The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
I've been saying it for years: many Americans think of themselves as subjects, not citizens. Citizens are sovereign, and delegate powers to the government. Subjects are -- well -- subject to the government. When Europeans, Canadians, etc. criticize our citizenry, it is often because they expect us to act like subjects and it confuses them when we don't. They have no idea what it is like not to be subject. This is true even in countries where they call themselves citizens, as in France. They never really stopped being subjects. You can't just change the name. We have an awful lot of subjects here in America too, people who think, for instance, that only government employees such as cops and soldiers should have guns. A touching faith in the paternal state. Those of us who are citizens know better. And I am certain we are still in the majority. But damn we've let a lot of stuff slide, when we should have been saying "NO" like George Will mentions. We said NO this last Tuesday, but in many ways it was a day late and a trillion dollars short. We've got a hell of a price to pay for not saying NO to the whole New Deal, for instance, or to the invasion of the seceding Southern states, an event which put unparalleled power in the hands of the Washington government and changed it from a federal government to a national government for the first time.
I wish I could put into words such messages. That was a great speech.
Good speech, but the Hornsby anecdote is a bit too "nation of men" for my taste. (Inside baseball -- literally -- but the failure/refusal of the umpires to call the strike zone specified in the rule book is the game's biggest scandal. Does the fact that very few baseball fans beyond some, I dunno, let's call 'em flat-earthers and Civil War reenactors care suggest anything to you?)
And somebody tell the Universal Translator it's "Spahn." :-P
I'll fix the Spawn/Spahn error. Thanks!
I do envy you US citizens that you still possess such clear thinkers and speakers (writers too, going by your blogs). I guess that is what regular draughts from the wellspring of Liberty do. The enemies of Liberty cannot afford such clarity and candour, together with wit.
Pace Brerarnold, there is one circumstance, which we Brits used to have, when it was just fine to be a subject. That is when we were, routinely, subjects of the Queen. You see, except in emergency when in effect the monarch was First Citizen, the monarchy had little by way of powers.
Then, we were pretty free, and were envied for it, though Americans could claim a greater degree of liberty. There was something to be said for a politically neutral/neutered Head of State.
It is in recent decades, when Prime Ministers began to resemble, or claim to be chief executives - pushing aside the Monarchy, which sometimes did itself no favours - that we began to be referred to as citizens, and at the same time our liberties began to be denied.
Someone cleverer than I could explain it, but over here we don't have so many people who can see the wood for the trees, or explain properly what the wood looks like. We no longer have our cousins of Jefferson and Madison.
You see, except in emergency when in effect the monarch was First Citizen, the monarchy had little by way of powers.
I think this is something of what Tolkien was trying to express in his more-or-less famous "anarchist" letter:
"My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inaminate real of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate!..."
Thanks Ken, I reckon I see what Tolkien was getting at. Indeed, the term "State" was quite uncommon here until very recent times, I suppose since the Labour government which followed World War Two. Until then, and even long after, one routinely referred to "The Country". Now the State is everywhere, and right in our faces.
This is mostly because of the Labour government we recently got rid of; but it really began in earnest, I suspect, with our entry to the European Union. This institution has its roots, on the one hand in the collapse of political courage which affected the entire European political class after WW2 and paradoxically, in the ghosts of the totalitarian systems crushed in that war.
I am pessimistic about the prospects for Britain - though there is a cadre (sorry, Comrade) of new Conservative MPs who take inspiration from Margaret Thatcher - but optimistic about the US. Recent events show that your political courage and optimism (statism is such a pessimistic, even cynical point of view) is alive and well.