Discover more from Culturcidal by John Hawkins
There Can be No Freedom Without Order
Allowing disorder to develop is dangerous for a Republic.
Navy Seal Jocko Willink has a book called, Discipline Equals Freedom. To a lot of people, that might not make a lot of sense since in their minds, those seem to be almost opposing concepts. To them, “freedom” may be little more than being unrestrained to do whatever you want to do while on the other hand, they associate discipline with hard-assed drill instructors screaming at recruits to make their beds, shine their shoes, and go run twenty miles.
In other words, they think the more disciplined you are, the less freedom you have to do what you really want to do. However, is that really true?
No, it’s not.
That’s because like it or not, not only is life a series of trade-offs, but our freedom has all sorts of built-in limitations on it that we seldom consider. Those limitations involve time, money, physical condition, skills, and connections among other things, and they play out in a wide variety of ways.
For example, I’ve walked up the steps into the Statue of Liberty’s head. There are a lot of steps involved and you need a certain level of fitness to do it. If you have been disciplined enough to develop that level of fitness, you have the freedom to do that activity.
On the other hand, I’ve been on trips where I had the opportunity to do something that could best be described as a mix of an intense hike and low-level mountain climbing. Guess what? I wasn’t sure that I was fit enough to do that, so I didn’t have the freedom to do it. Someone extremely fit could have done both and others have let themselves go to the point where they wouldn’t have the freedom to go on any kind of hike.
Financially, a kid who lives with his parents, works all summer during high school, and makes several hundred dollars with no real expenses has different options. He can burn through each paycheck on video games, comic books, snacks, and pizza or he can be disciplined enough to save the money all summer. If he goes that route, at the end of the summer, he will have hundreds of dollars that he can continue to save, or he alternately has the freedom to spend that money on a big purchase that he will really enjoy like a vacation or a bike. His discipline gives him more options and more freedom.
Of course, it can be even simpler than that. Steve Jobs rather famously wore the same clothing every day. Why? Because the human brain has a limited amount of willpower and decision-making capability in a day. If he was disciplined enough to take that decision off the table every day, it gave him the freedom to use that decision-making capability on something presumably more important at Apple:
It’s important to explain all of this because many Americans, particularly liberal Americans (cough, cough), don’t realize that freedom and order are tied together for society in the same way that discipline and freedom are tied together for the individual.
You say you have freedom of movement? Okay, well can you feel safe walking down your street at midnight? Can you walk down that street a few blocks over, you know, on the “wrong side of the tracks?” Do you have the freedom to let your kid go out and play in your yard without worrying about gangs, drug dealers, or homeless people getting them? Can the taxpayers walk down the streets they pay to fix without having to step over bums sleeping on the sidewalk or in human filth? If you are not in a safe area, you have a lot less freedom of movement than you think.
Do you have freedom of speech? You do? Well, assuming you aren’t advocating for pedos, Nazis, or terrorism, can you basically say what you really think on social media that dominates our discourse today? Can your kids tell the truth in school? At college, can you bring in a speaker who holds your views without them being threatened or screamed down? Are you in a position where you can be demonized, fired, or intimidated just for publicly expressing mainstream political views outside of work? Ask yourself those questions and then ask yourself how much freedom of speech you really have?
Do you have the freedom to run a business? You do? Okay, well can your business be arbitrarily shut down for months because government officials think it’s not an “essential business” like say, Home Depot? Are shoplifters punished or are they allowed to steal from your business at will while you’re not allowed to stop them? If you’re a landlord, can the government put an eviction moratorium in place that drives you into bankruptcy while simultaneously rewarding the tenant for stealing from you? If that’s the case, how much freedom to run a business do you really have?
When you handcuff the police and allow criminals to run wild, you reduce the freedom of your businesses and citizens. When you allow a heckler’s veto on college campuses and turn a blind eye to bad behavior, the other students have less freedom as a result. When government officials, like the officials in New York City or in some cases, the DOJ, are allowed to engage in purely political prosecutions, it reduces the amount of freedom conservatives have in our country. Riots, looting, protests blocking streets, broken supply chains, teachers trying to radicalize kids, questions about whether votes are being counted honestly, massive shifts in the money supply, and a general sense that no one knows what’s coming tomorrow, but that it’s probably worse than today. All these things contribute to a sense of disorder.
On top of all that, Democrats in this country are openly talking about getting rid of the filibuster for legislation in the Senate and stacking the Supreme Court, which would lead to wild shifts in our legislation and laws generally depending on which political party is in control – well, at least for a while, until one party or the other rewrote the rules to permanently cement themselves in power.
Yes, a society can indeed overemphasize order to the point where it stifles freedom. That is a genuine concern, but while everyone seems to be aware of that possibility, most people seem unaware of the way that a lack of order can also just as surely destroy freedom. This is an area where balance matters and at the moment, we’ve gone way too far towards disorder as a society.
This is what anarchists get so wrong. Yes, a slave or a prisoner isn’t free, but neither is an anarchist because, without a functional, orderly society, everyone is playing by Mad Max rules. What’s yours today, including your property, your family, and your life, is mine tomorrow if I can show up with more armed men than you.
For an individual, an organization, an economy, a society, or a nation to thrive, it needs order and consistent, across-the-board rules that apply to everyone. If standards are inconsistent and the rules are ever-changing, it creates disorder and lessens freedom. This is not a small matter because history has shown us time and time again that even if people care about freedom, if they feel like they are being forced to choose between order and freedom, they will ultimately choose order.
Mussolini was a monster, but do you know what he was complimented for endlessly in the early part of his rule? He supposedly, “made the trains run on time”:
At one time the Italian railroad system was notorious for the un-reliability of its daily schedules, prompting the widely repeated story that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who ruled from 1922 to 1945, made "the trains ran on time." During the fascist era, railroads and port facilities were improved, and airfields and a modern highway system were built. Because military considerations were paramount, the greater part of this construction was in the strategically important northern part of the country.
Some have argued that this claim is more myth than reality, that Mussolini was disingenuous in taking credit for the changes since much of the repair work had been performed before Mussolini and the fascists came to power in 1922. It is said that the claim was largely propaganda to counteract critics of the regime. Montagu and Darling wrote: "Mussolini may have done many brutal and tyrannical things; he may have destroyed human freedom in Italy; he may have murdered and tortured citizens whose only crime was to oppose Mussolini; but 'one had to admit' one thing about the Dictator: he 'made the trains run on time.'"
We should all recognize that the best way to maximize our level of freedom would be to continue to do it as part of a Republic. However, if we continue to allow our country and our culture to slide deeper into disorder and chaos, not only will we be less free, we should also be aware that history tells us that the American people will move back toward order one way or the other.