Economic freedom and civilizing crisis

Image: Jenny Olsson


Author introduction to newly released book

The term freedom has been used in literature for centuries, and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it was first used. However, it is possible to identify some important landmarks of the idea of ​​freedom in literature. For example, the term was already used in Ancient Greece, even before great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The idea of ​​freedom was a central concern in Athenian democracy in the fifth century BC, and many other Greek philosophers also addressed the theme of freedom in their works.

Hesiod (XNUMXth century BC), was a Greek poet who wrote The Works and the Days. Although his poem does not explicitly deal with the idea of ​​freedom, it can be interpreted as a defense of individual freedom that comes through hard work and virtue, as necessary conditions for success in life; instead of relying on luck or the help of the gods, for example. He also advocated the importance of justice and honesty as fundamental elements of a free and healthy society. He advised individuals to cultivate their own land and not depend on charity or help from others. From the above, we can infer that there is, in Hesiod, a certain relationship between economic independence and freedom.

In turn, the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who lived in the sixth century BC, worked on concepts such as constant change and the Logos (reason), and its relations with the universe and the human condition. However, it is possible to find an indirect connection between Heraclitus' ideas and freedom. For example, the idea that everything is constantly changing and nothing stays the same can be seen as an affirmation of individual freedom.

Constant change means that people have the freedom to change and adapt to the ever-changing world around them. Heraclitus believed in reason as the only way to understand the world and that Logos ruled everything. We can also understand this emphasis on reason as an affirmation of individual freedom, since reason gives people the freedom to understand the world and to make decisions based on a “clear and rational” understanding.

Anaximander (610 BC – 546 BC), was also a pre-Socratic philosopher. He also did not directly discuss the idea of ​​freedom in his works (fragments and references from his works survive through quotations from other ancient authors). However, it is possible to find an indirect connection between his ideas and freedom. According to his philosophy all things have a common origin in the apeiron, an unlimited and undefined principle, which is the origin of all things. This means that everything is interdependent and coexisting.

In other words, there is no hierarchy among things, and no one thing is more important or valuable than another. We can see this idea as an affirmation of individual freedom, since it implies that there is nothing that is inherently superior or inferior. Instead, each individual has the freedom to pursue their own fulfillment and happiness, without being constrained by any pre-established order. An idea that also applies to Anaximander's other theory, in which all things are governed by natural laws that operate consistently and predictably.

We arrive at the classical period of Greek history, a time of great cultural and intellectual production in Ancient Greece. In it, initially, we find Socrates, considered the founder of Western philosophy and recognized for his methods of questioning and critical reflection. The idea of ​​freedom in Socrates is closely related to his conception of virtue and wisdom.

According to him, true freedom was achieved through the knowledge and practice of virtue, which allowed the individual to get rid of the passions and desires that imprisoned him. For him, ignorance would be the main cause of human slavery, as it prevented individuals from understanding the nature of virtue and, consequently, from acting justly and correctly. Thus, the pursuit of knowledge was the path to freedom from ignorance and disordered passions.

In turn, Plato, like his teacher Socrates, believed that ignorance was the main cause of human slavery. He addressed freedom in several of his works, emphasizing the importance of social justice and individual virtue in achieving true freedom. In his work "The Republic", Plato argued that true freedom could only be achieved in a just society, in which each individual fulfilled his role and worked for the common good.

This ideal society should be governed by philosophers, who would be able to understand the true nature of things and run society justly and wisely. However, freedom could only be achieved through self-control and self-knowledge. In other words, for Plato, the idea of ​​freedom was closely linked to the idea of ​​justice, wisdom and knowledge, and was based on a deep understanding of human nature and things in themselves.

Finally, Aristotle, one of the most important philosophers of Ancient Greece, also had his own conception of freedom. For him, freedom was directly related to the idea of ​​virtue and moral excellence. According to him, freedom did not consist only in doing what one wants, but in acting in accordance with reason and virtue, that is, acting in accordance with the common good and not only with one's own interests. Therefore, for Aristotle, true freedom consisted in having the ability to choose and act in a rational and virtuous way, overcoming the temptations of one's own passions and desires.

