Tuesday, July 03, 2018
American Independence Day: Freedom is for Everyone
Unlike any nation-state before it, America was founded on philosophical principles. Most notably, America was founded on the principle of the inherent rights of every individual. In the American conception, the individual human being is primary -- not the state, nor the collective, nor the king or any other government official. The state exists only as means to serve the legitimate common ends of the people -- the preservation of their rights, their liberty. Government officials have their positions not to govern, not to rule, but to serve. We are sovereign individuals, superior to the government.
If America had never been founded, or if the American Revolution had been crushed by the British, history would have been very different. The existence and success of America created an environment where freedom could grow elsewhere, and in many respects individual liberty has become the world norm -- even when watered down as nebulous "human rights." The modern world of liberal "democracy" and of market trading and economic growth was made possible by the success of the American Revolution and America. America's philosophical principles were only partially understood and absorbed, but even a flawed implementation has built modern civilization. America is, in an Invisible Hand sense, the architect of world civilization. For that reason, everyone, everywhere, ought to celebrate American Independence Day. It isn't just about Americans breaking free from control by a European power, it's about people breaking away from an old and awful idea that people exist to serve the rulers. It's about freedom of the individual -- and freedom for the individual means freedom for everyone.
It was never the case that everyone believed in freedom. There are those who wish to dominate, to control, to rule. But this has been so out-of-fashion and so discredited, at least in the West, that few have been willing to openly declare their hostility to freedom. This is an interesting Fourth of July, because some on the left are now openly declaring their hostility. New York Times just ran a front page "news article" declaring hostility to free speech. ACLU helps sue bakers to compel obedience. Conservative and libertarian speakers are banned from college campuses, or harassed and shut down. Jennifer Rubin (yes, she's a fellow-traveller) writes in WaPo that Sarah Sanders should be harassed for life because of things she's said. NRA members, Trump voters, and like "deplorables" are condemned as murderers and terrorists and Nazis, who are to be driven from society. Antifa shut down an annual civic parade in Portland, Oregon because Republicans were going to be in it, as usual. In short, a segment of American society is now explicitly condemning liberty and demanding conformity.
The ones preaching violence are largely on the left (and so far it's mostly preaching, thankfully). These are the radical left and their progressive followers. They're abetted by patrician conservatives on the right -- the George Wills, the Jennifer Rubins, the Bill Kristols, the Jeff Flakes, the David Brooksies (that's plural for Brooks). None of these believe in individual liberty. All of them -- the radical left, the progressives, the patricians -- are driven by visions of how things ought to be, and they intend to make us conform. (Well, maybe not the patricians; they don't intend to make anything happen. They seem to be political eunuchs.) But for all of these, if they had ideas of how to actually make the world better, they'd do it -- they'd be entrepreneurs, but they aren't. They are tyrant wannabes.
They'll lose -- at least this round. (It's an eternal struggle, of course.) They'll lose because their only hand to play is emotional outrage, and this loses when things aren't outrageous. They haven't the character to govern and they are showing it. These are a class "whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant..." and "unfit to be the ruler of a free people," much like King George. They condemn themselves, and will fail.
What we need today is not better refutations of the enemies of liberty. We all need better understanding of the principles of liberty. A good place to start is with the Declaration of Independence. I read it in its entirety every Fourth of July. I recommend you, too, do this.
And from all of us at Unforeseen Contingencies, Happy American Independence Day, to everyone everywhere. Cherish and promote freedom!