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Mill and Incest Aren’t that Bad

Updated on August 7, 2011

This past week in my Political Theory and Political Literature classes, both of which are taught by the same professor, some interesting topics of discussion arose. In my Political Theory class the assigned reading was John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, and in my Political Literature class the assigned reading was Montesquieu’s The Persian Letters.

When I first noticed I would have to read Mill in one of my classes I was somewhat annoyed meaning I felt a combination of anger and skepticism. For some reason I thought Mill was a socialist, so I did not think he would have any convincing arguments. That was the skepticism aspect. The anger came from knowing that everyone in class would jump on board with a socialist. Even though his arguments would have no logical basis the whole classes would just hop on board because it does not matter if someone’s arguments are reasonable as long as they are all fluffy and sound nice on the outside. Of course, deep in its core socialism is rotten because it advocates armed robbery, but no altruism is just so wonderful that it does not matter how rotten the center is. Of course, I have already addressed this topic, and I will address it more fully on other occasions.

The truth about Mill is that he really was not a socialist. I think I read that about him on wikipedia. Apparently, he was a socialist towards the end of his life, but On Liberty has no socialist leanings. The argument Mill makes in On Liberty is that the government must become as small as possible so as to allow people as much freedom as possible. Mill never discusses whether or not man has any natural rights such as John Locke does, but Mill is half way there. Instead of natural rights being his reasoning for the government not stealing man’s liberties is that man has no idea what the best way of life is; therefore, by allowing man to be as free as possible individuals will be able to experiment with several different modes of life. In turn the likelihood that the best mode of life will be discovered is higher. In other words, according to Mill, man should be free in order to discover truth. Mill makes an extremely good point. Freedom acknowledges that man still has much to learn. Of course, freedom is a man’s natural right, but that is a discussion for another day. In contrast to freedom, tyranny acts as man has all the answers already. This reminds me of Stefan Molyneux’s discussion on God, which I covered in an earlier post. Any kind of tyranny, government, religion, dogma, ideology, etc. believes man has discovered all the answers; therefore, man stops searching for the answers. To use Molyneux’s metaphor tyranny is like a man in the back seat screaming, “You’re home! You’re home!” so the driving stops because he thinks he is home. However, the man is in the middle of the woods and just assumes he lives there. According to Mill, this is exactly what tyranny is. Therefore, freedom is the man who continues driving, searching for his home. This reminds me of quote from Einstein. I have these Libertarian quotes that rotate on my facebook profile, and the quote from Einstein basically says that man only produces in free societies. This statement just concurs with Mill’s line of thinking and Molyneux’s line of thinking.

Another point Mill brings up is that he does not think men are incredibly individual. For Mill individuality is essential for discovering truth, but every where he looks men are the same. Now, Mill wrote On Liberty some time in the mid 1800’s, so, of course, everyone in the class assumes, “Well, the 1800’s were so long ago. Mill can no longer be right. Men are incredibly individual nowadays. Look we have the Internet and technology we can do anything.” However, a breath later they accuse the college of not being diverse enough. I will ignore this contradiction to focus on a more important point. Their reasoning for my particular college not being diverse enough is that there are not enough minority groups and the different socioeconomic brackets are not represented. However, they admit my college is diverse in thought. These students have it all wrong. Firstly, just look at what these people are doing. They say more minorities and socioeconomic brackets need to be represented. Mill would argue that these are extremely shallow elements of individuality and they have almost no impact. You are black I am white, you are rich I am poor. So what? Race, culture, socioeconomic brackets does not make people truly individuals. A black man and a white man, a rich man and a poor man, could think the exactly same things. Individuality is in someone’s brain not on someone’s face. Secondly, these students are assuming all minorities will think the exact same things, and those thoughts will be different from the majority. They are doing exactly what Mill says people are guilty of. Individuals are stripped of their individuality and forced into these groups of collective thought. I disagreed with the rest of the class and pointed out these facts. I also pointed out that people actually do think the same. Though many people look different and come from different cultures and what not they all think the same things. For example, the two major elements of political thought in America are incredibly close on the political spectrum. Every election for every elected official to the government encompasses the exact same issues, and there is very little difference of opinion on those issues. The cause of this is most probably the education system in America. Public education, and probably much private education, is not concerned with teaching people to think. Education is concerned with giving information and making the students accept the information. No one can exhibit individuality if they do not know how to think independently. Everyone just accepts the same things, government good, religion good, altruism good. This is almost exactly the same as the man in the back of the car shouting, “You’re home! You’re home!”

