What is “Voluntary Servitude” ?: Message to the Japanese citizens ?

What is Voluntary Servitude?

“Voluntary servitude” refers to what is commonly known as a slave mentality.

Some may think that it has nothing to do with them.

However, in reality, a slave mentality is pervasive in Japanese society.

To the extent that it can be likened to an ideal communist state, it is a favorable situation for dictators.

In this article, let’s contemplate the concept of voluntary servitude (i.e., a slave mentality).

Summary of “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude” (Étienne de La Boétie)

La Boétie (Étienne de La Boétie) was a French philosopher who wrote “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude) in the 16th century.

This work is considered an important document in political philosophy and the concept of freedom.

Below is an overview of the content of this work.

Reflections on Voluntary Servitude:

La Boétie questions why people willingly abandon their freedom and submit to those in power, seeking to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon. He points out that relinquishing freedom leads individuals into miserable situations.

Reasons for Voluntary Servitude:

La Boétie identifies the presence of fear instigated by those in power as a key factor. He points out that by arousing fear, rulers can maintain their dominance and induce obedience from the people.

Contradiction with Social Contract Theory:

In contrast to social contract theory, where people supposedly enter into a contract with rulers by relinquishing their freedom, voluntary servitude does not involve contractual submission but is based on fear imposed by those in power. La Boétie argues that this goes against the principles of social contract theory.

Condemnation of Rulers:

La Boétie highlights that rulers dominate people for their own benefit, jeopardizing the freedom of individuals. He asserts that people can resist rulers and emphasizes the need for action to regain freedom.

Necessary Conditions for Sustaining Voluntary Servitude:

In addition to the fear imposed by rulers, La Boétie points out that self-censorship by the populace, bribery by those in power, and privileges received by the entourage contribute to sustaining voluntary servitude. He argues that overcoming these factors is essential to reclaiming freedom.

Means to Regain Freedom:

La Boétie notes that individual rebellion or violence is not effective in reclaiming freedom. He argues that a more effective approach involves people uniting and displaying a collective attitude of defiance against those in power. Furthermore, he emphasizes that actions based on individual conscience and a sense of justice are necessary to regain freedom.

Reflection on the Issues of Voluntary Servitude:

La Boétie highlights that voluntary servitude prevents people from asserting themselves against those in power, resulting in the infringement of freedom. He also raises concerns about the wasteful suppression of people’s abilities and talents and the emergence of social inequality through voluntary servitude.

Contemplation on the Nature of Freedom:

Freedom is identified as the ability to control oneself and the capacity for individuals to act according to their own will. La Boétie asserts that freedom is the most precious possession of humanity, and surrendering it would violate human dignity.

The above description summarizes the essence of “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.”

This work, questioning the freedom of people under feudalism in the 16th century and exploring the concept of freedom, has had a significant impact on the development of political philosophy and liberal thought.

The Slave Mentality of Willful Submission to Tyranny as the Ultimate Vice:

The impoverishment resulting from tyranny is not achieved by a single despot alone.

It is sustained by the entourage who benefit from the ruler’s largesse and further solidified by the multitude of ordinary people willingly submitting to the entourage.

Those who choose voluntary servitude are all lethargic and irresponsible, devoid of any sense of problem awareness.

They avert their eyes from troublesome realities, avoiding conflicts and troubles, constantly swayed by the opinions of those around them.

Unable to confront reality, they remain inert, incapable of effecting any change, and have no desire for creative endeavors.

Present-day Japan is plagued by this voluntary servitude, a slave mentality by another name.

Despite being endowed with a democratic system, it remains largely unused.

The sorry state of affairs where approximately half of eligible voters abstain from national elections.

As a consequence, even when exploited by those in power, there is no outcry.

Complaints may be murmured in private, but there is no anger in public.

There is a complete lack of courage to take concrete actions.

This ultimate indolence and vice degrade Japanese society, reduce productivity, and lead to a state of isolation in the global arena.

What lies ahead for Japan?

Will it, like pre-war times, continue down the path of self-destruction without criticizing those in power?

If “Étienne de La Boétie” from the 16th century were to observe the current situation in Japan, what would he say?