Freedom And Other Such Pursuits
|Title:||Freedom And Other Such Pursuits|
|Author:||Jonathan David Morris|
Freedom And Other Such Pursuitsby Jonathan David Morris 06/26/03
It's said that scientists, in testing the big bang theory, might someday spark the creation of a new universe inside a particle accelerator the expansion of which would push our own universe out of the picture forever and ever, amen.
Hey, it's just a theory.
But another and, I might add, more endearing premise floating around nowadays is that "liberty in our lifetime" can be achieved. Not for Iraq or Afghanistan, mind you, nor for any of the countless other countries in which unfeeling despots rule. Rather, for us. For America. Or so says a libertarian activist group called the Free State Project, for whom "liberty in our lifetime" is both a motto and a goal.
How does one define the Project's agenda? Well, it's not quite revolution, not quite civil war, but more like dynamic sociopolitical change for the post-Carnation Instant Breakfast era. Their three-part plan goes like this: (1) Move 20,000 liberty-lovers to a single, as-yet-undetermined state; (2) Infiltrate local governments by means of election; and (3) Strip said governments bare. Success, as described by Freestateproject.org, "would likely entail reductions in burdensome taxation and regulation, reforms in state and local law, an end to federal mandates, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world."
And if all goes according to plan, the final product like a particle accelerator would set off a big bang of freedom like the one we celebrate with fireworks each Fourth of July, thus cleansing America of her modern ills from the inside out.
In short, I love it.
But two points first, before I tell you why:
1. While the Free State Project would appear to be both admirable and legit, there's an unfortunate irony in being so open with the playbook that is, others are apt to steal pages. For example, the target list is based on state populations, voter turnouts, and campaign finances, all of which will help members choose the ideal home for the FSP's HQ. But what if someone steals the strategy and uses it with the also-ripe runner-up state? The Free State Project is aiming for 20,000 people, but the Raelians, for one, have twice as many already, and that's before they mass produce human clones. These people want Israel to build them an embassy. Put nothing past them, including North Dakota, in a Balkanized States of America. (I won't get into what al-Qaeda could do, but it's worth a passing thought.)
2. The contention here is that the federal government has grown too big, that its powers have grown too vast. I agree. But I should also note that, if you tell me we're living in near tyranny or claim the time for insurrection is come, I'll tell you you're going overboard and other Americans might not put it so nicely. Although the Free State Project "is not promoting secession," according to its Web site, it's important to remember that, under current circumstances, Americans will probably embrace a power-to-the-people philosophy, but not the notion that their country's anything less than the greatest on Earth, because despite imperfections that's what America is.
Barring that, however, the Free State Project may be onto something.
Are we, indeed, less free than we were fifty years ago? How about a hundred? I'd say so, and so, too, would G. Gordon Liddy, who says in his latest book, When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, that... well, this was a free country when he was a kid.
By way of legislation and new taboos, Liddy's seen a litany of new rules imposed, one-by-one, on a society supposed to live free. He's in his 70s. I was born in the '70s the 1970s yet I, too, have seen enough freedoms vanish in my time to cause concern.
Liddy's very first example: "When I was a kid, my young buddies and I could walk down the street carrying a rifle, a handgun, or a shotgun that our dad or uncle had bought for us at the local hardware store... We'd head for the woods to hunt crow or just bang away at tin cans."
He speaks of real guns here. When I was a kid, my guns were toys. I had a pair of silver-colored six shooters, a couple of cap guns, and a pistol that shot suction cups. It was a lot like shaving next to dad when I was a kid a bladeless razor in my hand, a real one in his. It all sounds so simple, or maybe a tad romanticized, but it was fun.
Now even toy guns are on their way out, and it won't be long before kids are prohibited by law from having fun at all.
The line of thinking goes: If Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't had guns, they wouldn't've had the courage to shoot their classmates at Columbine. Furthermore, if they hadn't had violent video-games like Mortal Kombat and music like Marilyn Manson, their victims might be working on college diplomas today.
I don't doubt that guns gave Harris and Klebold a sick sense of bravery, and I won't argue the merits of Mortal Kombat and Marilyn Manson, either. This has all the pieces of a pass-the-blame puzzle, no question there. But how, then, do we account for the millions of people who unlike Harris and Klebold have bought guns, played video-games, and listened to metal without ever committing mass murder in turn? And how can we justify denying the masses of what they desire because of an irresponsible, misguided, or evil few?
