The Politics of Liberty
by Nguyen Tran Bat, Attorney & Investment Consultant
Freedom is a way of emancipating people from errors, bias, and the past, and it works changes in a community, a nation, a land and a state to start their own path to development. Stimulating the human needs for freedom represents one of the most humane stimulations. Those who hamper freedom, and those who refuse to provide conditions for people to be free are against humanity.
Our times are ushering in monumental opportunities for any person and any nation who wishes to develop. And the greatest opportunity of all that globalization brings about is freedom. But what is to be done to avoid missing this opportunity? What is to be done for the sake of development? Only when people are free can they develop. More than ever, each individual of the times should be well aware that freedom does not stay away from life, nor is it only of philosophical significance. Freedom is very lofty and very essential to human survival. Freedom is something ‘edible’, and people ‘take’ it to emancipate themselves from backwardness and underdevelopment. It is a ‘must’ to redeem people their freedom in order that they may become their own ‘selves’.
The return of freedom must be an itinerary that should be planned appropriately to the human perception of freedom, otherwise people are likely to be overwhelmed by the values of freedom and utilize them recklessly or sacrifice them improperly and drive themselves into another freedom vacuum. For this very reason, grasping the values and contents of freedom constitutes an essential need for each individual. Up till now, people have got accustomed to approaching freedom from the perspective of a philosophical or poetic subject, overlooking the fact that freedom is also a subject of the political science.
Studying freedom from a political angle will help us discover the values, applications and status of freedom in the most important areas of social life. Only in doing so, can freedom be extended to the different strata of the social life that people may make use of freedom and turn it into a technology of survival and development.
I. Spaces of Fundamental Freedom:
In the daily life, freedom embraces various contents, but here I’d like to refer to freedom in the most important spaces of the daily life: i.e. economic, political and cultural liberties. Economic liberty comes first for people to have a taste of the fruits of their development. Once they have enjoyed their sweet taste, they will become aware of the values of political liberty. Political liberty is a claim to demand the state institution be capable of legislating or institutionalizing liberties. However, economic and political liberties alone are not enough, but they should enjoy cultural liberty as well. Because man continually takes shape, as a product of the past, and therefore without cultural freedom, he will not have any spiritual support for his economic and political liberties. Without spiritual support, the process will generate an unstabilized development due to the impacts of cultural underdevelopment and the lack of responses to his free behaviors. Without cultural and political liberties, the economic liberty is not ensured legally and spiritually as well. And cultural and political liberties constitute spiritual supports to establish a community in which the later cycle of development is staffed with capable personnel to achieve the stage of higher and more stabilized development.
1. Economic liberty to get out of impoverishment
Redeeming economic liberty to the people in the less developed countries is of a very practical significance, that is, emancipating them from impoverishment and underdevelopment. The economic activities are, by nature, aimed at seeking benefits or guided by benefits. Without the guidance by benefits, all the economic activities are aimless. They unfold and develop in a natural way only when people enjoy economic liberty. Without freedom in the economic activities they conduct, they will not fulfill their purpose of seeking benefits and therefore their activities will become non-economic.
Nonetheless, economy may develop freely in an instinctual manner to a certain threshold where it runs against the limits defined by politics, which constitutes an activity of the social superstructure and exerts influences on all the remaining aspects of social life. So, without proper institutions, politics may easily govern and control the economic activities and hamper them from further development. The political control of the economic activities in many a nation have given rise to the loss of economic liberty and inhibition of economic development. The real nature of all the programs for economic development lies in the development of the two factors: the economic institutions and the economic forces. The economic institutions, once imposed and controlled by the political objectives, can never support and ensure the activities of the economic forces, hence their failure to support the economic development. The bondage of the economy to the political institutions nurtures even more potential risks, the biggest of which lies in rendering people incapable in the economic life. Freedom is expected to provide spiritual diversity for people and natural balance in the social life. Once people do not enjoy economic and political liberties, people have no more diversity, experience deformed development and become incapable. The economic and other forces as well cannot develop in the condition of such imbalances in the social life. That’s the reason why it’s a “must” to redeem economic liberty to people. This is also the content of the economic reforms. In the doctrines on reforms that I have studied, the current economic reforms in the developing countries are meant to provide economic liberties and independence for people.
