Can There Be More Than One Idea of Freedom in the 21st Century?
There is one thing that every revolutionary and ideologue on Earth, past and present, has fought for over the centuries – freedom. There are few things (if any) as widely accepted as universally “good” as the idea or feeling of freedom. Be they Liberals, Communists, Radical Islamists, some fringe movement or the Washington Establishment, everyone claims to be fighting for a freedom of sorts, at least for those on their side. Our interpretation of this word has certainly varied over time, but it’s overwhelming acceptance as the highest of moral goals cannot be denied. However, through the years the idea of what freedom means has narrowed and at present its interpretation seems very much in the hands of the West. The advocates for a Multipolar World have not yet presented a clear vision of their freedom, which would certainly be, at the very least, in their own self-interests next time Washington tries to spark a Color Revolution at their back door.
The “Monopolarity” of our idea of freedom was not always the case so there is room for some flexibility. During the Cold War the Soviets attempted to sell a vision of freedom from want, homelessness, unemployment and other downsides to Capitalism. This sort of “freedom from want” fought against “freedom of speech/expression” for quite some time. This Communist attempt at selling a one-party form of freedom ultimately failed but it certainly was an enticing vision that sparked revolutionary action across the globe.
The Liberal vision of freedom that beat the USSR has given us many great things like the Bill of Rights and that, which we often forget to appreciate like being “innocent until proven guilty” but as time goes on this viewpoint has started to take a turn for the worse and is in many ways why the Silent Majority feels trapped within its previously pleasant Western habitat. No alternative vision has stood up to challenge our perception of freedom which has naturally led to its decay over the decades.
Too Much Liberty Infantilizes Society
Over generations the idea of the sacredness of the individual and his inalienable rights has devolved into a position of “you can’t tell me what to do”. Yesterday’s John Locke has become today’s screeching lunatic who feels their rights have been violated by not getting their 9th chicken nugget from the drive-thru.
We have the freedom for “journalists” to make horribly cruel memes with the Queen of England, the U.S. President or any other important person. We can burn the flag/national symbols and the Bible. No one can tell us to stop eating junk food even as we diabetically drive our massive girth around Walmart on a Rascal Scooter. Men cannot be stopped from flailing around in public dressed as female sex workers as part of a “parade”. For many this is a display of their Western freedoms as we understand them today. We have come to believe that if no one can tell us “no” or even put pressure on us to not do something, then and only then are we free.
This interpretation creates a repressive nightmare in which adult children throw tantrums that we must all tolerate. We have no freedom to step up and defend our leaders’, heroes’ or even our personal honor. We are not free to act as if our national symbols and religious books are sacred. We cannot make people stop eating, get off the internet and come back to society, start families, nor can we tell people to keep their sexual desires to themselves. The inability of the Silent Majority to reject the actions of the Vocal Minority have stripped them of their freedom.
Children who never hear the word “no” grow up to be vile non-adults with whom you would never want much contact. But society never hearing the word “no” has a very similar effect. Liberty, the vision of freedom that was the culmination of the Enlightenment, holds at its core that no one can force you to do anything, especially the government (i.e. freedom from this or that). In the context of the 17th century perhaps the peasantry needed to start seeing more value in themselves, but the paradox is that being forced to do things for the greater good, or at least keep your mouth shut in public for social harmony, is what turns boys into men. Liberty as it has mutated in the Post-Cold War era (not before) has become the freedom to be an adult child.
Furthermore, the idea that we can say and do anything we like as long as it does not cause physical harm to another is insane reasoning based on a very isolated view of the individual in society. The actions and beliefs of those around us very much so affect our lives. Divorce is a “private matter” but divorce rates and incarceration rates of children from broken homes line up and none of us want to live in crime ridden neighborhoods. The actions of those around you very much so matter. What is it going to be more pleasant – to live in a city with families who do their best to raise good children or being surrounded by a few million broken homes? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in the West, Liberty has given the opportunity for each link to polish itself to perfection or rust out as it likes. This is the moment of opportunity for the Global East to declare a new vision. Living in a world where we believe that “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins” leads to us having to tolerate hundreds of idiots flailing about so long as there is no physical contact. Many of us have had enough of this dance of madness that comes within a sixteenth of an inch to our noses.
An Alternative Vision of Freedom
So if not Liberty, then what could another form of freedom look like? If freedom is not the inability of others to stop us from acting as we like, scold us, or try to correct our behavior, then just how would this sensation feel? The beginning of this quest needs to start from looking at things from a societal/group level and not individual.
