Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Paine’

The NY Times hosted an editorial writer just recently, which, as an editorial, ultimately represents the opinions of the paper.  Nice to see they’re finally showing their true colors.  From Louis Seidman, one of those lettered “Constitutional Law Professors” much like the president who wants to destroy it.

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

What follows is the kind of steaming pile of garbage that would have been considered parody of a leftist a few years ago.

Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.

Hint: James Madison was smarter than you, Mr. Professor Something-You-Want-To-Be-Nothing.  Also, the objective was to create a political system that would actually create gridlock, that would prevent immediate and rash decisions made by a central power.  The Constitution functions when it slows the processes of government to those that are deliberate and considering of input via the representative republic.  That’s the point.  In such a manner, its objective is to preserve the maximum amount of liberty for the citizen.

As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

Acted illegally under tyrannical law, and in accordance with natural law, and made laws that intended to free men from tyranny.  The “fine to own slaves” argument is defeated in and of itself by the actual intent of the 3/5 compromise, by which southern states would be admitted to the new nation but couldn’t count slave populations towards their representatives, thus limiting the power of slave states, with the subtle intention to ultimately, slowly break the institution of slavery.

If NASA decides that the world is flat after considered judgement on their next rocket launch that they decide is best and “suddenly” someone bursts into the room and reminds them that Eratosthenes already showed the world was round, is it remotely rational that NASA should acknowledge the wisdom of those who came before them?  Nah, let’s just launch that rocket into the dirt.  Dead white guys are stupid and they know nothing!

Seidman represents the kind of rot from inside that Yuri Bezmenov warned about years ago.

Suddenly, Thomas Paine!

thomas paine

From The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

When “Constitutional professors” come to the conclusion that you should throw out the document and organization by which a government is created and ignore the law in favor of the whim of their current favored ruler, then yes, maybe some of us start sounding like Walter Sobchak.  But unlike bowling, a government unfettered by rules is instant tyranny.

Idiot Seidman rambles on:

The two main rival interpretive methods, “originalism” (divining the framers’ intent) and “living constitutionalism” (reinterpreting the text in light of modern demands), cannot be reconciled. Some decisions have been grounded in one school of thought, and some in the other. Whichever your philosophy, many of the results — by definition — must be wrong.

Seidman is an idiot.  Paine explained what a Constitution is.  There is no “living constitution”.  It says what it says.  If you want to change it, you amend it.  If not, government is limited by what it says.  There are no powers that can be divined from the Constitution that aren’t enumerated.  The Constitution is what it is.

The problem stems from those who want expansion of government, and in their relentless desire for more and more and more control, they seek to, as Seidman says “give up on the Constitution”.  The thing is, the Constitution is what limits government.  It maintains a rule of law.  Without it, we have the rule of men, of tyrants, of mobs and dictators.

And that leads, as usual, to the oppression of the individual, the minority in number, the minority without government power, ultimately the oppression of both the few and the many, which is why we have a Constitution to begin with.

I was almost done, but Seidman the Idiot had this gem that jumped out:

This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.

Seidman comes across not only as a useful idiot for totalitarians, but as incredibly, woefully, dangerously naiive.  If the charter which orders, establishes and defines government is meaningless, then the laws are meaningless.  Saying that “we should follow those requirements out of respect” really goes to show what a profound fool he is, assuming that truly powerful men unburdened by rules have respect for those they dominate, the peons they could crush like insects.

putin crushing your head

Seidman then goes on to couch his statements by saying things he wants and doesn’t want – like the tyrant he begs for but then thinks he can say no to.  None of those benevolent things he wishes for happen in a situation in which the government does what it wants, and then he goes on with this:

What would change is not the existence of these institutions, but the basis on which they claim legitimacy. The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief. Congress might well retain the power of the purse, but this power would have to be defended on contemporary policy grounds, not abstruse constitutional doctrine. The Supreme Court could stop pretending that its decisions protecting same-sex intimacy or limiting affirmative action were rooted in constitutional text.

If there is no Constitution, there IS NO LEGITIMACY.  Then there is no “We The People”, there simply is the government – there is simply force.  “Might well retain” is pretty slim.  Plenty of parliaments get dissolved by executive order, and plenty of strongmen rule nations with weak or no constitutions.  SCOTUS right now making decisions that are “living constitution” decisions with no input from the Constitution are very simple to solve – stop making them.  The 10th Amendment is there for a reason.  Prior SCOTUS decisions like Wickard v Filburn are the reason for many of our current problems, as progressives who wanted to expand government simply did so by abusing the Constitutional system and fabricating laws through that “living constitution” chicanery.  Ignoring the Constitution in one manner and then saying because you ignored it, it should be trashed, is the height of self-destructive, self-fulfilling stupidity.  It’s like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer and then blaming your head for hurting… so you choose to hit it harder until your head is gone.

