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Closing Thoughts on The Americanism of Barry Goldwater

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Last night, I turned the final page on the book The Americanism of Barry Goldwater, written by Frank R. Donovan. It was an excellent book and I'm grateful to the author for writing it. The book gives us a look into the mind of Barry Goldwater and paints a picture of how Senator Goldwater viewed the socio-political scenery of his day.
I must admit to you that when I finished this book, I was overcome with a sense of dread. For in the closing chapter of the book, the author spoke of Barry Goldwater's growing concern with what he perceived to be creeping socialism in America and the American government. One must keep in mind that over forty years have past since this book was written and we have the benefit--or the curse, if you prefer--of hindsight. Many of the warnings and predictions made both by the author and Goldwater, himself, have come to pass.
I wanted to share with you a passage from the last chapter of the book to help illustrate for you what I'm speaking of. Chapter Eight, titled "Americanism Revisited," summarizes for us all the previous chapters and then closes with a warning of what is to come for the future of America if we don't move to stop the spread of socialism in this country:
    Under this pretense of "taking care of" the people, today's liberals would play God and slowly strangle Americanism. The welfare state has already imposed severe restrictions on the American people in their "pursuit of happiness."
    This road to socialism is the one that we must turn from if we would regain Americanism. In Senator Goldwater's opinion our present approach to "socialism through welfarism" is a greater danger than an outright effort on the part of the liberals to attain socialism through the conventional method of nationalism. The welfarism route is so insidious that its evils are not immediately apparent. Rather than the loss of freedom for the individual which it really is, welfarism can be presented as a form of humanitarianism--another confusion of labels. The liberals have a strong emotional appeal to voters with programs that are labeled as helping the needy but which are, in reality, steps in controlling the lives of those they presume to serve--and those who must pay for the service.
    In Goldwater's words: "The long range political consequences of Welfarism are plain enough. The State that is able to deal with its citizens as wards and dependents has gathered unto itself unlimited political and economic power and is thus able to rule as absolutely as any oriental despot."
    But the greatest threat to Americanism from welfarism is in its effect on the individual, rather than on the government. The philosophy that the government should provide, which was encouraged by the New Deal and is inherent in the New Frontier--the feeling that "the world owes me a living"--is a defeatist psychology which is the exact opposite of Americanism. This country grew great because its people were primarily interested in freedom and opportunity. Thirty years ago [1934] they were told that now things are different. The all-important thing is not opportunity but security--and if they keep the liberals in power the government promises to give them security. On every front the liberal planners have placed restrictions of opportunity on the individual in order to favor alleged security for the group.
    Security is inherent in Americanism; but it is the security of work and self reliance, not the security of protective paternalism which, in the final analysis, is neither secure nor protective. The government may seek to give the farmer a measure of security through subsidies; to give the elderly the security of a pension; to give some union workers security through preferential treatment; to give youth security through federally controlled education; to give the sick security through free medical care; to give the poorly housed security through urban renewal; to give the unemployed security through jobs financed by the government. But Washington can do this only so long as the people pay for it themselves. When the people can no longer pay the constantly increasing cost of the welfare state, government has no means of maintaining it except by a constantly accelerating inflation. And that may be nearer than we think.
    Those who are absorbed by the welfare state soon lose their taste for freedom, and, like the Italians under Fascism and the Germans under National Socialism, sink into a robot-like existence bounded by today's material sufficiency. Goldwater describes the effect of the state welfarism on the human character by saying: "It transforms the individual from a dignified, industrious, self-reliant spiritual being into a dependent animal creature without his knowing it."
After reading these words, written back in 1964, I would have to conclude that Barry Goldwater's message was right on the money. He was a man ahead of his time and the American public wasn't ready to hear the truths he spoke about--and the liberals were certainly threatened by him.
In completing this book, my final assessment would be to conclude: "By default, by birth, we're all socialists now." The American government has long since been overthrown by the socialists that Goldwater warned of; our republic has been replaced by the welfare state. Whether we want to admit this to ourselves or not, by calling ourselves Americans, we call ourselves socialists. These are the cold-hard facts of life. To be sure, those of us who will stand up for what we believe in, who will declare to the rest of America and its government that we are not socialist, we will be the ones not counted amongst their numbers, and we will be ostracized for it.
Being a libertarian, I, for one, will never embrace socialism. How about you?


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