Liberty is a subsidiary factor of social life; it is a derivative feature of social order, but not its source; for, social order by definition consists in constraints upon individual acts, whether through custom, or taboo, or scapegoating, or law. Social order then is the source and basis of such liberty as may be, and not vice versa.
Where there is no social order, there is no freedom to do anything but fight. This is that hypothetical State of Nature cherished analytically by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, either to disparage or valorize it. But notice that it never really happened, nor could it: man has always been a social animal, and cannot be otherwise. The most basic jot of society – i.e., sex – consists in constraints upon individual liberty; for, sex is either a mutual agreement to accept the constraints of duty to a lover, or else by rape an utter and complete constraint upon some other. Whether these constraints arise from within the social agent as the voice of his conscience, or from without as the voices of others urging him to this or that, is neither here nor there.
The zero of social order then is the zero of sex, ergo of man.
The true state of nature for man is a state of highly evolved and definite social order. His freedom of action, then, has always been constrained by social order; and that social order is in fact the basis of his freedom to opt for anything other than combat.
Under the right conditions of social order – i.e., as properly constrained and limited – liberty feeds back to that order by a broad and rational distribution of intelligent authority across the population. Distributed authority greatly increases the velocity of information processing, of decision, and of adaptation, while facilitating social coordination of acts.
Under defective conditions of social order, liberty feeds back to the destruction of that order.
The Founding Fathers of the United States erred in their emphasis on untrammeled liberty. It is a shibboleth, that cannot ever be really achieved. For, there is ever the threat of crime, or of war; of some breakdown of social order. This is why there is such a thing as Law, and Statecraft.
The Founder’s error of emphasis is historically understandable. They were reacting against a monarchical system that, beginning roughly with Philip the Fair, had run off the rails of feudal monarchy that had formerly checked the royal power (and fisc). The option for government by a standing national bureaucracy of ministers rather than by an occasional council of fell and independent noble men had unmoored the monarchy – had liberated it – from its former ground in a system of distributed power founded upon baronial arms and the estates – i.e., the villages of families all more or less related – that they defended against all comers. Monarchy then began to lose its loyalty to the land and to the people who lived therein; to the familiar relations that form the atomic basis of any nation, properly so called. It became tyrannical. The Rebellion of the Founders was a reaction to the tyrannical depravation of the monarchy. But it threw out the baby with the bath water, as revolutions are wont to do.
Because the liberty formally established by the Constitution is a shibboleth, that cannot ever be maintained in practice, it began to break down almost the instant it was formally instituted. Franklin told his interlocutor in Philadelphia that the Congress had given the United States a republic, “if we can keep it.” We did not keep it.
We have social order. We don’t have the liberty sought by the Sons of Liberty. Nor even do we have still the liberty we enjoyed as freemen under King George. We are now almost all reduced to conditions of servitude far more onerous and base than any that so irked the American Revolutionaries. But nor for that matter do we have the social order the Sons of Liberty enjoyed when they were still subjects of the King. We have something less than both, as improperly constrained liberty has fed back to social disorder.
Because we have strayed from proper constraints on liberty, Western culture is stuck in a vicious cycle, a positive feedback circuit. We are more and more free to behave in ways that are uncongenial to good social order – that are objectively improper to reality – and we are less and less free to behave in ways that are in fact congenial to good social order, and proper to reality. Such is anarcho-tyranny. The more that things go crazy, the more do we grasp at rules by which to order life; but if the rules we then deploy are crazed by our craziness, their operations cannot but madden us the more.
Things that can’t go on forever, don’t. Positive feedback circuits always somehow crash – or else, just slowly wear out due to the friction and heat of overload.
That may have begun to happen. We seem of a sudden to have entered a period of social liquescence, in which everything is up for grabs, and for reinvention. The Overton Window has been dismantled across more and more of the West. It is a bit more smashed with every passing day. The taboos and scapegoating of political correctness deployed by social justice warriors seem to be losing their sting. The traditional culture of the West, that formed the basis in customs and taboos of its formal, legal and bureaucratic evolutions, has forcefully reasserted itself, and is repudiating the last fifty years of progressive innovations.
Even the innovations of the last 300 years are now under intense scrutiny.
The rage, depression, and fear now exploding on the Left are the psychological manifestations of their gut realization that the sacred authority of their cult has vanished along with its credibility, and that their social power therefore dwindles. They understand that they are losing the Mandate of Heaven, and see that they are in danger of becoming the out castes, the scapegoats.
My personal hunch is that the positive feedback loop of anarcho-tyrannical progressivism passed the threshold of insustainability with the Federal injunction that men should be allowed to use women’s restrooms, in which toleration of pedophilia is implicit. At least in America, that seems to have been the practical reductio ad absurdum of the progressive ideology. In Europe, the Muslim invasion exemplified in the Rape of Cologne seems to have been the occasion that triggered the preference cascade.