Freedom Exists, and it Makes it’s Demands

1. There is no foundational normativity, no way I can convince you objectively that Freedom is better than Order, no way I can settle those counts and disabuse you of your certainties, then that in which I do, pragmatically; that is, in just a way that happens to be, and that neither you nor I could adjudicate as Correct in the court at the end of time.

2. Norms serve purposes. They are social technologies, enabling us to intervene in our processes of relational self-composition. Solidarity does not exist outside the practice of the dominated classes. They cannot know they Act for God, and that they are solely Right. They can only know that that affective disposition and arrangement of agents it produces is necessary for the reduction of their suffering.

3. If I want to convince someone of that solidarity, I must appeal to argumentative strategies present in the field of discourse, empirical observations, practical advances, and reference to their interests, both real and perceived. If this distinction seems untenable, that is because it is considered ontologically rather than hermeneutically. First, If an agent says they are content with their domination, but then finds themselves aghast at scenarios whose correct cause, properly mediated, is that domination, it is reasonable to take the original admission as suspect. Second, if any agent maintains that they are not content with their domination, but that ‘we are stuck with it’ nevertheless, we can also safely presume that the fault lies with the reification. And third, if they justify that malcontent with reference to compensatory activities, we ask whether there could not be a more conclusive way out. In all three cases, the solution to the sad passions is not a deference to the deceptions, but an augmenting of powers: a collective capacity to think and act the totality.

4. To be a partisan of freedom is not to touch bedrock. It is to appropriate a norm immanent in the present historical form, one whose unrealization is confirmed at its very constitution, and thus whose realization demands a transformation of that historical form. And it is this immanence which makes it potent; I cannot know whether this potency exists outside the present form, whether it would carry it in the principalities of Ancient Egypt. But nor should I be especially concerned to know this: I could neither confirm it nor act on that confirmation, which makes the matter one of the most barren speculation. Meanwhile freedom exists, and it makes its demands.

5. Such is unmoored; but mooring is a bourgeois concern. It is to stabilise the subject in a world of destabilization, to have some guarantee one’s investments are well spent, that the Universe ultimately insures them. Yet even the most ardent theologians have no such thing. That is why we have faith. I take a leap that freedom is correct, and such a leap is called for by the suffering of others.

6. Politics, then, is a matter of surveying the field, of expanding the power of one’s partisans, and of instituting that faith. We have Good Reasons for that specific faith, and Good Reasons do not ever claim to be foundational; they are relative, immanent, in that historic time; poverty figures are predicated on the promise of abundance. How tenacious the partisans of freedom are throughout history is a matter of fact, and one that may smile in our favour.

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Trey Taylor

Trey Taylor

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22. BA Political Theory and Sociology, Cambridge University. Currently studying an MA in Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory at Kingston University.