How Do We Rebuild Liberty?

StatueOfLibertyby Anniel5/20/15
After finishing my Book Review of By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, I have been very disturbed by Charles Murray’s personal picture of a new America that I can barely understand.

The question that was troubling me I finally resolved in my mind is: Under Charles Murray’s ideas, is it even possible to begin to reclaim or rebuild our lost liberties?

I learned so much from Murray’s explication of where we are and how we got there that I was lulled into a false sense of security about him as a person and as a scholar. It seemed as though he painted a picture of our plight with facts and clarity, and then turned on a dime to throw aside every good thing he had propounded. He sucker-punched me and I haven’t recovered yet.

The specific areas where Murray got to me are briefly addressed in my Book Review. Thinking about them now I think I need to extend my criticism of the ideas I find most objectionable.

Constitutional Restoration in another “incarnation.” I was willing to let this pass until I had given the author a fair hearing. I now think his new “incarnation” has nothing to do with restoration, but is based on the proposition that we’ve already lost the war on this issue. He says he loves the Constitution, then throws in the towel.

Which brings us to: Focusing on the “how” [to save the Constitution], not the “why.” If you love the Constitution and fail to say “why” every step of the way, how can you possibly tell anyone “how?” Granted he said he was speaking, presumably, to people who agree with him, but if you ask people to change the Constitution in unexpected ways, you’d better tell them “why.”

The Founders’ Constitution has been discarded and cannot be restored. Much of Murray’s time has thus been spent on paving the way for his readers to accept the view that there isn’t much we can do because of bad legal precedent and government over-reach.

He thinks the only thing that we can realistically hope to change is Administrative or Regulatory Law. I agree that Administrative Law is a great evil that we need to address. Murray’s proposed Madison Foundation sounds like it might be wonderful. Has Philip Hamburger put forth a plan? The Madison Foundation probably would take many years. Is there no better or more rapid method to attempt than Murray’s?

Then Murray says, we cannot change our system because both the Government and the citizenry are sclerotic. It isn’t clear to me that everyone is sclerotic. Bewildered maybe, uneducated or even stupid, maybe. But incapable of change? I hope not.

When Murray starts advocating for Diversity I think he should be brave enough to issue his appeal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform with the other Leftists who want it. He has a lot to say about the Founders and other settlers of the country, comparing each group’s Americanization in our big “melting pot.” I look over at my husband who is a Mayflower descendent on both sides of his family, while all 4 of my grandparents didn’t arrive here until the late 19th century. Our oldest daughter is married to an American whose parents are both from Mexico, while our middle son’s wife is Navajo/Hopi/Tewa, but even they and their children are being displaced by illegal immigrants. I found Murray’s assertions on this matter most troubling. Yes, I have read Albion’s Seed, but his context for the book didn’t make me ready to open our borders even wider, if that’s even possible.

Mr. Murray’s embrace of the Welfare State still mystifies me and leaves me sick at heart. Margaret Thatcher says Socialists are fine until they run out of other people’s money. I think we’ve reached that point on welfare and are ready to implode because of it. How it will finally end is anyone’s guess. How do we go forward with more giving? Should we continue on this path? Why would Murray want to take it?

The idea of Compromise with the left has ALWAYS meant the Right must give in. Does anyone, even Murray, think that will change?

My thinking is that Murray’s biggest problem throughout his book is his refusal to realistically address the issue of the hatred and contempt Liberals have towards Republicans in general, and Conservatives in particular. Until he wraps his mind around that problem and states clearly where he stands on restoring our liberties, I’m not sure I can trust him, or his clay feet.

No, I think we can support his Madison Foundation, but it may do little to rebuild the Liberty we want.

As I further see things, until more people in our nation take back our culture and turn their hearts to the God who made us all, we will remain incapable of truly rebuilding liberty. • (1074 views)

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12 Responses to How Do We Rebuild Liberty?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Re:

    He thinks the only thing that we can realistically hope to change is Administrative or Regulatory Law. I agree that Administrative Law is a great evil that we need to address. . . . Is there no better or more rapid method to attempt than Murray’s?

    And…

    Mr. Murray’s embrace of the Welfare State still mystifies me and leaves me sick at heart.

