The theme and basic premise of FATAL BLINDNESS is: if freedom continues to decline in America, it will eventually disappear altogether. This is an immutable, absolute truth that cannot be refuted. It can, however, be avoided, but only if freedom’s decline is halted and America turns in the direction of increasing freedom.
Most Americans are generally aware that individual freedom has been steadily declining in this country for many decades. However, few have grasped the significance of this decline. Most have failed to understand the ultimate consequences of the continued decay of freedom, either unable or unwilling to see what is at the end of this road we have been traveling. As long as most Americans have their eyes closed, blind to the final outcome of our current course, America will continue to slowly drift down this path of shrinking freedom—and if it does, some form of totalitarian rule will eventually take hold of this country.
Many, if not most, will scoff at the idea that America could ever fall to totalitarian rule—and there is a sense in which even I find it incredible America will come to such a hideous end: I continue to hope a majority of Americans will eventually wake up, open their eyes, see the growing monster approaching us, reverse course and set America in a new direction of expanding freedom. But as matters stand now, they do not see what is coming and as long as they do not, we will continue to inch our way towards totalitarianism—and this is not some awful fate to be suffered by generations to follow in some distant future.
If you expect to live another 20 years, you will most likely live to see the climactic outcome of this unfolding political drama in America: you will live to see America either turn in the direction of expanding freedom or collapse into totalitarianism. However, in my judgment and for reasons that are made clear in this book, I do not think it will take 20 years for the issue to be decided: we are much closer than most realize to America reaching a decisive turning point, a point at which the future of freedom will be unalterably decided for decades to come. We are approaching a point of critical mass in American politics.
There are many reasons, which are clearly identified, in the coming chapters, why America continues to witness the deterioration of freedom. However, the primary reason for the decline in freedom has been, and continues to be, the ideas accepted, to varying degrees, by a majority in this country: the ideas of statism.
Statism is the doctrine which maintains you do not own your own life, that you do not have the right to live your life as you see fit, that you do not have the right to spend the time in your life according to your own reasoned judgment, that you do not own the money you have earned with your life’s time, that your life and property must be regulated and controlled by the state.
According to statism, your life, and the fruits of your labor, are ultimately the property of the state, to be disposed of as it pleases. Under the rule of statists, you act, not by right, but by permission from the state—the "state" only being a collection of individuals, just like you and me, except for their lust for power over you and their claim to the right to rule you by force. Statists view you, the adult, as some sort of child who must only act by their permission. Your life is to be controlled—by the force of government—by statist politicians and their agents. Most statists do not openly declare that this is their philosophy, but it is implied in everything they say and do. However, as you will see, there are times when some statists are very open, surprisingly explicit, about their plans for your life.
The doctrine of statism has been hammered into the minds of youngsters throughout the 20th century, through every available cultural medium available to statists: educators, the press, movies, television, books and music. And each new generation has learned the lessons of statism all too well: each has been more and more willing to support politicians who have been gradually dismantling freedom in America, gradually undoing, in a piecemeal fashion, the freedom and the protection of your right to life and liberty won by the American Revolution.
With each new generation of statist-minded voters, we have seen the era of big and ever-growing government perpetuated, bringing us a rising tide of little dictators on all levels of government. Each decade in the 20th century has brought us more government, more regulations, more regimentation and less freedom. Mercifully, today, it would be impossible for statist politicians to impose a totalitarian form of government on us. But why? Because there are still enough voters left who would oppose them.
However, as you will come to understand, the precedents already established and accepted by these voters will increasingly render them helpless to effectively oppose freedom’s gradual demise. And, if our current trend continues, we will continue to see more and more young voters who will place less and less value on freedom and will increasingly support the state’s regulation of your life—just as each successive generation of voters has done for the last few decades. As these two events—the continued weakening of the importance of freedom in the minds of current voters and the addition of new, statist-minded youngsters to the pool of voters—gradually converge, we will finally reach a point at which the balance of ideas will shift decisively on the side of statism. And once this happens, America’s movement toward totalitarianism, a movement that has so far been occurring in slow motion, will rapidly accelerate, quickly taking us to the final destination of this journey America has been on for more than 100 years.
