Friends of IFC,
I had been saving the idea I put forth to you now for a rainy day. I wanted to avoid scaring anyone as I challenged you to think properly through a subject fraught with controversy. I personally see this very simply, but too few do. As I pen notes such as these, I know I’m writing to an educated and steadfast crowd of patriots. What I’m unable to quantify is just how deeply you all believe in your civil rights. Scarce among you are those who don’t recognize “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” as goes one of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes. We continue to see various states, government sanctions, and high-powered proclamations telling us what we can and cannot do and that doesn’t pass the smell test for me.
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety-Benjamin Franklin
Do you know where your rights come from? As much as I’m itching to tell you, I’m going to resist. This question you should know, but if you don’t, search long and hard for the answer. I’ll offer you a hint. I will share with you where rights DO NOT come from. Rights don’t come from man. Why? Any right conveyed to you by man is one that man himself will most assuredly curtail or remove. Think about it. Anything granted by man can be removed by man. Are you comfortable with the idea that your civil rights are offered up by a seemingly benevolent government when that government is comprised of men that can later negate them at will? What about only negating them when people are growing sick? Would that make you more comfortable? …And just how sick would you need to be in order for a man – the man – to remove your rights? Cue Ben Franklin’s quote above.
I’ve studied the origin of rights and I’ve also thought through how those in positions of perceived authority offer you the notion that when they’re in charge your submission is not only encouraged, but correct. During my research, I ran across a study from Yale in the 60s by a psychologist named Stanley Milgram. Milgram was concerned that acts of genocide, like those he’d followed during the Nuremberg War Criminal trials, post-WWII, could be propagated over and over should a people adhere to obedience. But it wasn’t simply obedience at the core of the concern. It was obedience to authority that was problematic for Milgram. Thus, he devised a procedure to offer a test to see how people randomly chosen would respond to the power of authority.
The experiment surrounded increasing electric shocks, a “learner,” a “teacher,” and of course an “experimenter” who was dressed in a lab coat, complete with a clipboard, and all the accouterments necessary to ooze “authority” over the unsuspecting subjects. The rates of shock were labeled and the highest rates were clearly labeled as a danger to health.
Milgram sought to quantify how far people would go in terms of obedience while harming another person. Milgram appeared equally interested in how easily influenced or coerced people would become by those in perceived positions of authority. He believed this would indicate an answer to his question of how likely another atrocity like those committed by Germans in WWII would be. Below is a video of the experiment with conclusions at the end. I suggest you watch it in its entirety.
Milgram summed his findings in an article titled, “The Perils of Obedience” which is easily found with a Google search. Granted, many have criticized Milgram for the testing locale, the use of only men, and some other variables. However, the point was not lost on me, when I saw the rates of shock people were offering coupled with far too many that completed that testing in full.
Authority will make you do things you never thought you would or could actually do. Authority isn’t automatically bad. We just have to be darned careful about Whose authority we’re submitting to and whose we are not. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not for one moment suggesting you ignore best practices when dealing with a highly communicable disease. I’m of the opinion that only a few of us actually benefit from a restriction, as the balance of us love our neighbors, friends, and family enough we can do what is best without the hand of government on our shoulders. What I am placing before you is the necessary mandate to guard your liberty from attack. In times such as these, we see opportunistic politicians and self-proclaimed experts exercising their authority too far and wide. Be careful and think through what you’re being told to do. Watch and compare how states outside your own handle things.
St. Augustine – “libido dominandi” – the lust to dominate – Writing during the collapse of the Roman Empire, St. Augustine offered vital insight into the core premise of freedom. A man was no longer a slave by nature or by law according to St. Augustine. No. His freedom was a function of his moral state. A man had as many masters as he had vices. This precept is the foundation for an intricate form of social control over man and continues to grow nearly unchecked today.Augustine of Hippo – 13Nov 354 – 28Aug 430 AD
I encourage you all to love your neighbor as yourself. I’ve read that before and many know where. Don’t place them or yourself at risk. But diligently observe the authority figures in our state and nation. Watch both their actions and their attitudes. Are they seemingly eager or reluctant to exercise power over their fellow citizens? Do they incline toward liberty and personal responsibility or do they default to strict regimentation, enforced by the government’s police powers? Those are character traits of which you should be mindful, and they indicate the core of a person. We must choose our representatives and public servants wisely.
I began this communication to you all with a reference to saving this sentiment for a rainy day. I was reminded today in an op/ed offered by Andrew Napolitano, what St. Augustine branded, “libido dominandi” – the lust to dominate – when government chooses between liberty and force. Where do you think they’ll land if the government entertains this false choice? Be very careful my friends, it is pouring outside.
Michael Ware – IFC Chairman