Friday, November 27, 2009

Principles of Tyranny

An essay by Jon Roland on tyranny. I had planned just such an essay, but since Mr. Roland has already carried out the deed, and to good effect, it is posted here for your information. One point he makes that I have made to people again and again over the years and which bears constant repetition, is that tyranny does not always bear a menacing face. It does, in fact, more often take on the countenance of the benefactor - the kindly and loving father figure who seeks to act only after the better interests of all.

Huge proportions of the population have, through various means, been conditioned to recognize the tyrant only when bearing a very narrowly specific set of outward characteristics. The Hitlers and Stalins of the world may be readily recognizable (then again, they may not), but those who come to us smiling and promising are the most dangerous sorts and the most difficult to see for what they really are. This is why an strong and complete grasp of principles is so vitally important. If one is in sufficient possession of the principles of liberty, knowing when the smiling face is so much as approaching a line will enable them to be alert to it. Without them, the people sleep soundly as the thieves rob them.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.


Principles of Tyranny
by Jon Roland

Definition of Tyranny

Tyranny is usually thought of as cruel and oppressive, and it often is, but the original definition of the term was rule by persons who lack legitimacy, whether they be malign or benevolent. Historically, benign tyrannies have tended to be insecure, and to try to maintain their power by becoming increasingly oppressive. Therefore, rule that initially seems benign is inherently dangerous, and the only security is to maintain legitimacy -- an unbroken accountability to the people through the framework of a written constitution that provides for election of key officials and the division of powers among branches and officials in a way that avoids concentration of powers in the hands of a few persons who might then abuse those powers.

Tyranny is an important phenomenon that operates by principles by which it can be recognized in its early emerging stages, and, if the people are vigilant, prepared, and committed to liberty, countered before it becomes entrenched.

The Psychology of Tyranny

Perhaps one of the things that most distinguishes those with a fascist mentality from most other persons is how they react in situations that engender feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Both kinds of people will tend to seek to increase their power, that is, their control over the
outcome of events, but those with a fascist mindset tend to overestimate the amount of influence over outcomes that it is possible to attain. This leads to behavior that often brings them to positions of leadership or authority, especially if most other persons in their society tend to underestimate the influence over outcomes they can attain, and are inclined to yield to those
who project confidence in what they can do and promise more than anyone can deliver.

This process is aided by a common susceptibility which might be called the rooster syndrome, from the old saying, "They give credit to the rooster crowing for the rising of the sun." It arises from the tendency of people guided more by hope or fear than intelligence to overestimate the power of their leaders and attribute to them outcomes, either good or bad, to which the leaders contributed little if anything, and perhaps even acted to prevent or reduce. This comes from the inability of most persons to understand complex dynamic systems and their long-term behavior, which leads people to attribute effects to proximate preceding events instead of actual
long-term causes.

The emergence of tyranny therefore begins with challenges to a group, develops into general feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and falls into a pattern in which some individuals assume the role of "father" to the others, who willingly submit to becoming dependent "children" of such
persons if only they are reassured that a more favorable outcome will be realized. This pattern of co-dependency is pathological, and generally results in decision making of poor quality that makes the situation even worse, but, because the pattern is pathological, instead of abandoning it, the co-dependents repeat their inappropriate behavior to produce a vicious spiral that, if not interrupted, can lead to total breakdown of the group and the worst of the available outcomes.

In psychiatry, this syndrome is often discussed as an "authoritarian personality disorder". In common parlance, as being a "control freak".

The Logic of Tyranny

In Orwell's classic fable, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the protagonist Winston Smith makes a key statement:

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."

Following the trial of the surviving Branch Davidians in San Antonio, Texas, in March, 1994, in which a misinstructed jury acquitted all the defendants of the main crimes with which they were charged, but convicted them of the enhancements of using firearms in the commission of a crime, the federal judge, Walter F. Smith, first dismissed the charges, correctly, on the grounds that it is logically impossible to be guilty of an enhancement if one is innocent of the crime. However, under apparent political pressure, he subsequently reversed his own ruling and sentenced the defendants to maximum terms as though they had been convicted of the main crimes, offering the comment, "The law doesn't have to be logical."

No. The law does have to be logical. Otherwise it is not law. It is arbitrary rule by force.

Now by "logical" what is meant is two-valued logic, which is sometimes also called Boolean, Aristotelian or Euclidean logic. In other words, a system of propositions within which a statement and its negation cannot both be true or valid. One of the two must be false or invalid. The two possible values are true and false, and every meaningful proposition can be assigned one or
the other value.

A system of law is a body of prescriptive, as opposed to descriptive, propositions, that support the making of decisions, and therefore its logic must be two-valued. It is a fundamental principle of law that like cases must be decided alike, and this means according to propositions that exclude their contradictions.

It is also a fundamental principle of logic that any system of propositions that accepts both a statement and its negation as valid, that is, which accepts a contradiction, accepts all contradictions, and provides no basis for deciding among them. If decisions are made, they are not made on the basis of the propositions, but are arbitrary, and that is the definition of the rule of men, as opposed to the rule of law.

So what Winston Smith is saying is that freedom means being able to distinguish between a true proposition and a false one, and what his nemesis O'Brien therefore does to crush him is make him accept that "2 + 2 = 5", which cannot be true if the logic is Aristotelian. O'Brien represents the logic of arbitrary power, a "logic" we might call Orwellian, although Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, was strongly opposed to it.

The Methodology of Tyranny

The methods used to overthrow a constitutional order and establish a tyranny are well-known. However, despite this awareness, it is surprising how those who have no intention of perpetrating a tyranny can slip into these methods and bring about a tyranny despite their best intentions. Tyranny does not have to be deliberate. Tyrants can fool themselves as thoroughly as they fool everyone else.

Control of public information and opinion
It begins with withholding information, and leads to putting out false or misleading information. A government can develop ministries of propaganda under many guises. They typically call
it "public information" or "marketing".

Vote fraud used to prevent the election of reformers
It doesn't matter which of the two major party candidates are elected if no real reformer can get nominated, and when news services start knowing the outcomes of elections before it is possible for them to know, then the votes are not being honestly counted.

Undue official influence on trials and juries
Nonrandom selection of jury panels, exclusion of those opposed to the law, exclusion of the jury from hearing argument on the law, exclusion of private prosecutors from access to the grand
jury, and prevention of parties and their counsels from making effective arguments or challenging the government.

