Saturday, April 1, 2017
A Few Thoughts on "Independence"
What makes a word like “autonomy” so praiseworthy today is how unusually straightforward it is. These days, we tend to be ruled by emotion rather than reason, we tend to lie to ourselves and each other and will happily live totally delusional lies as long as that delusion makes us feel better about ourselves and this applies to entire countries as well as individuals. There are many countries today which claim to be independent which are actually nothing of the sort, they may or may not be autonomous but they are certainly not independent. The word “independent” has been so used and abused in the decades since World War II that I seriously doubt whether people in general actually know what this rather simple word means. Today, the word “independent” seems to be more like a sort of honorific title or a status symbol. Everyone wants to claim it and would take it as a terrible insult if you said the word should not apply. Allow me to give an example, featuring one of my least favorite people.
My point is, if there are African countries who depend on the United States so much that American help is required simply to keep them alive, why on earth is anyone pretending that these countries are “independent” in any way, shape or form? The amount of Foreign Aid is not even finally the point. As most know, the State of Israel actually receives more U.S. Foreign Aid than any other country in the world and they are far from being an impoverished land of starvation and disease. I would feel safe in assuming that if the U.S. cut off all Foreign Aid to Israel, there would be many angry words but the Israelis would still make it okay on their own somehow. If you are depending on another country, on another continent in fact, for something as basic as your people being able to eat, I do not see how such a country could be considered independent by any stretch of the imagination.
This is partly why I consider so much of the talk, whether from liberals or libertarians, about “freedom” to be such drivel. People don’t really want real freedom. If they did, they would want independence because freedom always accompanies independence. Rather, they want to be taken care of, they want something for nothing, they want to act in a short-sighted, selfish manner and yet never have to suffer any consequences for it. They want to live a lie, a lie that says they are free people in an independent country whereas, in many instances, they are nothing of the sort. Some people are being at least a little bit honest about it. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is pushing to become the 51st state of the Union. The Democrats would love to have another “Blue state” to add to the voting rolls, the Republicans are less enthusiastic about taking in an economic basket case that would instantly become the poorest state in America. They would rather see Puerto Rico sever all ties and become independent but the Puerto Rican government, having spent themselves into a bottomless pit of debt by pandering to the public (and lining their own pockets in the process) want to become even more dependent on the U.S.A. because then the American taxpayers will be permanently responsible for taking care of them.
because Greece is not really independent anymore. She makes a very straight-forward and fact based argument. My only problem is counting “democracy” as one of the great contributions of the Greeks to western civilization since the very leaders she rightly accuses of selling out Greek independence were all voted into office democratically. The people voted themselves into bondage to the money-lenders because they wanted to go on receiving more from the state than they were willing to pay into it.
In the old days, it seems to me, people were more open and honest about this sort of situation and took a more dispassionate view of the subject of independence. Even today, for example, the Principality of Monaco is a legally sovereign country but not technically an independent one. They are a protectorate of the French Republic and, as such, the French government still has certain rights in Monaco. No one seems to mind this too much because they realize that they are simply too small a country to be completely and truly independent. Much the same could be said about the relationship, not identical but similar, between the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation. After the demise of the Austrian Empire, little Liechtenstein had a hard time going it alone and so entered into a customs union with Switzerland. Again, no one felt bad about it or shamed about it, regarding it in a very rational way as something that needed to be done. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have groups such as the Scottish National Party which howl all the time about their desire for Scottish “independence” but also their desire to maintain their subservience to the European Union. They do not really want independence at all, simply to replace dependence on London with dependence on Brussels. Why they find the EU preferable to the UK, I don’t know but that is the situation.