With the rise of the Neocons, American political discourse has become fantastically boring.
When the Democrats were in power, the Republican Party could be counted upon to provide opposition to Democratic socialism, at least in debate. In practice, of course, Republicans have never been more than a different kind of socialist, but in public debate they would at least make noises about limited government.
That came to an abrupt halt, naturally, with the ousting of the Democratic Party from power. The Republicans -- forced to actually put policy in place for the first time in half a century -- promptly came to love government nearly identically to the Democrats.
No doubt Conservatives believe themselves different from Liberals. Many Conservatives have correctly identified the primary attribute of Democratic socialism: Democrats (more correctly "Left-Wing Socialists") believe that everyone is a little bit stupid and need government to protect them.
However, what Conservatives fail to understand is that they are in fact no less socialist than the Left-Wingers -- it just happens to take a slightly different form. It's a blindness that hampers even the most intelligent of them.
Republicans (more correctly "Right-Wing Socialists") believe that everyone is a little bit evil and needs government to protect them.
This is the sole difference between the two political philosophies: Left-wingers believe everyone is a little bit stupid, and Right-Wingers believe everyone is a little bit evil. Both believe government is necessary to protect a small minority of either intelligent or moral individuals from the excesses of the majority, who are either stupid or evil.
When reduced to the only fundamental difference between the Left- and Right-wingers, it becomes pitiably simple to predict with 100% accuracy where they each will be in favor of government intervention. For the Left-wing Socialists, since stupid people cannot be trusted to care for their own basic necessities, government is deemed necessary to provide food, clothing, and shelter. Since stupid people cannot be trusted with deadly weapons in their own defense, government is necessary to regulate self-defense.
It doesn't hurt, of course, that regulating self-defense on behalf of the stupid also has the effect of disarming individuals who might use their weapons against the depredations of their own government.
Similarly, since Right-wing Socialists believe that evil people lurk behind every tree and bush, government is necessary to produce a near police-state in order to protect the elite "good" from them. Since evil people cannot be trusted not to use deadly weapons against others, government is necessary to regulate self-defense.
It doesn't hurt, of course, that regulating self-defense to prevent the evil from misusing weapons also has the effect of disarming individuals who might use such weapons against the depredations of their own government.
The historical question of debate throughout the entire history of the United States has been: "How much government is necessary?" With the rise of the Neocons and the dismantling of any real opposition to government expansion, the modern question simply becomes: "Where shall government force be employed?"
Political discourse in the United States has become ridiculously partisan and utterly pointless. The Left- and Right-wingers have each carved out their little niche and can be counted upon to defend it as though the niche actually mattered -- or for that matter, as if what they were doing actually had some positive benefit.
What Zero Aggression Principle devotees understand is simple: there are stupid people in the world and there are evil people in the world. When individuals are left to govern their own actions guided by the ZAP, stupidity and evil are oftentimes fatal to those who practice it.
In short, we do not need government to protect us from the stupid or the evil. Left to our own devices, we're capable of doing that ourselves.
No doubt many of those in the upper echelon of government understand perfectly well that they're utterly unnecessary and in fact actively harmful. However, corrupted by a rabid desire to control the lives and destinies of as many individuals as possible, they simply don't care.
What neither the Left- nor Right-wing Socialists truly understand is that their world view is inherently unstable. Every attempt to control individuals (either on behalf of the stupid or the evil) only hastens their ultimate demise.
As I've pointed out in the past, once governments start down the road to tyranny, there is not a single instance in human history in which this path was reversed. It is self-indulgent folly to believe the United States is different simply because we happen to be the ones headed toward tyranny this time.
Statist regimes of any kind ultimately have their power limited in only one of three ways:
rot from within and collapse of their own instability.
The United States is very clearly headed toward collapsing of its own instability. To propose a civil war, given the armament arrayed against the citizens of this country, is simply a complicated way to commit suicide. Similarly, the United States' status as the sole superpower in the world guarantees that it cannot be toppled externally.
However, our politicians can engage in a plethora of petty bickering with only one goal in mind: to curtail the freedom of every American, either by protecting them from their own stupidity or their own evil nature. Yet in so doing, the only accomplishment is more stupid and evil acts, which in turn contribute to instability.
The Left- and Right-wing Socialist are simply petty, would-be dictators bickering amongst themselves for power. It makes no practical difference which of them is elected at any given time, because the outcome is the same: more instability.
Eventually -- probably sooner than any of us think -- this entire house of cards is going to come tumbling down. It simply cannot stand forever, as unstable as it has become. When it does, free individuals self-governing guided by the Zero Aggression Principle can finally set about the task of replacing it -- WITH NOTHING.
Immortality, and the Stars!
William Stone, III is a South Dakota-based computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP), security consultant (CISSP), and Executive Director of the Zero Aggression Institute . He seeks the Libertarian Party's nomination in 2004 for United States Senate.