The Prophetic Past That Warned Us Where We Now Find Ourselves

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“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, ‘equality’. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

I am encouraged when countrymen look into our past history to consider what our Patriarchs, Framers and even brillaint and simple men noted about the gift of liberty that is unique to America in all the world’s existence. There has been a bit of talk about one noted philosopher and author Alexis de Tocqueville, who came to America in 1831 and 1832 to write about his impressions of America from a European perspective after he was quoted in a Powerline Blog, and got mention on talk radio circles today.

What is so timely about the following notations from “Democracy In America” is that they put an exclamation point on the dangers this Election Cycle is parading in front of us with the various pushes and calls for bigger government Socialism, oversights, “fairness” and safety (for the children of course). From the scam that is Global Warming to the promises of what Nationalized Health Care will mandate – you can read de Tocqueville and feel as if you just read an indictment of our current culture and political circus that is this year’s elections.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville famously concludes with a warning of the kind of despotism to which democracies are especially susceptible. Of particular note is the chapter: “OF CERTAIN PECULIAR AND ACCIDENTAL CAUSES WHICH EITHER LEAD A PEOPLE TO COMPLETE THE CENTRALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT OR DIVERT THEM FROM IT”.

Among men who have lived free long before they became equal, the tendencies derived from free institutions combat, to a certain extent, the propensities superinduced by the principle of equality; and although the central power may increase its privileges among such a people, the private members of such a community will never entirely forfeit their independence. But when equality of conditions grows up among a people who have never known or have long ceased to know what freedom is (and such is the case on the continent of Europe), as the former habits of the nation are suddenly combined, by some sort of natural attraction, with the new habits and principles engendered by the state of society, all powers seem spontaneously to rush to the center. These powers accumulate there with astonishing rapidity, and the state instantly attains the utmost limits of its strength, while private persons allow themselves to sink as suddenly to the lowest degree of weakness.

Tocqueville warns that the passion for equality will give rise to a certain kind of degradation in which citizens will surrender their freedom democratically to a tutelary power:

Above these [citizens] an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

If one truly looks at and examines our culture and politics today in light of what Tocqueville is warning about – one could easily see that we have already arrived at that crucial point. Both political parties seem to be in a race over which one gets to be the bigger parent. You might recall the 1992 Presidential debate when an old hippie with pony tail asked Bill Clinton: “”We are your children, we have our needs. What will you do to take care of us-to take care of our needs?”

Government today works almost exclusively towards “providing” happiness, entertainements, bail-outs and free hand-outs to specific groups it decides deserves the largesse of the federal treasury from the pockets of a working class the government uses like slaves. All to the point that politicans and government talk about nothing but facilitating the pleasures of people, regardless how depraved and consequential they may be; dictates how industry works such as the demands Congress just placed on automakers for fuel-efficient cars and the abolishment of incandescent light bulbs for “enviro-freindly/mercury-filled” flourescents. Private property is now the pervue of the state according to the KELO decision of the Supreme Court; in Illinois you cannot smoke outside in any public place, in California not even in your own car. Your wealth is confiscated in taxes for those the government decides should receive it. This culture blames the government for not doing enough after Katrina or demanding they do something about high gas prices in the absolvement of any responsibility they should have for themselves, fulfilling what Tocqueville said about “tak[ing] away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living”

I suppose we could almost declare Tocqueville a prophet in light of where we are today with what he was warning we could become.

Subjection in small affairs manifests itself every day and makes itself felt without distinction by all citizens. It does not make them desperate, but it constantly thwarts them and brings them to renounce the use of their wills. Thus little by little, it extinguishes their spirits and enervates their souls….

In listening to the political candidates, almost every single one of them is a purveyor of this disease. The fight for redefining what Conservatism means into some perverted nanny-state caring for others by use of government simply underscores where de Tocqueville said this Republic would end-up if we were not careful and vigilant.

Well….here we are.

Perhaps if we studied our roots rather than the latest ball game stats or arguing over who will win the next Survivor or America’s Next Top Model, we could have a chance to recpature what is being lost.

I’m not to hopeful, as the populace is become exactly like the ponytail Kid in 1992, that declared that all of us were children of Big Mama Government.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture War, History

One response to “The Prophetic Past That Warned Us Where We Now Find Ourselves

  1. I hate to email you this way, but please contact me asap….John ( I will comment on this article later on tonight, that’s for darned sure….)

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