Have you noticed? The normal Christmas bustle of packages, decorations, great food, and friendships rekindled drowning in one political panic attack or another. The joy of Christmas dinner dampened by the melodious voices of talking heads incessantly admonishing the people to beware of bacteria and the sins of gluttony is routine now. This new din from those same sources hints at a far more important question. Which road does this country wish to travel?
Does the country wish to remain a collection of sovereign individuals consenting to be governed? Or, does the country want all blessings to flow from a government that determines what is ‘best’ based on our class, ethnicity (our race), or our religious belief? Are we individuals with all the messiness that demands or are we part of a collective with all the horror that represents? We fought a century of overlapping wars-WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam-over this question without a clear winner. This century isn’t starting much better-Iraq and Afghanistan. Courtesy of the incredible strides in technology, last Century’s wars killed a mind-boggling number of warriors and civilians. Stalin killed millions, Hitler killed millions, Mao killed millions, Pol Pot killed millions and millions died on the battlefield. Humanity’s gene-pool became measurably smaller last century. We will never know where those beautiful minds might have taken us.
Does the United States wish to remain a beacon of freedom and hope, with all that entails? Embedded in the last clause of the preceding question is the strife currently filling the airwaves from campuses, government, streets, and dinner tables. I’d love it if the fishmongers of the airways were hawking ideas, but, for the most part, they are not. Smaller voices, like Victor David Hansen, James Bennett, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams traffic in ideas but it is increasingly difficult to hear them. Some institutions like Hillsdale College and St. Johns retain their academic freedom from the government, but most do not.
A rising sea of voices is challenging the underpinnings of freedom, free speech, personal responsibility, a law that applies to all, and, yes, the right to bear arms. There is an acceleration in what needs to be ‘fixed’ within ethnic groups, religion, and class. If we could only get rid of old, white guys, toxic masculinity, marriage, Christianity, certain ‘trigger’ words and phrases, Western Culture, or the crass middle-class everything would be wonderful. They boast, ‘We, in academia, know how to do that because we are certified ‘smart.’ We in government have the stick to make it happen.’
Well, they don’t and they can’t. Over and over, collectivists believe their way works and, once they do it their way, the right way this time, the world will be wonderful. And, most of these people are good people who believe their own words. Unfortunately, the outcome of collectivism is always the same. Many individuals and ideas die, and their losses go unlamented because they didn’t comply. The Czar and his class had to die, the farmers in the old Soviet Union had to starve, the Uighurs in China must be re-educated and used as slave labor to learn the beauty of collectivism, Chinese citizens live or die by a social scoring system aided and abetted by American technology, Venezuelans retain only a memory of a pretty good life 20 years or so ago, Cuba requires its artists to get permission and still jails its dissidents, radical Islamists have eliminated millions of fellow Muslims, Christians, and those associated with other cultures. The depressing list continues. Collective regimes remain in a constant state of rebellion because, gosh darn it, people are individual unique entities. Individuals are not defined by their class, race or religion, although they may be influenced by the culture of each.
In 1970 when I arrived back in the United States after the arrogance of youth became worn with reality, I was so relieved, so profoundly grateful for the bounty and freedom of this country. I drank gallons of milk, then proceeded to strive for the American dream. I found my dream and this country allowed me to work hard, fail, rise again and finally to attain it. I was an individual. I am not alone, to this day people flock to this country because historically here we make it or break it of our individual accord. It is changing as it should change. Which direction will we choose?
As the rising tide of collectivism takes an increasingly strong hold of our youth, our government, our speech, our law, and our educational resources, I worry. As the lessons of history are erased and replaced, I worry. The struggle of individuals to find their way is messy, but it progresses forward in morality. Does that mean this country is doomed to be a collective? I hope not.
Unfortunately, the headlight of the Collective express has been growing stronger since my awareness perceived it in the 1960s under President Johnson. The headlight became stronger under Presidents Clinton and Bush. President Obama disdained America as a bad country. The reaction was for the country to elect President Trump is a hope and prayer that a father figure knew the answers and could ‘fix’ it. He cannot. It is not clear that he even understands the issues. A good businessperson can fix business stuff. Understanding the underlying philosophy of ‘good’ public policy is a whole different skill set.
Is the die cast? Is collectivism the logical conclusion of individual freedom and Natural Law. Churchill asked these questions and was hopeful. Now, before you go non-linear, Churchill was flawed and not at all politically correct-like most great thinkers. Churchill believed in the individual, the need to strive, struggle and, yes, even to suffer to create the ‘masterpieces’ of the mind.
“…In Great Britain, the United States, Germany, and France, the decline in personal pre-eminence is much more visible than in societies which have less wealth, less power, less freedom. The great emancipated nations seem to have become largely independent of famous guides and guardians. They no longer rely upon the Hero, the Commander, or the Teacher as they did in bygone rugged ages, or as the less advanced peoples do today. They wend their way ponderously, unthinkingly, blindly, but nevertheless surely and irresistibly towards goals which are ill-defined and yet magnetic. Is it then true that civilization and democracy, when sufficiently developed, will increasingly dispense with personal direction; that they mean to find their own way for themselves; and that they are capable of finding the right way? Or are they already going wrong? Are they off the track? Have they quitted the stern, narrow high-roads which alone lead to glorious destinies and survival? Is what we now see in the leading democracies merely a diffusion and squandering of the accumulated wisdom and treasure of the past? Are we blundering on together in myriad companies, like innumerable swarms of locusts, chirping and devouring towards the salt sea, or towards some vast incinerator of shams and fallacies? Or have we for the first time reached those uplands whence all of us, even the humblest and silliest equally with the best, can discern for ourselves the beacon lights? Surely such an inquiry deserves an idle hour….”