I'm not surprised, really. Perhaps I'm a little disappointed, but not in the way I might have been if I had expected or depended on it. Fortunately I've long been immune to any need for anyone else to be anything other than what they are. Still, it would have been nice to find more than the handful of individuals I've come to know who really want to know the truth.|
A long time ago I thought there were more who did. They called themselves libertarians, or free-market anarchists, or even Objectivists, and I was disappointed when I learned they really weren't interested in the truth either. What they were interested in was an agenda. They all call themselves freedom-fighters, but its really not freedom they're after, but the establishment of something they call a free society. Most of them do not really agree on what that is, but they are all certain it can be brought about by some kind of collective effort, movement, program, or strategy such as propaganda, political activism, or even civil disobedience.
Most people do not want to know the truth. Most people already have a viewpoint, an agenda, or an "ideal," and what they are looking for is some plausible "explanation" or "argument" which justifies what they want to be true.
There is another reason no one wants to know the truth. What they believe is the truth is, at best, half-truths mixed with error, but it is what they have embraced as the truth and what they have invested a large part of their life in, especially their reputation. They do not want to learn the truth if that truth will contradict any of their precious beliefs.
No matter how rational an individual's views are, if they must hold them by refusing to examine any ideas that might raise questions about what they believe, their convictions become mere superstitions, doggedly held onto in the face of any rational arguments to the contrary.
The Truth About Freedom
The truth is, most people do not want freedom. What most people want is security, an easy untroubled life, and guarantees, and most people believe these things are possible, and will resist any serious attempt to show them how mistaken they are.
That is the reason none of the so-called freedom movements will ever work. They are attempting to promote something no one wants, and there is a question of the morality of doing that, which I'll also address.
The libertarians, voluntaryists, anarchists, free-market types, Objectivist, and other so-called freedom lovers are not interested in this truth: freedom is not marketable.
Most people are terrified of real freedom. To be truly free means to be totally responsible for all of one's own choices and actions, one's successes or failures determined solely by one's own efforts. For the truly free, there are no guarantees in life, and one must face every risk on their own, either learning how to deal with them, or suffering the consequences. For the truly free, nothing is provided and everything must be acquired or achieved by one's own effort. For those who love freedom, these are freedom's virtues, but for most people, the very virtues of freedom are a source of terror.
The collectivists and statists are offering exactly what most people desire. Where freedom offers responsibility, the statist offers relief from responsibility. "Don't worry about making provisions for your old age, the state will take care of it." Where freedom offers the reality of risk and danger, the state offers guarantees of safety. "Don't worry about natural disasters, the government will take care of everything and protect you from them. Don't worry about the dangers of the world, the government will pass laws that will make everything safe, your job, your food, your medicine, even driving your car."
Five Moral Mistakes of Freedom Movements
Morally, every individual ought to seek to be free as possible. The freedom movement types have immorally interfered in the lives of others desiring freedom by convincing them their movements, programs, campaigns, and activism are the means to freedom, thus deceiving those who desire freedom into involvement in that which cannot possibly provide freedom, wasting the time and effort they could otherwise use to find true freedom.
The whole freedom movement, in any of its guises, cannot possibly succeed, and even if it could, it is immoral to the core.
1. It is immoral to influence people. There is only one moral way for individuals to deal with one another, and that is by means of reason. Every other method attempts to bypass reason by appealing to people's feelings, sentiments, desires, passions, irrational beliefs, superstitions, or fears, especially their fears. These are the methods of the con-artist and politician, not moral individuals.
2. It is wrong to attempt to have anything by a social means, whether it is a job, health care, education, or freedom. To expect society to provide something means expecting others to provide it. It is immoral to expect society to provide freedom.
3. The fundamental principle here is that no one has a moral claim on anything they have not earned or produced by their own effort. Freedom must be earned just like any other value.
4. It is immoral to "force" anything on other people who do not want it. Most people do not want freedom. It is immoral to force freedom on people who neither choose or desire it.
5. Attempting to find or establish freedom by some social means, such as establishing a free society, is an attempt to have freedom by means of a shortcut. It is based on the very mistaken belief that freedom is easier to obtain by some social political means than by the direct personal effort of the individual. In reality the only method by which freedom can be secured is that by which each individual establishes their own freedom. It is not easy, but it is the only method that can work. Everything else is harder and will ultimately fail.
There Is No Such Thing As Rights
Many people believe freedom is some kind of right. In reality there is no such thing as a right to anything. Let me reiterate, no one has a moral claim on anything they have not earned by their own effort. Let me use the example of a right almost no one doubts, the so-called, "right to life."
