Pushing ‘Freedom’ on the World: A Scientific Investigation into the Fruits of Liberalism

Speaking proud words of vanity, they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness, those who for a little while escape, such as converse in error: Promising them liberty, whereas they themselves are the slaves of corruption.’ (2 Peter 2:18-19)

                      There are groups of people, usually identified with the term, globalist or elitist, who wish to force their own false ideas on the world’s populations. These people usually consist of people who have their own ideas about what will bring the citizens of the world happiness and freedom.  Amongst these people consist many academics who believe they are leading the way in enlightening the masses about progress and human freedom.  They have certain ideas about how the world should look, and they are determined to influence decision makers, so the world begins to look the way they want it to.  Often, they will use the name of ‘science’ to justify their claims.  One of the ways of the best ways of pushing one’s ideas is through the use of elaborate and complex sociological, psychological, and political theories that few study, and even fewer understand.  One example of this comes from research funded by the CATO Institute, a thinktank which has a major influence on academic research and public opinion, particularly in the USA.  The following blog outlines its attempt to push its own brand of ‘freedom’ on nations around the world.

Introduction:

                  In 2012, the CATO Institute helped to develop a method of measuring supposed personal freedom across 152 countries, calling this the ‘personal freedom index’. It was developed through analysis of various countries by researchers rather than through the completion of questionnaires by citizens in these countries. This ‘personal freedom index’ lists countries that have the least restrictions on such things as ‘religious freedom’, ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘sexual freedom’. (Footnote 1).  Its researchers then compiled a list of these 152 countries, numbering them from highest to lowest in order of ‘personal freedom’.  The theory of the researchers is that the type of ‘freedoms’ they propose are crucial for recognising the true dignity of human beings. According to their theory, these ‘freedoms’ should lead to individuals feeling more free, as restrictions such as restrictions on religious practice and sexual acts and other ‘coercive’ laws such as censorship that impact on ‘personal freedom’ are removed.  It is their theory that the most peaceful and happy society is one where people have the ‘right to choose to do, say, or think anything they want, provided that it does not infringe on the rights of others to do likewise.’ (1). The theory goes that less restrictions on the types of freedoms mentioned above should have an impact on people’s perception of their freedom.  As one’s sense of freedom is strongly correlated with one’s life satisfaction, it should also lead to happier societies.  

Method:

                      The best way to assess if the removal of certain types of so called restrictions within a country leads to a sense of more personal freedom is to look at what the data says on the subject. To do so, we would need to examine countries that were included in the ‘personal freedom index’. We then need to find data from samples within these countries that answered questions on perceived personal freedom as well. Thankfully, we have this data available.  From 2010 to 2014, global research was conducted that collected data from individuals from 64 countries across the globe. This was known as the World Value Survey (WVS) (see: https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs.jsp). It represents one of the largest efforts to collect and examine data on various psychological, sociological, and political positions, views, and opinions held globally. This data was collected around the same time as the ‘personal freedom index’ for various countries was being developed by the CATO funded researchers. One of the questions asked to individuals is the following:

‘Some people feel they have completely free choice and control over their lives, while other people feel that what they do has no real effect on what happens to them. Please use this scale where 1 means ‘no choice at all’ and 10 means ‘a great deal of choice’ to indicate how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out’

‘No choice at all’ – 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10 – ‘A great deal of choice’

It is theorised by liberal researchers that if restrictions on ‘personal freedom’ were removed, people would feel that they had greater freedom of choice and control in their lives.

From the 64 countries in the World Value Survey who answered the question above, 54 of these countries also have a personal freedom index score.  Let us examine the results.

Results:

A simple correlational analysis was conducted to identify if there was any relationship between scores on the personal freedom index and the average score for one’s sense of freedom.  This produced a correlation of .19.  Statisticians advise that a correlation must be at least .3 to indicate a weak relationship between two sets of data (2). A correlation of .19 indicates that there is no relationship between these two sets of data, i.e. the data suggests that the personal freedom index of countries does not significantly affect the sense of freedom of individuals within these countries.

