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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992

1.2. Principles.

On the Notion of "Human Freedom"

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In philosophical terms "human freedom" is not a homogeneous notion - philosophers speak about "free will" and "freedom of actions"; about negative ("freedom from") and positive ("freedom to") freedoms. Common usage wipes out these differences, but for our purposes the latter differentiation is very important. It seems that common usage, and consequently practice, thus operates with the notion of "freedom in general".

But in reality it is not so. One operates with the notion of "freedom from".

Under "freedom from" is understood absence of certain restrictions imposed on human activity. When Tatarstan says that if it joins the Russian Federation, it will have worse economic and cultural conditions, and consequently, the interest of Tatarstan should lie in political independence, this is a characteristic example of "freedom from". And when the intelligentsia supports statements of this kind, it is supporting "freedom from".

"Freedom to" means a person's access to some activity, his capability to be a creator. "Freedom to" and "creative work" are different facets of the same crystal. "Freedom to" is always connected not with negation, but with positive content. When in autumn 1991 the former Soviet republics were offered an Economic Treaty (with 24 carefully worked- out supplementary agreements), the essence was in this positive content, and it was quite obvious which way to choose and what to do. Declarations about "the totalitarian centre" (in other words - "independence", "sovereignty", "self-determination", etc.), that is, the same "freedom from", opposed this positive creative approach. The state which is being created today (or, more precisely, "the presently desegregating state") is a true kingdom of "freedom from" (from the CPSU, "totalitarian union centre", the Union itself, etc.) It is surprising that our institutions of power can be inspired by "freedom from" the already diminished phenomena for such a long time. It is not they who are governing this feeling - instead, an impersonal "negation force" largely determines the movement of thought of our state leaders.

"Freedom from" taken in reference not to the socium, but to the human spirit, turns out to be the freedom from interpretation and understanding, and the latter leads to the absence of "estrangement" (Heidegger's Gelassenheit), and consequently, to the lack of human preoccupation with the everyday world, and our being thrown into a world of meaningless things. The latter means for a person that the world of being is homogeneous, non-spiritual and mechanical. It is rather dangerous, as it is actually destroying a creator, the act of creation. A person feels like a pawn to political forces, he "does not understand", and the socium is evil toward him.

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