September 29th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
A new tribe is needed.
Actually, its constituents have been around for a long time. But they have functioned as individuals, sometimes as families, and more rarely as small groups of people.
But as a tribe or nation, it has never gained traction or achieved critical mass.
Such a tribe believes in freedom, real freedom, for all people in an ordered society that protects liberty for everyone.
This ideal has been proposed by many, and fully achieved by no nation in history. The American founders promoted it—but even they fell short.
Perhaps an isolated tribe or two have accomplished it; but such events are recorded as scripture, myth or legend rather than meticulously documented history.
For the rest, it remains an illusive utopian dream.
Three of the biggest challenges of our time—the need for a revolution of entrepreneurship, the need for more independent-thinking citizens, and the need for more leadership in the emerging e-tribes and other new-style tribal groups of the world—all unite in their call for the growth of a new tribe dedicated to freedom.
One of the major reasons the tribe of freedom has seldom achieved power in the world is that human beings naturally tend to break into competing groups—but without dividing on the true lines of difference.
Madison outlined the benefits of this tendency in Federalist 10, and there are many positives of factionalism that have contributed to American freedom.
But there is also a major downside.
Tocqueville taught in Democracy in America that every nation divides itself into two major parties, each competing with the other for ascendency.
He called these the party of aristocracy and the party of democracy—one seeking to divide the people according to class, and the other attempting to spread equality.
In America these became the party of agriculture versus industry, then North versus South, later the city versus the country, and most recently Democrats versus Republicans.
But dividing the nation into red and blue states (or liberal coasts versus conservative flyover states) misses the real division among us.
Ancient divisions between aristocrats and peasants, as well as medieval conflicts between feudal lords and neighboring states, made the same mistake.
When war arose in history, re-alignment into Hawks and Doves also missed the point. So did historical conflicts over the color of roses and violent arguments between religions.
Our historical and modern divisions are not the real divisions, and this means that the battles go on for all of history without conclusion or solution.
To end the conflicts, to fix the unending battling of sides, we need to clearly understand the two sides as they really are—the real parties.
The Real Divide
Unlike elementary or high school culture, and unlike college, career and even adult culture, the real divide takes us all the way back to kindergarten.
Indeed it is one of those key lessons that we all should have learned in early childhood. In some ways (as humorously recounted by author Robert Fulghum), the lessons of kindergarten are the most important of all.
The divide of all humankind can be understood in the most basic terms: Some people spend their lives angry and afraid, while others live in the attitudes of hopeful and helpful.
These are the basis of the real world schism.
Angry and Afraid
The Scarcity Party sees a world of battling, competition, scarcity, winning or losing, and always trying to get ahead. It is the party of predators and victims.
Its members see others as either potential mates or potential enemies. They quickly notice differences between people, and they seek to get themselves and those in their group (family, race, religion, faction, nation, etc.) ahead of everyone else.
They want others to lose more, and for their own to win more.
In their anger and fear, they avoid pain, push for whatever they think will benefit them, and are willing to step on others to get what they want.
The Angry & Afraid Scarcity Party (A²) has a long and sad history of causing, escalating and reliving most of the problems in world history.
Hopeful and Helpful
In contrast, the Helpful & Helpful members of the Abundance Party (H²) spend their lives trying to help people, improve themselves, and seek better lives and a better world.
Because they are not afraid, it is fine with them if others don’t support them or do something different. They are secure.
For the Abundance Party, life is not about themselves. Yes, it is about becoming better; but even this goal is a merely a means to helping the world improve.
If they were angry, they would expect everyone else to join them in fixing the world, and even try to use the force of government to require charity.
But they are content to do their own work of improving the world and helping others, inspiring and urging them to be and do their best through exemplary leadership, rather than expend angry energy trying to force others to change.
Pretty much every nation, organization, philosophy, political viewpoint, religion, community, company and family has both A²s and also H²s.
The H² Partiers do nearly all of the good in these groups, while the A²s cause nearly all the problems.
If the H²s from all groups would work together, the mischief of the A²s would soon be mitigated.
