Freedom to fear

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:28

Originally written: 11 August 2006

The headlines on Friday, 11 August 2006, told us that 24 British men were arrested before an imminent rehearsal for coordinated attacks intended to blow at least ten transatlantic passenger aircraft out of the skies in the very near future.

Although details are sketchy, it is not difficult to believe Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson who said, “This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”

The immediate result is that airline passengers, on at least some flights, will no longer be permitted to take beverages, shampoo, toothpaste, or MP3 players, cell phones, and eyeglass cases, onto planes as carry-on luggage.

Given the current world situation, most of us will see these new restrictions as probably necessary, and part of the necessary cost of living in society today. Given the current world situation, that is a reasonable perspective.

The problem with the perspective is that over the years our lives have become more and more restricted. Why? We are told, and most of us tell ourselves that it is to provide us the safety to be free.

How much will we restrict our “freedom” before we realize that living in fear with such bizarre restrictions is not freedom? The restrictions may sound reasonable today, but if these rules had been imposed ten years ago, you would have thought them beyond bizarre. Bit by bit we have allowed our freedom to be eroded until “freedom” is a frightening sham. We nod our heads, and meekly line up in airports for hours, hoping that we will be allowed to take our medication on board, hoping that junior will remain calm for the hours-long flight without his game-computer.

We repeat the mantra: there is no other option. We have no choice. It is their fault.

Solving problems requires that people decide to solve the problems. It is extremely easy to do nothing except assume that you can do nothing. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy — a new religion. It is a religion of failure. The prophets are everywhere, and everywhere we hear that there is no alternative and that we must accept.

Socialists tell you that is false. We do not pretend that there is a magical solution. We leave that to politicians. We have shown, and continue to show, that the solution is to change the nature of the society in which we live. But here you depart our company because that is too big a change. Instead, you settle for a version of “freedom” which includes terror.

It is trivially simple to prevent a solution. Everyone can live in fear. All you need do … is nothing.

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