Freedom lost: Why governments take our freedom and why we let them

Today we visited the “Terror Museum” in Budapest.  It’s housed in the former offices and torture headquarters of the Fascist Party (WWII) and the Hungarian communist “KGB” (1945-1990).

As half my family are Hungarian refugees (the other half are Polish refugees), I came to Budapest to explore my roots and see whether ancestral memories or trauma would be stirred up by my visit.

I did end up getting “all fired up” but I don’t think it was anything to do with ancestral trauma. What upsets me is government invasion into our lives and the fact that people allow it to happen.

Today’s blog is about my own (blinkered and biased) view of recent history, including the torture and murder of my grandparent’s family, and why we allow this to happen.  In my view there must be something in our psychology that creates this, and I believe that tools like RPT can help us to understand – and ultimately change – human behavior.

A brief biased history of freedom lost

From my perspective, the history of government invasion into civil liberties is generally a step-by-step approach.  Overnight military uprisings are very rare; these things take years to develop as the government entrenches its power.

Rather than overnight uprisings, the history of persecution could be described as a series of unfortunate events. (Author Lemony Snicket would surely agree.)

For instance Hitler didn’t come to power overnight and start killing Jews.  It took him many years to entrench his power. The campaign of persecution of Jews increased in tempo over a several year period before the German borders were closed.   A small number of Jews (thousands out of millions) saw the writing on the wall and left Europe before it was too late.

Only 1 of my 4 grandparents escaped Europe before the war.  Three of them remained, feeling they had no choice, even though many of their brothers and sisters emigrated to South America, Australia or the USA in the 1930s.

The fundamental question here is why did they stay behind?  What were they thinking?

Many had fear of change, or assets or businesses that couldn’t be left behind. Above all else there was a belief that things couldn’t get much worse.  At every step along the way they were sure that things would improve.  No one could believe the horror of Auschwitz even when told about it. In psychology this is a form of “normalcy bias.”

In other words, in my own logic: people value what they know (comfort, security) more than freedom (which is risky).

Creeping communism

Similar to the Nazi takeover of Europe, Communist control over Eastern Europe did not occur overnight.  The Budapest Terror Museum contained a frightening history of intimidation and electoral fraud that enabled the Communists, over a period of years, to gain total control over Hungary and subjugate the people to Soviet control.

The question to ask yourself is “why didn’t people get out when they could?”

There are lots of answers – they would lose their houses, they didn’t speak any language other than Hungarian, they had already lost too much in WWII and couldn’t afford to leave. Etc. Etc. Etc.  The one thing we can say for sure is that if they had known what the communists had in store for them, they would have left.  But they didn’t.

This is a pattern repeated all over the world.  The Jews didn’t leave Germany, the East Berliners didn’t escape before the wall was built, Cambodian intellectuals didn’t flee Pol Pot.  It’s still happening before our very eyes, like the white South Africans who aren’t trying to emigrate before Nelson Mandela dies (when it’s widely understood that the “peaceful racial amnesty” ends).

Triune brain model and Freedom

The answer seems to be deeply ingrained in our psychology – in the R-complex or Reptilian brain.  We are hardwired to seek security. As much as freedom is important to us (at least intellectually), we feel safer with what we know.

There must be a part of our brain (R-complex) that tells us that it’s safest to stay close to our roots, near to where we were born.  Animals will consistently return to their home grounds rather than seeking greener pastures.

This isn’t just “less intelligent” animals like reptiles (think turtles that keep laying eggs on a beach that is no longer safe).  Large intelligent mammals do the same.

For instance elephants that are being culled in over-populated Kruger Park are driven thousands of kilometers to Mozambique and return to Kruger so quickly that they actually beat the trucks on the return journey!   Humans, for all our supposed brains, seem to have the same instinct – “home = safe.”

[Note for new readers - for more information on the triune brain model and its significance in RPT seem some of these old posts: Introduction to Triune Brain Model (Feb 2010) and Animated Video on healing with Triune Brain (May 2010).]


The point I hope you take from today’s article is this:  Freedom is neither the natural state of government nor (apparently) the natural state of our biology.

The natural state of government is power – the empowered crushing the weak.  This applies in the natural world (think about dominance displays in just about any animals), and in human politics.

The natural state of biology – for humanity and other animals, is to seek safety. For the vast majority of people this means allowing oppression.  This can be perfectly summarized by the life motto of my Jewish ancestors as taught to me in my childhood: “better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t know.”

Combine these two factors together and you have, in my view, an ability to understand why human history is shaped by so much cruelty and oppression.  People, or “Sheeple” as I’ve recently heard them called (sheep people), feel safer to stick with what they have than to confront the unknown and flee oppression.

This explains why so much injustice is allowed to occur.  This is the only explanation I can see for what I learned in the Terror Museum, or for why my ancestors didn’t do more to escape the Holocaust.

Continued – tomorrow

Wow, that Torture museum got me all fired up… from torture to histories to elephant brains.    I’m going to have to adjourn till tomorrow.

In tomorrow’s blog I will encourage you to ask some difficult questions like how different your country really is to early communist Hungary. How different are your rights and freedoms really to Jews in early Hitler German (before the exterminations began)?  These are difficult and controversial questions.

And most important of all, I will keep coming back to the million dollar question of “what can I do about this?”

Until then – don’t forget that your comments and questions here are your exchange, your “payment” for enjoying the blog. Hit the “Like” button and make your contribution.



May 30, 2011 in Financial freedom / Lifestyle design, Thoughts For the Day
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Responses

  1. The government in the United States is intimidation. If you don’t allow yourself to be intimidated the United States government will make sure you are punished and called unpatriotic. The American political dialog is no longer a reasonable discourse. In the last few years it has moved to fear based scare tactics. Since 9/11 the American people have been in a coma. The Patriot Act, which Obama just signed in to law for another 4 years, is actually based on the concept, now embraced by most Americans, I would rather lose my freedom to be safe. That refrain is often repeated by people in public dialog.


  2. It seems to me that all forms of government end up abusing power. Capitalism is eating itself, and communism imploded.
    Is it possible to have a working combination of the two? If communism and capitalism hadn’t gone head to head, and instead had co-operated, I wonder how things would look? Of course, humanity wasn’t ready for that, and so we have the situation globally as it is today… but maybe as more and more people shift their consciousness away from the old paradigm of fear and safety and hoarding; towards a new paradigm of interdependence (with the help of RPT!), maybe then we’ll see a new form of government.
    Simon – have you read any Iain M. Banks books? Sci-fi envisioning a highly technological society called The Culture in which literally everything is governed and manufactured by ‘Minds’ (super-super-super-computers), leaving humans free to do whatever the hell they like. It’s a wonderful, believable vision of the future, and of course like all good sci-fi very close to the truth of how things are now…


    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Ben, I haven’t read Banks but have read lots of Utopian sci fi. Sounds rather Star Trek…

    As to political theories – they all suck. Why take the best part out of 2 flawed theories?

    I am a true libertarian, have been my whole life and I don’t see it changing in a hurry. Like all libertarians I know that freedom is our universal right, that charity and service are our obligations to humanity (but are moral NOT LEGAL compulsions), that taxation is a form of slavery and that all government intervention always goes bad.

    I highly recommend Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, the State and Utopia for people interested in this intellectual philosophy.

    I guess Vanuatu is perhaps the most libertarian country in the world. No income tax, and we chose to fund a free healing clinic instead of paying ridiculous taxes which the government would waste on “health programs.”

    Just my thoughts



  3. Hi Simon,
    thank you for these thoughts and insights that really pushed me to ask: what is our biological safety mechanism about? It is challenging to face that our safety instincts, which originally were designed to keep us safe, can mislead us. Was it only the fact, that those Jewish people, who decided to leave, had other reference points for safety? I suppose they were also much more in alignment of their minds and better capable to face the real danger, seeing things as they are. Their instincts proved to be the better ones.

    I am in a philosophical mood, asking myself – sophisticated? – questions: We work on finding out the associations linked with safety, but what about the reference point for safety itself? I suppose we have more than one association for safety. But what if we could clear all associations? What would be the natural state of being safe? I imagine it would be freedom, having absolute confidence and no fear at all – even to leave everything behind and go.

