In Greek mythology, the songs of the Sirens were of such potent appeal that mortals who failed to resist listening to them were inevitably lured to a path of languishing doom. True of many myths, the story is an allegorical lesson: this one teaching that some things that have great appeal or sound wonderful have bad endings.
That message, though timeless, has always been lost on those who are inattentive, indifferent or opt to swoon along with the enticing songs without bothering to discern the consequences. Such can be said of most of those who comprise the base of the progressive and democratic socialist movements of today, movements which, in combination with the statist ideology, are instruments of an elite government structure determined to swell government's power and socially, economically and philosophically control the masses.
To many, the ideological siren songs of "free" stuff, utopian outcomes, and redistribution of wealth are no less appealing than that of the mythical Sirens, with no less perilous consequence at stake. Greek sailors who succumbed to the sweet Sirens' songs paid with utter cognitive lethargy and eventual death. The price to those who succumb to the progressive and democratic socialist songs is an equivalent death of the mind and soul. For where a person's self reliance and liberty are replaced with perpetual dependency, there the individual acquiesces with the payment of his mind and soul to the will of the all-powerful state. There the individual is nothing, a compliant blob to be used to the benefit of the state at the will of the state -- where the individual mind and soul withers into a diminutive cog in the machinery of the collective.
Ancient Greece produced the Siren lesson. Modern Greece is a nation that failed to heed the lesson of its own creation and willingly listened to collectivism's Siren songs. The consequence is a lost societal soul in the midst of withering away. Greece became a bloated welfare state, a model of the democratic socialist/progressive vision, and akin to Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela, Cuba, and dozens of other countries around the world that are also in the midst of degradation. The people of these countries maintained little resistance to the lure of free stuff and wealth redistribution -- at the cost of a severe decline in economic incentive, self reliance and individual initiative.
Those skeptical among us pronounce that those examples can't happen in the United States. They need merely take note of the world around them. The proud people of Venezuela fifteen years ago didn't think they'd have to fight their neighbors for toilet paper today either. And the common people of Cuba before the revolution didn't think that their children and grandchildren would live in a perpetual state of squalor either. To continue to believe that the decline will not or cannot happen to the U.S. is itself a delusionary premise of the collectivist mindset. No nation-state is immune to decline. And decline is the inevitable, albeit stealthy, result under the progressive and democratic socialist flags.
Are the U.S. citizens today heeding the anti-Siren song lesson? No; just the opposite. More and more are succumbing to the tantalizing promises of the progressive and democratic socialist left: free college, free pre-kindergarten, heavily subsidized or free healthcare, free housing, free food stamps, free cell phones, clean energy, climate stability, and more. Give to me and take from those who we decide have more than they need and punish those who disagree with us! Gimme, gimme, gimme; punish, punish, punish. Such a mantra is a prelude to certain downfall.
The left's propaganda apparatus has been at work for decades though, imbuing the minds in our society with garbage about our unexceptional individualism and the goodness of big government welfare. It has been especially effective on our young. Educationally, our children and grandchildren are being taught the unfairness of America's founding and of the principles on which it was established. Instead, the greatness of a powerful and big government that can 'correct' the ills of that founding as well as all of today's societal ills is what fills the textbooks and college courses. Our children are taught little and sometimes nothing of the truth of pure capitalism, self-reliance, and liberty. Their brains are instead being filled with lies about the preeminence of the state, the splendor of the "village," the sanctity of inclusion -- and the evils of capitalism and the baseness of the true rights of the individual.
By being taken in by the Siren songs of the progressive and democratic socialist movements, our future course is being set and in a large way reinforced through our younger generations: a course not towards further greatness and security, but for an expanded catatonic welfare state. The ultimate result is the death of individualism and perpetual societal decline.
Gary Hancock is a retired corporate director of contracts for the defense industry and is now an author. His first book is Sustaining Liberty: And Reclaiming Limited Government in America.