Do you prefer Negative or Positive Freedom?

During the degree there was a chapter dealing with the issue of Negative and Positive Freedom and which would we rather live by? Isiah Berlin actively encouraged the idea of Negative Freedom as the true concept of freedom but can we live by our wits and desires?

Negative freedom is the minimum impact from others and all decisions made are for the benefit of you, and not for the benefit of the society we live in. That would mean that you can choose how, when and what and with little interference from the state. Is that true democracy? Or is that the start of anarchy and where law and order disintegrates?

Positive freedom is the ability to achieve your ambitions, self mastery over irrational thoughts and desires and having the government promote the common good. This is where we live together as a society and where we act within the law and were we actively take part in elections, whilst allowing the government to act on our behalf , but the positive freedom of elections is left to our negative freedom decision…do or do we not take part?

Now I am a mixture of both….as Berlin criticised positive freedom as government tyranny trying to influence others and forcing individuals to behave in certain ways and against their choice…..but is this really true or is it individuals growing together continually and evolving as a society?

For Berlin it is the individual who should have the negative freedom and not the society but surely as an individual you have to act within the society, otherwise you are working against society and if enough do that, then society would cease to exist, and the majority do not want to live in such a lawless setting.

As stated I am a mixture of both because whilst I appreciate the positive freedom of being enabled to achieve my goals and that society (the government) will ensure my needs are met…for example access to education, health, the benefit system and social housing….would we prefer a negative freedom on some of those aspects?

For instance do we not all want the best schools for our children? I know that when my grandson was given the school by the local council that was not acceptable I wrote a letter of redress and his parents attended a meeting, and they subsequently got the school we all preferred. The health system….do we not have the choice to change GPs when we don’t feel happy with them and take the decision in our own hands, rather than waiting for it to be decided.

We could all take the government offer of social housing yet the majority of us have rejected this positive freedom and purchased our own homes and where we make the decisions that best suit us without the interference of the council on how we decorate, what we can add or remove……

This negative and positive freedom was the most fascinating of subjects to me as the rebel in me would shout negative freedom from the roof tops and go off to the lovely desert island with sun, sea, sand and an endless supply of goodies…but the indoctrinated me prefers to have that fall back safety net that is provided by living in a society.

Which freedom would you prefer?

Published by pointsofsue

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