The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Will You or Won't You?

The title is misleading. It's really about free will. We don't ever talk about "free won't", though, do we?

But free will also includes free won't. In other words, free will includes the ability to say "no." I had a friend back in the Navy who offered this, "Everyone is actually free, even a slave can say 'no.'" I thought about that and decided that he was correct, technically. The slave who says "no", however, risks his/her life for exercising that freedom. Freedom is constricted in any society, more so in/for some than for others. It is constricted by consent of those who are willing to remain a part of a society.

My own stint in the Navy taught me a lot about the concept of freedom. I was not free. I had agreed to a period of servitude in which I gave up my freedom; similar to being a bonded servant. I was not forced into it, I did so freely of my own accord. Except that I didn't, really. You see, the draft was active at the time and we were engaged in a war in Vietnam. My only real alternative was to take a chance on getting drafted at some point. Getting drafted would mean being forced into the Army, essentially at gunpoint.

Let me give you another thing I once heard that same Navy friend (let's call him "Herb" since that is his name) once argued with another shipmate. He argued that we were not free in the United States. His opponent disagreed. Herb said that if we were truly free, there would be no draft. His opponent tried to counter that we needed the draft in order to man the military which protects our freedom. Herb simply pointed out the obvious contradiction in that concept. But that didn't end the argument. Herb finally walked away as the opponent suggested he was engaging in sedition. And, under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), that was a crime. So, Herb withdrew before his opponent decided to report him for it.  Proving that we certainly had little or no freedom of speech while in the service.

But I want to talk about free will; do we have it or do we not? if we feel coerced into a decision, did we exercise free will or did we acceded to pressure? My decision to enlist was coerced by the circumstances of the times but my decision to enlist in the Navy was unfettered. Basically, I thought of it this way: If I had to serve, I wanted to decide which branch I would serve. Let's call this "limited" free will.

And, if I believe (as I do), that we are "wired" by genetics to filter external stimuli in a certain way ("he's just like his father") and programmed to react in specific ways by family (based on societal "norms), can I still believe in free will? I can... but perhaps it would be foolish to do so.

No comments: