What is freedom? 2016 edition

This is a new version of a post I wrote back in 2013 about what freedom means to me.

I have been thinking about this for a while, and I have gone through some changes in how I define my views. When I was a teenager I oscillated between anarchism and liberalism, then I fell under the libertarian label, at least nominally since I don’t think I knew a whole lot – to me libertarianism was just “the best government is the least” – all with certain hedonistic tendencies (or about as hedonistic as it gets, for me at least), and now I’m a libertarian-leaning and right wing liberal with the occaisional anarchic tendencies, even if that is just free speech anarchism (well, almost – I’m prepared to accept active calls to violence or participation in violence as an exception in certain circumstances, but apart from that it’s free speech absolutism all the way). But all of that centered around one ideal – freedom.

Anyways…

Freedom to me means the ability of each individual to live the way he/she chooses to live and to follow his/her own natural inclinations without coercion from the state or too much pressure from social norms. It means for Man to be the social, competitive and perhaps spiritual animal that it is, perhaps more. You should be free to be the best that you are, or to become even greater than you are. It is independence, the ability of the individual to have agency and control, thus it is responsibility for ones own actions. It means the ability of the strong, the successful, the meritorious to earn the fruits of their effort in a competitive society through their own effort. It means being able to say whatever you want without being forced to fear coercion from either the state or anyone else. It means being able to express yourself as you please, without that same fear of coercion. It means not having every aspect of your life controlled or regulated.

My ideal society is one were this freedom is the highest ideal, and one that is in harmony with the natural order of how humans and societies work rather than held in bondage to utopian visions of the world. People need to be free to follow their own paths in life, to make their own decisions and pursue their own natural inclinations – free of peer pressure, free of state coercion unless you’re actually harming other people, free of the imposition of grandiose ideals that work against human nature and the human spirit whether they come from religion or from secular ideologies.

The law of liberty

Freedom of speech is simple: everyone must have the freedom to speak as they wish, and everyone must be allowed to express any opinion or thought they please. There are no exceptions. Not even those whose opinions or beliefs are unpopular or even revolting are to be exempted from this freedom, and no unpopular or unsettling statement is to be exempted. This is the law that all who believe in the concept of liberty invariably oblige themselves to when they profess their belief in the concept of freedom of speech, because in observing this tenet we nourish liberty itself. In order for liberty to be sustained properly, we must have freedom of speech in the truest sense. No “partial” freedom of speech will suffice.

In our age, we still have to deal with the thought of the youth, not just the old, in parts of the world being blind to this basic reality. The entire notion of no-platform policies being implemented in many universities is based exactly on the ignorance towards the fundamental nature of freedom of speech. It’s based on the notion that you are allowed to say somethings but not others. It’s based on the notion that freedom of speech exists only as long you don’t say anything that could be accused of being hateful, offensive, and even aggressive. And ultimately, it’s still based on the notion that someone else decides what you are allowed to say, which is fundamentally opposite to the notion of freedom of speech.

The reason I say that no “partial” freedom of speech will suffice is because such “partial” freedom of speech is ultimately non-existent by definition. If you are only partially allowed to speak freely, but otherwise not allowed to say certain things, then you are living in an environment of restricted speech rather than in freedom of speech. Those who wish to support freedom of speech must remember that if they are to support liberty, if they are to support true freedom. Liberty means that we can do as we wish provided it need not directly harm others in the sense it would deprive others of the right to exist as independent beings. It is free agency. Genuine freedom of speech is an essential part of this notion of liberty. Without the right to speak freely, we aren’t really free at all in any strict sense of the word. Thus the law of liberty is clear: freedom of speech means exactly that – no exceptions.