As a lot, Americans are shortsighted. They only see what is coming tomorrow, the next week, the next month, maybe the next year or, perhaps, even with the next election. But beyond that, they are largely blind to what is coming in the future. When times are good, when most Americans are fat and happy, they relinquish chunks of their freedom in the name of all sorts of supposed worthy goals, oblivious, in their prosperity, to the ultimate consequences of such a surrender. When times are bad, we see an explosion of those who beseech the government for assistance, driving even more Americans, in their guilt, to surrender even more of their freedom, bringing even more government regulations and sweeping new powers statists use to control your life. Either way, freedom loses and so do you: your life becomes increasingly regimented by the state.
Statists are most prominent and numerous among liberals, but there are statists in some conservative camps. There are conservatives who wish to limit your freedom in so-called "social" areas, such as freedom of speech and other areas, but wish to have liberty in economic exchange (some even wish to limit your economic freedom and, as such, are essentially no different from liberals). They cannot have it both ways. As you will see, their inconsistencies have undermined the future of freedom. There are conservatives who, in their heart of hearts, are basically for freedom, but unwittingly further the cause of statism in this country through their concessions and compromises on fundamental principles, apparently not understanding what they have conceded. Once they understand and stand consistently on the side of freedom, they will win the battle.
There are liberals—yes, liberals, many of whom have the best of intentions—who think they are on the side of reason, compassion and individual rights—yet the very nature of their doctrine is such that it substitutes the initiation of force for persuasion and, therefore, excludes them from the realm of reason, compassion and individual rights. Notwithstanding such a contradiction, some of them vigorously defend the right to freedom of speech and religion, but advocate restrictions on your liberty in economic exchange, as well as other areas. They, too, cannot have it both ways. If any of these liberals are truly interested in liberty, which is very doubtful, then their inconsistencies—just like some conservatives—will only promote the cause of statism and, ultimately, the end of individual freedom, paving the way for some future tyranny.
Then there are those liberals who have no interest at all in the sentiments of the just-mentioned, well-intentioned liberals. These are the liberals, such as Clinton and the leadership of the Democratic Party, who have no interest in education, health care or any other supposed liberal concern. These liberals have only one interest: power, power over you. Health care, education or any other noble-sounding goals are only a means to another end: to convince you to surrender your liberty for the sake of achieving these supposedly lofty aims. Their goal is to wipe out your individual freedom. Statists will, of course, deny that this is their goal. But, as you will see, in issue after issue, this goal is the one constant hidden beneath their murky rhetoric which is designed to keep your eyes firmly in one direction while, by political sleight of hand, they take your freedom while you aren’t looking. Throughout history, aspiring dictators, who must be freely voted into power, have never openly declared their intention of enslaving the electorate (they couldn’t get elected if they were so explicit). Instead, they sell themselves as some sort of savior who will "do something" about some problem or menace, but that "doing something" results in the obliteration of your individual freedom.
Lest anyone misconstrue my words as being yet one more book putting forth some sort of conspiracy theory, let me state categorically it is not. The decline of America’s freedom is not the result of some conspiracy of men, but the result of the convergence of the ideas of statism. Statists are driven to act in unison and move toward the same goal, not out of some covert plan to do so but by the ideas which they hold in common, by the logic of their basic premises, premises that propel them relentlessly toward the goal of seeking more and more power over you and of destroying freedom. True enough, many statists know exactly where their ideas are taking this country, but many are just as clueless as much of the American public. Many statists simply are driven by their ideas to work feverishly at expanding the power of the state and will be surprised if we finally reach the end of the road they have been so busily constructing. When I say the goal of statists is to destroy freedom this does not mean this is necessarily their intention, although with most of the statist leaders the goal and intention are identical in nature: they know what they are doing. The goal of an action is the end result of an action, regardless of the intention. The goal of an action and its intention are not the same: they are two, entirely different, separate things.
