Fragment 143, word count: 447.
The Franks, Goths, Angles, and Saxons and a number of other groups came overland into western Europe around the fourth century, colonizing and displacing indigenous peoples there who had previously been colonized and were now abandoned by the imperial Romans. Somewhat over a thousand years later, from the sixteenth century, descendants of those Goths, Franks, Angles, and Saxons, now fully Christianized European imperialists, subjected the indigenous peoples of America and many other places to the same assaults with new weapons. Deja vu all over again. There is an essential racism at the core of such violence, an idea of superiority which licenses any brutality. That idea of hierarchy derived from the macro-parasitism of herding culture on the Great Eurasian Steppe. Subjected people were perceived as livestock. In both colonizations there was a profound contempt for empathy which defined a (Kantian) lawlessness and ensured that the supreme value would be personal fighting ability and a culture of organized fighting which came to define masculinity. In that situation, it is the strongest who claim rights to anything that might count as a trophy, not just property but lives. Without empathy, rights (and everything else) belong to the strongest, and frontier freedom is the assertion of the superiority of the strongest and the unlimited rights of superior beings. Theirs is a parasitic freedom that creates and depends on slavery and murder. The American idea of freedom grounded in the freedom of the old western frontier is identical to a romantic idea of medieval feudalism in western Europe and expresses a cultural memory of that experience *. Frontier freedom (no taxes, no regulations, private guns) is the freedom of the marauder. This idea of freedom in which strength in combat and competition defines rights is still a living force in cultures of value and wealth based on consumption and trophy property, conspicuous in normal operations of corporations and generally in investor supremacist capitalism.
These cultural experiences have inspired a certain idea of human nature as a blank slate, an inherent problem (of non-existence craving existence) overcome more or less successfully by projection of a self-image using external consumables, properties, and the conflicts to possess such things. The strongest or fittest are revealed by the quantity and sparkle of the properties they conquer. This is the metaphysics of patriarchy, propaganda for the romantic idea that the strongest are legitimate sovereigns. However, human nature and freedom are really quite different. Human nature is the spontaneous creation of freedom at the level of the embodied individual, a creation that is interior to the individual as ideality. This universally inherent freedom of the individual is invisible to anyone conceiving psychology without conceiving ideality.
* Compare Chapter 8, ‘The Frontier’, pp. 103-117, in: A Vanished World : Medieval Spain’s Golden Age of Enlightenment, written by Christopher Lowney, Published by Free Press (2005), ISBN: 0743243595.
Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.