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(113) Oren

Luxury destroys empires: Rome defeated Carthage, acquired cheap slaves, and luxury set in—luxury divorces you from reality and responsibility, leads to frivolous perverse activities to stave off the boredom; perhaps in this enervated state foreign tribes take advantage, exploit the corruption and lassitude. Hence luxury destroys freedom—the ancients knew it, the Founding Fathers knew it. Which society today is the most luxurious? The United States. Which society the least free? The United States.

It is as with the saying about debt: when your debt is large enough, you become a problem to your creditor—he depends on you more than you on him; conversely, when you live in luxury you become owned by your own wealth. America was always a rich society, even in her infancy—so long as you were prepared to work you could live very well. Americans have only known relative poverty; and, by the time the frontier closed, America had become the most advanced industrial society on the planet—more abundance than you could ever imagine. Of course, that didn’t stop ructions from the left: humans compete for status, not money, and there is always status to be redistributed—we could start with fewer white actors in Hollywood, perhaps…

Yet, at a certain point, luxury owns you. This is why Westerners enjoy novels like The Road (2006) and dream about the apocalypse—the apocalypse offers a vision of freedom, harsh yet free. Despite political rhetoric, freedom and prosperity do not go together—a higher GDP does not beget freedom. You are owned. Which society is most free? Afghanistan. Tough, hardy tribesmen loyal to their religion and with their own honour code. Poor by any standard—yet proud and free. Another fantasy: the Fremen from Dune—the free-men, the desert men. The desert warriors have their freedom and religion, beyond the empire: spice for commerce versus spice for ceremony. Why not come with me now? Come now—I only need twelve—and step outside, step back to freedom.


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