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PO'd for One Year

Struggling against the Struggle.

by James Leroy Wilson
October 31, 2001

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PO'd for One Year_James Leroy Wilson-Struggling against the Struggle. The Partial Observer was launched a year or so ago. My first article debuted, I think, just two or three days short of a year today. So stunning that was, I was promoted to columnist immediately. Anyway, I believe fifty columns have been submitted so far. So I am writing to reflect on the one-year of the Partial Observer, particularly my fifty or so columns.

My one regret about the year was that I was unable and unwilling to produce a replacement piece in the wake of the events of September 11 for what should have been my September 12 column. I wrote and submitted another pro-tax cut piece on September 10, but on the 11th asked the editor not to publish it. But hey, I have a day job, and there was never a good time that night in which I was confident in the information presented to write a sober reflection. If I was paid to do it, I could have done it. As it was, I was just too tired.

I think two themes dominate most of my columns. The first is the call to simplify - a call not only to individuals in their personal lives, but in the aims and purposes of institutions. The second is a call to humility - particularly in what people would have the government do for themselves, and do to others.

The two are related and pertinent. And they stand in contrast to those dedicated to The Struggle. The Struggle for "social justice," for legal and economic equality. The Struggle for Judeo-Christian "values" in the Culture War. The Struggle of corporations for profits, to get us to by what we don't need. Also the struggle of individuals for both financial security and enjoying the good things in life. The Struggle to destroy Western Civilization and its religions, violently by some, and through the elite opinion of university academic departments by others.

The message of all engaged in The Struggle is "What we think is best is more important than your life, liberty, or property." Most engaged in the Struggle deny that this is what they're doing. But I didn't say that they don't respect the life, liberty, and property of others, they just have an agenda that is greater or more important to them. Substances you take in your own home is a liberty that must be weighed against protecting America from the scourge of drug addiction. Propping up inefficient enterprises with the rationale that jobs would be protected is more important than lowering taxes and cutting government spending. Creating a legal environment in which, if the white is hired, the black can sue for discrimination, but if the black is hired, the white can sue for "reverse discrimination" is justified, because no one should be unfairly denied opportunity. Inventing a false history of gun usage in America, exaggerating Papal "compliance" with Nazis, inventing a fake autobiography of a South American Indian - well, it is not the "facts" that are as important as the underlying "truths" of our hypocritical, intolerant culture.

Big business is evil. Churches are evil. The homosexual lobbies and civil liberty groups are evil. The gun owners are ignorant. State and local governments will establish tyrannies of intolerance. The federal government cares more about the "special interests" than the public interest. We should intervene only to protect human rights and prevent genocide. Globalization of the economy is bad. Only stronger multilateral institutions can achieve world peace, justice, and human rights. We should spend more on treatment, not incarceration. The Constitution should be amended to ban flag burning and abortion. The government should hold the entertainment industry accountable for sex, violence, and biased coverage. Money should be taken out of politics. No compassionate society would tolerate poverty within its own borders. The wealthy nations have more than enough to share with developing nations.

Participating, or at least taking sides, in the Struggle is easy. It makes one feel like a good person, believing the right things, saying the right things, maybe doing the right things. But not only good, also superior. Superior to the other party, the atheists and/or fascists and/or idiots. For it seems that in the mainstream Struggle, it is always one faction that wants government to become bigger, powerful, and more complex for one agenda, vs. a faction that wants to make it bigger, stronger, and more complex for another. Participants in the Struggle are simplifiers themselves. Instead of simplifying the aims of government to security and liberty, they add and complicate government's aims, while simplifying the motives of those who disagree with them.

I don't have all the information or insights. That makes me a partial observer. But everyone else can only be a partial observer, too. The question is how to respond to this reality. Should we limit freedom, or limit government? My answer is obvious. And persuasion in forums like this is the key. We must struggle against the Struggle. Propose a third way. Keep suggesting promoting the liberty option that is more friendly to our best instincts and to reality.

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