Philosophie: Freiheit

Freiheit ist ein Thema für Philosophen, Politikwissenschaftler, Verfassungsgeber, Diktatoren. Freiheit hat eine Unzahl von Betrachtungen erfahren, muss täglich aufs Neue verhandelt werden und ist regelmäßig bedroht und gefährdet. Freiheit, so könnte man sagen, ist ein flüchtiges Konzept oder wie William E. Simon anmerken, dass Freiheit eines der Konzepte ist, von denen man erst versteht, was sie bedeuten, wenn sie nicht mehr vorhanden sind. Überhaupt hat Simon einige interessante Anmerkungen in seiner Betrachtung zur Freiheit, die mehr und mehr zu einem Zeitgeistthema zu werden scheint:

“Freedom is strangely ephemeral. It is something like breathing; one only becomes acutely aware of its importance when one is chocking. Similarly, it is only when one confronts political tyranny that one really grasps the meaning and importance of freedom. What I actually realized in Air Force Two is that freedom is difficult to understand because it isn’t a presence but and absence – an absence of governmental constraint. People who are unfamiliar with severe political constraints – severe enough to make them aware that they have lost their freedom – often don’t know what freedom is and on what it depends.

This was true of me, and it tends to  be generally true of Americans, who have had the unique privilege of living in a nation that was organized, constitutionally and economically, for one purpose above all: to protect that freedom. Our Founding Fathers, for whom the knowledge of the centuries of tyranny that had preceded them was vivid and acute, were guided in the creation of our political and economical system by that knowledge; virtually every decision they made was to bind the state in chains to protect the individual’s freedom of thought, choice, and action – to protect that ephemeral thing called freedom.

I have also come to realize that of all the aspects of political freedom guaranteed to us by our Constitution, freedom of action – most particularly of productive action or free enterprise – is the least understood. For years, in Washington, I have been watching the tragic spectacle of citizens’ groups, businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats and media people systematically laying waste to our free enterprise system and our freedom even as they earnestly – and often sincerely – proclaimed their devotion to both. Again, this widespread incomprehension is largely due to the fact that freedom of action, including freedom of productive action, is simply a subdivision of freedom; it, too, is an absence rather than a presence – an absence of governmental constraint. By whatever name one wishes to call this category of free human action – free enterprise, the free market, capitalism – it simply means that men are free to produce. They are free to discover, to invent, to experiment, to succeed, to fail, to create means of production, to exchange goods and services, to profit and consume – all on a voluntary basis without significant interference by the policing powers of the state. In the most fundamental sense, the right to freedom in this entire chain of productive action adds up to the right to life – for man, by his nature, is a being who produce in order to live.


In other words, government’s power, said Locke, was logically limited to the protection of each individual’s right to his life, his liberty, and his property, and any government that interfered with these rights instead of protecting them was illegitimate” (19-20).