Who are the, “freedom fighters?” They are all those engaged in any of today’s programs or movements that identify themselves as fighters for freedom and individual liberty and, “rights.” They include, for example, the sixty plus individuals and organizations listed in my, “Freedom Challenge II,” article.”
Every one of these individuals and organizations talk about freedom, but it is mostly about what freedom is not. The truth is, none of them knows what real freedom is and they would be terrified of it if they were actually free.
They rightly explain what is wrong with every kind of government oppression and the endless ways one’s personal freedom is limited by governments, but it is not freedom they really want, but security and guarantees and “freedom” from restrictions under which they personally chafe.
All their talk and all their programs are actually anti-freedom. Their protests and movements for liberty are lies—not intentional lies, but lies born of ignorance of what real freedom is. All their intentions are good, but they are like most good intentions, roadways to destruction.
If there were one word that describes what is wrong with every liberty movement and freedom program that word would be politics. From anarchism to conservatism, they are, each and every one of them, ideologically and practically, politics—and all politics are oppression.
H.L. Mencken On Politics
It was H.L. Mencken who first stated what is wrong with almost all liberty movements: “The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty—and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.” [Baltimore Evening Sun, 12 February 1923.]
Most who believe they long for freedom do not know what real freedom is. They do not know what freedom is because they do know what reality is or what the price of freedom is. As Mencken points out, they think they love the truth, too, but they do not, because, as I’ve written, “Nobody Wants To Know The Truth,” which is why, “Freedom Is Not For Everyone,” and only for that, “small and disreputable minority” the, “special sort,” of men who, “understand and enjoy liberty.”
No one explains why this is true better than H.L. Mencken:
“So long as there are men in the world, 99 percent of them will be idiots.” [The New Mencken Letters, (1977), “Letter to Upton Sinclair, 14 Oct. (1917)]
When Mencken refers to, “the inferior man,” he means the 99 percent of them who are idiots. It is important to understand this to understand his correct view of politics.
“The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear—fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.” [A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)]
“The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex—because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.” [The Impossible H.L. Mencken]
The inferior man, who may be identified as any member of the TV viewing public, (or anyone who votes), is therefore willing to believe anything any leader, religious teacher, or authority says that promises easy answers and simple solutions. He is thoroughly gullible and credulous. He even admits it; he calls it faith.
“The costliest of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.” [A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)]
“The curse of man, and cause of nearly all of his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.” [A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)]
Thus, what seems inexplicable about politics, and civilization itself, is explained:
“Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” [H.L. Mencken, In Defense Of Women.]
The fact that almost all those who regard themselves as part of any freedom and liberty movement all embrace the paranoid view of reality and believe in some collective methods which one must join to achieve freedom is their clearest condemnation.
It is interesting that these freedom fighters, “see injustice everywhere,” but have no idea what real justice is.
Is there terrible oppression in the world, crushing poverty, incredible cruelty, sickness and suffering? Yes there is. No one wants to hear it, but all the misery one hears about every day is exactly what those who are suffering it deserve. It is not some omnipotent being imposing some kind of punishment, it is simply the consequence of defying reality.
In a truly moral (free) society, most of the people living today would be dead, because most people live by mooching off the productive efforts of others, or live totally irresponsible lives which would kill them if others were not forced to clean up after them. Far from instituting justice, all governments defy justice. Every government policy and law flies in the face of justice producing the greatest injustices imaginable. Nevertheless, the justice of reality prevails, and all the horrors, misery, and suffering of the modern world are not injustices at all, but the ruthless justice of reality.
The ultimate moral principle is, produce or die. The requirements of human life are not provided by nature. Human beings are not, like the animals, provided the equivalent of instinct to know what the requirements of their lives are. Every individual human being must discover or learn what those requirements are and then choose to work and produce what their nature requires.
Most do not really want freedom or justice, because both are not either easy or safe. Real justice is ruthless and real freedom is gruelingly difficult, but they are all that is really worth living for.
Here is why most people do not really want freedom and justice:
Those who refuse to be engaged in some effort or work that produces some product or provides some service of value to themselves or others deserve to die. Those who claim they cannot work, have no more expectation of life than those who cannot breathe, or cannot digest food. Anyone who claims they cannot work, which claim is almost always a lie, is claiming they cannot live, and should not. They would not live in a just society. Any society in which those who produce nothing are able to live is an evil society which makes slaves of those who do produce for the sake of those who do not. “Produce or die,” is the principle reality imposes on humanity. Where the unproductive live reality is defied and the consequences are always tragedy and disaster, both individually and socially.
All governments are an attempt to provide people, or at least promise to provide them, what reality forbids—the unearned and the undeserved. That is also exactly what most freedom fighters mean by freedom and justice.
You Cannot Make The World Just Or Free
The aim of all activists is to save the world, or at least some aspect of it, like their society or their country. However different they are, the solutions all activists propose are political solutions. In a 2010 article entitled, “No Political Solution,” I explained why all supposed political solutions are actually “social engineering,” and none of them will work, because they require changing people.
Here are two things: a fact and a principle, that are the basis of all social values, the true nature of politics in the philosophical sense:
1. The fact is there is no way to change other people. There is no way to make a society the kind of society anyone supposes they would like. It is not possible because it is the kind of people that make up a society that determines the kind of society it is. It is not a society’s political system, dominant philosophy, level of education, religion, ideology, or anything else that determines the nature of a society; it is what the individual people in a society choose to believe that determines a society’s political system, dominant philosophy, level of education, religion, and ideology and the only way to change any of those things would be to change the people whose choices, beliefs, desires, and superstitions they are.
The reason people cannot be changed is because every individual is a volitional being. Even if one can influence another in some way to make changes, those changes must still be chosen by the individual. One can use force to make people behave in certain ways sometimes, but one cannot force anyone to think or to think any particular thing.
2. The principle is it is immoral to ever interfere in the life of another human being. It is meddling, presumptuous, intrusive, arrogant, tyrannical, and morally wrong.
The common idea is that interference in others’ lives means using force or the threat of force. The use of coercive force is certainly immoral, but it is not the only immoral method of interfering in other’s lives. Those who consider themselves “activists,” who advocate any method of producing the kind of society they decide is the right kind, whether it is a totally “free,” “capitalist,” or “libertarian” society they are “working” for, their methods are as immoral as those who are working for a totally collectivist or statist society.
There is only one method by which individuals may morally deal with one another, the method of reason. Any other method is an abandonment of reason in favor of an appeal to the irrational in others, their feelings, their desires, their sentiments, their fears, their superstitions, their ignorance, or their gullibility. To appeal to any of these is as immoral as using threats of force. It is an attempt to manipulate others by means of their own irrational weaknesses. These are the methods of the con-man, scam artist, and politician, not a rational moral individual.
The truth is, no society is anyone’s society to make into the one he would like. As noble as the activist’s ideas might be, and however good an activist’s intentions, the desire to save the world, to make it just and free, is actually a desire to make other people what the activist would like them to be. Mencken got that right too:
“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” [H.L. Mencken, Minority Report]