OPINION – What is more destructive than being bitterly and publicly persecuted? The answer is: blarney. That is to say, be cajoled into ruin by the words of prominent men.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but the principle applies at both the societal and personal levels.
Two thousand years ago, Emperor Augustus conned the citizens of ancient Rome with flattering words. As historian Edward Gibbon said:
Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.
In America, any suggestion that we might be following a similar path to slavery and tyranny tends raise our hackles. So many Americans have forgotten our own history that we simply can’t comprehend that our freedoms have dwindled.
Our government assures us that we live under the Constitution even as it claims that it alone has the power to explain what the document actually means. If this were true, then why did the Founding Fathers provide us with a written Constitution to limit government power in the first place?
A local educator named Dave Seely recently shared a timely bit of advice; he said:
If we were to try to list the things that the government is not allowed to do, that list would be nearly infinite so the Founding Fathers made a short list of powers delegated to the legislature in the federal government, the things they are allowed to do. This list is Article 1, Section 8, clauses 1-18.
Under our original system of federalism, most powers were retained by the states and localities. But since members of our national government have discarded the separation of powers, they have allowed unelected judges and bureaucrats to assume unlimited powers that are not rightfully theirs.
When these unaccountable figures tell us that this is not tyranny, why do so many believe them?
We’ve been conditioned to associate tyranny with goose-stepping soldiers, fiery political speeches, and book burning. It’s a little less obvious when it takes the form of domestic surveillance, armed bureaucracies, and expanded power over every aspect of our lives — in the name of security.
The telltale symptom of any tyranny is the centralizing of power in fewer and fewer hands. But sometimes it comes to us with hat in hand and crocodile tears in its eyes.
For example, politicians who seek to control gun ownership, track our every purchase, or advocate intrusion on our physical privacy before we board a flight will flatter us with the assurance that it’s being done out of concern for our “safety.”
It’s absolutely astonishing how many people will fall for this deception and submit to the denial of their natural rights without question.
Many Americans, who still believe they are free, view defying the state or refusing to cooperate with its dictates as too difficult. Disobedience to unreasonable demands may be the right thing to do, but it is an intensely lonely place in a society that values acceptance above right and wrong.
So why does it appear that so few people are willing to take a stand?
Tyranny isn’t always synonymous with death camps and other state-sponsored atrocities. Its softer forms can include the quiet steps that lead toward total despotism. Joseph Sobran said:
The centralization of power, the evisceration of the Constitution, the issuing of funny money, and the expansion of the welfare state are some of the insidious steps by which we have moved from freedom to tyranny without realizing it.
The modern welfare state flatters the people with benefits to win their loyalty. It also uses heavy taxation and regulation to increase control of the productive members of society.
Any government that uses the law as an instrument of legal plunder to take from some and redistribute to others is engaging in a form of tyranny.
By controlling and debasing the value of a nation’s paper currency, government may borrow unlimited amounts to finance its growth at home and adventures abroad. Honest money, meaning currency that is backed by something of tangible value, does not allow this type of mischief.
These tactics have proven highly effective in growing the government’s power over the people. But the key to their widespread acceptance among the public has been the blarney, or another word might be flattery, of prominent men.
Our truest friends — those who tell us what is actually happening to our freedoms rather than what we want to hear — we refer to as “unelectable.”
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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