On Freedom

As mentioned on a few occasions, colonial, imperialistic, and hegemonic behavior and discourse stem from a peculiar attitude and mentality more than anything else. Thus, on the flipside, freedom, openness, and liberty are also an attitude and mentality more than anything else. As Albert Camus said: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” 

Because freedom is an attitude and mentality, it requires a certain level of courage and fearlessness to put the attitude and mentality into practice and to attain the happiness that comes solely from freedom. As Thucydides said: “The secret to happiness is freedom…and the secret to freedom is courage.” In turn, the basic principle of what we conceive as being the basic laws and the organization of society is based on freedom, as well as the removal of fear as an obstacle towards the achievement of true freedom. As the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold once said: “’Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights.”

Thus, the culture of war and surveillance and thus the culture of fearmongering and warmongering which took root in Washington about two decades ago contradicts a discourse and way of life based on freedom. As Ayn Rand wrote regarding the right to privacy:

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” 

And regarding the culture of warmongering that has resulted in Washington, quite relevant is what Ayn Rand wrote about the use of force:

“The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships – thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason; by discussion, persuasion, and voluntary, uncoerced agreement.”

Rand added:

“The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.” 

But as mentioned before, the prevailing global order has been inclined more towards despotism and irrationality rather than freedom and rationality. Thus, amidst a global order that is inclined more towards despotism and irrationality rather than freedom and rationality, the exercise of freedom and rationality is perhaps the only way to preserve one’s freedom. As the American journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson said: “Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.” Moreover, freedom of speech is futile in an environment where conformity takes hold. As Soren Kierkegaard said: “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

In turn, the culture of fearmongering and warmongering and thus the suppression of freedom and rationality emerged out of a particular class of people. Thus, as Michael Lind argued, the political turmoil which we are witnessing today in several places stems from a “class war” which demonstrates that the combination of fearmongering, warmongering, despotism, and irrationality is being imposed by one class of people upon another class of people, with the sole aim of expanding power until the opposing class is left entirely powerless. Because the very basic essence of capital is accumulation and expansion until there is nothing left for others – and given that capital is at the heart of what is known as the ‘bourgeoise’ class – it follows that the ‘bourgeoise’ class must accumulate and expand power at the expense of regular people until there is nothing left to take. And as Hannah Arendt wrote in her famous book titled “The Origins of Totalitarianism”:

“Power became the essence of political action and the center of political thought when it was separated from the political community which it should serve. This, it is true, was brought about by an economic factor. But the resulting introduction of power as the only content of politics, and of expansion as its only aim, would hardly have met with such universal applause, nor would the resulting dissolution of the nation’s body politic have met with so little opposition, had it not so perfectly answered the hidden desires and secret convictions of the economically and socially dominant classes. The bourgeoisie, so long excluded from government by the nation-state and by their own lack of interest in public affairs, was politically emancipated by imperialism.” 

Hence, the fear of a form of totalitarianism arising from the masses amounts to a form of self-projection on the part of a liberal bourgeoisie class whose primary aim and goal is the same thing which is being feared. 

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