A Conflict of Visions
by Jacob G. Hornberger
An upside to all the domestic and international crises is that they are providing the American people with the opportunity to consider two alternative paradigms for the future of our nataion: the paradigm of statism under which we all have been born and raised and the paradigm of liberty, free markets, and limited government that we libertarians are fighting for.
Isn’t it time to admit that on the domestic side, the welfare-state way of life has proven to be a disastrous social experiment? No one can deny that it has produced a nation of dependent, frightened people of all age groups and from all walks of life. So many Americans are absolutely convinced that they could never survive and prosper without the federal government’s serving as their daddy, providing them financial assistance, and keeping them safe from all the dangerous creatures in the world.
Isn’t it ironic that we have the most powerful government in history, one that spends far more money on the military and the rest of the national-security state than every other country, and yet we have the most terrified citizenry in the world? It’s not a coincidence. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizenry.
On the international side, we see mess after mess after mess. Iraq. Afghanistan. Egypt. Iran. Pakistan. Yemen. Isn’t it interesting that there is a common thread running through all these messes — U.S. foreign interventionism. The support of Saddam Hussein. The Persian Gulf intervention. The brutal sanctions against Iraq. The invasion and occupation of Iraq. The support of radical Muslims in Afghanistan. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The coup in Iran. The sanctions on Iran. Decades of military armaments to Egypt. The support of military dictatorship in Pakistan. Drone assassinations in Pakistan and Yemen. The list goes on and on.
There are also such things as torture, indefinite incarceration, kangaroo tribunals, rendition, partnerships with brutal dictators, sanctions, embargoes, and other dark-side practices that would be considered evil if they were being done by communist or totalitarian regimes.
A tell-tale sign of the bad road the statists have taken our nation is the nature of the people who are being jailed by the federal regime. When a government is jailing what are obviously good people, that’s a tell-tale sign that that’s a nation that is seriously off-course.
A couple of days ago, the New York Times published an article stating that the disclosures about the NSA surveillance schemes on Germany have shaken the relationship between the United States and Germany.
It’s easy for U.S. officials to justify their international surveillance schemes to Americans. All they have to say is: “It’s only being done to foreigners (no big deal) and it’s necessary to keep you safe.” The problem, not surprisingly, is that the foreign victims of this surveillance find it as objectionable as if their own government were doing it to them. This is especially true in Germany, where the citizenry have not forgotten the extensive surveillance scheme that accompanied the Nazi regime. In fact, one of the reasons that Glenn Greenwald’s collaborator Laura Poitras, an American citizen, is residing in Germany rather than the United States is because of the strict laws in Germany that are designed to protect people’s privacy.
Of course, Americans are taught from childhood that what happened in Nazi Germany is a one-of-a-kind occurrence, one that could never happen in the United States. How ridiculous is that? Human nature is human nature. And even if one buys the notion that a Holocaust could never happen here, there were still lots of other unsavory things about Nazi Germany that preceded the Holocaust. You know, things like: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, a national public-works highway system, gun control, torture, kangaroo tribunals, travel restrictions, immigration control, economic regulations, government-business partnerships, a strong military-industrial complex, a secret national police force, a Federal Reserve System, irredeemable paper money, and massive federal spending and debt.
In fact, let’s not forget that it was Hitler who realized the benefits of scaring people with communism and terrorism in order to induce them to surrender their liberties, long before U.S. officials succeeded in doing the same thing to the American people. After the famous terrorist attack by a communist on the Reichstag building, Hitler went to his congress and secured passage of a law that provided him with “temporary” emergency powers to address the threats of communism and terrorism. He also instituted a special tribunal to deal with cases involving terrorism and treason, to ensure that suspected communists and traitors received the justice they deserved.
Despite all the fiascoes that the welfare-warfare state has brought in the form of death, destruction, financial bankruptcy, and loss of liberty, we now have the grand spectacle of the U.S. national-security state, led by the president, starting another undeclared war of aggression, this one against Syria, no doubt in the never-ending hope that one of its beloved interventions will finally turn out right.
It won’t. It will end badly, as they all do.
What matters is that there is an alternative. As bad as things are, think how depressing things would be if there wasn’t an alternative. Libertarianism is the way out of this statist morass, both on the domestic side and the international side.
On the domestic side, it entails a liberation of the American people from the clutches of federal control over their property, income, and economic activity. In a term — a free-enterprise system, one free from government control and regulation. That involves the right of people to engage in any economic endeavor without government interference, to freely trade with anyone anywhere in the world, to keep the fruits of one’s earnings, and to decide what to do with one’s own money.
That’s what genuine freedom is all about. It necessarily entails the dismantling, not the reform or modification, of the entire statist apparatus that statists have grafted onto our constitutional order: the IRS and income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, drug laws, and every other welfare-state program, department, and agency.
On the foreign side, it entails reigning in federal power overseas and, at the same time, liberating the private sector to interact with the people of the world. No more sanctions, embargoes, invasions, occupations, limited military strikes, torture, assassinations, tribunals, and indefinite incarcerations.
That’s what a limited-government constitutional republic is all about. It necessarily entails the dismantling, not the reform or modification, of America’s vast overseas military empire, military-industrial complex, CIA, NSA, and every other warfare-state, national-security state program, department, and agency.
Is the achievement of a genuinely free society easy? Of course not. But at least there is a grand and glorious movement that is slowly but surely lighting the darkness. Since libertarianism is the only way out of the dark-side morass into which our nation continues heading, there is always the possibility that more and more Americans will continue joining the libertarian cause, not only because it’s based on sound moral principles of freedom and limited government but also because it’s best thing that could ever happen to themselves, their families, and their country.