You are hereDemocracy / The Freedom Myth
The Freedom Myth
**Freedom and Liberty
[ Nanook is talking with Ben. ]
Looking at democracy from the standpoint of freedom
" OK. I understand that. So, if even democracy has so many flaws, I guess… we’re doomed?”
“Yep! Looks pretty grim.”
"Come on Ben. Don’t leave me hanging out on a limb. I know you’ve got some kind of solution figured out.”
“Oh bear cub of little brain. You’re doomed only if you think that socialism and democracy are the only alternatives. But, worse than that, you’re really doomed if you can’t go back and rethink everything we’ve talked about. Think about the true primary goal!”
"OK! I’m dead. I don’t have a clue.”
“Come on, genius. What’s the goal? We already talked about this.”
"Hmmm... Do you mean, the goal is FREEDOM?”
“BINGO! Now hang on to that. FREEDOM IS THE KEY. Follow that path. So, first ask, freedom for whom?”
"Do you mean something like the ‘greatest good for the greatest number?”
“Exactly. And by the greatest number, I actually mean the greatest percent, not an absolute number.”
"Hmmm… That’s what Father V. told me. But I still don’t fully understand it.”
“Good for him. To understand this, just imagine a country with 500,000 happy people. Now compare that to a country with 5 million people, but 4 million of them are slaves.”
"OK. Now I see. Even though there could be twice as many ‘happy’ people in the second case, we couldn’t judge that case as positive with so many people in slavery. Father V. also put it another way – ‘minimizing the absolute number of people in pain.’”
Tyranny of the majority / vote
“Right. With 4 million slaves, the second example would be viewed as a catastrophe. So, now, let’s use this view to look at democracy. And specifically, the tyranny of the majority. I mentioned that a perfect example of democracy gone wrong was a lynch mob. So, even if the vote is 10 to 1, a lynch mob still constitutes tyranny. A good short summary of this problem comes from On Liberty by John Stewart Mill. Page 20.”
- “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of contrary opinion, mankind would be no more JUSTIFIED in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
"Sure. You can do anything you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.”
“Well, that’s the idea. But it’s way too simple. Your wording is actually much too restrictive. Let me keep reading to explain this.”
- “…the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is SELF-PROTECTION. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”
"OK. This actually points out two things. One is that justifying action against someone, quote, ‘for their own good’is not warranted. The second is that there are some cases where you are actually justified hurting someone; self-protection for example?”
“Right. And, our society goes overboard on the first, and is way too restrictive on the second. So, again, society is blind to the true complexity of the concept of freedom. We approach it as Single Sentence Logic. And when we isolate specific instances of infringement of liberty for individuals, things get even more bizarre. Let me quote from Robert Ringer from his book How to find happiness during the collapse of Western Civilization. Page 14.”
- “The typical [social] ills, sexual promiscuity, drugs, violence, ARE SYMPTOMS, not causes. The CAUSE was the rise of majority rule over individualism.”
“Or, in other words, the CAUSE was the rise of majority rule over freedom.”
"Hmmm… I’m sure there is a lot behind that statement. But the point I think you’re making is that the focus modern society places on fighting each of these problems head on, while gallant, is prone to failure because they are not attacking the true problem. That’s pretty profound if I’m right.”
Dealing with terrorists
“Bingo! Here. Let me give you a specific example. Consider how western society deals with terrorism and criminals.
While we acknowledge that terrorism and crime are both evil, we fail to weigh our response to them against what it does to our freedom. The public mind freezes up with the Single Sentence Logic using a BLEEDING HEART mentality. The BLEEDING HEART media parades the terrorists and criminals in front of us being imprisoned or coming from desperate childhoods and backgrounds. The bleeding-hearts cave in with sympathy. They can’t stand the image of anyone being harmed or imprisoned. When someone proposes we KILL the terrorists, the bleeding-hearts go into panic. What’s their plan? ‘We can’t harm anyone. The government has to PROTECT us!’
The result is that western society allows ALL of its members to have their freedom BROADLY restricted. We are imprisoned behind walls, fences and gates, have security systems in our homes and cars, live under a cloud of fear, are subject to searches and background checks, forced to carry identification papers at all times, and employ millions of police to perform continuous surveillance. Why? Because we are afraid to “infringe” the freedom of terrorists and criminals. AND, we are afraid to expose the true ‘white collar’ criminals among our leadership. And this all goes on at HUGE expense to the country. Our response is truly insane.
There is a very interesting precedent for this: the era of piracy in the late 17th and early 18th century. As pirate attacks began to increase on U.S. cities, forts and defenses were built. But as soon as they were put up, the pirates would go elsewhere. It soon became obvious that there wasn’t enough money in the whole economy to defend the entire coast line. And other countries were suffering as well. So, we changed our approach. Through diplomacy, and pressure in some cases, all the coastal countries finally agreed to prohibit safe refuge to pirates. And then they were ALL hunted down by the military and killed or imprisoned.”
