Tomasz Gil © 2005
"Non abbiate paura" - "Do not be afraid" - these words came strangely as one of the first pronouncements of Pope John Paul II - inspiring movements against communism in Eastern Europe. Strange that the Pope would stand up for freedom - isn't it? It is even more strange for me to address these words to Americans - who inhabit the land of the free. I feel compelled to do so because, alas, Americans have succumbed to fear.
Americans are afraid to embrace their freedom and use the liberties they inherited from the fearless founders of this country. They ask their government to support them because they no longer feel the internal independence that makes them true citizens supporting their nation and government. Americans no longer make their own life and career - they rely on the government to protect certain ways of life - workers, homeowners, families, small business owners, farmers. Out of fear for their way of life they ask for socialism, for welfare state - also called, quite poignantly, a providential state, - for a state that maintains certain artificial economic conditions like cheap gas, subsidies for home ownership and health maintenance plans.
Americans are no longer free for they ask the government to support them - while it should be the other way around - it is free citizenry that institutes and supports the government in order to assure the nation's future.
Americans are also scared of various more or less real dangers - second hand smoke, hate speech, sex, selected drugs, immigrants. Americans are scared of dying and will spare no resource to prolong the frail life of the elderly.
Americans are scared that their country may lose influence in the world and as a result support a bully approach to foreign policy creating enemies in the world and necessitating increasing costs of national security. This stupid foreign policy is possible because the citizens no longer think about the fate of the nation but about their own fate shaped by elected officials.
What is socialism? A political system in which the nation is turned into a community and the government plays the role of more or less benevolent lord with official goal of realizing the good of the community. It does it, or more frequently just pretends to, by trampling over the individuals' goals and aspirations. Individuals become cogs in the machine which completely breaks their life when they try to change their place. However, being a cog in a machine has the advantage of a meager security. People assailed by fear will ask for security - often security of socialist solutions - even in a formerly fearless and pioneering country such as America.
Socialism they are seeking is delivered to them in many ways via the artifice of government intervention in economic realities where it supports the goals of the nation converted into a community. The socialist intervention was overt in real socialist states of Eastern Europe, but in America it is camouflaged by a collusion between large corporations and the government.
You see, a corporation is like a little socialist economy. It has central planning, where all individual and group actions are subordinated to the central goal of benefit to the stockholders. The planning and management optimizes the operations that utilize corporate material, human and natural resources. Corporate operations will also try to get as much control of the consumer and the law in order to shape the market to their advantage. An example is the media and entertainment market and the legal battle over the so-called intellectual property rights. The result is restraining consumers in the use of digital and other media content, robbing them of creative access to material that is constitutive of their culture. As the corporations certainly own their material resources and to a large degree their employees (American employees often think of themselves as corporate slaves - I thought slavery was abolished?!)(and no - it is not a joke, it is repeated too much) they try to extend their influence in all the naturally open directions - into the political realm that can control the law and through the law shape the markets. That means that large corporations will have a propensity to influence the government. The government controlled by corporations will be in essence socialistic and will turn the citizens into feudal serfs while flattering their sense of freedom stunted by fear.
The factor that can counteract the corporate pressure on government resides in the power of the elections where each citizen has one vote without regard to how much he is worth economically. It sounds like a weak defense. Indeed many seek to bolster it by election laws limiting the amounts of monetary contributions to political campaings. This is another horrible example of fear - where liberally minded people are scared of the effects of free speech delivered by media purchased by money. Completely unregulated political system where any person and any corporation can contribute any amount of money to any campaign but only a person can be a voter would powerfully demonstrate the vigor of democratic political control of government independent of the influence of money. It would show that your vote beats their money.
What is legitimately to be feared? Control of a class of resources by a single entity or a cartel thereof. Of particular concern are the resources that are limited - land, water, radio waves, urban space and also the time of our lives. No single entity should get the command of our attention. Most problems of control of resources can be well addressed within a market system where the government is setting the rules on the basis of which a market is to operate.
What else should we fear? Control of the government and usurpation of civic sovereignty by a lifeless and yet undying corporate monster that has no sense of civic duty or interest in the future of the nation. This is a novel version of foreign invasion - not by a foreign state, not by terrorists, not by alien robots, but by a homemade socialist monster devoid of sense of civic duty but bringing gifts - the benefits of security to appease our misplaced fears - and delivering serfdom.
Therefore, do not fear your freedom, embrace it and face your fate and the fate of your nation. Do not surrender.