Winner essays
2006- The Need to Coordinate Freedom and Safety by José Luis Mendizábal


The Need to Coordinate Freedom and Safety

by José Luis Mendizábal

First place

                                                             First Essay Contest Caminos de la Libertad 





“To navigate is necessary, to live is not,” is how the ancient Latin peoples described the human desire to follow curiosity and knowledge freely.  People used to discover themselves as they navigated the boundless sea.  Today, the verb navigate increasingly refers to a ship made out of a keyboard, a bunch of chips and a screen.  The mare nostrum is called Internet.

This paper is a brief voyage through the web, and its compass is the search for compatibility between the practice of freedom and the need for security in our contemporary world.  More specifically it will try to understand the compatibility between one kind of freedom –political—and one kind of security, citizen security.

       We will travel through the European and American parts of the globe reflecting on what the writers, thinkers and politicians of those regions have written in the past five years; in other words, at the dawn of the current century.  Only through them we will bring the classics to fore, although just as a sailor yearns to step on a beach now and then, we will also visit them in the materiality of paper.

       According to certain perceptions, after events like 9/11 the world began to shift very quickly from citizenry to civilization, from politics to police, from Law to the state of exception.  The idea of a “global war” could put a global end to democracy and establish a global dictatorship.  For the sake of security in the fight against terrorism every country on the planet could dismantle its fragile scaffolding of values and legal guarantees conquered in the course of two centuries that did not keep the world from being evil but at least from being the worst, and in this manner increasingly restrict liberties, particularly political freedom or free citizen participation.

Another factor that appears to restrict freedom are the new forms of delinquency and antisocial behaviors. Today in Latin America, the United States, and throughout the contemporary world these share a new lethal violence.  Criminal and social violence, which in many cases have become a form of coexistence, are producing fear and a huge feeling of unsafety that also limit people’s freedom to commute and actively engage in society.

There is agreement that it is crucial to ensure that people are and feel safe, in order to revitalize economy, and for social initiatives to work in encouraging people to trust in self-help and self-determination.

All of this brings about a few questions we will attempt to answer.  Are we helping to place security over freedom? Can there be security without freedom? In this scenario, is there room still for a liberal-humanist-republican political project?


1. The Need for Free Consensus vs. the Obstacles of Violence

Ulpian said that nothing is more contrary to consensus than violence and fear.  In every contract consent must free, just as participating in citizen life should also be free. There are, however, elements of coercion such as social and criminal violence in their different forms. Below we consider a few strategies seeking to make political freedom and citizen security compatible.

1.1. For Ana Palacio the world of today is witnessing the exciting spectacle of a technological revolution and a new wave of globalization, which gradually heralds in an interesting process of economic integration among nations by means of trade, international flows of persons and capitals.  The process (without losing sight of its strengths and weaknesses) presents an encouraging balance as it reduces poverty and child labor, fosters women’s rights, promotes respect for the rules of participation, enriches culture and revives environmental awareness.[1]

Another optimistic happening was the fall of the Berlin Wall that allowed the winds of liberty to blow thanks to the efforts of countless individuals who anonymously risked their lives to defend their freedom and rights, and thanks to a handful of politicians and thinkers who faced up to a barely hidden tyranny despite lack of understanding from the West.  It was a true “freedom revolution”.

Nonetheless, “terrorism as a threat to global existence” looms over all of us.  It constitutes a borderless challenge to the human state of being and existing that unsettles the reasons to live, hope and even our appraisal of life. It unsettles the ways we relate to others, the world and ourselves.  The challenge is accompanied by the paradox of those, who for incomprehensible reasons, consciously ignore the harshest aspects of the phenomenon and enjoy appeasing escapism, when they should be recalling the worst and most threatening moments in Europe between wars.

Therefore, from the European viewpoint the most transcendental component in this “re-foundational moment” is the “perception of security”, and so the project of a new constitution for Europe delves further into the ideal of “peace in its dual dimension of freedom and security” together with prosperity as the founding imperative.

These new threats and the way to fight them contrast two visions.  “On one hand, the vision that highlights the fall of the Steel Wall; on the other, the vision being built despite terrorism and its a threat to global existence. Terrorism is characterized by the goal to completely destroy the signs that identify the open society of the West, and its only rule is to not respect any rule.”        

