Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prelude to Action Items

A few of my responses to a Google+ post: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111742075541654959004/posts/g1TnMAxt9rQ

+Darrell Becker and I have been planning on embarking on a collaborative project which would seem to be moving toward a theme of actionable strategies for achieving greater personal liberty. My sense is that there is a strong need within the community of individuals that recognize the irrationality and danger of historically inherited institutions (and ideas) of domination, to explore the question, "ok, but what can we DO about it?". The over-whelming power wielded by institutions of domination can inspire hopelessness and ambivalence, without positive possibilities for action in the present & change for the future; and while there has been much effort in the realm of philosophy/theory & economics (& to a lesser extent history), there is still much work to been done on the application of those principles of liberty. Each individual's preferences, values, needs and circumstances will be determinate of what actions an individual may take but most would be accessible to nearly anyone.

I outlined just a few of these possible actionable items here:


Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." And in similar fashion, Harriet Tubman, "I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."

I am in agreement with you, that one of the most difficult problems of institutionalized domination is that ultimately they are operated by individuals convinced that the institution has legitimate authority; the solution to this difficulty then becomes plainly seen and was envisioned by La Boétie, 

"I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they... Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice? ... If a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage but the desire to rise against him, and that such an attitude indicates indifference rather than cowardice? When not a hundred, not a thousand men, but a hundred provinces, a thousand cities, a million men, refuse to assail a single man from whom the kindest treatment received is the infliction of serfdom and slavery, what shall we call that? Is it cowardice? ... When a thousand, a million men, a thousand cities, fail to protect themselves against the domination of one man, this cannot be called cowardly, for cowardice does not sink to such a depth... What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough ... ?" [Discourse of Voluntary Servitude]

And La Boétie concludes with his solution: 
"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces."

Therefore, it would seem to be a straightforward conclusion, that if all persons were to abandon those institutions of domination, then we would all at once be freed from institutionalized domination; the implication being that individuals are dominated not so much by force, but by the fear of force being applied (coercion); "Power wins, not by being used, but by being there."(J A Schumpeter).

It is ideas that convince a person that the institution of domination has any legitimate authority and through the dialog of ideas, those persons may change their ethical assessments. But I take it that such is no small task, as it would imply a massive campaign of dialog-communication and empathic-connection (to overcome emotional responses of fear).

In the time between now and the day in the future when there is no institutionalization of power-over-others (domination) and there is only the institutionalization of power-with-others (cooperation), there are a variety of possible actions one may take to improve their own personal expression and experience of autonomy/liberty.

Does this response meet the needs/values/preferences of your question? 

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