Think of how many times a day you hear the word “freedom.” We fought wars for freedom, our freedom is what makes us better than those nasty Jihadis and Nazis, and in theory we have freedom of speech, despite people going to jail for social media posts and the major media monopolists deleting sites, banning users, and deleting content on a routine basis.
It could be that we do not understand freedom, or have misunderstood it. The term implies the ability to do whatever we want, barring harming others, but somewhere along the way, it has become twisted to exclude having certain opinions or behaviors that offend others if they are from a “marginalized” group.
In other words, freedom has become inverted, and no longer means freedom as we conceptualize it, but the freedom to do what the dominant ideology of our time — remember that we fought on the side of the Soviet Union in the last world war — tells us that we should be doing. This unfreedom expands the rights of others at the cost of our own.
Of course, rights present a troubling question: the more heterogeneous a society becomes, whether in religion or race, the more rights are likely to clash. And so we end up in a time where you must bake that gay cake, or your business gets effectively taken from you.
A new court case threatens to upend unfreedom and replace it with freedom of association, in which you have no obligation to ensure the freedom of others. Your only responsibility is your own pursuit of life, liberty, self-expression and happiness:
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a far-right legal group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group, is arguing that Masterpiece Cakeshop has a First Amendment right to refuse service, on the grounds that baking a cake (or at least choosing who gets to buy it) is a form of speech.
…What they’re saying is that if you bake cakes and then put them up for sale, you have to sell them to gay and straight couples alike, under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.
â€œIf you imagine a scenario where the bakery refused to provide a cake for an interracial couple, a proposition that was true in other times in our history, we would understand that to be about race discrimination,” Melling said.
…The point of anti-discrimination laws, Melling said, is “to ensure, for example, that LGBT people would be free to go about their daily lives, would be free to walk up to the door to the store, would be free to walk up to the door of an inn without fear they would be turned away because of who they are.”
In the eyes of the Founding Fathers, much like the first people to experiment with democracy (a gateway drug to Full Communism) in ancient Athens, “freedom” meant a lack of obligation to others; it was a negative right, meaning that you were free from being crammed into the hive-mind and forced to go along with whatever the group found fascinating.
This type of “freedom” cannot last, however, because it conflicts with egalitarianism, or the idea that we are all equal or should be equal. Unfortunately, the notion of “freedom” itself rests on the idea that we are all equal, or at least equal in reason, so to reject egalitarianism is to undermine freedom, which requires us to instead find a common goal or standard and pursue that.
“Freedom” worked when we had a strong culture, caste system, and shared religion that enabled us to have roughly the same values. This meant that individuals outside of that value system were given no special consideration. However, in a pluralistic society, with many races, ethnic groups, religions, and political outlooks, that type of internal consistency is not possible.
As The Age of Ideology winds down, much of our focus has shifted toward discovering that our modern bold-sounding ideas like freedom, democracy, individualism, and diversity are bad not so much in themselves, but in how they condition our population to be weak-minded. The more freedom we have, the less we focus on reality, because the goal of freedom makes reality arbitrary.
The next age will seek non-paradoxical ideas. A society can be “free,” in the sense that people who are doing good or at least no harm are not interfered with, when its people share a basic values system, but this is rooted in genetics more than anything else. When that homogeneity erodes, so do the prospects for “freedom,” creating a clash between freedom and unfreedom that tears the society apart.