In keeping with the first vision, the new European Charter sets forth in Article I.43 its solidarity clause in the event of terrorist attempts or threats as strictly equal to the solidarity required in the event of natural or man-made catastrophes.  In other words, 9/11 is seen under exactly the same light as the Indian Ocean tsunami, because since November 9 the world has basically turned into possibilities for development through cooperation.  By contrast from the US perspective, the world of September 11 is one where “cooperation reveals itself as totally ineffective and one cannot separate oneself from the general principle that every legal order ultimately rests on the credible threat of the use of force.”

This disparity among strategies may weaken the Trans-Atlantic relationship, making alliances less secure and less able to promote common interests. Therefore there is a calling to promote concurrent values such as the shared ideals of freedom and democracy.

1.2. David Blunkett perceives a greater feeling of insecurity. This is why some are convinced of the need to face terrorism and the emergency of increased delinquency and antisocial behaviors in order to ensure the integrity of every individual. These phenomena are nothing new, but are merging with new economic and social trends relative to displacement and behavior creating a new type of threat to the structure of our community life. In neighborhoods most affected by delinquency, disappointment is greater and therefore where it is most likely that politics and citizen participation will be met with rejection.[2]

There are four interrelated ideas associated with these challenges that Blunkett deems fundamental so as to understand the place of security in what he calls  “progressive politics.”

• First, that it is wrong to pit security against freedom as the latter actually presupposes order and stability.

• Second, that a true concept of freedom must be broad enough to include people’s ability to engage in government and contribute to their communities.

• Third, that the challenge for government consists in establishing a balance between the need to protect individual freedom and rights on one hand, and community values and mutuality on the other, including confidence in our justice and security systems.

• Fourth, that as the threats to our security are becoming increasingly internationalized, we must be prepared to work together internationally in order to respond to them.

There are people with liberal political inclinations who have not always accepted that security and freedom go hand in hand. According to Blunkett history shows how difficult it is for democracy to flourish when fear and insecurity allow individuals with extreme or fundamentalist positions to take advantage of the real or imaginary concerns of the population as a whole. We need to “re-engage people in shaping their own society, and not simply as customers of service. But if we get it right, we can start to build towards a culture where self-help and mutual help go hand in hand and feed off each other, rather than being seen as pulling in opposite directions.”

It should be recognized that providing protection and eliminating fear requires the ability to participate in collective public management.  “To do so, all of us agree to forego some of our personal sovereignty and to combine our individualism in order to achieve common goals.”

In practice, justice and security systems must be adapted and developed ensuring that their philosophy and principles are applied in such a way that they can respond to the new environment and are faithful to our “central vision of freedom”.

1.3. Let us travel from these European concerns regarding freedom and safety to Latin America, where we witness the phenomenon of a new kind violence that has developed since the last quarter of the twentieth century.  Experts describe this violence as social because it “expresses social and economic –not political– conflicts, because its vocation is not power. It acts in cities especially in poor, segregated and excluded areas.” Current sociological hypotheses pin the origin of urban violence on impoverishment and inequality, not on poverty per se. 

This violence occurs in the midst of second and third urban generations, among city-born individuals that have lost every tie and memory with their rural past.  At this point another hypothesis on the origin of the new violence comes into play: “expectation, homogenization and inflation” mainly brought about by the media and advertising, that make information about products and services in the market available, thereby generalizing consumption expectations among the entire population. In cases where economic growth and the potential for social improvement are stunted, this produces a gap between aspiration and actual possibility.  Thus, frustration and failure translate into violent, explosive activity.

In addition to all of this, the use of light firearms has spread exponentially in Latin America in the past twenty years, so the problem not only consists in more crimes and major interpersonal conflicts but in their lethalness.  In almost every country there are more guns in private hands than with the forces of security.

Unquestionably, the rise in murder rates and crimes against property have produced a general sense of insecurity among the urban population in America.[3]

Another insecurity generating fear factor is that in the wake of these violent events, public opinion is trending favorably towards the right to kill, and this has been confirmed by several statistical studies.[4] This ill-conceived right has found different expressions in Latin American culture. For example as a social group, older male Catholics, exhibit the most traditional kind of reaction to violence, expressed by the idea of the legitimate defense of family and property. However there is another group (youths and university students) that also reacts to violence as a form of social revenge, of society reciprocating violence. And so, in Latin America this issue is not due to lack of information. Sociologists deem it is a social response of revenge, disbelief in institutions and maybe even classism, in the sense that these groups never believe they will be affected, only other social groups will.

