Industrial Society and its Future
THE NATURE OF FREEDOM
93. We are going to argue that industrial-technological society cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing the sphere of human freedom. But because “freedom” is a word that can be interpreted in many ways, we must first make clear what kind of freedom we are concerned with.
94. By “freedom” we mean the opportunity to go through the power process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate activities, and without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially from any large organization. Freedom means being in control (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) of the life-and-death issues of one's existence; food, clothing, shelter and defense against whatever threats there may be in one's environment. Freedom means having power; not the power to control other people but the power to control the circumstances of one's own life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness (see paragraph 72).
For example, nudity, sexuality, life style, beliefs… One cannot today go nude in public, even natural functions as breast-feeding is a controversy debated in the media and settled in courts. One cannot, for instance, have multiple wifes or husbands. Polygamous or polyandry are illegal in most technological nations. (they are often the normal practice in non-technological nations.) Most technologically advanced nations also have mores and laws about legal age for copulation, often set many years after puberty. This is a phenomenon unprecedented a mere one or two century ago. Tech society set standards for ingestible items for everyone. Alcohol and cannabis are two items constantly in limelight. Parent child relation and education is also scrutinized by modern societies predominantly influenced by Western thoughts, so as to form one single ethical standard. For example, Chinese cultural practice of beating/punishing children by both parents or teachers are crimes in USA. In California, USA today, a parent cannot leave a child in a car temporarily without fearing of being prosecuted for child-abuse.
Same sex copulation and copulation behaviors such as fucking in the ass, are not activities that can be freely pursued. Natural affection development are also often outlawed outright if the couple works at the same place.
Another example: in modern society, often one runs into problem or frustrations with organizations, private or government. Suppose there's a public record about you that is incorrect, or you were categorized into the wrong group. Unless one is wealthy and can find channels of lawers or the right method to solve the problem, often one simply give up and do nothing. For example, suppose in USA today airport security treated you in a way out of bounds, the course of action for most citizens is to just forget it.
All these mores and modern society ethics only came on within the last one hundred years, and only in technologically advanced nations. To a average citizen in a tech nation, it may seem a moral outrage if someone fucks another under 18 or any of the activities cited above, but such average citizen knows nothing about the history of human behaviors or behaviors outside of his locality and time. As a person, one cannot be required to know history, sociology, anthropology, or numerous academic subjects that's remote to living, and one doesn't really care. Ironically, modern society is also too busy with industrial development and other concerns to educate its people for anything other than industrial development.
95. It is said that we live in a free society because we have a certain number of constitutionally guaranteed rights. But these are not as important as they seem. The degree of personal freedom that exists in a society is determined more by the economic and technological structure of the society than by its laws or its form of government. ✲1  Most of the Indian nations of New England were monarchies, and many of the cities of the Italian Renaissance were controlled by dictators. But in reading about these societies one gets the impression that they allowed far more personal freedom than our society does. In part this was because they lacked efficient mechanisms for enforcing the ruler's will: There were no modern, well-organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communications, no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of information about the lives of average citizens. Hence it was relatively easy to evade control.
96. As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of freedom of the press. We certainly don't mean to knock that right: it is very important tool for limiting concentration of political power and for keeping those who do have political power in line by publicly exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it's more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we've had to kill people.
97. Constitutional rights are useful up to a point, but they do not serve to guarantee much more than what could be called the bourgeois conception of freedom. According to the bourgeois conception, a “free” man is essentially an element of a social machine and has only a certain set of prescribed and delimited freedoms; freedoms that are designed to serve the needs of the social machine more than those of the individual. Thus the bourgeois's “free” man has economic freedom because that promotes growth and progress; he has freedom of the press because public criticism restrains misbehavior by political leaders; he has a rights to a fair trial because imprisonment at the whim of the powerful would be bad for the system. This was clearly the attitude of Simon Bolivar. To him, people deserved liberty only if they used it to promote progress (progress as conceived by the bourgeois). Other bourgeois thinkers have taken a similar view of freedom as a mere means to collective ends. Chester C. Tan, “Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 202, explains the philosophy of the Kuomintang leader Hu Han-min: “An individual is granted rights because he is a member of society and his community life requires such rights. By community Hu meant the whole society of the nation.” And on page 259 Tan states that according to Carsum Chang (Chang Chun-mai, head of the State Socialist Party in China) freedom had to be used in the interest of the state and of the people as a whole. But what kind of freedom does one have if one can use it only as someone else prescribes? FC's conception of freedom is not that of Bolivar, Hu, Chang or other bourgeois theorists. The trouble with such theorists is that they have made the development and application of social theories their surrogate activity. Consequently the theories are designed to serve the needs of the theorists more than the needs of any people who may be unlucky enough to live in a society on which the theories are imposed.
There are many cultural practices that technological nations find unacceptable. For example, the way females are regarded in many Middle East countries. However, over there much of it is normal, and even guarded by local women themselves. Who is to say what state of affairs are normal and what are unfree? Suppose by some magical means one is to force a decade of university coursework in history, anthropology, sociology, psychology… upon every modern citizen. After which, will you suddenly realize that you don't have much freedom today at all? will you be thankful of these teachings being forced upon you that made you see the world in a new way?
98. One more point to be made in this section: It should not be assumed that a person has enough freedom just because he SAYS he has enough. ✲2 Freedom is restricted in part by psychological control of which people are unconscious, and moreover many people's ideas of what constitutes freedom are governed more by social convention than by their real needs. For example, it's likely that many leftists of the oversocialized type would say that most people, including themselves are socialized too little rather than too much, yet the oversocialized leftist pays a heavy psychological price for his high level of socialization.
16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. We quote from “Violence in America: Historical and Comparative perspectives,” edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, pages 476-478:
The progressive heightening of standards of property, and with it the increasing reliance on official law enforcement (in 19th century America). . .were common to the whole society. . .[T]he change in social behavior is so long term and so widespread as to suggest a connection with the most fundamental of contemporary social processes; that of industrial urbanization itself. . .
Massachusetts in 1835 had a population of some 660,940, 81 percent rural, overwhelmingly preindustrial and native born. It's citizens were used to considerable personal freedom. Whether teamsters, farmers or artisans, they were all accustomed to setting their own schedules, and the nature of their work made them physically dependent on each other. . .Individual problems, sins or even crimes, were not generally cause for wider social concern. . .
But the impact of the twin movements to the city and to the factory, both just gathering force in 1835, had a progressive effect on personal behavior throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. The factory demanded regularity of behavior, a life governed by obedience to the rhythms of clock and calendar, the demands of foreman and supervisor. In the city or town, the needs of living in closely packed neighborhoods inhibited many actions previously unobjectionable.
Both blue- and white-collar employees in larger establishments were mutually dependent on their fellows. as one man's work fit into another's, so one man's business was no longer his own. “The results of the new organization of life and work were apparent by 1900, when some 76 percent of the 2,805,346 inhabitants of Massachusetts were classified as urbanites. Much violent or irregular behavior which had been tolerable in a casual, independent society was no longer acceptable in the more formalized, cooperative atmosphere of the later period. . .The move to the cities had, in short, produced a more tractable, more socialized, more 'civilized' generation than its predecessors.”
If copyright problems make it impossible for this long quotation to be printed, then please change Note 16 to read as follows:
16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. In "Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives," edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, it is explained how in pre-industrial America the average person had greater independence and autonomy than he does today, and how the process of industrialization necessarily led to the restriction of personal freedom.