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Are The Poor Politically Free? Essay

1968 words - 8 pages

I will advance the thesis that under both, the positive and negative, notions of freedom, the state of poverty does not obstruct or lessen political freedom. By saying that the poor are politically free, I mean that although the poor may lack certain goods, they do not lack any aspect of their political freedom. First, I will define political freedom in the negative notion of the word, as “free to the degree that no man or body of men interfere with an agent’s activity (Berlin 1969, p. 4)”, then, in the positive notion of the word, as “every man is their own master and they are moved by reasons, by conscious purposes, which are their own, not by causes which affect them, as it were, from outside (Berlin 1969, p. 11)”, and I will use these definitions to illustrate that as long as an agent’s life is not being interfered by another and that they are in control of their own life, then they are politically free. I have two reasons for describing the political freedom of the poor, whom do not have any interference from a third party and act in accordance to their own conscious thoughts and decisions. First, the poor, although may lack material goods, maintain political freedom just as those who are not poor. Second, the lack of certain goods does not hinder of lessen an agent’s political freedom, but is actually an advantage. As mentioned above, my thesis is heavily dependent on both the negative and positive notions of political freedom; for although there are many views of political freedom, the negative and positive notions accurately display the concrete political freedom held by those in poverty as well as dispel any argument that those whom are poor lack not only material goods, but also political freedom, thus I will illustrate that in the case of the poor being politically free, the negative and positive notion of political freedom triumph in concluding their unwavering political freedom for the reasons mentioned above.
In ordinary discourse, it can be wrongly assumed that because the poor lack material goods, they also lack political freedom in comparison to those who do not lack material goods, like the wealthy; however under the negative and positive notions of freedom, this is untrue. In accordance with the negative notion of political freedom, which defines freedom as the absence of any third party interferences, the state of poverty is not a forced state of being, therefore it is technically the agent’s choice because they are aware of their actions and they are not being forced or coerced into one action over another. For example, imagine that a poverty stricken agent is a factory worker, whom has been working the same position in the same factory for ten years, then one day, the agent receives an opportunity to work in another factory with a slightly higher pay and the possibility to advance in their career. In this context, as long as there is no interference from a third party, the poverty-stricken agent is free to accept or...

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