Volume 39, No.4 - Winter 1993
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas,
University of Illinois. at Chicago
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1993 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


Vilnius University

Freedom pertains to a range of human values which have critical meaning for the existence and survival of civilization. The history of Western culture provides many splendid descriptions and explanations of the nature of freedom and of the goals towards which it should be directed. In the Vth century, B.C., a great citizen of Athens, Pericles, in his famous funeral oration, formulated the principle of a democratic polis as the place where every single citizen, "in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself to be the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and to do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility." There, all know that "happiness depends on being free, and that freedom depends on being courageous."1 Some ten years later another great citizen of Athens—Plato, who somehow was a political antagonist of Pericles—reconstructed as a dialogue the image of Socrates, the sage who in his last words before his death appealed to his friends: deck the soul "not with a borrowed beauty but with its own—with self-control, and goodness, and courage, and liberality, and truth."2 Only a soul so endowed can "collect and concentrate itself by itself" and trust nothing but "its own independent judgment upon objects considered in themselves." Only such a soul will attribute "no truth to anything which it views indirectly as being subject to variation"3 and actually will be liberated from the fetters of the material world.

So in the very beginning of Western civilization one finds two closely related definitions of freedom. The first, which could be termed political or institutional, concerns decisions, action and self-realization of social life. This description of freedom concerns the essence of a democratic society understood not only as a process of choosing or decision-making, but as the more general guarantee of the realization of natural human rights. The second definition is rationalistic and rather individualistic. It focuses on the self-affirmation of the thinking human being, affirms the validity of unrestricted yet critical intellectual research, and proclaims the significance of truth in human life.

The resemblance between these two definitions is clearly that both are founded in the "self" as the principle of every intentional state, social or mental, in which freedom exists. Both definitions illustrate what later was discovered by Schelling, namely, that the being of freedom is "being-in-oneself."

But besides this striking similarity there is an essential difference between these two paradigms of the Western philosophical tradition. The difference consists not in the thematic aspects of the two approaches—external and social vs. inner and individual—but in their very mode of representing freedom. On the one hand, freedom means the possibility of free concrete acts by limited human beings living in a society of similarly limited human beings. On the other hand, the ability to be free is considered to be without limitation for by its very nature personal intellectual freedom cannot depend on something that limits the mind. In the first case, the freedom of one is dependent upon the freedom of many; in the second case, one's freedom depends only upon oneself and presupposes an unrestricted ability to search for truth.

These "outer" and "inner" aspects of freedom, their resemblance and difference, are, of course, enduring features of human intellectual history. At the same time, however, they are the source of great difficulties in understanding the metaphysical substance and social attributes of freedom.

From its ancient context of Greek culture, Western civilization inherits its great questions. One of these can be formulated in the following terms: how can unrestricted freedom be realized in the restricted conditions of the actual social order? Certainly this paper is not able to solve the problem of coherence between these "inner" and "outer" aspects of freedom. The goal of the present discussion is more modest, namely: to sketch the metaphysical contour of the problem, and to illustrate it with some examples which, I believe, will help to recognize the danger of ignoring this problem.

Can unlimited reason be free?

As has been seen, the Western philosophical tradition relates the notion of freedom to the spontaneity of the human intellect. Classically, this was expressed in the Cartesian position regarding the "cogito." According to Descartes, spontaneous human thinking is critical self-reflection which in the act of thought affirms its subject or the one who is doing the thinking. Besides this affirmation of the subject's existence, what is more interesting here is the very ability to direct the act of thinking to itself. The nature of this reflection was grasped by St. Augustine in his famous words "si fallor sum," which historically preceded the Cartesian "cogito ergo sum." From this point of view the act of thinking as doubting appears as the decisive element in the self-affirmation of the subject as "res cogitans."

The process of doubting is not similar to a dog's chasing its own tail, rather it presupposes distance between the subject and the object to be doubted, in order to negate my mind, I must exit my being-in-thought, i.e., I must recognize the otherness or non-being of thought. Or to put this the other way around, when I reject doubt about myself as a subject of thinking, I indeed affirm myself as a thinking subject: but when I have doubt about my own thinking, then by the very fact of doubting I affirm my existence before and outside of thinking. In other words, by doubt I affirm an "I" which cannot be the object of thinking, for in relation to the "cogito" it is nonbeing or other.

