In the first part of this post written lastnight several things were established:
- The ordinary definition of “freedom” does not actually mean freedom at all, only the illusion of freedom insomuch as choice in one’s particular form of enslavement to one’s desires or bodily functions.
- True freedom, a la liberation from one’s lower nature, is not something which is some universal “right” all human beings are born with, in fact it is a state of being which only a small elite of people can actively realise, typically through ultra-elitist philosophy, ascesis or religious experience.
- The faux-freedom which is the primary crutch for liberalism and individualism has facilitated, through the untrue notion that no man is beholden to anything prior to himself, the destruction of European nation-states as well as the interior forms of Europeans themselves.
Tonight I wanted to further explain these points — particularly the second — and squeeze a bit more out of this topic more generally.
As has been noted before, the modern sees anything which imposes itself upon him as an antagonism, as an oppression, as an act of near-violence. The “just be yourself” mentality encapsulates this, though it also speaks of a much deeper, much more profound idea. The Greek phrase οὶκειοπραγία (oik-eio-pra-gia), “to each his own,” mirrors this idea of self-determination, that each individual person is differentiated from others, the moral-emotional presuppositions which underpin either phrase are strongly differentiated.
The former presupposes that the individual is free to go his own way simply by virtue of his being himself, that as he is his own person — at least to his own mind — he alone is fit to be his own judge and thus any externality which would attempt to coerce or guide him is not justified to do so. It is a term which implies that, simply because man is that questioning or challenging any extension of this is problematic. The latter presupposes a deeper truth, that due to the differentiation of people we all have our own way which lies irrespective of “freedom” as due to the innate differences between individuals our paths are as such. Οὶκειοπραγία also means “to mind one’s affairs,” insomuch as implying a duty, not a right but personal responsibility. The former is universal as all men “are themselves,” while the latter is particular as it takes into consideration one’s actions, and implies circumstantialism. In short, the former notion belongs to the world of quantity, the latter to quality.
What is most interesting about the “reign of quantity,” as René Guénon would put it, is the sheer decline of properness, of conformity to that which is best-suited to the person and their abilities. Instead of a genuine particularism realised in the social order, there is only a bland one-size-fits-all universalism parading as good for everyone, which attempts to awkwardly play the part of a serious reasoning or designator.
The Greeks who used that term, οὶκειοπραγία, lived in a hierarchical society. There was an understood definition between boy and man, between warrior and priest, and between the feminine and masculine. Being free, or having choice, was inferior to what that choice fundamentally was — one cannot help but be reminded of Martin Heidegger‘s opinion that the modern world is plagued not by a loss of metaphysics as the Traditionalists would assert, but that it is plagued by the opposite. The modern notion of a man’s freedom or individuality simply rests in the very Being of the man, whereas the proper designation for man’s particularism rests in its specific actualisation. Some men are workers, some are warriors, some are priests, as Plato noted:
- Productive (Workers) — the labourers, carpenters, plumbers, masons, merchants, farmers, ranchers, etc. These correspond to the “appetite” part of the soul.
- Protective (Warriors or Guardians) — those who are adventurous, strong and brave; in the armed forces. These correspond to the “spirit” part of the soul.
- Governing (Rulers or Philosopher Kings) — those who are intelligent, rational, self-controlled, in love with wisdom, well suited to make decisions for the community. These correspond to the “reason” part of the soul and are very few.
A philosophical assertion has of course its logical aspect, but so does it have a lower emotional aspect which leads to petty moralism based upon the assertion’s implications or wider construings. Exempli gratia one could say that that is a truth that human beings are all differing in their capabilities and experiences, thus there can never be some absolute universal egalitarianism; but one then means to say that equality is utopian, inequality is here to stay — and what then entails as also here to stay? Exploitation? Slavery? Genocide? The majority of people tend to naturally relativise ideas as to contextualise them so they are more plainly understood in the moment, and they will often do this, as should come as no surprise, within the contemporary zeitgeist with all its political and other presuppositions.
It should come as no surprise that a growing number of Europeans are seeking οὶκειοπραγία — purpose, meaning, value, context, form, station — after feeling the empty burn of “just being themselves.” Particularism implies hierarchy; quality — which is exactly what mass notions of freedom antagonise and endanger. Under the proxy of equality every standard has to be lowered for the blandest, one-size-fits-all definition of freedom to be applied to all. In reality, not everyone is fit for freedom. Some barely notice it, many abuse it, and no-one important seems to care.
The truest sense of freedom, of boundlessness, lies in fulfilling one’s potential within a known and trusted set of boundaries — this was known to premodern man. It was the realisation of purpose, of tangible meaning. In our present context, however, one is drowned with an infinite number of equally dull possibilities.