What is a country? It is a land, on which lives a people, who possess a code. That code consists of a set of obligated limitations, and a set of guaranteed freedoms. In a totally free society, it is every man for himself. It may be possible for the individuals in such a society to do well, but some things can be better done for them by their participating in group activity. By creating a responsible government to conduct collective activities, the individuals can derive benefits they could not enjoy acting severally. Such increased benefit to the individual should surely be the only function of government.
Total freedom -- with no government at all -- could last only for the few minutes it took for one sovereign individual to recognize that another was fat where he was hungry. If one were stronger than the other, it would take only minutes for the weaker to cry to his neighbor for help. A negociated society would be formed, and total freedom would become a footnote in the history books. Clearly, some social order is necessary.
Correctly, the people of a free country should have (that is, possess and control) collective administration, a government. Those who staff it are rightly called public servants. We have all seen the terrible effects of totalitarian government. The people are oppressed, the land is raped, and the code is issued daily by the dictator. It is easy for those of us who would champion freedom to say we resist totalitarianism. It is easy to take up the sword to oppose the tyrant in his maturity. But where does that tyranny begin? If we wish to nip it in the bud, what should we look for?
Tyranny is first recognizable as an attitude. In a rightly free society, administrators see the government as belonging to the country, and themselves as stewards of the peopleís trust, subject to the code. The onset of tyranny is manifest in the attitude among leaders that the government is itself the country, the land the property of the government, the people its subject wards, and the expedient changing of the code its privilege.
Regardless whether a government tending toward tyranny calls itself a democracy, a republic, or a soviet, this attitude is revealed most clearly by abrogation of the guaranteed freedoms in the code. It is clearer yet when those guaranteed freedoms are abrogated without changing the letter of the code. If enforcement of obligated limitations is the function of government, then guaranteed freedom thus means freedom from government force. The Bill Of Rights, for example, is a code intended principally to defend the individual free citizen from the government.
To protect us from what is dubiously self-abuse, our government has taken upon itself to systematically abrogate that code. Declaring themselves unable to otherwise protect any free individual from making the choice to use certain herbs and drugs, our government has chosen to prevent all individuals from doing so by making the opportunity for such choice impossible. Sadly, the levels of government surveillance and control necessary to do that far exceed the limitations permitted by the Bill of Rights. This hasnít stopped the proponents of the so-called war on drugs. Recognize there is no such thing as a war on drugs -- there can only be a war on drug consumers and distributors: the citizens of our country -- ourselves. "Drugs! Drugs!" they cry, since, "Commie! Commie!" no longer frightens us. "Drugs! Drugs!" they cry, and we permit them to turn the Bill Of Rights into a hemp linen rag, and use it to shine their badges.
"It is justified!" bleat the good sheep, fat on the bounty of their eldersí wars, grown wooly within the walls of their comfortable folds, and frightened of loud noises. Once taken by government for such justified expedientís sake, rights are seldom returned. When the day comes there are no more rights, it is even too late to say, "I told you so," as the sheep are led to the shearing floors and the killing fields.
Yes, the drug problem must be solved, but violent enforcement of prohibition does not and can not solve the problem -- it is in itself another problem, and a much more destructive one. When a government institutes totalitarian measures, it becomes a tyranny, no matter how sincerely it was brought to that state. When tyranny is permitted to bloom, it can only be brought down by the horror and tragedy of internal violence. If you would halt the destruction of American civil freedom, and the plunge toward the tyranny of police-state bureaucracy, stop the war on drugs now.
"There was an old woman who swallowed a fly...." You remember what happened to her.
James Nathan Post