Our resident philosopher Joss is back to dissect this month's theme, 'Freedom'. The country music loving writer studied Critical Theory and Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham; his interest in critical thinking, psychoanalysis and alternate theory is what makes Joss' work for refreshing and unique. His take on freedom is a brutally honest yet thought provoking journey that has been perfectly crafted.


When it comes to freedom there’s a quote I cling to: “We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.” The quote is from Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian who has become incredibly popular for untangling many modern problems, and for his idiosyncratic mannerisms. Working with both Marxist theory and psychoanalysis, he’s created an entire movement in philosophy. Hopefully I can use this space to explain this idea that we feel free because we lack the language to articulate our unfreedom, it could well change opinions.

Language is the key element here but first I want you to take a moment to ask what freedoms you have and lack. We can identify lack of freedoms by the oppressed for certain, we can see that People of Colour, LGBT+ people, poor people, and of course women face unfreedoms in comparison to the white, straight man. Legal unfreedoms, political unfreedoms, economic unfreedoms, and often the simple unfreedom to live. It’s clear that these unfreedoms are in our language because we can see others enjoying those freedoms. These freedoms are important, but it’s not my focus here.

I want you to take that person who really faces no unfreedoms by circumstance of birth. What unfreedoms do they face? Unless you’ve researched Marx I imagine it will be an impossible task, but I assure you they do face unfreedoms. This is exactly the point, we believe that man is free only because we have no concept of something freer. But even the rich man is trapped in his capital. He lacks the freedom to be an individual because he is defined by his money, his identity is alienated from him by the need to adapt to the world of money his birth thrust him into. I don’t mean to claim that these unfreedoms are worse than the unfreedoms of the oppressed, but even the poorest man faces the same issue.

Ask yourself what defines you? Your job? The things you like to do? The people who make you you? The way you think? If it’s any of the above, your identity is manipulated by money. How we make it, who helps lessen or worsen its burden, what helps us to forget it, expel it, dream of possessing it, even how it shapes the way we think. No matter what, your identity may not be money itself, but it is manipulated by it and can only conceive of life with it. Is money an unfreedom? Absolutely. In fact it is the chief unfreedom, and yet it poses as our freedom. In capitalist society, money is what buys your freedom, in money we trust. But even with an excess of money we lack the language to look beyond it.

What does a world without money look like? I certainly can’t imagine it, we lack the very language to express it. And yet we are the only creature in known existence to use money, it clearly isn’t a natural way of life. The fact that we lack the language does not mean that it does not exist, and it can only exist when we invent the language.

When the slaves were freed in America they assumed they too had freedom, but that concept of freedom is adaptable. From that moment their shackles were freed from men, they became tied to capital. When the white man held the capital the slave was freed only symbolically. Could they see that their freedom was no freedom at all? We can now, for the language has been created. If it can be done once, it can be done again.