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Understanding Freedom ~ man's conceptual paradox (5th edition)

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Why the concept of freedom is still viewed upon with the medieval mentality

(5th edition - January 2009) by A.O. Kime
arrow a conditional 'free-to-reprint' article (see below)

This article takes a different look at freedom and it has nothing to do with advocating any particular human rights movement. It is more about the historical reasons our concept of freedom evolved and how we perceive it today.

As overwhelming evidence the perception evolved, it has been largely 'forgotten' that personal freedoms remain subject to religious influence. It's been the case for nearly 2,000 years. It would alter one's point-of-view, after all, which in turn affects how one views this glorious gift of God. Also having escaped the conscious mind - one's everyday awareness - is that there has been substantial reversals... many freedoms existing during the previous centuries are no more.

While the value of ancient history may be habitually discounted, time never changes the facts.

Since perceptions and perspectives are influenced by the current 'atmosphere', in order to review the issue of freedom under the brightest light, it seems necessary to call upon a bygone mentality. We need to think like the folks from the 18th or 19th century once did. The state-of-mind of today just can't seem to fathom freedom in the same sense as yesteryear. If freedom cannot be seen in its proper place as it relates to reality, then it cannot be properly defended. As a consequence of today's 'plastic societies', being less 'down-to-earth' than ever before, the tactics to resolve the injustices of late are generally weak, meek or wrong... and therefore ineffective. They have also been unimaginative.

Of course, this is in reference to the bygone mentality which didn't subscribe to the institution of slavery, a horrendous wrong during this otherwise 'un-intrusive' time.

If trying to utilize another mentality may seem unusual, it is... if it seems impossible, it isn't. To wit, it's not hard to imagine the insane nature of the Middle Ages. If that can't be imagined, then look at the Middle East... it provides a good snapshot. Curiously however, while the Middle Ages were largely unable to intelligently cope with social issues, later mankind could... at least for awhile. This would seem to indicate a cyclical phenomenon.

The frame-of-mind of the 18th century is fitting because it was more in tune with realities. It was more down-to-earth, more able to create positive trends and defend them. It was mankind's finest hour (slavery excepted)... and for awhile, this hour lingered. Even the 19th century can claim nobleness and stands in stark contrast to the capitulatory nature of people today. Vestiges can even be found during first half of the 20th century but soon thereafter it became a world of make-believe realities instead... comprised largely of pretence and hypocrisy.

While one of the greatest achievements of 18th century was to separate church and state, unfortunately it was not enough to rid society of its religiously-based customs... a habit dating back to medieval times.

Freedom in relative terms, its passive nature and a few curiosities

There is only one way to describe freedom and that's in relative terms. It requires a baseline for comparative purposes and it should only be 'absolute freedom'. It is otherwise obfuscating to use tyranny as a baseline as commonly done today… and the paradox. Freedom was god-given and once a natural circumstance... but something governments don't like to admit. They'd rather create the illusion the glass was once empty.

Adept in creating illusions, when politicians speak of freedom today they make it sound like absolute freedom... none of them will say what a ‘free people’ really means in their speeches. Whatever truth there is, it usually only means their country is freer than others (but not necessarily all others).

Since the rights groups of today only concern themselves with 'adding' (acquiring) freedoms, and not 'subtracting' (ceding)... they are unwittingly acknowledging the defeat of freedoms. It seems evident, due to the passive nature of individual freedoms, they were defeated in almost every corner of the globe because, ignominiously, the French and American eighteenth century mentality didn't yet exist or wasn't maintained. With few exceptions, the surrender is now official and the ink dry so it is hardly a matter of surrendering any more.

Conversely, the ancients were concerned about liberties they must surrender, not obtain. In other words, their basis was from the top, or absolute freedom, whereas today we think from the bottom up. However, nobody seeks or expects absolute freedom anymore since civilized society forbids it. Absolute freedom is now history, a relic from the past. Today, if to believe civilization is better than the alternative, then the ideal is middle ground. Of course, middle ground is where the bones of contention lay.

So why should freedom be considered having a passive nature? Without any natural defensive mechanisms, having no more bulwarks than light from a radiating sun, freedoms can be carted off as easily as water. Only laws can protect freedoms but that idea came too late... most personal freedoms had already been lost. As a result, they have to be re-claimed.

While fighting men can re-claim liberties, and protect them... oftentimes by the time a threat is recognized, there is little time to prepare an effective defense against an organized invader. For example, nobody is currently preparing a defense to protect their freedom to sire children. While such would seem an unthinkable need, so too was it once unthinkable that the sanctity of one's own body would be 'unsanctified'.

