The Myth of Freedom

A week or two ago two YouTube celebrities of opposing styles butted heads for a solid four hours. Millennial Woes (a good friend of West Coast Reactionaries) made “The Case for White Nationalism” against Sargon of Akkad who made the case for… something else. Regardless, one can observe in the comments section of the aforementioned video various people filling-in the gaps Millennial Woes left in his reasoning, which corresponds to my own view of the whole affair which should come as no surprise.

The reason I mention this instance is due to what Sargon of Akkad demonstrated about the ways in which many moderns perceive the world and how they gather and process information. Sargon of Akkad — much like the majority of his some quarter of a million Subscribers — is a critic, id est one who is automatically suspicious of all external data, and it is from externality that one’s own principles and views are concretely formed. I just know that should someone of this type be reading this, they will doubtless be thinking “But is not that how all information is understood?” to which I would respond that it depends upon the information and its direction. The Absolute Individual which Julius Evola formulated, the man who can say a resounding “Yes” to his core sense of Being insomuch as admitting one’s true nature, is not something established via rationally analysing the outward world. Indeed, this is one of the key distinctions between the esotericist and the layman — but I digress. We can definitely establish modes of logical operation which do not rely upon some “being moved” by the world in a materialistic sense.

The modern has at the forefront of his essence several established principles, among them being that all things can be rationally understood by all men, that all human beings are born of equal worth, and that all human beings are born with equal rights — indeed the latter has been written into the very Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, that villainous hive of traitors and rebels; the country has at its core this revolutionary maxim. Later developments in this direction include the European existentialist movement, one of the basic assumptions therein being the inborn nature of human freedom (though not every “existentialist” shared the same beliefs, something explained very well by philosopher Gregory B. Sadler).

This a very problematic assumption especially when one begins to unpack the very definition of “freedom.” The common view nowadays amid moderns is that “freedom” constitutes the ability to “do what you want.” If one takes a higher view, however, “freedom” implies being without restraints, without limits, without boundaries. If we are to examine the human animal we notice that he is certainly born with such things. One has to eat, sleep, blink; one’s heart must beat in order to circulate oxygen-rich blood through the body to operate muscles and organs. One cannot choose to stop bodily functions at a whim. Likewise it is with our animal desires — even ascetics and monks need to eat occasionally, but that brings us onto another point.

The human being is born with desires, some base and squalid, others bright and luminous. The Christian doctrine of Fallen Man confirms this, that man is born into the world in a “fallen” state from Paradise. In fact this is the basic presupposition of nearly every religion the world-over; that man is born into a lower state of being, but through the active overcoming of this he can attain a higher state of being. This very idea challenges the center of the liberal mind. Man is born into a state of slavery to himself, to both his desires and his biological requirements; as well as his very metaphysics as a mortal bound to life and to death.

Freedom means “being able to choose.” The fact of the matter is that most ordinary men do not or cannot choose their fundamental state; they exist as total serfs to the political zeitgeist of the day, to the latest fashion trend, to the whims of their peers, to their own vulgar natures. They are not free men, they are slaves.

Consider the cattle, grazing as they pass you by: they do not know what is meant by yesterday or today, they leap about, eat, rest, digest, leap about again, and so from morn till night and from day to day, fettered to the moment and its pleasure or displeasure, and thus neither melancholy nor bored. This is a hard sight for man to see; for, though he thinks himself better than the animals because he is human, he cannot help envying them their happiness — what they have, a life neither bored nor painful, is precisely what he wants, yet he cannot have it because he refuses to be like an animal…

[Man] also wonders at himself, that he cannot learn to forget but clings relentlessly to the past: however far and fast he may run, this chain runs with him. And it is a matter for wonder: a moment, now here and then gone, nothing before it came, again nothing after it has gone, nonetheless returns as a ghost and disturbs the peace of a later moment. A leaf flutters from the scroll of time, floats away — and suddenly floats back again and falls into the man’s lap. Then the man says “I remember” and envies the animal, who at once forgets and for whom every moment really dies, sinks back into night and fog and is extinguished forever. — Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations

The fetish of faux-freedom which envelopes the modern mind lends itself, in the capitalist marketplace, to a sort of bohemianism. Freedom becomes an idealised state of affairs insofar as meaning that the man who is free is one who has no obligations to anything beyond himself; the man is free not in his state of being, but in his particular flavour of slavery. This is manifest on every level of life and living, and the capitalist, global marketplace bequeaths any and all shapes and sizes of this emptiness to anyone with enough worthless paper money to purchase it.

