‘Most people confuse liberty and democracy. They are not the same.’

Liberty and democracy are not the same indeed.

Like my left hand is not the same with my right one.

But I need both in order to lead what I consider to be a normal life.

Most people – specially if they get help, can survive without a hand. Or without either liberty or democracy.

But without both… without both hands or without both liberty and democracy… I’d be at somebody else’s mercy!

‘What?!?
What kind of liberty is there under communist rule???’

You see, liberty has two ‘faces’. Two dimensions.
Three, actually, but I’ll be talking about only two of them in this post.

There is the ‘inner liberty’ and there is the ‘socially sanctioned liberty’.

Liberty itself is a human concept.
We have noticed something, wondered about it, named it and then attempted to understand it.
This was, and continues to be, a collective effort.

In some places ‘liberty’ had appeared ‘naturally’.
There was enough liberty naturally sloshing around, hence the circumstances were right for those who had happened to live there at the right time to notice it. Furthermore, the conditions had been right again for the entire community to be able to agree among themselves about the concept and about how to use it/put in practice their new intellectual achievement.

Other places have not been so lucky.
They had been close enough, geographically and socio-historically, to notice the ‘birth of liberty’ but their specific conditions were not ‘right enough’. Many people living there coveted liberty but the local conditions made it impossible for liberty to take hold.
In these places ‘inner liberty’ – individually assumed freedom, can be found a lo more easily than presumed by those unfamiliar with the local realities.

Yet other places had it even worse.
Initially on the path towards liberty – and democracy, they have somehow stumbled.
For whatever causes – internal and/or external, something went wrong. People became disappointed enough to give up not only democracy but also liberty. Including their own, individual inner freedom.

A somewhat intermediary situation constitutes the third abnormal quadrant.
The people involved have given up their liberty – partially, but those running the show continue to use (‘pretendingly’) democracy as a window dressing to hide their true intentions.

The last hundred years or so have been extremely relevant in this matter.
All communist regimes had fallen. Under their own weight.
Most fascist/nazi regimes are no longer with us. Had been so ‘arrogant’ – read self destructive, that their neighbors had to do something about them. Had created so much disruption around them that those whose very existence was endangered had been forced to spring into action.
‘Illiberal democracy’ is a rather new ‘development’. Would be fascist/nazi dictators don’t have all circumstances aligned to make their final move so they have to make do with what there is at their disposal. The local population is ‘despondent’ enough to pay attention to their arguments but not desperate enough to follow them into the ‘unknown’. Hence this oxymoronic abomination.

‘Illiberal democracy’…
On the other hand, the spin doctors promoting illiberal democracies hope to be able to reap the benefits of democracy – the population being ‘rather favorably disposed’ towards the government while having to pay less ‘lip service’ to individual human rights.
A balancing act, with no safety net, which is alluring to those reckless enough to attempt it but which will end up badly. Sooner rather than later.

But the most interesting ‘combination’ – for me, at least, is Anarchy.
In the sense that those who ‘swallow’ the lure are self delusional.
They have somehow convinced themselves that their, own, liberty somehow trumps the liberty of everybody else. They feel so strong, so immune to any outside influence, that they would willingly accept to live in a no rule environment. Without understanding that ‘no rule’ means ‘no holds barred’.
They actually don’t realize that unfettered liberty actually means ‘Each of us free against all others’.
This being the reason for which Anarchy, as a political arrangement, has never survived for long enough to be noticed. Except as a transitory phase.