To be free is to be political. For we cannot escape the very power constraints which form us, but only transmute them according to our intent.
Unfortunately, we have been made to believe that freedom is something we are born with and need only to protect either by begging to our governments, or merely being aloof and apolitical — isolated from the world which sustains us.
We live in an age where freedom instantly evokes images of outrage and placards.
Incidentally, we also live in an age where states around the world are brazenly constructing precise machineries of surveillance and control — and we aren’t doing shit about them.
Freedom and rebellion have always been twins. It was the French Revolution which resulted in the Human Rights Charter in which Liberty became the inherent, inalienable right of every person.
Using this humanist doctrine all the European colonies kicked out their oppressors – – Gandhi being an emblematic figure of this kind modern rebellion.
This non-violent form of protest, with marches, sloganeering and placard-waving was soon picked up by civil societies around the world.
Although quite effective in the 20th century we see these kinds of protests fizzling out with no results in the 21st century. The Governments now know that a march, or a strike here and there barely dents their international power network.
The Occupy Wall Street, the Gender Equality protest in India, the so called Arab Spring – – all they could achieve was media hype, but none of their practical goals.
It is time we wake up and face reality:
If our Right to Freedom has to be granted by someone else, then that is no freedom at all. Liberty then is a slave to the whims and strategies of the government which rules us.
What the heck are we demanding out on the streets, in front of our parliaments? How is it freedom if it can be ‘granted’ by someone else?
The very idea of freedom as it exists in the current form is delusional.
Freedom is envisaged as this independence from the world which allows an individual to do what she desires.
This is simply a impossible. No one can be independent from the world simply because we are and always will be a part of it. Our food is grown by someone else. Our clothes are created by numerous unknown people. Our houses are constructed by others. We are bound by the laws of physics. Our bodies are made out of the food we eat, the air we breath.
Where the heck is any possibility of in-dependence? We can never be separate from the world. We can never be isolated, self-sustaining units, floating in the universe, powered merely by our free will.
Freedom is not a right. Freedom is an ability. It is a skill. It is a technique to interact, negotiate and mold our surroundings according to our intent.
Freedom is always an active, political act. It is the sum total of our abilities which form us and our environment in a cyclical way. It necessarily has to be a way not only to do what you desire, but to protect yourself, act against forces which intend to annihilate you.
Thus, our freedom, quite simply means acting according to political intent.
It is a fact that we are born into a network of relationships with our fellow beings and our environment.
It is a fact that we form our identities only in these constraints. I am whatever I am because I am no other person and I am also not a rock or a tree.
It is also a fact that these relationships are relationships of power.
Our parents are the dominant forces who decide our initial fate. We live because our immune systems constantly win every war against the pathogens always besieging us. We either mold nature to make it work like we want it to or nature shatters our illusions by sending disasters once in a while.
Thus to be free is necessarily to be political. The trend, especially in this generation, to be fashionably apolitical is something which is destroying our collective freedom.
In our relationship with the world we are either politically victorious or politically oppressed. Being apolitical simply means to be a passive recipient of other people’s politics.
Power has been usually seen as something dirty which intends to annihilate freedom. But it is only through power that freedom can be exercised in the first place. Power is not only domination but it can also be a positive force which results in growth, happiness and productivity.
Power is the medium of our being.
More importantly, it is the only way, in our current situation, that we can ever escape from universal, flawless dictatorship.
Rather than acting as if we already have the ‘Right’ to freedom, we should consider freedom as intent combined with the potential to act on them. Something which is both inherent in us and yet has to be learned and perfected like language, logic or art.
Freedom then is not some Right, but a life skill which has to be practiced, exercised, honed and implemented by all of us.