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'Land of the Free...' Really?


#1

'Land of the Free...' Really?

Frances Moore Lappé

The following is drawn from the newly published book, World Hunger: 10 Myths, co-authored by Joseph Collins.


#2

When I encounter Americans who bang on about how free they are (the freest in the world apparently) I always ask, if you're so free how come so many of you choose to use that freedom to work long hours in boring, low paid jobs you hate, (often even several of them) with only a paltry two weeks holiday a year? (Often for bosses they dislike.) If one was really free they wouldn't do that with their precious time here on earth, surely.


#3

Exactly. Freedom cannot be said to exist under the capitalist system's relations of production and its private ownership of land and capital - for all the reasons Ms. Lappé discussed in this excellent article.

My only quibble with it was that she (probably deliberately to make the article more "palatable") ignored the elephant in the room called "capitalism".


#5

Pretty good article. I might add though that those who have millions and billions are often not free as well. All they do is chase money at all times. All those people at the NY stock exchange, yelling, screaming, watching the board are not really free in my mind.

On the other spectrum the author is right. A person who is unemployed with minimum income has all the free time in the world but cannot do much with that freedom for lack of money. Sometimes it takes money to even find a job. Talents cannot be realized without any funds, especially if people are hungry.

Political freedom no longer exists in America as well.


#6

Another insistence based on the false witness of patriarchy's dominator society... as if it speaks for all humans or "human nature."

"Humans are mostly agents of degradation toward the amazing environment which made humans possible and

"freedom" - as defined in this article - seems to be too much to ask of the human nature which is

clearly marked by a desperation which is so clearly linked to domination and is

distinctly opposed to democracy, no matter what words we use to try to believe otherwise."

What White Males did unto others is no indication of those done unto.


#8

Freedom is an interesting foundation subject we rarely talk about specifically. Possibly because a large part of the average working day happens inside the walls of corporatism, where there is no freedom.

Food producing land has has also mostly been corporatized in the US and much of Europe. Oligarchs own the land and use semi-slave migrant labor, huge machines and poisons to raise food. People who depend on jobs supplied by oligarchs remain docile inside their own country and militarily violent outside their country because they are taught that upperclass betters give them work.

The needs of the upperclass gradually become so great that poverty becomes the norm for most. At that point the upperclass becomes vulnerable and depends upon police violence to maintain order. This has happened in every military dictatorship in all history and is happening today throughout all of north America and Europe.

US citizens have killed nearly a million completely innocent Iraqi citizens since 9/11. No sane nation made up of free citizens can murder a million people in cold blood like the US has done. Therefore, either everyone in the US is crazy or US citizens only think they are free.


#9

True freedom is participation in political power of the U.S. Government for all people; especially in terms of the Amerikan empire's foreign policies.


#10

When right-wingers speak the word freedom what they really mean is license, a modern law of the jungle where the strong prey on the weak. They want unregulated predation (freedom). The United States, through its major political parties, is now an anti-Christian country in full swing, where wealth alone indicates moral superiority. The accumulation of wealth and power, at the expense of every living thing on this planet, is now the highest ideal of the land. We have become divided into a small class of predators holding sway over a vast sea of prey, with the twist that somehow the prey have been convinced (through control by the wolves of all major information outlets and political parties) to empower the very wolves that devour them. As excellently discussed by Tom Engelhardt, the American public has been thoroughly demobilized by the powerful forces that control nearly all the wealth in the world. If the political revolution called for by Sanders fails to mobilize, and the US becomes even more of a world-raping entity, I despair for the future of our country and our planet.


#11

Then we are f*ckd. Not even the president of the US is free by this measure. JFK took preliminary steps to end the cold war and look how he ended up (google JFK and the unspeakable).


#12

Thank you. I like your term "unregulated predation" as an identifier of what the elite means when they extol freedom as a concept. This is in direct contrast with the "participation in power" interpretation of freedom (mentioned although not sufficiently developed in the article), which according to Ralph Nader was proposed by the Roman philosopher Cicero. As somebody already mentioned, with capitalism power becomes polarized and there goes your freedom (power can also be polarized under other totalitarian systems, of course). Thus, capitalism and freedom are incompatible. But there's a catch: capitalism is good at distraction, therefore many people don't realize their freedom is being curtailed. As a result, they are "free" in the sense aptly characterized by Robert Frost "you have freedom when you are easy in your harness".


#13

"As a result, they are "free" in the sense aptly characterized by Robert Frost "you have freedom when you are easy in your harness"."

Most people in the USA are "in harness" 40-plus hours each week throughout our adult lives, at what we call "work," being "employed" by an "employer" and "managed" by "human resources management." What we call "school" is designed to train us to this status, yet for almost all, at some point, the harness chafes...


#14

Kakistocrat:

"When right-wingers speak the word freedom what they really mean is license, a modern law of the jungle where the strong prey on the weak. They want unregulated predation (freedom)."

Well put! Couldn't agree more! Freedom is routinely confused with license in our rapacious, winner-take-all society. As one of my old English teachers used to say, "Freedom is exercised within bounds." There is no such thing as wanton freedom. To quote Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, license "may connote an abuse of freedom (freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license)."


#15

"Not even the President of the US is free by this measure."

True, because the POTUS is nothing but a political stooge for the US military dictatorship to support the MIC and the Amerikan Empire's world wide hegemony and hubris. That message was sent loud and clear to all future Presidents since the assassination of JFK!


#17

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#18

Perfectly stated-thanks.


#19

Exactly. Capitalism, by its inherent design, is exploitative of all (human and natural) resources.

I am very disappointed with most authors when they talk about income inequality. They are very good about pointing out that the average corporate CEO makes 354 times more income than the average (unskilled) worker. However, very few address the two remedies to eliminate this huge, grotesque disparity in income:

  1. Increase the average income of the average worker, and
  2. Implement a federal maximum income.

Many authors and economists readily jump on the band wagon of increasing the income of average workers ... especially since most unskilled workers only earn minimum wage or slightly over.

Rarely will you come across anyone who is willing to stand up to the ruling class (oligarchy) and advocate for a maximum annual income.

Let's look at two different methods in determining maximum income:

Method #1 - Based on Average Income of Unskilled Workers
A recent study involving 40 countries indicated that the ideal income gap between CEOs and and average unskilled worker is 7:1. In other words, a CEO would not earn more than 7 times the amount his/her average unskilled worker earned.

Method #2 - Indexed to the Federal Minimum Wage
The Socialist Party - USA calls for a maximum income in an amount of no more than 10 times the federal minimum wage. The numbers work out as follows:

Current Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25/Hour (2015)
Minimum Annual Wage: $15,080 (40 Hours per Week for 52 Weeks)
Maximum Annual Income: $150,800

Proposed $15/Hour Minimum Wage (Greens, SPUSA, Sanders)
Minimum Annual Wage: $31,200 (40 Hours per Week for 52 Weeks)
Maximum Annual Income: $312,000

The CEOs and other one-percenters can only earn more income when the incomes of those at the bottom are increased. (Common sense dictates that the incomes of those in the middle will increase as well. Otherwise, the CEO would have anarchy.)