Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Makes America Great?

The answer to the question of what makes America great is one upon which reasonable minds can differ.  That notwithstanding, Noman imagines that many would answer it with a single word: freedom.

What freedom means also varies depending on context, for instance political, moral, or of movement.  In the political context, many have found Louis Brandeis's definition of privacy apt: the right to be let alone.

Within bounds, we are free to pursue our own lights, make our own ways, and reap what we sow.  While others may admonish, they may neither interfere nor impose.

Sexual revolutionaries made use of Brandeis's formulation to great affect in the 1990's by demanding that the right to be let alone meant the right to kill one's baby in the womb.  Had alternative media existed then, they might not have prevailed as their triumph depended on controlling the flow of information.

Since then, it has become the right to be married to a person of one's own sex.  By New Years 2016, the same people will likely insist that it includes a right for anyone (but priests) to have sex with anyone (or -thing) of any age.  

Sadly, there is no right to be let alone by sexual revolutionaries.  Like all devotees of Rousseau, they feel justified in forcing others to be free according to their lights.

A friend's Christmas letter included an off-hand paragraph that said far more about authentic American freedom than any Leftist figment foisted onto the culture.  While describing the various goings on of family members, she wrote:
[My sister] is making do with having lost her job...  Her car gave up, too! She does have an internet business where she designs invitations and announcements. She's really good, and has a fair number of clients. I think she ought to start her own company.
Of course, she already has started her own company.  Agency law will fill in the necessary particulars with respect to the deals she makes, the people she works through, her duties to others and others duties to her, etc.

That mentality--"this door shut on her, so she's opening a window elsewhere"; "this branch in the road was a dead end, so she's chopping a new one through the jungle"--is so characteristically American as to be simultaneously galling and appealing to foreigners.  They may hate us for it.  But, they admire us, too, and want if for themselves.

In this sense, Americans are still free despite politicians best efforts to yoke the people to a general will.  (Curiously, this general will inevitably coincides with collectivist ideology.)

In America, we are free to take practical steps to bring our ideas and dreams to life, which explains why people risk their lives to come here and to attain citizenship.

Our legal infrastructure is designed to accommodate personal initiative.  Regardless of who one is, or is born to, he has a chance to better his and his loved one's lot in life with luck and God's blessings through enterprise, risk taking and sacrifice.

That's why the Horatio Alger story resonates here, and explains why the Statist Left decries it as a myth.  Liberals are desperate to root it out of the American soul as it's hard to sell a free people on the nanny state, and get them to trade their much-conditioned right to self-determination for cradle-to-grave security.

Both are only an earthly hope.  The most effective way to advance Statism is to cast doubt on opportunity.  Beyond that, there is certainly no track record to recommend big government.

For much of the past decade, Noman taught foreign lawyers from developing countries a course in the rudiments of American business law.  They were invariably astonished at the scant impediments to starting a business.

All hailed from countries where to engage in commerce one had to comply with a myriad of regulations and administrative requirements, kiss rings, grease palms, pay fees and the like.  Especially those students from ex-Soviet nations had no concept of the freedom to do business.

Americans are not the only free people on the planet, but admittedly the proudest.  In many ways--notably in our materialistic excesses and addictions to vice--we are conspicuously enslaved.  Nevertheless, we are still free to begin shaping a life that promises a respite from material deprivation, and an opportunity to grow through one's effort.

Despite the cultural Left's misappropriation and -application of the right to be let alone to sexual degeneracy, the governing Left shows no regard for anyone's privacy.  The past three years have been a nightmare of Statist imposition in the name of fairness, social responsibility and even, risibly, the American spirit.

Noman hopes for few things more in 2012 than for the country to be free of the dark powers that work so insistently to induce servitude and reduce liberty.

God bless America, and the world, in 2012.  Let freedom ring, from Walla-Walla, Washington to Wagga-Wagga, Australia; from Washington, D.C. to Warsaw, Poland.


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