Freedom is Slavery, or how and why everything costs

04f August 22, 2016 -- (asphalt)

Let's begin with a selective quote from Moldbug:

What is callous altruism? Altruism itself is a piece of 20th-century jargon. We could contrast it with the original word for the same thing, obviously too Christian to prosper in our age: charity. When we say charity, of course, we think of empathic altruism.

When we think of charity, we think not just of helping others - but of helping others whom we know and love, for whom we feel a genuine, unforged emotional connection. For whom we feel, in a word, empathy. Understandably, these people tend to be those who are socially close to us. If not people we already know, they are people we would easily befriend if we met them.

Dickens, no stranger to genuine empathy, had a term for nonempathic altruism. He called it telescopic philanthropy. Who is Peter Singer? Mrs. Jellyby, with tenure.

[...]

Another source of venal satisfaction is that when you help people, or appear to help them, you become a patron. You gain ownership over them. When you help overthrow the dictator of Egypt, for example, you become in a sense the new government of Egypt. The old dictator was a strongman - the new dictator is a weakman, because he owes his job to someone else. That someone is you - the collective you, but you nonetheless. If you decide you don't like your weakman, it's easy to find another weakman.

The fear that someone, somewhere, is exercising power over someone else, is one of the most basic cues of the callous-altruist mentality. Let me kill the master and free the slave. Out of altruism! Not sadism or ambition, of course. My hands are pure.

But slavery is simply dependence, and the default state of the newly "freed" slave is to be dependent on his new master - you, because you killed the old master. So your sadism itch is scratched, because you get to kill; and your ambition itch is scratched, because you become a slavemaster.

The snippets above discuss Freedom is Slavery in the context of Western politics, i.e. whatever meddling shit Americans and their allies1 have been undertaking in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, etc. in the last few decades or so. That's all nice and good.

What Moldbug misses is that this aspect of people wilfully becoming slaves of various stuff, most of all to their own stupidity, is becoming entrenched in today's Western culture. Orwell might have gotten it right, but then again, he might have meant something else completely, so let's discuss that too.

So what does Freedom is Slavery mean? According to the definition of doublethink, the slogan is to be interpreted as freedom -- as interpreted by the average citizen -- not being actual freedom, but the exact opposite, which is... slavery, right? Well, right, only not quite. Orwell might have described it this way for the sake of satirizing some aspects of Soviet communism, but I'm not entirely sure that freedom means what he thought it does or that slavery is even a conceptual opposite. There's been a lot of discussion going on about the meaning of freedom for more than a century now, so I'm not going to go into the depths of all that; but I do want to make sure we're not making basic mistakes such as confusing freedom and right2.

Simply put, freedom can be considered the absence of constraints, as per the definition in Merriam-Webster. This may in some sense be equivalent to being freed of physical shackles, e.g. when being freed from prison, but not necessarily3, and this "not necessarily" is what's important to us. Freedom is a state of affairs as much as it is a state of mind4 and one cannot go without the other.

Additionally, freedom, or at least a doublespoken version of it, also denotes giving things away without asking for anything in return, i.e. "for free", as gratuity, etc. This meaning is also of interest to us, since it is one of the biggest pitfalls used to create slavery in nowadays' Western society.

Slavery on the other hand is in its old Aritstotelian sense not necessarily the absence of freedom as it is the presence of dependence. That is, despite what the socialist pigs might have the naïve believe, the condition of being a slave necessarily flows not only from the freedom of becoming one, but also from the slave's acceptance as well as the owner's will. So Moldbug's argument holds because he knows that freeing the average derp is not in and of itself enough, as the derp in question will have absolutely no idea what to do with said freedom and will thus fall back to his natural slave-state.

In other words, there is no such thing as "giving [someone] freedom", which follows directly from freedom being a state of mind.

So, putting the above together, we may say that slavery is, possibly among other things, the freedom of being subject to another. Assuming even that one is born a slave, then slavery is the freedom to not do anything in order to not be a slave, which is what puts some sort of approximate equivalence sign between this and the welfare state.

So, freedom, or rather free-dom -- that is, things that are for free do bear a cost, like any other thing in the observable physical Universe. The cost is that of creating a relationship in which the taker becomes dependent on the giver-away, which is also why the first dose is always free. In other words, Freedom is Slavery. There you go.

Now that we're here, let us give a few examples of Freedom is Slavery in the so-called modern Western culture.

Example the first, and my favourite. Da muthafuckin' cloud. No, all that stuff isn't for free. The trick is for you to put all your stuff on their servers instead of buying (cheap) storage for yourself, and then for them to fuck you in the ass however they want with "I have altered the deal" moments. And by the time you figure it out, switching to alternatives is much too costly to even be considered.

Example the second, and my other favourite. Software Freedom. While monsieur Stallman was no nitwit, he was pretty naïve himself by believing that people will actually read the code -- spoiler: no, they will not. Using software will almost always make one dependent on it, whether in terms of how the data is represented or what the algorithm does, etc. Now, while using proprietary software will make you dependent on companies such as Microsoft, Google or Apple, using free software makes you dependent on the nerd who's writing the goddamn code -- unless you read the code and learn to maintain it yourself, and this is quite a big unless. That's why licenses that provide the software "as-is" are the most honest of them all; they just give you the chance to fuck yourself in the ass.

Example the third. Fiat money. Classical example of a corporation offering you a good deal in social security if you let it print however much money it wants. Except it's a really bad deal, in that you're not gonna see any of those money.

Example the fourth, fifth, up to the nth. Basically any contract or agreement in which you have no say other than "I Accept"5.

And that about sums up Freedom is Slavery.


  1. Their enemies too, because why not.

  2. Just to get that out of the way: you have a freedom when you can do stuff, while you have a right when some controlling entity such as the State allows you to do stuff. So for example We tells the story of a place where people have no freedoms, but they do have certain rights, such as the right to eat, which incidentally is also an obligation established in great detail, e.g. by the amount of times one must chew their food before swallowing it.

    So in the sense of hierarchy of power, which is exactly what Moldbug discusses in his essay and what we are discussing in this one, freedom is the set of things that fall out of the state's control. This is why for example you are not granted the right to death, but you certainly have the freedom to do so, and nobody but your God can and may punish you for it.

  3. Just ask Brooks Hatlen:

    Dufresne: I just don't understand what happened in there.

    Heywood: Old man's crazy as a rat in a tin shithouse, is what.

    Red: Oh Heywood, that's enough out of you!

    Ernie: I heard he had you shittin' in your pants!

    Heywood: Fuck you!

    Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain't no bug. He's just... just institutionalized.

    Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.

    Red: The man's been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he's an important man. He's an educated man. Outside, he's nothin'! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands.

  4. Which is why in nature there is no excuse for stupidity, and why ultimately the former abhors equality.

  5. See for example Popescu's Here's what they don't tell you when they bring you those papers to sign.