"So, you’re saying, this means something?”
“Absolutely. As the technology for smaller, more powerful weapons spreads around the world, the threat of terrorism will grow. The first response of the nations, which has a very short memory, will be to try to protect themselves. But they will slowly RELEARN that the cost of a defensive approach is prohibitive, oppressive to every one of their citizens and can never actually be complete. So, they should wake up and heed the pirate solution.”
"I guess, when you think about it, the pirates were actually terrorists. So, you’re saying people should wake up and heed the pirate solution.”
“Bingo! What’s the question? We’re idiots! How many times do we have to learn this? But NO! Single Sentence Logic. Can’t let those bleeding-hearts feel bad. Enough! It drives me crazy!”
"OK, OK! Calm down. Calm down. You’re in Alaska. No locks on the doors. No walls; no fences; no gates.”
“Yeah? Boy do you have a short memory. What happened to your ‘no-locks’ idea when you got into that welding rod fiasco? What about that 20 foot high fence and gates around the Dew Line site?”
"Oh yeah! I forgot.”
“Right? You forgot. Maybe it works for the Eskimos. But let the white man in the door, and it’s life under the Gestapo!
OK. I’m calming down. Let’s come back to a more civilized society. While it’s easy to see that we are way too sheepish defending ourselves from hostility, your idea of ‘no harm’ is also naïve about our normal business interactions. That is, the idea of ‘no-harm’ totally misses the point. There are cases where people do cause harm to each other, but should be both allowed, and expected to do that.”
“Hang in there. Let me keep reading. Page 120.”
- “… it must by no means be supposed, because damage, or the probability of damages, to another’s interests can alone justify the interference of society, that therefore it always does justify such interference. In many cases an individual, in pursuing a legitimate object, necessarily and therefore legitimately causes pain or loss to others, or intercepts a good which they had a reasonable hope of obtaining.”
“What he’s talking about here is the issue of competition. To permit the process of Capitalism to occur, we have to permit companies to compete with the interests of others. BUT, and this is so important, and it is something we don’t do, we have to a. consciously and openly describe the rules; and b. work out the rules so they are fully fair across ALL aspects of society. That is, we need to describe how freedom, which is concerned with the protection of the personal interests of individuals, is balanced with the personal interests of those same individuals in their business endeavors. So. Who’s job is it, to set out these rules?”
"The government, I guess?”
“Bingo! Let me keep reading.”
- “To prevent the WEAK from being preyed on by innumerable vultures, it was necessary to have an animal of prey stronger than the rest commissioned to keep them down. But the king of the vultures would be no less bent on preying on the flock than any of the others. Therefore the aim of the patriots was to set limits on the king vulture. This is what they called liberty. It had two parts: personal liberties and constitutional checks and balances.”
"Ah! And this has surely failed in our society. Our government does exactly the opposite of this. The rules are stacked in favor of businesses to protect a flock of elite vultures.”
“Bingo! Freedom is squashed by corruption at square one. In order for the average citizen to protect themselves from their own government, they’ve had to form organizations like the American Tax Payers Union, the Civil Liberties Union, the Better Business Bureau and Consumers Union. This is why the people in our country don’t respect the government. In fact they FEAR it. And they have very low respect for both the government as a whole and the politicians in it.”
"I don’t understand. What you are saying is pretty clear. So, why don’t the people do something about it?”
“Come on, Nanook. Don’t you understand what we’ve been telling you? Society has advanced to a stage where resistance is almost impossible. When the vultures are in control of the laws, the media, the schools and industry, the PEOPLE don’t stand a chance. That’s why civilizations fail. The process has spiraled way out of control. We are no longer anywhere near what the founders hoped for. Let me keep reading. Page 50.”
- “Majority rule requires that the MINORITY be guaranteed those freedoms which make EFFECTIVE opposition possible. The only majority which has a right to rule is one which is the product of free and open debate… The minority by definition believes the majority to be in error.”
"And if you consider a case where the minority is YOU, and the majority is the government, you can see the problem. The result? As I said, people fear government rather than respect it. And when we add in the dictatorial power of government over so much of our lives, things become really oppressive. Here are some quotes from Eugene Schwartz’s book Overskill.”
- “The statistics of unemployment are not measures of a healthy society... they mask the SLAVERY of tens of millions who perform tasks they abhor… labor must be transformed into a role of life’s creative, playful, artful enterprise. A sense of craftsmanship and pride in the product of one’s labor must supplant the wage-slavery… Human labor cannot be regarded as a commodity to be bought and sold.
