A Freedom To Live Or A Freedom To Die?

What is freedom really?
Is it the ability to do whatever you like without regard for anyone but yourself?
Some people think so. But more often than not there will eventually come the time of the great hang-over, when that ultimate freedom that had been sought after so diligently has somehow lost its meaning.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

This is what Shakespeare’s Macbeth laments after his wife driven by her feelings of guilt has committed suicide. Lady Macbeth had succumbed to one form of insanity, while her husband has done so to another form of it: Nihilism.
What Shakespeare knew, but would not allow his anti-hero to recognize, is that the “tale told by an idiot” is a result not of fate’s unpredictability but of Macbeth’s own actions in breaking all the rules of his society, murdering the king and covering up this murder by yet more murders. This led then to his ever more paranoid actions of killing in massacres everyone that might even potentially become a threat to him. It were those massacres and nothing else that brought on the resistance to his rule and his eventual downfall.
Nihilism, the annihilation of societies moral rules and values would, according to Shakespeare, in the long run lead to self-destruction.
For a 16. century man Shakespeare was a pretty perceptive observer of society and human nature I think. And I also believe that he was right, and that he was far more enlightened than many of our contemporary authors, thinkers and social scientists.
During the 20. century many of those thinkers had come to the conclusion that Nihilism, the overthrow of moral rules in exchange for a perceived ultimate freedom of the individual would create the best of all societies.
The most important tools for this freedom for all would be the freedom of the markets liberated from all restrains of morality and concerns for the common good. The unrestrained self-interest of the financial players in the global markets would according to those thinkers create the best of all worlds, since they were the models for the truly free individuals of which all societies should be made of, since the strife for survival and proliferation of one’s own genes and so the fulfillment of one’s own self-interest was the biological foundation of the human being and his real purpose in life. If everybody would act according to those principles human society as a whole would prosper.
Many of those who ascribed to this philosophy were originally disciples of Ayn Rand and her ideas, which she called Objectivism. One of her early followers was Alan Greenspan, former head head of the Federal Reserve and master-mind of the financial deregulation policies in the US.
Today we know, that this belief in an unrestrained market has not only brought on the financial collapse of 2008 and the instability of the whole financial system, but also the economic destruction of many nations.
What the freedom of the free markets brought to most people all over the world was the freedom to die early of malnutrition and untreated illnesses or of violence and political instability. To others it brought the freedom to live without a roof over the head or a safe source of income and steady employment. And to those who still have those things it brought the freedom of every day fear of loosing the little security they have and the ability to support themselves and their families.
But on the other side of the spectrum the freedom for the markets has given a tiny minority of people the liberty to increase their wealth enormously and use at the same time this very wealth to increase their influence on the foreign and domestic policies of their nations and on the mass-media, which in turn has worsened the situation even further.
In the story of Macbeth, serving one’s self-interest also includes the use of lies, deceptions and the justification of mass-murders, killing those who in the future might become a threat.
American foreign policies have clearly taken on the form of Macbeth’s paranoia. This can be seen in the NSA spying scandal even on America’s closest allies as well as in the threatening and the actual destruction of any country that might show a slightly different economic or political model. No matter how small and insignificant these countries might be economically or militarily, their very existence is seen as a future impediment to the elites’ power and domination and the fulfillment of their self-interests.
The use of violence and the destruction of ethical rules had driven Macbeth to such a height of insanity that he could no longer perceive his own responsibility in the events enfolding around him.
America’s serial acts of military violence and overt and covert war-fare, and it’s negation of the rules of international law have driven the country’s political and economic elites into a similar madness, displayed quite recently by President Obama in his scripted UN speech, where he still insisted on America’s exceptionalism and its military’s positive and important role in bringing  justice and stability to the world. Some consider the speech as an example of the ultimate hypocrisy, but it could just as well be a sign of the most pervasive form of self-deception, a blindness to one’s own responsibility for the pains inflicted on one’s victims, the symptom of a psychopath.
The story of Hope and her ancestor David in “When Hope Came” was originally conceived as an anti-Ayn-Rand tract.
The story counters the idea that being rational means being self-seeking and purely out for one’s own self-interest, with the idea that the ultimate human rationality lies in altruism and the realization that the other person’s interest must be considered equal to one’s own for a society to be sustainable in the long run.
Observations or recent events have shown once again that a culture governed by the ideology of unrestrained selfishness is unstable and will eventually become violent towards the outside and self-destructive inside itself. This destruction within and without will subsequently even effect and harm those who initially profited most from their self-seeking attitudes.
Rand’s philosophy failed in its own presumptions, that personal survival and the fulfillment of all one’s own desires and ambitions should be the highest goal to be achieved in every individual’s life. When looking at the observed outcome of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, her ideas turned out not to be rational but rather irrational, since they have sacrificed long term survival and well-being of the individual and his or her descendants for short-term interests.
The plain reality is, that human beings are by their very nature not designed to be lonely tigers, but to be social beings within the context of a community.
But living within a stable community will always demand of you responsibility for and cooperation with others and also the compliance to commonly accepted rules. While these might be seen by some as constrains to their personal freedom, in the end, however, society’s acceptance of ethical rules will give you a real, a most important freedom, the freedom to live.

