Liberalism: Making Mankind into Cattle

Liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle.
-Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878). I.67

What does this mean? Liberalism, in the philosophical sense that Nietzsche is using it, is an ethical framework in which man is free, equal, and autonomous. While this conception of man resonates with most as evidently true, I maintain that this is an illusory conception of man. Do we really believe that we are free? Equal? Autonomous? As with most comforting notions, we avow these ideals simply as a means of preserving the familiar, a mechanism of evasion that allows us to avoid the biting reality of our situation; namely, that we are not free, nor are we equal and autonomous.

What does Nietzsche mean when he says that liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle? It is the process in which individuality is smoothed over en masse, in which minds are watered down into a cloudy collective consciousness, where man is no longer a thinking spirit that possesses a unique soul but a mere facsimile. Being lead to believe that our thoughts are freely chosen, that we are as valuable as any man, that we can choose according to a unique volition, we cease to employ our internal reason, fail to reflect on our position, and assume that the ideals in which we derive our greatness are a right rather than a product.

I insist that freedom is a state of being that follows from mind, but my fellow man would hold that freedom is a state of existence that follows from body. Where these most evidently diverge, in my opinion, is when man finds himself in a state of perfect equilibrium.

When man has all his bodily needs satisfied, with every desire or whim or passion cared and provided for so that nothing is wanting, do we have a free man? Such a man would be no more free than a domesticated animal whose instincts have been muted and dulled, like an animal coddled and conditioned with pleasures generated by no necessity of its own. My fellow man, swept up in his allegiance toward the sensational, would insist that a man with all his desires satisfied is free, for what more could he want? But I would ask whether this standard– of having pleasure metted out in proportion to wants– is a good mark of freedom. Where does this standard leave man? In a perfect state of equilibrium. But is equilibrium man’s greatest achievement, his highest aim, the natural denouement of successful living?

I must ask myself more about equilibrium to discover whether this is a good measure for judging man. What is equilibrium? A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces, an equality of balance, a calmness. From this definition I would ask whether we could equate equilibrium with man’s desire for self-preservation; is their aim one in the same?  Self-preservation is a process of maintenance of body and mind, so as to keep alive or conserve existence, or make lasting. In this light, equilibrium and self-preservation seem to be compatible states, achieving one in the same end, namely balance or preservation.

I must implore, however, as to whether this situation is reflective of nature, or a product of man’s mind? Is nature constantly seeking to retain equilibrium? Is life characterized by preservation?

Let’s observe the most obvious characteristics, in my mind, of natural experience: when my mind meets with the impressions afforded to me by my senses, there are two reigning features which traverse through all collective experience past and present. These being the continuity of consciousness and the constancy of change. The continuity of consciousness, I can conclude, is not a feature of experience, for even when I sleep I possess a consciousness, but a feature of mind alone. The constancy of change, however, is a guarantee endemic to nature, indelibly present throughout the physical world, that renders every moment of experience wholly unique and never the same.

Can we say that equilibrium and change are synonymous features? Certainly not. Does life stay the same, or is it in perpetual change? I would reply that life is in perpetual change, for I am not the boy of  my youth, neither is a frog still a tadpole or butterfly a caterpillar.

To exist occurs in the moment, to live occurs over moments. I hold then, that equilibrium is death, whereas disequilibrium is life. In this way existing is a mode of self-preservation, whereas living is a mode of thriving.

In summation, the satisfaction of desires, the end of want, places man in a state of equilibrium that is typified by the complacent tranquility which is characteristic of death. For man to be truly alive he must evolve, he must seek out disequilibrium, living in a state of anxiety and incertitude. To do this, man must not feign satisfaction, nor be satisfied with equilibrium.

Freedom, then, is disequilibrium, a form of living that transcends and expands consciousness. When change occurs, the man living in disequilibrium, having no complacent expectations, and always ready for change, does not flinch nor does he hesitate to move or act or think. His life is a fluid change.

This is freedom. Not all men possess it. Those who do act alone.

“Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks—those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.”
—Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Fundamental America

This is what a paper written in 1 hour and 20 minutes looks like.

Fundamental America: Free for a Price

Examining the paradoxes of social inequalities within the scope of democratic sentiments

Inherent Paradoxes

            Two hundred and thirty years ago the American people declared their independence from tyrannical autocratic rule. The founders synthesized the enduring democratic rights and truths of the greatest philosophers that ever lived. Despite this, democracy was reserved for a margin of people and out of reach from the vast majority. Since our countries conception, great advances have been made to refine what democracy is and establish who has the right to contribute their voice. Major movements in women’s suffrage and later slavery and African American rights were milestones that helped shape the seemingly exclusive ideal of democracy. Currently America faces several fronts that challenge the legitimacy of our current democracy.

Social Inequalities

            In our readings in Signs of Life in the USA, authors Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon address a variety of paradoxes that exist within our American culture in chapter six, American Paradox. No paradox is more controversial and relevant than America’s simultaneous declaration of universal human freedom and equality and its long history of racism. This paradox addresses the tip of the iceberg of much larger paradox illustrating an advertised freedom that was not intended to be free.

Historical inequalities

            Examining our American roots we can see that our puritanical Christian forefathers desired a society of their own, free from autocratic dictation. They envisioned this society for the United States. As time went on, these puritanical sentiments persisted and found their way into our legislation. Because their ideals subjugated the rights of women and African Americans, they were prevented from voicing themselves for the first half of American history. Only after massive opposition and generations of change have these become matters of the past.

Xenophobia of Middle Easterners

            In our current culture racism seems to be localized to extreme fringe groups. Popular culture has seen women take center stage on political issues, and African Americans dominate multiple industries from entertainment to sports. However, social inequalities are still alive and well, and although racism may be withering, xenophobia continues to blossom with every generation. Most recently our country has been in multiple wars and with every war is an accompanying fear. Middle easterners have been the target of these fears as our government denounced radical Muslims and extremists from the middle east of reeking havoc world wide. While the atrocious crimes were committed by radical sects, the language used to single them out has effectively caused a mass hysteria directed towards the Middle East as a whole. Ignorant Americans forget that the numbers of such extremists are next to nothing.

Xenophobia of Illegal Immigrants

            Another xenophobia gripping our nation is that of illegal immigration. The news of illegal immigrants storming our borders, scaling walls, digging tunnels, enduring deserts and dangers has America in a panic. While Americans national security has been called into question, another issue of economic security has been the focus of most news. Illegal immigrants are publicized as taking hard working tax paying American’s jobs. In light of our economic decline, this has been the spotlight of most Americans concern. To compound the issue further, America’s war on drugs is now directly battling the major trafficking of illegal drugs through our southern Mexican border.

Social Inequality of Homosexuality

            The last social inequality that challenges the fabric of our constitution and agitates the ethical and moral minds of America is the issue of homosexuality. It seems it would be an inevitable topic given our ‘free’ country was founded by puritanical Christians. While the issue of homosexuality has made much headway in popular culture and open acceptance the past two decades, it has only recently been challenging the roots of America. Proposition 8 and the issue of same sex marriage has been the most widely publicized debate on the issue.

Examining the Paradoxes

            Why are these paradoxical? While some might look at these issues and produce valid concerns for their legitimacy, they overlook the very foundations of America. This land, whatever the founder’s initial intent, was established as a haven for the persecuted, a home for those underfoot, those whose rights were molested or stripped. Social inequalities serve to destabilize the creed of freedom. To remove one man his rights would be to undermine the rights of all men. This, however, is what America has done throughout its history as it has attempted to reserve democracy to a select few.

Reserved Freedoms

            These examples illustrate a major flaw in America’s declaration of freedom and equality: where the line of freedom is drawn. While we hold our relativistic and tolerant values supreme, we are terribly protective and afraid of anybody watering this down and wavering from these values.  In the case of illegal immigration, most would think that America, of all places, would be the most receptive and lax about this process. Considering that there are no true natives other than the Indians, we should embrace the people who venture here to exercise their rights. The truth is that earning your citizenship and freedom in America is an arduous test of patience that many people simply do not have the time to pass.