Statistical results show that those who most support violent responses are the ones who enjoy violent television the most.  This also confirms an association where causality cannot be established, yet points to a complex and dangerous relationship.  These groups also expect drastic responses from security forces, even if they overstep the boundaries of procedure, which only causes violence to escalate.

It would seem that “violence is a form of coexistence”, a relational style whose emotional nature makes violent behavior a natural experience.  Therefore, it is a complex cultural fact and in any relational context where it emerges there has been a prior experience with some kind of violence, and therefore anything that happens in its midst is part of a cycle stimulated by its own effects. Consequently, the circuit must be disrupted if it is to be deactivated. This is only possible through alliances and participation –within a democratic political framework– among those who experience violence in each context.[5]

In Latin America reflections about these rising phenomena point to identifying their meaning and reconstructing the dynamics of violence in an interpersonal realm, minimizing authoritarian State models of national security or class domination analyses. The incidence of extreme poverty in this minimization process could be relevant, in the sense that it generates privatized and coercing venues for conflict resolution. In this matrix, analyses about the mistrust of the judicial system as a source of violence should be highlighted as well.[6]

The issue of insecurity now occupies a significant place in citizen concerns as evidenced in the media that publish surveys indicating that insecurity and unemployment are the two major issues for the population.  Institutional social neglect in addition to the release of extremely violent and cruel criminal situations by the press, radio and television generate the fear (no longer the possibility) of becoming a victim.  Under this scenario, despite its appeals to resort to criminal law and toughen its repressive responses, the State has not been able to avoid failure or overcome the impotence of the penal system, both of which potentiate this feeling of insecurity.  

On the other hand it is only fair to recognize that the justice and security systems cannot in and of themselves reduce social violence rates because they were not created for that. In the nineties, numerous changes were put into practice in crime prevention and repression policies such as criminal procedural codes; reforms to the police forces, court organization, public prosecutors, sentence execution, penitentiary policy, treatment of inmates; building more jails (some maximum security facilities); and notably a novel invitation to the “community”.  Until now experiences of citizen engagement in security policies have been marginal, with few initiatives and results, but nevertheless they do represent a change from past decades.[7]  


2. Freedom or Security? Or, Freedom and Security?

According to scholastics, there were two ways to solve moral problems or cases: if something was thus, they’d say et et; in other words, this and the other. If there was only a single solution possible between two opinions, one was excluded saying aut aut; i.e., this or the other.  In this chapter we will attempt to understand if it is possible to make freedom and security compatible, or if it is feasible to have freedom without security.

2.1 A citizen of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay or Uruguay only needs to bear his National Identity Document, or Identity Card to travel freely in and out of these countries. In other countries of Latin America using and bearing an ID document issued since childhood is absolutely commonplace.  Therefore, people from these regions are surprised to learn that in countries of Anglo-Saxon origin citizens are not required to carry any kind of personal identification nor to identify themselves before a State agent unless they face the possibility of being arrested. 

Nevertheless, a recent statement issued by Ligue des droits et libertés in Canada, indicates that in the fall of 2002, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre launched the idea of an identity or citizenship card to facilitate Canadian crossings of the United States border.  To support his initiative, the official argued that an identification card was more pertinent in the war against terrorism.[8] According to the statement, an identification card introduces the notion that from now on citizens should be able to identify themselves at any time, thereby challenging “the right to anonymity which is one of our democratic principles.” The Ligue des droits et libertés understands that with the Canadian government’s adoption of this and other measures “we will not be any safer; we will just be less free.”

This exemplifies how certain people and organizations understand that measures in reaction to terrorist violence entail a collective surrender of fundamental rights and freedoms.  Discourse about security takes precedence over freedom signaling a dangerous bias towards security systems in the fashion of totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, known as gulags, Auschwitz or Condor.

2.2 There are those who argue that citizen security policies that deal with social violence focus more on containing or palliating its extreme effects than on reducing the hazards of social exclusion and economic inequity, and ultimately the risk of social breakdown.

The term security as invoked by state powers is anything but neutral. When a public affair is labeled “security,” this means that the State is operating a political mechanism that basically produces a dual effect. On one hand, the State self-attributes special powers allowing it to prioritize the “security issue” and allocate it extraordinary resources;  on the other, transparency regarding the reporting and adherence to customary democratic controls in the decision and management processes of the issue are drastically reduced.

