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Imposed freedom

By Luc Loranhe (2006)

Imposed freedom has a long history.

During the age of enlightenment in Europe, civil liberties were, in many cases, not taken by those who later enjoyed them, but granted by rulers who were influenced by philosophers of enlightenment.

After World War II, constitutions were imposed on Germany and Japan which embedded a high degree of personal freedom.

On the other hand, there has been a definite trend over the past few decades for democratic political systems to curtail the personal freedom of those ruled.

The fault is with democracy itself. Voters, once they have gained self-confidence, are always more likely to express negative, rather than positive sentiments in elections.

A better society, and more freedom, will not be achieved anytime soon by giving a majority of people with limited intellectual capacities ever more power over the political fate of a country.

A non-democratic political system may not be a guarantee for a better society, or more freedom. But that an intellectual avant-garde forces a better society, and imposes freedom, simply by taking power is a much more distinct possibility than a better society resulting from implementing ever more democracy.

If the intellectual avant-garde takes political power only for a limited period of time, then its legacy should be a constitution that strongly limits the power of subsequent parliaments and governments to curtail the freedom of those ruled.

However, we have to realize that a constitution that was appropriate for the 18th century may not be appropriate for the 21st. There was no mass media with a wide reach in the 18th century, and for that reason, there were few problems associated with freedom of expression.

For the benefit of social harmony, which is a prerequisite for a society in which people can enjoy a high degree of personal freedom in safety, a government formed by an intellectual avant-garde in the 21st century will have to control the mass media. An uncontrolled mass media makes it just too easy for religious lunatics, populists targeting minorities, and cheap-trick demagogues to advocate the reversal of liberties which are beneficial to those ruled in a society.

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Copyright Luc Loranhe