Of course, the class discussion on Mill unearthed one other issue. Since Mill believes there is a truth, and exploring different modes of life will lead man to the truth, that means some modes of life are wrong and other modes of life are right. The class’s response: “Oh my God, how can this be true? How can you tell another person his culture, customs, his way of life is wrong?” Mill argued culture and customs were actually barricades to individuality and discovering truth. However, that is somewhat of a digression. These people continually fail to realize what they are saying. I have discussed this in my earliest post, but I am going to discuss it again. If you cannot judge another way of life, if every way of life is good, then there is no bad.

Consequently, Nazism is equally as good as democracy. This is, of course, a lie, but these moral relativists and cultural diversity do not think about that. They think of all the poor little cultures that the majority say is bad. I would argue this majority does not exist. I would argue the majority is cultural diversitists. Any way the cultures they are talking about are tribal cultures in third world countries. The cultures that fear nature, barely have any clothes, live in thatch houses, and believe in mysticism. I do not and will never respect these cultures. I also think I have Mill on my side when I say these cultures on wrong. Clearly, their way of life is horrible. People are less happy and less healthy. There is also no individuality or independence, everything is collective. There is no freedom only collective tyranny. Also these cultures have a man permanently locked in the back seat of their car, or carriage, or horse, or just walking behind them, shouting, “You’re home! You’re home!” However, this metaphor is more closely related to reality this time because in this circumstance the people are actually living in the woods and not looking to get out of the woods. Once again the class also brought up the point of tolerance; however, Mill agrees with me. One should be tolerant of other modes of living. Remember Mill wants people to have more freedom to explore other modes of freedom. He does not want to stop people from living any way they want. Neither do I. However, Mill argues, and I agree, this does not stop one from judging; in fact one should be tolerant of other modes of living while also being judgmental of them.

This discussion on incest also points out another problem I have: marriage. The problem I have with marriage is actually unorthodox from the problem many other people have with marriage. Many people who dislike marriage argue, “Why should I have to commit myself to one person?” This is not my issue. I do not care if anyone commits himself to one person or a hundred. That is that person’s choice. The problem I have with marriage is that it is approved by the government or a religion. It is none of the government’s business to approve a marriage. A marriage concerns only the individuals involved. I do not say two individuals because marriage should be able to involve as many individuals as possible. See the government sets up all these restrictions on marriage, these people can get married, these people cannot, only two people can be involved, it has to be a man and a woman. Here is an idea. How about the government stops approving marriages and just lets people live how they want to live. In this case the government is not exactly forcing marriages on people, but people seem to think marriage only exists because of the government or religion. I do not need the government or a religion to affirm that I want to live the rest of my life with one person or fifty people. I can do that myself. Marriage once again highlights the laziness and irresponsibility of people. If people were responsible for their own lives there would be no need for the government or religion to approve marriages. Also, by having control of marriage, government is just doing what it does best. It abuses its authority. It decides what marriage is and then initiates force against people who have innocent yet unorthodox marriages approved by the government. Of course, the people did have to trick the government to approve the marriage, but lying is not proportionally punished by suing, especially in this case where lying has caused absolutely no harm. The government should stop approving marriages because it is not its purpose and it become tyrannical with the control.


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    • phpnayeem profile image

      Nayeem Akand 

      8 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      useful for us


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