Absolute Liberty

The aforementioned basic patterns which underlie both the formation of a novel global reality and social organization in a postmodern age are in turn bound and coupled with notions of freedom and justice or absolute liberty and social justice throughout international society. And while the notion of absolute liberty and social justice may seem strange and scary to control freaks and obsessive-compulsive types, this is perhaps the direction in which we are headed as an international society, namely, the direction towards the expansion of freedoms and liberties and the realization of social justice on a number of levels. 

And one of the main reasons why we are headed towards this direction is because of a credibility and legitimacy crisis throughout the international system which in turn no longer enables rulers to justify their rule over people and it no longer enables rulers to justify their curtailing and restriction of people’s freedoms and liberties. The basic political and social goal in Western democratic societies has long been self-governance and self-rule. Only customs and culture, as John Stuart Mill wrote, direct us towards how authorities and people in power should form the basic rules and norms which control or restrain the actions of others, and as mentioned before, customs and culture differ from one place to another. These differences in customs and culture then impose limits on how far America can advance the notion of freedom and liberty in other countries. As John Quincy Adams said: “America goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” 

Nevertheless, it is now obvious that there is very little in Western culture and society which can justify the curtailing or restriction of absolute freedoms and liberties or justify the control and restriction of people’s actions and speech except for the most egregious crimes which involve the deprivation of one’s life, liberty, and property. The question, then, becomes one of how to balance Western notions of order which are based on freedom, liberty, and self-governance with non-Western notions of order. As Henry Kissinger wrote:

“In building a world order, a key question inevitably concerns the substance of its unifying principles – in which resides a cardinal distinction between Western and non-Western approaches to order. Since the Renaissance the West has been deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer, that knowledge consists of recording and classifying data – the more accurately the better – and that foreign policy success depends on assessing existing realities and trends. The Westphalian peace represented a judgment of reality – particularly realities of power and territory – as a temporal ordering concept over the demands of religion.” 

Existing global patterns, trends, and realities, therefore, should be the guide when it comes to America’s approach towards other countries, not the messianic and zealous imposition of ideas, organizing principles, and values both of a religious and social nature which we have become accustomed to in Washington over the course of the last few decades. All of it – namely, the mind controlling, mind policing, groupthink, neoconservative aggression and zeal, and the bloating of administrative organs and bureaucracy in order to render society more docile, mechanistic, and pliable – was for naught. As John Stuart Mill wrote: 

“The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it; and a State which postpones the interests of their mental expansion and elevation, to a little more of administrative skill, or that semblance of it which practice gives, in the details of business; a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will in the end avail nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work smoothly, it has preferred to banish.” 

Banished, one should note, to “Havana Syndrome” and a political and social crisis with no forthcoming solution. 

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