Defining and establishing freedom as the central and empirically provable regularity of animate nature is difficult from within our system of civilization, because this observation exposes its own unnaturalness in regards to the lifelong enslavement of many other organisms, especially in agriculture. Cognitive defensive reactions occur quite automatically, such as the claim that these are banalities for which a deeper empirical consideration is unnecessary. Indeed, it would have been unnecessary then also to reflect empirically on the fact that the apple always falls on the ground in the direction of the center of the planet. There would never have been the gravitation theory of Isaac Newton or the relativity theories of Albert Einstein. Freedom is – as difficult as this is to comprehend from the current point of view of human civilization – quite similarly based on regularities that are just as fixed as the phenomena of gravity. The descriptions of this chapter in combination with the next chapter (Evolution) provides a basic explanation of the key points of the context.
The term “freedom” evolved to name the central regularity of animated nature
Variations of the term “freedom” exist in all major language families, always with the same meaning. The English word “freedom,” as well as “Freiheit” in the German language, evolved from the old Germanic “fri halsa.” The translation of “Hals” into English is “neck,” so that the root meaning of freedom is that an individual determines “over his neck himself.” In the other language families, the freedom term is also pointed to express “self-determination.”
If one now undertakes a systematic search in nature for a vertebrate that does not determine over itself, it would be unsuccessful to a degree that is far towards zero. The rare exceptions could be sick or injured individuals or those in the mostly very short moments of beeing killed as prey. These aside, every bird or fish, every reptile or mammal and every amphibian determines “over its neck itself” in terms of its decisions and actions; there is no slavery and no bondage in their existence. This can be proved all around the planet in every species.
Vertebrates are used in this observation, because freedom is easily recognizable as a regularity in them, even for the layman. But in fact freedom is the very central regularity of all nature which can be proven across all lifeforms without exception. So, the vernacular was right when it gave rise to the phrase “free nature,” which has also developed all over many different languages.
The result of a systematic investigation is always the same
Freedom as the central regularity of nature can be best explored and discovered with practical investigation, which is recommend to every reader. No previous knowledge is needed, for instance, in biology or other sciences. Every layman can discover the regular freedom by means of targeted and systematic observation. One should use a day with good weather to go into nature and pay attention to all vertebrates that come into view and search for anything which speaks against their complete determination over themselves. The challenge is to find any behavior that is not determined by the decision of the animal concerned, but by another living being. And as an addition, the scheme of limited freedom would also be fulfilled if the free and thus self-determined unfolding of the animal is recognizably reduced by a disease or injury.
The result of this examination of reality will always be the same, no matter where on the planet it is carried out. So it doesn’t matter whether the systematic observation takes place, say, while hiking in forests and along rivers of any climatic zone, or while snorkeling in tropical coral reefs or in other waters: the regularity of freedom is generally the same everywhere in nature. The more often one undertakes such practical investigations, the clearer it will become that this is no coincidence; freedom is always the common denominator of all the various species and, thus, a central regularity in their natural existence.
Before observing this in action, one might still have doubts, for example, because one diffusely assumes that the freedom of the blackbird in the forest is somehow restricted by predators. However, if we now consider a scene in which a real blackbird flies up from a meadow and flees because it detects an approaching hawk, there will be nothing to argue against the absolute self-determination of this reaction. The hawk would, of course, prefer a completely different reaction from the blackbird, but it cannot bring it about, because the blackbird is in a state of absolute freedom. So, the blackbird has determined itself with this flight reaction in its unlimited own interest.
Restrictions of freedom are marginal phenomena in nature
If one now observes that the hawk succeeds and manages to grab the blackbird, then one will now be able to discover a real restriction of its freedom. Because now it is in the control of the predator and can no longer determine over itself. However, this aspect of our observations is of the utmost importance and after some time, one will recognize quite automatically that the periods of these actual restrictions, from the capturing up to the death, are fleeting in relation to the state of freedom. This realization arises when one has wandered through nature for a whole day, discovering thousands of birds and other vertebrates, still unable to find a scene in which one of them is in the clutches of a predator. The corresponding mortality is so fast in a healthy ecosystem that it is only a tiny fraction of reality.
The tininess of this fraction can be traced mathematically, and then it becomes clear why, during systematic observation, one probably wandered through nature for a whole day and discovered thousands of birds without seeing even a single one of them dying under the control of a predator. With the blackbird as an example, it could be successfully preyed upon by a hawk after a year in a state of freedom. If this process from the physical first contact to the occurrence of death takes two minutes, then this ratio amounts to 262,800 to 1. The blackbird had 525,600 minutes of total self-determined development, and there were only two minutes of the restriction of this freedom during the final death struggle.
One would have to watch the free blackbird for a whole year, day and night uninterruptedly, in order to be able to see those final two minutes of the restriction of its freedom by another living being. This mathematical approach can be applied to all species of vertebrates and the result will always be that the existence of the average individual is characterised to a degree that reaches far towards the absolute by the state of freedom.
