I could leave this post at that, “there is no such thing as freedom.” It says it all. But I know that this statement will be misunderstood by most, and many will disagree with it.
Let me start by saying that this is what I believe and I hope you can prove me wrong. In the interest of brevity, I will only touch on these ideas. Additionally, I’m not very interested in wild conspiracy theories. Everything here is based on things I know for sure and my observation of the world, I try to make a clear delineation between known facts and my own speculations.
Everything we think, every decision we make, every action we take is based on the past. And this past is created by a huge, complicated web of you, family, religion, school, society, laws, political systems, the natural world… what did I leave out? There is a large group of diverse forces pulling at your mind at all times. Even when you think you’re making an independent decision, no matter how “random” or contrary, you’re not.
Krishnamurti believed it was actually possible to be free. Even if it was possible to free the mind, however, there is still the need to eat, stay warm, not get eaten by wild animals, avoid accident, and breath… That seems like a definite cage.
I don’t believe the power elite (those who hold all the money and power in the world) are free either. Of course, I’m not one of them, so I can’t say for sure. I think, however, that they have accepted their slavery and like a matador controls the movements of a bull, the power elite attempt to control the movements of society in desperate attempts to maintain their power. Like the matador, they only control trends and movements, but not the beast itself.
People like Edward Bernays knew about this. Using the knowledge pioneered by his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays created the public relations industry whose sole purpose is to essentially trick us into wanting something. Used mainly to sell us products we don’t need, it can also be used to sway public opinion about nearly anything.
Foucault believed that where there is knowledge, there is also power. That’s not to only say that knowledge is power, but the powerful seek to control knowledge to control the rest of us. Perhaps this is why nearly all of our media is controlled by large corporations, the tools of the power elite.
Further, and this is more speculation, I think the desire for power and vast wealth is simply a mutation of our survival instinct, the result of a broken mind drowning in unhappiness and fear.
The idea of the panopticon (which I also learned about through Foucault), a circular structure designed by Jeremy Bentham to make it possible to watch everyone in it at all times, has become more than just a building. Most of us have come to the point where our every move is documented online – the internet and our many connections to it through gps, social media, and standard surveillance serves as a modern panopticon in which all of us live.
Still, though I believe that there is no such thing as freedom, I don’t believe that any person, or group of people is capable of completely controlling us. I think the forces that drive us may be partially understood and used by the elite, but the totality is beyond them as recent elections and movements like Occupy and the rising of protests all over the world seem to prove. This system, made of multiple diverse elements that all play on our minds and instincts in complex ways is not yet within anyone’s control… I hope…