We Are Liberals; They Are Serviles
The concept that the power to name a thing is the power to control that thing was prevalent in the beliefs of many ancient societies, and it holds true in many ways even today. In fact, the psychological science behind this belief -- specifically the fact that whichever side controls the language of an argument controls the argument itself -- shows how the collectivist left has perpetrated an identity theft of unprecedented proportions. The left has stolen the True Name of Conservatism and used that Name to promote a collectivist or even totalitarian agenda that goes against everything that Name implies. Nowhere is this more obvious than with respect to the word "liberalism."
Genuine liberals support individual rights and oppose state control of the economy and individual behavior, while the collectivist left supports state control of the economy and the individual. Mandatory participation in the Social Security pyramid scheme and mandatory purchase of health insurance beyond an individual's needs are but two examples. Those behind these agendas are therefore not liberals, but "Serviles." A story by Rudyard Kipling elaborates on the latter.
Kipling wrote two science fiction stories of the steampunk genre: With the Night Mail and As Easy as ABC. The Aerial Board of Control governs the futuristic society of both stories, and its purpose is to ensure the free flow of international traffic while otherwise leaving people alone to manage their own affairs. In As Easy as ABC, the Board rejects emphatically Chicago's request that it take over local governance, and limits its intervention to preventing riots and self-injury until the trial is over. Kipling's ABC could have inspired Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind, whose function is summed up thus: "Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" The last statement here in turn bears considerable similarity to the Preamble of the Constitution.
Kipling's world of the future is therefore highly libertarian, with a special loathing for intrusive control of other people's lives. There is some similarity to the alternate United States of L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach (graphic novel version available here). As Easy as ABC is in the public domain due to age, and it is worthwhile to quote two excerpts about Serviles extensively. Note especially the phrase "self-owning men and women," a distinctly libertarian concept.
... Our Serviles got to talking - first in their houses and then on the streets, telling men and women how to manage their own affairs. (You can't teach a Servile not to finger his neighbor's soul.) That's invasion of privacy, of course, but in Chicago we'll suffer anything sooner than make crowds.
... "Would you believe me, they went on to talk of what they called 'popular government'? They did! They wanted us to go back to the old Voodoo-business of voting with papers and wooden boxes, and word-drunk people and printed formulas, and news-sheets! They said they practiced it among themselves about what they'd have to eat in their flats and hotels. Yes, sir! They stood up behind Bluthner's doubled ground-circuits, and they said that, in this present year of grace, to self-owning men and women, on that very spot! Then they finished" - he lowered his voice cautiously - "by talking about 'The People.'"
The problem with voting was emphatically not the right to vote, but rather the idea that "The People" could enact intrusive laws to govern the conduct of other people's lives. The mayor's mention of "The People" in a whisper ties in with the story's chilling conclusion; MacDonough's SongUnited World) could invade the lives and privacy of self-owning men and women. depicts a time when even an elected government (and by implication an entity like the United Nations or
Once there was The People - Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People - it shall never be again!
This explains the society's special loathing and hatred for Serviles. The word Servile is not, however, original to Kipling (emphasis is ours):
In the 1820s the representatives of the middle class in the Spanish Cortes, or parliament, came to be called the Liberales. They contended with the Serviles, the "servile ones," who represented the nobles and the absolute monarchy. The term Serviles, for those who advocate state power over individuals, unfortunately didn't stick. But the word liberal, for the defenders of liberty and the rule of law, spread rapidly. The Whig party in England came to be called the Liberal party. Today we know the philosophy of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and John Stuart Mill as liberalism.
"Liberal conservative" is therefore not an oxymoron, but the absolute truth. Conservatives believe that the Constitution and its Bill of Rights mean exactly what the Founding Fathers wrote them to mean, and not what Clinton- and Obama-appointed Supreme Court justices have amended them to mean (e.g., the Kelo decision, and also the opinion of a substantial USSC minority that the Second Amendment is not an individual right). Conservatives reject the depraved idea that the Constitution is no longer "relevant" in the face of "international laws and values," and they remember that our Founding Fathers risked their lives and fortunes to create a country that would not be like the rest of the world.
The power to name something is the power to control it, and the side that controls the language of a debate or controversy wins. It's time for our side to take back its True Name from those who have stolen it and are now using it to make a collectivist Hell of Earth. We are the liberals, they are the Serviles, and let's speak of ourselves and them as such to guide the 2012 elections to a positive conclusion.
William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.