No freedom, security or authentic peace can be attained through fear.  Aside from its primary purpose, fear only generates anxiety for safety, which is a part of the problem more than its solution because as Montaigne once said: “endeavoring to evade death, we often run into its very mouth, like those who, from fear of a precipice throw themselves headlong into it.”[9]  

2.3 For others, ever since 9/11 the world has begun to slide rapidly from “citizenry to civilization, from politics to police, from Law to the state of exception.” It would seem that the notion of “global war” is taking hold, where for the sake of security, it would be possible “in every country on the planet to dismantle the fragile scaffolding of values and juridical guarantees, conquered over two centuries, that did not spare the world from evils but did keep it from the worst.”  This would take us back beyond the days of the Roman Republic, to the Stone Age but “in a ‘postmodern’ technological context,”[10] something like the expectation of the future in the Terminator saga.

2.4. In a recent article Ignacio Sotelo, perhaps recalling Erich Fromm, said: “More than freedom, which always involves risks, what people truly want is security.”  And in exchange for it, he adds, people are willing to bear anything.  Francoism, for example, afforded the security of a rented apartment, or an immovable job for the price of suppressing essential liberties.  What Sotelo is saying is that a person can live in security or public order without freedom. Certainly there are always a few who will gamble their security to defend freedom, and to them we owe our having expanded the spheres of freedom little by little without losing security in the process.

Yet, what we can no longer conceive of is freedom without security.  Peoples who face permanent coercion from terrorism in its different forms prove out every day that one cannot be free without a good dose of security. “There is room for a broad margin of security without freedom, which is usually the case, but there is no freedom without security. Attaining a balance between both has been pursued by Europe for more than a century.”[11] The American continent, for its part, should not shirk from this endeavor.


3. The Freedom-Security Binomial as a Political Philosophy


In his conference On the Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns (1819), Benjamin Constant alluded to two forms of freedom: individual and political. “Individual liberty, I repeat, is the true modern liberty. Political liberty is its guarantee, consequently political liberty is indispensable.” Civil and political liberties are understood as the ability to chose and act free of illegitimate coercion from others in a political community.[12] Such coercion is violence in its different forms as we have already explained.

The “holy fathers” of liberal-humanistic-republican thinking sought social forms that would allow individuals to develop their freedom, in an effort to overcome despotic or tyrannical manners of exercising power.  Today we are also looking for ways that will allow us to live in freedom without violent coercion, considering peace as a balance between freedom and security, as opposed to today’s terrorism and violence aimed at coercing citizen participation and exercise of political liberty. 

Political participation, a cornerstone in the republican tradition, constitutes a historical source of liberalism.  The ideal of a State guaranteeing political freedom was born precisely with the civic humanists of the Renaissance, and it was with this ideal (or at least references of it) that liberalism evolved as the dominating political thinking in the West from the second half of the eighteenth century onwards. 

3.1. Machiavelli’s realism led him to declare that a State can only be built upon violence, because it requires eliminating external and internal competition simultaneously. Once both conditions (external and internal peace) are satisfied one can speak of a State; i.e. a power that remains stably, and through this stability ensures peace and order for the population inhabiting the territory governed by such a State.[13]

Whomever delves further into the work of Machiavelli will corroborate that even though armed territorial sovereignty is a necessary condition for external liberty, the latter cannot be sustained without internal political liberty, because this is the only liberty that will lead citizens to act virtuously; in other words, to place public interest above private interests. Furthermore, external independence cannot be sustained without a virtuous citizenry, because without it there would be no one to rise up to defend it. In his Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Machiavelli contends that the true strength of a State lies in popular engagement,[14] which only arises when there exists freedom of speech. He is clearly partial to republican government as opposed to tyranny.  In his heart he cherishes the idea of an Italian Republic, the heir of the Roman Republic idealized by Titus Livius.[15] 

Machiavelli approaches freedom under the perspective of two intertwined matters: on one hand, how to obtain sovereignty (in other words, found the State); and on the other, how to maintain the State away from corruption, in the sense of deterioration, for as long as possible.  Achieving this second goal requires adopting a republican form of government, the only kind that makes it possible to avoid civil war or tyranny in the long term, because under a republican government citizens develop their civic virtù. The means to preserve internal freedom are: grant representation to the main classes, let one peacefully oppose another and use these conflicts (though they must be contained within appropriate limits) to promote the development of citizen virtue. Only a republic can afford this, precisely because only a republic can warrant freedom.[16]

3.2. In Chapter 3 Book XI of The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu says: “political liberty does not consist in an unlimited freedom. In governments, that is, in societies directed by laws, liberty can consist only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will.” And he quickly adds: “We must have continually present to our minds the difference between independence and liberty. Liberty is a right of doing whatever the laws permit; and, if a citizen could do what they forbid, he would be no longer possessed of liberty, because all his fellow-citizens would have the same power”. [17]

Further on when discussing the Constitution of England, Montesquieu writes, “The political liberty of the subject is a tranquility of mind arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.”

