Turning a negative into a positive

Posted: June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’d like to blog a little about the concepts of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ liberties, and how they are still shaping our political landscape. Isaiah Berlin defined ‘negative liberty’ as the freedom from oppression or exploitation from external forces, while ‘positive liberty’ represented the mastery of one’s destiny, through lack of external interference.

It’s not difficult to decode the transparent agenda of Neoliberalism through this dichotomy. I would hope that most right-minded people would define progress in terms of civilisation as ensuring every citizen is guaranteed full ‘negative liberty’, in terms of having access to all the basics for survival, and trading their labour, skills or knowledge for a fair price that allows them to live without fear of destitution. This should include the disabled, children and the elderly, as well as all able-bodied workers.

Neoliberalism’s defining aspects are minimal taxation and minimal regulation. In this way, one can see how its overriding purpose, from a philosophical perspective, is to champion ‘positive liberty’ above all else. That seems like a worthy cause. Until we contextualise a little.

Of course, Neoliberalism does not so much desire ‘positive liberty’, i.e. the opportunity to realise full potential, for every individual: rather it demands ‘positive liberty’ for corporate bodies and market forces.

The other factor to take into account for the two ‘liberties’ is that they do not operate independently. After all, one person’s ‘positive liberty’ being realised, say by selling their house for a bumper price, could well impinge on another person’s ‘negative liberty’, say by turfing them out of said home with minimal notice. A bank’s mergers through lack of antitrust regulation, followed by reckless property speculation and lending through lack of financial conduct regulation, could even crash the global economy, impinging on millions’ positive and negative liberties long into the future.

It saddens me to see the media propaganda infiltrating, as average people seem to view others in dire straits as undeserving of even their ‘negative liberty’, whilst also being blind to the effects on their children’s ‘positive liberty’ by our corrupt plutarchy’s cronyism in years to come.

‘Positive liberty’ need not be a pejorative idea, but we should crave ‘negative liberty’ for all first, and rebuild our society from these solid foundations. When all share ‘negative liberty’, ‘positive liberty’ can be chased by all, though we must demand ‘positive liberty’ for all individuals, not organisations, who, in essence, are merely concentrations of power ever ready to crush others’ ‘negative liberty’ in their slavish pursuit of lucre.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s