Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Modern Jacksonian - Chapter 10 - Honor

“Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defence and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.” - Andrew Jackson

Defending our Nation and its way of life is more than just military service or police service, those are high forms of defense, but not as high as defending yourself, defending your family, defending your society.  Without those latter three you do not get the former and see, instead, Warlords, rogue armies, bands of thieves and strongmen coming to power.  The basic defense against the latter are ensuring that the simple things are done in protecting yourself, your family, your society as they are the basis for creating law and a just way to add other defenses above and beyond the basics.  If we cannot put forward that these things are worth defending in our daily lives, then we will not have them to cherish and the Nation will perish for lack of caring and oversight.  Then we go one step further and require that we, as individuals, set aside negative liberties that we have via the Law of Nature and agree to invest those in accountable institutions that come to be known as government.  Civilization follows the path of civility towards our fellow citizens so that we may entrust the negative liberties in government and not have them used upon us.  Without that basic trust in our fellow man we do not get justice, we do not get civility and life would be very, very short.

Living an honorable life means doing some few basic things, and the overall thrust was encapsulated in a short, pithy button I saw some years ago.  It is most simple.


Do what you Say.

Say what you Mean.

Mean what you Do.

A simple set of concepts that interlock, that give feedback, and that help in guiding one's life.  Honor is a feedback mechanism and one of the highest we have as social animals as having it requires an individual to go beyond more than espousing things, or doing things, or meaning things: it requires all three.

Do as you Say

Political adversaries act simplisticly, so as to attack these basic precepts of honor.  A common attack for those that did not support the Iraq war was the 'Chickenhawk' attack, which took the base notion that only by serving in the armed forces did one have an ability to advocate for war.  That idea, however, while noble with the Spartans is ignoble in a society in which the basis for defending a Nation, as a whole, is defending yourself, your family and your society, in which everyone does not have to serve in the armed forces... or die.  If those supporting the 'Chickenhawk' meme would just come out and advocate for universal service or death, I would have no problem with that position as they have worked through the honorable method to advocate it and find the pre-requisites for it.  Of course that would require military training from the youngest age and a pure survival ethos culminating in individuals being pitted against wild beasts to survive as a rite of passage.  To advocate for anything less is dishonorable as the means to get to that end are not put forth for equality of citizens to speak on a subject.  Yet it is many of those same individuals who will talk forever on equality, and just want you to shut up when you disagree with them.  And then cast ill-thought out and childish slurs that a five year old might comprehend, but that an adult can, and must eschew.  For if the only one qualified to talk about war are those who have served, then they are also the only ones qualified to talk about making peace.  These two go together, and the absolute requirement on advocating war is also the exact, same, one for setting the goals of peace.  If you want to advocate peace and hold the 'Chickenhawk' meme, then serve in the armed forces and advocate for an all-military guided culture.  Just like the Spartans.

And be prepared for the hatred you will get for wanting to rip our current culture apart.

I hate war and it is the very and absolute worst thing that can be done by a Nation, save for suffering from injustice from an ill-thought out peace that makes a Nation suffer.  No one goes lightly into war, save Warlords, Dictators, Despots and Tyrants, who will use any excuse for self-aggrandizement and distraction of their people from their absolutely base activities.  In Iraq, in Desert Storm, we came to an agreement with Saddam Hussein known as a 'cease-fire'.  That cease-fire required him to do many things that he voluntarily agreed to do.  Our outlook as a Nation, set at the Founding, was that we are a Nation that abides by the Law of Nations, and even state that as a basis for Congress to create Law in the US Constitution.  As de Vattel described in Law of Nations, an agreement made during active hostilities is a treaty and fully binding.  Worse is that making such an agreement is absolutely binding on all parties involved, without recourse to anything but War.  That is fundamental as far back as Grotius and dates back even further to previous hostilities waged by Nations back to the beginnings of the first City States.  And the basic premise for that is very, very simple:  if you can't trust someone's word during wartime then just when, exactly, can you trust them?  When one side dishonors a wartime agreement before a final peace settlement, the only action to be taken is to start hostilities again... or sue for peace and hope such a dishonorable foe will have some honor in peace while your Nation is subjugated to unjust rulers, which start at the one willing to sign such a peace treaty.

