Sunday, January 10, 2010

Freedom means different things to different people. It may be economic, personal or political. What sort of freedom a person thinks is important will undoubtedly influence what they consider "the freest country in the world". The various freedoms may be tied together, but they are not unified. A country, for instance, may have extensive "economic freedom for the business class" while being a repressive dictatorship in general and also severely limiting the 'economic freedom' of workers to struggle in their own self interest. China, of course, comes to mind.
Freedom is also not the same thing as "democracy". Switzerland is arguably the most democratic country in the world, but it is well behind many others in personal freedom, as the recent 'minaret vote' demonstrated. Neither is freedom the same thing as "equality", though the two are connected. The Scandinavian countries probably rank higher on some sort of "freedom scale" than say the USA because they are far more egalitarian and thus the "freedom to" is available to a far greater percentage of the population than in America. On the other hand there are unique things about the USA which lead one to say it is "freer" in other ways.
In any case the whole matter is quite arguable. Hence this poll. I've even added a couple of communist countries both for that tiny minority still deluded by same and for the amusement of civilized people. Then, of course, there is the "some other country" option for those who value one particular aspect of "freedom" or who have more geopolitical knowledge than I do. Feel free to write in what you mean ie "which one" as a comment on this post. Yes...we'll even accept 'Vatican City' here. this is, after all, a free speech zone.