The Moon is Down? In the U.S.?

John Steinbeck’s 1942 novel The Moon is Down is about people of a small  village occupied by Nazi forces somewhere in Northern Europe. They become sullen and their obedience is bought at an increasingly high price.
Free people cannot remain conquered.

Re-reading The Moon is Down left me with nagging questions about the extent to which the People of the United States remain free. Those questions did not arise when I first read it, many years ago. It now seems obvious that we are less free than we once were; yet perhaps (one can at least hope that) there are still enough to make a difference by remembering freedom, remaining free and hence remaining beyond conquest. It has never been  easy.

One of my favorite bloggers today posted an essay titled When Abuse of Power is Considered a Virtue. It asserts that liberals

see all conservatives as evil for daring to be against Big Government. Therefore, anything they do to fight that evil must be virtuous. Look at this quote of Kirsten Powers at USA Today, which I found at Questions and Observations:

“These scandals can’t possibly be blamed on liberalism because liberals are good, virtuous people. Therefore the Republicans who are claiming these scandals indicate flaws in big government are unfairly twisting the truth for political advantage. Big government is clearly wonderful when run by virtuous liberals.”

I prefer to call them libruls because the “liberals” of today encourage unthinking acceptance of authority rather than free, rational thought and action. They are far removed from the classical liberals of the past.

In The Moon is Down, the two surviving members of a twelve member village militia — who had tried to stave off the Nazi invasion and occupation — took advantage of a night when the moon was down to sail to England (stealing a boat belonging to the village’s principal collaborator) and persuade England to air drop small packages of dynamite to augment the sullen resistance of the villagers. England did, and the disruption of the occupation became more effective — not completely effective, but many of the Nazi officers and men were already becoming increasingly disenchanted with their tasks and the villagers’ dislike of them; they longed increasingly for home. They became more disenchanted, and their longings for home increased further, when they executed the village doctor and its mayor, whom they had taken hostage shortly after the dynamite packages had been dropped, to compel good behavior by the villagers. The Nazis did not cherish freedom even though they had lost much of their own; perhaps their memories of freedom had faded. They assumed that villagers’ compliance with their dictates would be obtained by ever increasing repression. It did not happen that way. The novel (published in 1942) does not tell us what finally happened, but the moon going down, the advantage taken of it and the consequences left room for optimism.

There are still some who disagree with modern “liberals” and I hope that there are still many. How much governmental interference — with the ways in which we live our lives — will be necessary for sufficient numbers to reach a point when moon finally goes down and when the sullen restiveness and eventually resistance become too great for Government to overcome? In Venezuela, extreme shortages of toilet paper — piled upon shortages of nearly everything else — may be a tipping point; maybe not.

For the past four months Venezuelans have had to struggle to find basic food staples. Toilet paper is the latest item to join the list of unobtainable goods – last week the government announced it was organising an emergency shipment to boost supplies – but it has heightened the sense of urgency and indignation felt by many.

“What am I supposed to substitute [toilet paper] with? It’s hard to live without it,” Aquino said. Like many people here, she will try to stock up. “I phoned my son and told him to come, but not everyone can walk out of their job and cross the city to stand in line for hours,” she added.

Shortages of toilet paper may seem a minor bother — to those who can still buy it. The compulsions of ObamaCare may make a difference in the United States. Who knows; maybe some of the current ObamaScandals may.

The recent IRS scandals and DOJ secret seizures of phone records of reporters, and perhaps of a family member or two, seem to have irritated some even in the Legitimate Media to the point that they are, slowly and perhaps unhappily, reporting on them. Just as many of our “free citizens” took counsel from the Legitimate Media and helped to push our nation further toward Government of the Government, for the Government and by the Government, perhaps at least some of them may again take their counsel and say, “Hey! This has gone too far.” Perhaps that sense may even seep down to what Jim Geraghty referred to in today’s Morning Jolt as “the completely oblivious citizens” who follow no news at all. Possibly they won’t understand what has “gone too far,” but will at least agree that something has.

When pollsters ask the “how closely are you following [X story]?” question, I find myself thinking of Jimmy Kimmel’s recurring feature when he gets people on the street to answer questions about news events that never occurred. (Admittedly, he’s asking people on Hollywood Boulevard.) His staff found people with strong views about who won the First Lady Debate between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, people who claimed to have witnessed an asteroid that didn’t reach Earth yet, and people giving their opinion on Obama’s decision to appoint Judge Judy to the Supreme Court. (All of those people are presumably eligible to vote.)

