Have we actually finally crossed the rubicon, beyond the ability to have a reasoned disagreement? One in which our arguments have an underlying mutual understanding in the context of the organization of society and the roles of government, industry, and the individual? Have we fallen into different realities, speaking different languages, viewing coercion, threats, or even violence as our only available discourse? Are we doomed to repeat our inherited destiny of malfeasance, so emboldened to sacrifice our own humanity in return for temporary empowerment over each other? Alas, like Sisyphus, we inevitably set ourselves up for failure; rolling up the hill in search of power, only to have it slip from our grasp, crushing everyone and everything on its path back down to the bottom.
Free and open communication was the bulwark of modern civilization. An informed and involved, occasionally vigilant, population has been able to accomplish more than any revolutionary martyred in a past or present tyrannical regime could hope for. While violence often accompanies cultural revolutions, the west, especially the United States, has seen very little compared to the struggles in many other regions. The ability to rally together to protect the rights, property, and lives of our families, friends, and neighbors has depended on our ability to lay out our case in legal, political, philosophical, and theological ways. Sometimes to those same family members, friends, and neighbors, but also for them when they are in need of defense.
The obvious conclusion would be for this experience to naturally lead to becoming a more free and open people. We have seen many historical examples of when the authoritarianism of monarchy is transformed into a dictatorial state, full of its own crimes against the very people it is supposed to represent. The theocrats have their inquisitions, the secularists have their great leaps, and the nationalists have their genocides. The concept of sovereign individuals endowed with natural rights was a beacon in the storm of collective suffering. Decentralizing and redistributing authority down to the lowest levels possible led to the most prosperous society and the fastest technological advancement in the history of the world.
Unfortunately fear, of the witches, of the anti-revolutionaries, of the others, of the terrorists, of disease, often breeds the opportunity for some new Machiavellian to seize control over realms of our personal lives that should never have been compromised. Reason and cooperation, and peaceful noncompliance, have been able to build upon the early foundations of a free society. Slowly we have allowed convenience to neglect our responsibilities and it is no more apparent than the “representation” we have allowed so much influence. The excuse to command, to centralize decision making, to impose a singular experience on the multitude of individuals, is far too often a reaction to a self-inflicted grievance, or perhaps simply an exaggerated threat to compliment an inflated sense of authority. Compliance to the absurd only emboldens those who seek ascendancy. Once again, the boulder nears the peak.
The crumbling of communication lines and the lack of discourse could be discarded as merely a hyperbolic prognosis, however the current predicament we find ourselves in truly brings to light the fact that we no longer share the same reality as the people around us. As the State expands and encroaches further, logic and reason are not viable for defense. The people trying to compel us are not interested in facts or philosophy, they require obedience or removal. Even if we gained an audience, the fundamental differences in our understanding of human rights and the human experience would seem to make the attempt unproductive.
Like other enlightened generations before us, we too have the opportunity to halt the progress of tyranny and disarm our fellow men who have fallen for the trap of chasing power. But if communication is futile, words no longer have shared understanding, and seemingly well meaning fanatics attempt to roll the boulder all the way to the top to gain power for the greater good, where then do we turn? Assuredly not towards violence. Non-compliance and nullification have been the answer, perhaps it is now the time to dust them off and put them back into service. How much time will we waste on formulating a response to the rapid approach of a brutal police state, when we already know it will fall on deaf ears? Perhaps they do not deserve an explanation. Maybe a simple “No,” then continuing on about your business, is enough.