- A restructuring of society in terms of man’s needs, rather than those of the machine, and the recognition of labor as a creative activity essential to man’s integrity and well-being, are required. …to reorient the nature and function of the production process... factories that are paced to the physical, social and psychological needs of humans.
- Unless scientific progress and the interests of humanity can be reconciled, we can look forward to the eventual downfall of the scientifically advanced races.
- The affluence of the advanced technological societies, it should be recalled, was ( and to an extent still is ) based on world-wide plunder and exploitation. The Third World nations cannot hope to emulate this plunder.
- The twentieth-century VERSION of PROGRESS turns out to be a BLINDLY HURTLING technology…”
“Note. He starts out with a very strong word: slavery. He says it applies to tens of millions of people. He was being kind. Every poll of the population’s happiness with their jobs shows dissatisfactions much higher than this - typically 50% or more. As I hinted before, we still do have slavery in this country. It is run by the major employers, the modern plantation owners, just like it was 150 years ago. Our society just denies it exists by covering it up with euphemisms like the ‘right’ to vote and minimum wage.”
"And what does he mean by ‘labor must be transformed into a role of life’s creative, playful, artful enterprise’?”
"Simple. Don’t you think work should be fun?”
"Sure. I’d like to say that work SHOULD be fun. But, from a practical perspective, it’s more like we have to ‘labor with the sweat of our brow’.”
"Ha. Hiding behind the Bible are you. What about technology? Isn’t technology supposed to free us from that? The correct answer is YES. If you ask most people this question, they will say yes. But, where can you find that goal written into the Constitution? You can’t. Because it isn’t in there. The people who set up the government didn’t want it. They wanted exactly the opposite. They wanted SLAVES. And we can NEVER get there if the people who run the government are still being led by a biblical authoritarian model and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Notice. This concept of enjoyable work begs the whole notion of a ‘free market’. The politicians would claim that, in a free market, if people really wanted enjoyable work, they would demand it and get it. BUT. As we discussed before, there is NO SUCH THING as a free market. And the free market concept can not be held out as a SIMPLE goal, either. A free market is an unguided process like evolution. It works fine in the presence of great resources. But in the face of shortages, it produces catastrophe for its participants. I know the economists are riding that bandwagon right now. But they are greatly failing us if they don’t figure out how to steer its benefits with a more human-friendly system.”
"But, does anybody know how to do this?”
"Hello! Earth to Nanook. Wake up man. What do you think I’m reading all these quotes to you for. The people who wrote these books are some of the modern ‘Jeffersons’ that Sagan told us about. Is anybody listening? NO! The survival of our country or even society as a whole is FAR FROM guaranteed. In fact, I’m with George on this. I’m putting my money on the machines!”
"Hey. Wait a minute. That’s what Father V. said.”
"See. It’s unanimous! God should have let Noah drown with the rest of the humans and started with the machines right then.”
"Too bad. Tough break for the machines. But, let me go back to something Schwartz said. What did he mean when he said the affluence of advanced societies is based on world-wide plunder?”
"How brainwashed you are. Why did the Conquistadors come to America?”
“Oh yeah. Gold. And something I read in that regard I’ll never forget. It only took 35 years from the time the Conquistadors first set foot in the new world until the entire native culture of South America was decimated. 35 years - Aztec, Inca, Maya – wiped out, either from war or disease.”
"That’s exactly what Schwartz was talking about. The Europeans, with their war ships, plundered South America, Africa, India, China, and Japan. The newly established United States, plundered a virgin wilderness - a million buffalo, huge forests, easy minerals. We wiped out the native humans. If we look at the world today, vs. when humans first evolved, ALL the easy to harvest stocks of the major natural resources have already be taken.”
"Hmmm… I see what you mean. But what’s his point about the third world not being able to emulate this?”
“His point is, the third world is also made up of humans. That means, they are as driven by the Seven Deadly Sins as the first world.”
"Oh wow! Now it’s clear as a bell. G, R, E, E, D!”
“Bingo! NEED! ENTITLEMENT! FAIRNESS! The easy plunder of the past has allowed the west to pave our streets with Macadam, line our streets with mansions, and pump drinkable water into every home. Everyone has a gas guzzling car. We have ample food and extravagant clothes. They will believe they have a right to all of these as well. BUT, the world cannot provide this high standard of living for the billions of people that are now alive. So, the model has to break down. It is IMPOSSIBLE to shut those people out. It would be the equivalent of keeping them in slavery.”
"So, why can’t we just bring them all up to our standard of living?”
“Come on Nanook. Haven’t you been paying attention. It’s all about RESOURCES. Their GONE! We’ve raped the earth.”
