Friday, January 21, 2005

The Meaning and Promise of Liberty: Doing the Math

I haven’t been doing much pundit-surfing at all this week, but I imagine a lot of folks have picked up on Bush's mind-blowingly empty rhetoric. Yet Bush told us:

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, it rang as if it meant something.

Well, yesterday Bush seemed to be saying the word “liberty” as if it meant something, but that something seems a bit hard to pin down. All we seem to get is that liberty is something authored by God and spread by America. Be that as it may, we can still have a look at how the word is used in his speech and get some idea, if not of its meaning, of it's function.

In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
That's great. We're all ears.

I In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Assuming that freedom and liberty are synonyms here, liberty is a necessary condition for justice, as well as human rights. What does that mean?
For all you fans of 10th grade math out there, we’ll do it this way:

Let L=Liberty
Let J=Justice
Let HR=Human rights

~ L --> ~ J ^ ~ HR

II Liberty will come to those who love it.
Here Bush might be reasonably taken to mean that love of liberty is a prerequisite for liberty itself. So:
Let LOL=Love of liberty

~LOL--> ~ L
~ L -->~ J ^ ~ HR

~LOL--> ~ J ^ ~ HR

III Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty though this time in history […]We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery.
Here, Bush is implying that questioning the global appeal of "liberty" is tantamount to the acceptance of permanent slavery. Not questioning liberty per se, but it's global appeal. Liberty itself is of course undefined as yet, except that it is something spread by America through the will of it's author, the Almighty. Certainly, an acceptance of slavery is not compatible with love of liberty. So:

Let Q= questioning the global appeal of liberty

Q--> ~LOL
~LOL --> ~ L
~ L --> ~ J ^ ~ HR
Q-->~J ^ ~ HR