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Giving Up Our Freedom in the Name of National Security: Should We?

Updated on December 9, 2018
My Esoteric profile image

ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.



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?

See results

© 2011 Scott Belford


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    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Brad, your opening fact is wrong. The Patriot Act was passed as a result of 9/11 and not the other way around as you state.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image


      2 years ago


      Passing the Patriot Act in peace time was the reason that 911 happened, just like Pearl Harbor. This is not a conspiracy theory about either.

      The choice that exists on these two incidents is that the people and the organization that control and protect national security are either:

      1. Incompetent

      2. Facilitators

      Their actions of no action resulted in an act that made all Americans focused on the enemy. Without those acts there would not have been people not only voting for war, but agreeing to anything that the government suggested after the attacks.

      Also, there was no reason to attack Aghanistan much less Iraq. If there was a reason, then it would have extended to Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and North Korea.

      I also believe that the Patriot Act was passed to make legal what the US National Security Agencies had been doing for some time.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I definitely agree with you concerning Ron Paul's integrity, Credence. I sort of have hopes that Huntsman is basically a decent, honest politician as well.

    • Credence2 profile image


      9 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      No, such a compromise is on the slipery slope toward tyranny. As a progressive, I have many difference with ron Paul and his beliefs. But if you ask me he has more integrity than all the other GOP candidates put together. If this were a different reality I could cast my vote for him. Cred2

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks, Claptona.

      I am going to have to take a little issue with Greenwald, AKA Winston (thank you for commenting,btw); not on the substance and certainly not on his main conclusion, but with what I took as an implication that protest in American didn't work; in my opinion, it clearly did, despite all of the violence.

      I also think the goalposts have been moved a bit regarding tolerance of protesters by most police and authorities. It is my impression that all-in-all, the police have been restrained compared to what I saw in the 1960s, and especially the Civil Rights protests of the 50s, which I remember also; age has some, if not many, advantages. It seems, the violence, Oakland aside, generally comes out when the protestors have overtayed their welcome, as it were, in the parks and other open areas where they set up camp for the long-haul. They didn't bring their own police to stop the crime that came as a result of their occupation or sanitation to pick up after themselvesthat comes with it

    • claptona profile image

      John D Wilson 

      9 years ago from Earth

      Hi My Esoteric,

      Nope, thanks, I'll take my chances with the terrorists vs. the terrorism brought on by my own government.

      I don't need them spending my taxpayer dollars to listen to me or you talking on the phone.

      Jimminy, these guys cannot even figure out how to cut 3 billion from a trillion dollar deficit. I'm going to give them more power? I think not.

      Show me that our government can actually govern, and maybe then we can talk - still about limiting the powers of those that "watch" over us.

      Good topic and read.


      John D. Wilson

    • profile image

      AKA Winston 

      9 years ago

      My Esoteric,

      I cannot say it better than Glenn Greenwald so I will let him speak for me. From

      "(1) Despite all the rights of free speech and assembly flamboyantly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the reality is that punishing the exercise of those rights with police force and state violence has been the reflexive response in America for quite some time....

      The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist."

      A person who doesn't move is not aware of his chains. The goal of intimidation is the prevent unwarranted movement.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I understand what you are saying, @AKA Winston, and thank you for visiting me and commenting as well. Be careful, however, as the Rule of Law cuts both ways. There are two part to Justice, one is the Rule of Law, as you say, but there is also, if I may bastardize a phrase, the "Rule in Equity" as well. It takes the two, to make up a Just system.

      However, to what you refer to appears to be simple police brutality, maybe not at its worst, but pretty darn bad, for America. Of course, switch to the reports on Egypt right now, or Syria, to see what bad really is elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, it should NEVER be like that in America, even the toned down version in Oakland, but it has always been, and, unfortunately, it always will.

      You have to face the fact that we are a conservative Nation, heavily populated by fundamentalist-leaning Christians. In the 1900s there has been this fierce battle between Left and Right for the control of government and civil rights. In the 1960s, the Left finally gained control and managed to get a bunch of civil rights reforms passed before the Conservatives used the rising crime rate (partly, anyway) to drive the Left out of power in the 1980s.

