from The Runestone Winter 1983 #46
by Stephen A. McNallen
The idea that freedom is better than slavery is so commonly accepted that there would seem to be little more we could say. Why restate the obvious? At this point in Odinist literature, most articles about freedom resort to the staple technique of praising the liberty-loving ways of our ancestors, surveying our history for appropriate documentation, and affirming our own determination to maintain that freedom. While that approach is laudable and necessary, let us try to get beyond that stage and really look at the issue of freedom in our society.
For the fact is, we are not free. The stark liberty of our forebearers is – for almost all of us – is dead. We have the illusion of living in a free society because we continually confuse the FACT of control with the MEANS by which control is maintained. To see things as they are, we must learn to make that distinction.
First let us consider control itself. Odinists believe that there is an inherent human nature, an inborn set of tentacles which shape our values, motives, and actions. Left to develop organically, in accordance with our nature as a people, we would evolve a social system that would tend not to make us act contrary to our natures or impel us to do things we would not do if left to ourselves. In short we would be free members of the Folk. A controlled, “unfree” society is one where people are made to do things which do run contrary to their own nature. This conditioning constitutes the kind of slavery referred to in the title of this article, and is antithetical to freedom as we define it. Slavery, or non-freedom is an evil in itself, regardless of the conditions which bring it about or the means used to enforce it.
Those means are traditionally secret police, rigged elections, and slave labor camps. Such methods are crude and ugly, but they are not the essence of totalitarianism they are simply the instruments which sustain it. Slavery maintained by any other means is still slavery. The most pleasant tools of social control do not change the real nature of the totalitarian system, nor do they make it more morally justified.
Today in the so-called “Free World”, we are continually manipulated in violation of our own natures, to ends not consistent with our own innate tendencies or our ultimate best interests. This control permeates our society and is in many ways as absolute as any formal dictatorship. The means of control, however, are subtle and even sweet. While openly totalitarian systems use harsh and obvious devices such as torture and labor camps to influence behavior, the trick in the industrialized West is to shape the values, attitudes, desires and tastes from which behavior springs – thus forming invisible bonds which control humans as surely as the crueler ones, but with less chance of revolt, for the chains are comfortable. Our “needs” are shaped by media and advertising. When the system meets these contrived needs we feel grateful, and thus remain loyal to the whole set-up. We are effectively drugged by superfluous consumer goods and pacifying, bovine philosophy. Real choice – that in accordance with our healthy, life-and folk affirming instincts – is strongly suppressed. True freedom of choice becomes an illusion that the consumerist/universalist state fosters to hide the fact that we are wearing chains. It is all-important to remember that the fact of totalitarianism is not changed by the superficially human means of control. By our earlier definition we are slaves.
This doesn’t mean I’d just as soon live in China or Soviet Russia. To trot the love-it-or-leave-it argument is to miss the point. Life is better here, and few of us would trade places with anyone in the Gulag. But that doesn’t mean we are really free here, or that we live in a healthy society, it just means the methods of control are more bearable.
With each T.V. commercial urging us to eat junk food or to purchase gadgets for which artificial appetite has been created, we are being exploited. With each news story slanted to bolster a suicidal foreign policy, our slavery is made manifest. Every time we walk into a store where Muzak makes us more receptive to buying, we are being brainwashed. Every magazine article, or every governmental decree that lessens the will of our people to resist their continued dispossession, is a totalitarian act. In each case, a life-affirming instinct of our Folk is being purposely and deliberately denied – not by physical force, though that option is used when other methods fail – but by pressure of conformity, or the reassurance of buzz words, or by clever subliminal techniques.
So how do we get free?
First, we have to realize we are unfree. Once that fact sinks in, we see through the social mirage and perceive the mechanisms which keep us enthralled. We see television commercials and T.V. programming for what they are and pull the plug. We realize that Macy’s and the automobile companies and countless other establishments are artificially creating needs so they can sell their stuff, and we quit buying it. We analyze the newspapers enough to know how the media masters want us to react, and we fail to respond as they’d like. But all of this represents only the first tottering steps toward personal freedom. Ultimately, we must fashion a new and better society, one in keeping with the inborn aspirations and Truest instincts of our Folk.