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Senator Lindsey Graham desperately wants more money and weapons for Ukraine. Recently standing in Kyiv alongside two (other?) Democrat senators — one who repeatedly lied about his service in Vietnam and another who repeatedly lied about President Trump being a Russian spy — Graham demanded American tanks on the ground immediately.
“World order is at stake!” he declared. Something serious must be at stake over there; having thrown over a hundred billion dollars to a nation that was known universally as one of the most corrupt in the world before Russia crossed its borders last year, the U.S. government has become “pot committed” to a European war, whether financially struggling Americans care or not.
Just what is this “world order” that keeps Ol’ Lindsey up at night? Surely he means some combination of American hegemony, military dominance, dollar-denominated financial supremacy, and command over the vaunted “rules-based international system” so-called Western leaders love to defend. You never hear anything about the importance of defending Western rights and liberties, though, do you? Senator Graham-nesty isn’t worried about protecting America’s borders. He says absolutely nothing about securing Westerners’ freedoms from threats of tyranny. Why?
Because America has relinquished its status as “leader of the free world.” That is not because dementia-addled Joe Biden is merely a figurehead under the unelected Deep State’s control. It is because there is no “free world” right now — at least not within the jurisdiction of political governments. The political persecution of J6 protesters for “thought crimes,” the authoritarian COVID-1984 lockdowns and mandates, and the confirmation through the “Twitter Files” that the U.S. government is heavily invested in censorship and public manipulation all make this damning statement soberingly clear.
Friedrich Hayek warned in The Road to Serfdom, “We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes.” American independence and the U.S. Constitution embraced this principle. The “American experiment” was not devoted to creating a vast administrative State in which the expertise and benevolence of “public servants” would usher in a future Utopia. “Once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness,” Ludwig von Mises observed, “no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments.”
Arguing otherwise has been the fool’s gold of both idealists and tyrants for millennia. “Freedom is indivisible,” Mises argued. “As soon as one starts to restrict it, one enters upon a decline on which it is difficult to stop.” The American system broke with tyrannies of the past, and for doing so, an unelected, mercurial, deceptive, and vicious Deep State has spent decades breaking the American system.
It is increasingly obvious that the Intelligence Community has used the PATRIOT Act and other patently unconstitutional tools at its disposal to spy expansively on American citizens here at home for their “own good.” Social media accounts, private email, search engine histories, banking transactions, location tracking, and countless other pieces of personal data are collected and monitored by the U.S. government with neither warrants nor established probable cause while politicians, judges, and private companies willingly participate in these grotesque violations of Americans’ privacy and maintain the cynical pretense that Americans’ rights and freedoms remain protected.
It has become fashionable now for lawmakers to demand accountability for the social media site TikTok because it is finally being correctly acknowledged as both an intelligence-gathering net and propaganda fire hose for the Chinese Communist Party. The irony, though, is that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Search provide the U.S. government with identical tools. The D.C. Deep State does not mind if Americans are spied on and psychologically manipulated by government actors; on the contrary, it seeks a total monopoly on such influence operations.
To enjoy personal liberty free from the arbitrary intrusions of government nosy-bodies, you have to get pretty far away from the shadow of State authority. Even then, because the national security surveillance structure is pervasive, an isolated campfire in a remote wood is still most likely being caught by somebody’s overhead satellite for some unknown reason. If you are unable to escape from the watchful eyes of the government’s complex monitoring system, then the inner mind becomes the last refuge for any freethinker — so long as those personal thoughts are not communicated out loud.
Under the West’s new aversion to free speech, “politically incorrect” words have become a physical evidence trail potentially leading to prosecution for promoting “hate” or “misinformation.” In a particularly odious example of doublespeak, the New York Times argues that communist China’s regime of censorship and mass surveillance offers a healthy “kind of freedom.” And you cannot even pray outside in the U.K. these days without the Old Bill demanding to know whether or not your spiritual conversations with a higher power concern the well-being of helpless babes.
So freedom is chased farther and farther away from hubs of government tracking, farther and farther into the recesses of one’s mind, until it can be exercised only in the silence of one’s imagination. Make no mistake: the imposition of “silence” is intentional. Governments understand that the best way to prevent the spread of ideas that might threaten their grip on power is to prevent those ideas from ever being spoken out loud. To silence dissent is to squash opposition. To criminalize thought is to enslave the mind. That’s the “freedom” enjoyed by a prisoner, not a living, breathing citizen of any “free world.” If you have been corralled into a mental prison against your will, though, then the best question to ask is this: what would you be willing to do to escape?
Cameras, computers, artificial intelligence — there’s just no way out! Do you know that every generation of humans confronted with new technological weapons has said the same thing? Their cannon are too powerful! Their ships are too many! It is futile to resist! Yet people do resist, and over time, they realize that it is ultimately not the technology that threatens their freedom, but rather the governments that would choose to use that technology without respect for human rights or natural liberties.
To create and sustain a “free world,” citizens actually have to be willing to stand up to their governments and say, “No, you cannot do that; you do not have that power; now go away.” Usually, governments (which exist purely because they assert a monopoly over the legitimate use of force) then load their cannon and surround rebellious ports with an overwhelming number of ships as a demonstration of how their “legitimate” force somehow justifies the theft of others’ freedoms. For the citizenry on the receiving end of such violence, this translates to nothing more than “might makes right.”
What they learn in the process is that government power untethered from principle is neither righteous nor worth preserving. The harsher and more unjust governments become toward their citizens, the more likely movements for freedom take hold. When scrappy underdogs prevail over unbeatable foes and “turn the world upside-down,” they do so with tremendous help from their tormentors’ hubris.
Lindsey Graham is right about this much: the world order is at stake. Freedom around the world is under attack from those governments sworn to protect it, and their betrayal imperils peace. I saw a headline recently that blared, “Rogue Hog Turns Tables, Kills Butcher.” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the news had nothing to do with politics. Although, given that the homicidal hog had been repeatedly shocked with a stun gun and kept in a tiny enclosure on his way to becoming BBQ, his story could be a prudent allegory after all.
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