Popular – V- Real Concepts: On Liberty   Leave a comment

Introduction

In my previous writing, I discussed Popular-V-Real Concepts in general and said that the majority of people possess a lot of popular notions and some even have more developed ideas and only a few really are enmeshed in philosophy and the nuances of learning and understanding. Now in this article, I seek to discuss the Popular and Real Concepts behind Liberty! It is my belief that when the greater majority of people hear such a concept they think automatically that it means they can do whatever they want, but I am going to argue that this is a rather limited understanding of what Liberty really entails, in both its negative and positive connotations. At which point I will try to wrap it all together under the phrase of good “Christian Liberty.”

Libertinism Is A Lifestyle Choice

The Popular understanding of Libertarianism is that its inherently a Libertine idea. As I have said about Popular understandings, they are exoteric concepts and are really only formed based on hearsay and quick bite-sized fragments of information. Libertinism however, is as the subtitle suggests a lifestyle choice. Libertinism is a lifestyle in which one lives for the satisfaction of the five senses and is found largely devoid of most morals. However, as I will show, Libertinism can fit in the larger philosophy of Libertarianism but Libertarianism cannot fit into the Libertine way of life.

Consider the Lifestyle of the Libertine, ethical amoral-ism and hedonism, certainly a prosperous society could afford the various errors and costs that a Libertine Individual would seek out, perhaps even a small portion of the population is Libertine in nature, still a prosperous society could indeed support it. I would wager that the Mind of the Libertine [whether knowingly or not] would also begin to develop an entitlement mentality through the addiction of constantly fulfilling every desire and impulse that possesses them. Nonetheless, what if the mass of men became Libertine, would such a society last in a state of Life, Liberty, and Prosperity for long? I wager not at all, for as has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin,

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

With the desire to be animalistic in our behaviors by the sheer desire to satisfy every desire and impulse we will become more dependent on others to provide for us. I contend that Self-Control is the beginnings of Self-Sufficiency and True Independence, it was Seneca the Ancient Stoic who equated Emotional and Vice-filled Slavery with Physical Slavery, what happens when the mass of men surrender their Lives, Liberties, and Properties over to the sheer fulfillment of Emotional Movements and Vice-filled Lifestyles? Said society will cease to be Libertarian and will degrade into its opposite because people will not care (let alone wonder) how we came to over-value preferential impulse fulfillment rather than sticking true to principles that make the enjoyment of Life, Liberty, and Property possible in the first place.

Therefore, Libertarianism with its principles and precepts of Natural Rights is like the greater vessel which can carry a few amoral individuals, but if the Amoral Libertine Individuals took the helm of the ship, then all we would see is the rule of the jungle, whatever favors them at the expense of everyone around them, the irony is that these individuals, as St. Augustine puts it so pointedly in Book 4, Chapter 3 of The City of God,

“Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices…”

The Libertarian society is not what we should fear, but rather those who because of their amorality act irresponsibly and grow in influence and begin to act in a manner that inevitably would foist the entitlement mentality on to the whole of the Libertarian society. We know however, that material entitlements would require force to take from those who do not believe in the entitlement mentality in order to give to those who do believe in the entitlement mentality.

It is my hypothesis that society will not last very long if violent interactions outweigh peaceful interactions and where once trust, virtue, and innocence guided society these qualities would devolve into suspicion, backstabbing, vice, and corruption all in the name of overzealous and uncontrollable impulse fulfillment. However, let us keep in mind that, Libertarianism does not seek to legislate morality and does indeed seek to tolerate diverse lifestyle choices, therefore the Libertine way of thinking and living will not be made illegal through political action but need to be socially discouraged.

Libertarianism Is A Philosophy Toward Life

Libertarianism is the larger philosophical framework however, that encourages a type of freedom called, Negative Freedom in which, “there is an absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense.” The opposite of Negative Freedom is Positive Freedom and usually finds itself in many “Progressive” ideologies. The term Positive Freedom implies, “the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one’s life and realize one’s fundamental purposes.” Libertarianism if it can be grasped by those who encounter it is a Mesoteric knowledge base, and is a Grounded Concept, people who are Libertarians know that Libertarians do not have to be Libertines, but could be.

