Thursday, July 02, 2015

Coming Soon! The Second American Revolution

Happy 4th of July, American Independence Day! My traditional Unforeseen Contingencies Independence Day post is a bit early this year, because on July 4 I expect to be high in the Spanish Peaks of Montana. I will do my usual observance of my favorite holiday, but will be gridless and netless, by design.

This is a piece for libertarians, for classical liberals. If you are not such, you’ll likely have no idea what I am talking about. If when I mention “rights” you imagine “health care paid for by someone else” or “the ‘right’ not to hear things that offend” you will be lost. Similarly, pseudo-libertarians, such as Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists, who imagine that the U.S. and the USSR are morally identical, will be nonplussed. Too bad.

Humans’ greatest political achievement is the United States of America. This is the only country founded on the principles of individual liberty. There’s no more important or valuable political (i.e. social) principle. Individuals who respect each other’s liberty, each other’s rights, can live in complete harmony together. They need not agree on religion, personal ethics, or anything else – but if each agrees to respect each other’s right to live as he pleases, all will have a peaceful and free society, and economics shows they’ll have a prosperous one as well. They need only foreswear initiating force, i.e. using coercion to try to shape each other’s personal choices. America was founded precisely on these principles, and it has been remarkably successful. No other country can claim this. No other political project can claim this.

These days utopians of various stripes attack America and the idea of America, because America has not been perfectly successful. For example, America (or part of it) had slavery for its first 75 or so years. And there are plenty of other rights violations that have occurred in America, so from a utopian’s standpoint, America falls short and must be destroyed. Pseudo-libertarians (e.g. 99.9% of anarcho-capitalists) hate America. So does the radical left. So do foreign authoritarian regimes (albeit on somewhat different grounds, since they tend not to be utopian but simply ruthless power seekers). Furthermore, since America falls short of utopia, then, in utopians’ logic, American ideals are worthless. Hence American ideals, the real American ideals formalized in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are under terrible assault by the haters of America. All of the Bill of Rights is considered obsolete in various influential circles (e.g. academia, the MSM, government… the political class). I’ve made that case previously with respect to the First, Second, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments, and will continue to do so. But anyone who looks at current events in this country understands this already. The haters of America are haters of liberty, and – therefore – of humanity. I include the pseudo-libertarians among them; they are more wedded to abolition of the state than to liberty. (That’s a case I can make later, if anyone cares to hear it.)

The haters of America seem to have the upper hand these days. The President is busily working to forge a treaty that will allow the apocalyptic-minded mullahs of Iran to build nuclear weapons (while pretending to do the opposite), sabotaging American allies (most notably Israel), while at home legislating by executive fiat to institute socialized medicine, gun control, and other tyrannies. The left is campaigning, with some success, to shut down free speech and expression and the most innocent action (try buying a “Dukes of Hazzard” matchbox car and you’ll be branded “racist.”) Churches and synagogues that adhere to their Scriptures are about to be attacked in the courts for refusing to kowtow to the Alice-in-Wonderland ramblings that Justice Kennedy offered in lieu of legal logic in Obergefell. And Russia and China wage cyber war on the U.S. Yes, America and American ideals are under assault from enemies within and without. They are on the offensive. They seem to be winning. So all is lost, America is finished, liberty is obsolete, and we should surrender, right?

Hahahahaha! NO! Quite to the contrary, America, and American ideals, are not obsolete, but rather are universal and will triumph. The left, along with America’s external enemies, will end up on the garbage pile of history, where they belong. Here’s why:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

This is the most profound and important political principle ever discovered. (Emphasis on "discovered" because this is not "socially constructed" and hence arbitrary.)  Now that men have understood this objective truth, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, getting the cat back in the bag, or whatever metaphor you prefer. Marxists, including today’s PC cultural Marxists, hope to return to the days of governance by elites. Mercantilists (“crony-capitalists” for all of you who haven’t yet taken my History of Economic Thought courses) hope for the same (but have a different set of elites in mind). But they all are in defiance of some of the most powerful principles humans have ever discovered, and they will lose. All that is necessary is that they be confronted with people who understand and are willing to fight for reason, rights, and liberty.

In these dark times – and they are very dark – I remain very optimistic. A second American Revolution is coming! We – I speak to those readers who are genuinely interested in liberty – have the ideas and the tools we need to defeat the enemies of liberty and build a free and prosperous world. And because of unforeseen contingencies – the occurrence of things, events, and opportunities that no one ever imagined (I believe our American Forefathers called this “Providence,”) I am quite sure that ultimately our cause will win.

But whether it will win in our time is a very different question. The thirst for individual liberty is a universal value – one must abuse and corrupt a person terribly to beat it out of him, and once he understands this value any thoughtful and empathetic person desires it for others as well. But whether this value triumphs in our lifetimes depends on what we do. History has placed on each of us a responsibility, a burden, to promote the American ideals. The world is in desperate need of a second American Revolution, an intellectual, moral, and spiritual revolution that insists on Reason, Rights, and Liberty as absolutes. It’s our job to conduct this revolution.

The great liberal Thomas Jefferson observed that by 1776 the real American Revolution – the revolution in men’s minds and hearts – had already occurred. It’s now 239 years later, and too many hearts and minds are muddled. It’s our job to re-awaken them to the great truths of classical liberalism. Let’s get on with it.

Happy American Independence Day!

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