Objective freedom, or, the allure of the formless void

March 23, 2017 § 46 Comments

As previously observed, every concrete choice made by a human being starts with a large number of potential reality-outcomes and collapses it into a particular concrete outcome. Choices are irrevocable option-reducers: they empower one particular possibility, breathe fire into it and make it a reality.  They take mere (but real) potential and convert it into actual reality: they merge the matter and form of possibility to make something concretely real. In the wake of doing so, every single choice leaves behind a multitude of roads not taken, options which now rest outside the realm of real possibility.

Freedom as an objective state can be understood as having real options: as having available choices not yet made. (Subjectively, freedom can be understood as a particular subject having available choices which correspond with what the subject wants to choose).

Acts of authority are human choices which, like all human choices, eliminate options. Because they are specifically acts of authority-as-authority they eliminate options available to subjects, to those subject to the particular authority in question.  For every single actual empowerment produced by the choice of a human authority, a multitude of mutually exclusive options, of roads not taken and now ruled out, are destroyed.

In short, every act of authority always and necessarily reduces objective freedom. When folks subjectively like the results it feels empowering to them: their wishes correspond to their real options.  When folks subjectively don’t like the results it feels constraining.  But it is a fundamental mistake to see empowerment of the good as “freedom.”  Empowerment of the good means that good actions are empowered and that the right sort of people are sent to prison.

Liberalism attempts to make increasing or sustaining freedom – availability of choices – into the (or a) primary justification of authoritative acts.  When liberals suggest that they are pro choice they really mean it: the most “consistent” liberalism is an anarchism which forces itself on everyone.  Ultimately, maximizing objectively available choices means not making or even “allowing” any actual choices: it means embrace of the eternal formless void out of a fear of better options.  In this sense a ‘conservative’ liberalism is indeed anti-choice.  In a perfect liberal paradise all choices are available but nobody falls into the imprisoning trap of actually making one.  In a perfect liberal paradise the clock can always be turned back to before any particular choice was made: reality must stand for reelection over and over again, in saecula saeculorum, amen.

In the real world, consistent loyalty to liberalism as a political doctrine is impossible. In practice, then, liberalism becomes weaponized incoherence.

It is of course common to equivocate here: to suggest that liberalism merely says (tautologically) that people ought to have the available choices that they ought to have, and sets one purpose of authority to be ensuring that subjects are really able to choose what they ought to be really able to choose.  These “things subjects really ought to be able to choose” – with the support of those in authority – we label “rights”.

But if that is the case we need to accept that more rights mean objectively less freedom, not objectively more freedom. Rights are rules which authoritatively discriminate and reduce the space of all really possible options to a more constrained space of really allowable options. Given that this is the case it seems that the only honest approach is to unequivocally shun the deontology – and even the language – of liberalism entirely.  When we say “everyone should be gay and should embrace gayness without resistance” we might just mean that everyone ought to be happy. But talking to modern people that way just makes us madmen, garrisoning the motte on liberalism’s behalf as we gaze at the padded walls.

§ 46 Responses to Objective freedom, or, the allure of the formless void

  • Cane Caldo says:

    In a perfect liberal paradise the clock can always be turned back to before any particular choice was made: reality must stand for reelection over and over again, in saecula saeculorum, amen.

    I can be nostalgic–even for things I’ve never known–but I can never go back–even if it was better.

  • TomD says:

    If you’ve never read Past Master by R.A. Lafferty I think you’d enjoy it.

    “Oh, the vision is valid,” Pottscamp said. “It is the whole thing. It slipped in on you and you made love to it several times. You are not in all ways different from the ninety percent of the men. The Vision is the Golden Premise of Nothing Beyond; and the Conclusion is Holy Ouden, Nothing Here Either, Nothing Ever.”

  • “But if that is the case we need to accept that more rights mean objectively less freedom, not objectively more freedom.”

