Fifteen Definitions of Freedom from #OccupyWallStreet


Occupy Wall Street, Sunday, October 2nd, 2011, New York City.

If you want to know what someone is thinking, ask them.  And nothing quite cuts to the political chase more than asking someone what the word “freedom” means to them.

I decided to ask 15 random people at Occupy Wall Street in New York what the word “freedom” means to them.  Here are their answers:

One: “Freedom is bound up with the idea of possibilities.  The idea of limitless possibilities is the ideal of limitless freedom.  The idea that anything is potentially possible, that’s what freedom means.  And historically there have been very few people that have been allowed to have the kinds of possibilities that would allow them to be free.  Society has progressed more and more people have been allowed to be free.  But we still live in a state of unfreedom.  Society does not live for its own sake, autonomously.  It is still bound to something external to itself that structures it.  The goal of history and transforming society must be to make these possibilities available to everyone.”

Two:  “Revolution means freedom from necessity.”

Three:  “Freedom is me living my life however I want to.  I’m going to be crippled by student debt.  My tuition keeps going up.  The ability to do what I want with my life, without the confines of debt, without the confines of politics, without the confines of anything else.  Because money really does control everything, and in our society that money is controlled by a very few.  We are basically, I wouldn’t say we are controlled by them, but we are oppressed by them.”  (This person is 19, and expects to graduate with $40,000 in student debt.)

Four:  “Being able to have enough activities, friends and the social basis of self-respect so that you can make meaning out of your life.”

Five:  “Freedom is the freedom to participate in the political process.  America is meant to be governed by the people, and I feel that our political process has reached such an effective low point that I’m out here standing in the rain to try and participate.  Meanwhile I feel that corporations don’t have to stand out here in the rain to participate in our political process, and that’s freedom.”

Six:  “Freedom means freedom from necessity, freedom to do what you want without having to sell yourself in order to survive.  Freedom to express who you are through whatever you want to do without any forces stopping you.”

Seven:  “Freedom is your ability to carry out what you want to do, but at the same time I feel that we are living in a fully interactive environment where we are effected by everything around us, which is also helping dictate what we do – by whatever forces, the weather, other people, anything. True freedom is a great fight but I think it isn’t fully possible.”

Eight:  “Realization of human potentiality.”

Nine:  “Freedom means the unlimited transformability of all things humans into things beyond human.  The unimaginable frontiers of human destiny that we have given up largely to our own discredit.”

Ten:  “I think that freedom is your ability to carry out what you want to do.  It’s not just about your social freedom, it is also about economic freedom.  If you are always working for a boss, you don’t have freedom either.  Freedom is always that you’re emancipated from your physical necessities and your mental baggage.”

Eleven:  “Freedom means the ability to speak your mind, to live your life free of worrying about how you’ll pay your next bill or whether you’ll have a roof over your head.”

Twelve:  “Freedom to me is when people have a voice.  Corporations are not people.   Freedom is when we can walk in our communities and feel safe, when people can go to public universities and not have to go into debt.  So not only so they can get the careers they want, but so they can be productive people in society.  To me freedom is that we don’t have to worry about the water, about the air, about what is going to happen to our grandchildren.  I have five grandchildren, and I’m really concerned that they’re not going to experience freedom.  Here in this country I have freedom to protest, to speak out, but fundamentally I don’t have freedom to change policy.  And the policies of this country are becoming more and more, it isn’t just right-wing, but it is more and more about corporate power. Freedom is that collectively we have a voice and can make a change.  And it’s a change we don’t know what it is going to look like, and it might not be a straight line, but freedom is for us to carve out.”

Thirteen:  “Live your life as you see fit, making your own decisions to the best of your knowledge and ability.”

