What is the American Dream? When asked this question most people today are programmed to say “To own your own home.” That may be Freddie and Fannie’s dream. That may be the bubble inflating vote buying politician’s choice for our dream, but that isn’t the American Dream. Owning your own home isn’t the dream people sailed in tiny leaking over-crowded wooden ships across oceans to find. Owning your own home isn’t the dream people fought the Revolution to win and other wars to preserve. We the descendants of the pioneers have been sold a bill of goods. We have embraced a culture of hedonism and self-indulgence financed with a borrowed credit card.
The American Dream is and always has been freedom and opportunity.
This is the Holy Grail for which people have been willing to sacrifice. This is the singularity which made America great. This is the difference which allowed a people who were no people to become a people. Ordinary people from everywhere, members of every race, religion, ethnicity, and culture assimilated and forged into one extraordinary nationality: the American.
Freedom and opportunity unleashed the ingenuity and energy of humanity. Rising above the squalid shabbiness of the statists enforced conformity as the citizen began to control and at last benefit from the fruits of their own labor.
By forsaking the dream of our forefathers we have embraced the nightmare of their oppressors forging again the very chains our revolutionary ancestors shattered. From the beginning of time statists of one variety or another have kept their iron heel upon the throat of the general population. Whether they called themselves; chiefs, or kings, emperors or gods those who believe they have a right to command the service of others have always survived as parasites leaching the produce of whomever they were strong enough to compel. Calling them tithes, contributions, donations, or taxes it has always been the same thing, “What’s mine is mine. What’s yours is negotiable.”
Following the chiefdoms of the Neolithic villages Priest-kings combined shamanism and dynastic power to create a world wherein the possessions of all became the possessions of the ruler. In Western Civilization there was a brief anomaly when the people of Greece experimented with a new concept, democracy, power to the people. And although this was always a proscribed definition of who constituted “the people.” None-the-less inventiveness, culture and scientific inquiry exploded into a Golden Age. Soon however, wars and corruption brought the brief respite of freedom crashing into the military dictatorship of the Roman Imperium and the statists once again asserted their right to divine privilege and power.
The corruption, taxes, and inflation which always define a statist government brought about the fall of Rome. Replaced in the East by a successor empire so strangled by bureaucracy and state control its very name, “Byzantine” has come to mean the triumph of red tape over individual freedom. In the West the edifice of Caesar devolved into petty kingdoms and barbarian chiefdoms where life was short, brutish, and enslaved. The common laborer became little more than chattel tied to the land and exchanged between their betters as a mere piece of property. These kleptocracies were eventually consolidated into nation-states by whoever clawed their way to the top of the food chain as the strongest or most ruthless oppressor of all. After a few generations they discovered the theory of divine-right, and by using damnation in the after-life as a whip they did their best to turn this life into a living hell.
An eruption of exploration, colonization, and conquest vaulted Western Civilization to the top of the heap translating a recent and fleeting preeminence in technology and organization into a centuries long reign as the political and cultural hegemonic power of the world. The representatives of the divine rights of European Kings penetrated into every corner of the world where they set-up forts and bought the place for beads. Even the few who escaped actual conquest such as Ethiopia and Japan had homegrown statists asserting their right to deny rights to others. By the end of the seventeenth century the regimented sameness which flows from a lack of individual freedom gripped every portion of what was called the civilized world.
Into this world the American Revolution blazed like a comet illuminating the realms of possibility by the light of a national experiment declaring, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” After fighting and winning a long war against impossible odds the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave, unfurled its banner proclaiming for the first time in human history that here is a place where divine rights do not belong to kings they belong to all.
For over 100 years the progressives have sought to supplant our Revolution with their evolution. These radical Evolutionaries have methodically moved America one entitlement at a time from self-reliance and personal responsibility towards the cradle-to-grave conformity which is the hallmark of modern statists. As we face the coming debates, as we prepare for the electoral and legislative battles let us remember that the American dream has always been freedom and opportunity as we reject the materialistic bribes of the Progressive nanny-state. Reject the smothering comforter promised through government programs which will enslave our children and grandchildren and drink once again the heady wine of freedom.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College and History for the American Public University System. http://drrobertowens.com © 2010 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org