Anyone who took the time to study the work of the late English philosopher, George Orwell, will recall one of his most famous beliefs: freedom is slavery.
At first, this statement can appear self-contradictory; after all, who today would dare suggest that this country’s rotten history with black slavery was a demonstration of liberty? This, however, is to misunderstand what Orwell was really driving at, and just how far-sighted he was in predicting the state of the USA and the West in general in the 21st century.
As an English Socialist and proud member of the Fabian Society, Orwell knew that only big government was capable of protecting workers and their families from greedy capitalist exploitation. The greater the penetration of the state into all aspects of people’s lives, the more freedoms the state would be able to endow to those individuals. In times of economic hardship, only the safety net of a generous welfare program and state-financed jobs would protect people from utter ruin.
This is a truth that another great Englishman, John Maynard Keynes, put into practice. When the economic cycle seemed out of kilter, Keynes was an advocate of debt-financed large public works. To the heartless folk on the economic right who asserted that imbalances in the economy always self-corrected and that things worked out for the best in the long run, Keynes wisely retorted that ‘in the long run we are all dead’
In essence therefore, Orwell and Keynes were simply saying that dependency (aka slavery) on the state would bring freedom aplenty. In Islam, this concept is known as submission (to Allah, from whom all things come – just like the government), which is the type of slavery Orwell meant and not the literal one involving shackles. It is only when people start to think for themselves and take selfish actions that things start going wrong.
Fortunately, Orwell and Keynes’s visions for freedom are being realised today as the following examples show:
- CCTV allows transgendered people to walk freely in public without fear of being attacked
- The accredited media provides people with accurate and timely news and opinions, often for free. Instead of having to think for themselves and work out what their own personal beliefs are, they simply have to read the bite-size news that is provided – for free! This gives people more time and freedom for the fun things in life like films, rap music, and social media, including those cute cat gifs.
- People are allowed to think, say and do anything whatsoever that is not expressly forbidden for their own and others’ safety (although their thoughts and words may be monitored for quality control purposes)
- Obamacare provides free healthcare for all at no price whatsoever
We’ve still some way to go, but were he alive today, Orwell would marvel at the progress we have made towards fulfilling his vision.