Böcklin, allegory of freedom

The goddess that avoids ideocracies


Soyez résolus de ne plus servir, et vous voilà libres.
La Boétie

I am a lover of liberty. I will not and I cannot serve a party.
Desiderius Erasmus

Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.
Karl Marx

No one is truly free, they are a slave to wealth, fortune, the law, or other people restraining them from acting according to their will.

L'espoir est une vertu d'esclave.

the truly happy man is the free man. I'm talking about the one who neither hopes nor fears anything.
Demonax (70 - 170 CE)

Liberty is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
George Orwell

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
Anatole France

The impulse for liberty is congenital. It is the ultimate manifestation of selfishness, which is why we can count on its endurance.
Nathalie Angier

Casey Maddox wrote that when philosophy dies, action begins. I would say in addition that when we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we're in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free - truly free - to honestly start working to thoroughly resolve it. I would say when hope dies, action begins.
Derrick Jensen

"I look forward to (the day) when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views ... can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech."


But some are more unequal than others:

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Bodybuilding: an exclusively female expertise.


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Liberty and equality

Liberty for individuals and equality between them, the core values in occidental political utopias, were proposed in ethical discussions in Greek antiquity and again during French enlightenment. They are inseparable, they figure prominently in western political discourse, and are rejected by cultures that opt for a strong hierarchy: modern China, Russia, USA, and all moslim countries. A vast literature is readily accessible as a search engine will show (please check John Stuart Mill on positive and negative versions of liberty). Duplication is pointless so we summarize here only some key opinions of the platonists and democritists on these issues.


Certainty and liberty are concepts that generate positive feelings but because they are mutually exclusive, adoption requires a choice; one is free to do so. The platonist opts for the comfortable certainty of a fixed, restricted, and closed environment, the democritist prefers the liberty of a variable, comprehensive, and open world. Anarchists and capitalists disagree on what liberty means; it appears to invoke the following associations. Democritists might say that someone is free who is not a toy of someone else and vice versa. Platonists would say that freedom means the absence of obstructions to exploit others and the environment as they see fit. They replace slavery by labour, and therefore they need political inequality for all except for the ruling elites.

1. Believers hold that liberty for all is no more than wishful thinking for at least two reasons. In a stable organized society people should be subjected to the state, a church, a boss, a priest, the gods, or a principle. There must be leaders and followers. Otherwise there would be anarchy which is worse than lack of freedom. Hierarchy is needed to run an army, a factory, and a society. Even ants have understood how to organize a perfect community. Moreover humans do not want to be really free since they fervently obey any leader who claims to be one. True liberty is for managers only, not for others.

Platonic versions of liberty are not restricted by equality and platonists think the golden rule of Pittakos does not hold for everyone. Although individual liberty as a basic need was first proposed by materialists, a version of it has been made part of libertarianism, which is an ideology. The sort of freedom that libertarians claim is the right to enlarge personal property and control at the expense of others or the commons. That sort of freedom clearly promotes political inequality. Libertarists do not restrict liberty for owners or those strong enough to exploit others but only for the less powerful. The name of their ideology is therefore ill-chosen or an example of Newspeak. Libertarianism is fully compatible with theistic ideologies as shown by the republicans in the bible belt of the USA. The Chinese state party has combined a quasi-confucian version of libertarism with Ayn Rand's objectivism to form their ideology.

2. Materialists reject the platonist view on liberty as they prefer not to live as a slave or even as a slave driver. They deny that slavery is a necessary condition for social stability and consider submission to some self-appointed authority, real or imagined, an unnecessary choice. For materialists authority is founded on expertise, not on claimed power. Following the argued advice of an expert if sought-after, is not submission but sharing information. Freedom, as materialists see it, implies a high degree of equality. Both follow naturally from the basic ontological assumption of materialism which implies that life is feasible only in free bodies that are not simple robots.


In all human communities members are far from equal. Which is fine. The reasons for the inequality are physiological, anatomical, and psychological. There seem to be at least 15 different types of humans having a different anatomy, needs, properties, and goals. Each type is pigeonholed according to gender and age. Women are default humans (first recognized in writing by the Shaktisangama Tantra), women can do every job men can do and some more. Men are distorted women (every man started life as a woman). Females come in 7 characteristic types, each of which, everywhere in the world, near poles and in the tropics, in the Americas and in Eurasia, has the same properties because human bodies are alike. The seven physiological types are infants, toddlers, pupils, adolescents, mothers, grandmothers, and old invalids. Males have in addition to those seven Shakespearean age groups an extra type between adolescent and adult. Of this type are the soldiers, murderers, students, musicians, acrobats and sports champions. After this period men are fully grown up, years later than female adults. More than those age periods in a lifetime or more than two genders can be assumed but will not change the argument or the facts. A visiting martian would not find it difficult to identify them: a toddler does not look like a pensioner and a mother is quite unlike a father of the same age. Humans behave differently: children are geniuses and move a lot, the group of young men provides all criminals and likes to wage war, young women are favourite advertisement models and perennial victims owing to the strong centripetal force field around them, not only in fiction (women are never taught to defend themselves), old men are dirty old men, and old women are wise. It is the same all over the world, ethnic differences, if there are any, are culturally (arbitrarily) imposed.

