28th September 2010
The surprising vitality of newly born America
Still working my way through Wilder Lane's book when time permits (time being the scarcest commodity!). Slightly patchy in a few parts still, and with a surprising attack on democracy – that did set me thinking but hasn't changed my views on the subject (yet). But then this gem, below, about how USA was created entirely from freedom,
HERE it is: the New World.
No one expected anything like this. No one could imagine it. A hundred years ago, fifty years ago, thirty years ago, no one could imagine such a world as this.
For six thousand years men and women lived and died young in hunger, filth, and disease. Believing that Authority controlled them, in six thousand years they contrived to build pig-sty shelters (and pyramids, and marble palaces) and to sow grain and cook meat, to saddle horses and yoke oxen and chain slaves to mills and to oars.
For a hundred and fifty years, Europeans of all races, creeds, and cultures lived here in America, rebelliously subject to Authority, and by disobedience to Authority they improved their living conditions; they built houses, sowed seed, cooked meat, rode horses, goaded oxen and owned slaves.
The Revolution began here, in living conditions hardly changed since Nebuchadnezzar reigned. A little more than a century ago, here in this country, men carried men on their shoulders, as coolies still carry men in China.
American women still cooked over open fires, as women had cooked since before history began, and as more than two-thirds of the women on this earth are still cooking.
Eighty years ago in New York State, every woman made her household’s soap and candles. Oil was always in this earth; men discovered it when Babylon was young; Romans knew it and saw it burning; no European had ever made kerosene.
American women still spun thread and wove cloth, with the spindle and the loom that were older than Egypt. Older than Egypt, the water-wheel and the millstones still ground the grain that American farmers still cut with the knife and threshed with the flail that are older than history.
In one century, three generations, human energy has created an entirely new world, a dynamic world, constantly changing under the drive of terrific, incalculable energy.
What explains this? What explains the effectiveness of any kind of energy? Nothing but the existence of conditions which permit that energy to operate naturally, under its own natural control. A gasoline engine works effectively because men have created the cylinder, piston, and spark plug, which permit gasoline vapor to transform itself into force by the laws of its own nature.
Then what are the conditions that permit human energy to work effectively to satisfy human needs and desires?
Look at what has happened. Where has this terrific effectiveness of human energy appeared on this earth? Only in this Republic, in England, and on the western rim of Europe; only on this small part of the earth, among this minority of the earth’s population, during this one century.
Where is the greatest effectiveness of human energy? Here in this Republic, where a seventh of the earth’s population creates more material wealth than all the rest of the twentytwo hundred millions of human beings, and distributes that wealth more equally than wealth has ever been distributed anywhere else. Next most effectively, among the people of the British Commonwealth. And a little effectively, in western Europe.
Human energy works to supply human needs and satisfy human desires, only when, and where, and precisely to the extent that men know they are free. It works effectively only to the extent that Government is weak, so that individuals are least prevented from acting freely, from using their energy of body and mind under their own individual control.
All history shows this fact. Every detail of common experience today proves it. The electric light proves it; the car in the garage proves it. How did Edison create the electric light? How did Americans create the millions of American cars?
They used free thought, free speech, free action and freehold property. The unhindered use of natural human rights creates this whole modern world. Nothing else makes it possible for men to create new things, and improve them and keep on improving them.
And what stops this dynamic creation of the constantly changing New World? Precisely the same thing that for six thousand years prevented its creation: submission to Authority, to Government.