Americans are caught in a war and it is time to choose sides or be prepared to live with the consequences. In this war there are two sides vying for victory: the forces of collectivism and the forces of individualism. Those Americans who plan to wait out the results and live with the fallout should think twice since the victor will have a profound influence on their lives. That is because the collectivists seek to control every aspect of the lives of every American and every person on the planet. The individualists wish only to win control over the degree of power possessed by government and wish no control over the lives of Americans — no power, no money, no special place in the economy. They want to ensure government remains constitutionally limited and creates the proper environment for peace and prosperity. Individualists know that when people have maximum freedom and government confines itself to the most basic functions, that the impacts of man’s most negative aspects are minimized and that society and the individuals in it reach their maximum potential. In other words, individualists seek to liberate man and collectivists seek to control man. I am fighting with the individualists.
Examples of collectivism in recent world history include socialism, communism and fascism. In each, it is “the state” that is most respected and all actions of citizens are graded based on their value to the state. While a communist collective seeks to ban all private property, it shares the socialist’s methods of immense government regulation, taxation and spending and central economic planning. Facists also hold that all the state is paramount, but preserves a large role of corporations with heavy central planning of the economy by an elite class. It is this crony capitalism in America that is now expanding and could be on the cusp of gaining fascist status. In all forms of collectivism, coercion is required to ensure that individual citizens serve the will of the state. America is now emerging as a collectivist society with elements of socialism, communism and fascism. As health care and the auto industry are nationalized, we see socialism. As the private property of doctors is taken and given to the state (the actual intellectual property of medical practice), we see communism. As people are forced to buy health insurance and insurance companies expand their unholy alliance with the government for guaranteed profits, we see fascism.
Friedrich Hayek described the emergence of the collectivist society well in the Road to Serfdom as he wrote of the rise of national socialist (fascist) Germany in the 1930’s. In the Health care and other bills, nearly every element of this road to serfdom is present in government expansion today. There is a call for serving the “need” of others by sacrificing the work and wealth of some as selected by the government. There is the creation of elite panels of technocrats whose ideas can’t gain traction in a free society — so they must be imposed by force. There is delegation of parliamentary power from elected officials to unelected committees in the Executive branch. There is the end of the truth as Americans are told that insurance costs will go down while every official document on the subject from the government itself admits it will go up. Service to the state is seen in the call for people to live “healthier lives” to save money for the state run health insurance programs (the FDA now calls to regulate salt in all food). The list goes on, but in the end the state is paramount.
20th Century philosopher John Rawls in “Justice as Fairness” has influenced many of the political elite in power today. His philosophy serves as the foundation of “social justice” and is used to justify the welfare state where the interests of individuals are sacrificed for the interests of others. To support this, Rawls assumes (falsely) that people in a group would willingly ignore their own attributes and talents and would sacrifice of themselves to create an “equal liberty” for all. Unfortunately, this version of liberty are those rights granted by the state and no one person shall have more than another — save for those in the elite class that the masses have determined are allowed larger benefits since they provide more for society. In other words, Rawls is channeling socialist Marx: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”. The concept of all lowering their level of prosperity to the same level was observed by Churchill as follows: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of its misery”. Collectivists in America today wish for all Americans to lower their standard to be “equally miserable”, except for the elite class that will decide what is best for individuals in society and will live well above the level of the miserable.
America has already lost three great battles in the war between collectivists and individualists. The first defeat was the creation of the Federal Reserve and the income tax in 1913. The Federal Reserve limited competition by smaller banks in favor of larger banks, eventually ended the gold standard (debauching the currency), and created the “bailout culture” of the last many decades. The income tax funded the bailouts for the shadowy elite and bankers. The second lost battle was the massive expansion of government in America through FDR’s New deal policies still with us today (Social Security, health insurance through employment, farm subsidies, Union strength). The New deal failed its main stated goal of ending the depression and ended the 1930’s with the same unemployment level with which it started (about 20%). The third lost battle was the Great Society legislation implemented by FDR disciple Lyndon Baines Johnson. Medicare – created as a guarantee of health care for the elderly – destroyed the private insurance market for older Americans, still only pays 80% of the costs and has a $38 trillion unfunded liability. Medicare is a massive Ponzi scheme and con job carried out by Congress — stealing Medicare taxes every pay check and using them for political gain (e.g. bridges to nowhere, pork, unneeded government programs, bloated unionized government worker benefits etc). Now that it is apparent that Medicare can’t deliver, Congress creates higher health costs and rationing programs in a bill euphemistically named “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (Hayek’s “end of the truth”). It does all this while creating another economically unsustainable entitlement for health insurance subsidies targeted at the nearly 60% of Americans earning under 400% of Federal Poverty level ($90,100 for a family of four!).
