Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains
George Asare
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 1:22 PM:
Subject: Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains
"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" That was the first sentence of Rousseau's "The Social Contract." I'd like to ask, what do those words mean to you?
Ginger17
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 2:04 PM:

To say man is born free is ridiculous. Man is born with an umbilical cord attached to him and many years of unfree dependency. Hopefully, he will increase in freedom and independence as he ages. As far as man's history goes I thinks Hobbes was closer to the truth than Rousseau. That is, stone age man had fewer degrees of freedom than modern man.

Ginger
On Feb 15, 2013 - 6:01 PM, maxschlepzig responded: What a completely superfluous response. You have much learning to do young lady: Hobbes is completely 'outclassed' by the citizen of Geneva.Perhaps a reevaluating of your philosophical evaluation is in need for those statements of certainty.
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 2:18 PM:

It refers to something very good: human beings are born without emotional maturity, without language, without a concept of law, and generally without the tools to live in a complex society with people with whom they might have very little in common, yet we have developed restrictions (and it's reassuring that someone like Rousseau calls them "chains") that enable most men to grow up into adults who can keep their hands to themselves. That's the fundamental human achievement of civilisation.

At birth, we're still the primitive apes we always have been. Given a couple of decades, we can be so much more than our earliest ancestors could have ever imagined.
John Creighton
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 2:43 PM:

In Rousseau’s conception of the state of Nature people were able to freely determine their actions. They choose their activities and the rewards of those efforts would be theirs. Interestingly enough Plato had somewhat of a similar notion in “The Laws” were after great deluges, little laws were needed because of material Abundance. Marx Picked up on Plato’s notion with regards to his view of the progress of history and the eventually withering away of the state once the condition of Material abundance were reached.

Today because we have little access to the means of production, many might only keep a small portion of the value which is produced from a collective endeavor. Most things are done for us at our expense. For instance, I pay for cable but never watch it because I predominantly use the internet. However, the pricing is such that there is little savings from just having the internet. A lot of the cost for the development of the infrastructure which buit the internet was paid for by the state.

We go to stores and have little choice of what we buy, there are countless brands but most are nearly identical, bookstores may be filled with mass produced crap and the writing quality in magazines has absolutely no literary style. The sentences are fragmented, there is little connection between the facts and they are full of vague and meaningless statements. Television news is void of information content, it if full of mindless images and distractions for us to vegetate on, the stories are selected to reinforce our biases and often the so called facts which are presented are designed to distract us from meaningful issues.

Sporting events are marketed as a must do social activity, someone who doesn’t follow the crowd is portrayed as an outsider. These are incredibly expensive productions like the games described in Huxly’s, Brave New World. These games reinforce the winner take all value of completion and by celebrating the captains of the team - which has the effect of downplaying the team component of the games. Movies create and perpetuate historical myths which barely if at all represent history, they normalize violence and put forth the notion that all problems can be solved by a ruthless “hero” who can unload inhuman amounts of ammunition, move at magical speed and never gets hurt.

Many people struggle to just make rent and have little hope of either getting out of debt or saving for retirement, economic interest often trump the rights of indigenous populations, war is glorified and many poor and homeless people are either not scene by the majority of people or are ridiculed and blamed for their predicament.

Constitutional rights are under attack with little notice from the distracted public. These rights include: Miranda rights, the right to know the charges against you, the right to a timely trial, the right to privacy, the right to free speech, the right to humane treatment in custody and even the right to know that you are a target of an undeclared war. Whistleblowers are persecuted, critics of the state face asymmetric use of prosecutor resources and harassment from authorities, laws are applied differently on a class basis and there is much legislation which criminalizes a large part of the nation for victimless crimes. People are incarcerating in mass and excessive police force is applied when there is political motivation to do so.

This is not to say that it was ever any better or there are not conveniences that come from the state. However, just because things have always been a certain way doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ask for a better world.


Edited by John Creighton on Feb 12, 2013 - 2:56 PM
ciceronianus
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 2:44 PM:

They don't mean much to me, I'm afraid. Nor does Rousseau for that matter. Reading him never made me want to crawl about on my hands and knees, but I hope never to be required to read him again.
BitterCrank
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 6:23 PM:

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" means that people are free to go online and buy as many chains and padlocks as they want.

One is free to rent, and free to buy, but a mortgage entails more chains then renting. One of the ways America avoids revolution is by keeping 2/3s of the population up to their eyeballs in mortgage-debt, which keeps them diligently at work with their mouths shut. Chains. Just to make sure that children who are bright and educated don't decide to "tune in, turn on, and drop out," burn their credit cards and grow long beards, student loan debt keeps them chained to their boss's computers, Starbuck's latte machine, or Walmart's check-out counters.

You are free, in so far as you obey.

Fortunately, we are free enough to shed the chains of illusion.
George Asare
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Posted Feb 12, 2013 - 7:37 PM:

BitterCrank wrote:
"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" means that people are free to go online and buy as many chains and padlocks as they want.

One is free to rent, and free to buy, but a mortgage entails more chains then renting. One of the ways America avoids revolution is by keeping 2/3s of the population up to their eyeballs in mortgage-debt, which keeps them diligently at work with their mouths shut. Chains. Just to make sure that children who are bright and educated don't decide to "tune in, turn on, and drop out," burn their credit cards and grow long beards, student loan debt keeps them chained to their boss's computers, Starbuck's latte machine, or Walmart's check-out counters.

You are free, in so far as you obey.

Fortunately, we are free enough to shed the chains of illusion.


Interesting. I interpret it in a similar way- humans have the potential to become free, but they are kept dehumanized by oppressive institutions and organizations almost everywhere, almost all the time.
ying
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Posted Feb 14, 2013 - 5:20 PM:

George Asare wrote:
"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" That was the first sentence of Rousseau's "The Social Contract." I'd like to ask, what do those words mean to you?


"I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare, my business is to create."
-William Blake

"Those people have dissolved their rigid mental concepts of self and other, male and female, long and short, life and death. They also have no mental reservations caused by different cultural backgrounds, different customs or religious beliefs which might be an obstacle of realising the subtle truth of universal integration. By holding the mind captive within a rigid framework, one instantly becomes a slave of duality. If one doesn't discriminate between what is called "holy" or "profane", one liberates oneself from the serfdom to any and all concepts."
-Hua Hu Ching, chapter 7
maxschlepzig
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Posted Feb 15, 2013 - 6:09 PM:

George Asare wrote:


Interesting. I interpret it in a similar way- humans have the potential to become free, but they are kept dehumanized by oppressive institutions and organizations almost everywhere, almost all the time.


These oppressive institutions are only a burden on those repressed. Justice, as Rousseau puts it, consists in maintaining the privileges
of those in positions of power; those 'clever men', who uttered the words: ''This here belongs to me!'' Who is to say that those men in control
aren't free? What is the definition behind that 'free' & what value does it constitute? Also, what does dehumanization have to do w/ freedom?
Not to offend, but I think you're using your words rather recklessly. Have you read much of Rousseau or only snippets here & there? He is
too contradictory to quote a phrase here & there to find a general meaning: he must be interpreted as a whole.
AllEyezOnMe
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Posted Feb 16, 2013 - 10:04 AM:

There are limitations imposed on us due to the nature of society.
I may want to drive 150mph wherever I please but I cannot do this because some people decided this was wrong and I do not want to be penalized. Driving 150mph is not inherently wrong.
I can't walk around in public naked. The fact that a public sphere even exists is limiting.
Man alone in nature is not bound by any of these things.
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