Frogs, Boiling Water and the Normalcy Bias

In the last essay, “From Madison to Machiavelli”, I referenced a quote by James Madison, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” It was an attempt to tie the micro (individual subjects of discussion) to the macro (the bigger picture). Connecting the dots, so to speak. Unless one holds to a set of values, and measures what is going on around them to well defined principles, they can be caught up in a “herd mentality” that leads to their own hardship, and possible destruction. French philosopher, Jean-Jacque Rousseau (1712-78), referred to the “herd mentality” as the organic expression of the “general will”. As an extension of the “general will”, Rousseau believed that “a nation had to be ruled by a progressive avant-garde, a pagan oligarchy” who would personify itself as the authentic “will” of the people (collective). Another revolutionary took up Rousseau’s cause, — his name was Robespierre, a leader of the French Revolution (1789-99). (Reference:

Americans who are not familiar with the French Revolution need to understand that it was quite different from our own. Most do not know that Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense”, the essay that inspired so many Colonists just prior to the American Revolution, went to France to assist the French people in, — what he perceived as, — a noble endeavor. He was appointed to the Committee of Nine to frame the new French constitution, but alienated Robespierre and fellow Jacobin, Marat, by pleading in the convention that Louis XVI’s life be spared. (Reference: “Thomas Paine / Common Sense”, Penguin Classics, Introduction Copyright Isaac Kramnick, 1976) For the crime of opposing the death penalty and the “blood lust” of the Jacobins, Paine was arrested and imprisoned. He found himself in the midst of the “Great Terror”. Fifty thousand people were murdered after having to endure, what were largely, show trials. Surprisingly, most were not of the privileged aristocracy, but commoners opposed to the brutally vicious revolution. The French Revolution was driven by the philosophy of its elites. The following are quotes from Robespierre.

“The people is [sic] always worth more than individuals. … The people is sublime, but individuals are weak” – or collectively, dispensable.

“There are only two parties … the people and its enemies. We must exterminate those miserable villains who are eternally conspiring against the rights of man. … [W]e must exterminate all our enemies.”


Through the assistance of American minister, James Monroe, Paine was released in the fall of 1794. This is after the Jacobins had fallen and Robespierre himself had been guillotined. How could the chaos of the French Revolution have happened, and how does that relate to the present? Jonah Goldberg wrote in his treatise “Liberal Fascism”, — “But what truly makes the French Revolution the first fascist revolution was an effort to turn politics into a religion. (In this the revolutionaries were inspired by Rousseau, whose concept of the general will divinized the people while rendering the person an afterthought.) Accordingly, they declared war on Christianity, attempting to purge it from society and replace it with a “secular” faith whose tenets were synonymous with the Jacobin agenda.” I hope that this theme begins to sound familiar.

Let’s try and connect some dots to see the bigger picture. There are many examples to choose from, but for the sake of brevity, we will only look at a few. The state of governance in the United States is an obvious place to start. Most incumbents in any election year win re-election. Those officials that happen to lose, or who’s term run out, come back later to run again, — run for a different office, — or pop up in some lobby group/law office, think tank, or advisory board. Sometimes, they even change party affiliation in order to improve their chances. Or, how about starting a “Global Initiative”, for which I am a Trustee, giving me access to generous benefits, while my spouse holds an influential position at State. The point is, few enter or re-enter the private sector. Representatives are also told, “Leave your ‘faith’ at the door. Don’t bring it in here. And by the way, we need to remove any vestige of our religious heritage. That means removal of the Ten Commandments (other than the Supreme Court — I guess), crucifixes, and prayer from any public square, and any agency or institution receiving federal dollars.” Does this not sound similar to “a progressive avant-garde, a pagan oligarchy” who would personify itself as the authentic will of the people, — as mentioned above? Never mind that the organic roots of our founding documents are in the religious heritage government officials are now trying to eliminate!

This is where the Constitution and the views of many Representatives do not match. The Constitution was written as a document to protect and preserve the liberty and property of the individual, — through our mutual national defense from foreign threats, and defense from those who would try and take our lives, liberty, and/or property, though domestic criminal activity. Many of today’s Representatives look at themselves as administrators of tax dollars, laws, and regulations. I am sure you receive emails, as I do, from your Representative that layout all the wonderful things they are doing with tax dollars. One might be more inclined to look at it as buying favor and votes. It might be wise to point out that many of those dollars are borrowed, as well, leaving a legacy of debt for our children and grandchildren. Rather than being appalled, most applaud these activities as noble, and — to be expected, — “normal”. Why else would criticism be so muted?

What about those areas that you, as an individual, would rather not participate, — where participating in something would be a violation of your faith, but non-participation hurts no one, — with the exception of someone’s “feelings”. What if the “State” said, “No, you must provide services at an event, despite your convictions, as all individuals have a right to the services you offer.” Does that mean you cannot put a sign in the window saying “NO SHIRTS, NO SERVICE”? Because being “Something” is the “New Normal“, does it change the nature of liberty, and freedom of association, — let alone decency? What if going without cloths is the “new normal” as defined by the State? What if you were told you must supply services to a “nudist event” regardless of your outdated notions? What if the State, through an Administrative Judge, says he/she will ruin you financially when you don’t comply? By the way, you must attend retraining classes, showing you the social benefits of secular thinking and governance. After all, politics is the new religion. I, of course, am using the absurd to demonstrate the absurd, — but it is happening in America today. Those elected officials who try and reign in the madness are bullied, intimidated, and called vicious and vile names. Their objections are, — figuratively speaking, — guillotined. Most cave to the pressure and are silenced. You see, when “normal” is redefined, it redefines what is “abnormal“. Those holding to historical truths and tradition are rebranded, made fun of, belittled, and criticized, as we are apart from the “normal“.

Where some see the “the new normal” as enlightened progress, to be dutifully enforced through a ruling elite, secular, pagan oligarchy, I see a move towards liberal fascism. A life opposite of liberty and freedom. A life of coercion, oppressive regulations and laws, — a life where all we do is overseen by agencies, regulators, judges, and politicians. We have been conditioned. It is called the “normalcy bias“. You have heard it, “You are just a skeptic. You worry too much. Go with the flow.” — It has been slow and gradual. Will we be like the frog that is content to languish in the water, as it is turned up to a boil, and ultimately takes our life (liberty), — because it all feels so very “normal“? Or will we stand apart, sounding the alarm, — and let those around us know that things are coming to a boil? Please, if you are following the herd, it is time you begin to look at what is going on around you with new eyes. To coin an ancient Roman warning, “Hannibal is at the gate!”