HomePoetryFreedom Is Not Free (That’s Why You Don’t Have Any)

Freedom Is Not Free (That’s Why You Don’t Have Any)

Listen to a reading of this article:

“Freedom is not free,” goes the old bumper sticker slogan, commonly accompanied by an image of a flag or soldiers or some other bullshit.

Freedom is not free, the saying goes, because military personnel are out there laying their lives on the line fighting for your right to do as you’re told and toil away at a meaningless job making some rich asshole even richer.

Freedom is not free, because we’re all just so much freer after murdering families on the other side of the planet for corporate profits and geostrategic domination.

Freedom is not free, because we’re all so much freer after teenagers get thrown into the gears of the imperial war machine to provide a good quarterly statement for Raytheon shareholders.

Freedom is not free, because this thing we’re calling “freedom” has been paid for with the blood, lives and limbs of millions of innocents throughout the Global South.

Freedom is not free. That’s why the only people doing as they please in our world are wealthy oligarchs.

Freedom is not free. And unless you’re wealthy enough or psychopathic enough there’s no way you’ll ever find a way to pay the price.

Freedom is not free. That’s why you don’t have any.

Freedom is not free. That’s why we’re all running along on this ridiculous hamster wheel of global capitalism destroying our ecosystem so some dickhead with too much money can go float around in space.

Freedom is not free. It takes billions of dollars worth of mass media propaganda to manufacture the illusion of freedom.

Freedom is not free. Great expense went into creating the Truman Show narrative matrix that we are all caged in.

Freedom is not free. That’s why your votes are fake and your political system is a scripted puppet show for children.

Freedom is not free. That’s why you must obey your rulers to avoid getting censored by Silicon Valley oligarchs, assaulted by police officers, or thrown in prison by bureaucrats who play with civilizations like toys.

Freedom is not free, and we can’t afford the admission fee to actually influence the direction our world is headed.

Freedom is not free, and we’re watching helplessly as plutocrats and warmongers drive our beautiful world off a cliff from which there is no returning.

Freedom is not free, and we are marching doomward to the beat of Hollywood and lying newscasters.

Freedom is not free, and we are too enslaved to our own egoic conditioning and trauma-induced mental habits to see the path to true liberation.

Freedom is not free. It’s going to take a lot for us to turn inward and awaken to our true potential so that we can break free of our propaganda brainboxes and become a conscious species.

Freedom is not free. But it is waiting for us, beneath the thoughts, beneath the noise, beneath the believed narratives about self, world and other.

Freedom is not free. Or hey, plot twist: maybe it is. Maybe freedom is our true nature, and all we need to do is recognize it.

Freedom is free. And freedom is you and me. And humanity awakening to this reality is what will someday rid us of our chains.

Not too long now. Not long at all.



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Latest comments

  • Freedom is not free…so who’s buying?

  • True freedom = Death

  • Welcome back. Extremely well done!

  • Well, freedom is, in fact, NOT free, but for the simple fact that no one can give it to you.

    The masses expect their oppressors to make them free, without them having to lift a single finger. If enough people got off their fat asses and started actually acting in the manner of free men, they would soon be so.

    But they don’t, because they’re waiting for govern-mommy to suck on their fee-fees, kiss their boo-boos away, and make everything all better by inflicting ultra-violence on whatever big meany scapegoat of the day they’ve imagined.

    Plato was right about ordinary people demanding tyranny to satisfy their own urges.

  • May it be so! (To your last two stanzas.)

  • …’freedom’ does not mean a stinking thing without the word ‘individual’ [understood] preceding it….

  • …it seems to me ‘freedom’ is not the most universal ideal to which we should aspire… ‘justice’ is….

    ….everyone does not ‘deserve’ freedom… everyone deserves justice…

  • I met an old black lady on the bus who told me, “Life just isn’t fair.”
    And I looked her right in the eye and said, “As long as you believe that, it will continue to be true.”
    And all of us: that’s one piece of the mass psychosis we’re all suffering from, and as long as we continue to believe it, it will continue to be true.

  • As long as a man remains a social animal he can never be truly free.