An obsession with directionless, formless freedom leads one to individualism, which is the belief that the individual person and his rights are valuable enough to not be imposed upon by external institutions or people. We are again met with more problems as explained by Cato Disapproves in his article “Ex Falso Quodlibet” (which I have quoted and referenced many times);

Behavior which harms and destabilizes institutions or abstract entities like “the family” or “the public good” are permissible [to the individualist] because only physical harm to an individual is considered relevant in determining the morality of an action.

The very act of external opposition in the inhibiting of the freedom of the individual is an inconceivable and bizarre concept to the ordinary modern. And this is precisely why his homelands are being destroyed and he is interiorly formless and empty. I made this very point in “The Enemy is Within, not Without” —  that what the real danger is to the European and to Europe is interior formlessness and a lack of self-restraint. We currently have, in the West, some very authoritarian societies. The problem is, however, that the authoritarianism which exists only serves the interests of the status quo, not the existence of the future.

This brings us full-circle. The defining difference between Millennial Woes’ position and Sargon of Akkad’s is that the former believes the individual to be beholden to things prior to himself, id est a collective; a culture, and tribe, a family, a thede, and that the individual is conditioned and formed by that which they come out of necessarily. The ordinary man is not fit for genuine freedom, he is not equipped for true, profound freedom. There is a reason why the existentialists like Nietzsche tended to a hierarchical view of life and of reality. The Ubermench is not something attainable by everyone due to the innate differences in capabilities between people. Even the Maoist apologist Jean-Paul Sartre, while defending socialist labour camps as existing out of “love,” saw dialectical struggle as a means of ridding mankind of oppressors and evil — he discriminated, and that is the fundamental point. He saw the better and the lesser man, in his view, those who could have freedom and those who could not. This is not a “Left” versus “Right” issue per se.

Having freedom as the basis of an entire — universal, in the liberal mind — social order is total folly. Life at its very core is struggle, just as a tree struggles upwards towards the sun, so do we. And like a tree, we must have roots and a direction. The presupposition that all men are rootless atoms floating in a vacuum only beholden to their own shifting desires and impulses has led us to this predicament, both individually and collectively. The answer, then, is not more freedom, but order. And the right kind of order is sorely lacking for most.

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Adam

As a man among men, I can learn.

13 thoughts on “The Myth of Freedom

  1. No one can obtain pure freedom, for all are bound by Divine Law. Only the Sovereign can have perfect freedom. To pretend otherwise is to deny the innate hierarchy of all creation. What liberals actually seek is license. They stand up, rattle their chains, and cry out “I will not be bound!” as if shouting this will somehow break their bonds, when it only serves to tighten them.

    1. Whilst I would absolutely agree with the general thrust of what you said I am curious how you would defend this to one who does not hold to any idea of “divinity.” Would your argument be emotive or rational? I’m just curious.

      1. If someone has no notion of the divine then they have other problems that need to be dealt with first. Materialism is what has destroyed the West. The existence of God can be concluded through philosophy alone by those with sufficient intellect through contemplation. Unfortunately, this fact was obfuscated by the moderns and their focus on the material sciences, which doesn’t seek to explain why something is but only how it is.

        As I see it, the opposite of theism (or something akin to it) is nihilism. If all existence is simply matter that was cobbled together by chance, a more ridiculous claim than theism, then life has no inherent meaning. Therefore, we would try to impose whatever meaning we want upon it, but that would not change the reality of nihilism. Everyone would focus on earthly life, which is how you end up with hedonism and the like. And no one could claim that degeneracy is wrong, since any sort of morality would be relativistic.

