The term freedom can be used by individuals in various aspects. In speech, freedom is the right to speak freely; in movement, freedom is the ability to move freely; and in society, freedom is the absence of slavery and captivity. A country on the other hand may look at freedom as the right to self rule, without any interference from another country. Human actions, when not restricted or monitored properly, can greatly result in lack of freedom. Susan Faludi in her article “The Naked Citadel” writes about men who do not want the citadel to go coed. She discovers something puzzling: The boys want freedom for themselves, but at the same time want to deny others the freedom. Jon Krakauer in “Into the Wild” centers his story on a young boy who has been disheartened with his society, so on his quest for freedom, he is careless of other people’s happiness. Andrew Bachevich in “The real world war IV” writes the story from the American society point of view. The Americans are pursuing their freedom by controlling other nations. Generally, freedom can be defined as the ability of an individual or a group of people to act and live freely without being subjected to some form of pressure or restrictions. However, the American concept of freedom is merely another name for selfishness. In its broader perspective, freedom on one side may infringe the freedom of another side.
In all of these articles, freedom is portrayed in a way which affects others negatively, the freedom to live without others taking actions in response. This can clearly be seen in “The Naked Citadel” where one of the teachers complained about the hazing, “…she submitted the written threats she had received to her -chairman…The dean she said did nothing for some months, then, after she inquired, said he had ‘misplaced’ the offending document” ( Faludi 194). It is depicted here that the dean deliberately failed to act after receiving the woman’s complains about the treats. The dean’s failure to act is a sign of discrimination against the woman. In this quote, the urgency of this case is not considered, simply because it was the woman who was offended. The senior cadets think that they can do whatever they want to, because no one can interfere with their decisions. Constantly, they threatened the junior cadets as no one could control them; they are the boss of their own life. The freedom without restrictions or control is also seen in the American Society. The Americans are allowed by their freedom to invade the Middle East countries in their quest for oil. This is very wanting. We are told that, “… today, American political leaders cling to the belief that skillful application of military power will enable the United States to decide the fate not simply of the Persian Gulf proper but of the entire greater Middle East” ( Basewich 53). Americans believe that no one can control them. In stead, their freedom allows them to control others. They believe that their freedom allows them to invade and control Middle East; thereby ensuring uninterruptible flow of oil to America. They are prepared to accomplish this even if it means infringing other people’s rights. Their freedom allows them to live and act without others taking actions in response. Another form of freedom where there is lack of control is depicted in Jon Krakauer’s article “Into the Wild”. Chris McCandless is seen to be longing for independence. He wants to be alone, free from the influence of other people. He doesn’t want any restriction created by these people. It is stated that, “McCandles was Candid about his intent to spend the summer alone in the bush, living off the land. … he didn’t want to see a single person, no airplanes, no sign of civilization. He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, without anybody’s help.” (Krakauer 346). Chris believes that the people back home made him to be dependent on material things, luxuries, and ease. He therefore wants to pull out of this restriction by going into the bush alone where nobody can influence him. Although Chris wants to be a better person as he understands the dangers of restriction, he sets to search for freedom by running away from responsibility to both friends and family. He refuses to write to anyone about where he is and his condition. Finally, he endangers himself as he meets his early death. Though his motive is good, Chris causes harm to both himself and others back at home. This is contrary to the perception of freedom by the Americans and citadels, who believe that freedom must come with restrictions. The question we are left asking is, “Does greed for autonomy have restrictions?”
No restrictions can lead to greed for autonomy. We can clearly see this scenario depicted in all the three articles. Starting with “Into the Wild”, Chris is determined to attain what he regards as freedom, even if it means hurting both himself and other people. He could not be prevented by any restriction from achieving his objective. His friend Andy says “Chris was born into the wrong century. He was looking for more adventure and freedom which today’s society gives people … With his idiosyncratic logic, he came up with an elegant solution to his dilemma” (Krakauer 356). The main objective of Chris was to go into the bush alone and be independent, away from the influence of other people. Chris is seen to be very greedy for unrestricted power, which he sets out to find in spite of all the dangers. “The Naked Citadel” also portrays greed for unrestricted autonomy. In the article, freshmen were the constant victims of violence. The class difference within the cadet corps is the greatest cause of the violence and brutality as the seniors were constantly mistreating their juniors. The senior corps’ greed for autonomy makes them instill fear on their juniors through violence and brutality. They are not prepared for any challenge. One prime example of the cadet’s brutality is, “… two upper-class men burst into the room of two freshmen and reportedly kneed them in the genitals, pulled out some of their chest hair, and beat them up.” (Faludi, 200). The upper-class men are seen to be abusing their freedom. They are greedy for power. Their greed directly causes conflict, terror, and brutality to those in the lower class; whom they were supposed be protecting. Faludi writes, “… a senior cadet bursts into the room at 10p.m, and repeatedly struck the juniors in the chest and stomach, bruising them.” Here, the freshmen are denied what seems to be their freedom by their seniors. The upper class men have a great greed for power, which they constantly abuse. Under no circumstance are the senior men willing to let go the power as they believe that the freshmen do not deserve any freedom. This greed for autonomy is the center of focus in the American Society. Americans are portrayed as those who can go extra miles, even if it means creating conflict, engaging in war, applying brutality and killing the innocent; just to achieve their desires.
