Freedom

George Bernard Shaw

Stop and Think

Question 1: What are the links between natural jobs, labour and slavery?

Answer: We are slaves of natural jobs which we cannot shirk. Every person needs to sleep, and needs to eat and drink. We need a bed for sleeping. We need food to eat, and we need water and many other liquids to drink. To get these things, we need to work so that we can earn money to buy necessities and luxuries. This ultimately leads to slavery because in order to earn enough money we have to work for someone and have to conform to certain written and unwritten rules at the workplace. This shows that there are well established links between natural jobs, labour and slavery.



Question 2: What ought to be the object of all governments, and what do we actually find it to be?

Answer: The object of all governments is ought to be to provide freedom to its citizens so that the individual should be able to work only enough to provide for his and his family. But this does not happen. Instead, every person is forced to work for many hours in a day so that he/she can contribute to the tax kitty of the government which can be partly used for welfare and mostly used for extravagance of people in powerful position.

Question 3: What causes the master class to be more deluded than the enslaved classes?

Answer: Delusion can be defined as an idiosyncratic belief maintained by someone but contradictory to the harsh realities of the world.

According to the author, the master class is the privileged class. Children of the master class go to elite schools and colleges, where they are taught twisted history and politics. They are mentally conditioned to believe that they are born to rule. They are mentally conditioned to expect all their tasks to be done by the enslaved classes. They don’t polish their shoes or do laundry or even cook for themselves. They keep servants for that. On the contrary, the author says that every person must do its own work. People from the underprivileged class do not have such delusions, and they do their own chores. The author says that the mental conditioning right from the childhood results in delusion for the master class.

Question 4: According to Aristotle, what are the conditions to be fulfilled for the common people to accept law and order, and government, and all that they imply?

Answer: According to Aristotle, making people to accept law and order would be impossible without making the rulers beautifully dressed and decorated, robed and uniformed and speak with a special accent. The ruler should appear grandiose. He should ride the costliest car, or carriage (drawn by thoroughbred horses). The ruler should not do menial tasks, like cleaning his boots, or fetching a glass of water, because such tasks can be done by mere ringing of a bell. This implies that people must be made ignorant isolators before being turned into obedient and law-abiding citizens.

This situation is prevalent even in modern times. Although democratic governments are in place in most of the countries yet country-heads live in grand palaces or mansions. They are provided with an army of staffs to do various chores. They wear clothes of costly brands, ride in huge cavalcade of costly cars, and never miss a chance to show all the pomp associated with the royalty. We, as citizens, end up adulating a ruler who looks good, even if the looks are a result of careful use of Botox and other enhancers.

Question 5: How can reasonable laws, impartially administered, contribute to one’s freedom?

Answer: If laws are reasonable and impartially administered, they contribute to our freedom in effective way. For example, when you are going on a holiday you need to worry about safety of your house. You also need to worry about your safety when you are on the highway or in a train. Fear of law prevents theft in your house, on the highway and in the train, to a great extent. This gives you freedom from fear, so that you can enjoy your holiday.

Question 6: What are the ways in which individual freedom gets restricted?

Answer: Our freedom is restricted by various laws which we need to obey. There is fear of police which is there to enforce the laws. You need to pay taxes otherwise the tax authorities will get hold of you. If you will break a law then the court will penalize you. It may punish you with a jail term, or in the worst case scenario you may get capital punishment.

Understanding Freedom and Discipline

J Krishnamurti

Stop and Think

Question 1: Why do most people find it easier to conform, imitate, and follow a self-appointed guru?

Answer: Beating a trodden path is very easy, but making a new path is very difficult. Most of the people do not have inclination or the energy to set examples. Most of the people are wired to be conformist. So, most of the people find it easier to conform, imitate and follow a self-appointed guru.

Question 2: What is the inward struggle that the author refers to?

Answer: Since our childhood, we are fed with copious doses of tradition. We are taught various dos and don’ts. At a young age, most of us want to do something unique. We have to break many shackles in order make a new discovery and to chalk out a unique path for ourselves. So an inward struggle goes on which a struggle between the need to be conformist and the need to be on our own. The author says that even if you become successful and earn plenty, you are not an intelligent person if you are sticking to old traditions. You have to break the shackles in order to fulfill your true potential.

Understanding the Text

Question 1: Point out the difference between the slavery of man to Nature and the unnatural slavery of man to man.

Answer: Slavery to the Nature is pleasant, but unnatural slavery of man to man is painful. Nature is kind to her slaves. Whatever we do as the Nature demands, become pleasant acts. For example, when we eat something, we enjoy eating. When we sleep, we enjoy it. We enjoy the comforts of home and family so much that all young people try to marry in order to create that long lasting comfort.

Slavery of man to man is full of pain. Working 9 to 5 in an office is often painfully boring. Working overtime is akin to excruciating pain because one is forced to work to fulfill the needs of many others.

