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May 24, 2013

Surrendering Liberty

By inches. Elise offers a sobering thought:

The individual mandate means no one has the right to be left alone any longer.

Let’s say I work until I’m 50 and save my money. I then decide to retire and become a vagabond. I convert my savings to cash and keep it in a no-interest checking account. I live off the cash, never earning a salary or interest or capital gains. I have no reason to interact with the Federal government since I owe no taxes. I do not maintain a residence which means I have no reason to interact with State or local government. I can, if I want, legally step outside the grid.

Under Obamacare, that will change. I now must interact with the IRS. I have to tell them how much money I make and what health insurance I purchase. If I do not purchase health insurance, they will fine me. I can no longer legally step outside the grid.

That seems to me to be a terrible loss. I know that very few people want to take that step but I believe we have lost something precious by making it impossible for people to do so without breaking the law. How did we end up in a situation where my life is now subject to my government’s beck and call?

Posted by Cassandra at May 24, 2013 07:24 AM

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Comments

I'll play Devil's Advocate for a moment. For most people, there's no such thing as being off the grid. Even a vagabond is taking advantage of a fairly benign system that other people are putting time and money into in order to create a world that's safe and prosperous enough to knock around in casually. What does the vagabond plan to do if he needs medical care? Will he forbear from arriving at an ER expecting to be treated, in the expectation that he'll find a way to pay later?

The genesis of ObamaCare was, in part, frustration with the practical results of our unwillingness to let very sick people go untreated when push comes to shove. The idea was to force them to pay for this expensive medical system up front, in the knowledge that they'd surely call on it at some point when a medical emergency crops up.

I think that turns the idea of charity on its head. We should give what we think is right, or what we think is necessary in order not to be too tortured by empathy or guilt. But we should not be trying to enslave people in advance so that when we "give" to them, we don't come out on the short end. That's just a way of calling something generosity while trying to ensure that it doesn't cost us anything.

Posted by: Texan99 at May 24, 2013 11:13 AM

"How did we end up in a situation where my life is now subject to my government’s beck and call?"


"And in establishing who is to rule us, we reveal our own souls. The liberty to do whatever we want that Aristotle spoke of while describing democracies is now firmly rooted among us. No real opposition will be tolerated. Liberty means doing what state demands and thinking it your own idea." - Isaiah Berlin


One need only know the extant of the libertinism ingrained in a culture and its prerogative claim over life to have a measure of its willingness to accommodate restraints on all other aspects of life. The cost of choice in sex and life is greater constraint otherwise.

The State and its enablers are to tobacco, alchohol, and gambling - puritans; to guns, cars, energy - confiscators and restrictors; to wealth - impounders and expropriators; to speech, ideas, opinions, - censors and proscriptionists; and to anti-gnostic notions they are positively totalitarian. It's amazing what will not be put up with in a society free to fuck most anything and kill the most innocent.

If history fully doesn't bear this out it is because we have gone beyond known historical precedents, we are beyond all known ambits – a new territory. In our freefall we have long ago passed the divertissements of bread and circuses. I doubt anyone can reckon the full cost of sex and misopedia.

Posted by: George Pal at May 24, 2013 12:29 PM

George, that's a thought I have often these days. I read an article the other day that really brought that home.

We've lost the power to control ourselves or even render judgment as to what is right and what is wrong. When everything is permissible, nothing is sacred.

Posted by: Cass at May 25, 2013 07:18 AM

(sigh) Where did everyone think the "Progressive Movement" was going to take us? I swear, I am always amazed at the naiviete of native-born Americans. You guys take so much for granted, and believe that all the blessings showered on your forebears will continue forevermore, no matter how stupid you act collectively. Those of us, like me, who have escaped Soviet hellholes and thank God everyday for being American citizens, watch you piss away your freedoms and liberties with nary a care in the world, for nigh on a century. How much more rope do you think you have left?

The Leftists/Progressives will ALWAYS end up in a totalitarian state. Their entire ideology is necessarily based upon force. How else do you involuntarily seize things from someone to "redistribute" those things to someone you like better? It is the threat of force, actual or implied, which forces compliance by the public. As govt gets larger and larger, it will seize more and more control over its citizens and their behaviors. The increased assertion of control will require a commensurate increase in force to ensure compliance with govt rules and orders. This will continue spiralling downward until you reach the police state. Liberals will cheer this development gladly, as it is the culmination of their socialist ideology. There might be a few principled liberals who will complain about the loss of civil liberties, but this small minority can be easily purged, as history has shown.

