Cuba is a socialist regime with no "freedom" accordingly to many people. In Cuba there is a very low crime rate, most of the country is safe.

El Salvador is a capitalist country with very high crime rates. Gangs controls neighborhoods and they impose their own law. People flee El Salvador from violence mostly.

Suppose that the Cuban government falls, and Cuba regime switches to capitalism. Suppose that Cuba become like El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, countries with "freedom" but with very high levels of violence and crime.

Now Cuba is "free" but the welfare for most people is decreased dramatically because the have to live with a lot of violence.

In this scenario: is "freedom" justified if it makes the country worse?

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    What are you including in “freedom”? It seems that your only metric is the crime rate. Commented May 23, 2022 at 22:51
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    There seems to be a lot of cherry picking going on here. Statistics - for what they are worth - show that "free" countries like Germany and Norway have amongst the lowest crime rates of the hundred-or-so countries listed. Socialist Venezuela is listed as having the highest crime rates in the world.
    – nwr
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 23:03
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    Your question could be improved by backing up some of the claims. For example, the claim that El Salvador is capitalist. Or the claim that Cuba has low crime. You might also consider the number of people who flee Cuba, often in flimsy rafts and other improvived transport, despite the massive dangers in doing so.
    – BillOnne
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 1:42

2 Answers 2


Short Answer

It's a fair question to explore in political philosophy the connection between the term and advocacy of "freedom", and the outcomes. But, ultimately, "freedom" is a complex, highly disputed abstraction, and is often involved in oversimplification. Thus, there is no answer to your question, which is a tad oversimplified.

Long Answer

Well, what exactly is freedom? From WP:

Freedom is understood as either having the ability to act or change without constraint or to possess the power and resources to fulfill one's purposes. Freedom is often associated with liberty and autonomy in the sense of "giving oneself their own laws", and with having rights and the civil liberties with which to exercise them without undue interference by the state. Frequently discussed kinds of political freedom include freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of choice, and freedom of speech.

To paint with a broad brush this or that political system or philosophy as being for or against freedom is a difficult sell. In fact, the notion of the political spectrum is a bit complicated and is wont to be abused by political propaganda. Political philosophy and political science offer some insight into reality, but the one irrefutable claim is that politics, like people is a complicated affair. Political scientists attempt to create certainty by using scientific methods to sort out what is ideological and what is praxis.

In this scenario: how is freedom justified if it makes the country worse?

If you're looking for acknowledgement that Western notions of freedom in political philosophy don't always correlate to a high standard of living, then you are right. The nation of Singapore. It has excellent economics, but its human rights are questioned by the West. From the WP article on the topic:

The government has restricted freedom of speech and freedom of the press and has limited other civil and political rights.

Certainly both China and Cuba saw systemic improvements after their political revolutions to "free the people", and certainly banana republics that profess to be bastions of economic freedom can also violate the rights of its people. Despite the US being a constitutional republic that professes to be freer than most other countries, the constraints of government in the Nordic model seem to lead to better outcomes as far as happiness and fairness are concerned. What is a philosopher to make of all of this?

It's that the word "freedom" and those that use it must be carefully considered, because it is a word prone to abuse. Some philosophers call it an essentially contested concept, and I for one am in agreement. And as such, there is no simple answer to your simple question, because as they say, the devil lies in the details.


People love to talk about political freedom, but very few take the time to think the issue through philosophically. That's unfortunate. But if we want to get down to brass tacks the one idea we should keep in our heads is that all political systems are about freedom: the freedom of the ruling class to do as it sees fit. Liberal democratic systems are unique in the sense that they posit that all citizens are ostensibly part of the ruling class: that all citizens have 'sovereign' rights and liberties, and have some say in and control over political institutions. But in even the most repressive authoritarian regimes (or those failed states where gangs, cartels, or warlords contest the government and each other) those with power are dead-set on maintaining and expanding their own 'freedoms' at the expense of others.

I mean, it's a trope of fascist and nationalist movements that 'their' freedoms are being stolen by corrupt, depraved 'outsiders' (communists, immigrants, blacks, Libs, Jews, feminists, gays, whatever...), and the only righteous action is to strip those outsiders of liberties and political inclusion. They love their own freedom to the point that they will gladly destroy the freedom of others. And yes, the irony is lost on them...

There's an ongoing disagreement in the Liberal Enlightenment world about the best approach to universal political freedom. Those on the left tend to believe that government is necessary to keep powerful individuals and groups — the wealthy, the religious, the fanatical — from gaining power to destroy the freedom and liberty of less powerful and less dedicated others. Those on the right believe that the government should be prevented from interfering with the liberty of anyone, no matter what social effect the expression of that liberty might have. It's not an easy debate even if people were willing to approach it in a calm, deliberative manner (which far too many people are unwilling to do anyway). We have not (collectively) figured out how to strike and retain the correct balance, and that leads to a lot of misery in a lot of places. But we will never escape the desire for freedom, which motivates bot the best and the worst in our natures.

  • @BillOnne Actually, in any sophisticated reading of political philosophy, there isn't just a left-right dichotomy. There's a liberterian-authortarian dichotomy as well. Both "leftists" and "rightists" can be authortarian as in Stalin (leftist) and Hitler (rightist) and both can be concerned with personal freedoms as well as in social democracies or libertarian populist movements. To claim government is inherently dangerous is a bit of propaganda, I'm afraid. The Norwegians, for instance, have nationalized oil and health care, and yet have a more democratic rule than here in the US...
    – J D
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 4:22
  • "Freedom", to be honest, is as ambiguous as "love" and "good".
    – J D
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 4:23
  • @TedWrigley, you seem to be conflating "the right" with libertarians. There is no place where libertarians have ever made up even a significant fraction of the right. Commented May 24, 2022 at 12:03
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    @billone, there is no universal Left-Right dichotomy. Left used to mean Marxist, now it also refers to intersectionality and identity politics. Right has always been mostly defined by anti-Left whatever Left meant at the time. Hitler was Right only in the sense that he fought the Communists who were the Left. He wanted government control of the economy, gun control, and identity politics, just like the American Left wants today. The American Right today is mostly the opposition to the American Left, which means free enterprise, right of personal defense, and everyone treated equally. Commented May 24, 2022 at 12:10
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    In the 20th century, socialist governments murdered at least 100 million people, and possibly as many as 250 million. This is possibly as many as 10 times the deaths from WWII. amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087 (copious citations provided in that book) The uncertainty is because many of the people murdered were rolled into a ditch and forgotten. It is not possible to be overly critical of socialism. I deny that my comment was in any way excessive.
    – BillOnne
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 18:59

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