Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Continuum, pt. 2

There is a continuum, or a line, in human politics. At one extreme is absolute tyranny – the absolute subjugation of the individual by the state. Popular myth has it that at the opposite extreme is anarchy – the total absence of law or control of any type. Total freedom is bad because folks could do anything to anyone, and nothing could stop them. After all, absolute freedom means the freedom rape and kill, right? Total freedom is anarchy, right? The law of the claw and fang – survival of the baddest, right?

Hogwash. Drivel. Intellectual bulls***. This myth is a product of those who would enslave us. A bloody clever thing, too, aimed at getting us to eagerly put the shackles on our own ankles.

Freedom is generally defined as the absence of control, or some variation on the theme. That part is almost correct. It is the absence of external control, but it is not the absence of consequence.

Action might be defined as that which produces consequences or results. Certain actions, such as dropping something, have physical consequences. Physics and chemistry have their own sets of consequences, all or most of which are predictable to a high degree. It is when we introduce the volition of Man that things get a bit abstract. H. Sapiens can choose how to react to the actions of others. When people became sufficiently house broken to establish laws, the idea of institutionalized consequences came into being.

The law was never meant to keep people from doing things. In its purest form, it does not interfere with our agency. Rather, the law is meant to assess negative consequences that overshadow any positive, or pleasurable consequences that might come from an action. Strangling some silly jackass might be enjoyable, but it is bound to get you talked about in circles in which you’d rather not be discussed. Or, as a bumper sticker quite aptly observes, some people are alive only because it’s against the law to kill them.

This is a crucial point: the law is not meant to stop anyone from doing anything. When the over-civilized professor says we don’t need guns because the law will protect us, he’s missing the point. The law can’t keep anyone from doing anything, and it was never meant to. It was meant to say, “You do whatever you think is right, Bucko, but we’re gonna be right up your kilt if you cross this line.” If Bucko thinks it’s right to rob someone, he’s going to do it. The law might come along afterward and take all the fun out of it for him, but it’s going to happen. Unless, of course, the victim happens to have a shooting iron handy. Unlike the law, a .45 can stop a criminal act, but that’s a different essay.

At the anti-tyranny extreme of the continuum, there is freedom. It is freedom for all people. That means you can do whatever you want, unless it keeps your neighbor from doing what he wants, because he’s free too. How can the term “freedom” apply to a situation where one person might be coerced, assaulted, or forced into anything by another person? For animals, freedom might be defined as utter, savage anarchy, but we aren’t talking about animals.

We’re talking about human beings. Human beings have the capacity to make value judgments – to weigh alternatives – to exercise self-control – to do what they believe to be right, rather than submit to the promptings of XYZ gland.

At the freedom end of the continuum, everyone is free to think, to learn, to decide, and to act on those decisions, but they are not free from the consequences of their actions! If a free man decides to rape a free woman, and she doesn’t let daylight through him, the law still has authority to step in and levy consequences. Likewise, if a free woman has an idea, and turns it into a successful business, and pours labor into it for years, and finally starts turning an astonishing profit, she is free to do so. She is also free to keep the wealth generated, and do with it as she pleases. If she thinks it’s right to help the poor, or support a starving artist, or to help buy a stealth bomber to “…teach a little schooling to a native army corps,” well, she’s free to do any of those.

There can be no such thing as the freedom to enslave. What an obscene idea! Such idiocy could only be produced by that type of brain damage associated with extended exposure to professors. Who else could say that freedom means the power to destroy freedom? Who else could define freedom as the state of being a kept lapdog of the welfare state, whether on a reservation or in the French Quarter?

No, freedom is not slavery, and never was. It is not slavery to the state, nor to a gang, nor to that nebulous, amorphous “society,” nor to any man nor woman. It is not freedom from the consequences of our actions, be they acts of the savage latent in H. Sapiens, or acts of the most sublime nobility and grace, also latent in H. Sapiens. Freedom is the freedom to act, and to win or lose.

Now after saying all that, and struggling for the right words, I find in my inbox an excerpt from Ayn Rand sent to me by my brother. The feisty Russian battleaxe nailed it, as usual. I can’t top this… and “battleaxe” is a term of endearment and respect.

"It is obvious what the fraudulent issue of fascism versus communism accomplishes: it sets up, as opposites, two variants of the same political system; it eliminates the possibility of considering capitalism; it switches the choice of 'Freedom or dictatorship?' into 'Which kind of dictatorship?' -- thus establishing dictatorship as an inevitable fact and offering only a choice of rulers. The choice -- according to the proponents of that fraud -- is: a dictatorship of the rich (fascism) or a dictatorship of the poor (communism). That fraud collapsed in the 1940's, in the aftermath of World War II. It is too obvious, too easily demonstrable that fascism and communism are not two opposites, but two rival gangs fighting over the same territory -- that both are variants of statism, based on the collectivist principle that man is the rightless slave of the state -- that both are socialistic, in theory, in practice, and in the explicit statements of their leaders -- that under both systems, the poor are enslaved and the rich are expropriated in favor of a ruling clique -- that fascism is not the product of the political 'right,' but of the 'left' -- that the basic issue is not 'rich versus poor,' but man versus the state, or: individual rights versus totalitarian government -- which means: capitalism versus socialism." - philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Sic Semper Tyrannis

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant!
    You really need to update this blog to make it easier to share on social media.