A very good speech by Rand Paul. My only wonder is how he manages to speak it from within a party that no longer supports liberty.
Just outside my window sits a Mexican petunia. At times, a hummingbird zips in and drinks from the purple flowers. Those mornings when fortune provides this brief but wonderful immersion, it's gratifying beyond words.
And so it is that homilies of liberty, spoken longingly from any direction, left or right, are welcome respites from the reality which has befallen us by our own hand.
We are not the first to do this, as pointed out by Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, who wrote,
“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Gibbon provides us a short list which marks a culture in the throws of decay:
- Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth
- Obsession with sex and perversions of sex
- Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original
- Widening disparity between very rich and very poor
- Increased demand to live off the state.
A hollowed-out remnant of personal dignity and charity, it seems we have put ourselves on the short path to longsuffering.
By sheer coincidence, this morning’s Mises Daily article, Socialism and Decivilization, by Jesus Huerta de Soto, discusses the underlying economic cause for Rome’s civil decline:
The obvious course of action was to leave the Italian countryside and move to the city, to live off the Roman welfare state, the cost of which could not be borne by the public treasury, and could only be covered by reducing the precious-metal content in the currency (that is, inflation). The outcome was inescapable: an uncontrolled drop in the purchasing power of money, i.e., an upward revolution in prices, to which the authorities responded by decreeing that prices were to remain fixed at their prior levels and imposing extremely harsh sentences on offenders. The establishment of these price ceilings led to widespread shortages (since at the low prices set, it was no longer profitable to produce and seek creative solutions to the problem of scarcity, while at the same time consumption and waste were still being artificially encouraged). Cities gradually began to run out of provisions, and the population began to leave and return to the countryside, to live in much poorer conditions in an autarchy, at mere subsistence level, a regime that laid the foundation for what would later be feudalism.
He ends it on an optimistic note:
… in contrast with the culture of subsidies, irresponsibility, the lack of morals, and dependence on the state for everything, there is, surging from the ashes among many young people (and also among some of us who are no longer so young) the culture of entrepreneurial freedom, of creativity and risk taking, of behavior based on moral principles, and, in short, of maturity and responsibility (as opposed to the infantilism our authorities and politicians would restrict us to in order to make us increasingly servile and dependent). To me it is clear who has the best intellectual and moral weapons, and hence, who holds the future. That is why I am an optimist.