For the Western world, the philosophy of government goes back thousands of years. In the very ancient past, at the dawn of civilization, authoritarian style autocracies dominated. This was likely due to the tribal hierarchy we as a species evolved, and perhaps the need for rulers to organize tasks for the people in a newly evolving agrarian society. Cities and population centers grew around the fertile soils that fed the populace and civilization was able to flourish. Science and technology advanced and mankind soon found itself able to philosophize in ways that perhaps were not possible before the advent of domesticated agriculture.
I'm not sure if the Greeks were the first to experiment with differing styles of government, but I will say they are the best known of the classic Western civilizations to do so. No matter what style of government they experimented with, it always devolved into something it wasn't meant to be. It always turned into some form of unjust class system where a powerful class was stealing from or bullying or otherwise taking advantage of an under class. The same was true in the Roman republic as it devolved into an empire with an elite class on top, merchant classes and working classes in the middle, and a slave class on the bottom. There is no Utopia, and there never will be as long as humans seek the power to control others.
When one takes a closer look at this phenomenon, it is easy to believe that many political leaders and important historical figures were trying to do the best for the people of their nation/kingdom/empire. It is more likely that those who would rule over others were and are doing what is best for themselves and only do what is best for others when what is best for others is also best for the ruler. This likely happened more often than not in tribal societies where the chieftain had to live among his people. With the advent of plant and animal domestication and a more stable food source, populations were able to grow and communities became larger. Cities developed. Rulers were better able to separate themselves from the general population. A privileged class developed and they became more able to do what was best for their own class without accounting for the rest of the population.
As civilization prospered, the ruling class was able to separate itself further and further from the common folk. They began to see their privileges as birthrights and the lands and people they ruled over as their personal property. As the separation widened, the ruling class found it easier to do things for their own, personal interests. They were able to hire body guards and police forces that would keep the common folk away by force. They could do things directly contrary to the interests of the people and not be held accountable. Anyone who spoke out against them were dealt with swiftly and brutally. This type of treatment in many cases helped hasten the downfall of kingdoms and empires, and when that happened everyone suffered.
kings and emperors quickly learned to divert attention from their own deeds, which they knew in their hearts were wrong. They did so through subversion. They did so through deception. They did so through war. They did so to keep the populace unaware of the real reasons for their impoverishment and hard times. They did so to prevent the populace from taking their anger out on them. They quickly learned that if they could keep their serfs happy and ignorant they would be more productive and more willing to give their lives and allegiance to their king.
While serfs and common folks may have whispered amongst themselves about liberty and determining their own destiny away from tyrants and kings, it wasn't until 1215 when a positive legal step toward this goal took place. Basically, it put legal limits on what a king could do to certain subjects under his rule. It limited government power. Unfortunately this document was not all inclusive and left many of the common folk, if not most of them, still subject to the whims of the king. It was but a step in the right direction.
Since that time, the common folk have slowly moved toward more freedom using several machinations. The power elite have always been reluctant to give up power, but through the ages they have done so begrudgingly in the Western world. The royal class, the kings and queens, give up some power to the aristocrats. The aristocrats allowed for a certain amount of government input by the merchant class. As time went on a scale to access power was established. Yet somehow this was not enough. There were still classes so low on the scale that they had no chance of bettering their station in life and the upper classes seemed to forever trod upon them.
Then the "New World" was discovered. The Americas were a place where people could live out their dream and determine their own destiny through their own hard work. The poor, neglected and downtrodden did whatever was in their power to make it to the shores of this new land and grab what they could of the opportunities presented to them. The United States of America was especially appealing to many Europeans due to their more tolerant governments. This was especially true after the revolution with the creation of a government that was not only perhaps the most limited government mankind had seen for millennia, but was also forged to protect individual rights above arbitrary laws that usually benefited only the ruling class.
At first America prospered greatly. Certainly America had its problems, but its adherence to its founding principles made it possible to quickly overcome such problems, for the most part. Yet even as freedom flourished and prosperity reigned, there were those who strove to replace opportunity and abundance with the shackles of big government. Whether they were envious of seeing so many prosper when they once simply endured, or their greed was so great that they couldn't stand seeing so much wealth spread amongst so many, or they just couldn't stand to let so many determine their own destiny when they were once tied down by the bonds of the state, I do not know, but they slowly began to erode the principles of individual rights this nation was built upon. They slowly subverted the Constitution and redefined the limits of our federal government.
Even as this was happening there were those who mistrusted the federal government of the United States of America. There were those who challenged such powers and lost. Thousands of journalists and civilians were thrown in prison by Abraham Lincoln for writing editorials against his politics and war policies. Woodrow Wilson later followed suit by helping to get the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 passed. These presidents and others, along with other willing politicians seeking power, wealth and influence for themselves and their friends, all created these laws supposedly for security purposes during wartimes, and then proceeded to abuse them by arresting and jailing those who simply disagreed with them and how they handled power. Is it any wonder the common folk have come to distrust government?
Over the past decades the federal government has continued to produce propaganda and misinformation to promote itself. It has continued to maintain an aura of fear over the population in order to create a demand for security. That is the only way it could have grown to become the leviathan which today gives out trillions in bailouts to international corporations and foreign central banks rather than worry about production here. It declares war on products, concepts, tactics and other intangibles to subvert the original purpose given it by our Constitution rather than protect the rights of individuals as was its mandate. This government continues to abuse its people, individuals who have harmed no one, as much as any tyrannical government in the past. Certainly, the jails and prisons may be nicer and the treatment not quite as harsh as other past regimes, but a cage is a cage and a serf is a serf.
Government continues to abuse the power they're entrusted with. Our federal government continues to erode the freedoms it was supposed to protect. War and national security are nothing but excuses used to justify the violation of human rights by authoritarians. Propaganda and fear mongering work only to keep the elite ruling establishment in power. That's why when I hear the establishment media call Ron Paul and his ideas of freedom dangerous I have to laugh. Freedom isn't dangerous. Peace isn't dangerous. Non intervention isn't dangerous. Those are the ideas that benefit many and lead to prosperity, as has been proven in our very own history. The establishment ideas of pre-emptive non declared war, imperialism and nation building are the ideas that are dangerous. Those ideas harm many and benefit only a very few who are already extremely wealthy. Don't let the establishment fool you into thinking otherwise.
We are, each and every one of us, born with certain inalienable rights. These rights come as a result of our humanity, because we are able to think and reason for ourselves. No one, not even government, has the right to violate your rights simply because they're scared, or they think you might do something, or you question them, or you challenge their perceived power. No one has the right to violate an individual's rights on a whim. That is tyranny. That is abuse of power. That is why there is distrust. That is what the founders of the United States of America fought against. We are seeing what happens when freedoms are curtailed in favor of perceived security. It is not pretty. We can reclaim our liberties once again, but we must become engaged with the system. We must let those who rule know that we will settle for nothing less than honesty, openness and principle. We then must teach society what it means to be free so that our progeny will be able to identify the propaganda and keep our nation free and prosperous.
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