    Yes! If we could just come to understand this truth I would be most pleased. I have watched this play out in small time where I live, as liberalism washed over us. Today I do not go forth happily skipping among the forest creatures, I look over my shoulder constantly, chased by so many rights I cannot keep track of them all. I sometimes think, they eventually all just end in the right to remain silent, because anything you say can and will be used against you.

    Clearly, more rights mean objectively less freedom.

  • Mike T says:

    Clearly, more rights mean objectively less freedom.

    Funny thing about some of these rights, like take Freedom of Speech as an example. Most people don’t see it as a problem because they’re both reasonably well-adjusted and don’t push beyond taboos (much or at all). So the restrictions that freedom of speech entails on the extreme are at best theoretical and generally tolerable. What you see happening today is what happens when mentally and emotionally defective people are allowed to authoritatively decide what speech is acceptable.

  • Mike T says:

    In fact, TBH, I think we might be at a point where God is showing us that liberalism is not only incoherent, but that we are doomed to being literally authoritatively ruled by insane folks if we don’t repent. I’m not exaggerating about being ruled by insane people.

  • TomD says:

    God gives us the rulers we ask for.

  • Zippy says:

    I expect that withdrawing the franchise from everyone who currently takes psychiatric medication would destroy the Democratic party. It really is a coalition of the freaks.

    That would leave right-liberals in charge, who would bring back the worst of the 80’s and take their time breeding a stronger and more resilient form of radical leftist.

  • “God gives us the rulers we ask for.”

    In many ways this is a healthy mind set to have. Works well in marriage and in politics. Of course as people we seldom want to take any personal responsibility and we often assume we just deserve much better leaders.

    Pondering what Zippy said about madmen and padded walls,the language of liberalism really is incoherent. In a literal sense they actually altered the language to accommodate even more incoherence. “Gender” is an example, a word that really didn’t even exist in popular usage until the 1970’s. Prior to that,we all just referred to someone’s “sex.” Something so tangible and biological however, does not accommodate the more subjective concept that declares, “gender is just a social construct.”

    In order to actually locate something resembling a more objective truth, as Zippy stated, we have to “unequivocally shun the deontology – and even the language – of liberalism entirely.”

  • TomD says:

    Justice has been replaced with “just is”.

  • GJ says:

    Most people don’t see [restrictions] as a problem because they’re both reasonably well-adjusted and don’t push beyond taboos (much or at all).

    Which is why deliberate stirring of the pot is necessary. And on the off-chance the stirrers succeed, they can end up being patriarchs, even ‘Founding Fathers’.

  • donnie says:

    I expect that withdrawing the franchise from everyone who currently takes psychiatric medication would destroy the Democratic party. It really is a coalition of the freaks.

    Zippy, you know I’ve got a lot of respect for you. But I am going to offer the friendly suggestion that since this is a place where we spend a fair amount of time carefully considering whether particular acts that most modern people take for granted, such as voting, are justified under the principle of double effect, it is also a good idea to carefully consider whether blatant hurtful speculation such as this is something we are justified in thinking and saying.

  • TomD says:

    To be fair, if it didn’t also destroy the Republican party it would be worrisome; being hopped up on psychosomatics might reduce culpability.

  • Zippy says:

    It is fairly well established (IIRC) that left-leaning politics correlates to more illegal drug use, population-wise. A political left-liberal is something like five or ten times as likely to have used cocaine as a political right-liberal, for example.

    The conjecture is that if psychotropic drug use in general (legal or illegal) disqualified a voter, this would have a greater impact on the number of eligible Democrats than Republicans: if Republicans lost 1/3 of their voters, Democrats would lose 2/3.

  • “It is fairly well established (IIRC) that left-leaning politics correlates to more illegal drug use, population-wise.”

    This is a terrible thing to mention, but truthful. Here in liberal utopia, a nearby city is suing the manufacturers of oxycontin for flooding the streets with their product and doing so much a harm. It’s a case of negligence, allowing so much of their product to go missing and wind up on the street, which combined with the meth and heroin epidemic has just ruined so many lives. It’s just awful, devastating.

