Habits of Liberty: Where American Foundations Crumbled

Habits of Liberty: Where American Foundations Crumbled

“The concession of a constitution and national representation is therefore the greatest obstacle to the growth of freedom in a country without local self-government,

for the habit as well as the theory of freedom is essential to its success.”

Lord Acton, Liberty and the Modern Nation State, May 1862—Prussia

Why is it that well intending politicians conform to central planning when they enter legislative chambers, committees, or social settings?

Why is it that supposed Christians compromise consciences, conform, and bow within cubicles, classrooms, conferences, and globalist metrics meetings?

Lord Acton, (1834-1905), in his May 1862 Report on Current Events on Prussia, provides foundational insights as to why individuals forsake Liberty and succumb to the subjugation of centralized totalitarian governance. Lord Acton is likely most quoted for his summation of the obvious:

“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

British historian and political thinker Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton First Baron of Acton) studied not only the theory of Liberty, he also practiced the habits required to obtain and maintain religious, political and economic Liberty. Habits Americans have increasingly failed to practice over the last century.

Over the last fifty years most Americans have failed to study and to practice local self-government.

The central education planners, the Administration, does not reimburse taxpayer dollars for the teaching of local-self governance, nor is the habits of local self-governance on the state and national testing schemes…there are no “Race to Local Governance” Grants for communities with greatest attendance at the city and county council meetings, the area planning commission, the school board, drainage, wetlands, or sewage board meetings.

Nor is there a section on the SAT, ACT, NAEP, Stanford 10, Iowa Basic etc regarding the practices of local self-government. Their agenda is vastly different than those of Liberty. In fact, it is as if, education has opted out of teaching the Truths of Liberty altogether.

This habit of provincial and communal participation is the foundations of federalism; power closest to the people, which was to be the safeguard against totalitarian forms such as Hitler’s 20th century Imperialism. Yes, the Fascism stems from the Prussianism, that of the Roman Imperialism which is in full bloom via Government and Corporate Globalization today.

How did this transpire? How does Junior head off to college and never come home? Or, if he comes home he works for a globalized central metrics-mongering corporation? And bows to their set of global PC “ethics.” After all, the entire globe is the customer and the customer is the king…or Emperor?

“The old Prussian absolutism, …returned after the war of deliverance. Under the dominion of the Hegelian system in the government and the universities, liberties were refused, but education was extended, and the material prosperity of the country increased rapidly.”

Utilitarian Materialism became king. Call it Fascism, Marxism, Imperialism, Socialism, Communism, whatever; the shiny objects, degrees, stickers, stuff, and pride became the goal, the new unifying “war” of conquest, consolidation and proselytizing slavery.

Few recognized the machinations, because few had studied the history.

How do the homegrown politicians forsake the habit of liberty for the home front, once they enter Caesar’s centralizing forums?

They never had the Habits of Liberty to start with.

Few youth and adults have been taught the theory of local self-governance, and fewer yet, have personally participated in local government to cultivate the habits of Liberty. Even fewer youth and adults grasp the significance of local self-governing habits to the survival of their own Liberty under God. Looking to Government as “God”, even fewer care for Liberty.

As long as SOMA, Sensory Obsessions and Material Acquisition, is provided the conditioned lemmings will follow the Furher.

And thus, the plight of the politician, the corporate businessman, global manager, cubicle employee, healthcare worker, factory technician or government educator (the last two are 21st century synonyms) in whom the Habits of Liberty have not been cultivated.

“For only those who administer at home their own local affairs are competent to join in parliamentary government. The habits of liberty are matured only in the narrow circle of the parish or the commune. Where local as well as national concerns are administered by officials who hold their commission from the supreme and central power, the deputies who at home are in the habit of being governed go to the capital with the desire of governing.

The less freedom they have known, the less they will be inclined to give; and by not governing themselves they have acquired the belief that they are to govern others absolutely as possible.

To a healthy constitutional system, therefore, there is no support more important than the existence of provincial, municipal, and corporate assemblies. To a centralizing constitutionalism nothing is more hateful.”

Lord Acton, Liberty and the Modern Nation State, May 1862—Prussia 

If you value Liberty under God for your conscience and that of your heirs, you’d best begin by instilling the Habits of Liberty. Most city, town and county councils have regularly scheduled meetings, in addition to various commissions and boards.

If you care for the conscience of your elected representatives, best do your part to show up at the meetings to help diffuse the concentration of power with its proven tendency toward corruption.

“Where The Spirit of The LORD is there is liberty.”

2 Corinthians 3:17

And where He is not….an enslaving central planner will take His Place.



Essays in the History of Liberty, Selected Writings of Lord Acton, Liberty Fund

Margaret Thatcher, The Autobiography





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1 Response to Habits of Liberty: Where American Foundations Crumbled

  1. mastersamwise says:

    What if self-government is itself the problem? What if the power given to the individual is too much for him to handle responsibly? The current strain of governmental expansion on the federal level on seems possible if the false dichotomy between the people and government is propagated. So long as people believe the government is some entity outside of themselves rather than, as the Constitution says, “We the People” then there will always persist a tendency to either resist or surrender to the state. In other words, until the people realize that they are the state, the state will always oppress them.

    Yet, this would require a self-awareness not normally found in American society, with the vast majority of the electorate favoring their specific political ideology without thought or consideration. This is because self-government requires first a government of the self. Yet, to govern oneself requires a body of laws to govern behavior. Since a definitive moral code is something that Americans will never agree to, we have to hope that everyone is being a good person and will vote virtuously. Sadly, this is a vain hope. Since everyone is orthodox according to himself, no moral judgment can be made as to the decisions of the individual thus creating the self-perpetuating problem of arbitrary morality and legal sufficiency.


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