    You’ve read some of his books, Annie. I haven’t. And I haven’t had a chance to read your second page of comments and analysis of By the People. And although I think Murray’s pessimism is thoroughly justified, gauging by just these two quotes, he would seem to be sort of an Establishment Republican: Don’t dismantle the welfare state or the regulatory state, just run it better and/or write better regulations.

    He seems from these quotes to be a man who lacks a fully developed moral sphere…not unlike your typical Libertarian, although I don’t know what he calls himself. But there isn’t a top-down solution that can be imposed from Washington. It isn’t a technical solution that is needed. As Reagan said, “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

    Let those words sink in for a moment. They go along with another quote from Reagan: Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple.

    Summing up the problem is rather simple to do. But the answers aren’t easy. And government, of course, is not the only problem or the main problem. I think Reagan would agree that the answer again is simple, but not easy: The moral character of the average American must be rebuilt. He is now corrupted by big government, by strange utopian dreams, by vapid egoism and commercialism, by being a passive cow who seemingly wants only to be entertained, not engaged.

    I share much of Murray’s pessimism. And it could be that the only near-term option is to take the reins of the regulatory and welfare state and run them better, to lead the cows this way instead of that. But the only real solution is to stop breeding cows. And the whole cow metaphor is in my mind because of this great quote from Thomas Sowell’s recent article:

    You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

    Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state — and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves.

    Cows are livestock, but if you prefer the sheep metaphor…fine.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    It is hard to see how a population increasingly dependent on (even addicted to) various taxpayer-funded “entitlements” can be d to restore a free society. Every regulation has its beneficiaries, just as every transfer payment does, so even that can be nearly impossible to deal with. It requires leaders willing to say no to those who currently benefit from government one way or another, rather than managers eager to use government favors to establish an unbeatable political machine. This is probably what Murray meant about a sclerotic government and society.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Another way to view this whole idea of restoring liberty is to consider where the push-back can come from. With all due respect to Mr. Murray, he’s in the business of selling books and doing the book-tour circuit. And in this time of universal deceit, the truth is still a revolutionary act. Let me give you a few acts.

    Probably the only force for restoring liberty can come from men. What we see playing out is indeed the regulatory state. And regarding this whole accumulation of conglomerated government and other cultural forces, there are bound to be many causes, not just one. But unless Charles Murray mentions the rise of feminism, all his books aren’t quite worth the paper they are printed on. I believe feminism is a central fact to why we are where we are.

    Women are all about care and control…which is somewhat the theme of Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism,” although he called it “friendly fascism.” But he more rightly could have called it “feminist fascism” or even “female fascism.”

    I’ll be the first to concede that male-directed societies are no picnic. I don’t consider Sparta as the model for freedom. But the model for freedom as evinced in America came almost exclusively from the minds of men, not women. The Founders were men.

    The only men pushing back today are Libertarians (who I think are largely made up of males, if not men). But they are too intent on stupefying themselves by legalizing drugs to be any kind of effective champion of liberty. And, again, although there are outstanding women such as Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin, they are few and far between as champions of liberty. Mostly we have this soft, pervasive “care and control” instinct which I think is the true driver (the true creator of the tipping point) to where we are now.

    So, yes, unabashedly I blame woman. And this female-like vibe is being instilled in men (a subject many women have wrote about). Almost everywhere you look now you see males not acting like men by a bit like emasculated Elois, that submissive group of farm animals masquerading as people in George Orwell’s “The Time Machine.” We have few men these days. And only the man, by and large, will say “I will accept the risk for this-and-such as the price for freedom.”

    Notice that although there are still plenty of males out there who grow beards, pee standing up, and have an Adam’s apple, there are very few who haven’t taken on board the feminist/female standard of ethics and behavior. You’ll not find them drawing a line in the stand between the state and their freedom. You’re more likely to find them walking in some goofy victim-of-the-week parade, wearing the right color of ribbon (often pink).

    You can’t write books and be successful on the book or lecture tour saying what I’m saying. It won’t sell, even amongst conservatives, because — for better and for worse — we are now female social democracies. And it’s Care & Control that is the rule of the day, not drawing lines in the sand, not exclaiming that one will accept certain risks in order to stay free.

    So frame this post, and damn me for what I say. Make me out to be a misogynist. But know that many seasoned women have told me things similar. They know that women have screwed up much of the West. And many say that women shouldn’t even vote, that politics is, and should be, a man’s world.

