Sheldon Richman in June 8th’s Freeman argues that freedom is indivisible. He believes that making distinctions in freedom is self-defeating, that is, we eventually lose our freedom by asserting that there are different kinds of freedom. Specifically, he argues against ‘economic freedom,’ strongly suggesting that the effort to achieve economic freedom will result in the loss of all freedom, since freedom is indivisible.
This is the same argument that the Hebrews made long ago, when Abraham turned humanity on its head and said that there was only one god, indivisible.
The world-view that there is only one of something–one answer to a math problem, one solution to a science experiment, one perfect race, one best way of thinking than all the others–is monism, and the Libertarian Party of Mr. Richman has freedom as an ideological monism, not as a philosophy. If Libertarians had freedom as a philosophy, they would instantly notice that freedom is pluralism, not monism, because of the natural bifurcation of the human mind. It takes quite an intellectual effort to close the mind’s doors and shut its windows in order to become a monist, since pluralism so obviously dominates the natural world and human childhood.
That intellectual effort at seeing only The One, or believing in the One to the exclusion of others, is grounded in the deepest human fears. It is our fears that propel the ideological monisms of nationalism, racism, and socialism–fear of the unknown, fear of an uncertain future, fear of no external meaning. Full of fear, we band together as One, the defensive position of herd-thinking against the unseen enemy around us.
Mr. Richman is entitled to his opinions about freedom, and to express them. However, the monistic world-view is forever unsatisfactory in explaining, ignoring, or wishing away the wide diversity and variety of human existence. Ultimately his argument fails because it is grounded in psychic fears, and so it is not robust or life-flourishing. To the pluralist, economic freedom is simply one of many ways to measure freedom, and if you choose to emphasize economic freedom in human affairs all of the other freedoms are not ultimately destroyed.
Did you ever notice that all apocalyptics–those with the frenzied eschatological world-view– both religious and secular, are monists?[Email comments are welcome: duoism(at)sbcglobal.net]