This post was started several times before I actually got a hold of what I wanted to say. Yes, that’s my excuse for being late.
Lately alarm bells have been ringing at the back of my head.
I have to tell you, I’ve been through the whole progressive experiment before. In Portugal they called it what it really is “Socialism” though they called it “on the way to socialism.” Never spoken of because even in Portugal it had a bad taste was that socialism itself is “on the way to communism.” Or as people put it, “Communists are socialists with guns.”
Yes, I know this will cause howls of protest and we might even get in a “progressive” eager to dissect the fine points of each system and show how they’re not at all like the other, you know, because No True Scotsman. But in more innocent times it was more open and, you know, all the communist countries called themselves alternately socialist or democratic. (At this point the entire statist project seems much like a cheap Chinese restaurant that changes its name every week, possibly because like the cheap Chinese restaurant both are potentially sick-making and created from unwholesome ingredients. Of course, even though there have been cases in the news of bottom line Chinese restaurants dumpster diving for ingredients, nothing, but nothing can compare to the rank noxiousness of Marxism. Nor has even half-spoiled fish ever caused near as many deaths. I refuse to insult botulism – or the black plague – by comparing it to the rank ideas of Karl Marx.)
However, well, we’re Americans and we’re nothing if not innovative. The new twist Americans are putting on the whole “progressive” experiment (another part of their creative naming effort like “deutsche democratische republic” or “Pravda.” They’re named in an act of post modern linguistic effort that garantees nothing in the name is contained in the thing named. Very avant-garde, I’m sure, and by avant-garde I mean of course an old and musty movement that should no longer fool anyone with its pretended smarts) is jaw-droppingly daring and mind-boggling.
The latest, best efforts of progressivism to get around the bullwork of the constitution is … well… the idea of the “collective” rights.
Okay, so this shouldn’t surprise me. After all they’ve been, for years, and against all linguistic knowledge trying to convince us that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” means that armed forces are allowed to bear arms.
Now Justice Breyer is just taking a stick to the other amendments and beating them into the same shape. He thinks the first amendment is there to secure COLLECTIVE speech rights. That is you only have free speech in things that might influence government action. (For a more complete dissection, see here.)
Yes, this man is a justice in the supreme court of the United States. Lean back and think on this for a moment.
And now there’s a lot more talk about “collective” rights. It appears all these years, all of us, even the Progressive Project (which is like a bad rock band, but not nearly as harmless) have been interpreting the bill of rights wrong. Your right to not having a state religion foisted on you, for instance. Oh, you poor saps. It’s only a right so long as the state doesn’t wish to impinge upon your religion with demands that are against your beliefs. At that point, of course, it becomes a matter of collective interest and after all who are the Little Sisters Of The Poor not to provide abortifacients to the their nuns? Because, war on women, and also culture of rape. Collective rights trump individual ones.
Then there’s assembly. It turns out your right to assembly depends on your not pissing off the people in power too much. Sure, you can assemble but you must do it quietly and in the designated places.
At which point I, who am no constitutional scholar, sit back and think “Why would some very smart men, like our founders, take the time to make sure that COLLECTIVE rights are secured?”
Collective rights are always and everywhere secured, at least if they’re rights that can “influence government.” Of course, if they’re not, if they’re just the rabble grousing or malcontents, or “fringe groups” then there is nothing to be said about it, right?
So, for instance, in Elizabethan England, you had full right of speech about how the state religion should be conducted, unless you were one of those icky Catholics, who were fringe and influenced by foreigners, in which case you should just be burned. (Yes, I know, turn about was fairplay. There’s nothing to choose in that time. But you know, you were in or you were out.) And in the various totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century (shut up, my first awareness of politics was under one. I know of what I speak.) you could of course speak and contribute to the discourse in the manner of a loyal opposition. Your collective right to speak – unless you were one of those crackpots who thought crony capitalism with overtones of mercantilism was keeping the people poor – was not to be infringed. And if your message was “exactly but” you might even get minor adjustments in government. I’m sure justice Breyer would approve.
The point is there has never been and there never will be a government that denies collective speech rights. This is because collectives can be controlled. (It has long been my observation that all you need is a communist in any group or association and everything that group or association does becomes communist.) First of all, of course, are which collectives are recognized (and note Beyer’s idea of USEFUL collective speech.) Second because collectives are as everything else prone to be influenced by a particularly vocal person. (See, communists in a group or association. Much like a drop of sewage in a barrel of wine.)
