As I remember, the two things that made me get insulted the most on Facebook were aesthetic: badmouthing the taste of São Paulo, who put that tacky bull on the stock exchange, and complaining about the visual pollution caused by too many tattoos. Let’s leave the Paulistas aside today. According to the unison protest of the tattooed rebels, each one should mind their own business instead of complaining about the tattoos. Who doesn’t like tattoos, don’t do them, and full stop . Emphasis on the end point. Everyone has the right to do whatever they want with their own body. With a toast comes the right not to hear that it was ugly. In other words: in the minds of many people of the most varied types of political orientation, individual freedom is accompanied by the right to social acceptance – as if this were not necessarily spontaneous. And from that belief can only follow one thing: limitation of freedom of expression. People with multiple tattoos have the right to walk back and forth at the airport with their scribbles on their arms, I shouldn’t have the right to remember Falcão’s song whose refrain is: “Ô povo fêi!”
Now everyone is Kim Jong-un
This mindset is evident in the way progressives approach the gay issue. It is not enough to have legal equality that gives homosexual couples the same rights that other infertile couples have: marry on paper, ensure joint patrimony, adopt a child, etc. It is necessary for everyone to accept homosexuality – even the old man from the countryside, even the religious inside the church. Now, legal issues are typically within the scope of the State; behavioral issues, no. Unless the juridical grows over the behavioral until it completely meddles in private life – which immediately takes me back to the England of yore, where the laws did not even allow the very private exercise of homosexuality, as shown by the sad fate of Alan Turing. But it also reminds me of North Korea, since at least homosexuality is a practice, and you can criminalize practices without subverting consciences. On the other hand, instituting respect and acceptance on the basis of thought police is something of a totalitarian regime. In North Korea, everyone has to be respectful of Kim. You can’t point your finger at his portrait, or take pictures where his portrait appears cropped. Of course, no one will speak ill of Kim’s hair; and, if Kim tattooed a hamburger with a special meaning, everyone would have to think the hamburger is beautiful and the idea of tattooing it very profound.
I believe that the idea of freedom that is in fashion today assumes a world in which everyone is the Kim of Korea and everyone is a North Korean citizen at the same time. If I get a bunch of ugly tattoos, you guys have to respect my individuality. If I want to use cocaine, you have to respect my individuality. If I say that I am not a woman, but a gender-neutral non-binary person, you have to accept it – and the old man from the rural area has to be re-educated to learn to say “Elu é bonite”, to stop violating the human rights (in the past we expected to count dictators among the violators of human rights; today, there are old people from the countryside. It remains to be seen whether they will be judged by the Hague Court as well).
In a country where only one is Kim, this model of individual freedom might work. Kim arrests the police, Kim rules the country and Kim has anyone arrested. But if everyone has Kim’s individual liberties, it remains to be seen who will protect the rights of the little western kin. Certainly some great force: either the State, or these monopolistic corporations, or a concerted effort between the two.
Now everyone is Caetano
In the past, saying that “it is forbidden to prohibit” was something of the new left, of the counterculture. Now the ideal of freedom is “right-wing” and entirely individualistic. Therefore, it is forbidden to prohibit individuals from doing anything that is not supposed to cause harm to others. This conception of freedom is doomed to failure, as it leads to tyranny.
There is no objective table of things that do harm and things that do not. The very assessment of what is harmful or beneficial is subjective; and when you consider education, things get even more complicated. For example: cigarettes are harmful to health, so smokers have their freedom to smoke restricted in closed spaces. Considering the harm to future smokers, cigarette advertising is prohibited. But the argument in defense of drug liberation almost always goes through the freedom that man has to do what he wants with his own life – and liberals who defend drug liberation would never defend the criminalization of drug apology.
It is very easy to restrict freedom of expression once the premise of restriction of damage is admitted. It is no wonder, therefore, that so many people call themselves liberal and defend censorship: it is enough to work magic with the notion of harm. It is clear that the most sensitive people suffer emotional damage more easily… This is also why victimism is so successful, since it inflates the ability to suffer damage and therefore claim protection, demanding control of the other. The problem of liberalism is called John Stuart Mill, because you can’t be liberal and utilitarian at the same time, but he says it works.
It’s allowed to prohibit
When working with the notion of harm, there are also divergences of an objective and factual nature. The individualist is absolutely certain that releasing drug use does not impose harm on anyone other than the user, since the choice to use is individual. The normal family man, on the other hand, will be sure that a society that allows the drug trade in the open is a very bad society for raising children: as a father, he feels that he is harmed in his educational activities. Some individualists can be sure that abortion harms the unborn child; others, that the unborn child is a mere aggregate of cells and therefore it is wrong to interfere in the woman’s freedom of choice.
If the majority of the people have certainties contrary to the individualist, how to solve it? The individualist is generally in favor of decriminalizing abortion and, at the very least, marijuana. The majority of the population is against it. The individualists’ way of solving the problem is to invoke Science in order to supplant factual issues. Studies show that marijuana solves more health problems than electric and bottled fish oil. Studies on the evils of marijuana, which also exist, do not appear in the media. But it’s no use: the people don’t care about study and want to continue banning.
The people want to ban certain things and vote for legislators who ban them. The Caetanos, on the other hand, say that it is forbidden to forbid. And if they disagree, they arrest and smash it, because they are against violence.
Democracy is “collectivist”
In the end , individualists will only have the right to use LSD and abort when there is a force capable of holding the people back. They will only have the right to tattoo their faces without anyone giving them a dirty look when there is a policing worthy of North Korea. In a word, their freedom will only be complete when there is no more democracy and the people have lost their freedom.
We need to restore the old concept of liberalism as decentralization of power. Because, by the way the carriage rides, what is being asked for is an “enlightened” dictatorship whose only objective is to provide security for a bunch of hedonists.
Democracies do not exist without the people having the freedom to forbid.