Are Western nations rejecting the concepts of individual liberty and rule of law in favor of a slow slide into authoritarianism?
As a child growing up in the 1980s, I heard no shortage of stories about the horrors that went on in such distant lands as the Soviet Union, Communist China, as well as violent Latin American military dictatorships such as Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile.
For all intents and purposes — at least from peoples’ perspectives back in that pre-Internet era in the dying days of the Cold War — if you were lucky to have been born into a western nation (Canada here) it was akin to winning the lottery. When I speak of the Western World, I’m referring to North America, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and perhaps South Africa and a few other nations.
For anyone in my age group or older (I’m 42, btw) you’d be hard-pressed to disagree that western societies were still very free in the 1970s, 1980s, and even into the 1990s. Taxes were lower. Public services such as healthcare were topnotch. Parents would let their children play around the neighborhood without the fear of a moral busybody neighbor ratting them out to Child Protective Services.
Over the past few decades or so, I (as no doubt you have) have noticed a disturbing trend whereby many of the inalienable rights our ancestors often fought ferociously for are frequently impeded by elected officials who in many cases no longer feel obligated to serve the very people who put them into office or pay their bloated salaries and benefits, for that matter.
More restrictive gun laws. Attacks on free speech, peaceful assembly, and even religious freedom. Antiterrorism legislation that makes a mockery out of the rule of law. Intrusive nanny state regulations governing the use of seatbelts, helmets, and other safety items for adults.
A million hidden (and not so hidden) taxes in the form of fees, licensing, you name it. Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock lately (or are content or even happy with your country’s descent into statism) you’ve noticed that the very countries that were once bastions of liberty are resembling (at least in some ways) countries in eastern and southern Europe, Latin America, and Asia (many of whom are emerging economies) that were once dictatorships but have since broken through the shackles of oppression and embraced the principles of individual liberty most people in the West once held sacrosanctly.
And there is no greater example of this than the massive human rights and constitutional abuses which took place and continue to happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As if the state of democracy in the West wasn’t already in a perilous state, our overlords and their petty tyrants in the various levels of the bureaucracy took it upon themselves to have a field day trampling over everything previous generations have fought and bled and died for and would be mortified to see happening today.
As we’ve followed social media and the continuous rolling out of sensationalist stories in the news, we were given a firsthand look at just how far down the rabbit hole western societies have fallen with regards to governments’ cavalier attitudes toward civil liberties which included limits on freedom of expression, the drawing up of emergency legislation without even so much as proper legislative process and debate, and sweeping lockdowns that to date has done very little to stop the spread of this virus, but have left millions out of work and forced (as of Sept. 1, 2020) 163,735 businesses to shutter their door permanently.
This litany of offenses against the citizenry these wannabe dictators are elected to represent included emergency laws designed to give them unlimited power and treat the constitutions of their respective countries as though they were a mere inconvenience. A proposal earlier this year by Norwegian lawmakers drew heavy criticism from lawyers and civil liberties advocates.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a crazy year and a turning point that will decide whether Western nations turn back the tide of blind submission to authority, or meekly follow the herd toward authoritarian collectivism. While governments violated civil liberties at will, mass protests and riots pushing a communist manifesto erupted throughout major cities such as London, New York, Portland, and Paris.
One can’t help but notice (especially those of us who are old enough to remember those frightening dystopian movies of yesteryear) that western societies right now are an unsettling blend of Bladerunner, some of the craziest Monty Python skits, and, George Orwell’s 1984 complete with near-zero privacy, militarized police, and a breakdown of law and order designed to bring in even more restrictions. Even more disturbing is the fact that so many people are not only complacent about their freedoms being ripped from them, they actually welcome it. It’s for our own good, remember? Just a bit of sarcasm to lighten the mood.
The most twisted irony out of this entire debacle is the sad fact that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which didn’t even register on many people’s radars.
The burning question must be asked; how exactly did all this happen?
We didn’t reach this state of affairs overnight, that’s for sure. In my humble opinion, decades of comfortable living coupled with governments that took care of everyone’s needs, add in the fact that most people haven’t experienced truly hard times in recent memory, have — to be rather blunt — softened us.
Yet, those countries we used to cringe at when we were young such as Poland, Czech Republic, Panama, the former Yugoslavia, and even former Soviet states such as Estonia, are freer than we are to varying degrees. Those who have lived through tyranny are vigilant not to return to it. If only we could pick up a history book and learn for ourselves.
The hard truth is, if we don’t fight, the spark of liberty that served as the foundation of the United States and other western nations, will burn out, potentially plunging us back into another Dark Ages.
In closing, to paraphrase author Michael Hopf, who summed up the cycle in which societies live; “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.”
And, as we watch our world deteriorate around us, it’s painfully obvious that western societies have moved into the final stage of this cycle.
So, what do you think? Please leave a comment below:
Chris is a professional freelance writer. He uses his expert knowledge, skills, and personal experience in writing about such topics as real estate, travel, fitness, politics, and digital marketing to create innovative, entertaining, and engaging content for his clients. He writes for Medium, TravelPlus, ThriveGlobal, The Canadian Firearms Journal, and more. His specialty is writing articles and books as well as copywriting and editing and proofreading.
Sundaram, Anjali. “Yelp Data Shows 60% of Business Closures Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Now Permanent.” CNBC, CNBC, 16 Sept. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html.
Andrew HendersonAndrew Henderson is the world’s most sought-after consultant on international tax planning. “Five Reasons Panama Is One of the Freest Countries in the World.” Nomad Capitalist, 28 Dec. 2019, nomadcapitalist.com/2015/01/19/reasons-panama-is-one-of-the-most-free-countries-in-the-world/.