“Freedom & Our Purposes“
Number 2075. January 19, 2022
Dear Unknown Friends:
This issue of TRO is about Freedom—as a recent issue, TRO 2067, was, and as many others in various ways have been and will be. Freedom, after all, both in history and in everyday thoughts, has some of humanity’s largest feeling with it, most intense longing, and also some of people’s biggest mistakes.
In the fourth canto of Byron’s Childe Harold there is the famous and beautiful line “Yet, Freedom, yet thy banner, torn but flying.” Byron wrote that in 1817. There had been the victory of the American and French Revolutions, and he saw that throughout Europe, people, including “ordinary” people, wanted what those revolutions stood for: they wanted a freedom that they were coming to see as their birthright. It is the freedom to live in this world without wearing one’s life away merely to get some kind of food and shelter; it is the freedom to partake in a nation’s opportunities on the same basis as any person—because we are all equally human beings. Byron passionately wanted this fight for freedom to win. And he hated the vicious unremitting effort to put it down, by those who felt one’s nation should be owned only by certain favored persons. So, he says, the banner of freedom has been torn by massive efforts against it, and yet—and yet—it is still flying! The line has in it a music of struggle and then, at the end, a proud release, a sound that is free.
Whenever a true freedom has been opposed (including through political brutality and weaponry), its opponents have been trying to protect or establish a fake, ugly “freedom” of their own. For example, in 1775 George III and the British aristocracy felt they should have the freedom to use the American colonies for their own financial aggrandizement. And in 1861 and later, the Confederacy presented itself as fighting nobly for freedom: we, they said, should be free to maintain our treasured institution of slavery—we won’t have our right to it trampled and our lifestyle wiped out by that tyrant Abraham Lincoln!…Read more
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The Right Of is edited by Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, who is author of its commentaries.
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