Whose Freedom?

The double standards by which western civilization (?) has achieved its success are, like many of its other contradictions, presently under assault.

The West’s definition of freedom has never been so glaringly revealed to mean whatever the deniers of freedom for others choose to call it for themselves. Confusing? That may be why we tolerate it, and perhaps when that tolerance becomes resistance, the world will become a better and more peaceful place.

The exercise of democratic freedoms seems quite clear to those who are supposed to have them. Even while complaining about voter fraud, stolen ballots and a threatened police state, we are mind managed into believing we have freedoms unknown to nations deemed lower than ours on the social evolutionary scale. And when it comes to consuming products in the marketplace – whether we need them or can afford them – there is no question that we in the West enjoy far more freedom than billions of people who live in political economic ghettos, outside the walls of the global shopping center.

But along with goods and services we consume a commercial fiction, sold to us as economic reality, and a diet of murderous lies, fed to us as political truth. This enables us to stumble through life so busy with mass consumption – and the medication, therapy and religion to make it palatable – that we hardly notice the world and the role we play in it, until it literally blows up in our faces.

When the 911 tragedy shocked the USA, it was a wake up call, but the propaganda machine worked to put the general population into a deeper state of confusion than is usually the case. Thus, we found ourselves in the incredibly bloody, stupid and deceitful war on terror, possibly surpassing the old cold war in its economic waste and political insanity.

We have been subjected to a distorted worldview, which convinced us that Afghanistan, then Iraq, and more lately Iran, threatened our freedom to shop. And that all these nations are led by demonic tyrants, depicted as fundamentalist psychopaths by our media politicians, who would fail any sanity test devised by official psychocratic authority. But aside from shortcomings of mental health in a West which labels everyplace else as mad, our morality and language problems loom as large, and as perilous.

Having failed to legitimize its lunatic story of weapons in Iraq as reason for the invasion and destruction of that relatively helpless nation, the regime invented a fable about spreading democracy. While most of the world laughed hysterically, many innocent Americans bought this tale. But when the opposition party and all the sanctioned centers of criticism went along with the program, the problem became far more critical and dangerous.

Especially so when the call for democratic elections led to some actual choice for people who previously had almost none, and they insisted on choosing other than those chosen for them by their alleged benefactors. Islamic fundamentalists won votes in many places, especially in Palestine, and the Empire – led by the USA and Israel – had an intellectual hemorrhage.

With the West’s hypocritical interpretation of freedom melting faster than the Greenland ice cap, it remains for the rest of the world to update a noble concept, born of often-ignoble people able to sit around and theorize its existence while slaves did their work. Freedom is being redefined, in places like Venezuela, Bolivia and Palestine. Whether deemed politically correct by the West or not, the voice of the majority is not only being heard, but translated into power. This has made the forces of racist, imperial domination apprehensive enough to threaten even more bloodshed than they have already caused.

The retaliatory power of the new voices of freedom may become nearly as violent as the old voices of its most hypocritical form, especially if the West’s provocation and suppression continues. But a more hopeful outcome may find the disease of violent crusader Christianity cured by the compassion and peace up to now only preached by that faith’s all too silent majorities. And violent Zionist zealots may finally be subdued with the material realization of a biblical sense of Jewish justice that has been more theoretical than practical, until now.

If progressive congregations within the dominant western religions cannot unite with their secular counterparts and bring about change that involves substantial, truly democratic freedoms, outside forces will have to intervene and prevail. The present situation, with the fire of apprehension and fear being stoked by propaganda and ignorance, could lead to more violence and worse destruction than ever.

A more hopeful outcome will depend on the Old World bringing its definition of rhetorical freedom into harmony with the new demand for freedom’s material substance. Discounting the majority winners of elections when they are deemed unacceptable by ruling minorities, and locking people in prison for daring to probe historic matters deemed beyond any questioning, are hardly the way to create freedom and a future of peace and justice among nations. Only western rhetoric strives for that goal, but it must be balanced by a material outcome, or a heavenly mythology will wind up creating a most hellish reality.

A morality is needed that doesn’t depend on military power for a definition of freedom, nor on the dualism that acts as foundation for the double standards that rationalize western truth. Another world is certainly possible, and growing masses of humanity have reason to hope for the best. But if they don’t unite and work for it, we can surely expect the worst. In the words of an old song, freedom will then become just another word for nothing left to lose.