Futures of Freedom

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Freedom is elusive. In a world where we are surveilled by technology, managed by technocrats, fed endless products, and turned into docile workers, the idea of freedom — rather, a multitude of freedoms — is tantalizing. Who can argue against it?

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For centuries, the call for freedom has been used by the Right to defend elite interests. By shrinking the power of popular government, the right wields the idea to plunder the earth and pillage its people. 811 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each night. Less than 15 percent of people in low-income countries have received even one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Yesterday's apocalyptic movies are today's newsreels: corals bleached by ocean warming and fish fried by acidification are premonitions for our own race. We are free to starve, free to burn — free to die. 

That is the world the Covid-19 pandemic came in to. A world already in crisis — that punishes with debt, chokes with smoke, and kills by neglect — but finds itself unable to imagine otherwise. Over the decades, as the Left abandoned utopianism for small tweaks and policy reforms, the Right assumed its mantle — taking over the terrain of "big ideas." 

But this does not have to be the case. Ideas of freedom and future have danced together throughout history — from breaking the shackles of slavery and movements for national liberation, to fighting alienation under wage labour. If the present moment feels like an impasse, it is because we are generations that find ourselves between the memories of the past and dreams we had for the future — both, now, seemingly out of reach.

It is our job to pull at the threads of the shroud that cloaks us, to tug until the entire thing unravels and we can begin to see — see clearly — flickering and glimmering, the possibilities of emancipation. This collection is a start.

Terry Eagleton on Dreams: Of that which we cannot speak.

Slavoj Zizek on Dislocations: What have we inherited from the West?

Ammar Ali Jan on Memory: Are we imprisoned by an imagined past?

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If you're interested in writing with the Progressive International, please reach out to Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla at [email protected]

Design: Gabriel Silveira

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Authors
Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla
Published
11.04.2022

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