Don't forget, Karl Marx identified Peace as the absence of opposition to socialism. His ideological followers like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the various Kims in N. Korea, Fidel, Che, etc., have implemented this belief by killing everybody that didn't follow the socialist revolution. So Peace through Death, would be the leftist chant.

Yet, despite all this historical evidence and cautionary examples of the misery and horror inflicted on other peoples by socialists, non-immigrant Americans believe themselves somehow immune from these consequences. I don't understand this blindness. Perhaps this is related to the apparent American inability to believe that there is true evil in the world, and persons who wish to destroy us, whether socialsit or jihadi. It may just be mere selfishness. Acknowledging true evil may require you to do difficult or unpleasant things to combat it. Pretending it does not exist, though, let's you go back to watching the Kardashians.

The early socialists like Marx and Lenin were surprisingly forthcoming about their long-term plans to destroy the Capitalist West. For reasons unknown, Americans have chosen not to believe them. Just because the socialists have decided to cook the USA like the frog, doesn't mean we are any less cooked.

Posted by: a former european at May 27, 2013 09:59 PM

I don't really know what to say, AFE.

Americans look at over 200 years of history and don't see the extreme progressivism you describe....yet. So I'm not sure they're irrational for not fearing a police state....yet.

You come from a country that absolutely *has* seen exteme progressivism, so it makes perfect sense that you're more attuned to the dangers of redistribution run amok.

I would guess that it's less a matter of being blind to the fact that there's evil in the world than one of (not having seen that evil manifest itself to the same degree here) not seeing the evil in our own back yard.

Posted by: Cass at May 28, 2013 11:55 AM

"I would guess that it's less a matter of being blind to the fact that there's evil in the world than one of (not having seen that evil manifest itself to the same degree here) not
seeing the evil in our own back yard."

No, I think it's that many Americans simply won't believe that their fellow (liberal/progressive) Americans actually want to follow the same evil path of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin -- history be damned.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 28, 2013 12:18 PM

No, I think it's that many Americans simply won't believe that their fellow (liberal/progressive) Americans actually want to follow the same evil path of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin -- history be damned.

Well, you're right about that one. I don't believe that of my daughter in law, or my son's godfather, or my mother in law. Or my oldest and best friend (and godmother to one of my sons).

Perhaps someone can explain to me why I would ever take someone else's word that people I know very well want anything like Hitler or Stalin or Lenin (despite never having said anything remotely like that?) over 30+ years of personal knowledge and observation of these people?

It's a serious charge and the burden of proof is on the accuser. If someone wants me to believe that people I know, like, respect, and in some cases, love are in fact evil, they're going to have to come up with something a LOT more compelling than "because I think so" or "because it happened in Russia/China/Germany and therefore it WILL (not *could*, but WILL) happen here.

Posted by: Cass at May 28, 2013 12:34 PM

No, I think it's that many Americans simply won't believe that their fellow (liberal/progressive) Americans actually want to follow the same evil path of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin -- history be damned.

Somewhat, yes. Western Europe is much more socialist that the US, and Norway and Sweeden much further Left than that. And yet, the pogroms of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Mao, etc. haven't started yet.

Who are you going to believe? "ObamaCare will lead to Gulags" or your own lying eyes?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 28, 2013 01:18 PM

The People have confiscated your daily beet ration for the good of the nation. Further attempts to think will result in forced relocation and re-education, Tovarich Gonnano.

Posted by: Cass at May 28, 2013 03:38 PM

Cass: I agree it is hard to believe in the monstrously evil. As a student of history, I am sad to say that evil and brutality tend to be the rule, rather than the exception. This is precisely why America is so wonderful and unique. Native-born Americans are so used to this good life, thatnthey just assume it is the standard. It is not.

In the Soviet state, the indoctrination of children began from toddlerhood. They were encouraged to inform upon and denounce their parents for counterrevolutionary acts or thinking. The worship of Socialism became the state religion, as it is for many American liberals. The Great Leader was also worshipped in a bizarre cult of personality. It was an ugly, nasty, and brutal society. Did you think that Orwell made up 1984 out of whole cloth? That was the reality in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Believing that "it can't happen here" is what all the Germans say in thousands of recorded interviews of Hitler's rise to power. Totalitarianism was for those Russian wackos, but they were always considered semi-barbarians anyway. That type of system would never occur in cultured, liberal, enlightened, sophisticated Germany! Even Americans refused to believe the horror stories. It took graphic newsreels of the concentration camps, the mass graves, the walking skeletons of the near-dead survivors to finally convince the public of this evil.

In both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, there was no shortage of volunteers willing to round up "enemies of the people", fill the mass graves, work in the Gulag or the concentration camps, or otherwise loot, pillage, and brutalize their fellow citizens. Where did they all come from? Did they all just magically appear on Earth to cause sorrow and misery?

History shows that it is actually quite easy to turn people into monsters. Start with some religion or ideology. This belief system should promise "heaven on Earth" or some other utopia. The utopia cannot be achieved because of the evil machinations of "bad people" (your political opponents). Dehumanize the "bad people" into objects which must be "removed", for the good of all in order to achieve the promised utopia. Launch a "crusade", under the blessings of your god/Great Leader, so that you are now a holy crusader fighting the wicked opponents of good (utopia). Keep killing any "bad people" until utopia is achieved. This is the basic structure of all Communist Revolutions, and nearly every historical genocide. The truth hurts, Cass.

Gonnano: Western Europe has taken the gradual destructive approach that the Left has used so successfully here. They have an unsustainable economic system that will eventually crumble and fall. When the goodies stop coming in the welfare state, expect the rioting in Greece, but on steroids. The socialists will take advantage of the chaos sooner or later, as anarchy by its nature cannot exist forever.

Posted by: a former european at May 28, 2013 07:04 PM

AFE, not saying that those policies are good ideas or won't lead to eventual bad outcomes. Obviously I believe they will. What I disagree with is that those who profess such ideas desire the totalitarian state as the goal. I think they honestly believe that these ideas create prosperity and freedom. It's not the subversive I fear but the well-meaning and honestly mistaken.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 28, 2013 07:32 PM

Yu-Ain Gonnano

All those totalitarian thoughts roll around a lot of college faculties. I've heard lawyers talk this way. And scientists (I am one, sort of) in their egotistical sense of being know-it-alls.

Lincoln once spoke of "the mystic chords that bind us", in reaching for reconciliation at the end of the Civil War.

Those mystic chords of memory, tradition and common belief in America are frazzled away, unless you want to call discussing the banality of TeeVee or the latest sports team goings on.

You live near Memphis. Go to parts of Memphis where your white skin might be a liability, and tell me where those mystic chords that bind us are. And it's much worse in an awful lot of big cities.

When things get bad, and they will, the voices of collectivism and class war will be loud and violent. I fear the years grow short, and the evil days will come.

Arm yourself.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at May 28, 2013 08:04 PM

"Perhaps someone can explain to me why I would ever take someone else's word that people I know very well want anything like Hitler or Stalin or Lenin (despite never having said anything remotely like that?) over 30+ years of personal knowledge and observation of these people?"

I'm sorry to have upset you, my friend, but it seems to me that you think you are the only one who has friends and family who believe as those you mentioned. You are not. And when I ask those that I know what the final picture of America is going to be after the their plans are achieved, it is chillingly reminiscent of a just those times that history warns us to be mindful of. I wonder if those you mentioned can give a better answer?

Posted by: DL Sly at May 28, 2013 10:46 PM

Gonanno: Perhaps you are correct that some are truly blind and stupid to the evils of socialism, but hey, the Revolution always has need of its "useful idiots" as Lenin called them. They will be purged when their usefulness has ended. Ever wonder why there are no more Mensheviks? No one did more to save the Bolshevik Revolution from the Whites during the Russian Civil War than Leon Trotsky. Once the Revolution was victorious, Trotsky was rewarded with an icepick in the head from one of Stalin's KGB assassins.

Posted by: a former european at May 29, 2013 12:24 AM

Howdy YAG,
"All those totalitarian thoughts roll around a lot of college faculties. I've heard lawyers talk this way."

isn't this simply the Saul Alinsky playbook, with cosmetic changes and small 'improvements' to fit the current situation?