Everyone can verify this mental fact by attempting to localize or "to catch" his own "I" in thinking. Just as the eye cannot see itself, so the "I" cannot think itself, perhaps the existentialists were correct in denying the correctness of "cogito ergo sum" because this reflective act does not express the completeness of human existence. But at the same time one can agree that critical thinking or doubting affirms reflexively the existence of the "I," thought it does so indirectly and without concrete specification.

In discussing the uncovering of the existence of the "I" above we had to speak in rather negative terms, for such an understanding does not imply the existence of sensible objects or of objects of thought. Kant suggested describing the grasp of such existence by the term "apperception," that is, a non-thinking representation (vor-stellung): this is an act of spontaneity4 in which the proper content of thinking consists. In other words, the synthetic activity of the "I" which gathers the manifold +of sense data into the unity of judgment stands before or re-presents that unity. Between "I am" and "I am thinking" there is a "split" or space in which our thinking originates.

What does this "re-presentation" mean? This fact of non-identity between "I am" and "I am thinking" has been treated in the philosophical tradition in the form of conceptions about "free will." According to this conception, besides intellect, the intelligible human soul has another, higher faculty, namely will, which governs all human acts including thinking. But the conception of "free will" or the "will to choose" can add nothing to the problem of "re-presentation" because of the close interrelation between the will and the intellect. In a classic description of this Thomas Aquinas wrote the intellect "moves the will, because the good understood is object of the will" and the will "moves the intellect, all the powers of the soul." 5 So the act of willing is intellectualized and what is called "free will" is really intellectual will. Because the spontaneity of willing and of thinking are in the same field there is no need to suppose that one precedes the other: though intellect and will have different content their source is the same. Between "I am" and "I am willing" there is the same split as in the case discussed above.

Nevertheless, the term "free will," though it does not help in discussing the re-presentation of the "I" to oneself in the act of self-consciousness, can help make this problem more precise. First, critical doubt and choice belong to the same level of our existence and presuppose the ability of going out of the present state (in order to re-present). This choice, whether or not intellectual, requires some distinction of what is chosen from what is present. Second, in the philosophical tradition this choice is usually determined as "free" in a negative sense, i.e., as the possibility of falling away from the given order of things. Third, the traditional context in which the problem of "free will" has been discussed points to the field of religious philosophy, where the problem of "re-presenting" takes on great interest and has been the subject of a vast amount of reflection and writing.

How will the problem of re-presentation of the human "I" appear in the context of the Christian image of the human being as a created, finite and free person? This image does not contradict the critical philosophical tradition where it is precisely the "I am thinking" (or cogito) which is the focus of Kant's attention. He wrote: "An understanding in which through self-consciousness all the manifold would eo ipso be given, would be intuitive; our understanding can only think, and for intuition must look to the senses."6 The usual interpretation of this statement notes that human understanding consists of two different levels: sensible intuition and rational thinking. But another interpretation in the Christian tradition would see the intuitive re-presenting of the manifold through self-consciousness as reflecting God's absolute knowledge which actually is His creative act. God's "thinking"—or in Kantian terms "intuition"—includes His "act of being": God's affirmative self-consciousness of His "I" is formulated in the proposition "I am, Who am." Finite or created beings do not possess the act of being in their very essence of nature, and in this sense originally or spontaneously: for them the act of being reflects his essence in terms of his "cogito", he cannot simply and from himself affirm his existence.

Furthermore, as Kant's interpretation of "I" was limited by the context of a synthetic unity of given data, the later philosophical tradition perceived in the re-presentative apperception of "I" an earthly likeness of divine activity in His creative intuition of the objective world. In the context of this tradition the spontaneity of the "I" expressed in its re-presentative thinking is an affirmation of the creative activity of the subject and an expression of its freedom.

In this sense the spontaneity of my "I" has its source in the act "I am," which refers me to the Divine affirmation "I am Who am." In other words, a person's freedom is a Divine gift and my freedom, which precedes any re-presentation, any choice, by definition is the very same creative act as the Divine creative act. The difference between them is only in possessing the act of being: where God's creation presents objects, man's creation represents objects.

