When I started writing this blog three months ago, Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing, and the world seemed on a downward slope to oblivion. Because I did not want to add to the utter confusion of those days, I stopped to reflect. Some might even say I took a knee. In truth, I did not do that. What I did was more aligned with pausing to take stock of what was going on with the world, and not letting feelings get in the way of facts. As Professor Jordan Peterson said it best, and I am paraphrasing here, you cannot criticise the system without first taking a deep look at yourself. In other words “Clean up your room before you clean up the world.” Start small, and move up from there. That is what I am doing.
Your Country Wants You Dumb
Or what any Romanian worth their salt can tell you about government: Tara te vrea prost! Your country really does want you to be dumb. And without real smart choices, one can only be a ward of the state.
But why, you might ask, why would your own government want you to be dumb, out of options, and indebted to the state?! The answer, my friends, is quite apparent. A well educated people know their choices, and choose wisely. Whereas a dumb people will almost always choose poorly. On those rare occasions that the people might randomly pick a ‘winner’ out of the hat, it will most likely be a short term benefit bearing a heavy long-term price tag.
Case in point
In the last 10 to 20 years, more and more governments around the world woke up to the realisation that the people needed a couple of things: more entertainment and less responsibility. And that is how, some drugs have suddenly stopped being bad for the fabric of society (i.e., cannabis) and went from merely tolerated or at least “frowned upon” by the state, to legal. And that is also how civilian ownership of guns went from being tolerated by the government to being banned, more or less.
But this is not just a major cognitive dissonance. It is, for all intents and purposes, the root of all evil.
For if we collectively allow the government to pull such a 180 degrees turn “in the middle of the highway, while doing 100 km per hour”, and go from “marijuana is bad for you, you cannot have it” to “here, let me sell you 10 types of cannabis”, then we are truly mere wards of the state. A people who abandon their own free will and allow any entity to dictate the terms of the social contract in such a contradictory and flimsy way, they really deserve what is coming to them.
And free will is the essence of all morality. Free will is not just about making choices. It is so much more. It is the difference that separates slaves from free people. And I am not talking about legal bondage here. I am talking about the mental bonds, which hold most people captive in their own heads. I am talking about the same psychological limitations that prohibit adult dogs from jumping over the same 25 cm high enclosure, which trapped them when they were puppies and couldn’t jump over.
One must always remember that free will is a state of mind, which comes to the individual freely of any constraint. It is what makes people choose from a plethora of options ranging from “What will I wear today for work?” to “Should I get a second job to be able to afford that downtown apartment?”
So when the same government that flipped-flopped and started to capitalize on the legalization of cannabis after prosecuting people for 100 years for the same “crime”, decides that legal gun owners’ property is suddenly illegal, with a pen stroke, then we must ask ourselves where our Free Will is? Are we supposed to accept everything that government says willy-nilly? Are we supposed to take it on faith alone?
Because if we must suspend our disbelief and trust in a higher power, and no, I am not talking about God, because Government seems to have become God in the last 100 years or so, then we come to a moral crossroads. If we must believe that the State is the Guarantor of the Social Contract, and that life outside organised society would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short‘, like Hobbes said it would be, then we must ask ourselves this question: when was life Not ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’?
Because from our historical vantage point of over 7,000 years of recorded history, most of this time was spent by people to kill one another, either individually or wholesale. So, in a sense, if the meaning of society, of state, of government has been to pull humanity from the quagmire of violence, which defines us still, by violent means no less, then we have just replaced a million small tyrants with just a few thousand. Violence is still here. It was just nationalised by the state. How ironic!
And had the results been palpable, for everybody to see, I’d have agreed that this was a game changer, even a moral action. But wait, the plot thickens. In the last three-four centuries since the likes of Hobbes started building up the State-God, the ‘Leviathan’, there’s been more war, murder, pestilence, famine, and depravity than ever before. So, what did the famous Social Contract bring us except a mighty confirmation that life, both outside And within society, is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’
To this I might add, with a heavy heart no less, that government is working hard to make life even more difficult than it is according to Hobbes’ definition. Every day, we are confronted with more proof of the disappearance of that central element of the Social Contract, which made it essential to the advent of our organised modern social order. Free Will is being forlorn as if it was an unwanted baggage hindering progress.
