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To many people, freedom seems to be the “Highest Good”. And it is indeed a wonderful ideal. But just like the concepts of equality and solidarity have their own, well defined areas, so does freedom. When freedom goes beyond its boundaries, it proliferates and creates chaos.


Where freedom belongs


Freedom is the most important principle underlying the development of human kind, its talents and abilities. Every human being is unique and goes through his or her own individual development process. That’s why this development should take place in freedom. When the development of the individual and his/her questions are the priority and these questions are being answered by another human being from the perspective of his or her own unique talents and skills, we speak of cultural life. This is where freedom must reign supreme.


Everybody understands why freedom of expression and freedom of the press must be protected from government intervention and economic pressure. If everybody is free to say and write what he or she wants and able to hear other people’s contributions – a free competition of ideas –, then we will have the best chance to get to the truth. No guarantee, but the best chance.


For similar reasons, education, science, health care, art, religion etc., should also be free from domination by either state or economy. A teacher knows best what his or her pupils need. He or she knows the pupil, has insights into his potential development and also possesses the necessary didactic and pedagogic qualities. A civil servant in the Department of  Education does not.


The same goes for areas such as health care, science or art. For example, a patient must have the right to choose between available treatments and health care providers. The health care professional must be able to follow his own insights. Regulation and assessment of health care providers are best achieved from within the health care sector itself.


Where freedom doesn’t belong


Free competition of ideas is conducive to knowledge and insight. But in the economy (defined as the area where products are made, traded and consumed), the concept of freedom is misplaced.


Freedom in an economy leaves room for unbridled egoism. A healthy economy is built up from organic communities of producers, traders, consumers and their fellow workers, who are mutually dependent on each other. Because of this mutual dependency, solidarity is the correct organisational principle for any economy.

The fruits of freedom


Economy and legal life both profit from everything generated by cultural life in freedom. As far as the economy is concerned, think of new inventions and new management methods, but above all, of well motivated and able co-workers. Regarding legal life, think of new perceptions about justice and a general moral awareness which provides the foundation for laws that serve the common interest. That’s why a healthy legal life and healthy economy need cultural life to develop freely, driven by its own forces. Because it is then that cultural life is at its most productive.

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