December 16, 2008

Human freedom and the welfare of the state

As an exceptional excursion from the bounds of Eumeswil, I came across this passage in Ernst Jünger´s "An der Zeitmauer" (At the wall of time) and thought it fitted nicely into our continuing discussion of the metaphysical figure of the anarch.

(Personal translation from "An der Zeitmauer", Chapter 163)

"Freedom as a species identifier - this is to be understood as a mark of prestige. It is the mark of the chieftain, it belongs to those dignities that the few carry for the many, for all. Just as the few carry sexuality for all in state-building insects, so the few have freedom for the many in the human category. Socrates was not free for himself alone; his freedom functioned for the many, and functions until today.

Man as a species moves within the invisible mass of the iceberg, determined and instinctive; in this context of determination, intelligence, even in its sharpest expressions, can also be counted as an instinct. To bring this paradox to expression, Dostoevsky chose the "Idiot" to portray the higher type of person. Intelligence cannot create freedom, which inhabits a deeper and a higher strata; it can however fill its arsenal.

Spiritual freedom distinguishes the human species. It is found only there. Political being and state-building in contrast are not reserved to Man alone. Man lived long without states and will perhaps be capable thereof again. The state-building capacity was given to man at a certain point in his development as a formative principle, as happened also to other species.

Once connected with life, the formative principles repeat themselves. They float as germs, as possibilities in life's undifferentiated stream. This explains the constantly repeated attempts at state-building in the coelenterates, all the way from the primeval animals. Freedom in the spiritual sense first entered into the stream of life with man. From now on freedom also cannot be lost. In this respect we can concur with Hegel.

The preservation of freedom on the other hand is man's task. Since freedom distinguishes the human more distinctly than state-building, it must take precedence over the preservation of the state. The state cannot therefore guarantee freedom, but only man himself. This does not exclude that he might need the state for this goal."

Freedom is the anarch's highest prerogative, even above fraternity and equality when need be; the passage below indicates why freedom - and not the state - represents the highest goal man can aim for our in current era of global transformation, but indeed in any era. This passage can help answer the ongoing question of the right balance between state security and personal privacy/freedom.

Since however the state will for the foreseeable future have its way, we must try to act as anarchs to preserve our freedom, nay, to preserve freedom for the human species per se. Leviathan may eventually run himself up on the beach and suffocate, but in the meantime we must remember what is more important, his welfare or our unique human freedom.