"The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds." ~ Isaiah Berlin
Gadaffi Is Dead, But Tyranny Lives
Column by Robert Taylor.
Exclusive to STR
Gadaffi is dead. After 40 years of strongman rule, he was finally found hiding from angry rebels, dragged into the street as a prize, and shot in the back of the head. Libya is finally free, thanks to the benevolent power of the mighty US government, air power, and NATO allies.
The media has jumped all over this story, and one could understandably grow sick with the repeated use of the terms "evil," "despot," and "tyrant" to describe Gadaffi. No doubt he was all of those things.
And as Obama and Hillary laugh, talk tough, and pound their chests over their new scalped head, there is one issue that has really caught my attention.
No, it's not the thousands of civilians that were slaughtered. Or the rubble that is left. Or the sketchy figures who look to take over Libya. Or the killing of Gadaffi's family, including some of his grandchildren. Or the omnipresent double standard of US foreign policy, as oil-rich Libya gets carpeted in bombs while Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and countless other worse regimes are ignored, subsidized, or quietly encouraged in DC. Or the almost guaranteed possibility that the US will be involved in North Africa for many years to come.
These are, of course, very important concerns, which will be debated and analyzed by pundits, journalists, bloggers, and those vying for the Imperial Throne.
What has always stood out for me is a story from a few months back. After NATO's blitzkrieg began, it was reported that Gadaffi gave away gold watches with his face on them. What an egomaniac. The narcissistic gall of a bloody tyrant to slap his face on a watch, making sure everyone knows who is in charge.
But at least Gadaffi's leather-faced mug only graced a handful of watches. Here in America, "the land of the free," we are much more civilized. We are forced, under the gun of federal law, to use coins and bills littered with the busts of previous tyrants and monsters who most, if not all, of them make Gadaffi look like a saint.
While Americans cheer the murder of some tin-pot dictator who very recently was shaking hands with Caesar and members of the Imperial Senate, we don't think twice about the megalomaniac worship of our tyrants here at home.
Think about it. Open up your wallet, empty out your pockets, and reflect on who graces these near-worthless pieces of fiat currency.
Within a year of taking office, President Washington sent in thousands of armed forces against Americans who had this silly idea that they were free to barter, exchange, and trade freely in what is known as "the Whiskey Rebellion."
Lincoln locked up journalists, waged "total war," consolidated federal power, hung Indians, implemented the first income tax, and is always used as justification for government power; well, the neocon line retorts, Lincoln did it! He not only graces pennies and five-dollar notes, but has a gigantic statue in the Imperial City, on his throne like a god, complete with fasces symbols.
Hamilton was the original American fascist. A banker and a federalist-centralist, he wanted a borderline dictatorship, a central bank, high tariffs, and heavy subsidies to his favored industries.
FDR laid the foundations for the welfare-warfare state, entrenching future generations into debt-slavery to pay for his vote-buying transfer schemes . . . by terror bombing cities, shipping millions of men overseas to fire and stop bullets, and building concentration camps, he cemented his legacy as a "great" President, forever memorialized on the dime.
Even beyond the one half of every economic transaction that takes place in the country, there is Mt. Rushmore, a massive carving that would make any Pharaoh proud. Government school textbooks, too, highlight the actions and decisions of Presidents with a near-religious fervor, lecturing us on their greatness, power, and necessity while demonizing the real public heroes: capitalists, entrepreneurs, charities, the centuries-old tradition of common law and classical liberalism, and numerous other participants in the peaceful market order.
Gaddafi may have been a madman and the "mad dog of the Middle East," but compared to most American Presidents, he is quite tame. What does that say about us?
This is one of the many problems with an imperial foreign policy. It teaches us to be tribal participants in a global football game, rooting for "our" team over "their" team. There is nothing like a great foreign bogeyman to draw attention away from the real tyrants here at home.
The saddest thing about the US-NATO war in Libya and the killing of Gadaffi, and imperial wars in general, is that it further distracts Americans from these obvious and glaring double-standards.
Most Americans probably don't realize that there was a time when the faces of fascists did not cover our coins. Real American heroes and figures used to grace our coins, like Lady Liberty, famous Indians, bison, and eagles.
The omnipresent presence of tyrants on our coins is more than just a symbol of our foolish worship of our servitude and our chains. It is one more example of a free society turned into an imperial one. It is hardly a coincidence that the era of dictator-covered money has occurred side-by-side with the creation of fiat money, central banking, and the near complete devaluation of the currency.
Government control of the money supply is one of the oldest, and most sought after, powers in history. Perhaps more than anything, we need the separation of money from the state. Competitive, free market currencies are the symbol of a free, independent, and prosperous society, not the imperial coins of foreign murder, debt, taxation, and domestic subjugation.
No doubt Obama's pompous face will eventually be featured on a new worthless piece of paper, perhaps the $100 bill we will be using to buy a loaf of bread. But hey, we got Gaddafi!
We may not think too much about those who occupy the space on our currency, but they are more than just profiles. It is the symbol of the dark heart of tyranny that beats, like war drums, the veins of blood in the streets and the arteries of chains on our ankles.
A foreign tyrant may be dead thanks to US help, but institutionalized tyranny reigns and spreads here at home with methods of control and coercion that the Gadaffis of the world could only dream of implementing. For those who love liberty, this can be no time to cheer.