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  1. 10 May '11 11:17
    "My definition of a free country is one where it is safe to be unpopular."

    How adequate is Adlai Stevenson's definition of a free country?
  2. 10 May '11 11:40 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    "My definition of a free country is one where it is safe to be unpopular."

    How adequate is Adlai Stevenson's definition of a free country?
    How about also being free to criticize unpopular people? (By "people" I mean politicians mostly)


    Be a Cuban and state publicly how much Castro is teh suck and see how long it takes for a knock on the door.
  3. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    10 May '11 11:51 / 1 edit
    I hope I'm not going to ruin the point of this thread, but I guess that depends on what you mean by "free". Most of the times the terms "free" or "freedom" is used as an adjective of support (i.e. support for the ability to be safe while being unpopular), rather than a proposition about a feature of countries. To say country "X is free because of Y" seems to be equivalent to saying "I approve of Y".
  4. 10 May '11 11:59 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Sam The Sham
    How about also being free to criticize unpopular people? (By "people" I mean politicians mostly)

    Be a Cuban and state publicly how much Castro is teh suck and see how long it takes for a knock on the door.
    I think Adlai probably meant to include among the ranks of the "unpopular" those whose opinions or activities are "unpopular" with the ruling powers. In other words, in the Cuban example you give, the dissidents could be considered "unpopular".
  5. 10 May '11 12:06
    Originally posted by Palynka
    I hope I'm not going to ruin the point of this thread, but I guess that depends on what you mean by "free". Most of the times the terms "free" or "freedom" is used as an adjective of support (i.e. support for the ability to be safe while being unpopular), rather than a proposition about a feature of countries. To say country "X is free because of Y" seems to be equivalent to saying "I approve of Y".
    Well, of course the term "free" is slippery, so I suppose I was asking whether we agree with the way in which Adlai Stevenson defines it, and whether there are aspects of what makes a free country that are not covered by his defintion. In general, he tended to think and to use words quite precisely, so I'd do him the justice to assume he meant something more by "free" than "that of which I happen to approve."
  6. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    10 May '11 12:21
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Well, of course the term "free" is slippery, so I suppose I was asking whether we agree with the way in which Adlai Stevenson defines it, and whether there are aspects of what makes a free country that are not covered by his defintion. In general, he tended to think and to use words quite precisely, so I'd do him the justice to assume he meant something more by "free" than "that of which I happen to approve."
    Why even used the word "free"? It's just to use the emotional connotations attached to the word. Here there is an implicit assumption that being a "free country" is a good thing even before we have agreed on what defines a free country. The label "free" is just another expression of approval then.

    Perhaps I don't do him justice because I don't know the whole text, but that quote in isolation for me is just an expression of approval for the ability to be safe while unpopular.
  7. Subscriber kmax87
    You've got Kevin
    10 May '11 13:07 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Why even used the word "free"? It's just to use the emotional connotations attached to the word. Here there is an implicit assumption that being a "free country" is a good thing even before we have agreed on what defines a free country. The label "free" is just another expression of approval then.

    Perhaps I don't do him justice because I don't know the wh ...[text shortened]... on for me is just an expression of approval for the ability to be safe while unpopular.
    On the other hand many people might not approve of a country that gives safe harbour to the unpopular. A good question to ask I would think is how might that safety for the unpopular be maintained? Is it a safe place because everyone is committed to the protection of each and everyone's freedoms and by extension you then end up with a free country or is that sense of feeling safe to be unpopular the result of knowing that you live in a community where the apparent freedom is more a result of a strong and active police force?
  8. 10 May '11 15:32 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Why even used the word "free"? It's just to use the emotional connotations attached to the word. Here there is an implicit assumption that being a "free country" is a good thing even before we have agreed on what defines a free country. The label "free" is just another expression of approval then.

