H. L. Mencken said in 1920 that:
- The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto “In God we trust” were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, “verboten,” substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.
- The American Credo: A Contribution toward the Interpretation of the National Mind (1920)
A government that uses it’s resources against the very people that must rely on those resources, is a government that no longer serves the people, but instead treats the people as if they are the servants to it. We have become slaves of our government! If agencies that are supposed to be independent and outside of politics, no longer even attempt to have the face of impartiality, tyranny has succeeded and the Republic has already fallen.
Any fair and intelligent look at the machinations of our current government, show us that it is being used as a tool to inhibit free speech, to restrict thought, and to hinder justice. Whether it is the IRS, the EPA, the DOE, or the DOJ, we see very little of service for the people, and often harassment of disagreeing opinions, and failure to have the slightest amount of impartiality.
H. L. Mencken
- Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.
It is the aim of the Bill of Rights, if it has any remaining aim at all, to curb such prehensile gentry. Its function is to set a limitation upon their power to harry and oppress us to their own private profit. The Fathers, in framing it, did not have powerful minorities in mind; what they sought to hobble was simply the majority. But that is a detail. The important thing is that the Bill of Rights sets forth, in the plainest of plain language, the limits beyond which even legislatures may not go. The Supreme Court, in Marbury v. Madison, decided that it was bound to execute that intent, and for a hundred years that doctrine remained the corner-stone of American constitutional law.
- The American Mercury (May 1930)
How does one get to tyranny? Democracy according to Plato and others, is the best way to get there. But we don’t have a Democracy, we have a Republic. Yes, but it seems that the majority of the people of this country have forgotten that, or been convinced by those who are in power that we have a Democracy. Sometimes the perception is as viable as the reality.
How could a democracy, even an initially liberal one, develop into a totalitarian tyranny? As we said in the beginning, there are three avenues of approach, and in each case the evolution would be of an “organic” nature. The tyranny would evolve from the very character of even a liberal democracy because there is, from the beginning on, a worm in the apple: freedom and equality do not mix, they practically exclude each other. Equality doesn’t exist in nature and therefore can be established only by force. He who wants geographic equality has to dynamite mountains and fill up the valleys. To get a hedge of even height one has to apply pruning shears. To achieve equal scholastic levels in a school one would have to pressure certain students into extra hard work while holding back others.
Our Founders understood the danger of Democracy, in fact they were quite outspoken against it:
Samuel Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, championed the new Constitution in his state precisely because it would not create a democracy. “Democracy never lasts long,” he noted. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.” He insisted, “There was never a democracy that ‘did not commit suicide.'”
James Madison, who is rightly known as the “Father of the
Constitution,” wrote in The Federalist, No. 10: “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths.” The Federalist Papers, recall, were written during the time of the ratification debate to encourage the citizens of New York to support the new Constitution.
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Tyranny in it’s beginnings relies upon paying off of supporters and enticing those who would otherwise oppose it with gifts. How often have we seen this administration give money in the guise of supporting certain projects, and yet those projects seem to fail in almost every case with the people of the country who pay the taxes, lose the money and the people who support the President, gain financially even though the business which they are responsible for, and it’s employees, fail.
‘And I think that you too would call it propaganda when people are enticed into a change of opinion by promises of pleasure, or terrified into it by threats?’
‘Yes, propaganda and deceit always go together.’ (Plato, Republic)
We are in the place where we are being threatened by our government on the one hand and enticed on the other. How is it any different that the way that Mao led his people into one of the worst periods of human history? How many people died because they let a monster like this come into power? According to Necrometrics the answer is People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong’s regime (1949-1975):40,000,000
The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside. (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind)
How dumb does the American Citizen be in order for tyranny to succeed? The thing is that it is not a matter of intelligence. It is more a lack of the desire to question. When a citizenry gets to the point that it simply accepts the answers that the government provides, it is a citizenry that is so apatheic that it cares nothing but for what is in front of him. It is worse when we don’t even have a press that is willing to question authority, but instead spends it’s time covering for and cheerleading an abusive and tyrannical government.