"So, can’t we at least just stop where we are?”
“I can’t believe it! I’m talking to an idiot!”
"OK. OK. Where we are now is not going to be acceptable to all those other people. Besides, where we are now is NOT even sustainable.”
Test of freedom - what we are NOT free to do
“Bingo! Finally. The light goes on. But we’re getting off course. We were talking about freedom, remember. Here is another insight, this time from Eric Hoffer in the Passionate State of Mind. Page 176.“
- “The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do… “
"Hmmm… Interesting. He turns the problem around. Another way to state this point is, ‘are there things that we are FORCED to do’. I can only think of one: pay taxes.”
"You’re BRAINWASHED! There are hundreds of things. Sure, paying taxes is a big one. But what about a person’s identity? We HAVE to be identified at birth. We HAVE to allow ourselves to get tracked throughout life. You can’t be employed without a Social Security number. Every child in the U.S. MUST go through the educational system. We all HAVE to have vaccinations to go to school. If you want to practice any major profession, you HAVE to have a business license. If you want to drive a car, you HAVE to get a license. And when you do drive, you HAVE to follow a million arcane rules. If you want to go in and out of the country, you HAVE to have a passport.”
"Wow! A lot more than I thought. And with just these few examples, I can’t even see to the end of this.”
People have lost respect for the social order – values
To experience freedom, we must actively pursue self-actualization.
"Bingo! So, freedom is a big issue for homo sapiens living in a modern democracy. Here. Let me just read some related quotes. First. Eric Hoffer, from Reflections.”
- “One of the chief objectives of freedom is to make it possible for a person to feel himself a human being first. Any social order in which people see themselves primarily as workingmen, businessmen, intellectuals, members of a church, nation, race, or party is deficient in genuine freedom.
- To some, freedom means the opportunity to do what they want to do; to MOST it means NOT to do what they DO NOT WANT TO DO.”
“Ah. Same principle.”
“Now, from Edmund Phelps.”
- “Now it's no good to have such rights if they're not used - a right of free speech when no one contradicts the government, freedom of the press when no one is willing to ask the tough questions, a right of assembly when there are no protests, universal suffrage when less than half the electorate votes, separation of church and state when the wall of separation is not regularly repaired. Through disuse they can become no more than votive objects, patriotic lip-service. Rights and freedoms: Use 'em or lose 'em.”
"OK. Hang on. I mean, I understand what he’s saying. But there should be some cases where people DON’T have to exercise their rights, because things are going OK.”
“Sure. But that’s not what he’s talking about. What he’s pointing out is that, even if people have rights, a government can build up so many obstacles to using them, that they are effectively mute. He should have said, ‘it’s no good to have such rights if they CAN’T be used.”
"OK. I agree with that. And I think we have that in spades.”
- “Due to the foresight of the framers of the Bill of Rights - and even more so to all those who, at considerable personal risk, insisted on exercising those rights - it's hard now to bottle up free speech. School library committees, the immigration service, the police, the FBI - or the ambitious politician looking to score cheap votes - may attempt it from time to time, but sooner or later the cork pops… activists and the courts episodically hold their feet to the fire.
- However, through lowered educational standards, declining intellectual competence, diminished zest for substantive debate, and SOCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST SKEPTICISM, our liberties can be slowly eroded and our rights subverted.”
"Father V and I talked about this last point a lot. He explained to me how the hands-off sensitivity society grants to all the religious moderates effectively blocks criticism of anything any so-called religion wants to preach.”
“Bingo! And there go our rights, down the drain across the board. More reading.”
- “The Founders understood this well: "The time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united," said Thomas Jefferson. From the conclusion of this [Revolutionary] war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, ‘til our rights shall revive or expire in a CONVULSION.”
"He sounds like a super optimistic guy! Just like you Ben!”
“Hey! If it weren’t for him, our whole country would still be speaking ENGLISH!”
"Yeah, yeah. And paying taxes to the King.”
Taxes! Tea parties! Give me a break. We’d have been way better off with the King. 91% income tax bracket! We’re out of our minds! OK. Continuing. Eric Hoffer, Passionate State of Mind. Page 44.”
Need for stricter limitations on the powerful
- “Great evils befall the world when the strong begin to copy the weak. The desperate devices which enable the weak to survive are unequaled instruments of oppression and extermination in the hands of the strong.”
“Do you understand what he’s trying to tell us? Think about the people we select to lead this country and its institutions. Do we select them because they are intellectual giants with high morals? Or are they selected because they are ‘average Joes, just like everyone else? I’ll tell you. It’s the later. We take the weak and give them artificial strength. So, what do we do to protect ourselves? Do we put much stronger limitations on their freedom of action than we do on the common people. NO! We let them grant themselves IMMUNITY! So, what do we get? It’s called corruption. And it’s everywhere! And you wonder why the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
Back to the old sage, John Stuart Mill.”
