Can you free a dependent?

One of my biggest frustrations with moving between old books – and old thinking – and modern thinking is that modern thinkers really like to draw categorical distinctions between things that make these things seem separate, even where they’re not separate.

For example, I don’t think it’s possible to separate freedom and dependency without both concepts losing meaning.

To make the example more concrete, in response to one of my posts on freedom, Aretae wants to categorize freedom and to draw clear distinctions between freedom, dependency and license. While these distinctions might be clever, the problem is that they don’t really exist. Unfortunately, modern philosophy basically consists of the practice of drawing such distinctions and then drawing conclusions from the distinctions you’ve created.

Freedom – whether it be negative or positive – is always constrained. Reality intrudes in many ways. No one, in world that includes other people – has completely unconstrained freedom.

Also – and if I’m wrong this is why – I cannot conceive of a "free dependent." My son is 4 months old. To discuss his freedom is absurd because of his dependence. The concepts are inseparable.

The sad fact of reality is that:

many Californians – certainly millions – are financial liabilities. These areunproductive citizens. Their place on the balance sheet is on the right.

. . .

The low-browed man of 70 (and remember – for every 130, there is a 70) may still require special supervision. Besides a job, he needs a patron. Productivity he has, but direction and discipline he still requires. His patron may be a charity, or a profitable corporation, or even – gasp – an individual.

In the last case, of course, we have reinvented slavery. Gasp!

This is also how I conceptualize dependency. People who consume more than they produce need a patron – reality demands it. The framework in which this patron is one person is slavery – according to modern thinking this is the tell-tale sign of unfreedom. Again, even at the root of the modern definition of freedom, we find a connection between dependency and freedom.

In modern thinking, these people are "freed" by giving them a new patron. This is freedom only in the sense that it gives the Progressive a warm feeling. In no meaningful way does it correspond to actual freedom.

Understood this way, then, Moldbug says almost precisely the opposite of:

Ethics is not part of the political discussion. And autonomy is good for folks-like-me, not for everyone. Odious. Like the neo-cons. Like the state deparment "realists". And like historical apologists for slavery. Lots of pretty words, all of which say, "fuck the others and their preferences…the important folks are folks like me".

Ethics is a key part of it. To "free" someone who is incapable of exercising freedom is not a blessing but a curse. Attempting to do so makes a mockery of truth and justice and can only lead to disorder. It seems to me that the only ethical standard that "freeing the dependent" serves is to make the Progressive feel good about himself. So, if lying to yourself to make you feel good is ethical, then we’ve achieved something ethical. I suspect that such a situation is not ethical.

Instead of saying "the important folks are just like me," the intent is to say that, "the standard that works for me is not applicable to every human."

Indeed, the more I think about my differences with people the more it all comes down to HBD.


15 Responses to Can you free a dependent?

  1. Handle says:

    You could “free” your pets, which are your living property, but without the direction and patronage of their master, they would quickly starve or survive through wild, feral predation. You could also “free” your children in precisely the same way with the same results.

    The spectrum of maturity is so broad that some adults have less than average child and some children have more than the average adult. Maturity, intelligence, and self-mastery are all correlated.

    The relevant social question is “What do we do with the lower adults?”

  2. Even people who are economically productive aren’t really truly “independent”. For example, a steelworker living in a steel town might be net positively productive, but only in the context of working in that steel mill. Thus he too is dependent on the steel mill. I was reading in “Albion’s Seed” that the old cavaliers had a definition of “independence” by which you were only truly independent if you had enough land and subordinate laborers to maintain your household. This definition of “independence” has its logic to it. I see “freedom” and “independence” as being some a continuum, with bound galley slave being on one end, and the large scale owner of capital at the other end.

  3. Buckethead says:

    It’s essentially the same thought behind the idea of “f*ck you money.” When you have sufficient resources that no one can screw with you, you’re independent. (Of course that is also contingent on there being a society that allows you to use that money, etc.)

