The world misunderstands the relationship between political freedom and democracy. Even Wikipedia contorts its definition of “political freedom,” saying it is “one of the most important (real or ideal) features of democratic societies.” The relationship is actually the inverse; political freedom must exist for democracy to withstand the test of time.
Democracy is necessary, but not sufficient, for a free society. Whether in the Arab Spring or Nazi Germany, democracy was placed before freedom, and look what democracy hath wrought.
A free state, on the other hand, provides legal protection of the civil rights and ensures the free will of its citizens. These individual rights, seen as “natural,” or given by God, were formalized by John Locke, stating in his 1689 Two Treatises of Government:
“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
This idea – which drove our nation’s founding documents – is based on centuries of work to overthrow tyranny, whether with the Magna Carta in England, 1215, or in 35 A.D, when Jesus Christ said, in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
This is, in essence, a libertarian’s only charge. All other freedoms are defined negatively. The less the state tells its people what they cannot do, the more free they are. Turns out, citizens whose state has minimal control over them have more control over their state; therefore, freedom begets democracy, and not the other way around.
Maintaining freedom in a society is difficult: governments around the world often devolve from democracy into a natural state of dictatorship, due to the “tyranny of the majority.” As opposed to a dictatorship – where one identifiable individual takes the blame for the ills of a nation - in a democracy, everyone is to blame, and recovery takes much longer. Unable to accept blame, a democracy often targets specific segments of society, as we’ve seen recently with the Occupy Wall Street movement and the London Riots.
America has experienced significant loss before – loss of separation of powers, rule of law, the respect for life, liberty, and property – but now, it’s different, as the crisis is more globalized, and I’m unsure we have the willpower to change course. In the midst of a global insurrection, I believe the United States of America is leading the world’s recoil into a dictatorship, under the disguise of democracy.
What we sought at our nation’s conception was not a democracy, but a republic; what we had was a republic; it was bound together by the values prescribed in the Constitution. These values made us supreme, and by relying upon our values, we could have weathered any storm, even when challenged by the mongrels of the world.
But we chose a different journey.
When the Roman Empire - a previous global democracy – fell to tyranny, the entire world plunged into two centuries of Dark Ages, due to not one, but many causes. I will have two follow-up posts covering the two most prevalent reasons for the decline of Rome, and now, America:
1) Economic Collapse – a crippling debt and the debasing of the currency;
2) Incoherent Defense – a large military budget and the loss of military principle in warfare.
I believe America – and the world – is teetering on tyranny, and there is no use in denying the truth, for freedom depends on truth, and from the truth, we can regain our strength and restore a once-great nation.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32