Monday, January 19, 2009

What Was the Matter With the Old Declaration?

The Declaration of Independence, it seems, is in need of repair. Quoth the President-elect, according to USA Today:

What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives -- from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry -- an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.

"Our easy instincts,” which some might suppose could be translated as“our own ownership of our lives, goals, and destiny,” is not good enough for the collectivist horde. It has long been a disturbing collectivist tic - the belief that progress is inevitable, and the need for it so obvious to anyone who thinks the right thoughts – that only "special interests" (the collectivists’ interests conspicuously not among them) and "ideology" (i.e., mindless political disagreement obstructing the construction of paradise) stand in the way.

But in fact, these “ideological” differences are profound and unavoidable, and if we try to paper them over, it means we cede the protection of self-government to the soul's slavery of being led by usurpers – perhaps charismatic, perhaps sufficiently rhetorically gifted to succeed in politics on nothing more than the promise of “change,” but usurpers just the same.

Ideology is there for a reason. It is there because free men, thinking freely, have come to different conclusions about the nature of a just society. Purporting to end it eliminates that freedom. Ideology is there because, if we wish to remain free we are not and can never beone,” and pretending otherwise quickly turns the opposition into the enemy. The only thing that holds us together is our belief that we are a nation of individuals. Politics is there to channel disagreements about “ideology” into less destructive channels. There is no eliminating it without ultimately feeling a need to eliminate the opposition.

Here is The Washington Post story on what the President-elect believes is necessary:

President-elect Barack Obama announced the formation of a new group known as "Organizing for America" that aims to continue the grassroots advocacy that the former Illinois Senator began in his presidential campaign.

"As President, I will need the help of all Americans to meet the challenges that lie ahead," Obama said in a video message e-mailed to supporters (and reporters) this morning. "That's why I'm asking people like you who fought for change during the campaign to continue fighting for change in your communities."

The new group will be the flagship of "Obama 2.0" as many people have taken to calling the transformation of the political organization created during the 2008 campaign.

There is something more than a little disturbing about mass mobilization of people to create permanent groups of government supplicants (for that is what they will be), with Uncle Sam the welfare-state dealer luring them into dependency before unleashing them, so transformed. on the obstacles to the progress – otherwise known as free men – so dear to the progress-ives.

People need and deserve a higher purpose, no matter what the sociobiologists say. But only if it is their own higher purpose freely chosen, which requires that this purpose not be imposed on others. The conquest of this eternal desire by the individual for existential clarity, which he might, left to his own devices, nobly fulfill through the occasionally stumbling living out of his own life, by a collective movement for "change" or "progress" defined by ambitious politicians who seek to put the state in charge of our destiny, nevernot end well. At best it gives us the decaying culture of modern welfare-state Europe, at worst Lenin. It leaves a people dependent on the state, perhaps (if they are lucky) materially sated but lacking the fundamental challenges of life - the need to triumph, and to fail to triumph, over the obstacles it throws in the way of one's goals. It leaves a society bereft of ambition and achievement, leaving only undisciplined anger at the failure of the state to solve problems, along with the failure to recognize its creation of many of them to begin with. It is not what the signers of the Declaration had in mind.



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