If you care about freedom, never forget poverty

One of the most insidious effects of capitalist society is how it gently silences the voices of the people it hurts most. Nobody forbids the poor and downtrodden from speaking, but they systematically lack the means of making their suffering heard. We all know there are many people living in poverty, enjoying little of the freedoms liberalism stands for; but their suffering can seem abstract and virtual, because we rarely get to hear from them, and we're flooded with the views and experiences of the better-off.

Modern politics is often understood as a trade-off between equality and freedom, with liberalism leaning towards freedom. To its supporters, freedom is a more palpable, real experience than the lack of equality, because its worst effects are kept out of view. After the end of the Soviet Union, you often hear about the great effects of increased freedom – which are real, and important. But you hear much less about the life-shattering effects of increased poverty, which are no less real, and potentially more important.

Inequality should concern freedom-lovers deeply. What many forget – and it's hard to hold onto mentally, with a media lanscape and cultural narrative biased against remembering it – is that with increased inequality, freedom is unequally distributed and enjoyed, too. If we are to do justice to the struggle for human liberation, we have to constantly keep in mind those who are excluded from it practically and economically, even if not formally or legally. Otherwise, all talk of freedom is empty, a mockery and an insult.