Grading determination of rights
- “… the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion and avoidance by other people, if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express it’s dislike… for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected either to social or legal punishment, if society is of the opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its PROTECTION…”
“Unfortunately, Mill didn’t take enough time talking about this. Why? Because it’s way more COMPLEX than it first appears. For example, let’s say some guy decides to paint his house black. Maybe he thinks he’ll save money on heating because black absorbs more sunlight. But his neighbors interpret this as a sign that he’s actually in league with Satan. What happens then?”
"Simple. The neighbors believe they need to burn the guy at the stake for their own protection.”
"Bingo! So, society needs to wake up to the fact that the world is no longer as simple as 10 commandments carved on stone. They need to wake up to the fact that our freedoms have been trampled on because the past generations have accepted the Christian authoritarian model. And if we don’t wake up to this in a quiet way, then we will face the convulsions that Jefferson talked about.”
"It’s obvious you’re taking this a lot more serious than I am.”
"You’re still brainwashed. You’re a religious pawn who’s original training was, NOT, to learn the commandments, but to learn to obey the church. Father V told you about that, I’m sure. The 11th commandment? So, let’s look at a very clear example: SLAVERY. Wasn’t the Declaration of Independence very specific about that? We hold these truths etc. All men are created equal; land of the brave, home of the FREE! Listen to what Mill says about this.”
Slavery – based on freedom ( also suicide )
- “…an engagement ( contract ) by which a person should sell himself, or allow himself to be sold, as a slave, would be null and void… The principle of freedom cannot require that he should be free not to be free… By selling himself for a slave, he abdicates his liberty; he foregoes any future use of it beyond that single act. He therefore defeats the very purpose which is the justification of allowing him to dispose of himself.”
"Very interesting! So, not only can’t a person be held as a slave in a free society, a person can’t even sell themselves as a slave in a free society.”
"Bingo! In a free society, NO SLAVES! But what do the founders of the newly formed U. S. of A. do? They make all kind of excuses and keep trafficking in slaves. Pure corruption. The country has to go to war with itself to stop the corrupt politicians and elite land holders from dragging the rest of us into this. Do you understand what I’m saying? Corruption at the top is NOT a small thing in this country. And it’s NOT something only relegated to our past. And now that it virtually pervaded the UNIONS, we have to add workers to the list of politicians and management.”
"OK. I guess I’m really brainwashed. I understand about the slaves in the first half of our history. But I totally don’t know anything about the corruption in present society. And it’s probably important that I change that.”
Authoritarianism and the evolution of humanism
"You absolutely have to escape what you’ve been taught. You’ve been brainwashed. You have to understand the significance of AUTHORITARIANISM in society, how pervasive it is and how completely it has imprisoned our freedom.
Authoritarianism – origin of societies, natural and religious roots
Authoritarianism comes first, both from our animal nature, and from religion.
In nature, in higher animals, where animals form small social groups, there is always a DOMINANT animal that rules the group. It was natural for humans to adopt this organization. Even with A2 thinking, authoritarianism still made sense. So, many of the social patterns we see are still organized around this animal model. The NUCLEAR FAMILY, which is considered the most fundamental social unit, is a dominant male, one or more breeding females, and children.”
"When you say one or more females, are you referring to the multiple wife families in Africa and Arabia?”
“Well, those are just some examples. In the western world, up until about 6,000 years ago, it was probably the standard model for human society. The monogamous family was a fabrication of the Jews along with the concept of one God. The second primary family unit is the EXTENDED FAMILY. This is a direct parallel to groups of apes and elephants, for example. In addition to the basic function of producing children, it adds the ability to collect the wisdom of multiple adults, including those who have survived a long time.”
"OK. So, now you’re getting up to groups like small towns and cities.”
Rule of law – key discriminator in social structure
“No. Not yet. The key discriminator between family clans and towns is the rule of LAW. Most extended families don’t write down laws. They interact based on verbal or implied rules, which are dictated by the dominant people. And these rules can be made up one at a time with many inconsistencies.”
"Now I got it. Single Sentence Logic. A2 thinking.”
A3 brain social development
“Bingo! So, here’s where the development of the A3 brain comes in. When the A3 brain emerged, humans were able to understand the larger concepts of society and how to organize it. But they were still totally ignorant of the great forces they observed in nature. So, religion appeared as the process to do this. It probably started out with witch doctors and shamans; eventually growing into full scale institutions. It was a FALSE explanation of the real world because it wasn’t based on accurate knowledge. But the explanations were very cleverly constructed to form a STABLE PHILOSOPHY, and be of the type that could NOT be measured by direct observation of nature.”
