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How to fight for freedom in 2014

According to James Poulos:

So today it may be said that no popular movement has successfully, substantially reduced the size and scope of government power in America. There have been blips. Speed limits went up! We ended welfare as we know it! And today more Americans than ever adopt servile assumptions toward their relationship with government, and the institutions necessary to serve such a people weave inextricably into the fabric of everyday life. …

Unless something big changes, we will continue to scramble. Confronted with the rule of fear in our private and public lives, our pop psychology gave up on Freud’s quest to allay our terrors in favor of the quicker fix—gratifying our impulses. Today, as a society no less than as individuals, we are locked into the pattern of chasing what our fears tell us to chase, and fleeing what our fears tell us to flee.

This, not any one secret bureaucracy or dysfunctional branch of government, is the root of all threats to liberty. This is the source of lives lived out in radical unfreedom. In 2014, the central battleground in the fight for freedom will be right where John Lennon identified it almost fifty years ago. You tell me it’s the institution? You better free your mind instead.

Policymakers may hack away at the regulatory state. Leakers and whistleblowers may lay its abuses bare. But only artists can now turn the public imagination toward the possibility that our dreams of true freedom can become real.


  1. Pat
    Pat December 30, 2013 5:49 am

    Chaplin, Lennon, and other artists cannot tell us how to fight the good fight because they are unrealistic — they may state the problem and incite the crowds, but too often their “solution” is simplistic and wrapped in blinders, and their methods for arriving at the solution become more entertainment for their fans than an answer to the problem.

    It will be interesting to see how the new Pussy Riot (under another name) plans to fight back. I think having gone through the anguish of victimhood they will be more realistic re: what it takes to fight tyranny on its own ground. In the end they may be truly political — no longer “artists”, but activists.

    History repeats itself because we never recognize ancient problems in their modern dress. Humans too often try to solve a problem from where the problem stands at that moment, and never return to Square One where the problem began and where the answer should be found. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, but we do need to re-invent the thought process that raises, and solves, problems.

    E.g. tyranny has been around since one man learned how to bully others to achieve his own private goals (though bullying is not confined to humans). The intellectual-emotional pressure that can exert power over a group (and the phenomenon of group-think itself): THAT’S wherein the solution lies. In the meantime, freedom goes on — in individuals.

  2. LiberTarHeel
    LiberTarHeel December 30, 2013 6:19 am

    The article, in toto, is a mishmash of incoherent ideas — to me, at least. And the conclusion comes from out of left field, riding a unicorn. I must also mention that I don’t get much news or opinion of value from The Daily Beast. YMMV.

  3. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau December 30, 2013 5:05 pm

    “Health and safety über alles: the prayer of a people shot through with fear, and the motto of our times.”

    Nah, I don’t buy it. To the author, the people were partners in building tyranny, while to me, it looks like tyranny was built in spite of the people.

    I also think he is too defeatist.

    Finally, there is too much generalization. “The people” are just a collection of individuals, all of them different.

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