A pre-condition for economic liberty lies in the recognition of the individual’s ownership. This is also a universal and fundamental condition for the launch of the second liberation of people. Speaking about liberties means dealing with the congregation of rights that vary in levels of development along with the social development, in which the right to ownership constitutes one of the most vital human rights. Here I do not wish to discuss the absolute values of ownership but the liberty that each one must have to determine what he has, i.e. the virtues of ownership. People must have some legal space to have ownership, and once they have ownership, they will manage to preserve it. People may be yet to enjoy civil rights, in a real sense of the word, but they should be aware of them and know well what they need. The awareness of the civil rights constitutes a fundamental premise for the course of emancipation of each individual. The most important thing for each individual is that he should know well what he has, to be preserved, and what he needs, to be sought out. Once people start seeking what they need and preserve what they have, they will be awakened to their values, their opportunities, and their risks as well .
The economic liberties will bring economic independence for people. Economic independence represents the starting point for them to practice training of their stuff, build their capacity and make efforts to achieve the most important human virtues, namely self-reliance, self-control and self-respect. That means the space of economic independence forms the foundation for the individual’s values to develop. In such space, people will have an opportunity to preserve and develop the instincts for trading and the possibilities for appearance of added values. Providing spaces of economic freedom for each individual means sowing the seeds for the development of private economic sector. This is a solution not only to boosting economic development but to ensuring political safety as well. With those politicians who cannot grasp the importance of economic liberty, the national economy cannot develop and the nation will, sooner or later, fall into political crises and push society to the brink of exhaustion.
The less developed countries cannot help but redeeming to their citizens the economic liberties, which constitute a premise for people to realize the values of liberties, first and foremost political liberties. The recent economic boom in a few underdeveloped countries bears proof of it. The economic liberty must be guaranteed by political liberty as the development of the economic forces represents the immediate outcome of the development of the political institutions, and the ones that may guarantee the political liberty are likely to ensure the economic development. With freedom, the economic forces will be booming, and it is the development of the economic forces that will bring pressures for the amelioration of the political institutions.
2. Cultural liberty for the sake of a healthy spiritual environment
Culture, in general, has taken shape from the accumulation of the living experience of each community and each nation, and accordingly, culture is life itself. The laws of cultural formation are as natural as the human life itself. We all know that the nature of life lies in the natural diversity and freedom constitutes the most important condition to ensure and enhance it. The natural diversity of life generates an equitable competition between the trends of life and after the course of natural selection, the remaining trends are the rational ones.
Culture always manifests the mutual acceptance and equity between the elements of life. And the factor that ensures the legality of the process of struggle and harmony between the elements of life is freedom. Freedom brings to people the richness in conception, which will, in turn, generate diversity in the trends. In culture, there should be healthy competition between the trends. Because it is a condition, first for culture to adequately reflect the intercalation and contradiction between the trends, second for the rational trends to become predominant that people may freely conceive things in the rational space of the rational trends acknowledged, and finally, for the predominant trends to be substituted by the more rational ones, from whence people may constantly develop in terms of their perception and refuse to be slave to any trends. Such is a wholesome culture, as a product of freedom. Only a culture as the outcome of freedom can support life and act as a spiritual environment for all other things of life. Such a culture will, in turn, ensure the maintenance and development of freedom itself.
Cultural freedom serves as a condition for a culture to absorb the cultural factors from the different domains of life and create fresh values. A free culture with the support by a free political regime will surely enhance people’s spiritual diversity via its open doors. And ensuring liberties in the spiritual life so that people may choose the cultural elements they like means creating freedom for the selection of the cultural trends and values, thus providing some cultural balance, openness and attraction. The cultural attraction means a stop for the cultural drifts on a world scale. The human interactions across nations have seen drifts of cultural elements from one culture to another. Humans, with their natural instincts, have always lived in interactions between individuals and the community, and between communities themselves. To be able to survive and compete successfully with the other communities, people are expected to have certain experience in the other cultures. It is the foreign cultural elements which have infiltrated into a culture that become the first elements to generate human capacity or experience in one culture versus the others.
