Cognitive and political liberty are interdependent. Cognitive liberty is safeguarded by the policies and rights constructed by the political process; whilst the freedom to political thought and expression are themselves, fundamentally, cognitive liberties.
The use of psychedelics had an integral connection to political thought. This is evidenced by well documented political associations of the LSD using community of the 1960s and 1970s. During this period the community, certainly in The United States and in Europe clearly leaned towards libertarian, egalitarian, and pacifist positions. Was this political leaning merely the result of dangerous and irrational mind-addling with LSD, or do the political viewpoints arrived at from psychedelic experience still carry legitimacy?
The ‘Occupy Movement’ movement has a few focusses: there is a large throng of anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist protesters, there are many who are focussed on the corrupt machinations of the banking industry, and there are those who protest against the vast inequalities that mire our society and the planet.
Each of these issues, whilst explicitly political and economic, also relate to cognitive liberty as a concept. The military-industrial-consumer-capitialist system permeates every facet of our lives; we are born and raised in front of television adverts, sold the same music, given the same economy-focussed education. The laws we live by are moulded by economic necessity, shaped to make profit for some at the cost of the 99%. At birth we are given a number.
The vast inequalities in our society also bare significance for the issue of cognitive liberty. Wealth affects the education you receive, the jobs you end up working your life away with; wealth affects the range of experiences you have access to. A rich retired banker has a lot of freedom to go and do as he pleases, he is free to have a comfortable existence wherever he wants on the globe: whilst millions strive in abject poverty, their minds dedicated mainly to feeding themselves and surviving. It stands to reason that if the wealth were more fairly distributed in the UK and America it would, quite simply, empower a greater number of people, and their cognitive liberty with it.
Now let’s look at some quick facts about wealth inequality:
- The three richest people possess more financial assets than the poorest 10% of the world’s population, combined 
- “The richest 1 percent of people in the world receive as much as the bottom 57 percent, or in other words, less than 50 million richest people receive as much as 2.7 billion poor.” (Milanovic 2002)
- In Britain, the richest 10% of the population are more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest 10% of society.
It really doesn’t take a genius to realise that redistribution of such densely hoarded wealth would, in simple utilitarian concerns, cause a greater good for a greater number of people. The world is rife with famine, war and disease: wouldn’t it do more good if the billionaire’s yacht money went to ending them?
Revolution is as old as civilization. Thousands of years of civilization are marked by ocassional class uprisings, they are typically followed by massacres (See ‘A People’s History of the World’). Where revolutions have succeeded, rarely has the underclass been well-educated enough to rule. The current movement is thus significant since it occurs in countries with a highly educated (by historical standards) population. Further, this revolution is unique in its context within a technologically highly-networked society: the Occupy Movement is already a global phenomenon.
What surprises us, as it may have surprised you, is how little the Occupy Movement is being discussed by the mainstream media. This despite both the popular support for the movement, and the clear significance of what it represents. Since the mass-media has such a clear link to the minds of the population that are subject to it, cognitive liberty issues lurk in the background.
What is also interesting is that the sheer silence on the issue from the established political elite. Not Cameron, Clegg or Obama has been asked a single question on the issue; none of them have said a word. What does this silence represent? Are you really living in a democracy?
Cognitive Liberty UK would like to express gratitude for all the brave men, women and children who have supported The Occupy Movement and hope the endeavor will continue to have good-consequences.