Paul Andersen: Fair Game
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
The nature of freedom goes well beyond the catchy libertarian gospel of Ron Paul. It may have peaked with a culture eradicated from the American landscape more than a century ago.
“The Comanche male was gloriously, astoundingly free,” S.C. Gwynn wrote in “Empire of the Summer Moon,” a history of the Comanches. “He was subject to no church, no organized religion, no priest clan, no military societies, no state, no police, no public law, no strict rules of personal behavior.”
Forget the Declaration of Independence. That document simply traded one form of obedience for another. It did not set man free from imposed constraints but demanded his subservience to rule by a shifting cadre of elites.
French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously observed, “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.” Our chains tie us to a societal anchor, forcing homage to jobs, credit cards, mortgages and crippling indebtedness.
The Comanches had no chains, but they were not humanists. Still, they were no worse than today’s corporate warriors, outlaw banksters and industrial militarists who raid and pillage without remorse.
We Americans think we’re free, but how free are we within our imposed social order? Are we even intellectually free enough to ponder the question? The freedom of conscience required to do so is routinely subdued by cultural conformity.
The church wrests away freedom of spirit and substitutes it with hierarchical, institutional theology. Only apostates claim the spiritual freedom to discover their personal sense of awe and reverence.
The commercial economy dictates our tastes, fills us with desires and distracts us with things that distance us from the essence of life. When we experience a hunger of the soul, we fill it with everything money can buy.
The health care industry cordons off our bodies from our minds and spirits, treating the body as if it were an isolated organism whose metabolism, hormones, pain responses and libido are subject to medicinal control.
The beauty, fashion and entertainment industries program our aesthetic sensibilities, corrupt our natural sense of beauty and replace it with a mechanized semblance of beauty. The fashion industry plays the trump card of vanity to the weak hand of self-loathing. Virtual identities are created by manipulations of hair, skin, body type and mental imagery.
We barter our personal freedom for compliance with the overarching will of a cultural Leviathan that stands between us and freedom of expression, of will and of self. Cultural conformity denies us freedom from self-doubt, from the rule of time and from fear of mortality.
Freedom isn’t a grant or a gift. Freedom is innate and infinite with no holds other than those we place on ourselves. We are not enslaved but rather enslave ourselves to ritual, routine and rote.
Slavery did not go out with the Civil War. Modern slavery controls 27 million people around the world who are being held or are forced to work or provide sex against their will.
“There are more people trapped in slavery today than any time in history,” Google’s director for charitable giving stated after the company recently donated $11.5 million to the International Justice Mission.
The corporate supply chain harnesses enslaved factory workers to produce cheap consumer goods to appease equally enslaved consumers. Rather than lifting people from poverty, economic bondage mires them in endless toil. Sex slaves satisfy a different kind of consumer through a perverted cycle of usury that debauches the psychic freedom of both perpetrator and victim.
America’s decadent national political process institutionalizes our differences and parlays them into a divisive, uncivil body politic whose currency is power, self-interest and disinformation.
Charles Mann, in his book “1491,” described how the Haudenosaunee, a loose military alliance of five eastern Native American tribes, was less authoritarian, more personally autonomous and far freer than what American democracy has allowed since those tribes were eradicated in the name of freedom.
“They had such absolute notions of liberty that they allowed no kind of superiority of one over another, and banished all servitude from their territories,” Mann wrote.
Federal authority over states’ rights, the primacy of private property and rule by the majority instead of by consensus has entrenched partisan divisions in the national psyche. The budget deficit pales when compared with a deficit in trust as Washington becomes irrelevant to today’s needs.
Coercive, class-ridden, status-driven, materialistic – the social fabric of America is torn. Paul claims he can mend it. As a nation we need to mend ourselves first by grasping the essence of personal freedom.
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