I was putting my mind in the way of freedom and what it meant in the 1600's when Europeans (non-Spanish, who were already here) got in their ships and risked their lives to start again. Some of them were religious fanatics who were so narrow and restrictive that they'd been driven out of Holland or England. Some were convicts about to be hung at Newgate Prison in London and given the chance to save their necks in the colonies. Yes, the US was settled with convict labor, too. Others were merchants, farmers, traders, misfits, and indentured servants looking for a new life. And there were the aristocrats.
In the mid to late 1700's the colonies resisted the crown's rule and declared independence. Raising tobacco and cotton for England using slave labor had made the aristocrats of the new country wealthy. There was a desire to explore and take possession of the land. So the idea of freedom, the idea of independence and individuation fit well with the needs of the landed aristocracy to expand and exploit the new lands. Initially, those who crafted the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights intended those rights to apply to the landed gentry alone.
Later, the concept of Manifest Destiny encouraged those who were able to spread out and take the land. The idea that whatever you saw was yours, that the encouragement of the government was with you, and that the US Army would push out to the edge of the continent drove men to the West. At first the West was the Mississippi, and then beyond to the Pacific.
So what is my point? That our nation is different than any of the others, because it needed that concept of freedom and individualism in order to settle this enormous continent. That served this nation for 100 years. Until the mid to late 1800's, when California became a state, and the transcontinental railroad was completed, this was imperative in the larger picture of expanding the settled US land area. This is cynical, perhaps, but nation-makers such as the philosopher-soldiers who designed the American system needed a ready militia, a nation that could govern itself with free speech and assembly, and a willing populace that would expand their territory and utilize the resources of this rich continent.
Freedom made sense. Fiscal sense. And it was an experiment in political philosophy that allowed men of privilege to grow interdependent markets while permitting intellectual discourse to shape a new political model.
Yep. It made sense. So maybe it doesn't make sense anymore to those who are now controlling our government. All lands have been 'discovered,' and there's enough freedom left to come up with a new idea for the market. But the Agenda 21 message now is that there are too many of us, we use too many resources, even our exhalations are a danger to the earth. Carbon offsets must be purchased (and traded in new exchanges) in order to make amends for breathing. We're accused of being 'addicted' to oil and pressured to renounce our independent mode of travel. We're told our homes are too big, our footprint too big, we use too many light bulbs, and eat too much. We watch television programs that are almost exclusively modeled on 'winners and losers' to accustom us to judging and harden us to those who lose. We ourselves lose. We lose our jobs, our homes, our social structure, our culture, our identity. We're physically unproductive and have to exercise to use our bodies. We're disconnected from our food source and are totally dependent. We are intellectually lazy, under-educated, or overly narrow in our educations. We're deeply in debt, told that we need to spend $100,000 for a degree (and even get multiple degrees to 'stay relevant'), that we need to get in line, stay in step or we won't pay those loans off. We are compromised. With unemployment at its highest in 25 years we want to be winners, not losers, and will go along to get along.
Martina Navratilova, the tennis star, is from the Czech Republic. Recently she spoke about living under communism as a child. She said, 'if you weren't a party member you got nothing. You couldn't get food, schooling, housing or jobs. Unless you went along with the majority you were on the outside.' Globalism. Nationalism. With a global market mentality there is no sense of loyalty or obligation to a particular country. Wherever the profits are is where the money goes. With nationalism, old-style, even robber barons like Carnegie and Mellon endowed libraries and universities. There was a sense of noblesse oblige that is absent now. It's just not expeditious.
So what is the state of freedom now? Here, in America? Could Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman play their wildly rebellious and nervy jokes on Wall Street today? When I was in Washington DC a few years ago I walked the halls of Congress and cried. Really. Because carved into the walls, high up above the lintels, are statements made by our founding fathers. And I thought, if they made those statements today they'd be in jail.