…they pull out their shovels and dig like giant moles on meth:
It’s possible that this isn’t a first – that at some time in the past, unknown even to me, there have been presidents and Supreme Court justices unacquainted with the concept of enumerated powers, unaware of the significance of the Tenth Amendment, and unfamiliar with the notion of federalism. It’s mind-boggling and supremely distressing…but it’s not the most distressing aspect of the federal government today.
You see, this was foreshadowed. Trust a writer to know about foreshadowing and what it portends.
Not many people were paying proper attention during the antics that eventuated in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare. Those of us who were took special note of one particular incident:
That’s the response of a politician desperate to avoid answering a question. Had Pelosi been fully conscious of the gravity of her response, she would have said nothing more about it. Yet within a day, she claimed that the “necessary and proper” clause of Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to do anything it pleases.
Once again, those of us who noticed this outrageous statement can never forget it. Neither can we forget that the Democrat-controlled Congress of the time was fully on board with Pelosi’s assertion. Nor can we forget that for whatever reason, Chief Justice John Roberts allowed them to get away with it. Worse yet, the late John McCain, supposedly a Republican, permitted the PPACA to remain on the federal law books out of sheer malice toward President Donald Trump.
It’s beyond serious question that the leaders of Congress today believe that Congress has the “right” to do whatever it pleases. We are fortunate that for the moment, there are two semi-sensible Democrats in the Senate who aren’t willing to go along with the gag. Yet take note of the rhetoric emanating from other Democrats, including the demented, lying moron in the Oval Office, about their inability to strong-arm Sinema and Manchin into compliance: because they can’t proceed at full speed with their schemes, therefore their opponents are “destroying democracy!”
Given politics – and politicians – like this, is it any wonder that the great majority of Americans simply want it all to go away?
Twenty-one years ago, at the old Palace of Reason, I wrote:
Over the past century, liberty has been flensed away from Americans, slice after thin slice. That’s the way to subordinate a free people. Get them used to bending the knee and tugging the forelock in little things first, things that don’t appear to be relevant to them personally. Get them thinking that only antisocial curmudgeons would raise a fuss over matters as trivial as zoning restrictions, or licensing requirements for hairdressers. Better yet, get them thinking that anyone who would resist these “obviously desirable” new requirements of the law must want to do them harm.
With each slice of lost liberty has gone a little of the defiance that animates a free people. We’re closing in on the point of no return, the threshold that, once crossed, will become an impenetrable wall that forbids us a backward step.
In parallel with the loss of personal defiance has gone a slackening of the national will toward foreign enemies. The recent contretemps with the Chinese is an important harbinger of things to come. Few have dared to suggest that, when America puts young men and women into uniforms and weapons into their hands, it’s preparing them to risk their lives for some purpose beyond a trade agreement. Few have dared to suggest that a country whose government dares to take Americans hostage, to stake their lives and freedom as counters in a game, has committed an act of war, an act to which a country with dignity could respond in only one way.
We have become comfortable with subordination at home and humiliation abroad.
Where do we stand today, Gentle Reader? Do we retain any smallest sliver of the freedom we once possessed? We, who were locked away from our businesses, neighbors, and loved ones by a bureaucrat’s ukase over a cold virus? We, who have been told that there are products we’re forbidden to buy, and other products we’re commanded to buy? We, whose children have been systematically taught to ignore biological reality, to feel guilt over things they have not done, and to hate their own country and their own race?
But note this: At any point in our steady devolution toward utter subjection, we could have halted it all. We could have done what a fictional character did:
“Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality—and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent—that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real—and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it. Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-immolation to provide them with the means of their plan—so throughout the world and throughout men’s history, in every version and form, from the extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collective countries, it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values—the impotence of death. I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was ‘No.’”
That book has many flaws. Yet its moral vision, its grasp of the supreme importance of personal moral agency, which overrides any command from any would-be ruler, is perfect. A later writer would echo the sentiment in a science-fictional setting:
“A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame… as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world… aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.”…
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
I once called this applied practical anarchism. The phrase still fits. If you haven’t read the linked essay, please do so at once. The need has become overwhelming.
People see the word anarchism and think “chaos,” “total disorder,” “rampant violence,” “blood in the gutters.” That is not what the word means. It means the rejection of a “legitimate” State. It means that the phrase “legitimate authority” is semantically null – completely without objective meaning.
The late Poul Anderson, pace Heinlein’s conception, noted in his novel The People of the Wind that the phrase “legitimate authority” decomposes into two concepts most of us would rather not face. Legitimacy, he noted, derives from tradition; there is no other source for it. Authority, he noted, derives from force: the force required to impose the will of the rulers upon the ruled. Yet in perfect truth, can tradition be deemed permanently above reconsideration? Can tradition legitimately force us to accept as rulers a gang of thugs who stole their offices, who are resolved to suppress dissent, and who believe their power to be unbounded by individuals’ rights? As for force, can any government genuinely impose its will on a nation of 330 million persons, nearly half of whom are armed? And is it not the moral duty of such persons to ignore a group of “rulers” who propose to run roughshod over their traditions and their rights?
Yes, yes, I know my Emerson: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” Well, here’s what I know:
There’s no sense remaining in trying to “vote our way out of this.” There’s no temporal savior waiting in the wings for the perfect moment to strike. The task is ours, and ours alone. Either we reclaim our heritage as free men or we will be swallowed by the darkness.
“You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” — Ursula Le Guin
Have a nice day.