Usurpation of undelegated powers
This is usually done with popular support for solving some problem, or to redistribute wealth to the advantage of the supporters of the dominant faction, but it soon leads to the deprivation of rights of minorities and individuals.

Seeking a government monopoly on the capability and use of armed force
The first signs are efforts to register or restrict the possession and use of firearms, initially under the guise of "protecting" the public, which, when it actually results in increased crime, provides a basis for further disarmament efforts affecting more people and more weapons.

Militarization of law enforcement
Declaring a "war on crime" that becomes a war on civil liberties. Preparation of military forces for internal policing duties.

Infiltration and subversion of citizen groups that could be forces for reform
Internal spying and surveillance is the beginning. A sign is false prosecutions of their leaders.

Suppression of investigators and whistleblowers
When people who try to uncover high level wrongdoing are threatened, that is a sign the system is not only riddled with corruption, but that the corruption has passed the threshold into
active tyranny.

Use of the law for competition suppression
It begins with the dominant faction winning support by paying off their supporters and suppressing their supporters' competitors, but leads to public officials themselves engaging in illegal activities and using the law to suppress independent competitors. A good example of this is narcotics trafficking.

Subversion of internal checks and balances
This involves the appointment to key positions of persons who can be controlled by their sponsors, and who are then induced to do illegal things. The worst way in which this occurs is in the appointment of judges that will go along with unconstitutional acts by the other branches.

Creation of a class of officials who are above the law
This is indicated by dismissal of charges for wrongdoing against persons who are "following orders".

Increasing dependency of the people on government
The classic approach to domination of the people is to first take everything they have away from them, then make them compliant with the demands of the rulers to get anything back

Increasing public ignorance of their civic duties and reluctance to perform them
When the people avoid doing things like voting and serving in militias and juries, tyranny is not far behind.

Use of staged events to produce popular support
Acts of terrorism, blamed on political opponents, followed immediately with well-prepared proposals for increased powers and budgets for suppressive agencies. Sometimes called a
Reichstag plot.

Conversion of rights into privileges
Requiring licenses and permits for doing things that the government does not have the delegated power to restrict, except by due process in which the burden of proof is on the petitioner.

Political correctness
Many if not most people are susceptible to being recruited to engage in repressive actions against disfavored views or behaviors, and led to pave the way for the dominance of tyrannical government.

Avoiding Tyranny

The first step is always to detect tendencies toward tyranny and suppress them before they go too far or become too firmly established. The people must never acquiesce in any violation of the Constitution. Failure to take corrective action early will only mean that more severe measures will have to be taken later, perhaps with the loss of life and the disruption of the society in ways from which recovery may take centuries.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Language And Freedom

Language and Freedom
Numerous personalities of note have made the connection between freedom and education. Specifically, it has been observed that a well-educated populace is a most basic and necessary condition for maintaining a state of freedom. Thomas Jefferson put it well when he wrote:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

In a related, though broader sense, Thomas Paine wrote:

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

From these two quotes, we derive two of the important prerequisites in order for freedom to survive the attacks that it invariably must endure: a well-educated people and the determination to keep them that way.

What, one may ask, does this have to do with language? In a word, everything.
Without language, we would have no thoughts beyond those of the base instinctual variety. Without language, our thoughts would be wholly unarticulated. Language is the instrument by which humans beings conceptualize the world. Were we unable to draw and understand concepts, our capabilities as intellects would be somewhere at the level of chickens. Nearly everything we know as human beings exists in our minds as concepts. Therefore, language serves as the means by which we know and make sense of virtually every aspect of the world around us. Language is the very basis of our understandings of just about everything we know and ever will know. Equally importantly, language serves as the basis for the ways in which we know those things. Without language, we would be incapable of doing much more than eat, sleep, eliminate, engage in sex, and run away from danger. One’s thoughts form their reality, and the basis of all thought existing above the level of midbrain impulse is language. For all practical purposes, without language, there are no thoughts such as we commonly know them today.

Consider what human life would be like without language. What, for example, would people be able to do when they became hungry? At best, they would mill about in search of food in a haphazard fashion, unable to convey ideas to others because there would be no ideas. The instruments of language and the framework they provide for allowing concepts to exist and people to understand them would be absent. Human beings would perceive the world in a wholly different fashion and that manner would severely restrict their options for taking action in their environments. The manner in which people would be handicapped in this respect would be similar to the way in which a person who was blind from birth would not be able to conceptualize colors. Without the experience of perceiving color, the brain has no way of knowing what it is. We may say the same of thought and its attendant structural foundation, language.

Without language, those same people would not be able to coordinate food-gathering efforts or to engage in mutually beneficial collective action of any sort. In the case of defending the familial- or tribal-unit, instinct would almost certainly cause them to gather because of the unarticulated feelings from their midbrains would drive them to act, much as the sexual urge would drive them to copulation. There would be a complete absence of rational thought, where in its stead only primitive urges would drive all actions.

In the same case of community defense, consider how severely handicapped people without language would be from the standpoint of keeping guard and warning of danger. Once again, instinct would perhaps provide the drive to maintain vigil, which might consist of everyone sleeping with one eye open every night. Ignoring the poor state of rest in which they might find themselves, consider the practical disadvantages of an absence of language and rational thought for these people where the common defense would be concerned. Imagine that everyone is asleep, save one “sentry”, and he spies a known threat closing on them. What could he do to warn the others? Short of screaming and flailing wildly to arouse his companions, it would seem that anything useful to the defense of the clan would be beyond their reach. Supposing he does just that, those so rudely awakened would know only that there was danger. There would be no way of informing them as to the nature of the threat; what sort of creatures, from what direction, how many, etc. All they would know was that they were in danger, which we may all agree might not be enough information to be of any real help in some situations.

Consider the way of identifying similar threats. The language deprived clan sees one of their own taken by a spotted cat. That direct experience enables the survivors to identify the next spotted cat as a threat to their lives. But what of a striped cat? We take it for granted that a large cat is going to be a threat no matter what its markings, but these people have no concept of “cat” as a category because they are incapable of categorizing anything for lack of the intellectual tools that language provides. There would be no ability to abstract “cat” from “spotted cat”. Therefore, that striped cat would take those poor primitive beings completely unawares as he came along and ate one of them. What would they do when they encountered a bear?

