One of the basic laws of physics is every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And it is human tendency to echo what is so true in the natural world. When we receive too much political or social pressure, there is a tendency to react in equal measure in the opposite direction.
We have seen this in the rise of Libertarianism. The definition of this view is as free wheeling as its name suggests. I dread using Wikipedia but their statement is backed up by a series of philosopher’s quotes.
Libertarianism refers to the group of political philosophies which emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. There is no general consensus among scholars on the precise definition. Libertarians generally advocate a society with a government of small scope relative to most present day societies or no government whatsoever.
Increasingly on the leftist side of the political scope, we have had the rise of the nanny state, hyper-regulation (as in our fishing fleet for example) and the idea that government can ‘fix’ our society’s problems. The meddling in our private homes from regulating our light bulbs to dictating our toilets has caused many to swing toward Libertarian concepts and the idea that government should be cast out of our society or reduced to a minimal existence.
We see this recently in the fight against the local historic district ordinance. The idea is that government is going too far and is planning to ‘take away property rights’. It finally came to a head on May 16th when in the paper we had just to the left of the anti-government tirade of Jeanne Petrillo, the ultimate outrage of a pure Libertarian, in the opinion piece, “Community service is unconstitutional”
These citizens feel that the social contract that has been in place long before our nation was founded (Western civilization) and which was based on Greek and Roman models of society should be cast aside. They want to replace it with a philosophy of self-interest without any obligation to the community. We as citizens have obligations that are written into the Constitution, the State Constitution and are foundational to our society. I don’t want to repeat my earlier post other than to say we have tax obligations, jury duty, and basic commitments of responsibility to our neighbors and to our city, state and federal government.
In our society, we as citizens should be conducting ourselves with the idea of helping our community as a whole. This is foundational to our society. The founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony would have been outraged at the current attitude of selfishness. The contributors of the world’s first constitution, the Massachusetts’, many who came from Newburyport; would have been outraged at such an attitude.
Whether it is the betterment of our city, the improvement of our schools; or the establishment of bylaws and ordinances; these should be all our concerns.
The great danger is a small group overreacting to too much government who want a society based on self-interest trumping any benefit for the community as a whole.
The whole purpose of the local historic district ordinance is to protect our historic district for the benefit of the entire community. Stripping away any protections and making us vulnerable to boomtown developers won’t give us a Libertarian paradise.
Instead, we’ll have a chaotic existence, lose our treasured historic assets and have a hellish future.
We need to resist the urge to over-react and to work with our present state of society. This way we have community-wide benefits and protection, without stripping away our liberties or rights.
That requires the majority of citizens who work with our system not fight against it.