Freedom is the natural state of mankind - interactions with fellow humans causes the need for laws and boundaries - evil within man causes the need for defenses and htir attendant organizations[/quote]
Let me dissent. As I have said before and I will say again & again, freedom, equality and justice are human concepts to regulate human behavior. They have no analogs in the natural world, where aggression rules.
The issue I have with your statement Irish (oh and I really do enjoy your writings, but I think this hits a larger issue) is that by taking an artificial state and declaring it ‘natural’, Rousseau – the father of this line of thought – introduced probably the worst single bit of philosophy into Western thinking and for my money, the root cause of many, many other ills.
By reducing freedom to some undefinable natural state, virtually any property can be ascribed to it. Moreover, no discussion of it can occur (“Freedom defined is Freedom denied!” as the campus anarchists like to spray paint on anything that doesn’t move). It makes it too easy to turn all serious discourse into sloganeering about victimization and oppression. After all, no laws or understanding is needed to breath, since that is natural, as is walking, right? If freedom is as natural as all that, any laws about it are, indeed, just comically authoritarian. On the other hand, if freedom results in the context of human interactions, then we should be able to not merely understand it and its social function, we should be able to allow it.
So, here is my definition: “Freedom is the ability to set and follow your own rules to become the best person you can”
Within this is the notion that freedom requires action – you don’t just passively sit there and be free, moreover, it admits up front that ethical dilemma freedom can impose: what if my freedom to do X conflicts with your freedom to do Y? Freedom and free will are necessary in a liberal (= in the Greek sense of humans who are not slaves and must therefore take control of their own destinies) society. A liberal education is therefore charged with enabling people to live their lives, not stupefying or endoctrinating them. Taking the tack that people are the most valuable thing in societies, letting people be themselves and use their own gifts as they see fit should be the goal of the entire concept of freedom.
One more thing that is getting bounced around this thread. Once upon a time, I took a great abstract Algebra course in Grad School. Lots of abstract nonsense, but one recurring theme was that we had a set of results that boiled down to sneaky ways to count things. The subtitle of the course could have easily been “never underestimate anything that counts something,” which is good advice I will pass along to everyone. Taking this analogy, money is good, precisely because if people have too much and cannot account for it, they most likely got it by shady means. (Al Capone was done in by accountants, not the FBI.) People often overlook the fact that the use of money in our society effectively leaves who has power open to scrutiny. There will always be powerful people and knowing up front is very, very useful. (Remember Cardinal Richelieu? Nobody was quite able to figure out he was a major power broker at the time which made surviving under Louis XIV’s reign an art t times.) On the other hand, cultures that have tried to do away with money invariably fall back on intrigue, influence and more often than not killing each other on purely metaphysical grounds (like religion or ideologies). Yip, money suxx big blocky nuts but at least it is so damn simple we can understand it for the most part. Money is pretty good information, actually.
And as always, I might just be full of shit…