Compare that situation with one where language, thought, and a sufficient body of relevant concepts were available to that tribe. First, there could be a sentry because through the instruments of thought and its linguistic foundation, the primitive men would be able to work out the idea that having a handful of their fellows keeping watch as the rest slept would be beneficial to the state of restfulness of the community. When a sentry discovered the approaching threat, there would now be open to him a range of responses, each appropriate to a different set of circumstances. If he discovered the threat while it was still far distant, a sentry could quietly arouse his fellows and apprise them in detail of what he had discovered. This might provide the option of quietly slipping away undetected, rather than reacting in a manner that would only serve to alert the potential enemy of their presence and location. And when that striped cat showed up, the people would immediately be able to identify “cat” and therefore realize the danger and take action before anyone was eaten.

From these simple examples, we can readily see that language and what it brings to the table of human consciousness changes the quality of life from the most rudimentary levels all the way up to the most abstruse concepts. Without language, our worlds would be far smaller and vastly more meager, not to mention a whole lot more dangerous. Language establishes the very basis of virtually everything we do by enabling us to acquire, store, abstract, and build upon information and knowledge. Without language there would be no knowledge.

Language provides us with the following capabilities:

  • To conceptualize
  • To abstract from specific experiences to generalized concepts
  • To assign meaning through concepts
  • To apply conceptual generalizations to specific and often new cases
  • To communicate meaning and intention to others
  • To know given things in different ways
  • To think rationally
There are many other abilities for which language acts as a vehicle, but most of those arise through the agency of those listed above. The fact that one can consider this list and come up with additional capabilities based on it is yet another way in which language serves us from the depths of our minds.

This leads us directly to the idea of proper and improper uses of language, whether through intent or ignorance. Remembering that language is the foundational basis for rational, conceptual thought and that our thoughts form our realities, it then follows that the soundness of our thoughts is at least partly dependent on the soundness of our skills in using language. Strong language skills are a fundamental prerequisite for sound capabilities in reasoned thought. That is, one cannot think in a well-reasoned and orderly manner if their language skills are not sufficiently developed. Freedom, therefore, depends on language for its very existence and survival.

In the absence of strongly educated, independently thinking people who are well habituated to powerful critical reasoning, we can neither realize nor maintain the concept and practice of living freely as a nation nor even as individuals. Without adept language skills, the quality of our critical reasoning habits and our attitudes regarding our freedoms are meaningless because without those skills, our abilities to employ those habits and attitudes will be ineffectual. Without that ability, we stand impotent to determine whether any given proposition will serve liberty or hinder it.
The ignorant misuse and malicious abuse of language has been the cause of endless mischief. One of the most troublesome areas lies in the abuse of the very meanings of words themselves. Many people are fond of excusing the abuse of language, citing the “fact” that languages “evolve”. They may indeed evolve, but that does not mean that it is a good thing in all cases. There are countless examples of how such evolution causes far more harm than good. Consider this quote:

The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.”
- SC v. US, 199 U.S. 437, 448

This, from a Supreme Court decision, indirectly acknowledges the vital importance that the proper use and maintenance of language holds for us all. There are, however, those who assert that the Constitution is a living document, and therefore changes its meaning as times change. If the meaning of our Constitution alters in time with superficial changes of context, then in actuality the document means nothing at all for it is subject to arbitrary interpretation by whoever it is that happens to be assuming positions of power at a given time. It further implies that fundamental principals that people live by also mean nothing, as their “meanings” may alter with time and fashion. Proponents of the “living document” notion have used this fallacious, yet emotionally compelling fiction to convince people that the Constitution no longer means what it says. While it has not always been successful, that this notion has ever succeeded constitutes convincing evidence that the language skills of many Americans are probably lacking in a potentially fatal manner and degree. Fatal, at the very least, to our freedom.

We may demonstrate the wholly unsound nature of this point of view with a simple example based on our murder laws. It is safe to say that the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans agree that laws prohibiting murder are in fact constitutionally sound. Imagine, then, a defendant pleading not guilty to a charge of murder and basing his defense on the position that his act was in fact legal because “times have changed” and the applicable laws no longer mean what they once did. How many presumably sane and rational people would accept such a defense? Yet this is the very argument that some use to justify the usurpation of power by government and the infringement of rights of the people. Such people will argue that government may now assume this power or that because “times have changed” – the old “necessity” trick. Legislators often use the same argument to justify the legislative abrogation of civil rights. In virtually every case one can find that abuses of language that skew reason and hide its flaws lie at the foot of such efforts.

Regardless of the issue at hand, such arguments tend to carry with them heavily flawed reasoning. They do, however, also carry with them very strong emotional force that is almost universally couched in the misuse of language. Many people, at times a majority, who are the targets of such arguments, are unable to analyze them due to the lack of strong language skills that stands at the root of the cascade of their other deficiencies, all contributing to an inability to refute even the most egregiously obvious attempts to violate the sovereignty of the individual.

Consider the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which states:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This simple and eminently clear sentence has been so grossly misinterpreted that it almost defies credulity. This is especially true of those who oppose the notion of a right to keep and bear arms. Why is this so? Poor language skills and the redefinition of terms are the main culprits. A common misinterpretation, stemming from a singular lack of grammar skills, asserts that the enumerated right is collective rather than individual. One “fact” they employ in support of the claim is that the first clause, also called the “prefatory” clause (A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state), places a restriction upon the second clause (the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed). In other words, they claim that the Amendment is saying that the right to keep and bear arms is collective rather than individual and that this right is therefore reserved to “the people” and exercisable only through the militia, which many assert to be the National Guard with equal error. Therefore, according to this “interpretation”, only those in the National Guard have the right to keep and bear arms. Notice also that a “right” seems to appear to one’s possession, as if by magic when they join the National Guard and disappears with equal mystery when they leave. What of the other armed forces that are not the National Guard?

A simple example to expose the flawed linguistic understanding that underpins the collectivist interpretation might read:

A well-educated electorate being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.”

How many of the collectivist adherents would interpret this statement to mean that only well-educated people had the right to own and read books? Most likely, none would, and yet they advocate this ridiculous notion where the Second Amendment is concerned and many others fall for it because they simply do not possess the basic language skills that would enable them to know the true meaning of the Amendment.