Fourteen:  “Freedom means being able to do something like this [Occupy Wall Street], like being able to question the government, like being able to speak our minds, like being able to march across a bridge if we want to and not get arrested.  Just because it’s a mass group of people doesn’t mean it’s harmful or dangerous.  Freedom also means that we can be able to be heard by our government, because they are supposed to be here for us.  Citizens are supposed to be the main foundation of a country and I feel like that our freedom is being shat on because we aren’t being heard.  Now is a time for everyone to join and speak up, because if there are more voices there’s more of a chance to be heard and something changing.”

Fifteen:  “Liberation.”

An anti-demands, anti-policy argument, from their status board comments above:  “Making ‘demands’ puts your happiness under someone else’s control.”

If you haven’t been, it is a good time.  Random people were quite smart, energetic to discuss and share, and excited about the presence and possibilities of the occupations.  Something about how it is open-ended and the timing – it now looks like it will be high unemployment indefinitely, while elites and the government are unwilling to act on anything other than austerity fantasies – gives it even more of a spark.

In comments, what’s your definition of freedom?  Do you find any of these fifteen compelling?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Fifteen Definitions of Freedom from #OccupyWallStreet

  1. Freedom is the joy of agency.

  2. jtdarais says:

    I’m not an avid commenter, but in the spirit of people having a voice, I thought I may as well toss in my two cents:

    Five and twelve are the most compelling to me: “Freedom … is when people have a voice.” That’s the principle that our country was founded on, but seems to have been lost as corporations, lobbyists, and the wealthy accumulate more power and voice in the political process, crowding out all of us.

    In contrast, statements like “Freedom is me living my life however I want to,” worry me some. While I can see where they’re coming from, we will never be free from making sacrifices, and can’t always pursue the precise path in life that we wish to. Some decisions in life we make out of necessity. That is a fact of life. This is precisely the kind of “entitlement” statement that is actively ridiculed by conservatives and those of the older generation who see ours as spoiled and unwilling to make sacrifices. This, however, is merely a distraction from a very real problem: Powerful entities encroaching on the pursuit of life goals of common people in order to maintain power and satisfy their own greed.

    • MNP says:

      There’s also the classic case of: What if living your life the way you want, makes me unable to live my life the way I want?

      The classic example is racism but it can apply to a lot of things.

  3. Pingback: FT Alphaville » Further reading

  4. Nick Shaxson says:

    Freedom has two faces. As Keynes understood, freedom for international finance will tend to mean bondage for most citizens and their elected representatives. And freedom for citizens necessarily means restraining international finance. Nurture ‘utility’ finance, drastically curb the international casino, and, well, you’ve not necessarily created a path to freedom, but you’ve removed what is probably the biggest obstacle to freedom.

  5. Taryn H. says:

    It is significant that you would ask the question “What is freedom” in the context of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    Here is anthropologist David Graeber discussing the origins of debt (systems of money at interest) and the the first know usage of the word freedom:

    “The habit of money at interest also originates in Sumer …. [Money at interest] led to some serious social problems. In years with bad harvests especially, peasants would start becoming hopelessly indebted to the rich, and would have to surrender their farms and, ultimately, family members, in debt bondage. Gradually, this condition seems to have come to a social crisis – not so much leading to popular uprisings, but to common people abandoning the cities and settled territory entirely and becoming semi-nomadic ‘bandits’ and raiders. It soon became traditional for each new ruler to wipe the slate clean, cancel all debts, and declare a general amnesty or ‘freedom’, so that all bonded labourers could return to their families. (It is significant here that the first word for ‘freedom’ known in any human language, the Sumerian amarga, literally means ‘return to mother’.)

    So, when Occupy Wall Street protesters hold up signs that read “debt=slavery,” there is indeed something to this.

  6. Richard says:

    I’m not sure I find the Occupy Wall Street definitions compelling.

    Freedom from necessity? Air, water and food are necessary, and I do not wish to be free of them. Perhaps freedom from want? Freedom to do whatever you want to do? Then how do they differ from the libertarian tea party activists?

