What is freedom?

At the art college I attend, I have a new brief where I have to deal with the concept of freedom. Seems easy enough for me, since I have an idea of freedom. But when we gathered yesterday morning and were asked our idea of freedom, I kinda felt like that idea was under attack and thus becoming more confused. Have I ever defined freedom on this blog? Either way, it’s time for me to sure up my conviction.

Freedom, or liberty if that works better, is the condition of not being controlled or oppressed by the government, or any other overarching entity that can manipulate you (because sometimes it’s not just the government who can oppress you; spare a thought for those who erode our freedoms using the power of money). It is the condition in which you can say what you want while having that speech oppressed by no one, not even the public. It is the condition of being able to express yourself as you see fit, believe whatever you want, and think how you please. It is the condition of being able life your life for yourself, and in any way you choose (provided you have the means). It is the condition to pursue pleasure, joy, and happiness without oppression. It is freedom from banality and from being forced to live with mediocrity. It is freedom of sexual expression, to explore sexuality in anyway you wish without being oppressed by the ignorance and traditions of the prudes (you know, as in sexual repression). It is the condition of having the power to forge your own path and make your own road to walk. Freedom is power.

But freedom and liberty also carries responsbility for your actions. You see, if there is no one to control you, then it is now YOU who must be accountable for your actions, and you are the sole person responsible for protecting your freedom. Some might even argue that freedom or free will is essential to morality, probably based on the idea that one can only make moral or immoral choices if he is free to choose them. Anyways, if your liberty is threatened, you must oppose whoever, or whatever, dares threaten it. You must prepared to refuse, reject, resist anything that threatens your freedom, be prepared sacrifice whatever is necessary or can be sacrificed in the name of freedom. And don’t forget to protect your freedom, for it is something that can always be broken by evil individuals who seek authority or to take advantage of the weak and the ignorant. This most often requires independence, strong will, and some self-reliance. Be warned, apathy shown towards your freedom and your power will lead you only to slavery and oppression, for the apathetic are the easiest to control.

There’s a kind of freedom we had as children: the freedom to enjoy life. That classic joie de vivre in our minds that gets killed when we become adults, because we become trained up as hamsters for the machine, and eventually, most of us surrender to the pressure to conform and be a slave, and the desire to enjoy life is replaced by the fear of debt. Hell, how can anyone call any society free if you’re afraid to tell your boss to fuck off? But who now will speak for that freedom? The freedom of joie de vivre? The freedom to enjoy life?

I should take care to mention that I do not care much about systems, and am more concerned about freedom, mainly because every time I try to create or find a system supposedly designed around freedom, I run into problems. Besides, what’s the point of sacrificing freedom in the name of system supposedly designed around it?

And that’s what freedom means to me: the great sacred value equalled only by justice, that is to be cherished as such, like a sacred flame.

Let no one tread on you.

Blaming something else is a tool for social control

This is the asshole from the NRA who tried to use video games as a scapegoat for violence. Just as pathetic as progressive gun control advocates.

Ever heard all those random arguments that try to blame something else and emphasize less importance on the actual culprit or his actions? Religious nuts claim that crime and gun violence happen because of “sin”. Progressive anti-gun advocates try to blame guns themselves, rather than bad gun owners, and try to act as though responsible gun owners do not exist. Social conservatives and the NRA have tried to use video games and violent media as a scapegoat and try to attribute them to all of society’s problems. And still others blame the culprit’s parents, lifestyle, religion, or state of mind, all forgetting that the culprit and his/her actions are more important.

The reason? Everyone wants to blame something else because they delude themselves into thinking that it will solve the problem forever. The same reason that people would blame something else instead of taking responsibility for their own actions and choices. People try to have us believe that something causes you to act the way you act, instead of pinning responsibility on the culprit. The sad thing is it’s easy, especially if the culprit decides to evade justice and retribution by killing him(or her)self.

This rampant blaming also justifies administering social control, in part due to the belief that doing so will resolve the problem, when in actuality will only succeed in punishing the innocent. And that just won’t stand. Whenever politicians participate in this blame game, you just know they’re trying to push an agenda of social control. When religious nuts do it, you know they’re just trying to push their religious views on everyone. When normal people do it, they’re just being stupid.

The sooner we realize that the actions and the individual responsibility of the culprit are more important, the better.

Collective responsibility: A cornerstone of totalitarianism

Ah, collective responsibility. I dismiss it because it makes no sense, and it drags unnecessary parties who have no role into an issue they may not even care about, often against their own will. Collective responsibility is the cornerstone of totalitarian governments. Any good society seeking submission and control would use guilt as a device to keep its subjects in line. This appears as a theme in Jean-Paul Sartre’s work, The Flies, in which Zeus’ minions, the Furies, represent the morbid and suffocating forces of neurotic guilt, and shame in our humanity, which bind us to authoritarian and totalitarian authority.

“For the good of everyone” is an ideal or justification for the existence of totalitarian systems, especially totalitarians, since they believe they do what they do for everyone’s sake, when really it’s all about total control. The ideal gives control to government to act “for the good of the people”, which is not only impossible, but also totally not good when you try. The worst thing about is that, as long as everyone shares responsibility, the originator of a crime can safely deny responsibility because everyone shares it.

