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A philosophy espoused by Frank Herbert in his Dune Chronicles. The keystone of this philosophy is the assertion that every person is completely free at any time to take any action that is physically possible for them. This means that all actions are completely and purely voluntary. This specifically includes cubical drones, soldiers, and even slaves (that’s right, slavery is completely voluntary). From this philosophic standpoint, coercion is completely impossible unless one physically forces another person’s hand.

The reason that this is not true in practice is because of fear. Office workers fear that they will lose their jobs and ultimately, their means to support themselves. Soldiers fear punishment. Slaves fear death. Ultimately, it is fear itself that is the captor. Fear is the result of billions of years of natural selection. Evolution favors those that stay alive. Fear, however, is also completely internal and Herbert argues that it is under our control (see Litany Against Fear) and can be overcome. A person who can overcome his or her fear of death cannot be coerced and is completely free, because death is always an option

Personally, I view this as an unnecessarily harsh way of looking at things. However, as the United States of America, and possibly the rest of Western Civilization prepares to face down radical extremist groups all over the world, it is very important for them to keep in mind that they have very little leverage over people who are not afraid to die for their cause. Sun Tzu points out that the ultimate goal of any military action is not to destroy the enemy’s army, but to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. The United States needs to understand that some people’s will cannot be broken by the threat of a fiery death.

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