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 29, 2013 12:29 AM

...it seems to me that you think you are the only one who has friends and family who believe as those you mentioned.

Why would I think that? My comment made no such claim, express or implied. I merely observed that such an accusation requires a lot more than a mere, "Trust my opinion".

You ducked my question: how do you know progressives *want* a totalitarian, genocidal state? It's one thing to want things that *might* (and I say might because the list of states that have actually ended up there over the last 100+ years that socialism/communism has been around is far, far shorter than the list of ones that have not) or might not lead to another genocidal police state. It's quite another to assert - without a single shred of proof - that that's exactly what these folks want, or that progressivism inevitably leads to genocidal dictatorships that kill/imprison millions of people.

There's a hole in your argument big enough to drive a truck through:

1. If liberals get what they want, it will inevitably lead to Hitler/Stalin/Lenin. How do I know this? Because it has happened a few times. Of course, over the same time period it *hasn't* happened more than a few times: in England, France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands.... I could go on and on. But we'll ignore that - trust me, I'm right. So right that I don't actually have to make the argument.

2. Therefore, liberals actually want Hitler/Stalin/Lenin.

Somewhere in between 1 and 2, there's that whole missing "argument" thingie.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 07:49 AM

Let's take these assertions one by one:

1. Progressivism in its present form is the same as communism/fascism.

This is the same tactic liberals use when they purposely cherry pick the most extreme "conservative" they can find and then paint all conservatives with the same broad brush. I have nothing in common with conservative morons who would just love to take the vote from women, yet they exist. What they *don't* get to do is redefine conservativism in their own image, and I don't agree that supporting one of the many forms of conservative public policy inevitably leads to the extreme ends these whack jobs desire.

All progressives aren't interchangeable any more than all conservatives are interchangeable, and deliberately choosing examples of "progressivism" so extreme that they fall into the category of sociopathy and then painting all of progressivism with that broad brush doesn't strike me as any more credible than John Dean's incandescently idiotic conflation of authoritarianism and the GOP.

Authoritarianism is a means to an end, not a political ideology. There have been right and left wing dictators. I don't even agree that Hitler was a lefty. Neither is he really a righty. He was a sociopath who used people's fears and emotions to seize power and his beliefs don't fall neatly into either camp. The whole idea of lebensraum/the master race is about as antithetical to the progressivism of today as its possible to be. And the idea of rounding people up and putting them into camps simply because they aren't members of some master race doesn't align with conservatism or natural law.

2. If you support some progressive policies, you support progressivism in its most extreme form.

Same problem as #1. Beliefs exist along a spectrum. Like afe, I happen to believe my liberal friends are wrong - in some cases, dangerously so. But that's entirely separate from believing they are evil.

3. The slippery slope from progressivism to genocidal dictatorship/communism. Yes, there's danger. That is, after all, precisely the point of this post, so I hardly need to be convinced of what I already believe and have said many times over the years.

But that danger exists with conservatism, too. Progressivism is more tempting, I suspect, because it relies on redistribution and mob rule (at least at first) but Hitler used mob rule/thuggery too. I think some of you are confusing time tested tactics used to gain/hold power with belief systems.

4. If you don't believe your liberal friends are Evil Incarnate, you're incapable of recognizing Evil.

I don't even know where to start with this one.

Maybe a good place to start would be by proving that my liberal friends are, in fact, evil?

You can't assume the conclusion.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 09:01 AM

Don,
I'm well aware of what you are talking about. I no longer live in Memphis, but it was Katrina that made me a gun owner. Should the New Madrid blow again, Memphis will make New Orleans after Katrina look like a paragon of civilization. At the time, the LG was a first responder. It would have been illegal for her to leave the city.

That the veneer of civilization is very thin in parts of Memphis doesn't really address the assertion that liberals as a whole desire a totalitarian state. No doubt that totalitarians find liberalism as a useful tool. But that's like blaming the gun, and not the person holding it.

AFE,
I'm not so sure it's "blind and stupid". Ignorant, I'll grant you. But given the vastly more advanced socialism all across western Europe that hasn't devolved into hell holes (at least yet) I can't really say that concluding "Hitler/Stalin/Lenin won't happen here" is stupid.

If I show someone a series of pictures of an object moving left to right, it isn't stupid to conclude that the object will continue moving left to right.