"OK. I discussed all of this with one of the three of you before. So, you’re saying, this is still the basis of CURRENT society?”
"Bingo! The yoke around our necks. Ignorance and superstition. Think about it. Here are some typical social structures we find today: A dominant animal - a pack - behavior correction. Father - children - rules. King – subjects - laws. President - citizens - laws. Management - workers - rules. Teachers - students - rules. God - humans - commandments. Notice how parallel they all are.”
"And this is a direct explanation of the idea that humans created their gods in their own image and likeness. The Catholic religion just reflects the authoritarian animal social model. The Greek and Roman religions were just human social structures based on super-human gods, who mostly looked and acted like humans.”
"This is amazing.”
“Sure it is. But it also TOTALLY no longer fits with current society. Why? Because of the combination of five things: 1. the emergence of SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE which more accurately describes the material world; 2. large congregations of humans in close living conditions, like CITIES; 3. the ability for almost instantaneous communication among most of the society; 4. easy access to the entire recorded storehouse of human knowledge; and 5. the ability for common people to travel across the globe in just a few days.”
"OK. I can see where these things have drastically changed the world. But how does that make the old social model break down?”
“Because the old social model had one major lynch pin! It did NOT provide individual human FREEDOM! FREEDOM is the KEY. We now have the TOOLS to throw off the old model. The old structure developed before there were even two million people on the whole planet. They were farmers. Crops took a whole year to mature. In the modern world, the entire civilization can be turned on its head with a world war that might only last a few years. Modern businesses respond to social and natural changes in months or weeks. Genetics has the ability to restructure the basic human form and function. The old model can’t provide the answers to these challenges. The COMPLEXITY of modern life has challenged all the basic principles.”
"And you think people will want to do it?”
Humanism – an escape from Authoritarianism
“That’s actually a very good question. The kneejerk answer is NO. People never want to change. But the actual answer is YES. My two-sided answer comes because of the impact of FEAR on humans. If you ask people if they want more freedom, they will usually say yes. But when you show them what the impact of that would be, they become afraid of change and pull back. And the greed for power always produces structures that foster concentration of power. That allows some to grab control and try to enslave others.
But we also have a lot of history related to success. The struggle to eliminate slavery from all of society is a prime example. The struggle for democracy is also a prime example. That is, the OVER THROW OF AUTHORITARIANISM by the masses.
In history, there have been two major processes to do this. Democracy is the overthrow of authoritarian political systems. Humanism is the over throw of authoritarian superstition systems. The cross over of these into culture is the over throw of government monarchies: kings and royalty, and religious monarchies: gods and popes, with the objective of placing control of life in the hands of “common” people. Both of these processes essentially started with the rise of ancient Greece. They have continued on a rocky journey ever since. In the modern world, the authority for how we live, THEORETICALLY, is moving strongly toward individuals.”
"OK. But we are also seeing a resurgence of religious fundamentalism.”
“That’s absolutely true. And there have always been huge swings in the progress of freedom. Religion has also gone through large swings. The important characteristic of religious fundamentalism that I think will limit its influence in this round is factionalism. Islam, for example, has as many leaders as there are mosques, each with their own set of rules. In the US, excluding Catholics for the moment, we find the primary practice of “born again” Christians is adherence to the Bible. So, the authority for “truth” has gone away from a small number of human figureheads - a Pharaoh or a single Pope – to many contesting figureheads and religious books.
The problem with having many figureheads is that, under scrutiny, many differences will be brought forward. Without a solid foundation of material truth, none of them will be able to substantiate ANY firm position. So their members will go on a merry-go-round from one church, one set of Single Sentence Logic, to another. A similar process will happen to the holy books. There are hundreds of translations of the Bible running around. They have substantial differences. As these differences are investigated and resolved, the believers in the errant versions are all discredited. Or, worse, what if all of them are shown to be in error? Modern biblical scholars are already doing that. The more they examine Bible history, the more discrepancies they find between what it says and the recorded history found in archeology. So, fundamentalism is on thin ice.”
"You used the word THEORETICALLY about the changes. What did that mean?”
“The biggest obstacle to freedom is CORRUPTION. That is, the biggest obstacle to YOUR freedom is other humans who want to rule over you. That’s why its so important to replace the tyranny of the vote and the system of representatives.”
Basic concept of freedom
Nanook (italics) is talking to Ben (& ), Father Vincent (+), and George (%). From Escape to Insanity ch. 34.
+" Let me summarize what we have learned.
The key focus for humanity’s future is throwing off the oppression of authoritarianism and seeking significance for the individual. The KEY focus is INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM. This principle is the CORNERSTONE for the new twenty first century society. Remember this word - FREEDOM.”
