In 1976 Lynyrd Skynyrd released a live album entitled, One More From the Road. When introducing the song Whiskey Rock A Roller singer Ronnie Van Zant said, “Had an old stupid writer ask me one time, he said what are you man, really what are you? So I decided to write a song…really.” I tell you this because for the past week or so I’ve had numerous people call me a right wing extremist or a conservative, and as Ronnie did when he wrote that song, I’d like to take some time to set the record straight regarding my political philosophy.
Before I even begin to attempt to explain my political philosophy I need to take a moment or two to explain what a conservative and a liberal is. As it pertains to politics a conservative is one who holds to traditional values or beliefs, while a liberal is one who is willing to abandon traditional values and beliefs.
People assume that all Democrats are liberals and all Republicans are conservatives, but that isn’t necessarily true. It all depends on what you consider traditional values to be. I guess the best way of explaining that statement is by asking a question: Do you consider traditional values to be the values held by, say, your parents? Or could it be traditional values are those that were held by your grandparents, or their grandparents? You see, it all depends upon whose values you hold; or how far back in history you look back to establish the guidelines for what you call traditional values.
The way I look at it is that traditional values are the values which were held by those who fought for this country’s independence, not what someone 10, 20, or even 50 years ago held. Using that as a definition for traditional values, both major parties in America today would be considered liberal; for both have abandoned the values held by those who fought for this country’s independence.
However, that is not the only flaw in the way people think when it comes to the spectrum that defines American politics. Most people believe that conservatives, or at least staunch conservatives, are at the far right of the spectrum, while Democrats are at the other end. I don’t look at it like that, I look at it like at one end you have a government that has total control over the lives, property and liberty of the governed; which for simplicities sake I’ll call tyranny, while at the other end of the spectrum there is no government whatsoever; which I’ll simply call anarchy. The two ideology of the two political parties, and those who adhere to them, is that government should fall closer to a totalitarian, or all powerful government, with the only difference between the two being how the taxing and spending power of government is used, or who it benefits.
Liberals, or at least most of them, claim the moral high ground because they CARE about issues which provide some form of social justice. The liberal ideology is that it is okay to plunder the wealth, property, and rights of one group if it benefits a group they support; or part of their base constituency. For instance, liberals believe that it is societies obligation to provide things for those in need, or who are incapable of providing those things for themselves; and by golly if people won’t give willingly then by all means let’s have government take it from them in the form of taxes and redistribute it to those they feel are justly entitled to it.
While most conservatives aren’t as bad as most liberals, that doesn’t mean they are any good either. Conservatives are often perfectly willing to spend tax dollars or sacrifice certain rights and freedoms; especially if it benefits big business or is done in the name of national security.
While both political parties have their differences, there is one thing both of them have in common; neither of them gives a rat’s ass about the Constitution and what limits it imposes upon their powers. Now you might be assuming that I am what you might call a constitutionalist, but you would be wrong.
While at one point in my life I felt that the problem in this country was that our government was not adhering to the Constitution; now I feel that the problem is not the government itself, it is the plan which framed our government that is flawed.
Sure, government is the entity that is doing all these bad things, passing all these bad laws, but it can only do those things because the plan that framed our system of government was so weak and ineffective that it has allowed government to overstep the limits imposed upon it. I have come to believe that Lysander Spooner was right when he wrote, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”
So, if I’m not a liberal, a conservative, or a constitutionalist, then what am I? Well, I don’t particularly like labeling myself as one thing or another, but the closest you could get is to say I’m somewhat of a libertarian; and some might even call me an anarchist.
I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Deadpool, but in it there is a scene where Wade Wilson is put into a airtight tank and the character Ajax cuts the oxygen supply back to the point where Wilson is kept on the verge of passing out. That’s similar to how I feel about government; or at least the powers it should be allowed to exercise.
Listen, I understand that there is a need for government, but I’m aligned with Thomas Paine in thinking that government in its best state is a necessary evil, and in its worst state an intolerable one. I believe, as did Patrick Henry, that liberty should be the direct end for which government exists. It is my belief that the federal government should stay out of the lives, and the wallets and purses of the American people. If you want to know my political philosophy all you have to do is read Thomas Jefferson’s first Inaugural Address. But seeing as how most of you won’t do that, I’ll provide the relevant quote, “…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government…”
Although Jefferson’s speech was in regards to his policy for his administration, I feel the same should apply to government at all levels; leave the people free to do as they please to seek out success on their own – without any aid or interference by government. As long as I do not harm anyone else, or deprive them of their rights or property, the government should have no authority to tell me what I can and cannot do.
Yet here we have a government that takes from some and gives to others, while at the same time imposing all manner of rules and regulations on what we can and cannot do…and people put up with this nonsense because they think that’s what government is supposed to be doing.