  • RE: FREEDOM: We need supreme court justices to declare publicly, far and wide, that the court system is broken and has long been re-invented by the precedents of the devil-in-the-details to be lame malfunctioinal by covert deep state terrorist traiters secret crime-cults ; That our governments Canada and America are largly in a state of sedition since teh bank act of 1913 and 1914 respectivly. Therefore it is every citizen’s written constitutional right to fight for their country by any means nessessary; even TAKING THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS. That would empower our human soviern freedom and re-establish people’s courts that justice may prevail. The only reason these psychopaths and sadistopaths are yet alive is that it is against the law to kill them even if it can be proved they were dangerous to the public good. THEY LIVE amongst us in positions high and low, How can we get through to the supreme courts of Canada and America to know they have the power to make such a ruling if they will merely have the courage to FREE themselves to do so. Maybe some of them have allready did so, and that publication was hidden. Am I right Caitlynnne? ( I allways spell your name wrong. WHO, ME? )

    • CORRECTION: i aught to have stipulated ; “…CRIMINALLY dangerous…”

  • https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/07/14/volv-j14.html

    Please write something about this critically important strike at Volvo. As far as I know the wsws story is true. Please help make this strike a win and the turnaround for Solidarity Unionism.

    Thanks in advance!

  • That’s a thought-provoking essay. A few of your commentators also have put up worthwhile thoughts.
    I suggest that you needn’t condemn all the conservative people who really believe the military-justifying version of the idea of there being a cost to freedom. You and I and some of your readers know that there is also another kind of cost: to really have freedom, you have to have the ability and willingness to think about it and detect when you are being led by the nose. That isn’t easy, and none of us can always be sure we aren’t being deceived about something important. Wasn’t it a retiring general who said that he had spent his career being a muscleman for corrupt American business?
    At the moment I am trying to read Nietzsche, who seems to have an unusual take on this stuff. I gather he doesn’t like the Stoics, but I suggest that, in the absence of anything better, the Stoic attitude is the nearest I can find so far to being free or maintaining the attitude of a free person in an enslaved world. Maybe if I were a real Stoic and not just a dabbler, I would go out and kill the nearest representative of Authority I could find. But I suppose even putting that into words could be enough to bring the secret police to my door. It may help that I am seventy years old, and haven’t done anything yet.

    • Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1888): “Freedom is the will to be responsible for ourselves. It is to preserve the distance which separates us from other men. To grow more indifferent to hardship, to severity, to privation, and even to life itself”.
      Looks pretty much like stoicism to me :o)

    • Have you read The Discourses of Epictetus?
      Epictetus said that the only things over which we have control are our thoughts and beliefs. We can’t even claim to have control over our bodies: we can get sick or get into a car accident.
      I’m pretty sure that Stoic philosophy wouldn’t support your murdering anyone, even if it was for the public good.
      Epictetus would agree with the idea that you have to think about things and make sure that you’re not being led by the nose.

  • We are free.
    To Love.
    To feel awe.
    To breathe.
    To feel joy.
    To mourn.
    Everything else is a distraction.

  • To find true freedom, we have to go back to Antiquity where the general idea was that freedom is basically indifference to whatever happens to you – good or bad. It’s called ataraxia, generally translated as imperturbability, equanimity or tranquility. Same philosophical base as hinduism, jainism or buddhism. This Greek attitude, although already present in Democritus in the Vth century BCE as scepticism, was actually deepened by philosophers Anaxarchus and Pyrrho during their expedition to india with Alexander the Great in the IVth century BCE. There they spent over a year in the company of “gymnosophists” (naked sages) who impressed them by their ascetism and detachment. One of them, having accompanied them on their way back through Persia, learnt in Susa that he had an incurable disease and burnt himself to death on a pyre in front of Alexander and his buddies without showing any sign of emotion.
    A few days later, at a banquet in Babylon, Anaxarchus was asked by Alexander how he liked the feast and replied: “Everything is magnificent, o king. There is only one thing lacking: the head of a satrap.” This was a hit at Nicocreon, tyrant of Cyprus, who never forgot the insult. When, after Alexander’s death, Anaxarchus was forced by a storm to land in Cyprus, Nicocreon had him arrested, put in a giant mortar and pounded to death with iron pestles. But all that time, Anaxarchus shouted at him: “Pound, pound the pouch containing Anaxarchus; you’ll never pound Anaxarchus!” Furious, Nicocreon ordered his tongue to be cut out but Anaxarchus bit it off himself and spat it at his face”.
    Can’t get much freer than that :o)
    Although later, in the Ist century CE, Epictetus, a Greek slave sold in Rome to an idiot called Epaphroditus – himself a former slave freed by Nero – came close. Epictetus had quite a reputation among his peers as a stoic philosopher. One day Epaphroditus, unimpressed as any idiot should be, decided to test Epictetus’ alleged stoicism by putting his leg in a vice and twisting it. Enduring the pain with complete composure, Epictetus merely remarked that his leg would break if Epaphroditus went on twisting, which Epaphroditus did and the leg broke. Epictetus calmly told him: “See? What did I tell you?”

