I don’t like the ACLU. I think it’s an agenda drive organization, in thrall to Bush Derangement Syndrome. This means it takes its theoretical focus — the preservation of individual rights against the state — and simply attempts, time and time again, to subvert that goal to striking out at the Bush administration, specifically, and at conservatives generally. The thing, though, is that its core idea — the preservation of individual rightse against the state — is right on the money. I’ll tell you why.
I was reading a book about Soviet Russia and, as always, was stunned by the cruelty that individuals in the USSR directed against their fellow countrymen. I was watching a movie about WWII Japan and was stunned by the movie’s depiction of the callous disregard Japanese exhibited to those Japanese who weren’t “with the program. ” I was watching a movie about the savagery the Nazis inflicted on priests during WWII, which was a good reminder of the Nazis’ subhuman behavior with regard to all whom they wished to destroy. And every day I’ve been reading the news about the atrocities that Islamofascists commit against everyone who doesn’t conform precisely to any particular sword-wielder’s vision of Islam.
In each case, I ask myself how can societies produce individuals who will turn on their own in this way? And, the mirror question, why has our country, for the most part, avoided this type of conduct? In each case, my answer was that the societies I’ve described value the state (or the state religion) above the individual. In this way, these societies are markedly distinguishable from the Western tradition, which reached its apex in the American Bill of Rights, which values the individual above the state.
States have no conscience. When the state becomes the paramount virtue in a community, the state’s goals trump individual needs and the state, acting through individuals in thrall to that state, will do anything — no matter about cruel and debased — to ensure the primacy of those goals.
Keep this point in mind when you contemplate the end of Europe — and it is ending. Much is made of the fact that it’s ending through multiculturalism, declining childbirth rates amongst Europeans, and increased fertility and aggression amongst immigrant Muslims. None of this could have happened though, if socialism hadn’t instructed the Europeans to place themselves in the government’s hands. Cradle to grave care, with its focus on the state, and its concurrent subordination of individual needs and desires, is rushing Europe along the same path Germany trod in the 1930s and Russia in the wake of the Communist Revolution. In this way, the ground is being prepared for an Islamic takeover. Europeans have already been trained that the state’s dictates matter above all else. As Islam emerges triumphant, Europeans will just attach themselves to a different, although less generous and more brutal, government teat.
You should also keep this in mind when you contemplate the Democrats’/Liberals’ desire to turn over more and more to the Government. They want the government to run our businesses, control the lives of our poor, dictate our scientific research, take our money, determine our health care, decide how we protect ourselves, teach our children correct government think, etc. In other words, they want to remove the individual from the equation and to place the government as the central focus of every America’s day-to-day existence. That’s why the ACLU, although its practices are so one-sided as to be perverted, has the right idea — the less the government controls, the better.
By the way, I’m not advocating removing the government from all spheres of life. There are certain roles the government needs to fulfill — most notably security at home and abroad. And this security is going to bring with it inevitable tensions between the state’s goals and the individual’s needs and freedoms. That’s why the Founders, in their wisdom, created a system of checks and balances. Recognizing that individuals, who should be paramount, can also turn into uncontrolled mobs, they created a representative democracy. It is the responsibility of these representatives, who should be zealously guarding their ability to stand up to the executive branch, to make sure that individual rights are being protected.
No system is perfect, and ours is going to be subject to the failures of individuals and the ebbs and flows of world events, but it’s still the best system going. And its virtues arise from the fact that, in America, the state exists to help the individual, not control him.
[By the way, I chose the picture of God and Adam to illustrate this post because I think it perfectly exemplifies how important the individual is in classic Western culture. He's not being controlled by God, he's being touched by God.]