Freedom (political)

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For other uses, see Freedom (disambiguation).

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Political freedom is the right, or the capacity, of self-determination as an expression of the individual will.


[edit] Types of political freedom

The concept of political freedom is closely allied with the concepts of civil liberties and human rights. Most democratic societies are characterised by various freedoms which are afforded the legal protection of the state. Some of these freedoms include (in alphabetical order):

The constitutions of many nations specifically codify some of these freedoms in a bill of rights.

[edit] Different views on political freedom

Various groups along the political spectrum naturally differ on what they believe constitutes "true" political freedom. Friedrich Hayek famously noted that "liberty" and "freedom" have probably been the most abused words in recent history.

In libertarianism, freedom is defined in terms of lack of government interference in the individual pursuit of happiness, as long as others' freedom is not thereby harmed; for example, capitalists place a high value on freedom from government interference in the economy. Libertarians call for freedom from governmental coercion on both social and economic levels.

On the other hand, those on the political left place more emphasis on freedom as the ability of the individual to realize one's own potential and pursue happiness. Freedom in this sense may include freedom from want, poverty, deprivation, or oppression.

Many anarchists with the exception of individualist anarchists, anarcho-capitalists, and particularly anarchists that don't qualify their type of anarchism see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom. Anarchists that recognize the concepts of negative and positive liberty tend to be left-leaning anarchists such as communist anarchists.

Some treat freedom as if it were almost synomymous with democracy, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts.

Environmentalists often argue that political freedoms should include some social constraint on use of ecosystems. They maintain there is no such thing, for instance, as "freedom to pollute" or "freedom to deforest" given the downstream consequences. The popularity of SUVs, golf, and urban sprawl has been used as evidence that some ideas of freedom and ecological conservation can clash. This leads at times to serious confrontations and clashes of values reflected in advertising campaigns, e.g. that of PETA regarding fur.

There have been numerous philosophical debates over the nature of freedom, the claimed differences between various types of freedom, and the extent to which freedom is desirable. Determinists argue that all human actions are pre-determined and thus freedom is an illusion. Isaiah Berlin saw a distinction between negative liberty and positive liberty.

In jurisprudence, freedom is the right to autonomously determine one's own actions; generally it is granted in those fields in which the subject has no obligations to fulfill or laws to obey, according to the interpretation that the hypothetical natural unlimited freedom is limited by the law for some matters.

[edit] Recent trends in political freedom around the world

In modern times the expansion of "freedom" around the world is considered by some to be synonymous with increased participation in democratic political systems.

During the 20th century overall, there was a dramatic growth in democracy, especially among the more developed countries, and decline in autocracy and colonialism [citation needed]. However, there was also an increase in various types of authoritarian regimes, and currently 33 to 40% percent of people in less developed countries live in countries subject to some kind of authoritarian rule which lacks political freedoms[citation needed].

[edit] Quotes about political freedom

(see also Quotes about Freedom)

  • "Eλευθερια ή θανατος" (Freedom or Death!)
    —Greek War cry during their war of independence.
  • "Give me Liberty or give me Death!"
    Patrick Henry
  • "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • "Sloboda ili Smrt"
    —Former Yugoslavic Republic Of Macedonian national motto

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

de:Freiheit el:Ελευθερια fr:liberté no:Frihet sv:Frihet zh:自由 (政治)

Freedom (political)

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