Rebirth of Reason


Liberty's Tipping Points
by Steve Wolfer

Freedom is the proper state for man, but it isn't provided for us like leaves on a tree. Unless one is fortunate enough to be born into a free society, it has to be constructed, or fought for. And once built or won, it has to be maintained. For these reasons it behooves us to look at what elements must be in the structure if freedom is to be maintained.
  • Intellectual Freedom: First off we need intellectual freedom. If we aren't free to think of what we need to do to acquire or protect our liberties, we won't be able to act to gain those liberties.
  • Communication Freedom: Next we have to be free to communicate our thoughts because no single individual in a society will be the sole provider of the actions needed to maintain or acquire freedom. We need freedom of Speech, freedom of Press.
  • Freedom to Assemble: After communicating and for the purpose of communication, we need to be able to assemble - to gather together - so that we can act in concert, to be able to specialize in the way we pursue our political goals, and to bring coordination and efficiency to those actions.
  • Voting Integrity: If we understand that we are the owners of our bodies, our lives, and of the government, then we will most likely settle on voting to decide among ourselves what that government does (within the realm of the actions we permit it as proper), and who we elect to make the laws and to administer them. Because this business of voting is how government is steered and shaped and administered, and will effect what laws are passed, we need to be sure that the voting is done fairly, honestly, and openly. Take away voting integrity and we are not the ones steering!
Intellectual Freedom, Communications Freedom, Freedom of Assembly, and Voting Integrity are the functional tools we need to exert our sovereignty as individual. But what do we focus those tools on?

We should be exercising that authority to maintain these structures in the government:
  • Limits on Government Powers: It should go without saying that as we own the government, and as a citizen's own government is most often the greatest danger to his liberty, we should have strict limits on government's powers. Those limits have to be written, and they have to be understood and observed. For us, this starts with the understanding that the only just powers of the government are those given to it, and that they are those that needed to protect liberty. And we have that in the constitution. Having it is not enough, it has to be followed, and we must understand and insist upon objective law.
  • Separation of Government Powers: It was very wise of our Founding Fathers to recognize that those who administer the law, shouldn't be the ones who make the law. And that those who make the laws shouldn't be allowed to administer them. And that a third body of government should exist that can only make judgments as to whether a thing is lawful or not. That body can not make laws, nor can it administer them. This is a great, but sadly not perfect protection against the government abusing its powers. A further separation of powers exists by having the some powers reserved to the states since they are more powerful, particularly as a group, then any single individual or private organization.
But not all things are within the individual and his rights, nor in the government, even if it were perfectly structured. There is a wider context we and our government live in. The culture:
  • Voter Education: Even though the source of sovereignty lies with the individual, and the purpose of government is the protection of individual rights, if the people in a society are ignorant of what liberty is and what it entails, they will not be able to defend it and they will be vulnerable to the siren songs of collectivism and get conned into exercising their vote to give away their freedom.
  • Cultural Factionalism: Voter ignorance can easily lead to cultural factionalism. When a society becomes strongly divided into factions - whether left vs right, poor vs rich, white vs black, or worker vs owner - we see emotion take the place of reason, we see the chasm between the two sides grow beyond what agreements can bridge. We see activists exploit the emotionalism as a tool, and we see the mobilization of political energy and resources used to war against the other faction and the goal isn't freedom, but the power to crush the other side.
  • Political Honesty: We bar fraud from the marketplace because we recognize it as a variant of initiated force. We recognize that it is in direct opposition to man's nature - that man survives by reasoning and choosing. When voter education is low and when cultural factionalism grows, then political dishonesty is likely to increase. At a certain point this has to be seen as a form of fraud. When a politician expends great amounts of effort, thought, and money to craft an image of who he is and what he stands for and what he will do if elected, but that entire image is totally wrong and a complete mis-direction, we have to say that we are being subjected not to puffery, or a bit of spin, or just campaign rhetoric, but outright fraud. The same is true when the lack of efficiency in government, or the chaos in politics, allows for politicians to say what is needed just to stay in power for their egos or to dip their hands into the treasury. The first think crooked politicians steal is the political honesty that we need to acquire or maintain our liberty.
Well, those are the practical elements that we need in our structures for liberty. Most are animals of the legal world, and some are cultural attributes. They aren't particularly newsworthy or anything that people on this forum are going to be surprised about or need to study. But they had to be described as the set-up, the foundation, for asking about the tipping points involved in going from a semi-free nation to a mostly dictatorial nation.

When we lose our freedoms, it is because a combination of those traits, those functions, tilted away from what liberty requires. These slides down the hill into statism are not without their own principles of gravity, their own cause-effect mechanism.

If a doctor suspects or knows that some disease process is underway, he looks for the symptoms, not just to identify the particular disease, but to identify what stage the disease is in. And this involves understanding the mechanisms of a healthy system and the mechanisms at work in the disease process. It is in understanding the battle between those opposing forces, those opposing mechanisms, that will tell us where and how we are tipping out of a healthy state of liberty and into a diseased state of tyranny - and how far along we are.