How about this, for the benefit of those fans of the First Amendment:

An open and candid Congress being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to hold and express opinions shall not be infringed.”

Is there any reasonable chance of interpreting this to mean that only senators and representatives are entitled to free speech?

Another equally significant example involves the Congress’ use of the so-called “commerce clause” to make an end-run around their constitutionally limited powers to interfere with the affairs of the citizens. Once again, the lack of sufficient language skills has enabled Congress to enact entire bodies of unconstitutional legislation, and to have them upheld by the courts. One illustrative tidbit relating to these centers on the very definition of “commerce”, which today we take it to mean trade – all sorts of trade, in fact. Back when the commerce clause was penned, “commerce” had a different and very specific meaning, which was trade over the oceans and as affected by ship. Its original, mercantilist intent was to nationalize state imposts on foreign trade. Some desired this for two reasons, the first being that the federal government was in sore need of revenues to pay the debts it incurred in financing the war of independence and the second was to minimize precious specie movements out of the country by restricting foreign trade. For anyone finding this definition non-credible, one may find original research into the issue here[1].

Applying the meaning of “commerce” as employed by the framers of the Constitution at the time of its ratification, the legitimacy of all such acts based on the commerce clause come immediately into question. This may not seem very consequential until we begin to consider how many people have served long and hard prison sentences because of convictions under such unconstitutional laws.

If we cannot make proper use of language even to the point of possessing the real meanings of words, how will we be able to realize freedom for a moment, much less maintain it across the generations? If an iron will does not bind us to endow ourselves with strong skills in language and the other arts that they allow for, the hope for free living is as dead as yesterday’s news.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Degrees of Freedom

Just How Free Are You?

There are those persons and institutions that believe they hold the moral authority to abridge the freedoms of others. Where so-called “legitimate” government bodies are concerned, they back that belief with the means and the will to threaten and apply various types and measures of force upon the governed pursuant to the capricious dictates of law that violates the individual right to be free. Underlying this mentality of entitlement there is a notion of "degrees of freedom". We will analyze this notion that some claim the necessity for which grants them the moral and/or the legal authority to infringe upon the freedom of others.

Some definitions are in order before we proceed:

slave – noun

1. a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person

slavery - noun

1. the condition of a slave; bondage
2. a state of subjection like that of a slave

subject – noun

1. One who or that which is under the power, control, influence, observation, or action of some other person or thing, especially a person who owes allegiance to a ruler, government, etc.

freeman – noun

1. one who enjoys liberty, or who is not subject to the will of another
2. one who is not in slavery or bondage

bondage – noun

1. slavery or involuntary servitude
2. restraint of a person’s liberty by compulsion
3. serfdom

serf - noun

1. a slave
2. any person who is oppressed or without freedom

chattel - noun

1. law: a movable article of personal property
2. a slave

abject – adjective

1. sunk to a low condition: applied to persons or things

utter – noun

1. situated at or beyond the limits of something
2. complete; total
3. absolute; unconditional; unqualified;

subjugation - verb

1. to bring under complete control or subjection; conquer; master
2. to make submissive or subservient; enslave

citizen - noun

1. a native or inhabitant, especially a freeman or burgess of a town or city

2. a member of a state or nation, especially one with a republican form of government, who owes allegiance to it by birth or naturalization and is entitled to full civil rights

Note the second definition under “slavery”: a state of subjugation like that of a slave, the use of which indicates “similarity”, in turn indicating that one need not be an abject slave in order to live under conditions of slavery, thereby denoting degree. Furthermore, the term “abject slave” indicates the degree to which one is a slave, in this case the worst possible condition. Other terms that we may use interchangeably with “slave” include bondman, bondservant, and serf.

Consider “serf”; it equates with “slave” as well as denoting any person who is oppressed or without freedom. Once again, the concept of degree applies because oppression need not be absolute in order to be present. We commonly accept that oppression exists in degrees. One may say the same of “subject”. Degree follows axiomatically from these terms due to their very nature. One person ruling over another such that the other’s role is that of a serf, slave, or subject directly implies the ruler’s power of caprice and his discretion to dispose of the other as he sees fit in some degree, which is not always absolute. It is, in fact, rarely absolute, for even kings were often bounded in what they were legitimately empowered to do with their subjects, though most often those limits were broad enough to render them effectively limitless. The point is that kings and other governments exercise varying degrees of illegitimate and unjustifiable power over their respective people as a rule, particularly if we accept the premise that we are all equal and free.

The Fallacy of “Degrees of Freedom”

Those who justify the circumscription and denial of the freedom of others will often raise the argument that "one cannot do anything they want", implying that this is what the concept of "freedom" represents. One commonly offered remark is that one cannot go around killing people just because they want to; therefore we are not completely free." This position and its attendant reasoning demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of what freedom really connotes as it relates to the personal state of liberty of the individual, and by extension, a nation. A corollary of this point of view is the concept of "degrees of freedom". Let us begin by stating unequivocally that there is no such thing as "degrees of individual freedom". One is free or one is not; there is nothing in between. This implies that one is either a freeman or a slave.

There are those who object to the use of the terms “slave” and “slavery” when discussing issues of personal liberty on the grounds that the words are simply too strong and therefore misleading and inappropriate. They further argue that this is especially so today, an age where slavery has been “eliminated” from the world. To this, they will add that use of such terms in the context of the people of “free world” (USA, Europe, etc.) is absurd on its face. For such people it appears that their understanding of the term relates solely to the archetype of the manacled abject slave, betraying their belief that slavery does not exist in degrees, but is an all or nothing proposition and that "freedom" exists and is therefore "allowed" in degrees. In fact, such objections most often stem from a precisely reversed understanding of this very aspect of the terms “freedom” and “slavery” in the all too commonly held false beliefs that freedom exists in degrees and slavery does not.

