The following is an analysis paper of The Jacksonian Party.
The use of liberty means you don't need an organization to tell you what to do: it is apparent to you, self-evident and you act on it without authorization, approval or encouragement.
We are currently at the end of a historical trend of Progressivism, that is a centralizing concept of politics to force the power of the State upon the individual. Its end-point is Slacker America that is now polarizing due to historical trends that are countervailing to Progressivism. These are not the first times these trends have shown up in US history, indeed the Nation is founded on these exact same trends and counter-trends of centralization vs de-centralized liberty. The trendline analysis is clear: America is heading towards an internal crunch not seen for generations, perhaps centuries. This is not only within the United States but is a global phenomena, and those trendlines are disturbing as the slow erosion of Nation State power brings with it the particular non-State lawlessness that either needs to be robustly countered by Nation State power or see Nations and international orders dissolve into chaos and an ensuing Dark Age.
The hallmarks of the rise of Slacker America are clear: increasing regulations, increasing taxation, increasing debt burden, support of large and centralized companies against small business, the rise of 'cubicle farms' and the anonymization of employment, the support of divisive 'identity politics' to put the citizenry against itself, and the slow, corrosive dissemination of the attitude that 'the system' is all-powerful and cannot be opposed. The Modern Left is an amalgam of Transnationalism of the Right and Left, just as Socialism was an amalgam of Fascism and Communism: these are but wings of a force to remove liberty, freedom and self-direction from people and put those decisions into the hands of a few, the elite, the isolated, the distant.
Resistance to petty tyranny does not start at the highest level of organization, but the lowest: the individual exercising liberty and freedom. The power to resist, to create, to form meaningful society is not from the top-downwards but the bottom-upwards. Our very founding during the era of Constitutional ratification re-stated that as that era was at the end of its own self-organizing revolution that, if not stopped, would have lost the previous Revolution. Yet the seeds of the destruction of centralized power lay right at that boundary between the centralizers and decentralizers. Dissension is not 'patriotic' but a primal expression of liberty by the individual against the State: the use of those seeking to divide the people so as to allow the State to win are also using liberty, but that use is to seek the enslavement of their fellow citizens and themselves to State-centered ideology. To that end those who support centralization but seek to divide the citizenry must be against any project that requires support across-the-board and interject petty politics far beyond the shores of the Nation. That is not being 'anti-war' but seeking to dissolve society via dissension, and that is not patriotic but tyrannical and despotic. Liberty and freedom can be put to both ends, and the organizers, the 'activists', the centralizers prospered in a century where organizing from the top-down was the major force in the Nation and brought forth the culmination of work that had been started in a century previous to create the underpinnings for an industrial powerhouse. That work was then thought to be all that there was of the world: centralize, dissolve society, put an elite in place to dictate to the people, and peace and happiness and all things good will come from that.
Just ignore the blood-drenched history behind all similar movements in history.
Slacker America's hallmarks are: centralized politics, centralized industry, 'activism' to atomize society via any means of race, gender or ethnicity possible, increase state control over the economy (the Hamiltonian concept), make peace at any price the cost of liberty (the Wilsonian ideal), and disparage traditional society and any effort to demonstrate the value of the individual to society outside of pre-set and pre-defined victim groups and 'repressed' victim classes. This became a post-WWII inculcation of radicalist ideals that pre-existed the 1960's, but became an active formulation of them by being based on Progressivist concepts. Progressivism, itself, was backed by Theodore Roosevelt who was no conservative but a Progressive and it was under his time in office that America began its swing away from traditional concepts of society, government and liberty to ones that sought to centralize the power of the State for the 'common good'.