For many years my Nation has had dishonorable leadership that would not hold Saddam Hussein to account for his uncivilized behavior in regards to a cease-fire signed onto willingly by him.  That agreement was binding by all traditions and the logic of war, itself.  Deceit in preparing for more war during a cease-fire or even in not holding to the agreement and doing the things stated by a leader, is not only dishonorable it is uncivilized and base in attitude.  It is what we come to expect of dictators, tyrants, despots, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of all stripes.  They are looking out for the hides of those in power, and care nothing of their people and will do anything, say anything and break any law, vow or treaty to that end.  They will enslave their people and murder them wantonly, without any regard to social norms or customs.  They will indoctrinate children to report on parents and tear at the fabric of what makes the world civilized, and then deceitfully claim they are doing it for a good cause or acting to better their people.  Yet the sweet words and soothing attitudes belies the blood on their hands and those imprisoned due to conscience.

Do as you Say and realize what it is that you Say means and what it requires.

Or shut the hell up until you figure it out and can offer something approaching a reasoned attitude on the world.  A worse tyranny of a world run by 5 year olds I cannot imagine, as whatever flitting idea of 'good' tends to last in times measured by seconds, and changes based on simplistic understandings of a complex world driven by simple motivations.  It takes time to disabuse oneself of the idea that simplistic remedies actually *work*, and to address actual, simple motivations and outlooks, and then understand that they make complexity in their multiplicity.

Say what you Mean

Pin a politician down on a subject and you get jello.

Politicians dare not say what they mean as to do so would require them to then act in accordance with what they say, and as so many like to point out: 'politics is about negotiation'.

But it isn't.

Treaties are about negotiation, how one runs a Nation in service to its people is about abiding by the culture and society of those people and not abrogating it.  That puts limits on politicians who want to do many things that they see as 'good' but just can't find agreement in the culture or society.  So they 'negotiate'.  They want others to step away from their beliefs and principles and start giving them away.  That is a great disrespect towards one of the fundamental principles that came to us from before the Founding, and that was in the very long treaty put forward in the Peace of Westphalia.  We get to be under that treaty due to the lineage of the royal family in England at the Restoration having been covered by that self-same treaty while that family was in Europe.  It is a Universal Treaty, which means that if you come from a Nation that is covered by it or your Nation derives direct  lineage from a Nation that was under it, you get the Treaty unless you specifically disavow it.  Nations sign up to Treaties and rebellious Colonies need to establish their start by saying just what it is, exactly, they are not continuing from the originating Nation.  Brand new Nations on undiscovered territory, or territory left vacant can start out with an absolute clean slate.  The United States kept to its traditions and upholds the Peace of Westphalia, which requires a separation of Church and State in the Secular realm, and which avows for toleration of religion.  As the Universal Peace spread, religious toleration became its cornerstone as well as shifting to move the areas of the Secular out from Sacred rule by God.  That does not mean that we do not use the wisdom and teachings found in religious views: on the contrary they form the basis for our culture and society and we must uphold those.  That upholding must be done to respect areas of religious disagreement and keep those areas absolutely in the cultural realm and away from the realm of Secular government.  That includes those who wish to profess the belief of no divine being, as it is also another belief in the realm of religious views.

The greatest backers for this, at the time of the Founding, were the leading churches.  Many of those had been first established in lands where they were not respected as those Nations had not broadened their views on religion and kept to more exacting views of Westphalia.  Fearing repression, social stigma and even death, those settlers left from those lands and came here and the very last thing they wanted to do was to establish a Nation that followed any, single religion.  The greatest backers for a Secular State were Christians, because they had seen what other Christians of differing sects would do to them and wanted nothing of that.  Yes, indeed, the Nation was founded by Christians!  Catholics, Calvinists, Quakers, Pilgirms, Church of England, Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, Unitarians... see, all believed in *exactly* the same thing, right?  No?  Sorry, they didn't cotton on to this 'broad category defines everything' concept of Christianity that so many in the modern world wish to put into their minds and mouths.  That was the point of coming to a new land - to found a new way of life that would then be picked up by the Nation - Freedom of Religion.  That did not mean that religion had no part to play in politics, and far from it.  The idea that good law would come from sound understanding of belief that would have wide appeal and infringe the rights of no one is one that comes from Westphalia and those that were persecuted as they were not covered by the Peace.  If God directed a good way of life, then those same ways of living should have wide appeal as the Divine inspired them.  Getting a majority to believe in any one aspect of any religiously founded law was a hard thing to do as one went up the ladder of governing size: something that works great in a small town may fail in the Nation.

