It doesn’t matter how the State makes you feel, it only matters what the State MAKES you. There is no difference in terms of real, actual repression between the citizen of a free republic and the citizen of an autocracy. Indeed, for the one who desires to be truly, rationally free, freedom is infinitely out of reach in both contexts. I find it failed reason and false hope to suggest or assert that one is closer to freedom simply because he is in larger cage.
And further, a premise is a premise. And by that I mean that if we presume that man, by his very nature, needs governing in order to act in ways that are efficacious to his prosperity—which means that absent governing he will not prosper, which means inevitably he shall die unless he is COMPELLED to moral behavior—then we are saying that man, by nature, cannot efficaciously exercise his own will. Which means that he simply cannot be free…at all. ALL his actions MUST only occur under the umbrella of legal governing Authority. His very existential, not to mention social, context must be FORCED upon him, and within these boundaries are all his choices confined, which limits and constrains them ENTIRELY to the will of the Authority. The size of the cage is irrelevant. A cage is a cage; and since the cage implies absolute ownership and control of what is inside, there can be no freedom whatsoever within its dimensions. Though the edge stretch to the the sun, one’s every step is utterly defined by its boundaries. And they aren’t boundaries of human identity, but of Authority. There is a world of difference between not being able to flap your arms and fly to the moon because your natural identity as a human being precludes it, and because the Authority forbids it. And there is a world of difference between flying to New York because your natural identity as a human being enables it, and because the Authority allows it.
Both the republic and the autocracy, by their very existence, concede the premise that man MUST be governed. For to say that he need not necessarily be governed begs the question “Is government a better choice?” But by its nature government cannot understand such a question. Government, being Authority, and absolutely so, (as there is no efficacy to Legality, the root of all association under government, absent the force of the State) has no frame of reference for its own absence. Add to that the fact that the question, once government is given legitimacy by simply asking it, is entirely irrelevant.
Government and choice, you see, are mutually exclusive ideas. To entertain government at all, even as a mere abstraction, they would HAVE to be. From the frame of reference of government, if the individual possessed the ability to discern between good and evil and act accordingly (exercise choice), he wouldn’t NEED government in the first place. That is, the very existence of government implies that man needs it; and if man needs it then the question of whether or not it’s better for him is moot.
So, both the republic and the autocracy organize individuals according to the premise that individuals require governing. The mere aesthetic differences in how that premise is observed is of no value to freedom qua freedom (freedom that is ACTUAL, and rationally consistent). For both approaches are specifically designed to affirm, not contradict, the premise. Men MUST be ruled. And if that is the primary epistemological and ethical root from which society is spawned then there is simply nowhere for freedom to exist. Freedom qua freedom is an impossibility therein. Freedom cannot give rise to what it is not; and Authority—the State—cannot recognize, let alone accommodate, that which denies its very existence. In other words, you don’t get freedom from government, and you don’t get government from freedom.