It isn’t what government can do for you that matters. It’s what it can do to you.
[This article is a companion piece to last week, Truth and the Fall of the West (here)]
It is the second most important question in the human story. Do the rights of an individual come from a fixed, universal Moral Order? Or are they merely whatever a despot, dictator, congress, parliament, corporate oligarchy, or mob say they are at any given time?
Today in the Western World generally and the United States specifically, societies born from the womb of the ancient Judeo-Christian ethos find themselves naked, in an all-out war over individual freedom. It’s a battle for the crown jewels that secure that freedom, the right to worship God, and the right to freedom of speech, conscience, and peaceful assembly.
Every war finds a rallying cry, a point of focus that frames the cause and its purpose in a few words. For this generation, and this time, that rallying cry must be to Save the Bill of Rights.
If freedom lovers, believers in absolute values, conservatives, orthodox Jews and Christians are to make a difference in our time, then this is the hill we live or die on.
History demonstrates time and again that freedom is a binary choice. You either believe in a transcendent unchangeable moral order or subscribe to manufactured, human-made disorder, well meaning though some may be.
There is no middle ground. No gray. No in-between. It seems as though there should be some middle way â€“ some compromise â€“ a “can’t we all just get along” moment – in how we organize ourselves and live together that satisfies everyone. Many of the best minds in antiquity debated the question, and every generation since has had a bite at the apple. In every age, there are philosophers and academics who have written endless tomes on arranging human affairs just so or building their concept of utopia. And, untold, hundreds of millions of men and women have been slaughtered along the way, a ghastly tribute to that hubris (including a hundred million in the last century alone between Nazi Germany and communist Russia and China).
The thinkers and academics of yesteryear are all dead now, and today’s will pass soon enough. The timeless Moral Order shrugs its indifference to their grand theories and ideas that exclude its existence in the battle between good and evil, freedom or servitude.
In this still-young century, the alarm bells for human liberty are, again, blaring across the Western democracies. At best, parliamentary governments â€“ the tamest version of mob rule â€“ turn to soft totalitarianism. Since none are linked to God-ordained rights, their whims are merely the next inevitable step for those unrestrained by moral guardrails. They are all in varying degrees attacking free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and embracing cultural suicide.
In the United States, stunned citizens likewise discovered that the most profound constitutional rights had unwritten limits. Their right to speech, association, worship, and even their livelihoods were subject to what amounted to the opinion of a handful of unelected medical bureaucrats in something called “public health.”
The Wuhan crisis unleashed the worst, not the best, instincts across the globe, but more unexpectedly in the West. Petty bureaucrats, imperious scientists, buffoons and grifters in political office, and think tanks turned on their populations like wolves on a downed elk, tearing at the fabric of freedom with seeming exuberance. It has led to public discussions where many world “leaders” and would-be leaders openly promote a “great reset” without blushing. They propose to replace democratic principles with the “expert classes” to build a new world order and remove the masses’ burden or expectation of autonomy.
Freedom would become a relative matter of compliance, not a right.
If you will, the new world order â€“ globalism, corporate fascism, and such – would reflect the ideologies of raw power espoused by Marx, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, not the God-ordained virtues of human liberty championed by Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Washington.
The difference between the two seems subtle at first. Totalitarians have always proposed ubiquitous positive “rights” such as security, health care, food, shelter, and education. It’s alluring to many, but since these proposed “rights” are rented in return for individual fidelity, they are transient depending on who has the most power or dominance at any given moment.
But, the ancient Biblical Ten Commandments pointed humanity towards an entirely different predicate for considering and establishing human affairs, which found its way into contemporary times with the American experiment in 1787. It presents “restrictive” rights inherent with individual responsibility and accountability. Personal sovereignty.
[Interestingly, the modern radical socialist and Marxist movements still programmatically incorporate the core concepts from Marx’s 1847 Communist Manifesto, which sought to replace the Biblical Ten Commandments with its own new ten “laws” for humanity (here).]
The writers of the American Declaration of Independence, followed by the Constitution then the Bill of Rights, spent many years deliberating the cause of human liberty and how to protect those liberties from social and political manipulation. In the original thirteen colonies, for a hundred years before the Revolutionary War, and from many of the pulpits of the colonial churches, this question of human liberty and its origin was dissected and explored.
Influenced by the English Bill of rights from 1689 and primarily drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, and drafted by James Madison in 1776, the Bill of Rights became the untouchable cornerstone supporting the right of liberty for a free people in 1791 and the maturation of those protections over the life of the nation in many ways.
The preamble to the Bill of Rights states its purpose unambiguously, “â€¦in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added [to the Constitution]: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
So free speech, freedom of religion, association, assembly, and the right to petition for redress of grievances are bedrock rights, not at the whim of a bureaucracy, a court, or a politician. They are “natural” rights, God-ordained, and God-given. The right to self-defense and to bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable search, a speedy trial, due process, and the rights of state governments are not discretionary or elective but part of the sovereign standing of each citizen.
The “restrictive” nature of the Bill of Rights has been attacked from its inception. First were the arguments that the amendments were codifying rights that the Constitution nowhere gave the federal government to regulate in the first place (Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 84). In more recent times, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama have advocated for broad “positive” rights granted by the “government.”
It isn’t what government can do for you that matters. It’s what it can do to you.
Yet the Bill of Rights stands alone in the world. ( It should be America’s number one export!) Personal liberty depends on individual autonomy to fail and succeed on merit and work – to live as free men or women, not as a bond slaves to indifferent administrative tyrants. In the US Constitution, these restrictive rights, at least until the coronavirus, are bold pronouncements that self-identify their necessity for liberty’s success. There is no middle way.
The battle is on now. It should be the core message, the common commitment from every candidate for public office. It should be the rallying cry of every sitting “conservative” member of Congress. It should be the primary focus of every alleged conservative organization and religious body. Save the Bill of Rights. Save liberty.
It’s time for the freedom-loving and God-fearing citizens and constitutional conservatives to defend this hill. There can be no retreat nor hesitation. It will be ugly. Many we thought were with us will be against us. Perhaps a few on principle, most because they have been purchased.
The corporate media complex will bombard the defenders of fundamental rights with lies and mischaracterizations day and night. The government’s corrupt “justice” and financial cabal will attack us relentlessly and unlawfully. The billionaire tycoons and tech moguls will close every media platform. Even many in our pulpits and synagogues will shrink from the fight.
It doesn’t matter. We can’t lose this battle, or freedom may go dark for a millennium.
When all is said and done, this is God’s battle. He will never be mocked, and His Way will prevail with or without us. But it seems we have been placed here for such a time as this.