The Psychology of Liberty

The Psychology of Liberty

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The Psychology of Liberty is essentially a psychologically-based analysis of a completely free market economics, arising from an individual rights-based politics. It portrays the type of society that humanity will eventually embrace in order to live benevolently, peacefully, and happily. The book explains who our species once was, has been, and now is, in evolutionary and biological terms, and then expounds on the philosophical and psychological implications of this for individuals and society. This necessarily entails describing distinguishing characteristics of our species (e.g., reason, volition, emotions) coupled with inspection of personal and societal conditions that have endured for centuries (namely, collectivistic thinking, irrationality, emotional unawareness and repression, and authoritarian rule over others).

Being based on logical and objective principles, much of human nature described reflects the ingenious ideas of late novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. Additionally, many of the psychological interpretations are in agreement with those of psychologist and psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, whose focus is on the dynamics of self-esteem.

The book addresses and clarifies the dominant themes found in individual psychological processes and the social factors bearing on these processes. The surrender of independent thought and judgment to others and the influences to disrespect ourselves and not understand our mental world are examined in detail. This is blended with the introduction and explanation of the properties, function, and use of logical reasoning (the process of noncontradictory identification), which facilitates discovery of fundamental truths about ourselves and our political situation. Logic is explained as the method by which we find both personal and societal enlightenment. Only it can remedy our present psychological and political climate——for instance, the inherently coercive nature of various governmental systems and ideologies based on them.

The ideal society is a society that has never before existed. It is one in which, among many other things, individuals treat each other in a voluntary manner, which is in line with honoring our distinctive faculty of reason. A profile is created of the dramatic legal, educational, and economic changes that follow from the construction of a society based on the principle of absolute freedom. Absolute freedom presupposes a political philosophy that describes the logical meaning of individual rights and that consequently upholds laws of justice ensuring those rights. As a result of this political philosophy, governmental institutions would take on a new character: They would be replaced by market-driven services in the business of ensuring objective laws and the protection of rights. So, there would no longer be any coercively created and maintained monopolistic enterprises of goods and services which work to diminish the free market system.

Of course, the changes presented are tremendously psychological in nature.The ideal society outlined is a reflection of the basic trust persons must have, not only in others, but also in themselves. An understanding of human nature and the acquisition of genuine self-esteem generates this trust. Of course, the major contradictory ideas and practices in our culture tend to discourage this fundamental trust——they deter humans from doing what is right and necessary in a free society.

The book addresses many of the psychological and ethical implications of the ideal society of true capitalism (Self-Governing Capitalism) for our culture. In particular, people would learn to relate to life and to others in a better way. By fulfilling the intellectual and moral requirements of freedom (namely, a logical philosophy and an objective code of values), people would develop a more affirmative outlook about their existence and their capabilities. Happiness and mental health involve developing a new self-concept, and the Psychology of Liberty reflects this.