Sunday, April 20, 2008

THE MEANING OF FREEDOM AND HOW TO ACHIEVE IT

from Murph

I have found through the years that it is a sticky discussion when freedom, what it means, what it looks like and how to achieve it are brought up.

It seems obvious to me that varying degrees of restriction on individual freedoms have been practiced everywhere for all of recorded history. Arguments about the necessity of restricted freedom abound, particularly today. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me, but when I hear people say that it is necessary for our security and it is a small price to pay for security, I have a tendency to become really upset. I find that attitude appalling.

So lets start this by talking about what freedom is and what it looks like. Keep in mind this is Murph’s viewpoint.

It would seem obvious to me that a concept of total freedom of action when living in groups cannot work. Being by yourself in the wilderness is not how most of us live. More power to those that do so. The early mountain men were about as free as you can get. But, some enforceable means has to exist to impede those who do not respect others right to freedom within a social context. I sum it up this way; you cannot perform an action which takes away from or restricts another persons freedom, that is, you cannot harm another or their property, and I include the environment. That simple edict would automatically stop environmental degradation, exploitation and legal thievery. The problem comes up with how you deal with those that are willing to be exploited and have property taken from them for a perceived advantage in a trade off. In my view, this is exactly what has happened in this country. Through a variety of manipulations, people were convinced to give up part of what they had for some kind of perceived advantage. This has proceeded in fits and starts since the beginning of this country and has resulted into what we experience today, very few freedoms left with plenty of justifications promoted to enforce it.

I think we can agree that this is all manifested from bending the knees to authority, to those with wealth and power. Since this has been going on for 5000 years or so, I must conclude there is something inherent in the mental makeup of humans that will go along with it, except of course, some minority of individuals in any given society. In this 5000 years of recorded history, we have evidence that a hierarchy and patriarchy was not the only way societies governed themselves. There have been matriarchies also but perhaps less throughout history. Jeff Vail has an interesting concept concerning a non hierarchy social organization he calls “rhyizome economy”. Try this websites; http://www.jeffvail.net/2006/04/envisioning-hamlet-economy-topology-of.html

It further appears to me that a significant amount of any given population doesn’t really want freedom because it means responsibility and consequences, and as we see today, both of those words are swear words in our society.

So what would a really free society look like? Most people can imagine that for themselves, and there have been innumerable textbooks, novels and essays on the subject.

Personally, I find it fascinating to read novels where the author paints a word picture of what a truly free people would look like, and there are many. There have been societies that exhibited vastly more personal freedom than we have today. Interestingly, they were much smaller populations. Indian tribes scattered over the world have amply demonstrated this to be possible, and this is not an essay on the “noble savage” nor a declaration that these societies had total freedom. Obviously there are social norms and restrictions on behavior in every society, large or small. But, where is the line to be drawn, how much individuality and individual freedom can any society tolerate? In my reading of diaries and history of this country in its early days, it was in many ways far more tolerant of individual freedom. Our government was supposedly set up to maximize this freedom and to limit chaos and the Constitution was a pact with the population and those that ran the government. However, as our population grew and the complexity of the society increased, the government instituted more and more restrictions on personal behavior, unless you were the ones setting down the rules.

Those that are familiar with my essays know that I am an advocate of society being in small autonomous groups that decide for each group how they want to live by mutual, not majority, agreement. The term for such group organization is Anarchy. Our present government has not much toleration for small autonomous groups, and goes to great lengths to minimize them, to marginalize them and often to eliminate them and with a whole bunch of justifications. It sometimes amazes me that the small populations that live that way like the Mennonites and Amish, have been successful in preserving their autonomous position in the greater society. I speculate it is because they don’t have anything that the PTB want. Wonder what would happen if a vastly needed resource was found on an Amish settlement.

If we are to have a centralized government that oversees this kind of a conglomeration, it has to be severely limited in what it can demand from the population and the amount of regulation it can enforce. That again was the original intent of the Constitution. Oh yes, they were clever about it. The PTB instituted a very long and gradual erosion of those restrictions. one little piece at a time so you would hardly notice. Can you imagine what the original population would have done if they had advocated and tried to institute what we have today? A virtual return to the European concept of how to govern, exactly what the people didn’t want. Well, we got it now, absolute authority over the running of society and a whole lot of restriction on personal freedom.

One of the things that would disappear in a free society is consensual crime. As long as you were not forcing another into a relationship or action, and not taking or damaging their property, but was rather by mutual consent, it cannot be a crime. What I do as an individual that does not damage or hurt is no business of the state. In our present society, that would eliminate a sizable amount of the prisoners in jail and prison.

When we examine the criminal code in this country, and for that matter almost any large populations code, it is so extensive and full of contradictions that nobody can really understand it all. We have laws that deal with almost every aspect of human behavior, from the mundane to the radical. I see absolutely no benefit to society as a whole for this. It sure does benefit those in power though. What it comes down to is wanting control over society for privilege and gain. And poof, there go your freedoms. Our judicial system hires a vast army to perpetuate this system. At least they are employed and most of the time pay taxes, if we want to look at the cup as half full.