What is a right to life? To live, a human being must have food, water, shelter, and in most climates, clothing, because without those things a human being will die. Does a right to life mean a right to food, water, shelter, and clothing? If some individuals are unable or unwilling to provide those things for themselves, does their right to life give them a right to those necessities, since without them they will die? If they had such a right, it would mean someone else was obligated to provide them; it would mean individuals who do not provide those things for themselves have a claim on others who do provide them. How does a right give any individual a claim on anyone else?
Many people believe a right to life does give individuals a claim on the life of others, others who have provided the necessities of life for themselves. Not only do they have a right to the necessities but to everything it is supposed is necessary for successful human life from an education to medical care. I know those who call themselves 'freedom fighters,' the libertarians, anarchists, voluntaryists, free-market types, and Objectivist, do not believe a right to life means a right to such things.
What the more radical freedom movement types mean by a right to life is that every individual has a right to live without having their life threatened by anyone else.
If someone threatens to take an individual's life, the threatened individual may morally use any method available to defend himself against that threat, including killing the one making the threat. Other human beings are not the only possible threats to one's life, however. Diseases, accidents, wild animals, and natural disasters are all threats to one's life, and every individual is obligated to provide their own protection against such threats. For those who believe in it, the so-called right to life does not include a right to have protection provided from these other possible threats to life. So why is it assumed one has a right to protection from the threat posed by other human beings, and who is it that is obligated to provide that protection?
Isn't every individual obligated to protect their own life, if they wish to protect it, just as every individual is obliged to feed themselves if they wish not to go hungry, to educate themselves if they choose not to be ignorant, and provide everything else their own life requires or they desire?
The Stupid, Ignorant, and Superstitious Do Not Want Freedom
It gives me no pleasure to write it, but most of the people in this world are profoundly stupid, hopelessly ignorant, and totally superstitious. It is exactly as H.L. Mencken said, "The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind," and, "So long as there are men in the world, 99 percent of them will be idiots."
I'm sorry people are stupid, ignorant, and superstitious, but it is not something that has been forced on them. They have chosen not to use their own minds to learn all they possibly can, to ensure they never hold any contradictions in their beliefs, to discover what is true, and what is not true, and understand how and why they know it. It is much easier to learn just enough to get along, to be able to do the weekly shopping, to read a romance novel and the TV listings, to get a job (provided by someone else), to learn how to program the remote and play video games, and to have all their values and beliefs provided by authorities, like religious leaders, teachers, college professors, the media, assorted experts and authorities, or even politicians. Very few people are willing to be entirely responsible for their own thoughts, choices, beliefs and actions, much less their lives.
It is much easier to believe what everyone else believes, or at least everyone's ideological clique. It seems much less risky to accept the popular views of one's peers and "leaders" than to think for one's self. It is much easier to be a, "law-abiding citizen," believing that obeying the law (any law) is the equivalent of being moral and that never being arrested is the equivalent of virtue. (It might be a virtue if one manages to evade arrest while defying the law.)
Only those who are willing to seek the truth, using their own minds, neither asking for, or desiring, the approval or agreement of anyone else, will make the effort to know the truth about all they can possibly know. Those who seek the truth and are determined to live by it are despised by the masses of the stupid, ignorant, and superstitious, because the lives of those who love the truth above all things, and the success and happiness it provides them, is an indictment of every failure of those who refuse to learn all they can, so remain ignorant; those who refuse to use their minds to think as well as they possibly can, so remain stupid; and those who have surrendered their minds to some authorities or consensus to evade the necessity of learning and thinking for themselves, so remain superstitious.
It is difficult not to have a sense of pity and sorrow for those who have chosen to be the stupid, ignorant, and superstitious, but it is their choice, and all that they suffer because of their choices is simply justice. It is almost impossible to help them, because the only possible help would be to reason with them so they would understand that all their failures and suffering are the result of their own choices, which are not innocent, but defiant rebellion against the requirements of their own nature and the nature of the world they live in. They defiantly refuse to learn all they can possibly learn, because it is too hard; they defiantly refuse to think as well as the possibly can, or even learn how, because it is "boring," and tedious. After all, as long as they "feel" they are doing the right thing and "feel" they are good people, why think any further than that? They defiantly refuse to think and learn for themselves because it is easier and less demanding to simply trust some experts or authorities to tell them what is true and what to believe, especially when those authorities promise them both virtue and forgiveness, and perhaps even eternal life.
[Reprised from the 01/19/13 article by the same title here.]