Liberty, Justice and Crisis: A competition for readers

Two days ago, my MPhil students, sat their end of First Year final examination in a course entitled Economics as a Social Science (offered in the context of UADPhilEcon). I thought you might be interested to see the ‘cruel’ questions I set for them. Would you care to provide answers? Perhaps we can have a competition for the best answers subnitted to this blog. For those interested, please select one of the questions below and write an answer of no more than 500 words. Then submit it to me either by email or as a comment to this post. The winner will win a copy of our (that is, jointly authored with Joseph Halevi and Nicholas Theocarakis) latest book entitled Modern Political Economics: making sense of the post-2008 world (London and New York: Routeldge)

Deadline for participating in this competition: 31st July 2011

Question 1 (Please answer both A and B below)

(A) “Solidarity and altruism are nothing more than forms of enlightened selfishness.” Discuss and draw out of the discussion different perspectives on the meaning of ‘solidarity’, of ‘altruism’ and, lastly, of ‘selfishness’.

(B) Define freedom.

Question 2

Is justice liberty’s enemy? And/or vice versa? (Explain your answer fully.)

Question 3

Define capitalism and discuss at least three of its varieties (nb. it can be over different time periods or in different social/political/geographical/cultural contexts).

Question 4

Select a significant economic crisis from the past and explain how and why it happened, what explanation was given by economic theorists of that time (if any), and what policies the government of the time adopted to overcome the crisis (if it did anything at all).

22 Comments

  • Is justice liberty’s enemy? And/or vice versa? (Explain your answer fully.)

    I picked this topic because I felt it was the most difficult to answer and thus most intriguing. But before I answer let me qualify that I am not going for the prize and since this is a public space I am bit concerned about a lengthy answer attached to my name, hence I will use much less than 500 words.

    On the face of it the proposition is turned upside down. Namely, it is justice that is the friend of freedom and the cornerstone of a true democracy. Justice is the most necessary ingredient because without it no commerce can flourish, no rights be preserved and no society can survive towards the ultimate goal of collective happiness and prosperity (intellectual prosperity included).

    The case of Cyprus comes to mind, whereby an international crime of raping a whole nation has occurred and I believe that justice and its implements are the only effective mechanism to restore a blatant wrong to an acceptable right.

    Therefore, we have to summarily conclude that Justice is a friend of liberty and not its foe.

    However, there can be instances that invoking justice or the principles of justice can do liberty a great deal of harm. Political correctness for one is a dedicated enemy of justice because it obscures the voices of reason and demands conformity and thus clearly harming liberty.

    An example of that could be the neo-con call for justice following the 911 World Trade center attacks, a message which at the heat of the moment appeared just and appropriate to the circumstances but its sloppy execution ended up harming the liberties of friend and foe alike.

    Therefore, we must conclude that the perversion of justice is a clear and present danger to Liberty and must never allowed to prevail. Liberty is the highest public good and must be protected from all perversions of the truth.

    In summary, both conditions can exist for Justice (that of a friend and that of an enemy of Liberty) and it is up to us enlightened and vigilant citizens to preserve Liberty which in this case can take the form of a winged Victory statute(Nike) underscoring its fleeting nature.

  • Disclaimer: This is not an entry to the competition.

    I demand payment before speaking – Thrasymachus –

    😉

    Freedom, Liberty, Solidarity, Altruism, Selfishness, Justice, and of course, I am immediately drawn to Plato’s Republic, but apart from that, it rather strikes me as a strange limitation to of a confine an answer to 500 words.

    When the wall broke down in Germany, I knew with every fibre that this was the milestone for the end of capitalism as we know it, of course, it was celebrated as a victorious capitalist event.

    I just finished for the second time, ‘The Universe in a single Atom – The convergence of science and spirituality – written by the Dalai Lama. Perhaps, it is this level of interdisciplinary commitment which brought together much bigger brains than I am to discuss matters of philosophy and science on a regular basis with the Dalai Lama. Karl von Weizaecker and others were apparently very keen to establish this form of intellectual and cultural altruism. I imagine these meetings to be not only thought provoking, but mutually beneficial at the same time.

    It was only back in 2007 that I was developing a serious interest in the truth behind Globalization, and I started to inform myself on a variety of sources, le monde diplomatique’s excellent ‘Atlas Of Globalization’ was a good starting point for me. I started to realize the overwhelming scope of the interconnected aspects, globalization could become a curse or blessing, both was possible from my point of view. – Today, and especially because of the way it is executed, I rather think of it as a curse. –

    In my view of the world your questions 1,2 and 3 belong together in a sense, whereby Q3 is somewhat the headline, and Q1+2 can only be answered in the context of Q1 on that time scale.