Aristotle, too, defended freedom in another dimension; as an internal state of the individual, and not as something that could be given or taken away by others. True freedom was achieved when the individual became autonomous and self-determined, able to act according to his own reason and will, and not just following the orders of others. But, for him, freedom was also a social virtue, that is, something that could only be achieved in a fair and democratic society, in which each individual could actively participate in political life and make decisions in favor of the common good.

It is important to highlight that the idea of ​​freedom was very different in ancient Greece compared to its modern notion. At that time freedom was seen as a privilege granted only to an elite of free men and not as a universal right of all human beings. The Greeks believed that freedom was something gained through active participation in the political life of the city. At polis (city-state), citizens had the right to participate in popular assemblies and vote on political issues.

This right, however, was granted only to a minority of free men, excluding women, foreigners and slaves. In turn, as previously described, the idea of ​​freedom in Ancient Greece was also associated with the idea of ​​virtue. The Greeks believed that freedom could only be achieved through virtue and discipline, and that individual freedom should be subordinated to the good of the community as a whole.

Over the centuries, many writers and philosophers have explored the idea of ​​freedom in their works, including the Roman philosopher Cicero (Roman philosopher, lawyer and politician, who lived in the 1265st century BC), the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1321-1712) and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1778-XNUMX), among many others.

Cicero defended the idea that freedom was a fundamental value for human life, and was directly related to the individual's ability to make his own decisions and act according to his own will. That is, freedom was an inalienable right of all human beings, which should be protected by the “State” and by society.

Thus, freedom was essential for human development and the pursuit of happiness, and no person or government had the right to deprive another person of his freedom. Therefore, freedom was also linked to the idea of ​​virtue and justice. For he believed that freedom could only be fully realized in a just society, where laws were applied equally to all and where people were treated with respect and dignity. Cicero, too, defended the idea that freedom was not only an individual value, but also a collective one. For, he believed that the freedom of society as a whole depended on the freedom of each individual and that it was the duty of all citizens to fight for freedom and justice.

In turn, Dante Alighieri, was an Italian writer, poet and philosopher, who was born in Florence, Italy, being best known for his masterpiece, The divine Comedy, considered one of the most important works of world literature. In general, the work is an allegory that represents the human journey towards salvation, full of symbolism and metaphors that represent human vices, sins and virtues. The work also presents a reflection on the politics, religion, philosophy and culture of fourteenth-century Italy.

Although he did not deal directly with the theme of freedom, his work represents a metaphor for the meaning of terrestrial and celestial freedom. Let us illustrate this point with a few passages from his great poem:

“[…] Freedom longs, which is so dear:
He knows it well who for her life expels.

For her, death has not been loving you
In Utica, where the garment was left,
Which in Judgment must be of such clear light.

By us eternal law is not violated:
He still lives; Minos doesn't stop me;
I am in the circle, where it is enclosed […]”

“[…] The wise, studying the foundation
Of things, seeing freedom innate,
Of morals has given you the teaching.

And, assuming that by necessity
All the love that ignites you was born,
You have to contain it power.

Noble virtue to be Beatriz understands
Free will; and when you talk to him,
The attentive memory attaches to this itself […]”

“[…] When the feeling is already pure
A soul has and flies to the sky, which calls it,
It follows the tremor and the scream to the movement.
His desire for purity proclaims to him,
Proof that you have to rise to freedom
By force of desire, in which it ignites.

Rather have it; but against that will
The ardent divine justice inspires him
Out of pity, as she had him out of malice.”

“The Divine Goodness that diverts
From you the lack of love, burns and flames,
By eternal perfections it announces itself.

Directly what emanated be
Hers is endless; eternal impression remains
Than in your supreme want is.

What is thus born, does not remain a subject
From secondary causes to influence
And full freedom means.

It pleases him more, if it is in accordance with his essence:
May the holy Love that shines in everything,
More alive is what this excellence encloses.

It is up to men to share these goods:
Of such predicates if one dies,
His nobility already decays, he humbles himself.

Only for sin from that height descends;
From the Sumo Bem no longer reflects the light,
No more resemblance to him offers.

And the sublime degree of yours no longer assumes,
If you don't oppose that of sin
Evil feathers delight the sourness.