The humans in civilization concentrate on dying in order to be able to ignore natural freedom
The fleeting nature of restrictions to freedom and, thus, the regularity of the almost absolute dominance of freedom in nature, is not perceived in civilization because of psychological mechanisms, which are further illuminated in the chapter “repression.” In concrete terms, these mechanisms function, for example, in such a way that a photo taken rather coincidentally exactly in the last two minutes of the blackbird’s life is presented in a mass medium. Its many users can now look at the picture extensively and thus get the impression that blackbirds’ existences are not determined by freedom but by being captured and killed by predators.
Ask yourself what images come to mind when thinking of gazelles and lions and where these come from. Most television consumers have probably had the diffuse impression for decades that the existence of gazelles in Africa must consist mainly of being hunted and killed by lions. In reality, however, the ratios are no different to the blackbird in the forest or the fish in the coral reef. The average gazelle is, on the whole, in a state of genuine freedom to a degree that reaches far towards the absolute.
Disease, infirmity and misery are rarities in the free animal world
To those who have been out and investigated nature in the proposed manner, the second important feature of the central regularity of freedom in nature will also have become visible: Even limitations of freedom, for example from disease or injury, are so minute in temporal relation to free and healthy existence that they too can be discovered only very rarely across all vertebrate species. This means that one could find, wandering through nature all day, among thousands of vertebrates, perhaps at most one or two specimens which seemed significantly restricted in this respect.
Again, this result is certainly not a coincidence, but one based on fixed regularities that order life everywhere on the planet. On average, one would have to snorkel for hours in the coral reef to find one or two of the thousands of fish there which are restricted in their development in this regard. And so, it is likewise with the gazelles in Africa, the frogs at the lake, and any other vertebrates on the entire planet.
A main reason why long-term restrictions on free development due to disease and injury are rare is that, on average, the affected individuals are very quickly preyed upon by predators or die quickly due to other causes. Thus, misery and suffering in nature are a marginal phenomenon. The mechanisms that lead to this result can be defined as a regular resistance of nature to all kinds of infirmity.
The fast ending of infirmity by death in the ecological system does not work against the freedom but secures it
At first sight, the assumption could perhaps arise that this fast death must then cause, for example, the fish or birds observed during the walk to exist under a constant danger pressure, which restricts their freedom as individuals. But this is not the case. As long as the animal is healthy and, therefore, in full possession of its characteristics developed over the many millions of years of evolution, the supposed pressure is even a very important part of their free existence.
Think of a capable and passionate motorcyclist. He drives at high speed, but also with the greatest precision through the curves. The danger line is constantly just a few centimeters away from him and any mistake, no matter how small, could lead to his immediate death. But when asked, he will always say that it is precisely these periods of time in which he feels himself to be completely free, and that there is no state in which he could enjoy his existence more.
The same as the passionate motorcyclist manages those dangers on the street, the free and healthy vertebrate, in constant self-determination, manages those everyday dangers that come from predators and other natural factors. Meanwhile, the immune system and other facilities of its body defend it with sufficient success against the innumerable parasites existing in the environment or even on and in itself. The organism is adapted to temperatures, humidity and all other climatic factors of the environment.
If this self-determined and, thus, free life is no longer possible, then it will – on average – end quickly, before permanent infirmities, suffering and misery can arise. However, it is extremely important for the correct understanding to note that there is no system in nature superior to the individual which determines this end directly in any way. But for the correct classification of the connection the consideration must be exactly reversed. For this, one can imagine as a bridge of understanding that freedom as a state of self-determined existence is life. And if it, the freedom, ends, then the life also ends.
The recognition of freedom in insects
Anyone who has carried out the recommended investigation in reality will have gained a good understanding of the central regularity of freedom in their existence on the basis of vertebrates. In order to extend the knowledge on this basis to the total context of nature, more effort is needed, because things become much more complicated in the realms of insects and mollusks for example. And this is even truer for plants, fungi and microorganisms. But this does not mean that freedom is not the central regularity in these forms of life. It applies completely, no matter which species we look at. To take this a little further, a look at insects, by far the largest faction within the animal kingdom, can be undertaken.
Observing insects in relation to freedom is a little more problematic than vertebrates because such large varieties and numbers exist that restrictions in freedom can be discovered much more often. But mathematics confirm that there is basically no essential difference concerning the almost absolute dominance of freedom. So, for example, an observer sitting at a pond could direct his gaze to the spiderwebs drawn up at the shore. He might then see many mayflies caught in them. And now he thinks that in those species there must be a very poor relationship between self-determined free development and the death process caused by a predator. But this would be a deception.
The life cycle of mayflies includes a larval stage that lasts from one to four years, depending on the species. These larvae have legs and lead a self-determined and, incidentally, active life in the water. They hunt and gather, avoid predators and do whatever else is necessary for the free development of their evolutionary and innate characteristics. Even if such an animal lives, after the metamorphosis, as a now winged specimen, half an hour tangled in the spider’s web before the spider kills it or the effort lets the organism collapse, the ratio would still be 35,040 to 1 in favor of the free development in the case of a two-year-old individual.