  2. Very well put, Mr. Wallace. Absolute freedom is the utter renunciation of all value – at least as far as “freedom” is defined within modernity. This is why I advocate for aggressive re-definition in all core areas, as I find it highly unlikely for the valueless majority to be defeated by the value-confused minority.

  3. Great post. The entire notion of ‘freedom’ has been supremely warped by modernist interpretations, particularly evident in the way it has become synonymous with ‘democracy’.

    Today we think of ourselves as free but in reality we have never been held down by more chains than ever before.

  4. Excellent read. It is indeed true that modern man plunders from the future to fuel his present excesses whilst disregarding the lessons of the past. And because of the fleeting nature of the material world his desire for excess can never be satisfied hence the degeneration we see today. Only through the divine do we come to truth but also we realise that society is organic and not an amalgamation of contracts between individuals.

  5. Yes we’re pretty much chained to this material plane. I signal this stance early in any debate with a modernist because it gets to a fundamental NRx principal very neatly. At risk of misrepresenting I take Jim’s undertitle -liberty in an unfree world- to be a constant reminder of this.

    I find it interesting you quote Nietzsche, who in my mind offered a false solution to the ‘human, all too human’ problem – kill god! I think the best way to come to terms with your inherent ‘unfreeness’ is the exact opposite, ergo the catholic involvement in NRx.

    1. I’m quite surprised that you’re so quick to fault Nietzsche for the Death of God — his philosophy was a means of overcoming nihilism, not the celebration of it. I think Evola was definitely right, however, that Nietzsche never quite “got it,” and that was actually a part of his mental collapse. In an ideal world man would never have turned away from God, but Nietzsche at least tried to solve this problem from a modern standpoint.

      1. My take on Nietzsche based on reading Zarathustra/Genealogy of Morality: he was a flawed genius. He is the most eloquent and vocal prophet proclaiming the death of God and he makes many excellent points. He also exposes philosophers by pushing their intellectual status-signalling to the maximum: Nietzsche is supposedly a philosopher but really I think of him more as a prophet. He studied theology and Zarathustra, his best book, is written like holy scripture.

        In the grand scheme of things I conclude Nietzsche to be a Brahmin usurper who sought to replace the shortcomings of Christianity with a better religion. He failed to do so (and perhaps that drove him insane), which I randomly attribute to the fact that:
        a) there are very very few Wagners in this world
        b) even the Wagners will stick a knife in your back

  6. The idea that freedom means choice is totally restricted to the modern period. Every mention of liberty or freedom in the ancient world means something else entirely. Read Cur Deus Homo; notice that freedom does not mean the ability to choose; notice that it means to become what one is. The whole thrust of Anselm’s argument is that man was made by God to be free and happy in his enjoyment of God, of the Good, but was reduced to being neither by sin, and that God’s will cannot be circumvented so that one way or another man must become what he was made to be. Man’s freedom lies in being able to spontaneously act out of one’s own nature, not forcedly by some foreign compulsion. This is how God can have, contra the voluntarists, an intellectual nature and be free.

    The voluntarist believes that saying so places a limitation upon God. We say no. This is because freedom, up to the Enlightenment, has meant a nature being able to act according to itself out of itself. The voluntarist conceives of freedom in God as being an arbitrary dictate, a random determination according to nothing, conditioned by nothing. This kind of belief can have different effects depending on the race and religion of those who receive it. When the Muslims receive it (and they have not universally done so at all times) one gets things like the Islamic State. When the Christians receive it, it becomes liberalism and nihilism. This is because of the Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei and the Godman. Islam has no Godman, and so this God becomes some kind of mysterious and frightening and distant force to be obeyed and not understood. In Christianity, it results in something of the same, in Lutheranism, in Calvinism, but, because of the Godman, is still something relatable to man, something that one can not necessarily understand rationally, but one which can love and be loved. This man conceives of himself as he conceives of God. God is not rational, what he dictates is good because he wills them, but his dictates are ultimately arbitrary and this is what ensures his freedom. From this one has the origin of the idea of the conscience in man, the “I can do no other” of Luther, the inner voice that must be obeyed and which is the final authority for all decisions. Hence freedom is conceived as the ability to follow through with the dictates of conscience. Degraded it becomes the ability to follow through with the dictates of passion.

