Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Generation Away from Extinction

Statue of Liberty
Photo source: Wikipedia
If you look at history, freedom is not normal. Most people in most times and places lived under oppressive regimes where there was no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, and no due process. The government could lock you up and torture you at any time without having to give a reason, and in feudal Europe there was even the right of primis noctis which gave the lord first crack at deflowering your daughter. Even in today's America, most people want the government to prohibit others from doing things which they dislike, offering freedom for the things they do like as a consolation prize.

It's clear then why, in Ronald Reagan's words, "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Freedom is rare and precarious, and we cannot be too careful about preserving the checks and balances that make it possible - including an armed population that can resist the power of the government if it ever becomes necessary. It might not be realistic, in the nuclear age, to expect the sort of weapons parity that would permit the people to beat the government in open combat, but they should at least be armed well enough that a would-be dictator would think twice before taking them on.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on

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