Tag: Chaos

Agency is Libertarian. Marijuana and Alcohol Aren’t.

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

The time is ten past three, and John Doe is enjoying himself. A college student, some older friends invited him to a massive party for the first time. However, John is not likely to remember many of the events of the night, for at that party, he consumed a rather unsafe amount of alcohol. He also ingested some edibles and, without realizing a thing, fought his best friend.

A fictional character, of course, John represents the loss of agency that a mind-altering substance commonly brings. Too many in the real world fall victim to John’s same situations, whether at parties, at a formal social gathering, or crying alone at night. The many Johns of the world are victims of lost agency.

Naturally, agency in this sense of the word is considerably different than its common use. Essentially, agency is the capacity of an actor to act consciously in a certain situation. In other words, agency is a form of personal responsibility, a trait essential to libertarianism. Drugs and other mind-altering substances, on the other hand, are antithetical to the same doctrine. As they rob people of their sense of agency, they are detriments to a free society.

Commonly, supporters of libertarianism state that the movement is about doing what so ever makes you happy. They often attack the state, saying that it robs that people of their right to live freely. In a broad sense, they are not wrong. However, they miss what is perhaps the most essential part of this message, the thing that makes freedom a sustainable goal: agency.

A world without agency will quickly dissolve into pure chaos, and there is no denying this. In modern society, the vast majority of people know that it is wrong to kill and steal from others. Also, they recognize the various social norms that we as a world adopt. These range from things as simple as wearing proper clothing, to situations as complex as how to behave in a romantic relationship. All such cases require a clear head and a sense of responsibility.

When people abandon this sense, they are often no longer aware of their own actions. In a sense, they are acting on the terms of something else besides themselves. Without a doubt, society condemns forced action between individuals. When one person holds a lethal weapon to the head of another and says to act, we know that is wrong, as it robs someone of their agency, and ability to freely act on their own terms.

Yet, we seldom are able to apply this logic beyond the confines of humans. Simply put, a human is not the only thing capable of robbing someone of their agency. An alcoholic or drug addict has little more say over their actions than does the person with a gun to his or her head. In fact, the situations are, in many ways, nearly identical.

When someone is addicted to a drug, it of course is quite hard to quit. The hardships range from physical to mental, and both can be viciously strong. Many people hooked on hard drugs need them to live their normal, day to day lives. By giving in to this power, they lose their sense of agency. Mental struggles can be nearly as difficult. Though no physical addiction exists for some drugs, such as marijuana, this does not mean a mental dependency cannot form. When it does, it can be incredibly difficult to break.

As a result, people using these substances often act much differently than they otherwise would. It is no secret that alcohol, for example, can cause severe anger. All addictions cause a compulsion to continue feeding them. In many cases, this leads to lying, sneaking, or even stealing to continue the path. Stealing does not occur in a truly free world.

Now, some may argue that these actions are extreme measures, and that moderation is the key in order to avoid them. While one can safely use in moderation, the fact of the matter is that most people simply will not do so. Yes, one can wisely stick to a drink or two and preserve agency.

However, it is better to say that none at all is the best approach, rather than condoning small amounts. With the latter, it is inevitable that people with different levels of will and tolerance will become addicted. Obviously, substance abuse has caused the destruction of countless families and lives. But, it is still important to note that a lack of agency, rather than the drugs themselves, are the real issues. Just as some can safely use in moderation, others can dangerously become addicted to other things besides drugs or alcohol.

Society should not draw the line at alcohol or marijuana or hard drugs. Instead, it should focus on eradicating addiction through recovery programs. All such programs should make clear that a clean life involves living with proper agency.

Thus, it is imperative that we recognize agency as a central tenet of freedom. Without it, freedom has little meaning, and will not last. Without legal pressure, another force must exist to maintain order in society. That force is agency. With it, we can truly set up a model of lasting freedom.


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71R Book Review: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

By Mason Mohon | UNITED STATES

Jordan Peterson is academia’s rockstar, or at least the closest it has ever had to one. I don’t know who said that first, it certainly was not me, but I agree with them wholeheartedly.

Just as I spend months anticipating an album release from my favorite rockstars, I spent months anticipating the release of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. As soon as I saw it on Amazon, I pre-ordered it instantly, and for a teenage fella such as I, a few months is a large portion of my lifetime.

I received the book in the mail the day of release and jumped right in, hoping to get as much as I could from it, ready for every last Petersonian rabbit trail. I was not disappointed, but love of Jordan aside, would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But why? Well, that is what this review is about.

What You Get

12 Rules is a good size book, and I mean that in a physical sense. It is a hardcover with what I would call an aesthetic cover design, very simple, and straight to the point. Its covered in arrows, which seems to symbolize the chaos of life – we are always looking where each arrow points, and we need to sort it out. For a hardcover its size, it seems to be a bargain considering its Amazon price.

The book is nicely formatted, with each chapter having a noticeable barrier in between and each line justified to the edge of the page (yes, I have read books that didn’t have that). Chapters range in size, with the longest in my estimation being the eleventh (Don’t Bother Skateboarding Children), amounting to about fifty pages.

Content-wise, it is perfect for anyone who enjoys Peterson Lectures. If you watch JBP’s content on a regular basis, there are very few foreign concepts within the book. It does not have very much on the political battle he faces against bill C-16, nor does it go very deep into the topics he covers in his Biblical lectures, but I saw it as a wrapping of pretty much all of his more mainstream-known views.

The Content of the Book

When reading the book, I expected it to go ankle deep on each of the topics. For example, I expected most of the chapters to focus mostly on the scientific benefits of each rule, but boy was I wrong. Mr. Peterson enjoys speaking of archetypes so I do not know why I expected nothing less.

The topics flow very well, too. All of the chapters will jump from personal anecdote to ancient literature to psychological fact pretty much seamlessly. At some points, I thought that there was no way whatever archetype being discussed was going to relate back to the rule, but to my surprise it did. Every time. It would quite literally leave me laughing.

Each chapter is applicable to your own life and is very engaging. The first half or so is very lighthearted, but I began to pick up on some much heavier and much more important points later in the book, especially when things like Soviet death camps or the Columbine shooters are brought up.

It is a relentless book, constantly reminding the reader that life is suffering, but not to lose hope, for meaning can be found in this life, and nihilism is never the answer.

Readability

I have been asked a few times how it compares to his other book, Maps of Meaning. Admittedly, I have not read Maps of Meaning in its entirety, but I have read a fair amount. 12 Rules is much much less academically geared. MoM seems to be ready for a scholarly psychology audience, while 12 Rules is ready for anyone to pick up and read. It is easier, and it can connect to your own life, to a greater degree than his other book does.

Many concepts are brought up but may need a little bit of prior knowledge, particularly when it comes to psychology. Freud, Jung, general psychoanalysis, and a bit of behaviorism is brought up with little explanation, but it is a psychological text, and any Peterson follower should already be familiar with such concepts. For a non-Peterson follower, this is not a deal breaker. They are simple concepts that can easily be inferred about, and a quick Google search is always available as an option.

Should You Read It?

If you like to watch Jordan Peterson’s lectures, no doubt.

If you are completely unfamiliar with Dr. Peterson, you should still read it. It is not a hard book to read, and it can introduce a lay audience to many in-depth and complicated concepts easily.

The text is affordable, so I see no reason why you would not add this to your library. Peterson’s book is a trove of knowledge and wisdom, so it is perfect for any individual seeking to sort themselves out.