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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.
These are surely the times that try men’s souls. There is truly a specter over the United States of America. Those of you who blame the politicians or the “greedy capitalists” for our devastating problems are not seeing the total picture. Over the past many years I have come to realize that the politicians are merely pawns of the people. Most people believe the opposite – namely, that the people are pawns of the government. On second thought, they are both parasites feeding off each other – pawns and dupes of each other. It’s a game of who can create the most convincing fraud.
Think about the following imaginary situation. You snap your fingers to remove every citizen in America from existence, except for the federal and state government officials. These officials remain in office but have nobody to govern except themselves. What decisions and actions do you imagine they would take in order to live in peace and prosperity? They will no longer have the citizenry to influence them to pass laws in favor of the citizenry. I am certain that their actions would be very different from their present actions and different from the actions they have taken over the past 100 years. Think about it and come to your own conclusions.
The politicians are merely doing the bidding of the people. The masses don’t want to hear ideology, philosophy, reasoning or logic. They don’t want to hear that the legislation they favor is in violation of the Constitution. They aren’t interested in the cause of the effects they like or dislike. They think that they already understand those causes, especially if they are highly successful or educated. To quote Albert J. Nock, “the point is that in respect of the relation between the theory and the actual practice of public affairs, the American is the most unphilosophical of beings. The rationalization (use of reason) of conduct in general is most repugnant to him; he prefers to emotionalize it. He is indifferent to the theory of things, so long as he may rehearse his formulas; and so long as he can listen to the patter of his litanies, no practical inconsistency disturbs him, indeed, he gives no evidence of even recognizing it as an inconsistency.” (Our Enemy, The State, Albert Jay Nock, pg. 12)
In 1951, Elmer T. Peterson made this profound observation: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result that the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” That is true of our democracy as evidenced by the billions of dollars that are handed out by the keepers of the trough. The masses have not understood the difference between a Republic, the form of government inspired by the Declaration of Independence, and a Democracy, which was the form of many governments that failed in the past and which is the form of government we now have. We have been converted from a Republic to a Democracy in which anything goes via the voting booth.
For the first 100 years, the people understood that government did not have the right to interfere with the life and property of others under any circumstances. Once the courts ruled that it was constitutional for the government to interfere with the life and property of others, under “certain circumstances,” it opened the floodgates for government to interfere with anybody’s life and property arbitrarily.
Ever since the masses of American citizens have come to the realization that they can vote themselves largess from the public trough, they have run hog wild in persuading their politicians of either party to hand over that largess, or else. The politicians have only done the bidding of the masses. In his book, An American Family, The Buckleys, Reid Buckley correctly wrote, “… the American people have rejected the founding, the America of our parents. What the American people now desire to see wither away, is the Republic, not the State, to the end that we may become another France or Germany, with stagnant economies and bloated government, or an England. Narcissism rules the waves. The character of the people has become bureaucratic and slavish. The character of American society is gross beyond the wildest imagining of even a decade ago. The term conservative now signifies next to nothing, and the Republican Party has reverted to being the party of incremental statism — it wishes for a comprehensive welfare state at the cost of the philosophy of the founding of the republic, which envisioned a self-reliant citizenry and strictly limited government.”
Do you think that the Tea Party supporters really believe in the Constitution, as they claim? What would their reaction be to the proposal, by their favored politicians, that Social Security, Medicare, or all of the anti-trust laws are unconstitutional (and they are) and should be abolished? Their favored politicians would never make such a proposal because they know it would mean the end of their reign. With few exceptions, the Tea Party enthusiasts would be up in arms over such a proposal. They would claim that Social Security and Medicare is their right and abolition of the anti-trust laws would result in big business taking advantage of the little guy. They believe that a good intention trumps the Constitution.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party, with a mandate from the liberal masses, is beyond statism in that they make no bones about their desire to give the citizens everything their hearts desire, not in incremental ways but in a few fell swoops. To be pessimistic about this country is a realistic attitude. The politicians cannot bail us out because they are just following the wishes of the “something for nothing” and “good intention” philosophy of the masses.
If you ask a citizen from any walk of life with any political party affiliation, if he believes in freedom, he will of course answer in the affirmative. If you ask that citizen if it would be moral or wrong for a mugger to mug people in an alley and demand that they hand over their wallets to him because he wants to redistribute their wealth to himself or even his family, that citizen would say it was immoral, and he would affirm that such an act would be taking away the freedom of those victims. But that same citizen also believes that the “people” through their representatives should be “free” to do the same by passing a law and legalize the mugging for a purpose of which they approve.
Everyone has a philosophy of life whether they know it or not. The citizen who wishes to vote away the property of another maintains a philosophy of serfdom but calls it a philosophy of freedom. A country whose society is steeped in the belief in the coercive redistribution of wealth is a doomed society, which is what we are now witnessing in America.
The lack of a scientific philosophical foundation of reason and rational self-interest and a lack of understanding of that foundation will be responsible for the fall of the American empire. Ayn Rand was asked the question, “philosophy, who needs it?” Her answer was “brother, you do.” Of course she was referring to a rational scientific philosophy, not the philosophy of most citizens of the United States of America. In fact, we are no longer united. American citizens have the government they deserve and they earned it. Don’t blame just the politicians, although they must share the blame. Blame yourselves. If you wish to fix society fix yourselves. The only way to eliminate serfdom American-style is to become committed to making “everything voluntary.”
Casting the blame on other people for our present situation is a valid and accurate fun sport but it is not sufficient to solve our present societal problems. For that we need the scientific epistemology of a voluntary society.
Just as Isaac Newton had almost unified the physical sciences, Jay Snelson, through his V-50 lectures, has unified the social sciences, a unification that will lead to the admirable goals of peace, prosperity, security, equality, excellence in education and a stable economic system.