Freedom of Choice: The Rights of the Individual

Grant PetersonStarred Page By Grant Peterson, 2nd Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Freedom of choice seems such a basic part of human life, yet it is not enshrined within any charter of human rights today. We live in a society that espouses the freedom of choice and points out how people living in other forms of society lack such basic freedoms, yet it is clear that western democracy lacks much in the area of free choice.

Part 4 - The Rights of the Individual

The rights of individuals are crucial for the success of a democratic society, yet the prior article concluded that capitalist imperialism is at odds with the rights of individual people, it is therefore necessary to discuss freedom of choice in much more detail. Three prior articles give the background to this subject matter and it is suggested that if you have not been reading this series then you start at the beginning and work your way through the series and build your understanding of the challenges of capitalism and its system of democracy. This in part about the right of the individual was a subject that needed to be covered at this stage but became all the more meaningful because of a comment made by Phyl Campbell in the second article in this series:

    "Economically, I think you are right. The majority, or the 98%, would remove the ruling class from power and redistribute wealth. However, I don't dare support this in practice, because a majority rule society would also be, considering both present and history, anti-gay, anti-empowered woman, anti-minority rights. It seems no matter how one stacks the deck or changes the rules, there is still an elite that defies the odds and comes out smiling -- take the auto industry and the banks too big to fail versus Martha Stewart's conviction and imprisonment for insider trading. I'm not saying Stewart was right or innocent, but there is no way her punishment fit the crime without turning Wall Street into a cell block."

Certainly a thought provoking comment which I shall discuss in detail through the course of this article.

Vital to the Development of Humanity

Writer Steve Kinsman discusses the issue of alternative approaches to medical problems in several articles and in particular discusses his own cancer challenges and this is also a part of the discussion of freedom of choice in its own way, it is critical that he has chosen a different path in respect of finding a cure. The point here is NOT about whether one approach is better than any other, it is about choice, pure and simple, yet even here the impact of big business is clear and in this respect cancer charities should be as considered big business, they work in league with drug companies yet cures can be found in other things than a chemical compound.

If you follow conventional medicine you get the support of the medical profession, doctors, nurses, drug companies, national health services (if they exist in your country), insurance policies, etc., etc. try to look for alternatives and you are ostracized from and of this support community and certainly you must fund any cure with your own money, in some cases this is simply about changing diet or habits yet in other cases there are treatments that cost money and that is where insurance companies and health services draw the line, it is okay to spend thousands on drugs or conventional treatment, but spend that money on non-conventional treatment that is against the rules, the point being that alternatives often do not cost more yet they are not encouraged or permitted through health services or insurance, where is the freedom of choice here? Truth is you are permitted to make a conventional choice that is all, the question here is not about whether or not a cure is possible but the right of the individual to make a choice and have funds directed appropriately, this is where imperialist interests confront freedom of choice of an individual, the interests of conventional medicine, drug companies and insurance companies are so intertwined that any alternative cannot be perceived because of corporate interests, in other words financial gain for the medical cartel is all that is considered.

Individual rights are a vital part of humanity and in many cases there is no right of free choice today.

Rights of Groups

Ultimately such the right of freedom of choice also relates to the right of groups to determine their own path, such groups include:

  • The Basque separatist movement in Spain
  • Kurds in the Turkey and Iraq borderlands
  • Native Americans and First nation peoples in the USA and Canada.
  • Native Australians and New Zealanders
  • Minority populations in any land

There are many such groups across the world and it is true to say that no country or region is without them.

Truth is many such groups are weak and struggle to get their voice heard yet we can be sure their challenges are real and the more they are denied a voice the stronger the need to determine their own future becomes and the more the voice of independence grows and the more physical the resistance (including taking the path to terrorism), yet on the other hand the more closely a democratic system approximates freedom, listening to and addressing their concerns, including freedom of succession or self determination, the weaker the striving for succession will be, in truth we are hearing about more groups and the freedoms they desire in this era than at any time in history and the cause of certain past internal conflicts may rise again the deeper in crisis any nation is and it is entirely possible to see conflicts like that in Northern Ireland come to the fore again because once the dust has settled it is clear that nothing has changed.

Oppressive and Oppressed Nations

It can be clearly seen today there are two types of nation in this world, the oppressors and the oppressed and today more than ever in the past and the form of oppression discussed here is economic rather than the invasion of armed forces as was more often the case in days gone bye we know that the USA has invaded many countries along with its allies but they make more money from countries which are indebted to them than from the military presence alone.

Oppression of nations is still a major issue in the world today despite many of the changes that have occurred since the end of the Second World War, with the freedom of former colonies of European imperialist states. Truth is there is more to be gained by the peoples of the world working together to overthrow oppression in whatever form it shows itself than there is from simply protecting your own self interests and ignoring what you see elsewhere in the world (because it doesn't impact me). Truth is the struggles of a tribal resistance movement in deepest Africa is relevant to every person on this planet and we need to be paying closer attention to them, imperialist capitalism has little desire to see the succeed, because their financial interests are tied up in the preexisting, normally corrupt, regime.