    Some rather popular economist in Ireland recently claimed in a TV discussion that Capitalism is not an Ideology. I think it is even worse, it has quasi religious aspects that are expressed in the mathematized works of what I call provocatively ‘spread sheet schizophrenics’ who truly believe that a equation is a superior tool, they worship their very own gods, inflation and infinite growth . Economy at it’s very core is a social science of course, but this aspect has been substituted by a culture of grooming ‘Yes sayers’ that are willingly supporting the neo liberal doctrine. and they are rewarded in a complex system of education and professional employment opportunities. A PhD from London School of economics or Harvard will open different doors for your career prospects than a PhD from UAD or Trinity in Dublin. The recent trends in Europe in education, be it England or Italy, really wherever you look, there is a strong tendency to much greater ‘privatization’ and creating insurmountable financial entry hurdles to higher education. It is essentially an elitist system that grooms a certain culture of compliant behavior.

    This multi level and multi dimensional crisis cannot find solutions in a single discipline alone. The way the leading forces in Europe have dealt with the economic aspect alone in the past four years gives no reason for hope that the other aspects of this crisis are dealt with in a more efficient manner.

    To truly think global would be a first step towards a new and much required consensus that is inclusive of all cultures, and leaves behind post colonial attitudes.

    We live in a world where the biggest anti capitalist force on the planet, China, turned capitalist and this reality is expressed in many ways. The 12th five year plan that they recently produced is perhaps the biggest and most comprehensive plan that was ever produced, not only in economic terms. This in itself creates enormous challenges to western cultures, cultures that were dominating the globe, and this domination is inevitably on the decline.

    I would assume that most of the readers here are not in the league of ‘There is no climate change’, or ‘There is no overpopulation problem’, but if you should be in this league, you can stop reading right now, we will simply find no common ground.

    Freedom and Liberty were paid for with the ultimate price by uncountable lives. What we witness today is the dismantling of these achievements, and a social engineering at work that drives us back into time, into a quasi feudalistic structure with modern technological tools.

    Altruistic behavior is not exclusive to human beings, it can be observed in the animal world as well, hence is a very valid tool for survival strategies. Love and compassion are the ingredients of altruism that allows us to focus on the needs of others. To be willing and able to feel the social and physical pain and to act in ways to lessen these pains, it is this basic altruism that is required to build a better future consensus for all of us.

    Opposed to love and compassion are fear and hatred aggression, and both are very destructive forces that create nothing, but more fear. Greed and selfishness are part of the results of a culture that is based on fear and aggression. If you look at the constant media messages that are fired upon entire nations, they transport fear and consumerism, the latter being a substitute for a long lost substantial true meaning in once life.

    Happiness is the ultimate goal we all strive for, now go to one of the big cities for a few days and start counting the happy faces. It is much less time consuming to just count the happy faces. Happiness is dependent on our interaction with other people, but not only that, it is dependent on our interaction with everything around us, and respect for all creation, truly all creation. In April this year, it was the very first time that a leader of a country enshrined all rights that are granted to humans equally to mother earth. It is a reflection of a deeper understanding of the reality of interconnectedness and interdependency that is expressed in this act.

    This new law, which is part of a complete restructuring of Bolivia’s legal system and a radical change of their constitution, was strongly influenced by the indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth at the centre of all life and as a result, humans are now to be considered equal to all other entities. this is a profound step into a future that accepts the simple insight that we all share the same biosphere, that national borders are of no use at all when we are dealing with the results of decades lasting extortion of resources to the point of total exhaustion.

    The average US citizen consumes 30 pounds of resources every week, and to obtain these 30 pounds, a further 2,000 pounds are required, and are wasted in the process. There are many examples of a misguided use of our biosphere in a system that favors the enrichment of a few over the wellbeing of the many. In my understanding this is a great injustice, and there is no court that can be called upon to claim justice for those who are starving, those who are victimized by warlords and those who are condemned to a life lasting debt slavery by force.

    Our means of production and trade are not sufficient to deal with the new reality to maintain and enhance aspects of freedom, liberty, justice and democracy, the latter has been gang raped by transnational companies that forced laws into place to suit their purposes by means of extreme Lobby powers, coercion, bribery and corruption.

