In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows.
Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Plato’s allegory of the cave. This notion of freedom is perplexing. Does freedom extend solely to the body, or to the mind, or both?
If you are locked in a room, and you have no desire of escape, are you free?
Something about this question doesn’t sit right with people. There is an injustice subsiding in the background. But why?
If you are in a room that is unlocked, and you have no desire of escape, are you free?
Somehow, this question ameliorates some of this injustice.
What if that room is unlocked, but you don’t know that you can leave, are you free?
All these questions are analogous to society and the people, to inherited beliefs and accepted customs and histories. There are the naturally ravenous people, culpable of war and conflict when left to their own devices, and then there is the sovereign state that provides peace and stability and security, which we obey merely because of our belief in its authority. But where does this authority come from? A social contract subjugating our absolute freedom in exchange for security?
This post got political, but the point I was originally trying to illustrate is that we are all brainwashed. Anyone who endorses society, the tastes and preferences of the masses, is disillusioned. Words such as Freedom and Equality are the opiates of the masses.
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
— Søren Kierkegaard
I suppose the alternative is anarchy, survival of the fittest. If we must sacrifice our will for a sovereign government, it may as well be for a stable one.
But who is this government? What makes us believe governments aren’t survival of the fittest on a grand scale of centralized power? Have we been duped into believing we are free, when in fact we are actually slaves? Mere workhorses for the few conducting an economic system responsible for gathering resources as a means of retaining power?
Shadows. We are all grasping at shadows.