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the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 01 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2003

Remedial Infantilism in the Great Society

A government of laws, and not of men.
by John Adams, "Novanglus" papers in 1774 Boston Gazette, and appearing in Article 30 of the Declaration of Rights of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution; originated in The Commonwealth of Oceana by James Harrington (1656).

Every American knows their rights, even if they've never read any of the fundamental documents establishing our nation. Furthermore, if their imaginary rights don't actually exist, they know that they have the right to invent them by protest, lobbying, and law suit. Everybody has the right to do their own thing, especially if it flouts tradition or conflicts with conventional mores. But if everyone has the right to be wrong, then why doesn't the government have the same latitude?!

Youthful dependency in the virtual arena, that dystopian paradise popularly identified as the Great Society, now extends into middle-age. But this indulgence is not reciprocal, which attribute was once a basic tenet of political justice. Kids get to suck the familial or social teat until they're eligible for retirement, but their parents have to be adults! In fact, that noble parent in their venerable dotage can't mooch-off their off-spring when finally debilitated by life's burdens. Part of this reaction is the law of equal and opposite that prevails in the physical sciences, and another part is the dividend from experimental indulgences coming back home to roost. As the gurus used to say about the evils of repression, What goes around, comes around., as in You'll get your just deserts! ... thus egocentrism rebounds.

The problem for an institution run by the inmates, or a Great Society without responsible adults in charge, is that real life is not a candy store where everybody gets two free desserts. In fact, contrary to ubiquitous lottery advertising, there's no free lunch at all in the real world. A superior culture cannot be sustained by fantastic computer games, explicit music, fictitious movies, lurid promotionals, and sensationalized news! Disjunctive or aberrant perceptions of reality don't alter reality. Good people are not going to invest in an unstable or surreal future. Commerce is not going to idealize the CounterCulture by selling t-shirts and blue jeans across the universe. The bad guys are not going to sit down in a groovy hot-tub and zone-out on some righteous weed. If the next generation doesn't re-invent maturity, then the Great Society is going to become a trivial footnote in the history our barbarian conquerors will write!

The only problem with an alarming wake-up call is that the malcontents, fifth-columnists, and fellow-travelers, who are deliberately and methodically dismantling our traditions, will be forewarned ... and forewarned is forearmed. The best and brightest have traditionally striven to make something from nothing, to create order out of chaos, but the self-anointed Neo-Elitists are making nothing from something, are creating chaos out of order. They claim that standards are inhibiting, that regulations are constricting, and that the bad old ways are outdated. It doesn't matter if any of it is actually true, because the dispute is not about the facts. The dispute is about power. Who has the power, and how that power is used. It is another undeclared war, but this time the lack of declaration is meant to disguise the fighting and to conceal the objective.

It may surprise and discomfit our legalistic brethren, but all of our vaunted rights are restricted. Furthermore, these limited rights are privileges extended only to certain people, and such may be further restricted ... and have been. There is no absolute right to free speech; hence the news can be restrained during times of national emergency. The freedom of assembly and the right to conscientiously object by peaceful protest, as a form of accountable civil disobedience, is not the same as coercing parental license to express an unrestrained tantrum. The separation of church and state prohibits the establishment of official religions, which could levy taxes upon non-congregants; but has nothing to do with denying a moment of respectful silence. Without an armed citizenry, able to resist and redress the excesses of roughshod politicians, none of our other rights matter at all. Our Great Society has become what our Founding Fathers feared, and we have been pacified by Marxist opiates into a complacent surety. And, because of educational revisionism, the next generation is not being taught civics and history and philosophy. Asking frenzied parents to teach what schools will not is a travesty. Asking phlegmatic youths to teach themselves is ludicrous!

Many social psychologists have attributed modern anomie to the absence of appropriate rites. Some have even conjectured a diminution of non-specific violence by alienated individuals when indoctrinated by a socially esteemed rite of passage; and the military can provide innumerable case studies as reinforcing confirmation. Since we already require Selective Service registration, it would be an easy matter to extend this simple process into a binding Social Contract between the newly adult individual and their community. If this young adult is old enough to fornicate, smoke tobacco, drink alcoholic beverages, vote in elections, drive an automobile, and bleed in sanctioned warfare, then they can certainly decide about other basic elements of adulthood.

The nascent adult manumitted into the Great Society should only be asked to do what any adolescent apprentice did a mere two hundred years ago. He should be asked his one true and legal name, by which society will henceforth recognize him. He should be asked if he has read and understood the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, with all amendments; and if so, to acknowledge that fact. He should be asked if he understands that he is subject to all laws, whether he agrees with them, understands them, or even knows about them; and if so, to acknowledge that fact. He should be asked to pledge allegiance to his homeland, that shining nation on the hill, the United States of America; and if willing to do so, that fact so acknowledged. And, of course, he should register for a draft into national service, providing he is mentally, physically, and spiritually fitted. If he cannot or will not register himself as a sentient adult citizen of our nation, then he should be refused franchise, and all other adult privileges. Unregistered non-adults shall be required to conduct all affairs, including education and employment, through a legal guardian. It's really pretty simple. If you want to live among us, you will assume personal responsibility for your own individual conduct.

This is not a naive panacea. It is as subject to corrupt malfeasance as any other invention of man. It is more than likely that the mandarins and apparatchiks of Big Brother will find a way to turn this Social Contract into a national registry, complete with fingerprints, DNA samples, retinal patterns, and electronic microchip implants for our own good! A citizenry that transfers parenting from the family to the government has not lost its dependency, but has merely found a surrogate for the adult management of infantile irresponsibility. Growing-up in the Great Society means never having to say: It's not my fault! Growing-up in the Great Society theme parks means that Uncle Sugar will always be the catcher in the rye. And growing-up in the shadow of Humpty Dumpty means that Big Daddy will make it all better ... even if it can't ever be fixed. The invading barbarian horde simply won't care about our petty rights and childish wishes!

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
by Benjamin Franklin, 11 November 1755 speech to the Pennsylvania Assembly.

by Pavlovich Bakunin
... who is retired from the U.S. Army, and now writes freelance.