“Freedom” is an often misused and abused term that has limited usefulness in political analysis. Certainly every political actor acts in accordance with the forces or pressures, internal and external, that are applied to the actor.
The word “freedom” is often used by elites to obfuscate and confuse and to keep the powerless non-elites from joining together to form a government to protect themselves from the predations of the powerful (i.e., “freedom” means the elites have the right to be protected from the possibility that the little people use a government to protect themselves from the elites). The elites sell the idea of freedom as a substitute for equality as it suggests the equal ability to engage in a wide range of activities, with the implicit assumption that only governmental action would act as a restriction. However, the lack of financial resources is usually what limits an individual’s ability to engage in various activities. The elites usually tack on a promise of “equal rights before the law” but this type of equality also is generally subject to the financial limitations of the individual, as it usually requires financial resources to enforce the individual’s legal rights. Moreover, the most important measure of equality, financial equality, is ignored while every other possible form of equality may be promoted and celebrated, including the equality of different types of behavior regardless of the negative implications for social harmony or for the development of common values and shared goals.
There is some value in the social freedom that comes from feeling that one is not dominated by other particular individuals in the society. Through millions of years of evolution, people developed some resistance to other individual humans exerting control over their activities. This is unsurprising, as in many instances they were being controlled against their own interests, particularly reproductive interests, and so the survival of the individual’s genes depended in part on avoiding such control. On the other hand, once people accepted and submitted to such dominance, evolution designed people to shut off their analytical and creative processes to minimize conflict and to allow the group to behave as one when competing with outside forces. But people who are not so dominated and who do not shut down their own analytical and creative processes tend to be much more productive and contribute more to the society.
Some argue that the way to achieve this social freedom is to avoid all analysis, because inherent within any form of analysis is social programming by the elites to control the population. However, analysis-free thought leads to perceptions or models with no depth, and these are the simplest and therefore the easiest to program. The deeper the analysis, the more combinations of thoughts that are possible and the more complex the models that are created, such that they could not possibly be pre-programmed.
Also, the individual is a social being and survives and reproduces as part of a human social group, so avoidance of others to achieve the social freedom is not an option. A balance must be struck, which would involve achieving harmony with others in the social group that the individual belongs to. Harmony is achieved through agreements on the division of labor (made easier through specialization), and the remuneration that would accompany such (with consideration of the inevitable feelings of alienation and injustice from a wide distribution of income but also with a recognition of the need for a higher rate of remuneration to motivate some to perform the more difficult tasks), and the development of common goals based on common values with collaboration on achieving them.
However, it should be noted that social freedom through social equality is actually a weak substitute for financial equality. Equality leads to social freedom, i.e., a lack of domination, but social freedom does not necessarily lead to financial equality. Though it should be added that the goal should be a limit on inequality rather than complete equality, as discrepancies in income are necessary for motivational purposes and for promotion of best behavioral practices.
Note that some elites promote the idea of social equality because their self-image requires that they convince themselves that they are “fair” and “support equality” while other elites just recognize that non-elite individuals are more apt to contribute positively to the society if those individuals believe the society is “fair” and offers them a chance to have or aspire to some semblance of social equality.