If the decay of the West increasingly exposed since 9-11 is ever reversed, it will be as a result of the self-corrective tools of a free society. Here, by decay I mean the layers of constraint placed by the state on individuals to think, speak and act as free people.
The constraints, as state-engineered regulations, are put in place always in the name of some good; yet the effect, intended or not, is diminution of individual freedom.
Whenever freedom based on individual rights is traded for some other good for advancing equality, fairness or some other politically correct state-directed policy, such as multiculturalism, it paradoxically enhances the power of the state over individuals. The cumulative enhancement of state power and diminution of individual freedom eventually leads to turning an open society into a closed one. This process, as it advances, represents the decay of an open and free society.
The West, the U.S. included, since at least 1945 has been sliding down this pathway away from individual freedom and towards greater control of society by state. But the likelihood of correcting this situation is higher in the U.S. than it is in Europe. The reason is simple: The U.S. is still, in a relative sense, more of an open and free society than Europe. An open and free society is generally disorderly. It is not organized top-down.
In other words, order is not imposed at the command of some individual or elite group holding power over the rest in society. A liberal democracy based on individual rights, built by free citizens and constitutionally protected by its representative government, is the ideal of a free and open society.
England of the Victorian years was close to this ideal, and so was Canada more or less until its centennial year of 1967. America’s republican order was closest to the ideal of free and open society before the Great Society social-engineering of the 1960s.
The present cannot be entirely undone, nor the past fully recovered. But the barnacles of regulation and political correctness that increasingly suffocate freedom can be checked, and removed.
We are witnessing in the Tea Party movement in the U.S. this genuinely inspiring effort of common citizens to roll back the expansive powers of the state, and to make the government in Washington responsive to citizens. The Tea Party supporters are ordinary Americans who take their constitutionally guaranteed liberties seriously, and their movement represents the vitality of an open society.
Though much maligned by the Democrats and their left-leaning supporters in the mainstream media, the Tea Party movement illustrates how the self-correcting method of a free society works. Indeed, a gridlock in Washington, as seen in recent months due to the influence of the Tea Party supporters over their elected representatives, is indicative of the political system being healthy and working according to design.
In Europe, the trade-off between individual freedom and reliance on the state has perilously advanced its cultural decay. Moreover, the self-correcting method of a free society in Europe is not as robust as in America.
Europe’s future, consequently, looks ominous and is an amber alert for Canada.