Robert Ringer is a New York Times No. 1 best-selling author and host of the highly acclaimed "Liberty Education Interview Series," which features interviews with top political, economic and social leaders. His latest book is "The Entrepreneur." To sign up for a free subscription to his pro-liberty, pro-free-market e-letter, A Voice of Sanity, CLICK HERE.More ↓Less ↑
Greece, Tunisia, Yemen, now Egypt … where does it end? Answer: It doesn’t. Throughout recorded history, protests have a habit of turning into riots, riots have a habit of evolving into revolutions, and revolutions almost always bring about bad consequences. In that respect, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba and, most recently, Iran come quickly to mind.
“Peace on earth” has a nice progressive syntax to it, but through thousands of years of recorded history, mankind has yet to experience it. On the contrary, most people who have inhabited this planet have lived in poverty and misery, and done so under the iron fists of monarchs and a variety of other dictatorships.
But in the latter part of the 18th century, something unheard of happened in a faraway British outpost called America. The late W. Cleon Skousen referred to it as “The 5000 Year Leap” and called it “a miracle that changed the world.” He was, of course, referring to the birth of the United States of America.
Historians have long referred to the American Revolution and subsequent birth of the United States as “the great American experiment.” Could a country actually survive if its citizens declared themselves to be above the government? The idea of people having natural rights – given to them by God rather than by government – was unique in human history.
And just as unique was the idea that those who governed would not only be elected by the people, but their rights would be strictly limited to those set forth in a document created by the people themselves. Specifically, the idea was that citizens would lend certain limited powers to elected officials for the purpose of protecting their lives and property.
Thus, in every sense of the word, the formation of the United States of America was, indeed, an experiment. And many of the Founding Fathers were skeptical about its chances of succeeding. In this vein, George Washington said that “there is a natural and necessary progression, from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny.” The French Revolution, which, ironically, was inspired by the American Revolution, was a classic example of this.
Benjamin Franklin spoke to another kind of concern when he said that “there is a natural inclination in mankind to kingly government.” Throughout history, the tendency of human beings has been to willingly, or at least unthinkingly, subject themselves to a ruler or ruling class. It’s no wonder that after the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention, when asked by an anonymous citizen what kind of government the Founding Fathers had created, Franklin is purported to have answered: ” … a republic, if you can keep it.”
Alas, we were not able to keep it. With the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, we were well on our way to becoming a democracy, a concept the Founding Fathers abhorred because, as history has shown, democracies tend to destroy themselves through an excess of democracy. The problem is that they evolve into a tyranny-of-the-majority society as the masses demand ever more bread and circuses in exchange for freedom.
The tyranny of the majority now has Europe on the edge of collapse, and America is not far behind. Like Europe, our redistribution-of-wealth policies – the Achilles Heel of democracy – are depleting our resources, even while the government, the media and the experts all try to convince us that we are now recovering from a severe economic “recession.”
Which brings us back to today’s Egypt. The people of that country may say they want to live under a democracy, but history gives us strong reason to believe that even after President Mubarak is gone, a democratic form of government is unlikely to emerge.
Is there anyone who seriously doubts that a large percentage of the population of Egypt (90 percent of whom are Muslims) would welcome Ayman al-Zawahiri’s return from the caves of Afghanistan/Pakistan and cheer the establishment of an Islamic theocracy? I trust that you remember Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini and how well that worked out for both the Iranian people and the rest of the world.
The United States had better be very careful about becoming involved in Egypt’s problems – or those of any other country where the masses take to the streets. For the rest of our lives, we can expect rioting and revolution to be the norm throughout the world. We’ve already spilled blood and treasure we couldn’t afford in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is a war where victory cannot even be defined. Even in Iraq, we have no guarantee of what the future holds.
I think it’s time for us to concentrate on our own civil war – the one here in America between progressives and constitutionalists that is becoming more heated by the day. There is no way to reconcile the fundamental philosophies of the two sides, since one believes in individual freedom and the other believes in a collective society wherein people’s behavior should be “socially engineered” by the elite class.
That being the case, only one of the two sides can actually win America’s second civil war – the progressives. That’s because progressives have no qualms about using force to achieve their collectivist ends, while tea-party types do not believe in violence except as a last resort.
Thus, throughout our lifetimes we will have our hands full just keeping our progressive enemies at bay right here in America. Short of violence, victory is not possible. The best we can hope for is a standoff. And that’s a task so enormous that it doesn’t leave us with enough resources to interfere in the affairs of other countries where people have never indicated they want freedom badly enough to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for it.
Good luck to Egypt and the rest of the world, but I say it’s time to focus on pushing back against the enemy within our borders. They are a real threat to our freedom; Egypt is not.