To them, it still seems unimportant that big Government destroys freedom, a little bit at a time, until freedom eventually becomes but an ill-remembered relic of an unfortunate past when Government neither provided for all our needs (as it determines them to be) nor satisfied all our desires (as it decides they should be). Most likely, they do not recognize that it is happening. The mess in which the United States now find themselves may reach down to them, but the trick is somehow to lure them out of their cocoons in time to realize that it (whatever it may be) affects them, personally and adversely, and that it will increasingly do so unless they also insist that it cease.

Does anyone else still remember Kate Smith singing When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain? It was popular back in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

The moon will rise again, because it always does; even an almost omnipotent Government cannot prevent it. When it does rise again — after having graciously disappeared from view as in The Moon is Down, might the sweet memories that return to us be of freedom, and the dreams they awaken in us be of its revival? Perhaps many of us might then play another of the Kate Smith favorites again, God Bless (not Damn) America. Perhaps we might even sing along and pledge, along with Miss Smith’s ghost, “allegiance to a land that’s free?” Not allegiance in the sense of a vassal to a lord, nor in the sense of a subject to Government, but in the sense of free men pledging to defend our own freedoms and those of our countrymen.

Those truly interested in freedom, what it means and what it demands of us might be well served by reading or re-reading The Moon is Down.

Further thoughts:

I did not want to add this, but the Devil made me do it.

About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in 2016 Obama's America, Bill of Rights, Civil War, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Cult of personality, Declaration of Independence, Democracy, Dignity, England, Federal Agencies, Formerly Great Britain, Free Press, free speech, Freedom, Freedom of religion, Government and individual choices, Government reliance, Health Control, History, IRS, ObamaCare, Obamamas, Obamaphone, Olden Days, Owned by Government, Political Correctness, Politics, States' Rights, United States, Venezuela, World War II and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Moon is Down? In the U.S.?

  1. Pingback: » The Moon is Down? In the U.S.? | danmillerinpanama Let's Get Political in Billerica

  2. --Rick says:

    I tend to agree with Dan…once the people learn that they can vote themselves largess a constitutional democracy will soon find itself in peril. When what can I get for little effort to cling to liberty becomes fashionable, it is nearly impossible to change minds until a crisis of enormous proportion occurs and even then, one can only hope for the best.

  3. Tom Carter says:

    Dan, I don’t see things as being so terribly bad in the U.S. I can think back 50 years or more, remembering how things were, and look at today without seeing any significant loss of freedom. Things are different now, of course, because there’s never any way to go back in time. And there are a lot of things I don’t like happening in the U.S., but none of them are fatal. The pendulum swings both ways, and times will change again, probably for the better from a conservative point of view.

    History provides a valuable baseline from which to judge our own times. Look back on our history and think of all the conspiracy theorists and doomsayers now in their graves, little if any of their dire predictions having come true.

    Ruvy, nice to see you still stirring things up.

    • Tom,

      I very much hope you are right and I am wrong. I almost wish that I could believe as you apparently do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. That would be very comforting. I don’t and can’t.

      Here is a link to an article by Mark Stein dealing at length with “what’s wrong.” It’s a long article but I think this sums up part of the problem well:

      “Indolence,” in Machiavelli’s word: There are stages to the enervation of free peoples. America, which held out against the trend, is now at Stage One: The benign paternalist state promises to make all those worries about mortgages, debt, and health care disappear. Every night of the week, you can switch on the TV and see one of these ersatz “town meetings” in which freeborn citizens of the republic (I use the term loosely) petition the Sovereign to make all the bad stuff go away. “I have an urgent need,” a lady in Fort Myers beseeched the President. “We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom.” He took her name and ordered his staff to meet with her. Hopefully, he didn’t insult her by dispatching some no-name deputy assistant associate secretary of whatever instead of flying in one of the bigtime tax-avoiding cabinet honchos to nationalize a Florida bank and convert one of its branches into a desirable family residence, with a swing set hanging where the drive-thru ATM used to be.

      Please read the whole thing. It’s more than a tad worrisome.

