To have both freedom and liberty requires a conspiracy of ideas married to thinking and acting rationally in the face of concurrent campaigns of fear, war, and power. The uneasy alliance of the allies disintegrated in the waning days of WWII. Truman, who never trusted the Soviet Union, became resolute in his commitment to stop the advance of communism. The Soviets remained committed to the advance of communism. The Cold War (1947-1991) became WWII’s sequel. The Iron Curtain was drawn across the Soviet bloc as the war in Europe ended; it was the euphemism that defined the communist from the non-communist controlled portions of the world. While the former Soviet Union controlled its geographic allocation of the world through restrictions of liberty, the west, specifically the U.S., controlled their populations through the induction of fear, which resulted in a voluntary surrender of freedom by its individuals.
Liberty can be taken from individuals at any time, for any reason. People can easily be locked in prisons or behind borders. Taking liberty is simple. One merely need have bigger guns, overwhelming power, or the ability to control the basic requirements of life; food or water, for example.
Freedom is a tougher nut to crack. It is contained within the core of the human being. Individuals need to be coaxed into giving up their freedom. One can be hidden away in solitary confinement for years and still be free. As long as the state cannot control the substrate of the mind, people may give up their freedom but they can never have it taken from them. In the U.S., the value of the individual was written into the founding documents and there is an expectation that it will always be honored. Individuals are what have made this nation great. How these individuals are manipulated into voluntarily surrendering their freedom is fascinating. Why individuals choose to do so is mind numbing.
The end result of every government run by human beings is a governmental effort to control both the liberty and freedom of its population. Individuals are the source of sustenance for these governments; power and money. Eventually governments grow to a size where an enslaved population is required to provide the power and money sustenance. This is a cycle. Enslaved individuals will strive for freedom. Once achieved, a government is formed and eventually, usually not too long into the process, some individuals will come forward wanting more from the government. Governments are happy to grow and thrive in such an environment. Before you know it, the population is enslaved and the cycle begins again. If there is a circle of life there is also a circle of socio-political-economic being. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence held a mirror up to England. The revolutionaries longed for an ‘England’ that may have once existed but had died under the House of Hanover. Now the U.S. has come full circle and our government is the England whose shackles we shed 237 years ago.
Controlling populations has become an art form. Alexander the Great (B: 356 BC-D: 323 BC) was an empire builder. To keep the lands he won he paid his soldiers to marry non-Greek women, left teachers in place to introduce Greek culture, and soldiers in place to deal with the rebellious. Genghis Khan didn’t believe in waiting. He was the 13th century leader of the Mongolian Empire. The Khan’s approach was direct. One warning and one warning only was issued to a land he wanted for his very own; join the empire or be destroyed. He followed through quickly and when he overwhelmed a foe, he massacred every thinker he could find. Genghis Kahn used fear in a big way. He also introduced biological warfare when he sent plague infected corpses catapulting over the walls of Kaffa. It worked. Soon the Mongolians just showed up and people joined the empire. The Spanish Civil War used a more gentle approach in an effort to convince the republicans to lay down their arms. WWI and WWII were both as much about convincing people to buy-in to the political agenda du jour as it was about the fighting.
The Cold War (1947-1991) employed most of these tactics on one side or the other. In the U.S. , Truman used the idea of nuclear war—Doomsday. The Federal Civil Defense Administration created by Truman issued brochures, films, and radio advertisements on how to survive the cataclysm. Children were taught to get under their desks at school when they ‘saw the light’ of a nuke and were given dog tags so their wee bodies could be identified. Radios all had little yellow triangles on them so you could find the public service announcements that gave direction in the event of a nuclear strike. Lest we forget, low moaning sirens that yielded to high pitch screams and back again were tested every week in towns across the U.S. Air raid sirens definitively did not allow the prospect of fear to fade to the back of the mind. People, the ‘preppers’ of the 1950s, built backyard bomb shelters and cities built big ones.
Would any of this have helped in the event there had been a nuclear holocaust? Probably not. Studies of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers in 2001 indicate the locations and distribution of cones of destruction and protection mean any single individual is lucky or not lucky in these types of conflagrations. What the Truman and successor administrations did achieve is a pliable American populace who allowed them to keep a standing military; who gave the government the power to broker political deals with states like Georgia, Alabama, and the others for big bases like Robins and huge depots like Anniston.
During this same period of time, the military kept strategic bombers in the air and submarines under the sea. Huge, unwieldy, and very expensive bureaucracies grew, and continue to grow. The subs carried ballistic missiles and snaked through the highways and byways of the ocean. The DEW line, Distant Early Warning, grew radar installations and the supporting technology and big bombers stayed in the air twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was in the air on both sides of the Iron Curtain and, oh by the way, China was rising and stretching its communist wings.
The U. S. government was not above buying into its own fear mongering. The government drew up and deployed many contingency plans for Continuity of Government (COG), Doomsday Plans, in the event of a nuclear attack. Command Posts were developed to relocate the President, Joint Chiefs, Cabinet, Supreme Court, and Congress to secure locations. National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP), pronounced Kneecap, was born. NEACP included several shielded and specially configured Boeing airplanes with at least one plane ready for take-off within 15 minutes after an attack alert. It used to be that when the president traveled on Air Force One, a NEACP plane flew to a nearby location.
The size of government and its supporting contractor base grew at an incredible rate and the spend chart grew almost perpendicularly. No one in this country knew what it was like to feel safe. The taxpayers demanded more and more of government and watched the government less and less. The art of asking questions was buried in the forbidden section of the American National library and those who protested were looked upon as un-American. Fear became the master. Americans lined up to give up their privacy, their freedom of speech, their right to unlawful search and seizure.
Once the Cold War was over, a new enemy was found. This enemy is very handy because it can neither be seen nor quantified but, after the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, is, never the less, very real. The American people looked to the government for solutions and nodded in unison to the passage of the Patriot Act and the formation of the unwieldy Department of Homeland Security. In fear and confusion, the American people stood in line to voluntarily give up both their freedom and their liberty to a government that cannot pass a budget and passes bills it does not or cannot read. And the federal government yielded a collective smile.
The conspiracy was not among a global elite, although there are some, it was of governments doing what governments do—enslaving their populations. We, the people, the taxpayers of the U.S., got frightened and looked to an inept government for salvation. We lost our rational selves in fear and manipulation and we lost our country. It won’t be easy but we can reclaim our freedom and our liberty if we are willing to be accountable and responsible for our own actions. Other than the military complex, we are pretty much relegated to a low paying service economy that plays ‘Whack-a-Mole’ with creativity and ideas. Most of the people are so busy trying to keep food on the table and the lights on, they have no idea of the game being played or what it really means to them. If there is not an ‘app for that’ or a pill for the cure, then there is no time to spend on the problem or solution. Small groups of people gather to plan strategies and have the courage to continue speaking out in the face of an increasing likelihood of retribution from both the government and the populace. Small groups of brave souls are not enough. The vast majority of American citizens must join the rational thought with no fear movement for it to be effective.
I remain hopeful but, so far, it appears that the conspiracy worked.