    This current economical ‘crisis’, I prefer the term heist, is engineered and the solutions for this crisis are prescribed by the very engineers themselves, their mouthpieces are the ‘politicians’ like Papandreou or Merkel and so many others. Disciples of a neo liberal doctrine, a quasi religion that has enabled transnational profiteers to span a web of power over the planet to extort more resources, and where they face resistance, they will create new laws, are brute force to achieve their goals. The globalization of the financial Industry has created a monster that destroys liberties, freedom, sovereignty and justice in it’s path, they are at the core of this crisis and were not dealt with, not in Washington, not in Brussels to date.

    Germany is about to sell 200 Tanks to Saudi Arabia. The entire market for weaponry is writing profits like crazy in the past few years, it is booming. Economy and war, geopolitical shifts and power dynamics, the ‘Arabian spring’, food price volatility and quantitative easing, the possibility of war with Iran, the decline of western cultural dominance and the dollar hegemony, peak oil, all this is and more, it is all interconnected, but in its complexity one simple truth remains, the rich got much richer, and ‘Too big to fail’ was not broken up into smaller entities, on the contrary they got even bigger.

    Perhaps a peaceful civil disobedience on a truly massive scale is required, it is of course a somewhat utopian vision, but it might really be the only realistic tool that is left to force change into a direction that is inclusive, compassionate and based on respect and love, not fear, hatred xenophobic views, nationalistic sentiments, post colonial thinking and sociopathic greed.

    Best
    Georg

    • Thank you Georg; it is wonderful to read something written form the heart; prompted by a small challenge; refused.

      “The globalization of the financial Industry has created a monster that destroys liberties, freedom, sovereignty and justice in it’s path, they are at the core of this crisis and were not dealt with, not in Washington, not in Brussels to date.”

      How very, very true.

      Chris.

  • Justice and Liberty

    Justice requires a minimum of two entities to be present in order to exist.
    Liberty can exist within a single intellect. One can be Just and necessarily either free or not via any definition of Liberty. However, one can be Free while being agnostic of Justice. Hence Liberty is defined before any definition of Justice is required. In fact one who is Free but initially agnostic of Justice he/she will be necessarily Unjust when Justice is introduced as Liberty will extend (e.g. liberty to kill) over all other intellects without the constraints of Justice. In fact, following the above train of thought, Liberty with Justice is a subset of Liberty without one.

    Hence, Justice can exist with Liberty but that Liberty will always be a subset of what Liberty could have been without Justice. The answer now depends on the definition of enemy. If someone who cuts you down in smaller pieces or restricts you is an enemy then yes Justice is an enemy of Liberty. If someone that allows you to exist by cutting you down in pieces is not a foe but a fiend then no Justice is not an enemy of Liberty. One could argue that without Justice someone’s Liberty is sacrificed; however at the same time someone else’s Liberty is increased. So we have a conservation of Liberty that is accumulated into less intellects. The limit to one entity accumulating all of Liberty is included. Less then one Liberty does not exist as previously defined.

    Liberty and Justice

    No, Liberty is not an enemy of Justice. Justice is the knife that cuts Liberty in an attempt to separate equal parts on some feature space. Justice cannot exist without Liberty.

    Maloudas

  • I am a physicist and regret of having only a superficial knowledge of the financial world. But I am also interested in what is happening to our world and to our societies as a whole and so I must get a deeper understanding of our problems in the financial sector. All these years, from my puberty until now, I have never been interested this. If this all would work as it should, then nobody should be interested in knowing how it works, right. The fact, that a person who wants to be informed and conscious of the issues in our times has to be an expert in this field, is in itself a sign, that there is something wrong here, right?

    I remember, 2008, after Lehmann Brothers, there was a lot of talking about the responsibility of normal people. Politicians in Germany advised people “you should byu, only something that you understand.” !!! What a hypocricy!!! If you do that, then you cannot even have a retirement provision or even a simple bank account!

    Honest, I don’t like a world in which every one has to be an expert in financial engineering in order to understand the world!

    • Very good point . It’s hypocricy indeed .I absolutely agree with you !
      And i would add , that causes , catalysts and implications can be found to some extent, for the crisis . Did the government try to tackle the problem ? The market of derivatives is still unrestricted , unconfined and anonymous .

      On the other hand , uncertainty and risk is passed on to citizens , who are treated by law as if they are characterized by total omniscience .

      News ways of government must be found .

      My personal belief is that we must denounce king Profit . I am not saying that from a political point of view . If the system rule is to maximize corporate profit , that’s what at least we expect to happen .

      In such a system , how can anybody complain that other aspects of human life are neglected ? Justice , Democracy and Education have already been privatized in terms of cost and efficiency .