I could fisk Seidman’s entire piece, but each element of it falls apart in its own sanctimonius hubris.

Mark Steyn took a look at this last week:

CNN’s John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers:

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”

To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of the Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about “the Obama administration’s dictate that religious employers provide health-care plans that cover contraceptives.” Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen’s response for the Age of Obama:

“I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans.”

I believe the plebes should submit to the will of the State.  They should know their place.  Submit to the will of the State.  I am unwise, cannot make my own decisions, and submit to the wisdom of the State.  You should do the same.

Steyn continues:

Commissar Sebelius says that she is trying to “strike the appropriate balance.” But these two things — a core, bedrock, constitutional principle, and Section 47(e)viii of Micro-Regulation Four Bazillion and One issued by Leviathan’s Bureau of Compliance — are not equal, and you can only “balance” them by massively increasing state power and massively diminishing the citizen’s. Or, to put it more benignly, by “leaving it up to the government to make good decisions.”

Some of us have been here before. For most of the last five years, I’ve been battling Canada’s so-called “human rights” commissions, and similar thought police in Britain, Europe, and elsewhere. As I write this, I’m in Australia, to talk up the cause of free speech, which is, alas, endangered even in that great land. In that sense, the “latest hot topic” — the clash between Obama and American Catholics — is, in fact, a perfect distillation of the broader struggle in the West today. When it comes to human rights, I go back to 1215 and Magna Carta — or, to give it its full name, Magna Carta Libertatum. My italics: I don’t think they had them back in 1215. But they understood that “libertatum” is the word that matters. Back then, “human rights” were rights of humans, of individuals — and restraints upon the king: They’re the rights that matter: limitations upon kingly power. Eight centuries later, we have entirely inverted the principle: “Rights” are now gifts that a benign king graciously showers upon his subjects — the right to “free” health care, to affordable housing, the “right of access to a free placement service” (to quote the European Constitution’s “rights” for workers). The Democratic National Committee understands the new school of rights very well: In its recent video, Obama’s bureaucratic edict is upgraded into the “right to contraception coverage at no additional cost.” And, up against a “human right” as basic as that, how can such peripheral rights as freedom of conscience possibly compete?

The transformation of “human rights” from restraints upon state power into a pretext for state power is nicely encapsulated in the language of Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which states that everyone has the right “to receive free compulsory education.” Got that? You have the human right to be forced to do something by the government.

This goes against the rights that have been enshrined in Western democractic republics since day one.  Rights come from God, or from nature, or Nature’s Law.  What we give to the state, we do so as part of the social contract.  Handouts from the state are now called “rights”.  Newspeak.

Commissar Lynch puts it this way: “The modern conception of rights is that of a matrix with different rights and freedoms mutually reinforcing each other to build a strong and durable human rights system.”

That would be a matrix as in some sort of intricate biological sequencing very few people can understand? Or a Matrix as in the illusory world created to maintain a supine citizenry by all-controlling government officials? The point is, with so many pseudo-“rights” bouncing around, you need a bigger and bigger state: Individual rights are less important than a “rights system” — i.e., a government bureaucracy.

You have the “right” to do as the state tells you.  Wait, that’s not a right, that’s an obligation… but it’s an obligation not taken freely… so that’s a dictate.

From a bureau or a cigar-chomping mustachioed guy with aviator sunglasses and portraits of himself everywhere, it’s the same thing.  The faceless bureaucracy doesn’t have an object of scorn and ridicule by the resistance, though.

Steyn concludes:

I used to think that the U.S. Constitution would prove more resilient than the less absolutist liberties of other Western nations. But the president has calculated that, with Obamacare, the First Amendment and much else will crumble before his will. And, given trends in U.S. jurisprudence, who’s to say he won’t get his way? That’s the point about all this “free” stuff: Ultimately, it’s not about your rights, but about his.

He’s correct.  The thing is, the Constitution is more resilient.  Adherence to the Constitution is the problem.  People who abandon the Constitution in favor of their own brand of handouts, people who scorn the Constitition as a “charter of negative liberties” who want government to do things “for you” are the reason the government is straying from the Constitution.  Thomas Paine elaborated on what the Constitution is here.  The Constitution is the charter by which government operates.  It is the social contract.  It’s only dictators who reject it that make it not so, whether they be self-styled benevolent dictators who will do things “for you” as CS Lewis’s busybodies would, or whether they would simply be honest dictators say they’re doing things to you – which they are.