&"And the milestone of the twenty first century is also important. Key indicators about the health of our planet tell us that if we don’t correct things soon, there will be a huge price to pay. So, let me kick this off by quoting a very highly respected man: Albert Einstein. This is from the book Out of My Later Years.”
- “In these ten years, confidence in the stability, yes, even the very basis for existence, of human society has largely vanished. The pseudo-success of political adventurers has dazzled the rest of the world; it becomes apparent everywhere that this generation lacks the strength and force which enabled previous generations to win, in painful struggle and at great sacrifice, the political and individual FREEDOM of man.”
"Hmmm… Einstein said that? Freedom was the key focus of that statement.”
Freedom as performance gained through education
&"Bingo! But we need to see freedom in a broad way. Freedom does not mean just being able to do what YOU want. Freedom for the individual means freedom for ALL members of society. It means the ‘freedom’ to reach human achievement and fulfillment. But to get this, every person needs to be given substantial support to climb to a level of PERFORMANCE which fits the current technical state of the society. This is primarily a statement about EDUCATION. Notice though, I’m not saying society has to guarantee that level of performance. Self motivation has to play a key role. But the opportunity for education must be there.”
Basic concept of fairness
+"So, how can we build on this?”
%"OK. I’ll tell you where I’d start. Forget any notion that people are equal. They aren’t. So, let’s take that head on. What the founding father’s were trying to address was the INEQUITY between the nobility and the peasants that characterized the ancient world. So far, the U.S., and the rest of the world, have done a pretty bad job of achieving that goal. And as time goes on, we are just recreating royalty all over again. I don’t know if I dare bring up the word FAIRNESS. But this is actually the goal that is underneath all the talk of equality. But without an open discussion in society to understand what that means, we’re just out of the pan and into the fire. Basically, I would define FAIRNESS as an attempt to match a person’s abilities to social needs without special privileges. It comes down to finding a BALANCE between FREEDOM for the individual and EFFICIENCY for the society.”
&"I agree with that. To help us understand it, let me just list a few elements for each of those words.
Fairness as access to education
FAIRNESS requires that the path that a person chooses to follow to gain their education must NOT be LIMITED by birth right. That’s the old authoritarian model. Society has to move away from that.
Fairness as performance achieved in a free but transparent market
FAIRNESS requires that the path that a person chooses to follow as a career must NOT be LIMITED by their formative social environment. Career opportunities must be reasonably equal. And by reasonable, I’m now relying on George’s other word: efficiency. I’ll come back to that. Once a person achieves a suitable level of performance, then FAIRNESS requires that the person be allowed to express that performance without authoritarian prejudice. That is, the governing structure should not be able to ARBITRARILY set rules that give some social roles advantages over others. To guide this, I would call on the principle of a FREE MARKET. But that market must also be TRANSPARENT. I’ll come back to that as well.
Fairness as performance with protection measured against quality of life
And if a person is diligent at making a contribution to society based on the existing social contract, then that person should be given protections against both environmental and social disasters. To guide this, I would call on the principle of QUALITY of LIFE interpreted as a balance between the individual and society.”
Assumption of diversity ( lack of equality )
+"So, I’m assuming that there’s no assumption of equality in any of these points, correct?”
&"That’s right. Exactly the opposite. The whole approach society now takes assuming people are equal to begin with and then keeping them homogenized, has to be thrown out. This includes education, social security, employment security, medicine, business structures, politics etcetera.
Focus on the Quality of life
Goal of Freedom
We have been talking about freedom and fairness. But these are not the ultimate goals. They are just methods to get to the ultimate goal. The actual ultimate goal is HAPPINESS.”
"Ah HA! The old Declaration of Independence again - life, liberty and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.”
&"Bingo! Which, by the way, were supposed to be God given rights, remember. Which He doesn’t enforce . . . . forget it. Rat hole. What each of us wants is a life that has certain attributes that make it enjoyable. These will be different for each person. So, let’s look at some of those attributes.
If you ask people what are the main factors for a good life, the most common factor will be MONEY. But when you analyze that, you see Single Sentence Logic at work. What good is money? You can’t eat it. It doesn’t make good clothing. It’s not efficient to burn to keep warm.”
"Obviously. Money is only good for what it will buy.”
&"And that opens up the whole issue of how people decide WHAT they will buy. And that’s what drives our greed for money into the ground. Study after study has shown that money, ALONE, can’t buy happiness. People who win lotteries tend to keep the personalities they had before they won. If they were miserable before, they stay miserable afterwards, just with bigger problems. If they were poor money managers before, they are poor money managers afterwards. If they were happy before, they are happy afterwards. And it’s easy to find rich people who are unhappy and poor people who are happy. So, money isn’t the answer.