Freedom never exists in degrees, while slavery always does, over a very broad continuum. The "best" forms of slavery therefore, may appear as freedom to those for whom the state of subjugation is more severe. Understandably, such people may observe the conditions of less restricted people and wish for their “freedom”, not quite realizing that what they wish for is actually a similar cage, only with more gilding and perhaps a bit roomier. For those living under the comparatively enviable circumstances, their chains often rest lightly upon them and the perceived benefits of their subjugation, mild as they may be, provide little or no motivation to strive for actual freedom. Real freedom is, in fact, anathema to the way such people appear to view life. They view actual freedom as something reckless, dangerous, antisocial, and therefore something to avoid assiduously and with vehemence; something to be eliminated. Many who live in their gilt cages are more than happy with the restrictions placed upon them, at least so long as the gilding does not start to peel. It is their right to agree to such conditions for themselves.
What of the rest of us? An oft-forwarded justification for imposing interference upon those who do not agree is the fallaciously employed doctrine of "fairness", which holds that what applies to one must apply to all. In such cases, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Let us then answer the question as to why there can be no degrees of freedom. The answer is straightforward: "degrees of freedom" implies an arbitrary, therefore capricious, and therefore unpredictable third party control over one's prerogatives. If freedom exists in degrees, it follows that someone is making the determination of which beliefs and behaviors the "authority" in question shall allow, a direct contradiction of the definition of "personal freedom". It also begs the question: Who is this third party and by what moral authority do they assume the right or the power over others to thwart them arbitrarily? Clearly, they are not arguing for what axiomatically flows from the very definition of freedom; the actions of legislators at every level of government rocketed past that boundary long ago. Such people seek nothing less than ever-greater degrees of subjugation of the individual's freedom pursuant to a purpose, fair or foul. Rarely will they admit to such goals, most often arguing that their actions constitute that which is ‘best”, rather than an act of war against the individual in the name of some inorganic justification. A litany of equally fallacious justifications usually accompanies such arguments and usually fall into categories that include:

1. The greatest good for the greatest number must be served

· Ex.: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his congress shove the welfare state down the throats of a proud and self-sufficient American people.

· Ex.: The Soviet Union under Stalin murders tens of millions of its own people to “protect the people from counter-revolutionaries”

· Ex.: Adolph Hitler exterminates millions of people and destroys nearly the entire European continent pursuant to his goal of the 1000 year Reich of which his people were to be the masters.

· Ex.: China, under helmsman Mao, purged and “reeducated” tens of millions of his own people during the “cultural” revolution. The Chinese government destroyed much of ancient Chinese architecture and art in an apoplectic fit of serving the greatest good for the greatest number.

· Ex.: The Khmer Rouge engaged in a massive “social engineering” program wherein they murdered approximately 1.5 million Cambodians through torture, execution, forced labor, and starvation, all for the good of "the people".

· Ex.: Fidel Castro seized Cuba, nationalized everything for the good of one and all, resulting in a nation still living in 1959, short on food, medicines, and … freedom

· Ex.: The long-standing attempts at firearms prohibition on the presumption that removal of the guns from the hands of the citizens will make for a safer society, the ostensible goal of which makes right the denial and abridgement of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

· Ex.: The Volstead Act passed on the basis that alcohol consumption was to be prohibited for the good of “society”.

· The litany of such historical events appears to have no discernible end. There is always someone out there claiming he has the solution for all human woes and that those who succeed must be subdued and suborned for the benefit of the rest. The implication here is that someone’s opinion of how the world should be supersedes the inborn and natural rights of people.

2. It is for your own good

· A variation on the point, above.

· Ex.: The outlawing of possession and use of illicit drugs such as marijuana and heroin, even when such possession and use affects none but the users.

· Ex.: The long standing attempts at firearms prohibition where one much loved argument in favor of it has been the claim that one is “43 times more likely to be shot with their gun than to be saved by it.”

· Ex. Prohibition of gambling. Prohibited, except of course in approved government monitored facilities where the taxman is most likely to get his pound of flesh.

· There are those ostensibly well-meaning souls out there who presume to know what is best for you and will save you from yourself no matter how stridently you may object. Such people will go so far as to see you go to prison for your own good, the Constitution and your freedom be damned.

3. One owes it to “society” to accept the transgression

· Ex.: Prohibition of tobacco smoking in public places. The City of Philadelphia adopted such stringent public anti-smoking laws that it was once observed that apparently the only place where it was still legal to smoke in public was the middle of two lane and larger roads, on the yellow line.

· Ex.: Property taxes – you owe it to society to subsidize the educations of your neighbor’s children in perpetuity. If you fail to pay for any reason, your friendly county sheriff will forcibly remove your private property (i.e. your home) from you, at gunpoint if necessary, and auction it off for the outstanding sum. If you resist, you will arrested and possibly tried and jailed. If you really resist, "law" enforcement may even kill you.

· Ex.: Times are tough and we all must make sacrifices; therefore, you are no longer entitled to do, own, or act upon X. We in the United States hear presidents make this claim now and again, particularly when the freedoms they are demanding we abdicate are particularly important to us.

· For some, being “free” apparently means you owe something to somebody just because they occupy space. This is a central pillar of all forced-collectivist philosophies.

4. An emergency condition exists and we must give up some rights

· Ex. We are at war and must give up some of our rights. Do not worry though; you will get them back when the war is over.

· Ex. For fifty years, the US government bilked US taxpayers because of the never-ending threat the Soviet Union posed to our security.

· Ex. “National security” becomes the catch all imprimatur by which government arrogated to themselves an ever-growing litany of powers.

· Ex. 9/11/2001 – the war on terror begins, showing no potential for seeing an end. One of the earliest babies born of this disaster was the USA PATRIOT act, the provisions of which every American is behooved to read. PATRIOT II was so bizarrely and overtly extreme that even the US Congress had to say no to it. Never fear, though, for congress incorporated most of the provisions of PATRIOT II in some form into other legislation.

· Need to maintain extraordinary power for an extraordinary period? Just concoct an extraordinarily severe emergency that is never resolved and you are good to go.

5. It is only "fair"

· If it applies to one, it must apply to all.

6. It is the will of "the people"

· Perhaps the lamest excuse of them all.

When such schemes are forced upon a person, he is no longer free, but a slave or a subject to a greater or lesser degree. Note how in such cases, force or its threat universally serve as the means by which governments of all sorts thrust such transgressions against individual freedom upon the people. In most cases, legislators never even bother to consult the citizens on such matters, regardless of the fact that they are supposed to be public servants and not anyone's masters.