This is greed indeed! The attack in Middle East attests to this. From the American point of view, “The war on terror has offered important benefits. We know what to do, we know how it ends” (Basewich, 48). By asserting this, the Americans confirm that greed can drive them into conflict, war and brutality so that they can achieve their objectives. America was greedy for oil and they wanted to obtain oil by any means so that they could fulfill their interests. This greed led the Americas into denying other countries the freedom they deserved. America was by all means prepared to achieve whatever its greed drove it to, without restrictions from elsewhere.
Thus, the individuals in these articles create a “culture” to support their false ideal of freedom as not being controlled at all. Freedom is what a culture defines it to be. All these articles highlight the impacts of culture on freedom. In fact, it is culture which defines freedom. Culture is the greatest enemy of civilization when it is coupled with ignorance. We can see the various roles played by culture in the pursuit of freedom.
In the “Naked Citadel”, Faludi exposes the ignorance associated with some cultures. The cadets ignorantly abused the concept of the fourth class system without trying to find out its benefits. “The strict rule that upperclassmen not fraternize with knobs, meant that they couldn’t simply counsel the freshmen kindly.” (Faludi 68). As a result, they resort to beatings which infringed the freedom of the new students. This was a direct manifestation of ignorance. The culture allowed the older students within the student run-regimental command to punish and instill discipline on the new students. This resulted into various brutal incidents. The impacts of culture on freedom can also be identified in Andrew Basewich’s “World War IV”. America developed a materialistic culture which they respect to-date. From President Carter’s Doctrine, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” ( Basewich 53). The materialistic culture of Americans drives them to a belief that it is their right to control the oil in the Persian Gulf and any opposition to this must be dealt with properly. This is the very culture that has made America to invade Middle East in order to control the oil flow. Even though culture plays a very important role in an individual’s perception of freedom, “Into the Wild” introduces us to one man who believes that culture misleads.
Chris criticizes his culture and believes that he can live and attain the freedom without the influence of culture at all. Krakauer states “… so nature made it, and man may use it if he can. Man was not to be associated with it. It was matter, vast, terrific…” ( Krakauer 354). Chris rejects his culture which promotes dependency, goes into the bush, and meets his death. If he could have honored the culture, he would have not deceased that early.
Freedom should not be based on lack of freedom for others. It should not be used as a tool that propagates restrictions to others, as depicted here-in. America, with its freedom which causes restrictions to the Middle East, should have resorted to democracy rather than the use of force. America ought to have realized that countries in the Middle East are independent and needs to be respected. Freedom always comes with responsibility. The men in “The Naked Citadel”, who are entrusted with protecting the freshmen, ought to have realized that their greed for power directly affected others. Even though culture may have its own aspect of freedom, it should always try not to affect others negatively as depicted in the above cases. Freedom is meant to be enjoyed; however, this is not the case. In many cases, women have been denied their freedom of equality and are therefore discriminated on gender grounds. As shown in the article “The Naked Citadel”, males constantly deny women their freedom of equality. It is high time that one should realize that every person is equal, male or female. In fact, females have proved to be better than males in some occasions. Greed and the abuse of freedom have taken the centre stage in all the three articles. The men in the “The Naked Citadel” constantly abused the power bestowed upon them. The Americans have also used its powers negatively. The American freedom can thus be summarized by one word: greed. It is the greed and the selfish interests that drive America into colonizing countries. By taking control over a country’s product like oil, they infringe the host country’s freedom. It is quite shameful and embarrassing that America, of all the countries, can formulate fake reasons and policies so that they satisfy their insatiable demand for dominance.