When we talk about the topic of freedom in the Western world, it most often conjures strong feelings. Especially in the United States, land of the free, the concept of freedom seems paramount to our nationality identity. We express our freedom of religion, press, and peaceful assembly, among others, every day in how we choose to live our lives. But few Americans stop think about where our freedom actually comes from. The Western philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that freedom is an inherent quality, part of the individual, and a presupposition as to what it means to be human. But is this really the case? Is freedom an innate part of our human nature? Or is it something that we have constructed for ourselves out of enlightened ideals?Richard Arthur Kelo

According to a paper by economist, financial expert, and blogger Richard Arthur Kelo, Is Human Freedom a Natural Thing?, “freedom of the individual is something that has been allowed to happen because of the rise of capitalism. Under a free market economy, the individual now has more powers as they can contribute to the ideas that large corporations make through choice of product”. This type of “capitalist” freedom is fairly apparent in the way that most individuals go about making purchases, and most companies respond to these purchases. The entire goal of any organization is to provide a product or service that individuals will choose over competitors. This builds the company’s reputation, drives sales, and ensures its future success.

But is this genuine freedom? Is choosing between two options really freedom, or are we limited in the sense that we only have two choices? The bauty of capitalism is that such markets respond to these questions fairly well. If consumers want a third, different option, someone will step forward to fill that desire. Thus creating more options for customers, more “freedom”. However, as consumers we are still reliant on others to put options before us and rarely do we have the economic means or skills to provide for ourselves. This is a product of our industrialized and technologically advanced society. It is impossible to except an elementary school teacher to build a computer for herself, so she goes out and buys one instead.

According to Richard Arthur Kelo—on Dailymotion and a variety of other blogging platforms—“freedom is something that has been enabled over time rather than eroded from an original right”. Instead of being born with the inherent freedom that many believe we possess, we have actually carefully constructed our freedom through capitalism. Enabling individuals to purchase things, rather than provide them for themselves, has made it possible for individuals to pursue careers such as the arts, without having to grow their own food or make their own clothes.

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