When one accepts the notion of “degrees of freedom”, they have rejected, perhaps unwittingly, actual freedom in favor of some degree of slavery. Some appear to be largely unaware of what it is they are choosing. Many seem to believe that slavery is freedom and freedom some dangerous horror to be stamped out, along with all its proponents. These people constitute the most eloquent vindication of George Orwell, who is perhaps spinning like a lathe in his grave. Recall the definition of personal freedom as we developed it here: the prerogative to choose any action one wishes, within their means, as long as it does not constitute a violation of the freedom of others. This definition is unequivocal and the prerogatives it allows for are expansively broad and the restrictions vanishingly small, yet few people are aware of it and of those, fewer still, accept it. Given the definition, who can look at even the great United States and conclude that their people are free?

If they are not free, then they are slaves, or subjects - but subjects of whom? Certainly, the question cannot be "subjects of what?” for how can an inanimate object or a materially insubstantial concept hold dominion over us? Who is it, then, that holds moral supremacy over the rest such that they may dictate what shall be allowed? By what standard are they superior to the rest such that they may claim moral authority over everyone else? These are the questions each and every human being on the planet should be asking themselves and each other. Each of us should question with healthy skepticism the standard assumptions and suppositions upon which the arguments for third party interference rest, always asking, "Who says?" and "By what standard is this so?"

The lesson here is simple: freedom is monotonic, i.e., you are free or you are not. There are no variations on the meaning of the term or the condition that it represents. If you are not free, then at the very best, you are a subject and not a citizen, for the latter implies a free man whereas the former implies one subject to the opinions and whims of another. If we agree to the notion of “equality” as commonly used in this context, then how can one man act as the master of another? Is that not the very definition of slavery? Is slavery not one of the things our cultural values have taught us to despise, reject, and act against with venom and single-minded determination? How is it, then, that we tolerate such intrusion and theft; such violation? Why do we tolerate the intolerable? What is it about our ways of thinking that have brought us to this unfortunate state of being? Why do we not act to reclaim that which was born to us and stolen from us through force and fraud by those who would presume to be our masters? How can it be justified? How do you justify it? What are your reasons? What are your excuses? Finally, ask yourself how you will feel if one day you wake up to find that the most precious thing you ever possessed is now far gone, never to return.

Please take the time to consider the ideas and questions here and discuss them with others. Is your freedom not worth this much?

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Nature of Human Beings in the Context of Political Power

Power and Human Nature

We cannot properly appreciate, understand, and act upon our discussions of personal freedom without a basic understanding of several related factors that allow us to ascribe a more complete, correct, and proper meaning to it. One of the most important considerations is a correct and sufficient practical understanding of human nature in the context of power. For the purposes of this essay, we will further confine the discussion to that of political power. Be aware, however, that this short study of the principles of human behavior in the context of political power yields a fringe benefit that the knowledge gained is useful to the understanding human action no matter what brand of power may be under consideration. It is therefore of value in regarding a broader spectrum of personal and institutional power issues.

To begin, we must define the terms “power”, “politics”, and “political”. Consulting the dictionary once again, we find the following:

Power –noun

1. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.

Politics – noun

1. the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government.

2. social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power

Political – adjective

1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with politics.

With these definitions in hand, we are now prepared to discuss the topic of political power from the standpoints of those who have it and those who do not. It is of little use to discuss the one without the other, as they are two sides of the same coin.

What, then, is political power? Given our definitions, we can state that it is two things. The first, perhaps “naïve” definition is that it is the ability to act or accomplish goals pertaining to managing a government. It is naïve because it does not take into account other significant and commonly found elements associated with the term. An auxiliary definition that goes hand in hand with the first and puts a somewhat finer point to it would be the capability to gain, cultivate, and maintain the means of accomplishing political goals through intrigue and other instruments. Note the specification of “intrigue”, a term whose definition will become useful at this point:

Intrigue – noun

1. the use of underhand machinations or deceitful stratagems.

Armed with this additional definition, the term “political power” takes on a meaning that strongly agrees with that to which governments, politicians, groups, and individuals treat us on a daily and seemingly unlimited basis: people and groups making use of force, deceit, and other dishonest or otherwise immoral means in pursuit of gains toward some set of goals. In most cases the goals in question, even if only partially met, result in further infringement and denial of our rights, which are nothing more than enumerations of some of the elements that comprise our freedom. Later we will explore the notion of human- or civil rights in some detail in the hope of bringing that concept into greater clarity. That will be, however, a discussion for another day, for it merits our full attention and devotion.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who covet political power and those who do not. Most people covet some form of political power. Parents, for example, covet power over their children. Without it, chaos would reign, and in some households, it does. Very often members of personal relationships covet and exercise political power over their partners. It can take many forms, none of which we will discuss here. It is, however, important to be aware that our discussion of political power does not confine itself solely to governmental sorts, but applies to all forms where two or more people are concerned. This fact should prove useful as a tool with which one may better protect their personal freedoms from usurpation by third parties, whether a boyfriend, an acquaintance, a boss, or anyone attempting to violate one’s rights regardless of the manner or degree.

For the sake of this discussion, let us pay special attention to the case of political power as it applies to broad social applications such as government. This narrowed focus is necessary because while it is perhaps desirable for people to be free from unwanted interpersonal interferences, it is essential they be free in terms of unwanted institutional interference. Here, “institutional” refers to large institutions such as governments as well as corporations and other groups that often apply force in order to coerce people into doing their bidding. In this sense, an institution need not be necessarily formal; any group acting to exercise power over others we will consider an “institution” simply for the sake of easing the conversation.

The reason for making the distinction between those who covet political power in our narrowly focused sense and those who do not is that they comprise two sides of the same coin. Therefore, a complete understanding of the one is not possible without understanding the other. With all of this in mind, let us now examine the basic characteristics of human behavior where issues of political power are concerned.

