Economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has a famous theory of “development as freedom” that development is the expansion of people’s choices and freedoms.
Sen built his theories on the basis that any successful development of society must be built on three freedoms:
political and civil liberties and the right of expression,
Freedom of economic opportunity and access to work and finance
Economic protection from poverty through support programs and subsidies.
Poverty according to this philosophy is not a lack of income but a lack of freedoms. And the poor is not the one who does not have enough income, but the one who does not have enough skills to enter the labor market.
The issue of freedom appears central to this human conception of development for two reasons:
The first is that real development must be based on the real needs and opinions of people, and without freedom it cannot be known.
The second is that successful development needs continuous monitoring and correction, and without freedom there will be no monitoring or correction.
Despite the fame of this philosophy and the recipient of the Nobel Prize for economics, it had little resonance in Arab political thought, because we still see a complete contradiction between justice (development) and freedom, and we link the people’s rise to the existence of a just tyrant, not to the existence of political, civil and economic freedoms for the people.
Rather, we are afraid of freedom and consider it a prelude to chaos!
We need to create a high sensitivity towards the issue of freedom in the Arab world, so that freedom becomes a supreme value that cannot be confiscated or postponed.