I have watched the reaction from the establishment to the Bundy Ranch incident with great interest. Everywhere one looks statists are up in arms that the “tea baggers” beat their big government butts in a very public way, and on a global stage in the Nevada desert.
What about the rule of law the statists say? (Funny that they care now.) This is “federal land.” This is “public” land. But few of these people know what this actually means and how the land came to be controlled by the federal government in the first place. All they seem to know is that they don’t like the “live free or die” folks. The “tea baggers.” The people who actually stood up to a government which is far too large and said “enough.”
In the Range War equation I see the claim on the grazing land as being tiered. The first claim goes to the Native Americans who may or may not have lived on the land. Then the claim goes to the Bundy family which has worked the land for over a century. After that the claim should go to the state of Nevada. And at the very end of the line are the Feds. The federal government in the 30s and 40s just declared that much of the West was under BLM control. The people on the land (there were few then including the Bundy family) had little say in the grab. The only reason that people came to accept BLM management was because the agency was explicitly supposed to work with ranchers and miners to maintain the land. Over time however the BLM morphed from a citizen partner (albeit a forced partner) into a hybrid conservation/crony industry licensing force, which was used to shake down little guys. This is what Bundy is rebelling against.
Now do I think Bundy is some sort of saint? I have no idea. I don’t know the man but most men are not saints. But he did stand up to a giant bully and won and I respect that.
However as I traverse the social media universe I see such deep contempt from some for the man who punched the bully in the nose. It’s a bit sad, though not surprising. It think on many levels it’s just flat out racism and lifestyle bigotry. Many people from the city just don’t have any understanding of what it’s like to live where it’s wild. They see this old white guy riding around on a horse and all they see is someone they don’t like. Old white guys can’t be trusted. And this one is defending his “property rights”? What are “property rights”? Why can’t he just be happy living in an apartment like me? The government picks up my trash, educates my kids, sends me a check to make sure I can make ends meet, controls my rental costs, pays for my phone, the government is GREAT! What is Bundy’s problem? Why is this old guy rocking the boat? Get with it man. Suckle that teat like those of us in the city. Yes, we are bought and sold and our “betters” control our lives, but we like it that way. Forward! Who is this guy who talks about “freedom”?
Or as so many sad statist snarks spell it “freedumb.” They mock the idea of being a free individual. “Freedom” you see is only the construct of a Eurocentric, male dominated, hierarchical, bourgeois world view. There is no “freedom” there is only power.
This way of looking at the world, one defined by that old European white guy Karl Marx, runs deep through our university system and through much of the old media. Those who have not learned to question these outlets often blindly fall into lock step with people they think are the “experts.” They are professors. They are on TV!
Some just people love experts. I find these people tend also to be very enamored with government which is full of “experts” of course. “Experts” allow the abdication of critical thinking for some. Why think about something, why question something, when the “experts” can just tell us what is right?
Experts are also comforting. In a world of chaos, that there are planners out there who (we think) know what’s going on is reassuring. Why would people like Bundy, with their love of “liberty” and freedom want to undermine this reassuring order? What Bundy and his buddies want is chaos, and chaos is uncomfortable. Don’t make me uncomfortable.
The thing is liberty and freedom can be very uncomfortable. Not only is liberty uncomfortable it is scary for those who don’t do well with uncertainty. In a world where liberty is respected over order that rent might not be controlled and that government check might not come. For some this is a fate almost worse than death. They would be much happier living in their highly regulated world, where everything is planned and all the hard edges have been sanded off. The reward which comes from living one’s own life is simply not worth the discomfort and uncertainty. Better to live in a warm, comfortable welfare state than to suffer the unpredictable winds of a life of independence.
It is fear that Leviathan lives off of. It is fear which drives an ever larger state. Some people cannot imagine living as a free person and when they see people trying to be free it scares them. What if the liberty nuts actually won? What if the liberty nuts were actually able to convince a majority of Americans (the world?) that a life of liberty is preferable to one which has been nerfed by political busybodies. If that happened life might get more uncomfortable. Things – God forbid – might change. And even though “CHANGE“ was the clarion call of many statists 5 years ago, change – dynamism in life and in the economy – is absolutely the last thing these folks want.
That Clive Bundy the rancher has more in common with the dudes in Easy Rider than the so called “liberals” one can be pretty sure that something has gone haywire in America.