    • After my tongue got cut out, I’d try to bleed on everyone I could and then I’d cast a everlasting tuck upon them, a sort of spell if you can imagine, and they would be doomed as I suffered. A fair end if there ever was one.
      Pascal, may I pour you a drink of your choice while I’m sitting with you at the table? You and I.
      Best regards,

  • Find The Cost Of Freedom…

  • “Maybe freedom is our true nature, and all we need to do is recognize it.”
    Freedom IS our true nature. But the people of the World have become horribly alienated from their own basic natures. People have not been free for so long they have lost the feeling of it. And they have been fully mentally and spiritually propagandized to FEAR freedom as something dangerous and undesirable.
    The way you break the back of humanity is to kill off the idea and feeling of freedom. It’s like someone who has lost their taste buds. They can’t even taste what a thing tastes like any more. And if they can’t taste it, they don’t miss the sensation when it is gone.
    That’s what the World is up against. We need to do more than recognize freedom. We need to reFIND it.. to re-FEEL it… to re-CLAIM it… to maybe feel it for the very first time in one’s life for many younger people. This can be done… but the window to do so is closing rapidly. You can’t have a Grand Cosmic Singularity where we are all merged into one huge orgasmic climax of become Empty Soulless Machinelike Nothings For Others if you still retain the desire for freedom.
    ‘Freedom is not free’? Freedom is ALWAYS free. What isn’t free is US.

    • That’s exactly what Etienne de la Boétie explained in his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude in the XVIth century, which doesn’t make us any younger but is just as true now as it was then:

    • RE-feel it. Dream it back. RE-MInd yourself, and remember what it MIght be if you have the IMagination do do so.
      REMIt payment and remember, what has been always will be, but what can happen is a mystERy.
      Then, send a prayer of peace up to your Lord.
      I pray for peace.

    • The Gods do not come kneeling…

  • Reminds my of a poem by the wonderful Nazim Hikmet:

    You waste the attention of your eyes,
    the glittering labour of your hands,
    and knead the dough enough for dozens of loaves
    of which you’ll taste not a morsel;
    you are free to slave for others—
    you are free to make the rich richer.

    The moment you’re born
    they plant around you
    mills that grind lies
    lies to last you a lifetime.
    You keep thinking in your great freedom
    a finger on your temple
    free to have a free conscience.

    Your head bent as if half-cut from the nape,
    your arms long, hanging,
    your saunter about in your great freedom:
    you’re free
    with the freedom of being unemployed.

    You love your country
    as the nearest, most precious thing to you.
    But one day, for example,
    they may endorse it over to America,
    and you, too, with your great freedom—
    you have the freedom to become an air-base.

    You may proclaim that one must live
    not as a tool, a number or a link
    but as a human being—
    then at once they handcuff your wrists.
    You are free to be arrested, imprisoned
    and even hanged.

    There’s neither an iron, wooden
    nor a tulle curtain
    in your life;
    there’s no need to choose freedom:
    you are free.
    But this kind of freedom
    is a sad affair under the stars.

  • Freedom is free to be.
    Freedom is free for all.
    Freedom is a wisp-in-the-wind.
    A butterfly flaps it’s wings.
    The butterfly lives in bliss – until it don’t.
    The butterflies are free in their minds.