We have all been to social events that involve a lot of human interaction and everyone can feel if there is a strong majority position in the room. A dinner party can almost form a temporary microcosm with a distinct culture contained within the room. Be it a gathering of Vegan Californians for a birthday party or Republican voter Thanksgiving dinner in the heart of the Bible Belt a definite mini-culture will come into being at the event. Your personal experience of that evening will go very differently based on your beliefs in comparison to the majority culture. If you feel that collecting chicken eggs is cruelty and that aborting human babies is a right then you will be much happier at the San Francisco party rather than an Alabama Turkey Day. Conversely Bible-based views and showing off a fresh Smith&Wesson is not a great idea anywhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you have strong convictions to one side of American politics then you would certainly feel very free and comfortable at one event and yet completely downtrodden and repressed at the other – yet there are no mechanisms in place to remove your feeling of freedom. Nothing is stopping from saying your beliefs and arguing with whom you disagree but this comes at a social cost and the risk of being shunned. Our feeling of freedom regardless of what our beliefs are is not based on some objective set of Enlightenment check boxes but our level of agreement with the people and policies around us. No one will shoot you for voting for X candidate, but you will only feel freedom of expression in an environment with others who are voting for that candidate or just don’t particularly care. In the presence of those voting for candidate Y with great fervor you will be persona non grata.
True freedom is attained only when one is in a general state of agreement with those around them.
This is the reason why someone could feel freedom under various different systems and environments that would seem repressive to others and stock 17th century values. If some sort of Cuban field worker believes that he is free, it is not because he has been ultimately duped by state propaganda but because he agrees with said propaganda. Conversely, a Cuban in Florida could feel the same level of freedom as he has fled to a nation which provides him a way of life that he agrees with. Most traditional religions are very restrictive but believers feel much more free surrounded by other believers living under laws that reflect their faith. Some could feel a much greater freedom in a nation with morality police on the streets despite a ban on public drinking and miniskirts.
This freedom by agreement, which we could perhaps call Svoboda, Soglasie or something else Eastern sounding (every concept must have a specific term or it does not exist) could be a very powerful tool in the hands of the nations on the Multipolar/Illiberal side of things.
As it stands now any attempts to build a stronger culture or restore traditions lost in the wake of the Enlightenment are seen as horrifically repressive because they tell us “no” or try to force us to do horrible things like having children. But when we change our concept of freedom to being one of agreement, anything that suits the Silent Majority should all of a sudden become an expression of pure freedom.
In an instant, those forced to watch and tolerate ever present “degeneracy” that does not “hurt them” would be allowed to reject this, which is its own form of freedom. To be clear this is not an advocacy for Bolshevism, in which two wolves voting to have the sheep for dinner is seen as a good thing. This call to agreement is not a call to coercion by force. A freedom from agreement can only work if the agreement occurs by the free will of the Silent Majority. Truncheons and forged signatures will only create more early 20th century-style oppression that has become almost cartoonish in its bluntness.
It is important to note that we can see hints of this vision of freedom even in American history where in the past the two major parties/ideologies ultimately agreed on certain key tenants: that Manifesting Destiny, the War of Independence, the Founding Fathers and the U.S. The Constitution were all purely good and dandy things. This core agreement gave America great social stability compared to many other nations and allowed for statues for various different positions to stand in harmony until very recently. Debate around shared core principles seems surprisingly open, civil and full of free speech when compared to zero sum ideological battles.
One of the key problems America faces today is that the Left and Right no longer share any sacred cows. Society can have minor disagreements but fundamentally and radically different core values will lead to conflict and some large part of society losing its “freedom”.
Would stressing agreement within society to create a feeling of freedom lead to the misery of certain intellectual minorities?
Firstly, no matter what Utopian fantasy we may believe in, granting a certain set of liberties will not guarantee a feeling of freedom for all and at the moment across the West and beyond there is a clear understanding that small minority interests have been radically forced on the majority public.
Secondly, this concept of freedom through agreement only works if the agreement is real and not forced. Calling for greater agreement in society is an attempt to bring people together to a commonly accepted vision using modern media as the vehicle for its delivery. This idea is NOT a call for witch burnings and coercion via bayonets, although it surely will be portrayed as such by the cognitive dissidence crew that loves to purposely misconstrue anything written against their status quo (especially by the particular author of this piece).
In more Eastern societies there is a tendency to have one major political party (Russia, Kazakhstan, China) with smaller orbiting parties/views. The Global East is built on this idea of a more singular societal vision. Now it is time to reveal that this way of being can give the Silent Majority of these regions a great feeling of freedom that Liberty cannot offer them.
What is the strategic context of pushing a different type of freedom?
As it stands today the idea of a Multipolar World of multiple great civilizations is an idea for intellectuals and should come with a warning stamp that it is only for those aged 35 and over who read regularly. Young men of the world of every generation will always be in some sort of battle for freedom against the status quo, so it is important to give them something “to fight for”. No great ideas can come into being without the support of the Silent Majority and if ideas of Traditionalism and Multipolarity stay inside of online salons of discussion between men with fancy degrees in lovely dark suits it will go nowhere.
Furthermore, one key factor in Color Revolutions is the argument that the standing government violates freedom by not being 100% submissive to the West. There is currently no grand counterargument, there is no counter-freedom. From a pure self-preservation standpoint many nations need to convince their masses that they are free but by a different set of standards.