That gave the Nation a firm basis to accept Federalism and to allow great leeway to the States and other municipalities under them to self-govern.  Very basic guidelines set up by that compact known as the Constitution would ensure the greatest play of liberty to exercise freedoms to find good ways to live with the most minimal of interference.  That also means that the rights and liberties of minorities and individuals are to be respected so long as they do not go outside the realm of those things agreed-upon in the Secular realm of governance.  Majority does, indeed, rule, but we have equal protection under the law to protect religion.  This strange and modern idea to use non-believer views to try and get the basis for good law making *out* of the Secular realm, that being Divine Inspiration, is nuts.  If a good law can be found in the religious realm and gains wide acceptance as a good way to do things and can be established with infringing on NO other religion, then that is damned good.  Good laws should stand no matter where they come from.  And those inspired to explain their views enrich our society even and especially when we disagree with them: they have taken the civil path to appeal and accept that some will not agree with them.

Saying what you Mean is more than just spouting off: it is the attempt to show that one can find reasonable basis for their views that have some greater backing within themselves.  Often those views will be contrary to how the world operates and it is up to the individual to do that reconciliation for themselves - even if it comes to stepping up on a soapbox, shouting and waving your fist about.  Do, indeed, pay out millions or billions to have other people advocate them for you!  It is good for the economy!  It doesn't make the views given any more right or wrong, just gets them heard more widely.  Own up to your backing and the honor is complete, as you are willing to put yourself forward as an advocate.  Attempting to hide those contacts and associations and pay-offs is dishonorable, because we can no longer judge what you say from you, and if you really mean it... or just have lots of cash to hide those positions from others for pure personal reasons, such as profit or power.

Mean what you Do

Simple, easy, deadly.

Killing one with kindness or because they 'know what is good for you' is, perhaps, one of the most deadly and insidious forms of activity known to mankind.  We have entire Private War organizations set up because they mean what they do and have been doing it since the dawn of civilization.  And we have those that reappear when the time to confront them draws neigh who ask if we can't pay those nasty people off since we are so good... or so religious... or so incapable of defending ourselves... that actually doing something to stop the barbarians would just be too much work.  Even when woefully inadequate civilizations, like Rome in its decaying days or the Hittites when they saw not only a change in weather variations but a slew of Sea People coming to ravage their cities, and those uncivilized forces actually 'win', they do not leave a new civilization in their wake.  They meant to kill for their causes, be it for sheer plunder or to enforce their religious views on a grand scale, and what they always do once they 'win' is to suppress, oppress, kill wantonly and set no law down that they will abide by.  They can and do change cultures, by sheer dint of killing people off and suppressing previous culture, but they are not a creative force in their destruction of what exists and they have no higher set of morals to be held accountable to.

Standing up to that requires not only opposing those who act like that, but preparing for them.  That does mean military forces against despotic States or Rogue States, but they are, when all is said and done, Nation States.  The Law of Nations applies to them and it is a civilized set of standards on how Nations act, interact and come into conflict.  These others, these 'non-state actors' have gained other names throughout history: armies of thieves, brigands, pirates and terrorists are but a few in this class.  No matter their skin color, ethnicity, or culture they come from, they shuck those all aside for the absolute liberty of the Law of Nature and the rule of the powerful on the weak, the predators on prey and the scavengers on any that are weak enough to succumb to them.  To those ends the State has its hands tied under the Law of Nations for regularized State activity in warfare: it can deploy all the civil tools at its disposal, make those as harsh as possible and augment the military whenever direct military conflict is sought.  Nations can, must and do fight those off and seek their bases... and expect help and cooperation from all Nations in doing that and rejecting the international lawlessness seeking to undermine Nations. 