But in the same sense the latter is nonetheless also a creation from nothing. The human world consists in thoughts and deeds, meaning and values created from nothing, for the whole human world as a representation requires space where there is no presentation. In this sense human freedom transcends the corporeal world not only because it is analogous to the act of being, but by the very fact that it always has to overcome the givenness of this world.

This could be a way of understanding some philosophers who affirm that freedom precedes being. Discovering one's freedom in one's re-presentation of construction of the human word, the person discovers that Being is hidden in the elusive-ness of the free "I" as the source of all one's intentional presentations.

This transcendent dimension of freedom does not allow any restriction or limitation of its creative or re-presentative aspects, but only its manifestations in the human world such as thinking or willing. Indeed man can freely construct his own world mediated by meanings, though each person not only represents the living world, but also is present in it as a finite corporeal being. Kant has this very fact in mind, when he proposed that freedom as source of reason at the same time limits pure reason to its manifestation in the corporeal world.

In other words, this limitation is possible only with regard to the objective authenticity of what is comprehended in the field of experience, but not as regards the subjective authenticity which becomes the object of belief. It is the latter which is the common principle for comprehending the manifestations of freedom in the world of finite beings. The absolute spontaneity of my "I" is restricted only by itself. But if it does not depend on the condition of the intelligible world, it does depend on the condition of the world of finite corporal beings. Man's belonging to the corporeal world, his bodyness, does not allow him to merge with the source of his freedom, to merge with the Divine free will (Willkur). When one forgets human limits, one protests against the Creator. This implies an intention to usurp its ontological place, to substitute "I am, Who am" with the dull "I am thinking" or "I am willing". This is actually a rejection of God's being and of the divine gift of freedom.

This is a paradox: being free we do not possess our freedom but only its manifestations in the world. The effort of Kant's practical reason to find its foundation in belief in freedom, in the soul's immortality and in the being of God demonstrates the meaningness of this subjective evidence. But reason based on belief and on God as the source of freedom can say nothing about how concrete freedom must be expressed in the world. It says only that this realization of freedom must take into account the existence of other free people, who also are realizing their purpose as free persons. This is not only a result of philosophical meditations, but a fact of our life as free persons. Hence, as freedom is an unsolved mystery for human reason, mystery directs us throughout life. Its intelligible sector extends to the limits of intelligibility, but crossing this limit is not possible without non-intellectual belief. This requires belief as faith, which is not postulated by reason but given as grace "ut intelligam," i.e., for the understanding of self and the realization of the gift of freedom.

It would seem that at this point philosophical thought must stop and give way to theological investigations, but there is another philosophical aspect of this problem. Believing could be taken as a non-intellectual act of soul which opens the space of the noumenal world. But when in this noumenal world we being to discuss the correspondence between God and person, we must speak rather about faith than belief. Further, we must note that this faith is not only a personal reality but is institutionalized to a degree which must not be ignored. This institutionalization, or more precisely institutionalized tradition, mediates between the free person and the ultimate ground of one's freedom. In the Christian tradition this institution, situated between the transcendent God and individual interiority, is called the Church. One should not be surprised then that in the Western tradition the realization of freedom depends upon the institutionalization of Christianity in this time and place.

There are many examples—theoretical and practical—of ignoring this institutional aspect of freedom. The platonic concept of freedom mentioned above is a striking example. Plato was concerned that philosophical freedom does not correspond to social freedom. Democracy presupposes some rationalization of action, free discussion, competition or agon, but in this do the wisest prevail? Socrates was the wisest and, in terms of the definition of a philosopher, the freest man of Greece. Nevertheless, the demos saw in his intellectual freedom a danger to their political democratic order, and for this reason sentenced him to death. The freedom of the many had denied the freedom of the one!

Plato agreed with the proposition that the state could be free and intelligent, but at the same time affirms that in this state freedom must be "limited with measure."7 What this "measure" means for Plato can be seen from his Republic, where the strict rationalistic regulation of social life has nothing in common with the Athenian ideals of democracy. The Republic described a situation where the intellectual freedom of one or a few denies the freedom of many. It is not surprising that in XXth century some philosophers have seen the "Gulag Archipelago" as a realization of a Platonic social construct, image or eidos. Certainly, Plato would never have intended a gulag: as he said, his Republic was only u-topos, i.e., a place that never exists. But obviously he overlooked the mediating tradition in which freedom must be realized. Plato believed that the Spartan lifestyle best agreed with free philosophical reason, but seems never to have asked whether this tradition could tolerate philosophers as free people.

