Sunday, 4 October 2009

Rant on Freedom and why the radical right are still pricks

It's an odd freedom they, and our president, the noble Bush Jong Il, say their believe in. Bush talks a good game of liberty, that it is God's gift to humanity, but you can tell that neither he, nor any of his minions, really believes it.

No, from all their actions and all their policies, they clearly believe that freedom is the gift of good government. This whole Middle East crusade is ostensibly billed as an attempt to create good government so that men and women can be free. (That sets aside the whole "beat the crap out of the Arabs so they'll get they need to bow and scrape to the Americans and the Israelis forever and ever" motive, which clearly moves some inside and around this administration, but probably doesn't make Bush Jong Il's top-ten justifications; and it sets aside the whole "let's grab the oil," which I don't believe was a significant motive for anyone but Dick Cheney, who is not – repeat NOT – a real oilman by any stretch of the imagination.) Yet it is clear that Team Bush – and the whole polluted conservative, crony capitalist establishment – acts little differently than would a salon of Fabian Socialists. Freedom is the "gift" of good government, of enlightened and rightly guided elites, and nothing more.

Put a different way, their words say freedom is freely given to men by God, but their actions betray their own belief that they are the church that holds the keys and controls access to that sacrament. They have the power to bestow it and deny it. They can bless. And excommunicate.

Given this, it's clear – they don't really believe that people are born free.

Near as I can tell, there are several very funny things about this stunted government freedom. First, it has no real definition. It is merely what "being American" is. It's an essence, and I suppose if we could bottle it, we could eventually bottle it more cheaply overseas (which I think is what we're trying to do). Now, I've grown to love this country (I didn't always), mainly because I've been abroad enough to realize it's my home. But I've also lived abroad enough to know... No, that comes later.

It's the biggest single problem Americans have always had – we espouse a universal ideal, in this case freedom and liberty, but also seem to believe that no one other than us is capable of really living up to it (because they aren't white, or Christian, or whatever). We are freedom incarnate in the same way Christ was God incarnate. Only we've come to sacrifice the world to our nobility and goodness.

(How many times have I heard nationalistic yahoos on the shortwave talk about America the "Christ-like" nation, and did they ever consider the implications of that theology?)

The second thing is that this is a freedom that is inseparable from being governed. And from government. This is the kind of nonsense you might hear at an unending Socialist Workers Party meeting or if you spent too much time fund raising and campaigning for one of these supposed non-governmental organizations. There is no personal, no being left alone, no non-political space, no place where the power of the state or ideology do not intrude.

Nice to know the Republican Party swallowed – and was swallowed by – the New Left. Did it taste good?

Why are we here, at this web site? Because, I'm guessing, most of us have an idea of freedom that didn't come from George Soros, or a Georgetown graduate seminar in political theory, or a Young Americans for Freedom rally, or rural county Lincoln Day dinner with a bunch of farmers and ranchers demanding state-mandated school prayer, war on the darkies and higher crop subsidies.

We are here, I think, because we understand that freedom comes first. Freedom is not the result of good government, it is the cause of good government. We believe – no, we know – that men and women are free by their nature, and do not need or desire government programs, support or "encouragement" (the tips of bayonets and the turrets of tanks) to be free. We know that freedom is not about political parties, about ideologies, about programs. Freedom is about choices – what does life mean, how will I live it, what will I live for, who will I love, who will I hate, what will I die for.

extract of essay by Charles Featherstone

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