Giving Up Our Freedom in the Name of National Security: Should We?
Ron Paul and My Esoteric
WE FINALLY AGREE ON SOMETHING! Really agree. He spent his first 10 minutes of last nights debate singing music to my ears when they got to the question of Freedom vs the Patriot Act at the 2012 Republican Presidential National Security Debate. I have been wanting to write about this area ever since listening to a series of lectures on the idea of Liberty and Freedom and what that truly means. Such discussions will probably be in my Principle and Pragmatism series as it is quite a wide-ranging and fascinating subject.
The question at hand was should Americans give up some of their individual freedoms via the Patriot Act and other laws in order to gain protection from the threat of terrorism in today's interconnected world. Newt Gingrich and most others gave a resounding YES and Ron Paul gave an even more resounding NO!. Gringrich shot back with we have always given up our freedoms when fighting wars and gave examples of the Civil War, WW II and others.
Paul then noted, what war are we fighting? The last he looked, Congress had not declared war on any person or nation, the President is pulling out of our two main engagements; terrorism isn't a physical thing you can "declare war" on, it is a tactic used in war and you want me to give up my freedom for a tactic? No, I don't think so. Paul implied in his remarks that giving up ones freedoms ultimately lead to despotism, it always has, it always will. He is right, to a point!
History supports him in many different instances which I will discuss in future hubs, it really is fascinating. But, I will leave you with this. I hadn't really thought closely about the idea of freedom, I just sort of took it for granted and assumed freedom was the same all over and all human beings want it; boy was I naïve ! I wasn't even close.
What Is Freedom?
JUST FOR STARTERS AND DISCUSSIONS IN THE COMMENTS, freedom, or liberty, comes in three forms; individual freedom, political freedom, and national freedom. History is full of examples where none, one, two, or all three existed in one society at the same time. In fact, in today's world, North America, Britain, and Europe are almost unique in all of history where all three freedoms exist to one degree or another at the same time in each nation; historically speaking, that is a very rare state of affairs.
I also discovered that it is rare for people who haven't experienced it to actually want individual freedom; on the other hand, these same people almost always want national freedom. There are many cases throughout history such as Julius Caesar's rise to power, for example, where a people gave up their political freedom in order to secure national freedom while at the same time retaining their individual freedom. There are other societies like Sparta that willing gave up individual freedoms in order to enjoy political and national freedom. Russians, on the other hand relinquished, to this day, both their individual and political freedoms to secure national freedom. Can you imagine Americans doing the same?
Russia is a particularly interesting example because in it, we have a case where a people were handed the opportunity to secure their individual and political freedoms with the fall of the Soviet Union, and effectively rejected the idea, as a society; not that it had much choice in the matter. Folks brought up in our culture think that the desire to be free and that the need for individual liberty is simply part of the human make-up and where it doesn't exist, it is being suppressed. Well, I am sorry to say, that ain't so, Joe.
What is in-bred is the need for security, that is paramount. Security promotes survival and the propagation of the species, liberty does not. Once America was established, it has always been secure in a national sense, it had unchallenged national freedom and the people knew it. That set up an environment where individual and political liberty could flourish. Russian, on the other hand, has never been so fortunate. It has been invaded for as long as it can remember and as a nation is very insecure. It always has been, and, as far as its people can see, always will be. So until its borders and culture can be guaranteed, individual and political liberty is not, can not be high on their priority list.
But, we mean them no harm, what have they got to fear from the West? Well, they don't know that. First, they saw their superpower status crumble away as they lost the Cold War and the Soviet Union dissolved. Then they see NATO and the EU gobble up the newly freed nations of the Eastern bloc, approaching the Russian borders once again. Further, they noticed both the US and the EU said a lot of bold words on how much they were going to help the Russians recover economically and politically only to find out, like many others have in the past, these are hollow words. So in their place came the Russian mafia, the Oligarchs, and the dictator Putin who, together, made a pretty good life for the average Russian, while ensuring they remained without individual and political liberty; which was just fine with them ... who needs that anyway.
Well, think about the encroachments laws such as the Patriot Act are asking for. To the Russian, they are no big deal, if fact they would be expected; that is their culture. But to Americans, are we on this path willingly, if unknowingly giving up both individual and political freedoms in order to easily secure national freedom? For the immediate years following 9/11, I would say yes, because security naturally trumps liberty. But does it have to stay that way?
Once More I Ask For Your Opinion
Are you afraid we are giving up too much of our Individual and Political Freedoms in order to secure our National Freedom?
© 2011 Scott Belford