Another more practical example can be found more proximately in the political process of liberalization. From the Romantic epoch in Western culture there is the image of the hero who is able to sacrifice himself for the sake of freedom. This desire for freedom, exactly described by Nietzsche, suggests that freedom is some sort of absolute willing, self-willing. For him every institutionalization of the realization of freedom implied treason against freedom, in this mode of thinking in freedom its function of "going out of the present state" is absolutized and for this reason it appears as a fully destructive and negative force, having nothing in common with the critical and constructive (re-presentative) thought described above. For Nietzsche freedom was only one aspect of his famous unrestricted desire to power (Wille zur Macht).

What will happen when the romantic hero who wills by power to institute freedom finds himself in prosaic, nondemocratic conditions which offer him very limited means to realize his goal? Actually, one can expect a fantastic metamorphosis of the individualistic revolutionary desire for power into something non-individual, common and static. To realize freedom by power requires an institutionalization of power whose main function is to achieve, hold and reproduce it. This institution provides the conditions for the individual to realize his "will to power" on each level of the social hierarchy. In return, however, it uses all human values such as intelligence, morality, etc., as mere means which must serve the main goal, namely, power.

The misfortune of all revolutionaries and the absurdness of all revolutions consists in this very fact that, though driven by the romantic idea of liberating people with help of power, they do not take into account the dehumanized function of usurped power. In states where power is the main concern (V. Lenin) and principle of social life all revolutionaries become but screws in the enormous mechanism of power.

One can be an adroit tactician of street battles or political intrigue that lead to an usurpation of power and rarely can one combine tactical with strategic talent in order to hold power for some period. But when the question of power is raised "seriously and forever," then there is no need for the resources of intellect and will which spring from the source of freedom. These factors only prevent the realization of power as dictated not by the possibly ingenious will of the tyrant, but by the forms of human society and culture which sometimes have been deformed by past power. Present rulers can only adapt their knowledge, skills and instincts to these traditional cultural forms of regenerating power. Their choice in this case is not to restore or to prevent the old order, or to attempt with some risk to change the surface patterns of power without changing its very structure. This world gives birth to reforms, modernization or perestroikas, but it becomes manifest that the revolutionaries of power become subject to power: every Julius Caesar has his own Octavius Augustus.

This leads to the conclusion that the appeal to unrestricted freedom's manifestation from "inside" leads to contradictions with freedom from "outside," that such "freedom" in fact denies itself. "Free" thinking or "free" willing, which do not recognize their ontological limits and storm the metaphysical heaven of the act of being always risk sharing the lot of Lucifer: the unlimited reason of finite being through unrestricted thoughts and willful deeds falling into the hell of nonfreedom.

What Spirit Do We Believe?

As noted above, free reason being critical requires believing and at the same time an institutionalized tradition of belief in order truly to be free. But, on the other hand, does the understanding of a meaningful institutionalization of belief inevitably secure freedom from "outside", or social freedom? Let us attempt to consider this problem in the more concrete and illustrative context which will be called "open society and national ideology."

It seems unnecessary to examine so well known and well described a context. Enough analyses seriously conclude that today liberalism has no serious competition, that fascism and communism have receded into the past, and that such problems of the contemporary world as nationalism or religious fundamentalism will be solved almost automatically in a liberated, free society.8 But what would such analyses conclude in the case where liberalism is not fully realized or where it does not exist at all? What is one to do, when for most members of post-totalitarian society the ideas of liberalism mean no more than a non-comprehensive concept of that communism which has just been buried? Then one must recognize that the problems of nationalism or fundamentalism are truly open, and, in particular, that the national idea requires not a lack of reflection, but careful examination.

