On the “Tyranny of Freedom” by
Lucio Saverio-Eastmanfor AIER
As recently as early 2020, most of the world had a reasonable amount of liberty to travel across oceans, international borders, exchange goods and services, pursue an education, start and maintain a small business, and for the most part be responsible for their own lives. I experienced a healthy dose of this freedom in 2018 when I made my first ever trip to Europe, and again in 2019. Watching the world function in relative liberty, reciprocal friendship, and commerce was inspiring and motivating. Things had never been better. As we now know, that all changed suddenly. Why did we backslide so easily from the enlightenment to the dark ages?
Enter a foreign or alien invader. The sudden appearance of a pathogen and threat to our very existence; long-expected, warned about and storied over decades in historical accounts, news reports, and countless fictional tellings. Bolstered by the propaganda arm of a highly dubious foreign government, images flashed hourly across our screens showing scenes of death and chaos. It was enough to frighten an entire planet into hiding.
Despite our giant leaps forward in science, knowledge, ideas, and ability, we faltered and fell back into fear, despair, and altruism gone mad. But why such an overwhelming flight reaction when we have such an enormous vault of experience and knowledge to draw from? In the words of AIER’s founder, E.C. Harwood, it seems we have again entered what is “fundamentally a retreat from individual freedom, from responsibility and authority for each individual to the sheltering arms of an all-powerful state.” Perhaps we had too much freedom. I’m not entirely convinced that’s the answer, but it’s worth a closer look.
Parochial and Pathological Altruism by
Lucio Saverio-Eastmanfor Brownstone Institute
…take a brief look at the prisoner’s dilemma. It goes like this: Even when it seems to be in the best interest of two rational individuals to cooperate, wherein those individuals are presented with a choice between opportunity (defection) and responsibility (cooperation), it’s often difficult to come to a cooperative agreement because each person also benefits unilaterally from opportunity.
However, introducing a pathological altruist into the dilemma can wreak havoc in the cultural dynamics of small, tight-knit communities. Pathological altruists are masters at mustering social loyalty, obedience, and fealty. Their very presence and ability to organize and foster cooperation benefits the collective community even if better opportunities exist for individuals.
Just one maladaptive altruist can wipe out the disruptive advantage of opportunity by manipulating innovators and mavericks into cooperative followers. These highly charismatic individuals can project an almost messianic air, which spreads throughout the entire community. With advances in technology this dynamic can easily grow far beyond the boundaries of one’s immediate circle of influence.
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