The State's Greatest Success Story

by Jacob G. Hornberger
Jul. 31, 2014

Amidst the endless series of disasters, debacles and crises produced by America's welfare-warfare state, there is one huge success story that should not go unnoticed: the state's educational system, specifically the extent to which the state has succeeded in indoctrinating so many Americans into believing they actually live in a free society.

What could be better than a society of serfs -- controlled, monitored, manipulated, and directed by the state -- honestly believing they're free and, even better, actually expressing gratitude for being free and praising and thanking the troops for defending their freedom in countries thousands of miles away from American shores?

The words of the great German thinker Johann von Goethe perfectly describe the plight of the American people of our time: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

After all, once a serf is convinced he's free, he has no incentive to break the chains that bind him. He either doesn't even see the chains or, even worse, thinks that they are an instrument of his freedom.

Consider the welfare state. It's a system that forces people to share their money with others. That's what the IRS is all about. That's what Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, corporate bailouts, subsidies, and foreign aid to dictatorships are all about. The welfare-state system forces people to send a large part of their hard-earned income to the IRS so that it can be forcibly shared with others.

That's what so many Americans are convinced is freedom. That's because of the mindset that was produced in them through 12 years of state education, which the law required their parents to subject them to. Day after day, year after year, their school teachers drilled it into them--"You live in a free country, and the troops are defending your freedom. Never forget it, and be thankful that you're an American."

The irony is that our American ancestors lived without a welfare state for more than 125 years. That's because they rejected the concept of mandatory charity and other aspects of socialism. Interestingly enough, they also believed they lived in a free society.

So, we've had two opposite systems in U.S. history -- a welfare state consisting of mandatory charity and a free-market system based on voluntary charity.

Pray tell: How can opposite systems both be freedom? Somebody has to be right and somebody has to be wrong. They both canít be right.

It's no different with the warfare state. It consists of an enormous national-security state apparatus, one that was grafted onto our governmental system without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. It encompasses a vast empire of domestic and foreign military bases, a military-industrial complex that extends into cities and towns across America, the NSA, and the CIA. It also entails a foreign policy of perpetual war, interventionism, wars of aggression, occupations, foreign aid to dictatorships, and foreign meddling. It is characterized by torture, assassination, indefinite detention, secret mass surveillance, secret prison camps, kidnapping, partnerships with dictatorships, regime-change operations, rendition, torture, and denial of due process.

Thanks largely to the state's educational system, all too many modern-day Americans remain absolutely convinced that all this warfare state junk actually constitutes a free society. Even when you tell them that the government now wields the power to assassinate, incarcerate, and torture Americans without due process of law, their response is: "Thank goodness! How else would we be free if the military and CIA weren't out there defending our freedom and protecting national security?"

Our American ancestors rejected everything about the warfare state that today's Americans love. They rejected standing armies, militarism, torture and other cruel and unusual punishments, secret surveillance schemes, assassination, and all other aspects of the warfare state. They understood that such things are antithetical to a free society. They knew that such things were characteristic of a tyrannical society. That's why they rejected them for the United States.

Again, how can opposite systems -- a society operating under a constitutional republic vs. a society operating under a militarist empire -- both constitute a free society?

The fact is that the American people are fooling themselves. There is no way that a person can genuinely be considered free under a system of mandatory charity and a system of massive military surveillance and control and perpetual war.

A free society is one in which there is no mandatory charity and no warfare state. An increasing number of Americans, especially young people, are figuring that out. And they're also figuring out that the endless disasters, debacles, wars, and crises are a direct consequence of America's having embraced the welfare-warfare state way of life.

Nonetheless, those who remain convinced of how free they are and even express gratitude for it are a living testament to the state's greatest success story.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

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