What To Do?

Articles espousing a re-birth of freedom, and decrying the growth of tyranny, often end with an exhortation to return to traditional American values, instill a new reverence for the Constitution, or, in extremely vague terms, to right things.

But how? That’s the question that I’ve frequently been asked, and it’s a very good question indeed. As our skiff floats downstream toward Niagara, it is worthwhile to point out the danger ahead. But when the roar of the falls, and the mist in the air, are obvious, the time has come to shift the emphasis from the clear and undeniable danger to the solution. How do we get out of this mess?

Previously, on these pages, I made a modest suggestion for doing that, and evidently succeededu2014at least as regards "modest." My idea produced no reaction at all. A difficulty facing anyone who has a plan to restore freedom is that a large percentage of those hearing it will ignore it, or forget it, while others will have plans of their own which, at least in their opinions, are far superior.

So I’m going to try again, if only so that I can claim I tried. My suggestion this time will require even less of you than I previously asked. It is simply this: do nothing.

Consider: has there ever been a successful popular revolution against a powerful government? I’m no historian, but if such a revolution took place in the past, it wasn’t something I learned about in school, or since. You can cite the American revolution of the 18th century, but that was hardly popular. Roughly two thirds of the Americans at that time were either indifferent, or hostile, to the idea of revolution. There is a history of frequent revolutions in Latin America, but they were merely one group seizing power from another. It is doubtful whether the people — those simply living their lives, with no political axe to grind — benefited.

Yet we can point to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and East Germany, as two examples of tyrannies that came to an end, with, probably, some genuine benefit to the peoples formerly enslaved by those regimes. Did the governments fall because of some uprising by the masses? Of course not. But fall they did.

At some point, governments over-reach themselves. They become too big to act efficiently, even in crushing enemies or stifling dissent. Bureaucrats vie with other bureaucrats for power and influence. They keep secrets from one another. For example, security in the U.S. is the concern of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and God knows how many other organizations. Do they cooperate, or compete? And how many entitlement programs are there? Who knows? What is the number of federal agencies and bureaus? How big is the budget? Does that include "off budget" items?

The government’s contempt for the law is becoming apparent to everybody. Pious expressions of horror at the thought of the U.S. employing torture fool no one. Rosy projections for the economy likewise fall hollowly on the ears of those laid off, or retired, or otherwise suffering a decrease in their standard of living. The "war on drugs" translates into a futile, expensive, and never-ending effort — ditto the "war on terror." Only the government profits from these power-expanding exercises. Spy cameras are multiplying, and every call you make overseas is intercepted and monitored, with the same treatment likely for domestic calls in the future. Meanwhile, emails already earn Big Brother’s scrutiny. The president insists it’s all lawful and proper; it isn’t, and we all know it.

It makes me think that the government is self-destructing, out of control. It flails about wildly, torturing here, bombing there, invading somewhere else. Domestically it lies about its crimes, and then lies about the lies. It imprisons those it thinks might possibly be enemies, without any semblance of due process. It bullies and bribes. It tolerates no criticism. Yesterday’s buddies are today’s terrorists.

So if you regard our present big-government as the source of most of our national problems, do not fret about what to do. Just wait. It is falling apart. That doesn’t mean that the fallout will be painless or smooth, or that some new, equally bad, bunch of crooks might not replace it. But whoever follows the present gang in Washington will walk tentatively, cautiously. For a while, at least, the will of the people will have force. That will be our opportunity. We need not contemplate ways to bring down the towering edifice of tyranny that confronts and threatens us: we need only stand ready to build upon the rubble when it collapses.

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.