    Ironically it’s also really interfered with the get out the vote efforts and thrown a wrench in the elections process. So much poverty, despair, and addiction, people struggle just to maintain an address and in that county everyone must vote by mail.

  • donnie says:

    That may be the case, but the point I’m trying to make is that we should be far more careful about whether we are justified in drawing conclusions from this such as, “It really is a coalition of the freaks.” Whether or not Democrats are 2x as likely as Republicans to use psychotropic drugs, conclusions like this strike me as less than charitable to say the least.

  • TomD says:

    My dad called out pearl-clutching in his 1998 book; we needn’t turn into the party who never says anything that might be offensive; we see where that’s gotten everyone so far.

    After all, the Word was basically killed for being too vulgar (inside joke) for “pious” ears.

  • TomD says:

    Of course, we should also pray and love our enemies on all sides, especially ourselves (who is, in a way, the only enemy who can send us to hell).

  • Mike T says:

    That may be the case, but the point I’m trying to make is that we should be far more careful about whether we are justified in drawing conclusions from this such as, “It really is a coalition of the freaks.”

    Either you are concern-trolling Zippy with this argument or you have been living under a rock. Just take one look at a right-liberal vs left-liberal set of protests and argue that the left isn’t a coalition of the freaks.

  • Zippy says:

    The conjecture isn’t “all Democrats are freaks”. The conjecture is “without their freaks, Democrats can’t win elections. Subtract all the freaks and Republicans win, and then go on to make things even worse in the long run by providing a breeding ground for a less brittle leftism”.

    That’s either true or it isn’t, but if just talking about it and suspecting that it is the case is uncharitable then I probably shouldn’t be blogging at all.

  • Mike T says:

    This is for donnie. That is the demographic of your average, committed leftist today. They look like a bunch of real winners.

    providing a breeding ground for a less brittle leftism

    I’m not sure that that is possible because the only liberalism that has shown signs of being able to sustain itself over centuries is right-liberalism. Left-liberalism, being just pure liberalism is also just purely incoherent and that is why the further you go left, the more self-destructive you get.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Right liberalism’s function is to sustain liberalism over the long term: including continually producing new forms of left liberalism. If you want to blame the leftist freak show on something, blame it on right liberalism.

  • donnie says:

    I am not especially concerned about offending left-liberals, I am simply making the bold and controversial suggestion that maybe in the spirit of Christian charity we should try to draw fewer hurtful, and frankly, unfair characterizations of other people no matter how ridiculous those people may or may not be in actual fact.

    Zippy has always been consistent that we should avoid the temptation to misconstrue liberalism into something other than a political doctrine, e.g. we should not define liberalism as something like a fundamental rejection of God. These kinds of characterizations of liberalism are inaccurate and unhelpful. They do nothing to wake right-liberals out of their slumber, and they are easy for left-liberals to dismiss as straw men. As a result, both groups continue to go about mucking up the world, with the added bonus of the right-liberals getting to feel righteously superior.

    I am simply suggesting we ought to extend this principle to liberals themselves. After all, each of us were liberals of one stripe or another at some point in our lives.

  • donnie says:

    The conjecture isn’t “all Democrats are freaks”. The conjecture is “without their freaks, Democrats can’t win elections. Subtract all the freaks and Republicans win, and then go on to make things even worse in the long run by providing a breeding ground for a less brittle leftism”.

    I hadn’t refreshed the comments on this thread before posting my last comment, so I hadn’t seen this yet. I suppose the only thing I would object to this is that it implies all those who take psychotropic drugs are freaks.

  • Donnie,

    Zippy never said that.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Malcomthecynic:

    Not only has Zippy never said that, but that is a topic we’ve touched on several times before in the past (stretching over several years), and I can’t recall a comment from *anyone* in those conversations who has said that. I could be wrong of course, but I think not.

  • TomD says:

    Perhaps the closest would be me; taking psychotropic drugs can turn you into a freak.

