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Believing You’re Free Doesn’t Make It So

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syria-flagby Jacob G. Hornberger

The George W. Bush Presidential Center in Washington, D.C., is holding a special event today to celebrate “the brave efforts of dissidents and activists around the world in their fight to be free.”

Wow! How exciting is that!

At least one thing’s for sure: these people aren’t going to be celebrating the brave efforts of libertarians here in the United States in our fight to be free. They wish that we libertarians would just go home and keep our mouths shut about what the federal government is doing to people not only abroad but also here at home.

The big problem is the statist mindset, the mindset held by George W. Bush and by so many Americans — a mindset that holds that that the United States is still a free country.

I’m willing to bet that at that celebration today, after the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, everyone will be singing, “Thank God I’m an American because at least I know I’m free.” And I have no doubt that most every one of them will honestly believe what he is singing. And then they’ll thank the troops in Afghanistan and other foreign nations for “defending our freedoms here at home.”

For these people, freedom for Americans is a society in which the president wields the power to:

(1) Take anyone, including American citizens, into military or CIA custody and torture him, incarcerate him for life without trial, and execute him after a kangaroo trial by military tribunal.

(2) Assassinate anyone anywhere in the world whom the state deems a threat to the “national security” of the United States, including American citizens.

(3) Ignore jury verdicts of acquittal in federal jury trials and let the military or the CIA take the acquitted person into custody, incarcerate him for life without trial, torture him, or execute him after a kangaroo military tribunal.

(4) Attack and invade countries whose governments have not attacked or invaded the United States (i.e., wage wars of aggression against other nation-states).

(5) Initiate wars against any other nation state without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.

(6) Establish an empire of military bases all over the world.

(7) Wage the war on drugs all over the world through the military, the CIA, and other federal agents and punish Americans with incarceration and fines for ingesting harmful substances.

(8) Tax people’s income and redistribute the money to other people — that is, enforce a massive welfare state on society that keeps people soft and dependent.

(9) Maintain a massive military-industrial complex that places an enormous tax burden on the American people.

(10) Maintain a strict, detailed regimen of taxation and regulation in society, in order to ensure that people behave correctly and remain silent about what the government is doing.

(11) Secretly search people’s homes, businesses, and banks without warrants, on grounds of “national security.”

(12) Grant full immunity to the military, the CIA, and other federal officials who torture, assassinate, execute, or incarcerate people in the name of protecting “national security.”

Of course, we libertarians reject all that statist claptrap that goes for “freedom” in the mind of the statist. We don’t live in the statist world of delusion and failure to confront reality.

The reality is that these types of powers are antithetical to a free society and inherent to totalitarian regimes.

Don’t believe me?

Check out Hitler’s regime. He and his military and Gestapo wielded all those powers.

Check out the military regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whom the U.S. military and the CIA adored and helped install into power. Like Hitler, whom he greatly admired, Pinochet wielded all those powers.

Check out the communist regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Castro wields all those powers.

Check out the military dictatorship in Egypt, which the U.S. military and the CIA have long supported and partnered with, not only with cash, armaments, and training, but also with a rendition-torture partnership. It wields all those powers.

Check out the military dictatorship in Burma. It wields all those powers.

For us libertarians, it’s bad enough that the statists have turned America toward the dark side, a side that characterizes totalitarian regimes. But the fact that these people promote all this as “American freedom” makes the situation that much worse.

It’s one thing to know you’re not free. It’s quite another to believe you’re free when you’re not. Or as the German thinker Johann von Goethe put it, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

We libertarians know that people who live under a government that wields totalitarian powers cannot honestly be considered a free people. We’re fighting hard to restore freedom to our land. Needless to say, the George W. Bush Presidential Center will not be featuring American libertarians at its celebration today.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.


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