Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Genius of Freedom

As the behemoth known as the federal government doubled in size since 1997, it is no surprise that Americans have incrementally lost more freedom than was even conceivable in the past century. Yet, as Election Day 2008 draws nearer, few have made the connection betwen the centralization of economic and political power and the loss of human rights in America.

Milton Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom once wrote, that the "free-market as a system of economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom," (4) must be preserved at all costs, despite well-meaning popular demands for state intervention in education and healthcare. In Friedrich A. Hayek's masterpiece The Road to Serfdom, he dismisses the impracticality of socialism while dissecting its covert attack on liberty. In brilliant prose, he lays out the true meaning of nineteenth-century liberalism, highlighting its success and goal toward complete individual liberation. In a clear and concise form, Hayek makes a strong intellectual argument for the preservation of the free-market and through this, autonomy inherited through individual and local means. Pointing to the authoritarian nature of socialist means to achieve ends, it becomes ever too obvious to the reader that Hayek's defense of liberty remains of the highest moral perogative and ultimately necessary to achieve a free society.

While the aims of socialism are often noble and emotionally endearing to all, its vision of justice and equality falls short of its goals due to the coercive means which must be used to attain its ultimate goals. Instead of revolutionizing society with a change of consciousness, (the only true method of change), socialism relies on ancient iron-fisted dictatorial methods. At the barrel of a gun, one, a victim of success, is coerced to relinquishing his or her rewards of hard work to give to those incapable in their present capacity of attaining such wealth. Like the Church tithe of Old Europe, the government sets moral absolutes on the People. Hayek claims that while such "values" are imposed upon the People, "they must become their beliefs," (153) essentially limiting free thought and giving the State the absoluteness of divinity in all of its dealings. Such a road is dangerous, especially considering our present governing coalition, who mandates war, torture, and imprisonment not only in America's local communities, but also in distant nations.

Furthermore, the government mandated idea of collectivism, so-termed "group rights" undermines the autonomy of the individual and rejects the reality of personal decision making which affects all interactions in life. It is this collectivism which has created centralized power and threatens our free existence.

Whether the group consists of "the poor", "the middle class", or the "corporate CEOs" (now seen in the $2 trillion+ Bank Bailout Bill), our fredom to personally choose our own fate is destroyed. The fact that "discrimination between members and nonmembers of closed groups" (214) now exists poses the political reality we face. It is thus in these type of aimed conglomerates that "collectivists must create power - power over men wielded by other men - of a magnitude never before known" (144) which wildly discriminates and has no tolerance for liberty or independence of thought. Hayek describes its effects as that which "creates a degre of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery" (146). Thus strikes the death knell for a free society.

Thus, forces beyond the individual have controlled American society since the creation of The Federal Reserve System and the never ratified Sixteenth Amendment in the fateful year of 1913. Even worse, many of America's trade agreements (G8 summits, WTO, GATT, NAFTA, etc.), limit competition, discourage free trade, and structure society along collectivist, protectionist lines all ot the detriment of the creativity and ingenuity of the individual. Hayek describes this "'sharing' of markets" as "the [conglomerate] control of investment and development of natural resources" (229). In fact, with the rise of the multi-national coroporation, little has been done in government's most essential economic function, regulating monopoly.

Without competition, freedom is limited and starved for new outlets for creation. Today, our government discourages ingenuity, progress, and new ideas. In the interest of preserving the status quo, it now rejects freedom and adheres to a fascist ideal of the organization of the most personal and intimate workings of society. Hayek writes, "the machinery of monopoly becomes identical with the machinery of the state, and the state itself becomes more and more identified with the interests of those who run things than with the interests of the people in general" (198). Thus, is the present tyranny of The Establishment.

While the abolition of the State, (and along with it the demise of The Establishment), may seem an answer to these problems, anarchy does little to work as an impartial arbiter, a watchdog for personal liberty. A limited government is essential to preserving the rule of law, and holding all accountable to their actions. But, to safeguard liberty and give a framework to empower the People, it is necessary for the People to independently obtain their own material supply and social well-being in battling the tyranny of the established "aristocracy". For when government is no longer impartial, but rather a "group rights" conduit for power, its essential purpose is thwarted and more liberty is lost. For it is individual rights, "the system of private property [and private production] is the most important guaranty of fredom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less than those who do not" (103). While it may seem incredulous that such rights defend the liberty of the landless and propertyless masses, their ability to decide their rent, employment, personal purchases and even where they choose to passt heir precious limited time all effect the future of these independent entities, and ultimately, the destiny of the People.

It should not be ignored that we all derive our life from the land of Earth, and without the ability to freely navigate and acquire its bounty, our benefit from its vast resources will be diminished and the natural state of man will be denied. Total control of the Earth by the monopoly, and in particular the coercive Establishment is the gravest threat to humanity.

Thus, such developments have now distorted the noble Enlightenment-logic behind liberalism of the "Golden Age" of thought embodied in our republic. Now, a collusion of high and mighty powers control our future. More frightening, as our monetary currency further loses its once impeccable legitimacy, the threat of inflation rips at the heart of freedom and prosperity for a large majority of our citizenry. For Hayek warns of the oppression of poverty; "It should never be forgotten that the one decisive factor in the rise of totalitarianism on the Continent (1940s Nazi Germany) [...] is the existence of a large recently disposessed middle class" (209). More than ever, America's backbone, the middle class, faces annihilation of liberty; economic, political and personal. Our very concept of liberty njow hangs in the balance.

Yet, as Ron Paul once said, "freedom is popular" and Americans' thirst for it and its rewards will never be satisfied. And rightly so! On the brink of the New World Order, we must think about what we value. Faced with freedom or security, many will clamor for security. But, even its guarantee of being "taken care" of is far from the reality of life. Rather, those that do not desire entitlement to physical goods or services, but focus only on the need for freedom, will fight for the good will of all.

Thus, socialism "must be regarded as a reactionary movement, the decisive change which has taken place in our time and the source of mortal danger to everything a liberal must value" (200). For if we truly believe in the freedom of our actions and contributions to one another, we must vote with liberty as the first and foremost of our aims.

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