If you were a time-traveling supervillain intent on world domination, how might you change the past in order to seize total control of the present? I’d get rid of the personal automobile, unsupervised cash transactions, and uncontrolled mass communication. If you take away freedom of movement, freedom of commerce, and freedom of speech, then you can keep people isolated, dependent on government welfare, and ignorant of any ideas that might threaten the power of the State. Cars, cash, and communication are tools for promoting and protecting freedom, so if your goal is total State control over the individual, the three big Cs must go.
Is it a coincidence, then, that Western governments today seem committed to following that very playbook? They can’t go back in time and un-invent the automobile, but they can make cars so prohibitively expensive through endless regulation that only the wealthiest among us eventually own them. They can’t surveil every market transaction, but they can make it increasingly difficult to exchange goods or services without using traceable electronic platforms.
They can’t completely shut down email, social media, or the Internet without shutting down power grids, but they can partner with ideologically-aligned tech monopolists to censor information and viewpoints, limit anonymity, and track users. Who needs time travel when it is possible to transform freedom-enhancing technologies into systems of State control?
I know we’re all supposed to believe that carbon dioxide plant food is evil, and the only way to “save the planet” is to ban everyone (except the “elites”) from using energy, but it sure is convenient that a century after the automobile revolutionized the world, the “ruling class” wants to de-revolutionize mass mobility. In the late nineteenth century, most people lived and died in the towns where they were born. With highway systems and the internal combustion engine, personal freedom jumped by leaps and bounds.
Not only did people find a relatively inexpensive way to interact with the world beyond their homes, but they also discovered ideas and economic opportunities that never would have reached them otherwise. If part of freedom’s allure is the ability to choose one’s path and destination, then the car is freedom.
Yet isn’t it strange that personal transportation has only gotten more expensive over the decades? Gone are the days when teenagers could afford to buy cheap wheels with summer earnings. Gone are the models so basic that learning automotive mechanics was a part of growing up. Safety and fuel regulations and increasingly complex computer systems have pushed car prices higher and higher.
Building cars from scratch has been replaced with taking out car loans for life. And now the “green police” want to replace the affordability of the internal combustion engine and gasoline pumps with expensive batteries made from Chinese and African rare earth metals (usually mined by slaves) and requiring hour-long recharges from electrical power stations running on coal energy. What’s more likely — that cars are a threat to the planet or that the freedom cars represent is a threat to state control?
If the car is freedom, cash is privacy. You can buy and sell without every transaction being recorded or scrutinized. You can hide it, store it, or give it away at will. So what does it say to you that Western governments are already planning for the collapse of their depreciating currencies by preparing for the day when their physical currencies can be replaced with purely digital forms?
It tells me that running the U.S. debt up a few hundred trillion dollars wasn’t just the normal work product of criminal politicians and bureaucratic spendthrifts but an intentional plan to transfer wealth from the poorest to the richest before forcing everyone onto an easily surveilled digital system. If only government-sanctioned digital currencies are allowed, then no purchase, donation, or transfer is private.
Governments wouldn’t abuse that kind of power, would they? Canada already answered that question by freezing the assets and bank accounts of freedom convoy protesters it deemed hostile to the State. Then the West spoke with one voice by cutting off Russian citizens from international electronic transfer systems for the actions of their president.
Does anybody doubt that the socialists who have taken over the West are just itching to deny salaries to “politically incorrect” citizens as punishment? Or to prevent future purchases of ammunition, donations to freedom-minded organizations, or personal expenditures on unapproved books or education? Does anybody doubt that replacing physical currencies with only government-issued digital monies will end private property and institutionalize Marxist redistribution of wealth? Then you know why decentralized cryptocurrencies free from government control are such a threat to governments’ power.
But if you’ve figured out by now that the State is limiting your freedom and privacy, then you must also know that it will do everything in its power to keep you from telling others — which is why Western governments have made free speech their enemy. The “golden age” of mass communication for governments was when only they could speak to millions of their citizens at a time through subtle propaganda broadcast on radio and television programs.
With the rise of the Internet, social media, and cheap cameras, though, citizens can engage in mass communication. If the State cannot control the message or the messenger, then the State’s power is transferred to the people. See why free speech has now become unacceptable in the West? See why everything the State doesn’t like must be criminalized as “hate”? See why President Trump had to be de-platformed? Spreading ideas far and wide without State approval is dangerous to the State’s control over its citizens.
Does that sound hyperbolic? Ask yourself when the last time was that government institutions reacted to any crisis in a way that could be understood as expanding personal choice. A school shooting occurs, and how does the government respond? By demanding that law-abiding citizens hand over their own means of self-defense. Does the legalization of gay marriage conflict with some Americans’ religious beliefs? Those Americans must be bullied into publicly supporting something antithetical to their own consciences.
People are so afraid of a virus that they insist on never leaving their homes? Then people who are unafraid of the virus must be compelled to stay in their homes, too. Do parents disagree with school curriculums promoting “white supremacy” and “transgenderism”? Then those parents must be treated as “domestic extremists” and reported to the FBI. After nearly a decade in Iraq and two decades in Afghanistan, Americans are hesitant to rush into war in Ukraine? Then their viewpoints must be labeled as “Russian propaganda” and their opinions deemed “traitorous.”
Can you remember a time when disagreement was accepted as a vital part of a healthy and free society? Can you remember a time when speech was not policed and people were not fired for their personal beliefs? Can you remember a time when self-sufficiency was a virtue and government dependence was something to avoid? Can you remember a time when freedom was not something “handed out” for good behavior? If you can, then you know what’s already been lost. And unless Americans demand control over their own futures once again, you know how much more there is still left to lose.