    Not many people are independent in this sense. I think Aretae, in separating out autonomy, might be on to something, though. Think of it in terms of sovereignty – an autonomous region manages its affairs, but only within a certain, circumscribed regime. But it is still dependent on the larger realm, and subject to it outside that area of its autonomy. Why is it still dependent? Many reasons, to be sure. Most commonly perhaps, military defense.

    I am autonomous, in that I manage my own affairs. I decide the education of my children, how I spend my money, where I live and so on. But I am not independent – I am dependent on employers for wages, civil government, the law.

    Foseti is in something like the lower nobility, a baronet with his permanent position in the government. I am a tradesman, not a serf, but I have neither real independence or assurance of place.

  4. […] Foseti – “Who is Free in 21st Century America?“, “Gender Roles“, “On Regulators from the Left and Right“, “Game, Set, Match: HBD“, “Can You Free a Dependent?” […]

  5. sconzey says:

    Just my £0.02: I have an essay going up at the TFA (when the admin gets around to it…) on this very subject, albeit I take a slightly different tack to you.

    I was reading Man, Economy and State and Rothbard made an (I felt) arbitrary distinction between free and forced labour. He says when A forces B to perform a task on threat of violence B’s labour is unfree (which is bad mmmkay).

    I could see no qualitative descriptive difference however, between A being a man with a gun, and A being a wild animal that must be placated with daily offerings of meat. From the perspective of B there is no difference.

    Morally, there is a clear difference. Morally, A is wrong to use force to exploit B, but our moral judgement is external to the description of the facts of the matter.

    • Foseti says:

      Interesting. Moldbug has a post in which he disagrees with Rothbard initial premise, which is that no one can sell themselves into slavery. Basically, he argues that slavery – under contractually agreed upon conditions – may be a pretty good deal for some people.

  6. Gian says:

    So you dont believe when they say
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  7. rightsaidfred says:

    Looks like a “define your terms” type of argument.

    For example, we are all dependent on past and future sunshine for our existence, so our “freedom” is contingent on what the sun gives us. The Sun is the ultimate master. Make your sacrifices accordingly.

    • Sardonic_sob says:

      Dreamer’s Law of Argument: “All arguments are about definitions. The person who gets to set the definitions wins.”

  8. Gian says:

    From UR:
    The combination of calculated market distortion and private patronage, therefore, is the King’s primary approach to the Dire Problem. By carefully chosen technical restrictions and the like, he can sculpt a labor demand which roughly approximates the actual labor supply. By finding patrons for those not responsible enough to be responsible for themselves, he ensures that these individuals have direction as well as productive value.

    Does it not run into the Socialist Calculation Problem?

  9. Laban says:

    “The framework in which this patron is one person is slavery”

    Not necessarily. Is the wealthy Victorian squire who ensures that the village simpleton has a lodging or cottage, and finds suitable work for him to do, a slave owner ?

    In the UK members of the travelling community are (allegedly) turning homeless alcoholics into useful members of society by reintroducing slavery :

    “The allegation is that the defendants offered accommodation and work to vulnerable homeless individuals then moved them into virtually uninhabitable caravans. They then required them to do manual work for excessive hours for payments of no more than £20 a day and in some cases no payment at all. They were given minimal amounts of food. Movements are restricted, mobile phones are not allowed and victims are kept in fear of reprisals if they attempt to leave. Identity and benefit documents are removed from them for so called safe keeping….

    Men would be forced to work for up to 14 hours a day and moved from location to location around the country, he said. ‘Many of the victims are homeless alcoholics, the most vulnerable persons in society.’

    Mr Dono said police observed 22 alleged slaves living at Beggar’s Roost caravan site. They were sent to work in Worcestershire and the West Midlands tarmacking and block paving driveways. ‘It is clear from police videos that the slaves have minimal clothing, they are always dirty and disheveled, they look extremely unhappy and thee is evidence of members of the Connors family at the locations in charge of the workers.’

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