It is impossible to talk about independence without also talking about the notion of freedom, whether it be an independent nation or an independent person, independence is supposed to equal freedom.
But does independence equal freedom, is an independent person free, is an “independent” person even an independent person? As ever with the Equations of Life Series, I start with an equation:
Level of communication + (Number of people united ²) = number of freedoms people have
With that said, let’s get to it. Arguably the most independent person in the world is a man nicknamed Man of the Hole, Man of the Hole is the last surviving member of a tribe in the Amazon rainforest, and he lives completely and entirely on his own.
Everything he needs to live he gets from the forest, that means he fends for himself, gathers his own food, his own resources, literally he does everything himself, and he is so independent that if every person on Earth died but him, he would continue living exactly as he is right now. Nothing would change for him. Considering this, it would be fair to say that he is dependent on no one but himself.
But all is not as it seems, as independent as he may at first seem he is actually not independent, and that is because he is dependent completely and entirely upon the Brazilian authorities for protection. If the Brazilian authorities had not set up a protection zone spanning forty square miles around his home, it is likely he would have been killed a long time ago by illegal loggers who want access to his land.
So despite being the most independent man on Earth, Man of the Hole is not actually per se independent, but is he free? He is free to live his life exactly as he is now, but what if he wanted to leave, where would he go, would he be accepted? And would he even be allowed to leave? These are all questions that should he wish to leave would have to be debated by Brazilian government officials. That means he is free to live his life as he does now, but he is not actually free, and in fact has fewer actual freedoms than the average Brazilian.
The latter point may seem questionable, but the average Brazilian can move freely throughout the country, with a passport can move freely around the world, but Man in the Hole cannot. Therefore, the most independent man on Earth has less freedoms than the average Brazilian. And yet it is indisputable that he has more independence than the average Brazilian.
I should add at this point, just to avoid any misinterpretations, that Brazil is a great country and its people have a great amount of freedom, freedom that is on par with arguably any liberal or Western country, the US and UK included, but it is not independence per se that is giving them that freedom, just as it is not independence in the US or UK that gives its people their freedom.
Which brings me to my next point, Brazil is an independent nation, the UK is an independent country, the US is, but is that independence the reason for the freedoms the people of these nations and other nations like them who share the same values have, or rather does a nation being independent equate to its people being free?
To answer that you need only look at North Korea, North Korea is an independent nation, but you would be hard pushed to find a single person who would say its people have a great many freedoms. So being an independent nation does not imply freedom.
Therefore, if North Korea is independent, but its people do not have a great deal of freedoms, and Man of the Hole is independent but has less freedoms than the average Brazilian, this begs the question does independence truly equal freedom?
The simple answer is, no, independence has nothing to do with freedom. In fact, freedom is derived from the opposite of independence, it is derived from dependency, namely equal dependency.
Equal dependency is where people are equally dependent upon each other, for example, if a person is heavily reliant upon one person, they will not have a great deal of freedom, but if a person is equally reliant upon millions of people and those people are equally reliant in return then all those people will have a great deal of freedom.
That means, the more people we are dependent upon and the more people dependent upon us the greater our freedoms. That means dependency is a good thing when people are equally dependent upon each other, but a bad thing when one person or even worse many people are heavily reliant upon one person.
For example, take a dictator, to become a dictator what you need to do is make large numbers of people become heavily reliant upon you, while at the same time giving yourself access to large numbers of people. What this would do is make you highly valuable because you would have made yourself the only option available to large numbers of people, but everyone else expendable because you would have many options available. So you would need no one individual, but every individual would need you. And in that is a dictator’s power.
For example, imagine there are ten farms and a dictator that we will call Alex controls all of them, that means Alex controls the nation’s food supply, that means an entire nation is completely and entirely reliant upon Alex for food, but Alex is not reliant upon the nation for control of the food, all Alex needs is to control the ten farms.
To control the farms all he needs to do is control the markets into which the farms sell, that means the farms cannot sell their produce without him, which gives him control of the farms, and the people cannot buy food without him, which gives him control of the people.
The only way to break this monopoly would be an uprising of the kind in which the people and the farmers found a way to bypass the dictator and interact directly with each other, which is why dictators always go out of their way to control a nation’s lines of communication.
If the people cannot communicate with each other, for example in this case, the farmers cannot interact with the consumers, and the people cannot interact with the farmers, then the farmers will always need the dictator and the people will always need the dictator.
That means a dictator keeps his power by keeping people as independent from each other as possible. That means equal dependency is the absolute enemy of a dictator. If people are equally dependent upon each other, then a dictator has no power.
This begs the question why we all aspire for independence, the answer of which lies in the fact that independence in the way we aspire for it does not actually mean independence.
Whenever a person says I want to be independent, what they are saying is that they want freedom. But independence is not freedom, unity is freedom.
It may seem nit-picky to highlight this fact, however, I would argue that teaching people to aspire for independence implying that independence equals freedom is not wise, because it leads to people believing that they do not need others. When they do. We all need each other.
The more people that unite, the more freedoms that those people will have. That makes unity the ultimate empowerment tool, not independence, and that makes equal dependency the path to freedom, not independence.
So what we should all be aspiring for, and this is just in my view, is not independence, but equal dependency. That is the true path to freedom, and the more of us that fights for it, the more freedoms we will all have.
Anyhow, that’s enough blubbering from me for today, stay safe! And let me know your thoughts in the comments!