"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." ~ Virginia Woolf
A Most Dangerous Game
Politicians have always struck me as little more impressive than small boys playing dress-up. Like politicians, small boys playing dress-up swagger in costume, puffed with imagined grandeur. The fundamental difference between small boys and politicians, however, is as obvious as it is slight: Small boys rarely have the power to annihilate entire populations at will. A nuclear warhead is no bean-shooter. While these soulless reptiles pontificate from podiums, people of all ages and infirmities are slaughtered under the impartial impact of the cluster bomb. Men, women, children, the elderly, and the unborn'all are subject to the violent and greedy whims of the empire builders, many of whom have never seen a day in uniform. Dubya was unable to finish a stint in the National Guard, yet when he dons a cheesy flight suit and lands on an aircraft carrier'at taxpayer expense, of course'we are expected to mistake him for Maverick. (The irony of one despot boarding a warship named after another despot is of course lost on most Americans.)
It is striking how little in common your average politician has with his supposed constituents. Many members of Congress are millionaires, and their policies are guided far less by the needs of the nation than by the agendas of their campaign donors. This is old hat for anarchists and libertarians alike, but the question begs: What enables the peculiar illusion of a legitimate State to exist? Some Internet writers heap piles of blame upon the mainstream media cartels for the State's lasting popularity, and rightly so. Whorenalism is an art as old as tyranny. If Joe Six-Pack is solely getting his information from CNN or Fox News, how can he be expected to know what's really going on?
Other online writers excoriate the nightmarish indoctrination camps we know as public schools. If old Joe has spent 10+ years in such a camp, we will naturally expect him to hold statist views'including an insufferable awe of and respect for all things Government. Having spent 13 years in government schools, I can sympathize with such writers. 'Statist' may be less accurate than 'fascist.' (If you are under 18 and attend public schools, I imagine you've been forced to learn more about your classmates' sexual preferences than you ever cared to. You may also have learned that the State can kidnap you, putting you at the mercy of foster 'parents,' if your real parents decide to teach you at home rather than subjecting you to the prurient perverts in charge of your school.)
I've read articles blaming gun control, imperialism, feminism, illiteracy, liberals, neo-cons, the New World Order, the Bilderbergers, and the bogeyman for the rapid decline of Western civilization over the last hundred years. With the possible exception of the bogeyman, none of the above evils could exist without the State. Again, what gives government the fa'ade of respectability? I think the answer is a simple one: personal responsibility. Most people just don't seem to have it anymore.
I know. I sound like somebody's grandpappy, an old curmudgeon deafly yelling folk wisdom at the young. But the purported justification for government coercion can be found in the false conviction that the masses are not capable of minding their own business'that they need a Nanny State to do it for them. This is not a new idea. The writers of this nation's founding documents, for the most part, had no love of personal sovereignty for the masses. They believed that they and they alone were qualified to make life and death decisions regarding the fate of the nation, and that it was the duty of every citizen to march enthusiastically along (until he changed things through the proper, State-run channels). Does this sound familiar?
The Fathers were far from anarchists'or even libertarians. What they sought was more of a fiefdom, in which landowners reigned supremely and in sovereignty, cooperating with each other in a symbiotic alliance, while their tenants (or slaves) traded one king for another. While Jefferson and Franklin held unwavering positions on the rights of American citizens, not everyone was eligible for citizenship. It is difficult to reconcile the founders' freedom-loving viewpoints with the fact that they 'owned' other human beings against their will. If they were such believers in the inherent rights of all men and the defensive strength of an armed populace, why form a government at all?
Answer: Because they were to be the governors. And the voters were to be the governed.
Naturally, irresponsibility is rampant in government. You might even say that irresponsibility is the essence of government. Fiscal waste, dishonesty, graft, and general corruption are the names of the game. Programs like Affirmative Action protect the incompetent from the pressures of competition, while smoking bans and blue laws punish business owners for their success in delivering 'sinful' goods and services to customers. Our welfare system is a horror, having created entire generations of professional check-cashers and endless strain on local economies. In the modern, centralized America , the irresponsible is rewarded with the hard-earned gains of the self-sufficient. And this is only fitting; the State must sustain the populace's dependence on it at all cost. If taxpayers and tax-eaters were to realize they would do just as well'in fact, better'without the State, those silly little boys in costume would have hell to pay.
They'd also be unemployed.
If the actions of these idiot man-children impacted America alone, I'd be happy to pack my bags and move to Mexico . Unfortunately, Dubya and his pals have the proverbial lever long enough to move the whole world'the capacity for nuclear devastation beyond imagining. And there's the rub. These irresponsible, spoiled brats have the power to turn the entire Middle East into a sheet of glass. While they pompously pretend to be statesmen, children are incinerated.
Thanks to government, Americans have come to believe that they are entitled to be respected, treated nicely, employed, educated, slender, drug-free, smoke-free, medicated, and given shelter. In the past, these things had to be earned through hard work and personal integrity. Today, one must only be a member of the correct 'minority' to avoid being called mean names. One must only be poor to qualify for a free home and free food. One must only be born to qualify for a free 'education' and lifelong subsistence at everyone else's expense.
I have an idea: Let's call a spade a spade. Taxation is armed robbery. Wanting to keep your own earnings is not selfish. Being black, female, gay, Jewish, disabled, and/or poor does not entitle you to a handout. What consenting adults do with each other or their own bodies is no one's business but their own. The military draft is slavery. Property rights, assuming one's body is one's property, are the only rights. Perhaps most importantly, non-aggression does not warrant aggression. Ever.
Because of the degradation of the concept of personal responsibility, society has decayed. Inevitably, the irresponsible citizenry clamors for a babysitter, a nanny to step in and take charge of society's ills. An insatiable tick, the bloated State is more than happy to accept the challenge. Government meddling has always been a game between tyrant and subject'a most dangerous game, at that.
Perhaps it's time to change the rules.