These two types of Freedoms are in some respects thought to be fundamentally opposed to one another. As an example of Negative Liberty, one has a Right to there own property and the wealth derived therein; whereas an example of Positive Liberty would be that, one has a Right to Education. Now only one of these things can really be instituted upon society, either one will be able to keep there property and wealth or one will need to pay for others educational enrichment. Aside from the arguments [against the Department of Education] and the subsequent [System of Education in America] today, we must choose which Liberty we want, the right to have an income by your own efforts or the right to have an education paid for by everyone else around you.

Libertarianism is a philosophy, as I wrote above that stresses The Negative Liberty to your own right to property and wealth by your efforts, rather than tying society artificially by laws and governments decrees that would take from one group to give to another group. This is because at the Libertarian Philosophy is the belief that government is force and the less force government uses the less obstacles that get in the way of individuals making choices and taking responsibility for their actions and prospering from their actions.

This leads me however to an important point, Positive Liberty is not bad, but the question should be where and how does one, “take control of one’s life and realize one’s fundamental purposes?” Whereas the Progressive would say that should be provided by the State, a Libertarian and a Conservative would say that such an answer would lie fundamentally in the Negative Liberty position itself, by ones own right to amass property and wealth, with very little obstruction in the process. Positive Liberty defenders tend to be collectivist in their thinking as the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.”

I contend of course that with the Right to Life, Liberty, and Property recognized and instituted, one will be able to take control over ones own life and realize ones potential, because one will have very little obstruction if they choose to. My own concern is that people have to be willing to make it so, I have seen people given opportunities in our society and either take them for granted or waste their time while enjoying them, all this at the expense of the taxpayer, which I feel creates laziness within the recipient since the money provided for them is given by someone else on a basis that they did not have to greatly contribute to in the first place. However, if they had to give the greater contribution or the full contribution then they would be more motivated to do what needs to be done and more! So this all begs the question, who will aid in the individuals Positive Liberty Outlook?

Christian Libertarianism Is BOTH Positive and Negative

It is my belief that a Libertarianism rooted in Christian/Catholic Theology is really the only answer to the apparent conflict between Negative Liberty and Positive Liberty. It is my belief also that a Society rooted in a Christian/Catholic Libertarianism can tolerate the Libertine Lifestyle within it rather than a Libertine Society which would in short order destroy a Libertarian society as well. First let us address the issue of Negative and Positive Liberty as it relates to Christianity and Libertarianism, then we will address the Christianity that I speak of often on this blog which would the social aspect of the political Libertarian society.

In Christian Theology, there is a recognition of Gods Love and a Recognition of Our Free Will which was given to us by virtue of God’s Love for Mankind. Love by its very nature, does not use force to get what it wants, therefore the Beloved can choose either to accept the lover or deny the lover; to listen to the lover or ignore the lover, and so on. This recognition of Free Will then allows for a Recognition that Negative Liberty has a place in Christianity and in Libertarianism, God does not necessarily obstruct us from doing what we want because He is Love and does not force us.

However, God has Prescribed for us in our Fallen State Laws and Beatitudes, not so that if we Break Them God Can Throw Us into Hell, because He who is Love seeks all to be saved, rather He gives us these Laws and Beatitudes because He knows our Nature and in order that we might once again reach the Height of Our Potential these things were given. So in Christianity there is a recognition of, “taking control of one’s life and realizing one’s fundamental purposes” or Positive Liberty. One of the best statements comes from a Theologian of the Early Christian Community who said, “God became man, So that Man could become God!”


I contend that both need to be realized and respected. The Christian is given Two Commandments, To Love God and To Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself. To Love Thy Neighbor, starts when you are able to practice God’s Love which is to Not use Force on your neighbor just because they do something you disagree with, you can use persuasion but you have no right to coercion save if your neighbor seeks to or is threatening the Life, Liberty, or Property of another and insofar as we practice that we have Negative Liberty. To be clear if the Beginning of Loving thy Neighbor is to not obstruct them from making choices on those conditional grounds mentioned above then the End of Loving Thy Neighbor is to voluntarily pick your neighbor up when they make a mistake in their choices and to show compassion and patience in doing that. To Love God, is to Give up to God everything God has given you, whether a talent or a possession if it is called upon you to give it up, for in true Christian Theology the more we cooperate with God’s Will the more we come into God’s Likeness and Virtue and Wisdom is Cultivated.