Opposing Man’s war against the flesh

I recently came across a study from the American Psychological Association that states that the fear of porn addiction causes more psychological distress or harm than actual porn consumption. I saw an article related to the study that seemed to imply that our attitudes towards sex in general are part of the problem, and I saw some of the comments for the article where students seemed to show images where they illustrate their habits regarding watching porn, and they seemed trepidatious, like they were nervous about what they were doing and acted accordingly. They would watch porn, but they would still treat it like it was something perverted, shameful, or embarrassing, and I suppose in fairness that’s probably because they think it clashes with the familiar values of other people (perhaps authority figures). I began to feel like something was wrong. I felt like I have had tendencies to worried too much about my own personal urges and get myself down because I live without a partner with whom to share pleasure with, and worry about the effect that would have on my future life, when in fact anxiety is the real problem. And when I saw the way students expressed their attitudes towards their own porn consumption, it felt like that same cautiousness could be all too familiar in my own life. As someone who believes in liberal attitudes towards sex, I feel like the nervous attitude towards sex held by the human species is something that has to be fought and opposed indefinitely, and any worries must be cast into fire.

I write this because I want to speak against mankind’s pitiful war against its own flesh, senses, and urges. We are living in an age where we still treat pornography as a bogeyman because of our own attitudes towards sex in general. I feel the modern world tends to view sex as normal but at the same time dirty. People still tend to think of sex as a tawdry and alien thing, something that corrupts and devalues individuals, and I think this is part of the basis for why we demonize pornography. We see sex as degrading, dehumanizing, and devaluing, so we view pornography as degrading thing accordingly. There are those who treat pornography and sexual desire as being the corruptor of youth and the human mind, but I think it is they who should look in the mirror. Sexual desire is healthy, it’s a part of human being! Denying this, fearing this, is unhealthy, and it is the fear of sexuality that makes people less healthy, less happy, and more poisoned, twisted, and warped. The people who want to clamp down on human desire should look at themselves in the mirror because if they do, they might find that THEY are the corruptors of the human mind and youth. The fear of sex leads to the unwillingness to explore sexual desire, the unwillingness to embrace it, and the unwillingness to embrace education, which is a big problem for every successive generation of the human species because then each generation will know nothing about sex at all and that will cause so much problems for our species.

Most people attribute this to the influence of monotheistic religion and conservative values in mass culture and the minds of human beings, and I suppose there’s little point in denying that because those beliefs are the ones that teach sex is bad and those beliefs are the ones that people have been indoctrinated into believing in for centuries. But I think even if monotheistic religion falls, the idea of the bogeyman of sexual desire will live on in the feminism that has refused to abandon the tropes borrowed from monotheistic religion. Or perhaps, it will be nurtured by liberal political correctness as it is now. Either way, I feel that by rebelling against the anxiety of the masses and by the fighting of the doubt and anxiety the individual may feel within, humans will be able save themselves and our species from its own hopeless and damaging war against the flesh. If the common attitude towards sexual desire does not change, then I am certain the individual will not be the only one at stake. Not just because of the principle of liberty being desecrated, but because our attitude towards our own desire can affect everyone, including the next generation.

Who is Lucifer?

Do you remember some months ago when I promised to do a post about Lucifer after having basically become a Luciferian or started identifying with it? Well I have been having some trouble piecing to together my particular view of Lucifer in simple terms, but I’ve come to a solid conclusion.

I feel that Lucifer, regardless of his status as a literal or non-literal being, is an example for me as a Luciferian to follow. Lucifer is the figure who looks at the state of the world, isn’t satisfied with it, won’t put up with it, and wants to change it into a better form for himself because he feels he has the will, and his fire burns within him to do what is right. To that end he steps up as a leader unto himself, he works to create his own lot in life, he works to change the previous state of things into something better, he works to make a world grand and above any, he spreads liberty out of his own genuine belief in liberty, and lives by his own fire, the flame of inner power and essential spirit and being which can be identified as the Black Flame. That’s what I mean when I refer to Lucifer as an example for me to follow, or indeed one that any Luciferian would likely follow. I want to live in which passion, honor, and freedom are achieved, and not just once either, I want it to be my life, my being and personality expressed in fullest, purest form, instead of that sense of being finding only death like what can happen to the majority. For this, Lucifer must be the profound example I refer to, one that leads me to a life of passion, honor, and freedom, and symbolically devour life, knowledge, and strength, by which I mean I hope to absorb it, and at of it, just as Lucifer proclaims his rightful throne in the heavens and the stars, I if I become strong will take heaven for myself, and of my design. As long as Lucifer is that profound example for me, who knows what’s possible?

