(The Big Marsh, Store Mosse, flourishing in southern Sweden)
Now I’m waiting in Serbia for the travel ban to pass me and for the Turkish Airlines – to bless me with a transatlantic flight that doesn’t go through the Schengen area. Each day, I dip my toes in the Danube thinking „wow, I really am doing this”. The Mises Institute is a generous and motivating place, and I already hold the position of a remote fellow, even though I should be in Alabama, I should be waking up each day early morning and spending hours between books and fruitful discussions, I should be boosting my writing… Do I really think I will accomplish that much? I tend to be overly optimistic about the amount of time and strength that I have. But now there’s Belgrade, there’s the fortress in the sun, white tigers in the zoo, all the Serbian history to refresh in the museums, all the memories from previous Libertycons, all the hearty meals to eat.
Why am I so motivated? Because I’ve been through so much that now I am flooded with the need to vocalize it, make it general, make it digestible – to make a statement that may help others and may add a little pebble to our understanding of evil, of abuse, and of the psychological mechanisms of totalitarian regimes.
My research plan starts with one assumption: a human being is an end in themselves. We are not to be treated like objects. This is the only correct anthropology there is in our known universe. Any collectivist philosophy, any system that pretends we’re not who we really are, any system that objectifies us – must necessarily be based on psychological manipulation and, in the end, wide-scale emotional (and in extreme cases physical) abuse. They may try to fool us into the existence of some kind of „greater good” – but ultimately, all that we are left with in this world are relations between real life human beings. There is nothing else. And said human beings can treat us either as equal, distinct, respectable persons – or, if they’re narcissistic or sociopathic, as objects.
Being treated like a person is crucial in developing respectful relations, and, early on – crucial in developing your own humanity. If you don’t want to raise a narcissist – love your young child for who they are. Look at them and think „I can’t wait to get to know you, you’re amazing, you’re a miracle”. That’s how they learn how to treat others. If they live in this world loved and strong, not needing any admiration and seeing wonders and uniqueness in others – the world will be saved from the crippling disease of abuse. The most important job there is is loving young children unconditionally. If we could all do that, there won’t be so many toxic bosses, dictators, bullies… Maybe some abusive political systems would be dismantled?
And that is how I will start my writing. We can either treat others with respect or we can treat them abusively. Only the former is based on the right notion of a human being – you are you, you are unique, you are an end in yourself and you should never be objectified. I don’t know you, I can’t know what’s best for you, but now that you’re here, I can’t wait to get to know you. Tell me more.
I won’t make assumptions about your life, I won’t put words in your mouth, I won’t lie to you or go behind your back, I won’t hurt you or disturb you consciously – I will only do what our relation permits and what you agreed upon. If something went wrong, we’ll figure it out and make things right. You will never feel any kind of anxiety when you’re with me, you’ll never feel like I’m insincere, like I want something from you, like I only pretend to care, like I’m using you to show off. We will be able to have a heart-to-heart.
But if it’s about authority… If it’s about the twisted vision of what respect is… If I do not see you for who you are… Now that’s a different story.
I need admiration, I need to pretend that I’m „nice”, you have to show me that I know more than you, that I know better than you. The „you” part of the equation gets erased. There’s just me. And I don’t care about you as a person. Nothing personal! I’m just not interested. I assume everyone is like me, and if not, well… rethink your ways, because something must be wrong with you. I don’t care what you’ve been through or what your goals are, or that you like summer sunsets. I have a plan. A big plan. You will do research for me. You will work in a factory for me. You will teach for me. You will be a perfect little pawn in my perfect vision. Why do you keep on rebelling and telling me you’re human? What’s human? There are no humans here. You are my little screwdriver, and I’m here instead of God. He died, haven’t you heard? I’m the replacement.