So now the fourth and final battle of the collectivist/individualist war is upon us in the form of the agenda of the current Congress and President. But it has been enabled and set up for victory by decades of Congressional, White House and Supreme Court policy that has routinely expanded government while destroying the value of our currency and removing liberty from citizens. This final assault on individualism includes: 1) Nationalized health care, nationalized auto companies, banks, student loans, and home loans; 2) A taxation and regulatory scheme on energy consumption; 3) Growing and monetized debt to finance grandiose political dreams of the arrogant elite; 4) Control of free speech through euphemistically named “Network neutrality” for the internet and “Fairness doctrines” for radio; 5) A national ID card to track citizens and their every move and purchase; 6) Expanded police powers of the state in the name of national security; 7) Irresponsible foreign policy that assumes the American citizens will bear the burden of inflation and taxation to finance entirely avoidable conflict and unnecessary worldwide military presence; 8) Continued growth of government worker benefits with economically unsustainable pensions and overpriced health insurance for employees and family members of government workers; 9) Continued taxation to the point where the most productive members of society will stop working to produce that which will be looted by the government; and 10) Official demonization of the free market, businesses and individuals protesting collectivism.
This is a war between the competing philosophies of collectivism versus individualism. The disastrous results of a collectivist society are present in recent history through the fall of the Berlin wall, the coerced sacrifice of lives in China in favor of its “one child policy”, the emerging economic disasters in New Jersey, California, Greece, Europe and soon the United States. To determine the which philosophical army to join, you must determine which result you prefer: power over others or power over yourself. Sacrifice of others for your own interest or mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services for an agreed to price.
Collectivism holds that all power and money will be put into the hands of a few arrogant, elite people and those few arrogant elitists will decide what is best through central economic planning. Individualism holds that you are in charge of your life and government must get out of the way so you can bring true prosperity to society. American collectivists say they will tell you how you can or can’t spend your money, what you can or can’t do and what profession you can or can’t have. American individualists create jobs that have never existed before. Collectivists say the government will seek to end poverty by making us all poor through coercive looting of wealth. Individualists will seek to end poverty by creating wealth and growing charities for voluntary participation and action. American individualists don’t take from their brothers: they earn wealth themselves! Individualists are in charge of their own lives and would no more tell their government to take from their brothers to give to them than would walk into their house and steal their fortunes from them! Collectivists seek to create rights that are granted from the state to citizens that have properly submitted themselves to the authority of the state. Individualists agree with the founders of our country who recognized that we are born with God-given or natural rights. Our first breath of air is the air of freedom simply because we are born, not because the state has chosen to grant us the right to breath.
So it is time to choose to fight on the side of collectivism or individualism or to sit it out and hope everything works out. I have chosen to fight for individual freedom because I know that if this generation loses our freedom, our children and grandchildren will never breathe air not rented from the government or a corporation acting as an agent of the state. Our children deserve to live under the predictable rule of law created by a constitutionally limited government that exists for the sole purpose of protecting individual liberty. Our children should not be doomed to live under the arbitrary rule of man created by an arrogant elite class that requires their sacrifice in exchange for a few temporary and anemic “rights”.
We must fight this final battle for individual freedom using all the peaceful tools of given to us by our forefathers and all our energy. These are the powerful tools of free speech, free assembly, the power to petition our government, the power to elect representatives and the power of the power of the courts to restrain government. We must find candidates who will fight for individualism and work by giving the money, walking precincts, recruiting other supporters and getting them elected. We must expose the collectivist agendas of those in power and demand they change or vote them out. We must find opportunities to sue the government when it oversteps its constitutional authority (e.g. with the health insurance mandate) and support those elected officials who will fight in court for our rights. We must do this and more and do it all peacefully. When freedom is on the march, peaceful means are all that are required to prevail. Since this is such a critical battle in the war for freedom, I have committed myself to the following oath, and hope that you will take it with me.
- “I pledge to fight every day for individual freedom. I embrace peace and reject violence to achieve freedom. I demand limited government, free markets and individual liberty in America. I will keep my children free by ending programs that put them in debt. I refuse to take from others what I can produce for myself — and I will provide charity when I choose. I will work to elect people that will cut spending and taxes and restore government to the limits of the US Constitution. I will hold the government accountable to the constitution through action in the courts. I will pass the spirit of freedom to future generations.”
Copyright © 2010 Campaign for Liberty