    This is the exact opposite of the ancient view of man whose freedom was conceived in being able to be what one is without compulsion. This is the classical view. It is what necessitates all philosophies and religions of salvation, but its most systematic form is in Christianity. For the Christian, for the Catholic, man was made to be free, made to be happy, made to enjoy God both in body and soul, but cannot, for he was corrupted by sin, chained to sin, chained to misery because of sin, and thus not himself because of this misery. Since he is not himself, cannot be himself out of himself, he is not free, but a slave. The only way man can be happy, can be himself, can be free, is to follow God’s commandments. This is because God’s commandments are not arbitrary, but rational, given to man for his benefit and happiness. We do not God is restricted because we say He must act according to reason. This is because this necessity is self imposed, and hence a power, not a deficiency. God has the power to be what He is perfectly and follow through on His will without inhibition. God wills such, and does such, necessarily, because He has the power to do what He wills; and what He wills is self-generative, comes out of Himself. Man is not able act according to his nature, let alone will, because his will has been fundamentally corrupted. He is not free because nothing he does comes out of his own nature, but from foreign influence which enslaves him and makes him miserable. His nature, as willed by God, is to be free and happy. As he is he is neither himself, nor happy, nor free. God will not allow his immutable will to be thwarted. Hence follows the rest of the Christian argument for the incarnation.

    The final determination is: Either God has a nature, and so does man, and so freedom is obedience to one’s nature; or God has no nature, and neither does man and freedom is in being able to determine one’s nature by an act of will. The idea of the arbitrary determining will is key to understanding contemporary phenomena such as transgenderism. Man is, and always has been, a creature determined by his view of God. A Godless man, no matter how superficially anti-modern, will always be an enemy of true order, will always be modern, will always have his high-minded projects turned to the dust they were born from. Voluntarism will, in Christianity, always lead to Godlessness. I will not believe in a God who abolishes himself, and a fascist, no matter how biologically inclined and no matter how strong a believer in definite natures, will never be able to build a political order beyond Will. No fetishism of the Will however lively and youthful will circumvent the inventible end of Will separated from Intellect. Intellect is always the keeper of Will and the source of its vitality. Cut off from this source it atrophies. This atrophy is called nihilism, a will which has exhausted itself to the point where it no longer has the strength to believe in anything, and a man who longer feels he has a right to anything, even death.

    1. I should also add that, if one is uncomfortable with such anthropomorphic and Christian language, and thinks this argument is purely emotive, one can replace with God with the One, and the fall of man with descent from the One and salvation with the return to the One, and have the argument work exactly the same way. I would just redirect one to Proclus’ Elements of Theology and his various commentaries on the dialogues of Plato, as well as the works of Iamblichus.

      One of the greatest flaws in the constitution of modern man is that he no longer is able to think symbolically and has to rely on crude logical arguments; he has to be convinced of the Truth, meaning that he has been apart from it. Iamblichus says:

      “You say first, then that you ‘concede the existence of the gods’: but that is not the right way to put it. For an innate knowledge about the gods is coexistent with our nature, and is superior to all judgement and choice, reasoning and proof. Thisknowledge is united from the outset with its own cause, and exists in tandem with the essential striving of the soul towards the Good.
      Indeed, to tell the truth, the contact we have with the divinity is not to be taken as knowledge. Knowledge, after all, is separated (from its object) by some degree of otherness. But prior to that knowledge, which knows another as being itself other, there is the unitary connection with the gods that is natural . We should not accept, then, that this [the existence of divinity] is something that we can either grant or not grant, nor admit to it as ambiguous (for it remains always uniformly in actuality), nor should we examine the question as though we were in a position either to assent to it or to reject it; for it is rather the case that we are enveloped by the divine presence, and we are filled with it, and we possess our very essence by virtue of our knowledge that there are gods.”

      A man who needs these things proved to him by reason is man who has to a certain degree been alienated from his own humanity. Which of has not needed these proved?

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