THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 159, February 4, 2002
See Ted Run! Run Ted, Run!
Freeing the Inner Slave
by Jim Duensing
Special to TLE
So many self-help books start off with the premise that you control your own situation. If you are not the person you'd like to be, change your mind. So it is with this article.
Last Monday, I described a mental disorder known as the Slave Psychosis. The Slave Psychosis is characterized by the delusional belief that the less autonomy you have, the safer you are. This belief leads to the afflicted eagerly participating in or clamoring for those who have badges to further intrude against the basic human decency of the afflicted and his neighbors.
Curing this disorder requires the afflicted to come to a realization that people with badges are "just people". Their actions are not automatically good or bad. Having one's orders written on a piece of paper does not make those orders moral. Following an order a badge holder knows to be immoral does not make his actions good. If anything, purposefully disregarding one's conscience for that of another makes the badge holder's actions more evil.
Once the afflicted comes to view those ordering him around as "just people" and not as demigods injected with superhuman powers, he will ask the appropriate question. "Would I expect these actions from a friend? Would I accept them of an enemy?" If the answer is no to both questions, he will be viewing the situation appropriately. He may still have to take actions he disproves of, but at least he will know he is sacrificing principle for practicality. Like when you pay off the IRS so they don't run into your house with a tank equipped with a flamethrower.
So, you ask, "what can I do" to help the afflicted along in their journey to see their oppressors as "just people".
First, most of the afflicted are followers. It is part of the psychosis to accept another's ideas instead of creating your own. Followers need leaders. They need heroes. So, be a hero. Resist tyrannical agents. Tell the badge holder's loudly and unashamedly (so the afflicted can hear you). "I would not expect these actions from a friend. I would not accept them of an enemy. And I will not accept them from you."
At first, the afflicted will probably mock you. However, some may be turned around by merely one heroic act. Over time, those who mocked you will come to deny maybe even forget that they once doubted the obvious assertion you made one day.
Second, the psychosis exists differently in different individuals. Most on the Right believe it is a moral good for governmental agents to ransack a suspected drug dealer's home in an effort to chase a white powder. Most on the Left believe it is a moral good to confiscate nearly everything an entrepreneur makes in order to increase the standard of living of the idle.
However, almost everyone believes it is wrong for "just a person" to break into someone's house to look at what they are doing. Almost everyone believes it is wrong for "just a person" to steal from a businessman and then give the booty to the homeless. Because of this, you cannot assume that if a person believes in a particular liberty he does so out of principle. Many conservatives believe in gun rights because they hunt. Many liberals believe in the legalization of marijuana because they once smoked it - whether or not they inhaled.
So, you must remain ever vigilant. You cannot let down your guard just because Joe is a god-fearing supporter of the second amendment or because Jane can list a hundred items that could be made better if constructed out of hemp.
Also, the recovery process can take years for some people. Do not focus on results. It is almost impossible to get someone to admit they are wrong in one conversation. It is harder still to get them to admit something they have believed their whole life is wrong. Thus, the goal of any therapy sessions with the afflicted should not center on getting them to admit they were or are wrong. The goal is to get them to ask the right questions. In finding the obvious answers, they will cure themselves.
If it becomes part of their thought process to ask "Would I expect these actions from a friend? Would I accept them from an enemy?" they are well on their way to recovery. For some, the recovery process will be short. For others, the recovery process will extend for the rest of their life.
If you believe yourself to be afflicted, you are well on your way to recovery. It is commonplace for those afflicted to deny their disorder. The first step is acceptance. Congratulations.
When you become aware of the disorder in others, encourage them to ask the right questions. "Would you expect these actions from a friend? Would you accept them of an enemy?" Be careful though. Insults and shrill shrieking will probably be hurled in your direction.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. One day at a time.