Conservatives who don't conserve anything are a problem: they have adopted a concept but refuse to stick to it, expound it and fight for it. They say many fine things about what they stand for, but then, at the slightest change or whim, support just the opposite for just long enough to erode what it is they are seeking to conserve. They hide behind the William F. Buckley idea of standing athwart history yelling 'STOP!' and then, when the opposition starts to get past them they give in, turn around, march a few steps in front of the opposition and yell 'STOP!' again. These are the Ratchet Conservatives, that seek to say: well whatever the opposition passed, its passed and we might as well run it as well as possible. And damn your ideals, obviously. When I look at Rick Moran, I see an engaging individual who wants to support his ideals but wants to be friendly to the opposition and the compromise is to run government well even if it is doing far too much and taking liberty from all of the people as a result. That is not conservatism but well-run Statism. Thus each ratchet of handing more to government then sees the acquiescence to whatever the 'progress' is, be it on individual rights, 'community rights', quotas, or just being nice to law breakers. Each Ratchet Conservative has their own grab-bag of 'conservative' ideals, but taken as a whole they are trailing-edge Progressive, pro-State and unwilling to ever look at rollback. If conservatives are stepping away from the Republican Party it is due to this, and they are finding themselves in the wilderness with the Jacksonians who decades ago stepped away from the Progressivists in the Democratic Party and now, possibly, the 'Blue Dogs' who are realizing that voting Blue can wind you up with dogs and no matter their color they are still dogs in office.
Now to turn to societal trends of the last decade in 'popular culture' (such as that is), particularly the post-9/11 era.
Mass media has been in a decline as it has been atomized by cable television (starting in the late 1970s) and the rise of 'niche media' (magazines no longer addressing a wide audience) and the integration of the internet with user friendly interfaces and affordable computers. The decline of local newspapers started in the late 1970's, with cable television, not the late 1990's. Even coming out of the horrifically misguided politics of the late 1970's, America was seeking a different set of venues for information, news and society. The Slacker movement started with the home-built PC movement that then gained a Blue Suit from IBM in the early 1980's. To get computer expertise into corporations required a re-orienting of corporate, centralized culture to accommodate these non-conformist computer coders and hackers (that is old school 'burning the midnight oil to hack together some useable code' hacking, not its later usage). That soon became lionized and the erosion of traditional corporate culture started with how you could dress at work. Suits started to disappear and, indeed, became a disparaging term (ex. 'the Front Office Suits made this insane decision') for those isolated, insulated and used to commanding easy power in their organizations.
These Slackers were part of the outwash of the 1960's and they wore 'the common man's uniform' of t-shirt and jeans, with sneakers. Examine the office environment of the Dirty Harry films from the first to the last and the change is apparent, as well as how rough society had become from the earliest to the last. Looking at the Mary Tyler Moore show and then going to WKRP in Cincinnati and you see a change in the local news environment, step forward to any modern news room and the old one of the 1960's has been liquidated in terms of dress and style. Grunge went up-scale and died. Slacking went upscale and started to liquidate the corporate infrastructure via e-mail. Boeing would move from its non-dynamic, middle-management heavy organization of the 1970's with one manager per sixteen employees to one per fifty in the late 1990's. Technology was not just replacing the old mainframe gurus, it was removing a technical class from draftsmen, architects, and middle management: this was a sea change as it also made upper management, now in direct contact with the lower echelons, more accountable to them.
This trend of top-heavy companies lightening loads did not, itself, start with e-mail, but existed in the 1970's with the figure of 'Chainsaw Al' Dunlap who was infamous to coming into companies and cutting out the managerial and department 'dead wood' in old organizations. Progressive, centralized companies had become overgrown and were slowly dying due to too many people not doing enough work. Ronald Reagan would sweep with that view into office... and then not do a damned thing about it. The great cultural change that was going on in America may have had a symbol, but he didn't carry through with that and actually start to chop off the limbs of government. The Ratchet Republicans appeared in full swing.
Finally the power of Nation States had already been waning prior to 9/11: the rise of Hezbollah from its Iranian foster State to threaten Lebanon and Israel with the help of Syria made an impact on US Marines and French military personnel and nothing was done about it; FARC was slowly killing its way to becoming an enforcer of the drug trade and then would take over portions of it when the criminal cartels fell; al Qaeda attacked the US in Africa, against the USS Cole in Yemen, and even had members take part in the 1993 WTC bombing; the Taliban rose in Afghanistan to fight a bloody civil war with other Afghans after the Soviets were forced out; terrorist attacks on land and at sea increased; 'Rogue States' started in on project for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea). Many other things went on, but the direction was clear and it was towards a waning of Nation State enforcement of sovereignty for their citizens.
