This is the first day since having my bike stolen where it has occurred to me that I am not being self-destructive. Well obviously that's good, and that's a relief. But as mentioned before, on Love and the Planet, we examine these things because nobody else does.
I propose that it is almost by design that in a liberal civilization, an individual is given the freedom and sometimes encouraged to engage in self-destruction. I will question why this has arisen, its benefits and costs to both the group and the individual. I will address the responsiblity of the group and the risk management that must be exercised. Most importantly I will define for the individual the needs: to be aware of this feature of living in a liberal civilization and; to know how to use it and to protect (and hence love) oneself from its dangers.
Living in a liberal civilization
The majority of people living in liberal societies have not knowingly chosen to do so. Some were born into the circumstance. Others were attracted to it without knowing what they would get into.
Amongst the many freedoms, including the freedom to leave their liberal society, is the freedom to engage in self-destructive activities. The more trite examples of these are excessive alcohol consumption, drug-taking, sexual indulgence and gluttony. Equal to these, although less acknowledged, are depression, self-harming, danger thrill chasing, over-work, emotional alienation and isolation.
In a liberal society, freedoms which are destructive but not self-directed would result in the rapid death of everyone, so it is impossible in theory for any liberal society to last long with such freedoms. Hence if everyone were allowed to use their guns to kill whomever they didn't like, everyone would soon be dead. So even in the USA, the freedom to own a gun only gives you the freedom to use it in self-defence with provocation.
Freedoms which are self-destructive, on the other hand, are allowed so that an individual can "get their kicks". (As such these freedoms are already effectively encouraged. In fact in irresponsible liberal civilizations, they are actively encouraged.) This is because in order to maintain the delusion of freedom, as many freedoms as possible must be left available. At such time when an individual wishes to exercise the right to one of the more destructive freedoms, then it is naturally imperative that it should be exercised in a self-destructive fashion.
The ideal individual in a liberal civilization is one who enjoys knowing that the destructive freedoms are available, without ever partaking of them. Conversely, the failing individual is one who so persistently indulges in the self-destructive freedoms that they begin to be destructive to others.
Next consider the economic whole of a liberal society as a large single complex Machine. The components of the Machine are individuals, each of which under the delusion of freedom, willingly conducts his/her essential function. The components that never indulge in self-destructive freedoms will need less frequent repair or replacement. The components that are persistently self-destructive are eventually not worth repairing but are removed and permanently replaced.
This seems paradoxical. A liberal society allows self-destructive freedoms, but then has no use for its self-destructive components in its economic Machine. Is there any use for a liberal society? The secret truth is that the role of self-destructive freedoms is as an evolutionary pressure on the components of its Machine. As the Machine evolves, its components are selected on suitability for the increasing size, complexity and sophistication of the Machine. Permitting self-destructive freedoms allows the Machine to evolve into being ever larger, more complex, and sophisticated, with ever more perfect ideal components.
The ultimate purpose of a liberal human society then , is to develop into a single global economic super-organism, the Machine. In the super-organism, the individuals think they can be free, and can willfully self-destruct, therefore inviting replacement with more ideal components. This is like a constantly evolving Borg, perhaps?
The Failing Individual Component
The individual who has to indulge in self-destructive freedoms is considered to be failing. Without these freedoms, the identification of components of the Machine needing improvement would be impossible, and components of the Machine could spontaneously and abruptly cause catastrophic failure of the whole Machine.