For a split second, a brief momentary pause, let us all pretend that “We are entitled to our opinions!”. And afterwards, let’s take a deep breathe to reflect on this – unexamined claim – of ours. In his “On Repetitions“, the Danish “maieutic” philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, opines that all of humanity – the homo sapiens stock – could be classified into three: that there are officers, maidens and chimney sweepers. Accordingly, these are the three classes of subjects one could almost effortlessly though after a cautious, painstaking observation comes to identify on the receiving end of the classification scheme of things and phenomena. Nevertheless, what Kierkegaard deliberately deprives us of in his contemplative parables is the Master, the one responsible for orchestrating such a provocative and tempting taxonomy in the order of things. He, in a systematic way, forces us to search for clues even where there appears to be none, for the very essence of the self-obsessed, compulsive connoisseur of categorization.
Coming back to our first proposition – that “We are all entitled to our opinions!” – what we seldom dare to touch upon is the situational or rather the deterministic aspect of this very paradoxical statement that claims to express a state of affairs that feigns to have emanated both from within (the inherent belief that the common folk holds meekly assuming that one deserves an opinion just because he’s a human “being”) and from without, from an external authority with a penchant for ruling over its subjects with the utmost exploitation of Manichean categorical imperatives such as this one, both at the same time. Per se, when one is entitled to something it primarily refers to the very nature of the verb – entitle – itself, which is ab initio a transitive verb clearly indicating the existence of a subject – the Master – and an object – the semiotically Enslaved ruble. This in a very profound way, serves as a memento for interesting times such as ours in letting us reminisce the existential fact that there is no such things an entitlement to an “opinion”, a sentimental attachment to either the the rudimentary set of beliefs we conjure or the common sense, mundane set of perceptions that the society we dwell in as in being thrown into it, forces upon us.
In fine, lame and inconclusive talk of entitlement to anything apropos of our so conveniently called “fundamental” rights without retrospect, circumspection and subjective meditation on the crux of the matter courageously, with the eyes wide open, we only have one pathetic woe left – We think we know that we’re “entitled” to something. But the central question that remains unanswered by design, that has been constantly dodged, perennially warded of as “evil spirit”, “By who?”.
For every entitlement claim that we believe or rather think we have there an authority responsible for its coming into being. Entitlement cannot exist without an Entitler – the State, gods, tribal chiefs, warlords, demagogues, elites…etc. Without an agency pulling some linguistic strings behind the scenes, giving us the very essence of the illusion of “free will” or rather “autonomy” leading us to believe that “We can absolutely say or do whatever we want however we want it!”, there’s no way we could absurdly claim – rather intransitively, without acknowledging the existence of the secret “boss” – that we’re unilaterally “entitled to anything at all. If we were entitled to something by ourselves, things could have turned rather in our desperate quest for accidental favors. And it is out of this denial of the Other, the core of the Ego-Ideal through several defense mechanisms, most of which are the comforting myths we invent to suit our design and desire for a momentary happiness that we sacrifice the very essence of our – entitlements/rights/freedoms/liberties, though all of these terms are not identical in meaning or in application yet they have a source as well as rendezvous point. After all, as the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan quipped in his 1975 seminar, part of a seminal series edited by his son, Jacques-Alain Miller, “Book I: Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953-1954“, in the “Overture to the Seminar“:
“The master breaks the silence with anything – with a sarcastic remark, with a kick-start.”
In this case, the master breaks the silence with a deeply twisted sarcastic remark, sort of a metaphysical prank: “You are all entitled to your opinions/rights!”, which could roughly be interpreted as,
“All of you’ve claims to absurd things or ideals you believe in such as what I’m about to tell you now (which is nothing sensible) but whose origins you will never come to acknowledge! And I leave you to them, till you figure out but first breaking out of your entrancing slumber!”.
All the master tries to prove, if anything, here is that
“You are all the hostages of your illusions -You single-handedly, without ‘conjecture’ have decided, made up your petty minds – desperately hoping that you could all live without me. The incorrigible fact is you cannot live without me.”