Systems and Freedom

Socialism initially was defined as government controlling the means of economic production. Capitalism is the opposite…completely. It is business controlling the means of government. Which is more problematic for freedom? And what is the alternative that will allow individuals, families, and communities to enjoy prosperity and freedom and to pursue happiness?

Socialism puts fetters on economic freedom. It also sets up a system within which centrally administered government or bureaucracy determines what is best for society at the expense of individual freedoms. Capitalism puts fetters on democracy as the economic playing field is altered to favor those with capital and the political playing field is altered to favor those with capital. Neither of these systems functions with the purpose of maintaining and promoting freedom. One wants to submit the desires and needs of the individual and family to that which is seen as a need by the “visionary” administrators. The other wants to submit the needs and desires of families and individuals to the market and reduces human value to what it can produce.
One idea is that freedom is obtained by a balance of at least the following seven entities in society:

  1. Government
  2. Business
  3. Media
  4. Churches
  5. Families
  6. Communities (townships)
  7. Education

There are likely other components of society which act in this balance (feel free to make suggestions). The point is that all these components of society need to be in balance and check each other. Our current system in the U.S. is a government/business partnership with media promoting both and essentially becoming a co-equal. Business and government are in bed together, not checking each other, creating big businesses that can skirt requirements set up for smaller businesses and creating big government that exists to protect big business (by military force if necessary). This sets up the capitalistic aristocracy that is expanding in the U.S. (look at the percentage of income that is neccesary to own a home today vs. 4 years ago and consider the cost of running for office, so high that it essentially eliminates the possibility of a non-independently wealthy person from winning national office). The media does very little to check the government (remember the blind eye that the media turned to all the reasons not to go to war in Iraq?) and is a business in itself, giving it no reason to check business.

However, if churches were to run society there would result likely a more despotic form (see the Taliban and many examples of Middle Ages Europe). If families run society, then a few families will have control and money at the expense of the rest of society.

The goal is a complete balance of these entities within society in order that each can fulfill its role.

So, how do we attain that balance? Currently government, business, and media seem to be above the other four (it probably depends where you live). How are these checks generated? It probably starts with educating ourselves and others about these different components of society and the goals that each has. Government wants power and authority (not necessarily the people, but the entity). Business wants to generate profit at the highest margin possible with the largest market share (creating needs as required to increase that margin and market share). Media: what is its goal? If it weren’t a business entity, it would be to publish, investigate, expose, report and opine. The goal of churches is to increases spirituality and righteous living under an assumed creed (we can see how if churches become a business, this changes the goal). Families are to raise the coming generating, teaching values and interpersonal interaction. Academia is to search for truth by questioning and experimenting and studying (again there is a danger of education becoming a business and losing its focus or becoming an arm of the state and therefore a promoter of governmental purposes). Community is to check the levels of government above it and to care for the local problems that fall under its guise (like providing for the poor and needy: when this doesn’t happen a higher level of government will step in).

What governmental and economic system will work to provide for the balance in society and preserve freedoms? Capitalism isn’t the answer. Neither is Socialism; nor is Communism. The above structure doesn’t really have a name and maybe it needs a catchy -ism in order to become accepted. However, it seems that once it has a name it will become hijacked and distorted. Maybe we should just call it freedom.

One Reply to “Systems and Freedom”

  1. Re: campaign finance reform.

    One argument from conservatives especially (but also from liberals) is that limiting campaign contributions is an infringement on free speech in violation of the First Amendment. I heard a solution this morning from Robert Reich which makes a lot of sense. The contributor can contribute as much as he/she/it wants…into a blind trust. That way the individual or group is able to speak freely with their financial support, but the politician is unable to know from whence the contribution came and thereby there is less likely to be undue influence exerted or favors expected. Interesting potential solution.

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