the constitutional republic of the United States, but in addition hold to classical liberalism that believed an ideal government was a limited government and liberty of individuals required freedom of choice – the individual chooses between alternative decisions without coercion, manipulation, or political mandate.
The Founders knew about democracy and how the ancient Greeks implemented it and how it failed to preserve liberties, while the Roman republic also failed because there was not any method of checking established power, which later centralized into an emperor and a senate body that was only a symbol of the people (plebian) who were clearly not represented in reality.
Knowing this, they ignored democracy and developed a republic that depended upon written law and codes, as well as clearly defining the limitations of government. Instead, the United States has chosen the path that led from republic to democracy to democratic-socialism and now slipping toward a welfare state based upon socialist philosophy and economic philosophy that believes or would have the citizens believe, that government (those elite that govern) has the answer for everything, falsely promising safety, freedom from want, and using emotions like fear to convince the populace. In addition, during this process they take over the educational system so as to dictate what will be taught and discussion is not possible if anyone disagrees with the policies and ideology of the political majority and government.
Freedom of choice or free will, is also a philosophical term, also comes with a price – taking responsibility for the outcome of those choices. Today’s liberals, liberal-progressives, cannot cope with the responsibility of the outcome when it is negative; and thus, chooses to replace free will with a false sense of security that requires no responsibility. Literally putting the blame on something or someone else.
The basic rule of thumb concerning liberty is fairly wide open with only a taboo against preventing another person’s or persons’ liberty from being coerced. The citizen who has been molded and manipulated (and allowed others to do so) believes he wants what the leadership wants, and because human nature makes us balking when it comes to admitting they were incorrect or made the wrong choice in leadership.
In the United States there is considerable diversity of customs, ethnic codes, traditions, and pursuits; basically what comprises the meaning of life itself.
The media and those discussing political philosophy have coined the words “left”, “right”, and recently “moderate”, the latter being political fence riders.
Unlike the individualism of the republic, democracy concerns collective decision making, which may work at a local meeting group but cannot be implemented without progressing towards socialism when it comes to government. The Founders knew about democracy and its evolving capacity to provide a government ruled by a select mob, despite the concept of individual voting of candidates for elections. Indeed, today, the Supreme Court is more concerned with the collective social ideology rather than its purpose to uphold and interpret the US Constitution into everyday lives and decisions concerning cases brought before it. Justices have also adopted choice selections from foreign and international laws which provide a basis for their decision making. In effect, democracy is supposed to present an atmosphere where many people are part of the process of decision making, but in reality it is the selected few who operate the government that makes those decisions. In addition, mob rule or collective philosophical actions would be oppressive to a minority because the majority in democratic decision making would null out its individual liberty. The end result is everyone must follow a certain program for the betterment of all, whether it applies to the individuals or not. This sounds strange when considering that the American political liberals are constantly declaring their concern for the minority. The solution is clear when all individuals, under the principles of civil rights, have the same liberty (liberties) individually as long as those rights and liberties do not transgress another citizen’s rights.
Arguments that do not favor democracy go back to Plato in his fourth book of the Republic. He argued that democracy is inferior to monarchy, aristocracy, and oligarchy in its various forms. He stated that those who become experts at winning elections will dominate democratic politics.
Hobbes, 1651, chap. XIX) argued that democracy was inferior to monarchy because it destabilizes politics. He stated that the average citizen did not possess the talent or education in order to address difficult political issues. Yet, he agreed that collective decision making created the best possible solutions to issues.
However, Hobbes’ ideas on laws of nature were considered in the American political philosophy and the framing of the US Constitution. Jefferson and other founders made it clear that the American republic could not last unless the people were educated and learned constitutional law in order to make responsible decisions when voting for political candidates for public office. Jefferson was also against a democracy, and if you notice that word is not used in the Declaration of Independence nor found in the Constitution and its amendments; and when it is mentioned, it is done so negatively, along with John Adams and other founders, because they knew how it would evolve.
The constitutional republic which the founders had established was unique in that it ruled by law, not that laws were not made by other governments, and those laws were established in the concept of individual liberty with justice for all, not just a given element of society or those governing being under a separate system of laws. Democracy, being a collective, effectively mob rule, invariably evolves into a concept of a delusional utopia where decisions individuals should make is made at the government level and some must give something up for the betterment of others. That concept mistakenly states that it is the ultimate form of equality, but in reality it is not, for the ruling class becomes the selected few in society that comes out the better in terms of economical issues, et cetera. In any system, society itself, the laws of nature dictate that there will always be some form of inequality, usually the result of individual choice where the choice received a negative outcome. If a person does not obtain the required education and willpower to be successful, should those who are successful have to pick up their slack? That discussion goes beyond philosophy of society into political philosophy and the concept of maintaining a successful civilization.
The rule of law is based on the articles of the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, especially the first twelve, which the latter reaffirms in writing liberties like speech, public disagreement of government, religion, personal and property defense, property rights, et cetera. Amendments created later dissolved slavery, which does not belong in any free state, right to vote, and civil rights that have since been corrupted. The rule of law is firm and those entrusted to operate our government are required to enforce those laws with the articles of the Constitution as its foundation and the check-and-balance system was designed so those governing in the three branches can provide oversight against ethical and unlawful acts – especially transgressions against constitutional law.
Today, we constantly blame politicians who no longer act like statesmen (and stateswomen), more loyal to political party lines and special interest groups rather than reasons why they were elected. However, when looking outside the box, the primary blame falls upon voters who do so without responsibility, using emotion, coerced and manipulated information via the media and political organizations. Today, citizens have the wrong conception of just what are their rights, too many not knowing exactly what is in the Constitution – thinking, for example, that government (and society) can afford or should provide them with funds without working and have developed an attitude that they should not bother to find work because they are getting “free” checks and other benefits.
Therefore, in order to see true reformation of our government, we must first reform ourselves and become the self-sufficient pioneers that built this nation, and only use available government programs when necessary. This will be a great task for this degradation of our constitution and republic has taken decades, so we must begin with legislators to sift through the laws and rescind, repeal or amend legislation that has caused the increasing economic ruin and society will be tasked to return to tried-and-proven values that makes and maintains a successful civilization – a nation we once were. First priorities: put education institutions back into the hands of state government and parent-teacher associations, repeal 16th Amendment and replace with Fair Tax Act, audit and dissolve Federal Reserve conglomerate, and limit terms (with no “retirement” benefits other than social security) for congressional members just as the president of the United States.
The Idea of Freedom, Mortimer Adler, NY, 1958
Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin, Oxford, 1958
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [online]
On Liberty, J.S. Mill, London, 1859
The Constitution of Liberty, F.A. Hayek, London, 1960
The Federalist or New Constitution 1787-1788, Norwalk, Connecticut, Eaton Press, 1979
Debate on the Constitution (Vol. 1 & 2), Library of America, NY, 1993