Who here loves freedom?
Everyone raised their hands, I see. Well, you’re all liars!
Here in America, we’re trained from birth to say we love freedom, but is freedom really what we’re all about? What do you like about freedom, anyway? That you can do whatever you want? Well, what do you want to do? You want to go out to eat? Well, whatever you eat is regulated by the FDA, health inspectors make sure you won’t get sick, and everyone working at the restaurant falls under various laws protecting their jobs and wages.
Do you want to drive? Well, then you certainly need to follow all the regulations specified for government-owned roads while using a government-approved vehicle. Do you want to use some consumer electronics? Those are regulated to make sure their signals don’t interfere with each other, and laws protect you to make sure they aren’t dangerous. And in everything you might do there are lawyers everywhere making sure all are following the rules and working together.
Do you see much freedom there? Maybe not, but then what is freedom? When you boil it down, freedom is people being served rotten food and getting sick and dying. It’s people driving polluting cars the wrong way down a street. It’s consumer goods that kill you while corporations laugh at your misfortune. It’s racist armed militia members not paying social security. It’s polluted lakes and dead baby polar bears. It’s poorly built buildings collapsing on you. It’s homophobic bullies. It’s obese children waddling down the street as they stuff their faces with trans-fats. It’s filthy. It’s chaos. It’s not civilized.
Freedom isn’t what we want; what we want is a civilized society with security and order — place where things work and we don’t have to worry about every little thing because we have a government to worry for us and tell us what to do and make sure we all cooperate.
Think of an Apple product like an iPhone. It runs smoothly and slickly because Apple closely regulates what sort of programs can be put on it instead of just letting anyone do whatever they want with the device. Why can’t society be more like an iPad? It’s a great concept, yet people keep fighting this. And the reason we do it is because we have this weird hang up that we’re supposed to love freedom when in reality it’s the enemy of everything we want.
Why don’t we have universal health care in America? Because people think they like freedom — freedom here being dying without health care. People don’t need freedom to live; they need doctors and medicine. But even those in support of universal health care only feed the beast in the way they argue for it. They try to argue that people will be more free by no longer having to worry about affording health care — only adding to the foolish notion that freedom is important, which causes these conflicts in the first place. This mindless freedom fetish is also what led to the recent brouhaha over the TSA. Hands off your junk? Sorry, but your junk is of national concern. The only reason we can safely fly is because the government is keeping an eye on your junk, not because of freedom.
The truth is in modern society we only get all we want by giving up freedom. That’s how things can be organized so that everything is safe and shared by all. Yet this mindless love of freedom is so ingrained that the most strident progressives don’t want to argue against freedom, even though deep down they know it’s the obstacle civilization must finally overcome. Part of it is messaging; there’s no good term for the alternative to freedom, just things like “tyranny” and “slavery” — loaded terms that we have to get past.