You, however, recognize the object as a boomerang, and they've never seen one.

I fully believe that Europe is heading for some major economic trouble and all the social ills that come with that. But I'm not sure I see the Brittish people standing for Re-Education camps for counter-revolutionaries. The question is whether some dictator wannabe can make use of the tool the well meaning have left out on the table.

Capt Mike,
That quote wasn't from me, so I'm not sure what the question is.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 29, 2013 11:24 AM

I think to some extent, we're talking past each other.

History isn't linear and deterministic. It's fluid and its course has been (and will continue to be) influenced by current events. We're all alarmed by what's happening in Europe and here in the US. We don't all agree as to the causes, nor do we agree about the ultimate outcome. I doubt there's much disagreement about the following things (though I could be wrong):

1. People aren't inherently good. They're inherently pretty savage a lot of the time, and culture/civilization are needed to curb our natural propensity to swipe each other's corn flakes.

2. Progressivism, though often well intentioned, weakens property rights (you know, those nebulous concepts that keep us from swiping each other's corn flakes).

3. Civilization is a hothouse flower - it isn't "natural" and is often fragile. Yu-Ain and I get that. I don't think we need convincing of what we already believe. The problem here is that I've often been told that things I thought were time-honored conservative tenets (prostitution is wrong, for instance) are just plain silly. I'm silly to worry that weakening the thin veneer of culture that separates us from animals is not a great idea. That treating people as salable commodities and sex as entertainment is wrong and harmful. And now we have kids posting rapes to Facebook. Where could they possibly have gotten the idea that rape is entertainment?

*crickets*

I see a danger. I'm almost certainly more sensitive to that danger because I'm female. That fact that many of my male readers think I'm being silly to worry doesn't mean the danger isn't real. And the fact that I'm not quite ready to say that my relatives and dear friends who are liberal are Hitler-worshipping satans in sheep's clothing doesn't mean I might not find myself on the other side of a civil war from them, or that the danger you see isn't real. I don't think either Yu-ain or I have argued that there's no danger.

I just don't see things as being as black and white as some of you. I see conservatives do things that are wrong and foolish and destructive all the time. I still prefer conservatism to liberalism, but I don't think we're all angels and they're all devils. People are flawed. And few are true ideologues. Scratch that thin veneer, and I believe a lot of conservatives would be just as vicious because they're just as human as liberals.

What I've tried to ask for here at VC is a little respect for each other. We're not going to agree all the time, but some pretty smart folks have commented here over the years. Many of them don't see eye to eye with me on all issues. Many of them are people I consider dear friends. People I'm not ashamed to say that I love, even if that sounds stupid.

There are ways to discuss things without demonizing people who disagree, or saying that anyone who doesn't share our views (hell - WE don't even share all the same views) is evil or stupid. I get it - some people ARE evil, stupid, or both. But I'm going to get off the clue bus at the point where simple disagreement with me becomes the litmus test for either quality.

I haven't said AFE is wrong to be worried, nor have I said that he's overreacting. Not being clairvoyant, I don't know what will happen - I don't have a crystal ball.

I have pointed out some things that are true. The conclusions one draws - what facts you choose to engage with and which you dismiss - is up to each person. But it's a fact that socialism has been a force in world politics for well over 100 years. It's a fact that most western democracies have become more socialistic over time.

It is NOT a fact - not yet, at least - that progressive policies inevitably lead to gas chambers and mass starvation and HITLER/STALIN/LENIN.

This country once endorsed legal slavery - the owning of other human beings. We turned from that evil after several very bloody years. It may take that to make us turn from the path we're on. Or it may not. But every generation has to make these choices. We're not special in this regard.

I'm going to shut up now because I'm starting to sound like Rodney King.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 12:51 PM

"You ducked my question: how do you know progressives *want* a totalitarian, genocidal state?"

I didn't say I "KNOW". I said, "I think." Which implies my personal belief based upon my observations and my personal experiences.
I neither asked nor demanded that you "Trust my opinion." It wasn't my opinion. It was theirs. I told you, "And when I ask those that I know what the final picture of America is going to be after the their plans are achieved, it is chillingly reminiscent of a just those times that history warns us to be mindful of." These are their words not mine.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 29, 2013 01:09 PM

Now, let's get down to the basics of what I ACTUALLY said:
"No, I think it's that many Americans simply won't believe that their fellow (liberal/progressive) Americans actually want to follow the same evil path of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin -- history be damned"

I think that many Americans simply don't want to believe that the liberal/progressive Americans want to follow the same evil path of Hilter, et al, even with all the lessons of history laid at their so-called educated feet as to where that path leads. I did NOT say that the people were evil.
As you are so fond of say, "Reading is fundamental."
I said, "...follow the same evil path..."

