A Little Freedom is a Dangerous Thing – How Society Perpetuates Oppression

Posted by Irresponsibility

I wrote the following thoughts on control versus freedom a couple of weeks ago, not intending to post them. It was a personal meditation. However, listing in the icy wake of a few days in miserable, cold, control-freakish Britain (thou shalt not! thou shalt not!) I’m motivated to share it as it will probably form a philosophical basis for a number of shortly-to-follow posts.

Also, I was inspired by a sizzling IBTP post which takes on the question: “Won’t human society implode without a hierarchy based on who knows and does stuff “better” than whoever else?” Please read it as a counterpoint to my musings.

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A Little Freedom Is a Dangerous Thing

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-determination. About the fact that I believe humans should be taught to question, rather than accept, authority. That I believe in the primacy of individual conscience in one’s own life.

Yet despite the warm Transcendental/egalitarian/hippie candyfloss fuzz of my beliefs there are a lot of people I don’t want self-realising. I don’t want misogynist asshats to be entitled to the primacy of their individual conscience. I don’t want Social Darwinists, or right-wing Christians, or racists to be free to exercise their “beliefs”.

I only want people to follow their inner compass when it is within a degree or two of my personal magnetic north. I know how hypocritical this seems; how fundamentally contrary to the notion of freedom.

However, it isn’t as contradictory as it sounds. Sexism, racism, homophobia and all other anti-social attitudes are learned behaviours. They are inculcated by a society obsessed with control which has only learned to assert control over the ‘other’ not over the self. We obsessively teach children to obey and conform and to be like this and not like that. Society systematically denies children control. The only power they can exercise is over an ‘other’ – hence why schoolchildren bully each other.

Social control is the cause of, not the cure for, prejudice, hatred and social divisions. It breeds adults who have no autonomous moral principles or motivations, who base their lives on conformity and who project their anxiety, aggression, need for power, etc over ‘inferiors’ (women, children, gays, what have you). These are the people whose ‘autonomy’ I fear because it isn’t genuine.

A sexist/racist/whatever person is the product of patriarchal conditioning. The current hierarchical social structure is concerned with self-preservation and perpetuation so it does punish those who overstep the bounds in expressing their socially-conditioned hatreds, but its real concern is for order, not justice. The lower you are in the social hierarchy the fewer controls there are on aggression and oppression against you (just look at Britain’s rape conviction statistics).

Raising children as autonomous moral beings is a monumental challenge in a hierarchical, patriarchal world, but it is the only long-term solution to systematised oppression. A child nurtured in an environment that values absolute equality, self-realisation, the independent worth of every member of society, free expression, non-guilty love, etc won’t turn out to be an oppressor unless tainted by the prevailing culture of oppression. More freedom – not less – is the answer.


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