Freedom vs Equality

“A society that puts equality…ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.”

– Martin Freeman

I think Freeman is only half right; I think putting freedom ahead of equality is just as bad, that the result would be the same.

When I think of a word my mind often plays “free association”, where another word with some connection to the first word just pops into my head. Today I thought, “freedom”, and the word I associated it with was “slavery”.

Slavery connotes inequality. A bad thing, right? And freedom from slavery connotes equality. A good thing, right? Thus, the more free the more equal, and the more equal the more free, right?

Not so. Freedom implies the right to be different, whereas equality denies that right.

Yet we Americans demand both: the right to be equal and the right to be different, and both “rights” are individually reflected in our political system – ultra-conservatives insist on the primacy of individual freedoms and radical-liberals on societal equality.

But an insistance on equality isn’t realistic because of the inherent differences in people, and individual freedoms are sacrificed in the name of unity.

And an insistance on unrestricted individual rights isn’t realistic because it results in a lack of unity, and equal rights are sacrificed in the name of freedom.

Yet we argue about which direction is better, individual rights versus social equality, and in our elections over the last eight years we have not found a middle ground, no compromise. 

I had hoped that this election year we might inject some sanity. But it doesn’t look like it.

Looks like we’ll continue in slavery.

To our collective schizophrenia.

– Bill


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