    Well, there’s likely no going back. But at least I’m honest enough to not engage in mental masturbation and suppose this will all be solved with a Supreme Court nomination here, or a presidential victory there. We are strapped to the vagina, for better or for worse.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      A recent poll found that women were significantly more likely than men to support banning “hate speech” (which effectively means eviscerating freedom of speech and freedom of the press). But always remember that just because something is probable doesn’t mean it’s certain. Women may be more likely than men to support Barry’s Behemoth, but there are plenty of men who support it and women who oppose it, so one should be careful about turning generalizations into stereotypes. This is why the First Law of Generalizations is: There are always exceptions.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Women may be more likely than men to support Barry’s Behemoth, but there are plenty of men who support it and women who oppose it, so one should be careful about turning generalizations into stereotypes.

        Generalizations can be true. In fact, we’d find it hard to live without them. And noting exceptions (as I did) does not cancel out the generalization. I’ve quite aware there are strong, liberty-minded women (such as those here) and plenty of girly-men (out there).

        And that really proves my point. I didn’t make up the now certain fact that there is a widespread and ongoing girlification of men occurring. The traits of women are being held up as normal, superior, and good (in so many ways, usually quite subtle). The opposite is happening in regards to men. Men are being marginalized. Who needs a father? Who needs a dad? Men, in movies and advertising, are now normally the butt of jokes.

        I don’t begrudge women, per se, for grabbing power. It’s the way of the world. And I understand the reticence of men (such as Murray) to talk about this fait accompli subject. You don’t sell books nor will you be invited to all the right parties if you take on women (unless you are a woman, but even then). But I do believe it is the truth that is the elephant in the living room. Few want to talk about it so they spend time on peripheral issues…issues that have merit, but that usually don’t get to the root causes.

        We live in a culture that has now decided that being “nice” is more important than liberty. Mankind’s life is to be governed and managed by the Care & Control of Big Mother (not Big Brother, at least as of yet). Man is not to chart his own course. And I’ll be the first to admit that there are plusses and minuses to this. Things could be worse. This is certainly better than either the naive Libertarian vision of anarchy or the unfriendly male-dominated and regimented fascist state that history has so often seen.

        A little female thrown into the mix is a good thing. But we now have way too much. And as they say, you can’t fix a problem unless you can identify it. And that’s where we stand today . . . or don’t stand.

        • Anniel says:

          I tend to agree with you Brad. But if I consider where much of the push-back on the right comes from, I see many strong and good women who are real leaders. The harridans of the left are so bereft of femininity they have become monsters, especially when you consider Hillary and Michelle Obama.

          Rush quoted the woman who said she’s voting with her vagina and he wanted to know how that worked. All I could think of was the old joke about certain parts of the male anatomy having minds of their own. Perhaps the people on the Left have become more equal in their ignorance.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            The harridans of the left are so bereft of femininity they have become monsters

            Oh, I completely agree that the upper-tier lack femininity and are very hostile to it. No doubt about it. But the parameters regarding nearly any issue now is pre-defined by the female point of view. We must be “sensitive.” Forget what is right and wrong. The worst thing in the world is if someone’s feelings are hurt.

            And god forbid somebody is told to do something himself. No we must “nurture” and “assist” and “care-give.”

            Again, for better or for worse the female domination of the parameters exists. The assumption is a very maternal one: The state has become the Good Parent and to not regulate when a problem is perceived is to be an abusive parent.

            The state is the Nurturer in Chief. And think in so many words Murray has said this as well gauging from some of the quotes in your review of his book. He notes, for instance:

            . . . the progressives came along. In part, they believed that the legal system could serve social justice by shifting the costs of the hazards of modern life from individuals to businesses through reforms in tort law . . . and if the examination of that information was sufficiently thorough, then problems left unresolved or inequitably resolved in the bad old days could be decided with ontological [godlike] fairness.

            This is at the heart of the totalitarian impulse of the Left. There is no “off” button to their ideology. And I may be wrong about this (I’m not), but it tends to be men who say, “Hell, little Johnny doesn’t need knee pads, elbow pads, and three layers of Kevlar. Just let him ride his damn bike. He’ll learn from doing.” It’s generally the female vibe to protect, to trade freedom for security. And given sufficient power, this vibe would put us all in a bubble…or a regulatory state where everything is done to the nth degree “for our safety.”