Slackers had no answer for this, but followed their older instincts of the 1960's looking for 'peaceful solutions' even once others had you clearly in their cross-hairs and were firing at you. That instinct to not confront, to not defend, to not protect the citizenry at large was the outgrowth of Leftist thought and the integration of Transnationalism that would move across the extreme Left and sap into the 'Mainstream'. By the end of the 1990's that was in full swing and America, in particular, would oppose no one and even quavered on actually putting troops on the ground to 'help' others once President Clinton had the Blackhawk Down experience. Petty 'peacekeeping' missions didn't help much of anything, save put a lid on the Balkans, and even there 'peace' is still a pretty nebulous concept.
After 9/11 the culture shifted in America, even as the Slacker movement tried to undermine that shift. Yet the very atomized nature of New Media and diverse opportunities outside Mainstream Media meant the shift of American culture away from Slackerism after the Nation had been attacked. The Left and the Slackers did not like this, demeaned the Nation and would turn minor partisan conflicts into full-on attacks on the moral and integrity of those that did not hold their views. That is not new in America, indeed it was present at the time of Jefferson who put up with far worse and would be a defining type of attack throughout the 19th century. When Progressives started to hold sway, those attacks diminished until Ronald Reagan and then increased after the election of 2000.
The Media, however, was moving in a different direction and 'reality' shows, that were phony realism (Survivor, Big Brother, et. al.) would then be augmented by semi-reality shows (Trading Spaces, Monster Garage, et. al) and 'real life' contests with 'real life' contestants (American Idol) and then, perhaps the strangest of all and most popular taken as a whole category, the recording of real people doing real work as they do it. One of the keynotes in that is Dirty Jobs, which is done by ex-opera singer Mike Rowe and has the host go and actually spend a day doing some of the dirtiest, hardest, smelliest, slimiest jobs in the United States done by everyday, ordinary people. One episode that would examine the Bering Sea fisheries would then lead to Deadliest Catch which looks at the crab fishermen in one of the most hostile work environments on the planet. Then would come Ice Road Truckers, Ax-men, American Loggers..... something was happening in America. Also going on was such programs as Mythbusters, which looked first at Urban Legends and to see if there was any truth to them, often in explosive detail. While movies about special effects artists had been done in drama form, never had we gotten to see two special effects artists, in their shops, working through problems and seeking ingenious solutions. The office comedy of previous decades had now given way to the full-throated roar of hard work, thinking work, and putting one's life on the line in their line of work.
A massive touchstone to these series is that they are, technically, something that could have been done from the first mobile cameras for television with recording equipment. Or filming them. These are NOT special effects intensive works, indeed you get to see the hard work behind special effects, thus demystifying them. Shows so simple they could be done in the 'Golden Age' of television, and yet took post-9/11 to make them viable. Something was happening in America and its political class had not been reflecting it for decades. When shows about how hard work can really be, and yet show how people JUST LIKE YOU can do them and be successful at them, with spirit, courage, and a bit of stamina and creative thinking, that points to a changing of the base in US culture away from its staid 'corporate culture' and moving to a post-Slacker era.
What is this era?
This is the era of Do It Yourselfism.
Americans are no longer looking 'up' towards political parties but looking laterally, with newfound respect, at their fellow citizens. This is a massive threat to the established two party system as that culture is no longer in contact with it: voting has declined since its high point of 1964 with 70% turnout to its low point in 2008 of 51% turnout. That walkout is the mainstream culture of America slowly going through an exfiltration scenario, and it is leaving the older, party-centralized culture, behind it as it is no longer seen as working. Giving more to the State to do is seen as a failure, and West Wing was the last attempt to lionize politicians as serving any useful purpose. Now it is people actually working that is gaining viewership and mind-share.