That, is basically how I see Lucifer. You can see him as an angel, a devil, a deity, a heavenly body, a human, or even pure potential itself, and the latter part strangely enough can make sense in a way, but I see the mythical Lucifer, the Luciferian Lucifer, as an example to follow, one through whom I need to find strength, and it doesn’t matter if this goes on in the world of ritual or in day-to-day life because any Lucifer worth his salt would never be that limiting.

Fan art of Lucifer (identified as Helel) based on his Shin Megami Tensei and Persona appearances.

Liberty and meritocracy

It might not surprise you to hear that I don’t care a great deal about democracy. I’m willing to admit that democracy as a system has a lot of potential for positive outcomes to happen within it, but it’s inherently weak. Democracy is based on a government being formed based on the people who are favored the most. People think that it just means a potential leader or politician gaining office through a mandate from the masses, but in reality such favor can be just as easily bought by the wealthy few and often is. And just because a leader is elected in a democratic system, which would mean him/her being popular or favored enough to win, it doesn’t mean he/she will do any good. Will he/she resolve any injustices in the system? Will he/she vow to preserve or enhance the liberty of human beings within the state, and commit to that vow? Will he/she resist corruption? Will he/she get rid of useless laws that protect no one (and lets face it, in a lot of countries there are laws that simply make no sense or are simply no longer enforced, and should be eliminated)? Will he/she make an effort to protect or improve the quality of life enjoyed by human beings within the state? Will he/she inspire the people? Will he/she be a wise, just, strong, talented, or just competent leader or official? In my opinion, a popularity contest cannot guarantee any of those things. In fact, history shows us that sometimes democracy can give way to nominal autocracy, and the people would be the ones ushering it in. All it can ultimately guarantee is that someone will be granted office based on how he/she is favored by the people, or by wealthy sponsors. But you can’t necessarily trust the people as a whole to know what is best for the future or not to be mislead, and they will likely vote only for the person who is either “their guy” or will make them feel the most secure with their dubious promises. And those who sponsor candidates ultimately sponsor the one who they believe will look out for them and you can’t rely on them to be interested in the welfare of the country or of liberty.

Until our species reaches a point where all individuals grasp self-rule, we need leaders, but we need real leaders, not need simply politicians or figureheads. And for me logic dictates that only the talented should attain political office, rather than the person who is deemed worthy of office on the basis of being favored by the people (or the wealthy).

The role of a good government, as I see it, should be to preserve order and liberty for all who wish to live in an ordered community, and for a government to do that it needs officials and leaders who know exactly how to do this. It should only follow that the most talented, the most fit, and the most committed should be allowed to lead and to govern, and no one other than the most fit to govern should be allowed to govern. In that sense, being a government official and a leader would be just like any other profession. In any other profession, you would rather trust the most competent and qualified individuals do get the job done. With doctors, you’re effectively putting your health in their hands, so you would usually trust a more demonstrably competent doctor. With teachers, you’re putting your child’s education in their hands, so you would trust a more qualified teacher. With chefs, you want them to make something that’s delectable on top of being entirely edible, so you would want to put your trust in a chef who knows what he/she is doing. It’s the same for almost every profession. Unfortunately, it seems that in our world we do not apply the same principles to politicians, leaders, and government officials. We might expect them to do a good job, but somehow we feel that people in the government shouldn’t have the same sort of regulations that every other job has, that we should only have to like them and vote for the ones we like, or that they should be allowed to make us love them without giving us any reason to do so.

However, the problem with meritocracy as it stands is that it requires a way to properly and objectively determine merit. And I have a massive problem with the idea of using grades to do so, because it would result in potential leaders and officials seeking only the status attained by earning a grade without them being determined to grow and become talented in honest ways. All I can be sure of is that merit is likely to be more accurately determined by having potential officials, politicians, and leaders looking to become leaders go through a series of checks and balances before they can be determined as qualified to be govern.

Can you live in a world without liberty?