    I just have the idea that it would be great if you could develop an exercise just for this. That would be the most radical short cut to liberation ☺)))
    And also the best way to stand against governments, avoiding to become “sheeples”.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Oya

    Did you read the recent article on this blog about how gut insticts can be misleading? That’s the same thing as why “safety” is misleading.

    As you indicated, it comes down to different definitions of safety, for instance short-term versus long-term.

    You could say that the Jews who left Europe had a much longer view of safety than the Jews who chose to stay behind. I have a mix of both genetic lines, which I can see in my own behavior patterns and mistakes.

    A word of caution – I feel that it is false to say that the Jews who escaped were “more in alignment” with “better insticts.” That would be too simplistic.

    The reality is that the two groups had different survival insticts. For instance one group had survival associated with numbness / hiding; whilst the other group associated survival with running away. A third group probably had security with fighting. (As you know these are the 3 most common survival instict groups.)

    None of these insticts is more “correct.” In any one given situation it’s likely that one instict will most likely be the one that actually works. But you don’t always know this upfront. Sometimes the “runners” win, sometimes the “hiders” win and sometimes the “fighters” win. History of course is written by the winners, but it’s important to remember it could have gone the other way.

    You’ve probably heard about the importance of genetic diversity. I just clicked that it’s the same thing here. The survival of a species requires there to be different survival insiticts. That guarantees one group will always survive.

    Of course the ultimate goal (enlightenment) would be having the full range of survival insticts at your disposal and always knowing which one to choose. That’s what we are working towards!

    I like your philosophical idea of clearing all reference points for safety. Practice this!

    The problem as I see it is that we have LOTS of associations or reference points for safety and security. Lots of them are inconsistent with each other (inherited from different ancestors probably).

    The limitation of RPT at it’s current state of evolution is that you need to acknowledge each of these “false” associations with security. Each of them served to keep an ancestor safe, and this is what we are acknowledging.

    I’d love to find the shortcut to clear all at once. RPT 2012 maybe?



  4. Hi Simon,
    Scraping the floor of useless memory (a politics degree) I remember something, I think from Weber though it may have been Hobbes, about a social contract. As people come together in numbers and form a society they choose to give up some of their personal freedom to the collective, or more likely its representative, in return for security. I obey the laws, you protect me from marauding rapers and pillagers. Unfortunately the deal escalates and “Leviathan” is created – the monster that is the state.
    We’ve done this for thousands of years, it’s in us, we’re steeped in it. So “not free” means safe or secure, free means “not safe, not secure”.
    Of course, at bottom it’s a choice and people may choose differently but there’s a price for that as Val points out.
    There can be a mentality of if you’re not with us then you’re against us.
    People on the whole want to belong (it means survival) and there’s a risk of being outcast if you don’t go with the flow of the majority. And if you’re outcast then you’re as free as you like but no-one is protecting you.
    Fear itself becomes a tool to help Leviathan grow bigger as you willingly hand over more and more freedoms in the name of security from a threat that is perceived as growing.
    Patent nonsense but it’s a good trick because look how well it worked and continues to flourish.
    It is Hobbes. He wrote “Leviathan”.
    Ben, quite fancied living in the Culture ,and thanks for reminding me of Banks’s incredibly clever books, but as I remember it even that wasn’t universally accepted. The Culture was at war with a more traditional society where rules and hierarchy and militarism prevailed and which viewed the Culture as self-indulgent dilletantes. I suspect that would happen here unless everyone in the world does a spot of RPT on those ancient associations.
    Sue x


    Ben Ralston Reply:

    Hey Sue,
    Yes, the Culture was at war all the time pretty much! But I think they only went to war to give Mr Banks an interesting story to write about ;)


    Sue Healy Reply:

    True. War schmar x


  5. Hi Simon, spot on with this blog posting. I have just finished reading David Icke’s book “Human Race Get Off Your Knees – The lion sleeps no more” and he is unpacking the whole control matrix that we seem to be increasingly subject to at this time. Thank ‘life’ for consciousness – or vice versa if you prefer.

    best wishes. hugh and monica


  6. Oliver J R Cooper

    Hello Simon, well said with this one. And ”The natural state of biology – for humanity and other animals, is to seek safety” nailed it.

    Thanks for writing this.



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