Sayeth Locke:

The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves. … whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence. Whensoever therefore the Legislative shall transgress this fundamental Rule of Society, and either by Ambition, Fear, Folly or Corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other an Absolute Power over the Lives, Liberties, and Estates of the People; By this breach of Trust they forfeit the Power the People had put into their hands, for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty.

Short version –  you can’t tell your neighbor to buy your health care.  You can’t tell your neighbor to buy health care for himself, either.  You do that, you’re breaking natural law.

Or the American version:

… to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Constitution itself is incredibly resilient.  It may outlive the nation, much like the Magna Carta did before it – though I sincerely hope that both the Constitution and the United States persevere.

I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans.

Danica, if you love health care more than liberty, the tranquility of HHS better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your asinine comments. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you (probably at your next photo shoot). May your chains rest lightly upon you (again, at the next photo shoot) and may posterity forget that you did anything other than look pretty.

Thomas Paine on the Constitution

Posted: October 24, 2011 by ShortTimer in Founders, United States Constitution
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From The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

I used this to make a point back in an earlier post, but it bears going back to.  I initially heard this quote by Paine when SiriusXM talk show host Andrew Wilkow used it to obliterate a progressive/leftist/statist who argued that because things are done, they should be.  When confronted with the Paine quote, the caller imploded, saying he’d never heard it before – neither the quote nor much more importantly the idea – that legitimate government is there only at the consent of the citizens.

I had a discussion with a coworker a while back about the fedgov sending personnel into the flooding areas of the Missouri river to do “security” and prevent citizens from returning to their homes, because the fedgov has to “manage” a disaster – much like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  I took issue with the idea of sending federal officers from one side of the nation to prevent citizens on another side of the nation to returning to their own property.

I understand liability concerns, but not too long ago, people were simply held liable for their mistakes.  I cited the recent example of the homeowner who neglected to pay a purely voluntary bill to support a small fire department that otherwise couldn’t extend its services.  He was held liable for his mistake.  Government did not seek to control his life, for good or bad – personal responsibility was key.

For example, when I lived in Wyoming, during winter, highways would sometimes be marked with “drive at your own risk”, indicating that no one would be coming to help you if you got stranded.  This was back in the days before cellphones… which is still the case in parts of rural America anyway.  But if you didn’t get stranded, it wasn’t an issue.  And you tried not to get stranded, because you were the one responsible for your own mistake.

Today there are highways that are simply closed off in winter, regardless of road conditions.  A stretch that’s 100 miles long may be snowed out for the last 30, but the first 10 miles you need to go to get to your house are now locked down and you face sanction by the state if you drive past the barricades to your own property.

In the case of the recent flooding, federal officers from one side of the nation are being sent to tell people in South Dakota they can’t go to their own homes.  When pressed, my coworker said “we need regulation” and acknowledged that forcing people from their homes or restricting themselves from their homes and imperiled loved ones for the purpose of fedgov taking a headcount and “managing” disaster was… as he said “against the constitution”.  But he gave an impassioned defense of how things are done – ignoring that they often should not be done.

The precise reason is exactly what Paine outlines above.  The Constitution is the law of the land.  It is what we, The People, constrain our government to – but now the government is not governed by the Constitution, it simply does what it does in the name of “regulation”.

The government exists at the behest of the people, and is itself constrained by the constitution.

Again:

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

From Chapter 11: The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that hte people should come to regard them as their own ends.  Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

Choice architectureNudge.  A velvet glove on the iron fist.

Hayek elaborates on pg 174:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.  The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen.  And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.  Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regime are expressed.

The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word “liberty.”  It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere.  Indeed, it could almost be said – and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old – that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people.  Even among us we have “planners for freedom” who promise us a “collective freedom for the group,” the nature of which may be gathered from the fact that its advocate finds it necessary to assure us that “naturally the advent of all planned freedom does not mean that all [sic] earlier forms of freedom must be abolished.”  Dr. Karl Mannheim, from whose work these sentences are taken, at least warns us that “a conception of freedom modelled on the preceding age is an obstacle to any real understanding of the problem.”  But his use of the word “freedom” is as misleading as it is in the mouth of totalitarian politicians.  Like their freedom, the “collective freedom” he offers us is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society what he pleases.  It is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.

A simple example is universal single-payer health care.  It’s to provide freedom from the evil insurance companies.  It provides “freedoms” as quoted here in remarks by a speaker at a press conference by Nancy Pelosi:

The new law has not only given me the freedom to stay covered, but has also freed me and my family from the fear that an insurer could drop me at any moment or limit me to go without treatment.

