By Nathan Barton
These days, it is easy to be pessimistic. When you see how some of the more dire predictions of various observers seem to be coming to pass, it doesn’t take much to decide that we are rapidly plunging into the chasm. It isn’t just the attacks and “mass murders,” and not just the current political campaign. There is a sense of malaise. Things seem to be breaking down.
But we’ve been here, as a people, as the Fifty States (or some part of them) before: the 1850s and the 1960s both come readily to mind, but so do a few other eras:
– 1850s: the growing sectionalism and the rise of the abolitionists and breakdown of consensus leading to the War for Southron Independence.
– 1890s: The rise of unions and the often-bloody fighting over the industrial workplace, together with the impact of “closing” of the Frontier.
– 1930s: The Great Depression and the insane response of government.
– 1960s: The combination of the ending of segregation, the war in Southeast Asia, and the “maturity” (in physical age, at least) of the generation traumatized by growing up during WW2
There are many other examples. Despite the bright promise of liberty in America (as contrasted to the Old World and the Spanish New World imperium), the combination of government and a failure of people to live by the principles of liberty has created horrible crises decade after decade, across what is now the Fifty States. I could as easily point out the crises of the 1830s-1840s and the Revolution in Texas and its aftermath including the Mexican War. Or the economic mess of the 1870s. Or the Decade of Horrors, the 1910s with the repeal of state representation in the Senate, the creation of the income tax and the Federal Reserve, and the rise of the warfare state with American entry into the Great War. Most people thought that society and the economy were doing well, then, but it was a facade and things were NOT as good in the next decade (the Roaring Twenties) and then turned catastrophically bad: something that more and more appears to have been engineered.
Is today really that different? Perhaps, as we have much better communications, many more people, more effective weapons, and other factors which can be used for good or bad, or which can skew events. But the heart of the matter is that utopia is not an option. On the other hand, we SURVIVED all those other eras of disaster and downward spirals. Not always as well as we should have, or needed to, but still, we survived, recovered, and went forth into new eras of relative peace and prosperity. It can be done again. It probably WILL be done again.
The biggest challenge facing us is the rapidity with which things happen AND are reported, sending too many people into panic mode (especially the politicos and the bureaucrats and other statists). That, and the ever-increasing burden of stupid government (well, government of ANY human kind) we’ve been plagued with for the last 103 or so years. A strong society, a strong economy, could endure that, just as a healthy teenager or young adult can better withstand an onset of pneumonia or some nasty disease. We could even joke about it, and continue to thrive despite the stinking corpse of an albatross around our necks. But now with society weak, the economy growing weaker, and morale and wisdom and confidence so very low (and dropping), can we push through THIS crisis as we have for 240 or so years or, really, since the folks at Plymouth waded ashore. ( I don’t count Santa Fe or St. Augustine or Jamestown as true origins. They were government projects and mostly would have failed except for private efforts).
When I’m optimistic, I think that we can and will. At least SOME part of the nation: the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, at least. (The Atlantic Seaboard, the Old South, the Rust Belt and the Left Coast are toast – already. Look at Milwaukee and Baltimore and Pawtucket and Saint Louis and San Bernardino and Portland: you will see what I mean.
But ONLY if we – as INDIVIDUALS and FAMILIES – are prepared. And knowledgeable and wise and practiced. We don’t convert groups or even families to be self-governors: we do it one at a time. If we have individuals, then those individuals can form and act as communities openly and voluntarily (or even in hiding and voluntarily). We can discuss and plan for the bad – AND the good.
And we can wait for the day: they (the statist enemy) will come to us: we don’ need or want to go to them. Not really; defense is three to one to the offensive as centuries has shown. Right now, think of the thistle: specifically the Scots thistle, longtime symbol of that once-great nation and people and land of liberty LONG before anyone heard of America. The thistle thrives on defending itself. It WELCOMES attack because it knows that the attacker will give up and when the attacker does and leaves, the seeds of the thistle go with the attacker. And because NO attacker can get rid of ALL the plant: all the roots and seeds and stems. Some will remain, and where ANY remains, more will come back. It is no different for liberty.