What are the tipping point symptoms we should look for relative to the need for intellectual freedom? We know what the political signs of liberty look like. At the gross level it means no one is jailed or fined for having bad thoughts. But we are seeing disease symptoms cropping up. Hate crimes are actually a form of suppression of intellectual freedom. What a mugger or thug is thinking at the time of his act shouldn't be judged for its political correctness. We see this beginning of intrusion by the state where religious organizations are required to supply birth control if they are a health care provider. The discussion to outlaw the teaching creationism in the public schools. The verbal attacks on the right by members of the administration. The attempts to cut Fox news out of the news loop by the administration. The concept and application of Political Correctness. The use of heavy sarcasm in political arguments. These are symptoms pointing at a trend towards eliminating thought that isn't deemed correct. Right now, all you need is a little bit of a thick skin and a willingness to bark back and you are okay, but the cultural factionalism, and the decline political honesty, and the shift from what is right to which side wins means that each inch that the left can take that moves them away from adhering to the constitution will let them move closer to shutting down opposing thoughts. My point here is that this one is hard to see unless it is being watched for, and the tipping point can happen fast. When Bill Ayers was young he was recorded by an FBI agent as saying that once they had taken over the government as many as 50,000,000 Americans would need to be re-educated and that half of them might need to be killed. That was the kind of plan put in place by Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Po Pot. The statists have a clear understanding of the danger that intellectual freedom presents to them.

What are the tipping points for losing the freedom of Communication? These will be changes in laws regarding FCC licensing of airwaves, major political donors attempting to strong arm companies into a secret boycott of the media slanted in directions they oppose. Increased decline in journalistic standards on hard news media sources. Increased push by political powers to influence news cycles, de-facto censorship, colleges that restrict free-speech to "free speech zones", increased acceptance in the culture of peer-pressure driven political correctness. The camel's nose comes into the tent that first inch by finding a Trojan horse - like laws against cyber bullying of children. When the law is passed, it becomes easier to go the next step and outlaw cyber bullying of adults. Then shift the definition of cyber bullying so it includes something like opposition to ObamaCare as harmful to the national well being. (That's kind of a lame example, but you get the idea).

We see examples of violating the right to free assembly in the use of the tax code, and the IRS's attempt to tie up Tea Party organizations so they are less effective in getting donations... done just before the presidential elections.

We see the tipping point of voting integrity approaching in the harshly waged battle to stop voter identification. We see the far left working hard to create an environment where each person can vote a dozen times and shift the election in key states. We see this with the concerted effort that was engaged in by some of the far left to get their people elected as secretary of state in the different states - the person that certifies the results of elections within the state. That's how the election was tipped to let Senator Al Franken take his seat. Add the delay in seating the Senator who filled the vacancy from Massachusetts and the difference was Obamacare passed.

Voter education is something that make a significant shift each generation as the universities and colleges turn out the next set of voters, future politicians, journalists, commentators, writers, intellectuals. And they turn out the future professors. Right now, and for some time, we have been seeing each generation grow somewhat more statist (or at the least, more accepting of statism) than the generation before. And with each passing year the population shift is moving those more leftist oriented people into positions of more power. It is a slow-motion revolving door and those who were less accepting of statism are being turned out, retiring, and then dying. There are metrics that could be employed to measure different aspects of this. But even if we could average some intelligently acquired metrics on the rate of the shift of journalists to the left, and something similar for other key occupations, and for voters in general, we still don't know where it hits a point that a downhill slide goes on its own... or where it is unlikely to be reversible.

The freedom to think, speak, write, assemble and then vote... these are required for a peaceful political defense of our liberty and to maintain our freedom. Take away even one of those to a large degree and we can no longer, as a people, as a society protect our liberty without taking up arms and killing. That's a fact. Factors like the cultural factionalism and the political honesty are more like lubricants. If cultural factionalism is very low, and political honesty is very high, it greases the way to bring about reasonable change. If cultural factionalsim is very high and political honesty is very low, then it becomes an uphill battle to bring out reasonable change.

Another factor, which is critical, is hard to even name or describe. I'll call it our political expectations. How confident are you that a voice that speaks out on the public stage (say at a major political convention) and calls for very rational changes that would bring sanity back to our political system, and fix the problems in our government, would be enthusiastically accepted and put into place? How confident are you that someone who is very charsimatic and elequent speaking on behalf of socialist approaches to wealth distribution, expanded public education, and government run healt care would find at least some small movement in that direction? I don't know entirely what it is, but right now our culture seems to be primed to accept political moves to the left but not towards liberty. 80% of the voting public can be certain that we must stop spending far more money than we take in, but an attempt to circulate a citizen driven move to force a reasonable balanced budget amendment through the system would fail. Why? I don't know.
Sanctions: 12Sanctions: 12Sanctions: 12 Sanction this ArticleEditMark as your favorite article

Discuss this Article (3 messages)