1776 Freedom’s Blog

September 2, 2008

Turning the world upside down

Filed under: Politics — pj @ 2:23 am

Have you ever wondered why the American military spends untold amounts of money retrieving and identifying the remains of soldiers or airmen who died fifty or more years ago in remote and inaccessible regions of the planet?   What could justify a state of the art forensic identification facility, staffed with highly educated specialists who have dedicated themselves to this task?  It is not an easy task.  Occasionally they know who they are looking for.  Sometimes  they have a package of bones recovered from a jungle on the other side of the world.  Success achieves largely intangible rewards for the scientists, their military associates and the families of the men returned home for burial long after the traditional time for grieving is past.  The value to the government appears to be negligible.  After all, what are a few bones and bits tattered uniform worth?

The answer is found in the Declaration of Independence.  And, that answer explains the distinctly American attitudes conservatives have toward government and society.   Eighteenth century England was for the time a liberal polity.  British citizens claimed rights as Englishmen that few others could.   American colonists considered themselves subjects of the British crown and therefore entitled to certain civil rights, including the right to a degree of self government.  However, they remained subjects of a king and therefore subject to his whim.  In declaring their independence Americans turned the old world order on its head, putting the rights of the individual common man on a plane with those of a king.  In essence every man is sovereign unto himself.  Therefore every man, or in twenty first century politically correct speech, every man and woman, had the same value as the king.  Having made the leap from subject to sovereign, Americans abolished the concept of privilege entirely by applying it to every member of the human race.

This is the reason that we spend millions retrieving old bones and burying them at home with full honors.  We value every individual as irreplaceable.  Some have called this excessive individualism and countered that the society that nurtures the individual is more important than the individuals within the society i.e community is the basis of society.  Not according to the foundation of our nation.  The Declaration have enshrined the rights of the individual as the as the basis for government and society.

Partisan politics arise from the competition between the communal and collaborative.  The communal(socialist, liberal) thinkers posit society as  granter of rights and government as the controller of freedoms and provider of needs.  According to the principles enshrined in the Declaration, individuals collaborate to create government that guarantees the individual free exercise of individual rights.  The individual is responsible for maintaining the self and family and providing for them.  Government has specifically limited obligations, protect the nation, insure equality of opportunity protect individual rights and freedoms.

Retrieving long dead soldiers and returning them home for burial is one expression of the founders belief in individual sanctity, sovereignty and worth.

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