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On Liberty

Eugène Delacroix, "Liberty Leading the People," 1830

2,051 words

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s impassioned words, nearly two centuries old now, are perhaps the best known and most cherished ever uttered in America. No true American—that is, no American of Henry’s race—can read those words today without being stirred by them.

Love of Liberty in Our Blood

It matters not how “liberal” an education we have had, nor how much of the propaganda of surrender and weakness and defeat has been crammed into our skulls. The appeal of Henry’s words finds its response in our blood—in our genes, where it has lain these past twenty thousand years and more.

The freeborn farmer-warrior, who typified what is best in our race throughout long ages past, may have little place in today’s slick, conniving world, but as long as his blood still flows, relatively unpolluted, in our veins, even the most democratically acclimatized urbanite among us must feel the gooseflesh rise along the nape of his neck when the call to take up arms against a tyrant rings out.

Perversion of Liberty

But what has that to do with what today masquerades as “liberty”? What connection has the sentiment so eloquently expressed in 1775 by Patrick Henry with the puling, smirking insistence on freedom to “do his thing” by every imaginable brand of degenerate and pervert today? What has it to do with the raucous demand for “Freedom now!” voiced by Blacks who want a bigger slice of the welfare state—or else?

The Latin root from which the word “liberty” has sprung is prolific; it has also yielded “liberal,” “libertarian,” and “libertine.” All these words share a general implication of “lack of restraint.” The range of meaning given to them is enormous, however.

For what a gulf stretches between the “liberty” of Patrick Henry—meaning freedom from political and economic domination by a foreign tyrant—and the “liberty” of our present-day libertarians—meaning the freedom of the individual from every restraint imposed by society. In the one case it is one of Western man’s most cherished and valuable possessions; in the other, simply a manifestation of the sickness called liberalism which is carrying Western man swiftly toward his extinction.

Liberty Not an Absolute

As liberty has no absolute meaning, it has no absolute value. To be free from an alien tyranny, so that we can give expression to our own cultural and social forms rather than those not ours—that is good. To carry the quest for “freedom of expression” to the point where we reject every social norm and every cultural tradition in favor of a formless, normless chaos—that is not good.

Freedom to inquire, to explore, to experiment, to invent—that is both good and necessary if our race is to advance and fulfill its destiny. Freedom to ignore every authority, to escape every obligation, to indulge every whim—that is neither good nor progressive.

Libertarian View Simplistic

The great over-simplification of the libertarian is the assumption that freedom is an absolute—that man is either free or he is not free—that if we want freedom of inquiry, for example, then we must also accept as a necessary concomitant total freedom for self-indulgence.

Thus, the familiar spectacle of Senators, editors, and educators calling for the military defeat of our nation; of Black criminals calling for the murder of our race; of anarchists of every hue calling for the destruction of our culture while we smile tolerantly, if a bit nervously, for we have been taught that to silence a traitor is to strangle liberty. Even to punch a McGovern or a Kennedy—or a Nixon—in the mouth and denounce him for what he is makes us suspect as enemies of free speech.

Semantic Trick

What nonsense! The argument that if we approve of free speech we must tolerate subversion is a semantic trick.

A variation of the same trick goes like this: Racial loyalty, racial pride, racial idealism are a form of “collectivism,” in that emphasis is shifted from the individual to a larger entity—the race of which the individual is only a component part. To insist on individual sacrifice or individual restraint in the interest of the racial community is to restrict the scope of individual prerogative—i.e., to limit individual freedom. Hence, if we are for freedom, we must be against racial idealism.

Atomization of Society

The logic is flawless. And the same argument can be applied to patriotism or any other form of idealism which requires the individual to subordinate his own interests to those of a larger social, national, or racial whole. Libertarianism thus leads naturally to an atomization of society.

To the libertarian the race, the nation are merely assemblages of individuals, nothing more.

From this viewpoint, any social structure—a government, say—is justified only insofar as it provides a convenient framework within which a multitude of human atoms can expeditiously gratify their individual desires and ambitions with a minimum of friction with one another.

“Freedom” Under the System

Liberty, pursued to such lengths, is elusive, and the pursuer deceives himself. Our masters, the men who run the System, are not such fools. They better understand the nature of “freedom.” They know that in order to compel us to do their bidding it is seldom necessary these days to resort to the whip and the chain.

So they let us run about freely, say what we want, vote for whom we choose. The United States is a “free” country. All the System cares about is that the net aggregate of our opinions, the result of our elections, shall be what they have predetermined they should be.

It is no more possible to put a truly anti-System man into the Presidency by the democratic process in this country than it is to talk the System into cutting its own throat. But the System men don’t mind if we fool ourselves into thinking it is possible. In fact, they prefer it that way.

