The problem with liberty is, once achieved it becomes like oxygen — something taken for granted.
Said John Adams, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
For the first time, and never again, the first day of Chanukah will be celebrated on Thanksgiving. This is a moment in time we should all treasure.
Thanksgiving and Chanukah both celebrate religious freedom. The Pilgrims fled religious oppression to make a new life on foreign shores. The Jewish revolt against the Assyrian empire was a battle for religious freedom against a tyrannical government.
The early Pilgrims so closely identified with the Jewish people that they considered making Hebrew the language of this new land.
Both peoples fought and died to achieve liberty from oppressive governments. Liberty came through the sword, not through endless negotiations, or via elites with degrees in conflict resolution.
Governments want, more than anything, to self-perpetuate.
That is not how democratic governments usually start out, but invariably maintaining power becomes their raison d’être. Sooner or later governments decide that in order to maintain power they must Balkanize society. They chop it up into ever smaller segments, which they colonize, like cancer cells.
The bureaucratic democratic state does not need to establish gulags, nor does it send out death squads. It simply goes to war against the bonds of family and religion. The state does this through a blizzard of uncomprehensible law, executive fiat, the endless flow of regulations, and massive bureaucracies that slowly but surely crush individual initiative and conscience.
Taxes are levied in the name of the poor and downtrodden. But the fruits of your labor goes towards maintaining an ever expanding Leviathan state, and the thousands of federal agencies that demand ever expanding budgets and power.
Government, we are told, will take the place of family. The cult of personality replaces faith in G-d. Government crushes community in the name of the collective good.
The Jews under the Maccabees, fought a series of wars against a brutal, despised tyranny that outlawed circumcision, and the study of Torah. The Assyrian Greeks sought to eradicate Judaism. And yet, there were hundreds of thousands of “enlightened” Jews who were loyal to the Assyrian tyrants. Thus, the Maccabees fought a bloody civil war against those secular Jews who enthusiastically collaborated with the enemy, the progressives of their time. These Hellenized Jews are still with us, still trying to undermine Torah Judaism, and the Jewish state, all in the name of social justice, code for Marxism/Socialism/Communism. Whatever ism is fashionable at the moment.
The Pilgrims experimented with socialism, but of course they almost starved. If they had not used their common sense and become a free market society, the great American enterprise might have withered and died.
And of course, the American revolution was, in many ways, like the wars of the Maccabees. The few against the many, the weak against the mighty, the individual religious conscience against the collective mob.
The circle of liberty is always under attack by forces who know better; by overbred, overeducated elites who have theories about the perfectibility of society. And to make their theories real, they will do and say anything to achieve their goals, because their motives are so pure.
But as history and empirical evidence display, those who seek to establish the kingdom of heaven through messianic creeds, always end up creating hell on earth.
As proud Torah Jews, and endlessly grateful Americans, Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a happy Thanksgiving, and an inspirational Chanukah.