Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

John Locke “Second Treatise On Government”

Locke, John 1980. Second Treatise On Government. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett Publishing.

[…] no body has originally a private dominion, exclusive of the rest of mankind, in any of them, as they are thus in their natural state: yet being given for the use of men, there must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other, before they can be of any use, or at all beneficial to any particular man. (18-19)

Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hat mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. (19)

We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that it is the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property; without which the common is of no use. And the taking of this or that, does not depend on the express consent of all the commoners. (19)

But the chief matter of property being now not the fruits of the earth, and the beasts that subsist on it, but the earth itself; as that which takes in and carries with it all the rest; I think it is plain, that property in that too is acquired as the former. As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labour does, as it were, inclose it from the common. (21)

[…] the condition of human life, which requires labour and materials to work on, necessarily introduces private possessions. (22)

[…] though the things of nature are given in common, yet man, by being master of himself, and properietor of his own person, and the actions or labour of it, had still in himself the great foundation of property; and that, which made up the great part of what he applied to the support or comfort of his being, when invention and arts had improved the conveniences of life, was perfectly his own, and did not belong in common to others. (27)

[…] but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own. (32)

Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it. But because no political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offences of all those of that society; there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it. (46)

Those who are united into one body, and have a common established law and judicature to appeal to, with authority to decide controversies between them, and punish offenders, are in civil society one with another: but those who have no such common appeal, I mean on earth, are still in the state of nature, each being, where there is no other, judge for himself, and executioner; which is, as I have before shewed it, the perfect state of nature. (47)

And thus the common-wealth comes by a power to set down what punishment shall belong to the several transgressions which they think worthy of it, committed amongst the members of that society, (which is the power of making laws) as well as it has the power to punish any injury done unto any of its members, by any one that is not of it, (which is the power of war and peace;) and all this for the preservation of the property of all the members of that society, as far as is possible. (47)

If man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? why will he give up his empire, and subject himself to the dominion and controul of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property. (65-66)

[…] The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires, that the people should have property, without which they must be supposed to lose that, by entering into society, which was the end for which they entered into it; too gross an absurdity for any man to own. (73)

Roberto Esposito “Freedom and Immunity”

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Esposito, Roberto 2013. Freedom and Immunity. – Terms of the Political. Community, Immunity, Biopolitics. New York: Fordham University Press, 47-56.

Whereas both American neocommunitarianism and organicistic German sociology link the idea of community to that of belonging, identity and ownership – that is, the community as something that identifies someone with his/her own ethnic group, land, or language – the originary term community has a radically different sense. One need only open a dictionary to learn that common is the exact contrary of one’s own; common is what is not one’s own, or what is unable to be appropriated by someone. It is what belongs to all or at least to many, and it therefore refers not to the same but to the other. (48)

Whereas communitas opens, exposes, and turns individuals inside out, freeing them to their exteriority, immunitas returns individuals to themselves, encloses them once again to their own skin. Immunitas brings the outside inside, eliminating whatever part of the individual that lies outside. What is immunization if not the preventive interiorization of the outside, its neutralizing appropriation? (49)

Whether we declare that freedom has already been realized in our liberal democracies or defer it by claiming it belongs to a far-off tomorrow, we remain within the same interpretive model. that is, we remain within a subjectivist metaphysical framework wherein the political scene is occupied by a preformed and predefined subject – the individual – who regards freedom as an object to defend or conquer, to possess or extend. (50)

Freedom thus is understood as that which makes the subject the proprietor of himself or herself; as essentially “proper” and no longer “common”. (50)

Nevertheless the true immunitary turn takes place during the Middle Ages, when freedom – that is, every freedom – takes on the character of a “particular right”: an ensemble of “privileges”, “exemptions”, or “immunity” […] that exempt certain collective subjects (classes, corporations, cities, convents) from an obligation that is common to all others and grant them a special juridical condition (like that of the libertas ecclesiae) within the hierarchical order. It is here that the passage from an open and affirmative notion of freedom to one that is restricted and negative, as well as immunized and immunizing, is carried out. (52)

When, beginning with Hobbes and the model of natural law, modern political philosophy attempts to restore universality to the concept of freedom, it can only do so within an individualistic framework that has now been extended and multiplied by the number of individuals who are made equal by their reciprocal separation. Freedom is what separates the self from the other by restoring it to the self; it’s what heals and rescues the self from every common alteration. From then on, with all of the possible variations – that is, from the absolutist – to the republican or the liberal type, freedom will always be conceived as a right, good, or faculty of the individual who holds it, either through the protection of sovereign law (Hobbes) or, conversely, by protecting the individual from it (Locke). (52-53)

In both cases, this protection, first of life and then of individual property, assumes a starkly oppositional quality to the political dimension as such. As Arendt observes, beginning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, freedom is tightly bound to security: We are free only insofar as and if we are secure – if freedom is “ensured” by its defensive and self-identifying connotation. (53)

Freedom is nothing but the effect, or the consequence, of property; a figure of what is “proper”, the opposite of what is “common”. (53)

But freedom is either a fact or it is not. Either freedom grasps our experience such that freedom subsumes experience, or freedom remains blocked in the self-dissolving circle of idea, essence, or concept. Therefore, freedom must be understood not as something that one has but as something that one is: what frees existence to the possibility to exist as such. (54)

[…] the very task of contemporary political philosophy lies: liberating freedom from liberalism and community from communitarianism. That is, we must deconstruct the first and most entrenched of those false antitheses that modern political philosophy has built in an attempt to fill in the void of thought that it has carved out around and within the great concepts of politics. if it is thought affirmatively, freedom can only be “common”  – belonging to each and all because it’s not proper to anyone. (55)

Freedom confronts community with its own outside, or projects that outside within as it is, without neutralizing community preventively. (56)