Modernity kills freedom

“If you could go back in time to any period in history, which would you live in?”  It is a common fantasy to imagine how one life would be different in a another time and place. Everyone has answered this question at one point or another.  Occasionally, someone will try to be smart with his answer.  He will object to the premise itself.  Why would anyone would want to go back? Living any time but now would be terrible.  Modernity is the only sensible time period to live in.  Progress has made all of our lives so much easier.

The core of the argument is that modernity offers all sorts of comforts and securities. The people of the past could only dream of what we have now.  Modern people lead longer and safer lives, just look at how much longer we live now.  Humans used to live short, harsh lives, struggling against the elements.

It was a matter of life and death for our ancestors just to find food, shelter, and clean water.  They had no rifles to defend themselves when dangerous predators attacked.  They had no restaurants to gorge themselves when on they were hungry.  There was no doctors to prescribe antibiotics to them when they got sick.  They must have been miserable.  It is no wonder that our ancestors only lived to middle age.

To any one with a cursory understanding of history, it is obvious this is an extremely narrow-minded perspective.  Even if one accepts his assumptions, the argument itself is flawed. It assumes that our ancestors lived shallow and unhappy lives.  It assumes that physical security and longevity are sole determinants in living a  fulfilling and meaningful life.  They are not.

This is plainly observable by noticing the amount of unhappiness still present in modern society. Progress has never brought about a utopia.  It has only brought security to the individual.  It has prevented much of the pain and suffering caused by hunger, pestilence, and the climate.  Instead, modern man must worry about problems on a global level.  He worries about pathogens and pesticides polluting his food and drink.  He worries about power mad politicians sparking a global thermo-nuclear holocaust.  He worries about overpopulation and pollution destroying the environment.

Modern man has just as much to fret about as his ancestors did.  The difference between the two is the scale of the issues.  Modernity has brought problems that are much harder to address.  No one person, tribe, or even nation can solve them any more.  For example, not even the richest billionaires on the planet have the power to solve world hunger.

As a consequence, the modern man has an overwhelming and deep rooted sense of powerlessness.  Compared to his ancestors, he can do little to influence the environment around him.  Where once a man could defend his family against raiders and thieves with his own weapons, modern man must rely on the police to protect them.  When a man grows his own food, he need not worry about what chemicals he was feeding to his family.  Whatever sense of pride and security man once got through self-reliance has disappeared with the introduction of modernity.

Any sane individual would want to live in a society where they can make a difference.  Powerlessness breeds depression and despair in everyone. Man gets a sense of purpose and contentment from setting attainable goals and solving them.  Modernity is the systematic concentration of the power of life and death to the hands of an increasingly smaller amount of people.  True freedom is known to less people today than any time in history.  The past wasn’t a horrible place to live and die, modernity is.


3 responses to “Modernity kills freedom

  1. This may be a little off topic, but I have read through all your posts and find them truly insightful and well-written. Living in America myself (not for too much longer), I know how hard it is to gain this insight. Furthermore, to be able to retain this deep inner sense that something is wrong. To be able to act and react everyday to the chaos that is around and still remain intact (morals and all) is an amazing feat. Keep up your writing! You really have a hand at getting thoughts on paper in a way to keep the message and spirit alive! I myself wholeheartedly agree with what you say. Sometimes, I have to stop and I get this sense that I am in such a foreign land that I feel I cannot take it! I know this is my soul and spirit trying to escape the “prisons” of the modern world and all it entails. I can’t even believe the drones around me. The” robots” who exist and die not even feeling. Its incredible. Everyone is living someone else’s idea of reality. No one of these truly ever lives; truly ever breathes! Most of the time I am so overwhelmed by modern society, that I cannot even bear being anywhere around people or things… except my cocoon(nature). Yet, I know soon will come a day where my cocoon will be my home. Hopefully you will find this too! Freedom and modernity do not go hand and hand. The fool who thinks it does…is the worst slave of all. You hit the nail on the head, the powerlessness further leads to despair. Its not even the powerlessness, its the perception of it. The poison is so deep in most peoples heads, they do not realize the potential and power they can cultivate…that is within themselves. In order to have true progress the end must justify the means like you say. Otherwise, whats the point. Anyhow…thanks again for the wise words!


    • Thanks. I haven’t had as much time to reflect as I would like lately. Like you said, gaining insight is no easy task. The less important things in life have a way of catching up with you, if you are not careful.

  2. Pingback: Putting the rage in suffrage | NOVUS SÆCULUM OBSCURUM

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