Moving Democracy From Neuroticism To Logic
November 1st, 2012 - R. Rados
There's not a big difference between slashing an enemy's tires and voting his rights away. Both acts probably stem from the same negative emotion and are accompanied by a heightened sense of vengeance, retribution, or justice. Our emotions play a crucial role in our lives and we'd likely be sterile robots without them. The only problem is that our emotions aren't always rational, logical, or supplemental to our survival. We often make decisions on a whim during moments of intense anger, sadness, or fear. These decisions can get us in trouble and lead us to a future of regret. It's fair to say that everyone is equally capable of having emotional outbursts, but there are those among us who not only have them more frequently but are unable to control or suppress them. We call these people neurotic. In a democracy, decisions are indirectly made by voters. Voters are people and people always have the potential to be neurotic. The real danger exists in group neuroticism. In a democracy, the biggest threats to individual freedom are emotionally charged mobs.
Reactionary laws are the most destructive elements of neurotic group thinking. Whether we're talking about anger, guilt, envy, sorrow, or fear, there has been at least one law passed as a result of each of those negative emotions. Britain's Public Order Act, which contains a ban on public insults, is rooted in sorrow and in the fear of offending and being offended. Affirmative Action and similar forms of government sanctioned discrimination must be results of historic guilt. British Columbia's potential anti-bullying bill, which according to some politicians – like Christy Clark – should include “criminalizing such behaviour online”, is a result of sorrow and heightened grief. Bullying became an issue following the highly publicized suicide of Amanda Todd, and now some “experts” and parents are calling on governments to limit free speech. Yes, that's what “criminalizing such behaviour online” means. It means opening the door to the criminal prosecution of speech and non-physical abuse. It means criminalizing teenagers and children who may not be aware of their own cruelty. Alone, Canada's current hate speech laws are a complete abomination and expanding them would only encourage their continued existence.
France's new 75% tax rate for millionaires is a result of envy and anger. The country's new socialist president was elected as a result of growing public rage towards the wealthy. Now Hollande's policies are being enacted and thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses are fleeing the country. In the United States and Canada, the failed Occupy Movement has embodied a similar type of mass envy and anger.
“Ban it”, becomes the most popular slogan when something pisses the wrong people off. When something makes certain people feel uneasy or sad, their immediate reaction is to turn to the government in the same way that children turn to their parents. A bad parent will do exactly what a bad government does: cater to our demands and encourage us to count on others to solve our problems.
Dependency is one of the worst types of slavery. A government's job should be to reduce dependency, protect individuals from the whims of masses, and mediate disputes. However, it's pretty difficult to maintain such principles when the people in office are just as neurotic as the people who elected them. Since the neurotic among us are incapable of holding principles, we can't expect any kind of principled constitution to have a very long life expectancy. Some politicians – or neurocrats – like Barack Obama believe that a constitution should be an evolving document, thus, rendering most of their principles and fundamental values meaningless. Yes, rules and laws can and should evolve. But, all laws and rules should be stringently guided by principles. These principles shouldn't be complicated or pliable. It's that lack of pliability that makes something a principle. The ideas of individualism and voluntarism aren't complicated and, therefore, don't need to be pliable.
It's only when emotions are added to the equation that the ideas of freedom and individualism become complicated. Sorrow, anger, envy, guilt, fear, and hate are emotions that all of us have a personal responsibility to deal with on our own terms – according to the very simple idea of individualism.
A politician's job isn't to impose his will or the will of the masses on any individual. A politician's job is to enforce principles. It's understandable that some lawmakers may have differing principles, but there is one principle that is capable of keeping all laws and rules fair and coherent with individualism. That principle is objectivity.
A broken rib is objective. A broken heart is subjective. By ensuring that all laws are passed only on an objective basis, we can help to eliminate the unruly and inconsistent effect that emotions have on our governments. Rather than attempting to prevent and heal broken hearts, we should be sticking to objective decision making. Objectivity alone, though, isn't enough to protect individual freedom. Applying a simple rule of logic is equally necessary. To some of us, objectivity is logic.
One plus one always equals two. This is logic. Logic doesn't change based on how we feel. If we don't like how the number two makes us feel, we can't change the sum. All laws, rules, and regulations should be guided by the very same logic. The simple principle of allowing every individual in our society their own choices and responsibilities hasn't been dealt with logically. Historically, individuality has always succumbed to mobs and their irrational emotions. Peter has always ended up being robbed so Paul can get paid. The only way to end this is to apply some logic to the principles of individualism. This means never passing a law that aims to diminish or deplete the choices and freedoms of any individual in order to heighten the prospects of another, no matter what. This means no longer classifying and categorizing individuals by groups, but instead accepting them as equals under the law. This means no longer referring to Wilbur as Protestant Wilbur, but just Wilbur. It means no longer referring to Barack Obama as the first black president or Mitt Romney as the first Mormon president. It means referring to each individual as an individual, regardless of class, race, or religion.
Individualism isn't a complicated idea. What's far more complicated is our failed attempts at fairness and equality via our inconsistent application of collectivism and double standards. Ideas of fairness have been skewed and made inconsistent by unruly emotions and their justifications. True fairness and equality exist only within the logical application of objectivity and individualism. Passing laws that objectively criminalize certain individuals for subjective crimes, like bullying or saying something offensive, is illogical and driven by mere emotion. Granting special rights to certain groups flies in the face of equality. Such practices are responsible for the unprincipled doctrine that most of our leaders currently rule by. The only way to change this is to create a constitution based on solid and logical principles.
Living privately with no principles as individuals is fine. Some may live by the principle of having no principles. However, most of those same people would prefer to live under a government that is guided by strict, unchangeable principles and guidelines. There will always be arguments driven by misguided ideas of fairness, but it would be a government guided by strong principles that would protect the individual from the oppression that results from such skewed and backward perceptions. Collectivism should always be voluntary and not enforced by any government.
Under no circumstance should any government revoke the freedoms of one individual to enhance the freedom of another, unless that individual has broken the cardinal rule by doing so himself. It seems like a simple formula. It can continue to be a simple formula without the interference of emotional tyranny and whimsical decision-making. It's not by any means an original formula. Philosophers, writers, and entrepreneurs like Ayn Rand, Vincent de Gournay, and Milton Friedman have all expressed similar ideas. Most have been criticized for being unfair, callous, and unrealistic. Of course, such criticisms are rooted in the same ancient ideas of collectivism and fairness that have destroyed civilizations throughout history.