    Perhaps I don't do him justice because I don't know the wh ...[text shortened]... on for me is just an expression of approval for the ability to be safe while unpopular.
    Stevenson's comment probably has more bite taken in context. It was made during his first Presidential campaign in 1952, when anti-Communist witch hunts were in full swing (McCarthy had targeted Stevenson), and when, in the United States, it was not very safe to be unpopular. Since "freedom" is a value held in very high esteem by Americans regardless of political persuasion, Stevenson may be implying that his fellow citizens were not living up to their stated ideals. He adopted a similar tactic (appealing to a value accepted by most Americans in order to defend a more controversial position) when he declared: "Most of us favour free enterprise for business. Let us also favour free enterprise for the mind."
  9. 10 May '11 15:40
    Originally posted by kmax87
    On the other hand many people might not approve of a country that gives safe harbour to the unpopular. A good question to ask I would think is how might that safety for the unpopular be maintained? Is it a safe place because everyone is committed to the protection of each and everyone's freedoms and by extension you then end up with a free country or is that ...[text shortened]... in a community where the apparent freedom is more a result of a strong and active police force?
    I think this gets to the nub of the matter and is one of the reasons why I like Stevenson's definition. It evokes safety without clarifying how that safety is achieved. For instance, a nation could have strong legal and constitutional protections for individual rights, but it might still not be "safe to be unpopular" if the disapproval of one's fellow citizens took violent form. So it's a wide-ranging definition - the existence and sustenance of a free country can be seen to depend on both the tolerance of the state and the forebearance of individual citizens.

    Incidentally, when I looked up the quotation to check its date, I noticed that Stevenson actually said "a free society", rather than "a free country".
  10. 10 May '11 16:44
    Originally posted by Sam The Sham
    How about also being free to criticize unpopular people? (By "people" I mean politicians mostly)


    Be a Cuban and state publicly how much Castro is teh suck and see how long it takes for a knock on the door.
    Cuba is a free country, and the Cuban people do enjoy a certain brand of freedom. In Cuba all citizens are free to do as they wish within the revolution, they are free from the shackles of corporation-imposed wage-slavery which bound the populations of america and the other countries where free market principles prevail over social justice, for example.
  11. 10 May '11 17:02
    Originally posted by Sam The Sham
    How about also being free to criticize unpopular people? (By "people" I mean politicians mostly)


    Be a Cuban and state publicly how much Castro is teh suck and see how long it takes for a knock on the door.
    I agree. If there is no freedom of speech there is no freedom. Its the first indicator.
    btw, if Cuba were "free" (as some here contend) why does her citizens so often defect to the U.S. ?
  12. 10 May '11 17:21 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by utherpendragon
    I agree. If there is no freedom of speech there is no freedom. Its the first indicator.
    btw, if Cuba were "free" (as some here contend) why does her citizens so often defect to the U.S. ?
    btw, if Cuba were "free" (as some here contend) why does her citizens so often defect to the U.S. ?
    Many of those who didn't have the displeasure of living through the years when Cuba was the official casino of american capitalists fail to fully understand the nature of the liberation of Cuba from foreign domination and imperialist exploitation, they're easily seduced by the temptations of the free market.
    Furthermore, these people seek to escape deprivation, the conditions in Cuba are deplorable not only because of the collapse of the communist system, but because all trade and prospect of economic prosperity have been continually hampered by the sustained policies of economic terrorism perpetrated by the US.
  13. 10 May '11 17:43
    Originally posted by utherpendragon
    I agree. If there is no freedom of speech there is no freedom. Its the first indicator.
    btw, if Cuba were "free" (as some here contend) why does her citizens so often defect to the U.S. ?
    If the people are not free to leave, that's an even stronger indicator that a country is not free. The people of Cuba are not free to leave.
  14. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    10 May '11 17:54
    Originally posted by generalissimo
    Many of those who didn't have the displeasure of living through the years when Cuba was the official casino of american capitalists fail to fully understand the nature of the liberation of Cuba from foreign domination and imperialist exploitation, they're easily seduced by the temptations of the free market.
    The human rights deficit in pre-Castro Cuba and the curtailment of the freedoms of ordinary people in the system he erected are, in effect, separate things. One does not validate the other. Indeed, the achievements of the Castro regime in Cuba do not justify the extent to which the freedoms of ordinary people were curtailed.
  15. 10 May '11 18:05
    Originally posted by FMF
    The human rights deficit in pre-Castro Cuba and the curtailment of the freedoms of ordinary people in the system he erected are, in effect, separate things. One does not validate the other. Indeed, the achievements of the Castro regime in Cuba do not justify the extent to which the freedoms of ordinary people were curtailed.
    It wasn't necessarily my intention to provide justification for the Castro regime, I was simply explaining how Cuba can be said to have its own brand of freedom, within the perimeters of the revolution, in the same way that other countries also have their own freedom within their constitutional framework.
    The question of whether one finds the Castro regime to be justified in its curtailment of political liberties and individual liberties for the sake of economic equality and the realization of socialism is ultimately a matter of opinion.