Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Freedom ought to be called something else

"Exactly what?" you ask.

I’m not sure, but separate the notion of an individual "feeling" free from mankind’s state of actually "being" free, as a group, and you’ve taken the first step toward a new way of looking at the concept of freedom.

Some people feel free; others do not. Every person has a unique psychological make-up and is subject to slightly or significantly different surroundings.

The personal understandings and associations we give credit for the "free feelings" we experience probably vary greatly from person to person and across groups. Difficult to ascertain, it is an assumption nonetheless likely. Freedom is inequitably distributed in this world and is also subjective.

"Actually being free" is the state of mankind as a whole -- and a moot point. Mankind freely exists as a complete unit while the group evolves however it is that it evolves.

No restrictions obstruct mankind’s march onward in a certain general direction that leaves some "feeling" much freer than others feel. It may seem that we constantly encounter obstacles to mankind’s collective freedom, but this is not really true. The obstacles inhibit mankind's contentment.

These obstacles have manifested precisely because of our clumsy actions and their consequences, both of which occur freely even if they restrict existence in a way we deem (correctly or not) unfavorably. Even though the human race is freely evolving, human thought invariably concludes that someone or other (possibly including oneself) is not free. Yet the conclusion refers -- whether wittingly or not -- to the feelings one associates with the *idea* of "freedom."

As I said, some of us "feel free" (note that I did not say "experience freedom") more so than do others; the extent of realizing the free feeling depends on your lot in this life. The subjectivity of freedom might directly correlate with whether a person’s basic needs -- which, by the way, we have instincts for -- are easily accessible.

This is the state of "being free" under the human social system as it currently stands -- a capitalist one. People so easily equate financial security with freedom. Greed is instinct for survival metastasized; we continually strive to be "unencumbered" -- a better definition for freedom under the circumstances.

This is why the concept of “freedom” resonates differently yet inspiringly for everyone and is so malleable to deception. We are so susceptible to false promises of freedom, for these appeal to our exaggerated instincts (i.e., greed, which is metastasized sense for survival).

Human civilization is perpetually free. Individuals don’t feel that way.

Whatever shape or form human civilization assumes is one that it has arrived at through free evolution -- societal and physical. The result at once has nothing and everything to do with whether an individual life under such conditions at any given time in history "feels" free.

We must conjure a system -- the creation and implementation of which is, by definition, a free act for human civilization as a whole -- that will result in people "feeling" free.

It is entirely within the bounds of fair play.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Debate is good fascism

Most people will be patriotic no matter where they live so long as it is a reasonably good place to be. The actions of numerous Iraqis et al. against Americans prove that many will cling to a love of country even when that country isn't such a great place.

Blind patriotism is a strong proclivity. Nobody wants to think her own country is bad.

Still others teach us, by example, that peer pressure plays a primary role in would-be thought control of the kind that occurs practically on its own volition. Also known as fascism, the behavior is frequently synonymous with blind patriotism, which transcends a mere love for country to comprise other things (e.g., "love of political party," "love of race," "love of philosophical idea," "love of one religious interpretation," and so on).

Of course these people want us to think like they do. After all, agreement, to them, is evidence of their own ideals' veracities.

Here in the U.S. we haev always rationalized our patriotism by citing the many wonderful things our country's systems bestow at least the majority of us. We may be seeing a drop in "blind" patriotism these days because the tangible, good things here that have made blind patriotism in this country rational and harmless are fledgling.

Many attribute the fledgling to Bush, which is good, for it means they understand why they love their country, and still love it. They may or may not be right, but their conclusions should not lead us to question their patriotism. Their dissent should, rather, encourage us to ferret out and admonish the politicians and fourth estaters who would rather admonish the observant among us.

It is so easy to manipulate patriotic fervor to serve disingenuous or even well-intentioned but misguided ends. Patriotic passion easily widens to encompass fascism that glorifies and coerces groupthink based in fallacious, bigoted, and dangerous ideals.

Fascist patriotism is probably unavoidable at times and useful when it comes to self defense, but what if the appeal to self defense is a ruse? Enter variety of thought, which now becomes absolutely essential. The only fascist ideal we should promote is the fascism that says all ideas are welcome to participate.

Author's note: A distinction between patriotism and nationalism may be necessary in order to elaborate nuances.

Upwardly mobile

The elite always water things down.

Actually, their water flows upward; so little of it gets to the top.

Lest we forget politics

Communication theory says you can't tell people what to think but you can tell people what to think about. Keep Americans focused on the masters playing the politics, and you pretty much guarantee tyranny, fascism, misery, and all the rest.

Whether you're tuned to FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, or even NPR, watch any talking head; hear any radio shock jock. Really pay attention. Listen to inflection. Observe body language.

Every single last one of these scoundrels tells us what to think about. Any dissenting view or alternative thought is thoroughly excoriated. The few intelligent, principled people who break through the din find themselves thoroughly trivialized.

"Oh, come on," spews the scoundrel. "The American people know that's a bunch of malarkey."

And the American people listen.

Mass media belittle the free market of ideas, all the while proselytizing the free market's virtues. The talking heads scold us for thinking beyond the parameters.

Is it a conspiracy? No. That would be too simple, albeit, intriguing.

The system merely perpetuates its thought hegemony by being the only official, "OK" thing to debate. The powerful and not so powerful alike have championed free markets and unbridled capitalism with blood, sweat, and tears.

We look up to them and buy into their system. We need bigger houses, more money and power, faster and bigger cars, and careers that let us write the best titles in front of our names.

We invest all our energy into playing the game that we fail to recognize is only a game. The last thing we want is to concede that something we have championed is not working. To admit this would be to admit our folly.

That hurts, and it never plays well.