The War of the Straitjackets

By John Horvat II | June 8, 2016 | 11:57am EDT
Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other while being separated by police officers on July 4, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Looking at the political climate, America's present condition can be seen as a war of the straitjackets. On one side, there are those who rightfully claim that society needs God and a moral law as a necessary condition for freedom and prosperity. These fight to conserve the remnants of this law.

On the other side are those “progressives” who claim that society must progressively evolve away from this same moral law. The role of government is to guarantee that everyone can live the way each wants or imagines. To their way of thinking, there need not be an organized order as long as someone pays the bill.

The two opposing attitudes have created a tension in America and even in the world, where similar dramas are taking place. To the progressives, the moral law is a hateful straitjacket that inhibits “freedom.” It must be opposed at all costs.

Of course, the moral law is not a straitjacket but rather a loving guide that insures true order and real freedom. However, the liberal perspective is that eventually every restriction, even bathroom designations and personal identity, must be overturned as a means of escaping this intolerable moral straitjacket.

On their part, the liberals have imposed their straitjacket upon their conservative foes in the form of political correctness, massive regulations and taxes. This cruel and truly binding straitjacket imposes itself with a vengeance upon all society. The logic is that those who cannot see the advantages of living outside the moral order must be forced to facilitate the other’s “right” to do so. If they do not wish to participate in the great anarchical party, the least they can do is foot the bill via increased taxes.

This war of the straitjackets has been the narrative that has dominated the political landscape for several decades. It has been a grueling stalemate in which neither side can claim total victory.

It was scheduled to be the 2016 narrative, but a note of desperation entered into the equation. There appeared a deep frustration with politics. Each side sees itself inside the straitjacket of the other and desperately desires to get out.

Some even see it as a last chance to get out, and this has changed the dynamic of politics significantly. Conservatives are especially concerned because, in its effort to get rid of all restrictions, the liberal side is jettisoning anything that stands in the way, like democracy, free speech, common sense and the rule of law.

It is no secret that they now legislate from the bench, using the courts to ram through the more unpopular parts of their agenda like same-sex “marriage.” There is a steady stream of executive orders and diktats to browbeat opposition into submission as in the case of the nonsensical transgender school bathroom “guidelines.” There is a growing tendency to disregard the rule of law as in the case with immigration issues.

In desperate situations like this, the temptation is to abandon the war of the straitjackets. People are told to forget about messy moral issues and call in the technocrats to work around these issues and make the nation run like an efficient business or algorithm. Such solutions are hardly new. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, would-be social planners have been enamored with certain theories that see individuals as cogs in a great machine called society. They believed that this machine can be measured, tweaked, and engineered to perfection. Time and again, materialistic experiments based on these theories have produced spectacular failures and never lived up to their promises.

Both in America and around the world, there is now a new class of technocrats who are entering the scene and who promise to make things work, sidestepping the agendas of both right and left. These technocrats proclaim the end of all straitjackets. They imply that everything can be negotiated so that a moral law and a Lawgiver are no longer needed. They also promise a no-nonsense drive to cut through some of the most egregious types of political correctness and regulations to get things done.

However, as in the past, social engineering 2.0 will not work. People are not machines that can be calibrated to function mechanically, but organic beings that by nature act creatively, morally and purposefully. If there is to be a return to order, people must hold steadfast to the moral law that governs human nature as created by God. Technocratic one-size-fits-all solutions have never worked. They simply create new straitjackets.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

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