He also states that political liberty viewed from the perspective of its relationship to the citizen, consists in safety or the idea of one’s own safety.  Here, a contrast appears between two kinds of liberty:

• Philosophical liberty that “consists in the free exercise of the will; or, at least (…) in an opinion that we have the free exercise of our will.”

• Political liberty consisting “in security; or, at least, in the opinion that we enjoy security.”

The discussion here is not philosophical liberty (or independence, or conditions of freedom to do as we please); quite the contrary, the notion is political liberty that mainly consists in security or respect for the rights of others, in what today we would define as the conscious awareness of the boundaries of our own judgment and respect for the private sphere of others.[18]

3.3. In this regard, Hobbes based the need for a central power upon the simple fact that without it, the parties involved could not be expected to show any will to uphold their commitments. Without a State, contract relations between individuals and associations within a market or society would not be possible.  In synthesis, Hobbes’ starting point is that order does not come naturally and is not guaranteed, but that left to his own devices by heavenly powers, man must obtain it for himself. Now, as experience has shown, if we add to this that the individual no longer exists, that there are only individuals, always distinct and different from each other yet free and equal by nature, then the only way such an order may aspire to stability is to be attained not through imposition, but mutual consent.[19]

3.4. Kant defined person as having “freedom and independence from the Mechanical philosophy of the whole of Nature, in turn considered as the power of a being subject to his own laws; i.e. to pure practical laws established by his own reason.” Going beyond the static concept of Boethius of an “individual substance of rational nature,” for Kant a person in terms of his “moral personality”, represents “the liberty of a rational being under the moral laws” he sets for himself. For Kant true freedom is not random, but a rational determination of the being itself.

In Kant’s theoretical-political conception, owners of property are truly free individuals because only they obey the laws they produce themselves.  Kant discusses the topic of property in depth in Metaphysics of Morals and its relationship with political law.  In Kant’s vision, the right to property is of a natural kind that precedes the constitution of a civil state, the purpose of which is to guarantee said property.  “Natural rights in the state of a constitution (...) cannot be damaged by the statutory laws of the latter (…); because a civil constitution is but the juridical state under which each individual only ensures his own, (property that) is not fixed nor determined thereby” (Kant, 1994: p.70). The State must ensure what has been acquired through natural rights. The only determination the State can make regarding property is to fix it in time. The State must not procure citizens’ happiness but ensure that individual pursuits of happiness only resort to means compatible with the freedom of others, including each person’s use of his own property.

The concept of freedom can only be understood within the framework of an existing civil constitution, because without rights there can be no liberty understood in political terms as: “in general the concept of an external right (that) comes wholly from the concept of freedom.”

Man as a subject is equal, but this formal equality is perfectly compatible with real inequalities.  “This general equality of men within a State, inasmuch as they are subjects of that State, is nevertheless perfectly compatible with the utmost inequality in the quantity and degree of his possessions.”

Today, the matter of political liberty presents an inacceptable difficulty to Kant’s thinking.  Not all men are legislators and therefore one of the fundamental requirements for liberty is not met; namely, to obey oneself.  The definition of who is an active citizen with legislative powers and who is a passive citizen (in other words, one who only engages in the protection derived from them) is clear:  “And so: he who has the right to vote in this legislation is called citizen (citoyen, i.e., citizen of the State, not citizen of a city, bourgeois). The only quality required for this, in addition to one’s natural qualification (not being a child or a woman), is this: for one to be one’s own lord (sui iuris) and therefore own property (included in this concept are any skill, trade, art or science) to support oneself.”