Even in supposed democratic culture, collective responsibility can be a perpetuated ideal, in the sense everyone feels the same guilt over something. It does not empower the individual, rather it empowers the puppet-masters who use guilt, shame, and tragedy to manipulate the innocent and the gullible.

In contrast, individual responsibility places the individual as accountable for all his/her actions, no matter what influences those actions. You are in charge of and responsible for your actions, no one else. Take your pick as to which is more moral a thing.

Anti-smoking, give it a rest.

I don’t smoke, and I don’t like smoking, but I still don’t oppose someone else’s right to smoke. It doesn’t matter if people know they’re slowly killing themselves or not, it’s still their choice whether they want to smoke or not.

But those damn noise boxes never learn, especially in the UK, where I live. I take it the UK is not a huge fan of the libertarian ideals of free choice and personal responsibility for ourselves. No, they’re more of a “doing what’s best for us” kind of country. You know, those nanny states that try or pretend to be in the interest of the public as a whole or pretend to act in the interest of public and common good. They’re never far off from being totalitarian dictatorships in my books.

If anything, I think personal responsibility is a way better solution than just going on a rampage of banning smoking like our lazy instincts inspire us to. If we listen to people who are only interested in taking things away from other people, we’ll never get to exercise said powers of responsibility.

Subliminal messages and Free will

Admit it, this is making you think of playing Dead or Alive: Paradise right now, and making you wish you wanted her in your pants.

As you can guess, I am a believer in free will, and as you can also guess, my belief in free will and choice often runs into conflict with the idea espoused by others that we are brainwashed by subliminal messages, or other forces beyond our control, and that no choice or action is our own. I, however, have a different solution.

You know that ads and other media often carry subliminal messages. However, these messages are merely inspirations that steer or affect your desires, choices, and later actions, which are still your own. Therefore, even though there are influences, you are still responsible for all your actions, thoughts, desires, and choices. That’s why I believe that just because we have subliminal messages doesn’t mean there is no social free will.

For instances, the image for this post (screenshot of the PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise) is an example of the classic “sex sells” tactic. You all know how this goes. Put in a sexually attractive figure and use it sell your product. A nice sexy woman for the young men, and a physically well-toned man for the women. Now, this does send messages inspiring you to buy the product, due to the association of the product with the sexually attractive figure. But it is your choice, that you are responsible for, just that the message affects said choice. Sex isn’t the only thing that sells. For men, power, boldness and strength are quite appealing as well. Meanwhile, in women, sensitivity and affection seems to be a recurring source of appeal. And of course, beauty has great appeal to all, in different ways. This could just be a generalization on my part, coming from opinion.

It helps, though, to be aware of the messages, that things do influence and inspire you in some way, but at the same time, do not deny your accountability to your own actions.

What I’m always standing for

This kinda sounds like my views.

I kinda feel like speaking my views today, because sometimes I find my views under atttack, sometimes from my own thoughts.

If you want things to be simple, I’m an individualist, and my prime principle individuality over collectivity, that is the freedom and uniqueness of the individual over conformity to society, government, or any kind of collectivity. Like any good individualist, I value independence and self-reliance, and living your life for yourself, and the way I see, those things are the path to personal freedom. There’s two ways of being free. First is to remove all sources of oppression, the other is to be independent and to have the personal power to stay free. You’ve got to be strong to keep your freedom, don’t let anyone take it away from you, use you or take advantage of you. I value anything that leads to actualization of what I value, leading me to be respectful of anarchism, libertarianism, or anything that values freedom and individuality, or shares my values, but most of the time, I trust my own instincts and my own mind.

Speaking of my values, as I may have mentioned in my very first post when I introduced myself, I value freedom, individuality, personal power, personal responsibility (by at least recognizing that all your actions are your own), and justice. I don’t limit my self by other people’s morals, and carry my own as my sword. Don’t be confused, I can be laid-back, but like having a warrior thing going on. Anyway, I don’t have many morals, but the ones I do have are important, and I keep them as strong as possible. I mainly just expect people to be aware that their actions are their own, and everything that implies. Do whatever you want, but be aware that you are the conductor of your deeds, and don’t expect some of your less than savory actions to go unopposed. This is why I don’t like hypocrites, or people who pretend to hold the values they say they do. I also don’t like those who blindly cling to authorities, gods, dogmas, and saviours as masters of their lives because they don’t have the strength to save them selves, much like why I don’t like religion as a concept.

I also heavily oppose tyrants, and hate them to the bone, along with anything that would go against our freedom and individuality. When it comes to them, all bets are off in my mind. As such, I value any act of opposing them, even the most violent acts of opposing tyrants, after all they should know what their evil actions and their oppression of free will would bring them by know. But I also stress the importance of making sure new tyrants aren’t born. Often times, our weakness, ignorance, and apathy, along a sense of “back to the way things were” or “back to normal”, leads us to fill the void left by the removal of tyrants with just something else to put our faith in, another master, false god, or object of worship to blindly obey. This is an incessant cycle that keeps us from being strong, and it happens because we don’t ask for more. We don’t care that the next oppressor will come along, just so long as this one’s gone. Until most people realize this , they’ll never allow themselves to be free and be strong.

Thank you for listening, and remember to rebel.