The American Dream is a dream of aspiration. It is a story of striving. But it is more:
It is a dream of breaking away from the pack.
The American Dream is the freedom of each person, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, color, class or creed, free to pursue her or his own life — and only her or his own life.
America is flawed, like every country, and also like every country, America is guilty of great injustices, her soil soaked with the blood of many races.
The American Constitution is flawed — most fundamentally in its failure to make explicit the indispensable link between property and person, and to explicitly state that the inalienable right to your own life must entail the right to your own property, because you cannot be free to pursue your life and happiness if you’re not also free to the corollary of that: the right to use and dispose of your property as you and you alone see fit.
But for all her flaws, America is the only country in the history of the world to formally recognize the principle and the sanctity of individual rights, and that is what, in spite of everything, makes her great and unlike any other country that’s ever existed.
It is this principle that America went to Civil War over. It is this principle that won. And it is this principle — and this principle alone — which must always be turned to if justice and the good are the goal.
The American Dream is about worth and efficacy over privilege.
An actual privilege is a benefit bestowed by one in a position of authority — as in: it is a privilege for me to speak to you today. Or: thank you for the privilege, father, of not having to milk the cows today.
But now I’m told that if growing up, I haven’t been bullied and ridiculed, I am privileged — when in reality this is purely a question of tact and friendliness and good manners, and has nothing whatsoever to do with privilege. I’m told that if I haven’t been assaulted or raped, I am privileged — when in actuality this is purely a question of respect for rights. I’m told that if my mother and father fed me regularly, I’m privileged — when in reality this is not a question of privilege at all but of parenting.
People are not all born into identical circumstances, and it is not the role of government or anyone to attempt the impossible task of equalizing everyone, which would require continual and massive applications of force and expropriation, and which even then could never be fully achieved, though you may look at Pol Pot’s Cambodia as one of the nearest successes.
I was once beneficiary of large government privilege. This is a system wherein our money is granted to us by government benevolence, or not. It is a system where we’re not allowed to own our own property. And it is a system from which there’s no way out — unless you run away, into America, which I did.
But what if all of America were like the Indian Reservations?
Where would I run to then?
On the reservations, bureaucracy cannot be battled. City hall cannot be fought.
We’re allowed to use our property only when government grants us that privilege.
You’re part of the ninety-nine percent, you say. What of that? Your status isn’t fixed, and you are not stuck there. You’re free to work your way along the spectrum — as, indeed, most people do. You’re free to run clear up to the top percent — as, indeed, many people do. Your motivation and your desire and your persistence primarily determine this. The spectrum is fluid, and you are mobile along the spectrum. For the first time in human history, the formal recognition and the advance of freedom made such mobility possible and also legally permissible. Under feudalism or any other statist regime, no such mobility exists at all. Under such regimes, your status and your class are fixed. In this way, America expunged the entire idea of class.
Please consider also that under a system of laissez faire, you are completely free to practice any form of government you want: buy your land and build your commune and set up your rules and live that way.
The opposite, however, is not true: virtually any other form of government strictly prohibits — under threat of fines, imprisonment, gulags, concentration camps, and death — its citizens from practicing true laissez faire, which is the full and inalienable right of action, use, and disposal.
That, in many ways, is all anyone ever need know.
Yes, we on the reservations are privileged, make no mistake. We are the epitome of privilege, in fact: because we do not exist by right.
We exist by government permission and privilege alone.
This is Chapter 25.