“United We Stand!” was the battle cry following the events of September 11 wherein thousands lost their lives and hundreds more lost their friends and family. In times of great mourning, the emotions get stirred up and people react in very specific ways. Truly, this calamity was a time of great mourning. And Americans wanted to prove to the world that they could make it through and survive the terrors of that day. So millions nationwide repeated the phrase that is still echoed today. United We Stand.
But I have a few questions. I mean, say what you will. If you want to claim unity, go for it. But what exactly do you mean “United we stand?” In a declarative statement like that one can either be descriptive or they can be prescriptive. If the speaker is being descriptive, than surely his facts are misguided. America is anything but united. We have thousands of contrary ideas on how to react, where to go from here, and what leaders to vote into office. We have hundreds of conspiracies, hundreds of cover-ups, and hundreds of recipients of the blame. Perhaps it was the CIA. Perhaps it was Al Qaeda. Perhaps it was Osama bin Laden. Perhaps it was a group of unknown Muslim radicals. Perhaps it was aliens. Perhaps.
My point is, this surely cannot be a descriptive statement. Maybe it is better thought of as a prescriptive statement. You know, something like: “We NEED to stand united!!” Okay. But again, more questions. United around what? United around a plan to take over the world? United around a plan to declare the President a king? United around a plan to transfer the power from the individuals of this nation to a small group of totalitarian decision makers? Perhaps.
But here is where my questions get deeper. In what way are we going to unite? Is this a voluntary unity that stems from the spontaneous decision making of the individual or is it an act of coercion, you know, for the “betterment of the group?” Is this so-called unity a result of humans making rational decisions to come together to do something like in a free-market (even though we have not yet clarified what we are uniting over) or is this a collectivist scheme?
My questions continue: Is this standing in unison a ploy to transfer power from the individuals to the state? When the leaders and followers all declare that we are standing united does this mean that suddenly, the Constitution and the theories of liberty needed to be abandoned? Are we calling it quits on this historically unique, albeit imperfect experiment of liberty? United we stand? Please, define that.
Generally speaking, as Americans we have traditionally held that rights come from God (if you believe in God) or that rights come from nature (if you don’t believe in God). But one thing the founders have agreed on, is that rights do not come from the state. Why? Because individuals preceded the existence of the state. So don’t trust the state and give it your power, rather distrust the state as something naturally foreign to your liberty. Never give up that liberty for a collective unison. America’s tradition is that individuals make decisions for the betterment of their own prosperity. When we give that up and let others make decisions for us, we have lost it all. And collectivism has bested us like it has in communist China, socialist Russia, Fascist Italy, Fabian England, and Nationalist Germany. The underlying theory behind each of those states was collectivism. Will we join them?
If we do, I know it will be “united.” Because by definition that is what collectivism is.