In Perpetual Peace Kant states: “The civil constitution of every State must be republican.” He reinforces this idea with the following:  “In order to be coherent with the idea of rights, the system of government must be representative: republican government can only be possible in such a system, otherwise every government will become despotic or violent regardless of its constitution.”[20]

3.5. For Hegel the maximum realization of freedom occurs in the State: “This –the State– is the reality where an individual has and enjoys his freedom (…) In the State freedom becomes objective and realizes itself in a positive way. To imagine liberty as if two subjects living together limited their freedom in such a way that this common limitation, this reciprocal annoyance felt by everyone only granted a small space for each one to move, is a purely negative conception of freedom. Quite the contrary, rights, morality and ethics are the only positive reality and satisfaction of freedom. Individual caprice is not freedom.  The liberty that is limited is choice relative to particular needs. Only in the State does man have a rational existence.” Here one perceives a positive notion of freedom, because man is free within the State because its subjects have self-determination in considering and knowing themselves to be free.

The great problem in Hegelian political philosophy lies in overcoming a few ambiguities.  On one hand Hegel aspires to the beautiful unity in the classical polis, which did not include the moment of individuality.  On the other is the realization that this core axiom to the spirit of modernism stems from the dialectic progression of history. Hegelian ethical-political philosophy is challenged with overcoming civil society as an absolute without voiding individual rights or subjective will. This is why the philosopher spoke about reconciling individuality, subjective will with the universal, with objective will.[21] In other words, the risk is that freedom might shift to the State, which is purely law and the individual, purely obligation. In its political application, the so-called Hegelian left would evolve into pro-state forms that annulled citizen liberty.

But indeed Hegel does not go further.  For example, in the first section of the second part of his Elements of the Philosophy of Right devoted to “property” he establishes principles such as: “true possession from the perspective of freedom is that property, as the first existence of freedom, is an essential end to itself.” “But the determinations affecting private property may have to subordinate to higher spheres of law (…) such exceptions cannot be based upon chance, private choice, nor private benefit, but only on the rational body of the State.”[22]

To summarize, the liberal-humanist-republican thinking exemplified by Machiavelli, Montesquieu and, to a lesser degree, by Hobbes, Kant and Hegel, may be considered the theory and practice of legal defense, through a constitutional State, of individual political liberty, of individual freedom. The purpose was to ensure freedom with the juridical security of a constitutional contract and citizen participation.



• Organized criminal violence (with terrorism as a form of organized criminal violence) demands an international response to a growing global challenge. This response should not be circumscribed to governments and international public bodies alone.  Civil society engagement must be encouraged all over the world so that cooperation does not result in the mere practice of distant diplomacy.  The development of civil society is essentially linked to the development of participative freedom at every level, both local and international.

• Ignacio Sotelo makes it clear that there can be no freedom without security. Security and freedom must be kept in balance. The ideal tool to fight terrorism consists in everyone sharing the same environment of freedom and security. At the same time, making this binomial work within the territory of a State, or even within regions of development is not enough.  The only possibility for survival calls for globalizing this freedom-security binomial.  However, it is vital to establish a stable environment to support democracy and a plural, open civil society, which are the foundation for engaged and constructive freedom. 

• On the right to kill (see 1.3) statistics show a few behavioral patterns linked to certain religious persuasions. Studies say that Catholics mostly support the right to kill. Protestants always appear to be more respectful of the right to live. Protestant groups are minorities, and therefore exert greater control over the lives of people. Additionally many of them are converts whose commitment to their faith is greater than among individuals who inherit a domineering religion. This comes from surveys conducted in Latin American countries and in Spain. The trans-border scope of religion –that can and should be a positive force– may turn into a threat when combined with surges of religious extremism or fundamentalism, which seduce people with their absolute moral certainty. In other words, a reflection about freedom and security cannot overlook theology.  For Xavier Zubiri, a person’s “I” builds itself throughout life thanks to reality and its support. This building oneself is freedom, is reestablishing bonds with reality wherein it encounters the problem of the reality of God. It is not a matter of denying religions but integrating them into the reflection about the concept of freedom, through their participation and internal leadership structures.

• From the perspective of a potential political philosophy of the freedom-security binomial a lot remains to be done. Even though several centuries have transpired since the days of Machiavelli and our own, everything indicates that the theoretical starting point resides in what we have termed here the liberal-humanist-republican project or thinking, where the best answers are to be found to support the role of political liberty and citizen freedom in a world threatened by violence and the feeling of insecurity.

