February 24, 2013
HISTORY IS JUST THE TENSION BETWEEN FREEDOM AND SECURITY:
Interview with a writer: John Gray (JP O'Malley 22 February 2013, The Spectator)
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2013 8:39 AMIn your new book you say: 'to think of humans as freedom loving, you must be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.' Could you elaborate on this point?Well there is a certain common view nowadays which says: what human beings have been until quite recently is different from what they really are. And only now do human beings have the chance to be what they are, which many people think is to be free. If we think of Homer; or the way things are described in the Bible; or medieval life: all these other ways of life are somehow today seen as not fully human. There is supposed to be a kind of essence to humanity, in which human beings want to shape their own lives.So are you denying that it's a natural human impulse to crave freedom?Of course not. Otherwise we wouldn't have the periods of freedom that we've had in human history. I'm just saying that it's not the only human impulse, and rarely is it the most powerful one. You begin to see that when life becomes unsettled, when there are dangers, especially that people cannot understand. It's then that human beings tend to look at solutions to these problems that typically involve restricting freedoms. In other words: when life gets rough, the need for freedom, or the impulse for freedom, which is real --it's part of the human constitution you might say-- tends very commonly to be eclipsed by other needs.
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