An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Freedom, Justice, and Tyranny: Strange bedfellows

Human mind has always longed for Freedom and Security. Even after all the centuries of progress, both have remained elusive.

In a way, both these goals are dependent on each and anti-thesis of each other as well!

For, if a society is not secure, then there is a threat of an aggression and colonialization, which may lead you to give up your rights for another’s ends. On the other hand, if one were to look for certainty in life, then freedom of mind and vision is the first casuality. Mind then seeks refuge in the known and shuns the unknown, quietly doing away with any real freedom.

Defining Freedom has always been problematic because with unlimited and unfettered Freedom comes Anarchy. Fetters on freedom have been necessary for limited but a just level of Freedom for most, if not all, in a society.

The limits to Freedom have always been created via three different mechanisms – Morals, Codes of Conduct, and Laws. All these mechanisms, to be effective and useful necessarily require enforceability – apparent or perceived. A combination of three tools to enforce the limits to freedom have been used over the ages:

God’s power: Which essentially says – God requires something from you.. do it or face conseuences at a “later date”. [Moralistic power paradigm]
Priest’s power: Which essentially says – A higher power, God, is the Lord, but I am His representative on earth, so MY word is law. [Usurped power paradigm]
State Power: Which essentially says – State rules this land and so its representatives, i.e.; ME/US, have a right to make laws. [State power paradigm]

All these mechanisms have been ways for one man to rule over another in order to further his own interests, beliefs, convenience and benefit. Justice, as fetters to Freedom, in order to promote overall “order” in a society has been the most common claim of all the Moralists, law makers and rulers. Unfortunately, Justice doesn’t stop at Order – it descends quite fast into Tyranny.

Justice, therefore, has been tightly linked to Tyranny!

Justice is necesary for Freedom to be practical. And the need for Freedom stops Justice from becoming a Tyranny.

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