As another matter of concern, even though most freedoms have been soundly defeated, apparently that isn't enough. The establishment now wants to muffle the public through the patronage of political correctness... often being no more than a smokescreen for political cozenage. After all, the 'toning down' of criticism is self-serving.

The taking and relinquishing of freedoms

While the following couple of paragraphs might seem insensitive but with frankness comes truth. After all, sometimes it is necessary to call a spade a spade. Whether we like it or not, nature established a system whereby only the strong survive, often referred to as the 'survival of the fittest'. To his credit however, oftentimes man tries to insert justice into nature’s cruel system and it's a noble undertaking. Yet, in going overboard, in reaching far beyond any resemblance to the natural order, freedoms have been greatly diminished.

In ancient times, absolute freedom had its perils as can easily be imagined, especially for the smaller, weaker tribesmen. While there are countless reasons why some men might have advantages over others, but generally speaking, for the over-sized barbarian absolute freedom was great… the bigger he was the better he liked it. That being the case, we can easily imagine the day an emissary first proposed to a barbarian clan they should civilize themselves and give up their freedom for an ordered society. It surely provoked roars of laughter at first. Thinking the dude was a comedian; some probably patted him on the head. The Huns were probably rolling on the ground in tears when the emissary departed. Some may have died from laughing so hard.

Returning to his village of other disadvantaged tribesmen, they soon began trying to find a way to improve their situation and decided their only hope was to out-smart the advantaged barbarians. They knew barbarians had one soft spot and that was their spiritual inclinations. By virtue of the awesome power of nature, barbarians had an especial reverence for it and an inherent fear of the gods. So the weaker, meeker and prosaic innkeepers sat down and began inventing religions... knowing they had to include some type of 'retribution' (hell).

While it took centuries for the word to spread, one-by-one the barbarians began to think twice about being nicer to folks. The idea of religions as a way to protect the weaker, the disadvantaged, soon spread across the lands and, as a result, more religions popped up.

Next, for added protection, the disadvantaged decided to push the idea of 'civilization' since not all barbarians were ad-hoc believers in their impromptu (for the most part) religious tenets. Norsemen, for example, only believed in Valhalla although there were a variety of other pagan (spiritual) beliefs. At any rate, they needed the framework (civilization) for a system of laws whereby if a barbarian wasn’t good, they would be commissioned to throw him in jail.

Making laws seemed an endless process however because the barbarians kept finding loopholes to do what they wanted. The search for escape hatches hasn't ceased however... although shotgun rule is intended to plug those holes.

Due to the fact the search for loopholes is an eternal undertaking, the skill of skirting the law having grown more ingenious, perennial needs often outweighing the fear of any penalty whatsoever, we're now swimming in a sea of laws, increasingly cold and harsher. As a result, it's to live in fear of being blindsided by some calculating and merciless wave from out-of-the-blue.

Of course, often within this sea are small men in rowboats going around enticing people to commit a 'crime' that has no victim. Reminiscent of the whipping-station men of the Old South, vice squads make a living off the pain they inflict.

As plain as day, religious intervention into personal affairs and the resulting blue laws (moral laws) diluted freedoms as much as did the efforts to become civilized.

There is a difference however; civilized laws are intended, or at least were originally intended, to mete out justice whereas religious inspired laws have nothing to do with justice… quite the opposite. The subjugating nature of religions and their influence with lawmakers have hamstrung liberties even to this day. America should not be called the 'land of the free' until its blue laws are abolished. Until then, we're still living in the insane Middle Ages (aka: medieval period - A.D. 500-1500).

Touchy subjects take praxeology to the core,
laws had relegated them to an open backdoor,
the little Dutch boy, his thumb in a pickle,
as penny-ante peccadilloes cost he a nickel.
Politicians can straddle and wire any fence,
string out answers with barbs that he rents.

Miscellaneous creatures of the societal zoo,
they became elephants with an invisible hue,
invaded our living room, unseen in the pink,
that's bad news for viewing as keepers wink.
Inherently supine, complacency lacks vision,
its incandescence dims a high-beam decision.

Sings Jimmy Crack Corn that he doesn't care,
since the blue laws, a sound-bite no affair,
heard those crashing sounds as vices batter,
but for that weakling door, a castle matter.
A revolution lost, what's left is evolution,
but stir like crazy as hardens the solution.

Marijuana ropes notices, an old cowboy said,
but pay no mind to this weed on your spread,
just like a tumbleweed, the Russian Thistle,
ignored to tears, they blow away and fizzle.
Counter painkillers seem like just placebos,
no such remedy sells in Rastafarian gazebos.

