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Want to be Free?

By March 1, 2016March 31st, 2016Nation

Eleanor Roosevelt

Lessons on what happens to societies and nations when individual citizens do not honour the part they need to play to keep the country whole and healthy are lessons best derived by carefully learning from history.  

Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo offers deep insights in his essay, “The Five Experiments: a short essay”.

Del Pino is one of the sons of the late Rafael del Pino y Moreno, founder of the Spanish construction company Ferrovial.  He has been involved in managing the family fortune since 1998.

“The Five Experiments” is based on a speech by Del Pino in June 2015 on what he believed to be “a multi-generational decline of the Western civilization”.  It can be found at

The essay is very much worth your time to read. It ends with this observation: “Ancient Greece was the pioneer of democracy 2,500 years ago and the first society in which a sizable part of its people could proudly call themselves free citizens. How did democracy in Greece come to an end?”

To answer the question, he referred to “one of the foremost authorities in this period of History, the late Edith Hamilton, (who) clearly explained the reason of Greece’s decline in her wonderful book The Echo of Greece (1957).

This quote belongs to the chapter called Athens’ Failure:

“What the people wanted was a government which would provide a comfortable life for them, and with this as the foremost object, ideas of freedom and self-reliance and service to the community were obscured to the point of disappearing.

“Athens was more and more looked on as a co-operative business possessed of great wealth in which all citizens had a right to share. The larger and larger funds demanded made heavier and heavier taxation necessary, but that troubled only the well-to-do, always a minority, and no one gave a thought to the possibility that the source might be taxed out of existence.

“Politics was now closely connected with money, quite as much as with voting. Indeed, the one meant the other. Votes were for sale as well as officials.

“The whole process was clear to Plato. Athens had reached the point of rejecting independence, and the freedom she now wanted was freedom from responsibility.

“There could be only one result. ‘The excess of liberty in states or individuals,’ he said, ‘seems to pass into excess of slavery.’ If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. 

“Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms. (…)

“But, by the time, Athens had reached the end of freedom and was never to have it again.”

As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

Are you willing to pay the price of freedom by being responsible?


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