By: Kristen Howorka Period 3-Honorbound
The United States of America has forever been known as the land of equal opportunity and freedom; but what happens when freedom is no longer a right that the United States government gives its citizens? As the country has grown into a dominating and powerful country it has become a force to be reckoned with externally but internally it has struggled to keep its promise as being the land of endless opportunities and unwavering freedom. Due to the mass influence of technology, advertisements, and government interference freedom has become a right that precedes current generations. Freedom should be a decree open to anyone and everyone; the United States is struggling to keep up the façade of freedom in order to keep peace among its citizens. People are not free, they are slaves to the government and modern capitalists of the United States of America.
So what is freedom? The basic, surface definition of freedom is “exemption from external control, interference, or regulation”[i].Happiness coincides with freedom from the standpoint that if one is free they can make the decisions they want which should hopefully make them happy at least sometimes. In this way, Aristotle defines happiness by saying that “it is always for the sake of the end that all else is done”[ii]. Thus, man does not solely do anything simply because he is prescribed to take part in it; he acts because there is an end result with which he is interested in. This is where the controversy begins over how much freedom man actually has and is entitled to bear. If an individuals’ thoughts are constantly being controlled, monitored, or manipulated by a superior individual then is man truly making a free decision? Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics describes how happiness is the contemplative life because “[happiness] is the end of all that man does”[iii], but if man is persuaded by propaganda and other media sources he is not genuinely happy because he is being influenced by his environment to make specific judgments and decisions. The government of the United States of America manipulates citizens to make specific choices to benefit the economy and pocketbook of the people in the capital. Do we live in a country where we are forced to believe that we are free when in reality we are really not?
Communism is not a type of government to be advocated for; as it is the complete opposite of democracy and renders individuals in a world where no one has the freedom, or right, to choose anything. However, some people may argue that a communist country actually has more freedom than a democracy. They debate that if “intellectual creations of individual nations become common property,” among all men there will be no need for government or a central ruling body[iv]. Karl Marx’s advocates this idea but this idea is completely implausible. The sharing of property and products is a great ideal but “no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry,” thus completely disabling the economy and eventually destroying the country[v]. The United States of America does not need to be free from a ruling body of principles. The three branches of the United States help to ensure that no one person or group has too much power; however, the governmental system today has struggled to allow citizens to have the freedoms of free will and choice. The freedoms of life, liberty, and property need to be respected and upheld as they were promised in the Bill of Rights[vi]. Allowing citizens to make these decisions may impact the economy or prestige of the United States and therefore are monitored nonstop. As time continues to move forward the government continues to breakdown these entitled freedoms and choose to make us believe that we are free when in reality we are nothing more than pawns used to create industry and economic prosperity.
Technology in the last ten years has become an integral part of everyday life that impacts every individual on Earth. Constantly, individuals are flooded with different kinds of announcements like war, celebrity movements, or economic crises. According to recent statistics the average individual sees about four hundred different pieces of propaganda every day*[vii]. Each piece is understood and interpreted differently; however, each piece has one simple meaning: to persuade whoever the viewer is to support the idea being advertised. This constant bombardment of technology has caused the United States especially to become focused on what society and government officials want instead of what the citizens themselves need. Noam Chomsky, an American critic, calls propaganda a “necessary illusion” in which people are persuaded to make voluntary decisions on ideas they typically would not support but do because of what they experience when they see a specific ad[viii]. The upper class, or modern capitalists, are also involved in the persuasion of the middle and lower class to support certain ideas; they use their influence and money to instill “religious pride and fervor” in citizens to make them feel free[ix]. Most of these upper class civilians own big businesses and without the support of the working class would suffer bankruptcy. Therefore, by the usage of television ads, magazines, and social media advertisements these companies earn the support of the masses and are able to fund their companies and their desires[x]. The rest of the country may suffer from an economic depression and they may be residing in Vienna stress free. They have the freedom to control the population but the population has no freedom to choose what they believe.
The destruction of the twin towers on September eleventh two thousand and one will forever be burned into the minds of Americans; this event has led to new government reforms to supposedly protect the interests of the people within the country. Ludwig von Mises talks about how “freedom is indivisible” however, man loses freedom each time the government hardens its grip on its people[xi]; “Man becomes a pawn in the hands of the supreme social engineer” if he cannot make decisions as he pleases; government intervention begins to impede personal freedoms of people and actually leads to more of a monarchy rather than a democracy.[xii] Government intervention is not an awful thing; some interference by the government is necessary to make sure that people do have the freedom to make choices. A completely free market could lead to a demise of the united States just like a complete socialistic country; Mediation within the government is key but currently the government is violating mans’ rights to freedom. The government is using cellular devices like the IPhone and other GPS tracking devices to locate individuals without a court order or review[xiii]. This violation of individual rights is an example of the lack of freedom and personal respect that the government has for its civilians. If the government is able to locate its inhabitants at the press of a button without them knowing, there is nothing that will stop them from taking it a step further and stalking an individual’s every move. If you know that the government is tracking your location through your phone and keeping records of your text messages do you really feel free?
If government intervention continues to oversee and run the lives of the people who live within its borders freedom will cease to exist; all will be enslaved to the systems of society. As Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “nature accorded men freedom and society enslaved him”; this simple statement perfectly explains the rights entitled to man and how government control leads us away from the idea of true freedom[xiv]. Citizens of the United States need to stop and ask themselves – Am I truly free? Do I make decisions for the benefit of myself or for the benefit of others? Until the citizens comprehend the country’s influence on them and the lack of freedom they are receiving society will continue to control and dominate their lives until the day they die.
[i] “Freedom.” Dictionary.com. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/freedom%20?s=t
[ii] Aristotle, “Book 1: Chapter 7.” In The Nicomachean Ethics. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015.
[iii] Aristotle, “Book 1: Chapter 7.” In The Nicomachean Ethics. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015.
[iv] Karl Marx, “Chapter I. Bourgeois and Proletarians.” Manifesto of the Communist Party. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015.
[v] Pope Leo XIII, “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor.” Rerum Novarum Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015.
[vii] Abu-Saud, Ziad. “The Dogma of Advertising and Consumerism.” The Huffington Post UK. January 25, 2013. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ziad-elhady/the-dogma-of-advertising-_b_2540390.html.
[viii] Turley, Jonathan. “10 Reasons the U.S. Is No Longer the Land of the Free.” Washington Post. January 13, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html
[ix] Turley, Jonathan. “10 Reasons the U.S. Is No Longer the Land of the Free.” Washington Post. January 13, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2015.
[x] Abu-Saud, Ziad. “The Dogma of Advertising and Consumerism.” The Huffington Post UK. January 25, 2013. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ziad-elhady/the-dogma-of-advertising-_b_2540390.html.
[xi] Mises, Ludwig von, Liberty and Property. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015
[xii] Mises, Ludwig von, Liberty and Property. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015
[xiii] Turley, Jonathan. “10 Reasons the U.S. Is No Longer the Land of the Free.” Washington Post. January 13, 2012. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html
[xiv] Mises, Ludwig von, Liberty and Property. Bernardo Aparicio, 2015