RECOVERING AMERICA BY RECOVERING FREEDOM

{Download the PDF Version of this article from this LINK  — http://jaygaskill.com/FreedomRecovery.pdf .}

INTRODUCTION:

HOW FAR WE HAVE FALLEN

 

Liberty, never secure, is now at significant risk.  The complacent among us console themselves with the observation that, at least…”Slavery is not an option”.  …To which I must add….unless it is disguised by layers of well-engineered deception.

 

Because slaves themselves were owned, they could not own property.  In the brave new world of the postmodern multicultural moral relativism, fewer and fewer of us truly own anything…because keeping “property” is a disparaged value. As a consequence, few of our possessions are ever held free and clear: They are held subject to neo-puritanical disapproval, “guilt” taxes, indebtedness (publically encouraged and partially subsidized), to a bewildering network of regulations to further the “public good”… all as defined and imposed by the political class.  The denigration of the basic human right to own property is part of an attempt to recondition human nature to accept less and less freedom. Some of our libertarian friends are particularly blind to the traps this cultural trend presents. When it comes to the legalization of narcotics and recreational psychotropic drugs, libertarians tend to focus on the reduction of state interference with personal behavior and tend to ignore the consequences: A drug dependent population is more easily controlled.

Freedom does not flourish in a well-tamed population under tight cultural control, where independence and creativity are “managed” though drug use (prescription for faux conditions, or non-prescription psychotropic drugs).  The notion of partial legalization with “appropriate controls” echoes the Brave New World where therapeutic intervention and “‘adjusted” expectations are used to reduce noncompliant behavior. Drug liberalization can look on the surface like a libertarian dream.[1] Actually, a well medicated politically correct population is the Marxist dream where the secret police get extra- light duty after the “withering away” of the state – a “libertarian” nightmare that takes place after human nature has been reformed into a “New Man.”[2] My drug reference was just an illustration of the larger issue: Without sharp limits on its power, the temptations for the state to exercise the technologies of social control will not be resisted.  Which raises the largest issue of all: The state has no business attempting to change human nature.

 

Recall that even slaves are provided for.  Slavery is possible whenever people are reconditioned into forgetting what it really means to be free. We need to grasp the cultural context for any realistic assessment of freedom’s prospects.  In the modern condition we take for granted that almost all social and moral boundaries are subject to elimination.  This predisposes the modern mind to look at any new attack on traditional boundaries as “probably a good thing.” Consider what has already taken place in the developed Western democracies: With breathtaking speed, the intelligentsias have been accommodated to the progressive dissolution of boundary conditions, including those of the nation state, those between achievers and dependents, those between good and evil, between criminal conduct and mental illness and between the forcible government reallocation of resources, and theft… and so on.  In this way, the sophisticated Western defenders of liberty were disarmed.

 

JULY 4, 2013

THE RECOVERY OF FREEDOM

REQUIRES

A Conservative Renaissance

A Modest Proposal

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Traditionally, liberals have been about challenging boundaries; and conservatives were about defending them.  But both liberalism and conservatism occasionally crash through the overreach barrier. The progressive liberals have now gone over that line.

 

This leaves the task of restoring balance to the conservatives. But are we/they ready?

 

Under the prevailing cultural conditions, the GOP (in the USA) and the Conservative Party (in the UK) are locked into a cyclical pattern of rejection, then a temporary ascendance in which conservatives return from exile as a corrective to the progressive juggernaut that has captured the Democratic Party and the Fabian socialists who have captured the British Labour Party.  The conservatives are allowed to stick around just long enough to stop the hemorrhage; and to repair some, but not all of the damage.

This is fire truck conservatism: People are grateful for their rescue but they don’t invite their rescuers to stay for dinner.

Conservative leadership seems to take hold for the long haul only when a particular leader (Think Eisenhower or Reagan in the USA; Churchill and Thatcher in the UK) has traction in the culture and on Pennsylvania Avenue or Downing Street. The key ingredients of such major leadership shifts are the breakdown of trust between the to-be-evicted governing political class, and the emergence of a new, potent trust-chemistry between the new conservative leadership cohort and the people at large.

But trusted leaders are not picked by a political committee or via a series of managed primaries. They emerge from the herd by the force of their personalities, courage, charisma, commitment and record of accomplishments.

The conservative philosophy that animates the GOP and its British counterpart has much more to offer than an occasional charismatic leader. It can endure for the ages, but only to the extent that its most visible advocates are seen as dedicated a great political, cultural and economic Freedom-Renaissance. A quick glance at the current crop of politicians suggests that heavy lifting is required. The new crop of conservative leaders must be very well prepared to promote and explain a practical agenda for America’s restoration, and to anchor each part of the project in conservative principles that are clear and consistent with common sense.

That agenda is nothing short of restoring America by restoring freedom.  It is founded three forward-leaning conservation principles (set out below). But these ideas, values and principles must be sincerely, articulately and persuasively connected to policy proposals, and to the real world aspirations of all Americans.

