This is the second of a three part series on Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness continuing with liberty. The first of which can be found here. Coming from the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, these inalienable rights for all make up the foundation of our society. Not to be viewed as an ancient scroll but a living manifesto of the U.S., it is something that any shade of American can hold as their own. Left or Right, all people in the melting pot can subscribe to this. The Constitution is what sets it in practice. While the Constitution has mechanisms to adapt to the times, its strength comes from being nearly timeless. It’s important to note that these rights are not given by man but by the Creator or for you atheists out there, nature. The point is still sound; the Founders recognized a truth, a truth that mankind’s basic rights are not subject to the will of those who hold power. These are your rights. You own them. The original entitlement. This is what makes us, U.S.. Don’t throw them away. Embrace them for yourself and those around you.
“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.” — Thatcher
The rise of socialism in America has been a troubling sight. I’m not talking about the classic Soviet styled socialism of the Cold War, its raw face, but the contemporary European counterpart the West’s Left have turned to. Chic, enticing, and well polished. After all, why not be social? Everyone is social. We’re on social media and we socialize our kids and puppies. If you’re not social, then you are unsocial. Nobody wants that. So why not have our government reflect that? I mean, the Left is dipping in so why shouldn’t I? #feelthebern right?
Marx laid the roots for socialism and communism out of critique for capitalism. The perfected plan for socialism is to level the playing field for all equally. Ownership rights are shared among the masses. Intellectual property is shared among the masses. Wealth is shared among the masses. Production is shared among the masses. Social rights over personal rights. While the democratic socialism Bernie Sanders advocates sounds good (well, anything free from Santa Claus sounds good), it is inherently dangerous for many reasons but two should be highlighted:
- It robs the citizen of responsibility
- It robs the citizen of the option to fail
This creates a culture of dependency and complacency. While healthy social nets are important for us to take care of the least of these, capable adults should be taking care of themselves. Capitalism maximizes independence. Free markets are responsible for lifting the largest amount of people out of poverty. Entrepreneurship and corporate business are the source that generates wealth and innovation in which people rise. Ideals which don’t find a home in socialist societies. Adam Smith wrote of the “invisible hand” of the market which affects everyone. People have buy-in because it’s necessary for them to take care of their needs.
There is no perfect system because of our human condition. Capitalism, like every system has people who lose out. This is especially true when it is tainted by poor regulation and cronyism with government. However the ills of capitalism are nothing compared with the ills of a social state.
Socialism, an economic system, has an accompanying political system that is always its wingman. The political system doesn’t support the inalienable rights Americans have because they create a roadblock for social success. The socialist will seek to undermine them, often arguing for other rights in their place. Progressives use socialist policies which exaggerate governmental involvement to solve problems and has been creeping onto the American scene for a long time. Governments are not inherently evil or incapable, however they can easily drift that way when given too much control and the right mix of hubris enters the mix. It’s important to see it ahead of time to prevent it from occurring. History is an important lesson.
A healthy Federal system will maintain a system of checks and balances among itself, its people, and its economy. A person or corporation that breaks the rules can be punished and the system is realigned. However when the government is out of line and balance, what will realign it?
The default human government throughout history has been some shade of tyranny. Kings, queens, despots, and dictators have ruled throughout history. If the rulers were too harsh and motivated a rebellion, the victors would replace one autocrat for another. People from every continent have submitted to the powerful in every age. Athens, Rome, the Republic of Venice, and the Weimar Republic are some examples democracy and republicanism giving way to dominating imperial forces. Each with it’s own history worthy of study, yet one thing ties them together, their cultural rot. The plebeians stopped caring about their power in the system, getting lost in their comfort. Often the fall of democracy was met with thunderous applause without knowing (or knowing) that a knife was held to their back.
“The basic fact that in Germany only a minority (not necessarily from the aristocracy or moneyed class) understands anything of life and knows how to lead it — a fact that, incidentally, makes the country inherently unsuitable for democratic government.” – Sebastian Haffner’s real time reflection on the rise of the Nazi’s in his book “Defying Hitler” written in 1939.
The U.S. was formed as a response to the historical default. We rejected the autocrats then as we should now. Socialism by its very nature seeks to dampen liberty. While our Constitution was ahead of its age at conception, the U.S. has grown into its shoes. The Constitution created the frame our country has needed to prevent it from returning to the default of authoritative rule and it is this framework that defends us from usurpation. Unfortunately it cannot defend itself, so I hope my case does it justice in an uncertain climate.