Thursday, September 29, 2005

Let Freedom Ring!

My friend Moonbatty has a running meme on position politics. The other day she had this post with a political map. Totalitarian and libertarian on opposing corners; facism and socialism the same.

I saw the chart and knew that the conclusions would be flawed. Similarly, a well-educated friend of mine said that politics is a circle and both extremes end up at the same place - totalitarian. No. No. No. Sorry, don't mean to be pendantic, but this is simple.

Political scoring of this sort can be done easily with a straight line. On one end you have absolute freedom and on the other you have totalitarianism.

The government wants to say what books I can and can't read? inching toward totalitarianism.
It wants to limit the art I see? No, thanks Benito!

The government wants to take a portion/all of my income (on pain of imprisonment) for MoMA or interstate highways or mass transit or school lunches or so no child is left behind? You're flirting with Hitlerism. Not going home with him mind you, but at least a nod across the bar.

The government wants to tell me how to do business, who I can employ, how I can fire employees, blah, blah blah. Same thing.

Look, freedom is a terribly messy thing. In the short term there can be severe pain. But in the long-term, it provides the necessary conditioning for the growth of the human spirit. However, humans do have a natural fear of disorder and chaos and pain so we will gladly impose on ourselves someone who promises order. One of the impolite secrets of Germany in the 1930s is that Hitler didi fudge. He didn't lie. He told Germans exactly what he was going to do - and they like it!

Where are we on the line? I don't know, but I'd rather error on the side of freedom so anytime I have a political opinion, I ask "am I forcing somebody to do something?" If yes, I toss it out.

I think the US Federal Government should be limited to those things in the Constitution. But we have messy interpretations and new fangled problems, but we're still dealing with the human condition which hasn't changed in 10,000 years since the intelligent designer (snicker) brought us to our modern self.

Furthermore, many complain about the slippery slope. That we'll head into facism or communism or some other totalitarian -ism. Well, yes. But democracy is deciding where to stop on the slippery slope. My fear is that year after year we seem to nudge ourselves closer to the totalitarian end. Sooner or later this great ship of state will begin to list and the sharks of totalitarianism are already swimming just waiting for us to tip the scale a little to far and we end of looking like Robert Shaw in his final scene in Jaws.

Stay You.
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