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Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Freedom Scale: An Embryonic Political Analogy

Today I'd like to offer an analogy that should relate to better understanding the political dynamic between individual and social freedoms. This metaphor will be inadequate simply because I have not yet had the time to flesh it out, rather I just thought of it, and the thought itself maybe derivative. Regardless I am proposing that political and individual freedom (note freedom itself is undefined and this is part of the problem) can be understood in a descriptive sense in terms of a scale: yes, a scale.

Imagine such a scale, but on the left we have political coercion, and on the right we have practiced virtue or character. (note: I am presupposing a virtue ethic not a consequential or deontological position) The individual, who has been habituated himself through social guidance, individual reflection, and action in order to be come an individual of virtue or character, is one who self-governs effectively in the sense of moderating the passions and subordinating the appetitive desires under the dominion of the reasoning portion of the mind. (of note: when I refer to the individual's habituation I am operating under the assumption that individual and institutional authority creates this impetus.) In this model institutions are not conceived of as part of the states framework, but rather an appendage to individual and familial association.

Now suppose that this individual lives in a society, whereby he is not conditioned to subordinate himself to his own, presumably social and rational sovereignty, then I suggest that he may find himself qualitatively speaking, as a subject of subordination of the outside power of the state. (the state we must be careful to recognize is not the community) This, I believe arises from the fact that the state regardless of its potential intention to avoid value judgments, as is so common in the perceptibly liberal society of licence (whereby quantitative autonomy is considered a political end of value), this still necessitates a determination of value. What in turn ends up happening is the individual, is subordinate to the end of the state, when he is not subordinate to value judgments implicit in the cultivation of virtue and citizenship. If the ends of political society are not dictated by cultivation of virtue in the individual then the direction of society will necessarily be governed by the state.

The scale exists, and how it works, how the elevation of state authority over individual self government begins to occur is once the state composed of individuals who do not govern themselves asserts a value judgment upon the nature of mankind itself in absence of a pre-enlightenment view of human frailty. If, as was a prior assumption in pre-enlightenment societies, that man was fallen, subject to nature, moral truth, cosmological order, and other checks. The enlightenment substituted nature, and history, for instrumentalized reason capable, in the eyes of reformers, of reconstructing the world to better suit the needs of humanity. This was possible, because, as Jean Jacques Rousseau indicated it was society that corrupted man.

 Implicit in this assertion was the notion that man's nature was corrupted from a pre-political idyllic peace. This viewpoint, in a modern context is well outlined by economist Thomas Sowell when he delineates boundaries between the constrained and unconstrained visions in his book  A Conflict of Visions. In terms of politics this creates a rational for construction of  a society best suited not to constrain man or direct him toward self governance, but rather a rational, which asserts itself toward the reconstruction of idyllic man and the engineering of a society through which all men will realize their pre-political innocence and goodness. This notion of engineered society naturally instrumentalizes humanity aggressively directs them toward the end of the state. This coercive force sees it necessary to treat the community as a tool for testing hypothesis and creates new fashionable value judgments ready to be imposed by fiat upon men who in their lack of personal virtue and habituation are hungry to indulge. By this mechanism, and I am sure much more could be said or theorized from a different premises, I believe, a partial explanation can be created that ties individual freedom to increased state coercion, and individual self-government to greater political freedom,