Government agencies employ vampires, ghouls,
these photophobics learnt creepy in schools,
functional robots which dysfunction mankind,
a mission for possessing each body and mind.
Group-think realities, wisp shallows, a bug,
conventional idioms which sandwich the smug.
A.O. Kime (1941- )

Cobblestones and cornerstones

Many laws are necessary however to construct the road to justice. After all, justice is the cornerstone of civilization, or should be. For justice, almost every barbarian eventually saw the light and capitulated; ceding their long-held positions. Whatever the barbarians originally agreed to however, it was to be at the expense of some freedoms, but not all. This ongoing 'reformation' was nonetheless troubling for the understandably suspicious barbarians, those pagans of ill repute; who, in contrast to civilized society, never tried to promote their beliefs through laws and war. While apparently barbarians had no aversion to fighting, it wasn't to impose their beliefs on others. That oblique domain, and that of laws and warfare, belong exclusively to religions and civilization. The barbarians were given a bad rap.

After awhile, in confirming the barbarian's suspicions, the whole matter became corrupt. Religious precepts began to be imposed and from the effects of institutional 'mission creep', the barbarians were forced to cede almost all remaining liberties and to conform.

In all civilized lands now, politicians are still careful how they talk about freedom… they know the barbarian mentality still exists. Yet it will exist forever, it cannot be legislated away. Nonetheless, legislators try to make people feel satisfied by citing other countries to look down upon and pity. Some tyrants go further. According to Hitler, the Third Reich was practically utopia… he said so, although no one knew he was comparing it to hell.

Since freedom was emasculated, we’re left to ponder a few things. We need to consider whether other universal existents are denied their natural place and whether that methodology is sound... whether it is good for society in the long run.

But first, let’s be sure how this curiosity applies to freedom.

For one thing, we know absolute freedom did in fact once exist. In fact, from the beginning of time until the day man began civilizing himself, there was total (absolute) freedom. Obviously then, it was natural... yet, as we've discovered, easily swept away.

The ability to rob someone of their freedoms is curious, almost godlike, as if omnipotence, as if being able to threaten the air with a knife and steal its wind. And it all began about 7,000-10,000 years ago. As time passed, as freedoms diminished, soon, like an orange, all the juice was squeezed out.

Even in being aware of this emasculation, freedom is nonetheless thought of today in relation to having none. Further, freedom is now called an ‘ideal’ as if it never existed before. Well, after being effectively eliminated, it didn't exist for a thousand years (medieval period). Perhaps that explains why people today tend to compare their freedoms with having none at all. For them, the medieval period is the baseline.

The paradox of freedom and freedoms

It is hard to compare this paradox however, it is unique. First, absolute freedom became unacknowledged as a natural existent, then secondly, any freedoms at all are now being deemed a privilege. No natural existent have ever been unacknowledged before... not ever. We are made to feel lucky to have any (at all) of that which was once pervasive. It was once as pervasive as the light of day.

Ah yes, absolute freedom, of pleasures and horrors, that which animals know.

So, folks, those are the reasons people talk about freedom as if it never existed before. Further, those freedoms which do exist are now due to man’s benevolence. We can apply a new credo for freedom… 'man giveth and man taketh away'. It’s not God’s baby anymore. So for modern times, with nature sidelined, it is to wrestle with questions of justice and injustices ourselves.

Of pleasures and horrors, it is man’s blend instead.

Perhaps the differences in these pleasures and horrors should be explained. To set the stage, let's first suppose governments stripped all the oxygen from the atmosphere, put it in oxygen tanks, and then regulated everyone's quota. As in the case with freedom, after awhile politicians would soon act like oxygen never freely existed. To have oxygen then, just like having freedom, would be a privilege. Bragging rights would be based on how much daily oxygen a country gave its citizens.

That scenario would then be a horror of man but... not a natural horror. A natural horror is being attacked by a grizzly bear, being hacked to death by an axe-wielding savage or falling off a cliff. It is not, however, to be shot down in a B-52, being poisoned by toxic waste or being imprisoned for tax evasion. Everyone should recognize these differences.

Perspectives

Try as he may, no other natural existent except freedom has mankind been able to alter. We know for sure he’d manipulate the weather if he could. Curiously however, after having extinguished freedom, governments then try to revive it… but not completely. Purposely kept on life-support with a nurse in charge of the switches and valves, it is controllable. At least that's an official admission that freedom, at least some, cannot be dispensed with... except, the government's brand of freedom has strings attached.