Quality of Life
What we need to focus on is what we call QUALITY OF LIFE. Let’s start with the dictionary.”
- “Quality of Life: personal satisfaction with the conditions under which you live.”
"Personal satisfaction! You can always count on the dictionary to run you in circles.”
&"This is actually not an easy subject to pin down. First, we have to determine who is asking the question. The Quality of Life for an individual is very different from that of a society.
Quality of life - for individuals
So, let’s start with the individual. The World Health Organization took a shot at this. They created a list of six categories:
1. Physical; 2. Psychological; 3. Level of independence; 4. Social relationships; 5. Environment; and 6. Spirituality/religion/personal beliefs. Another group called the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions broke it into 14 categories: 1.Economic resources, 2. Knowledge, 3. education and training, 4. Families and households, 5. Health and health care, 6. Employment and working conditions, 7. Community life and social participation, 8. Transport, 9. Local environment and amenities, 10. Public safety and crime, 11. Culture, 12. identity, 13. political resources and 14. human rights.
Measuring the quality of life
Most academic approaches take each of these and break them up into a very long list of questions. They then ask people each question and give the question a score. Then they add up the scores. What amazes me is how these academics ever got their degrees. If a person scores high in every category like wealth, availability of food, clothes, shelter etc, but is bed ridden, then their quality of life can still be very low. To deal with a large set of measurements like this and combine them, we have to multiply them together so that a poor score for any single critical item can sink the whole ship.”
%"Let me jump in here. The last thing Ben said is actually pretty profound because it addresses how our society and government think. It’s Single Sentence Logic again. They believe as long as a government delivers a large number of things, that’s good enough. This is compartmentalized thinking. What’s actually needed is SYSTEM thinking. To be, quote, ‘good enough’, a government has to provide EVERY needed service WELL. For example, a great city that loses its sanitation system, just one item, has killed its Quality of Life.”
"Hmmm… So, all the academic studies that are trying to refine lists like these are going to miss the point if they don’t understand the need for a system approach?”
&"Right. And attempts to implement those studies will keep failing and no one will understand why. All of the elements of government have to be forced to work together as a team, as a system. And they should be rewarded both by individual contribution and by system performance.
Quality of life - for societies - the Jacksonville Index
The Quality of Life for societies is similar, but group things in a different way. Here is a list from the city of Jacksonville Florida: 1. Achieving Educational Excellence, 2. Growing a Vibrant Economy, 3. Preserving the Natural Environment, 4. Promoting Social Wellbeing and Harmony, 5. Enjoying Arts, Culture, and Recreation, 6. Sustaining a Healthy Community, 7. Maintaining Responsive Government, 8. Moving Around Efficiently, 9. Keeping the Community Safe.”
"OK. Makes sense. These are all good things.”
&"Sure. But for the Quality of Life to be good, using a system approach, they have to get good scores in ALL of these boxes. I’m glad to see someone down in Jacksonville is working on these issues. But, they have one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. So, their quality of life is seriously damaged. Put New York City in that boat as well. Sure, world class art galleries, best performing arts, great baseball team, fantastic food. But you take your life in your hands if you walk down the wrong street. And with the concentration of wealth in the banks and investment firms living right next to people in the streets, the city is a tragedy.
Here’s another list published by The Economist Magazine. It is geared for nations: 1. Material wellbeing, 2. Health, 3. Political stability and security, 4. Family life, 5. Community life, 6. Climate and geography, 7. Job security, 8. Political freedom, 9. Gender equality.”
Need for optimization to survive
"OK. We have the lists. Now what?”
&"Well, let’s say we have SOME lists. Even with all these factors, we haven’t covered the waterfront yet. If we stopped with just these, then we’ve fallen into the non-system thinking trap that society generally does fall into.”
"But, if we tried to list out all the relevant factors, there would be hundreds! Maybe even thousands.”
&"Yeah? So? What’s the value to society for getting the right answer?”
&"That’s the point I’m driving at. There are hundreds of organizations like the City of Jacksonville that have smart people who realize that something like a Quality of Life study is needed to understand what’s happening in their environment. But our society is still living in the dark ages. They are still looking at the world as if it’s a backwoods pioneering operation with everyone in their own cabin. Why does every city in the U.S. have to figure this out from scratch on their own? Isn’t there a role for the Federal government to organize an effort like this, put the needed money into it, DO IT ONCE and DO IT RIGHT?”
"But, that’s got to be a big job.”
&"Duh! I’m talking to an idiot. So, you’re saying it’s more efficient and has a lower impact on the whole country for all the little guys with their little budgets to do half assed jobs one at a time?”