      However, the Police and Prosecuters never really changed. They opposed Miranda and did all they could to subvert the changes, so we all remember the riots of the 1960s and 1970s, and the police reaction to them. Things quieted down after that because Vietnam was over, the Revolution was over, and the Country was licking its wounds and had taken a decidedly Right-bent in its philosophy; until today when things are again becoming intolorable and people are taking up their Constitutional right to protest.

      While great strides were made in the 60s and 70s, so by that measure, I call the Revolution a success, the Conservatives have been in power long enough to restablish themselves in the policing functions of society. Consequently, I suspect we will end up with the 60s all over again.

      Boy, when I get going, I can't seem to stop, sorry.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      9 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      I totally concur with your statement. While I believe that during dire and extraneous times, certain freedoms must be sacrificed for the good of the whole, our entire individual freedoms should never be sacrificied. This would result in the perilous road towards authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorship. Every thinking person knows where such dictatorships ultimately lead!

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      LOL, niall.tubbs, thanks for stumbling across me and commenting. Actually, this portion of Paul's belief is part and parcel to the the Libertarian philosophy, but as HScheinder says, "he goes off the rails" in so many other places it is scary.

      For whatever reason, I haven't really dug deep into the Patriot Act to see what I like and don't like. This is an area where my conservative side of me starts popping out a bit; after all I didn't spend 43 years tied to the military in one fashion or another for nothing, ya' know. So, I have to carefully weigh each provision against how I think it encroaches on individual and political liberty.

      For example, the current issue in front of the Supreme Court. Can the police put a GPS tracking device on your car without a warrant, and certainly without your knowledge. On the second part, I have no problem saying yes. It is the first part that I am have a discussion with myself about, should a warrant be required?

      Clearly, a warrant is needed to put a wiretap in ones home, but, is ones car, the external part of the car, considered the same as the internal part of ones home? Is the GPS device simple a cost savings device, as the police are arguing, to save the cost of a ton of cops doing surveillence, which is legal without a warrant. On the face of it, to me, that last argument is sort of persuasive.

    • profile image

      AKA Winston 

      9 years ago

      Glenn Greenwald in Salon has described the ultimate problem facing the nation - that our lack on enforcement of the rule of law has allowed power to coerce compliance by intimidation rather than overt acts.

      This is precisely the attempt made in the pepper spray incident in California with the OWS protesters - the police attempted to stop future protests with the threat of their actions.

      Without adherence to the rule of law, we are simply despotism unnamed.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      9 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub My Esoteric. I agree also with Ron Paul on this and some other things. Unfortunately he rides off the rails on many others. The Patriot Act is a threat to our liberty and should be abolished. I would retain one area that I had experience in when I worked in operations on Wall Street. That would be the anti-money laundering provisions. There was so much money coming and going from obscure places with simply numbered accounts hat it was incredible. it was a playground for drug dealers, tax cheats, terrorists, and all types of criminals. Otherwise, scrap the Patriot Act.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks for your comments Ralph and Deni. I don't think I can go quite as far as Deni does but the message is very understandable.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I'm with My Esoteric and Ron Paul on this one.

    • Deni Edwards profile image

      Jenifer L 

      9 years ago from california

      This is one of the areas that I agree whole-heartedly on with Ron Paul--I gave him a standing ovation in my house last night. When people are afraid, they have a tendency to let anything happen in the name of safety. TSA is a joke (Don't Touch my Junk!), the Patriot Act is a joke...and the terrorists have succeeded...they have scared people so silly that they are willing to change their lifestyle.

      Nice hub!

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      9 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks for following me GoGreenTips and leaving a comment and Fan Mail, I do appreciate it. I suspect though, you will be disappointed in the rest of my political views as they drift to the moderate left. While there are things I do agree with Ron Paul about, in total, I cannot. It is my opinion that if Paul were able to implement his tolal philosophy, we would no longer have a United States of America with a U.S. Constitution but revert back to a united States of America, with a Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation.

      If you look at the totality of what he believes, it is, in my opinion, the government we had in 1770 that most closely resembles it.

    • GoGreenTips profile image

      Greg Johnson 

      9 years ago from Indianapolis

      Great article and I believe 100% with Ron Paul. I've been a supporter of his for many years, and have become more of a Libertarian as the years go on and I see what a total mess the other two parties have dome to this country.


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