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Liberty Over Prosperity
"Here at least we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice to reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

Because people are opinionated, everyone has a different idea about what the most important aspect of life is. Some would say it is prosperity, and to them a restrictive governing body that provides them with a Utopia is worth sacrificing freedoms for. Others, however, will refuse to bow down, and would prefer to be responsible for their own future regardless of the cost. They view freedom as the ultimate right, and will leave or refuse to join the prosperous nation, as long as they keep their independence. Those who decide not to become citizens know what they are giving up. To them, though their nation might be a World Half Empty, at least it is theirs to do with as they please.

Could be used in Character Alignment systems to portray the difference between Law and Chaos. When it comes to Chaotics, stifling their freedom is the worst thing you could do to them: it's leaving them with no air to breathe, it makes them physically suffer and decay. Freedom, or the illusion thereof, are as vital to them as water and food. Often, they can deal with harsh living conditions the same way Lawful people can endure a lack of freedom: for either party, it's a minor inconvenience in the face of what they really, viscerally need.

The exact nature of the freedom to be sacrificed varies. At one extreme, a character may object to being herded into a Bread and Circuses Dystopia, where surveillance is omnipresent and everything, even jobs and marriages, are arranged by the state; at the other extreme, a character may object to the imposition of a justice system, and so giving up the freedom to extract a private Revenge for slights, however trivial, or the justice system treating memebers of other groups as if they were equal to their own, and had rights. And all between.

Could be considered an ideological Pyrrhic Victory. See also Hobbes Was Right, as well as Space Cossacks for cases when there are other motivations besides simply being free. The Proud Warrior Race Guy often proclaims the liberty side, seeing that they would have to change Klingon Scientists Get No Respect for many occupations to get the prosperity.

Please note: This is for fictional cases where it is clear that the people are choosing freedom over comfort (or at least believe they are doing so) - this is not a place to vent about political opinions, so No Real Life Examples, Please!.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga 
  • Heroic Age: One of the men from Titarros remarks that "Prosperity is a chimera if the price is enslavement."
  • In One Piece, Luffy expresses little to no interest in treasure, and doesn't care if One Piece even exists. His main motivation for becoming Pirate King is to be able to have the most freedom. This goes even beyond safety or warnings, from fellow pirates and allies, or Lawful marines. He once declared war on the entire World Government because it got in the way of him saving his crewmate. He'll do whatever the heck he wants, and damn the consequences; we're lucky he's a good guy.
  • An undercurrent of the Asranian civil war in Area 88. In the OVA, Saki tells Shin that his grandfather was a progressive, but objected to using foreign capital to develop Asran.
    • In the manga, Saki explains to Mickey that Asran doesn't export its oil because of the problems that would erupt from foreign capital.
    • Abdael rejects this approach. Part of the reason why he initiated Asran's civil war was because he wanted to use foreign capital to develop Asran.

     Comic Books 
  • In Superman: Red Son, the Global Soviet Union rules over the whole world, save the Divided States of America. Despite people all over the world living in a socialist utopia, the Americans remain independent, living in a war-torn country, to avoid being ruled over by Big Brother Superman.

     Fairy Tales 
  • There's a fairy tale about a starving wolf meeting a well-fed dog. The dog suggests that the wolf might live with him and his master, but then the wolf remarks that there's a bare strip in the fur around the dog's neck - and the dog explains that he's on the chain/leash usually, and his master just let him free temporarily. The wolf decides to prefer freedom even if this means he stays hungry.

