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06/13/2005 Archived Entry: "Past, future, and violence"

WHEN I HEAR PEOPLE TALK ABOUT HOW BAD THESE TIMES ARE GETTING (and when I talk about that subject myself) I sometimes think about what our grandparents or great grandparents lived through. I wonder then whether things are becoming bad as rapidly as we believe or if this government by fiat is just American business as usual.

Think about how much went horribly, horribly wrong for freedom in the early years of the twentieth century. Take the period from 1913 to about 1936. You have passage of the income tax and creation of the Federal Reserve (in the same year, yet!). Prohibition. The subverting of the U.S. Senate to take the states out of the state-federal equation. Then all those monstrous New Deal programs, culminating in social security.

One person could easily have lived consciously through all that and still been a relatively young adult with WWII and the grim paranoia and federal overreach of the Cold War still ahead.

These people faced threatening technologies, too. True, not the omni-surveillance tech that bids to control us, but technology that radically changed their way of life. The spread of the automobile. Rural electrification. Telephones in every home. Aerial warfare. Passenger air travel. A lot of these technologies changed their world more than another layer of tech on top of tech alters ours.

Someone who was aware back then would have been as horrified -- as truly horrified -- as we are now. Think of the very fundamental levels of destruction they were watching, hopeless to halt the juggernaut. Just as we're helpless. But they were watching the destruction of true fundamentals of liberty -- like the death of sound money (which is always the same as the destruction of a people's character). For us, many of the principles are already gone; we're watching the demolition of details.

And those ancestors of ours would have had no freedom movement to cheer them. Instead, they watched a world trying to choose between several equally ghastly "isms," with millions begging for more.

So in that way, we have it better than any freedom-loving grannies and grandpas we might have had. (But I must confess that my personal forebears were culprits, not victims. My grandpa was a Socialist, and my mother worshipped Franklin Roosevelt as a father-figure until the day she died.)

The saving grace for most of our ancestors is that they wanted more and more government, especially once their national confidence was shaken by the Depression. Freedom's only a big deal to those who care.

Of course, it really is worse here at the beginning of the next century. Everything that rolled over granny is not only still with us, but with us at a level of mission creep ^10. Plus we're getting Patriot Acts, Real ID, long-distance pain rays, "detention" without trial, a Drug War, prison as a growth industry, CALEA, Echelon, Carnivore, warrantless searches ... ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

But when I hear people saying that the only way back to freedom is through violent war against our own government, history makes me stop and say no. Aside from the fact that violent war would almost certainly make us greater losers -- we'd be sort of a combination of the post-bellum South and a Muslim labeled "enemy combattant" -- history just doesn't say anybody's going to feel the need to rise up and do it any time soon. Granpa should have risen up if anybody was going to, given all that he witnessed. Instead, he just embraced the new federal bounty and adapted. The ability of human beings to delude themselves as conditions become worse and worse is almost boundless.

But governments do come down in other ways. If you believe it always takes violence, then explain what happened in the Soviet Bloc countries between 1989 and 1991. There are always other ways than violence. Even when some people finally feel driven to insurrection, there are still non-violent roles for other freedom lovers.

I do wish that the "I really mean it" violence advocates would go off with those like them and put their real-world planning where their mounths are, if that's really what they believe. Then perhaps their views would be of use, someday, somewhere (even if only as a gnat to annoy a tyrant; even if only as little local Zorros). But much as I understand the rage, I'm wary and weary of those who monger freedom-war in public forums.

Yes, millions of us feel the rage. And the impotence. But is this the way to deal with it? -- releasing some of the pressure in public while potentially putting others around you in danger? No, if you believe violence in inevitable, then you shouldn't be out there blatting about it where the feds have a chance to pinpoint you and those around you as targets. You should shut up and plan for the future.

Plan and prepare and you might be able to come to the defense of others when (and who knows when) general disgust and the top-heaviness of power cause the police state to bring itself down in ruins. Otherwise, your angry mouth is simply everyone's liability.

Posted by Claire @ 09:56 AM CST

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