Freedom as a constant quantity

In the Golden Age of ancient Greece, the elite cultivated an intellectual and political disalienation which today we can hardly fathom. But that was for a very small few whose leisure was directly and overwhelmingly based on the enslavement of others. At times I wonder if the magic of capitalist social relations is to effectively put a freeze on human freedom such that it only allows a constant quantity at any particular time; if you only give it to 500 people on the planet then they’ll be really really free but when it is distributed to the masses (in order to expand and enhance the planet’s labor power beyond chattel slavery), then everyone is only slightly free. What is interesting about capitalism is that the bourgeoisie so loves the pursuit of wealth that they have enslaved themselves, working extraordinarily long hours and obsessively doing the increasingly hard work of making capitalism hang together. The more people working in a given society, the rich included, the more freedom there is to be had by those who produce and reproduce life outside of commodified work. It is therefore an inherently revolutionary tendency that the most powerful individuals of the status quo are perpetually exhausting and blinding themselves by their own overworking…

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Murphy, Justin. 2012. "Freedom as a constant quantity," (April 24, 2017).