    But maybe I’m from a different generation and a bit stuck in the mud. It strikes me that they are trying, however indirectly, to re-discover FDR without trying to appear intellectual.

    • MNP says:

      Necessity. That is, your needs no longer constrain your actions. I.E. you have freedom of action because you aren’t worried about not being able to have a place to live, of not getting enough to eat, that getting sick will make you destitute.

      Then you’re freer to spend your own life the way you wish, whether that be learning or something else. It’s a classic security.

      That said, it would be nice if we could use technology to enable to no longer need to eat, or breathe.

  7. simon says:

    @Taryn. I think, respectfully, that that is just silly. Sure, debt is a form of slavery, but so is cripplig poverty. Debt is the foundation of a system that in the past 50 years has brought millions of people out of poverty, lowered in the worldwide infant mortality rate several times over, and extended life expectancy by twenty years despite a doubling of the world population. You can spend your life in a seminar room (or on this blog) talking about debt slavery, but the rest of the world is starving and dying from diseased while your pontificate.

    • mmac says:

      Unless nature gave them a hard blow, most people are starving because someone else wanted what they had…their farm land, their resources, their water, the cheap or even slave labor that people with very little personal or collective power offer, their silenced voice. We stopped starving because we stood together and demanded better wages, better education, better health care, limits on child labor, family time through limiting the amount of time a person could be worked without overtime. For years many got these things without lots of debt…. Debt was marketed and literally sold to the US people as “THE WAY” to buy things that would make you “Happy” over the last 30 years it was a way make certain the holders of the wealth took any real gains back from the working class and put it in the debt holders pockets.

      Innovations to heal people and make the world better most often come from the passionate and curious. The best ideas are not discovered in pursuit of money…Working for the buck has probably cost us many creative ideas…often demanding pretty much all from many would be talented individuals.

      . It’s time for some new plans on how to provide a livelihood, a fulfilling life and a community…We have over 60% of the kids at school that have an immediate family tree as complicated as a centuries old family tree and all of the adults are too busy working to be there to raise them…We have elderly and no time to tend to them humanely…Working neighborhoods with unattended homes and fast food, unhealthy, meals and stores. .Some things need to be maintained, regulated or managed by the government and protected …These things are the soil, food sources, air, and water, basic heath and basic education, affordable housing, transportation, and access to affordable open free choice mass communication in this post modern age…Managing these well will create many jobs…and using the wealth of the people wisely should be planned by more than the few at the top….None of those people get ‘RICH alone…They don’t mine their own Gold, run all their machines, drive, float or fly their own goods…buy all their own goods or sell them all. It is a community effort and a majority of those gains should be more fairly divided among all those that make all this happen. If we will plan those things well it will serve all people including the rich well….They will not need to worry about so much of their future either…They will be sharing not just the more of the national wealth, but also sharing the burdens with others. They also might find the time to stop power playing and take care of someone young, elderly, be a true friend or enjoy a spouse….We may find that we don’t need as much individually if we have good community efforts, services and goods in place…..We need a truly new design for living that maybe doesn’t spin around money 24/7. Not against private ownership…just against huge multinational corporations that buy out our elected officials to work against the interest of the individuals that live in the communities.

  8. mutant_dog says:

    Oh, was I ever that young and naive ? (the answer, to my current embarrassment, is “yes”.)

    Seriously – what do these people want, as outcome ?

  9. Taryn H. says:

    Pontificate? 700 people were arrested on Saturday. There are tens of thousands occupying nationwide. It’s a bit silly to call that pontificating, don’t you think?

  10. Steve Roth says:

    Not a definition of liberty really, but:

    Freedom in the practical sense — of doing what you want to do on a given day or over the course of your life — is largely a function of your bank balance. Your wealth. (This is what libertarians don’t seem to get.)

    Which means, if we want more liberty, we want a society where wealth is more widespread.