So instead of teaching future generations the value of rational thinking, we teach them that life’s challenges require us to feel our way to a solution. Instead of imbuing our offspring with the teachings of philosophy, religion, science, and instead of teaching them to find their way in life via education, and yes letting them struggle on the way to achieving their calling, we offer them rewards just for participating in life’s challenges. How cavalier of us… And how utterly pointless.
I believe that there is a master-plan in the works and this plan calls for the denunciation of Free Will because no amount of social engineering can dispense with the human yearning for meaning via free choice. A society deprived of choice is a society waiting to expire, for it has nothing to offer to the people.
And if Locke was right to claim that human nature is characterised by reason and tolerance, and that our natural state was/is of equality and independence, then how come the Leviathan State is able to overreach and ban the tools of liberty that everyone has the natural right to possess in order “to defend their life, health, liberty, or possessions”? I am talking, naturally, about firearms.
How did we get to this point where the discussion is focused on what we, the people, can or cannot have, when the biggest mass murderer has historically been the Leviathan State?! It boggles the mind that we have chosen the path of least mental resistance no less, allowing the State to do what it pleases when it so chooses, without any checks and balances, outside the sovereign authority of the People.
Were the likes of Stalin, Hitler and Mao right to call the people moral cowards who do not know which way to go, providing the moral and intellectual justification for what Eric Hobsbawm genially called the Age of Extremes or the Short 20th Century (1917-1991)?!
I hate a cheap line as much as the next fellow but it looks to me that Goya nailed the concept of what happens when we collectively abandon our Free Will. While the Spanish master painter of the Golden Age laid the blame on the sleep of reason, I do believe that he was just one step removed from the actual trigger that begets monsters. When people choose to forgo the exercise of their Free Will, that is when monsters start walking the Earth.
John Locke’s political theory was based on the social contract theory. However, unlike Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature is characterised by reason and tolerance. Like Hobbes, Locke believed that people are born with the selfish gene. The introduction of currency justifies this bold yet correct assertion. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his “life, health, liberty, or possessions”. Most scholars attribute the famous catchphrase “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” in the American Declaration of Independence, to Locke’s theory of rights.
I agree with Locke because his arguments take into account the central facts of life without a second thought to the by-products of societal received behaviour. Fact is that we are all born with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. But in order to better organise ourselves as a society, we have invented government. We gave it power to better protect our lives, liberties, and we allowed it to step in and dictate the terms of our pursuit of Happiness. This is where we went wrong.
Power ceded is almost always power lost forever. And in our folly to get rid of the `burden` of Responsibility, we never imagined that government might not hold their end of the Social Contract.
Who or what is to blame? That is easy. We are all guilty as charged. We have not only abandoned the use of our wits, we have also resigned to never using our intellectual faculties. There are no more checks and balances. And that is why government has grown comfortable in its dominant position. So, what can we do to undo or fix this situation?
There are no easy fixes
Instead, there is one difficult and long term solution to all our problems.
Education is the only proven way that can uplift future generations from their subservient and servile position, from their intellectual bondage. In fact, education is key to turning the page of history and writing a new chapter. Besides, if one looks at the cost of quality education, one notices that the world is starting to show a marked divide between lower cost, low-quality public education, and private education, which is more expensive and high-quality. This only proves the point that knowledge is power and those who seek knowledge gain power.
Controlling who gets a high-quality education is akin to controlling who gains access to power. Restricting access to education is tantamount to keeping the levers of power outside the reach of the people. And that is why Your Country Wants You Dumb!
Fortunately, not all peoples are the same. Some retain the will to exercise their intellects and make a conscientious decision to better themselves via education. The Swiss come to mind, as a perfect example to this effect. The Confederation is a world leader in research and development, advanced education, and retaining the brain trust. And that is why the trains run on time, among many other things, in Switzerland!
So, remember folks: read a book every now and then, don’t take anything for granted, don’t believe everything that people say to you. Always look for the truth. Never take anything on faith. Be inquisitive. Keep an open mind but don’t get all your information from one source. Corroborate. Argue. Debate. Be vigilant! Cause if you are not, those who are vigilant will pull the rug from under you… and you won’t even notice it.