Individual freedom and liberty tend to expand as groups, organizations and societies grow and become more complex. ... Similarly, many scholars in the field of mass communication contend that the Internet, as one component of modernity, is expanding individual freedom and liberty. ...
These examples of the structural impact of modernity on freedom and liberty have a ring of truth about them. But they fail to tell the whole story. There is, historians and philosophers remind us, also the impact of ideas and ideologies. ... And herein lies the important contribution that John C. Merrill’s Farewell to Freedom book makes to the field.
Merrill, perhaps the best known mass media libertarian in the world, reminds us that ideas can still trump structure. A social movement that embraces and advances an idea can be a powerful catalyst for social change. And he argues, quite convincingly, that the growing communi-tarian movement — which contends that Western societies place too much emphasis on individual rights and not enough on the rights of the community — represents a major threat to some of the cherished ideals handed down to us from the great philosophers who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. ...
“In the final analysis, it is time again to bid farewell to freedom ... ,” Merrill concludes. “The organization man is becoming the communitarian man, and the individual is slowly degrading into a mere cell in the organic society. A pessimistic conclusion? Probably so, for some people, but not for all. The ants love their ant-hills. Instinctively they return, time after time from their brief forays into the light, back to the secure and narcotizing environs of their communities. So with ants; so with human beings.” —From the Foreword
This book is ideal for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on the tension between the individual and the collective.
John C. Merrill is a professor emeritus of media ethics and the author or editor of more than 30 books
206 pages / 5.25 x 8.25 format / Copyright 2011 / ISBN: 978-0-9826597-5-5 (paper) $34.95