Since 'regulations' imply government control over an activity, those activities can't be called 'freedoms'... they are merely 'permitted activities with strings'. They should not be referred to as freedoms. There is a reason the government wants to call them freedoms however... they want people who have never known freedom to believe it as such. The only true freedoms are those completely untouched, unregulated and untaxed... such as breathing, scratching an itch and sleeping. Regulations and taxes aren't a simple matter anymore either. They have also become a way to keep tabs on everyone (therefore being multi-purposed) or are 'creatively deceptive' such as those on tobacco.

From a greater perspective another truth exists... mankind has not yet moved beyond the Middle Ages. After all, the medieval mentality still lingers as long as its customs do... the blue laws which regulate 'morality' serves as testimony. The technological advances and the resulting Industrial Revolution isn't enough to say it separates us from AD 1500. The revolutionary inventions of the chariot or crossbow never ushered in a new era. Not even gunpowder. Certainly, as long as there are blue laws, then it's still the Middle Ages. And, since it isn't dead, it cannot yet have an obituary.

While much of society in America during the 18th and 19th centuries effectively had the same medieval mindset as before, therefore not unique - therefore not deserving to be put on any pedestal in that its society was also based on religious ideals - although of Puritan design - except... they didn't have laws to enforce their beliefs upon others. There lies, my friend, quite a difference. Although the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) exerted control over Europe for some time, but distanced by an ocean there existed virtually no controls over 'morality' in America until the 20th century.

For some 400 years Americans (white) were truly free... as free as civilly possible. If it was appreciated as much as it should have been, then it must have been exhilarating. If these control were lifted today, then we might get some small sense how emancipation must have felt to slaves. It isn't a matter of wanting to indulge in any particular vice necessarily, it's a matter of wearing no chains.

This excerpt from the book Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe may better explain it:

"Well, Tom," said St. Clare, the day after he had commenced the legal formalities for his enfranchisement, "I'm going to make a free man of you ̶ so, have your trunk packed, and get ready to set out for Kentuck."

The sudden light of joy that shone in Tom's face as he raised his hands to heaven, his emphatic "Bless the Lord" rather discomposed St. Clare; he did not like it that Tom should be so ready to leave him.

"You haven't had such very bad times here, that you need be in such a rapture, Tom," he said, dryly.

"No, no, Mas'r! 'tan't that ̶ it's bein' a free man! That's what I'm joyin' for."

"Why, Tom, don't you think, for your own part, you've been better off than to be free?"

"No, indeed, Mas'r St. Clare," said Tom, with a flash of energy, "No, indeed!"

"Why, Tom, you couldn't possibly have earned, by your work, such clothes and such living as I have given you."

"Knows all that, Mas'r St. Clare; Mas'r been too good; but, Mas'r, I'd rather have poor clothes, poor house, poor everything, and have 'em mine, than have the best, and have 'em any man's else ̶ I had so, Mas'r; I think it natur, Mas'r."

Freedom issues out of step

While mankind's technological stage isn't reason enough to say society departed the Middle Ages, one can say more confidently that technology did... and it bounded ahead by centuries. Unfortunately, technology (the sciences) didn't stick around to whip dysfunction, it just outran it.

If the ancient Greek mentality from classical times preceded us instead, and not the Middle Ages, it would be a different and better story. Unfortunately, until societies find a new direction, the last culture is always the lingering culture. No one living today has experienced anything except the lingering effects of the Spanish Inquisition.

It also seems society has forgotten cultural progress means obtaining the good life... something 'plastic capitulation' can never achieve. It certainly isn't about stamping-out rural life (family farmers) and citifying everyone either. Only war, it seems, prompts society to put its nose to the grindstone… which demonstrates talent exists for nobler purposes. And nobler purposes do exist.

Unless there are changes, to foretell the fate of freedom for the year 2100 and beyond doesn't require Nostradamus or a psychic however... nor much imagination. All roads lead to Rome in societies based on domination.

In seeking solutions to the foregoing assessments, we can't ignore the question of whether the pleasures and horrors of mankind are better, or worse, than those of nature. Meddling in the affairs of nature is a dangerous game... caution cannot be thrown to the wind.

To avoid social suicide, answers must include 'a balancing with nature' and a return to the honor system. We can, I think, place great value on veracity and accountability once again.

A.O. Kime

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Resource Box: © A.O. Kime (2003)
A.O. Kime is the author of two books plus 70+ articles on ancient history,
spiritual phenomena, political issues, social issues and agriculture which
can be seen at http://www.matrixbookstore.biz
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Last modified: 03/06/16