    Film 
  • The Matrix: Everyone who lives outside of the Matrix has basically chosen this. Cypher, however, has second thoughts... Of course, since the Matrix is a representation of the world as it was in 1999, not everyone has prosperity there anyway. Agent Smith states a utopia was once attempted, but no one would accept the programming, with it being seen as a dream they "kept "trying to wake up from" and "entire crops were lost."
  • V for Vendetta: One of V's points during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to all England (and/or humanity in general) is that they have accepted trading their freedoms in exchange for security. He does mention that he doesn't mean that they should go back to the Stone Age, but that they need to stop stagnating.
  • The World's End tackles this theme early on in a minor way, with small pubs losing all of their personality and becoming bland (but profitable) carbon copies of each other. This foreshadows the "humans vs The Network" conflict.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: This is how the wildlings (or "free folk" — the two names speak volumes about what the two cultures think of each other) view themselves, preferring to live in a very harsh, cold, and sometimes giant-infested land outside the boundaries of the realm, than to be "kneelers".
  • Paradise Lost: Satan would rather reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven, and his minions go right along with him. They are all in a literal Self-Inflicted Hell, and can go back to Heaven at any time they wish, yet are staunchly determined to remain "free".
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Transcendence, Atkins recounts how his family prefered liberty to prosperity — they didn't do what anyone else told them to do.
  • In E. D. Baker's Fairy Wings, goblins grumble about how oppressive the reign of Oberon and Titania was. Why, in the old days, trolls could set up an inn by the wayside and the next day everyone would come to eat a nice meal of roasted travelers.
  • In Going Postal, this forms the core of the emnity between Reacher Gilt and Lord Vetinari. Gilt, a Randian archetype and a completely Corrupt Corporate Executive who thinks nothing of screwing over his fellow man (including theft, embezzlement and outright murder) for fun or profit, represents the 'liberty'. Vetinari, a Machiavellian autocrat and Thud-master who believes the most important part of freedom is the freedom to take the consequences for your own follies but ultimately given second chances (an 'angel') if you can use it to turn your life around, represents the 'prosperity'. After Vetinari successfully guides protagonist Moist von Lipwig into defeating Gilt, it's implied Gilt intentionally committed suicide in the epilogue by stepping into a pit of spikes rather than do like Moist and take a government job.
    Vetinari: You have to admire a man who really believes in freedom of choice. Sadly, he did not believe in angels.

    Live Action TV 
  • Firefly: Mal and his crew choose to live hand-to-mouth as far from The Empire as they can get to avoid the government after losing the war of unification.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed". After Khan's attempt to take over the Enterprise fails, Kirk says that he and his followers can either be punished under Starfleet regulations (which would presumably involve a long prison sentence) or become colonists on an uninhabited planet.
    Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain? [snip]
    Kirk: (Nods) Yes. I understand.
    Scott: It's a shame for a good Scotsman to admit it, but I'm not up on Milton.
    Kirk: The statement Lucifer made when he fell into the pit. "It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven."
  • In Supernatural, this is Sam and Dean's motive for rejecting the angels' plan to destroy the earth and rebuild it as a heaven. After they succeed in averting the Apocalypse, Castiel sums it up.
    Castiel: You got what you asked for, Dean. No paradise. No hell. Just more of the same. I mean it, Dean. What would you rather have? Peace - or freedom?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutant Chronicles: Most people who decide to go freelance make this choice. However, most of them can't hack the insecurity and figure a steady paycheck, pension and medical benefits are worth the loss of liberty.

    Video Games 
  • This is the main point of Assassin's Creed. Both the Templars and the Assassins want peace and prosperity for all mankind. It's just that the Templars think peace can only be achieved by enslaving everyone, whilst the Assassins think that it can only be gained, or is best gained, when we are free to pursue it, even if that means great pain.
  • In City of Heroes if you create your character in Praetoria, the squeaky-clean police-state, you defect to Primal Earth (the main game setting) at level 20. Either because you believe that liberty is worth the chaos that comes with it, or because it'll make being a villain easier.
  • This is pretty much the entire point for "followers" of Big Boss' supposed ideology in the Metal Gear universe.
  • This is the demon's path in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Not to be confused with the "bad" path, the game makes it fairly clear there is no bad or good path, the demons want everyone to be free in all things, which would result in a dystopian planet with no society because everyone would do what they damn well want, and the angel's path leads to a world were everyone is happy, because they have no other choice but to be happy, and are brainwashed into so. You can also Take a Third Option.
  • The Wild Card ending to Fallout: New Vegas has The Courier create an independent New Vegas free of the machinations of Mr House, the NCR and the Legion, for the reason that the people of the Mojave deserve to govern themselves without any outside interference.
    • The final mission and achievement for this is literally titled "No Gods, No Masters".
  • Daichi's ending in Devil Survivor 2 leads to this kind of scenario. Daichi says he'd rather destroy the one who controls the world and stop him from toying with humanity than let one of the other factions depend on him to recreate their 'perfect world'. The ending leads to the entire world outside the barrier being deleted and replaced with an endless, lifeless ocean to fill the void left behind, but at least humanity is completely free of supernatural influences forever.
  • Tracer Tong's recommended ending for Deus Ex is to destroy all centralized networking and let civilization fragment into independent city-states, which course this means an immediate loss of prosperity for everyone. Big Bad Bob Paige represents the other extreme, prosperity (mostly for himself) in exchange for one-world government, dissolution of national identity into a consolidated culture, not to mention the loss of civil liberty that comes with global surveillance of all communications.

    Web Comics 

    TV Tropes 
  • In terms of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment you will usually find that those advocating Liberty are Romantic and those pushing for prosperity are Enlightened.


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Lesser StarAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Magnificent Bastard

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