But as it is, the H²s constantly find themselves in superficially adversarial positions from each other (due to their institutional affiliations) even though such conflict is not their purpose or their nature.
Ironically, if you have strong Democratic ties it is tempting to call Democrats the Hopeful & Helpful and label Republicans the Angry & Afraid; those with loyal Republican connections assign the opposite labels.
But neither type of labeling is truly accurate. There are a lot of H²s and A²s in both major political parties.
The H²s and the A²s make up all the members of the Democrats, Republicans, independents, socialists, environmentalists, right-wingers, radical leftists and every other political group.
If you know what to look for, they are pretty easy to recognize. The A²s include those who are any of the following: Bush-haters, Obama-loathers, racists, bigoted about religious or secular beliefs, promoters of violence in modern America, etc.
Republicans like to point out the Angry & Afraid people in the Democratic Party and act as if they speak for the whole party, and the Democrats do the same thing when attacking Republicans.
A Self-Defeating Hybrid
An interesting hybrid also exists, which is likewise problematic. Historically, too many Democrats have combined Afraid and Helpful, while too often Republicans have been Angry and Hopeful.
Unfortunately, the internal conflict and the philosophical and operational inconsistencies of these amalgams basically cancel out the good they could do to truly promote freedom and make a difference for good.
The world needs more hopeful and helpful people, and the future of our freedom and prosperity depends on it.
The strong emotions of anger and fear too frequently block the path to progress.
However, before we can fully understand the differences between these two major Parties of the A²s and the H²s, and the application of this construct, we need to understand the eight meanings of freedom.
There are six great basic traditions of freedom, each enjoying differing levels of support from various political and social groups. These include the following:
- Political freedom
- Economic freedom
- Religious freedom
- Individual freedoms (often called privacy)
- Freedom of the press
- Academic freedom (sometimes called freedom of thought)
The seventh and eighth freedoms are actually forms of protection.
A seventh freedom, national security, consists of using power to defend these other freedoms from aggressors and attackers.
And social justice, an eighth freedom, is the process of ensuring that these other freedoms are truly available to all people—not just to a limited few from a certain class, race, or other group.
A few leftist radicals use “social justice” to mean the extreme redistribution of wealth from rich to poor in socialistic and even communistically controlling ways; just as fringe right wingers at times promote almost-fascist government powers in the name of “national security.”
However, the more reasonable and normal definition of social justice (and national security) is essential to freedom: to take constitutional freedoms to all.
True liberty requires all eight types of freedom. Anything less falls short (although any measure of freedom is certainly better than none).
Indeed, a society which increases one of these freedoms is nearly always headed in the right direction. And, in fact, each freedom tends to promote the adoption of the other seven.
For example, increased academic freedom or freedom of the press naturally encourages the spread of political and economic freedoms—and vice versa. Freedom promotes freedom, just as force encourages the increase of force.
Unfortunately, the historical reality is that the two major American political ideologies have tended to emphasize the following division:
|Political Freedoms||Individual Freedoms (Privacy)|
|Economic Freedoms||Freedom of the Press|
|Religious Freedoms||Academic Freedoms|
|National Security||Social Justice|
Fighting each other over which column is most important is misguided and dangerous. It has seldom brought anything but pain to our nation and its citizens.
This becomes even clearer when we consider the focus of the Scarcity Party from both the conservative and liberal camps: “Stop the extremists on the other side from taking away our freedoms in the name of their petty and radical pet projects.”
Such a view is highly inaccurate, and comes from fear, anger and a deep lack of trust.
While it is true that the Angry & Afraid types within the other Party will continue to cause negatives, it is more important to notice that the Helpful & Hopeful folks on the other side are truly trying to make the world better.
Whatever you may think about the “other” party, an important segment of both Republicans and Democrats are actually H².
Many independents and entrepreneurs are naturally inclined to the H² perspective.
As more people think about politics in a non-partisan and increasingly independent way, and as more people become entrepreneurs and develop leadership skills like greatly increased initiative and tenacity and so forth, the H² viewpoint will continue to spread.
Unfortunately, in politics, Republicans and Democrats often vehemently promote the four freedoms they value most and simultaneously discount or attack the other four.
