Our struggle to conceptualize and develop a society where individuals and collective alike share a deep freedom exists in relation to our concepts of liberty and democracy, liberty being individual agency and democracy being a political technology intended to provide collective agency. It’s easy to connect the dots between the inequities of the immediate present and the systems governing our relationships, but our struggle with these concepts extends into the past. The founding of the United States was an experiment in alternative ways of living that lessened the relevance of birth lottery. Although its present form more closely represents the monarchies it was trying to escape, in the time experience of its founding it placed a much higher priority on the expansion of individual liberty than the monarchies of the day permitted. Today we find ourselves confronted with the same struggle of past revolutionaries. We know a more expansive humanity is possible and are compelled by that knowledge to create change, but all of the systems surrounding us resist. To develop alternatives, we explore how liberty and democracy take new forms within the immediate present in alignment with the single truth.
To better understand our present moment, we can begin by exploring the history of this debate from the perspective of the founders of the United States. They believed that the government's objective was to protect individuals' rights, and that the greatest threat to individual liberty was government.51 Democracy and democratic governance are forms of collective consensus that threaten individual liberty. The founders were specifically concerned with the threat a more expansive democracy posed to their visions of a free market economy, which was an extension of their views on liberty.51 The founders intended for those in charge of the direction of government to be selected by the democratic process but wanted to insulate government employees from public influence. The belief was that this approach would allow the government to better adhere to its constitutionally mandated limits.51
To this end, they designed a constitutionally limited government with separate branches of power to slow the pace of change. Although the Constitution leveraged the democratic process for collective decision-making, the founders did not intend to design a government to support the majority. Citizens alive within the time experience of the creation of the founding documents had no direct input into the creation or ratification of the Constitution.52 Consider also the Electoral College, an intentionally undemocratic institution that was designed to solve a problem we have since overcome. During the time experience in which the Constitution was written, the speed of communication was very slow. They feared that presidential candidates would continually fail to reach a majority consensus because people would vote along state lines.53 It’s an irrelevant fear in the context of our present communications networks but valid within the time experience of its origin. Today we can observe the evolution of this mechanism, which has awarded presidencies to candidates who lost the majority public vote on several occasions.54 Our understanding that the systems we inhabit were never intended to provide the majority with a voice in our collective direction is a mandate for change, especially within the context of individual liberty. The founders could never have predicted the scale and scope of our technological ascendency within the immediate present, but that does not absolve us of the responsibility to address the shortcomings of their vision. Individual liberty is in perpetual threat within political and economic systems that empower the billionaire god-king and their purchased politicos to direct the trajectory of society.
When we compare these past perceptions with our immediate present, we can identify several divergences in philosophy and circumstance. The prioritizing of individual liberty over collective well-being has proven to be an extremely inequitable framework of society. When individuals and groups cross a threshold of wealth, they command too much power over others. They dictate wages, access, law, and information by leveraging capital and networks to leave the majority powerless to shape the systems defining their relationships with others. If we are to maintain the dogma of the founders that individual liberty is the ultimate priority, how do we address the structural inequities that these values have created over time? Should the majority embrace their disenfranchisement so that a small minority can fully express their will in whatever direction they choose? No, embracing this philosophy would favor inequity and birth lottery as the primary determinant of access and agency. In today’s world, extreme liberty for the few directly correlates to the absence of liberty for the majority.
Here we identify why limitations to individual liberty are not the ultimate evil they are prescribed to be. Core values focusing on alignment with the single truth and the relational universe reject the subjugation of one for the benefit of another. At the same time, our efforts recognize that equality of outcomes is an undesirable vision; individuals will always contribute in various directions and degrees. In exploring limitations to liberty in favor of collective progress, we must always be mindful not to let our frustrations with inequity cloud our understanding of what is just. Incentives are valuable, and those who dedicate their focus and energy toward contributing to collective progress should be rewarded for their efforts. Wealth caps are one example of an equitable limitation to liberty. Once an individual’s net worth in both liquid capital and assets reaches a certain threshold, we could explore several alternatives to prevent extreme concentration.
Earlier we explored how implementing Kaldor’s consumption tax addresses extreme inequity without destabilizing productive networks. Another alternative is to cap the total savings and investment an individual may hold within a given moment. A third option is to limit the power of capital, barring individual or group investment in elections of any form in favor of a publicly financed campaigning process. These examples highlight equitable solutions because they only target extreme wealth in such a way that produces no material difference in the life of the individual being limited. Systemic actualization requires reorganizing systems developed with the prioritization of individual liberty above all else. It is not unjust nor a slippery slope to consider alternatives to forms of organization that diminish the majority. On the contrary, the only slippery slope we inhabit is our rapid descent into crisis.
We should also consider how the founders overlooked the inevitably of an expanding state and social services in response to large populations and technological innovations providing efficiencies at scale. A nation-state can support and distribute many services more effectively than individuals or private groups can. To their credit, the founders were correct to be suspicious of government officials and their capacity to lead justly within systems supporting the dominion of capital. Politics in the United States may be our most corrupt institution, legalized bribery ensuring the voice of the people is rarely represented. However, public works and collective ownership need not fall under the umbrella of archaic political technologies. As explored earlier, DAOs provide a pathway toward transparent public works and stakeholdership independent of any single nation-state. They are, in many ways, the extension and diversification of representative democracy.
Democracy does not limit liberty through the lens of society, only through the individual's personal perspective. The relational universe ensures that no single individual operates as an independent observer of the whole. No one has the right to claim a liberty that is demonstrably harmful to the collective, even if the institutions surrounding them encourage it. No amount of denial will change the inherent responsibility the individual possesses toward the other. Because all of the liberties that presently exist stem from the systems governing our relationships, they are flexible and subject to change. But old dogmas die hard, and any present conversation about the democratic expansion of collective systems is often met with regurgitated propaganda about the erosion of liberties. In reality, the most direct path to a more radical individual freedom is through the expansion of democracy and public works such as the eight dignities. Much of the concerns of a threat to liberty draw from fears of unjust redistribution, which is perceived as ominous to the wealthy elites benefiting from inequitable arrangements. In a systemically actualized society, the individual inhabits a time experience where the rudimentary struggles of survival are greatly reduced if not removed entirely, and access to collective progress is freely available. Unlike our immediate present, the systems surrounding them empower them to create greatness in their own vision. In this moment, the highly secure and capable individual embodies liberty unthreatened by democracy. One who embraces his relation to the other as genuine embraces the responsibilities of living in a society and is willing to restrain his unlimited personal wants in favor of shared equity and bigness.