Numerous authors have instigated ideas related to freedom; however, nobody has done it better than Eric Foner. He is a renowned Columbian historian who portrays a different concept in the art of freedom in his book Voices of Freedom. Foner agrees that the freedom in America has a different definition from the world’s views. The use of freedom by the American community has always changed, and it has the best tool in the definition of their identity and history. There are authors claiming that the freedom is a tool used to discover oneself. However, Foner believes that the freedom can be used to disenfranchise others. It might be true as he continues to explain that it is a political rhetoric ideology, which is used to target some of the desperate communities (Foner22) .Foner, has used numerous individuals in his book, however, the paper will look at Henry George, Fredrick Douglas, and Barrack Obama. From a different angle, one can clearly understand that the book Voices of Freedom is a collection of different views from prominent people explaining their impression of freedom. At the same time, it is eminent that the individuals raised these voices during their time of crisis.
Chapter 16: America’s Gilded Age, 1870–1890
Henry George (1879), in his work, titled progress and Poverty he uses the term freedom as a tool against poverty. He wanted to let people understand that the progression comes from an individual. His ideologies on freedom are regulated by the thinking perception inflicted to the human thinking and are used in defining societies and cultures. The phenomenon of studying these concepts has led to implementations of approaches such as freedom to view oneself, Ascribed status, and Impression Management.
Socio-centricity is also referred to as egocentricity where the thoughts in the mind of an individual are replaced with the reality. If an individual implicates his perception based on socio-centric viewpoint, he will perceive issues the way they are portrayed. This point of view is considered to be manifested in reference to egocentricity. The point of view is enacted through the refusal to admit facts and ideas, which may block an individual from attaining his desires. Additionally, if egocentricity is portrayed in extreme form, it will be characterized by the need of owning everything. It means that an individual will not have an interest in anything or have an interest in everything (Foner135). These individuals are concerned with the manifestation of the truth, fair-mindedness and fairness. The condition is parallel to critical thinking.
The ascribed statuses are acquired during birth. These statuses, which are usually common in societies, are those based on age, sex, family background and ethnic group or race. They are accustomed to power, privileges, prestige, and obligations, and they are distributed differently in the society depending on the age of the individuals. In some countries especially the United States, it is associated with the youth culture as people always condemn them for being young. In other parts of the world like China, this concept is different as it is associated with the old generation and the subordination is done by the young generation. Then obligations and perquisites accustomed with the status are interpreted with the change in age as time elopes. However, the individual will undergo the changes without having the freedom choice (Patrick 36). The rigidity of ascribed statuses depends on society that a person has been brought up, and the lifestyle he is used to indulging. Caste societies are those societies where the statuses are not associated with change. One society, which is not accustomed to change, is India.
Impression management implies that an individual strives to impress others in association to what they say. It is usually applied when people do things they way the others think, but not the way they think. It occurs when individuals do things they want from others or even establish an independent identity. Several ways can be established to suit the individual. It includes information in a relationship is controlled in the manner it flows. Other ways include hiding the body language and mimicking other people. Impression management is essential in the lives of corporations, politicians and brands as it is used to determine the manner in which others will view them (Glass 54). It makes them shape up and try to live how the society wants them to be. It is usually referred to as self-presentation.
Chapter 15: “What Is Freedom?” Reconstruction, 1865–1877
The term freedom has been introduced to the public through different means, however Frederick Douglass (1869) thinks differently in his writing of “The Composite Nation." He looks at freedom from a slavery point of view. Taking a close look at the African slave trade, one will realize that it was profitable for everyone involved except the slaves themselves. People made a lot of money from this starting from the people who captured the slaves in Africa, the shipping companies, slave brokers, and the slave owners. It was when the people started buying and selling of their offspring as slaves. The economies of regions in Africa and the rest of the world depended on the slave trade until the end of the civil war (Taylor and Charles 105). The black slaveholders came from the numerous free blacks who had already started living freely in South Carolina in the late 1700s. After gaining their freedom, the African Americans started buying their slaves for trade. The issues that are of concerned are why they decided to own their own black slaves and the reason for engaging in the practice.
The whole idea started in 1619 when twenty African were introduced in Virginia as tobacco servants, but they later turned out to be slaves. It was the beginning of slavery in the world. It was from the twenty that the breakaway movement began but with the aim of owning their slaves. Some of the factors that led to a black slave-owning include the free blacks buying off their family members in order to free them out of bondage. Until early 1800, it was legal for the white slave owners to do anything to their slaves including manumission. The South Carolina legislative council later restricted this. In addition, they came up with a law that required the free slaves to move out of the state (Foner 82). It led to them buying their family members so that they can be allowed in the state as slaves but not free blacks.
The blacks also ventured into the slave trade because of the economic benefits that were associated with it. This trade was carried out by the black shopkeepers and artisans who owned the slaves in the city while those who owned slaves in the country farms were the free blacks. In cities like Charleston, the free blacks had already monopolized businesses such as bricklaying, barber shops, tailoring, dressmaking and shoemaking because this work was done by the slaves. Their entrepreneurial jobs made it easy for them to have enough money to purchase more slaves.