The old clique about freedom not coming cheap I think is true. It is a constant battle with those that would restrict us for their gain that we are dealing with. I think old Jefferson had it right when he said that we should have a revolution every 20 years and start over. That concept showed a lot of awareness of history I think. But again, we have to take into consideration the probable hard wiring of how people deal with their environment and relationships. It would indeed be an interesting society that followed that dictate.

Remember the old TV series “Northern Exposure”? I really liked the examination that the writers paid to a rather isolated society that had its revolution far more frequently and how they dealt with adversity and disagreements. A friend of mine told me once that the reason I liked that series is that it portrayed what it would be like living in a society where everyone had 130 IQ and up. Periodically the Internet has in circulation the “Darwin Awards” and “these people vote” pieces. I got to admit that I don’t have what I would consider a definitive answer how a free society would deal with these kinds of people. In the “Darwin Awards”, the participants often eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

I have an interest in how the readers of this blog would look at the concept of freedom.

Because I see social disaster coming at us, and the recognition that we cannot continue doing things the way we are and have been doing them, I can anticipate something better coming out of it. Hopefully, there will be enough people left that have some sense of history and what it means to live free that we can put something better together next time around.

15 comments:

freeacre said...

A Note From the Here and Now Dept.:

Flour, cooking oil, and rice are being rationed at Costco and other Big Box stores on either sides of the country!! Here's the link:
http://www2.nysun.com/article/74994 Hope you've got yours already.

Almost as surprising: The New York Sun article actually quotes survivalblog.com for information. What??

I think that I am going to turn around and order a duplicate shipment of my seed order. If lots of people start growing veggies instead of flowers this year, and more next year, good seeds may become scarce, or at least expensive...

Gas is $3.54 for regular here in Central Oregon. In Washington, it's $3.79, and $3.99 for premium! Demand destruction has begun. The NW is using the same amount of gas as we did in 1966.

aho

The Middle Class is vanishing. Maybe someone should read a story to the Overlords about killing the goose that laid the golden egg...

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth: I went to Costco today and wandered into the rice aisle. There wasn't another person there but me and there was oodles of rice on the shelves. I bought a 5 kg (11 lb) bag of brown rice from Australia for $6.79. I don't know what that means except maybe the news hasn't hit here yet?

Alberta Clipper

Anonymous said...

Alberta,

You did well for yourself. Friend of mine paid $1.73/lb. for rice last week in Bozeman. Oldensoul got organic brown rice in Missoula last weekend for $.93/lb.

Diesel was $4.15 per ga. at Town Pump on I 90, southcentral Montana, Sunday afternoon, April 20.


Murph,
When I write, I often work within self-imposed guidelines of rhythym-counts, sentence-length or rhyme repetition. It is, at first glance, anything BUT freedom. Yet, within the accepted structure, I am free to choose or reject verbs, nouns , adjectives, etc. that appeal to me, for whatever reason, and insert them as I see fit. Maybe it's the sound, rolling around in the ear, that makes a word special. Perhaps the imagery is precisely right. Often rigid structure is confining and tedious. But also, it can free you up to create and let go. Often the writing takes on a life of its own, and carries you to places you did not intend to visit.

The difference is, who sets the conditions of one's restraint.

-rockpicker

murph said...

Alberta Clipper,

We also went to Cosco today. Here also there was plenty of rice and other grain flours. Prices on about everything was higher than our last time there. The shortages may be regional and have something to do with how much in the warehouses also. If what we have read about shortages of rice and other grains is true, and rice has indeed more than doubled in price at the wholesale level, those people concerned with having a stash of food put aside would be taking a chance if they didn't gobble up what they could afford to buy of the stuff. Our stash is about as much as we can store without starting to line the walls of the kitchen or living room so we don't anticipate trying for more anyway. Just keep replacing as we use.

Have you read the article talking about this that Freeacre posted? It did mention that the shortages are spotty and not nation wide at this time.

murph said...

Rockpicker,

That is the beauty of poetry perhaps. It defies the hard structure normally associated with prose. Some poetry is very highly structured and presents a challenge for imagery. Haiku I find interesting in that context.

You do well in your endeavors in poetry. I know I appreciate it immensely.

freeacre said...

Freedom begins with the recognition that we are always at Choice. It is the awareness that we set ourselves free and then go from there with our lives. It is giving up victimhood, a sense of slavery or bondage. Even under oppressive circumstances, we have the freedom to react in many ways. People who own their freedom exend that freedom to others as well.They may even be willing to die so that others may be free. Freedom illicits honor and respect.
Freedom just feels innately satisfying. If one is free, their is no need to compensate with materialism, greed, domination, etc. Maybe that is why people who would control others hate freedom so much. They feel inadequate, wrong, or guilty, and imagine that if others were free, they'd leave them alone.
Contemplating one's freedom is a healing and empowering thing to do. It's like filling a boat up with treasure and then letting one's breath fill the sails of the ship, thereby taking it to distant shores. When the ship returns, it is laden with even more wonderful things, this time for you.
aho

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the Mafia Don who extorts money from local people/businesses for "protection." The Don would do pretty much what our dictators are doing -creating a boogieman and the fear to take away our freedoms.

