[This article was first published at Freedom’s Phoenix, and I discussed it on “Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock” on January 16th, 2014. The audio for that is here.]
2013 is over, and I’m in the large group of people who are sort of glad to see it go. But in terms of liberty and technology, it was a great year! 2013 was also the year that a vast new majority of Americans turned their back on the overseas military agenda. We can all agree that we couldn’t care less about building short-lived roads and bridges in Afghanistan when we’ve got roads and bridges to build here for children, our grandchildren and ourselves.
Privately funded and openly discussed technologies – for alternative non-state controlled currency, for communications, for delivery of goods and services, for building anything and everything – debuted in a disordered rambunctious cacophony. Bitcoin, space rockets, drones, encryption and 3D printing – we had been taught that these categories belong only to state, and never to the people.
Not only are the secrets of space and communications and currency no longer owned by the state, thanks to Ed Snowden and others, even the secrets the bureaucrats thought they owned are no longer secret.
New technologies that integrate information, knowledge, production and manufacture, and transportation abound, and are igniting the engine of capitalism. Innovation is not only easier and faster than ever, it rules our modern life and economy – even as that same environment of discovery is allowing everyone to reach back into the past, and rediscover the genius of our pioneer forefathers.
This nexus of information and empowerment allows more people than ever before to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Don’t have a job? There have never been more ways to serve others, to meet their needs, locally and globally. Need to learn a new skill or find your talents? We live in a time where we are all kings of our destinies, and just about any knowledge we seek is available to us with minimal effort.
We are told that there are fewer American adults in the workforce than ever before, and that most are dependent on some kind of government handout. Certainly, Americans are coping with new realities, and as they cope, they are discovering new-old truths about government and the state. They are discovering that the words of Aesop “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office” are undeniably true.
Something seemed to turn in 2013, and it signifies what is coming in 2014 and beyond. The government has ended the year hated by more average Americans than ever. If we the people separate ourselves emotionally and psychically from the government leadership and bureaucracy that purports to represent us, then we have declared our independence. This trend of distrusting the government comes and goes, but the current situation in the United States is that the government cannot subsist on just the faithful – those who voluntarily pay their taxes, who consume because the president asks us to, who trust the Homeland Stasi, and call the police confident that they and their children will not be assaulted or shot by them in the process of being “helped.”
We know this is happening, in part because the polls tell us. We don’t think the government should be in the healthcare business. We are sick and tired of politicians in general. We are tired of the horrendous and stupid tax burden the working poor and middle class are paying, and we increasingly understand that Washington, D.C. doesn’t really get the rest of the country. There is a new kind of anti-urbanism in play, a new perception of large cities not as centers of culture and opportunity, but as sources of conflict, targets of violence, and founts of future refugees when faucets run dry and supermarket shelves go unfilled.
Across the world and time, history is made when subtle conflict between urban and rural grows political, and heats up. Revolutions and secessions blossom and bloom, and empires rapidly corrode along these lines. How can we know how close we are to this kind of breakdown of the state? One way is to examine the fearful and panicked reaction of bureaucrats and politicians to what is evolving. Private market-driven electronic currency, privately owned drones and privately “printed” handguns, popular and available encryption of our petty communications, all of these emerging and liberating technologies are being at once seized upon by the state, and quickly restricted to the common citizen.
The FAA has said that drones cannot be used for media and news gathering. At least not yet. Meanwhile, the information-gathering the state does on each of us is growing by leaps and bounds and nothing, least of which the Constitution, seems to be able to stop it. John Whitehead sums up the ten ways we live each and every day in a US Government-run electronic concentration camp. And we seem to be tolerating not only the concentration camp but we stand by as the government attempts to restrict our own access to many of the same technologies they use to enslave and monitor us.
There is a line of reasoning that says statism is always reversible, if only because statism over time becomes economically unsupportable. Unfortunately, the cheapness of technologies for information gathering and control can prolong the inevitable collapse of statism under its own dead weight. In a sense, the very success of innovation and capitalism can sustain the life of the government beast and secure it, for a lot longer than we the people can actually tolerate it.
I think 2014 will be the year we can go beyond the theory about what state interference in our lives we will or won’t tolerate, and start practically opposing it. Many young people and others are refusing to participate not just in Obamacare, but in any and every manner of government assaults on their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Each and every one of us who moves towards greater self and community sufficiency is practically resisting. Each of us who knows more, and cares more, about our neighbors than we do the pantomimes in the distant capitols is practically resisting. I think this makes us “the tireless minority” of John Adams that is “keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” We are all — young and old, rich and poor – capable of this each time we resist the state with moral confidence and firmness of intention. 2014 is our year, and its been a long time coming!