When mankind, infected
All in the germ of you, it was of that highness
And from your disinherited Paradise,

Reaver could only (surely you will see,
if you think about it), intervening
One of the means, which I point out for clarity:

Or God, by infinite grace, remitting;
Or – because, of himself, convince himself –
Man redeeming himself from his faults […]”

During the Middle Ages, as exemplified in Dante, freedom was seen as a divine gift, a God-given right that should be protected by the Church. However, its modern usage began to develop towards the end of that period. During the Renaissance and Enlightenment, freedom began to be seen as a natural right of individuals that should be protected by the State.

The first uses of the term freedom in modernity, in the political and individual sense, can be attributed to Renaissance thinkers, and to the humanist movements that emerged from the XNUMXth century in Europe. These thinkers, such as Giovanni Pico, Niccolò Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke, for example, began to question the authority of religious and political power, and to defend individual autonomy and freedom of thought.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, was an XNUMXth-century Swiss-French philosopher, musician, and political theorist known for his insights into human nature, society, and politics. Although he lived in the XNUMXth century, a time known as the Enlightenment, he was not considered one of the leading Enlightenmentists of the time, since his ideas differed to some degree from the dominant ideas of the movement, which emphasized reason and science. However, he wrote extensively on the subject of freedom and his writings have profoundly influenced modern political thought.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's ideas about freedom, equality and popular sovereignty influenced many political movements and revolutions, mainly in Europe and the Americas, in particular the French Revolution (1789) and the American Revolution (1775-1783 ).

We present some passages from his seminal work Articles of Incorporation, published in 1762 to illustrate this new treatment of the theme of freedom: “[…] what man loses through the social contract is natural freedom and an unlimited right to everything that tries and can reach him; what he gains is civil liberty and ownership of everything he owns […]”; “[…] If one seeks to know precisely what the greatest good consists of, which must be the aim of every system of legislation, it will be found that it boils down to these two main objects: liberty and equality. Liberty, because any particular independence is so much strength subtracted from the body of the State; equality, because freedom cannot survive without it […]”; “[…] What, then, is government? An intermediary body, established between the vassals and the sovereign, to facilitate reciprocal correspondence, responsible for the execution of laws and the maintenance of freedom, both civil and political […]”; “[…] Do you want to give consistency to the State? Approach the extreme degrees as much as possible; do not tolerate opulent men or beggars. These two types of citizens, naturally inseparable, are equally disastrous for the common good; from one originate the promoters of tyranny, and from another tyrants. It is always among them that public liberty is trafficked; one buys it, and the other sells it […]”.

Throughout the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, the concept of freedom became increasingly linked to the ideas of democracy, equality and human rights, supported by the combination of individual, economic and political freedom. Philosophers such as John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, cited above, developed theories about the freedom of individuals and the role of the State in protecting these freedoms.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), for example, developed a theory of freedom in his work Critique of Pure Reason (1781), where he argued that freedom is a fundamental characteristic of human reason: “[…] by freedom in the cosmological sense, on the contrary, I understand the beginning of a state by itself, whose causality, therefore, is not under another cause which, according to the law of nature, determined it temporally. […]” (op. cit., 2015, p. 429). For Immanuel Kant, therefore, freedom is the ability to act according to reason, that is, it is the ability to freely choose what is right and what is wrong, without being determined by external causes or the mere impulse of desires. and natural slopes. Freedom is, therefore, the basis of morality, as it is only through freedom that we can be responsible for our actions and choices.

One last comment on freedom in Immanuel Kant is related to its two senses: positive and negative. The first refers to our ability to act in accordance with reason and the moral laws that we impose on ourselves, rather than simply following natural impulses and desires.

“[…] Reason must submit to criticism in all its undertakings, and cannot compromise its freedom, through prohibitions, without harming itself and raising a disadvantageous suspicion against itself. And there is nothing so important, as far as its usefulness is concerned, nor anything so sacred, that it could exempt itself from that inspection of control and examination which takes no account of people's reputations. On this freedom is based the very existence of reason, which has no dictatorial authority, and whose sentence, on the contrary, is never other than the free consent of the citizens, who must always be able, each one of them, to express both their reservations and also his veto without any resistance […]” (op. cit., 2015, p. 546).

The negative sense of freedom refers to the absence of external obstacles that impede an individual's free action. In other words, negative freedom is the freedom to act without being impeded or coerced by external forces, whether physical or social. However, negative freedom, by itself, is not enough to guarantee the full freedom of an individual, since he can be limited by his own natural inclinations, which can lead him to act contrary to the moral principles he holds. considers valid. For this reason, positive freedom, which refers to the ability to act in accordance with reason and the moral law that we impose on ourselves, is seen as a higher form of freedom.