The movement known as “free persons of color” perpetrated another factor that encouraged black slaveholders. It was realized that there were women who had given birth to mulatto children that came because of the relationship of the women slaves and their white masters. These children would be treated as part of the master’s family and would end up inheriting the riches of the master after death (Lause 64). It would automatically lead to manumission of their mothers. These children formed the movement of "free persons of color." The mulatto mothers turned out to be slaveholders, and that is the reason there were more women slave owners than the male.
The movement also wanted to participate in the slave business as the white people did. After they had been permitted, the holders became rich and started to live more like the Americans than Africans. They also benefitted from the economic profitability that was associated with slave laboring (Patrick 78). The owners started having the slaves as their laborers hence workforce in their farms and businesses. It means that the black slaveholders profited from the slaves as their white counterparts.
Chapter 28: A New Century and New Crises
In the new era of attaining freedom in the modern society, President Barrack Obama’s Speech on the Middle East (2011) can be used to depict it. He talks of freedom to be the nature in which a country works with the other countries in order to increase their power. It is through the speech that one realizes that United States, has all along been working with the other countries to attain their personal gain. According to realism, the world is not a better place to be as it is harsh and cruel, and their only issue that can be certain is the powers found among different countries. A country that is powerful will always use the inferior state through out-doing and outlasting some of the ideas they have in order to show them that they are a weaker competition. It is normally seen through the use of the military power. For instance, president Obama indicated that America will improve some of their military actions against ISIS. It means that they would embark on a strategy whereby they will be in a position of fighting the Somalis and Yemen (Foner 337). This nature of airstrike has been reported in these regions as from 2002. The strikes have also been reported in regions such as Pakistan. It is a form of showing the weaker countries that they are in control of any activities they are planning including warfare.
The actions related to realism also include having a core interest on self-preservation through seeking power and protecting itself. It means that the strikes being ordered by Obama are all related to strategies the country needs to protect itself from the external enemies and attacks. Through his speech, one could realize that he was on the verge of letting the people understand that there is a great threat posed by the militants across the world. He discussed on the issues related to the advanced nature of attacked delivered by the enemy through Syria and Iraq. He supported his ideas by reminding the public of the barbaric attack on 9/11 and the brutal beheading of two American journalists (Winston 61). It was a way of informing the public that they should be aware of the radicalization of individuals through Islamic terrorism.
At the same time, it is important to note that realism is all about overarching the power of a certain country through enforcement of the global rules associated with the punishment of bad behaviors. The speech indicated that there was not traces that indicated that the United States was under attack, as this would have ignited a debate on whether the country had the ability of protecting itself. He indicated that all his efforts were related to ensuring that the country is in a better position of fighting terrorism. For instance, he says, “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat.” It meant that the American government was working hard to ensure that foreign attacks are not tolerated in the country (Taylor and Charles 65). It was also important for him to indicate that they were ready to engage even the American citizens who wanted to carry out attacks on their fellow compatriots. It has always happened as some of its citizens attain military training in foreign countries then come back as the enemy.
It is also essential to note that having moral behaviors can sometimes be used against a country in order to carry out an attack. The country might work hard to show their morality while at the same time show their vulnerability to attacks by the foreigners. If the country does not only deal with dealing with the rights of human beings, it will be seen to be weak to attack others. People might have view his way of handling the Osama attack as a way of undermining morality and the rights of a human being but to him it was a tool to show that he had won the war on terrorism. He proudly indicated in his speech that the nature in which they took out Osama Bin Laden was the same way they were going to handle all the other leaders perpetrating terrorism in America. It was an assertion to the United States citizens that the country was in a position of protecting them even if it meant bridging the rules humanity. It could be seen through his speech as he proudly talked of eliminating the terrorist threat in the world. He proudly says,
It is through acknowledgment of realism tat one will realize that the international system has made it clear that one can use military for to another country without bridging morality and humanity. At the same time, the moral concern of the country’s leadership on foreign policy should not be used by the enemy as a tool to attack them. For instance, the attacks on American soil on 9/11 would have plunged America into civil war against Syria. However, this has not been the case as more troops have been sent to Iraq even after some of them were withdrawn from the region (Lause 92). It can be explained by realism to indicate that the law s governing international organizations and practices cannot be applicable to everyone unless a country wants to believe it does apply to them. It is the same policy that the speech implies as it indicates that the American government will not be stopped in its quest to deal with terrorism. Obama explained that he would use all his power to ensure that he protects his people against any attacks by foreigners.
Taylor, Charles A, and Charles A. Taylor. Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom. Greensboro, N.C: Open Hand Pub, 2002. Print.
Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. 2014. Print.
Patrick, John J. Founding the Republic: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2005. Internet resources
Haynes, Charles C, Sam Chaltain, and Susan M. Glisson.First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Lause, Mark A. "The American Radicals & Organized Marxism: the Initial Experience, 1869-1874." Labor History.33.1 (2012): 55-80. Print.
Winston, James. "A Long Way from Home: on Black Identity in Britain." European Education.20.4 (2009): 60-94. Print.
Glass, Maeve H. "Bringing Back the States: a Congressional Perspective on the fall of Slavery in America." Law & Social Inquiry.39.4 (2014): 1028-1056. Print.