This form of oppression, financial oppression, is one of the key elements that keeps poorer nations from improving, it ensures starvation will return again and again to places line Somalia and Ethiopia.

Economic Change

Returning to Phyl Campbell's postulation because they address certain vital issues in this area "Economically... you are right... 98%, would remove the ruling class from power and redistribute wealth", the percentage given seems exceptionally high but there are a certainly a significant quantity of people that feel change needs to happen, whether they agree with the proposition of redistributing wealth is another matter but they would agree that the power of the capitalist class needs to be either curbed or beheaded. There are certainly many corporations that provide socially necessary products or services and that would be needed even if the control of how such services changes are provided changes cutting edge medical treatment needs to be available to all who chose to take advantage of it, for example.

The next element of Ms Campbell's comment is crucial "I don't dare support this in practice, because a majority rule society would also be, considering both present and history, anti-gay, anti-empowered woman, anti-minority rights" and to a great extent this is very true there are many in mainstream society and even many amongst the world's radical thinkers, who can be considered anti-black, anti-gay, anti-empowered woman, anti-minority rights. Yet this is no reason not to support change of this nature, the more democratic our society becomes the more we should be able to consider the rights of both the majority and the minority at the same time, no matter how convoluted that may sound. Part of the reason she, and many like her will not support such radical change all comes down to fear, fear of the existing "ruling class" and the power they hold over us because to a large extent we are dependent on them for our livelihood.

People often talk about positive thinking in terms of their own personal development, but the same concept needs to be considered for societal change, there is a need for education, an education that teaches people that change of this nature provides a positive impact for mankind, that there is room for every viewpoint and that it is possible to protect the rights of the minorities and majorities alike but also their should be no room for prejudice. In this regard women make up slightly more than 50% of the world's population, yet women are normally paid 20% to 75% less than a man doing exactly the same job at the same workplace, this is about creating rights for the majority, a majority that has suffered way too long.

Stacking the Decks

Ms Campbell's comment "It seems no matter how one stacks the deck or changes the rules, there is still an elite that defies the odds" is important to understand because it is very true the decks have been stacked for far too long it comes down to this a couple of dozen board members hold a lot of power, not only over whether to hire or fire, whether to grow or contract, what the rates of pay are, etc., etc., etc. They also hold a powerful lobby when it comes to persuading our elected representatives and this has in the past been used to avoid prison sentences for corporate executives, especially when related the the threat of corporate closure and massive loss of jobs..

This is not simply a matter of insider trading and enrichment of a few people from knowledge of future events and for personality Martha Stewart to argue that she didn't cheat "little people" shows she has little grasp on reality, it was precisely by knowing about the rejection of the cancer drug she profited at the expense of "little people" many of whom will have put their savings into such a hope for a cure. Ultimately we know corporations to be responsible for deaths but few executives have ever been sent to prison for corporate manslaughter or murder yet many board decisions or company policies have led to death and charges should have been laid.

Arguably there are a large number of criminals inside corporate offices indeed the structure of corporate law protects many executives from suffering prison, this may be seen as a part of stacking the decks, but ultimately the truth is you must support change for it to happen and the only change that will stop corporations dominating society is to change the system.

GP Toronto 2014.

The State of the World

The next part of this looks at the state of the world in relation to the types of nations that exist today this is a necessary component to understand because over the course of the last century much has changed in the world and most such descriptions of this nature are not contemporary. This is an essential part of understanding perspectives for change as is the nature of political parties.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
2nd Mar 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Grant, let me preface my question with this: I am a person in long-term recovery from substance abuse - 25 years, and as such, a problem was identified 25 years ago and I sought a solution - recovery. Your articles have done a remarkable job of identifying multiple problems here in the US as well as worldwide. Specific to the solution, your article states, "but ultimately the truth is you must support change for it to happen and the only change that will stop corporations dominating society is to change the system.ā€ Given the respect that I have for your articles on the problem, I am curious as to what solutions you think could alleviate some of the issues. As another personal example, 20 years ago, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the prescribed mastectomy and then had one chemo treatment. She elected to forego any further chemo treatments and sought alternative health options. When she declined further chemo, her insurance company refused to pay for the surgery. Fighting that behemoth was time consuming, draining, and demoralizing for her. Yet, she persevered. Ultimately, the greater portion of her medical expenses for surgery and reconstruction were taken care of, however, as she points out, not everyone has the luxury and tenacity to fight a large corporation, which insurance companies are, even though it was the solution to her situation. Again, thank you for these articles and Iā€™m not trying to put you on the spot with my question about solutions.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
2nd Mar 2014 (#)

thank you for detailing what is happening so succinctly Grant and as Marilyn asks I do too what are some solutions..I think we all really do know but as you write there is a lot of fear involved..the Nazis ruled with fear and similar facism is taking place again...

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author avatar Grant Peterson
2nd Mar 2014 (#)

Powerful comments from Marilyn and Carolina.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Very interesting piece and infrormative as well!

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