| Freedom is a Two-edged Sword|
|9 Jan 2007 @ 05:48, by Max Sandor|
The following is the preface and first chapter of a book written in 1950 by John Whiteside Parsons. It is quote shocking to read what was said already back then and how things haven't changed a bit today... in the contrary..
Jack Parsons (Frater Belarion)
full text at [link]
Since I first wrote this essay in 1946, some of the more ominous predictions have been fulfilled. Public employees have been subjected to the indignity of "loyalty" oaths and the ignominy of loyalty purges. Members of the United States Senate, moving under the cloak of immunity and the excuse of emergency, have made a joke of justice and a mockery of privacy. Constitutional immunity and legal procedure have been consistently violated and that which once would have been an outrage in America is today refused even a review by the Supreme Court.
The golden voice of social security, of socialized "this" and socialized "that", with its attendant confiscatory taxation and intrusion on individual liberty, is everywhere raised and everywhere heeded. England has crept under the aegis of a regime synonymous with total regimentation. Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have fallen victims to communism while the United States makes deals with the corrupt dictatorships of Argentina and Spain.
As I write, the United States Senate is pursuing a burlesque investigation into the sphere of private sexual morals, which will accomplish nothing except to bring pain and sorrow to many innocent persons.
The inertia and acquiescence which allows the suspension of our liberties would once have been unthinkable. The present ignorance and indifference is appalling. The little that is worthwhile in our civilization and culture is made possible by the few who are capable of creative thinking and independent action, grudgingly assisted by the rest. When the majority of men surrender their freedom, barbarism is near but when the creative minority surrender it, the Dark Age has arrived. Even the word liberalism has now become a front for a new social form of Christian morality. Science, that was going to save the world back in H.G. Wells' time, is regimented, strait-jacketed and scared; its universal language is diminished to one word, security.
In this 1950 view some of my more hopeful utterances may appear almost naive...
However, I was never so naive as to believe that freedom in any full sense of the word is possible for more than a few. But I have believed and do still hold that these few, by self-sacrifice, wisdom, courage and continuous effort, can achieve and maintain a free world. The labor is heroic but it can be done by example and by education. Such was the faith that built America, a faith that America has surrendered. I call upon America to renew this faith before she perishes.
We are one nation but we are also one world. The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brother's liberty without suppressing our own and we cannot murder our brothers without murdering ourselves. We stand together as men for human freedom and human dignity or we will fall together, as animals, back into the jungle.
In this very late hour it is with solutions that we must be primarily concerned. We seem to be living in a nation that simply does not know what we are told we have and that we tell each other we have. Indeed, it is far more than that. It is to the definition of freedom, to its understanding, in order that it may be attained and defended, that this essay is devoted. I need not add that freedom is dangerous -- but it is hardly possible that we are all cowards.
For numberless centuries society accepted the proposition that certain men were created to be slaves. Their natural function was to serve priests, kings and nobles, men of substance and property who were appointed slave-masters by almighty God. This system was reinforced by the established doctrine that all men and women were owned 'in mind' by the church and 'in body' by the state. This convenient situation was supported by the authority of social morality, religion and even philosophy.
Against this doctrine, some two hundred years ago, rose the most astonishing heresy the world has yet seen; the principle of liberalism. In essence this principle stated that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights which belong to every man as his birthright. This idea appealed to certain intractable spirits -- heretics, atheists and revolutionaries -- and has since made some headway in spite of the opposition of the majority of organized society. As a slogan, however, it has become so popular that it is rendered unwilling lip-service by all the major states and yet it is still so distasteful to persons in authority that it is nowhere embodied as a fundamental law and is continually violated in letter and in spirit by every trick of bigotry and reaction. Further, absolutist and totalitarian groups of the most vicious nature use liberalism as a cloak under which they move to re-establish tyrannies and to extinguish the liberty of all who oppose them.
