Since the 2012 US election I have seen a great deal of pessimism amongst bloggers and commentators about the prospects for individual freedom in the Western world. It seems that the re-election of Barack Obama and the left-wing political victories in France, Greece and other countries are seen as the turning of the tide against classical liberalism in favour of state control and the abrogation of individual rights.
I agree with these commentators that there is little prospect of rational, classical liberal governments being elected in New Zealand or other Western nations over the next few years. Voters have made their choice clear – they want to continue deluding themselves that the welfare pot is forever full and that government interference in every aspect of society and the economy will always guarantee them a better life.
It is clear that it will take something more than a prolonged global economic downturn and the increasing erosion of individual liberties for voters around the world to get the message. No one seriously believes that the economic policies of most Western governments are sustainable beyond another few years and the signs are that severe social disruption is becoming more common in most Western nations the longer the global economic downturn continues.
The end game is now starting to be played out and unfortunately it is not going to be possible for anyone to opt out, any more than it was possible to opt out of the same philosophical fight in the 1930s and 40s. Political demarcations are becoming more pronounced and positions more entrenched. You would have to be a very optimistic person with little sense of history to look at the current situation around the world and believe that it is not going to result in a great deal of bloodshed. If you think I am being crazy, then ask yourself why the US Department of Homeland Security (whose sole responsibility is domestic security) has recently purchased more than 1.2 billion sniper bullets. Clearly, I am not the only one who is anticipating a significant outbreak of violence in the West.
However, I disagree that the prospects for freedom are all bleak. History teaches us that greater freedom prevails over the long term. I believe that current events are unfolding so quickly that the collapse of the West and the real fight against tyranny are more imminent than most realise. I am sure that in 1940 few people thought they would see the defeat of Fascism in their lifetimes and in the 1980s few Russians would have believed they would see the end of Communism.
Thomas Jefferson said, "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". Freedom is not lost unless we are not prepared to fight for it.