The Encroaching Tyranny

America has been a force for good, most of the time, for its history. If we don’t celebrate it, we will lose it. Tyranny encroaches.

For at least 70 years, America has been the preeminent diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power on earth. By and large, we have used our power for good. After World War II, we did not demand land, establish colonies, or institute an international economic system intended to make America richer. We opposed communism in all its forms, and tried to spread democracy, freedom, peace, and prosperity throughout the world. It is difficult to find another such example of benevolence in history. The British endeavored to improve the world as they understood it, but still accumulated colonies, acquired territories, and tilted the economic playing field in their favor. The Ottomans, the Mughals, the Mongols, the Arabs, the Romans, the Chinese, and other empire builders were not so munificent. The United States made mistakes, supporting dictators in an effort to stop communism, which we considered a greater evil. But internationally and overall, America has been a force for good.

Domestically, we have been equally idealistic. The reforms of the 1960s, from Johnson’s Great Society to the Civil Rights Act, have been attempts to right wrongs. The subsequent 60 years has been an attempt to right more wrongs, and correct problems in the fixes that we implemented earlier. America has been a force for good. And yet we take no joy in our successes. Instead, many Americans, especially younger ones, wish to hand more and more power to the government. They deny our victories and focus on our failures. They want socialism.[1]

Why Do People Want Tyranny?

Few if any people admit to wanting tyranny, but they do wish to hand more and more power to governments. Since governments always tend to grow, and rarely return power that they have, tyranny is the ultimate result. Ancient Greece and Rome are fine examples.

Technology has enabled us to identify disparities like never before. We can calculate differences in outcomes of every kind, from monetary to health to environmental, and intervene to eliminate those differences. It is impossible, however, to ensure equal outcomes and yet allow for individual freedom. The Gini Index, which measures economic inequality, has showed steadily increasing inequalities since women have occupied higher income positions in Western economies. One reason is that people mate non-randomly (assortative). As an example, in the past predominately male doctors of high income paired with overwhelmingly female nurses of lower income. Now male and female doctors pair, keeping higher earners together rather than sharing with lower earners. Society therefore struggles to balance two areas with historical inequalities – women’s rights and economic disparities, because improving one exacerbates the other. If the government assigned marriage partners, these inequities might decrease, but freedom would be gone.

We don’t know what should be measured, so we measure everything. Einstein noted that not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. In addition to measuring everything, we have no way to fix much of what we measure. Committees cannot decide what to measure, much less how to fix disparities. If the committee does make a decision, stakeholders on every side disparage their choice. Again, a government diktat seems to be the only solution to some people, especially young ones. Freedom dies.

Social mobility is far better for a society than having a permanent underclass of poor, uneducated, and sickly people. And yet, how much of these people’s condition is due to systemic oppression and how much is due to their own behaviors? If one argues that poor people bear no responsibility for their condition, how can they claim credit when they advance? If a bad situation is completely out of one’s control, how can a good situation be within one’s control?  Socialists look to government for a solution, picking who succeeds and who fails. Freedom falters.

We are afraid. Hating the thought of losing anything, we allow ourselves to be terrified with tales of climate change, nuclear war, famine, terror, and pandemics. Parents won’t let their children outside to play, and women won’t walk anywhere after dark. Many believe that the government must make us safe, through taking away guns, a guaranteed basic income, universal health care, free college tuition, and strict prohibitions on speech. Again, we trade the reality of freedom for the illusion of security.

Unparalleled economic and military success has provided peace and prosperity to generations of Americans. Over the generations, we begin to believe that peace and prosperity are our birthrights, simply because we are Americans. They are not. While we strain to reach unobtainable goals, we are ungraterful for those we have reached. How many people claim that the state of African American’s today is no better than in the 1840s, before slavery was abolished in the US? And yet, the reality of black progress in America is far rosier.[2]

Freedom requires risk, as one of the greatest freedoms is the freedom to fail. Freedom requires responsibility, as free people own up to what they do right, and what they do wrong. Freedom is hard, as success in any venture requires self-denial, sacrifice, and pain. Freedom requires community, as no one succeeds alone. Freedom requires forgiveness, as imperfect humans will invariably hurt each other, some on purpose and others on accident. Freedom requires virtue, as morally excellent people work together, ensure justice, and give of themselves for the benefit of others.

Tyranny requires obedience and promises safety. Tyranny wants its people to blame others for what they have done. Tyranny starts out easy, as the tyrant keeps his people fed and entertained with “bread and circuses.” Tyranny prefers that people are divided so that they can be controlled. Families, churches, and other groups threaten tyrants, as currently see in China. Tyranny nurses grievances to keep people apart. Tyranny abhors virtue, as a cardinal virtue is freedom.

Conclusion

The fundamental question is, “What is the purpose of government?” Related questions are “what is the purpose of federal, state, and local governments?” Another is “what about individuals and other groups?” Power in any society is divided between individuals, families, communities, businesses, other organizations, and governments. Republicans want power broadly distributed between these groups. Democrats want power concentrated in the hand of government. Tyranny encroaches.

 

[1] https://news.gallup.com/poll/268766/socialism-popular-capitalism-among-young-adults.aspx.

[2] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/black-progress-how-far-weve-come-and-how-far-we-have-to-go/.

Author: MD Harris Family Institute

MD, MPH, MBA, MDiv, PhD, ThM Colonel, US Army (ret)

3 thoughts on “The Encroaching Tyranny”

  1. Loved the paragraph on the requirements of freedom. So many people want freedom without being responsible for it.

  2. Jesus lived under one of the most tyrannical governments in history yet his commentary and teachings barely touch on that. Why is that?

    Because Jesus understands that the true reality, the true tyranny is within our own minds judging, hating and lamenting the outside world at every turn. First seek The Kingdom of Heaven and all things will be added to you.

    Therefore let’s look at it another way and change some words just for discussion.

    John 12:25
    He that loveth his USA shall lose it; and he that hateth his USA in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

    God is the source of all we need. Nothing else, regardless of the claims of Caesar or the five senses. Food doesn’t come from Farmers it comes from God otherwise how could Jesus feed the multitudes? Likewise freedom comes from God alone and any belief to the contrary is unbelief in God.

    The crucifixion seemed to be an act of evil yet Jesus forgives the perpetrators while being crucified and the event turned out to be the greatest gift to mankind.

    Our job is to love our neighbor and our perceived enemy. If we try and focus on that instead of Caesar and it’s machinations all things will be added and The Kingdom of Heaven will be made manifest for you and all of us.

  3. I Am,

    Your response mixes wisdom and folly. Jesus’ comments opposed tyranny at every turn, reminding all those around that God is the only king, and that Jews and Gentiles were equal as created beings, as sinners, and as recipients of God’s grace. It is true that all things derive from our Creator, but He uses His creation (including farmers) to give us what we need.
    Our task is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Believers have no reason to hate the “outside world” but rather to pity those who are in it because they are separated from the Lord. Jesus forgave people, not because their sin could be ignored but because He Himself would bear the penalty of their sin. God loves us too much to let us remain in our wicked state. We need to love others as well, which means that we try to help them out of their sin as they help us. And yes, followers of Christ seek first His kingdom, and everything else that we need will be added unto us.

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