One wonders if the unique American experiment in liberty is already too far gone to save. One must wonder if Lady Liberty is just a zombie, unaware she is dead as she wanders the landscape. Many of our elitist punditry class say that our current separation is due to a stark partisan divide – but in my observation, that separation is at a far more fundamental level and when understood, explains much of our current crisis.
The separation is due to the segregation of Americans into two groups – the first are people who define their political objectives by their principles, the second are people who define their principles by their political objectives.
The former group tends to be more consistent in policy over time and tends to demonstrate more logic and reason in their positions. They tend to value originalism in interpretation of the Constitution and oppose judicial activism. Their actions tend to be bounded by tradition and history as their reality is based on a factual perspective of what worked and what didn’t – that doesn’t mean that they won’t push boundaries, just that they take observed results into consideration before they do.
The latter group, those who define their principles based on their political objectives are historically the most dangerous to a system of liberty and they are always the most susceptible to the seductive siren call of collectivism (which includes socialism, Marxism, and communism) because this is the way collectivism works. Collectivism always begins with an objective, then a plan, then total subservience to the plan.
Here’s the problem – total subservience to a plan means total obedience to both the plan and to the managers of that plan – the government. That subservience also means the end of truth, the end of morality, the end of America’s Bill of Rights.
F.A. Hayek stated:
“Collectivism means the end of truth. To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the ends selected by those in control; it is essential that the people should come to regard these ends as their own. This is brought about by propaganda and by complete control of all sources of information.”
And from the death of truth, follows the rest.
In such a regime, there can be no free press or freedom of speech because public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken support of the regime. People must forgo their values. They must be convinced to adopt whatever values are necessary for the success of the plan – and the easiest way to do that is to redefine the language so that people can be persuaded that they are really the same values as those they have always held, but were not properly understood or recognized (until now).
Total subservience also means an end to morality (and any religion that establishes a moral code) because nothing must stand in the way of the success of the plan, people must be prepared to break every moral rule they have ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the success of the plan. People must accept and adopt a willingness to do immoral things and when they do, the motivating principle is “the ends justify the means” (the denial of all morals) necessarily becomes the supreme rule, in service of which all other things must fall away. Hayek noted that:
“There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves “the good of the whole,” because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done. Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarianism which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, deception and spying, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual are essential and unavoidable. Acts which revolt all our feelings, such as the shooting of hostages or the killing of the old or sick, are treated as mere matters of expediency; the compulsory uprooting and transportation of hundreds of thousands becomes an instrument of policy approved by almost everybody except the victims.”
Reasonable people can compare Hayek’s words to our current history and decide for themselves if what I propose is valid. Hayek’s observations of how the UK and Europe fought totalitarianism and then voluntarily succumbed to collectivism in the aftermath of WWII is more relevant today than ever – therefore, we close with a Hayek quote:
“The worst sufferer in this respect is the word ‘liberty.’ It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere. Indeed, it could almost be said that wherever liberty as we know it has been destroyed, this has been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people. Even among us we have planners who promise us a ‘collective freedom,’ which is as misleading as anything said by totalitarian politicians. “Collective freedom” is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society that which he pleases.”