Dec 15, 2007

Are Americans Really Free? Do They Really Want to Be?

The following address by Ron Paul ought to be read by every American. I challenge especially flag-waving republicans to examine it and answer the question just how free Americans really are, especially since Sept. 11th. We hear much propaganda on talk radio about "Islamo Fascism", as if we are threatened by a centralized (as the term fascism implies) Islamic government that wants to rule us all. This is a distraction and far from the truth. The only Fascism being established over the American people has been, and is being erected from Washington under the pretense of "the common good" or "security", whether from the left or the right.

When Americans cannot eat, drink, employ themselves in work, and travel, make purchases, yea even be born, get married, pursue education, and die, without the government's permission and taxation in each, in the forms of licenses, certificates, or "security" numbers, in a matrix of data-mining and almost total surveillance, and much more than we could physically catalogue here, it cannot be called 'freedom' and the founders of this country would be shocked at the sight of it. The idea of a Homeland Security agency, Social Security system, Income Tax (a plank of communism), or property tax, (or food tax in West Virginia), or total government surveillance and monitoring, would have made the early Colonists set sail for another country. These innovations were not set up until well over 125 years after 1776, yet today are treated as normal. Much of the change is directly attributed to the overthrow of the Constitution in the so-called Civil War, when the Southern States sought freedom to dissent, until Washington's "majority rule" (i.e. Democracy) centralized power by force of arms. Union without consent cannot possibly be freedom, only bondage, and the loss of States Rights was the starting point. Reconstruction changed everything, and Washington then rapidly expanded its power in the 1900s, and further expanded in military adventurism for the cause of "democracy" and a Utopian world, establishing the League of and then United Nations, which directly led to world wars. During all these wars civil rights have always come under attack, and dissent treated like treason, while the government tramples the Constitution.

But since 9/11 government power has been grossly expanded by a rogue White House and complicit Congress, seemingly eager to trample the tattered remains of the Constitution which was designed to prevent this very thing. Now the government claims authority over civil or personal rights, and is treating "free Americans" like criminal or terrorist suspects, without probable cause. It can no longer be called a government of "the free", but only be called what it really is, a tyranny by an over-intrusive, constant surveillance and revenue-covetous government, designed to oppress and feed off the people while claiming to serve for their common good. This type of extra- and anti-constitutional government must come to an end if freedom is to be more than just a word devoid of any real meaning in America. It is the illusion of "freedom" in word and symbol that must be exposed for the people to realize the reality that they have become too accustomed to. It is impossible that government can be so expansive and the people truly be free.

Ronald Reagan knew this. But the new republican party no longer cares, and the proof is that they propose no radical change to the present course. Ron Paul, however, does and people are embracing his message because they are awakening to the true nature of America's post-9/11 government and find it to be what Americans have historically opposed.

“…man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
-- Ronald Reagan

We’ve all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, especially in the context of our invasion of Iraq. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different.

George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words” that are endlessly repeated in the political arena*. Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, political words were “Often used in a consciously dishonest way.” Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word “democracy” as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good.

The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. Our founding fathers clearly understood this, as evidenced not only by our republican constitutional system, but also by their writings in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere. James Madison cautioned that under a democratic government, “There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. Yet how many Americans know that the word “democracy” is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents?

A truly democratic election in Iraq, without U.S. interference and U.S. puppet candidates, almost certainly would result in the creation of a Shiite theocracy. Shiite majority rule in Iraq might well mean the complete political, economic, and social subjugation of the minority Kurd and Sunni Arab populations. Such an outcome would be democratic, but would it be free? Would the Kurds and Sunnis consider themselves free? The administration talks about democracy in Iraq, but is it prepared to accept a democratically-elected Iraqi government no matter what its attitude toward the U.S. occupation? Hardly. For all our talk about freedom and democracy, the truth is we have no idea whether Iraqis will be free in the future. They’re certainly not free while a foreign army occupies their country. The real test is not whether Iraq adopts a democratic, pro-western government, but rather whether ordinary Iraqis can lead their personal, religious, social, and business lives without interference from government.

Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens. Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders’ belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King.

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

The political left equates freedom with liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth. To modern liberals, men are free only when the laws of economics and scarcity are suspended, the landlord is rebuffed, the doctor presents no bill, and groceries are given away. But philosopher Ayn Rand (and many others before her) demolished this argument by explaining how such “freedom” for some is possible only when government takes freedoms away from others. In other words, government claims on the lives and property of those who are expected to provide housing, medical care, food, etc. for others are coercive-- and thus incompatible with freedom. “Liberalism,” which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government.

The political right equates freedom with national greatness brought about through military strength. Like the left, modern conservatives favor an all-powerful central state-- but for militarism, corporatism, and faith-based welfarism. Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today’s Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world. The last tenuous links between conservatives and support for smaller government have been severed. “Conservatism,” which once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government, has transformed into big-government utopian grandiosity.

Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us. We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of “liberals” and “conservatives,” in favor of an accurate term for both: statists.

Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.

*Politics and the English Language, 1946.