In an earlier era, President Reagan was gifted in doing this task, partly because he had years of experience among liberal democrats, partly because he was a skilled actor who believed his material. The task is the essentially the same, but the message is updated to address the crises of the 21st century.  I propose that three principles, when explained and connected, have the power to inaugurate a sea change in the American political dialogue. I believe that once they are absorbed into the DNA of the new generation of conservatives these core ideas will ignite a Freedom Renaissance movement that will alter the course of history.

  1. The conservation of human dignity against all the bureaucratic minds and structures, private and public;
  2. The conservation of the conditions in which productive human creativity can flourish by providing a bulwark against the arbitrary controls, constraints, repression, excessive taxation and perversion-of-purpose that creative communities are typically subject to;
  3. …and the conservation of the core moral infrastructure from which individual human dignity and productive human creativity derive their legitimacy.

A comment about why this set of principles is both new and necessary to the postmodern culture. Libertarians advance freedom as a primary good, without further elaboration or explanation.  But freedom cannot be understood as more than indulgence without a larger moral framework that contains it. I maintain that the justification (from a metaphysical point of view) for freedom as a necessary value is that creation and human creativity become primary values as soon as they are linked to a life affirming moral order. And creativity requires freedom in the context of the larger moral framework. Without creativity, the human species dies.  Without robust creativity linked to the moral order, the human species becomes innovatively suicidal. The moral foundations of a free society are deeply tied to the spiritual traditions that connect creative communities with life-affirmation and the enhancement of the human condition as seen through the lens of awakened moral intelligence.

I’ve written about this at length elsewhere, but note the difference between the Italian Renaissance creative community and the captive community of Nazi German rocket scientists at Peenemunde.  And note the fact that whenever a tyranny is first established, the creative ones seek refuge somewhere else.  The USA has benefited immensely from creative refugees.

Each of the three conservation principles listed have been more honored in the breach than in historical practice; and not one of them is widely recognized as essential to conservatism or as crucially important to human survival.

The advocates of liberty are often silent about the “Why?” questions, as in, “Why have liberty?” and “What good is freedom anyway?” Simple ideas with radical implications are easy to state, but they are anything not simple when their implications and interconnections become apparent. {This thesis is developed in more detail, with references in two of the author’s articles that are available on the web – Links below.}

Heavy lifting will be required because the conservative movement is incoherent, tired and pessimistic.  Conservatives tend to be unified only by their opposition to the excesses of “the left”. They tend to be held together between elections by repeated bromides that have lost the power to move us.  The key features of a living, forward –leaning conservative movement are nowhere to be found in the hearts and minds of the political hacks who mindlessly repeat the tired slogans.  People just tune out the catch phrases and talismanic incantations like – “Big government is bad”; “Big spending is bad”; “Freedom is good”; “Taxes are bad”.

The tune-out is a symptom of broken promise fatigue. Somehow, these same operatives leave equally banal slanders unanswered, allowing even the modern conservatives to be smeared with impunity. Who responds (and with what force and energy) when we hear that “Conservatives are mean spirited”; “Conservatives favor the rich over the poor”; and “Conservatives are against social progress”?

What I am proposing here will demand actual thought by all leading conservatives in the Public Square, and sturdy commitment and enduring passion. All this needs to be done with good spirited, but sharp rhetoric in a coordinated push-back, push-forward theme pursued simultaneously on several fronts: in the academy, in the media, in the Public Square, and among the policy makers and power brokers.

Evangelists have given evangelism a bad rap. The “ordinary” people are very good at spotting phonies and hucksters…although history suggests that it sometimes takes them a while to figure out that they’ve been had.  The Freedom Renaissance push needs real programs and real ideas, all of which are based on a conservation and progress agenda. This can’t be just some one-off pre-election run-up. When going against the tide, we succeed only with a long term effort fueled by fierce, realistic optimism and sustained by awakened moral intelligence.

Yes, it is probably too late to reboot and reenergize many of the half-awake political hacks who dominate the public square; and the task of administering plastic surgery on the sad faces of institutional conservatism is a dead end.  There is every reason to be optimistic in the mid-term, so why not be optimistic in the short term and the long term.  All we have to lose is the dead weight of pessimism.

Our situation calls for sharp, likable, engaging personalities.

So…where are they? They are already among us, waiting for the starting gun, waiting for you and me to create the buzz and energy about creativity and freedom, about boundaries, moral and practical, that sustain progress.

We are the milieu from which the next top leaders will emerge.

JBG

July 3rd & 4th 2013

 

Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Author Contact for all comments and permissions: outlawyer.gaskill@gmail.com

Links to related articles:

The American Creative Surgehttp://www.jaygaskill.com/ACS2011.pdf  (75 pages)

Creativity and Survivalhttp://jaygaskill.com/CreativityAndSurvival.pdf (14 pages)

 



[1]  I recommend taking a close look at the early George Lukas film THX 1138, where the state encourages drug use.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/THX_1138).  The animating vision was a commitment to individualism, and a vivid illustration of the amoral idiocy of the bureaucratic state in its many forms.

[2] This idea been popular among fascists and socialists over the last 80 years: Think of the “Soviet Man – and Woman”, and the “Nazi superman”. The common thread in these schemes is the employment of state power to remold human nature into persons who no longer exercise “unhealthy individualism.”

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