Donkeys and Men

One can get a donkey from point “A” to point “B” by tying a rope around his neck and pulling hard enough. Or one can accomplish the same thing by placing the donkey’s oats and water out in plain sight at point “B,” taking care that no other source of provender is readily accessible.

Is the donkey really any “freer” in the second case than in the first? It is idle to argue that in the second case the donkey could have decided not to go to the oats. The fact is that one is able to predetermine the donkey’s behavior, almost with certainty, by a simple manipulation of external stimuli.

When dealing with people instead of donkeys one must be more subtle, but the principle remains the same.

Compulsion of Necessity

We like to think that we make our own decisions, form our own opinions, but in most cases we don’t. Even outside the realm of politics and the public-opinion manipulators, man’s supposedly “free” choice is subject to a thousand determinants beyond his control.

Even a sole inhabitant of the earth, free of every social constraint and inhibition, would remain a slave to the weather and all the other limitations on his will imposed by Nature. Such limitations are just as effective in reducing man’s freedom—in restricting the scope of his actions—as are the walls of any man-made prison.

Division of Labor

Thinking of freedom in these terms, it is easy to see that a sole inhabitant may be considerably less free than a member of a social group. Although membership in a group inevitably carries with it certain restrictions, it may, for a properly constituted group, result in a far greater scope of action than is possible for the unaffiliated individual.

As an example, a sole inhabitant may wish to devote his life to music or to the study of mathematics. But the daily necessities of providing himself with food, clothing and shelter would certainly leave him little time for indulging such whims. And it is quite clear that these natural restrictions just as truly limit his freedom of choice as, say, “repressive” parents or a “totalitarian” government.

Only the division of labor made possible by social organization, with its accompanying channeling of individual energies into rather restricted areas, can open up for anyone the choice of a career in music or mathematics.

A Dangerous Illusion

Thus the libertarian ideal of man as a free spirit, making rational choices independently of conditions around him, is sheer illusion.

Perhaps all this should be self-evident, but apparently it is not. There are alarming numbers of young people today, nominally on the right as well as on the left, who talk and act as if liberty were an absolute thing that would be within their grasp were it not for various “collectivist” or “repressive” tendencies in the government and in our present society.

The prevalence of this libertarian derangement may only be a reflection of the too-permissive child-rearing methods of the last couple of decades, but whatever it is it must be overcome.

Whole More than Sum of Parts

The doctrine that a society is no more than the sum of the individuals comprising it must lead first to the atomization of that society and then to its complete destruction. The Western world is now rushing headlong in to this last phase, where, ironically, an obsessive mania for ever more liberty promises a final end to all liberty.

The great social genius of Western man has been his skill at so ordering his society that it has provided close to the maximum possible yield of true liberty—that is, the maximum possible scope for human endeavor. By and large he has avoided both the extreme of social disorganization which we call anarchy and the extreme of social over-organization which results in the ant-heap societies characteristic of the Orient.

Neither Atoms nor Ants

He has understood, during the great periods of his history, that maximum freedom—maximum social potential—is achieved when a careful compromise is made between anarchy and the ant heap.

To go too far in the direction of totally unrestrained individualism—that is, to approach an atomistic society—is to sacrifice the scope of action which exists only when the will of a whole people can be unified and concentrated on a common goal.

To totally ignore the qualities of the individual—that is, to approach a society based on Marxist equalitarianism, where individuals are completely interchangeable economic units—is to sacrifice the great potential for innovation, for creation, for leadership which exists not in the mass but only in exceptional individuals.

We cannot make either of these sacrifices and still hope to emerge victorious from the struggle for existence which now rages, and will rage, between the various races of man on this planet until one is supreme and the others have yielded.

A Lousy Compromise

Today we suffer from the worst of both extremes. We live in an oppressively overcrowded environment with ever-diminishing privacy, solitude, peace, and quiet. We feel totally impotent and insignificant in the face of the impersonal bureaucratic monstrosity with which Big Brother rules our lives.

But at the same time we are totally lacking in solidarity—racial, national, or otherwise. We have no common purpose, no unity of will as a compensation for the loss of our privacy. Instead of selfless idealism, egoism and materialism reign.

America today is an atomized ant heap.

The cure for this unfortunate state of affairs is to be found neither among the libertarian egoists nor the Marxist collectivists. Peculiarly enough, however, both these factions have draped themselves in the banner of “liberty”!

Race and Personality

If we seek true liberty, what we must do first is establish among ourselves, the men of the West, or among some carefully selected portion of ourselves, a common purpose based on true idealism. Then we must smash the present System, which thwarts that purpose, and build a new society in which the individual achieves self-fulfillment through service to the whole, and the whole advances by giving the widest possible scope for such service to each individual.

From Attack!, no. 5, 1971

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