In turn, John Locke (1632-1704), was an English philosopher and, like Kant, is also considered one of the main thinkers of the Enlightenment. He is known for his contributions to political philosophy, especially in relation to freedom and individual rights. He believed that all human beings are born equal and free, with natural rights such as the right to life, liberty and property. Therefore, freedom was a natural and inalienable right of every human being and that freedom should be protected by the government.

For John Locke, freedom consisted of the ability to act according to one's own will, unimpeded by others or the government. This included freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of property. According to him, individual freedom is a prerequisite for the pursuit of happiness and human development.

However, John Locke also recognized that individual freedom could conflict with the freedom of other individuals. For example, if an individual chose to steal another's property, he would be violating that other's freedom. In this case, John Locke believed that the government should intervene to protect the victim's freedom. Therefore, he proposed the idea of ​​a social contract, whereby individuals agree to give up part of their freedom in exchange for government protection. This contract states that the power of government must be exercised with the consent of the governed and that the government must be accountable to the people.

Finally, as John Locke explains, individuals have the right to choose their rulers and to participate in the political process, and that the government can only govern with the consent of its subjects. This idea was also fundamental to the development of modern democracies and the struggle for equality and civil rights.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher who significantly influenced the Western philosophical tradition. His philosophy is often called German idealism and is characterized by its emphasis on dialectics, i.e. on the idea that the movement of history and thought is driven by contradictions and conflicts that are resolved through synthesis. Hegel exerted a great influence on many later philosophers, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.

Hegel, in his work philosophy of history, from 1827, sought to demonstrate that if it is reason that governs the world, “universal history is also a rational process” (op. cit, 2008, p. 17). Hegel describes reason as a substance of infinite force, “[…] it nourishes itself, it is its own presupposition, and its aim is the absolute final aim […] the true, the eternal, the pure power and simple, which manifests itself in the world and only it manifests itself [...]”, accomplished and realizing universal history (op. cit., 2008, p. 17).

“[…] Therefore, the study of universal history resulted and should result in that everything happened rationally in it, that it was the rational and necessary march of the universal spirit; spirit whose nature is always identical and which explains it in the universal existence [...]” (op. cit., 2008, p. 18).

At the end of this trajectory, the realization of universal history, that is, the complete realization of reason in the world, the assumed finished form of spirit in existence, is represented in the State. Because, for Hegel, only spirit is capable of realizing the essence of spirit: freedom. This, in turn, is an intrinsic characteristic of the very nature of the spirit, and only from it, and through it, all the properties of the spirit are realized and are realized in existence: “[...] all the properties of the spirit only exist through freedom , are all just means to freedom, all seek and create it [...] freedom is the only truth of the spirit [...]” (op. cit., 2008, p. 23-24).

In turn, freedom, in Hegel, is related to self-awareness, awareness of oneself. For its existence, as such, it is not enough that only one man is free (creation of a despot), nor that few are free (situation of slavery). Hegel, points out that it was only by considering the Christian principle of self-consciousness and freedom that man finally recognized himself as free, “[...] that man is free as man, that the freedom of the spirit constitutes his most intrinsic nature [...] ” (op. cit., 2008, p. 24).

But such recognition does not necessarily imply its realization, as the author himself recognizes, because: “[...] slavery, for example, did not end suddenly with the acceptance of the Christian religion. Still less did liberty reign soon after, nor were governments and constitutions organized rationally or even based on the principle of liberty. This application of the principle to the affairs of the world, its performance and penetration in the profane condition, this is the long process that constitutes history itself […]” (op. cit., 2008, p. 24-25).

It should be noted that, for Hegel, religion assumes a fundamental dimension for the realization of reason in existence. It is what provides, from Christianity and in the Germanic nations, according to the author, the recognition of being by itself, that is, of self-awareness and freedom. But what it is in itself is not necessarily what it is in existence, in history. So, Hegel, from a set of mediations and analogies with religion, concludes that the existential configuration of this realization only occurs with the State.

