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In a tyranny, it helps to make friends with the tyrants.Share on Facebook
Documenting history as it happens.
Well, I finally went and did it – this past Tax Day, April 15th, I attended my first Tea Party rally on the Washington Mall. I have defended this group for a while on this site, and wanted to go see it for myself. Generally speaking, I was impressed with the common sense and cordiality of those in attendance. Surprisingly, I made a liberal friend who could not be any more different than I am. I got to hang out with some pretty cool family members as well.
The driving force of this movement can be summed up in one word: Liberty. Many times on this site I have quoted British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who said, “Every law is an infraction of liberty.” His American colleague John Stuart Mill, author of the source on the subject, On Liberty, went further in summarizing this into the harm principle of utilitarianism, saying, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” This is the essence of the Tea Party Movement. They want freedom, under a respectable rule of law, provided by a dual system of governance -the intent of our forefathers – conceived in our founding documents, namely, the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Americans react when these principles are threatened.
This Tea Party Movement closely resembles the caucus I was calling for leading up to the 2008 presidential elections, where libertarians and conservatives could converge. At that time, I called this group the Sons of Liberty, notably, here, here, and here. Historically speaking, I wasn’t that far off. I’ll let you research that little tidbit for yourself, but in a nutshell, dating back to 1765, protests over Leviathan government are by no means a new occurrence in this country.
At the Tax Day rally, anti-Tea Party leftists made their way through the crowd to stir up the patriots protesting tax increases. A Tea Partier with a megaphone charged back: ”We believe in liberty; what do you believe in?” The leftists answered with a deafening silence – collectively, of course.
So, what is the opposite of liberty? A reoccurring theme at the Tea Party is the title of a recent Mark Levin bestseller, Liberty and Tyranny. Is tyranny the goal of the left? Well, not intentionally, but the ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats, conservatism and liberalism, libertarianism and statism, whatever, all boils down to this fundamental struggle between freedom and control, or as Ben Franklin said, between liberty and security. The aforementioned principle of freedom is the theoretical end state for those on our side of the argument; what is the eventual end state for the leftists in the struggle?
Struggle Displaces Utopia
To understand the rest of this post, you must believe two truths: one, that in any society, the public sector exists to benefit themselves, their interests, and their constituents; and two, those benefits will cost their opponents and opposing interests. You will find this to be true with both benevolent and malevolent governments.
In America, the public sector is dominated by social justice champions, who are beginning to realize we can’t all be thieves; what they can scrape off the top is merely a fraction of other people’s labor. We can’t all subscribe to that way of life. A divisive political environment, driven by envy on one side and fear on the other, splits our society in half between the “makers” and the “takers.” A vibrant private sector is necessary for the survival of the left, specifically, the Keynesian spenders of the largest public sector in our nation’s history and its constituents in the expansive welfare state. This battle seems to be sustainable, as long as the lines between makers and takers are plainly drawn.
So, in an a way, this sustained struggle has displaced the socialist utopia for the left. For this enigma I coin the term “postmodern socialism” to describe the relationship the dependent enjoy at the detriment of their self-reliant compatriots. Perhaps perpetual struggle is the progressive agenda, after all; conflict keeps both parties vigorously fighting for to maintain their position. Fear and distrust keep the private sector on its toes, so they work harder to generate income, from which the public sector takes a dividend. That means more citizens can join the lazy collective, with the federal government handing out benefits (tax cuts, subsidies, welfare checks, bailouts, vouchers, etc.) to the less productive among us. That’s what Obamacare does; it throws money at our health care problems and hopes the private sector will work harder and the indebted public will shut up.
“There is growing concern about the size and power of the federal government. The public is now evenly divided over whether federal government programs should be maintained to deal with important problems or cut back greatly to reduce the power of government.”
As our government grows, our society is split in half, with 47% of Americans paying no income taxes, and 45% saying they are taxed “about right.” Coincidence? If this isn’t a “progressive” income tax, I don’t know what is. The silver lining herein is the statistical fact that at least some of the people paying no income tax at all are unhappy with their situation.
But I digress. My point is this: the left now realizes that to maintain their culture of dependence, the struggle must continue. As every dollar for the public sector comes from the private sector, a balance must be maintained in order to keep stealing from the top. The left understands utopia for everyone cannot be achieved as a lasting societal model; who would be left to do all the work? The leftists themselves? Ha!
The former Soviet Union serves as an example of a socialist state that sought utopia but failed. While it’s plainly obvious the lack of innovation will eventually destroy an authoritarian regime, it was the Soviet Union’s isolationism that predicated its collapse, and with it, the collapse of last century’s Communist model. This is not to say freedom filled the void; many of the Soviet satellite states are still dealing with the lingering effects of their authoritarian instincts. I once learned in school that it takes six months to convert an economy to capitalism, six years to convert a government to a democracy, but sixty years to change a societal culture towards freedom. I cannot find the source for this thumbrule anywhere, but I need to make clear it is not my own. Nevertheless, these countries sought utopia, but were left with tyranny.
While China is indeed a tyranny, it seems to have learned from the Soviet mistake of isolationism. In contrast to the former Soviet Union, Communist China relies upon Capitalism abroad to survive, while imposing autocratic rule on its subjects at home. Again, when I was in school, I wrote a paper theorizing the Internet in China would perpetuate the collapse of Communism and the emergence of a free society. Hmm; guess I was wrong.
In fact, it seems instead of liberating China, our economic relationship may be socializing America; that is, we might be rubbing off on each other. How could that be? Again, under postmodern socialism, this is sustainable as long as there is constant struggle.
In the Communist Manifesto (and first in Das Kapital), Karl Marx, in his critique of Capitalism, wrote extensively on the division between Capital and Labor. He called for an equalization, that is, an elimination of the division between those who make the money and those who keep it. Surely, out of the millions of Communists in China, someone realizes the large rift between Chinese labor and American wealth. We are indebted to them, and I believe the only reason they haven’t collected yet is that the problem is getting worse. Wouldn’t you wait until your investment was fully mature before cashing it in?
So every time the United States increases its debt, it increases it’s risk of defaulting on it. This is referred to as sovereign debt default, and yes, I’ve covered it before. It is the greatest threat to the American way of life, and brings us closer to fulfilling the prophecy of former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev: ”We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.”
Dissent Fights Back
Has the federal government become too swollen to maintain postmodern socialism? Is our debt to large to reverse the course of history, to free ourselves from eventual indentured service to the Chinese? The only way to do that is to look back at our history, how we came to be, and return to a “culture of independence.” I submit this is the idea behind the “Take Our Country Back” signs at the Tea Party rallies.
Capitalism in America has spawned the highest standard of living in the world, so that people - that is regular, ordinary people, not business execs or “Wall Street fat cats,” to use the parlance of the President – have vehicles for toys, and not for mere transportation. Now America is on the brink of decline, with half our population leaching off the productive half. We face the prospect of having the tables turned on us, if we don’t get our debt in control. As we veer off course, is it wrong to dissent?
As then-Senator, now-Secretary, Hillary Clinton screeched waaay back in 2003: ”I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any Administration.”
So I offer this: We are, in fact, Americans. We have the right to be proud of where we are, and how far we have come. And, we have the right to debate and disagree with this Administration. There’s no reason to apologize for that. It’s time to tell this government, “No thanks, with God’s help, I can do it myself,” and displace dependency with self-reliance once again.
“The end of law is not abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.”
~ John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1698)Share on Facebook