    That’s what Americans say they want in surveys:

    http://www.asymptosis.com/liberty-freedom-and-wealth-power-to-the-people.html

    • Joe says:

      Bank accounts don’t just fill themselves. Your bank account may be full, but the way you get it (how long it takes you to get it) and the habits you cultivate in the process may very well leave you not feeling very free. See Also: careerism and getting a “good” job doing something that doesn’t really fulfill you.

  11. Steve Roth says:

    Just commenting to get the follow-up comments. Forgot to check the box in the previous comment.

  12. simon says:

    @Taryn. I didn’t say they were pontificating, only that you were, by discussing money systems in Sumeria while your seven hundred protester friends are organzing with Macbooks. Both seem equally ridiculous.

    • Taryn H. says:

      Okay, of course your own personal incredulity is not a valid form of argument – so, your belief that something is “silly” or “ridiculous” is irrelevant. And aside from that, what’s your argument?

      I only made two points: 1) protesters have signs that say “debt=slavery”; and indeed debt (student debt, in particular) is a major focus of many protesters; 2) there appears to be a basis for the link between debt and slavery (and correlatively, lack of debt and freedom). So, which statement do you disagree with an why (and the answer to why needs to be something other than personal incredulity).

    • Taryn H. says:

      Also:

      As for “money systems in Sumeria” – it actually is a history of debt? Do you not think issues of debt are relevant to these protests?

      As for organizing with Macbooks – why does that seem ridiculous?

  13. Htowner says:

    why aren’t you also marching on the White House? The Prez main donors are from Wall Street-his programs have enriched the auto industry, the banks and the insurance companies?? A little balance here.

  14. Kevin says:

    What are the 3 largest debts most Americans ever face in their lifetime? #1 A house mortgage – well, that’s a complete choice, in many places, it’s better to rent inside of buy. #2 medical – the largest cause of personal bankruptcy in America, #3 student loans.

    #2 and #3 are largely the result or rapidly rising prices in the medical and education industries. Ricing *prices* not costs. While these prices are rapidly outpacing inflation, players in these industries, especially non-profit organizations, are continuing to erect gold-plated buildings to their legacies. It is, ironically, a symptom of too-much money pouring into these industries, a result of massive amounts of intervention and regulation.

    To address problems that personally the 99%ers face, we need to address the manipulations in these 2 industries first.

  15. Austin says:

    To me, the measure of freedom is the range of preferential choices you are able to pursue. I most closely identify with comments 5 and 12; both seem most aware that Wall Street is currently financed by promoting high rates of debt among 90% of the population, so 5% can have the greatest extent of freedom our society (and future generations) permits. This also directly influences the range of political freedoms we enjoy. A 2005 and updated 2007 study by Gilens “Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness in the US” shows that money is the strongest indicator of why policies favor the rich and are negligibly preferential for the 50th percentile.

    So while most of us are robbed of meaningful economic and political freedom, a small majority hoards more and more of this potential. Occupy Wall Street gets a lot of flak for not having targeted grievances, but the inequality and limited freedom is becoming so widespread, it’s hard to be aggrieved at one aspect in particular.

  16. wjg says:

    I have little sympathy for unemployable social scientists, philosophers and artists. I thought myself a novelist for many years and lived out of my truck. When I wanted employment, I returned for a degree in Civil Engineering. I mitigate flood hazards now. It is boring, unfulfilling work. But it pays my student loans and my son’s necessities.

    I rent my home and yet am expected to subsidize the bailout of those who went on extra vacations in the mid oughts by borrowing against the inflated equity of their homes.

    I took a degree that I was neither good at, nor very interested in, because I knew it was employable, and am now hearing calls for student loan forgiveness for those who borrowed $60K to study painting (or law) – a forgiveness that will come out of the pockets of whom? Those of us who chose the difficult path?

