"Condemned to be Free: Exploring the Intersection of Freedom and Morality in Politics"

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Mar 22, 2024

5 min read


"Condemned to be Free: Exploring the Intersection of Freedom and Morality in Politics"


The concepts of freedom and morality are deeply intertwined within the realm of politics. The question arises: are we truly free to choose our own path, or are we bound by the constraints of societal expectations? Furthermore, can morality coexist with the pursuit of political power? In this article, we will delve into these complex questions and explore the connections between freedom, morality, and politics.

The Inalienable Nature of Freedom:

Freedom is not merely a stagnant state but a continuous process of liberation from various forms of dependency. It is an inherent right that cannot be taken away, even by oneself. Rousseau emphasizes that slavery cannot be considered a right, as the only natural right is to be born and remain free. Additionally, he rejects the notion of voluntary submission, viewing it as unnatural. The only legitimate social contract is one that upholds the principles of freedom and equality, rather than a disguised power play.

The Existentialist Perspective:

Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre posits that freedom is a fundamental aspect of human existence. He argues that we are not bound by predetermined nature but are instead radically free to choose our own paths and are fully responsible for our choices. Sartre famously stated, "Existence precedes essence," asserting that freedom precedes any predetermined essence or nature. According to him, we are "condemned to be free." Any invocation of determinism, whether it be physical, psychological, or social, is an act of self-deception to avoid taking responsibility for our freedom. In this sense, radical atheism intensifies the concept of freedom, positioning its loss as a result of alienation from an unjust higher power.

The Interplay of Morality and Politics:

Morality, at its core, encompasses the principles that guide a good and virtuous life, including the distinction between right and wrong. Politics, on the other hand, involves the pursuit and exercise of power. The question arises: is morality the best approach to politics? On one hand, prioritizing efficacy over morality in political decision-making can be seen as necessary for the greater good and the interest of society as a whole. However, this does not mean that morality should be disregarded entirely. The principles of morality should inspire political action, and adherence to legal norms should be a requisite for political conduct.

The Need for Balance:

It is crucial to avoid treating morality and politics as separate entities. A confrontation between the two is necessary to find a middle ground. It is also essential to not rely solely on examples or empirical evidence but to engage in a discussion centered around the desired outcomes of political action. In politics, the exercise of power demands efficiency as a more urgent duty than the adherence to personal convictions. However, principles should not be entirely forsaken, as they provide a framework for just and virtuous political conduct.

The Role of Virtue in Politics:

The effectiveness of political leaders should not be measured solely by their ability to achieve desired outcomes but also by their virtue and integrity. The concern for the honesty and moral character of those in power has increased due to numerous corruption scandals. When leaders are willing to employ immoral means for the pursuit of the greater good, there is a valid concern that they may prioritize their own interests when personal gain is at stake. The way in which governance is conducted reflects an individual's character, and moral virtue and good politics are inseparable. The ideal form of governance would involve leaders who embody virtue, such as philosophers serving as kings, as they can set an example for the entire nation.

The Inseparability of Morality and Law:

Morality encompasses rules that govern proper behavior, applicable to all individuals regardless of their position of authority. Immanuel Kant argues that our moral conscience always guides us towards our duty, providing clarity on what is right and wrong. While power often corrupts individuals, politics must at least conform to legal standards. The concept of the rule of law ensures that no one is above the law, including those in positions of power. A liberal political framework upholds these principles, emphasizing the importance of morality and justice in political decision-making.

The Synergy of Justice and Efficacy:

The relationship between justice and efficacy in politics is worth exploring. In international relations, it is conceivable that the most moral approach is also the most effective. Kant criticizes Machiavelli, highlighting that his tactics, such as lying, betraying, or manipulating, only perpetuate the cycle of distrust between nations. Acting without morality is not only ethically wrong but also counterproductive. Democracies, for example, often tend to be more peaceful because the populace carefully considers the consequences of going to war. In this case, what is just aligns with what is effective. However, relying solely on the good intentions of rulers to promote peace is not enough. The establishment of an international legal system, with shared rules and mechanisms for resolution, is necessary to ensure compliance with universally accepted principles.


In conclusion, the intertwining of freedom, morality, and politics is a complex and nuanced subject. While political efficacy may sometimes require compromises on moral principles, it is essential to maintain a balance and strive for a political system that upholds both justice and efficiency. To achieve this, three actionable pieces of advice can be suggested:

  • 1. Embrace the inherent freedom of human existence and reject the temptation to evade responsibility for the choices we make.
  • 2. Foster a political culture that values virtue and integrity, recognizing that good governance requires leaders who exemplify moral character.
  • 3. Advocate for the rule of law, as it ensures that even those in positions of power are held accountable for their actions and that justice prevails.

By navigating the intricate relationship between freedom, morality, and politics, we can aspire to create a society that embraces both individual liberty and collective well-being.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)