The Passion of Liberty: Part Four - Original Sin


Many people are willing to respect the sovereignty of other individuals ' and do so regularly ' but they do not believe that reciprocity is sufficient motivation to get others to return the respect, nor that it will provide sufficient security, in itself.

Patently, something more is needed, such as understanding how reciprocal respect works to our mutual self-interest, and some sort of agreement to sovereign boundaries. But this is still not considered sufficient.

Our indoctrination and our experience with group solutions suggests that power and force are necessary, in some measure. Basically respectful people will expend enormous energy attempting to configure group power and force in the nicest and least intrusive manner possible. But power is power, and force is force. At the end of the day, there isn't a way to employ these tools that respects the integrity of individual sovereignty.

At that point, they assert that individual sovereignty will just have to be compromised, since, according to their group programming, there is no viable alternative. 'Be realistic,' they say, reasonably. 'Some level of power and force are necessary.'

The institutional tools of power and force ' employed by the group for subordination and extortion ' are burned into the membership's indoctrination as a real-world understanding: To them, these are the only tools that can work.

My focus here is the indoctrination itself, not group psychology. Briefly, however, groups are human constructions which, once given the ring of power (force), become corrupted and plot to enslave all unto that power. Individuals may or may not become corrupted by the possession of power, but any group will be instantly corrupted by the slightest brush with empowerment over individuals, regardless of checks, designs or intentions. Vigilance counts for nothing.

People who are indoctrinated to subordinate their lives to the good of the group, are not encouraged to practice respect for one another in a manner that threatens the existence of the group (i.e., making it redundant). They are usually taught to respect members of their own group, and only such as to facilitate group cohesiveness.

Other solutions, such as reciprocal respect of individual sovereignty, are not real to them. And, if they grasp the liberating potential of such concepts, they may, as indoctrinated members of a group, be threatened (on behalf of their group) and defensive (of the authority of their group).

It is important to understand that those jeering throngs, littering the roadsides of history long before and ever since Calvary , are programmed defenders of the authority of their group. They are not individual human beings, but subordinated human beings, be they Jew, Roman, Christian or American. They have subordinated their own authority to an institutional power above themselves, and sanctioned its use of force in perpetuating itself. They are no longer independent. They are no longer sovereign.

They are no longer human.

It does not matter if they are brandishing the whip, or cheering from the sidelines. It does not matter if they are pulling a trigger at Waco or Ruby Ridge, or continuing to support their government in the aftermath. It does not matter if they are brutes, or supporting those who control the brutes. They have given-over their sovereignty and, by that internal corruption, they have betrayed their own humanity. The details do not matter. The evasions do not count.

Borrowing from the description and imagery of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, they are essentially orcs, though the degree of their programmed mindlessness varies from orc to orc.

Group programming is the source of the concept 'Original Sin,' which is not inherent to the human being, but to anyone raised within a collectivized society. We are all of us corrupted by such indoctrination. 'We have seen the enemy; and he is us.' What do we do about it? Most critically, we need a respectful environment in which to heal from it.

Under a condition of political liberty, where boundaries of individual sovereignty are respected (and effected by contract), and where groups have no enforceable power over anyone, the nature of social indoctrination ' religious, social, moral ' would be informative rather than crippling, at least for the most part. Moreover, there would be the broader political arena (of respect) in which to heal from discordant childhood indoctrination, rather than being forced to perpetuate it (as a cycle of abuse).

The sovereign human being is, naturally, respectful of the sovereignty of other individuals, on the understanding that this is the most effective means of securing respect for his own sovereignty from others. It underlies the whole thing: our basic humanity.

But this is not true for people who have subordinated themselves to a group power. Group-programmed orcs, who seek to subordinate independent individuals to the priorities and values of the group, are violating the boundaries of their own security in the process. They believe that they will be protected by the group, even as they, personally and on behalf of the group, go around violating the boundaries of everyone else.

Killing or attacking the most abusive agents of the group merely musters the defense of the group, intensifies its indoctrination, and strengthens the morale of the orcs in their 'patriotism,' their 'religious conviction,' or their sense of 'racio-cultural superiority.' It intensifies the production of propaganda on behalf of the group, regardless of the degree of debauchery practiced by the 'overly zealous' agents.

Moderate members of the group acknowledge that the abuses should be curtailed, but maintain that challenges to the viability of the group cannot be tolerated, regardless of the nature of the abuses (and, hence regardless of provocation). They defend the group 'right or wrong,' because the group is their refuge, their identification, and, mostly, because they have been programmed from birth to defend it, to support it, and to sacrifice themselves for it.

The thesis of respect, in regard to healing oneself and healing one's neighbors (such as to generate a secure and respectful environment), is, in our present context, that of turning the other cheek. 'Respect thy neighbor as thyself' is the first (and only) commandment of liberty. Generally, this means even if they are orcs, or wrong-headed, according to you, in any other fashion.

The orcs are, at their core, human beings. They have a sovereign right, as such, to their own choices, even if these choices debilitate and enslave them. They have a sovereign right to choose this condition for themselves (and for themselves alone). It would be disrespectful to rescue them or to force your views on them. Deflecting their disrespect ' turning the other cheek ' is not a matter of 'nobly' suffering insults to one's sovereignty, but of recognizing that most people (orcs) are humanly crippled: 'They know not what they do.'

The alternative ' responding to force with force ' will only worsen one's environment. In the case of physical assault (defined according to individual circumstances), killing an orc may be the only defense possible to preserve one's own life. And, thus, defensive force is justified (at all times).

A defensive action is not chosen by you, but forced upon you through the actions of another in violation of your sovereignty. It is a 'first blood' situation. Regardless of where they are coming from in their desperate group programming, they are running 'amok' upon the boundaries of your sovereignty: you are the offended party, and you are being forced to respond with force, qua sovereign human being.

However, run-ins with armed orc agents are likely to be less frequent than run-ins with the orcs who have accepted submission and slavery, who provide support for the armed agents, and who resent anyone claiming individual sovereignty. ('Just who does she think she is!') These are the orcs that you need to reach. For the most part, you need to reach them as a fellow orc striving to become more sovereign, more respectful and more human. We are, none of us, without the 'sin' of indoctrination, but to heal from this sin, we must give and seek the respect of our fellows, regardless of their individual level of humanity ' in the quest to heal others and heal ourselves.

Turning the other cheek is not entirely passive. You return disrespect of your sovereignty with respect for the inherent sovereign humanity of the other person, and with the glad tidings message of 'respect in exchange for respect.' You turn the incident into an opportunity to spread the gospel ('good story'), without disrespectfully expecting immediate conversion, and without disrespectfully forcing it upon anyone.

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Richard Rieben's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Richard Rieben was a world traveler, house remodeler, and sometime author and philosopher. The thesis of his manifesto, Reciprocia, is, briefly: “Sovereignty is the base; reciprocity defines how to make it work.” Aside from harping incessantly on the theme of liberty, he led a fairly normal life in middle America, where he scouted for silver-linings. His internet articles are featured at  He passed away sometime after 2005.