Paradoxes: Generational Entrapment

            Democracy is defined as a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people. These people make up the common people and dictate the governing rule through the legislative and judiciary process. However, problems arise when one generation’s laws improperly reflect the current generation. As the generation of one common people phases out, another phases in, often met in opposition to outdated traditions and beliefs that made their way in legislation. These tendencies create obstacles for progress, as is seen throughout American history with landowners only being able to vote, women’s rights, and African American rights.

Defining a Free Democracy

             Another paradox that exists within these paradoxes is that of a free democracy itself. Any form of government is a form of control. Whether that control is derived from single or multiple sources detracts from that fact that there is a degree of freedom is forfeited. In a democracy this power is derived from the common people, the populous. This causes difficulties among those who compose a margin of the population or any minority with fringe beliefs and philosophies.

Conclusion

            Overcoming these paradoxes will be the result of overcoming an inherent part of the human nature: fear, specifically the unknown. That includes all unfamiliarity extending to foreigners, homosexuality, or just change in general. While I would love to say these inequalities have all but disappeared with the advent of the mass media, internet, and other mediums of communication that break down the one sided walls of ignorance, the truth is they remain an enduring part of our culture.  Though America once related with the tired huddled masses in Emma Lazarus’s words on the statue of liberty, we have grown alien to these feelings and are less empathetic to those who need it most.

Epic Blurb

I love swimming. Becoming totally engulfed in an essence. I love swimming in the ethereal feelings and thoughts kindled in my glowing imagination. I want to live fully. What do I think?

I cannot keep putting off responsibilities. Responsibilities like… homework, studying, keeping in touch with people, being happy. I have a responsibility to be happy ya know. No one else is responsible for my happiness. Its unique to me.

Is it good to avoid criticism? Should one look for it?

***

I visited cousin at Amherst College this weekend. Watched the football game. Beautiful campus. Small population of students but spacious none the least. Hung out with the football gang. All seemingly intelligent people. It’s odd to visit a wet campus. Alcohol prevails in every dorm and every hall. The smell of stale beer leads you to the next party. Filled with juvenile adolescents indulging in self destruction- pounding away at another helping of hoppy watered-down ethanol or some other distilled liquid pleasure. These people. Freedom is such a new quality. I remember the days when I was overwhelmed with freedom. It’s where the irresponsibility started and accountability faded away as I justified my actions with those of my peers. Sad really. My individualism was lost amongst the crowd. And for what? Acceptance is too cliche for an answer. I stripped and tossed my convictions without hesitating a moment. No contemplation. We don’t think that far ahead in our youth. We live in the now. We rarely take time to see into the distance future. If we did, we would see how our accumulated actions would be disserving and adjust accordingly.

Maybe its alright to pander to some of our fleeting youthful satisfactions. Its a slippery slope. The miligram experiment by social psychologist stanley milgram perfectly illustrates what happens when we undermine our convictions. We continue this trend until there are no limits to what we do. The line has been crossed, we are confused, we lose sight of right and wrong as we justify out previous slip.

Amherst was fun. I’m through with the binge atmosphere. I want social glee. I want to be surrounded with quality people who enjoy the finer things in life. Who rise above mindless impulses and short-lived thrills.

Education will not solve the worlds problems. The worlds problems are more than the tangible pressures we face. We face trials of the heart. When the man is right, his world will be right. How can education cause men to be more introspective with their intentions? Just because a man is sincere doesn’t mean he can’t be sincerely wrong. Is man the measure of all things? How far does this measure extend?

*****

I often wonder what would happen if I forfeit all the wisdom I’ve believed to have accumulated? What would happen to my world is I tossed my convictions and standards into the wind and remained wild, totally free from reason. Ha. As I say this I just think of how most post-modern liberals behave. I’m sure my behavior wouldn’t be that different.

