For the past 100 years we have taught the “politics of slavery” to our young, but are now shocked because they have grown into ruthless bureaucrats and apathetic sheep.
1) We have taught our youth that 50% of the nation’s voters can pay zero taxes for their federal government services via progressive tax rates – yet not ignite “infinite demand” for government growth.
2) We have taught them that we can increase the nation’s wealth by printing myriad paper dollars – yet not incur ever-higher prices and a chaotic boom-bust economy.
3) We have taught them that we can create a morally relativist society in which do-your-own-thing lifestyles replace the rights and wrongs of natural law – yet not incur debility and degradation.
The above irrationalities have been instilled into our young people as humanitarian, progressive, sophisticated, cognizant of new world conditions, when in essence they are nothing but a heedless effort to suspend the fundamental truths of existence.
The fact that today’s establishment liberals and neoconservatives do not understand this is because of the Marxist-Keynesian ideology taught to them in their formative years, which has corrupted their minds like dreadful blight in a cornfield.
The irrelevant, band-aid proposals of reform put forth by liberals and neoconservatives – such as limiting campaign donations, cracking down on the welfare cheats, ballyhooed changes in this and that bureaucracy, etc. – are nothing but palliatives that of themselves can do nothing to stop the runaway growth of statism. Such superficial reforms do not get at the root cause of the civilizational rot stealing over America, which is the welfare state’s collectivist ideological foundation.
A political system based upon right moral principles and sound economic methods can be operated very nicely and honorably by intelligent human beings. But a political system based upon wrong moral principles and faulty economic methods cannot be run by the wisest of Solomons. This is the source of our problems today – the fact that we began to adopt the irrational ethics and economics of socialism way back in 1913.
The Political Turning Point
The actual initiation of Marxist economics, of course, began well before 1913 in little fissures of destructive thought splitting off throughout the latter 19th century from the main body of ideas that ignited the American Revolution. The salient “political turning point” in our history was the Civil War and its aftermath with its wholesale shift of power from the states and the people to Washington. But the institution of the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve in 1913 marked the most dramatic projection of such deviational thinking into the legislative processes of America.
With advent of the federal income tax which gave government the power to redistribute wealth, and with formation of the Federal Reserve which gave government the power to create fiat money, America began its great shift toward a state dominated society and all the injustices upon which it rests.
It was the enactment of these two institutions that paved the way for the Federal Government’s explosive growth by giving it a massive source of money with which to feed special interests and buy votes. As a result, the policies of both the Republican and Democratic parties for the past 100 years have been one collectivist scheme after another, none of them proper or just in a free society, and none of them workable in reality over the long haul.
The reversal of this nefarious drift will not come easily. As the famous 20th century pundit, Walter Lippmann, wisely observed: “What is left of our civilization will not be maintained, what has been wrecked will not be restored, by imagining that some new political gadget can be invented, some new political formula improvised which will save it. Our civilization can be maintained and restored only by remembering and rediscovering the truths, and by re-establishing the virtuous habits on which it was founded.” [The Essential Lippmann, Harvard University Press, p.186.]
The lesson to be gleaned from this is both clear and profoundly difficult. We need to renounce the moral-philosophical validity of the welfare state. The left, of course, scoffs at such thinking as wishful nostalgia wrapped up in conservative irrelevance. They could not be further from the truth. Is the preacher’s espousal of the Golden Rule a foolish anachronism? Is the physicist’s Law of Gravity meant only for those prior to the 20th century? Is the splendid rigor of the T-square to be re-evaluated by us moderns? Hardly! And the greatest political document in the history of man, the American Constitution, is not to be treated like a cultural fad.
Our Constitution is based upon fundamental moral laws equally as immutable as the Golden Rule and the Law of Gravity. Its restoration to American life is as vitally important as the return of sunlight to a washed out field struggling under months of torrential rain. Our Constitution is the political embodiment of transcendent law. Only by coming to grips with its transcendent nature can America hope to right herself and rebuild the basics of a free society.
Restructuring the Freedom Movement
Our problem today is that the freedom movement that began in the early 1940s in America has been intellectually warped by conservatives and grievously misunderstood by libertarians. Under its present flawed ideological structure, it has no chance to stop our march to a statist dictatorship. A thorough explanation of this travesty can be found in my book, The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. It spells out for perceptive patriots what must be done to save the America we love.
All those who sincerely desire freedom for our nation must begin to establish themselves as a rational opposition force to the collectivists. Today’s conservatives have made a pact with the devil in their attempt to forge a “conservative welfare state” as an alternative to liberal statism. But unfortunately the libertarians, in answer to liberal statism, have dropped off the map of rationality in painting the ideal as an “anarchist society.”
Both these visions are totally wrong. The ideal is what natural law dictates and what our Founders gave us – a strictly limited Lockean government guided by a literally interpreted Constitution. But we must combine our original Lockean government with a new, stronger moral-philosophical theory of limitation on that government.
What this new philosophical theory is, and why it must be implemented in our political system is explained in The Golden Mean. Both libertarians and conservatives will have to alter their fundamental premises upon which they base their movements if we are to save the American ideal of freedom.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. A graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin, his articles have appeared in such publications as The American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, The Social Critic, The Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as on numerous Internet sites.
He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values
Email: NelsonHultberg (at) afr.org