means weak liberties
By CHARLEY REESE
Published Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Should your personal life be an affair of state? That�s what
divides libertarians and true conservatives from the modern Jacobins
who falsely wear the label of "liberal" or "moderate."
The libertarian/true-conservative position is that your
private and personal affairs are not the business of the state as
long as you refrain from applying force or fraud against your fellow
citizens. The Jacobin position is that your life belongs to the
state and that your personal interests may be sacrificed for the
common good, which, of course, the Jacobins will define.
The most recent example was the U.S. Supreme Court decision
that the state may take your property, not for any traditional
public purpose, such as a school or road, but simply because the
politicians want to hand it over to developers who will put more
expensive buildings on it. The fact that a family might have worked
a lifetime to acquire their home or small business, faithfully paid
their taxes and obeyed the laws means nothing. To the Jacobin, the
end always justifies the means.
Jefferson Davis, one of America�s greatest statesmen, said
after the Northern victory that a question settled by force will
always arise again in another form and in another time. He was
right. The same division that was present at the Constitutional
Convention, that was argued almost continuously during the early
days of the republic and that led to war between the North and South
remains with us yet.
That question is: Do you want a strong central government or a
weak central government acting as an agent for sovereign states with
clearly defined and limited powers? The North stood for the central
government, the South for the confederation. Unfortunately, manpower
and industrial might decided the issue in favor of a centralized
government. Just as several Confederate leaders predicted, this
quickly evolved into empire and imperial wars.
The next war was indeed a war for empire - the
Spanish-American War - and was immediately followed by another war
that put the lie to the claim of liberating people from Spain. That
war was the Philippine Insurrection, in which we crushed those who
wanted true independence. It was, by the way, far bloodier than the
war against a very weak Spain. Every war since has been a clash of
empires, including World War II.
What Americans need to realize is that it is impossible to
increase government power without decreasing individual liberty.
Government power, after all, means coercing people into doing some
things and into refraining from doing other things. Every law says
to the citizen, "You must," or "You shall not." Thus, liberty is
lost incrementally, law by law. Dictatorships do not arise from
dictators� telling people what terrible things they plan to do; all
dictatorial power is built on a promise of good things - safety,
security and prosperity.
Power rests either with the people or
with the government; it cannot reside in both at the same time.
Power is like electricity and is never still. It is always
flowing in one direction or the other. Power is more seductive and
addictive than cocaine. These are basic principles based on human
nature and are as true today as they were in classical Rome.
As a true conservative with a strong libertarian streak, I
fear government more than terrorists and criminals. Random acts by
random individuals with no army and no air force can be dealt with
much more easily than actions by a government backed up by military
and police power. In recent years, federal law enforcement has
expanded to the point where there is now an equivalent of five
military divisions armed and invested with the power to make
The problem with freedom is that it is a two-sided coin. On
one side is the liberty to make decisions; on the other is
responsibility. I pray we have not reached the point where more
Americans fear responsibility than love liberty. As many have said
before, those willing to sacrifice freedom for security will end up