I imagine a man in a thick forest, wandering around in search of berries or roots. He carries a sharpened stick for spearing fish. He has no dependents and is content to sleep in makeshift shelters.
This man has few constraints. He requires food and water. To obtain these things it costs him significantly fewer than eight hours a day. With his free time he may do whatever he pleases, granted his options are somewhat limited. Since he is on his own schedule, he can dry enough meat in one month to live for a few months, or he can hunt more often. He answers only to himself, works only for himself… and I think he has the purest form of freedom.
Now, this man must have learned to hunt, or what vegetation is edible. In some sense, this man starts of with a sense of obligation. He owes his parents or his teachers for his knowledge, and so he may wish to take care of them in their old age. He acquires more constraints. The elderly cannot move too often, so the man builds more stable shelters and procures more food. Still, this can be done in fewer than eight hours a day. He cannot move as often, but otherwise he is free to do what he wishes.
We may realistically assume that the man does not know how long he will live. He knows that when he is elderly he will have a harder time procuring food, and so he takes out an insurance policy – he has children to care for him in his old age. In so doing he must aquire a few more constraints – a woman and a child. Still, he can feed all of his dependants with not much more work. Emotional constraints are bound to emerge – and the man’s free time will likely not be quite as discretionary. He will be somewhat obligated to spend time with these people. Which, given the few other options he has, may actually enhance his free time.
At any rate… this small group is relatively flexible. They enjoy a freedom that is absolutely unobtainable in our society.
We are not born into a world where we can wander the land (there are property rights), and if we want land to wander upon we must have money (we must satisfy the wants of others) and we must continue to have money to pay taxes. The way in which we can use our land is often restricted as well, and should we not abide by these laws it will cost us more money. At every turn we must procure money, so we must satisfy the wants of others. What’s more is that we do not have a few hand-picked and personal dependents, we have a whole number of them that we do not know (funding welfare programs).
How, or why, is this system better than the the one that came so many years before? Why did it emerge, and for what reason does it linger? If freedome is the ideal, for what have we sacrificed so much of it? Is our technological system completly opposed to this free system? Could the two somehow merge?
I’d like to investigate answers to these questions.