A mindset for freedom
James Leroy Wilson has lately become introspective. His blog is more reflective, and his most recent piece for The Partial Observer website, titled “Freedom is in the Mind,” is a thoughtful examination of the mindset necessary for living a truly free life. He writes:
“[I]t does no good to think, ‘If we got rid of the State, then I’ll be happy.’ Or even, ‘If they just cut government to 10% and limited the federal government to its Constitutional functions, then I’ll be happy.’ The external reality — the decisions of other people — can’t ever make a person genuinely happy. One who ties their enjoyment of life to the political situation will never really be free, because true freedom is in the mind.”
The pseudonymous Skye d’Aureous and Natalee Hall made a similar point back in the early ’70s. “You can be thoroughly familiar with the theory of laissez faire,” they wrote in Libertarian Connection, “and still be victimized by statist premises on the unconscious level.” After all, they pointed out, “we were born among sheep, raised by sheep, educated as, by, and for sheep,” even though we now know enough of laissez faire to interpret incoming data within a rational framework.
“A more fully freedom-oriented mental set (unconscious as well as conscious),” they explained, “will prepare you for more effective practical freedom-increasing action.”
d’Aureous and Hall offered a list of 17 statements to integrate into your unconscious mind. “Liberate more of your mental faculties from unconsciously accepted servitude,” they wrote, “by seeing how many interesting consequences you can develop from each of the following statements. These are heuristic tools; they are useful guiding principles for self-liberation — they are not a blueprint. Play around with them enough so that you gain an unconscious familiarity and facility for using them. You won’t accomplish much by just reading through a list. Merely reading a list of the rules of logic, for example, is not enough to cause you to think logically as a matter of course. Using guides to thought in actual thinking through of problems is the way to learn them.”
Here are the statements:
- The general population does not know what freedom is.
- The activities of the general population are not good indications of when and how you can be free and at what cost.
- An overall decrease in freedom for the general population does not necessarily mean a decrease in freedom for you unless your actions are essentially the same as those of the general population.
- A rational person is only interested in freedom he can obtain in his own time.
- A rational person does not count upon gaining freedom at some vague time in the future by means of sweeping social changes or other means which are beyond his control.
- Freedom is not a monolithic indivisible entity. It is not a word. You are free when you can do what you want without coercive interference.
- Freedom is not free. It would be nice if it were, but there are people willing to coerce. Making some freedom for yourself requires purposeful action. You must know what you want to be free to do, and you must organize your resources toward the end of creating that freedom for yourself.
- Your desire for freedom does not imply an effective ability to choose between 100% or 0% freedom. Your effective range of choice — i.e., what you can get — depends on your desired actions, your resources, and how you use them.
- You will not suddenly become 100% free! You will have to do it yourself, one carefully planned step at a time.
- Your present condition of freedom is probably far from optimum for your most desired range of actions and for your present resources. Your approach to this optimum must be discovered by careful planning and investigation. You do not have automatic knowledge of this subject, and living your life like the general populace will get you what they get.
- The State and its agencies will never proclaim themselves abolished, offed, impotent or irrelevant.
- There are not pigs everywhere and they are at very few places all the time.
- What the State claims to control is not the same as what it does control. You will have to investigate and decide for yourself. This is a corollary of 11 and 12.
- The State will not become impotent in all geographical areas at the same time.
- The State will not become impotent in all areas of human action at the same time. You will see the effects of growing freedom in particular specific activities before you see them in larger areas of action.
- You will see the effects of progressive freedom among small numbers of people and in small groups before you will see it in large groups.
- People who have gained relative freedom from State coercion for a particular range of actions will usually not loudly advertise to the minions of the State. You either have to think it up and do it yourself or with your group, or you have to become skilled at reading between the lines and knowledgeable about less widely read material — but you still have to do it yourself. If you are successfully doing it, chances are that you will meet others who are successfully doing it, and you can then do it better together. What is the “it”? That is up to you. If you have not yet identified your priorities for freedom, don’t expect to stumble over many groups and individuals taking advantage of (illegal) freedoms they have discovered.