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In Times of Tyranny, Democracy Is Liberty’s Friend

November 14, 2013 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner At many times in the history of the Anglo people, the abuses of liberty by Power (capitalized to indicate the official power of the centralized State and those close to it) have produced such resistance by enough normal men and women who felt their lives directly changed by those abuses, that real political change of historic importance was the result.

There has probably never been a year — perhaps not even a day — when Power did not, through policy or the political process, expand itself at the expense of the liberty of someone, somewhere. In normal times, the process of Power’s self-aggrandizement is mostly political: laws get made, agencies get established — but the effect on the everyday experiences of normal people is small enough that the culture generates no resistance.

In the United States, since 9-11 especially, some of the chattering classes (this writer included) and a few concerned citizens have been complaining about the brazenness of the 21st-century approach to the abuse of citizens by the State, its agents and its friends. The stripping of individual rights has been in this millennium extensive and fast (habeas corpus, due process, privacy, rule of Law (as enacted by elected and accountable officials rather than appointees of the Executive) etc.).

Until recently, however, these abuses have remained mostly political, rather than cultural. That is to say that Americans’ loss of rights have had not much of an impact in the culture because they did not affect the everyday experiences of a significant section of the population.

For example, the loss of the right to due process did not create per se a reaction against Power because most people don’t experience due process in their everyday lives; the loss of privacy does not cause a reaction against Power because the violation of privacy, if undetected, doesn’t change our everyday experiences; and the farming out of law-making power to unelected agents of the State is unperceived as long as we don’t know when our behavior is being regulated by agents of the Executive and their rules, or by Law, properly made in Congress.

However, that is now changing. And the change is historic, in the literal sense of the word. Every few generations or even centuries — Power begins to impose drastic changes that are felt immediately in the everyday …read more


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