Rarely has any value marked humanity more than freedom. Throughout history, peoples and individuals have sought to free themselves from all the forms of slavery, servitude and subordination that afflicted them. If Nietzsche had already noted with spite the triumph of the “morals of the slaves” over the morals of the masters, the strongs, he had not understood that the latter, more individualistic, was doomed to failure because of this.
In fact, freedom is consubstantial with human behaviour. Unlike primates who spontaneously submit to the alpha male, humans, driven by their desire for freedom, prefer association. Thanks to this, they have built societies that have invaded the world and, at times, they have built empires that, in turn, have enslaved populations that have never stopped wanting to free themselves.
However, freedom is meaningless if it is disconnected from the other values that cement societies of free citizens, equal rights and fraternity. It is hampered when everyone’s security and prosperity is not assured. In countries where there is war or famine, political regimes rarely guarantee freedom.
Above all, the philosophers of the Enlightenment were interested in what makes human being autonomous and responsible, and in what limits him, his relationships with Nature . Alongside Immanuel Kant, we can mention Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, David Hume, Leibniz, but also Adam Smith.
The relationship between man and Nature questions him about how to provide for his needs. Hunting, fishing, then agriculture and handicrafts, and now industry occupy humanity to produce goods and services for oneself and others. Everything that is produced is consumed or exchanged, because it is useful for oneself or for another.
Adam Smith thought of the economy as the foundation of Society, and the Market as an operator of social order. This vision, later taken up by Saint-Simon, theorized the exit from slavery and the implementation of the values of equality and freedom for the production of goods and services.
While economic philosophers of the Enlightenment thought of it as a means of liberating peoples from the feudal societies that had enslaved them, the implementation of their ideas led to the outbursts of the savage and predatory Capitalism of the 19th century, and to the current inequalities denounced by Thomas Picketty.
These harmful effects, which are, of course, counterproductive, do not justify turning our backs on a liberating, trade-based economy. We must therefore establish effective regulation to prevent and avoid these terrible avatars.
Good regulation is not based on rules that apply to the detriment of some in order to favour others, it is based on rules that apply to all, that reinforce equality and freedom.
The current European and national regulations are a stack of standards and constraints that testify to the mistrust of some towards others and protect the rent of some to the detriment of others. They do not carry the values of equality and freedom, they favour predation and rent.
Unlike in the seventeenth century, the pressure of Nature, particularly through the climate issue and human demographics, leads us to limit everyone’s desire for freedom, but certainly not to accept a new enslavement that would be created by a new rent-based economy on the world of work.
Today’s economists are not thinkers, but technicians who manipulate complex models for some, a divine inspiration for others, and who give an opinion, more or less right, on short-term developments. They are neither thinkers, nor philosophers, nor visionaries. They give us the feeling that we are being priced into a technocratic straitjacket that justifies the current situation.
Europe is at a crossroads, it must change, it must once again make the voice of philosophers, of European thinkers heard, who alone have the power to point the way that politicians and technicians must follow in order to achieve the unchanging objective of freeing people from themselves.
The European New Deal of thought, philosophy, economics and humanist values will be made possible thanks to them, but not without them. I. Kant – What is the Enlightenment?- “The Enlightenment is defined as man’s exit from the state of guardianship for which he himself is responsible. The state of guardianship is the inability to use one’s understanding without being directed by another. Sapere aude!”