First, there is need to describe what is meant by the terms "national ideology" and "open society." If an ideology is an ideal form of world re-presented in human minds which specifies the criteria of what is "suitable" or "nonsuitable" according to the interests of some social groups or strata, then the term "national" will mean this special ideological "representation" of world by the group called "nation". This "representation" requires the fulfillment of two conditions: first, that the "nation" recognize its own identity as differentiated from other groups and interests, and second that it possess some measure by which the social events and processes could be marked as "just" or "unjust" depending on the correspondence of these events and processes to national goals. It is clear enough, that national interests have been declared to be of main importance, subordinating to itself all the interests of other social groups.

While this definition of "national ideology" has been constructed in terms of the "critical" Marx, the expression "open society" ought to be defined from the philosophical context of its critique by Karl Popper who created this term in contrast to "closed society". In Popper's definition "the closed society is characterized by the belief in magical taboos, while the open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence (after discussion)".9 Thus, open society requires the fulfillment of two conditions, first, that this society consists of independent or free thinking persons, second, that the social life of such a society be founded upon critical discussion. In other words the open society allows the individual to realize the main features of his "inner" freedom: thought that is based on itself (being-in-oneself) and critical doubt. In such a society higher interests could consists only in the search of truth by the individual. In that case clearly all interests of groups must be subordinated to the interest of the individual.

An open society thus understood does not accept any ideology including one that is national by the very fact that in an open society every social interest can not be collectively represented, but must be reduced by rational procedures to the private interest of the thinking being: only on this basis does it have a right to exist. On this basis an open society is compatible with a national ideology, and all discussion is closed. But these definitions and principles exist only in theory: in practice there are only approximate constructions of this open society. Moreover, many existing "open societies" arose as national states, i.e., as societies under the domination of some kind of national self-concept. Therefore, instead of rejecting national ideology as something contradictory to the idea of an open society it would be better to discuss its sources and forms.

It would be naive to suppose that a national ideology arose by itself, from a nation's natural needs and self-consciousness of its place and fate in history. Certainly, concrete historical conditions—victory in war or humiliating oppression, the search of prosperity or the desire to partition off disruptive neighbors—influence the tempo and manner in which the national idea is formed. But in spite of these historical conditions and representative forms of national ideology, the latter has its own metaphysical foundation which suggests that it is not only a unique experience of social life, but an expression of some global process.

The Russian philosopher Berdyaev noticed right after the Bolshevik revolution that Russian messianism had been an essential element of Russian communism. Later, Popper attempted to show that both Marxism and a nationalism were based upon the doctrine of a "chosen people". This interpretation concludes that the role of "chosen people" from the Old Testament is reflected both in the notion of an "advanced" revolutionary class whose rule is prophesied in the sacred laws of historical progress, and in the notion of a chosen nation whose historical and political pretensions are strengthened by a mystical experience of "blood and soil". In both cases, blind belief in the magic taboo of historical "laws" or in sacred tradition are sure signs of a closed society, which by Popper's definition would be called a tribal society.

At first sight it could be seen that nationalism is closer to tribal society than Marxist communism. One can imagine a nation as a large family, where relations must be deeply felt, with a cult of the deceased and respect for the elders through a guaranteed ritual unity and deep response to one's home and land. It is not surprising that the national idea acquires authority in a context in which all speak of man's alienation, of an earlier romantic "golden age" with morality, brotherhood and enthusiasm for the common life.

But these tendencies are well known in communistic ideology as well. Marx spoke of this as follows: "In fact, the proposition that man's species nature is estranged from him means that one man is estranged from the other, as each of them is from man's essential nature".10 According to Marx, communism is intended as a way to overcome man's estrangement and alienation. In fact it restores to man his "species nature" at the same time his tribal society.

The difference between a communistic ideology and a nationalistic one lies only in their respective means of returning to tribal society. Whereas a nationalistic ideology recalls one to his "native roots", to restore the good old traditions and to pureness of race, communistic ideology insists on the "worker's liberation" from "the oppression of capital", on rejecting classes and private property, which according to Marxism is the economic and juridic basis, in Hegel's terminology, of the individual's "unhappy" consciousness. When today one seriously supposes that nationalistic ideology is an effective weapon in the struggle against totalitarian structures produced by communistic ideology and practice, one does not take into account either the metaphysical similarities of these types of ideology, or elementary lessons of history. But still in 1939 concerning fascism as the extreme form of nationalistic ideology P. Drucker wrote: "Not that communism and fascism are essentially the same. Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion, and it has proved as much an illusion in Stalinist Russia as in pre-Hitler Germany".11 Only one thing needs to be corrected here, namely, that communism and fascism specifically as political phenomena are not the same: essentially, however, they are the same in their intention to realize a closed tribal society and to go the way of serfdom.

