Freedom is more than another word for nothing left to losePicking up random threads from Blu's post yesterday.
"Half of Europe now has ‘freedom’, where it didn’t have ‘freedom’ before. So why has such a momentous change made seemingly very little difference to the way in which globalisation functions?"
There is so much i want to say about 'freedom' and related issues. First i guess i must point out that i don't hate freedom - i'm not a fascist, a communist or a religious fundementalist. I'm an anarchist. That entails a desire for real freedom. I will post more on the technicalities of anarchism soon, i promise. Right now, Blu has started a story that i feel inclined to add to.
Anarchists, although we are not a homogenous bunch in many regards, do tend to be united in wishing to see an end to the state, to authority and heirarchy. Being governed, therefore, does not constitute freedom. This is not, however, a popular view.
'Freedom' has been fetishised for the whole of living memory and beyond. Freedom was what the Nazis, Fascists and Soviet Communists aimed to destroy, in opposing them therefore freedom was that valuable thing that everyone has clung to. No way am i going to disagree with this so far. My issue comes when 'freedom' becomes linked with one particular context - the Western world, electoral democracy, capitalism. Capitalism is a hackneyed hate figure, but in this context i believe i am right to use it, as it is one of the more harmful manifestations of 'freedom' as the expression is misused today. (y'know, my issue with totalitarians has never been that they aren't keen on McDonalds or whatever - not since puberty at any rate. The confusions of a Cold War childhood are something me and Blu have in common, although being that bit younger mine are sometimes more base) Freedom to drive a gas-guzzler, freedom to kill yourself with fast food, to buy cheap clothes made in sweatshops, to listen to the latest manufactured pop music - freedom to obsess over appearances, images, illusions. This is freedom as our leaders would have it, and anyone who opposes it - however non-violent they are, however opposed to mass murder by anyone - is a terrorist.
This isn't freedom. It's an illusion. Ok, i'll come clean here and admit that Blu's post is not the only inspiration behind this one, although it was a big kick up the arse. My fledgling research has led me into the realm of 'culture jamming', as practiced by Adbusters and a whole lot of activists including plenty in my local area. Culture jamming, just to show my geekiness on the subject, has in its theoretical ancestry the idea of Detournement. It is the idea of taking a cultural artefact - most commonly an advert, these days - and altering its meaning. In doing this, you can often show important truths that lie behind the facade: possibly the most important of which is the knowledge that such a facade exists. This is what makes culture jamming such a useful tactic for today's activists. (for once, the fact of having become trendy hasn't diminished its usefulness - i will rant here about trendiness/appropriation one day, if Blu doesn't mind) It is a way to show people, through a medium they recognise, that all is not rosy in the garden. And once we recognise the illusion and look behind it, we are that bit freer.