Americans well-versed in historical axioms recall one of its most iconic founding fathers, John Adams, phrasing to his beloved wife, Abigail, while boarded in Philadelphia on 7 July 1775 that “Liberty once lost is lost forever.” Yet few so educated either appreciate or understand from what perspective Adams had projected and in how liberty was lost, given they each were born bereft of it.
The pertinent passage included in its entirety, the following:
Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.
Save for perhaps an unlikely violent insurrection, this statement will rarely prove inaccurate. It wholly depends upon which side most highly regards and defines true liberty, how far its freedom fighters’ limits will reach with regards to the terror employed to achieving their end, and the terror in the name of liberty legitimizing how they intend to govern. Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Stephens Smith from Paris in 1787 while serving as U.S. Minister to France that the great common denominator behind the death to every society — lack of education — has applied to the people of France for centuries less than two years prior to the fall of the Bastille that ignited the French Revolution when commenting on Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts.
The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.
Ignorance in public affairs is oft attributed to disinformation clandestinely disseminated to the masses by the media — or, to borrow the term coined by Barack Obama and his successor, Donald Trump, “fake news”. Indeed, Jefferson is correct, for “The people can not be all, and always, well-informed,” especially in 1787, more than 200 years prior to the Internet’s invention. Such a position as the bogus British gazetteer claims of a major nationwide rebellion were indeed an early instance of “yellow journalism” for purposes of propaganda more than a century prior to media moguls William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer — or Britain’s own BBC.
But how might men and women of conscience peacefully apply “The remedy […] to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them” once the rule of law is usurped by corrupt men elected to public offices by the ignorant masses without sacrificing “a few lives lost in a century or two”? Indeed, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” And indeed, amid Jefferson’s pervasive sarcasm lies a truth in how the great source of discord both domestically and abroad was how the British ministry “hired out their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy,” and in the process, succeeded in manufacturing this “Wonderful […] effect of impudent and persevering lying [that] had the world […] at length believe them” — and “more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves.”
It was Adolf Hitler’s propaganda czar, Joseph Goebbels, to whom the following quote, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself,” is (accurately or falsely) attributed. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin expressed that “The press must grow day in and day out” behind a mass media circulation before the Twelfth Party Congress in 1923, given that “it is our Party’s sharpest and most powerful weapon,” explaining in his 1931 interview with British Fabian socialist and science fiction author H.G. Wells that “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” All these traits now in place in the form of public education reflect the British conservative historian Lord Acton’s (1834-1902) belief that “There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities.” Because of this, America proved itself over 240 years ago to be the most qualified nation ever to conduct a successful revolution, given it was “less provoked by oppression.” Having “broken the thread in 1776” from Great Britain, opined Acton, “The Americans […] became eminently conservative in 1787” upon its Founders “[splicing] it together again” through its current Constitution, while the failed French experiment — with the peasantry “so proud of its kings, of its nobles, and of its chains” — “took from the Americans […] their theory of revolution, not their theory of government — their cutting, not their sewing,” in its failure to “learn without teaching that popular power may be tainted with the same poison as personal power.”
As Margaret Thatcher noted, “Americans and Europeans sometimes forget how unique is the United States of America. No other nation has been created so swiftly and successfully. No other nation has been built upon an idea — the idea of liberty.” Yet it was the genocidal Stalin, a communist, who allegedly asked in his rhetoric that since “Ideas are far more powerful than guns,” why “should we allow them to have ideas” if “we would not allow our enemies to have guns.” And while communism and fascism failed spectacularly, liberalism and socialist democracies survive and are committed to seeking “an independence of mind”. Through liberty, one is morally independent to make choices with the understanding there are consequences to one’s actions. But for the amoral Left, through the eyes of Bertrand Russell, government must “produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable” to assure “any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible.” “Social psychologists of the future,” he predicted, will successfully indoctrinate “anybody of anything” through the art of persuasion by first partitioning into “a number of classes of school children on whom they will fay different methods […] if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the state with money and equipment.”
The Left’s ultimate end, therefore, is for the realization of a brave new world constructed on a foundation of ignorance and depravity as appropriated by a master — an utopian design whereby “all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so,” where duty is taught by the morally corrupt state, and liberty must, under penalty of the most capital form of punishment, reject any moral precepts and harmony between the will and the law in sustaining total control over a voluntarily enslaved population.