Culture v Control

F.A. Hayek. Individualism: True and False, in Individualism and Economic Order.

“Quite as important . . . are the traditions and conventions which evolve in a free society and which, without being enforceable, establish flexible but normally observed rules . . . The readiness ordinarily to submit to the products of a social process which nobody has designed and the reasons for which nobody may understand is also an indispensable condition if it is to be possible to dispense with compulsion.”

Below are three voices from Antigone: dictatorial power, submission to such power, and customs-based resistance to it.

Sophocles, Antigone.
Creon to Haemon (666-672):

You must heed the man the city puts in charge–
On small matters, just things,
Things neither small nor just . . .
No evil is greater than having no one in charge.

ἀλλʼ ὃν πόλις στήσειε τοῦδε χρὴ κλύειν
καὶ σμικρὰ καὶ δίκαια καὶ τἀναντία . . .
ἀναρχίας δὲ μεῖζον οὐκ ἔστιν κακόν.

Ismene to Antigone (59-67):

We will die in the worst way
If, the power of custom notwithstanding,
We transgress a tyrant’s decree or power . . .
Since I’m acting under compulsion,
I will obey the men in charge.

ὅσῳ κάκιστ᾿ ὀλούμεθ᾿, εἰ νόμου βίᾳ
ψῆφον τυράννων ἢ κράτη παρέξιμεν . . .
ὡς βιάζομαι τάδε,
τοῖς ἐν τέλει βεβῶσι πείσομαι . . .

Antigone to Creon (453-457):

I did not believe your proclamations,
Mortal things, had strength enough
To trump customs credited to the gods.
These customs are alive,
Not today, not yesterday, but always,
And no one knows how long ago they appeared.

οὐδὲ σθένειν τοσοῦτον ᾠόμην τὰ σὰ
κηρύγμαθʼ, ὥστʼ ἄγραπτα κἀσφαλῆ θεῶν
νόμιμα δύνασθαι θνητὸν ὄνθʼ ὑπερδραμεῖν.
οὐ γάρ τι νῦν γε κἀχθές, ἀλλʼ ἀεί ποτε
ζῇ ταῦτα, κοὐδεὶς οἶδεν ἐξ ὅτου ʼφάνη.

picture of a smiling older man with a mustache, white receding hair, and glasses

Liberal squish, F.A. Hayek.

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