What has happened to us

For the first time in my life, I feel that I am not a free person, and that we are not a free people. When I say that we are not free, I obviously do not mean that we cannot (at least for the moment) say what we want and do what we want and go where we want. I mean that we are no longer living under a constitutional representative government, flawed and overreaching and swollen to gargantuan size though it may be; we are living under a lawless regime of power holders who are hostile to us and ruthlessly seek greater and greater control over us.

We’ve heard all our lives about other countries that were not free. Now for the first time, we Americans are learning what it feels like not to be free.

Who will be our Spartacus? All of us must be.

- end of initial entry -

Robert Bove writes:

I have been teaching in colleges in New York City since the late 1990s. I know what you are feeling. Free speech died on American campuses a long time ago. Still, each day when I exited campus I felt I was back in the land of the free. Not now, not anymore.

A great evil is at work in Washington—great because that is what it takes to bring down a great nation, evil because that which would destroy liberty is by definition malevolent. The deliberate course this government has embarked on, the disorder it is sowing madly in every state, town, and family, cannot but become more tyrannical. The twisted logic of tyranny demands it. It can not be reformed, much less reverse course.

Discomfort with tyranny is a mark of virtue—and sanity.

Roland D. writes:

“A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
—Benjamin Franklin

There isn’t a democracy in the history of the world that didn’t end up sliding into tyranny, starting with Athens. Once hoi polloi figure out that they can vote themselves largesse from the public purse, it’s all over but the shouting.

The New Deal didn’t help, but the real turning point was the centralization of government and the economy which took place as a result of World War II, and then the (unfortunately necessary) transformation into a national security state in order to contain Communism. The Democrats basically blackmailed the Republicans into surrendering to their domestic political agenda as the price for giving the Republicans a relatively free hand to do what was necessary in order to fight the Cold War. [LA replies: The idea that the Cold War was carried out only by Republican administrations is incorrect. The Cold War began under, and its institutional structure was created by, a Democratic president (see Dean Acheson’s Present at the Creation). Also, if we take the Cold War as extending from Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, then Democratic presidents were in office during 18 of those 43 years. Also, I don’t at all accept your view that the Obama revolution was made inevitable by the growth of the federal government in World War II and the Cold War.

You’ll note that the transformation of Britain into a surveillance state and the end of the liberties of Englishmen under New Labour has prefigured what’s been happening in the USA. They’re about five years ahead of us.

What you’re sensing is the shift from Dysfunctional Republic to Incompetent Empire.

There’s glory to be had in empire, if you do it right. Unfortunately, the bureaucratization of the military over the last 50 years has resulted in a system which is guaranteed to weed out the kind of exceptional leaders who in similar situations elsewhere forward to seize the sword of state and set out on the path to imperium.

The last military leader we had who could’ve done it right was Douglas MacArthur, and he resolutely and deliberately refused to go down that path—at heart, he was a quintessential Victorian Classical Liberal. There are no more MacArthurs now, so we’re stuck with Nancy Pelosi, instead.

Rufus W. writes:

I take it that you never lived in Detroit before.

Robert in Nashville writes:

I too feel that somehow there has been a great sea change, much more than just a new bill that people will get used to, as some Democrats say- and that this is just the beginning of the radical agenda. Some Citizens are expressing anger and protest, as is their historic right, at what they feel is the loss of the loss of the social contract that had bound us together for over two hundred years. Yet, Democrats respond by characterizing this response only as hate, extremism, radicals, and fringe. Appallingly, instead of saying, “What do you expect?,” Republican leaders are falling all over themselves to agree that expressions of anger and protest are wrong, unjustified, beyond the pale, etc, as if this loss was just a game at a gentleman’s club. Where is the Republican leadership’s anger?

Both parties act as if the people are Dihimmis, whose very protest is now outside of the bounds the citizens have a right to. I wonder how long it will be before people realize that if the government is no longer bound by the social contract, the citizenry is not either.

LA replies:

This is a major technique by which liberalism controls us. Under liberalism, any strong, passionate statements of denunciation of one’s opponents—except when such denunciations are directed by liberals at conservatives—are out of bounds, are seen as a violation of the very nature of the society. And conservative and Republican leaders accept and enforce these liberal rules, even when liberals have carried out a coup d’etat against the country.

Kathlene M. writes:

Peggy Noonan wrote an article today that is related somewhat to this. She writes:

People “are angry at the deterioration of our culture, angry at our nation’s deteriorating position in the world, at our debts and deficits, our spending and taxing, our threatened security in a world of weapons of mass destruction…. And yes, this mood, this anger, has only been made worse by this yearlong, enervating, exhausting, enraging fight over health care.”

Unlike Peggy I don’t think Obama and the left have the ability or wisdom to cool the rhetoric. They will continue to create more corrosive divisions by pushing their destructive agenda on the entire nation. And they will only make Americans more angry by telling us there’s nothing to be angry about and that we should just submit.

I was talking to my mother a few days ago about the health care bill, and she expressed deep concern about the level of division in our nation that this bill has made obvious, and she expressed worry over how these divisions will be resolved.

Jonathan W. writes:

Kathlene M. writes:

“I was talking to my mother a few days ago about the health care bill, and she expressed deep concern about the level of division in our nation that this bill has made obvious, and she expressed worry over how these divisions will be resolved.”

They won’t be. Not without the use of force.

James P. writes:

Roland writes that what has happened to us resulted from national security concerns (the need to fight the Cold War), and that we are being transformed into an Incompetent Empire, presumably in order to pursue some neocon-type dream. In my view both his premise and conclusion are incorrect. His confusion results in part from the assumption that Democrats and Republicans were on opposite sides of the Cold War. In fact, there were both Democrats and Republicans who wished to fight the Cold War, and both Democrats and Republicans who wished to abandon the struggle. The latter group ultimately triumphed [LA adds: I think James means that they triumphed under Obama re our dealings with Islam, not during the Cold War, because during the Cold War Reagan’s rejection of d├ętente triumphed.], and this is the key to understanding why we are not going to pursue “incompetent empire”. Those who wished to abandon the Cold War pursued detente with the USSR (and later, with China) precisely in order to withdraw American power from its forward positions overseas. They always wanted to quit and bring the troops home, and they are likely to succeed. I predict that we will soon wind up our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and when those troops leave, they will never return. American military power will be reduced to a skeleton force capable at most of peacekeeping missions. The isolationist Right will, perhaps, derive some satisfaction from the new policy, but it is appeasement and surrender nonetheless.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 27, 2010 11:42 PM | Send

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