Sunday, July 4, 2010

July fourth and the danger within.

This July Fourth I rededicate myself to the idea and the cause of Freedom.

The Founding Father's were not paragons of virtue, they were fallible human beings. But they were remarkable human beings, to a man (and the odd woman, like Abigail Adams), the likes of which we are not likely to see among the ranks of politicians ever again. They knew exactly what they were doing and they even anticipated the greatness to which it might lead and the obstacles along the way. They faced grave risks to their persons should they fail and uncertain rewards should they succeed. They believed in what they were doing and that is why they did it.

Their actions and their achievements are all the more remarkable considering that they were breaking new ground at every turn. The United States of America is the longest surviving republic in history. The ideas upon which it was founded, though widely circulating at the time, were revolutionary. The idea that individuals could and should be masters of themselves, and their property, and beholden to none save those to whom they voluntary chose to be, was explosively subversive to the prevailing political order everywhere. The truths they articulated were by no means "self-evident" to the monarchs of Europe, or to dynastic rulers and dictators anywhere. That they seem self-evident to us, indeed, that we so dangerously take them for granted, is in no small measure due to that Revolutionary generation and its achievements.

Yet, as we often hear, and as Thomas Jefferson said, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance" and we have not been vigilant enough. I think that Jefferson (and his compatriots) understood clearly that the threat to liberty, to individual freedom, comes not so much from external dangers as great at they may be, and, indeed are today. Rather, the real and essential danger comes from inside our own society. The challenge we face is the inculcation anew in each generation of the importance of individual liberty and private property and of the need to safeguard these principles from corruption. Societies based on some form of representative democracy are always in grave danger of gradually imploding as interest groups and coalitions seek to use the political system to cannibalize the fruits of the remarkable value creation that individual freedom brings with it. And the only real safeguard against this is a set of constitutionalized principles beyond the reach of political process.

Only if we succeed in preserving individual liberty through vigorous dedicated efforts will we be able to counter those more obvious threats to freedom that come from those who violently denounce us and our values and vow to destroy us by any means no matter how vile. America is strong because it is free, it is not free because it is strong. Freedom leads to material and spiritual riches that provide the wherewithal for a principled defense. We need to be ready to defend freedom at home as well as abroad.
America has succeeded remarkably well in this, all things considered, resisting implosion in spite of grave challenges, so far. Once again we find ourselves, our core principles, facing a formidable challenge in the form of an overreaching government. Can we, will we, pull back and go some ways to reverse the damage. I know we can and I believe we will.

Happy Holiday, Yours in Freedom.

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