Further, there is one other option to the Nation and it is a nasty tool that can turn on the unskilled user of it.  As those that attack are individuals, then the Nation can empower individuals to go after them in direct proportion to damage caused to the Nation as a whole.  It is a 1:1 deal, and in times past those who were empowered to do this were called Privateers: Private Citizens empowered to take up military arms for the State in service to the Nation.  And they were held to the military codes for their activity in doing so.  In a wide-open, mostly uncharted world, those individuals could, themselves, turn Rogue and go out for themselves.  Today that is far less possible, although it can still be done as terrorists and pirates, to this day, have demonstrated.  And they, in turn, would be hunted down.  Nations quickly learned that hiring Pirates was likely to have a blade plunged into those things they expected to be protected, which is why Citizens were used when the military forces could not properly go after these individuals in other lands.  Paying off terrorists with 'a little today, they can be reasoned with' emboldens them to attack more, demand more and call you weak. 

Because you are.

This is a two-fold path of politics and private affairs at the National level.  Being 'strong on terrorism' requires more than a strong military, more than confronting regimes harboring such people and groups, and far, far more than law enforcement.  To defend the State honorably, the Citizen must take up responsible arms on his own behalf.  No Nation, no matter how powerful, can repeal the Law of Nature, and the absolute right to defend oneself against those waging Private War transcends culture and ethnicity.  It is a right we have as humans without regard to any other thing.  The derivative right to protect property is one that develops out of positive liberty and the right to defend it, and if you wish to own anything for your temporary time in this life, then the ability to raise arms to defend them are necessary as no Nation, no matter how dictatorial, authoritarian or totalitarian, can protect your goods for you.  And most come to take them away when they are that powerful, and your right does not, cannot and will not disappear until you are enslaved, bound, shackled and kept from any means of freeing yourself to enact liberty for yourself with freedom.

The use of arms, be it for military purposes or for private defense, brings along with it social accountability for that self-same use.  Nations are accountable for their militaries, be they Public or Private, both must be held to the scrutiny of the Law of Nations and the Laws of War.  The Individual is accountable for their use of arms to those societal organs known as 'government' which enact laws to uphold the common good of the Citizenry.  As Citizens we have seen some weapons come into the hands of criminals and outlaws to raise domestic death tolls, and yet the place to divide between military and civil use of arms has come into question.  If automatic weapons are so awful, then why is it the favored weapon of terrorists... next to the bomb made up of plastic explosives, that is?  They are outlaws: they operate outside the law and many civil jurisdictions have made those weapons restricted and terrorists cannot and will not follow those codes.  If they are caught before acquiring arms, there is an attempt to show how pitiful their plans are.  And if they are caught after getting them, you get a death toll.  Societies have done similar for high explosives, fuel-air explosives, and other forms of weapons, like thermonuclear devices.  And yet, when a Rogue State makes such arms and threatens to ally itself with unaccountable Private War groups to carry out National policy, how is this in any way different from England, Spain, France and Portugal hiring Pirates to do their dirty work?

One of the prime reasons that Citizens push to have some of these weapons, and mostly in the 'I can learn how to skillfully use this and not endanger my fellow man' form where practice and skill trump criminal use, we see a society that remembers the wanton criminal use and a very bloody St. Valentine's Day.  Those who push for the puissant skill of law enforcement to protect society and the citizenry from illegal use can then find those who take up such arms and armored protection outgunning those self-same law enforcement officers.  And seeing blood on the streets as the restriction of these weapons have not put an end to their use.  Worse is that the law abiding Citizenry cannot stand up to be more than a target unless they are one of the self-select handful studying the accurate use of larger bore rifles at astonishing distances.  That rarity has led to scarcity and the ability of gangs to wantonly kill using any means or method at their disposal.  And that trump card of snipers is no longer supported by the Nation via sponsored events to ensure that the population has such skills available.

