Everybody is talking about freedom these days. As a word, "Freedom" is like a store mannequin with a dizzying variety of hats. People use "Freedom" in conjunction with other concepts, to give those other concepts more street-cred--like the Nazi "Freiheit und Brot," the socialist "Freedom and Equality," and the 1960s radical student association, the "Free Speech Movement." The groups don't go into much detail about how freedom connects to anything else they believe, not that they can, really.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky explores this problem in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. The mass of people, Dostoyevsky says, have no choice but to keep their understanding shallow. They can claim support for freedom, but once the government gives it to them, they start conspiring basically to give it back, never acknowledging that they are doing so. Freedom means personal responsibility and relies on personal initiative. Freedom means risk and opportunity, and people react differently to those circumstances. Some people hide their Talents under a rock; others use their talents to create wealth and empower themselves. The net-effect of all this is many centers of power and inequality of wealth and power.
In The Brothers Karamazov, the Grand Inquisitor complains to the Lord Jesus Christ that He gave people freedom. All they want to do is give it back.
It's all well and good to oppose freedom, to oppose inequality, and to say that the government should take care of everyone; but relying on someone else to do things that you should do for yourself, makes you a dumber person, no question. You stop thinking for yourself. You do not try to figure out problems. Instead, you grow fat, childish, and irresponsible. Sam Neill's character in the movie Jurassic Park, Dr. Alan Grant, makes the statement about Tyrannosaurus Rex, "T-Rex doesn't want to be fed. He wants to hunt." People allowing themselves to be fed fills them with a kind of impotent ire. No wonder they have to keep spouting slogans about freedom! Pretending to believe in freedom, while allowing yourself to be fed--you know you're lying!
And relying on the government to move society forward does not work. The government does not think creatively enough to succeed at doing that. We've seen this issue play out again and again and never pick up on the vital insight. The government does its job, then goes home. That so many have faith in government functioning only means that they have no faith in themselves.
In our society, private citizens ask most of the important "what-if" questions. They don't want committees and public hearings. They just want to know the answer. They keep their ears close to the ground for opportunities to exploit. All we have to do is look around us at the great variety of commercial entities--people buying and selling in grocery stores, drug-stores, barber shops--and then the big boys of the tech-sector and the venture-capitalists who finance them.
When the government falls into the wrong hands, what will Americans do? A real dictator will not tolerate protest-marches, riots, or any of that foolishness--or any dissent, for that matter. If the government decides to curtail our freedoms--if we don't give them up, first--our leaders may tell us that curtailment is for our own good. How will the dumbed-down citizenry know better? But the government is actually curtailing our freedom now, as we sit here, and most are unaware of it.
Much of the inspiration for this post comes from an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, published May 6, 2019, titled "Guilt and Atonement," or in German "Schuld und Sühne". Interestingly, Schuld und Sühne also serves as the German title of Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment. The key sentence in the article reads, "Supporters of Identity Politics want to sacrifice the spontaneity and mobility of individual freedom on the altar of dictatorial egalitarianism," or in German "verabsolutierter Gleichheitsideale".
The article continues that the term "Identity" derives its meaning from "identity as victim," or in German "Opfer-identität", more than it does from minority or gender-identity.
The accusations of racism and sexism in our society have reached such a crescendo, they devalue and obscure the merits of each individual accusation, a consequence the article describes as "inflationär", even "kontraproduktiv". The accusers must reckon with the diminishing returns of over-exploiting this issue. Really, the accusations only work until white males get tired of the constant browbeating and hostility and demand release from their guilt-status.
In a freedom-loving society, an individual uses freedom to "spread his wings," or in German "Entfaltungschancen". It results in the "unequal exploitation of opportunity," or in German, "ungleiche Chancennutzung".
The approach to freedom on the Right offers one other lure, the independence and empowerment of private spaces. The Left may bitterly contest the Right's love of exclusivity and privilege. The Right would have it no other way. The Right loves all things private: private insurance, private capital, private schools, fraternities, sororities, and other private clubs. We accept that they may fail. In a society built on risk, s___ happens, but we prefer the private things any day to government-controlled spaces and initiatives.
We prefer the private use of wealth to build things, develop commercial concepts, and make more money. The Left has to admit that private spaces arouse envy and resentment, more than doubts about their social or economic utility. Only if you want to hide your talent under a rock and live on someone else's nickel should you vote Democrat.