The only way to stave off tyranny is for a well informed public to be aware of the possibilities and have the means to prevent it.
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” — Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” — Jefferson’s “Commonplace Book,” 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764
— Thomas Jefferson
What is tyranny? The best explanation that I have found is this:
Concerning tyrants by practice, it is not so easy to describe them as true kings. For reason rules the one, and selfwill the other: the first prescribes bounds to his affections, the second confines his desires within no limits. What is the proper rights of kings may be easily declared, but the outrageous insolences of tyrants cannot without much difficulty be expressed. And as a right angle is uniform, and like to itself one and the same, so an oblique diversifies itself into various and sundry species. In like manner is justice and equity simple, and may be deciphered in few words: but injustice and injury are divers, and for their sundry accidents not to be so easily defined; but that more will be omitted than expressed. Now, although there be certain rules by which these tyrants may be represented (though not absolutely to the life), yet, notwithstanding, there is not any more certain rule than by conferring and comparing a tyrant’s fraudulent slights with a king’s virtuous actions.The tyrant advances above and in opposition to the ancient and worthy nobility, mean and unworthy persons; to the end that these base fellows, being absolutely his creatures, might applaud and apply themselves to the fulfilling of all his loose and unruly desires.The tyrant hates and suspects discreet and wise men, and fears no opposition more than virtue, as being conscious of his own vicious courses, and esteeming his own security to consist principally in a general corruption of all estates, introduces multiplicity of taverns, gaming houses, masks, stage plays, brothel houses, and all other licentious superfluities that might effeminate and bastardise noble spirits, as Cyrus did, to weaken and subdue the Sardiens.A tyrant as much as in him lies, prohibits or avoids all public assemblies, fears parliaments, diets and meetings of the general estates, flies the light, affecting (like the bat) to converse only in darkness; yea, he is jealous of the very gesture, countenance, and discourse of his subjects.A tyrant nourishes and feeds factions and dissentions amongst his subjects, ruins one by the help of another, that he may the easier vanquish the remainder, advantaging himself by this division, like those dishonest surgeons who lengthen out their cures. Briefly, after the manner of that abominable Vitellius, he is not ashamed to say that the carcass of a dead enemy, especially a subject’s, yields a good savour.A tyrant fills his garrisons with strange soldiers, builds citadels against his subjects, disarms the people, throws down their forts, makes himself formidable with guards of strangers, or men only fit for pillage and spoil, gives pensions out of the public treasury to spies and calumniating informers, dispersed through all cities and provinces.A tyrant leaves no design unattempted by which he may fleece his subjects of their substance, and turn it to his proper benefit, that being continually troubled in gaining means to live, they may have no leisure, no hope, how to regain their liberty.For a tyrant, as says Cicero, “is culpable in effect of the greatest injustice that may be imagined, and yet he carries it so cunningly, that when he most deceives, it is then that he makes greatest appearance to deal sincerely.” And therefore does he artificially counterfeit religion and devotion, wherein saith Aristotle, “he expresses one of the most absolute subtleties that tyrants can possibly practise: he does so compose his countenance to piety, by that means to terrify the people from conspiring against him; who they may well imagine to be especially favoured of God, expressing in all appearance so reverently to serve Him.” He feigns also to be exceedingly affected to the public good; not so much for the love of it, as for fear of his own safety.Furthermore, he desires much to be esteemed just and loyal in some affairs, purposely to deceive and betray more easily in matters of greater consequence: much like those thieves who maintain themselves by thefts and robberies, yet cannot long subsist in their trade without exercising some parcel of justice in their proceedings. He also counterfeits the merciful, but it is in pardoning of such malefactors, in punishing whereof he might more truly gain the reputation of a pitiful prince.http://www.constitution.org/vct/vind.htm
DEFENCE OF LIBERTY AGAINST TYRANTS
A TRANSLATION OF THE
VINDICIAE CONTRA TYRANNOS
WITH AN HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION BY
HAROLD J. LASKI
Reader in Political Science in the University of London