Monday, June 1, 2009

America At A Crossroads

Today's political mix includes liberal and conservative Republicans, and liberal and conservative Democrats. The Republican and Democrat tags no longer accurately identify political doctrine. The designations liberal and conservative have also changed from their original meaning.

Today's liberalism is a perversion of Classical Liberalism, which stressed the essential goodness and rationality of man and his ability to recognize and solve problems, all of which led to systematic improvement in man's life, exemplified by the Enlightenment.

The corruption began in 1848. Karl Marx and Friedich Engels, ignoring the vast improvements the Enlightenment made possible, argued that the state should advance the welfare of individuals. Since the state has no income except by taxing those who produce, those who produce were sentenced to provide for those who did not, violating the rights of producers.

The corruption spread in the 1930s when Roosevelt signed into law the minimum wage, progressive taxation, Social Security and established Fannie Mae to provide low-interest mortgages. Classical Liberalism was dead. Liberalism and the welfare state became one: socialism.

Conservatism originally supported limited government and free enterprise. But it also held that political, social and religious institutions represented ageless wisdom and that the source of individual rights were "gifts from God," not man's nature. Rights, therefore, were considered privileges meted out in obedience to God.

The communist victory in Russia disarmed conservatives. They recognized that their own views did not contradict communism. Politically "You are your brother's keeper" was collectivism. Seeking to disassociate themselves from communism, conservative patriotism devolved into "my country right or wrong." By 2008, John McCain solidified this view explicitly with the campaign slogan "Country First," stressing duty and placing the group above the individual: nationalism.

In the decades following World War II, liberal and conservative doctrine continued to draw closer. Both attempted to defend the nation against communism using questionable methods. During the 1950s, conservatives used abrasive, sometimes intrusive investigative methods. In the 1960s liberals attempted to assassinate a communist head of state.

During his inauguration speech John F. Kennedy, sounded the conservatives nationalist theme scolding Americans to "Ask what you can do for your country," then in his liberal role doubled the number of government regulatory agencies. Two decades later, conservative Ronald Reagan continued Kennedy's big government policies and signed Affirmative Action into law, violating the rights of businessmen by telling them whom to hire.

In 1965, liberal Lyndon Johnson established Medicare and Medicaid, violating the rights of doctors, the medical profession and those requiring its services. In 2003 conservative George W. Bush violated another large segment of the medical profession with the Prescription Drug Act.

By such actions as these and many, many more, conservatism and liberalism merged to become nationalist-socialism, hardly distinguishable from each other in their violations of individual rights.

Nationalist-socialism is fascism, a form of collectivism that shuns individual rights and the division of political power, leading to dictatorship. Fascism is government ownership of the means of production, with private enterprise ordered to do the work and take responsibility for it.

In 1970, Lyndon Johnson re-structured Fannie Mae, then added Freddie Mac, exempting both from taxation and oversight. Currently, Freddie and Fannie Mae---i.e. the government---control 90 percent of the nation's secondary mortgage market. Today, a government-created financial crisis is blamed on "greedy" businessmen and "capitalism," while the government orders CEOs to resign and to conceal vital information from shareholders.

Liberals claim they are not socialist. They merely want to force rich people to feed poor people. But individual rights determined by other people's wishes are not rights.

Conservatives claim they are not theocratic nationalists. They merely want to force people to do their duty to church and state. But rights dictated according to a group's desires are not rights.

Liberals claim they do not seek to violate individual rights---except when the violation is for a cause they deem "good," such as forcing men to practice socialized medicine. But rights restricted by some people's needs are not rights.

Conservatives claim they do not seek to violate individual rights---except when the violation is for a cause they consider morally sound, such as forcing women to have children they do not want. But rights predicated on the assumption of women's inferior status to force them into unchosen actions are not rights.

"A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." [Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights"] To claim that a moral principle is at the mercy of another's wish is blasphemous. Rights do not include the "right" to violate another's rights---no matter what the need, wish, demand, or assumption.

America has been pushed toward a cross roads where she must choose between force and freedom, between government edict and individual rights. If we choose freedom and rights then we must dismantle the welfare state and abjure fascism. In place of the welfare state we must establish genuine free enterprise for once---Laissez-faire capitalism---which means protection of individual rights and limited government. Nothing short of this will free us. Nothing more than this is worth fighting for.
Suggested Reading:
Ayn Rand, Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

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At June 1, 2009 at 9:42 AM , Blogger LB said...

Thank you for this clear and concise bit of history regarding the insidious transformation of our two-party system into this intolerable statist behemoth.

The concrete examples of how both parties no longer regard individual rights as inviolate, but rather pay lip service to them as they systematically destroy them is important for us to remember when we encounter political supporters of either ilk.

At June 1, 2009 at 9:55 AM , Blogger Daniel said...

Every day I explain to people that the Democrats and the Republicans - aka the Conservatives and the Liberals - are really just the same thing: statist bastards. I appreciate and honor your fight against them.

At June 2, 2009 at 5:48 AM , Blogger said...

Well said. A lot of useful history in a small space.
For a nauseatingly detailed look at Roosevelt's Great Depression see "The Forgotten Man" by Shlaes. Roosevelt sealed the death of classical liberalism when he learned that he could amass power by appealing to interested groups rather than individuals. Liberalism was transformed from advancing individual rights to group "rights."

At June 13, 2009 at 12:08 AM , Blogger Geoff said...

I enjoyed reading your literary piece, of which I followed back from the Capitalist Magazine website.

The scene of Australian politics is distressingly similar. Both major political parties offer supposedly contrasting ideological brews, but in reality only differ in their recommended dosage of poison.

To tell the truth, my ultimate purpose here is to ask something. In the second last paragraph, you describe the violation of one's rights at the wish of another as "blasphemous".

I wholeheartedly agree with the actual concept, but as a budding writer, I'm curious why you've used that particular word to denounce it.

At June 17, 2009 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Aaron said...

Sylvia, I really enjoyed this piece, however I do have a question regarding your opinion on abortion laws restricting the individual rights of women. When do you feel that the unborn child is entitled to individual rights as well, and by what reasoning? You also state that the women are "forced" into "unchosen actions". I would contend that in the majority of abortion cases, the women wasn't forced to become preganant.

I respect your opinion and would love to hear your explanation of the above. Thanks.


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