Remi On Liberty

Should all people just be able to do whatever they like or should we all be following some set of rules? Without rules we can’t have any real ownership and we can’t enforce that people don’t hurt each other. But rules are rules; as soon as we make any we are taking away liberty. Real freedom is thereby only possible if people are perfectly suited to living amongst one another law free.

Today, well we’re just not advanced enough to live without rules, we never have been. Even a caveman would know that if he went out and killed a member of a family, he could expect that family to revenge. It’s an unwritten rule. But maybe this human behaviour needing rules is more a product of our surroundings and the system- got to hate that damn system. People are an ever fluctuating evolving thing, it seems entirely possible that under the right conditions and evolution we could change to be capable of simply not needing rules.

Unfortunately its not something we seem to be evolving towards. Most of our lives center around following strict behavioural rules in the interest of acquiring ownership. We go to work and do what the boss tells us to get money to buy things. Even if you own your own business, you are well aware that your living is ultimately founded on paperwork and following the rules of your market. But it’s not just our work, think how much time we spend buying and selling things and the paperwork and rules involved- ever tried to just take something from a store? Buy/sell a house? Travel? The legal system just keeps growing more refined and more detailed- more and more rules are constantly being added pushing us further and further from real liberty.

I’m a realist. Sure I like idealizing about how the world should be and what a utopian society might look like. But I know the system isn’t going to just magically change overnight and people will cease wanting things and desiring power so that we can all live a life of true freedom. How do we gradually change the system so that we’re at least on the right track and that ownership and rules are becoming less of an obligation than more? . . . . .It’s the only way mankind will ever know true liberty. . . ..

Start breaking the rules? No you’ll get punished.

Pressure those who hold domain over the rules to start repealing them? No, some of those rules were sorely needed and even more chaos would ensue if you took them away.

Ok, so just ease the rules of property? No, sadly those who own the most are not going to give up the rules that guarantee their ownership. The rich like being rich and have the most sway over law.

Revolution? Kill the rich? Tried that, sorry no luck. The leaders of your movement will just create a new group for themselves who enjoy all the same luxuries and control that rich people do without having any actual “wealth”.

Be a smart consumer? Nope, there are very few unbelievably powerful merchants remaining, we have no choice but to buy what they offer.

Be ethical at work? Sorry, you’d better be productive and profitable at work first and foremost if you want to keep that job.

Better ourselves to enable mankind to take a better tack? Yea sure, good luck. If you can find the time to do something other than working and paying debts, most of your attention will be drawn away by billboard ads, non-stop action and anticipatory conversations about when the new version of iphone is coming out.

Ok I give up, mankind is doomed for perpetual slavery.


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12 Responses to “Remi On Liberty”

  1. Jules Cosby Says:

    My first post didn’t go through, so I hope I can remember it all.

    At the founding of the Christian Church, Paul argued that the only freedom is freedom of the will, that little space inside your head that couldn’t be touched by the material realities of a universal Empire. Maybe you aren’t free in thej City of Man, but that is your reward in the City of God – if first you consent to radical dispossession – slavery some might say – before God.

    If men were angels we wouldn’t need government. Madison’s words seem as platitudinous as saying ‘power corrupts’. Nevertheless, they are both fundamental truths in our liberal consensus model of politics.

    The financial and state oligarchs will attempt to increase their power by restricting public spaces. Here I don’t mean public space simply as a park or a sidewalk or something trivial like that. Rather, I mean the space where we can confront their ruling logic in an act of emancipation.

    It has been said that the only lasting emancipation is intellectual emancipation. The emancipatory event in politics, in contrast, can only ever be fleeting, ephemeral, but nevertheless necessary. We don’t need to smash the State, or take its reigns to direct it to the workers’ democracy, but we do need to stand firm and protect what few freedoms we have.


  2. remistevens Says:

    great comment man, even the second time around. I have a feeling your in paper writing mode. . . ..

    Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill right? We’re never actually free in the world of man. Gotta eat, gotta drink, breathe- Can’t really get away with breaking some rules or you’re a gonner.

    Smashing the state- slow or fast- seems to me to be the only way to protect intellectual freedom. I mean unless you want to revert to Sisyphus’ justification wherein its ok to hate doing what you’re forced to do provided you can remain aware of the hating and can have a sort of internal freedom. My mind is so bombarded by ads and debt worries and work concerns that there’s hardly any space left in there for internal freedom. Music is all supposed to sound a certain way, art should be painted, literature needs to come from a “great” and news must be provided by a “trusted” source- even the entirely intellectual world of creativity is bound by rules rules rules.

    Of course the biggest reason to grab the reigns and re-direct the system is that many people in the world are not even able to enact their freedom in regards to their own biological needs. You are free to do whatever you like, but we’re hoarding all the food and plan to give you none.

    Sadly i think standing firm and protecting our few remaining freedoms IS re-directing the system.

  3. remistevens Says:

    Imagine Sisyphus’ rock being covered with stickers stating: “love Zeus”.

  4. ponch58 Says:

    “Start breaking the rules? No you’ll get punished.”

    This is a very good point that you really didn’t delve into. What is a rule without consequence? It is merely a statement. If you are demanding that true freedom is the non existence of rules, I must disagree. True freedom goes further than that. If there were no consequences for breaking the rules, these same rules would have no impact on mankind or their freedom. If speed limits were posted and not enforced, basically the rule is set in place but man has the freedom to drive as fast as he feels.