For the longest time I have been completely flabbergasted as to why people cannot see that their government is almost at the point of being totalitarian; with armed thugs ready and willing to impose whatever tyrannical laws it decides to pass. I have wondered if people are just plain stupid, or if they’ve been indoctrinated into believing that this is the purpose our government was created to serve. Then last night I read something that completely changed my perspective.
I think people today simply don’t know any better, and by that I mean they have never tasted true liberty; so they just don’t know what they are missing out on. They think that they have liberty and freedom because they can do some things…even if it requires permission from some governmental agency to do them. To them, that is freedom because there is nary a person alive today who has experienced real freedom.
The passage which changed my perspective on this comes from Etienne de la Boetie’s book, The Politics of Obedience: A Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, and states, “One never pines for what he has never known; longing comes only after enjoyment and constitutes, amidst the experience of sorrow, the memory of past joy. It is truly the nature of man to be free and to wish to be so, yet his character is such that he instinctively follows the tendencies that his training gives him.”
In the same book the author ponders the following question, “I do not know how it happens that nature fails to place within the hearts of men a burning desire for liberty, a blessing so great and so desirable that when it is lost all evils follow thereafter, and even the blessings that remain lose taste and savor because of their corruption by servitude.” That is something I’ve asked myself hundreds, if not thousands of times.
I have also asked myself what it is about me, and people like me, who even though we live in servitude to an oppressive government, we recognize it and yearn for liberty, while others are content to live in bondage. Then last night I read this in Boetie’s book, “There are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake it off: these are the men who never become tamed under subjection and who always — like Ulysses on land and sea, constantly seeking the smoke of his chimney — cannot prevent themselves from peering about for their natural privileges and from remembering their ancestors and their former ways. … These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them by study and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it. For them, slavery has no satisfactions, no matter how well disguised.”
After reading that I thought to myself, “Finally, an answer as to why I can see what so many others can’t.” While it doesn’t make my servitude any more tolerable, it at least explains why so many accept theirs without a whimper of protest.
Not only do we have a country were very few are capable of seeing that they are in bondage, we have a country were all manner of entertainment is provided to keep our minds off our pathetic existences. I’ve mentioned Bread and Circuses in previous commentaries, but Boetie also addresses this as well, “Do not imagine that there is any bird more easily caught by decoy, nor any fish sooner fixed on the hook by wormy bait, than are all these poor fools neatly tricked into servitude by the slightest feather passed, so to speak, before their mouths. Truly it is a marvelous thing that they let themselves be caught so quickly at the slightest tickling of their fancy. Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”
So while you languish in servitude, your masters ensure you are well entertained; Facebook, Twitter, Reality TV, professional athletics, talent shows, and around the clock shopping networks to keep your minds focused anywhere except on your own ignorance. And, just as the Romans did, the people today fall for the same ruse. It truly is sad how often tyranny repeats the past and people cannot see it.
Boetie also references how one should deal with those who are born into servitude and do not recognize it. He says that we should not be angered with them, rather we should feel pity on them; “I am of the opinion that one should pity those who, at birth, arrive with the yoke upon their necks. We should exonerate and forgive them, since they have not seen even the shadow of liberty, and, being quite unaware of it, cannot perceive the evil endured through their own slavery.”
Whether you choose to act upon this, we still have a government that exists based upon the consent of the governed. So long as an overwhelming majority of the people consents to our government, as is, or remain apathetic and indifferent about it, nothing will change for the better. So long as people continue to support this government because it is run by people of their choosing, regardless of whether or not government secures to them the liberty it was established to secure, nothing will change; and as John Adams once said in a letter to his wife, “Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
And there is one final point I must address, and I know that some of you will take this the wrong way, nevertheless I feel it must be said. While most people consent to government as it exists, there are those who do not. Should those attempt to exercise their liberty to the fullest extent they WILL find themselves on the wrong side of the law. There are a multitude of agents, both at the federal, State, and local level whose sole purpose is to ensure the people comply with the law. But Thomas Jefferson once said, “…law is often but the tyrants will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”
So, if these ‘law enforcers’ are enforcing laws that restrict a person’s ability to exercise their rights, then they are just as guilty of being tyrants as are those who wrote the law to begin with. And in closing I’d like to leave you with two final quotes regarding that. The first comes from Jefferson and states, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
And the final quote, which is a bit harsher, comes from Boetie, “Let us therefore learn while there is yet time, let us learn to do good. Let us raise our eyes to Heaven for the sake of our honor, for the very love of virtue, or, to speak wisely, for the love and praise of God Almighty, who is the infallible witness of our deeds and the just judge of our faults. As for me, I truly believe I am right, since there is nothing so contrary to a generous and loving God as tyranny — I believe He has reserved, in a separate spot in Hell, some very special punishment for tyrants and their accomplices.”
So there you have it, my political philosophy. As I said, I hate labels, especially inaccurate ones. But if you insist on assigning one to me you can call me a radical libertarian, a Jeffersonian, or just a patriot who is pissed off for all I care; just don’t call me a conservative, because I’ll take that as an insult.