Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I'm hoping to make this largely a discussion blog with my own posts just as jumping off points, but we'll see how that goes.

What I want to do is to discuss ideas for spreading freedom through voluntary action. In particular I want to focus on the applications of modern technology. Anything that is done must be done for the first time, but I suspect if an idea hasn't been tried before and it's any good, most likely it's because it hasn't been possible until recently (or perhaps isn't possible quite yet, but soon will be). I'll try to avoid speculations which require major technological breakthroughs.

This isn't intended to be yet another individualist political blog. There are plenty of those already, many written by people who are much better writers than I am, and much better informed on current political events. I intend to keep my discussion of such things to a minimum.

Some of my posts (like this one) will be about pretty general concepts, and may seem quite basic. I think they are necessary, because my experience is that people tend to think they are being understood much better than they are, and people think they understand much better than they do.

This post is about freedom. I don't want to spend a lot of time quibbling on precise definitions, but "freedom" in the context of this blog means more or less the power of individuals to decide what actions to take tregarding their own lives, and to bear the consequences (good and bad) of those actions. This blog is dedicated to the proposition, "freedom is good". Not necessarily the only good, not even necessarily the highest good, but good in and of itself. If individual choice is to be restricted, this requires justification. Removing such restrictions requires only that the restrictions have not been sufficiently justified.

There are people who use the "freedom" in the sense of "freedom from want" or "freedom from fear". I consider those not to be different kinds of freedom, but rather completely separate concepts that are unfortunaltely referred to by the same word. If I feel the need to refer to such concepts here, I'll describe them in some other way. In any case I don't think anyone is morally entitled to something like a guaranteed minimum standard of living, not do I think such a guarantee is possible in practice.

I reject the concept of "false consciousness", by which I mean the idea that there's something people "really" want which is very different from what they think they want. Irealize that people may do things at the heights of emotion which they may regret in their more sober moments, and I realize that small children or people with severe mental disabilities may have no idea what is harmful to them. But I think for normal, sane adults taking time for serious reflection, not only are they generally capable of deciding what is best for themselves, they essentially define what is best for themselves.

The last thing I want to rule out is the idea of group rights, that is, the idea that a group has rights as distinct from the rigts of its members. I understand that people are naturally social, that they will form groups, that they will do things on behalf of the group itself or to demonstrate loyalty to the group, and that a person may voluntarily join a group on the understanding that the group has the authority to discipline its members. But nobody outside a group has a moral responsibility to aid a group in enforcing its rules upon its members, and a person is not morally subject to the authority of a group he has not voluntarily joined. In particular, upon reaching adulthood a person has a right to leave a country or religion he was "born into".

I don't want to waste effort debating basic premises. I understand that my beliefs are very much in the minority, I don't care. I understand that there are people who believe that individualism is fundamentally bad, and sacrificing one's own desires in favor of the interests of others is fundamentally good. If anyone reading tends to think this way, I'm well aware that I will be unable to change your mind. I suggest that your time is better spent elsewhere, as our viewpoints are too distant for their to be any profitable mutual discussion. In any event, please don't comment, since I'll just delete and ban anyway. This blog isn't for discussing what our goals should be, it's for suggesting ideas about how to achieve them.

I hope I haven't driven away all my potential readers. I think within the boundaries I have set there are still many lifetimes' worth of potential discussion. Please be civil, both to myself and to each other. Remember that, once suggested, the quality of an idea is independent of who its proponents are.

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