Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bush Denounces, Redefines Freedom

File this one under War Is Peace.

In Bush's welcoming remarks to Pope Benedict today, he said the following:

"We need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism and embrace a culture of justice and truth," Bush said in brief remarks welcoming Benedict to
the White House. "In a world where some see freedom as simply the right to do as they wish, we need your message that true liberty requires us to live our freedom not just for ourselves, but in a spirit of mutual support."

This concept that freedom is limited by something other than a respect for others' freedoms is one of the most evil examples of Orwellian redefinitions that exists today. To be sure, Bush is hardly the first to suggest that "freedom" is something less than an absolute. The controversy over the Mohammed cartoons showed us those who would define "free speech" as being limited to inoffensive speech. Rick Santorum has talked of how he defines liberty as including an obligation to the "common good." It is this definition to which Bush today pledged his allegience. Of course, any definition that centers on striving for the "common good" begs the question of who decides the "common good."

But the idea that liberty "requires" us to act in a certain way is nothing short of a recipe for totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Far too many thinkers, including both Orwell and Hayek, have warned that authoritarianism will come under a false concept of freedom. Now that Bush has clearly expressed his redefinition of freedom and liberty, it is quite clear why his administration has been responsible for so much evil.

We can never forget that freedom does, in fact, mean the ability to do as you wish (provided you allow others to do as they wish). Any other definition makes the word "freedom" utterly devoid of meaning.