  • Just to mention here Yannis that you are a living proof that curriculum can be changed irrespectively of the general economic circumstances…All other things been said are just excuses…

  • Q1:
    A:
    I would define solidarity, altruism and selfishness as behavioral patterns. As such they have been developed over the long human evolution and have also expressed themselves over the “civilized” period of history as social patterns as well. But one may ask, what the value of solidarity and altruism is if it incurs a cost on an individual to help another, while the benefit of selfishness is obvious.
    The answer I propose is the symbiotic organization of species, both in relation to other species as in relation to members of the same species whether they are lions, hunter-gatherers or Europeans.
    Group organizations have formed in nature because they have proved to be infinitely more successful in evolutionary terms than individualism. Think for example a wolf trying to catch big pray alone and then trying with his whole pack. Solidarity of members in this example promotes group selfishness and success. In fact it can be noted that selfish behavior among animals in a group leads to the other members of the group taking “corrective action” in the form of biting, pack exemption or courts-of-law, to keep the efficient structure of the group functioning.
    In ancient “barbarian” human societies we have also seen solidarity and altruism in the form of taking care of children of fallen comrades, or assistance through sickness by sharing precious little available food. The reason for that is that this kind of behavior although painful to the “givers” due to associated costs, did give better chances of survival to members of the group and increased chances of “passing on someones genes”. These ancient understandings have given rise to modern “welfare” in an organized form to promote social stability. The modern belief that such a system could work for profit has yet to be tested, although I have a feeling that “selfish” behavior induced from the pursuit of profit (lower costs, cheaper material, longer workhours for human doctors) might render the system unstable and sub-optimal.
    So what I submit is that solidarity and altruism are not at all altruist behaviors. In fact they hide a very shrewd calculation of selfish gain for the group as the whole in the long run. That is why caring for the poor is selfish because if you don’t, the poor might rob you or kill you to sustain themselves. That is why caring for the tropical rainforest is selfish since if you don’t and it disappears the climatological and ecological disruption could influence your life in a dramatic way. In fact it is not a form of altruism the fiscal help northern Europeans send to the lazy southerners as some propose, as if they did not a chain of detrimental events would have a terrible effect on the “altruist’s” life.
    In the long run all altruism is selfish.

    B:
    Freedom: An impulse that shows the way of most favorable outcome. The ability of making irrational choices for a purpose.

    • Alexander:

      Freedom means lack of coersion, a state of free thinking. An absolute requirement for democracy to exist.

  • Question 1 (B)

    Still, this is not a contribution to the competition.

    Tongue in cheek; Of course, you do have the bourgeoise freedom to call for contributions to your competition, setting a deadline, but without explaining the process of judgement. 😉

    The by far most difficult question to answer is 1 (B). It is not really a questions but a demand for a definition.

    There are many aspects to consider, but perhaps ‘we’ succeeded to begin answering this question in it’s complexity by this document:

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

    As I expressed in my text before, Bolivia enshrined human rights for mother earth in their legislation, and this profound step was so well perceived that it triggered an immediate discussion in the highest circles of the United Nations how to enshrine this in a universal declaration as well. I am not sure what the progress on this is to date, but to me it is quite logical to proceed and grant the very same rights to the planet we live on that we claim for ourselves.

    The reason I point to the above document is because there is a direct dependency that needs to be acknowledged.

    Freedom and peace, how can one exist without the other?

    How could we even begin to create a society that is based on compassion, if freedom and peace are denied to many nations and their citizens?

    How could we possibly begin to implement peace, which is more than the pure absence of war, and freedom as long as we continue to violate human rights, and the rights of mother earth? Oppression and repression in it’s many phenomenological forms are another barrier that prevents peace, freedom, social justice and stability to form a basis for future generations.

    Perhaps, and from a psychological point of view, if we start to acknowledge our differences as human beings, this great variety of cultures and identities, as beautiful and a source of creativity, and focus on what we all have in common, instead of creating a constant fear of all things different, we might just have taken a step into the right direction.

    As long as we allow fear to be the motivation for our activities, we will not succeed. Having said that, there are useful fears of course, the are hardwired into our brains, fear of fire triggers flight for example, and this is a useful fear, but most of the fears that are created and published these days are created on purpose of manipulation and repression. They serve the purpose to manufacture consent and steer emotions of entire nations.

    Awareness is the solution to these problems. All discrimination needs to be substituted with the guiding insight of the principal equality of all human beings.

    A few days ago learned that the nephew of a close friend has committed suicide. A crafts man by trade, without the perspective to secure an income, existing debts impossible to repay as a result put him under a great deal of stress and he saw no other way. He was only 28 years young. There was always a direct relationship of every percentage of loans forced upon nations by the IMF and the increase of suicides, and premature death by cutting down of health services. The overwhelming power of economical institutions prevents freedom to flourish and they pose a immense threat towards human rights. In my view we should abolish this Institution of IMF, and dismantle it once and for all.

