The state motto of New Hampshire, Live Free or Die, is so memorable that virtually everyone recognizes it. It is more than just a slogan. It has a profound substantive meaning that is well worth thinking about.
So what does it mean to live free or die? Maybe the best way to think about this is by example, both in real life and in literature. There are people throughout history who have been willing to endure great sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, in a relentless search for truth. And that search for truth has always and everywhere depended on free inquiry—which is typically suppressed by authoritarian regimes.
They had names, instantly recognizable ones. Socrates, Galileo, Natan Sharansky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Joan of Arc are among the most famous, but there are countless others. (Note: I omit the mention of Jesus Christ in these examples because by design, these examples are of fallible men, not Divinity.)
The Indian philosopher, Swami Vivekananda said that “Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.” He also observed that “To tell a lie, you have to imitate a truth, and that truth is a fact.”
The search for truth, the importance of love, the freedom these require and the sacrifice they may call on us to make and their liberating effects are recurring themes in great literature. For instance, in the Bible, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his first born son. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Desdemona willingly sacrifices her life for Othello. Romeo and Juliet sacrifice their lives for each other rather than submit to the taboos of the era.
In Charles Dickens’s, A Tale of Two Cities, there is Sydney Carton. In the novel Carton sacrifices himself so that another man may live (“Tis a far far better thing I do…”). In so doing Carton transforms himself from a scoundrel to a man of worth and achieves happiness. In this he is reminiscent of the Penitent Thief on the Cross who asks Christ to remember him and as a result his sins are forgiven.
So what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?
Just this: progressives deny that there is a such thing as truth. It is all relative, you see. What matters is how we “identify” or in the jargon of progressivism, it is “lived experience” that matters. What is so seductive about all this is that the political agenda animating it is deliberately hidden by the misuse of language. It is language that is designed to conceal rather than reveal.
Who, for instance, would deny that experience is important? But experience isn’t dispositive in matters of philosophy. It is a data point. And of course human beings have an identity. We for instance, think of ourselves as being American or French, as men and women, as Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim or non-believer.
But to be an American or French citizen is a legal fact. Although not immutable, the documentary evidence is recorded on a passport or birth certificate. To be a man or woman is an immutable fact of nature, the evidence for which is contained in our DNA. Cosmetic changes to a physical body do not change the sex of an individual any more than putting on lipstick does. And unlike sex, Religious belief, or lack thereof is a choice.
The long and short of it is that progressives refuse to recognize the imperatives of nature and nature’s God. They may not be aware of it, but they necessarily deny the elementary facts of biology when subjectively defining the terms male or female in entirely self-referential terms.
Sex is out, gender is in because while sex is biologically determined, gender is merely a social construction. What matters is how a person subjectively “identifies”. You can be a man on Monday and a woman on Tuesday. Hence the phrase “sex assigned at birth.” As if it is changeable on a whim.
This, by the way, is not exactly a new idea. It was the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras who set the stage when he argued that man is the measure of all things. Which of course leads to directly to the idea of “my” truth rather than “the” truth. It is an idea illustrated by then Supreme Court nominee Katanji Brown Jackson, who when asked what a woman was, answered that she didn’t know, after all she isn’t a biologist.
It is easy enough to subject this answer to derision, and it has been. After all, Justice Jackson will be called upon to decide cases based on complaints of sex-based bias and discrimination. This after she pretends not to know the difference between the sexes. It should be noted that this type of nonsense does not live in isolation. The Biden Administration continues to refer to “pregnant people” and refuses to use the phrase pregnant woman. We wouldn’t want to imply that pregnancy and motherhood are reserved for actual women.
Nor is this attempt to change language usage to advance an ideological objective anything new. Consider: we don’t have officially sponsored racial discrimination. Instead we have affirmative action. Abortion rights up until the moment of birth have somehow become “women’s health care”.
And then there is “Climate Justice”. Well, what exactly is “Climate Justice”? Daisy Simmons,a freelance contributor to Yale Climate Connections, an Initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Communication, says “it begins with the idea that adverse impacts.of a warming climate are not felt equitably among people.”
