Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. (Viktor Frankl)
If all we want is freedom, all we get is emptiness.
- A little child may be free to be innocently spontaneous, but it will stay a child if it takes no responsibility.
- An artist may be free to express himself without restraints, but he will be unproductive if he sets no creative limitations.
- A lone wolf may be free from social obligations, but he will be lonely if he has no sense of belonging.
- A single man may be free to bang random women, but he will be unfulfilled if he has no meaningful intimacy.
- A liberated nation may be free from ruling powers, but it will be chaotic if it sets no rules and powers to enforce them.
- A hedonist may be free to do what he wants in the moment, but his actions will be pointless if he has no self-restraint.
- A cool mind may be free from enslaving thoughts and emotions, but it will freeze if it has no passionate soul.
- An enlightened spirit may be free from good and evil, but it will be idle if it has no will to fight for or against anything.
Restriction of freedom creates meaning. Thus, our highest priority cannot be to maximize freedom. Unless we define it positively as “the degree to which we do our True Will.” Even then, we shall focus not on freedom per se, but rather on how we can discipline ourselves to do what we truly want; how we can live with purpose, complete missions, and engage responsibility.
While this is trivial for pragmatists, it is not for idealists—for it demonstrates how misguided one can be in longing for enlightenment, equanimity, happiness, liberty, promiscuity, solitude, originality, and being childlike. None of these things has value in itself, but solely as a means to better do the True Will.
Moreover, I am here discounting the claim that destruction must precede creation. It need not. Sure, for those who live under tyranny, it must. But people who espouse liberating destruction and counteraction are often those who lack meaning, lack direction, lack belonging, lack proaction, and consequently fixate on freedoms, no matter how petty or dreamy.
It is critical, of course, that every restriction of freedom is self-restriction, resulting from our own free choice or, politically, from our people’s democratic decision rooted in the freedoms of thought and speech. That’s what makes all the difference. So whenever you hear the word “freedom” being used for personal, political, or economic interests, be aware that freedom is a broad concept with many different kinds of freedoms that may be hierarchically ordered, utterly unrelated, or perfectly empty.
Empty freedom, specifically, denotes all “individualistic and egalitarian notions of liberty—conceived as forms of passive license or the absence of constraints,” for “as an absolute, freedom becomes a cold, totalitarian concept” (Guillaume Faye). By contrast, substantial freedom is the active enforcement of the True Will; such freedom is relative to and thus restricted by a society and a capacity of augmenting one’s power through discipline—that’s what makes it meaningful.
- Traditional Vs. Modern Freedom
- Where Does Meaning Come From?
- Alain De Benoist’s Critique of Human Rights