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American History And The Rise of Libertarianism

American History And The Rise of Libertarianism

Libertarian Country |

This article will serve as a brief, entertaining history of the United States of America and how the military industrial complex led to a culture of suburbanization and conformity, ultimately giving rise to rebellion and a flourishing libertarian movement in the 21st century.

 

Obedience Is Not Patriotism

Refusing to be slaves to King George III and the British Empire, American colonists gave their lives in the fight for independence during the Revolutionary War in the late 18th Century.

Loyalty to a king was unamerican. Early American patriotism harnessed the spirit of rebellion. The fiery passion for liberty was ablaze in the heart of the country.

In 1791, the first domestic product tax was introduced by the newly formed American federal government, leading to a bloody protest known as The Whiskey Rebellion

Defiance against tyranny and corruption was standard business in the early days of America.

What happened?

Prompted to fund the Civil War effort, the first income tax in America was enacted in 1861. Congress repealed it in 1872, but the concept did not vanish. Ratified on February 3rd, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution authorized Congress to lay and collect taxes on incomes.

In 1917, America declared war on Germany and had entered World War I. Six months later, Congress passed the War Revenue Act, increasing the amount of taxes collected, giving rise to what Eisenhower would later call "the military industrial complex." 

The federal government's power inflated, making rebellion and resistance more challenging than it was in 1791. But with war comes loyalty. If the nation had an enemy to fight, her citizens were less likely to revolt. And America was no stranger to conflict.

According to the Washington Post, patriotism during World War II had unified the nation. Though Great Britain was over four-thousand miles from America, The Revolutionary War was essentially a domestic resistance, breaking free from the yoke of England. The guns of rebellion against domestic tyranny now locked its sights on foreign targets.

Unified through the hardships of war, the country was ready to enter a new phase of nation-building: breeding the next generation of native born Americans.

 

The Urban Sprawl

Levittown

Bill Levitt swore he wasn't a racist, but he never allowed his personal opinions to interfere with business.

Where mid-century, post-war America saw hardship and a crippling housing shortage, William Levitt saw an opportunity. A World War II lieutenant who had learned the practical system of construction employed by the navy, he brought a new idea home to the family real estate business, Levitt & Sons--one that would change the American landscape forever.

Subdividing a large expanse of farmland and incorporating an assembly line style of production, Levitt & Sons had effectively fabricated America's first suburban neighborhood on Long Island, New York, between 1947 and 1951. Later, Levitt & Sons founded the second Levittown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, building 17,311 houses between 1952 and 1958.

When the homes went up for sale, the people stampeded to buy one. The urban sprawl had begun.

The vibrant, culturally rich urban epicenters of the United States were a cramped, noisy place for GIs returning home from the war. They sought a quieter place to start their families. Camping overnight on the lawns of the new development, many Americans fought for the first pick of a home in Levittown, New York.



In the 1940s and 50s, interracial marriage was almost unheard of. It wasn't until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. Some early 20th-Century European immigrants chose to breed only among their native brethren, but it was still common for White people of different ethnic backgrounds to intermarry. Suburbia was where the new America was being birthed. And the baby boom boomed.

William Levitt never sold to Black people or "unharmonious racial groups." According to Levitt, he was led by his business ambition to supply a demanding market. Despite being Jewish, he refused to sell to Jews, Blacks or Non-Whites in Levitt's Strathmore Vanderbilt development of Manhasset, for example.

According to the Long Island Press, concerning Levittown, "Levitt was following guidelines from the U.S. government’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which provided mortgage insurance on loans. The FHA recommended including restrictive covenants in the deeds of the homes it insured, meaning segregated neighborhoods."  

Despite a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court declaration that such restrictions were "unenforceable as law and contrary to public policy," Levitt kept on building, ignoring the changing policies. Ultimately, 1950s suburbia would be a "paradise" enjoyed predominately by White Americans.

Still, the melting pot heated up.

Before Levittown's completion, European immigrants spoke their identity with prefixes. They were German-Americans, Polish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans and so on. With a quick stir of the big wooden spoon, European immigrants would soon become just Americans.

For many young Americans growing up in the Great Depression and living through World War II, the American dream had finally become a reality. It was the Golden Age of American Capitalism. But nobody could foresee what would happen next.

Bill Levitt was a businessman and an entrepreneur. Despite criticism, he was named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century." Responding to market demand, Bill Levitt provided affordable homes during a post-war housing shortage. Unbeknownst to him, he was cultivating the new American garden, one with roots of nationalism and a dulled rejection of authoritarianism.

