Liberty without responsibility is a privilege, not a right. Rights are manifest in liberty and equality. Where privileges reign instead of rights, often made to masquerade as rights, a system of inequality and the lack of liberty exists and persists beyond even the limited utility of the privilege. In fact, where privileges reign, either a system of inequality must be maintained or the illusion of one must be maintained in its media.
Rights flourish with respect where equality is a primary condition of all social relationships. Rights carry responsibilities; abdicating responsibilities to our rights removes them from the position of choice and replaces them with privileges we are supposed to be grateful for like dogs begging for bones or scraps from the table. Citizenship has always required a certain degree of obedience, even in democratic societies. Today, citizenship seems to require a greater degree of acceptance of the status quo, mostly instilled through a systematic under education coupled with the advancement of semi-literacy being good-enough for most socio-economic advancement. Our politics suffers; voting behavior is better managed and controlled by elites. Very few think except in what masquerades as thinking, randomly passing images or received ideas through the mind.
Politics has a metaphysics; all topics of discussion do. Metaphysics is not only a discussion of reality, or philosophers spinning their wheels, or an intellectual endeavor equal to hypothesizing how many sprites could fit on the head of a pin, but what is ultimately real. Metaphysics has veracity beyond the cloudy vision with which most educated Americans see outside of empiricism; but then empiricism is only one way of many to enter metaphysical discussions. Yet in America, it has a dogmatic hold on the minds of those who claim to think. Let me say that the metaphysics of politics is a valid subject of inquiry, a valid way of questioning politics and the nature of the political, and that it is no more abstract than an analysis of the chemistry or the physics of the atomic or the subatomic levels of matter are abstract because they cannot be seen with the unaided eye or touched in a way we do our lovers or tasted in a way we do our favorite foods.
I maintain an allegiance to Platonism that no one I know would care to understand let alone endeavor to figure out; and that’s as far as believing that ideas are real. Now the idea that the rights of the individual, as well the metaphysical weight of the individual politically, have been abdicated for a lumpen, numerical existence, one most honored and respected by bureaucrats, collectively in themselves bureaucracy which only ever functions for itself, in itself, by itself in order to best protect the interests of the state is real, moreover, is all we have left in the masquerade of freedom we perform.
What we have become is the techo-bureaucratic state; each of us increasingly co-opted in the over-bureaucratization of American life. This however is done in the name of serving freedom, of being the first in protecting our liberty; this is also present in the rhetoric of President Obama, whereby our great articulate leader shames us into accepting that if we do not help serve the state we are less than ourselves, we are not doing all that we should for each other; we are being selfish if we think state should do anything for the people as the people. If we desire anything but to be one of the mule’s of state pulling anyone of the many bureaucratic carts for which we get our carrot, we are citizen pariahs. With his politicking and politique, with the policies he executes and endorses, he would not be a Democrat thirty years ago; he’d be a moderate Republican, or maybe not so moderate, and yes, he would fit in Reagan’s Republican party quite well.
Bureaucracy is not something apart from bureaucrats; that’s a sleight of hand bureaucrats perform more expertly than any dealer in a game of three-card-monty. Any magician would pay to perform with the straight face of your local bureaucrat, or our great and trusted President Obama. The problem is no state can do without them; they can conform to any state. President Obama seems able to conform to any rhetorical posture, a master demagogue, yet one without conviction–what did he vote for however few years he did serve on Capitol Hill; how has he handled the banks except by slapping wrists, and putting finance capitalists on the government dole, at the same time he and our governor and mayor tell us that services need to be cut (this from a mayor who has filled city jobs with friends and family of friends and associates, a mayor whose personal wealth has grown nine times while in office, a mayor whose evasion of EEoC guidelines and federal laws for employment go unexamined by a press in New York in league with our former mayor–what do the owners of New York’s media and the former mayor have in common other than their attachment to their billions, a concerted effort to hide Bloomburg’s legacy of Cronyism).
Obama’s argumentative postures aside, no one with any historical acumen can think the Nazis in Germany or the Fascists in Italy or Castro in Cuba got rid of all bureaucrats. No totalitarian regime or coup d’etat by whatever petty dictator ever got rid of the bureaucrats that were working before the blow to state. The horror of existence is the bureaucrats for Batista were the bureaucrats for Castro, those for Pinochet were there before and after Pinochet. Talk to any administrator of any bureaucracy anywhere in America and you will see the same people who went from pushing papers for Weimar in the beginning of 1933 and the Nazis at Christmas time. The bureaucrats for Bush are the bureaucrats for Obama; the executives for Goldman Sachs are the administrators for Geithner; one did fly over the cuckoo’s nest . . . I see this in the administrators who I work for–I’d be in a concentration camp tomorrow if the directive ever came over their desk; no warning, no I’m sorry, no admission, only submission.
They are present everywhere, these lumped masses yearning to serve the state, especially present every morning in our reflection. Who is not willing to be less than himself at every other turn in order to make more money? Mostly we consider freedom to be liberty from responsibility, yet it is our responses, our actions, our choices, thus all in a set of our obligations that define us. In our quest to be free, how could we avoid abdicating our responsibility and think we could remain free. But from our designs on literacy and how to teach it, transmit it, improve it, anything can make sense if it is repeated enough times. We can’t read anymore and we wonder why civilization escapes us, why we seem repeatedly unable to get a managing handle on it in a way that could help people in real ways, and not continue to serve the elite.