The US has had a number of colorful events in its history as regards to liberty, equality and power. Many have lost their lives while fighting for the three social values. Actions aimed at restoring democracy and human freedoms can be traced back to the works of classical scholars.
The social contract that is alleged to have been signed by men brought about the fundamental rights and freedoms. People agreed to live together and co-exist harmoniously. Liberty is the freedom to do anything desired by an individual. Such freedoms however should not interfere with the rights of others. It is true that as an individual claims to be free, he/she has a responsibility of behaving according to societal laws and regulations (Owens 97).
The US has a long history of struggle towards liberty. The first major struggle was against colonialism in which the US managed to liberate itself from the colonial rule. During colonialism, Native Americans were not allowed to take up jobs in government with the reason that they were illiterate. The only thing they could offer was manual labor. The whites exploited Americans for long before they organized a revolution to liberate themselves.
Democracy and respect of human rights are some of the important tenets of liberty. Democracy means that each individual should be allowed to participate in governmental decision-making. Usually, people participate in governance by electing their representatives. Americans have constantly engaged in conflicts, with an intention of being recognized and treated equally.
Murrin and Johnson do not appreciate the fact that justice can be achieved through violence (40). Americans fought for their rights, they never acquired them through soft means. Again, the writers are ignorant as regards to the rights of the minority in US. The black race and other people of color have not enjoyed the rewards of sovereignty.
Ever since, Africans have supplied their labor free or at very lost cost. Their struggle to liberation resulted to a deadly Civil War which cost the lives of many, including senior government officials. The inconsistencies between the Southerners and Northerners will remain as one of the most important historical events in the US. Through the Civil War, Southerners were lastly freed but their social interaction in society has not been pleasant. The American society still feels that African culture is inferior to other cultures.
During the World Wars, agitation for liberty and equality reached at a surpassed level whereby other members of society previously neglected started demanding for their rights. Women in particular capitalized on the President’s speech, which posited that the war intended to restore democracy and equality. This implied that despots such as Benito Mussolini of Italy, Adolf Hitler of Germany and monarchic regime in Japan had to be overthrown.
The allied forces indeed managed to do this, which further gave women courage to fight male patriarchy. Women were determined to pursue their rights since they knew that it was possible to achieve equality. Men erected barriers that derailed women from achieving their rights for a long time (Robertson 21). The world war provided a good ground for a revolt. Women were granted some rights and freedoms that untied them from male domination.
Even though American people have achieved rights as well as freedoms, the society does not recognize the existence of some members. The societal structure is so rigid and skewed to an extent that citizens do not have options but to comply.
Just like in earlier years, women are still economically powerless. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. The minorities in society continue to face the injustices implanted by societal structure. People of color have little capital, which impedes them from participating in economic development.
They are incorporated in the economy as underdogs meaning that their role is provision of labor. The owners of the means of production are the Whites. Therefore, women and African race are compared to the proletariat who produces goods for the rich. This trend is not expected to change soon due to development model employed by the state. Capitalism will always generate few rich individuals and several poor people.
Another problem that interferes with individual liberty is state power. The state claims to be sovereign and for that case, it has the power to exercise jurisdiction over life and property. The state has a right to terminate life or to recover individual property when state security is in danger. In real terms, state sovereignty or power is incompatible with individual liberty. The state is seen to exercise authority over individuals in a number of ways.
It can therefore be concluded that state power and capitalism subjugates and oppresses the poor, including women. The state is a property of the ruling class that is employed to protect property. The bourgeoisie co-opts the state because it has coercive powers. State machineries have always been used throughout history to perpetuate the poor and women. Governments come up with laws that prohibit certain behaviors from individuals. The American states have recently enacted immigration laws that repress other races.
Murrin, John and Johnson, Paul. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People since 1863. 3rd ed. New York: Wadsworth Publishing, 2003.
Owens, William. Freedom: Keys to Freedom from Twenty-one National Leaders. Memphis, Tennessee: Main Street Publications, 2008.
Robertson, Henry and Merrills, Graham. Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study of the International Protection of Human Rights. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996.