Essay on Modern Freedom

Published: 2021-08-15
982 words
4 pages
9 min to read
Boston College
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Freedom just means being free to do anything without being restricted. The modern freedom entails three significant ideas in the contemporary world; personal, civic, and sovereign freedom. Personal freedom occurs when an individual is free from coercion either by governments or individual and being able to do anything you want to do. Civic freedoms entail having the freedom to participate in both governance and other activities in a community and giving each person political right. Sovereign freedom, on the other hand, means freedom from being restricted from enjoying personal liberties by others. These freedoms explain the modern world where individuals are free, unlike the past where slavery, extortion, fear, and oppression was common. The paper analyzes modern freedom in terms of economic, cultural and political freedom.

Cultural Freedom

During the ancient periods, the freedom of cultural pluralism and right of cultural autonomy was restricted. Smaller groups within a larger society in the past were denied freedom to express their unique cultural practices and identities by their oppressors. Additionally, minority people were denied the chance to develop a single culture hence causing global outrage by human rights bodies. After the first world war, the modern cultural freedom started and was characterized by the worldwide secularization. People became less restricted by religious institutions and values and subsequently given freedom to practice non-religious values as argued by Karl Max and Max Weber. Casanova (2007) said that secular should not be thought of as the space in which real human life gradually emancipates itself from the controlling power of religion and thus achieves the latters relocation. However, secularization became the cause of extremist cultures in modern world and rejection of religious beliefs (Casanova, 2007).

Another aspect of cultural freedom is liberation from racism prevalent in ancient periods. During the slave trade, the blacks were racially abused by the whites especially in America. However, since mid-19th-century racism drastically reduced and people became respect despite their racial backgrounds. The minorities got political opportunities and expressed their cultures without intimidation. Modern society experience both negative and positive liberty regarding having freedom from racial segregation and capacity to enjoy various rights despite different race. Ultimately, cultural autonomy led to the emergence and spread of institutionalization of different cultures globally (Baudelaire, 1964).

Economic Freedom

Economically, the world is characterized by globalization and industrialization that significantly improved economic freedom across the globe. Before the first world war, the world was practicing forced labor and controlled markets by more developed countries. However, these changed during early modern era as people became engaged in specialization, market expansion, and capital accumulation. According to Adam Smith, economic freedom has significantly improved personal interest in free markets and subsequently maximized collective welfare. Nevertheless, modern technologies and industries enhanced economic freedoms of consumers through the large-scale production of standardized products. It also strengthened division of labor and improved wages hence enhancing freedoms and living conditions of the poor (Smith, Campbell, Skinner & Todd, 1981).

However, Chandler (1980) argued that industrialization and technology improvements created new inequalities and conflicts in the modern era. Although it played a critical role in promoting economic freedom, it created social disruptions and mass pauperization which is an obstacle to free capital accumulation. More prominent industries displaced small-scale production in the market hence negatively impacting their economic freedom (Chandler, 1980). Additionally, the use of modern machines in industries replaced human labor thus causing loss of jobs and ultimately loss of income. Smith et al. (1981) explained that small firms became denied the opportunity of free capital accumulation and investment were minimized. This means that economic freedom in the modern world has not yet been attained unless specific critical factors such as technological impacts are addressed (Smith et al., 1981).

Political Freedom

Political freedom is another excellent transformation in global perspective. Traditional societies in the past were characterized by coercion, oppression, and manipulation by authorities. However, in political modernity, the sovereignty of people and their institutionalizations are respected. In the recent world, people occupy a central position in government decisions, and Benjamin Franklin once said that people are superiors and rulers are servants in free governments. Civilians form an essential part of the society since every political decision affects many lives in a community (Maier, 1987). Thus, citizens participation in political matters is what defines the modern political freedom worldwide.

Similarly, there are improvements in fundamental rights and freedom from politics in the modern world. Among the universal fundamental rights include freedom of thought, peaceful assembly, association, and expression. People are given privileges to organize any political rally without being oppressed by the governments. Maier (1987) found that civilians in the modern era have freedom from participation in political activities such as an election or undemocratic actions. According to Max Weber, the modern political world is free from bureaucracies and is characterized by formal political structures managed by rules and having focused missions. Unlike the past, the current political institutions practice collective and individual autonomy although certain bureaucracies are complex and complicated to ordinary citizens (Maier, 1987).

Conclusively, multiple efforts have been made to attain new freedom globally. Politically, democracy has been enhanced in many governments and people have been given political freedoms in many parts globally. Economically, the current world is characterized by free markets and labor, but there are still issues of inequalities and economic conflicts that need to be addressed. Lastly, cultural freedom has been boosted by secularization and liberation from aspects like racism.


Baudelaire, C. (1964). The painter of modern life. The painter of modern life and other essays, 2.

Casanova, J. (2007). Rethinking secularization: A global comparative perspective. In Religion, globalization, and culture (pp. 101-120). Brill.

Chandler, A. (1980). Industrial Revolutions and Institutional Arrangements. Bulletin of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 33(8), 33., C. S. (1987). In search of stability: Explorations in historical political economy. Cambridge University Press.

Smith, A., Campbell, R., Skinner, A., & Todd, W. (1981). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.


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