Question 2: What are the ways in which people are subjected to greater control in the personal spheres than in the wider political sphere?

Answer: In the wider political sphere, there is no need to control each and every individual because people can be controlled as a group in this case. But in public sphere, there are numerous ways through which people can be controlled. Unwritten rules of traditions and disciplines are often used methods to control people in personal spheres. Right from the kindergarten, an individual is subjected to mental conditioning to behave in a particular way, to become a conformist. There are various dos and don’ts which one is supposed to obey in personal life.

Question 3: List the common misconceptions about ‘freedom’ that Shaw tries to debunk.

Answer: Shaw says that people don’t know the real meaning of freedom. People of England think that freedom means leisure. They try to get whatever free time they can get to enjoy it and to splurge money on it. But in order to do that people have to work overtime so that they can earn enough money which is then taken away by the government and by numerous other people.

Question 4: Why, according to Krishnamurti, are the concepts of freedom and discipline contradictory to one another?

Answer: Discipline is a tool to put everyone in a frame. You are confined to a frame of what to do and what not to do, in order to conform to the norms of the society. According to Krishnamurti, this cannot be equivalent to freedom because freedom is all about breaking the shackles to come out of the frame. So, freedom and discipline are contradictory to one another.

Question 5: How does the process of inquiry lead to true freedom?

Answer: Inquiry makes you intelligent. If you are good at cracking entrance examinations you will definitely find a high paying job, as per the norms of the society. You end up marrying a partner as per the choice of the society and live a life which may appear blissful. But in doing so, you end up becoming a conformist. Once you inculcate the habit of becoming inquisitive, you can explore the whole world and end up making great discoveries. This will give you true freedom.


Talking About the Text

Question 1: According to the author, the masses are prevented from realizing their slavery, the masses are also continually reminded that they have the right to vote. Do you think this idea holds good for our country too?

Answer: This idea holds good for almost all the countries. The politicians are masters of their tricks. They trick us into believing that we are not slaves but free, but reality is otherwise. The politicians make us believe that by exercising our right to vote we are doing a great service to the nation. But what we get in the bargain? Even if the political dispensation changes, we get similar people who are there to enjoy the fruits of power at our expense.

Question 2: ‘Nature may have tricks up her sleeve to check us if the chemists exploit her too greedily’. Discuss.

Answer: In this sentence, and the related passage, the author talks about nature’s ways of maintaining the ecological balance. When the farmers use too much of chemical fertilizers, the nature makes the soil infertile so that further exploitation of soil can be stopped. When the farmers exploit groundwater then nature responds by lowering the water table so that farmers would shift to greener pastures. When we create too much air pollution by using too many vehicles and by resorting to mass production, the nature responds by making the environment inhabitable for us.

Question 3: Respect for elders is not to be confused with blind obedience. Discuss.

Answer: Everyone should show respect to elders but it should not proceed to the dangerous territory of blind obedience. Elders have certain notions about life and such notions are based on their experience. But time changes and so do the needs. We need to be adaptive in order to survive in changing circumstances. For that, we have to explore new ways of doing things so that we can grab new opportunities. If we will blindly follow what our elders say we end up getting in the time warp.

Appreciation

Question 1: Both the texts are on ‘freedom’. Comment on the difference in the style of treatment of the topic in them.

Answer: George Bernard Shaw has used informal style. He has used numerous examples and anecdotes to illustrate his point of view. Krishnamurti has written the topic in essay style, somewhat formal. He appears to be more philosophical compared to Shaw.

Question 2: When Shaw makes a statement he supports it with a number of examples. Identify two sections in the text which explain a statement with examples. Write down the main statement and the examples.

Notice how this contributes to the effectiveness of the writing.

Answer: Example 1: Nine out of ten voters are common workers, but it is difficult to persuade even a few of them to vote for the members of their own class.

To prove his point, the author has given the example of what happened when women were given voting rights. They voted to defeat all the women candidates who stood for freedom of the workers. Instead, they elected a woman who was endowed with great wealth and exceptionally fascinating personality.

Example2: The master class makes the most desperate efforts to prevent us from realising our slavery.

To prove his point the author has given examples of how the rulers make us believe that they have been doing immense work to reliev us of our sufferings. They talk about various welfare boards, welfare schemes, national security, etc. They also infuse copious doses of nationalism in order to make us docile citizens.

Question 3: Notice the use of personal pronouns in the two texts. Did this make you identify yourself more the topic than if it had been written in an impersonal style? As you read the texts, were you able to relate the writer’s thoughts with the way you lead your own life?

Answer: Use of personal pronouns helps a reader to relate with a topic in a better way. While reading such texts, the reader is immediately transferred to the world of essay, or novel or story. There are various examples in these essays with which a common man can easily find associated with.

Most of us seldom feel happy when our income is sliced off in the name of numerous taxes. For most of the working class people, there is only one fine day of the month and that is the day of salary. The money then keeps on depleting on rest of the days of the month.


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