In the Soviet Union they had freedom of collective speech. They do in Cuba.
Do you notice any difference between them and us? Or any reason why a group of men who knew history (if not the tragically colossal errors of the twentieth century, but those were forecast in the past) would feel the need to write down any of those “rights” if they were collective?
You will not find any reason for the founders to do that, unless, of course, they liked writing down a lot of things to no purpose. (And they didn’t.)
And you will find plenty of difference between societies with collective rights and with individual ones.
Look, people, we, as humans are creatures of a group. We’re social creatures. (Which the idiots who answer to this type of posts routinely interpret to mean we should be socialist.) By this I mean that if you drop a human baby into wild, even if he survives, he won’t be fully human. He won’t have language, or culture (because unlike the Progressive Project illusions, culture is NOT hereditary genetically.) He’ll be a sort of hairless ape, maybe a little smarter than the median ape, but not human.
As humans, we are creatures of culture, and we need to define and identify ourselves through our culture. In other words, we want to fit in. We, all of us, at some level, want to be the cool kids.
What this means is that humans tend to “opinion match.” Particularly when those opinions must be expressed in a group and by consensus.
This is why you see societies go through most jaw-dropping attacks of idiocy that EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW WOULD END IN TEARS. The black tulip mania; Nazism; Stalinism; Hope and Change; a sudden decision that fat is bad for you; anything from the tragic to the comic (Hope and change, we’ll all die laughing) that is clearly and obviously stupid but which takes a population (and sometimes the whole world) by storm… All of it comes from the individual’s desire to fit in, to be in tune with the crowd.
If that was all there was to Humanity, I doubt we’d have got where we are now. But it isn’t. Humanity produces a certain number of outliers. Odds we call them. Sometimes these people are smarter than average, but often they just have some other characteristic that causes them not to quite fit in.
Because we don’t fit in (in my case, would you believe my first set back at fitting in was the inability to play the elastic jumping game all Portuguese school girls played?) we usually give up being “one of the cool kids” at an early age. And this leaves us free to see the insanity of the groups from outside.
I submit to you that to the extent a society succeeds or fails it’s the measure to which they allow individual action to their cranks, outliers and “nuts.”
Take a society that represses them utterly and you have China, which has been caught in an iterative madness that is the historical equivalent of Fifty First Dates. (How many emperors burned books and banned folk tales?) Maybe they’ve broken out of it now as their madness looks more western from the outside, but I wouldn’t put my hands in the fire. They’ve gone through these periods before, too.
Take a society in which outliers are allowed to talk and express themselves, and present their crazy ideas to everyone and you have… the US. Which is why over our existence we’ve been the most innovative, creative nation ever. Because sometimes the cranks and the crazies JUST have a point. It might take them a good long while of being the voice that cries in the desert, but eventually they get through. Or some of them do. And the result is a better life for everyone.
Which is what our founders meant.
And those seeking to curtail my individual rights in favor of the collective can gaze upon my very individual middle finger. They can take a hike. They and the horse they rode in on.
It’s a bloodied mule, who has brought nothing but death and poverty wherever it was allowed to ride.
To protect us from this, we have the bill of rights, which secures the states (and individual) rights AGAINST government. To protect this we have our government assigned ENUMERATED powers they’re not meant to exceed.
Even the best government in the world will oppress its people given time, because it is the way of the bureaucrat and the intellectual to think he knows what’s best for all people.
Notice this nonsense only came up when they think the Progressive Project is almost complete, and that therefore the government is the best and most benevolent it could be. This is why they came up with nonsense like “We all belong to the government” – spit.
The thing is, if they wished to be slaves, we’d let them be. There are many places in the world where they can find themselves happily enslaved. They could depart from us, without rancor.
The fact that they’re not seeking one of those places means that’s not what they want. They want US to be slaves, and them our masters.
In the land of the free, the name for that is “treason.” Let not the pretty words and the intellectual fog distract you. It is treason they propose under their soft pleading.
We must shout it loud and clear whenever we hear this nonsense. Or we’ll lose our right to shout.