If one inspects the data, one notices major discrepancies between countries which are supposedly ‘free’ (based on CATO’s understanding of this), i.e. the personal freedom index, and countries where its citizens score highly on the World Value survey freedom question, i.e. the average freedom score. The two tables are outlined below for one’s own analysis:

Position:Country:Average freedom score (WVS): Position:Country:Personal Freedom Index:
1Mexico8.44 1Sweden9.53
2Trinidad and Tobago8.17 2Germany9.34
3Colombia8.16 2Netherlands9.34
4Kuwait7.96 4Ireland9.28
5Romania7.88 5Australia9.23
6Slovenia7.88 6Hong Kong9.09
7Ecuador7.86 7Slovenia9.03
8New Zealand7.8 8Poland9.02
9United States7.73 9New Zealand8.97
10Uruguay7.73 10Estonia8.85
11Australia7.69 11Chile8.81
12Brazil7.69 12Taiwan8.73
13Sweden7.62 13United States8.71
14Cyprus7.54 14South Korea8.61
15Thailand7.53 15Uruguay8.6
16Malaysia7.5 16Spain8.57
17Taiwan7.48 17Cyprus8.46
18Peru7.45 18Romania8.39
19Philippines7.42 19Argentina8.26
20Kyrgyzstan7.38 20Peru7.63
21Argentina7.36 21Ukraine7.6
22Turkey7.35 22Ghana7.57
23Pakistan7.34 23India7.36
24Ghana7.29 24Georgia7.28
25Jordan7.27 24Ecuador7.28
26Azerbaijan7.23 26South Africa7.24
27Ireland7.22 27Armenia7.17
28Nigeria7.22 28Turkey7.16
29Chile7.18 29Singapore7.05
30China7.13 30Brazil7.02
31South Africa7.12 31Thailand6.84
32Kazakhstan7.03 32Trinidad & Tobago6.75
33Lebanon6.97 32Philippines6.75
34Spain6.95 34Mexico6.31
35Netherlands6.9 35Lebanon6.25
36Bahrain6.88 36Kazakhstan6.14
37Hong Kong6.87 37Kyrgyzstan6.12
38Rwanda6.85 38Russia6.06
39Germany6.8 39Tunisia5.93
40Singapore6.77 40Kuwait5.91
41Poland6.67 41Morocco5.9
42Algeria6.66 42Jordan5.89
43Tunisia6.64 43Colombia5.87
44South Korea6.57 44Malaysia5.86
45Ukraine6.56 44Bahrain5.86
46Armenia6.52 46Azerbaijan5.79
47Zimbabwe6.43 47Rwanda5.37
48Yemen6.4 48China5.33
49Egypt6.36 49Algeria5.15
50Estonia6.35 50Egypt4.75
51Georgia6.24 51Nigeria4.69
52Morocco6.18 52Zimbabwe4.59
53Russia5.95 53Pakistan4.56
54India5.41 54Yemen3.23

There are some countries that maintain similar positions on the personal freedom index and the average freedom score, i.e. USA, New Zealand, Egypt, but the charts are mainly distinguished by the large differences between country’s scores on the personal freedom index and the average freedom score.  For example, Germany scores 2nd on the personal freedom index and 39th on the average freedom score, Netherlands 2nd and 36th, Estonia 10th and 50th, Mexico 34th and 1st, Hong Kong 37th and 6th, Kuwait 40th and 4th, Poland 41st and 8th, and Colombia 43rd and 3rd.  Together with the non-significant correlation this indicates that a country’s rating on the personal freedom index has no impact on the sense of freedom of its citizens.  In some instances, it appears that there is a negative relationship between a country’s scores on the personal freedom index and the sense of freedom of that country’s citizens, e.g. Netherlands and Germany.  