America before the Revolutionary war had this exact, same set-up: a powerful but distant and oppressive State putting its fiat injunctions on colonists and robbing them of their citizenship by regulation and taxation. Today that is a distant political class and a government trying to do 'good things' and putting us all into massive, long-term and Nation State dissolving debt. Americans do not wait to be told what to do: they do it.
What is happening?
First Americans are arming up. An unprecedented surge in firearms purchases starting last year in OCT and continues to this day, with this year's clip of firearm production and ammunition purchases being enough to outfit two good sized armies (China has an estimated 2.25 million people under arms in the military). During Q1 2009 there were 3.7 million background checks for legal firearms purchases, with annual averages a mere decade ago being 8 million. At this rate there will be nearly 15 million firearms purchases this year ALONE not including the heavy rate that started in the last quarter of 2008. And only one background check per purchase, so the average rate of purchasing is likely to be over one per check. DEC 2008 saw 1.5 billion rounds of ammunition sold for that month alone.
That is arming up an entire Chinese army nearly twice in Q1 2009, or 8 this year added to at least another 2 from Q4 2008. Ammunition shortages in popular round sizes, particularly the 45 ACP round commonly used for self-defense purposes but also 10mm (40 S&W) and 9mm parabellum, are now legendary in proportions. Similarly popular rifle rounds are also hard to find, as well as 12ga shotgun shells. Consider that if even 10% of the purchases are first time buyers, then that will put new firearms owners at 1.2 million for 2009 and pretty close to that going from Q3 2008 to Q2 2009.
The reason that gun-running North to South from the US to Mexico is demonstrably difficult to believe is that US citizens are buying up all the ammo as it appears for popular round types and looking at firearms for sale sites leads to the popular 'Out Of Stock' at many of them. Moving slightly off popular arms and ammo can still find equipment, but they aren't popular for a reason: they aren't hitting the 'sweet spot' for self-defense and hunting. This is after the massive military purchases for Iraq and Afghanistan have been compensated for by the industry, as supplies were readily available in late 2007 and early 2008.
Secondly a new movement of what can only be characterized 'Traditionalist Limited Government' is brewing with Tea Parties. These are not folks yelling 'Stop!!' but ones saying: Enough is enough, it is time to roll this garbage back. Government doing too much, costing too much, and being unable to deliver the necessities of equal protection via law is now seen as the problem, not a solution. Already it has held one of the largest distributed political rallies in the US consisting of middle-class and working-class Americans. These are not the wealthy, not the well off, but normal folks doing normal jobs who are fed up with lies and broken promises from ALL of the political elite.
This is true homegrown, grassroots, not enforced from above but created from below: this is not an ideological movement from 'activists' who coordinate with each other for an 'agenda', but a disparate group of individuals self-organizing around common themes. Those on the collectivist Left want to disparage this movement and atomize it... which just makes it more coherent as it is attacked as these are people FED UP with being attacked for what they think, where they work, what they believe in and for being taxed to be told how much help they need. This remains a civil movement, as all such do in America be it the 1765 remonstrations against the British or the 1783-85 work with State governments. Both would turn to violence, the first would be successful, the second thwarted by one intercepted messenger. Neither started with violence, but was seeing the unlawful persecution by large government as antagonistic and, when push came to shove, the people shoved back. Today it is those that say they want to 'help' the working class that are doing the pushing, and they are not prepared for a push back.
What happens next?
Here is a question: what happens when the firearm ownership surge crosses with the Tea Party movement?
Both are individual led, not top-down.
Both seek personal security and freedom as touchstones for how to live.
Both feel oppressed by unrepresentative government.
Both are active and everyone now knows someone who either has firearms or who has been to a Tea Party rally. Or both.
Both stand up against government.
There is a natural alignment happening in America.
Millions protesting government can't be wrong.
Neither can 1.5 billion rounds of ammo per month.
I expect civil services will remain intact.
What happens next is up to the government... or one fine Shays standing up to point the way forward.
And this time it is the Shaysites who can communicate easily and coordinate their actions.