  17. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street Blog Round-Up, and a Thought on Climate Change « A (Budding) Sociologist’s Commonplace Book

  18. tonybaldwin says:

    Freedom is the capacity to be who you are, unfettered, and without fear of reprisal.

  19. Budd says:

    It is amazing that it took 13 responses to hit on something that resembles the definition.

    I might have stated that it is the condition of not being oppressed.

    To the people complaining about student loans, I have no sympathy for you. It was freedom when you filled out the applications of your own volition. There are many people in the world that graduated college without student loans. We didn’t have it as easy as the student loan crowd, but we managed.

  20. 20yale12 says:

    Here is my own blog post about freedom from two weeks ago. Please visit my blog and my website at http://www.yaleforcongress.com/

    The New York Times has one interesting article and one pointed opinion piece today that I think are more related than they might seem.

    The article reports on the differing views of Constitution Day, which is today, September 17. People associated with the Tea Party hold the view that “the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.” Like most issues that have any political aspect, there is a view that is diametrically opposed. Progressives “see the Constitution not as a limit on federal power but as the spirit behind many progressive laws.”

    My own take is that the framers were careful wordsmiths. So what is necessary to understand the Constitution is close reading. If that is done, it seems apparent the Constitution is more concerned with liberty than freedom. In fact, freedom is only specifically mentioned in the Constitution in the First Amendment. Religious practice and speech are meant to be off limits from the Congress. However, like the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution makes liberty conspicuous. Often liberty and freedom are synonymous. I think there are distinct and important differences in meaning.

    Freedom means without any restrictions. I am free to disobey the law. I am free to abuse the power I have over others.

    Liberty is more accurately defined by the civil relationship we have to each other. Thus you can take indecent liberties with a minor (the very concept of indecent freedom is unknown). Or a person is not a liberty to share a confidence which they gained in trust. In this more precise sense liberty creates both rights and responsibilities. And any governing document must outline how a civil society will organize so that individual freedom is redirected so that pluribus becomes unum.

    This is where the op/ed about food comes in. Joe Nocera describes how any tax on the food industry, even one with wide support meant to fund improved safety throughout the production and distribution systems, is opposed by conservatives as “significant overreach” by the government. The underlying philosophy in opposition to the tax and its use is that food producers should be free from regulation so that they can maximize profits, which will benefit all involved through improved methods. As the recent outbreak of listeria linked to cantaloupes proves, this is not how things work in the real world.

    I believe that in our system everyone is at liberty to profit from their efforts and investments. However, those of us who buy products, especially products as essential as food, are justified in expecting that same liberty requires a high-level of safety that can only be coordinated by the government that the framers created with the Constitution we celebrate today.

  21. Pingback: Some quick Occupy Wall Street links « zunguzungu

  22. Mark S says:

    Freedom is . . .
    Having a valued position in society doing a emotionally rewarding job. Having loved ones around you to support you in your seeking increased joy and value. Feeling you are in control of these aspects of your future and not placing the well fare of loved ones at risk.
    Feeling that those with increased power to seek their own future are required to support society in proportion to their power. Feeling that power is something you earn by increasing the freedom of others in your society

  23. Pingback: #OccupyWallStreet calls for freedom for themselves, drudgery for others « Decline of the Logos

  24. Grill says:

    If you do not want “student debt” that do not take out loans. Do not go to universities with tuition of $40,000 a year if you do not have income and/or savings to be able to afford that price. Do not purchase things that you cannot afford and live within you means. It seems to me as many of the young people in this movement have, on their own, through their own actions (without perhaps realizing it) taken on more debt for which they are comfortable. They have been pushed by society, their families, their schools to go to the most expensive college for which they can be admitted without any plan or thought on how the costs would be paid.

    Perhaps they should have decided to go to a community college first while working part time and living at home so they could afford the first two years of college. Then after doing well they could chose an affordable state university OR work for 3-5 years and save up money to afford something more expensive.

