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The Paradox of Freedom in a Restricted Life

February 12, 2014

I want to begin with a disclaimer that this is going to be a post of opinion. Some of my opinions are unconventional and I don’t expect them to be agreed with entirely.

Our lives are in many ways restricted and controlled, not only by the society at large (which is an important factor) but by the limitations of our own capabilities, human nature itself, as well as the attributes of the environment in which we find ourselves. This is compounded by the fact that after we are born our society lays out for us a series of obligations that in effect steer the course of our lives. At a young age we are obligated to attend schooling, memorize and hold as important the facts that are presented to us (at the exclusion of others which have no mention). This schooling process goes on for greater or lesser periods depending how far we wish to go in the educational system.

After that, or sometimes during, we are expected to go out and find a job which is increasingly in a corporate body where we take a subordinate role and further the aims of that instituion, with little to no self-determination of the outcomes we would personally like to create in the world. Besides that, to obtain these jobs we are expected to enact a persona which may have little to no basis in the reality of our personality, appearing eager and devoted to service jobs in a fast food industry or as a paper pusher in a bureaucracy such as a tax collection agency, etc.

I think this process of needing to act out a fake persona has a serious impact on our psychology, and ultimately we subsume these personas to keep the mental dissonance at a minimum. I also believe that these initiation processes are purposefully created to increase loyalty to the workplace.

This is written about in Social Psychology, you can read a bit about it here:

I believe that one of our last recourses for freedom is through our opinions. These are something that can be managed or manipulated, but if we are vigilant with ourselves they are things which cannot be taken away from us. For example, I can tell you something but you can choose to agree or disagree. I can present you with a fact, but it is your opinion whether you take it as good or bad.

I think that science will ultimately perpetuate restrictions and dependence. I believe that scientific inquiry is important, to help us learn new things and distinguish fact from fiction, but ultimately science seeks an undeniability which can be used to justify that which is not necessarily fact.

In this way science is reconcilable with opinion. In fact opinion and individual drive/desire is a precondition of science. Someone has a desire to produce a certain effect and subsequently uses procedure to procure the conditions of that effect. In this way science does not necessarily have to be used for “good” and indeed I think this is very much the case, as when psychology and sociology is used to create stronger control mechanisms.

I think it is an unfortunate reality that another of the last resorts for freedom is to go without – to enter a life of poverty and perhaps elimination. By this I mean that if one chooses to reject the course provided and expected by society there is not really another option available.

This notion is exemplified by a quote in the book World-Systems Analysis by Immanuel Wallerstein:

“We are in a capitalist system only when the system gives priority to the endless accumulation of capital… If we say that a system “gives priority” to such endless accumulation, it means that there exist structural mechanisms by which those who act with other motivations are penalized in some way, and are eventually eliminated from the social scene, whereas those who act with the appropriate motivations are rewarded and, if successful, enriched” [pg. 24]

In consideration of this documentary:

My point being that there is a huge double standard, wherein certain corporations are able to drain entire water supplies free of charge on the one hand and on the other ordinary citizens are persecuted even when they plan to redistribute the water back into the ground and use it for farming purposes.

I think that one of our last hopes for freedom lies in cultural anarchism. By this I mean that a hegemony has been established over culture, through mainstream medias being owned under umbrella corporations, through passively accepting the content of television, through large companies being the only ones capable of mustering large budgets for film.

When I say cultural anarchy, I mean that we need to search for information from many sources, and spread cultural artifacts among each other. Listen to the poetry or literature written by those near to you and try not to only rely on large outlets for your source of information. I do think that you should attempt to confirm the information you are being told through diverse sources.

I think that spiritualism has for a very long time been a conflated term. I do not think it is irreconcilable with materialism. I think that obscuritan terms used in spiritual texts are not only unhelpful but often sheild the uncertainty of those making the remarks. I genuinely think you can understand your own “spirituality” (though I am not entirely fond of that term) but contemplating on yourself, being completely honest with yourself (if no one else) so that you can reconcile when the material circumstances of your outer world are in conflict with your own sense of well being.

You can also contemplate on what is “good”. I whole heartedly believe that what is “bad” for anyone cannot be good for yourself. Even in the sense of competition, at best it will keep you locked in a desperate struggle where you cannot relax because you will have to be on guard against competition. On the other hand, reaching a state of cooperation will allow for mutual benefit, your effort will be compiled with others to produce even greater effect, and you will have the ability to relax because you will not have someone else at your throat.

I believe there is value in opinion because it is infinitely refutable. It is in this way that there is room for difference, room for freedom.

It is very important to contemplate, but ultimately a true life of philosophy will be in acting and making hard decisions. This goes equally for *not acting*, because there is a decision being made. I think everyone should be aware of their decisions in these regards.

Finally, perhaps most important of all, I believe that knowledge (possibly “true knowledge” though I have a problem with those terms because it might have no basis in reality) is progressive. Knowledge is a cipher. What I mean by this is that knowledge should help you to decode or otherwise see and become aware of that which you were unable to see before.

A simple example of this is picking up a convoluted book on a subject you are not familiar with. At first you might get nothing from it, but if you learn little by little about the subjects of that book and the terminology, you will be able to return to it and gain things from it that were not available to you beforehand.

It should be the same not just with contents of writing (or images) but with life in general. As you learn it should help you to see the world in new ways you weren’t entirely aware of at first, as well as provide you with the ability to act and accomplish things that at first you were not capable of.

I have added two new tabs of book and documentary recommendations. I hope they will be useful to those who are interested.


From → Exposition

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