Wednesday, November 19, 2014

…And Yet

“Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”

     In the months since I decided in favor of optimism about the future, the course of events seems to have conspired to serve me a dish of well-seasoned crow. This blog began as a small voice in protest against the judicial redefinition of marriage and the degradation of our ancient liberties. Now, we seem to have arrived at another, greater transition in the landscape on the road to tyranny. Since its inception, the federal Executive has been growing in power. Over the past century, in particular, the expansion of the federal bureaucracy has provided the executive with the tools to interfere in every part of our lives. The federal authority now regulates everything we do. Federal departments issue regulations that tell us what light bulbs we can buy and whether we must accept unisex restrooms. This has been an ever tightening soft tyranny, which itself is the child of Hedonism and Fear. Too many of us now want just to continue our self-indulgent lives, secure from responsibility and challenge. But, as we have noted before, the government that does everything for us can, at whim, do anything to us. It is now a bloated, imperial leviathan, far in excess of anything the Founders intended—though not beyond what they reasonably feared.

     And this week—tomorrow, in fact—the Executive will use the accumulated authority of federal agencies to grant de facto amnesty to over five million illegal aliens. It will do so without the support of the Congress or the American people. This is a naked grab of power. Whether we are individually in favor of immigration reform or of immigration enforcement, a free people ought to oppose this unconstitutional usurpation. We have entered a time of great challenge to liberty.

     Given that we have sped so swiftly along the road to tyranny, it is now clear that what I have referred to as frame-breaking technological progress is perhaps more likely to empower dictatorship than freedom. Yes, compact fusion, when it arrives, will eliminate virtually all material constraints on humanity. Yes, the Internet is an unprecedented Library of Alexandria, now available to everyone in the West and beyond. However, information technology also empowers our rulers to monitor our every move. We could be tracked, effortlessly, in everything we say or write. Every person with a GPS-enabled smart phone could be carrying his own personal surveillance device, which can already track every movement. Every conversation, every trip, every dollar spent is now potentially subject to government scrutiny. And all this represents a level of potential control beyond the most feverish hopes of monarchs and dictators of history.

     Imagine if Cæsar, Diocletian, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao had had at their disposal the kind of information gathering and surveillance technology that the American government can now deploy against us, the citizens of this nominal Republic. Perhaps it is unfair to compare Cæsar or even Diocletian with Stalin, and it would be ridiculous to compare the current administration with any on that list. However, the point about guarding liberty is to forestall tyranny before it is fully entrenched. If Obama is no Stalin, he is at least the precursor to a future dictator with historically unique power.

     How did a free people come to this place? Through the desire to do good. Every new spindle and cog of the federal machine has been bolted on from a desire to right a wrong, to curtail misfortune. Some old people are in poverty? Let there be Social Security. Some unmarried women with children are in distress? Let there be WIC. Some people lack health care? Let there be an Affordable Care Act. All these are attempts to use the power of Tolkien’s Ring for good. For the federal power is, ultimately, the power that could destroy all freedom. And though there may be small hope of arresting this slide into Mordor, it is imperative to try. Some of us will not go gentle into that dark night.

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