9 July 2021: Generally speaking, the definition of freedom is the condition of being free of existing restraints with the ability to act without control or interference by another entity or circumstance. Based on the very definition of freedom, the vast majority of the planet, including the likes of major countries such as the United States, don't actually have freedom at all.
This article will explore what freedom actually is, the forms it takes, and attempt to redefine true freedom by including factors outside our traditional sense of the word. These are the opinions of the author.
How We Define Freedom Today
The most obvious view of freedom that we have today is based on the laws and rights in any given country that dictates the level of control the government has over its constituents. The greater the freedom, based on this logic, the more protecting laws and rights that country should have and be honoring. The classification of actual freedoms goes far beyond this widespread understanding.
There are many different forms in which freedom can take. The above point, the most widely accepted view of freedom, can be referred to as political freedom. This is just the freedom an individual has from a political or government perspective. An additional way to view freedom is from the economic perspective. Economic freedom generally consists of "personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete in markets, and protection of person and property" (World Population Review). Based on this definition, systems such as Capitalism are considered the "most free" due to the privatization of capital away from the hands of the government. When critically examining Capitalism, and many other economic systems, however, this is far from the truth.
Redefining What It Means to be Free
Any country can give its citizens a long list of rights and freedoms in which it will be revered as a "free nation". However, without the ability to act and utilize those given freedoms, none of those individuals are free. When combining the political freedoms with economic freedoms for a more complete definition, the picture of true freedom changes.
With widespread wealth inequality, most of the world does not have the freedom to move around, live comfortably, or even carry the ability to freely choose what direction they want their lives to go. The United States is an ironic nation because even though it claims to be the "freest nation on Earth" it is actually not even in the top 10 by traditional measures of freedom.
Top 10 freest countries in the world today according to Total Freedom Score.
When accounting for financial freedom, the United States is severely lacking in true freedom overall. Think of it this way. The top 1% of the population own most of the wealth, capital, and assets. This means they have the freedom to literally go about the world as they see fit, including having direct control over each and every other person's lives. This will be further explained in the following graphics and paragraph. Consider the following graphs from Inequality.org:
Trillions lost by the masses during the Covid-19 pandemic went to the world's billionaires, one of the biggest wealth transfers in the history of the world.
43% of the world's wealth is held by the super rich (top 1%)
Another graph dictating the massive discrepancy of wealth accumulated by the top 1% versus the actual % share of the population.
With such a vast proportion of the wealth, they are able to directly influence governmental policy. They have direct control over each person's financial situations due to the mass ownership of existing capital. So, the power of the world is not even in the governments that each nation elects, it is now in the hands of unelected, super-rich individuals. If you are forced to work long hours each and every day just to get by because the super wealthy are following the capitalistic approach (reducing the costs of labor in order to boost their bottoms lines), are you actually free or just part of their money- generating machine?
Creating an Alternative to Traditional Finance - The Role of DeFi
Many of the individuals that have been apart of the cryptocurrency space understand this concept. Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, understood this profoundly well and Bitcoin was born out of an era in which it became inherently obvious that true freedom was found in the economic and financial system, not through the ballot box (in reference to the 2008 Financial Crisis).
Society cannot move forward because the majority of the people living within it have no freedom to improve their own positions past covering their basic needs of survival. Until the bottom rung of basic needs is handled, no one can focus on issues above their own survival. Thus, in the long term, society cracks and crumbles under its own weight because it cannot continue to grow. Climate change is such a catastrophic issue because most of the world does not have the means to care about it past those basic survival needs (such as securing food, water, and shelter - all major areas of profit creation within current economies). The other half of that coin comes from the super rich refusing to change their means of energy extraction despite profound evidence of the detrimental consequences.
Cryptocurrencies are the very first global alternative to traditional finance that has the means to be accessed by virtually anyone. Just by supporting crypto, you are directly supporting a "rebel" system to the traditional powers in the world - the billionaires, the central bankers, and the career politicians. By redistributing that freedom to the masses, all of society will benefit from an improved vision of the world and themselves. This is accomplished through the developing infrastructure of DeFi - decentralized finance.
Wile DeFi still has a long way to go, the foundations for a truly people-controlled means of financial freedom are upon us. Without centralized control, it limits the massive power and influence of the super rich over the daily lives of much of the world. This could be the first steps towards a more equal future for humanity.
If the current system does not support the true definition of freedom in modern human society, than what is the alternative and better replacement? This fact is up for debate. Until we see each of our fellow human beings as equals, things will likely not change. Hyper individualism has led us to a strict competition view of society rather than a collaborative one. The interesting thing about that viewpoint is the persons that have accumulated the most wealth already have won the game. Outside of a massive shift in technology and power, the vast majority of people on this planet will never even make $1 million let alone become a billionaire. This is because nearly all of the capital is already owned by the few, not the many.
Without the financial means to act on your political freedoms, are you actually free? I would like to argue that you are not. Not in the true sense of the word anyway. Consider the definition of freedom one more time - the condition of being free of existing restraints with the ability to act without control or interference by another entity or circumstance. The controlling entity keeping you from true freedom is wealth, controlled by the super rich. No elected official can fix that.
What do you believe freedom is? How would you change the world today to be more free? Leave your comments below!