    When you, on your own accord, purchase something for which you cannot afford and you willingly go into debt, don’t complain that you are not free because of debt. No one forces anyone to go to Columbia or NYU, you chose to do that on you own. You acted with volition and free will and you must accept the responsibilities and consequences. To not do so is to not acknowledge real freedom.

    • T American says:

      I think all of these occupy people need to wake up and smell the coffee…. You live in America because it is the land of opportunity People have come here over the years to escape the evils of socialism and tyranny….Unfortunately, we have become the nation of “feel” rather that “do” and
      they think everything is owed to them. Get off your rear ends and take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming the successful for your lack of hard work and drive. The wealthy or hard working class did not make their money by complaining about what is owed to them by the government. Do you think Edison or Ford once for a second did the blame game when they were inventing NO they kept working until they found what worked. That is the key word here is HARD WORK and PERSISTENCE. They should be applauded, not protested against if you do not like the idea of hard work and freedom , there are plenty of others countries where you can go and live among socialism and communism please feel free to buy a ticket no one is keeping you here in our country against your will….I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
      Thomas A. Edison
      Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_a_edison.html#OmeWHUZV9TqVDkLL.99

  25. robk says:

    So you’re 17 or 18 years old and your parents tell you that you have to go to college if you want to have a chance in life. Many of these parents don’t have the money saved up to give a kid to go to college, so the kid winds up taking a bunch of loans. Do you think most of these kids realize how much money this is? Especially with their parents telling them this is the right thing to do?

    So now they are out there and they didn’t get an EE degree or whatever and they are out of luck finding a job, with a giant debt on their back. They thought they were doing the right thing. I guess they weren’t though, in hindsight. The bootstrappers as usual, say, ” Screw you, you were stupid enough to sign up for it. I am awesome because I WORK for everything.”
    As we all know, everybody except for them is shiftless and lazy.

    I got lucky and went to college on a full scholarship. Most are not so lucky.

  26. Taryn H. says:

    http://jamyerson.com/2011/09/29/in-which-a-hardened-new-yorker-gets-all-choked-up-about-protest-politics/

    J.A. Meyerson:

    “I can buy any of 75 types of bleach in America and I know (because I’m told) that this is supposed to make me feel free. But when I enter Liberty Plaza Park and see that everyone shares their food: that’s when I begin to feel free.”

  27. Pingback: 10 Things Freedom Isn’t « DEAN BOWMAN

  28. Ross Wolfe says:

    I know that you decided to keep the interviewees who offered these definitions anonymous, but I am the person who gave response “One.” You interviewed me along with with a couple other members from the Marxist organization, the Platypus Affiliated Society. If I may be allowed to have my statement edited, it should say “As society has progressed” instead of “Society has progressed”; the mistake was probably mine in enunciating it.

    Occupy Wall Street still contains many problematic aspects, but it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation. To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

    Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies

  29. “Truth is an essential part of total terrestrial experience. Until Truth is learned, the Freedoms cannot be enjoyed. It is the foundation of the Temple of Freedom.”, Mars Sector 6 in The Nine Freedoms.
    Who controls the governments? Who controls the corporations? Who is pulling our strings?
    There is enough space and wealth on this Earth for everyone to have enough. It is the unfair system of distribution that means that the majority must be poor, whilst the minority are rich.
    Are you prepared for the Truth? Are you brave enough to face what must come next, perhaps a reorganisation of society, of the way everyone lives and works and loves?

  30. Dee says:

    Uh – NEWSFLASH!!!! Corporations are comprised of people. Those people, especially the CEO, are responsible to shareholders which are – are you following me? – people. Shareholders demand a good return on their investments. And shareholders can include every day people such as your parents.

    Not that I don’t support some of your ideas. I’m just rather stunned you all walked away from your smartphones and World of Warcraft long enough to actually get out of the house.

