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Freedom Has Become A Dirty Word In The USA

Neo-authoritarianism isn’t only real, it’s trendy.

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ASTORIA, NYC- A friend recently got upset with me because she saw the tattooed lettering on my stomach that said “Freedom.”

“Is that like a pro-America, Trump thing?” she asked.

I was confused for a moment. I actually received the tattoo when I was a far-left teenage anarchist and I never thought of freedom as being a politically polarized concept. Doesn’t everyone, regardless of ideological affiliation, like freedom?

No, no they don’t.

Once I realized that everything else began falling into place. Movements such as those against free speech (just look at Twitter), against the freedom of assembly (no-platforming), against the right to bear arms, and basically against the entire Bill of Rights now started to make sense. I could now begin to understand why such a large swath of the population so enthusiastically cheered for lockdowns, mask mandates, social distancing, and forced vaccination (even when there wasn’t a lick of good science to support any of this). There was something about this loss of liberty that they seemed to like, that made them feel comforted, that made them feel … safe. It was their team that was calling the shots and they gleefully donned the Brownshirt and went out to hunt the Other.

Freedom means that people that you disagree with can express themselves publicly, it means that they can assemble, it means they could potentially even use the wrong gender pronouns, it means that those who think differently than you can exist and propagate. Freedom means unpredictability, that you may hear opinions and words that you don’t like, that you may occasionally feel compromised. And freedom is something that is no longer a pan-cultural positive in the United States.

I remember sitting in on a lecture that my father in law gave where he explained how the political left and right in the USA sometimes change positions over time. I spent 20 years abroad — stuck in ideological amber — and I feel as if while I was gone the political spectrum of America spun 180 degrees around me. When I first began traveling abroad the left was anti-war, anti-multinational corporation, anti-mainstream media … they rallied against things like the war in Iraq, globalization, and the World Economic Forum. Now they’re marching in lockstop with the Great Reset, voting in WEF compromised politicians, believing the pharmaceutical companies when they say things like “safe and effective,” championing the revocation of bodily autonomy, supporting censorship, cheering for war in Russia, and will probably eventually push for the IoB and trans-humanism … basically doing everything the billionaire club tells them to do.

When I was a kid it was the right who were the assholes trying to restrict the rights of other people. They were war mongers, they were those who were doing the bidding of the multinational corporations, they were those trying to impose a way of living that would comply with their moral code … Now we have these slack jawed, drawling, pasty white old conservative politicians going on TV and saying things like “The Republicans are the anti-war brand.”

This ideological shift became a sobering reality to me the day that I filmed a bunch of self-professed anarchists attacking an anti-lockdown protest. It became terrifying when I watched a video of Noam Chomsky saying that anyone who refuses to be vaccinated should remove themselves from society and who cares if they starve to death. This was the man who wrote Manufacturing Consent, and it’s difficult to understand how he could not realize that the same operatives who manufacture consent for wars were those manufacturing consent for lockdowns and the snake oil.

But I’m missing the point. What we’re really talking about are exercises in collectivism almost for collectivism’s sake. A collectivist mentality has seeped out of marginal leftist think tanks and Socialist dens and have taken a mainstream position. The individualistic, freedom-loving, “American” mindset somehow became attached to the right and is no longer a universal political position.

Collectivism sounds good until it becomes apparent that it can’t exist without forced compliance and freedom is a concept that’s diametrically opposed to this.

Neo-authoritarianism isn’t only real, it’s trendy.


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Filed under: Politics, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3719 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

8 comments… add one

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  • Rob November 21, 2022, 11:48 am

    Freedom as a bad thing?
    Just goes to show you how well Madison Ave/Main Stream Media/Social Media have become at molding what people think, what’s good/bad & what’s the “new normal”.

    I go much farther with this I’ll be in conspiracy theory country…

    It’s good to have you back!

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    • VBJ November 21, 2022, 4:38 pm

      It’s wild to watch — people happily abandoning their values and long-held political positions to oppose this boogeyman that the media created. They can seemingly get the bulk of the left to support anything if it makes it seem as if the other side — their enemy — is against it. In a way, it’s clever how dumb they’ve realized we are. This is the same shit that just about every authoritarian state has done; it’s propaganda 101. It’s straight out of the pages of 1984. They made their own Emmanual Goldstein and two-minute hate … although unfortunately for us it lasts more than two minutes 🤣

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  • Ror November 22, 2022, 11:44 am

    If only they could have seen you back then haha… and then to imply you got that tat as a righty… its laughable. Lets play some mischief brew!

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    • VBJ November 22, 2022, 1:30 pm

      No kidding, man! It’s wild. I didn’t know what to say. It’s kind of funny. Culture here has gotten weird.

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  • Trevor Warman November 24, 2022, 11:14 am

    Freedom is just another word for nothin’ left to lose

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    • VBJ November 25, 2022, 9:25 am

      Haha yeah, these people would rather have stuff.

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  • Jack December 28, 2022, 11:40 pm

    Maybe it is just that they all appeared to be different but maybe the left and the right were always just different sides of the same coin.

    I don’t trust either side.

    Why? Respect the rights of others. Neither side really does, they just want their rights respected and it’s whatever right they think they have. The hell with the rights of others, but they won’t say that…no they will say they look out for the rights of others…and those just align with the rights they want respected for themselves.

    I feel like a broken record but the right to be an asshole is probably the most important right there is. We don’t have it anywhere in the US anymore so I just keep quiet. I don’t even share what I think or feel. I go to church and just smile. I go to the store and just smile. I come home and I can be me.

    Why? My chickens don’t think I’m an asshole and neither do my goats. It was a cold and dreary day so I gave them some extra grain. I have two larger La Mancha does and three Nigerian Dwarfs does. Normally when I give grain the two bigger ones will push the little ones away. I have three bins though so all get their share. But today the big ones shared with the little ones in the first bin. They do the same on other bad weather days. The big ones look after the little ones. They may be assholes, but they aren’t jerks.

    There is nothing like forgetting the crap of this world when you are focused on milking a goat. Freedom is in picking up fresh eggs from your chickens in the morning. It’s in harvesting your own meat. It’s in harvesting fruit and vegetables that you grew yourself. I am looking forward to the time when I don’t have to go into town.

    I know this all doesn’t really make sense but that’s ok.

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    • Rob December 29, 2022, 11:13 am

      Different sides of the same coin says it all!

      Remember back in 1960 when President Eisenhower (his outgoing speech) warned about the “Military-Industrial complex”? “They” won.
      “They” have grown to include the all the media (tech giants included), the medical industry, the justice industry and the education industry.

      We see the coin and argue about the relatively minor difference between the sides of it, that’s the distraction. With people focused on the distraction the real money-power keeps going where it’s supposed to.

      This was interesting…


      Milking a goat? Hobble those legs! That could be frustrating!

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