If you’re a longtime Gentle Reader, you’ve surely seen this Clarence Carson quote before:
[W]e are told that there is no need to fear the concentration of power in government so long as that power is checked by the electoral process. We are urged to believe that so long as we can express our disagreement in words, we have our full rights to disagree. Now both freedom of speech and the electoral process are important to liberty, but alone they are only the desiccated remains of liberty. However vigorously we may argue against foreign aid, our substance is still drained away in never-to-be-repaid loans. Quite often, there is not even a candidate to vote for who holds views remotely like my own. To vent one’s spleen against the graduated income tax may be healthy for the psyche, but one must still yield up his freedom of choice as to how his money will be spent when he pays it to the government. The voice of electors in government is not even proportioned to the tax contribution of individuals; thus, those who contribute more lose rather than gain by the “democratic process.” A majority of voters may decide that property cannot be used in such and such ways, but the liberty of the individual is diminished just as much as in that regard as if a dictator had decreed it. Those who believe in the redistribution of wealth should be free to redistribute their own, but they are undoubtedly limiting the freedom of others when they vote to redistribute theirs.
I use it frequently because it’s important for several reasons. Most Americans are unaware of the amount of freedom that’s been taken from them. The above, which was written in 1964, sketches in the bare outline. The substance they delineate goes to every aspect of American life. Yet even then there was a semblance of opposition to ever-expanding government / ever-shrinking liberty. Now and then those who held freedom to be the highest political value would win a victory or two. The advocates of the Total State disliked that and sought ways to prevent it.
What the statists found was that the “desiccated remains” they’d left to us were capable of mustering sufficient resistance to them, on occasion, to set them back for a while. To quench that possibility:
- Freedom of expression had to be curtailed;
- The electoral process had to be prevented from thwarting them.
They hadn’t realized at the outset that free speech plus the franchise could seriously impede them. Yet now and then it did so, notably with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The emergence of the two-way World Wide Web threatened to make communications among freedom advocates too fluid and convenient to be withstood. If it were permitted to flower indefinitely, the game would be up for good. So freedom of expression had to go.
The emergence of the “communications concentrators” – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – was vitally important to the statists. Those conveniences fatally weakened the “blogging culture” that was the bastion of freedom advocates. There were nearly 60 million blogs operated at its peak. Nearly all had comments sections, many of which were very lively. Owing to Facebook and twitter, the great majority of those blogs are either gone or idle. The concentrators had herded opinionated Americans into a small number of controllable pens, where their ability to be speak and be heard could be limited or suppressed completely.
Then there was all that pesky voting. In a way it served the statists’ purposes, for they could point to vote totals – if they were sufficiently large, at least – as evidence of “support for the system.” But that turned sour when the voting went against them, so they decided that on balance elections were unfavorable to their aims…at least, if their opponents had a chance of winning them.
Capturing the electoral processes involved advances on several fronts:
- The Secretary of State project;
- The multiplication of methods for committing vote fraud;
- The reduction or elimination of mechanisms that promote election integrity.
No Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch needs to be told how that turned out.
If free expression could be completely squelched and elections corrupted nationwide, the statists would have dismantled the last guards against their complete and permanent hegemony. They’re very close to victory, as the 2020 and 2022 elections have demonstrated. If that victory occurs, it will be because statist strategists understood that the guards that protect a target must be taken down first. That’s the core principle in the study of systems vulnerability.
Free expression and (relatively) honest electoral processes weren’t all-powerful guards for freedom. The history of the century past should suffice to establish that. But they were potent enough to allow freedom lovers the occasional triumph. Once the statists eliminate their vestiges, there will be nothing left but armed revolt.
Just a few gloomy thoughts about the popular slogan acronymized as TINVOWOOT.