We often hear that we must “Fight for Freedom.” It’s practically saturated everywhere in our culture, especially right after 9/11. But what does this mean? Well, this statement seems to have the assumption that we are fighting for x. Now if you’re fighting for x, that means that you want to obtain x. But if you want to obtain x, that means you don’t yet have x. Thus, to fight for x means you don’t yet have x. In short, the argument goes like this:
- To fight for x means you want to obtain x.
- To obtain x means you don’t yet have x.
- Thus, to fight for x means you don’t yet have x. (1, 2 Hypothetical Syllogism)
Now, this strikes me as very odd. I think if you ask the average person, they think they are already free. Thus, they have freedom already. Being free seems to be the natural state of affairs than being not-free. To say someone is fighting for freedom is like me saying I’m fighting for my eyes. But I already have my eyes, so what’s the point of fighting?
I could imagine someone replying back saying that “Fight for Freedom” really means “Fighting to Sustain Freedom” or “Fighting to Keep Freedom.” Perhaps this is where my existential bias comes out, but it seems that no matter what, you always have freedom. Even if you’re in jail, you have the freedom to pace, to think, to scream, to plan an escape, to repent, and so on. You still have freedom in other words.
Maybe my critics could say that “Fight for Freedom” really means “Fighting for Political Freedom.” Ok, but I think if you ask most people again, most will say that we are born with natural rights. So if we’re born with these rights, there’s no sense to fight for them in the same way I was born with eyes. But if you’re fighting them to sustain them, then my reply above would be the same.
So why say it? Well, it’s simple rhetoric. To say “Fight for Freedom” is just another way of saying “I like to fight bad guys.” That’s all it means, so why can’t the people just admit this?