Freedom Depends on Enabling Institutions in Our Communities

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By Irami Osei-Frimpong (May 24, 2018)

I study alienation and how freedom comes through well-ordered institutional structures, like marriage, employment, and politics. Our problem isn’t marriage, employment, or politics, the problem is that have a bad culture around institutions like marriage, employment or politics. We have bad marriages, bad jobs, and bad politics.

There are such things as a good marriage, a good job, and a good political disposition, and freedom is made concrete through working through these institutions, not by trying to avoid them or surrendering to their awful, conventional expressions. The problem isn’t teachers; the problem is bad teachers. The problem isn’t cops; it’s bad cops. (That one is complicated, but you get the point.)

Now the anarchists will say that these institutions entail coercion so they must be abolished. Everything except private property. What I’m saying is that you really can’t be free without enabling inter-personal institutions. And you can’t have enabling institutions without some sort of responsibility to each other.

These intermediary groups, from marriages to book clubs, enable freedom.

And make no mistake, to participate in any of these enabling institutions as a free person costs money. You have to pay dues. And to participate in any of these institutions with someone else, it means that every participant has to have money.

This just means that until all of your people have some independent money in their pockets, none of us are free. We are just going through (someone else’s) motions.

Community wide economic security doesn’t come from soft skills. It comes from political power used to secure good jobs.

irami

1 Comment

  1. Alex Riccio

    I think these are valid points to get across what might be a social need for institutions- or at least the enabling institutions you mention.

    I agree we need enabling institutions which foster healthy inter-personal relationships and independence.

    And I say all of this as an anarchist, who is in a good marriage with a ‘good’ job (as good as they can get I suppose).

    I point this out to encourage an exploration of social anarchist ideas, because the reference above strikes me as a more insurrectionary anarchist viewpoint (except the private property part, what does that mean? All anarchists advocate for the abolition of private property unless you’re including anarcho-capitalists, which I do not).

    But the way I’ve always understood the goals of anarchism are to foster a free society of free individuals, which means one which includes the organic enabling institutions you are referencing. And the abolition of capitalism.

    Reply

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