July 05, 2005
The Day After
Independence Day plus one and I'm still feeling a warm love-of-country glow. I thought it would be appropriate to let today's selection from Mrs. Lane reflect that.
What follows is a consideration of American exceptionalism, written in 1943. Mrs. Lane was of the opinion that too much government can be harmful to freedom and the work that free people wish to do. Given its own way, the dead hand of bureaucracy will try to smother innovation in the name of stability (and bribe money). Innovation complicates things.It's difficult enough riding herd on known quantities, so the frugal bureaucrat strives to minimize perturbations. Don't rock the boat.
At the same time that she railed against this seemingly universal cultural trait, she recognized the necessity of coordinated action, especially when confronting a powerful and unified foe. Survival sometimes calls for sacrifices. Still, it would be entirely too possible to lose vital freedoms by using shortsighted means to save them. Sixty two years of hindsight would seem to support the notion.
Here it is: the New World.
Inch by inch, it comes. Some recent supreme court decisions (are they merely insane, or are they bought and paid for?) could depress the perkiest optimist. That'd be me.
The free exercise of natural human rights creates this New World. Stop this exercise of human rights, shed individual responsibility and individual freedom, submit to “control” of ordinary human affairs, and this whole new world of economic abundance, this unprecedented wealth of food, shelter, health, knowledge, comforts, luxuries, pleasures, this young world of swift transportation, swift communication, this dynamic complex of productive human energies encircling the whole planet, can no longer be improved, then no longer be created, then no longer exist.
In Mrs. Lane's estimation, the American propensity for productive anarchy-within-bounds was what led to the explosion of American creativity she witnessed during her lifetime (1886-1968). Growing up with sod huts and covered wagons, she lived to see the early years of Project Apollo. In 1965, she went to Vietnam as a war correspondent.
Recognizing the fragility of the enabling conditions of progress, she could only hope for the best and try to remind us of how far it's taken us. The next passages, probably based on personal experience, serve that purpose both admirably and (to my mind) charmingly.
Forty years ago nobody imagined this America. (There was a $40-a-month mechanic, working ten hours a day, six days a week at his job, and tinkering nights and Sundays in the woodshed behind his little rented house—no bathtub, no running water, no light but a kerosene lamp—in a far, cheap suburb of Detroit; even he did not imagine this America.)
We've come a far piece, no doubt, but there's plenty left to do. This is no time to say "Enough."
posted by Justin on 07.05.05 at 10:16 AM
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Day After:
» Quote of the Day - Rose Wilder Lane from The Benjo Blog
This quote comes via Justin at Classical Values. I couldn’t resist posting it here, if only for my own reference. Forty years ago nobody imagined this America. (There was a $40-a-month mechanic, working ten hours a day, six days a week at his j... [Read More] Tracked on July 6, 2005 2:09 AM
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