Americans, led by its governments, are fighting the wrong battles. This has become obvious with respect to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is obvious in the war on drugs and most domestic government programs.
If we judge what battles are important to our beloved country on the basis of what gains the most publicity, then the conclusion I reach is that the right battle basically receives almost no attention as compared with the wrong battles. The wrong battles are invariably those in which governments are involved in vain attempts to deal with some evil or perceived evil, like starvation, medical care, unequal pay, drug overdoses, terror attacks, etc. These battles always involve the assumption that government can and will alleviate these problems, which implies that government should make the attempt to do so. These are the wrong battles because this assumption is not true. Governments cannot and won’t alleviate these and many other problems. The correct assumption is actually that they’ll make the problems worse.
The right battle is against existing ideas of government. As I put it several years ago,
“Government is power, and power cannot solve social and economic problems, like drugs and poverty. Power cannot eradicate terrorism overseas. What’s remarkable about government is that although it cannot resolve problems like drug use, alcohol use, poverty, and terrorism, it can make them worse or create new problems in trying to solve these. It can cause criminal elements to thrive by prohibiting drugs. It can cause police corruption. It can break up and undermine minority families and communities. It can cause jihadist recruiting to soar.
“These effects and many others like them argue for limiting government severely. Americans have not learned this lesson. In some ways such as the raising of freedom as an ideal, there is lip service to limited government; but this lesson has not penetrated deeply into the American way of government. Government needs to be rethought and then reconfigured.”
We will be compelled to do this as our system of government fails us, which it is bound to do as we implement false ideas of government. It is already failing us and defying common expectations of the good that it would do or can do.
The system’s deterioration means that we will be forced to rethink and reconfigure government. We won’t move in correct directions without understanding where we went wrong. That’s a start. We’ve hardly begun that task. We as a people do not understand clearly the nature of various problems and afflictions and how they are or are not related to us and our governments. We do not clearly understand what’s good about our system that should be retained, and what’s bad that needs to be changed or eliminated.
System failures will force us to think in altogether new and radical terms even to begin to move toward the radical ideals that are the American heritage. We will have to reject many wrong ideas of government that are today prevalent and that will be promoted as remedies as our system comes under greater and greater strains.