“[…] In universal history, everything converged towards this final objective [freedom]; all the sacrifices on earth's broad altar through the ages have been made to that final end. It is the only self-fulfilling end, the only permanent one in the shifting fabric of all events and circumstances, and the truly operative force. That ultimate goal is what God wants from the world; but God is perfection, and therefore he can will nothing but himself, his own will. As for his nature of will, that is, his own nature, it is what we call here the idea of ​​freedom, apprehending religious representation through thought […] ”(op. Cit., 2008, p. 25) .

The set of mediations referred to above concerns the intrinsic contradictions of human nature. On the one hand, instincts, passions, interests and, on the other, reasoning, understanding, reason. Passions represent the vitality of individuals and peoples, powers of will, which result in human actions.

“[…] We said that nothing was accomplished without the interest and activity of those who participated. We said that nothing in the world has been accomplished without the interest of those who, with their actions, collaborated for such achievement, taking interest as a passion, neglecting all other interests and ends that man also has and can have, with all the fiber of will. , concentrating on this goal all your needs and strength. So we must say, in general, that nothing great happens in the world without passion […]” (op. cit., 2008, p. 28).

However, by realizing their own interests, individuals accomplish something more comprehensive, something beyond what was originally intended. It is the idea of ​​universal history as progress, this being understood as the domination of reason over the passions, as a type of “disciplining” of particular interests by general interests, which, roughly speaking, Hegel called “cunning of reason”. Discipline that takes place through the passage from subjective morality to objective morality, through the State.

“[…] The particular interest of passion is, therefore, inseparable from participation in the universal, since it is also from the activity of the particular and its negation that the universal results. It is the particular that wears out in conflicts, being partly destroyed. It is not the general idea that is exposed to danger in opposition and struggle. She remains untouched and unscathed in the rear. This must be called the cunning of reason: letting the passions act by themselves, manifesting themselves in reality, experiencing losses and suffering damage, because this is the phenomenon in which one part is null and the other affirmative. The particular is generally insignificant before the universal, individuals are sacrificed and abandoned. The idea rewards the tribute of existence and transience, not for itself, but for the passions of individuals […]” (op. cit., 2008, p. 35).

In this way, there is an ultimate end determined for mankind which is beyond its knowledge and towards which philosophy must lead. It seems to be only a matter of time until the point at which the passions and interests, which will continue to exist and which function as the original motivations of all human activities, become secondary elements, and that “true good” and “reason” divine universal”, can be realized in its most concrete representation (which according to Hegel is God). “[…] God governs the world, and the content of his government, the realization of his plan, is universal history […] reason is the understanding of the divine work […]”. (op. cit., 2008, p. 28)

The discovery of knowledge, belief and the will of the universal, leads to the union of subjective morality with reason, carried out in the State. It is only from this that the individual has and enjoys his freedom. Therefore, for Hegel, there is no freedom outside the state. Freedom outside the State is pure arbitrariness and limitation, since it refers only to the particular character of needs.

“[…] Subjective will and passion are the factors that act, that accomplish. The idea is the inside. The State is what exists, it is real and ethical life, for it is the unity of universal, essential will and subjective will – and that is objective morality […] The laws of objective morality are not accidental, they are the rational itself. The purpose of the State is, therefore, that the substantial prevail in man's real activity and in his moral attitude, that it exists and preserves itself in itself [...] It is necessary to know that such a State is the realization of freedom, that is, of absolute finality [...] In the State, the universal is in the laws, in general and rational determinations. He is the divine idea, as it exists in the world [...] freely […]” (op. cit., 2008, p.39-40).

In summary, for Hegel (2008), the essence of the spirit is activity, which in turn comes from needs, passions and particular interests (subjective morality). Will is power (idea), activity is the realization of this power. History would therefore be the realization of power through time. Realization that has an end point: the complete and absolute dominion of reason over existence. In turn, reason is the substance of freedom and this, finally, represents the full realization of man in the world, that is, the realization of the universal spirit in history. Achievement that only occurs through and by the State (objective morality): the rational and necessary driver for this purpose.

Hegel recognizes that with the need for government and administration, there is also the difference between commanders and those who are commanded, between those who order and those who obey. In this sense, State and freedom become incongruous. A situation that is resolved by the author through the idea of ​​the Constitution, in which the difference between commanders and those who are commanded appears only as a “necessity of freedom”. It derives from it the constitutional forms of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy.