 

Jesus and John Wayne: Religious Indoctrination in America

Jesus and John Wayne

In mid-century America, Americanization was all the rage. If you could paint the veneer of Americana over something, it was your civic duty to grab a brush.

Christian Author Kristin Kobes Du Mez packs the Buick station wagon and takes us on a revisionist journey through the scenic byways of American evangelism in her book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.

According to Du Mez, many conservative evangelists and protestant religious leaders inadvertently and deliberately rebranded Christianity in America. They feared that the "Catholic" and "liberal" portrayal of Jesus didn't authentically capture America's aggressive, rugged individualism.

Hardliners didn't want the Jesus who offered his other cheek and commanded his disciples to love their enemies. They wanted the Jesus who was flipping tables of the money changers in the temple. The one who boldly declared, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

In essence, they wanted Jesus portrayed more like John Wayne--masculine, tough, no-nonsense--and less like a long-haired, sandal-wearing hippie who washed the dirty feet of lesser men.

Through radio broadcasts, publishing houses and the growing Christian industrial empire, conservative evangelicals effectively modified the perception of Christianity to mesh with the new, homogenized suburban American culture.

If suburban America was to blossom, it needed watering, and the church knew where to point the hose. This wasn't the promised land, but it wasn't Babylon either. Family values, sexual morality, sturdy marriages, child discipline and an overall conservative ethic were instilled into suburban life.

Along with a homogenized racial identity, suburbia embraced a shared cultural ethos. The children were safe. They had real men who would protect women. With a bible in one hand and a toy gun for shooting Indians in the other, little Timmy was adequately prepared to become a true American hero.

Socially, it was a model of society many Americans pined for, even today. But behind the freshly waxed Chryslers, front-yard cookouts, Independence Day parades, block parties and children playing ball in the street with friendly neighbors, something more sinister was brewing.

 

Cold War Hysteria, McCarthyism and The 1950s

The Monsters are Due on Maple Street

Photo Credit: The Twilight Zone

With the American dream being realized for many, the only thing left was to preserve their way of life.

In the 1950s and early 60s, it was a dangerous pursuit to question the status quo. Cold war paranoia and McCarthyism were abound. Drafting a complaint against the government could spell you a communist, a fate worse than death.

Freethinking was a threat to the new American way of life. The adages of liberty and defiance against tyranny that built the nation were yesteryear's relics.

Social fear gripped suburbia. White-collared men would all dress the same to work, having virtually the same lunch as every other coworker at the same time each day. Even slight deviations from what the majority did could spell you a pariah, a ghost.

As Rod Serling said, "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own."

Woven into the fabric of 1950's society were nationalism, Christian morality and fear.

The Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892 by a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy, was modified slightly and adopted by congress in 1942. In American schoolhouses in 1954, children recited the pledge each morning with the addition of the words "under God," which President Eisenhower urged, responding to the national threat of communism.

Just a year later, in 1955, Eisenhower endorsed a law passed by a joint resolution of the 84th Congress to add "In God We Trust" to all forms of U.S. currency.

The government understood that a unified nation needed both a cultural and religious identity. The assembly line construction of Levittown was not just for the walls and rooftops of houses. Uniformity was embedded into the manufacturing of society itself.

The factory churning out America's youth aimed to strip away the impurity of rebellion, but not everyone succumbed to the programming.   

 

Civil Disobedience & The 1960s

Hippies 1960s

In 1965, under Lyndon B. Johnson, the Vietnam War escalated. As U.S. combat troops hit the shores of Da Nang, American teenagers were leaving suburbia, traveling to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco with little more than a flower in their hair. 1967 was the "Summer of Love."

The world was changing.

Blind patriotism wasn't left unchallenged. The beat generation would give rise to a full-scale social revolution. Hippies and beatniks challenged social norms and the cookie-cut, idyllic image of suburban America. Civil Rights leaders and feminists took to the streets, battling for a more inclusive society. Freedom fighters risked their lives to voice their opposition against the growing threat of unchecked nationalism.

Although hardline conservative evangelicals might've seen this emerging revolt as the work of Satan, what was taking place was the rekindling of the early American spirit of rebellion.

Under the microscope, suburban America more closely resembled communist North Korea than it did the rugged frontier days of the country's founding. America was becoming exactly what it had vowed never to become. In retrospect, many viewed the 1960s "freaks" of society as true American patriots.



To this new generation, patriotism was earned, not commanded. Blind obedience was not a virtue. Rebellion was beautiful. Dissent is patriotic. It was a mockery to force schoolchildren to stand and recite a pledge of allegiance they didn't understand. Allegiance was a matter of honor, a choice, not a classroom ritual to indoctrinate the youth. A country of clones was a nationalistic nightmare, and the new revolution set out to disturb the slumber.