            Yes, the hags at the top are at war with the female part of themselves. Abortion is a part of that. The denigration of the male is a part of that. Feminism isn’t based upon equal rights for women. It never was. It was a campaign of power and rage aimed at men.

            It is the upper-tier that drives things. But on the lower tier — your county commissioner, mayors, various administrators, principals, etc. — are the friendly female fascists. They don’t hate men. But they are in charge. Their mindset does frame the question. It’s the only way to understand Common Core and all this other junk because at its heart (and at the heart of many, if not most, bad teaching techniques) the purpose is to achieve equality. And why is this important? So that no kid ever has to feel bad about not achieving. So we must, by hook and by crook, hold the achievers back.

            All of these feminine impulses have their time and place. Fairness is not wrong as a concept. But it should have its limits. Equality under the law is a good thing. But, again, it should have its limits. But such impulses are completely out of place in a country that values freedom higher than almost any other right — or should. This is how to understand Dennis Prager when he says the Left has elevated feelings over standards. Is that a man-like trait? No way.

            That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of exceptions. And I’ll grant you that women are not as naturally smothering as the Left and Progressivism has made them. Hard-nosed women were the crucial pioneers and founders of this country. These weren’t shrinking violets who wanted to live in a bubble. Not by a long shot. So I will grant that it’s Progressivism/Leftism that instills this weak, emotional, vapid instinct in both men and women. But that’s not to say there isn’t a huge overlap with generally feminine instincts. I think there clearly is. And if you are one of the many conservatives scratching your head and wondering why nothing changes for the better in regards to liberty, then this is strong evidence that the root problem is not being addressed. And I don’t think it is.

            Even Sarah Palin said we had to man-up. She’s exactly right. And I’d vote for her in a heartbeat for president.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The Founders’ Constitution has been discarded and cannot be restored. Much of Murray’s time has thus been spent on paving the way for his readers to accept the view that there isn’t much we can do because of bad legal precedent and government over-reach.

    I haven’t read the book, but it still seems as if Murray has a top-down technocratic approach. If the Constitution has been discarded, is this merely a problem regarding legal precedent?

    Goodness gracious, we are the people who threw tea into the harbor (and switched to drinking coffee) because of what we viewed as illegal and unauthorized taxes imposed by Parliament. The taxes were minuscule, at best, but it was the point of it.

    We have what we have now because we’ve either come to expect it or have gotten used to it. Change the expectations and character of the people, and you’ll see tea being thrown into the harbor again.

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    Another example of lost freedom, coming soon to a city near you, was reported (from Canada, admittedly) on HotAir just now. A jeweler made rings for a lesbian wedding. But when one of the lesbians later saw a sign in his window supporting the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, she demanded a refund for the rings and the jeweler came under attack. In other words, the Lavender Thought Police are now sinking from the supposed rejection of “discrimination” to explicit enforcement of orthodox libertinist opinion. The link is:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2015/05/22/canadian-jeweler-threatened-for-opposing-gay-marriage-after-providing-service-to-gay-weddings/

    • Anniel says:

      “Change the character of the people,” is exactly what needs doing. I believe there are more of “us” than there are of “them,” there are the bewildered, the uneducated, and, frankly, the stupid, and those who think they have special privileges, who may also be stupid. I think Murray under rates the “us.” Maybe a viable third party is the only answer.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Anniel,

        Never forget Murray is a reformed man of the left. For the most part, I have little trust of such men’s deeper insight and judgment.

        If you get a chance, pls check my recent post to you under your Kismet article. Who knows if Bear knew the family my father stayed with.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s a guy who also doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of Murray’s book.

    And so I rubbed my hands together in anticipation and settled down at the dining room table in order to have a great read.

    But Mr. Murray should have stopped there, because in the two hundred sixty-six pages that follow, he advocates precious little in the way of reincarnation.

    Half the book concerns itself with frightening or frightening off bureaucrats with legal defense funds, while in the rest, or most of the rest, of this new work, he advocates civil disobedience of a certain safe type. Targeted. Exempting, for example, the government efforts to “protect” the environment while we treat government as an insurable hazard, and struggle to restore the concept of “no harm, no foul” in case law.

    But by then it’s impossible to stifle the yawns.

    The author himself seems to be recommending that the best approach is to go off the grid, to interact in an underground economy as much as possible. I don’t disagree.

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