April 10, 2008

Freedom to Choose Freedom

"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." - C. Wright Mills

Not a terribly exciting quote, but I think it's an interesting one. Because, really, isn't an important part of true freedom the ability to decide what freedom means to you?

I'd never heard of Mr. Mills before, so I did a little looking before deciding to go with his words of wisdom here today. From what I read, I found that he was a social scientist who was often viewed as a Marxist. But in typical American fashion, he was also often viewed as an anti-Marxist. Kind of like how celebrity women can end up on both the best-dressed and worst-dressed lists in the same year, to use a rather more pedestrian analogy.

I found this article, written about him and one of his theories, which I enjoyed reading. The author makes a really good point about some of the insights Mills put forth in one of his lesser-known works, noting that "they might be as applicable today as they were [fifty] years ago." Given where we are politically right now, even more so when the article was written five years ago, I'd have to say "hell yeah."