This is a rather low value, but it is exceeded by those more numerous mayflies that are killed in seconds, for example, by birds or bats. And it is similar with other flying insects, whose obvious and relatively long death process in a spider web is particularly noticeable to a non-systematic observer, while the vast majority of their conspecifics – in the case of mayflies sometimes several million on one cubic hectare – freely exist in the environment in often very large numbers and whose death, if they are preyed upon by swallows, for example, comes almost in a flash.
Also, for flies, bees, wasps and beetles, the effect of the predatory enemies on their free development is close to zero. This statement can be transferred to all animals for the incorruptible observer, who, thus, only focuses on the reality.
The falsifications and errors around state-forming ants, example 1: aphids are no captive “milk cows”
When investigating insects, a few examples can lead to confusion in the context of freedom as a central regularity in the animal kingdom. Most of them involve the symbiotic and parasitic activities of state-forming ants. There is much false information circling around them, stating, for example, that some ant species hold slave aphids captive to breed or to be milked, as livestock, just as man breeds and milks cows.
However, it is the aphid species themselves that have specialized, often many millions of years ago, in attracting particular ant species by means of feces that are useless to them, in order to secure advantages for themselves in the form of aggressive bodyguards, carriers or even winter hosts. That is why in the specialist world of the insect researchers, one does not speak of the ants “holding” the aphids, but “visiting” them.
This misleading notion of captivity is quickly and easily rectified through research findings. However, aphids are still spoken and written about, among laymen, as being milked and held in an attempt to legitimize the perversion of the captive husbandry of the “milk cows,” which began only a few millennia ago. Cow’s milk is not a fecal matter that is useless for them, like that of the aphid, with which they attract the people; it arose in the early history of mammals more than 200 million years ago for the sole purpose of feeding their own young. And dairy cows have also been manipulated and deprived of their freedom extensively and for life. So, there are no real similarities between free aphids and captive cows.
The falsifications and errors around state-forming ants, example 2: “slave ants” are no real slaves
Another error surrounding state-forming ants concerns the so-called “slave-holding ants.” This phenomenon is a form of social parasitism, identified by many specialized scientists as a complex, obligatory mutualism that is many million years old, always between the same species. The soldiers of certain ant species raid the colonies of other ant species in order to rob their eggs and pupae. These are then integrated into their own colony and provide the care of the offspring of the queen. But there is no real restriction of freedom due to the fact that the development of the affected workers in their own colony would have been practically the same, in that they would have taken care of the offspring of the queen according to their innate characteristics and needs. So, there might be something like a forced adoption at the very beginning of their existence. But during their lifespan, the free development of their initiate characteristics is not restricted.
Misinformation surrounding “slave-holding ants” has not penetrated the public perception as deeply as the famous error around the ant-aphid relationship for several reasons. One lies in the conclusions presented by the evolution biologist Edward O. Wilson, widely recognized as the most competent of all experts around the phenomenon of the so-called slave ants. In 1975, after many years of observation of different species on several continents, he identified that the supposed “slaves” are not only completely integrated into the social structure of the “slave-holder ants” and develop all of their evolutionary characteristics there, but they also possess social status, which lies at least at the same level, often even above, that of those soldiers who robbed them as dolls or eggs. So finally, there is no real “slavery in ants” here.
Investigating plants and microorganisms leads to the same result
The connections shown up to this point should be sufficient for a compact sketch of the topic of regular freedom. Further investigation, for example of plants or microorganisms, would go beyond the scope of this journal, as we are moving into complicated territory and the conclusion would be, accordingly, much more complex. However, it can be assured that nothing changes in terms of freedom across all different species of all classes. The average individual of the respective species is always in the almost absolute state of freedom. By the way, the fact that self-determination in other organisms is not based on cognitive decisions, as is the case in animals, but on other forms of reaction formation, is not relevant in that regard.
The regularities and mechanisms explored in the chapter “Evolution” are closely connected with the regularities described here in this section and are recommended for deepened understanding, in terms of the mechanical foundation of freedom so clearly observable in animals.
Especially in the case of vertebrates, even the layman can easily observe for himself that freedom, i.e., the self-determined existence of the individual, is a central natural regularity in all species. In the natural world (away from the effects of the current human civilization), no form of permanent enslavement between different species can be found. Furthermore, the average proportion of such individuals, which are restricted in their self-determined development by illness or injury, is always a relatively minimal phenomenon across all species of vertebrates. This is the result of nature’s resistance to infirmity, which works in a way that even small deviations from the state of freedom lead to a speedy death in average. A look into the realm of insects shows that the regularities of freedom are by no means only present in vertebrates. For further evidence that freedom in all forms of life is the central regularity of existence and that it can be proven in several empirical approaches, a closer look into deeper evolutionary mechanisms is advised, which are the issue of the next chapter: Evolution