    Poem of the day
    713211319 est us

  • The 2nd to last paragraph made a song pop into my head I haven’t heard in about 45 years… “Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free…”

  • Ms Johnstone, I hope and pray that you never lose your relentless enthusiasm to reach and move humanity from our Satanic snake pit!
    May The Heavens Always Bless You!

  • What exactly is freedom? It is like asking what is happy. It is a nebulous term that means different things to different people. I am sure most people consider themselves to be free. Covid is curtailing freedom more worldwide than at anytime since WW2. If Covid passports take hold, it will be Nazi Germany worldwide.

  • In a commodified culture anything “free” is suspect. That’s why some believe all things should have a price so value is attached to it. After all, If things are just given too easily they’re often taken for granted and discarded offhandedly. As a matter fact, how many times have you heard the expression “nothing free is worth having,” or “there’s so such thing as a free-lunch.” In point of fact, if it’s too good to be true you’re guaranteed a scam is coming through your door.

    Nonetheless, it’s easy to drop your guard and become complacent, why not just sit back and be hypnotized. Mainstream media news is so willing to grant this “inertia wish” by saying the same things all the time: COVID will kill you; variants are coming for you; vaccines are a must; Putin is bad; Trump’s base are fascists; and 1/6 was an insurrection fought with American flags, etc…

    Isn’t it much easier to be sucked into the “vacuum machine of complacency.” Why expend energy to think, analyze, or research when you can simply just “freely accept.” Actually, the only price for freedom is “vigilance.” Everyone must expend just a little energy–a small price to pay. Carefully watch, listen, and scrutinize what’s being said and what actions quickly follow and you’ll detect there’s a total loss of freedom approaching. OMG, maybe we should’ve never opened the door to those free-lunch scammers.

    • Putin got vaccinated, he wouldn’t have done that if it was a deep state conspiracy.

      • Sputnik is based on a tradition vaccine it’s not RNA.

        • So is the astra zeneca vaccine. People are getting vaccinated to save each other, and there are choices out there. Join us and save the world.

          • You mean spare them for a little while longer? Economic collapse and civil war will make the virus a filler segment on the nightly news.

          • You’re obsessed with vaccines, it’s so odd. You’ve become terrified of a virus. If that’s not the case, then you’re the worst kind of scumbag promoting toxins to a healthy population.

            AstraZeneca causes blood clots.

            • Is Putin trying to get his people killed? Of course not. Vaccines are not a conspiracy, they are a life saving medicine and you’re calling it poison. That’s why we should listen to real doctors instead of internet crackpots.

              • You keep referring to Putin trying to associate my comments to some Russian conspiracy. You’re truly demented, if you’re not working for the CIA apply you’d be the perfect candidate along with that weird techie pedophile Siggy…….

  • I remember when this catchphrase was said in the days after 9/11/01 as NYC as ground zero was still smouldering and then devolved into an annoying catchphrase for 2 years as the Patriot Act was written and neocons and neolibs in DC were drumming up for invading Iraq.

    This idiom has always been fundamentally idiotic and ignorant. It belongs in the garbage with other simplistic sayings like “whatever” and “it is what it is”

    • *in NYC

    • The Patriot Act was ready to roll before 9/11.

  • I’m not sure exactly what constitutes freedom. I ask myself what I would do if I was free but
    I can’t come up with anything I can’t do now. I do believe however that I have freedoms that everyone doesn’t have, maybe like voting. Looking back in history it’s apparent that whole populations were serf, enslaved and couldn’t even own property, and that’s most of known history. So, relatively speaking, I consider myself to be very free. I hope that all other humans on earth can feel the same way.

    • How about growing the most green plant known to humankind? If you grow industrial hemp then you will be handcuffed, thrown in a cage, and fed slop with all the other non-violent offenders who took the liberty of going to D.C. for protest of voting fraud.

      In America, freedom is only allowed if you obey.

    • Total lack of anonymity or privacy might be a bit oppressive.

