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Arguably, the Four Freedoms are the founding principles of modern liberalism. They were put forth in a speech to congress on January 6, 1941 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The freedoms, as put forth by Roosevelt are
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
Although the first two are already guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, apparently when they were called "rights" conservatives didn't understand them, so they were readdressed as freedoms to sound prettier.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Speech is the freedom to say what is on your mind, provided this speech does not harm others; the classic example, from a Supreme Court case on the matter, being that of an individual who shouts "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, causing a panic in which several people are actually killed, without having actually seen any fire or other such danger; the speech itself is protected, but the individual is still responsible for the damage thus caused. Many nations therefore have controversial hate speech provisions preventing incitements to violence. This freedom is guaranteed to all people of all the world, no matter social class or religion, race, gender or sexual identity.
Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Religion is the freedom to worship your god, or gods, or lack of gods, or goddess or goddesses, or anything else you wish to worship, without fear of persecution from anybody. This freedom is under threat in many parts of the world, especially in any nation describing itself as an "Islamic Republic" wherein apostasy and blasphemy might well be capital crimes. This freedom is also guaranteed to all people of all the world, no matter social class or religion, race, gender or sexual identity.
Freedom from Want
The freedom from want is just what it says, the freedom from the want for such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter. This freedom is most clearly under threat; literally millions are starving today, mostly in the third world. This freedom is also guaranteed to all people of all the world, no matter social class or religion, race, gender or sexual identity.
Freedom from Fear
The freedom from fear is the freedom to be able to sleep easy at night and not be worried you or your family will be harmed. As Roosevelt knew, this could often be misinterpreted to mean the freedom to keep an AK-47 under your pillow, although it means just the opposite. Roosevelt foresaw this, so he spoke in the speech of a "worldwide reduction of armaments". Roosevelt however, was not a stupid man, and saw war on the horizon. So he beseeched congress to step up weapons production in times of need, showing that sometimes, guns are needed. This freedom is also guaranteed to all people of all the world, no matter social class or religion, race, gender or sexual identity.
The "Fifth Freedom"
The so called "Fifth Freedom" believed by some to be the point that distinguishes between many areas of the political spectrum. It was first used by Noam Chomsky in the book The Culture of Terrorism. The fifth freedom is the freedom to "rob, exploit, dominate and to undertake any course of action to ensure that existing freedom is protected and advanced." In layman's terms, it is the freedom to do anything necessary to preserve the freedom of every individual in the world, regardless of social class or religion, race, gender or sexual identity.
In his speech, Roosevelt said "That (a world with these freedoms) is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb". Analysis of these claims have been inconclusive, with more freedom being taken away every day. Perhaps it will come to a change soon. Then again, perhaps the people opposed to these freedoms will remain in control, and it will be a distant millennium before the world reaches a point of freedom.