Tagged: freedom

Soft Despotism 101: An Introduction for the Softly Despotized

Once, while discussing Brave New World with a Korean student, I introduced Alexis de Tocqueville’s incisive warning of a new political danger simmering within the age of modern liberalism, a tyrannical form of democratic paternalism which he evocatively named “soft despotism.” The aptness of this contextual discussion was obvious, for at its best, Huxley’s dystopian novel is little more than a progress report...

The Winning Versus The Woods

In 2014, the Republican Party grassroots, consisting largely of people who identified themselves as constitutional conservatives, backed Matt Bevin, a strong senate challenger to Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky primary. The most prominent name to come forward in McConnell’s defense, both as a public advocate and a major campaign donor, was Donald Trump, who directly attacked the Tea Party in defense of the...

Best Wishes

I wish you perfect health for yourself and all your loved ones, if you wish me perfect freedom for myself and all of mine. I wish you a safe and secure life, if you wish me a life of self-determination. I wish you a lifetime of prosperity and material ease, if you wish me a lifetime without violations of my person or property....

Health Questionnaire

Do you believe that living longer, or living with the least risk to physical health and safety, is or ought to be the primary and overriding factor in living well? Do you believe that maintaining a clear line of demarcation between government officials recommending a course of action and the state demanding a course of action is an essential condition for preserving a...

Some Benefits of Being a Slave

You will always have a bed and food, and even last dibs on some medical care, as long as you remain useful. (And who doesn’t want to remain useful?) You never have to solve a significant problem or make a difficult decision — as long as you are reasonable enough to accept your status passively and learn to appreciate the advantages of going...

The Freedom You Have

Montaigne wore a medallion around his neck engraved with the words, “What do I know?” It was his way of continually reminding himself of the necessary humility at the heart of the sometimes hubristic philosophic quest. My version of Montaigne’s medallion is the home screen of my cell phone, which, for about six months, has been adorned with my customized welcome message, “I...

Irreconcilable Differences, Part Three

A few more ways that I am at odds with today: I would rather live in a world with many things to fear than in a world with nothing to fear, because the opposite preference represents the emotional state of a child — and implies the practical conditions of a slave. It is preferable to live in a society in which people care...

Independence Day

The United States of America, a society of business and diligence, was never temperamentally suited to be a land of great authors and composers — and yet Igor Stravinsky and Aldous Huxley, men from very different backgrounds and sensibilities, immigrated to America and became great friends there. Ralph Waldo Emerson is the one writer Nietzsche mentions with unqualified deference; Herman Melville invented the...

Brief Thoughts on Late Modern Man

We are obsessed with finding habitable planets because we have begun to intuit that our modern progress has trapped us forever with one another here on Earth, which is to say we have explored ourselves beyond all hope of any new nook or cranny to dream of. We have nowhere left to go on this planet to escape from the oppressiveness of our...

A Few Hopes

I hope I would never materially damage other people’s lives or deprive them of their basic freedoms merely to protect myself from the inevitable risks and discomforts of living as a human being. I hope I would never rationalize my fears and insecurities to justify demanding that strangers be forced to live for my benefit, preference, or safety, against their own genuine or...