Physiology makes culture and vice versa. The two genders clearly specialized during their evolution in order to collaborate more efficiently. Human dimorphism shows it: females are subtle networkers, males are coarse and more muscular than females because they specialized again in primitive fighting techniques late in their evolution. The sparse population in isolated pre-agricultural communities tried to survive during long periods of starvation, droughts and low temperatures. In order to stay alive under those circumstances, clans could not afford internal strife. Tribes run by selfish alpha males perished, those that allocated scarce food to their children instead of to their fat chiefs did not. The ancestors of modern humans almost became extinct like many other hominid species, but matriarchy seems to have saved mankind until the bronze age. Without that social experiment, at most gorillas, chimps, and orang utans would be left of all the ape species that tried to survive. In the neolithicum aggressive patriarchy took over due to novel factors, property and agriculture. But that period started only a few thousand years ago while the preceding stone age lasted millions. During evolution women have developed the hormonal patterns necessary for managing clans. The conclusion for load balancing in society is compelling: the organization of a clan should be left to women because they have the instincts, homones, and skills that are needed to run it. Something is understood if it can be made or vice versa. It follows that women are better psychologists than men since women are able to make humans. A society consists of humans so it is best made and run by those who understand them. Machos have shown their ignorance and impotence by invariably ruining the societies that they dominated. Women as clan leaders were rare in historical times but approximations of their ways have been successful. The Chinese empire was not run by emperors but by an occasional empress and many eunuchs in the Han, T'ang, Ming, and Sung dynasties, which were culturally the most productive ones in Chinese history.

In prehistory anthropoid males do not seem to have been socially very productive: man the hunter is an urban legend, man the warrior is not (but only after 3000 BCE). The most productive skill of those antisocial men was impregnating women. There were far too many males for reproduction but they could not be killed off at birth (as they now are in bioindustries) because of their contribution to genetic variation and their warfare skills in critical situations. They evolved under the same conditions as women did. Men with little else to do developed technology which helped the clan to survive in diffcult situations; their specific instincts and skills were fixed in their gene pattern. Again the conclusion is obvious: tinkering is best left to men because they developed skills to do so, perhaps as well as women. To prevent them using their nuclear bombs to kill each other, political power should be left to women.

The psychological reason why humans are materially unequal is the variation in the pattern of synaptic connections in their central nervous system. Those patterns are formed by education, history and experiences of the individual body. Everyone is unique owing to a specific combination of nurture and nature (nature is a product of nurture and vice versa). Persons in the same category (age group and gender) may have very different skills and tastes because their interactions with the environment, including others, have a different history. Synapse patterns in the brain are also shaped by cultural conditioning; therefore the associations and opinions of individuals are culturally specific. There are also differences within one culture. Obviously, people are utterly unequal.

Why then claim equality?

Materially all tailless primates (that include people) are remarkably equal, consequently so are humans. However, there are fifteen (or more) kinds of human but they have much in common. Each one of the 15 types of people is the same in all parts of the world because their body determines their capabilities. There is less genetic variation in humans than in other primate species. Materialists in the axial era and in the enlightenment were aware that everyone has the same body form and the same organs. Hence their claim. They do not deny that tastes and skills vary but differences are only wrinkles in the somatic capability within each one of the 15 types. Variations between individuals are an inevitable result of their environment and are small compared to what they have in common. An olympic sprinter can run faster than a healthy average non-athlete but only by 10% ; the difference between a golden champion and the loser with a silver medal, is negligible. What an Einstein can do more than a nitwit is small compared to what both are capable of. Memories, emotions and skills are materially anchored in organs of the body, the body is the source and aim of all activity and bodies are the same within each type of humans. In that sense all humans are equal. Biological capabilities are less characteristics of an individual than those of its age group. However in denials of equality, time is a misused device from the metaphysical toolbox: a teener is vastly superior to an oldster in many ways but a bit later the child is old and somewhat earlier the adult was superior. They are considerably equal in their entire existence. Their enormous difference exists in minor parts only. A teacher knows more than his pupil, but not a few years later. They are more equal in their entire existence. That holds for genders as well. Men are approximately equal to women, men are built less finely but from the same materials.

So much for intrinsic equality. Of course people are very different in their exosomatic part and in the eyes of others. That part is determined by the local culture and conventions, by property, relations with others, and the environment, all of which are very different all over the world. What people have, contributes to what they are supposed to be. Others determine what someone is since she has what others allow her to have. Property, the great unequalizer, exists because others permit what can be possessed. It would help equality if the neoliberal market economy would be replaced by an economy without slaves and capital owners. Equality as an ethical value in materialism does not mean a denial of differences in attributes but a rejection of individual power over others.

Well then, are people equal or not?

A pseudoquestion if only because every individual has many different conflicting personalities or essences if any. But there are opinions about it. Materialists see primarily the body while ideots prefer to see only the cloud of culture around it. Materialists argue: humans are equal, look at their body, their physiology, their genes and what they are capable of. No way, says the ideot, look at what they have and what others think of them, that makes them thoroughly different; there are clearly superior and inferior people. Evem Aristotle said so. There are four castes and a group of untouchables, says the hindu, and the karma you collect during existence determines your status after death. Yes, four types of human beings exist, believers, kaffirs, slaves, and women (slightly more valuable than camels) says the mohammedan. No not four but two says the stalinist, the proletariat and parasiting kulaks. You are what you have, say the libertarians and the capitalists, there are those who have and those who have to work. They added a third category, the managers who have neither. The ancient Greeks had free citizens, slaves, and barbarians. Feodally organized societies have a king who owns his serfs, the nobility, middle classes and lower classes. On being asked whether people are equal, platonists deny it but the reasons they give are wildly different and inconsistent. Essential inequality is the first axiom of fascists.

Liberty and equality are power and property issues. Allowing privileged elites with their idealism to dominate in a society means denying the enlightenment values.