When the Leftist-Hippie Dream Conflicts With the State They Helped to Create

Friday, June 20, 2008
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Right now, at a coffeehouse in Northfield, MN (see the first post on this), there are two older men sitting right behind me discussing “the art of getting arrested.” Their issue is that they want to have some sort of sidewalk food and alcohol distribution for a particular event for their establishment, but they don’t have a permit to do this. Apparently, “sidewalk dining” (and all community life) is so regulated here that the permit process is far too cumbersome to wade through, and also, it’s difficult to actually get approval for your request.

So they are trying to organize a protest to stimulate street life, as well as protest the regulation and fee process for simple acts such as serving food outdoors. They describe themselves as aged hippies who never had a chance to be arrested for protesting while they were young, so now they *wish* they could get arrested. They plan to have a group of people gather to protest the regulatory process that keeps the town of Northfield from becoming a place in which to live and act freely on the street.

Northfield is very strictly regulated, with permits needed for everything, and the town dictators have a lot of power to deny individual liberty. Historic, small towns which are bustling, popular communities tend to be this way. They can be havens for small-scale tyrants with controlling, dictatorial mindsets. The typical excuse for smalltown, government control is to “maintain the community spirit” and disallow anything that would represent the onslaught of a suburban landscape (such as Wal-Mart or Starbucks or SUVs).

The same leftists who have collectivized community life in these small, bustling downtowns – and created layers of bureaucratic, government plannning – have created the very mess that now has them complaining. The hippie in them has them believing in free living and individual will, while their love of socialist-utopian ideas has them creating smalltown government monstrosities that rule and plan every aspect of their community. Somehow, they don’t see the hypocrisy in all of this. They oftentimes claim to hate the state, but at the same time, in order to continue with their chosen way of life (small, historical community), they empower the state in order to preserve the community “spirit.”

These two gentlemen complained that the town doesn’t allow one to carry a beer or sell a hot dog on the sidewalk, at least not without spending 4 months jumping through a zillion hoops while paying big bucks for licenses and permits. This, they say, kills off the potential for street life, or spontaneous community mingling.

The size and scope of government, whether federal or local, is enabled by utopian collectivists who think that individuals can be ruled by those who know better. The only qualifications of the “knowing people” is that they got elected by the democratic mobs to oversee that which the mob decided needs to be overseen. They love regulation and rules and laws and rule-making committies, that is, until they notice that it interferes with their own freedom to enjoy private property, freedom of association, and self-ownership.

Selling a beer or hot dog out of your front door to a willing customer is a simple act of voluntary exchange, but in the age of despotic government rule, it’s become a crime to do so without the expressed permission from an entire committee of elected rulers. This is the life that big government left-utopians have given to us … while they complain about it in the local coffehouse which is trapped by the same rulers and their decrees.

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