Freedom ought to be called something else
"Exactly what?" you ask.
I’m not sure, but separate the notion of an individual "feeling" free from mankind’s state of actually "being" free, as a group, and you’ve taken the first step toward a new way of looking at the concept of freedom.
Some people feel free; others do not. Every person has a unique psychological make-up and is subject to slightly or significantly different surroundings.
The personal understandings and associations we give credit for the "free feelings" we experience probably vary greatly from person to person and across groups. Difficult to ascertain, it is an assumption nonetheless likely. Freedom is inequitably distributed in this world and is also subjective.
"Actually being free" is the state of mankind as a whole -- and a moot point. Mankind freely exists as a complete unit while the group evolves however it is that it evolves.
No restrictions obstruct mankind’s march onward in a certain general direction that leaves some "feeling" much freer than others feel. It may seem that we constantly encounter obstacles to mankind’s collective freedom, but this is not really true. The obstacles inhibit mankind's contentment.
These obstacles have manifested precisely because of our clumsy actions and their consequences, both of which occur freely even if they restrict existence in a way we deem (correctly or not) unfavorably. Even though the human race is freely evolving, human thought invariably concludes that someone or other (possibly including oneself) is not free. Yet the conclusion refers -- whether wittingly or not -- to the feelings one associates with the *idea* of "freedom."
As I said, some of us "feel free" (note that I did not say "experience freedom") more so than do others; the extent of realizing the free feeling depends on your lot in this life. The subjectivity of freedom might directly correlate with whether a person’s basic needs -- which, by the way, we have instincts for -- are easily accessible.
This is the state of "being free" under the human social system as it currently stands -- a capitalist one. People so easily equate financial security with freedom. Greed is instinct for survival metastasized; we continually strive to be "unencumbered" -- a better definition for freedom under the circumstances.
This is why the concept of “freedom” resonates differently yet inspiringly for everyone and is so malleable to deception. We are so susceptible to false promises of freedom, for these appeal to our exaggerated instincts (i.e., greed, which is metastasized sense for survival).
Human civilization is perpetually free. Individuals don’t feel that way.
Whatever shape or form human civilization assumes is one that it has arrived at through free evolution -- societal and physical. The result at once has nothing and everything to do with whether an individual life under such conditions at any given time in history "feels" free.
We must conjure a system -- the creation and implementation of which is, by definition, a free act for human civilization as a whole -- that will result in people "feeling" free.
It is entirely within the bounds of fair play.