    Freedom requires serious dialectical analysis, a process of philosophical reflection to rescue the term itself from the waffle of economic institutions that pursue the exact opposite of freedom, debt enslavement and unfreedom.

    Legal and constitutional implications of freedom are required to be inclusive of more than human beings alone, this is why Bolvia’s move is such an outstanding example. If our discussions of freedom in societies are degenerated to views of the world, they are nothing but a concept of bourgeois emancipation, archaic and fail to acknowledge the truth of the specific idea of freedom, in effect the reduction to world views alone, which somehow are fed into nationalistic sentiments as well reduce the concept of freedom, and create unfreedom instead, and from here it turns into nothing ore but a slogan that is abused by the engineers of unfreedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom is such an example.

    Of course, I m drawn to Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Adorno’s lectures and other great minds that pondered on freedom, but after all, I recognize that freedom as a concept is one of the most important underlying forces that should drive our societies into what I would call a second age of enlightenment.

    I shall leave it with an expression of hope, because all crisis are chance at the same time, offer new ways, offer other perspectives and solutions, and it is here that I would demand a paradigm shift from those who are in power, a paradigm shift as drastic as the move from the Newtonian age to quantum physics was, we need this paradigm shift to create future that is based on compassion.

    Before this paradigm shift can be achieved, there has to be awareness, from here on, everything is possible.

    All my best
    Georg

  • Some thoughts on the Liberty/Justice question.

    If we define Liberty as “a concept in political philosophy that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions” and Justice as “the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics” (both definitions taken from Wikipedia), then it is crystal clear that Justice imposes restrictions on human behaviour and therefore is an enemy of Liberty.

    On the other hand Liberty may or may not be an enemy of Justice, depending on whether the person chooses of his/her own accord to follow certain rules even though they are not imposed upon him/her.

    In my opinion the key word here is choice.

    In an ideal world all human beings would live in Liberty and each person would choose to behave in a responsible manner. Under these conditions there would be no need for Justice. For such a world to exist, human beings should be equipped with the trait of “right” choice. However, in our less than perfect world, human beings do not always know what the “right” choice is, or, even though they know, they do not act on it (unfortunately this is becoming more frequent in our times). In order to balance this we need the concept of Justice and trade-off some Liberty.

    One other important point. We should not confuse Justice with Law. There have been too many examples of unjust laws in human history. In many cases laws even become a vehicle for the powerful to enforce their interests on a society without raising an opposition and allows them to pretend they are not responsible for what is happening.

    Take for example the clause in the Greek constitution regarding the corruption of MPs. Every time a scandal comes out in Greece, the politicians start an “in-depth” investigation in parliament (takes months to complete), then they say “OK, we found something wrong may be here, so now we will send it over to the judges, because it is their business from now on”. Then the judges say “Oh-oh, according to clause #such# and paragraph #such# we cannot investigate further and bring the guilty to justice because the time interval since the criminal action has exceeded the allowed time, as specified in the constitution.” So everyone is free and happy and the politicians tell the people “What could we do? It was not our responsibility. Next time we must change the constitution so that the same rules that apply to common people apply for the MPs as well”. Of course, this change has not happened all these 30 years. I am saying this not because I believe that we must do away with laws (although it would be nice if we could). In our present day society we need laws. But the fewer and simpler, the better Justice can be served. And of course, every person is responsible for his/her actions and cannot hide this responsibility behind a law, be it just or unjust.

    Finally, I give here an extract from Frank Herbert’s “Dune Messiah”, which I found very interesting. In this, Emperor Paul Atreidis speaks to his council concerning a request from a power-group for a constitution:

    “Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny,” Paul said. “They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations. I, however, have limitations. In my desire to provide an ultimate protection for my people, I forbid a constitution.”

    P.S. Please send my prize to Mr G. A. Papandreou or Mrs A. Merkel with my best regards.

  • Hate to disrupt paper grading, but this is the best article yet on the subject (an opinion piece from the New York Times).

    And I quote:

    “The latest chapter in the sorry saga was written over the past week. At the insistence of European political leaders, Greece’s governing Socialists voted to apply another dose of growth-killing austerity to the country’s nearly inert economy. Austerity measures in the past have done more harm than good, but threatened with a cutoff of needed European loans, the Socialists saw no other responsible course. (Opposition conservatives ignored European pressures and voted no.)

