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It’s not what you think…

April 15, 2019

Liberty is always at risk, always under attack, always imperiled. The threat, though, doesn’t really come from where many of us think it does.

I am a retired military officer and a Cold War era veteran. I am, because of when I was born, how I was raised and where (and how) I decided to spend a good part of my life, predisposed to dislike and distrust communism and socialism. As they are experienced in this world, I believe they are vile, disgusting and ultimately immoral systems that devalue people and degrade their character. And yet…

Neither communism, nor socialism, nor fascism, nor progressivism, nor liberalism, nor conservatism, nor any of a thousand different “isms” are the real threat to liberty. The people who adhere to one or more of those are threats to liberty, and yet, the communist is not a threat to liberty because he is a communist. The fascist is not a threat because she is a fascist. Certainly, those and other systems can give power to the ones who adhere to those political and/or economic philosophies. But they are not where the real threat, the most basic and fundamental threat, lies.

The threat to liberty is not determined by where a person or philosophy falls upon some modern version of a left-to-right political spectrum. The fundamental threat to liberty comes from neither the modern leftist nor the modern rightist. Instead, the threat to liberty comes from where it has always come. It comes from the authoritarian and the busybody. It comes from those with a fundamental need to tell others what to do. It comes from those with an unhealthy interest in the lives and activities of others. These are the people who threaten liberty. Regardless of party, regardless of political philosophy, regardless of ideology, these folks have always been and always will be threats to liberty.

I am not an anarchist (C’mon. I was a Navy officer. I like order). I believe the drive to have government of some sort is part of the human condition. There are things for which we need a government. And yet, I recognize that it is the nature of government, all government, to seek to increase its power and control – and for some people to use the power of government to increase their own power to tell others what to think, what to do and how to live. The challenge, then, for those who would be free, is to find a way to limit the power of government and the ability of the authoritarian and the busybody to use it for their own ends. Allow me to suggest that at least in the US, instilling in successive generations a greater regard for both freedom and the Constitution is a good place to start.

I occasionally mention “three things” as a way of illustrating that something can be simple (though not necessarily easy). For this topic, I offer three questions.

  1. Would you rather be wealthy or free?
  2. Would you rather be at ease or free?
  3. Would you rather be safe or free?

If we ever get to the point that a majority of people will answer each of those with “free,” we will have achieved a great thing.*

*Albeit perhaps only for a generation. D.H. Lawrence put it well when he wrote “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”

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One Comment
  1. OldNFO permalink

    I vote for FREE! Whatever else happens is then up to me.

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