"Are We Condemned to Be Free? Exploring the Interplay Between Freedom and Morality in Politics"

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Mar 01, 2024

5 min read


"Are We Condemned to Be Free? Exploring the Interplay Between Freedom and Morality in Politics"


The concepts of freedom and morality are deeply intertwined with the realm of politics. In this article, we will delve into the question of whether we are truly free to choose our own existence and the role of morality in shaping political actions. Drawing insights from the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre and Rousseau, we will explore the inherent nature of freedom and its relationship with morality. Additionally, we will examine the notion that the most effective political policies are those that adhere to ethical principles. By analyzing the interplay between freedom, morality, and politics, we aim to shed light on the complexities of human decision-making and the pursuit of a just society.

The Native Freedom:

Sartre argues that freedom is an innate characteristic of human existence. He emphasizes that freedom is not a static state but rather an ongoing process that unfolds throughout history. Freedom is a constant liberation from various forms of dependence, whether intellectual, moral, or political. According to Sartre, freedom is an inalienable natural right that applies not only to oneself but to all individuals. Rousseau further rejects the idea of voluntary submission, highlighting the inherent power dynamics in any supposed social contract. Civil or political subjugation can only be seen as disguised forms of coercion. Therefore, freedom is an essential aspect of our nature, and renouncing it is not a genuine choice.

The Situational Freedom:

Rousseau and Sartre both argue that freedom is not an abstract concept but is always situated within specific circumstances that are beyond our control. We do not choose our family, the era we are born into, or the situations of war or peace. Our freedom manifests itself within these given situations, and the choices we make are influenced by these external factors. Sartre goes even further to claim that the more limiting the situation, the greater our freedom becomes. He posits that human beings are not defined by a predetermined nature but rather possess a radical freedom to choose their existence. According to Sartre, we are "condemned to be free" and any attempt to invoke physical, psychological, or social determinism is a form of self-deception to evade responsibility.

Morality and Politics:

Morality encompasses the principles that guide us in distinguishing between right and wrong conduct. Politics, on the other hand, refers to the pursuit and exercise of power. The question arises: should morality take precedence over political expediency? Can these two aspects be reconciled? While the pursuit of the common good often necessitates efficient policies, it is crucial not to divorce morality from politics. The most effective political actions are those inspired by moral principles and constrained by legal frameworks.

The Primacy of Efficiency:

One school of thought argues that politics must prioritize efficiency over morality. The obsession with moral purity in politics can lead to a detachment from reality. Politics encompasses the institutions and social life, and the principle of the common good should prevail. Absolute adherence to moral rules, such as constant truth-telling, may hinder effective governance. However, it is important to note that the pursuit of efficiency should not overshadow the fundamental principles that guide our actions.

The Inseparability of Morality and Politics:

Politics cannot be divorced from morality. The qualities we expect from political leaders extend beyond mere efficiency. Honesty and virtue are crucial attributes that inspire trust and ensure the well-being of society. When leaders resort to immoral means to achieve the greater good, there is a legitimate concern regarding their integrity and potential abuse of power. The manner in which governance is conducted reveals one's character, and morality and good governance are inseparable. The ideal political system is one where the virtuous lead. However idealistic this may seem, politics requires an ideal to maintain its moral compass and preserve its integrity.

The Role of Law and Justice:

Morality establishes rules for ethical behavior that apply universally to all individuals, regardless of their positions of power. While power often corrupts, politics must adhere to the demands of justice and the rule of law. According to Kant, the conscience speaks clearly, guiding individuals in their moral duties. Although it is acknowledged that power can lead to corruption, the political sphere must submit to legal requirements. The concept of the rule of law ensures that no one, not even leaders, is above the law. By upholding the principles of justice, politics can thrive within a framework of moral responsibility.

The Relationship Between Justice and Efficiency:

It is conceivable that the most morally guided political policies are also the most effective. Machiavellian tactics, such as deceit and manipulation, may seem expedient in the short term, but they ultimately contribute to a lack of trust and stability among nations. Kant argues that morality should not be overlooked, as it is not only a moral imperative but also an effective strategy. Democracies, which often prioritize justice, are more inclined to consider the consequences of war, making them less likely to engage in conflicts. The pursuit of justice can align with efficiency, as it fosters trust and stability among nations, making it a more effective approach in the long run.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace your inherent freedom: Recognize that freedom is an integral part of your existence. Take responsibility for the choices you make and the impact they have on your life and the lives of others. Embrace the liberation that comes from breaking free from various forms of dependence.
  • 2. Uphold moral principles in politics: Strive for a political landscape guided by ethical considerations. Demand accountability from leaders and support policies that prioritize the common good and adhere to universal principles of justice. Advocate for transparency, honesty, and integrity in the exercise of power.
  • 3. Foster a just and efficient society: Work towards creating a society that values both justice and efficiency. Seek to strike a balance between the pursuit of moral principles and the practical realities of governance. Support policies and leaders who prioritize fairness, equality, and the well-being of all individuals.


The interplay between freedom, morality, and politics is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. While some argue for the primacy of efficiency in politics, it is crucial to recognize the inseparability of morality from governance. By upholding moral principles and adhering to legal frameworks, politics can be both just and effective. Embracing our inherent freedom and advocating for a society that values justice and efficiency can lead us towards a more equitable and prosperous future.

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 :)