    Unfortunately, even consequences can’t necessarily sum up freedom. After all there are an awful lot of humans who aren’t afraid of the consequences of breaking the rules. Even though the speed limit is posted and enforced, man will continue to speed. Is this man free? If the consequence does not deter the act how can it abolish the freedom of the act?

    I suppose the only true consequence that is unavoidable is conscience. Every man has one. It doesn’t necessarily apply to every rule, but somewhere along the line, Man’s conscience will come into play. One man will speed freely with no remorse, while another will abide the speed limit. This same non-speeder may have no problem downloading illegal content from the internet.

    In conclusion, Man is a slave to his own conscience. As this is unavoidable, Man can never be free. He can find peace and acceptance with his own set of values, but will never obtain total freedom.

  5. remistevens Says:

    Thanks Poncho, man everybody’s got something good to say on this one. Well said.

    Its true, any rule needs a consequence to actually be a rule. Even if the consequence is something abstract like societal disdain or feelings of guilt.

    And ultimately we’re all subjected to the internal inquiring eye, the final dealer of punishment, but I don’t know about all men being a slave to this. Studies on sociopaths seem to show that there are people who completely don’t give a shit about anything. Do anything and not feel the least bit bad about it, also fear no external consequences. He speeds, he kills someone, he continues to speed and feels great.

    So should we envy the sociopath, make it the goal of mankind, true enlightenment? . . … Well then the problem of causing harm comes into play. The cannibal might enact his freedom by making your baby into chili, but then your freedom to raise a family is lost. So you then defend yourself thereby restricting his freedom. The cycle of restriction persists.

    The utopian society i envision is one where we simply do not fear consequence and have no desire to cause harm. I don’t speed because i and everyone else simply don’t want to. Not because there’s a law, not because it makes me feel guilty, but simply because I’m enlightened enough to know that such actions cause harm and i have a genuine desire to do whats best. Everyone acts with their best intentions and is intelligent and informed enough to actually do good from their best intentions. We can’t have leaders seizing power abroad at all costs. We also can’t have idiots traveling the world to shoot people thinking that they’re actually doing good. “I’m going to burn and rape my way through this village in the name of freedom and democracy”.

    So much needs to happen before this type of enlightened citizen is possible. So long as were all chasing cash and power and material goods, we need to speed, we need to get ahead. . . .. You draw a line, this is how much bad i will do today to gain a little bit of good for myself. If everyone, especially the rich, drew this line a little bit higher we’d all be a lot better off.

  6. remistevens Says:

    wait, maybe you draw the line lower for goodness. How does this analogy work?

  7. ponch58 Says:

    Ah, but even the sociopath has an inner voice. It may not lead him to goodness, it may lead him to goodness but it does lead him somewhere. If something is urging him to kill, rape and pillage he is in turn a slave to his own mind.

    It’s inescapable.

  8. remistevens Says:

    Alright so you’re definitely a dualist, but where is your other half? Is it another part of your mind, your body, spirit, is their an evil genius lurking in your ear? Sure stating that there is that other half doesn’t necessitate that you have to say what or who it is. But you’re saying it is and that’s that; the human mind is one part you and one part something not you – – -that is still you.

    Dualism can make for a sticky situation. What kind of identity can you have if youre many things at once, how can you be considered a thing? As well, you gotta wonder, who are these other people, or what is the motivation/intention behind them? Invariably you’ll always have to start blaming it on the body, or gods or whathaveyou. Fact is though, you come out as one thing. For all the inner struggle that supposedly goes on, you still just make singular decisions. Sure you wanted muffins and pie, but think about it long enough you take the pie. A singular identity making a single decision.

    The sociopath might simply be a bad dude because he’s a singular thing that is bad. He himself is the voice. This approach can be difficult as well because you get stuck saying that a widely different thing seemingly made up of parts is actually only one thing. Sure its a football game, a singular thing, but its also a ball and players and grass and such.

    So back to freedom. Dualism sure there could be a voice adding input, a bastardly slaver plaguing your consciousness. But a monistic you, there is no inner counterpart to be the other side of the relationship. . . ..Its plausible that there is no voice and that its all just experiential smoke and mirrors for the mind. “Struggle” being just an experience; there was never any question that you would be taking pie.

  9. remistevens Says:

    The external world, i think that is the only true inescapable slaver. Unless of course some funky shit really does happen after you die.

  10. shaysrebellion Says:

    Impressive piece. As for freedom, I imagine it has something to do with tradeoffs. How much property and status are you willing trade for more freedom. Also, in work situations, can one trade on a personal relationship with a supervisor as well as past achievement to gain more freedom/discretion? I think that human recognition, the idea of relationships, may have something to do with freedom. Recognizing someone as a person who makes decisions instead of considering him or her a tool that does or does not achieve a goal or provide a service may just be the key to increased freedom.

  11. remistevens Says:

    Thanks, good comment.

    Certainly relations with other humans have a lot to do with how much freedom a person has. There is no question that in today’s world where people are generally treated as either tools for production or a thing to sell shit to; freedom is taking a beating.

    I don’t know that the human element is fundamentally any different than any other external though. A restricting boss and a bad harvest are both going to impede my freedom, and im able to take steps to guard myself against both. Although the difference may be that other humans are under the control of a reasoning entity and should be more reachable than things like the weather.

    supposing of course that other minds do exist.

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