Human Nature in the Context of Political Power

There is an oft-misquoted phrase attributed to Lord Acton from a letter to Bishop Marshall written in 1887. Lord Acton wrote:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

This famous and almost universally misquoted statement is, in a word, a great steaming pile, the author’s presumed good intentions notwithstanding. Asserting that “power” corrupts is akin to advocates of so-called “gun control” asserting, “Guns kill”. Neither assertion has so much as the smallest shred of truth in it. They are, in fact, two examples of bald-faced falsehoods, sometimes offered as outright lies by those who know better, and perhaps more often are nothing more than harmful memes that people blindly repeat. Such statements, however, often carry with them a great preponderance of emotionally compelling, if wholly fallacious, logical energy. Given what we “know” about power, Lord Acton’s assertion seems intuitively obvious and true – perhaps even axiomatic for some. This is due to the subtle nature of the basic assumptions the very topic commonly engenders, the fallacious nature of which readily twists the unwary into believing things that are simply not true, and an examination of which readily exposes as obviously – axiomatically – false.

Here is a quote from Rorschach that provides another perspective. It states:

“It's not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to dogs. It's us. Only us.”

In this quote, we find the truth. Power does not corrupt. People do, and only people. In this sense, the nature of power is that it is absolutely and incontrovertibly neutral. It is nothing more or less than a means by which the corruption of a human being, which was there in the first place, may come into bloom. Power is not the problem, but rather human behavior in its presence. The attribution of human qualities and capabilities to inanimate things such as power, guns, and drugs, is a problem of huge proportions, the extent and significance of which few people appear to be even faintly aware. We shall devote considerable effort to expose, clarify, and correct this greatly flawed habit of thinking and in so doing provide yet another implement for our toolbox of understanding.

The general characteristics of human behavior in the context of political power include the following:

1. Holders of political power always act to maintain current levels or to increase them, never relinquishing except by force, when presented with an otherwise more attractive alternative, or a combination of these.

2. Increases in power enable holders to amplify and act upon some or all of their outwardly apparent personal characteristics, plans, and desires, this being the nearly universal result of acquisition.

3. Increases in power enable holders such that previously latent personal characteristics tend to become apparent, regardless of whether he, or anyone else, desires it.

4. Those holding political power will often resort to any means available to them and with which they feel they can get away to maintain, increase, and exercise it according to their desires.

5. Holders treat political power as a zero-sum game.

6. Applications of political power most often serves to further diminish or deny individual freedoms, good intentions or otherwise notwithstanding.

Rare is the person who will relinquish power, once acquired. In this sense, power is analogous to a strong drug that users will avoid surrendering even to the point of personal destruction and death. The fate of Benito Mussolini is one example of this. For those attracted to such power, usually little will dissuade them from pursuing and using it.

When endowed with power, people will use its enabling aspect to fulfill and realize those desires and characteristics that may have otherwise remained latent. History provides us with countless such stories, as has Hollywood, about the simple and unassuming protagonists who, after acquiring some form of power, often by some twist of fate, become monsters. Nikolai Yezhov, a Soviet minister during the 1930s is a good example of this. Though he was repellent even prior to his climb up the ladders of power, the true horror of what he was came to realization only as the result of the power Stalin placed in his hands. Schools should heavily emphasize examples such as these in civics, social studies, and history classes.

Very often, characteristics that were once latent become highly, and in some cases alarmingly and even dangerously apparent when a given individual acquires a certain level of power. Just as the lenses of power distort formerly apparent characteristics, they often expose previously latent characteristics as well, often to the misfortune of others. In this sense, power is like a nutrient in that it feeds whatever happens to be present. Throw fertilizer down and weed as well as grass and flowers will grow. If a saint exists within, the presence of power will only make him more saintly. However, if a saint turns to a monster, one may rest well assured that the saint was never real. Alcohol consumption has a similar effect wherein the behavior one witnesses in a person who drinks to excess is that of the real person. Thus is the case with power such that people who go off the rails are often referred to as “drunk with power”.

Because power reveals the true person and perhaps because the sorts of personalities that power attracts are usually rotten at a fundamental level, those who acquire power will most often use any means to grow it and exercise it to the greatest extent possible. Those who hold power and covet more are most often utter pragmatists, which is to say that the only principles by which they live are those dictated by their goals and the determination to achieve them no matter what it takes so long as they are able to get away with it. Note that “getting caught” no longer even matters in many cases because so very often those caught at something are never called upon to account for their actions. A good example of this was the affair between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Congress had no business asking the President about his dealings with miss Lewinsky. It was a private affair. However, they did ask, and instead of telling them to mind their own business, President Clinton lied to them. Congress caught the President with his pants down, so to speak, lying to them under oath, yet never held him accountable for it. We could write several volumes on the long litany of similar examples from the last twenty years alone.

We could argue the precise nature of the game of politics as being zero-sum or not. The nature of the game is, however, irrelevant to the practice. What counts is the fact that those exercising such power treat it as zero-sum. In other words, the only way that one seeker of political power believes he may succeed in acquiring more is to take it from others because the pool of available power is fixed. Pragmatic considerations by competent holders of power will drive tolerance levels to the lowest possible value such that one’s position is not threatened, but no lower.

The written history of the human race presents an enormous body of examples of the results of the use of political power. We can readily see that such applications of power constitute de facto abuse by those in nominal control of a population. This has overwhelmingly resulted in the wholesale destruction of personal freedom for countless numbers of people, often including those who put that power to work. What many in power fail to see is that the prison they build around those they ostensibly control, they build around themselves as well in many cases.

A centrally critical point to be understood about those who wield political power is that its misuse is not always the result of cabals of conspirators in hidden places, scheming on how to foist the next great evil upon the world. Indeed it is likely that in many cases such abuse is the result of well meaning sorts who believe that they have the answers for everyone – what I refer to as the “one size fits all mentality”, another topic for pointed discussion someday. Such people are often idealists who are hell bent for leather to see their vision of utopia realized for all. Such people are usually so certain they are right that the hubris driving their certainty blinds them to reason and shuts them off to any possibility that they may in fact be on the wrong path. These are some of the most dangerous people in the world, behooving all lovers of liberty to learn how to recognize and fight them, preferably by ensuring they never make it into a position of power in the first place.

These behaviors tend to hold in varying degrees when we consider any form of personal power. They speak directly of human nature, as is readily observable in practice.

The bottom line is that people covet power of many forms, acquire it as they are able and motivated, and exercise it to the degree they choose or to that which the hard limits dictate. This applies to all forms of power and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Observe children as they grow and learn new skills. They revel in the newly discovered powers that learning and practice lend them. Power manifests perhaps most often in ways we might all agree are good, such as going to work and providing for one’s family. However, the so-called “negative” aspect of power, though it constitutes a distinct minority proportion of the practice, represents a concentration of capability that most often precipitates great harms upon people with but small applications.

