America’s Decline Is Not Inevitable, But It Is Real (Part 1 of 2)

A reader of The Daily Dose of Reason submitted the following thought-provoking comments:

‘Another thing to consider is that humans will not reject big government anytime soon because of their desire to be scammed. Humans love the idea of ‘smoke and mirrors’; need proof? Ever heard of religion?

Religion banks on majorities of humans with poor esteem who want someone else to be their savior, rather than having them look to themselves for success. You can’t expect a scam like big government to go the way of the Dodo if religion is still successfully intact after all these thousands of years. The simple reality is that, unfortunately, humans just aren’t ready for better yet. And no…the fact that we have unsustainable debt matters little.

Humans do not understand Capitalism and individual freedom well enough yet for any of these great reforms to take place, and on the necessary scale to really improve things. You can tell yourself that humans generally want freedom until you’re blue in the face; history in general is regrettably against you on this one.

But as I’ve mentioned to you before…I do believe that one day humanity will achieve that greatness. The time just hasn’t come yet…no matter how necessary it may seem.’

Actually, the quest for the supernatural and the desire for Big Government both spring from the same source: A desire to be taken care of and controlled by others. Supernaturalism is one unhealthy manifestation of this desire; and Big Government is another. The supernaturalist yearns to be cared for by ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ or ‘Allah.’ The socialist yearns to be cared for by Barack, by Mr. Roosevelt or by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While it’s true that supernaturalism and Big Government/socialism are based on similar errors, it doesn’t follow that people who want one necessarily desire the other. On the contrary, in today’s culture the two are almost mutually exclusive. Advocates of Big Government are usually educated elites, secular agnostics or atheists who love living in the material world. Karl Marx, the godfather of Communism, is one of the most famous atheists of history.

Opponents of Big Government are more often fundamentalist religionists. Their opposition to Big Government rests not on reason so much as the idea that ‘God is more important than government.’ Ronald Reagan opposed Big Government, but he also gave rise to the religious right in the United States. George W. Bush claimed to oppose Big Government (he actually didn’t), but he was also a fundamentalist Christian. Rush Limbaugh opposes Big Government, but he insists that rights come from God, not government — when in fact they come from neither. They come from man’s nature as a conceptual, thinking being who must be left free to survive.

At the root, proponents and opponents of Big Government denigrate the individual. The conservatives say, ‘Individualism matters, but it’s still secondary to God.’ Liberals say, ‘The individual doesn’t matter at all, unless it’s a powerful figure in society or government.’ What is the neurotic appeal of both these views to millions of people? Fear of individuality, of course.

Individuality means freedom, and everyone seems to want freedom. But throughout human history, freedom has been the exception, not the norm. The nation of freedom and individual rights that was established in 1776 has steadily drifted away from freedom since that time.

The reason for this dangerous move away from freedom is simply that people fear self-responsibility. Sure, they want to be free. But they don’t want to be self-responsible — at least not ‘too much’ so. Of course, this isn’t true of everybody but it is true of many. This is why freedom has been the exception and not the norm throughout all of human history. People don’t necessarily want to be ruled, and they’d rather not be brutalized. But they also don’t want to rule themselves or run their own lives, either. The most popular slogan a politician can proclaim is, ‘Help is on the way.’

Concluded in tomorrow’s column.