Though communistic and nationalistic ideologies declare different ideas and values they concur in the principles of movement toward their goals. The interests of nation or class are proclaimed as total: they control the choice and measure the responsibility of individuals. Society creates a cult of heroes who carry the best traits of nation or class. The ideologists of the closed society produce a program of ideological education, preceding all fields of culture, beginning with national education or "cultprosvet" (cultural education for the proletariat in bolshevist Russia) and finishing with the restoration or recreation of old and new rituals. Finally, in society charismatic persons are promoted—fathers of nations and leaders of revolutionary masses who have led the people to the promised land, to the "light," to the tribal, closed society, where everybody must be happy. Individuals who have no wish to join this "joyful" movement are proclaimed traitors of national or class interests: they are subject to ostracism or simply destroyed.

There are many explanations of this amazing similarity between communism and nationalism, but in the contest of the examination of the problem of freedom let us return to the Popperian illustration of this phenomena in terms of a "chosen people". In this light this phenomena could be described in terms of heresy. In the traditional context of European culture, one can speak about a chosen people and their society founded upon belief only with regard to the Christian Church. The Christian's "chosenness" has not only an earthly level but a mystic one. This means not only belonging to the Church in a formal sense, but asserting the equality of human beings as free persons and bearing metaphysical responsibility for their free choice, without denying any "physical" or earthly conditions. When this "chosenness" is interpreted in an earthly context, it does not mean simply returning to the Old Testament, but also destroying the New Testament. The same act destroys the Divine ground of human personality. Arguments that only the nation or class, with their institutionalization of belief in their taboos and rituals, can be the real measure of the free deeds of individuals, i.e., they can be the source of morality, point to usurpation of the ontological ground which in fact can never be achieved by finite beings.

As if in view of these latest difficulties, Kant suggested distinguishing the juridical community based on "outer" law ("legality") from the ethical one based on "inner" obligation ("morality"). In the first case the majority united in community has to be presented as legislator of its own constitutive law. But in the second case the common will of legislator cannot be thrust upon individuals as moral obligation without infringing upon their freedom. The source of moral legislation must be the same as the source of freedom, namely, God. Therefore, according to Kant, "an ethical commonwealth can be thought of only as people under divine commands, i.e., as a people of Cod, and indeed under laws of virtue"12: furthermore, the idea of a people of God can be realized in traditional institutionalization only in the form of Church.

One ought not to be surprised that nationalism, like communism, in search of a collectivistic justice, and in advancing national or class morals, gravitates, first to anti-Christianity in its pagan or atheistic form, and second, to a eudaimonistic or utilitarian ethic whose moral maxim could be expressed in the sentence: "all that gives joy and is useful to nation or class are moral and truly good." There is but one step from this to the initiation of propaganda for racial or class discrimination and the justification of all deeds done in the name of group interests. In this situation personal responsibility does not exist, but only collectivist "responsibility" which controls the correctness of individual actions. In other words personal responsibility is substituted by collectivistic irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, for people from post-totalitarian societies this theory is known practically as a rule only from the side of communistic ideology. That national ideology is a kindred sister of communism is not grasped seriously. In societies which publicly declare a break with totalitarian practice one finds an enthusiastic proposal of the idea that only a nation firmly believing its historical fate and preserving the legacy of its past has a right to its own state as the highest form of its historical being. Only such state can have the form of an ethical commonwealth.

