Atheist Centre 50+ Golden Jubilee (1940-1990)
International Conference on
"Future of Atheism -- Humanism"
Vijayawada, December 29-31, 1990
[OCR, HTML, editing, Cliff Walker]

Freedom -- Practical Need
K. Jena
[The marks "(?)" are in the original publication. -- C.W.]

Freedom is a widespread diction of the modern world. Previously bourgeois democracy was beating the drums of freedom. Now 'Socialist Countries' (?) claim that they are adhering to the principles of freedom after the implementation of 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika' in Soviet Union. But in practice what we observe in different countries capitalist or 'Socialist' (?) nowhere in this world we find individuals are allowed freedom. On the other hand the most painful thing is every where in the world we find the concept of freedom mostly distorted or misinterpreted. In some cases it can be observed that the political parties and other forms of social organisations who claim to be fighting for the cause of freedom do not grant freedom to their own people. State is so oppressive that it will put you behind the bars if you demand freedom true to sense. The ruling class and the state interpret and allow freedom according to their own suitability. Always we find the state has formulated certain rules and regulations not to grant freedom to its citizens but for its own smooth functioning. If you are obeying the rules and regulations of the state even if it goes against your interest then you will be appreciated. But if you are not obeying the rules and regulations of the state which curtails your right then you will be branded as an anarchist or antisocial or terrorist,

Individual Freedom and State

Now the question arises whether a man can be free by obeying the rules, regulations and commands of the state?

The answer will be 'yes' if the state functions as a non-oppressive voluntary form of social organisation without any authoritarian tendency. Only in such a state the existence of human being can be free. If all countries of the globe would function in a similar fashion in the ultimate process the states shall cease to be states and the entire humankind will become one. But precondition to such a system is to understand the concept of freedom properly.

According to Hegel as interpreted by Engels "Freedom is the recognition of your necessity." Some say necessity is to be determined by social condition. All the necessity of human beings can not be fulfilled unless and until the same human beings create a condition for it. But in the long course of history it has been observed that what ever social conditions has been created by people is not being enjoyed by the same people. On the contrary a selected few enjoy the cream. They are the landlords, kings, capitalists and bureaucrats. By virtue of becoming a landlord, king, capitalist and bureaucrat a limited few enjoy the entire surplus of the society.

Freedom and Capitalism

One may assume that in a feudal-capitalistic set up all these above elites are free human beings. Of course they are free human beings so far poverty is concerned. Again it is by appropriating the wealth of others. But they are not free from the social process as a whole. In a capitalistic system the capitalist is not free from capital and the capitalistic production process. As such he subjugates himself to the entire process.

In a capitalistic society capital has an universal role of self-creation (with regard to organisation of labour & production) and self-destruction (with regard to stiff competition and recession). In the case of stiff competition, if the capitalist doesn't adopt an unhealthy method there is every possibility that he may be doomed. When confronted with above reality the capitalist subjugates himself to the process and becomes dehumanised. And the whole tragedy is that it results in the loss of identity of the capitalist as a human being. As such the capitalist becomes a tool to the capital in a capitalistic system.

It is pertinent to mention it here that socialism has miserably failed in the world and most of the 'Socialist Countries' (?) accepted the position of State Capitalism, and a new bureaucratic class has emerged there, like the capitalist class of other countries.

Because of the above situation in both the countries capitalist or 'Socialist' (?) the condition of the common man is more or less precarious. They do not enjoy economic freedom nor individual freedom.

Thus nowadays in the age of global capitalism the old master-slave relationship is re-oriented and nobody is free; neither the capitalist nor the bureaucrat nor the other working people.

Hence capitalism is an oppressive system and freedom is unattainable in this system where capital masters human consciousness. Then the question arises in which system freedom is attainable?

Previously it is discussed that freedom can not be achieved unless and until the same human being creates a condition for it. Let us analyse what would be that condition.

Freedom -- Discovering Self

Some argue that freedom can be achieved by providing the basic necessities of human being, i.e., food, clothing, shelter, health, education, transport and entertainment. But this prescription for achieving freedom through material imperatives is a narrow way of understanding the concept. Freedom is not just enjoyment of material sufficiency. It is both material and emotional prosperity, i.e., prosperity of mind and heart along with material fulfilment. To achieve freedom means to discover the self, no boredom. no nausea. It is a total liberation and total emancipation of human being. If freedom is really achieved there is no need to run after SADHUS & MONKS for salvation nor getting up addicted to drugs. So freedom is a journey from loss of self to discovery of self. In a concrete state of freedom the world will become fully blossomed world.

Emotional Aspect and Freedom

To create such a condition human being has to achieve mostly FREEDOM OF LOVE & SEX and to overcome POVERTY & IGNORANCE. Much of affluence is not required for this. Biological and mental composition of human being is historically moulded in such a way that without a total discoursement of all his will and activities he can not feel free or liberated. For example a person after achieving all material prosperity if be sexually oppressed (due to imposition of false moral standards and false legislation by society and state) or denied of love (where family members and society obstruct love) feels his or her freedom arrested.

On the other hand if the society is not providing minimum knowledge to all human beings about different areas of its activities then he feels ignorant and alienated. And some times out of ignorance he surrenders himself to almighty or PANDITS (intellectuals). Ignorance leads humans to inferiority complex. And inferiority complex creates letharginess and mental inertia in them. As such an age old passiveness and cynicism surrounds like a wall around him. So individual becomes inactive in all spheres.

So for liberation and total emancipation of human being freedom is an essential criterion for it. Thus for total emancipation and liberation one has to achieve freedom, especially freedom of sex & love and freedom from poverty and ignorance.

Constant Effort for Freedom

But the ruling classes that believe in status-quo (not in change) have never allowed and will never allow the common people to organise themselves to achieve freedom on the above lines. The ruling class always propagates that if the people are granted freedom on the above lines the state will collapse, the society will collapse and there will be an absolute condition of anarchy. As a result of which the entire human-kind will suffer.

From the beginning of the class society the ruling class has persistently adopted and will continue to adopt an oppressive formula of subjugation for its own sustenance. To counter the above method of subjugation by the ruling class the oppressed people should organise themselves in a global scale with a new idea of freedom. As such one has to liberate one self from the bondage of family, state, religion and caste. For this they have to bear the idea of self-emancipation with an egalitarian outlook.

This may seem to be an utopian idea. In fact it is not.

From 'Vedic' age to modern capitalism human being is persistently trying to achieve freedom and equality. He has fought a lot. Still has not reached near the goal yet. But certainly he will. An uneven enjoyment of global resources and an uneven understanding of historical knowledge can not continue to an unprecedented time. "Man was born free but everywhere he is in chains". But he can not bear the chains for ever. A little spark of idea of freedom will set him free if it is universally understood and globally practised.