• Although the terms of this paper required focusing on political freedom and citizen security, the concepts of security, criminal or social violence and terrorism necessitate further elaboration for their inclusion in philosophical thought.  A philosophy of security also needs to be generated, one that for reasons of connection or coherence with the concept of freedom should be understood as a philosophy of prevention, in which a free spirit can anticipate events in favor of life.  In recent years, for example, Latin America has seen the development of programs to potentiate citizen security based upon a philosophy of prevention and civil society engagement.  It is also necessary to delve further into other securities that promote the development of freedom; as well as into juridical security, social and health security, and equal access to quality education. 

• The thinking invoked here has also been characterized by its search for better forms of government and State, whose bureaucratization processes constitute a phenomenon that remains to be studied. One of the highest costs borne by citizens and their taxes goes to a constellation of local, regional, extra-regional, and international bureaucratic strata. Insistence on potentiating and developing civil society intends to balance these excesses; not to speak of the obstacles they pose to investment and job generation.  Even the UN itself with its paraphernalia of organizations cannot prevent wars or terrible famines: it arrives later.  In Perpetual Peace Kant had already championed the creation of a federation of nations.

Speaking of the UN, in closing one final truism about freedom and security:  in December 1948 article three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established that every individual is entitled three fundamental rights: the right to life, liberty and security of person.  Obviously, liberty and security cannot be separated one from the other. 




[1] Ana Palacio, Vocación de Europa”, in Club Siglo XXI, 15 noviembre 2004

[2] David Blunkett, “The Place of Security in Progressive Politics”, London, February 2004

[3] Roberto Briceño-León, “La nueva violencia urbana de América Latina”, en Violencia, sociedad y justicia en América Latina, Buenos Aires, CLACSO, septiembre de 2001.

[4] Roberto Briceño-León, Alberto Camardiel y Olga Ávila, “El derecho a matar en América Latina”, en op. cit.

[5] Tosca Hernández, “Descubriendo la violencia”, en op. cit.

[6] Luis Gerardo Gavaldón, “Tendencias y respuestas hacia la violencia delictiva en América Latina”, en op. cit.

[7] Juan S. Pegoraro, “Las políticas de seguridad y la participación comunitaria en el marco de la violencia social”,

en op. cit.

[8] Statement: “We are not any safer; we are less free”. Ligue des droits et libertés (Quebec Civil Liberties Union), 2004, Canada

[9] Jaume Curbet, “Paz impuesta, seguridad ilusoria (segunda parte)”, en Magazín Seguridad Sostenible (IIGC), febrero de 2003

[10] Santiago Alba, “La nueva edad de piedra”, en Rebelión, 22 de noviembre de 2002 (intervención en el Encuentro Internacional contra la Guerra, Madrid 16 y 17 de noviembre de 2002).

[11] Ignacio Sotelo, “El binomio libertad-seguridad”, en El País, Madrid, 2001

[12] Benjamin Constant, Of the Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns (Conference delivered in the Athenian in Paris. February, 1819).

[13] Niccolò Machiavelli, Il principe (1513), Milan, 2000.

[14] Machiavelli, Tutte le Opere, Alessandro Capata Curatore, Milán, 1998

[15] Cfr. Jean Jacques Chevallier, Les Grandes oeuvres politiques. De Machiavel à nos jours, París, 1966

[16] André Singer, Maquiavelo y el liberalismo: la necesidad de la República, Buenos Aires, 2001.

[17] Enrique Aguilar, La libertad política en Montesquieu: su significado, Buenos Aires, 2003. Charles de Secondat Montesquieu, Défense de De l’esprit des lois (1750), electronic edition, Laurent Versini, Paris, 2001 (Trans. Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works Vol. 1, Online Library of Liberty.

[18] Gavino Zucca, La libertà nell’Esprit des lois

[19] Inés M. Pousadela, El contractualismo hobbesiano (o de cómo para entender del derecho es necesario pensar al revés). Thomas Hobbes, Leviatan, o la materia, forma y poder de una república eclesiástica y civil (1651), FCE, México,1998.

[20] Imannuel Kant, Per la Pace Perpetua, Un progetto filosofico(1796), Milan, 1997.

[21] Bárbara Pérez Jaime y Javier Amadeo, “El concepto de libertad en las teorías políticas de Kant, Hegel y Marx”, en La filosofía política moderna, Buenos Aires, CLACSO, 2000.

[22] G.W. Hegel, Fundamentos de la Filosofía del Derecho, Madrid, K.H. Ilting, 1993