Our agreement, as Citizens is in that Preamble to the Constitution as We speak with One voice on what We declare We will do with or without government.  We believe in greater unity with our fellow man to form a more perfect Union in this Nation, allowing that absolute perfection is denied Us in the mortal realm.  We agree to abide by the Laws of the Land, the Laws of the States and Local Laws and to establish Justice in that doing and in every other thing We do in life - We are a Just people.  We seek Domestic Tranquility, which is the orderly functioning of the Laws seeking Just means to create more perfect Unity.  Then we agree to provide for the common defense.  When We the People agree to stand up for the common defense, it is not *just* the law enforcement agencies, military or National Guard.  It is in our lives as individuals that we seek not only defense, but tranquility, justice and more perfect unity.

That is our word to each other as Citizens agreeing to be Citizens of the United States.

That is what We Say as a people.

The meaning, however, now appears to be lost.

Is it any wonder we don't know what to do?

I know what those words Say, and they are my agreement to you as a Citizen.

I know that they Mean, I must abide by them in my daily life.

And everything I Do must carry that Meaning with it for those things.

When I fail I am more than willing to hold myself accountable to Justice.

I hold my Nation's Honor as my own, and I much prefer that those in charge of it....

Do as they Say.

Say what they Mean.

Mean what they Do.


Don't you?


Peregrine John said...

I haven't commented in a long time (nothing to add!) but wanted to say that this is a really excellent series. As you might imagine, I spent a fair bit of time over the last few days explaining what the heck Jacksonian means, how those principles differ from libertarianism, and so on. Looking forward to your next post...

A Jacksonian said...

John - I, too, have had to try and explain that being a Jacksonian is not *just* a political way of viewing things, but a way to live. Many just don't get it until you explain that the process is seeing accountability for yourself and your fellow man and that process then extends up to governments and nations. It is a 'scale free' concept that requires the individual to act well so that one may expect a good place in society by creating society... without society all else falls to the ground and we are responsible for it. We are honored to be a part of society, a part of a Nation and honor it by serving it via many means... politics is pretty far down the line in the order of things, and yet is vital to having accountable government. Without that accountability government uses the negative liberties we entrust to it against us. It becomes authoritarian, totalitarian, despotic and tyrannical because we did not hold it to account for what it does in out name. Rome decayed when government served the whim of Emperors and did not serve to buttress society and protect it.

From that you want as little government as is necessary so that it can do those few jobs well. The larger it gets the lower the accountability goes, until it can serve itself and not the people... to that end government must treat all equally, high and low. Government is a necessary place to entrust our negative liberties which would be true evil if we retained them. When it uses practices to enrich some and deny equal justice, then it becomes an evil thing with much evil at its disposal. We must hold government accountable as we hold ourselves to account for our actions. We hold our Nation's honor as our own as it acts with our name under We the People. We must lead good lives so that we can have basis for holding government to account and give demonstration that such accountability does not belittle oneself, but makes one mighty in those agreed-upon restraints of action. That is what we want for government: restraint, accountability and might by being small, understood and accountable.

Honor then is doing what you say you will do - that is demonstration that you have worth in what you say be it you or your government.

We must say what we mean so as to be clear, forthright and understood that these meanings are important.

We must invest our actions with our meaning so that they are not burdens but have the power of forthright meaning and having told that this is what we will do and we are damned well doing it.

We can disagree with a foe who is honorable, who does these things and we will recognize that honor may be in those seeking bad ends. In seeing that those doing such have accountability to their words and meaning via their actions, we can hold them to those things and attempt reason with them to show there is a better way to think, speak and act. An honorable foe who has fallen is to be befriended, and helped to stand straighter so that they can act better with us. And if we are the fallen we must recognize that we needs must atone for transgression and think and act in better ways.

Most of what I hear from politics is a one way street... that is not how life works unless you are seeking power over others. They seek Empire and Jacksonians will always stand against that as we seek society and accountability at all levels.

We do not start fights... but when they are inflicted on us we sure, as hell, will end them.