Thus religious groups seek to abrogate freedom of art, speech and the press; reactionaries move to suppress labor, communists to establish dictatorships -- and all in the name of 'freedom'. Because of the peculiar definitions of freedom used by some of these camouflaged tyrants, it seems necessary to redefine Freedom in the terms understood by Voltaire, Paine, Washington, Jefferson and Emerson.
Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands.
Since all tyrannies are based on dogma and since all dogmas are based on lies, it behooves us to look beyond them for truth and freedom will both be far away. And yet the Truth is that we know nothing...
...Objectively, we know nothing at all. Any system of intellectual thought, whether it be science, logic, religion or philosophy, is based on certain fundamental ideas or axioms which are assumed but which cannot be proven. This is the grave of all positivism. We assume but we do not know that there is a real and objective world outside our own mind. Ultimately we do not know what we are or what the world is. Further, if there is a real world apart from ourselves we cannot know what it really is; all we know is what we perceive it to be. All that we perceive is conveyed by our senses and interpreted by our brain. However fine, exact or delicate our scientific instruments may be, their data is still filtered through our senses and interpreted by our brain. However useful, spectacular or necessary our ideas and experiments may be, they still have little to do with absolute truth. Such a thing can only exist for the individual according to his whim or his inner perception of his own truth-in-being.
The witches and devils of the middle ages were real by our own standards; reputable and responsible persons believed in them. They were seen, their effects observed and they accounted for a large body of otherwise inexplicable phenomenon. Their existence was accepted without question by the majority of men, great and humble. From this majority there was not and still is not any appeal. Yet we do not believe in these things today. We believe in other things similarly explaining the same phenomenon. Tomorrow we will believe in still other things We believe but we do not know.
All of our deductions, for example the theory of gravitation, are based on observed statistics, on tendencies observed to occur in a certain way. Even if our observations are correct, we still do not know why these things happen. Our theories are only assumptions, however reasonable they may seem.
There is a type of truth that is based on experience: we know that we feel hot or hungry or in love. These feelings cannot be conveyed to anyone who has not experienced them. We can describe them in terms of similar feelings experienced by someone else, analyzing their cause-and-effect according to mutually acceptable theories but that someone else will never really know what your feeling is like.
The above may be negative considerations but within their limits we can deduce positive principles:
1. Whatever the universe is, we are either all or part of it by virtue of our consciousness but we do not know which.
2. No philosophy, scientific theory, religion or system of thought can be absolute and infallible. They are relative only. One man's opinion is just as good as another's.
3. There is no absolute justification for emphasizing one individual theory or way of life over another.
4. Every man has the right to his own opinion and his own way of life. There is no system of human thought which can successfully refute this thesis.
So much for positivism but other problems still remain. There is necessity, expediency and convenience. If these are illusions they are very popular and it is usual to consider them. We might say that politics is concerned with necessity and expediency whereas science is concerned with convenience. This is not intended to discredit science and reason in their proper spheres. Reason is one of our greatest gifts, the power that differentiates us from the animals, and science is our greatest tool, our best hope for building a genuine civilization. (It is curious that this modern truism appears, in this system of reasoning, as a concession.)
In spite of its inestimable value, science is a tool and has nothing to do with ultimate truth. Herein is the danger of science. As a tool it is so valuable, so useful and so irresistible that we incline to regard it as the arbiter of the absolute, giving final and irrefutable pronouncement on all things. This is exactly the position that the pedant, the dogmatist and the dialectical materialist would have us take. Then, posing as a "scientist" or propounding "Scientific" doctrines, he can persuade us to accept his values and obey his orders. Today's science must forever be free to overthrow its yesterdays, otherwise it will degenerate into ancestor worship.
It is necessary that we defend freedom unless we all wish to be slaves. It is expedient that we achieve brotherhood unless we desire destruction and it is convenient that we grant others the right to their own opinions and life-styles in order to maintain our own.
The intelligent individual will not base his conduct on an arbitrary or absolute concept of right and wrong. It may be argued that all motives and all actions are selfish since they are intended to satisfy some requirement of the ego. Perhaps this is true of self-sacrifice, abnegation and the highest altruism. We engage in them in order to satisfy ourselves by attaining some object however intangible it may be.
