In the weeks and years immediately following September 11, 2001, many Americans succumbed to the attractive yet fictional idea that all people in the United States share the same interests, goals and values. This idea of a mystical "unity" among all Americans took widespread hold as a natural human reaction to an attack by foreigners on American soil. With a dangerous cocktail of fear and anger coursing through their veins, and prodded on by the docile and unquestioning American political-media establishment, it was easy and emotionally satisfying to imagine that "we" were united together in a quasi-spiritual bond against an evil and maniacal foreign enemy. Members of America’s political class were not oblivious to the fact that they could exploit this idea for their own personal gain, and they pounced at the opportunity to pass legislation aimed at controlling and subduing Americans themselves — in the name of protecting them, of course. Seeking to distract Americans from the obvious fact that the U.S. government had both provoked the attack and failed to stop it, a bellicose vanguard of the political class pounced at the opportunity to make real their dream of sending American soldiers into far-away deserts and rocky mountains in order to spread "democracy" to the savages of the world.
Everything seemed to be going brilliantly for the dominant political class at the time. Their plans for a greatly expanded and powerful domestic state and exhilarating, democracy-promoting foreign adventures had all become realities. Then, to the dominant political class’s chagrin, things started to go badly. First, on the foreign adventure front, it turned out that the people in the deserts and rocky mountains that American soldiers were "liberating" were not as excited about being ruled by majorities of other ethnic groups as the American political class had hoped. Nor were they particularly excited about having tens of thousands of highly armed foreigners marauding around their countries and dropping bombs on their neighbors. It had been many years since the American Karzai had "unified" the United States through murder, taxation, and conquest, and the political class in Washington had forgotten that proud and independent people are not always thrilled about the idea of having far away people control their lives. They had also forgotten that war always involves death, suffering, and destruction, not ticker-tape parades, peace, and love.
Things then started to go badly for the dominant political class on the domestic front. The American people had become accustomed in the years following 1989 to thinking that "their" military was virtually invincible, and "their" economy was, and always would be, impervious to depression and collapse. Those illusions were suddenly shattered, however, as the American military struggled to keep a handle on two nearly decade-long wars, and the excesses of a quasi-private banking cartel hurled the United States into recession. Millions of ordinary Americans lost their homes, their jobs, and their savings in the ensuing recession, and American soldiers continued to kill and die in the desert and mountains abroad. Under these circumstances, Americans were less and less likely to view their leaders and their neighbors through the lens of "unity." They were starting to view the political establishment in Washington as a threat in itself, and as a group of people whose interests were not aligned with those of ordinary American citizens.
The dominant political class had a serious problem on its hands, and its main figureheads and schemers were summarily ousted from office by a public that was angry and disillusioned. By tossing out the political clique that brought them war and recession, the American people thought they were making a powerful statement against the political class. They cheered and swooned for the New Leader and his entourage, who were careful to speak of "hope" and a new "unity" among the American people and the brotherhood of man. Once again the American people heard the siren song of "unity" among all Americans, and they heeded its call to look confidently to the new political class to bring them peace, prosperity, and health care.
In the months following the New Leader’s assumption of the throne, however, the American people found out that the "unity" the new leader was selling had the same stench as the "unity" pitched by his predecessor. The predecessor had spoken of "unity" among the "free" people and nations of the world in the face of irrational and evil "terrorists" — the solution to which, he argued, was giving the governing class virtually unlimited power to do whatever it wanted to the American hoi polloi, and the unlimited power to invade and kill around the rest of the world. The New Leader spoke of "hope" and "peace" in the face of "global challenges" — the solution to which, he argued, was giving the governing class virtually unlimited power to do whatever it wanted to the American hoi polloi, and the unlimited power to invade and kill around the rest of the world. The American people began to realize that there was indeed truth in both leaders’ talk of "unity" among Americans, although it was not the kind of unity they had been imagining in the voting booth. It was a unity among the ordinary class of Americans to submit to what the governing class told them to do, told them to pay, and whom it told them to kill. And there was a unity among the governing class in America in its ability to do whatever it wanted, incarcerate whomever it wanted, take whatever it wanted, give whatever it wanted, and kill whomever it wanted.
The ordinary American people, having been finally disabused of their notions of "unity" among all Americans, were finally in a position to understand what government is. Government is always and everywhere a specially privileged class of people who have the ability to do whatever they want to another group of people — and do it at the forced expense of the people they control. Recognizing this, the American people were in a position to make a choice that would affect the rest of their lives, and the lives of every subsequent generation of Americans. They would have to choose whether to submit to the whims and schemes of the governing class, or to fight for the ability of each individual man to choose what to do with his own life and his own property.
At this historic juncture, the American people chose…
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.