The “freedom to stay covered” is at the expense of someone else – at the expense of the individuals who make up an insurance company, or at the expense of the individual taxpayer.  Their freedom is traded for this patient’s priviledge.  Being “free” from “fear” that he could be dropped means that the insurer, or taxpayer, is now enslaved to his treatment.  He is now a guaranteed recipient of the labor of individuals, whether those individuals who also purchase insurance from a company, and now face increased premiums because of this government-protected claimant, or he is dependant on the taxpayer to cover his bill.  Ultimately, he is “free” only insomuch as he takes from someone else.

He is not free to choose a less expensive company, or free to go to a non-profit charity that would look out for his special case and would desire to help him – he is “free” by shackling others to his needs.  That is not freedom – that is parasitism enforced by the state.  Person A now must pay for Person B’s medical needs because Person B is “free” from the costs.

Hayek continues on pg 175:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers and, not least, by many of the theoreticians of socialism.  But “freedom” or “liberty” are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda.  We have already seen how the same happens to “justice” and “law,” “right” and “equality.”  The list could be extended until it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

This is a major, major point.  This is why “liberals” today are intolerant, closed-minded people.  Virtually every aspect of who they are is the exact opposite of what they are.  They fight for “social justice” which is just redistribution, they fight for “human rights” that include health care, and even food – which cannot be rights – as they come at the expense of others.  They call themselves progressives, but they don’t progress towards greater liberty for the individual, they progress towards greater power for what the state “must do on your behalf“.  This is regressive, towards the totalitarianism of dictatorships and kings, not towards the greater well-being of the individual.  Liberal in Hayek’s day meant closer to what libertarian or even conservative means today.  Not what libertarian or conservative is demonized as by the political left/progressives, but what they actually are.

It is for this reason that conservative author/radio host Mark Levin refers almost exclusively to the left as statists, as their main function is to expand government to their own ends.  Also note that there are right-wing, or socially traditionalist/conservative statists, who are often simply a different brand of moralist from the leftist statist.  The leftist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking for your health and because it’s good for you, the rightist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking because it’s “fiend intemperance”.  The leftist statist will force you to drive a hybrid car because of his Gaia-worship, the rightist statist will force businesses to close on Sunday to keep the Sabbath holy.

A major difference is that a rightward traditionalist in America, a mindset which often goes hand in hand with the moralist, can still be reminded that a reason the country was founded, and indeed the 1st Amendment was written, was to escape state-mandated religion.  The leftist, by contrast, believes that history started last week, and will reject the past as outmoded and obsolete in their own quest for power and The Greater Good.  As Thomas Sowell writes in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

Returning to Hayek, pg 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates.  It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible.  And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed conciously or unconciously to direct the people.  Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

To sidetrack a while from the explicitly political, using a pop culture reference as an example, you can see how freedom has changed.  Most of the readers of this blog will know who this is.  On the off chance we have some very young readers or very old readers, this is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots – the good guy Transformers.

His motto: “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

Now consider this online discussion amongst a group of Transformers fans.  Here are a few lines from the discussion, starting off with forum member “Octavius Prime” (hereafter OP) citing a movie review that had this line:

(Movie Review): And when Optimus Prime, the chief good Transformer, declares that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” we know we’re in a Bush-era universe.

(OP): if the reviewers had done maybe 10 minutes of online research (say, on the Teletraan-1 wikia), they’d know that Prime has been spouting his line since before Bush’s dad was president. Moreover, what is so bad about freedom being a basic right? Isn’t that in the hugging Declaration of Independence? What is so quintessentially “Bush” about it?

(SD): Pretty much a case of people shooting words off before doing proper research, and an annoyingly over-liberal mindset. I mean, I don’t care for Bush, to put it lightly, but I also don’t wedge my political views into whatever I type/write.

(S): I can see how that line might be used by the likes of Bush to justify a war like Iraq (the lie that the war is all about human freedom rather than oil).

(PTP): Technically we were in a Regan-era universe when it was written, which isn’t all that much better…

(OP): Maybe, but I still don’t see how the motto that encapsulates democracy would be reduced to represent someone’s biased view of the Bush administration.

(D): I’d be hard pressed to vote for a president who didn’t believe in the basic right of freedom.  I mean there’s liberal, and then there’s blindedly liberal. Gah.

(TNG): I don’t really get why anyone would think that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is a particularly conservative viewpoint. Definitions of exactly what freedom means may differ within the political spectrum but I don’t think you’d find many democrats arguing against freedom as a basic human right.