The drifting cultural elements are in two forms, one to flow away and the other to stay back, one to come in easily and the other to go out naturally. The latter do not wish to stay because they are incapable of staying, and the local culture is unable to admit them. Once a culture welcomes elements to stay, it has turned mankind's achievements into its elements to enhance the national power. The openness of a culture and the hospitality of the host as regards the other cultures are the seeds to bloom into a new culture capable of integration, an even greater culture. It is the drift of the different cultural elements to the forlorn corners that have generated the booming of the formerly-gloomy remote regions. Without the acceptance of such drifting cultural products from the developed lands, people are likely to have no opportunities to be awakened to development. Such welcome is a first signal of the diffusion of development principles.
The world of today has got only one destination, i.e. the global values and criteria, rather than the isolated cultural values and identities. Culture represents a message of co-existence, and it has got values of co-existence. The geographical differentiation due to the human limitation of border-crossing capacity induces people to feel isolated from the others and always proud of the values of the isolation. That is an absolutely erroneous viewpoint. It should be understood that the values that are worthy of human pride include those of attraction and universality, integration and coexistence in cultural diversity. The ability to coexist with the different cultural values constitutes a necessary demand of the times and only cultural freedom can provide people with such capability.
3. Political liberty to actively make plans for the future
Politics represents a particular activity to rally the people or the community with an aim to solve the problems cropping up in their life and development. In a community, each individual, social section or class has got its own political tendencies and demands, in different measures and to different degrees. No social decisions include those made by individuals combined, though. Therefore, to come to a decision, people must hold discussions to come to a certain mutual agreement, so as to make a proper choice. So politics is an activity to seek agreement and propriety acknowledged by all parties. In other words, political activities means those to promote social consensus - a realm that originates from freedom.
In a democratic society, the people are free to make a choice of the political trends, programs and platforms, with a choice of the political parties as their representatives. Formally, the people vote for the political parties but by nature, they vote for the political trends in conformity to their perception. The political party that represents the political trend supported by a majority of people will be the ruling party. And free political competition is the approach applied by a democratic society to control power.
Politics constitutes the inspirations from different perceptions of life and naturally, different people have different inspirations from different perceptions, hence the birth of different political trends. Seeing politics as a predominant element, and political rights playing too great roles, the authorities in the non-democratic nations do not venture to grant the rights to the people. They ignore the fact that in the daily life, the political trends, instincts and sentiments manifest freely, but due to the lack of their institutionalization into personal inspirations, they cannot generate inspirations for the community. Without diversity in the community’s political inspirations, there may not be a democratic society.
It should be clearly noted that politics is not a product of the state. The state is but a physical entity to form a political system. Freedom itself constitutes an element of the structure of the political activity. The origin of politics is the trends of the conception of the members and the forces in the society. The trends assume the same richness and naturalness of life. When the trends of conception develop to a certain degree and when the oriented thinking becomes professional in a certain measure, they will turn into politics. Freedom is the guarantee of the natural diversity of the political trends, because freedom gives birth to humans and generates the human spiritual diversity, thus creating the multi-trends of politics. Society is innately structured by numerous sections and classes, with different levels of perception, ethnic and cultural specifics, and different economic conditions, hence the different conceptions and explanations of the same issue. All this indicates that the multi-trends of politics represent a natural instinct of social life. It is a “must” to hold respect for the multi-trends of politics as the bio-diversity of life or the diversity of the human spiritual life, to ensure the human balance and development. If the diversity of the political life is not preserved, there will be no richness of the trends, that is to say, it will minimize the adaptability, existentiality and competitiveness of the society. Preserving the diversity of conception and hence the diversity of the political life, means providing conditions for the development of the political professionalism of society itself.
Political freedom does not mean non-politics. People are never non-political. Because what is politics if not the way humans act to protect life? Acting on life and protecting it, that is both most important human capacity and quality. Political freedom is the way for humans to protect themselves. People have two subjects for protection: their person as citizen plus their wealth. Politics can protect only the wealth, the ownership and all that is related to people, and political freedom protects their inclination to the good, their natural purity, i.e. their innate virtues. The personal identification is tantamount to the space in which people have the right to completely live in freedom, which is guaranteed, by a healthy political space, i.e. political liberty.
