“My hope (is) that we have not labored in vain, and that our experiment will still prove that men can be governed by reason.”
Thomas Jefferson to George Mason, 1791
It seems The Great Experiment has failed.
Two-plus centuries ago, the thing of greatest importance in the lives of most of the people that populated the Thirteen Colonies was their freedom. Freedom from the tyranny of the King, his taxes, and his church. Not a government sponsored retirement plan, not a government subsidized medical system, not government supported arts programs. They just wanted to be left alone. Even now there are those living in America who still long for the very same thing. Sadly, it appears that this longing shall never have reason to abate.
The founding fathers of this nation had as their goal the establishment of a republic characterized by limited (which is to say, minimal) government and maximum personal responsibility and liberty. The founders felt that the maximum amount of government should be the minimum amount required to perform only those tasks called for and authorized by the Constitution. These men took a very different view from today’s politicians regarding the scope and function of government. Over time the concepts and institutions imagined by those great men of vision have been corrupted and bastardized almost beyond recognition. Even the most liberal politician of the late 18th century would be shocked at the nanny-state that has taken hold in this country. What began as a nation of law has transmogrified into just another fiefdom of the mob, a land where elected despots mainline the nectar of personal power and worship at the altar of reelection. Power and position are maintained and the peasantry soothed by the indiscriminate opening of the public coffers to any who will trade their vote for a few dollars worth of consideration. The spirit of revolutionary independence that characterized the establishment of this nation is evident no more.
“The generation which commences a revolution rarely completes it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often, in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides, to defeat their own rights and purposes.”
Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823
The people of this nation will make halfhearted protestations affirming their love of freedom yet, each time the polling places are opened, most will dutifully enthrone (either through their action or inaction) the ones least likely to champion a vibrant and enduring liberty. Though the democratically elected lords and the obeisant masses will both offer arguments to the contrary, the United States of America has become little more than a neo-feudalistic society. The electorate labors obediently for their masters, hands outstretched in expectation of the largess their overseers have promised. And with each generation that passes through those government indoctrination centers that are public schools, yet another layer of habituation is instilled to insure the “passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests.”
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1779
A benign tyranny truly has emerged in this country, the Tyranny of Indifference. The prevailing view is that the system is what it is and little can be done to change it. Those in control certainly have no reason to refute this belief, for indifference is the greatest ally of the power monger. Personal liberty and personal responsibility are mutually inclusive. One cannot exist in the absence of the other. Likewise, it should be known that indifference and liberty are mutually exclusive. Freedom must be in receipt of the constant stewardship of those who declare themselves to be free. As a garden is tilled and tended, so must the fields of freedom be nurtured and weeded of any growing thing that would overtake and suffocate the fruits of liberty. Be warned: as surely as day follows night, a benign tyranny will inevitably become a tyranny of violent oppression. When such a tyranny takes root there comes a point where the recourse of the ballot box is no longer an option. The only way to be rid of such a tyranny is to rip out its roots forcibly through acts of willful rebellion.
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787
Freedom cannot survive where freedom is not wanted. It may be that most of the citizens of this nation truly have no desire for anything so demanding as an abiding liberty. Being free requires an effort greater than most are willing to exert. The few remaining souls who view personal sovereignty as the only acceptable course have a limited number of options available to them if they wish to continue living in America. The first is to live “under the radar,” shunning all but the most unavoidable contact with The System in an effort to outrun (that is, expire before the arrival of) the coming oppressive Tyranny. The second would be to attempt to win the hearts and minds of the indifferent majority to the cause of freedom. (A challenge worthy of Sisyphus if ever there was one.) The third and final option is the instigation of a revolution by force, a futile course of action doomed to summary failure. The overwhelming might of the Tyranny allied with the indifference of the masses condemns a Second Revolution to an end most wretched.
The most prudent course of action for those whose bones ache for liberty may well be the abandonment of the very laboratory where the Experiment failed. Unfortunately, if America is not free, the remainder of the world is even less so. Perhaps necessity may cause members of some future generation to go so far as to colonize the ocean floor in an effort to realize the dream of independence that has so far eluded humanity’s grasp. Wherever lovers of liberty may congregate there will forever be a need for constant vigilance. Freedom is fragile and will always require that its beneficiaries stand at the ready to rise to its defense against the minions of the kings and priests.
“Men can only be governed by reason if those men are reasonable.”
Billy Red Horse, 2003
©Billy Red Horse
Wow, an inspiring piece. It amazes me the wisdom and ability to see the future our founding fathers possessed.
Thanks for your writing!
You are most welcome!