Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Whose freedom, and from what, George?

The presenters tell us that Dubya's charm offensive in Europe is going well. His speeches centre on freedom. There is hardly any mention of motherhood, and apple pie may be mentioned later, but has not come up yet.

George is big on freedom. The attack on 9/11 was clearly an atack on freedom. Why? Because it was an attack on America, and Americal is symbolised (a) by the Statue of Liberty (Liberty = Freedom, geddit?) and (b) by the eagle, which is a symbol of freedom, because it can fly really high, and Dubya's envirnomental policies have not yet wiped it out.

Thing is, unlike apple pie, freedom is not a self existent thing. Not that apple pie is self existent - it needs a bowl, for instance, and a table to sit on, but at least you can hold and eat an apple pie. You cannot touch or eat freedom. Freedom, to be meningful, must be freedom-from-something. What is pure freedom? Could anyone be more purely free than a nudist in space? Free from all restraints of clothing and gravity, yes. But dead.

So freedom as a word is only meaningful if it comes with the object from which one is free. Dubya is a politician. Freedom in a democratic political setting means a wide set of political freedoms. Freedom from vote rigging. Dubya fails here (Votergate). Freedom from imprisonment without trial Dubya fails here(Camp X-Ray). Freedom of political dissent. Dubya fails here (peace groups subject to spying). Freedom from being lied to. Dubya fails here (most everything he says). Freedom of Speech and thought (Patriot Act).

What he does stand for is a market free of regulation. That's what freedom means for Dubya. "Free market, free lunch", as his friend Tony would say. Or, "How do we spell schmeedom, Mr Bush, sir?" as journalists of the Free Western Press would say.

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