    In return, Europe was supposed to release the next installment of bailout money and come up with a new long-term assistance plan designed to permit Greece to recover and repay. Predictably, the short-term money, urgently needed to keep French and German banks solvent, was easily approved. Long-term relief, urgently needed to keep Greek hopes for recovery alive, was put off until after Europe’s August holiday.

    Waiting accomplishes nothing. In two months, there is every likelihood that Greece’s debts will be larger, private investors more skittish, and interest rates higher. And the re-election contests that dominate the thinking of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France will be that much closer.

    Greece’s debts will keep rising as interest rates remain very high and its economic growth very slow. Greece now pays more than 20 percent for private lending and more than 5 percent for European bailout money. Its economy has been shrinking for a third straight year.

    Lower interest rates and higher growth rates are the key to avoiding default. One quick way to reduce interest rates would be to issue new European bonds to refinance much of Greece’s existing debt. The European Union, which has a good credit rating, can raise funds at between 3 percent and 4 percent interest. Other options exist, but all involve refinancing by existing Europe-wide financial institutions, like the European Central Bank, or new ones.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/opinion/07thu1.html

  • Q2

    Justice can not be undestood out of social coexistence. What could mean “justice” for people living alone?

    The same happens with the meaning of liberty. Individuals dream for freedom, not liberty. Liberty is freedom limited by others’ existence and will and thus, is a term that has to do with social living as well.

    Having the above definitions in mind, it seems clear to me, that justice and liberty are meanings that have been created to cooperate, in order to serve the modern need of social coexistence and to legitimate the political power of certain elits. Social coexistence (specially in the modern era) demands justice, hoping for liberty (and vice versa).

    So we talk about friends, not enemies.
    Out of organized society (from the individuals’ point of view) justice and liberty are simply enemies of freedom.

  • Hi all.

    Nice questions. I will try to give very simple answers.

    I will give the answers by using an “intellectual trick” that i call Frame Analysis.
    Like a small kid ,I simply draw squares one inside the other and appoint them properties.

    The analysis starts with the notion that everything is interconnected with interchangeable properties.

    The guiding rules are simple and are actually observations everyone reaches ,after a good understanding of a matter:

    1) Nature and her physical laws are the primary guide ,whether you like or not (at least in the Universe we are or we think we are experiencing).

    2) Everything is defined in reference to something else.

    3) The properties of a term ,except its core defininition ,are defined in reference to another term and its properties.

    Then the analysis takes place in a controlled environment (absolute terms) and a dynamic one (relative and absolute terms).

    Cutting a long story short this is my answer for Q1.

    1A)
    Relative is absolute and absolute is relative.
    Even with the restrictions of Mother Nature ,the Human beings are the ones that decide about the use of the terms.

    Still they belong to a wider frame of physical laws and situations with which in their everyday life must comply. But when it comes to human behaviour everything can be turned upside down. Everything has to do with human behaviour. The smaller the interaction ,the smaller the affect. When we try to define terms by themselves alone in a dynamic situation ,we restrict ourselves and draw erroneous conclusions.
    Is it solidarity alone we want to define or a combination of properties that are best described using more than one term ,like perhaps altruistic solidarity or selfish altruism or justifiable liberty?

    The fact of the matter is that ,considering the chaotic mechanisms of human behaviour and Nature ,everything may apply. Solidarity can be a part of selfishness and not. It depends on the situation and person.

    It is my opinion that since we perceive economic science as a social science (about time) ,the question could have been: In todays social ,political and economical patterns ,are solidarity and altruism ,nothing more than forms of enlightened selfishness? The answer then would depend on the different behavioural patterns of individuals and cultures. In todays so called civilized world the answer seems to be YES.

    1B)
    I will first define Morphosis. It is a mistake that we translate the word education as morphosis. It seems to me that morphosis is beyond knowledge as we obtain it. Everyone acquires morphosis over time. Morphosis is the holistic development of one. And it is a continuous procedure as everything else. What ever restricts morphosis and thus the expression of one’s soul ,constitutes lack of Freedom.
    But Freedom is also an interdependent term. If we use as point of reference the basic traits of a human being ,the traits that describe the respect of life in Nature ,then a simple definition of Freedom can be this:
    Do as you like as long as you do not intervene “destructively” to other forms and situations. What “destructively” means ,you learn by morphosis.

    ——————————————————-

    Q 2 3 and 4
    Without analyzing specific situations ,these questions can be answered the same way.

    If one uses not ethics and respect ,one focuses not on the here and now of one’s own life ,then most possibly justice can become liberty’s enemy and/or vice versa.

