"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
I Was Not Born to Submit . . .
Exclusive to STR
Historically, all movements which impact the design of society act to make the optional participation of free individuals less tenable, merely by the fact that a group has become powerful enough to impact the design of society, thence comprising a force which is disruptive and intrusive into the affairs of private individuals, including an impact upon the parameters of the context in which they are accustomed to living. It is not change, per se, which is objectionable, but forced change, intrusive change; moreover, a change which binds them to the social group to a greater degree than previously required, including mandates of a "common cause," for which private individuals have no natural affinity.
As long as they can preserve the substance of their context, most private individuals will do little to counteract forced sociopolitical changes. They will adjust, adapt and go on with their lives. And they will rarely join in an underground or other resistance group. The rationale is not that they support tyranny, as that they disassociate, qua individuals, from any group. They are private individuals, flexibly playing the system, howsoever that may be composed; yet not particularly identifying with it. As long as they retain their independence, by not becoming involved in the group actions, then there is a strong feeling of retaining their integrity.
Often, they will participate in specific actions or give their support to specific factions, but they will do everything they can, qua private individuals, to retain their independence from group activity. When they do act, they will be calculating many factors, and many of these will be muddled with socioreligious indoctrination that will confuse their motives, goals and ethics. But at root, their primal human instinct is to avoid using the group (and therefore identifying with a group) to implement a utopian group vision OVER themselves and others. They resist this involvement, even to the point of avoiding resistance to tyranny by involving themselves actively in a resistance against the tyranny (which would, perforce, identify them with the rebels). They don't want to be in EITHER camp, pushing this way or that. They want to remain private individuals. If the group charades become too unbearable, they fight, become victims, or emigrate.
They are not sheeple. Yet they are the main force through which tyranny gains and increases a foothold (with the help of religion and other social idealisms . . . utopianism). They are not followers; they are abstainers ' they are private individuals. As such, they are fundamentally opposed to all -isms and to all utopian visions, liberty and tyranny alike. They are outsiders, at root. They resent being forced to participate in the group activities in a manner that is not part of the social parameters by which they have calculated their private lives. It is more of a disruption to participate, even resistively, than to adapt to the incremental advances of tyranny.
Are they being logical? Probably not. On the other hand, in regard to a primitive kind of individual integrity, they are being human at their best. Yes, it is counterproductive. And it perpetuates the unholy cycle of the abuses of history into the future. Bloody--perhaps enslaved--but still unbowed. There is something primordial about this power: to resist group alignment and participation even when the consequence will be slavery and destruction.
Those who become dependent upon a group can and will be incited to reduce the scope and to tax the lives of private individuals (virtually, to enslave them). While the private individual, inherently, wishes all groups and individuals to mind their own business, he is susceptible to supporting or paying lip service to various group visions and methodologies (usually via religion or patriotism). He may even regard certain positions of authority in his society as esteemed, whether of priest, doctor, lawyer, educator or politico, and thus give an undue respect to people in these positions, or give goodwill to those who aspire to such positions. Over time, such status attracts more people to become involved with and dependent upon the group. It is in these matters, at this stage, that philosophy is pivotal (and religion is philosophy; as is institutional education). Later, when the tide turns and the bulk of the group-dependent visionaries overpower the private individuals, then philosophy is too late. By that point, the private individual has become even more philosophy-averse as the affects of "philosophy" are all around him, holding knives at his throat.
The private individual is willful. One could say he is "like" an obstinate child. An adult, though acting "like" a child. In truth, however, he retains in his core, the same, unchanged will that he was born with. The private individual was never tamed. He acquired surface civility and a respect for others. He did not "give over" his will to a group, to society, or to religion. He is still playing a private game as a free agent. It is a hallmark of his obstinacy that he will never "give over" his core independence to any group, however much his freedom of action may be whittled away by others, and this includes groups of resistance to the very tyranny that reduces his freedom.
He would rather die than bow. Extremely counterproductive. Yet he was born with a will, and he will NOT give that up. Rather die first. Rather be a slave first. Rather anything than give up his will. It is not rational or conscious. It is not who he is. It is WHAT he is. It is his very humanity. His soul. It is this analysis that Orwell's 1984 attempted. It is this formulation that Nietzsche's Will to Power labored over. This is the quiet contemplation of Thoreau's Walden. It is the primary stumbling block of every utopian visionary. Slavery, war, poverty, religion, indoctrination camps and complete totalitarian regimes break as waves upon this beachhead, which will not give way. Ever.
Howsoever thorough our indoctrination, we retain a will. It is an individual, unsocial and unrational quality. Would that the fighters for freedom could harness the power of that will, but they never will. It is not in its nature to be harnessed, only to resist being harnessed ' by anyone, friend or foe.
Back in the late 1970s, after a brief encounter of a few years, I turned away from the libertarian movement as one that was inherently flawed, specifically in its utopianism and methodology. When I wrote my books in the 1990s, it was for a mainstream audience. When it came to publishing them, I discovered that they needed to be targeted to a libertarian audience, and I found myself, again, in the midst of utopians, unsavory by their very existence.
The problem with philosophy is that it is often ' usually ' too little, too late. There is no market for such stuff in our present epoch. Individuals will find their own path. The philosophers have never been good at defining a path (for others), only with demonstrating the process through their own efforts. It is not what a philosopher says that has any import, only that he made the effort of formulating his understanding upon his own motivation. Do not follow any philosopher's conclusions; emulate them ' i.e., think for yourself.
In perusing my credits, below, you will note various books and websites. In the pursuit of liberty, these are, as public ventures, rather beside the point. At one point, I thought to share them with others. In the meanwhile, they have derailed my private life unpleasantly. The book biz will not last through the end of the present year; the websites will not last through the end of the following year. And my participation in the freedom "movement" will, for a second time in my life, cease. Hopefully, I have learned the value of being a private individual. I am too willful to be otherwise. I have nothing in common with others, aside from being as different from them as they are from anyone else (but knowing it). I do not have a common cause with anyone, not even being free. And the idea of subordinating my will to a group such as to regain, retain or proclaim my sovereign will is such a winsome contradiction it makes me smile, though ruefully.
To the utopian visionaries ' of any composition ' I have this to say: I was not made that way, nor was any other human being ever born upon this planet. And you will bash your efforts against us in utter futility for the rest of eternity, because human beings will never change. Do your worst or do your best . . . we will still be there the next morning, as incorrigible as ever.
"I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad." [Henry D. Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience]