The Devil is in the Details

While I was doing my blog reading today, as a way to take a break from my term paper, I stumbled across a post by Vox Day that addressed an article by Michael Ledeen.  The post is about the death of American democracy and its arguments may surprise you.  Ledeen talks about the work of Alexis de Tocqueville and offers some very insightful commentary on the current mess of our union. Here is a sample of Ledeen’s analysis:

Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as  a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection.  Tocqueville knows better.  He foresees a slow death of freedom.  The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened.  The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.

There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht.  We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us.

There is more.  Look at Ledeen’s comments in conjuntion with insight from Tocqueville:

There are no secret police, no concentration camps, and no torture.  “The nature of despotic power in democratic ages is not to be fierce or cruel, but minute and meddling.”  The vision and even the language anticipate Orwell’s 1984, or Huxley’s Brave New World. Tocqueville describes the new tyranny as “an immense and tutelary power,” and its task is to watch over us all, and regulate every aspect of our lives.

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.

This got me to thinking about the level of regulation in our society and how it already does this on so many levels.  If you want to have some nightmares, just go to the US Government Printing Office bookstore and start perusing the offerings they have for sale containing federal regulations.  Some other brave soul actually found the IRS code in 2006 and calculated its size:

By the way, if you go to the US Government Printing Office ( ), you can order a complete set of Title 26 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (that’s the part written by the IRS), all twenty volumes of it, at the bargain price of $974, shipping included.

According to the US Government Printing Office, it’s 13,458 pages in total. The full text of Title 26 of the United States Code (the part written by Congress–available for an additional $179) is a mere 3,387 printed pages, bringing the adjusted gross page count to 16,845.

I am not sure if it is still available, and I imagine it has grown in size, but I couldn’t find it to be sure.  But I did locate the most recent stimulus bill and discovered that it was 407 pages long in my acrobat reader.  I didn’t read much of it, because I wanted to feel like my congressmen.

So, what is the point of all of this regulation and obfuscation by our government?  Ledeen quotes Toqueville again with the parenting motif that I brought up a few days ago ironically serving as the backdrop:

That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild.  It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.  For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Such a tactic would be terrible parenting to say the least.  No child would be prepared to live in the real world whose parents behave like this.  How in the world can we think it would be wise to govern this way?

And if you don’t think it can affect how you live your daily life or maybe don’t think it will get to the point of absurdity that I think it has already reached.  Let me give you exhibit C (or maybe I am up to D):

As WND reported, a federal court of appeals concluded the high school coach broke the law routinely when he would bow his head or “take a knee” while his team prayed before games – a school tradition for 25 years.

Borden has defended himself, saying, “We’re teaching kids values. There’s nothing wrong with being spiritual.”

The case originated in 2005 when school officials adopted a policy prohibiting employees and representatives of the school district from taking part in student-led prayer. The school said even bowing a head violated the “separation of church and state.”

There are dozens more examples, but this one popped into my viewing scope today and so I included it.  The real question is what do we do about it?  As Christians, do we take notice and fight for our country?  Do we take the posture that we are strangers and aliens in this world and our citizenship is not here?  What do you think?

Categories: Christianity, Culture, Kingdom, Parenting, politics | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “The Devil is in the Details

  1. Two kingdoms doctrine.

    We are not of this world and yet we live in it and are to take care of our neighbors.

    We don’t put our hope in it, but we fight for it.

    We owe it to those around us to protect them from tyranny.

    Count me in.

  2. lekowitz

    Nice post. Tocqueville did have it right on; his prescience is amazing. If you’re into that kind of reading I suggest looking at his works. Not only is he right but he writes well and is fun to read.

  3. Every human movement looks when viewed from history like a pendulum. Swinging left to right. the SBC is an example. We are reactionary, that is why we go to far. My hope is that the pendulum in America swings back to personal freedom and away from government control.

  4. Willohroots,

    That may take awhile. It is still on the ‘leftward’ upswing.

    Hopefully the pendulum won’t swing right off of the clock!

  5. Well, I can finally be a good blog host again. Last paper is in the can for this term.
    I agree with you about the pendulum to a point. I might liken it to a circle instead, as it seems like we keep endlessly repeating things, despite the admonition that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

  6. lekowitz,
    After reading the article I linked to, I am very much interested in reading more of his stuff. Once I get through my MA, that will be at the top of my list.

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