      “Our” Government officials now lie to us routinely; one just asserted her rights under the Fifth Amendment after having, at least arguably, waived them by testifying about her conduct and claiming to have done no wrong. She refused to resign and has been placed on “gardening leave.” General Holder, designated by President Obama to investigate the secret collection of phone records of reporters (which President Obama said was improper) has now acknowledged that he authorized just that. We have no war on Islamist Terrorism and the phrase is among those not to be used by the Obama Administration or others of the politically correct. Global Caliphate? Don’t be silly!

      The problem noted in the comment immediately following is, I think, a big one and getting worse.

      I could go on and on but won’t, beyond repeating with suitable modification an old saw: “The wheels of [in]justice grind slow but exceeding fine.”

      • Tom Carter says:

        Dan, are you referring to the comment below that includes “…they also maintaina large force of agents provocateur that they can employ to turn a peaceful demonstration into a riot.”? That’s humor masquerading as paranoia.

        I guess no one remembers the Clinton scandals, First Lady Hillary’s plan to impose socialized medicine, Bush 43’s terribly executed Iraq war, Bush 41’s “lies” about taxes, Reagan’s Iran-Contra, Carter’s hostage fiasco, Nixon’s watergate … the list goes on and on back to the first days of the Republic. In each case, beyond the real problems there were paranoid Chicken Littles lurking in the wings squawking loudly about impending doom. These kinds of reactions are harmful because they mask factual problems and practical solutions.

        However bad some people may think our government is, most if not all others are worse.

      • Tom, yes but to the part about a federally militarized police force. With or without without Federal assistance, some police seem quite able to do very stupid things. There have been too many recent instances of bystanders being arrested and worse for using their cell phones — entirely lawfully — to record unwarranted police brutality. John Turley covers them rather often and comments on the statutes and precedents involved.

        Yes, of course I remember ol BJ Clinton — a joke for the most part. His fair lady was and remains worrisome, however.

        Cluck cluck cluck . . . . .

  4. Boeke says:

    Tex makes a good point: local police forces are being militarized into a national police force under the “Joint Terrorism Task Force” law from the Bush era. It may have looked grand when they rolled out all that equipment and trainng to chase those 2 brothers in Boston, but they also maintaina large force of agents provocateur that they can employ to turn a peaceful demonstration into a riot.

  5. bunkerville says:

    Another thoughtful post. There were times when revolutions were possible. Now, any country with the weaponry of today, makes it almost impossible. I fear the return to the dark age for most of the world.

  6. Ruvy says:

    Dan, I hesitate to remind you that you are writing from Panamá. My point? Just as I have lost my grip of what is going on in the United States, so have you. I’m not arguing with much that you say – though I honestly think the glory days of America are in its past. I understand why “God Bless America” is important to you – it is as much generational as an expression of your own feelings. But the anthems of the future will likely have little to do with America. And the moon, may I also remind you, is the basis for the Rabbinic calendar that we go by here in Israel. Just a little hint as to what the future does hold.

    • Thanks again for your comment, Ruvy.

      True, I have not lived in the United States since November of 1996 and have not visited there frequently since about 1998. Recently, I have not visited at all.

      Before I left in 1996 I had lived, mainly in the Washington, D.C. area, for about fifty-five years but had paid little attention. Perhaps I was preoccupied with the somewhat arcane practice of communications law. I do, however, pay substantially more attention now than then. I currently receive more than two hundred and fifty e-mails daily from both conservative and librul sources and often visit the cited sources. I also review, and pay attention to the content of, many librul and conservative news sites.

      If I still lived in a city or town in the U.S., I would likely be better informed about what’s happening in that city or town town. That does not mean, and I do not accept, that I would then be better informed about what is happening either in the United States overall or about regional differences, many of which are substantial. At least for now, that seems more important. I wish it were not and hope that some day it may no longer be.

  7. NEO says:

    Reblogged this on nebraskaenergyobserver and commented:
    Is the Moon down? Or is a new moon rising? Who decides? We do, of course. Another superb article from Dan Miller.

  8. Tex says:

    Reblogged this on Es ist ein Klaüsterfökken. and commented:
    US police departments are being militarized and equipped with vehicles and weaponry not available to civilians. Civilians cannot fight them on their terms should it come to that. Therefore the terms will have to change. It has happened in every oppressed country eventually.

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