Discussion:

                         The results indicate that increased ‘personal freedom’ as defined and advocated by the CATO Institute does not lead to an increased sense of freedom amongst individuals.  Even in countries where this ‘personal freedom’ is almost fully implemented, e.g. Germany and the Netherlands, its citizens still have a strong sense that they are not free.  Germany and the Netherlands may be seen by many as some of the most free and progressive countries in the world, yet its citizens rate themselves as less free than those in Communist China.  Now, it is not easy to identify what exactly is causing the average rates of freedom amongst the citizens of countries and there appears to be no obvious identifiable pattern (see footnote 2). However, the evidence does show that it is clearly not the ‘freedom’ that is advocated for by the CATO Institute that is affecting people’s sense of freedom. If the implementation of liberal ideology is meant to make citizens free and happy it certainly is not doing so.  If it is designed to frustrate people in their search for freedom, leave them exposed to error through freedom of speech and ‘religious freedom’, and lead them into immorality through ‘sexual freedom’, the empirical evidence suggests that this is what it does (See footnote 3).  Often those who espouse liberalism cite science and scientific evidence as a way of justifying their claims.  They claim that their ideas will benefit and give freedom to all mankind. Yet, when one looks at the effects of the implementation of these ideas, the actual evidence tells us otherwise.

Conclusion and reflection:

                       For those with a scientific mind who like to apply reason, logic and evidence when trying to assess whether certain theories actually work the above study hopefully provides an insight into the effects of liberalism on countries. It shows that liberalism does not work for the good of citizens, despite the clamour from the globalists and elitists that it is the way forward. (See footnote 4). Liberalism appears to be driven by a frustration with the psychological chains one feels around oneself.  Liberals tend to put the blame firmly on external circumstances or institutions for restricting their ‘freedom’. Liberals with some intellectual ability tend to wrap their theories up in pseudoscientific language to try and justify their claims. Instead of promoting true freedom which all citizens would benefit from, they promote licence, which only corrupts individuals. Instead of examining their own conscience and identifying where they are going wrong, they tend to point out where society is going wrong. They tend to promote their own ideas and behaviours as normal thus keeping themselves locked in chains and encouraging others to join them in these chains (See footnote 5).

So, the author will leave the reader to reflect on these results.  If the reader has followed what has been laid out and has agreed with the conclusions set forth then the reader may realise that the ‘freedom’ promoted by many today does not actually lead to freedom.  Once the illusion of liberalism as the way to freedom becomes apparent, one can become cynical or disillusioned and abandon the search for freedom or one can instead continue to search for freedom and better understandings of what it actually is. The references in footnote 5 give an indication of where to start this search and many other blogs on this website have already pointed toward the answers.  A deep and solid sense of freedom and peace is possible, but the scientific data, as outlined above, shows that it is not the illusionary ‘freedom’ offered by the world.

All the sovereignty and freedom of the world compared with the freedom and sovereignty of the Spirit of God is utter slavery, anguish, and captivity.’ – Ida Friederike Coudenhove, The Burden of Belief’  

God bless you in your search for it,

Footnote 1: The researchers who developed the concept of ‘personal freedom index’ have erroneous understandings of ‘freedom’ basing their understandings on the philosophical errors of Hobbes and Plato. More recently, the CATO Institute has expanded its concept of ‘freedom’ to include ‘transgender freedom’. The author has put ‘personal freedom’ in quotation marks to note this. Footnote 5 explains the true understanding of ‘freedom’ in more detail and offers references for further information.

Footnote 2: The question about ‘freedom of choice and control over the way your life turns out’ in the World Value Survey does not capture all that it means to be free. It also refers to one’s sense of control as well as freedom. This may explain why no obvious pattern can be identified across countries. While it is not a perfect measurement of freedom it does give some sense of how free people feel and thus it is useful for the purposes of this study.  

Footnote 3: Germany and Netherlands are examples of societies that have become morally corrupt.  They were some of the first countries to accept immoral practices, e.g. abortion, prostitution, homosexuality, that inevitably follow when one adopts liberal ideologies.  As the seed of liberalism is Protestantism it is not surprising that these countries, who abandoned the Catholic Faith before many other European countries, were some of the first to fall into moral corruption.  Their citizens are far from free or satisfied compared to other countries. They will continue to be frustrated in their clamour for freedom so long as they persist on their illusionary path to ‘freedom’ through liberalism. Their low scores on the question about freedom of choice and control in one’s live may also be explained by the rejection of the truth that man has free will by both Calvin (the Netherlands) and Luther (Germany). It is likely that these false understandings still have a significant effect on the mentality of Dutch and German people today.    

