Thursday, December 11, 2014

Order vs. Freedom in American Society

In our modern society, attempting to strike a balance between order and freedom is impossible. There are too many people in America with too many different views and too many different ideas about how society should function. Each person has been raised in a different environment with different influences. Thus, everybody will have a slightly different idea about how order and freedom should be balanced.

By considering the four major political ideologies present in American society, we can realize how divided Americans really are on this topic. The primary ideologies present in our society are communitarianism, liberalism, conservatism, and libertarianism. Each of these broad groups encompasses a variety of people who feel relatively the same way about the balance between order and freedom. For example, libertarians, for the most part, identify strongly with the free market and the absence of government intervention in the marketplace. This implies a market structure where order is clearly subservient to freedom. However, on the other side of the spectrum, communitarians believe that government should have heavy influence on the free market. The government should also be responsible for providing many social programs for the poor and disabled. These two ideologies are on the polar ends of the spectrum, as one of them promotes freedom over order and the other chooses order over freedom. This example shows how challenging the process of finding the balance between order and freedom is for society as a whole. We may think that we represent others in our views for the distinction between the two principles, but, ultimately, everyone is going to have a different opinion.

There are times, however, when society is able to make a simple choice on whether to stress freedom or order. For example, after the tragedy of 9/11, airport security was significantly tightened. This was an example where society, as a whole, felt that freedom needed to be sacrificed in the name of order so that the United States could remain safe. However, in the case of the NSA and its electronic surveillance program, Americans thought it best to promote freedom over order by forcing the NSA to cease its intrusive practices.

Ultimately, because every person is different, there will never be a perfect balance between order and freedom. Society will adopt policies that promote one over the other as suites the majority at any given time.

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