 

 

Patriotism After 9/11

Somebody Call 911

With the 60s revolution in the rearview mirror, America set sail for the information super-highway. Rock, grunge and punk music, along with a new genre "more horrifying" than jazz--known as hip hop--corrupted a generation through the bloated music and media industry. Speeding up this process was the commercialization of the internet.

American patriotism was on the decline. The baby boomers rejected Gen X, even though they were the ones who spawned them. Bleakness and apathy permeated the culture through MTV.

To many, if the 60's revolution was a banquet, the 80s and 90s were its spoiled leftovers. For the most part, a drab, unenthusiastic society shrugged its shoulders at political revolution.

But that was about to change.

Before America had the chance to fully recover from the Y2K scare, a new threat landed on her shores: terrorism.

September 11th, 2001, was a horrific day in American history. Forever, the lives of innocent people will be mourned and remembered. Unlike anything we've seen on our civilian soil, it was a tragedy beyond words. But the consequences were far more significant than what we could have imagined.

Along with the thick smoke of jet fuel burning, waves of fear, paranoia and ignorance clouded the sky.

John Wayne was smiling as he jumped back on his horse. The old days were coming back.



The Bush years were a triumphant rekindling of militarism and jingoism for many Americans. 1950's paranoia returned with a vengeance. America had a villain and wouldn't sleep until it was defeated. The flames of self-proclaimed patriotism erupted like a volcano.

But volcanos often torch the cities beneath their feet.

Behind the war cries of its citizens, the American government was testing its power. 45 days after 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed, expanding the government's authority to monitor phone conversations and emails, gather credit information and bank receipts, and track the everyday activity of innocent Americans.

In the name of patriotism and national security, the government duped its citizens into allowing unhindered, unconstitutional surveillance of society.

    

The Two-Party System and The Rise of Libertarianism

Two Sides of The Same Coin

Republicans and hardline conservatives didn't squander their victory in the culture wars. For years after September 11th, the air was thick with a sense of hardcore Americanism. Anything against the grain was considered a threat of terrorism by militant jingoists. Back then, it stuck. It was Neo-McCarthyism at its finest.

But the celebration wouldn't last forever.

The Obama years felt a shift in the cultural landscape. Underground political ideologies emerged to the surface and permeated social media. Race riots were a response to police brutality. The MeToo movement brought down celebrities and film moguls alike. Corporations endorsed liberal change. Progressive policies became standard in workplaces across the nation. Inclusion was mission-critical, and things were changing fast.

The 21st Century saw its most significant shift towards liberalism and progressivism since the 1960s. The left had won the culture war. But how would they manage their newly acquired power?

For decades, liberals and progressives fought against the evangelical conservative juggernaut in America, citing a need for resistance, revolution and liberty. But they didn't waste any time proving they were just as vainglorious and irresponsible with power as their predecessors.

Political correctness became the Salem Witch Trials of the 21st Century. Yesterday's blasphemy is today's bigotry. Liberal orthodoxy became Neo-Puritanism. Universities and pop culture icons sent their minions out for a witch hunt: Take no prisoners. Cancel anything that moves in the wrong direction.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whoever wears the King's crown commands obedience from their subjects. When all was said and done, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, proved they were two sides of the same coin. The coin that demands obedience from their subordinates. The concept of liberty was lost on a nation of sheep.

But not everyone was asleep. Libertarians from all walks of life started to voice their opposition, giving rise to a new movement based on freedom of expression and the tenets of classical liberalism. Rebellion was back! 

Libertarianism wasn't a new concept, but since December 11th, 1971, America officially had a Libertarian party. All the years of reckless obedience gave rise to the movement, and the ongoing dedication to subservience demonstrated by many Americans--which repulses libertarians--continues to give libertarianism credence, viability and popularity.

Libertarians are tired of conformity and silence.

Libertarians stand against the fearmongering suburbanization of America. They stand against groupthink and indoctrination. And we largely have groupthink and indoctrination to thank for helping to cultivate America's new libertarian movement in the 21st century.

 

Eternal Vigilance Is The Price of Liberty

To See The Future, View The Past

History reveals to us that we must tread carefully. We may think the government has our best interest in mind, but we must remain vigilant. As our forefathers warned, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Many attempts have been made to manipulate or force society into subservience, but we must prevail. We must never forget to hold the principles of liberty above fear, safety, progress, security and blind patriotism. To be genuinely patriotic is to be a rebel, an individual. There is nothing patriotic about being ruled like a subject. Obedience is not patriotism.

 

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