And now, with regards to questions unanswered....
"And when I ask those that I know what the final picture of America is going to be after the their plans are achieved, it is chillingly reminiscent of a just those times that history warns us to be mindful of. I wonder if those you mentioned can give a better answer?

Posted by: DL Sly at May 29, 2013 01:19 PM

...I ask those that I know what the final picture of America is going to be after the their plans are achieved, it is chillingly reminiscent of a just those times that history warns us to be mindful of

Chillingly reminiscent to whom? To them, or to you?

Are they describing a totalitarian state where dissenters are rounded up and tortured/killed? I doubt this, not because I know any of your liberal friends, but because I hope I know you well enough to say that you wouldn't care for people who describe that kind of outcome as "progress".

I'm guessing they didn't say any such thing, but that to you, what they describe sounds like it might eventually lead to something worse.

None of my liberal friends or relatives have EVER described anything close to Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. Not even close. So yes, they have a better answer - one that doesn't involve marching people into ovens or mass starvation.

And I don't agree with the conflation of mainstream progressivism and the "same evil path" followed by Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. I could, for instance, easily pay 15% more taxes than we pay now without being anywhere close to destitute.

I could have done the same when we were first married and living below poverty level. It's simply a matter of adjusting expenses. That's what I hear my liberal friends saying - we should all pay more for more government.

Do I agree with them? Nope. Do I think this is in any sense the same as Nazi Germany?

Nope. It's just foolish and misguided.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 01:27 PM

One more point: "history be damned" shouldn't rest on selective history. Cherry picking out the worst excesses (whether or not they fit the template) doesn't actually establish what you're saying it does.

You're accusing others of ignoring history while ignoring large parts of history yourself. This is what I cannot understand. It's not a slam dunk, Sly. If you have to ignore the inconvenient fact that most of the nations in Western Europe - though admittedly leaning socialist - are nothing like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia or China, that's problematic.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 01:31 PM

We have to judge from history, but people's minds turn too readily to the history that is best known to them because they lived through it, or through its immediate aftermath. Socialism isn't the only failed model we're emulating; look at France in the reign of Louis XV-XVI, for example. That was no socialist country, but it was completely destroyed by a leadership bent on sexual excess, unaccountable leadership, and ruinous spending by the government.

By the way, do you know the origin of the word "silhouette"?

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2013 01:34 PM

You also don't get to ignore selective parts of history, my friend, such as the fact that Western Europe is not the entirety of the remaining world. Or are we not going to talk about Venezuela, Cuba, North Vietnam, etc.?
Do you honestly believe that the sheep that now inhabit the British mainland will have the resolution to stand against a major invasion? They didn't even have the resolve to stop two men with knives from killing and beheading one of their own soldiers in the street! They may not be there, now, but Hitler's Germany, like Rome, was not built in a day.
Ok, Britain is one country. Let's try another....um, Sweden. No, they're currently in the midst of a week long riot that they won't stop for fear of....ummmm, causing *more* violence. Ok, how about France....nope, they're not too happy right now with excessive taxes and that whole gay marriage thing.
The thing is, that while they are not there, yet, Western Europe have been rushing down the socialist path at Autobahn speeds far longer than we have, and they are perilously close to the end.
I'm not ignoring history. I am, in fact, paying very close attention.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 29, 2013 01:48 PM

You also don't get to ignore selective parts of history, my friend, such as the fact that Western Europe is not the entirety of the remaining world. Or are we not going to talk about Venezuela, Cuba, North Vietnam, etc.?

I didn't ignore anything. My comments were responding to the Hitler/Stalin/Lenin thing, so naturally I did not mention Vietnam (which is a tiny country in southeast Asia with very little resemblance to either western Europe or the US).

Also, you'll note that I didn't say there was no danger. I went out of my way to admit that there IS danger (again, the entire point of this post). So I'm not ignoring them, but I am questioning the relevance of tiny nations with dissimilar histories to large Western-style democracies.

