Understanding the Threat to Liberty

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“You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream–the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.” (Ronald Reagan – Oct. 27, 1964)

Current political jargon makes it difficult to accurately discuss and analyze the true threat to liberty in our times.  This jargon leads us to view politics as a struggle between “Left” and “Right”.  A chart would look something like this:

obsolete chart 2 png

If this chart were accurate, we would obviously try to aim for the Center (Democracy) and avoid the extreme Right (Fascism) and extreme Left (Communism).  The problem with this model is that the actual political contest is not “Left” vs. “Right”, but instead, Individual Liberty vs. an All-Powerful State.

A more accurate chart for our times might look something like this:

liberty chart 2

In this chart, I believe our current struggle lies on the vertical axis between Ordered Liberty and Totalitarian Government. The debate between “Left” and “Right” is mainly a distraction; a foolish argument about which type of Totalitarianism is preferable.  Both forms of 20th Century Totalitarianism have much in common with each other and very little in common with the Ordered Liberty of the U.S. Constitution.  Both Communists and Nazis consider themselves to be Socialists.  (“U.S.S.R.” was an abbreviation for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, while “Nazi” was a German acronym for National Socialist.)  Under both Communism and Fascism, the State is supreme and the people are its subjects.  Under our system, “We the People” delegate certain powers to the State for the purpose of securing our rights and to provide the “ordered” part of Ordered Liberty.

There is little to choose between Totalitarians of the Left and Totalitarians of the Right.  Both insist on government’s total domination of the individual and society.  This dominance is achieved via such methods as control of the economy, massive propaganda and extensive secret police organizations like the Nazi Gestapo and the Soviet KGB.  Both types of Totalitarians have engaged in horrific crimes against humanity, including mass murder on a scale that is hardly imaginable.  Because of the manner in which WWII played out, we tend to be more aware of Nazi crimes than Communist crimes.  However, Stalin was a bigger mass murderer than Hitler; and Mao Zedong may have topped them both to earn the title of worst mass murderer in history.

Conclusion:  We would be well advised to strongly oppose any movement towards an All-Powerful Government. We should not be confused or distracted by the false choice between “Left” and “Right”. Instead, we should be fiercely protective of the Ordered Liberty provided by the U.S. Constitution.

(this essay was first published 4/22/2010)

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