What freedom to me? Hmmmm..... I'd have to say, riding my bike. I can go anywhere I want, look at the local scenery for as long as I want, stop, kick back, have a beer at a pub, ride back hoping I don't slam into something and get a BUI -biking under the influence (used to do that a bunch when I lived in Portland, OR)

Later -

Dude

freeacre said...

Has anyone read or heard from the lamestream media anywhere that all the voting in Pennsylvania was done on electronic voting machines and there was absolutely no paper trail for any of them? Apparently this is not a subject they are deeming necessary to cover. I'm not saying the vote was rigged, but how would we ever know if it was or not?
Murph and I are planning to build frames over our garden plots to hold plastic to keep the plants from freezing and netting to shelter them from too intense of sun, since the extremes seem to be in force. Stood outside in a sleet storm buying asparagus roots to plant yesterday. Two inches of snow had fallen in the night. Jeesh.
I guess a lot of us are busy with projects, eh?

RAS said...

I've been incredibly busy. I started my new part-time job last week and have been training for that. On that of that, I have my other part-time jobs: babysitting, housecleaning, landscaping, etc. Then there's school, which has been eating up a large amount of time as it's the end of the semester. Add to that it's planting time. And, I'm recovering from a nasty sinus infection.

I'll write a proper comment when I can!

Anonymous said...

Anybody watching the price of metals?

What's with gold and silver losing, while the dollar is tanking against the Pound and Euro, and oil setting records daily? Bullshit manipulation, I say.

Petraeus head of CENTCOM? "Get everyone down into the storm cellar. To hell with Dorothy!"

-rp

freeacre said...

I would guess that somebody Big wants to buy a shitload of gold, but they want the price to drop first. Probably a good time to buy, if you can. Silver, too, although last year would have been better...
Guess Petraeus must have proven what a team player he is. Hope he's proud of himself. One wonders if he gives much thought to the 11,000 Gulf War veterans who have killed themselves so far? How do they justify radiation sickness and fallout that's picked up by the wind and deposited all over the world? Or, the microwave and laser torture weaponry, or the other monstrous innovations these miscreants come up with? There seems to be no shame and no limit to the depravity of the scientists and engineers and marketers of these atrocities. I don't know how our kids can live with it.

Anonymous said...

Not to change the subject but one never knows when their time may be up...this a.m. while the mister was out swimming in the ocean, just down the beach from him, a shark attacked a man who was swimming in a group, a 66 (?) year old tri-athlete? was bitten on the thighs or one report said just below the knees but anyway I guess he didn't make it. Just after the mister got home and was getting ready for work the helicopters were flying over saying, there's been a shark attack...everybody get out of the water! We just looked at each other in shock! The last time we heard coast guard and local police choppers overhead talking to us...was for an Amber Alert lost kid. It was odd to hear them talking so early in the morning and saying...'shark attack' over the p.a. system. Just the other day the mister and his best friend were swimming with a group of Dolphins and their babies. He came home exuberant about the fact that the dolphins were so damn close he could have reached over and touched them. This is now something I think not a good idea as there may be a Great White near by. I've always heard Dolphins kept them away but another friend says not true as she was also forced out of the water in Oahu after a Great White attacked some dolphins nearby. That attack this morning could have been the mister...and I thought motorcycles were dangerous. Although shark attacks are said to be rare around here, the Great Whites love this area. And I was waiting for the water to warm up to go in...now I'm not sure if I'll be out past my knees once the water does warm up. Hope I don't know the poor man who died. What a bummer to be eaten by a fish. Reflecting, mrsp

freeacre said...

Actually, mrs.p, I think most shark attacks happen in water that's around your knees. Any time you enter the ocean, you are entering the food chain. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

f.a. hi and you are so right...it is after all their environment not ours. Hubby has been swimming all his life since early toddler so i will not be able to get him to stop going in the ocean. I cannot swim like him so i never go out where i can't touch the bottom. i am a huge wooose and could never get near the dolphins. Hubby says he thinks this shark is coming back for more and will attack again. The females are cruizing through here right now with their young. Not a good time to be splashing around out there especially in black wet suits that look like seals, but nobody listens.

BTW, great point about the seeds.
It's time to plant. mrsp

Dave said...

“Wonder what would happen if a vastly needed resource was found on an Amish settlement.” You mean like food? :-)

I’ve always admired the Amish. Of course I admire their ecological existence. Their rejection of modern technology, particularly computers, is challenging for me to embrace, but I would consider it in exchange for becoming part of their community. Thinking about it now it’s the Amish’s freedom from the establishment that I admire above all.

Ironically, although many view the Amish as “backward,” they may suffer the least adjustment to their lifestyle if the future unfolds as some have prophesied.

Dave