I tend to live with people who think you can’t say whatever you want, particularly on the Internet. I tend to think of older family members as somewhat apathetic towards the ideals I describe, and the values that I would happily grow stubborn for, let alone the reasons for me being a stubborn bastard about it. So I feel like I have wanted to ask members of my family a question: How could you live in a world without liberty? How would prosper in a world where you cannot say or think whatever you want even at whim, and face the consequences of your life alone?

In all seriousness, could you? People can be quite prone to base their favoring of security at the expense of liberty on their desire for convenience. They are prone to favor comfort over freedom because they may prefer the path of least resistance in their lives, and they think having everything decided for them and having unseen rules on what you can’t say or think about might make life better and easier for them. But I don’t think this is the case. In fact, I believe the opposite: I believe that those who choose security over liberty will have neither liberty nor security. I feel that choosing control over liberty can only lead to the eventual decay of comfort and security.

If you think about it, a world based on security and control can only be a world where the people are controlled based on another person’s vested interests, and the rules are based on merely his/her whims, convenience, profit, or control over the people. And when that goes, the people who run states based purely on consolidating their control over the people will do anything to maintain total security. You might think you are safe in such a state of affairs so long as you obey, submit, and agree with everything that is done by them, but I feel that in such a state of affairs people who thought they were innocent could soon find themselves arrested and persecuted by the state, either for convenience, to make an example for others, a simple exercise of authority, or because the rules have changed without the people knowing it. This is because such a state of affairs is run by people whose vested interest is control and not liberty, and what is and isn’t acceptable to say and think is always in flux and dependent on the whims and desires of the people in control. Even such a state with seemingly benign intents will lapse into corruption because the intent has always been control above liberty, and such a thing has been shown to fail because the focus quickly changes into the pure consolidation of authoritarian rule, and control of the people based on the whims of a ruler with no other desires than control and exploitation.

Real security is only based on liberty, and law and order that works to preserve the liberty and dignity of the individual. When the effort is directed towards the concept of liberty, justice, and the promotion and preservation thereof, you can be secure in such a world, so long as the people at large still desire and believe in both liberty and security, so long as both the people at large and the people in charge work towards it, and so long as the people in charge don’t go about changing the rules and abusing the system to suit their immediate conveniences.

The old order is crumbling, and hope may yet be on the rise

Big news! As some of you may have heard, same-sex marriage has now been made a legal across all 50 states in America. Believe it or not, this subject proved impossible for me to ignore, and to tell you the truth I am actually a little intrigued as to where things go from here.

The way I see it, dealing with gay marriage has for a long time been a challenge for America’s government because there are a lot of people in America who not only find the idea of gay marriage objectionable, but wish to obstruct the rights of homosexuals to choose to get married. Since the objection to gay marriage seems to be commonly, if not always, based on a religiously-inspired prejudice (or perhaps more aptly, a prejudice that people may already have but simply use religious beliefs to justify having it) or on religious indoctrination, and the push against gay marriage has always been accompanied by religious rhetoric and right-wing politics, the battle for marriage equality has always been a battle of legal equality versus prejudice-based religious hegemony, or at least the path towards it. It feels like right wing Christians and politicians have constantly been trying to push for the preservation of an old order of things. An order that I doubt most people accept, especially once they learn more about this order and its founding values.

However, now that gay marriage has been ruled a protected right across America, I feel this is going to change. Since the Supreme Court has proclaimed that right of marriage equality is guaranteed by the US Constitution (specifically based on the 14th amendment), there could be no doubt that this will be the end of the age where politicians can obstruct marriage equality in order to appease the religious right. And I also feel that perhaps now more than ever, those who try to bar the right of marriage equality using religion will be treated with even less respect and credibility than they are now, and the religious right will lose its hold. We may even reach an age where the conservatives will actually have adapt and rethink what their ideology means as opposed to clinging on to the blind hatred of the past. Truly, I think this is the beginning of the end of the old order of things in America, and also the beginning of hope for the fulfillment of liberty to rise from its ashes. Without hesitating, I say the recent ruling is a moral victory, and the road to a better future for a America may have just begun. Let’s just hope the usual right-wing crazies don’t ruin it all.