The decade of the “aught”—as the years 2000 to 2009 have been referred to by many Canadian journalists—has invited much comment, ranging from the banality of various “top ten” lists to more serious analysis by such luminaries as Conrad Black, who derogates the aforementioned years as that “rather dismal decade”. I think the “aught” decade may be even more seriously characterized by a fundamental political sea change, particularly in the West, which sets an ominous trend for the remainder of the twenty-first century.
I am an advocate of rights and individual liberty. In historical terms, these values have been under modern assault for over one hundred years, but the collectivists have just enjoyed a decade in which at least three major real or manufactured crises have contributed to the typical expansion of government power which follows such “emergencies”.(1) These influences have all but sealed the fate of political freedom in terms of a return to collectivism as a form of societal organization.
The first major crisis to which I refer above is that caused by the phenomenon of Islamic-inspired terrorism, in particular the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The second is the global warming threat allegedly caused by human activity, culminating in the “Copenhagen Accord” in December 2009. Sandwiched between these bookend dates is the latest and greatest in a series of economic recessions, a characteristic of political economies ever since the Keynesian model of government intervention in the economic affairs of society became the norm for control over the lives of individuals, and like an overstuffed sandwich this filling promises to squeeze out beyond the edges.
With regard to Islamic-inspired terrorism, and for all practical purposes, Iran declared war on the West in 1979 when the “revolutionaries” took over the US embassy, leading to 444 days of humiliation and suffering during the hostage crisis, as the inept administration of Jimmy Carter fumbled on. In the last decade the fascist state of Iran has grown into a threat not only to its hapless citizenry but is now on record as an existential threat to the State of Israel, actively pursuing nuclear weaponry while the rest of the world is preoccupied with failed states such as Afghanistan and Yemen. Iranian state support of terrorists in these and other countries is simply evaded, or not discussed much, as the world’s politicians try to cajole this primary state sponsor of terror into doing what? Iran shows no inclination to do anything other than terrorize its citizenry and rattle sabres at the West.
That the rest of the world now chooses to impose onerous security precautions on air travellers—which will not work, by the way—to further infringe on the privacy and rights of all citizens and not the terrorists themselves is not just stupid, it is suicidal. Since September 11, 2001, it is the individual who suffers great inconvenience, and is no safer, while the terrorists continue to plot and attempt mayhem without deterring consequences. They win.
As for the “climate change” scam, since adjournment of the Copenhagen Conference the almost sweet irony of the stormy and cold weather that has engulfed much of Western Europe—the worst in three decades—and North America, where in Florida some cold-blooded animals are rendered immobile, is humorous to contemplate. But, just as the terrorists are undeterred, so the “climate-change believers” continue to advance the idea of restraining individual conduct under a worldwide tyranny by initiating the use of force to direct individual lives. They do this in the aftermath of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change being mired in a fraud and deception scandal even as it convened at its hypocritical event in Copenhagen, spewing out more carbon dioxide in ten days than some countries emit in a year. We can hope that the economic constraints these hucksters want to have imposed will become impossible as the prolonged “great recession” presents different and very real priorities for people.
This brings me to the greatest continuing fraud: scapegoating “capitalism” as the cause of recession. This idea is not just put forward by foreign critics, rather it originates largely in the US, where government has so overextended its “full faith and credit” that the country’s financial rating and monetary stability is called into question by, among others, the communists in China. Guess what? The whole fiasco is blamed on capitalism, not by the communists, but by the intellectual leaders in the US, who as a group, would not recognize a capitalist system if they ever saw one. The result is that the straw man of “capitalism” has taken the hit for the fraudulent charge, while the decades of growing government intervention in all aspects of the private economy, accompanied by ever greater and devastating recessions, gets a pass. Worse, government is a rescuer in the majority view. Where is the media to explain this totalitarian shift?
The United States, sole superpower since collapse of the Soviet Union, has been particularly impacted by the political shift toward totalitarianism, since for much of its history and founding it has been a beacon for the opposite: the sanctity of the individual. The decade’s combination of George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama as successive incompetent leaders and statesmen has contributed to the loss of stature of the US—both politically and economically. Starting with the ill-named “War on Terror” after September 11, 2001, and ending with the innocuous commitment of the “Copenhagen Accord,” the decade of the “aught” really was a zero in terms of human progress.
With each crisis, real or manufactured, it is possible to find the cause or exacerbation of the effects in the unprincipled application of politics. It is the job of statesmen and intellectuals in society to recognize and ferret out guiding principles. Society has been ill-served for some time in that regard, and those two dud presidents have perhaps caused a greater threat to individual liberty than did the elitist Roosevelt clan, which placed two enemies of capitalism in the White House.
In my view, it is the failure of government to serve its proper role in modern society that has given rise to the relative “nothingness” of the last decade. Government as an institution is failing, primarily by regression to the primitive collectivist organizations represented by tribalism, feudalism, fascism, and the more “intellectual” variants: socialism and communism. All of these collectivist forms of societal organization represent a departure from the sophistication and advanced thinking of the Enlightenment period and the American Revolution, in which rights first found articulate defenders. Regrettably, the relationship between the individual and the state, which was for a brief period of about 150 years, moving in favour of the individual has now been all but fully retarded with the momentum moving in favour of the primacy of the state. The twenty-first century appears headed for further regression into tyranny, thanks in particular in the West to the rise of Barack Hussein Obama to prominence, who is an unabashed collectivist and US “apologist” admired by tyrants the world over. In the East, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which for 30 years of unambiguous hostility to the West in particular, and to all “infidels” and “apostates” in general, has risen continuously as an uninterrupted state sponsor of terror. Just as important, it is a prominent and militant Islamic Fascist state, the continued existence of which is a threat to the rest of the world and to civilization itself.
Through all these developments and the trend toward less individual liberty, a rot of neglect has set into the activist media intellectuals. Long labelled as the mainstream media, representing the established culture, it has fallen more in line with something akin to a “slipstream media,” following dutifully along with the whimsical infatuation of the moment, be it the political-correctness of avoiding confrontation with Muslims, the junk science of global warming theories advocated by “political” scientists, or the cult-like adoration of a talented speech presenter like Barack Obama. These members of the intellectual class are failing to perform the responsible job of watchdog in the ongoing challenge of protecting citizens from their governments. Instead, they have become de facto agents of the government, taking positions more in line with the state-controlled publicists of totalitarian systems.
It is as though a Gordian knot is tied around society’s ability to recognize liars, frauds and power-grabbing elitists in their leadership. Many individuals shrug and ask, “What can I do?” Others blindly associate themselves with what they hope will be the next wave of power elites or beneficiaries of wealth distribution by Robin Hood governments. The people are easily disarmed by charm and unexamined statements of nonsense. They are increasingly ready to be led somewhere.
“When the people are ready, a master will appear” goes the old saying as relayed by the Anthony Hopkins character in the movie, “The Mask of Zorro”. That statement is chilling, because when a political master appears he’ll be expecting slaves.
©Copyright 2010 Edward Podritske
(1) The book, Crisis and Leviathan by Robert Higgs, documents the accumulation of government power that follows crises such as wars and economic recessions. Professor Higgs makes the point that with each such expansion of government powers, while regulations and controls may be curtailed following the passing of the emergency, the level of government power never returns to the pre-crisis level. Thus, government power grows as a constant and the eventual result will be tyranny and/or revolution.