    As for capitalism or any other term used to describe a system ,it depends on human behaviour as anything else. It is the wider frame of things people have opted to experience ,knowingly or not. Not is the most obvious answer ,so there can be no true freedom in capitalism ,not because it is capitalism’s fault ,but because we accept the creation of situations by others without understanding.

    A true system of Liberty (social ,political ,economical – must be one and the same) is a system a kid can understand. A system noone needs to study for hours. Noone needs that kind of education ,for education of today is more of a stalling mechanism of human development and conditioning of accepting situations as is. Away with that please.

    If i were asked to use a term for a political ideology i choose (which i do not) ,i would say “AnarchoDemocrat”. A person-state.

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Answer of question one(1) must be less than 500 words.

    Ciao.

  • Relative to Question 1a and 1b, I wrote this in 2003.

    A Christmas Thought

    When you next go to the opera, think about why you are there? When we enjoy another person singing or dancing, we gain enjoyment, not because of what we see, rather, from what we cannot achieve ourselves. Whatever our pleasure, it is in knowing that we are looking at something we cannot do for ourselves alone. Our modern civilisation has been constructed upon the fact that we earn our pleasures in life from a lot of other individuals combining their input to our lives to make the whole better. We are completely interdependent with each other for the success of our lives.

    But, imagine, now, we have shackled the artist to the easel, they become our slave. In so doing, we lose sight of the fact that it is the very freedom of spirit of the artist to draw and paint exactly what they feel that creates great art. A shackled artist cannot do that. Nor can we become that artist, or singer. Every one of us excels at what we do when we are free so to do.

    The investment of capital has today become a feudal world of control and order where everyone has to become shackled from first contact. New business creator’s lives are now ordered, confined by strict rules of engagement and rigid thinking. But, such rules suit a line manager. True leaders in any community are the free thinkers; individuals that can lift all our eyes from the daily toil and state the obvious. Such leadership should be visible at all levels of society, not just at the very top. Today, much of society is leaderless and shackled. As a result, we have a demotivated uncivilised general population. You only need to see the young people drinking themselves senseless with binge drinking here in the UK to see this as a reality.

    The true aiming point of any civilisation is surely to unshackle the lives of as many as possible? We are not here to make a profit without also leaving everyone we touch in a better state. No community saves its money for the savings institution to improve itself at the expense of the saver.

    We need to find a way forward that makes it possible for everyone to be able to live full lives unshackled to the utter stupidity that we cannot be permitted to be both free and successful.

    Civilisation surely demands everyone is left free to pursue their lives as they think fit? We must recognise that if investment is not civilised, and the recipient is not left free, we are living in a feudal rather than a civilised society.

    Please, think about that.

    • There is methodology behind all this, it can be observed and described as the ‘phasing in’ of a new social reality.

      More and more austerity is demanded, the wellbeing of nations is not their concern, but to get paid. The uncivilized finance industry is a modern version of Pol Pot, their resulting austerity demands is nothing more but social genocide.

      The dramatic factor in all this is TIME. The longer they succeed implementing their new reality, by means of changing laws and adding bills, the harder it will be to ridden ourselves from these new structures, which ultimately will end up in a police state like reality.

      Imho, what we really are dealing with is essentially financial fascism.

    • Dear Chris. Please read this: http://wp.me/p1c6I1-gr Your entry was judged a joint gold medal winner but came second only because the other contender’s piece was written exclusively for this humble competition. Would you accept a free pdf of the said book as a second prize?

  • Question 2

    Prevention is the key explanatory component of justice mitigates the social events that restrict the liberty, but always achieves its purpose. Consequently, justice is wearing the cloak of repression to restore the situation by sharing a “justice”. From one hand can punish the dare to challenge its preventive role and on the other hand to compensate the injured-insulted person from the act of questioning, morally and materially.
    There is a saying that says a person’s liberty limits end where it begins the liberty of another (this of course can apply to a group of people). Here is the topic of choice. I choose to do something (eg smoke) because I am free to do (= not prohibited by the by law), but I can not do it (= because it is forbidden by the law) anywhere, as in a hospital.
    I think the ‘free’ options a person has, refers as an abstract set of prohibitions (if not prohibited, then permitted – but it can be banned the next day with a law that relies on reasoning force). Tries – apparently at least – to set the best possible individual liberty on the possible options within the overall society.
    There is liberty of everyone, there is liberty of thought, expression, there is liberty of productive resources, there is liberty of goods, etc. But restrictions apply in any kind of liberty. Some restrictions are set by us, by our opinion of justice and not the regular laws.
    If you ask 1,000 people what liberty is, you will get 1,000 different answers. For me, liberty is the possible existence of fewer restrictions as far as it will not break the balance of justice. Over-normalization or over-regulation of all things in human lives – on the pretext being justice – is a form of extreme lack of liberty that has historically pushed conscience minded people to create subversive movements.

