Have a good look look at the famous scene from the timeless comedy classic 'Life Of Brian'. Brian of Nazareth addresses the adoring crowd and says he doesn't want people following him. No, he wants people to work things out for themselves. Makes you laugh? Well, it should also make you cringe a bit as well. Are we really 'working out things for ourselves?' Or are we soaking up the mantra of 'collective action' instead? Do you believe your government always knows best and looks after your interests like a sort of benign older relative? I don't and never have.
So let's translate this in terms of President Obama's second inauguration speech shall we? The theme of the speech came early. We cannot uphold individual freedom as a principle he said. We must temper it with "collective action". What does this mean? According to Obama, it demands that "we must do.....things together, as one nation and as one people." Now what concretely does that mean? We can't literally do things "as one people". Obviously it means that the government is going to do things that free individuals (acting alone or in voluntary associations) would not choose to do on their own.
Obama, of course, didn't say that. He left it purposefully vague, saying it was like group action. "No one person can.......build the roads and networks and research labs, that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores." It is inspiring rhetoric, there's no doubt about it.
But the actual meaning became clear later on, when the President hinted at his priorities over the next four years; to protect the entitlement state and to crusade against global warming. Translation : collective action will require us to surrender lots of our money and our freedom to the government.
What if someone does not want to act "as one nation"? What happens if he or she wants to think about the issue and pursue their own course of action, on their own terms? I've already written on the 'Latest News On Climate Change' and it isn't what dedicated lovers of Global Warming want to hear.
What has the collectivist action of a Labor government in Australia meant over the last five years? Once again delivered with heart-warming rhetoric. It has meant a rankly unpopular Carbon Tax and a Mining Tax, because it was incorrectly believed our export of iron ore to China would provide the government with an endless cash cow. Well guess what? Demand slowed in China, the price of iron ore fell and no tax was collected. It has meant a total debacle with the roll out of a government subsidised insulation scheme for homes. It has meant a national broadband network grand implementation, that has cost and will cost, billions of dollars with precious little uptake by consumers. It has meant overpaid government executives spending a fortune criss-crossing the country with nothing to show for it. It has meant a poorly administered education subsidy plan that did not work. Yes, our taxpayer dollars were wasted in ineffective and sometimes bizarre collectivist initiatives. We have gone from a well-managed budget surplus to be several hundred million dollars in debt. Did I want this? I'm sure if I had been asked, I would be told with a straight face, that these initiatives were in the country's, and by implication mine as well, best interests. In our 'best interests'? Yeah right.
In George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, he uses two appropriate terms, 'doublethink' and 'Newspeak'. Doublethink was the act of holding opposite ideas in your mind, but believing them both at the same time. Newspeak was the language used to communicate the ideas generated by doublethink. Collectivist governments want you to believe they always act in everyone's best interests. Brian was onto something as far as I am concerned. Just how funny was that scene? Funny enough to make you crnge a little? Or am I just an obstinate and probing individual?