“There’s a great deal of ruin in a nation,” Adam Smith said to an anxious young man named John Sinclair, who was concerned about the British’s surrender to a rag-tag outfit of colonialists at Saratoga in 1777. Smith’s maxim is certainly being tested to the utmost by an American political class seemingly bent on national implosion.
Since the precarious period when America’s fate as a free nation was yet to be decided by a test of arms, the rugged and fiercely independent people of the New World built a country that ascended to the world’s greatest embodiment and defender of ordered liberty.
Yet a government charged to preserve the morally just system of human freedom, based on the individual rights to be secure in person and property, now threatens to be undone by a rapacious political class bent on subsuming all under an oppressive regime of coercive equalization.
Human history’s greatest champion of liberty is in dire threat of being lowered to the mediocre tier of middling dictatorships and disintegrating European welfare states. There is a great deal of ruin a nation, as Smith once said, but the political elites who have been at the helm for the last one hundred years have in the main done everything conceivable to usher in America’s demise.
The successes of the last century are attributable to the afterglow of a philosophical revolution that sought to liberate mankind from the arbitrary caprice of statist overlords. Everything from the invention of the lightbulb to the mass production of the automobile was predicated on a consumer-driven market that exalted the profit motive as emblematic of the American Dream and a way of ensuring people were getting what they desired.
If people don’t get what they want in a market, they can stop paying for it. If the government doesn’t get what it wants from the people, it can tax them, fine them, and put them in prison. This is the normal state of affairs for mankind: some form of enslavement to whip-bearing masters.
But while the country was roused to fight and defeat European and Asian aggressors in defense of freedom, the fundamentals of civil society and market economy were being undone at home. Since the Wilson administration’s Espionage and Sedition Acts, a throwback to the rebuked Alien and Sedition Acts and Lincoln’s temporary suspension of habeas corpus, followed upon by Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to establish permanent central planning via the New Deal, the United States as a beacon of liberty has been waning.
Perhaps there was no perfect “Golden Age” of American liberty, as conservatives imagine, when the government restrained itself in deference to the rights of the people. Rather, millions of Americans were able to escape the long reach of government in the Manifest Destiny period, when the government was preoccupied with fending off external adversaries and didn’t have the manpower and resources to track tax absconders down. In any event, the settlers were serving the government’s purposes of colonization; just as did the building of the railroads. This arrangement made “freedom” all that much easier to sell in Washington.
The condition of slavery and the ineluctable but painful process of emancipation tarnished this period, when a fully committed experiment in human liberty might have demonstrated more impeccably the merits and the potential successes of the project. Yet the philosophical underpinnings of the revolution, as expressed well in the Declaration, had provided the impetus and inspiration for greater equality under the law, including Women’s Suffrage.
Surely, there was one prior period when the nation was in tremendous danger of falling apart at the seams; as Lincoln had said at that moment of tremendous trial, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” But we should also point out that a house without a foundation cannot stand.
The American Empire is consolidated, and the wars against major external foes won. The great powers of the world possess nuclear weapons, making acts of aggression against one another suicidal. We are in an extremely dangerous period when the elites of the world see one another as natural allies against the people, instead of rivals for power on the world stage.
We must grapple with the fact that those of the political class of the United States see themselves as having more in common with European sophisticates and Chinese mandarins than with the shuffling masses; or at least, America’s elites aspire to the towering heights of political control and social esteem of their globalist colleagues.
Our elected representatives are being led by their unchecked egos into a world of miserable mediocrity, inescapable impoverishment, and unrevenged atrocities; in sum, a world without America. It is a willfully blind movement of shamelessly arrogant intellectuals who refuse to grasp that even their benevolent intentions cannot ensure that vast accumulations of power will not be abused by an increasingly unaccountable stable of central planners.
And their drive also reflects a hopelessly naive outlook that cannot fathom how a world of socialist despots, Islamist potentates, and petty tyrants would want to see America brought low for less than honorable reasons. In these warped individuals’ minds, it is America, the indisputable emancipator of tens of millions from state terror and ritual genocide, which is the aggressor and the one that should be humbled. And without a doubt, there are men scrambling for power over this country whose intentions can be considered anything but benign.
But our supposed betters should ask themselves a few questions before laying low the most magnificent empire in world history:
Where will all the socialist regimes of the world be without the despised capitalist economy of America to consume their goods? Where will the hopelessly oppressed peoples of the world turn to without a country that not only cares about them but will come to their aid and rescue? Where will the money come from to pay for the exorbitant generosity of politicians who bribe voters with the money of their children?
A world without America is a lonely place without a champion of liberty. But the good news is that the nation is ultimately a reflection of who we are as people. If we seek to restore this country to greatness, we must personally embody the ideals of our Founding and promote them in the culture despite all adversity.
In essence, we are the torchbearers for our Founders’ legacy. We must enter the philosophical cave of darkness to cast light upon mankind’s future travails if our nation should fail freedom. The struggle that many American “conservatives” refused to take seriously and thus forsook for decades, which is taking the fight to our political opponents on the basis of moral principles, must be taken up in earnest if there is to be any hope of winning the long ideological war to restore the noble America of our longing.