Giuliani on Freedom

23:09 Sun 12 Aug 2007
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This has been highlighted in a few places, but I feel it’s worth writing about here also. Here’s an exceprt from a speech by Rudolph Giuliani, while he was Mayor of New York City:

[F]reedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
—19 March 1994, from The New York Times

Truly amazing. Not necessarily that Giuliani would feel this way—he has all the hallmarks of a authoritarian control freak—but that he’d express it publicly, and that he hasn’t been forced to repudiate it since, despite being a leading Presidential candidate.

While conspicuously failing to live up to it, especially in recent years, America still cherishes the myth that freedom is a bedrock principle in this country. I’m quite sure that most Americans still think that freedom is one of the most important values for the country. Historically, the idea of America has been all about “freedom”. Yes, there’s a significant propaganda aspect to this, but it’s propaganda that’s taken root quite strongly, and has some basis in historical facts, and is cherished by the populace.

So for Giuliani to come out and simply redefine freedom as obedience is amazing. Americans may be rather pliable politically, but I just can’t see many of them swallowing that—even in his own party, because half of them would reject it on (pseudo-)libertarian grounds, and the other half would reject it because Giuliani isn’t overtly talking about God as the authority in question.

But until now, I’d never heard of this quotation. I’d never heard of it, but it should be the first thing that any interviewer should ask him about. “Mr. Giuliani, do you really believe that freedom is about obedience to authority? Is that what you think America is about? And can you explain how your idea of what freedom is seems so different from what everyone else thinks it means?”

One major advantage of Giuliani’s reinterpretation of freedom as obedience is that a population accepting such an idea would be rather easy to control (even easier than the American population is already). So this redefinition might be quite popular among the elite class.

Regardless, it is, and should be treated as, an outrage. At the very least, Americans should be able to force the rulers to be at least a little more circumspect about their totalitiarianism.

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