  • donnie says:

    Yes, I know that is not what Zippy said. My point is simply that if the original conjecture, “withdrawing the franchise from everyone who currently takes psychiatric medication would destroy the Democratic party”, is supposed to mean the same thing as the clarification, “without their freaks, Democrats can’t win elections”, then the implication is that the “freaks” in question are those who take psychiatric medication.

    I don’t actually think Zippy intended to convey that which I implied from his two statements. His clarification makes apparent that he had not intended his original conjecture in the manner in which I had interpreted it at first, and I’m sure that same failure of interpretation on my part is still at play here. But last I checked pedantry is still considered a virtue on this blog so allow me to be pedantic. Every time we speak or write, that is an act that can either be moral or immoral. Likewise with everything we think. I think we have an obligation to be careful and considerate in what we say and what we think, and that we also ought to think and speak with Christian charity about every sort of person, even those who may in actual fact be lunatics. After all, intellectual humility obligates us to at least acknowledge the possibility that we are the lunatics.

    Anyway, that’s the end of my sermon so I’ll shut up now.

  • Mike T says:

    Yes, I know that is not what Zippy said.

    And yet you wrote the better part of a syndicated column’s worth of comments attacking Zippy over something you know he didn’t say.

  • Mike T says:

    The woman on the right is damn near an archetype for the sort of attitude toward mind, body, soul and life that most leftist activists have today.

  • “After all, intellectual humility obligates us to at least acknowledge the possibility that we are the lunatics.”

    I appreciate your heart and compassion for people, donnie. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom,right? Another name for that is intellectual humility. When everything is crazy all around you, in order to find some truth, some objective reality, we do need some intellectual humility.

    You speak of Christian charity, but a big part of love and healing for people has to begin with the idea that they are sick. That we are sick. We have to diagnose the problem before we can offer the treatment. Drugs,mental illness,the complete collapse of western civilization, these things are all driven by denial and deception, by an unwillingness to speak the truth and to name the disease. We don’t love people properly when we allow that to continue right in front of us.

    As near as I can tell, Zippy has said nothing about people who take “psychiatric medication,” but rather is speaking to the kind of craziness that stems from flawed thinking,recreational drugs, a whole culture that attempts to normalize both dysfunction and chronic victimhood.

  • Step2 says:

    Charity is a virtue?

  • Zippy says:

    The key point which is actually pertinent to the OP is that the manifest fact that the political left depends on a coalition of the fringes tends to affirm right liberals in their okayness — which is exactly the opposite of what right liberals need.

  • donnie says:

    I am confident (hopeful?) that Zippy is aware that I respect the hell out of him and that none of this was intended as an attack on him personally. And furthermore, this issue was originally raised only because I misinterpreted what he was trying to convey to begin with, so that’s on me.

    I think the points I’ve tied to make about being careful about one thinks and says about others is important, but it also seems clear that everyone here (except for maybe Mike, but I can’t really judge based on his responses) agrees with those points in the abstract so I don’t really see the need to continue making them.

    At this point I am basically in full agreement with insanitybytes22’s entire comment above.

  • donnie says:

    Step2,

    That’s a good one. I must confess that it took TomD’s comment from this thread to get me to realize that His Holiness might be right about this.

  • Mike T says:

    donnie,

    (except for maybe Mike, but I can’t really judge based on his responses)

    Broadly speaking, people who have mental health issues should get at least as much compassion as people with physical ailments. Mental health issues can be only just as debilitating, but harder to deal with. So again, broadly speaking, they have my support in that respect.

    However, if you refer to the link I provided (first one), a lot of these issues are self-inflicted or things that they simply don’t want to deal with. I’ve known people with bona fide mental disorders that require medication. Quite a few actually when I was in school, comes with with being a geek. Most of them wanted to be normal(ish). The snowflakes, antifa, etc.? Not so much.

    There are two music videos from the 90s that sum up the mental state of most of these people and their culture today:

    1. Smack my bitch up by Prodigy (uncensored is best, but has nudity; really pissed off the left with how it ended)
    2. Megalomaniac by KMFDM

  • Step2 says:

    A relevant freedom song for when someone is hanging by a thread, so to speak.

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