I just read Peggy Noonan’s most recent column and she writes about something we have been concerned about for a long time.There is something very wrong with America. Americans feel less like citizens, and more like subjects. We are dictated to, not consulted. We are told to get in line, or feel the wrath of the state.
Washington is a den of power seekers and power mongers. It probably always has been. The difference now is the size of the machine. Leviathan has grown in such size and power that unlike in past generations it can’t be ignored. It dominates life. Washington is always there.
The imperial city is run by a court. There are the Democrats and the Republicans the President and Congress, and don’t forget the Pentagon. Each tribe recognizes that so long as the state grows things get better for them. Their budgets get bigger. They get more power. Of course the rest of America pays for this expansion.
The court is dominated by those who come from the political class. This political class also dominates the judicial courts, the media, the universities, to a large extent even our elementary and high schools (via low level functionaries), and many of our churches. They are the guardians of the big government dream. And they are willing to go to the wall for this dream – because they’ve got nothing else.
It’s a sobering realization. A significant part of our population now sees the state as a type of god which is to be worshiped. To which alms are to be given, to which mind is given, and life if need be.
A friend of mine recently brought this quote from Ludwig von Mises to my attention.
“They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!”
Boy doesn’t that about sum it up?
The march toward the all encompassing state seems relentless. But it need not be. Thankfully we have new technologies which can counter the snowball of statism. But we must use this technology vigorously and protect its free and open access. A renaissance of classical liberal thought is possible, but it won’t be easy.
We have the numbers, and unlike in times past the average person also has almost the same access to information as the political class. This fundamentally changes the equation even if the political class believes it still has the momentum of history. The momentum can be shifted from the current 20th century statist direction to a 21st century open source, classically liberal one with sustained effort. We are already headed in that direction. You reading this is testament to that.
So though I share Ms. Noonan’s despair to some extent, I am also optimistic. There is huge opportunity for positive change in this country. The political class at its core knows it’s intellectually (and perhaps in other ways) bankrupt. It knows that if a critical mass of people just say “NO!” they’d be done. The game would be up. The wall would fall down.
We don’t have to live under a regime of morality defined by political correctness. We don’t have to accept that an ever larger state is for some bizarre reason considered “progressive.” We don’t have to accept a Federal Reserve which bails out banks and saddles us with debt while enabling the growth of an unresponsive and burdensome state. We don’t have to accept a government which dismisses us as it says it is representing us. We don’t have to live as subjects. We can live as citizens – again. We can be free. We were born with this right.