Leaving that inanity aside, she goes on to say: “In the end, there is no single way to define, let alone champion, climate justice. But in combination with other current social justice movements – perhaps epitomized and including, but not limited to, the Black Lives Matter movement – many experts see climate justice becoming an increasingly significant component of overall concerns raised by climate change.”
So: we can’t define what Climate Justice is, but we’re all for it. Not to mention other social justice movements including Black Lives Matter, a group mired in corruption whose leaders bragged that they were trained Marxists who among other things wanted to end heteronormativity and the nuclear family.
All of which points us to what this whole business is really all about, which is an attempt to radically transform American society to ready it for the collectivist Utopia that is waiting in the wings. Any doubt about this can be easily resolved by watching some of the You Tube segment below from 36:00 to 37:15. In the video, Jack Halberstam-Trans*, a professor at Columbia University presents a lecture titled “Beyond a politics of recognition”. Professor Halberstam makes the goal of social transformation explicit at 36 minutes into the 1 hour and 23 minute lecture.
Lest there be any illusion that this is a one-off, consider what David Brooks had to say in his NY Times column back in March of 2021. “Republican and Democratic presidents from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama worked within the parameters of the American system, but a new generation in the country, raised amid the financial crisis, wants to smash the “neoliberal consensus.” This intellectual shift in the Democratic Party — starting with the young, but now encompassing most of the establishment — is what is driving Biden to do so much so fast, and it will continue to drive him throughout his presidency.”
In the same column he also noted that he was startled to read a blog post from a progressive economist who claimed that “Public debt doesn’t matter”. That was when Modern Monetary Policy (MMT) was all the rage. Which, not coincidentally, was also before the Biden Spend-a-thon got rolling with its subsequent spike in inflation.
Driven by a political philosophy that he obviously doesn’t understand, President Joe Biden is attempting a fundamental transformation of American society in which there is no such thing as truth. There are no permanent things. There is only the raw quest for power. That is the underlying theory that drives progressive politics, whether progressives realize it or not.
The political argument is not merely about things like, say, marginal tax rates. It is about a radical transformation of American society based on the notion that there is no such thing as human nature; that free will is an illusion; that the idea of truth is a lie, and that human behavior can be effectively controlled by bureaucratic experts using the power of the state.
By deliberate use of misleading language, progressives, who have captured our most important cultural institutions, intend to use those institutions to change government from servant to master. To that end it is continuing the effort, already well underway, of attacking the institutions that undergird civil society in America.
Religious freedom, free speech, the nuclear family, the difference between men and women, independence of the Courts and equality before the law are being systematically undermined by the progressive policies of the Biden Administration.
Object to Administration policy and find yourself on the receiving end of cancellation attempts. Or find yourself subject to intimidation and threats and violence. When, for instance Senator Kyrsten Sinema was chased and followed into a women’s rest room because she resisted a Biden initiative, President Biden called the mob behavior “part of the process.”
Then there were parents at PTA meetings who objected to the politicization of grammar school curricula. The FBI was temporarily unleashed on them after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) claimed in a letter that there was a spike in violence directed at teachers that effectively amounted to domestic terrorism. Except that the spike in violence the NSBA referenced was non-existent. It was merely a pretext to intimidate parents into keeping quiet.
To be fair, the use of federal agencies to attack political enemies is not a sin committed only by progressives. It is one of the few bipartisan areas remaining in Washington. (Another is overspending). But it does point to the abuse of power that has become routine in a too powerful government.
To sum up: what we have here is a powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy guided by an Executive branch that has been captured by woke ideology. It is almost totally lacking in checks and balances. By exercise of Executive power progressives intend to transform American society by subterfuge and deceit if necessary. Progressives mean to change the relationship of citizens and their government so that government is the master rather than the servant of the people. The misuse of language is a means to that end.
Like every other attempt in history at central planning this one will also be a massive crashing failure. The only question is not whether but how much damage they will do until it gets sorted out.