04 January 2009

A note on a note

Having reread my previous post, I'm beginning to notice an issue that I hadn't really considered before in the status and meaning (or extent to which an allowed freedom makes free the person who holds it) between expressive freedoms and non-expressive freedoms.

I call expressive freedoms expressive because they involve, primarily, self-expression. They don't create other freedoms for one's self, and exercising them does not (necessarily) involve a threat of any sort to the state. In other words, restrictions on activity for no purpose as far as the State is concerned (and this is where things get interesting) other than to restrict them.

I call non-expressive freedoms such because they are the opposite of expressive freedoms insofar as they are primarily activities which could pose a threat to the state - such as owning weapons, financial privacy, homeschooling children.

Now, the question of whether there is some essential difference between expressive and non-expressive freedoms would seem to be related to the extent to which private customs and customary power centers within society either buttress the state or retard the advance of the state - typically, by either promoting an ethic of violence (for instance, an abusive or authoritarian family) or retarding state hypertrophy (any voluntary association).

Further, it is possible that the prohibition of an expressive freedom could so enrage people that they may come to consider the value of non-expressive freedoms as well. But this might be a two-edged sword - for instance, for every person who considers marijuana prohibition and extends his analysis to the rising police state and busy-body culture in this country, how many people are there who continue to vote for good, gray, respectable democrats in hopes that marijuana will be decriminalized, taxed, and regulated?

Just a few thoughts.

A note on social control

I wrote this for my livejournal in late October, about something which I read on the LRC blog.

From here

"That’s why it is so imperative that we take action, and take it now. The college is revamping the gen ed program. Maybe it’s time to require a class in diversity. Or maybe we start branding perpetrators with a scarlet letter, like in that Nathaniel Hawthorne book. Except instead of an A for 'adulterer,' as is the case in the novel, we use a B for 'bigot;' or an I for 'intolerant;' or maybe an S, for 'small-minded-prick-that-will-be-left-behind-the-times.'"

It's interesting how adaptable sheep-pen morality is. When more traditional forms no longer cut it, the filthy s--- who sleeps around can be, quite conveniently, replaced with another outgroup for the Respectable members of society (in this case, private liberal-arts college kids) to witchhunt (in this case, nasty Bigoted people.)

The role of "tolerance" in a corporate liberal culture is, essentially, to simultaneously change and limit the number of acceptable behaviors in a given society - "diverse" activities become generally acceptable, and anything done by "diverse" people is included under a broad rubric of being at least potentially defensible, if not fully; simultaneously, genuine forms of dissent, such as refusal to pay taxes or fulfill other government mandated obligations, or any thorough-going objection to the commonly prevailing way of life becomes totally unacceptable. People who choose, for instance, to home school their kids, to break contact with society at large, or to do any number of other things, which, under less "tolerant:" systems, would have been mere personal eccentricities, now become (or rather, are now recognized to be) vital threats which could, potentially, strike at the heart of the ruling order.

"Tolerance," then, is a means by which tyranny, or at least social control, is focused - behaviors irrelevant to the State and its attendant institutions (such as alternate sexual expression, moderate drug use, other odd cultural choices) are ignored so that greater resources can be concentrated on those who pose a greater threat (peace activists, secessionists, drop-outs, "gun nuts", people who "think different.)