Finally, for Hegel, the ideal form of government would be the monarchy, for the following reasons: (1) superior educational background of the monarch; (2) the idea of ​​the hero as the only transforming character in the story; and (3) the monarch as God's representative on earth, in the sense that if a figure of God is needed to direct the universe, on earth it would be no different.

After these brief considerations on freedom throughout history, it should be noted that the French and American revolutions are historical synthesis events that helped to establish freedom as a fundamental value of modern societies. However, one of the main changes in the concept of freedom in the XNUMXth century was the emphasis on individual freedom; which in the economic field of the capitalist mode of production has become synonymous with self-interest (synthesized in Smith's dogma of the invisible hand), and mobile justifier of the unbridled pursuit of private gain.

As Albert Hirschman shows in his work Passions and interests: political arguments in favor of capitalism before its triumph, individual freedom in the form of self-interest was able to establish a “[…] powerful economic justification for the unbridled pursuit of individual self-interest […]”.

The intentions were the best possible: to use individual freedom (self-interest) for the benefit of man and humanity. However, the economic history of capitalism has shown other truly perverse and inhuman outcomes for this principle: (1) an escalation of inequalities of all orders (social, economic, political, gender, race); (2) imperialisms and colonialisms; (3) unbridled and predatory exploitation of social work and nature; and (4) the creation of a destructive war potential of civilization itself in global terms.

As Hirschman also warns us in the aforementioned work: “[…] Interestingly, the intended but unfulfilled effects of social decisions still need to be discovered, even more than those unintended effects that end up becoming all too real: these the latter at least are there, while intended but unrealized results are only to be found in the expressed expectations of social actors at a given, and often transitory, moment. Furthermore, once these desired effects fail to occur and refuse to come into the world, the fact that they were originally counted on can become not only forgotten but actively repressed. It is not just a matter of the original actors retaining their self-respect, but it is essential to do so if subsequent power holders are to reassure themselves of the legitimacy of the new order: what social order could long survive the dual consciousness that , on the one hand, was it adopted with the firm expectation that it would solve certain problems, and, on the other, has it clearly and utterly failed to do so?” (op. cit., 1979, p. 115).

Thus, the idea of ​​economic freedom in the specialized literature is associated with economic liberalism (having modern private property as its central pillar). Liberals defend the idea that economic activities should be left to the free play of the market, without excessive interference from the State, in order to achieve their best performance. This concept began to be developed in the late XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries, and became a central tenet of economic theory in the XNUMXth century.

One of the most important advocates of economic liberalism was the Scottish economist Adam Smith, who published his work The Wealth of Nations, in 1776. In this work, Smith argued that economic freedom, based on the division of labor, the pursuit of self-interest and free competition, would lead to greater prosperity and progress for societies. Smith's work had a great influence on other writers and economists, such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, for example.

Before Smith, some thinkers had already defended the idea of ​​economic freedom in different degrees. One of the best known was the French philosopher François Quesnay, who was one of the leaders of the economic school known as Physiocracy. Quesnay believed that the economy should be governed by the natural laws of agricultural production and that the government should limit its intervention in the market. He influenced many later thinkers, including Smith himself.

Bernard de Mandeville, another important author, although a philosopher, defended economic freedom in the dawn of capitalism. He published a controversial work entitled “The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits”, in 1714. In this work, he defended the idea that private vice was the basis of public virtue and that society should allow people to pursue their own economic interests without restraint. Because, in this way, society benefits from the selfish and individualistic pursuit of wealth and pleasure by individuals. For, according to the aforementioned author, it is the pursuit of these private vices that drives the economy and prosperity of society as a whole.

Throughout the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, other writers and thinkers continued to develop and discuss the idea of ​​economic freedom, including prominent figures such as Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman. The idea that economic freedom is essential for the well-being of societies continues to be defended, including radically by neoliberalism and its representatives. Although it is also criticized by those who believe that it was responsible for economic inequalities, in their most diverse shades and intersectionalities, as well as for all sorts of current economic, political, social and environmental problems. Including endangering the existence and reproduction of human civilization as we know it.

*José Micaelson Lacerda Morais is a professor in the Department of Economics at URCA. Author, among other books, of Income, class struggles and revolution (Authors Club).


José Micaelson Lacerda Morais. Economic freedom and civilizing crisis. Joinville, Clube de Autores, 2023. 120 pages (

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