WASHINGTON, June 25, 2016 — “Don’t let someone decide your future: Vote Remain,” said a leaflet urging Britons to stay in the European Union.
It never dawned on the person writing the tract that by staying in an undemocratic institution like the EU, Britons would be letting unelected and faceless bureaucrats in Brussels make decisions affecting their lives, liberties and pocketbooks.
We live in the age of “experts.” Open the New York Times or listen to the evening news, and you’ll likely be assailed by stories touting the views of one expert or another, armed with a government-funded study supporting the authoritarian conclusions of elitists hell-bent on controlling every aspect of our lives.
“Experts should, of course, be respected for their expertise,” wrote political columnist Charles Moore of the London Daily Telegraph. “But no one is an expert where democracy is concerned. Each of us is worth only one vote. It took enormous courage for the majority to refuse to be cowed by bankers and archbishops, prime ministers and presidents… It was a mass assertion of a right which, over the years, we had been losing.”
It must be remembered that the courageous in Britain were only 4 percent of the population, those happy few favoring freedom and independence from a continental leviathan smothering all in its sway with collectivism’s suffocating pillow.
Freedom is dangerous. That explains why there is so little of it in this dark world. It is counterintuitive to the more natural and primitive human instinct toward tribal collectivism and enslavement of one’s self to the group.
Freedom presupposes the individual has pride of ownership – of one’s self. “Every man has a property in his own person,” wrote English philosopher John Locke. A free person has “a right to decide what would become of himself and what he would do, and as having a right to reap the benefits of what he did.”
Locke’s writings on individual freedom – what he called “natural rights” – formed the cornerstone of Enlightenment thinking that saw its full flowering in Thomas Jefferson’s declarative statement:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In his first inaugural address, President Obama twisted Jefferson’s revolutionary declaration on behalf of individual liberty into an apologia in support of ancient tribalism:
Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action (emphasis added).
Many Americans mistake Obama’s otherness as devotion to Islam or proof he hails from the land of his father, Kenya. But It is his denunciations of individual effort, outward expressions of individual liberty (“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that”), that sets Obama apart from the Enlightenment traditions of Britain and America.
That, ultimately, explains his otherness.
This is why the president made a special trip to the U.K. last April to insist Britons sublimate their Enlightenment rights as Englishmen to the European Union’s otherness; its undemocratic, tribal collectivism.
In support of that collectivism, Obama threatened to move Britain to the “back of the queue” in trade deals if its people voted to leave the EU.
He insisted to the British press that his comments were “not a threat” but were merely meant to “enhance the debate.” “I’m offering my opinion, and in democracies, everybody should want more information, not less, and you shouldn’t be afraid to hear an argument being made,” said a cynical Obama.
By asserting their rights as Englishmen and abandoning the authoritarian restraints of the EU, Britain has made enemies in Brussels and Washington.
But as was said by the great Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who for a time led Britain alone against German dictator Adolf Hitler, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
And by example, Britons may help Americans to remember, as Jefferson wrote, “Our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them.”
And in an act worthy of Jefferson, our cousins across the pond refused to submit.