The struggle today is the same as it has always been throughout all ages: it is between those who wish to live in freedom—and—those who wish to take it away from you. As you will see, you must stand consistently on one side or the other in this struggle. To stand somewhere in the middle between an aspiring tyrant and his victims is to aid the would-be dictator and betray his victims, and in the process, yourself, since your freedom will also be destroyed. For those who wish to fight for freedom on the battlefield of ideas, intellectual consistency is essential. Anything less than this will result in the ultimate triumph of statism and the defeat of liberty.
This battle is not to be fought by those misguided militia groups. This is not a call to arms, but a call to minds, to ideas. This is a call to end, once and for all, mankind’s nightmare of being tormented by statists, those who use force, not reason, to deal with others. This is not a call to be anti-government. It is a call to restore government to its proper function: the protection of individual rights, of your right to life and liberty.
Statists, throughout history, have been repeatedly defeated on military battlefields, only to resurrect themselves in one country after another, in century after century. Mankind can never seem to get rid of these monstrous creatures. It is as if these dead dictators reach out of their graves to wreak havoc on your liberty. Have you ever wondered why? Why must we continue to fight the same battle against the world’s Hitler’s and Stalin’s, who keep popping up every generation or so? The answer is really very simple: while those individual dictators have died, their ideas have remained alive and have been passed on to succeeding generations, breeding a new crop of statists who wish to rule you by force. In this century alone, their ideas have killed millions, more than any single physical disease in the history of mankind. There will never be an end to this plague on humanity, this never-ending resurgence of dictators and would-be tyrants, until the ideas which give birth to them have been laid to rest—which means: shown to be completely irrational and not acceptable to any reasonable person.
This book is a declaration of your independence: your life is yours—your life is yours to live as you see fit without seeking the permission of others, as long as you do not violate the same right of another individual—your money is yours to use and spend as you wish—your property is yours to control, use and dispose of as you see fit without seeking the permission of others. Either you have these rights or you do not: there is nothing in between, no compromise answer, no middle ground when it comes to the question of your right to live your life as you see fit—and this book demonstrates this fact.
Today, if we held a national election to determine our country’s future and the ballot only gave two choices, one choice labeled "individual freedom" and the other marked "totalitarianism," which would you choose? In actuality, every time you vote, this is in fact your choice. If such a choice were made clear today, I think most in this country would choose freedom, but in the future there will be a growing number who will vote for totalitarianism: they will want to be part of the ruling class, they will want to be on the side of those who hold the upper hand, on the side of those who hold the power and who will be dishing out the favors and the money they will need to sustain their lives. Many will undoubtedly think there is some choice in between these two positions and will think I am exaggerating the importance and magnitude of our choice. The purpose of this book is to demonstrate this indeed is the alternative and that our objective must be liberty for all.
As America approaches a crossroads that will determine its future, you should consider the choice you face. There is no better way to dramatize the full meaning of this choice than by quoting one of the final paragraphs of Chapter 20:
"Ultimately, you must choose: is it going to be reason or force? Are individuals in this country going to deal with one another freely, voluntarily, by means of reason and persuasion—or—are individuals in this country going to deal with one another by means of force, by means of a government gun, a gun that outlaws voluntary cooperation, outlaws reason and persuasion? Are we to have a government that protects your right to life, defends your right to live your life freely—or—are we going to have a government that destroys your right to life and liberty, destroys your freedom? Is this country going to go in the direction of creating a totally free society—or—is it going to continue on the path to totalitarianism when these statists will finally become the pallbearers of your liberty, finally burying it under the dirt of their legislation? This is the choice you face. This is the choice our nation faces."