FREEDOM TO DO WHAT I WANT
«Being free is doing what I want.» Many would endorse this statement. But does such a statement, easily acceptable, refer to the previous necessity of responding to another fundamental question that you can formulate simply this way: What do I want?. Another concatenation of interlaced questions arises at once: What do I want to achieve wanting this now? Why do I want to achieve that? What do I want in the long term? Where are my different actions directed towards? What ultimate intentions dominate my aspirations and decisions?…
The success of freedom, in action in general as well as in economic action in particular, is centred mainly on the convenience of the goal that the conscious behaviour is directed towards. Human action becomes the mobilization of the will that seeks to reach precise goals and certain objectives by means of a conscious and reflexive reaction to the colourful stimuli and circumstances of the external universe.
In this way freedom is influenced by the goal, and the goal is influenced by a previous responsible and reflexive freedom able to discover it. Freedom is not simple lack of precision. It simply demands that its determination is not of one meaning, in such a way that it could have determined in another way. In this idea of freedom is the basis of private initiative.
Man can do what he wants, but that ability implies knowing beforehand what it is that he wants and, when he carries out what he has decided to do, is when he really acts with freedom. To act with freedom it is necessary to know the goal and to decide positively to achieve it, removing the obstacles that impede its attainment. Therefore human freedom is not absolute, but relative. One can observe a parallelism with economic value that is an ultimate relationship that refers to the subjective and objective goals of the human being.
With regard to economic freedom, although Schaff affirmed, as a humanist, freedom of choice, he specified that man is not sovereign nor is he, therefore, an absolutely free individual that can do what he wants. He resembles more a constitutional king that, nominally, is sovereign but whose hands are tied by the constitution. Nobody will doubt his freedom, but that freedom is not absolute. Human freedom is inexorably limited by physical laws as well as by the general laws of human behaviour. It is useless and pretentious to try to reach goals that are incompatible with each other.
What we could refer to as the idealistic school of economy is centred, not on human orientation towards material achievement, but on the belief of human orientation towards the truth. Schumacher stated that humanity has of course, a certain freedom of choice: It is not limited by fashion, production or any other fragmentary logic. However, it is limited by the truth. Only in serving the truth does perfect freedom exist, and still those that today ask us to liberate our imagination from slavery to the existent system forget to show the way of recognising the truth.»
The search for the authentic goal is an indispensable requirement for free performance. It is in fact that goal that gives unity in turn to economic decisions in such a way that, human freedom, embodied in different individuals, allows horizontal completeness (diversity among the means that are completed with others) and vertical completeness (approach of the diverse to the unique goal). The subjective goal that extends and projects on the whole variety of means can only be obtained in a free economic performance that attempts to find the objectives through its conscience, and its personal and nonnegotiable subjectivity.
Freedom, with its effects of initiative and greater creativity is therefore, more profitable and more suitable than lack of freedom. However, in order to act in freedom it is necessary to know first really what it is that is desired, what the best is and what is desired in the long term. As the Argentinean Lugones wrote in Prometeo: “Freedom and happiness come to man from the interior to the exterior, constituting the true way of living. The art of living is an internal task.» To be genuinely free we need to know, or to glimpse, the norms of human nature that will indicate to us, with greater or lesser clarity, the way to the authentic goals, and with it the necessary mediate (economic) elements.