5 thoughts on “A Freedom To Live Or A Freedom To Die?

  1. this comment was moved from another page

    Larry Carney said:
    on October 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I liked your article on Freedom to live or die; it sounds like we think alike, though much of mine is religious-motivated. Maybe you’ll like what I wrote, that I thought had similar thoughts.
    Larry Carney
    Clifford, Ontario, Canada


    I see the sand slipping through the Hour Glass,
    So many evil grains of sand, filling up the bottom,
    sands of greed, injustice, even innocent ignorance…
    …motivated by a desire for wealth and power and prestige,
    causing a growing rot
    of poverty, sickness and resentment.
    How long, O Lord, before Your Hand comes down to strike
    through the angry reactions of the masses?

    I recall Detroit, back in Nineteen Sixty-Seven,
    what they tried to call a “race riot”…
    but it was a riot of poverty and despair,
    poor Blacks and poor Whites, looting side by side…
    a smaller number even set fires to the buildings,
    (buildings that used to be their homes!)
    Others sniped at strangers with their rifles,
    leading a call for police, and national guard-
    (but most of the destruction fell on these “destroyers”….
    their homes, their stores, their neighborhoods)
    Yet the true destroyers watched it on TV,
    with disapproving eyes of condemnation,
    as they sipped their cocktails and martinis…
    (its effect eventually redounded on them too!)


    Already now the forests around us all are burning,
    Already too we face new devastating floods
    from rising oceans, rivers, torrential rains.
    Those “at the top” just bow to the god of money,
    yet fearful always…for others want some too…
    They need CONTROL.. they need to have the POWER –
    power to orchestrate their wars, on all potential foes,
    wrapped in the neat trite phrase – THE WAR ON TERROR…
    (and thus they create the enemies they so much fear!)

    Resentment builds, grows further into HATRED…
    among those who face drone warfare day by day,
    and us at home who struggle to survive,
    with fewer jobs, with constant cuts to welfare…
    No health care, fewer schools…more expensive ones…
    Resentment builds to HATRED, more and more.
    Their money pays to make us “stay in place”,
    To “police and soldier” us
    to accept our roles, of gradual greater poverty…
    The grains of injustice trickle through the hour glass,
    The sands of time keep moving through the time clock,
    Leading to a certain day of reckoning.

    How long, O Lord, before the bottom is too full?
    How long before the death knell of destruction?
    (or is there time to turn the sand clock over, once again,
    and create an era of JUSTICE, PEACE, AND LOVE?)

    1. Larry
      thanks for commenting. I agree, that it is the elites with their greed for money and lust for power that cause so much suffering and often also violence and destruction. But I don’t think that riots are God’s work. As you mentioned, riots are self-defeating. The rioters burn down their own neighborhoods. And even if they would try to get to the places of residence or business of the elites they would be well protected.
      What I believe will be the only way for change is when truth will become more and more known and accepted by the majority of the population. This will lead to a disgust with current policies by most everybody, even the police, even the military and even the people within the media and the business community. More and more people will stop cooperating with the elites plans and their system of control will break down. Eventually new structures will be build.
      Violence won’t work, because violence will justify counter-violence.Rioters will end up in the Fema camps. Non-violent acts of civil disobedience, whistle-blowing and the gradual overcoming of lies and deceptions via diligent grass-root research, however, will create the moral high-ground where changes will happen and truth and justice will be spread.
      That’s what I believe is God’s work. And it already has started.

      1. Larry Carney says: I agree width you, Eve. I didn’t mean riots as God’s work, except that God seems to work so much through natural causes and reality. We bring much of the evil on ourselves; I believe that God wants us to learn in the process.

  2. just read your article in ICH re. Freedom to Live or Die. Excellent study of reality, many thanks.
    Trying to submit this I am informed that my e-mail is used by someone else. I have never read of you or contacted you before and that e-mail address is the only one I have had for 12 years.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Jocelyn. I only can guess, what happened to your e-mail address. Could it be possible that somebody copied it when you commented on some other website?

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