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How Liberty Was Lost

By       Message Paul Craig Roberts     Permalink
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This article cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts


When did things begin going wrong in America?

"From the beginning," answer some. English colonists, themselves under the thumb of a king, exterminated American Indians and stole their lands, as did late 18th and 19th century Americans. Over the course of three centuries, the native inhabitants of America were dispossessed, just as Israelis have been driving Palestinians off their lands since 1948.

Demonization always plays a role. The Indians were savages and the Palestinians are terrorists. Any country that can control the explanation can get away with evil.

I agree that there is a lot of evil in every country and civilization. In the struggle between good and evil, religion has at times been on the side of evil. However, the notion of moral progress cannot so easily be thrown out.

Consider, for example, slavery. In the 1800s, slavery still existed in countries that proclaimed equal rights. Even free women did not have equal rights. Today no Western country would openly tolerate the ownership of humans or the transfer of a woman's property upon her marriage to her husband.

It is true that Western governments have ownership rights in the labor of their citizens through the income tax. This remains as a mitigated form of serfdom. So far, however, no government has claimed the right of ownership over the person himself.

Sometimes I hear from readers that my efforts are pointless, that elites are always dominant and that the only solution is to find one's way into the small, connected clique of elites either through marriage or service to their interests.

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This might sound like cynical advice, but it is not devoid of some truth. Indeed, it is the way Washington and New York work, and increasingly the way the entire country operates.

Washington serves powerful private interests, not the public interest. University faculties in their research increasingly serve private interests and decreasingly serve truth. In the US the media is no longer a voice and protection for the people. It is becoming increasingly impossible in America to get a good job without being connected to the system that serves the elites.

The problem I have with this "give up" attitude is that over the course of my life, and more broadly over the course of the 20th century, many positive changes occurred through reforms. It is impossible to have reforms without good will, so even the elites who accepted reforms that limited their powers were part of the moral progress.

Labor unions became a countervailing power to corporate management and Wall Street.

Working conditions were reformed. Civil rights were extended. People excluded by the system were brought into it. Anyone who grew up in the 20th century can add his own examples.

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Progress was slow -- unduly so from a reformer's standpoint -- and mistakes were made. Nevertheless, whether done properly or improperly there was a commitment to the expansion of civil liberty.

This commitment ended suddenly on September 11, 2001. In 11 years the Bush/Obama Regime repealed 800 years of human achievements that established law as a shield of the people and, instead, converted law into a weapon in the hands of the government. Today Americans and citizens of other countries can, on the will of the US executive branch alone, be confined to torture dungeons for the duration of their lives with no due process or evidence presented to any court, or they can be shot down in the streets or exterminated by drone missiles.

The power that the US government asserts over its subjects and also over the citizens of other countries is unlimited. Lenin described unlimited power as power "resting directly on force, not limited by anything, not restricted by any laws, nor any absolute rules."

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http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His books, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available (more...)
 

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