This week, when Obama spoke about how entrepreneurs should be given no credit for their success in business because a government program was really at the heart of every American success, he clearly defined his vision for America. Those who understand freedom, understand that this was a defining moment, and a clarion call for those who believe in liberty and our Constitution to understand the mission before us.
An excerpt from Ladies and Gentlemen: Why the Survival of Our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor, by Dr. Gina Loudon and Dr. Dathan Paterno.
What’s in a name? “That which we call a rose . . . By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)). That fits for liberals, or progressives, or agnostics—all of whom love to quibble over labels, all the while ascribing labels of their own to conservatives. I won’t bother with dictionary definitions of liberal, or progressive, or even conservative. Yes, the classic liberal was one who understood liberty—that seems self-evident—as all variations come from the Latin liber, meaning “free.” But the definition is irrelevant to the modern liberal; that definition has gone the way of the dinosaur.
The definition may not matter, but the history does. The history matters because at its very inception, modern liberalism sought to undermine, or at least ignore, God. John Locke, the “Father of Modern Liberalism,” wrote in his 1690 statement called “Two Treatises” that government derives its power from the governed and not from God or other supernatural beings. This idea dominated philosophy over the next century as the populace wrapped its counter-religion in a culture of intellectual orgy. The period of Enlightenment threw out tradition and ultimately sought to dismantle religion based upon its role in the monarchies that had become unpopular for their unlimited and unscrupulous power in the eighteenth century.
This idea of sovereignty and personal rights were the basis for the American colonization, and ultimately the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, among other foundational American documents.
In 1776 Adam Smith wrote “Wealth of Nations,” in which he applied classic liberalism to the field of economics, and pointed to the natural laws that a truly free market would offer. The laissez-faire economy took the world by storm and sparked a debate that would later be embraced by conservatives. This liberalism was changed once and for all when it was redefined by the British when they over- threw a monarchy in Ireland, and allowed voting by a secret ballot.
When the proletariat (working class) became concerned about food prices, liberals began to look to the government to provide for the poor via welfare, pensions, health care, and other things. Simply put, they wanted free stuff.
This basic demand for “free stuff” by the working class ran rampant in the twentieth century, and resulted (as it always does) in Communism. The Russian monarchy was lost in 1917 after three centuries of rule. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, took over, declaring war on capitalism, which had been the basis for the original concept of liberalism.
When the 1930s ushered in the same poverty and demand for “free stuff” in the US, Communists took advantage of the political landscape and spread their propaganda in the US. John Maynard Keynes argued that real freedom came not in the free market but in free disbursement of jobs, free access to social welfare, and full employment. President Roosevelt brought Keynesian economics to full fruition in his New Deal, which brought a level of security to a limping economy that had reached 23 percent unemployment. Massive government spending later resulted in massive debt (120 percent GDP).
The question ultimately becomes: “What is liberty?”
The classic liberal would be appalled at the modern application of the idea. To them, liberty was never “the freedom to have everything you need” but rather “the freedom to have the opportunity to achieve it.” Put simply, modern liberal Thomas Hill Green said, “If it were ever reasonable to wish that the usage of words had been other than it has been . . . one might be inclined to wish that the term ‘freedom’ had been confined to the . . . power to do what one wills.”
Modern Liberalism, as I see it, is based on a few simple ideas. First, that freedom means guaranteeing equality to all, and that, for the common good. It also must assume that all people are truly equal— not in terms of value or respectability, but economic outcome—and that the role of government is to ensure this equality. It cannot in any way account for varying levels of ability, competence, competition, or justice. Therefore, government has become more than “of the people” as originally defined by liberal ideology. It must be “of the power, over the people, in order to establish their equality.” Government must be the great equalizer, in order to provide freedom for everyone to have what everyone else has. Government, in other words, must oust God because it must be God.
We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
—Martin Luther King Jr.
There is no such thing as being non-political. Just by making a decision to stay out of politics you are making the decision to allow others to shape politics and exert power over you. And if you are alienated from the current political system, then just by staying out of it you do nothing to change it, you simply entrench it.
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.