Independence Day: Independence From What?

Reasonable people want and seek freedom from tyranny, coercion and slavery. They also seek freedom from the petty tyranny of a nanny state government.

Unhealthy, unreasonable people say they seek freedom, as well. But they seek freedom from something different. They seek freedom from

what they see as the tyranny of reality, the burden of making a living, and the imposition of having to use their minds to figure out how to best survive and flourish in life.

Reasonable people don’t mind self-responsibility. It’s not a burden, to them, but a necessity. Life without it is unthinkable. Fighting for one’s freedom is a no-brainer. To evade such a fight is not an option, to a freedom-loving person who wants to be free to think, create, produce and make his own way in life.

It’s fashionable to make fun of the idea of not wanting to accept charity. Charity is not only a good thing, but an entitlement, according to the current mentality. The welfare state concept has extended beyond mere emergencies to entitlement for the finest comforts that money (someone else’s money, that is) can buy. Look at the government employee labor unions who shriek bloody murder if you lower their benefits by a percentage point to balance the state’s budget. This is what large numbers of people define as ‘freedom’ in twenty-first century America.

Freedom used to mean actualization of the quest to live, think, survive and flourish. Independence Day was a celebration marking the beginning of freedom in the United States, but it was also a cause for celebrating the freedom to be on one’s own.

Today, the struggle is very different. Huge majorities of Americans, in poll after poll, support a Balanced Budget Amendment — so long as it doesn’t involve tax increases, nor any cuts in spending. Washington DC is in a state of perpetual gridlock where the politicians look like fools. But completely different politicians could be elected to replace these fools; two or three election cycles and the current bums would all be gone. It will never happen, because people are afraid to lose the government entitlements they currently enjoy; but they’re unwilling to spend a penny more for them, despite the existence of a multi-trillion dollar debt which proves the government cannot afford to do most of what it does now.

We still celebrate Independence Day in the United States, but it’s not exactly clear what most people think of as independence. Most don’t know or care about the history of the War for Independence against Great Britain. Besides, the injustices of Great Britain against the American colonists pale compared to much of what our own federal government does to its people today.

Freedom and independence are not burdens. They are man’s natural state, the state which lifts man, through the exercise of his rationality and objective reasoning, to the greatest heights possible. The best periods of human history so far have not been utopias — in which an effortless Heaven on earth is established to enable people not to think and work; such utopias are impossible and attempts to achieve them result in stagnation, bloodshed or despair. The best periods of human history have been the periods of cultural and entrepreneurial Renaissance, productive and inventive periods in which the human mind is left free to do everything it can to make life on earth better all the time. The mediocre periods (such as our present one) ride on the achievements of those better days, and our future depends on a new era of that kind.

The political situation today is bad. Most people know this much, although most don’t understand why. Most still want to believe in a utopia that snake oil politicians are only too happy to sell, just for another two or four years in office (“Please, please reelect me — this is all I’ve got!”)

Freedom does not reside in the sky, and it’s not just around the corner. It’s always real, and possible, here and now — today. But to benefit from the great and wondrous things that freedom always unleashes, you first have to want it.