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Freedom in the Age of Convoys

Cui Bonno

Last winter Ottawa was beset by a protest that called itself the Freedom Convoy. Big trucks festooned with slogans about freedom sat blaring their horns for weeks.
The residents found it unpleasant and restrictive.

The truckers were protesting the requirement that everyone crossing the border from the USA had to show proof of vaccination - including truckers.
The protestors were a small minority of even truckers, let alone Canadians.
They claimed that common sense health regulations in the midst of a pandemic were an unreasonable restriction on their freedom.
After they got booted from Ottawa they proceeded to blockade several border crossings, preventing travelers, including other truckers, from going about their business - in the name of freedom.

I'm not quite sure what freedom means in that context and I admit that the concept is a bit fraught at the best of times.
A core issue for me is that I don't think we have free will. We always do things for reasons. We want to be doing things for our reasons.
Free will has an implication that people can do things for no reason at all - I met people in art school who tried to behave as if they were free in that sense but it was just a pose.
Like the rest of us they don't dart into traffic at random for no reason.
But I can step back from that way and say that we feel free when we do things for our own reasons. I like that feeling, I think most people do.

I think that concept of freedom is at the core of left wing thinking in a couple of ways.
First - leftists are concerned that everyone have a good livelihood so that they can have freedom to follow their own path through life. That's freedom
Second - leftists recognize that we are all unique and have different capabilities and likes and dislikes and that it's good to be as accommodating of that as we can. That enables freedom.

This concept is a relatively new one in historical terms. I'll call it FreedomL

People in the past were much less concerned with that sort of freedom it seems. They were more concerned with obedience to the will of the local god.
As revealed by various sorts of special knowledge revealed in dreams or esoteric interpretation of holy texts.
They felt free, I suggest, when everything went smoothly and everyone knew their place and how to act properly.
Churches are very often places that lift your spirit just by being in them and especially when you can participate wholeheartedly in the ritual.
You get to spend time in a mental space where worldly concerns fade away
That's a sort of freedom and it's very ancient. I'll call it FreedomR

There is a certain tension between FreedomL and FreedomR. There are many systems of FreedomR and they often are in tension with each other too.
FreedomR depends on a pretty large community sharing a lot of beliefs in common and taking those as normal and natural. When people act outside of those norms it seems to the community that those people are bad.
But also it causes a niggle of self-doubt - maybe the community isn't right.

I admit that FreedomL has been attacking FreedomR's sense of normalcy for a long time.
It started with science (to just make an arbitrary boundary marker in a continuum:-) Science started disagreeing with the revelations of dreams and holy books with irrefutable demonstrations. But it took hundreds of years for that to influence the social dominance of FreedomR.

But now FreedomR is feeling threatened in many many ways. They can see that their perspective is not seen as normal at all by large portions of society and are not pleased. I can sympathize in a way.

I'm not sure what freedom means to the Freedom Convoy - let's call it FreedomC.
The best I could tell is that they were a small minority demanding the freedom to dictate to the rest..
They were demanding the freedom to spread lies and disinformation as a free speech right.
But in this kind of crazy situation I need to look around and follow the money a bit.
It can't be cheap to drive a big truck across the continent and sit for 3 weeks blaring your horm with no income.

I take FreedomC to be a pretty direct attack on constitutional democracy and both FreedomL and FreedomR. And I wonder in whose interest FreedomR is being promoted.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.