sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 13, 2010

American Ideas

Filed under: society — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:32 am

Yesterday I read a great essay by Zombie that highlighted the similarities between the Tea Party movement and hippies.  Among them were:

  • A craving for independence;
  • A celebration of individualism;
  • Joy in the freedom offered by self-sufficiency;
  • And an acceptance of the natural order of things. (emphasis in the original).

Zombie  drew a chart where various ideologies spanning over the last half a century were mapped along more/less government control and innate/constructed human nature axes.  In the bottom left corner (bottom left?) she grouped Tea Parties, hippies, Libertarians and hobos.  All of those ideologies hold that human nature is innate and government control should be limited.  I want to put Declaration of Independence in the same corner though a bit closer to the center on the government control axis. Because:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. (Bold is mine, doh!)

So there you have it: both limited government and the innate nature.  If political bonds can be dissolved (and dissolved by the governed) then government control is limited.  If people are entitled by “Laws of nature and of Nature’s God” then there is something innate about humanity.  More on that innate humanity in the second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Founding Fathers of course were no anarchists:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  (Bold is mine again, doh!)

Hence closer to the Center on the Government control axis.

Tea Partiers, of course, consciously channel America’s founding principals.  That’s why Jonah Goldberg called them restorationist.

Growing up abroad I didn’t see any tension between United States’ founding and counterculture.  Both stood for some sort of expression of freedom, perhaps ideas I later recognized as Libertarianism.  When I later arrived in the US, I found it odd that many underground figures were so anti-American, but I filed them under “lovable eccentrics”.  After 9/11 I realized that gosh, I guess they really do hate the country.  Then I listened to what they were really saying and realized that they really are socialist.  It’s some sort of suicidal cognitive dissonance.

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