  31. Gus says:

    We Westerners tend to focus entirely on “Freedom,” and that can be a mistake because freedom in only half of the equation. The other half, an even more important half, I believe, is “Responsibility.” We have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to assure that every one of us has all the basic necessities of life.
    OWS is about Freedom, but it is even more about Responsibility.

    • Well said Gus,
      We are our brothers keeper, whether we like it or not. No one can achieve anything up on this Earth with that affecting everyone else. We are all linked one to another.
      If one is brought down and suffering, everyone will be brought down because of this. If another is raised up or healed, then everyone is raised up just a little.

    • 20yale12 says:

      Gus, I couldn’t agree more. Please see my post above and visit my site (www.yaleforcongress.com). With a family, I cannot participate fully in the Occupy movement, so I am doing the one thing I can, which is try to communicate with folks that there is another way to make democracy work.

  32. Pingback: Rhetorical Scholars on #OWS « Rhetorical Studies Reading Group

  33. Sherry says:

    One: “Freedom is bound up with the idea of possibilities. The idea of limitless possibilities is the ideal of limitless freedom. The idea that anything is potentially possible, that’s what freedom means. And historically there have been very few people that have been allowed to have the kinds of possibilities that would allow them to be free. Society has progressed more and more people have been allowed to be free. But we still live in a state of unfreedom. Society does not live for its own sake, autonomously. It is still bound to something external to itself that structures it. The goal of history and transforming society must be to make these possibilities available to everyone.”
    Historically, yes, that’s true. Feudal serfs in the middle ages were not free, slaves in every generation in every country in the world were not free. Here in America, we are free. As for the word “unfreedom” – how nice to see a brand new word! The United States of America’s society was transformed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and remains so to this day.

    Two: ”Revolution means freedom from necessity.”
    What is necessary to me? My family. Food. Clothing. Shelter. I don’t want to fight to be free from these people and things. I have no idea what this person meant by his/her statement.

    Three: ”Freedom is me living my life however I want to. I’m going to be crippled by student debt. My tuition keeps going up. The ability to do what I want with my life, without the confines of debt, without the confines of politics, without the confines of anything else. Because money really does control everything, and in our society that money is controlled by a very few. We are basically, I wouldn’t say we are controlled by them, but we are oppressed by them.” (This person is 19, and expects to graduate with $40,000 in student debt.)
    Person number 3, you may not live in freedom to live your life however you want to. What if you want to be a prostitute? If you are caught, you will be prosecuted. What if you want to kill your neighbor’s yappy little dog and you do so one dark and stormy night. If you are caught, you will be prosecuted. What if you want to take pictures of naked children? If you are caught you will be prosecuted. What if you want to go to college and don’t have the money to pay for it? You have the freedom to make these choices: Get a job and save your money and go when you are older. Get a job and never go. Get a loan and go, but if you do, it’s your debt, not everyone else’s.

    Four: ”Being able to have enough activities, friends and the social basis of self-respect so that you can make meaning out of your life.”
    Freedom means being popular and having cool hobbies so that you aren’t envious of other people?

    Five: ”Freedom is the freedom to participate in the political process. America is meant to be governed by the people, and I feel that our political process has reached such an effective low point that I’m out here standing in the rain to try and participate. Meanwhile I feel that corporations don’t have to stand out here in the rain to participate in our political process, and that’s freedom.”
    You had me at “Freedom is the freedom. . .”

    Six: ”Freedom means freedom from necessity, freedom to do what you want without having to sell yourself in order to survive. Freedom to express who you are through whatever you want to do without any forces stopping you.”
    Number 6, you must have been listening to Number 3! Here’s the déjà vu moment for you: , you may not live in freedom to live your life however you want to without any forces stopping you. What if you want to express yourself by being a prostitute? If you are caught, the police and courts will stop you. What if you want to express yourself by killing your neighbor’s yappy little dog and you do so one dark and stormy night. If you are caught, the police and courts will stop you. What if you want to express yourself by taking pictures of naked children? If you are caught the police and courts will stop you.

