Liberty is seldom lost in one fell swoop. It is eroded away over time. Then, one day, a nation that was once free finds itself in bondage.
It is called gradualism. I have written before about how gradualism reduces the shock potential and numbs the senses to the reality that is transpiring all around.
America was never freer than when it was under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union from March 1, 1781 until March 4, 1789, when the Articles were replaced with the U.S. Constitution. But the ink was hardly dry on the Articles before advocates for increased centralization of government powers were calling for a stronger document.
The natural order is a migration from freedom to tyranny. Anti-Federalists tried to warn Americans of the dangers of a centralized government. But Federalists made a persuasive argument that the Constitution would be followed by a Bill of Rights that would guarantee the centralized government would be restrained and then almost immediately began tearing down the Constitution’s walls and changing the meaning of its language.
In the 223 years since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, America has moved toward a fascist totalitarianism in fits and starts. Elites in government, like the British mercantilist Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, already understood the Federal Treasury could be used to feather their own nest and the nests of their cronies. Hamilton was one of the first and strongest advocates for establishment of a U.S. National Bank and government debt.
Hamilton argued that government debt fully funded by tax revenues was a form of “capital” that was as good as gold and would be traded on the open market. He wanted a large national debt because of “its tendency to strengthen our infant government by increasing the number of ligaments between the government and the interests of individuals.” In other words, Hamilton sought to tie the interests of the more affluent citizens to the State. As primary bondholders, they would have an interest in continued borrowing and continued tax increases to ensure that they would be paid their principal and interest. 
By the early 1800s, Hamilton and his Federalist Party cronies in Congress had run the Federal debt up to $83 million. It would be 30 years before the last Treasury bond was paid off and the United States was debt-free. President Andrew Jackson announced on Jan. 1, 1835 the government would have a positive balance of $440,000 and America would be “at peace with the world.” 
Two years later, the Panic of 1837 hit and deficit spending pushed the debt back to $16 million by 1845. Financing the war with Mexico drove debt up to $63 million. Financing the War of Northern Aggression ran the debt to $2.8 billion. President Woodrow Wilson ballooned the debt to $26 billion. President Franklin D. Roosevelt exploded it to $260 billion by 1945. After the war, the debt was reduced gradually until 1960. Since then, the debt has steadily increased. It now stands in excess of $16 trillion. 
Wars are financed by debt and money printing. If nations were required to operate wars on a pay-as-you-go basis, they would end quickly. Lobbing billion-dollar missiles at enemy positions, losing multi-billion aircraft to anti-aircraft fire and massing hundreds of thousands of soldiers and the materiel necessary to arm and sustain them eats quickly into the national treasury.
Wars also lead to loss of liberty in the name of public safety.
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th U.S. Congress during an undeclared naval war with France. They were signed into law by the “liberty-minded” Founding Father and second President John Adams.
Twenty-five people were arrested and 10 were convicted under the Acts. Among them was Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of Benjamin Franklin. As editor of a Republican newspaper, Bache’s “crime” was accusing George Washington of incompetence and financial irregularities and John Adams of nepotism and monarchical ambition.
Another arrested was Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont. His arrest led to the arrest of others for simply advocating on his behalf. Anthony Haswell, a Revolutionary War veteran and editor of the Vermont Gazette, was imprisoned for placing ads in Vermont newspapers requesting donations to help pay Lyon’s fines. The Rev. John C. Ogden carried a petition to Philadelphia asking for Lyon’s release and was imprisoned for his troubles. Curiously, no Federalists were ever arrested under the Acts. 
At the outset of the unCivil War, President Abraham Lincoln violated the U.S. Constitution and suspended habeas corpus. He then imprisoned citizens, writers, editors, politicians and whole legislatures that opposed his war on the Confederacy. As a railroad lawyer, Lincoln also viewed the railroad industry favorably. Many of his friends and conies in the burgeoning railroad business prospered greatly from the U.S. Treasury during Lincoln’s reign. It increased as Lincoln moved to fiat “greenbacks” to finance the war debt. Graft and corruption between the railroad industry, politicians and government bureaucrats was rampant for years after Lincoln’s death.
During World War II, 110,000 Japanese Americans were interred in “War Relocation Camps” simply for being Japanese and living in the wrong place — the Western United States — following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interestingly, Japanese Americans living in Hawaii were not imprisoned.
FDR knew from his own investigation that the vast majority of those imprisoned were loyal and faithful Americans. He also had a report from J. Edgar Hoover, based on documents pilfered from Japanese consular offices that described Japan’s U.S. spy system. So the arrests were political rather than strategic.
FDR also considered interning large numbers of German and Italian immigrants. But he needed the votes of German Americans and Italian Americans to win re-election. He also wanted to carry California. Many Californians despised the Japanese Americans and saw them as good for nothing more than migrant labor. So he announced that migrants from Italy would not be labeled enemy aliens and would not be harassed. But he went forward with internment of the Japanese. 
He also had another advantage his predecessors did not possess: the Federal Reserve. The Fed, which caused the Great Depression with its loose money policies, was an unlimited piggy bank for FDR to use buy off special interests. These policies both deepened and lengthened the Depression.
The price and wage controls, overzealous interpretation of the commerce clause and threats directed at Supreme Court justices by FDR were the worst assaults on the Constitution and liberty since Lincoln’s actions 70 years earlier. His big government welfare policies were expanded upon by Lyndon Baines Johnson in his “War on Poverty.” Subsequent “wars” on drugs and terror have grown the State — and the prison population — exponentially.
A column by Jim Fedako that recently appeared at LewRockwell.com is illustrative of how fascism takes over our lives.
This example is instructive. An authoritarian state needs fear in order to hold consent. And that fear must be reinforced on a regular basis. An attitude similar to that of the American volunteers from two decades ago must be continually extinguished. Such a spirit — one that challenges authority — is perceived as a threat to the state because it is a threat to the state. So the masses must be made act submissive before any and all agents of the state. All dissent must be squashed before it takes root.
In an accelerated pace, the fear of the state is overtaking this nation, with the proud strut of liberty being replaced by the cautious shuffle of statism. And I have found myself a victim as well.
On a recent trip with my older children, we faced the agents of the state at the airport security line. As we proceeded through the various checkpoints, I noticed that the agents joked but the masses lowered or diverted their eyes. No one wanted to upset an agent who has the ability to ruin a vacation, at the very least.
On the other side of the x-ray machines, we began to collect our personal belongings. All seemed in order until one of the agents pointed and asked, “Whose bag is that?” Well, it was my son’s, so I replied, “That bag is with me. I’m responsible for it.”
His voice rose in anger, “Whose bag is it?” Again, I replied that I was responsible for the bag.
The agent pointed and asked his question louder. And I lowered my eyes and finked on my twelve year-old son. “it’s his,” I replied.
My son was separated from me and interrogated while his bag was inspected. So there I stood, a middle-age man, without shoes, belt in hand, watching my son subjected to questioning from an angry adult who knew nothing would be found in the bag. And I could not help.
Given a choice between the man who signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law and a man who supports it wholeheartedly, between the man who signed an extension to the USA Patriot Act and a man who supports it wholeheartedly, between the man who has ordered drone attacks to assassinate Americans and a man who believes it’s a proper use of Presidential authority, between the man who “led from behind” the regime change in Libya and is arming (al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood) terrorists in Syria and a man who believes its proper to use the American military to overthrow legitimate governments, and between the man who has tightened sanctions on Iran and a man who’s ready to invade that country on Israel’s command, more than 9 million voters chose to stay home.
Unfortunately, almost 130 million Americans voted for fascism.