So far as I am aware, the pre-socialist governments of Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela were nothing like the US or the democracies in western Europe. We don't share a common heritage or culture, a fact which invites caution when extrapolating from their history to ours.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 02:35 PM

That was no socialist country, but it was completely destroyed by a leadership bent on sexual excess, unaccountable leadership, and ruinous spending by the government.

There have been quite a few examples of this throughout history that didn't involve socialism. No, I had never heard the silhouette origin - thanks! :)

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 02:39 PM

No, they're currently in the midst of a week long riot that they won't stop for fear of....ummmm, causing *more* violence.

Which is exactly the same thing as those liberals rounding up muslims into cattle cars.

And proves that liberals "actually want to follow the same evil path", how?

They are certainly walking down a very bad path, but it doesn't seem to be Hitler's/Lenin's/Stalin's path: Those 3 fought, not surrendered.

Sweden's danger very well may be that an Islamist Cleric rises to claim power and puts everyone *else* in cattle cars. I somehow doubt this is the path that the liberals "actually want to follow".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 29, 2013 03:11 PM

And even Venezuela, as even further left than Western Europe hasn't created labor camps for counter revolutionaries. It's just creating more and more poverty.

So again, Socialism creates bad outcomes, but even as bad as Venezuela is, it isn't Hitler/Stalin/Lenin yet.

Claiming that those wanting to going 10 feet further down the road want to follow a path that will kill us all when a great many others are 10 miles down the road and still alive (though sick) is a tough sell.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 29, 2013 03:19 PM

I never claimed to have a crystal ball, nor am I a prophet, so the future is unknown to me. What I CAN do is examine current trends, and extrapolate from those facts, perhaps guided by lessons from history in similar circumstances. Naturally, this requires painting in somewhat broad strokes, but I believe the general conclusions arise from reasonable hypotheses.

I was always curious how pre-Nazi Germany came to be the Third Reich. Pre-war Germany was considered one of the most cultured and enlightened states in Europe. Berlin was even considered decadent in the era of the cabaret. One of the reasons that there were so many Jews in Germany is because it had long been one of the LEAST anti-semitic nations in Europe. France, Poland, Russia, treated Jews were far worse. So how did it happen?
That generation is now dying out, but luckily there were many written and video interviews of ordinary Germans who were posed these very questions. They all seem to regard those times like they were some kind of hypnotic trance. Like they were just sleepwalking as their world turned itself upside down. It happened so gradually, and no one believed the warnings, or that it could really happen to them, until one day they woke up in a police state.

As far as the Communist Revolutions, the commies were not dummies. Violent revolutions were all well and good for the second and third world, but the early Bolsheviks knew such tactics would never succeed with the entrenched capitalists of the West. They were quite clear that their plan was one of a long, slow campaign over decades to undermine the foundations of those nations until they crumbled of their own accord. Thus, pointing to the USA and Western Europe and claiming that there have been no violent communist revolutions is missing the entire point. That was never the plan.

Lenin was surprisingly honest about the methods they would use to accomplish the destruction of the West. For example, one of his key precepts was for progressives to gain control of education. When you can indoctrinate the next generation as children into the joys of socialism, then you need only wait for the oldsters to die off to achieve those ends. Does anyone doubt the liberal stranglehold on academia?

Another example is to destroy the economy through massive debt, combined with debasement of the currency. Back when money had intrinsic value, being minted in gold and silver, this meant cheating on the precious metal content. Nowadays, it means printing money. Does anyone believe that we are not doing this as well?

Finally, the police state is indeed inevitable, unless you believe our govt will suddenly stop growing in size and power. The govt relies on force to enforce its will. As it gets larger and more intrusive, it will require greater and greater degrees of force to ensure public compliance. Liberals have shown no sign of ever being satisfied with any slowdown of govt growth. It is inherent in their ideology, so yes, this endless spiral will eventually lead to a police state. Why is this conclusion so hard for anyone to accept?

As for France during the various Louies, yes they weren't technically commies during their Revolution, more like proto-socialists, but the first of the Leftist Revolutions still led to brutality, torture, mass killings, and essentially a police state under Robespierre and the Jacobins. The accounts of The Terror rival the worst excesses of the Bolshevik Revolution. It makes for pretty grim reading.