The ego can be very broad. A man may include the whole world as a part of his ego and thus set out to redeem or save it for no other reason than the pleasure of personal accomplishment. Such a man, far from being unselfish, is extremely egotistical. The artist devoted to the production of pure beauty is so dedicated because of his need and his nature; at least such egotism is not petty. Motives of family-love and patriotism are rooted in bigotry. This does not necessarily detract from such actions and motives. Everything in nature is beautiful and it is no less beautiful because it is understood. However, the unenlightened man will assign arbitrary values to all things in order to protect and justify his own position. His morals are based on things he wishes were true or which someone else wishes were true. His philosophy pays no attention to relative facts or realities and yet in his life he must deal with them. He is consequently involved in a constant round of pretenses and evasions.
The enlightened liberal needs no such justification. He will realize and accept his inherent selfishness and the inherent selfishness of all men. He will understand living as a technique, the technique of getting what he wants on the terms he wants.
Such is the case with freedom. If we abrogate another's freedom to gain our own ends, our own freedom is thereby jeopardized. That is the cost. If we wish to assure our own freedom, we must assure all mens' freedom. That is the technique.
If a liberal were to develop two personalities and one of these personalities were to establish a benevolent dictatorship while the other continued his liberal activities it would only be a matter of time before he killed himself. The restriction of others freedom is ultimately self-enslavement and suicide. The dictator is the most abject of all slaves.
These simple considerations are the logical basis of the philosophy of liberalism. From such considerations and from many more the fundamental principles of liberalism arose as a code of rights, basic in nature and clear beyond misconception. This code must be the Law beyond the law, an ultimate expression of the dignity and inviolability of the individual. It must be above compromise by courts and lawyers, beyond the whim of the populace and the treachery of demagogues. It must be the epitome of man's aspertion toward liberty and self-determination, a canon so sacred that its violation by a state, a group or an individual is treason and sacrilege. The Bill of Rights in the American Constitution was a step in the right direction and its study will indicate further development. In a world so threatened by positivism and paternalism this doctrine is limited in both scope and application. It permits such violations of liberty as the late National Prohibition Act, the Draft Law, the closed shop, the Mann Act, censorship laws, anti-firearms laws and racial discrimination.
It has been said, with justification, that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. A document so fundamental as a Bill of Rights cannot be jeopardized by arbitrary interpretations. It should need no interpretations. It must apply equally to the national state, the federated states, counties, municipalities, official agencies and the private citizen within their province. It must apply in such a way that the individual or minority needs no recourse to elaborate, lengthy and costly proceedings in order to protect these rights. It is the duty of the state to provide this recourse to all alike.
Freedom cannot be subject to arbitrary interpretation and misinterpretation. It must plainly include freedom from persecution on moral, political, economic, racial, social or religious grounds. No man, no group and no nation has the right to any man's individual freedom. No matter how pure the motive, how great the emergency, how high the principle, such action is tyranny and is never justified.
The question is, are we able to face the consequences of democracy? It is not sufficient that freedom be assured by purely negative means. Freedom is meaningless where its expression is controlled by powerful groups such as the press, the radio, the motion picture industry, churches, politicians and capitalists. Freedom must be insured.
quoted from [link]
9 Jan 2007 @ 07:08 by @220.127.116.11 : scary
I had thought that our times are not that different than all the other times that had been before - and this article confirms that. It is comforting because the world has survived in the past, so it probably will again. We might have another Boston tea party, but I guess that would be OK.
13 Jan 2007 @ 00:35 by Ed Dawson @18.104.22.168 : Hubbard!
There is a document on that site (your link) which says it was co-written by Parsons and HUBBARD!!!!
25 Jul 2009 @ 19:02 by Duane @22.214.171.124 : Parsons
Parsons was ahead of his time. It's sad so see how far we have wandered from freedom since his time.
21 Aug 2015 @ 00:33 by yyyyy @126.96.36.199 : yyyyy
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