you're now a dissident
A good essay for the conservatives here, a few clips are below, statists FO.
Recently a couple of stories have surfaced that most people are not associating with one another. In Russia, opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow after having spent several months in Germany recovering from an attempt on his life by means of the old Soviet method of poisoning. In what was almost certainly at the direction of Vladimir Putin, Navalny was arrested as he stepped off the plane.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, Russia’s opponent during the Cold War, the City of Philadelphia took the gun away from 51-year-old Police Detective Jennifer Gugger. Her “crime”? She attended the rally in Washington on January 6th. There was no indication that she was inside the Capitol, simply at the rally. She had some strong posts on social media, especially about Vice President Mike Pence, but not anything that would constitute a direct threat.
What do these two seemingly quite different people have in common? They are both dissidents. They both acted as though they had the right to say and do what they said and did. They were both mistaken. In Russia, given its history of totalitarianism, Navalny likely knew what he was getting himself into. In our country, however, where totalitarianism is in its infant stages, it is quite likely that Gugger was caught unawares.
This is going to be commonplace for many of us over the next several years as we are forced to come to grips with the fact that this is no longer the “home of the free and the land of the brave.” We can stomp our feet and deny it, we can try to act as though we don’t accept it, but it is not going to change the reality that the great American experiment that was launched just over 230 years ago is finally producing empirical results. The conclusion: People are capable of sustaining individual liberty only for as long as they can be constrained by a system of law that suppresses and contains their true nature.
Hobbes was right........
the actual direction of the country in terms of diminishing individual liberty has been consistent over the past one hundred years.
Said mathematically, if the X axis is time and the Y axis represents level of liberty, we have been steadily descending toward the X axis for a very long time. We are now about to test the limit function............................................
All of these seemingly disparate elements have one unifying theme. They are all hostile to individual liberty and free market capitalism. The hostility to these twin towers of American exceptionalism was present and steadily increasing over the course of several generations. All the events of the past year did was to hasten their receding into the shadows and being replaced by groups of people wanting to make collective decisions for all, and with a group of citizens receptive to having them make those decisions.
That leaves those of us who still believe in both the ideas of individual liberty that are codified in our Constitution and in the virtue of free market capitalism as threats to the new order that has been forming.
That makes us dissidents.......
People who are learned in history like to point out that our Founding Fathers were inspired by the likes of Aristotle, John Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith. These were all great thinkers whose ideas, when joined together, led our Founders to design a country that would enable the freedom of man, freedom they felt was man’s natural state, to take hold in virtually every aspect of their daily lives. It is fair to say that without these philosophers, America might have existed, but it would not have existed as designed to promote so much individual freedom. To promote the best hopes for man.
Re: you're now a dissident
Regarding that design, there was another element. It is true that our Founders took their inspiration from the great natural law thinkers of the Enlightenment. It is just as true that they had read that most foreboding of pre-Enlightenment thinkers, the Englishman Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes, who wrote his seminal piece, Leviathan, in the early 17th century, warned of man’s true nature, that of a fearful moral relativist, who was incapable of living civilly without the oversight of a strong monarch.
Our Founders wanted nothing to do with a strong monarch, but they took Hobbes seriously. They built such a complex system of government with so many fail-safes to protect us from ourselves that they hoped it would be able to contain our nature.
However, give a madman locked in a stone-walled room a heavy-duty spoon and enough time and he will find a way to dig through the walls. After 200-plus years, human nature in America has escaped its Constitutional walls. There are many of us who want to put the beast back inside.
We are now called dissidents................
Americans are big on individual rights. Our Declaration of Independence starts out with referencing our “inalienable rights.” The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the “Bill of Rights.” It is these rights that those in support of individual liberty and free market capitalism seek to defend and preserve. These are the rights that virtually all Americans believe they possess. They must possess them. The Constitution says so.
This is where the dissident needs to discern the difference between the “is” and the “ought.” It is black-letter clear that each and every American ought to have the same rights as every other American. Unfortunately, that is not the case. When those in control of government decide that they will not apply the laws in the same manner to all people, then some people effectively no longer have the same rights. They may retain them theoretically, but functionally those rights are gone.............
Americans often speak of “natural rights” or “rights given to us by God.” These ideas seem consistent with the “inalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration and seem to be codified in the Bill of Rights. While most people make mention of them, few understand their actual derivations.
Natural rights are derived from what we call “natural law.” There are really two categories of natural law theory, neither truly conflicting with the other, but also not identical. One could be the more religion-centered version held by Thomas Aquinas or William Blackstone, that there is a natural law set forth by God and that all people are capable of understanding it through their own reason and God’s grace and revelation.
The other concept is more secular in its formation and is the sort held to by John Locke or Montesquieu, that natural law is in accordance with the laws of nature and that man’s right to be “free” is as fundamental as is any other rule of order found in nature. Most American don’t know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are an intellectual direct lift from Locke’s “life, liberty, and property.” You don’t have to believe in an unmoved mover to believe in natural law (but it probably helps).
Either way, Americans have come to believe, rightly so, that their absolute rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are not to be afforded to them by the government. Government’s role is to protect those rights, not to grant them.
Re: you're now a dissident
While that argument may be theoretically sound and morally right, it is not a reflection of reality. While we may all possess those rights innately, we do not possess them functionally if the government decides to take them away. Did the citizens of Eastern Europe under the Soviets not have natural rights? Do the people of Cuba not have natural rights? Do the people of China not have natural rights? Regarding the possession of natural rights, if one does, all must. Yet we see the people of those times and places denied access to their natural rights. Rights are only as real as the power structure that enforces them recognizing their existence.
The new American dissident needs to understand that they will also be denied access to them, as well. Failure to acknowledge this reality will cause them to be needlessly struck down, either literally or figuratively, and removed from the dissident movement. We will have martyrs, but we do not need an assembly-line-style production of them. We need to learn to say, “I used to have the same rights as you,” not “I have the same rights as you.”.............
What we need to understand as Americans who value individual liberty and free market capitalism is that our role models are not George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They can still be heroes, but for the situation in which we find ourselves, they cannot be role models. Their situation in 1776 does not truly resemble ours today. Their time is not our time.
Our role models need to be people like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, and Andrei Sakharov. These were courageous men, true dissidents, who stood up to totalitarianism during the period of Soviet domination. Their unyielding yet steady courage and resolve helped to make the world understand what true oppression felt like. People forget that in the early days of Soviet Russia, the country was considered to be a utopian model for many in the West. The efforts of dissidents like these taught the world a different story. More importantly, over time it taught their countrymen.....
Re: you're now a dissident
Good Essay Sam, thanks for posting it. It echos what I posted earlier, where being a dissident is being "1984-ed" into being an insurrectionist.
And I agree 100 percent on the need for the Leftists to GFT. I knew that we had a bunch of malcontents and losers wearing the Team D sweatshirt, but never dreamed that so many were so devoid of normal human concerns as there are.
I hope that the American ship gets righted without widespread bloodshed, but it would dishonor the millions that have fought and the hundreds of thousands that have given the full measure of their lives for freedom to allow totalitarianism to take hold in America without a fight.