*****

I need to write a paper. A LONG paper. A case study. On a company with a woman who’s got no work ethic. Who started a business strictly because she does not work well with authority. Who stated that shes alright with her businesses minimal growth because she reaps tax benefits and money from subsidies to small businesses. She is stealing our tax money becuase she refuses to work hard to earn more money for herself. Wow. This women is nice. She’s got some good ideas. She is clueless when it comes to investing herself into a vision and seeing that vision come alive. She instead settles for mediocrity. A business that’s providing barely enough to get by. She comes to work late. She fired every employee shes hired because of ‘personality conflicts’ but stated that she prefers an employee because that makes me come to work on time. People. I swear. How the hell do I even approach this study. I outlined a business plan proposal. When I write the paper I obviously want to write like this is going to a valuable company with vested stakeholders- instead, I think about how this women won’t heed a damn word and although my analysis of her basic production methods is legitimate- I find that all she needs is a good lesson on working hard and the principles of success. Being an economics paper I can’t very well write a philosophy discourse of strategies for success, but I’m EXTREMELY tempted. If there wasn’t a hefty grade attached I would write such a paper and throw it in her face. I’d also rattle off a few rants on why any social distribution of wealth is inherently flawed due to free loaders like her.

My God! People must misunderstand me all the time! When I talk of success- this doesn’t translate into financial gain! People probably think I’m so egocentric and highfalutin because they totally misinterpret success. Actually- they are totally ignorant to success in general so they are stigmatized to the notion!

SUCCESS!!!! What it means!!! Progressively realizing a worthy ideal!— And working towards it with every molecule and vibration in your being! Being excellent and exploring the unknown wellsprings of untapped potential! BEING THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO! If you decide to do something- put your all into it! Enough???? “Aren’t I doing enough” you ask? Enough is only your best! Do not lie or deceive yourself. There is no such thing as failure. There is no such thing as try! There is Do. or Do not. Live. or live not. You choose.

I believe that all psychological illnesses stem from people not realizing their full potential. They sabotage themselves and what they think they can or cannot do! They become entrenched in limiting thoughts and habits and live their lives, like Thoreau said, ‘in quiet desperation’.

****

Some people feel that they lack motivation or intelligence or desire or skills. HA! HAHAH! I pity these people. I do. Continually focusing on what they lack instead of what they have at their disposal! How can one gain more by spending his time counting everything he hasn’t! All man needs to succeed he already possesses. The most valuable tool in his arsenal of achievement? Will. What is will? The ability to apply oneself to a decision. We all possess the ability to make a decision. Focus on that decision- never mind the details for they’ll take care of themselves- and you will watch live spring to life. Will! The more you exercise will the more you empower yourself! Have Dreams! Have vision! “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” (Joel Barker)

*****

I want to help other people find their potential. They may ask- what is potential??? What does that mean??? It is everything you are not and you want to be.
I often get caught up thinking that I need to possess the answer in order to plant inspiration within people. How childish! How can I possess all the answers for each individual? Can I make up their mind? Can I pretend to know the depths of their soul and the curiosity of their spirit? No. What I must possess is hope and vision. All I need within myself is the ability to question. To challenge. To encourage people. People have the answers within themselves. They need to look. All I need to to ask the questions that cause people to look within themselves. There they will find the burning flame that starves for more to breath. When this flame catches a breath it will burn brighter and more passionately then they’ve ever known. It will illuminate them from within and their eyes will shine with wonder and awe. They will yearn for more and more and their enthusiasms will cause others to combust in a dazzling display of human achievement.

****

It’s odd. As I often do, I find myself caught in a paradox of conflicting ideology. On one hand- I hold people to the highest most exalted esteem, adorned and lauded for their precious nature. On the other? I find people utterly reviling, evil and carnal in nature. Lost and complacent with consuming the empty tales of hope. Listening fervently with open ears to the flowery but empty rhetoric that evil spews forth. Lies- deception and deceit. It pulls at the strings of their heart and beckons them to follow but leads no where. Are they sheep? They are defiant sheep. I cannot hate the ignorant. I myself am just as ignorant. I do- however- hate the lies. Those that lead others astray have gained my utmost contempt. Their words are like honey to the lips that poisons and incapacitates. These men lead nowhere.

****

I love life. I wish I would think less and act more. At the end of the day all that matters is what was actually accomplished. When my life is over- I won’t be able to celebrate the hours of cathartic reflection and quiet contemplation. I will have to show what my life produced. When the harvest is ready- one cannot make excuses for anything less than his best. This life we sow our best, till and prune and water and tend. When this life is over only the fruits of our labor will reveal our success.

***
I have to work. I have much to do. I have much to write about. No holding back.

****