Other parties and many independents make the same mistake. For example, some conservatives frequently denigrate the freedoms of privacy or the press in their attempts to promote religion, while some liberals too often trample economic or political freedoms in their zeal to increase social justice.
Likewise, conservatives sometimes deny social justice when political and economic freedoms are not really at stake, just like liberals at times refuse to allow religious freedom or incentivize the power of the private sector out of fear that social justice must be an exclusively government project.
Both sides engage battles for their pet types of freedom, and then don’t turn off the fight even when the other side suggests something truly positive.
All of this is the natural result of the Angry & Afraid worldview.
In reality, the Hopeful & Helpful people in both the Democratic and Republican Parties, as well as the H² independents and members of minor parties, really do care about all eight freedoms.
Some have been inclined to focus on certain freedoms above others, either by their upbringing, education or party affiliations, but those with an H² outlook are friends of all eight freedoms.
When we start to comprehend this more accurate view of the world, a new understanding of the real division emerges:
|political freedoms for me and mine||political freedoms for all, everywhere|
|economic freedoms for me and mine||economic freedoms for all, everywhere|
|religious freedoms for me and mine||religious freedoms for all, everywhere|
|individual freedoms for me and mine||individual freedoms for all, everywhere|
|freedom to say what I want||freedoms of expression & the press|
|freedom to think what I want||academic freedom for all, celebration of many views|
|national security||national security for all nations|
|victory for me and mine||social justice for all peoples|
This chart is remarkably different than the one we saw earlier, and it illuminates the major difference between the fundamental values and attitudes of the two real parties—the A² and the H².
Their views of the past, current issues, and visions for the future could hardly be more divergent.
Both groups of course include pessimistic and also idealist people, and there are various different schools of thought in both.
But the most significant factor separating these two great Parties of humanity is their worldview.
The Hopeful & Helpfuls value their own ability to contribute to the world, while the Angry & Afraids see themselves as victims of a powerful “they” which is to be opposed, feared and hated.
The H2s see that all six of the basic freedoms are vital, that social justice spreads these six freedoms, and that national security protects and maintains them.
Together, all eight freedoms are essential for a healthy, free and prosperous society.
Our nation and world desperately needs a Party of Freedom.
Such a party would not be an official political party, since its goal would be to unite and build rather than to win or govern.
It would be made up of everyone who believes in all eight facets of freedom, and that we can work together to promote them, increase and spread them, and keep them protected and safe in a dangerous world.
It would be full of people who approach the world in an attitude of hope and help.
The idea of a freedom party is made realistic by the technology of the day, which allows people from all places and walks of life to connect and cooperate.
Such a party would have a higher-than-usual makeup of entrepreneurs, creeds and backgrounds.
The one thing they would share in common is a belief in the essential value of all eight meanings of freedom.
Certainly such a tribe would have its share of debates, factions, and disagreements, all of which are healthy to freedom.
The guiding value would be that any proposal, policy or plan they supported would be good for freedom overall—not just good for one type of freedom at the cost of another.
We need a freedom party in our day, an unofficial tribe of people working together on the shared vision of more freedom for all people in each nation of the world.
Of course, given the reality of our modern world, such a party does not need to be a single, organized entity with bylaws and officers.
In fact, freedom will benefit most if a host of people simply promote the eight types of freedom in the organizations and groups they already support.
For freedom to truly increase and flourish, it needs to become more of a value to all of us. We need the following:
- An informal freedom party made up of many diverse people and tribes that share the philosophy of full freedom with all the other groups and peoples.
- An understanding that when we promote one type of freedom at the expense of another we actually hurt us all.
- A commitment to more openly look beyond our own limited opinions and cooperate with people of differing views who truly do care about freedom.
Without all of these, freedom will struggle and decline.
For those who love freedom, it is time to broaden and deepen our understanding of true freedom. It is time to use our influence to spread the values and ideas of freedom.
The technology is there, and it is time to use it. Real freedom has always been a bottom-up project led by the regular people in a society.
All eight facets of freedom are essential, and it is up to the regular people to promote them all.
This is the future of freedom, and it depends on each of us.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.