Footnote 4: Life satisfaction is a good citizens wish to have.  One’s sense of freedom and life satisfaction are strongly correlated. This relationship is highlighted in a 2009 paper by Italian economist Paolo Verme, “Happiness, freedom, and control.” (3) Verme finds that: ‘The variable freedom and control is by far the most significant predictor of life satisfaction. It shows the highest coefficient, the highest odds ratio, the highest z-score and one of the lowest standard errors. For a one step increase in the one to ten freedom and control scale, happiness is expected to change about 36 percent of a step on the one to ten happiness scale …’ (4)  As the Personal Freedom Index has statistically no relationship with one’s sense of freedom it is highly likely that it has no relationship with life satisfaction either. Thus, promoting ‘personal freedom’, as outlined by the researchers, is not going to be of benefit for the good of the public.

Footnote 5:  It is noted that political and social changes are needed to promote true liberty amongst citizens. This true liberty is far from the ‘personal freedom’/licence promoted by the CATO researchers. Yet, a sense of freedom or a ‘spirit of liberty’ will only be partly achieved through the removal of external obstacles. It will be mainly achieved through the removal of our internal obstacles, e.g. envy, greed, pride, lust, etc., that block us from being truly free and peaceful. As outlined by Thomas A. Kempis in ‘The Imitation of Christ’: ‘Strive diligently for perfect interior freedom and self-mastery in every place, in every action and occupation, so that you be not the slave of anything, but that all things be under your control. You must be lord and ruler over your actions, never a bondsman or a mercenary. You must be a free person – similar to a righteous Hebrew – one who is transferred to the rank and the liberty of the children of God. Children of God stand above present things; they contemplate those that are eternal.’ It all comes back to the truth essentially and living a true life, as this is the only way that you can be free. A liberal mindset is not the solution in the personal sphere nor are liberal projects the solutions in the public sphere. This mindset and these projects promote and encourage the choice of evil and liberals celebrate this as if the choice of evil is liberating. As Archbishop Lefebvre, paraphrasing St Thomas Aquinas, said in his classic book, ‘Against the Heresies’: ‘To be able to choose evil is a defect, and can only be a defect: one chooses, essentially, one’s own destruction; one commits suicide. To seek what is sin is to seek one’s own imperfection, that is, non-being…It is necessary to fix firmly in mind the idea that the power to do evil is a defect of human liberty, a flaw of freedom.’ Or as Pope Leo XIII said, ‘Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object.’ And ‘True liberty of human society does not consist in every man doing what he pleases, for his would simply end in turmoil and confusion, and bring on the overthrow of the State; but rather in this, that through the injunctions of the civil law all may more easily conform to the prescriptions of the eternal law.’  For an outline of the errors of liberalism and what external efforts, i.e. religious, social and political laws and practices, are needed to protect and promote true liberty, one can read the encyclicals explaining and condemning liberalism, Mirari Vos by Pope Gregory XVI, Quanta Cura by Pope Blessed Pius IX, Humanum Genus by Pope Leo XIII, or within the various encyclicals by Pope St. Pius X or read the encyclical ‘Libertas – On The Nature of Human Liberty’ explaining what liberty really is by Leo XIII. Or for an overview of these encyclicals one can read ‘Against the Heresies: Comments on the Papal Encyclicals condemning Modern Errors infecting the Church and Society’ by Archbishop Lefebvre.

References:

1.) From: Vasquez, I. & Porcnik, T. (2015) Introduction to ‘The Human Freedom Index’.

2.) https://www.dummies.com/education/math/statistics/how-to-interpret-a-correlation-coefficient-r/ [Accessed 27/08/20]

3.) Verne, P. (2009)‘Happiness, Freedom and Control’, Econpubblica Centre for Research on the Public Sector, Working Paper, 141.  Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1499652[Accessed 20/08/19]

4.) Wilkinson, W. (2011) ‘Happiness, Freedom and Autonomy’ Available at:https://www.forbes.com/sites/willwilkinson/2011/03/23/happiness-and-freedom/#5ceeac83fe5f[Accessed 21/08/19]