The Society of HumanKind


The history of the idea of freedom is reviewed from the standpoint of the Society. The conclusion is that the pursuit of freedom should never put the infinite survival of humankind at risk. Freedom in the era of the Society is discussed and it is concluded that the struggle to free humanity must necessarily be endless.

Freedom has been a rallying call for reformers and revolutionaries throughout human history. The passion and sacrifice poured into that cause has however, not been based on any general consensus about the definition of the term. Almost the first thing to strike any student of the subject is the bewildering variety of concepts, social constructs and meanings that have become attached to this single emotive word. This is an issue in human history far too important to be ignored in this series of Essays. An attempt must therefore be made to build the idea anew on the base of an acceptance of the Axioms and choice of the Dogma, and on the Principles and Aim of the Society that arise from those decisions.

The first and most fundamental proposition to emerge from the Axioms and Dogma on this subject is the priority of the Conditions of the Dogma set out in Treatises of the first founding book of the Society. That priority makes it clear that without the existence of our species there can be no freedom however defined. While it is possible for an adherent of the Society of HumanKind to echo the cry 'Death before slavery' and even to act on it in extreme circumstances, the Society of HumanKind can never support such action if a contravention of the Third Principle results. The destruction of a social order compatible with the conditions of the Dogma can never be justified by a desire for greater individual freedom.

Nor can the Society accept that the cause of individual freedom is a sufficient reason to destroy the stability of human communities on which the pursuit of its Aim must be based. That may seem a mean spirited approach to what has been in the past a glorious battle cry but, as the Treatises on Justice and Peace makes clear, even romance must bow to the realities and insecurities of the Axioms.

The Axioms and Principles do not however, prevent adherents of the Society of HumanKind from striving for freedom, provided they do so within the limitation of our common survival and progress. But how are they now to define human freedom? How will they, or the Society, know if and when the battle to be free has been won?

They will begin with the fundamental premise that humanity cannot be free if it does not exist. But at many points in these writings the conclusion derived from the Principle of Progress has been mentioned in that connection. The Principle establishes that our survival both as individuals and as a species depends on our willingness to co-operate with one another, and to accept and maintain the degree of social order that makes a mutually supportive communal life possible. If it is to be consistent in its teachings therefore, the Society should hold that freedom can only be enjoyed under conditions of social order compatible with that Principle. The Society will always teach that without stable social order no-one can hope to live long enough, or have sufficient liberty from the struggle to ensure the infinite survival of our species, to be fully free.

When this issue was looked at from another angle in the Treatise on Relationships it was concluded that the maintenance of conditions of stable social order is itself dependent on our willingness to conduct our lives in ways which make our behaviour predictable to others. The debate about freedom can therefore begin for the Society only after, and not before, all participants have accepted the need to constrain their liberty sufficiently to ensure that they can successfully co-operate with others over a long time span. Put into the language of the philosophy of the Society, that means that every adherent must accept in full the implications of the Principle 3.2 in this respect. They must recognise and undertake a Duty and Responsibility to create social conditions in which the restraints imposed on the liberty of each individual are sufficient to ensure the degree of co-operation required to maintain the Conditions of the Dogma.

That is not the end of the difficulties faced by the Society in its search for human freedom. It will also need to bear in mind the requirements of the Principle of Peace as they relate to individual development. That Principle imposes a limitation on the extent to which the Principle 3.2 may be used to restrict human liberty. It makes it necessary for the Society and its adherents to confine their support for action taken under the Principle of Progress precisely to those matters that are essential to the maintenance of the Conditions of the Dogma. To fail to do so would result in a contravention of the provisions of the Principle 2.2. That Principle requires that every member of humanity should be allowed the maximum possible degree of latitude in their personal life in order to allow them the largest opportunity to develop all their individual attributes and potentialities. A requirement which the Treatise on the Individual makes clear is also fundamental to the achievement of the Aim of the Society.

All these complexities can however, be reduced to a maxim sufficient to guide the Society through its day-to-day decisions on this subject. In order to balance the differing requirements of the Principles of Peace and Progress in its search for freedom, the Society should allow and approve only those constraints on individual liberty that can clearly be shown to be indispensable to the maintenance of the Conditions of the Dogma. The definition of freedom thus becomes simple to specify if difficult to realise. In the era of the Society of HumanKind freedom is enjoyed where the restraints imposed on human liberty in order to maintain a social system compatible with the Conditions of the Dogma are at the absolute minimum level required for that purpose.

The problems which arise for adherents of the Society in making the moment-to-moment decisions necessary to turn that definition into a concrete set of relationships are troublesome, as the earlier discussion has no doubt indicated. And they will be made more difficult by the consequences of an acceptance of the Axioms as they are explored in the Treatise on Knowledge. The material from which the Society must construct its decisions is a constantly changing and unpredictable environment and an absolutely uncertain base for our knowledge. In view of the fluidity of the circumstances in which such judgements are to be made, it will never be possible for the Society to design or construct a single universal form of a free human society. Nor will it be able to settle on a final definition of the social conditions of human freedom that will apply at all times and in all circumstances.

Perhaps the most important conclusion reached in this Essay is that the attainment of human freedom will require a lot of hard work and attention to detail over a long period of time. The Society will need constantly to review and then strike and re-strike the balance between the essential constraints of the Principle 3.2 and the necessary liberties of the Principle 2.2 The constant aim will be a search for an elusive, and perhaps in practice ultimately unattainable, minimal level of restriction on individual expression and development which nevertheless complies with the Principle 3.3. It will perhaps now be fully appreciated why that latter Principle is very carefully expressed in a negative form, i.e. any social order compatible with the maintenance of the Conditions of the Dogma is permissible. No other formulation would allow for both the consistency of purpose over time and the infinite flexibility of decision that is required for freedom to flourish under the aegis of the Society of HumanKind.

No estimate can be given of how long it will take the Society of HumanKind to realise a truly free human society. Any sound understanding of the implications of the Axioms and Dogma in this regard must lead to the conclusion that the battle for human freedom will almost certainly be unending.

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©Lawrence Thornton Roach
2000-2002 AD