|Email Ken Stallings||Today's Liberals Aren't!|
For fans of Star Wars, have you noticed that the social systems that predominated that fantasy universe were mostly predicated on monarchies?
Padme Amidala was somehow elected to be Queen of Naboo. Ponder that a bit. Since when have monarchs been elected? In the Star Wars universe, the royalty didn't end there. It was Princess Leia Organa, who was the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa, but also the adoptive daughter of the ruler of Alderaan, Queen Breha Organa. It was Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore who was the honest ruler of that society, before a group of labeled "conservative terrorists" named Death Watch seized power and schemed with Lord Palpatine's minions to destroy that planet. That description of Death Watch is lifted verbatum from the semi-official site named Star Wars Fandom.com.
In fact, there is not one case of a successful society in the Star Wars universe where the national or global leadership was represented as a Republic. The Republic, such as it was, was instead represented as a government confederation of planets, ruled by the Republican Senate, which was a parliamentary body from which was elected their executives, the Supreme Chancellor. And even for that Senate, the members were apparently all appointed to their posts by their planetary leaders, a fact stated overtly by Padme to her secret husband, when she said the Queen of Naboo, who replaced her, wouldn't allow her to remain as a Senator if she learned she was pregnant.
There were in the Star Wars universe a collection of initially happy and successful societies ruled by monarchs, and a collection of outlying systems where crime lords ruled, or society long ago descended into anarchy and economic depravity. Presidents and directly elected legislators simply did not exist in that fantasy universe, and the social order was somehow preserved by a small group of force wielders named Jedi. A monastic order that forbad even the individual right of marriage and family, and regularly called their leaders masters. So much for egalitarianism. Lords and Masters existed on every level of that society.
What we wed ourselves to we ultimately become. If we moor our values to the pursuit of individual liberty, then we tend to steer a path toward freedom and equality. When we moor ourselves to centralized control of people, we steer ourselves toward tyranny and subjugation.
Star Wars was created by an American, director/producer George Lucas, who eventually sold his empire of theater to Disney. George Lucas is a modern day liberal, very much active in the Democrat party, and that truth shouldn't be glossed over. It is emblematic of a far larger real world problem.
Today's liberals aren't liberal at all.
There was a time when, to be a liberal, was to be someone who stood for advancing causes of individual liberty. The birth of liberalism was defined by John Locke, who authored the immortal work, Two Treatises of Government. Today, much of that push for individual rights and liberties are advanced by people who are called conservatives. The point of being a classic conservative was to believe that for all its faults, the current systems needed to be preserved, perhaps tinkered with on the margins, but certainly not radically altered, or destroyed outright.
In Locke's era, it was profoundly radical, he would say liberal, to stand for the view that monarchs lacked legitimacy to rule over people. The conservatives of Locke's era stood in support of monarchies. Yet, in the second book of his two treatises, Locke outlined the view that at its most base level, people are only beholden to themselves individually, and to their state of nature, in which they are ordained by their creator with individual rights, which Locke stated were life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. Locke made it quite clear that only God had dominion over man, and that governments of any sort that attempt to lord over men are operating well outside the legitimate boundaries of the State of Nature, in which people are to live free, and be responsible for themselves, and define their own paths in life.
Over the many years after Locke wrote this powerful and quite radical book, a nation emerged that declared its foundational arguments to break away and become independent of a monarchy that created them as a set of colonies. That happened in July of 1776, when a collection of people formed the Second Continental Congress of America, and from that Congress emerged one of humanity's most influential documents, the Declaration of Independence. That document was the brain child of three men, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Adams and Franklin were the co-editors of the document that was largely written by Jefferson.
For his part, Jefferson based the arguments in the document on John Locke's philosophy from Two Treatises of Government. It was actually Adams and Franklin who thought Locke's focus on the pursuit of property was entirely too materialistic, and they modified it to instead read, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." It was felt that people should be individually free to pursue a path of living life that was estimated would give them the greatest happiness on earth, not to be defined necessarily by material possessions.
Throughout the majority of the history of America, there emerged two political parties, Democrats and Republicans, neither of them claiming to have a monopoly on conservative nor liberal views. That started to change in the second half of the 20th century. In the emerging decades of the 21st century, the polarization of the two parties has reached a powerful status. To listen to acolytes in either party, there isn't apparently any conservative Democrats, and likewise there aren't any liberal Republicans. Labels are in the eyes of the beholders. But, perhaps this schism is defined more by looking at the values that underpin the labels.