I hold that Positive Liberty needs once again to be given a Transcendental Quality to it, rather than a Material Quality to it. For if man says demandingly and boastfully, “I Have a Right to a Shelter” or “I Have a Right to an Education” or “I Have a Right to Health-care” then all he is saying is “I have a right to take from you, by force, for my own enrichment.” I do not believe society will last very long when the boastful entitlement mentality takes over. To me I see something rather Atheistic in Concrete or Material Positive Liberty, it requires the State to become God, it requires men to become the all-knowing Judge and dispenser of Merciful Graces and to me I see that as futile belief that mankind can somehow save itself and know all things, when history has shown us that The State cannot plan very well and becomes increasingly more oppressive as it takes on more and more responsibilities that the people surrendered, but how could we not have seen that?

Therefore, let Positive Liberty be something that God will dispense rather than Man, for all of Mankind suffers with sickness and we are expecting to be cured by men who can at times be even sicker than us! We as Humans can only Love one another in a limited way, we can only dispense Mercy in a Limited Way, but God who is complete and eternal unto Himself, can give Unlimited Graces and Sustain all, He can Guide Us to Our Better Self, and He Allow Can Show Us Our Potential. A Free Society will only last so long I believe insofar as we Trust In God. As a Disclaimer however, I must state 2 Objections:

Objection #1 – My Eternal Skepticism of the Prosperity Gospel

I ask the reader not to misconstrue my words in this article, I do possess a powerful suspicion of The Prosperity Gospel that is toted around by so-called “Christians” such as The 700 Club and the Charismatic Demagogue Joel Osteen. The Prosperity Gospel teaches that man can have all his material desires fulfilled if he just trusts in Jesus Christ. However, I merely see the Prosperity Gospel as Positive Psychology with a Transcendental Spin to it, a Christian equivalent akin to the New Age: The Secret. While I certainly do not want to undervalue Visualization and Changing Ones Cognitions and Behaviors to make a better life for oneself, Christians are called to Trust in God to Give Them The Better Life that they truly need and want rather than what they think need and want.

God can certainly guide a person toward better health, a better family, a better education, and financial independence, but as we also have learned can also take them away just as easily, usually out of some challenge. True Religion has it that, God will provide not so that you live “comfortably” but so that you may grow up, and this at times can include some suffering. However, such is our fallen condition, that we become to attached to our possessions and forget who gave them to us.

Objection #2 – The Christianity I Speak Of Is Not The Popularized Nor Fundamentalist Notions of Christianity

To top this, Christianity as most people understand it today is mark by a sense of Legalism to it. I must confess that my concern is that Christianity would be eclipsed and confused with the contractual-ism found in Libertarianism when in fact True Christianity is not meant to be viewed in a Legalistic or Contractual perspective, the Substitution and Satisfaction understandings of the Atonement Narrative of Christ I find to be something that is worthy of much criticism especially as it relates to Christians who have become essentially Apostates to the Faith, such bad theology even in my own youth initially chased me away from Christianity as well. This is why I believe we must look back to the Christian East, whose focus was more so on the Resurrection and Theosis rather than on Suffering and Redemption, it is not to say that I do not think suffering has a sacramental and spiritual purpose to it, but rather to say that Redemption Theology is flawed especially as it becomes more watered down by fundamentalist circles.

Eastern Christian Theology holds that we are called to be transformed and uplifted from our lowly state. The Christian East, viewed the Contractual-ism and Legalism of the Christian West with suspicion and instead interpreted the Bible in more psychological guidelines and terms. For example, Repentance no longer had to do with “signing a contract and turning your life over to Christ to gain an acquittal at the Judgment” instead it had to do more so with changing ones thoughts and orientation toward life from one that considered worldly to that which was God-Centered and inevitably to be transformed by Him. This is my vision of Good Christian Liberty in a Libertarian Society.

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Posted January 27, 2012 by jimbo9889 in The Objectives

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