Liberals=progressives=statists, specifically here, anti-Bush statists, who are competing for the same space as state controllers.  Thus Freedom=Bush talking point.  Freedom=bad, to liberals, who are really progressives, who are really leftist-statists.  Also thus the word liberal, which is supposed to mean accepting of others, is now explicitly anti-freedom (even just in this discussion).  Liberal has gone so far as to also include Reagan and all non-leftist statists, thus even the original quote by Optimus Prime waaay back in about 1984 is rejected as being related to Reagan, Republicans, and therefore to a Liberal is a Bad Thing.

According to the leftist-statist, when Bush says freedom, it means ruthless oppression, even if it is freeing a nation from an actual ruthless oppressor.  Don’t bother them with the facts.  Criticism of a poor operational plan and shoddy intelligence (that leftist-statists agreed on) turned into a rejection of freedom in its entirety.  Leftist rejection of Bush-era domestic policies (that pretty much only targeted terrorists, but that should definitely be questioned in Constitutional interests) including the Patriot Act turned into Bush hates freedom.  This year when the Patriot Act was renewed by Barack Obama, without any of the reforms that were complained about during the Bush-era… well, Obama is still a good-guy to the leftist-statist, because he’s their guy there for The Greater Good.

Liberal is anti-freedom, freedom is oppression, progressive is statist.

Even the notions of left and right are reversed.  In France in 1789, at the French Assembly, the rebels who resisted the state sat on the left, while the supporters of the state sat on the right.  Except the French state was a monarchical state that didn’t represent the people, and had subjects, not citizens.  A rebel to the French state would be resisting tyranny.

The United States, by contrast, were formed by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The government was explicity designed to respond to the citizenry, and to be accountable to the citizenry.  The Constitution itself was a charter document designed to constrain any government to the initial agreement that the citizens had made when they settled on a government.  Consider first that the Declaration of Independence was a rejection of tyranny that called for the people to institute a government from the people, then consider that a government, instituted by the citizenry who choose their government, is how the democratic republic set up by the Constitution was designed.

Thomas Paine explains in concrete terms what a Constitution is:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

The Constitution is static.  It is what the government is based on, and the laws that the government, in order to remain legitimate and existing upon the consent of the people, must adhere to.  Being on the left in the US and rejecting the established Constitutional order is rejecting a truly classically radical liberal document that enshines the rights and liberties of all citizens.  Being on the left is pushing for statism.  Being a conservative who wishes to conserve Constitutional principles is being a classical liberal, a radical libertarian – one who is opposed to the idea of a controlling state.

Religious liberalism and conservatism became injected into political liberalism and conservatism, as well as social liberalism and conservatism – but there is a wide gulf between what one preaches in one’s private or even public life, and what one inflicts through force of government.  Conservative has come to mean statist-religious, liberal to mean statist-humanist/statist-Gaia-or-Science-worshipper.

In this, the leftist-progressive-statist has changed the entire discussion by changing the meaning of words.  For another example: the religious-statist who would use force of government rather than persuasion has changed the word conservative to also mean moralist authoritarian – a term the leftist-statist is very much willing to embrace, as it drives people into their camp – to accept the “freedom from religion” that then turns into trying to destroy the religions of others – which is explicitly illiberal.  Another example: fascism was a brand of statist totalitarianism wherein the economic means of production were controlled by the state, but not always wholly owned.  Communists attacked fascists, with whom they were competing for the same leftist anti-capitalist statist-totalitarian space on the political spectrum, and accused fascists of being capitalist.  Fascism, descended from national socialism as opposed to communist international socialism, suddenly became its opposite, when the two are nary a hair’s breadth apart.  Yet the modern leftist-statist who favors socialism as an economic means to his Greater Good, will accuse someone who opposes them of being a national socialist.

Paine set up concretely what a Constitution is.  Those who support it, must support it for what it is.  It is a compact between we the citizen and those citizens we choose to serve us.  Words do mean something.  Our Constitution was established as a document that can change through the amendment process, but it is not to be manipulated until freedom means slavery.  But that is precisely what the leftist-statist has embraced (as well as the rightist-statist to a lesser degree).  George Orwell summed much of this up with his coining of the term “Newspeak” in his book “1984” several years after The Road to Serfdom had been published.  As Orwell says in “1984”:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Sadly, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, basically a theory of benevolent socialism, but that can be the subject for another tl;dr post.

Lest I forget, the other Hayek:

Eventually I’ll just end up with pictures of chicks from Vienna to represent the Austrian School.