  • Question 1

    (1a) It is under the influence of such romantic ideas that individualism or “solidarity” is still identified with egoism, as it was by Plato, and “altruism” with collectivism. Being the heroes on the Stage of History; for a small risk, meant that someone could gain great rewards. This is exactly the dubious morality that gave power to political and intellectual aristocrats. Our ethical education must follow suit. We must be taught to do our work; to make our sacrifice for the sake of this work, and not for praise or the avoidance of blame. -It should perhaps be admitted that the “Heraclitean” ethics, the doctrine that the higher reward is that which only posterity can offer, may in some way perhaps be slightly superior to an ethical doctrine which teaches us to look out for reward now. This is the place where enlightened selfishness rises. In fact, we need an ethics which defies success and reward. You can either be a Great Man, a Hero wrestling with fate and earning fame (‘the greater the fall, the greater the fame’, says Heraclitus), or belong to ‘the masses’ and submit yourself to leadership and sacrifice yourself to the higher cause of your collective. There is a neurotic, an hysterical element in this exaggerated stress on the importance of the tension between the self and the collective, and I do not doubt that this hysteria (or enlightened selfishness), this reaction to the strain of civilization, is the secret of the strong emotional appeal of the ethics of hero-worship, of the ethics of domination and submission.
    As far as, politics is concerned, the politician should limit himself to fighting against evils, instead of fighting for ‘positive’ or ‘higher’ values, such as happiness, prosperity etc. On the other hand, teachers should not impose a scale of ‘higher’ values upon their pupils; they certainly should try to stimulate their interest on political thinking for example.

    (1b) Sir Karl Raimund Popper, in “Unended Quest; An Intellectual Autobiography, 1976” says that “the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.” This leads to another idea that Popper had stated the so- called paradox of freedom. According to this argument freedom in the sense of absence of any restraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. This could lead to the end of social justice (John Rawls), since freedom is not to be confused with making good an unequal liberty. In other words equality and freedom are not to be confused with making an unequal liberty. The basic structure is to be arranged to maximize the worth to the least advantaged of the complete scheme of equal liberty shared by all.

  • At the final moment, I submit my humble contribution:
    Question 1
    (A)
    Positioning oneself on other people’s problems is one of the basic issues that define our existence and way of life. One of the basic drives, egoism, is a notion that expresses man’s preference for his own benefit or utility over others’. This preference does not necessarily mean that others’ utility should be smaller than e.g. Nick’s, but it certainly means that if one out of two utilities should be increased at the expense of the other then that should be Nick’s. Thus, in a Pareto optimal society, selfishness at some point will benefit the beholder over all society.

    On the other hand, there is altruism, which appears when Nick sacrifices his utility over that of a beloved one. In this case, selfishness is diminished and replaced by a primitive internal need for sacrifice which may result even in total loss of utility. If altruism does not take Nick’s life, this loss is replaced by a feeling of fulfilled purpose (whether this feeling falls into the sphere of increased utility or not, is a matter of a different context, since Pareto optimal worlds do not seem to accept a universe where everyone can be happier without anyone getting less happy). Solidarity has been in the centre of attention of both political economics and game theory, something that makes calling upon definitions (without proper formulation) very difficult. One may adopt the definition of solidarity as Nick acting in favor of a group of people in need without having any association with them, thus increasing their collective utility. In a Pareto optimal world, someone has to lose some utility for the group to increase theirs, so if Nick thinks that he will lose some of his own (i.e. Nick himself will not benefit, or benefit less than the sacrifice that he makes) then solidarity can be considered true; if he thinks that there is benefit for him now or in the future (his interests coincide with the interests of the group) then his solidarity can be considered false and not ‘enlightened’ at all (Nick cannot expect to express his solidarity to every group without at some point creating damage to a group that he actually belongs to).

    To conclude, although selfishness and altruism lay on the very opposite sides of life, solidarity appears in a grey zone in between, which has two sides; one where people lose some of their utility to truly help others and another were ‘endarkened’ selfishness prevails and giving becomes a form of future safety-net for the giver.

    (B)
    Freedom, apart from being a word that gets 623,000,000 hits in google search, is the state of mind that may appear when a person’s life lacks constraints of:
    • basic human needs coverage (physical, mental and emotional)
    • thought
    • action
    and at the same time this person sets own limits to her actions in order to satisfy the lack of these constraints for all other people.

    Kind regards

    geotentes