Busch Macht Frei

Busch Macht Frei:
A sign on the front of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay reads “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom.”

A sign over the gate of the Fort Dix stockade, where war protesters were jailed during the Vietnam days: “Obedience to the law is freedom.”

A sign I saw in 1979 on the Grady County courthouse in Chickasha, Oklahoma: “The Safety of the State is the Highest Law.”

A sign I saw on a billboard in Franco’s Spain in 1958: “Sin orden, no hay libertad.” (Without Order, There is No Liberty.)

A sign beside the gate at Auschwitz: “Arbeit Macht Frei.” (Work Makes You Free.)

And so it goes.


the slip and slide of doublespeak transforms the meanings of freedom into the meaning of slavery and horror. i always try to confront my students with what it could really mean to be free and equal in society and why they might not be free or equal now. if we don’t take an active stance against the reconstruction of freedom, freedom of body, freedom of conscious, freedom of community, we will never have the benefits of our world. i should say that the market does not equate with freedom, nor does laboring, nor does subservience to the state or other forms of obedience. consenting to the state is one thing, obedience is entirely different.