24 March 2009

My attempts to get freedom, and reversion to tribalism

My attempts to get any freedom of action in my life have always been strenuously opposed; when I was at school or university, taking exams in my own way and under my own auspices was seen as freedom, and prevented. When I was thrown out as an adult, attempts to get more freedom than none at all made me a criminal and I was a person to be opposed.

The theme of reducing freedom, and increasing intervention and supervision, is dominant in modern society. The object of the modern religion is the complete elimination of freedom from human life. On the face of it, what is aimed at is reversion to tribalism. Presumably in tribal societies there is no possibility of doing anything but to live out one’s life according to the tribal conventions, fulfilling the demands of the tribal lifestyle and with one’s every action under constant scrutiny from other members of the tribe. One would be very vulnerable to slanders, whether founded or not, as one is in modern society, and conforming to the social consensus about what one should do, and precisely how it should be done, would be all-important.

But in modern society the underlying principles are understood and acted upon in a very abstract way. Until I was prevented from taking the School Certificate exam at 13, I could have been supposed (at least by a superficial observer) to be doing whatever I did because I was told to do it, not because it was what I wanted to do myself. But then it became clear that I really wanted to get on with taking exams to acquire qualifications by reference to my own internal criteria, and I became a reprobate to be hunted down, as I have been ever since, apart from the very short time when it appeared that some of the most old-fashioned members of the Society for Psychical Research would actually support me in getting funding for an institutional environment of which I would be the Director, i.e. have some unsupervised freedom to do what I saw as needing to be done.

When I was 14, after having been prevented from taking the School Certificate exam, I felt that my cover had been blown, and I resented that. (By cover I mean the ostensible equivalence between what I wanted to do and what other people wanted me to do.) The people supposedly responsible for considering my interests should have been prepared, I thought, to give me cover at least until I had acquired some usable qualifications.

You could see the hatred of freedom in the modern religion as related to the Old Testament Garden of Eden story; the individual must remain obedient to God-Society by having no will of his own; if he eats the apple and starts to act on his own knowledge of good and evil, he is disobedient to God and is to be driven out of organised society as a depraved criminal.

This is more or less the interpretation of the Fall of Man story that occurred in some forms of Gnosticism: the apple (the forbidden fruit) was the gnosis, and in at least one version Jesus was the serpent, encouraging human beings to pick and eat it.