If you’re going through hell, keep going. –Winston Churchill
We hardly need Arnold Schwartzenegger to tell us our freedom is screwed.
As determined as we freedomistas may be to uphold our mental and philosophical freedoms, our political freedoms and economic freedoms are gone-gone-gone. They’ve been going for decades of course. But we now live under a regime that in eight months has ruled via a combination of ever-shifting whim, diktat, incompetence, and a complete disregard for reason, principle, or constitutional law.
When you’re ruled by capricious madmen, your external freedoms are moot. Here today, gone tomorrow, partially restored for a few moments the day after that, made illegal and punishable by heaven knows what the following day.
Knowing we’re headed for some sort of revolution, I’ve surrounded myself with history books. Seeking parallels. Seeking key differences. Seeking advice from the past. Seeking useful blog fodder.
What can we learn not to do from the French? How are we like, and different from, the Americans of 1774? Must we expect the Russian revolution or might we be smart, luck out and get the kind they had more recently in Estonia or East Germany or Hungary? What can the fall of the Roman empire and its long aftermath tell us? How about the Irish, with their centuries of failure followed finally by a “success” that tears them apart to this day?
I’m telling you, though, I read and read and read and got nada.
While history does at times conveniently rhyme — or echo; we can hear the echoes of several civilizations now — our circumstances are so different they’re like discordant, meterless, meaningless nonsense verse, conveying nothing coherent.
I called up a friend with whom I often brainstorm.
“Give me some insights, preferably with a dose of optimism,” I requested.
For half an hour he ranted about … how screwed we are.
Yes, we’re like the French in 1789 or the American colonists in 1774 or the Irish in 1916. But we’re much more like Germany in 1933.
I have no hope for us; we are such a nation of cowards. We have no backbone.
Even after decades of being lied to, we’re watching Americans not only bow down to every bit of nonsense uttered by the establishment, but seeing those of us who question the nonsense demonized as vermin, to be exterminated.
It’s the kind of self-righteousness that goes along with absolute spinelessness.
Well. That was cheery.
But my ears pricked up at one bit of his rant.
“We need to have the courage of the Russians. They say, ‘We’re f*cked, but we’re going to move ahead, anyhow. We’re going to do things. It makes us feel better and we might even get something done.'”
My friend travels the world on business (or did before the current you-know-what). He’s experienced Russian and Soviet dysfunction first-hand. He knows how nearly impossible it can be to try to accomplish even simple things in a completely broken system. But you move ahead because what’s the alternative?
Oddly enough, the evening before calling my friend I had watched the last of season four of The Sopranos. Near the end the tough one-legged Russian businesswoman, Svetlana, makes a related remark to Tony: “That’s the trouble with you Americans. You expect nothing bad to ever happen, while the rest of the world expects only bad to happen. And they’re not disappointed.”
My memory had immediately edited Svetlana’s statement to, “That’s the trouble with you Americans. You expect nothing bad to ever happen — and you’re always miserable — while the rest of the world expects only bad to happen. They’re not disappointed — and they get on with life.”
Which, if she didn’t say, she certainly implied.
Now the logical thing to ask is, “Do we want to live like Russians?!”
And the answer is, “No and hell no!”
But for times like these, those are words of wisdom. We’re already stuck with the oligarchy. We’re certainly creeping up on the dysfunction, and although we’re a long way from Soviet levels of ruin, we’ve already got a broken medical system, broken justice system, broken educational system, and broken political system. We’ve already got a majority of the population dependent on government. We’ve already got cultural Marxism instead of free thought and free speech. We’ve already got a big freakin’ mess — now with the added benefit of inflation, shortages, and government by lunatics!
TINVOWOOT has been a reality for decades, even if it’s only now becoming a popular acronym. But true though it is that there’s no v*ting our way out, we’re also not going to get out of this by any other conventional or polite means. Whatever happens, and how much it does or doesn’t rhyme with the tumultuous turnings of the past, we are going to go through a whole lot of hell before anything has even a hope of getting better.
My globe-spanning friend, with a nod to Winston Churchill, also added:
“If you’re goin’ through hell, keep on goin’. Don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it. You might get out ‘for the devil even knows you’re there.”
And my favorite blogger John Wilder adds (though a harrowing personal example) that we always need to remember that our mission, however seemingly impossible, isn’t done. We must keep moving ahead, against whatever odds.
And TV Tropes adds The Xanatos Gambit — in which, even if your enemies win, even if you die, you’ve engineered events so that your enemies actually lose.