Dissin’ Liberty

Bruce Bawer, American expat extraordinaire, posted an especially insightful post over this weekend, in which he notes that the peculiarly American assumption that all people want to be free just may be a tad naive.

He cites Jewish writer Tuvia Tenenbom’s (“I Sleep in Hitler’s Room”) observation, upon traversing the former East Germany, that most of the people Tenenbom encountered longed for the “good times” living under the East German dictatorship. In the Middle East, we see peoples offered the light of freedom only to turn further toward the darkness. As Bawer points out, we should know that not all people want to be free: after all, the masses that marched in support of the Nazis and Communists hardly marched for the cause of freedom. Read it all…Bawer makes excellent points in support of his thesis.

We, as a nation, have existed on the premise that all people (like our forefathers) want to be free. This (false?) premise has driven much of American foreign policy. It may also blind us to what is really going on in our own country with regard to the Liberal/Left, the Democrat party and the OWS movement.

I believe that I can understand the pull of serfdom for many people. Just think of all of the difficult life decisions that are taken away from the individual serf: as wards of the state, they don’t have to worry about where they will get their food (of course, they can forget about shopping at Whole Foods as well), whether they will meet their financial needs (albeit at a subsistence level), understanding politics, moral values, education, finding a job…etc. It is, in other words, regression to the mind of a child. They can simply exist for the moment of the day: no responsibilities but, also, no hope. Like vegetables, if you think about it.

So, what do you think? Is what is happening today a defining struggle between those of us that want to be free and those that seek a return to childhood? Is it as simple as this? Because, if it is, then we really are witnessing the final death struggle of the American Republic.

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  • suek

    I think it’s a definite possibility. I’ve heard of immigrants from the former Soviet Russia that found the USA too “difficult” and who returned to the security of Communism. Freedom to prosper has also always meant freedom to fail as well.

    We’ve also know children who become demanding teenagers and who seem to never grow up – that’s the part of your equation I fear. If some wanted to stay “children” and would settle for some reduced level of maintenance, I could live with it. Unfortunately, the “children” want to take possession of the house, all the contents, and to send the ‘rents to the old folks home while enjoying the fruits of their labor.

    I’m not sure history has ever had an equivalent situation – although someone famous (Thatcher, maybe? Part of her “you run out of other people’s money” statement?) has made the statement that communism/socialism never begins in an impoverished country – there always had to be wealth for them to seize. I’m not so certain about that. Maybe I just don’t know enough…China? North Korea? Cambodia? I don’t think of them ever being countries where people had wealth – but maybe I just don’t know enough about their history.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    As I’ll write about in length in a full post when I’m back home, I met a white South African man who told me that, now that the ANC has abandoned Mandela’s stabilizing, non-racist policies, blacks pine for apartheid — “at least then we had electricity, food and clean-drinking water.” Freedom works only if people’s basic needs are met, and it was easier to meet basic needs 250od years ago, when we started this experiment.

  • http://poliwogspoliblog@blogspot.com poliwog

    “at least then we had electricity, food and clean-drinking water.”

    Sounds a lot like “Oh the leeks and onions of Egypt” and immediate forgetting of the whips and slaughter of their baby boys.  I’ve heard teaching that the point of the desert wandering was to change the people from a slave mind-set to that of freemen.  It’s certainly taken that long to really, thoroughly go the other direction here in the US.

  • suek

    >>I’ve heard teaching that the point of the desert wandering was to change the people from a slave mind-set to that of freemen.>>

    Very interesting thought you raise…

    In something of the same vein, Fox News has an article this AM about the youth of Iraq, and how they’ve been affected by the US Military’s presence there for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, their report indicates that the Iraqi youth has absorbed some of the less desirable stuff, it seems. I just hope that some good stuff has rubbed off as well.

    The percentage of youth – in fact, the entire age group make up – that they mention in the article indicates a very age unbalanced population. We really should have stayed another 5-10 years, I think, if we wanted lasting change in the country. And 40 years probably would have done the trick!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Should of thought about that before getting rid of the white ruling colonial class and raping all those white women, probably.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Shortly before WWII, a young Nazi was quoted as saying “We Germans are so happy. We are free of freedom.”

    I think it is very dangerous to assume that this instinct is something specific to Germans. However, the experience of Germany can help indicate how the phenomenon develops.

    In his valuable memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffner described the differing reactions of individuals when the political and social climate briefly stabilized:

    The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.
    But…and I think this is a particuarly important point…a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:
    A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.
    To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

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