Political liberty is the fundamental nucleus of personal freedom because with it, people are not enslaved by any category of politics. The nature of life lies in the movement of human attention, perception and love from one trend to another. Such is also the nature of the human concept of liberty. Political liberty guarantees people’s choice of the different political trends on the basis of each individual’s perception of the position of the political issues. So, when people drift among the different political trends how will the politicians act to inflict their political trends upon life and society? By the attraction of the political trends that they represent. Political attraction is the way to draw people to freedom. It is impossible to coerce them but to allure them. The capacity of generating allurement represents one of the most important human capacities. Thus, people drift not only among different political trends but among different allurements of political life as well.
The present-day world is always faced with the shortage of the sources of living energy. Therefore, practicing economy has become a philosophical concept worldwide. The people’s political and other activities have to ensure economy. A healthy political space must be the one in which people are capable of re-creativity in the different procedures of the political life, that is, people should be entirely, and spiritually, conditioned to be the outputs of one political procedure and the inputs of another. In the trends of the times, namely integration and globalization, political liberty should even be understood as political non-bias, for the sake of accessibility, to flexibly deal with all circumstances of the international life.
II. The Leading Political Trends of the Times:
Understanding the position, value and application of freedom in the everyday life is the prime condition for people to gain access to freedom. To utilize freedom, however, and turn freedom into a technology of development in the everyday life, people need favorable social institutions for the process, which are capable of legislating the liberties. It may be affirmed that no institutions other than the democratic ones may have such a power. Establishing democracy means setting up an institution to ensure liberties for people. For this very reason, making endeavors to establish democracy is a vital task of all nations, first and foremost the less developed countries.
In our times, globalization represents an exceptionally favorable opportunity for the less developed nations to strive for democracy. We all know that in the times of globalization, the competitiveness of a nation constitutes a key capacity for the nation to exist and develop. A nation’s competitiveness should be built on each individual’s competitiveness. And to each individual, the liberties form very important conditions to create capability and competitiveness. Thus, this is the times in which the demands for democracy become more urgent than ever, and therefore democratization has turned into a necessary irresistible trend in the global political life nowadays.
It should be definitely acknowledged that the technology of development of the times is freedom and democracy. The less developed nations should acknowledge that freedom and democracy represent the key political trends of the times of globalization. There is no other choice for them. Formerly, they might be resigned to their fates or utilize the spiritual triumphs to give explanations on their poverty, but today, they cannot afford to keep doing the same thing. Another choice that may be made in the times when the global relations are not established or forced to be established so that people may shun them is that people may sleep soundly with no development or with no need for development. As previously mentioned, in the times of globalization, people cannot afford to be resigned to their fates as they will be psychologically stimulated in their comparisons with the other communities, and even to those who see their resignation to their fates as fundamental values in the structure of their spiritual life, this will be appropriated as well. It is because they cannot dodge development, people cannot shun democracy. In these times, democratization is no longer a political demand but one for development. And the demands for development do not stem from some subjective desire that they like development or not, but from a postulate that without development, they are doomed to degeneration and extinction.
It may be realized that the cycles of changes in the global political trends are becoming ever shorter, therefore the political opportunism in the ruling parties in the non-democratic nations is ever more manifest. That’s the reason why, there’s no other opportunity for the politicians to keep putting off the establishment of democracy. They cannot help grasping the consequences of their evasion of democracy, and knowing the entire economy will fall into underdevelopment and the culture will degenerate in the case of the delayed practice of democracy. They should understand that democratization is the only way of putting an end to underdevelopment and impoverishment. At a time when democracy represents a predominant trend, the postponement of democratization is likely to push the people to the verge of poverty and misery in the eyes of the international community and drive the nation into an inferior position in the global competition. If democratization is not executed, the nations will certainly sink deep in the lower layers of the international life, and at some point when they look up they will find that their people lag far behind on the path to development or step backward to their future.
We cannot redeem freedom or instinctually combat the negatives via riots or revolutions, which will result in chaos and other unnecessary consequences. It is advisable that people should and must arrange their instinctual actions in an educational way, via reforms, and that is also the development of freedom. It is tantamount to the fact that people should make efforts to keep clean each portion of their spiritual space to organize their life, because such is development itself.
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