And as if it's not enough to focus on playthings rather than right and wrong, we've got to destroy the things that made America strong, too. Just as we deleted Mount Rushmore from our textbooks, we've also denounced the cowboy. Witness George W. Bush, whose Texan reputation is called upon so frequently you'd think it had actual relevance to policy-making and foreign affairs. It doesn't, of course, but tell that to the French.
Or how about the image of the all-American father, he of "Honey, I'm home" fame? Dear old dad was firm but fair because he knew your future was in his hands. If you didn't like it, you could go to your room. But that was then and this is now, and now kids are lucky if they even have fathers, let alone fathers who act like fathers and send kids to bed without dessert. Dear old dad understands now that he's given us decades of inequality and oppression. He's can't smoke his pipe anymore because it makes Mother Earth and Mayor Bloomberg unhappy. He can't read the paper anymore, either, because he believes it prints lies or believes whoever told him that, and that's if he can read at all.
And as for mom, well, she's got a vote and a full-time job now, which is progress, which is good. But if, on the other hand, Mother's Day comes under attack as it did in New York two years ago by those who fear it offends folks with alternative lifestyles, you've got to wonder if something's wrong, if maybe, in the midst of postmodern thought, we've lost our perspective and our way.
I thank God that Norman Rockwell isn't first coming through the ranks today, for I fear he'd have nothing to paint. Americana is being eaten alive, and we're all a bunch of racists, sexists, or jingoists somehow if we think of putting a stop to it. If it's not Mother's Day, then it's McDonald's. If it's not McDonald's, it's something else, but it's always something and it always contradicts freedom at its core.
I asked a guy from California once why Berkeley wanted to ban non-organic coffee. He gave me a spiel about supporting our farmers. Then he said organic coffee's just plain better. Well, that may be true. I don't doubt that it's better. But don't I have the right to drink cheap coffee if that's what I want? And don't we have the right to drink absolute crap if that's our favorite flavor? If you don't like what Big Coffee's cooking, don't buy Starbucks. Period. Same goes with cigarettes and other such vices. Don't like it? Don't buy it. But don't tell us what to do.
Whether it's a dictator or just some self-loather with a grudge and a good lawyer, there's a word for the whims of a few having too much sway on the masses: Tyranny. I know I said earlier we're not there yet, and I maintain that position. But we're getting there. We're on the same path our forefathers first set out upon, but we're straying more towards the grass than the path itself now. One misstep, one false move, and we may well end up in a ditch incapable of climbing back out.
For a country of our size, strength, and do-good demeanor, that's a shame.
It might be argued that America failed to capture outright victory in the Cold War we won, all right, so don't get me wrong, but we've yet to completely conquer Communism on our shores. Socialism has found a home in America, and it's slowly but surely moved its stuff in.
And it's eroding our peace-through-strength, do-it-yourself attitude. It's all about peace-through-siding-with-the-enemy now. Who needs personal drive when we've got big government? Why do for yourself what the government does for you?
People made a big deal about Bush's tax cuts a few weeks ago, but the government had no right taking that money from us in the first place. The dollar is real world currency, sure, but it's something you spend with your soul. The Constitution provides you with the freedom to express yourself. The dollar's your chance to make good. You've got the right to support pro-war musicians like Daryl Worley, the right to support anti-war actors like Sean Penn, and the right to discount their opinions altogether or spend your dollar somewhere else.
The urge that leads us to wealth redistribution is the same urge that leads us to ban real guns, toy guns, video-games, and rock songs, the same urge that leads us to believe we need Big Brother. It's the urge to believe we can make life fair by making it equally miserable for everyone. It's the urge to throw your voice away, an urge too many Americans feel.
If our country isn't as free at the start of the 21st century as it was at the start of the 19th, it's forgivable. We were young back then, naÃ¯Â¶Â¥. We knew not the challenges of industrialism and beyond. But freedom's our foundation, and our cornerstone, too. If we're less free now than we were at the start of the 20th century, that's an unacceptable trend. The libertarian Free State Project and, indeed, the Libertarian Party proper will have its issues to deal with in the months and years to come. Battles on behalf of gun control, drug laws, and what might be seen as a state's rights worldview will be hard-fought, for sure. But whether it's ultimately successful or not, the Free State Project has a world of opportunity to influence positive change.
Let's just hope it's the start of something good.
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