Rejecting capitalist notions of freedom | Priyamvada Gopal

Rejecting capitalist notions of freedom | Priyamvada Gopal


Insurgent Empire basically
makes two related points. One is that the imperial project
was fiercely resisted inside Britain and in that resistance lots of ideas
about what freedom means and what it means
to be free came up. The second idea of the book
is that these ideas about freedom were influential in shaping
British criticism of empire, so there was an oppositional tradition
in Britain that criticised the imperial project and that is a tradition that
goes all the way back to the late 18th century, and that this tradition
wasn’t just homegrown, although it did draw on ideas of freedom and
liberty that are traditions within Britain. It was also influenced by ideas about freedom
and self-determination that came up in the struggle
against imperialism. One example we get is from
the rebels in 1865 in Jamaica. The important thing is here is that
these rebels resisted the idea that in 1838 they had been
emancipated from slavery in order to go and work on sugar plantations
as waged labourers. Their idea of freedom was
not one where you simply became a waged employee. Their idea of freedom was
owning a small piece of land which they farmed and on which
they were independent. So they rejected the idea of
capitalist wage labour for instance. This is a very different idea of
freedom to the idea that we often associate,
even today, with capitalism which is that it is about selling your labour
power, it’s about freedom to consume. So there is this sense that there
are conceptions of freedom which go beyondwhat the employers
and the planters are telling you constitutes freedom.

2 Comments on "Rejecting capitalist notions of freedom | Priyamvada Gopal"


  1. No we dont need a "different" kind of freedom nor the Marxist version or the anarchist version. We dont need liberty at all. We need Socialism. A duty to contribute to the common good, an obligation to serve the community, an ethic to care for others, a sense of belonging, and a tighter cohesive society built on trust, working together, and helping one another. Liberty is for liberals, and it is at odds with real socialism. Using the language of liberty shows how brainwashed you are by liberalism. Im sure this woman is a nice lady but she doesnt "get" socialism at all. Nor do most Americans really.

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  2. She is very well spoken! I follow her entertaining tweets on Twitter but this is the forts time I've seen and heard her speak.

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