Okhlos: Freedom in the Time of the Angry Mob

An ancient conception of the individual (strange to us today) helps us understand what freedom is and where it comes from, while  all the juxtaposed elements of this equation present themselves to us in a recent videogame.

Videogame: Okhlos (Coffee Powered Machine, 2016)
: Democracia ateniense by Linterna de Diógenes (March 17th, 2013)
Voice: Bernardo Souvirón


Individual freedom is difficult. It’s difficult to define, in my judgement, in a context… in a, let’s say, political context, no? Of course individual freedom– It’s, let’s see: for the Greeks there is an enormous difference between what today we could call individuality, and freedom.

Individuality arises, of course, when someone finds out they’re an individual, something that’s also not inherent to the human being. For example, this is– In Homer it’s impossible to understand that a solution could be individual. Solutions are still the clan, the genos, the family, the assembly of the army… but not even Agamemnon, not even Achilles, when he gets mad at Agamemnon and is going to draw his sword, can do it, because the goddess Athena stops his arm, no? That is to say, men are toys in the hands of the gods.

However, there’s a given moment when that changes, and they start to feel like individuals. Right, how is the individual, that is the individual self, conjugated with that which surrounds us? Well, it’s conjugated and harmonized based on a balance, right? A balance which is, on one hand, social, because it’s how– how I manage to balance my own person with the others that live in my city, and that’s the origin of politics. That balance is the one that gives origin to politics. And also, the balance between myself and the world around me, not from a socio-political point of view, but from the natural point of view.

And that, that is the basis — no? — of any humanistic system, right? Of any humanistic system in the literal sense of the term, what we discussed at the beginning, no? Okay, well that balance is freedom.