The antinomy of power and freedom - Political philosophy and sociology

The antinomy of power and freedom

A visual representation of the dual nature of power can be obtained by identifying and assessing its role in the age-old antinomy between freedom and slavery. This problem is inexhaustible, since almost every generation, not to mention different epochs, cultures, civilizations, understands it in its own way. Any attempt to determine the nature of these phenomena raises cardinal questions about the essence and existence of man, the meaning of his life, place and role in society, the relationship between freedom and responsibility, equality and justice, etc.

Freedom is a social category. Outside of society, we can not talk about freedom, because it can be realized only in the system of relations between people. In the generality of some basic characteristics, the understanding of the content and ways of realizing freedom in each particular society depends on the nature and content of the nationalities dominant therein cultural, socio-historical, sociocultural, political, cultural, confessional and other norms, rules, attitudes, values.

Freedom is a historical phenomenon, because its contemporary understanding has developed in the course of a long historical development. Here we have to repeat the banality that man did not appear in the historical arena as an independent and free individual, but acquired individuality and personal characteristics only in the process of historical development. Indeed, the interpretation of this concept in a person who lived in some primitive community, or in the ancient Greek polis, and the modern American, the Frenchman or the United States in many ways, can vary significantly.

Modern understanding of freedom, as is well known, is inextricably linked with the formation and approval of the ideas of the individual, civil society and the rule of law. As already indicated, with the transition from the Middle Ages to the New Age, a new worldview paradigm replaced the old one , an integral part of which was a radical reassessment of the place and role of man in society and the state and, accordingly, the ideas of freedom and slavery, freedom and equality.

Under the conditions of political democracy and the rule of law, the unprecedented number of people in the history of mankind received personal freedom in the economic, political, social and other spheres. This fact found its expression in the wide popularity that the famous maxim of one of the founders of sophism Protagoras received: "Man is the measure of all things - the existence of existing and non-existent non-existent." In the humanistic tradition and the rationalism associated with it, this thesis in the form of Παντον χρεματον μετρον ανθροπος - man is the measure of all things - has become one of the central. Adherence to him, ultimately, resulted in unlimited faith in man and his deeds.

Moreover, having reached a certain level of self-knowledge, people wanted to be "like gods who know good and evil", the secrets of the universe and their own being. Through the mouths of Zarathustra F. Nietzsche announced the death of God. But long before Nietzsche, God died in the hearts of people who were determined to take a place on his pedestal.

Freedom, freedom of will as an aspiration, a desire for self-realization, taken by itself, is neutral, it is neither good nor bad. But it can not be denied that a person is equally capable of both good and evil deeds. In it the possibility of both the highest good and the lowest evil is rooted, freedom is an open path both upward and downward.

Freedom of will would lose its meaning if only one of the many possible alternatives were left to it. One single truth and one only way of its comprehension exclude freedom of choice. Monopoly, monism, lack of freedom of choice are contrary to the very nature of man, fraught with ossification and disastrous for the progress of the human spirit.

In this context, the purpose of power is to limit, neutralize those attitudes and aspirations that are directed toward the creation of evil. It can be argued that one can not oppose power and freedom to each other, since freedom is possible only in conditions of order, and order in modern society is ensured by power. For the assertion and protection of the freedom of an individual person, its release from all is not at all necessary forms of coercion, violence, power, prohibitions and punishment.

Moreover, under certain conditions, their absence may inevitably lead to the establishment in society of the law of the jungle, where the strong is at all "legal" bases can tear and kill the weak until the other more powerful does not tear and kill him himself.

In this regard, the right was NA Berdyaev, who said that "freedom, not knowing pity, becomes demonic." But in human society, only pity is not enough. It is the state and authority, the indispensable attribute of which is a person with a gun, who are able to properly ensure the freedom and rights of an individual.

The real, not declared, freedom is possible in the event that the authority serves the law. As emphasized by L. L. Montesquieu, "freedom is the right to do everything that is permitted by the laws." Otherwise, full freedom, unlimited and unlimited, would mean transferring to society the notorious law of survival of the fittest, whose main purpose is to justify the right to subordinate the weak to its will. Excessive, too enthusiastic belief in a person, and a person left to himself, under certain conditions can be simply dangerous.

Otherwise, the golden rule of civil society and the rule of law may be undermined, according to which my freedom ends where the freedom of another person begins. The power, the law, the law is precisely called to put the appropriate limits and framework , the intersection of which by some individual is considered a violation of the rights and freedoms of other members of society.

Because in many respects the nature of T. Hobbes, who was convinced that the state and power arose as tools for overcoming the natural state of homo, homino lupus est - a man is a wolf to man, which, in his opinion, led to the state of bellum omnium contra omnes - the war of all against all.

In other words, negatively interpreted freedom, with its denial of authority and authority, inevitably leads to anarchy and, ultimately, to some form of despotism, for freedom that does not know limits, as a rule, sooner or later turns into the opposite. At the same time, one should not forget that the state, clothed with unlimited power, can become a ruthless leviathan, recognizing only its power and using all means until all its subjects become dumb slaves.


Moreover, the state, or rather, those who aspire to unlimited power, often act in the name of freedom, while using the essential characteristics of the person himself, including a person claiming unlimited freedom.

Obviously, an excessive belief in a person, the maximum "man is the measure of all things" can not be evaluated unambiguously. According to the data of anthropological, archaeological and historical research, a man, from his isolation from the herd state and acquiring the species characteristics of Homo sapiens for his biosocial and psychophysiological qualities, has undergone only minor changes for many millennia. The fundamental properties inherent in it as a special species that was formed in prehistoric times remain inherent in its nature today and, perhaps, will always remain.

These same studies show that all sorts of theories about the exceptionally good nature of man, to put it mildly, are not always consistent with the realities of human history. There did not exist, there is no and can not exist a person who would be just a reflection of only good principles. Freedom and equality & quot ;, good and evil & quot ;, good and bad & quot ;, fair and unjust - just words that are meaningless beyond a specific socio-cultural, national-historical, traditional and other context.

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