If I asked you what was the most important aspect taken away from the entire process of the establishment of the United States of America, how would you answer? Hopefully, you would say liberty. More importantly, individual liberty. Liberty means freedom. Freedom to live your life unbound by the constraints of others. Freedom is a virtue and the two are inseparable. However, liberty and individualism are mutually exclusive. You can have one without the other. I fear that has become commonplace in today’s society.
America is still considered a free country. You can move about virtually as you wish, speak your mind and many other aspects associated with freedom. Accordingly, when one makes the claim that our liberty is being stripped away, it can fall upon deaf ears. A gradual erosion of liberty is not easy to detect. Taken away in small bites can make it more palatable to the average American and that has been occurring since the Declaration of Independence was written. Yes, even the Constitution was a compromise document that played into this process of eroding away our liberty.
It has been puzzling as of late to understand why so many are so willing to forego liberty in exchange for the implied security of the state. Why would so many voluntarily surrender liberty seemingly aware of the implications in doing so? For example, they may feel it is a fair trade in exchange for safety as in the case of the TSA. A nanny state requires the perception that only an entity as large as the federal government can provide a social safety net. To many, that is not only acceptable, but desirable. Perhaps they have a poor work ethic or feel oppressed due to race or religion. Perhaps economic conditions have instilled a sense of despair. The dependency nation has come to thrive and prosper for one main reason that I can see. Individualism is dying.
Again, the perception is that we are a free country. Under the auspices of a government that can provide for those who seek it, they view dependency as a right, not as a sacrifice of individual liberty. I stated earlier that I view liberty and individualism as mutually exclusive. People just aren’t seeing the path to collectivism. They believe liberty and freedom can still exist with an ever more powerful state regulating equality.
It is this loss of the value of individualism that is most troubling. The equality of men has been established by our Constitution.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
Can’t be any clearer. If you fail to exercise liberty, it will likely be taken away. If you don’t value it, it surely will. If you don’t see yourself as every bit the equal of your brethren, how can you expect others to? Of course, this doesn’t mean oppression and coercion don’t exist. We all know they do. It’s vitally important to see yourself as unique in this world, yet no more or no less than any other.
The distinction between equal and unique is critical. To see ourselves as merely equals means you accept the premise of collectivism. Collectivism places the value of the group over the value of the one. To be autonomous, the individual must see self-governance and free will as primary. In short, you must be both at the same time. An equal person created with unalienable rights who is also a unique individual capable of critical thinking and sovereign authority over their own actions.
It’s when we don’t place a value on our own individuality that we succumb to the sheeple mentality. How does this translate into why Americans are so readily sacrificing liberty for dependency? They have fallen for the sales pitch for equality only. Fairness is now paramount. Guaranteed outcomes rather than opportunity. Whether it be race, religion, culture or societal class, the goal is equality for all. That makes socialism and eventually Marxism a noble goal.
The guarantee of equality was provided to us in the Constitution. There is no guarantee of individuality. You must recognize it and value it. When you see its importance, you’ll then readily question any attempts at stripping away liberty, even just a little at a time. You’ll see how equality alone doesn’t make you free. Ask the inmates on death row. They’re all treated quite equally. Today’s protesters such as the OWS are driven by this very mantra. Even though the organizers behind the scenes have different goals than the participants who join in for a multitude of reasons. They are willing to exchange opportunity for guaranteed outcome.
The equality for all belief supposes that the standard of living for all will be raised up. Any study of collectivism shows that not to be true. Equality may reign supreme, but it will be at an ever decreasing level. This will be our narrative going forward if Americans don’t appreciate their individuality as much their equality.
I’ve sat and pondered just how do you communicate this to an ignorant person? How to express that it’s OK to value yourself higher than others without elevating your worth above the same people at the same time. For example, what would you say to an OWS protester that is calling for government to forcibly redistribute corporate profits whether it be through taxation or regulation? You could take an economic tact and explain how any increase in taxation is merely passed on to the consumer, so the corporation escapes penalty. This is also regressive so that the lower-income earners are penalized more substantially. However, to a jaded protester, I doubt that this would ease their concerns.
Perhaps you could explain how empowering the very government that implemented the policies of tax loopholes, deductions, exemptions and other tax shelters that allows these corporations to achieve such a low tax burden and the corresponding high profits viewed as greed is counterproductive. Giving more power to the enablers? Seems non-sensical. However, it’s likely that the average protester sees the federal government as the only entity capable of enacting punishment on corporate America.
“Individualism regards man — every man — as an independent, sovereign entity
who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his
nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or
any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be
achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights — and
that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its
members.” — Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand recognized that individual rights were an absolute necessity for a successful civil society. But I don’t know that even she could answer my question above. We’re dealing with essentially irrational people who have no clear goals or ambitions other than the concept of fairness achieving equality. This goes well beyond the OWS movement. I believe my premise to hold true. Too many people have lost the value of their individuality and therefore can’t conceptualize how their pursuit of equality (that they already have) comes at the expense of their liberty. This isn’t a party line issue. It’s also not focused on how to reach the infamous ‘center’ voting block. It’s about the individual vs. the state as they are the true enemy of liberty.
I would more than welcome your comments and ideas on how you would answer my scenario above.