Past Papers PMSPMS

1. Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains. 2022


Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s timeless statement, “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains,” poses a thought-provoking paradox that illuminates the intricate relationship between individual freedom and societal constraints. This essay explores the profound significance of this assertion within a contemporary context, dissecting its implications for personal autonomy, political structures, and social institutions. By delving into the multifaceted nature of freedom and the various chains that bind individuals, we aim to uncover the pervasive yet often concealed realities that challenge the notion of universal liberty.

I. The Essence of Freedom and Chains

Before delving into the contemporary application of Rousseau’s statement, it is crucial to establish a comprehensive understanding of freedom and chains. Freedom, at its core, represents the unrestricted capacity of individuals to exercise their will and make choices independently, devoid of external limitations. Conversely, chains symbolize the manifold restrictions, hindrances, and systems that impede the realization of this inherent liberty.

In this section, we will explore the multidimensional aspects of freedom, including negative and positive liberty, as well as individual and collective freedoms. Moreover, we will analyze the diverse forms of chains prevalent in modern society, encompassing political, social, economic, and cultural restraints. This examination will unveil how these chains manifest in contemporary contexts, often overshadowing the innate freedom individuals possess.

II. Unmasking Societal Chains

A deeper understanding of contemporary chains necessitates an exploration of the sociopolitical landscape. Political systems, for instance, play a pivotal role in either facilitating or suppressing freedom. Democratic societies typically prioritize individual liberties, providing a platform for self-expression and participation. However, oppressive regimes and authoritarian rule can impose chains through censorship, limited civil rights, and the suppression of dissenting voices.

In addition to political chains, societal constraints imposed by cultural norms, social inequalities, and economic disparities are pervasive in modern life. Cultural chains perpetuate long-held traditions and societal expectations that limit individual choices, stifling freedom of expression and self-determination. Economic chains, such as poverty, unequal access to resources, and systemic injustices, create barriers that impede individuals from exercising their freedom fully.

III. The Veiled Chains of the Digital Age

The advent of the digital age has introduced a new realm of chains that often go undetected. In an era dominated by technology and interconnectedness, individuals are faced with a paradoxical situation. While digital platforms offer unprecedented opportunities for self-expression and information exchange, they also harbor chains in the form of surveillance, data privacy infringements, and the manipulation of public opinion. Social media algorithms, for example, can trap individuals in echo chambers, limiting their exposure to diverse perspectives and fostering a conformity that hinders true freedom of thought.

IV. Breaking Free: Nurturing a Culture of Liberation


Despite the omnipresence of chains in contemporary society, pathways to liberation exist. Recognizing the importance of education, critical thinking, and the cultivation of empathy becomes paramount in challenging societal constraints. By promoting inclusive policies, encouraging civic engagement, and fostering an environment that values diversity, individuals can dismantle the chains that hinder freedom and foster a society where true liberty thrives.


Rousseau’s assertion that “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains” resonates deeply within the context of modern society. The interplay between freedom and chains, evident in political systems, social structures, and technological advancements, presents a complex tapestry of constraints that often elude detection. However, through introspection, awareness, and collective action, we can strive to break free from these chains, forging a future where the inherent freedom of every individual is not only recognized but celebrated.

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