Whenever freedom is lost, wherever tyranny is found, there are three accompanying factors: religious oppression, economic depression, and a culture of death.
Orwell’s 1984 provides a vivid example of this principle. Religion in Oceania has been wholly abolished, the people live in government-induced squalor, and the state routinely comes between children and their parents, and is working on preventing marriage altogether.
But there are ample historical examples as well.
Consider China: Not much in the way of freedom there. But also for the bulk of the people, there is a lifestyle of crushing poverty, far greater than anything that would be tolerated anywhere in the U.S. Too, religious leaders and foreign missionaries are forced to carry out their work in secret, lest discovery by the state should lead to their incarceration. And the culture of death there has been carried to the extent that the government has imposed a “One Child Policy,” under which couples must be licensed to have more than one child. State-mandated abortions and sterilizations are alarmingly commonplace, and executed criminals, including political prisoners, routinely have their bodies broken up for transplant parts without their consent.
Try to imagine if any one of those factors were to change. If China allowed its religious leaders freedom to preach their various faiths, how long would the dictatorship last? Not long.
If free markets were allowed to flourish and bring prosperity to the masses, how long would the political oppression continue? Not long.
And if the people were allowed to raise their families as they saw fit, and if their culture acknowledged the inherent dignity and right to life of the human being, does anyone imagine that the state could maintain their grip in other areas?
In China, widespread poverty, religious oppression, and the culture of death are the mainstays of the communist system.
An even more extreme example: in the antebellum south, slaves were kept in miserable living conditions. In most states, it was illegal for them even to learn to read the bible; there was little or no organized religious ministry to them. And their marriages were not acknowledged by either the state or their owners. Couples could be — and often were — sold apart, and children could be taken from their parents. Economic depression, religious oppression, and disregard for the dignity of human life were all key to this system.
Now let’s consider a counterexample: Following the French and Indian War, the British government adopted a policy of increased taxation on their American colonies in an effort to make the colonies pay for the cost of the war Britain had fought to defend them.
But the American colonists had a thriving free-market economy. Many of the colonists had become rich, or at least very comfortable (by contemporary standards), and most of the rest had high hopes of doing likewise. The nation was founded on religious freedom, and religious observance was (and remains today) at a greater level than virtually anywhere in the civilized world. There was a rich variety of religious expression, and even religious minorities enjoyed freedom and tolerance unheard of anywhere else. And with only three million people to populate such a vast land area, large families were the rule, not the exception (Benjamin Franklin, for example, was the fifteenth of his father’s seventeen children).
There was never a possibility that such a people would tolerate anything that might approach oppression. Under the circumstances, the American Revolution was inevitable.
Now let us consider the situation in the United States today. Increasing public debt and public budget deficits, and increased taxes, together with the government’s proposals for increased services such as universal healthcare, are causing reasonable people great alarm as they contemplate the future of the American economy, and their prospects for economic liberty.
At the same time, with the current economic downturn, increasing numbers are looking to the government for assistance in difficult times, which tends to exacerbate the underlying problem.
Too, abortion is deemed a “right” in the U.S., unlike virtually anywhere else in the world, and the current administration seems determined to defend that “right” at home, and extend it abroad. Euthanasia is a quietly growing trend, and the government is now adopting a policy to fund research on cells derived from the destruction of human embryos. There is, effectively, no right to life for the unborn, the infirm, the elderly, or the disabled, beyond what their immediate families are prepared to defend.
And the drive towards gay “marriage” has already led to efforts to muzzle the church, such as the recent efforts in Connecticut to pass laws regulating the management of Catholic parishes, and requiring the Church to register as a lobbying organization, lawsuits against religious organizations and individuals who preferred not to provide support to gay “marriage” services, and the anti-Catholic resolutions passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a fews years ago.
For conservatives today, it is not enough to stand for lower taxes and a strong national defense, laudable as these positions may be.
Wherever tyranny is found, it is accompanied by religious oppression, economic depression, and a culture of death. And wherever these elements are waxing, political freedom will be waning.
The Republican Party must be unwavering in its commitment not only to strong defense and free markets, but also to religious freedom, and to fostering a culture of life. America must have a culture of life, a culture of liberty, and a culture of prosperity. And none of these will survive without both of the others.
(Cross-posted from Thoughts of a Regular Guy.)