  • “Freedom is not free.” First, you have to realize that it is a “Truman Show.” Next, you have to “free” yourself, as Truman did – regardless of cost. Then, you can begin again, essentially penniless – after having removed any semblances of what they attempted to tattoo “in your forehead.” https://seaclearly.com/2020/10/26/i-was-raised-in-babylon

  • This was my 2002 era hot take, freedom that isnt free isnt freedom

  • USA, land of the free where almost nothing is and they’re working on that like air and water that still is, Oh wait, you have to pay to clean up the air and water. I guess nothing really is…

  • There is no road to freedom. Freedom is a state of mind. And you can be there, exactly in the moment you choose to no longer be a victim, and KNOW that you create ALL of your reality.
    In that moment, all the things you mention become trivialized because they are no longer about you. Because YOU are not a victim. And as more and more people come online with this realization, the window becomes smaller and the attack surface ceases to exist, because we cannot be perpetrated against if we refuse to be victimized.
    We are not personally responsible for our fellow man. They, like we, are solely responsible for coming to this realization for themselves. It is easier said than done. If there’s a road, that is it. The road in our own minds to deciding that we are free.
    And once we decide that, and our actions ARE that of freedom, the ripple effects of that are what will change our world.
    One person at a time. And it WILL NOT be televised.
    Magical thinking? It IS magic when you free your mind. The world we are embarking on is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.
    As a very wise person once told me, freedom is hard-won. But we’re not winning it or gaining it through someone else. It is hard-won from ourselves. It’s easy to be a victim. It is difficult, initially, to KNOW that we are free. Then whatever anyone else does, it has NOTHING to do with us. It matters not when you are free.

    • Freedom is a state of mind until the boys in blue handcuff you.

      • True I reckon, but sometimes the only way to grasp freedom is after you’ve been constrained, or even worse spent time is prison. Grasp it, sense it, appreciate it fully and such.
        Imagine what Julian must think on occasion. I think I can.
        Free Julian Assange you twisted fools.
        P.s. most readers here, that last line was not directed to you….I’m just screaming in the wind.
        Now – back to work for me.

  • Hi Caitlin. I just wanted to point out that your views align with Lenin. I read your comment yesterday that you don’t care about Lenin. But he just said in his discipline (political science) what you say in yours (psychology).
    In my opinion, we should support anti-imperialists across all disciplines.
    So there you go.

  • Goethe got at this nicely:
    “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”.

    (Eons ago it became clear that seeing El Supremo’s tanks parked on the corner was vastly more educational than teachers and a whole ambient culture reminding you incessantly that you were FREE. And, later, told that bad people did things like 911 because they hated this “freedom.”)

  • I love the connection you have to your verbal center. Just yesterday I saw that saying on a poster. It had a US flag and an aircraft carrier. In addition to disgust, sadness and outrage, I thought and knew every point in this article all at once the way the human mind can know a whole totality in an instant. I never could have pulled it into individual words like you have here.

  • Very, very good Caity!

    I fear it may be too late now. The time for coming together and taking action passed many months, perhaps even years ago. Today, well over half the planet has bought into the lies and are content in the belief that having been jabbed, they can now enjoy revenge on those that refused it. The actions of governments worldwide and our restricted freedoms (health passports, forced vaccinations, etc.) are going to wreak havoc on businesses, employment, and the global economy, not to mention the ensuing deaths.

    The police and military they are using to enforce their draconian rule are merely pawns being pushed around on the global chessboard. Once the oligarchs goal of a 90% reduction in population has been achieved, they will have no further use for these pawns and they too will be dispatched to the afterlife.

    I can see the faces of the barbaric police state enablers now … “Why? We did everything you asked us to!”
    And as the US said to Iran when they backed out of the nuclear agreement, “You fucked-up, you trusted us!”

  • This is the freedom you pay for with Blood!… As well, your boot camp instructor tells you this is why civilians are slim ball whimpering Prussys, that have no right to complain!

    Ironic how the military industrial complex gets those folks to believe that, that is until, they experience being sent to the battlefield and seeing their brothers maimed and dead in pieces. Then they come home and advertise without limbs, as they say they would do it all again… (TV Propaganda), commercials of a false reality brought to you by the CIA and mainstream media military machine! Propaganda written by the victors and losers of every war there ever was. Death by selling a collage worthless education to uneducated dropouts and mental giants… terms that are loosely used here!

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