Take the building of a skyscraper as an example. The towers of the World Trade Center required years to erect and represented a huge investment in energy in the accomplishment, which we may look upon as the application of power in pursuit of a positive goal. Consider just how much energy and time their erection required and compare it with how little was required to bring them crashing down. In many cases and in many ways the application of destructive (negative) power accomplishes far more per unit than does the constructive. Entropy can be like that.

One might conversationally say that a little bit of evil goes a long way, which in turn goes a long way toward making clear the nature of political power as those wielding it have overwhelmingly tended to throughout human history. Overall, the exercise of political power has overwhelmingly resulted in incalculable suffering, death, and destruction of the natural and man made worlds. In virtually every case, excepting that of outright military assault, the fun begins with a campaign of ever-tighter circumscription of personal freedom. At least as often as otherwise, well-intentioned politicians or political groups, poisoned with the hubris of their absolute certainty, impose these campaigns upon the rest of us for our “own good”. In the other cases, the intentions are not so kindly.

Why people covet the acquisition and exercise of political power is a question whose answers are beyond the scope of this essay. In a sense, the reasons are irrelevant to the practical question of how we as individuals should respond to the reality. What is relevant is the knowledge that some people want it, seek it, get it, and apply it, usually to the detriment of others. That is the reality of that side of the power coin.

What, then, is the truth about the other side? Those who do not seek political power tend to be complacent with regard to its exercise by others, almost regardless of how it may affect them. A superficial survey of the history of US culture reveals that there was a time when the people would have met the sorts of license that politicians and government agents routinely take today with the rights of the citizens with immediate and unequivocal opposition, possibly spilling into physical violence. The great material abundance that the 20th century has provided, appears to have lulled us into a fantasy existence where convenience has nurtured a certain lassitude with respect to our will to guard our liberties. It has become more interesting and convenient for many to concern themselves with who won the game last night, which color BMW to get, or whether their latté is up to standard than to actively keep their political representatives on a very short leash. For such people, it appears that the conveniences of believing either that their elected officials are indeed seeing to their better interests or that there is nothing they can do in the other case is more important than dealing with politicians running amok in a head-on manner.

Unlike the near-irrelevance of the reasons why some people covet power, understanding the reasons why people allow other people trample on their rights is of central importance and should become a primary topic of discussion amongst those interested in recouping their liberty and maintaining watch it. Though a thorough discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this essay, it is useful to mention that education and attitude are the two main causes. If people are unaware of what their freedom really is and why it should be centrally important to them, one cannot expect them to stand vigilantly and strongly against those who approach it. If their attitudes about those proposing to circumscribe their liberty are laissez-faire, it is equally unreasonable to expect them to respond appropriately. Therefore, we should all be actively advocating the seemingly tired old saw about the significance and importance of education with great vigor and determination. Without a broadly based change of heart and knowledge by people, freedom is doomed to extinction.

Does anyone here recall classes in civics and social studies? It appears that civics class has gone the way of the dodo and heaven only knows what schools are offer in social studies classes these days, if even those are still on the standard curricula. It is most interesting to note how our schools vigorously indoctrinate our children with an absolutist form of relativism, yet they ignore the crucial task imparting an in-depth practical knowledge of government, its structure, functions, and purposes. Likewise, schools appear not to teach our children what it means to be a “good citizen” any longer. How many children would be able to give a precise and complete account of what it means to be free? How many would be able to describe what the legitimate roles of government are? The answer to those questions appears to be “frighteningly few”. Until we force the issue of relevant education and restore these critical elements of the standard knowledge base, we will continue to suffer from the current scourges of ignorance and improper attitudes. If we do not teach the importance of freedom to our children, they will not regard it as such.

The central lesson of our political history as it relates to freedom of the individual is that regardless of intentions, the unwanted interference of one human or group thereof in the affairs of others is universally damaging to the welfare of all. Given this, the welfare of humanity is most faithfully served when people learn the lesson of the Golden Rule, live by it, and in so doing become utterly intolerant of those who seek to gain, grow, and apply political power such that it denies, diminishes, abridges, disparages, or otherwise infringes upon the liberties of the individual. Any lesser position with respect to the applications of political power is tantamount to a surrender to tyranny. If we, the people, fail to enforce the mandates of liberty on our own behalves, we have nobody to blame but ourselves as our freedom wings away in the hands of those who would have us toe a line of subjugation and slavery. Let us be clear that there are but two states for human beings, one in which they live and the other in which they merely exist. To the former we ascribe the appellation of “freedom” and to the latter, “slavery”. There is nothing in between, all cleverly and possibly obliquely pedantic philosophical arguments to the contrary notwithstanding.

Each one of us has the choice to make of whether we wish to live or to do nothing more than exist. One may choose boldly, intelligently, confidently, and actively for life and all that real living has to offer. Otherwise, he may choose meekly, uncertainly, ignorantly due to lack of knowledge, or irresponsibly through the default of avoidance in favor of mere existence. Take five or ten minutes to sit alone in a room and ask yourself the question of what shall it be for you in the context of considering what is it that you would really like from life for yourself and the people for whom you care. What do you really believe about how things must be? How did you come to believe it? Could you be wrong? Could you have been deceived, bearing in mind the nature of people in power as we have examined it here? There is so much nonsense asserted about how people must act that you must examine all offerings of truth with a skeptical eye, including what you read here. No matter on which side of the so-called “political fence” you may find yourself, there are heaps of lies, fallacies, and poorly formed opinions about how “it must be”. Social liberals go on endlessly with their wholesale lies about social obligations, the debts we owe our communities, and a whole raft of other nonsense. Likewise, many conservatives would have us believe things about liberty that are simply untrue and are in fact frauds equal to their liberal counterparts. We could go down the list and find perhaps not a single group free of the guilt of selling lies, distortions, fallacies, and other forms of false and misleading information. This is the greater truth of human behavior where political power is concerned and it is a sad one.

Remember that choice we must all make. We will each make it one way or another, by an act of will or by default. There is no escaping it. The answer you give will affect your life profoundly and possibly for all your days, so be careful in deciding what it is you choose. To that I ask, “what shall it be?”

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.