    Seven: ”Freedom is your ability to carry out what you want to do, but at the same time I feel that we are living in a fully interactive environment where we are effected by everything around us, which is also helping dictate what we do – by whatever forces, the weather, other people, anything. True freedom is a great fight but I think it isn’t fully possible.”
    Number 7 listened to Number 6 and 3, but then got sidetracked in his/her the fully interactive environment. Maybe it was raining?

    Eight: ”Realization of human potentiality.”
    Just about every new mom thinks her little Junior has the potential to be president. Considering how many kids are born each year, the potential of Junior being the POTUS are slim.

    Nine: ”Freedom means the unlimited transformability of all things humans into things beyond human. The unimaginable frontiers of human destiny that we have given up largely to our own discredit.”
    Number 9 read some sci-fi comic books before the occupation, but should have read an English textbook about sentence fragments.

    Ten: “I think that freedom is your ability to carry out what you want to do. It’s not just about your social freedom, it is also about economic freedom. If you are always working for a boss, you don’t have freedom either. Freedom is always that you’re emancipated from your physical necessities and your mental baggage.”
    Don’t work for a boss! Be your own boss! The great news is that you live in a country that has a capitalistic form of an economy! You do not live in socialist Cuba or communist China! You live in the United States of America! You have the freedom to be your own boss!

    Eleven: ”Freedom means the ability to speak your mind, to live your life free of worrying about how you’ll pay your next bill or whether you’ll have a roof over your head.”
    Freedom of Speech is one of America’s great freedoms, yes. Freedom to free from bills, no, that’s not in our Bill of Rights. However, no country on earth has that freedom guaranteed to its citizens. Even Pa Ingalls had bills, and he was Mr. Cash-on-the-barrel.

    Twelve: ”Freedom to me is when people have a voice. Corporations are not people. Freedom is when we can walk in our communities and feel safe, when people can go to public universities and not have to go into debt. So not only so they can get the careers they want, but so they can be productive people in society. To me freedom is that we don’t have to worry about the water, about the air, about what is going to happen to our grandchildren. I have five grandchildren, and I’m really concerned that they’re not going to experience freedom. Here in this country I have freedom to protest, to speak out, but fundamentally I don’t have freedom to change policy. And the policies of this country are becoming more and more, it isn’t just right-wing, but it is more and more about corporate power. Freedom is that collectively we have a voice and can make a change. And it’s a change we don’t know what it is going to look like, and it might not be a straight line, but freedom is for us to carve out.”
    Number 12 had a list! There’s a lot here, but I’ll just say that fundamentally you do have the freedom to change policy: you can vote, you can run for office, you can protest, you can write letters, you can assemble, you have get petitions signed and get amendments to the constitution created. Citizens of other countries do not all have these freedoms.

    Thirteen: ”Live your life as you see fit, making your own decisions to the best of your knowledge and ability.”
    Another rendition of “I can do anything I want” as stated by others above. No, you may not decide to be a prostitute, yappy dog killer or child pornographer.

    Fourteen: ”Freedom means being able to do something like this [Occupy Wall Street], like being able to question the government, like being able to speak our minds, like being able to march across a bridge if we want to and not get arrested. Just because it’s a mass group of people doesn’t mean it’s harmful or dangerous. Freedom also means that we can be able to be heard by our government, because they are supposed to be here for us. Citizens are supposed to be the main foundation of a country and I feel like that our freedom is being shat on because we aren’t being heard. Now is a time for everyone to join and speak up, because if there are more voices there’s more of a chance to be heard and something changing.”
    This is the best comment reported.

    Fifteen: ”Liberation.”
    This is the worst comment reported.

  34. Pingback: Frank Luntz and the Battle Over Economic Freedom » New Deal 2.0

  35. Pingback: Frank Luntz, Occupy and the Battle for Economic Freedom | Rortybomb

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s