In reality many members of this society must with some disillusionment accept the idea that the state is not the highest form of a nation's being, but rather is derived from private interests expressed in the general form of law. This nomocratic notion of state leads to quite another vision than the one to which they are accustomed because it leads from a closed, tribal community to an open, juridical one. Then as noted by J. Ortega y Gasset,

race, blood, geographical position, social class—all these take secondary place. It is not the community of the past which is traditional, immemorial—in a word, fatal and unchangeable—which confers a title to this political reality but the community of the future with a definite plan of action. Not what we were yesterday, but what we are going to be tomorrow, joins us together in the state.13

But, perhaps, this mode of political thinking has to await its own time. Probably the post-totalitarian state will pass through a stage of nationalistic (or similar) ideology as the successor to communistic ideology. The point here is not an historical parallel or determination, but the spiritual situation which these societies inherit from their communistic past. A thesis popular in the West regarding God's "death" and the nonexistence of a moral society could be applied more fundamentally to the post-communistic East. One has to know that the social, economic, political and spiritual structure of these societies is that of collectively organized societies. Communistic ideology can return with an absolutely different image, but in the same structure which it had created.

The danger of the present situation consists in the moral indifference of societies in their intellectual decay, and in their rejection of constructive critique. The communistic regime has destroyed many virtues and spread instincts of the herd, hate of people who are not part of the mass and a mystical belief in the authority of leaders. Post-totalitarian societies can generate a new ideology which will excuse their member's irresponsibility and unwillingness to carry the heavy load of freedom, and lead again to a closed collectivistic society. No one can say whether there is a critical mass of free persons in post-totalitarian society, who "do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (I, St. John, n. 1). They would turn society in another direction—into the way toward freedom. But could they do so?


Strictly speaking there are no conclusions, no results which one could use as a technology for the realization of freedom in the world. The "inner" aspect of freedom has shown that the road to the discovery of freedom through critical thinking manifests not an equality between them, but rather the onto logical dependence of the second on the first. If one wishes to defend freedom one has to limit reason by belief in the pure givenness of the sources of freedom. But from the point of view of the "outer" aspect of freedom it has been shown that not every belief institutionalized in society preserves freedom: indeed, society cannot be free without some institutionalization of the tradition of critical discussion.

This is not merely a dull dialectical game, but an attempt to discover the mode of institutionalization which paradigmatically joins the "inner" and "outer" aspects of freedom. In this context the intent of the turn to the Christian tradition was not theological but metaphysical, namely, to identify the principle of the correspondence of the freedom of the one with that of the many. In this sense, the notion of the Christian Church has nothing in common with any concrete institutionalized form of Church, but is the principle which must be realized in the life world. Moreover, only by this principle can concrete traditional institutionalization be open, whereas forgetting this principle closes all.

Therefore, what has been said above in section II does not mean that the national idea as such is depraved and leads automatically to totalitarianism. Its positive character appears not only in its well-known confrontation of the mechanistic communist ideology, but in the fact that the word "freedom," as with any word "from God," is pronounced in one's native language. All societies and their members must be able to choose their own national way to an open society. Nevertheless, when the principles of freedom are formulated in terms of a cultural tradition one must not forget that in this case the national ideals are only the source, not the goal, of the process of realizing a free society.

To conclude, I would emphasize once again that the sources of freedom must be found within the transcendent in order for its fruits to emerge in earthly life. Sometimes it is thought that in choosing its fruits one finds freedom. That is not correct: on the contrary one reaps these fruits only by choosing freedom. Perhaps, this is the greatest paradox of freedom, that of our transcendent yet immanent life.


1 Thucidides, History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. R. Warner (London: Penguin, 1972), pp. 147-150.
2 Plato, Phaedo, l14e-115a, trans. H. Tredeanick, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. E. Hamilton and H. Cairns (New York: Pantheon, 1971), p. 95.
3 Ibid. 83a-c, p. 66.
4 See Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N.K. Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1969), p. 153.
5 The Summa Theologian of St. Thomas Aquinas, I, q. 32, a. 4, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, D.J. Sullivan (London: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952), Vol. I, p. 434.
6 Critique of Pure Reason, p. 155.
7 The Law of Plato, 701e-702a, trans. Th.L. Pangle (Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 87.
8 See for example: Fr. Fukuyama, "The End of History," The National Interest, no. 16 (Summer 1989).
9 K.R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986), I, 202.
10 K. Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. M. Milligan (New York: International Publishers, 1964), p. 114.
11 Fr. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1956). p. 29.
12 Immanuel Kant, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. Th. M. Greene and H. H. Hudson (New York: Harper, 1960), p. 91.
13 Y. Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (New York: W.W. Norton, 1932), pp. 184-85.