They all the said the same thing in France, in Russia, in Germany: "How could my neighbor turn on me like this after our 30-year friendship? How could my brother denounce me to the People's Tribunal?"

Posted by: a former european at May 29, 2013 04:54 PM

...but the first of the Leftist Revolutions still led to brutality, torture, mass killings, and essentially a police state under Robespierre and the Jacobins. The accounts of The Terror rival the worst excesses of the Bolshevik Revolution. It makes for pretty grim reading.

That's right; I was just talking about that with Tex last week.

There is a crucial difference, though, in all these examples. If Nazi Germany or Revolutionary France or Chinese Communism is our analogue, then the dangerous people should today be outside of power -- not in power. Obama is the analogue not of Hitler or Robespierre but of the Weimar Republic or Louis XVI. The liberals are the ones spending the country into the ground, promoting terrible financial practices and (in both analogical cases, actually) sexual immorality on a grand scale.

So the Muslims won't be rounded up for train cars. They're the brown shirts, or the sans-culottes. For the analogy to hold, they need to end up in power, and the rest of society falls in line behind them out of fear.

The ordinary liberals of today, they're the scared citizens hiding in their homes in the French Revolution -- or starving to death in the Great Leap Forward. They aren't the ones you should be worried about, if history is a guide.

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2013 05:07 PM

Grim makes an interesting point - most revolutions happen because the existing government overstepped or was destabilized and something else rushes in to fill the vacuum.

It's kind of an interesting point because I can imagine good and bad things rushing in. During scary times, people want order. In Germany, hyperinflation and bank failures essentially destroyed the economy and the German middle class. People listened to Hitler because they were desperate - it wasn't creeping socialism.

In Russia, there was also hyperinflation in the years immediately preceding the revolution - prices rose 400% in just 3 years.

I think that's the real danger in our current position. Nations only have two ways to get out of large amounts of sovereign debt - inflation and default.

Both are catastrophic, but most nations default on external rather than internal debt. I don't worry so much about progressivism becoming popular as an ideology. I do worry quite a bit about financial destabilization and the 'any port in a storm' mentality that results.

And I don't think any Democrat I know wants that, though I do agree that's where their policies will end up if we don't get a grip on things.

Posted by: Cass at May 29, 2013 05:27 PM

Hi Cass,
Feel compelled to respond and agree w/ your 9:01 post:
1. People not necessarily evil or ill willed simply because they are 'foolishly' progressive. I'm here to say there are *lots* of very nice lefties walking around.
2. While I actually do have some sympathy for the idea that 'low information voters' that support lefty Dem pols & polices are nudging us (not so hidden swipe at current lefty tactic to promote state influence in our lives) towards a stronger more socialist style state, I do not accept the notion that trend condemns all those that vote left as enthusiastic cheerleaders for Orwell's 1984.
3. Though women were granted the official franchise to vote in this country kinda late IMO, it would be incredibly foolish to discount the influence of women on politics and policy before that 'official' date. I'd be shocked if most decent men of the previous era did not carefully consider their wives opinion when voting, and after all it was men who voted in favor of extending the franchise to women.

BTW, 1251 post was brilliant. well.said.

Very Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 30, 2013 09:05 PM

Howdy again YAG,
My observation was intended as a criticism of the situation, not of you.
I apologize if I was not clear.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 30, 2013 09:09 PM

to all,
my grandparents wound up adopting a young woman who immigrated from Bavaria in the late 40's; she has always been my Aunti Anni.

I assure you that most Germans would never have signed up for the Nazi program in advance . . . they were lulled in by resentment of provisions of the Versailles Treaty, the political and economic chaos of the time, the belief that the gov't established by Hitler w/ only a plurality not a majority would be modest, initial economic successes, and then as the ball got rolling the fear to oppose.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 30, 2013 09:20 PM

Hi Sly at 1:48,
Britain is a very strange country in modern history. Might not be a good idea to write them off right away, it is my hope they will find another Churchill (or better, Maggie Thatcher) soon.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 30, 2013 09:28 PM

No apologies needed, Mike. I was just confused.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 31, 2013 08:53 AM

Capt. Mike,
I, am not so optimistic.

Thank you, btw, for your service to our country and for your insight on these pages.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 31, 2013 01:31 PM