What today's conservatives wish to preserve is individual human liberty, where individuals get to decide the path they follow, not a centralized social force that decides it for them. Sadly, liberals today show affinity for centralized power, where the state gets to define paths of individual merit, restricting paths that are deemed by the anointed class of enlightened thinkers as being socially irresponsible. Given the schizophrenic changes made in the definitions of what is socially responsible, such hobbies of pursuit of happiness as owning an airplane, that burns aviation fuel, is deemed dangerously polluting of the environment, and must be ushered out of practice.
Such capricious and heavy handed thought is anathema to people who celebrate individual rights. To today's conservatives, who very much promote such individualism, so long as the pursuit of happiness does not infringe upon others' legitimate pursuit of happiness, the people should be perfectly free to find their own path in life. Government should be in the business of promoting such individual expressions, not hindering them, and certainly not sanctioning them.
Listening to such rubbish as the Green New Deal, one seriously wonders when gas rationing cards will be issued, where cards are earned by peoples' relative merits on the scale of their work for social and environmental justice, as defined by the central government masters. Chosen ones, who attend meetings for climate change for example, are awarded grand government gifts of aviation fuel, to jet around the globe, as opposed the the teeming masses of average people who must sell their cars and planes in the pursuit of an apparently cleaner planet. That harkens sickly to the phrase about "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." We can look to such economic powerhouses, and bastions of liberty, as Venezuela, Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union, to see how that concept has worked out whenever officially practiced.
Never mind that when one looks at all the objective data, America of 2020 is vastly cleaner, less polluted, and certainly healthier on every measure, than it was during the 1970's, when Acid Rain was a legitimate environmental issue, and the initial generation of nuclear power plants sometimes featured poor management of reactor fuel rods. Well, we crafted good rules since then, and learned a lot. Today, acid rain is gone, our rivers and lakes are cleaned up, and our nuclear power plants have learned how to properly manage and dispose of fuel rods.
When one takes a hard look at what Democrat-Socialists (their name for themselves) advocate for, and what their values appear to be, they seem alien to the trust that individuals, given freedom, will tend to make the optimal choices for themselves. A modern conservative believes that if electrically powered vehicles, through technical innovations, developed through the free market economy, become at least equivalent in range, power, and cost, to fuel powered vehicles, that people would volunteer to purchase them. A modern liberal believes their purchase must be orchestrated, and perhaps even mandated, by grand government schemes, designed to punish producers of gas fueled vehicles, plus also government investments in electrically powered vehicles, along with lavish government bonuses to encourage their purchase. All of those government programs exist in various forms today. The advocates of Democrat-Socialism in America openly tell you they want to usher in the next step, which is outright government orders to abolish production of gas powered vehicles, and mandate purchase of electric vehicles. How does that square with our Constitution's mandate that our federal government "secure the blessings of liberty?"
In short, conservatives in America believe government doesn't need to pick winners and losers, and should invest its faith in trying to maximize individual liberty, and ensuring courts exist to settle natural conflicts that arise from the wholesome pursuit of that liberty. Despite their predictable protests to the contrary, any honest American liberal today would agree, that they just don't trust the people to make the best choices, and need a paternalistic government to show them the right choices to make.
Whether or not intentional at the time, George Lucas crafted his now 50-year plus theatrical universe to embellish the positive virtues of monarchs, and to represent conservative philosophy as leading to anarchy or terrorism. Star Wars serves almost as a macabre inspection of how a society can delude itself into allowing great evil to flower from within the very halls of government, that is supposed to prevent such tyranny. The Jedi were blind to the rise of Lord Palpatine, when he was literally in the same room multiple times with the very Jedi masters who swore to defeat the tyranny of the Sith. When finally alerted to the truth, their own strict caste system of life created such fractures within their ranks, that even defeating their collective sworn enemy led to tragically misplaced choices that ensured their own demise.
If movies can serve as a valuable metaphor for life, then perhaps Lucas' universe can serve as one in this regard. What we wed ourselves to we ultimately become. If we moor our values to the pursuit of individual liberty, then we tend to steer a path toward freedom and equality. When we moor ourselves to centralized control of people, we steer ourselves toward tyranny and subjugation. Those who are at least honest with themselves can hardly disagree with that observation. Those who therefore deny it, are either fooling themselves, or trying to fool others.
Either way, we shouldn't be fooled.
-- Ken Stallings
This column is copyrighted under provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and all rights are reserved. Please do not re-transmit, host, or download these columns without my written permission.