In Classical America, I would say from 1800 to 1900, the average person had unprecedented freedom to do as he wished and make his own life. Even in my father’s time, say 1950, he could ignore Washington and its minions with no detriment to his life.
Ordinary people loved America and the elite hated America.
Obviously the “elite” did not like this arrangement. Ordinary people are inferior. The elite called them racist to better discredit them. So the elite worked tirelessly to reduce the freedoms of ordinary people and increase the power of themselves.
Who are the elite? The members of Congress, teachers at colleges, executives and personalities at major media, newspaper people at the New York Times and Washington Post, people at NGO’s, high ranking FBI and CIA bureaucrats, movie stars, the leadership of many private corporations.
Not elite: rank and file military, union members, working stiffs, religious people, middle management, franchise owners, car dealer owners, small businessmen, service employees, real estate agents, supermarket cashiers.
If people are free, they must be able to voluntarily choose to do most of things that they do.
The human condition imposes all sorts of limitations on our freedom. No one is free to give up breathing, or consuming water. In fact, we are basically condemned to toil to live as we have many needs to survive.
Some leftist said that people are born free but everywhere in chains. If you think about it, you are not born free for at the moment of birth you need everything and are not able to provide yourself anything. You need food and water every few hours, shelter from the elements constantly, love, nurturing, stimulation.
It is more hones to say that people are born in chains (to their needs) and the challenge of life is to make themselves free.
Over time the amount of toil a man had to do to subsist has gone down due to technological progress and accumulation of “capital” which make people more productive. A man with an acre of land and his bare hands has to work longer each day to eat than a man with an acre of land, a horse and a plow. A man with the full modern set of farming tools could probably feed himself with half a days work or work all day and sell the surplus.
There is a totally different type of limitation on freedom. That is the actions of other people who seek to impose their will on you. That limitation on freedom can be reduced or increased depending on the type of society in which you live.