Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Liberty, freedom and rights

The three words used to best describe the United States come with deep roots in our culture and civilization as a whole, and are descriptive of what mankind has no matter what their ethnicity, race, culture or place on the planet.  In truth these are universal descriptions of what mankind has, being born mortal within the Law of Nature that preceded all of us.  Be that Law of Nature set down by the Divine or by the result of chaotic decrease of entropy due to the local solar increase, these Laws are immutable and their result is to create a pure environment of all liberty, freedom and rights.  That is what we come from, a pure stock of complete and total set of liberty, freedom and rights, just as all animals continue to have in nature to this very day.  Some rhapsodize over this state of being as being 'more pure' and in many ways it is as it is purely about survival, day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.  When one exists like that it is at the mercy of nature and one's own capabilities to utilize all tools, wits and knowledge to survive.  Mankind, when pressed during the last ice age and the change in climate necessary to bring that about faced a bottleneck and dwindled to a few tens of thousands of individuals, less than a small town's worth spread over Africa.  A few years worse than others would have brought our kind to extinction and left a world unchanged by the hand of man.

When one describes that Natural realm and man's place in it, we also put the terms 'red of tooth and claw' into it.  Without our mental capabilities man would not be as fast as the cheetah, as wary as the gazelle, as fearless as a great white shark or as dominant as a tiger in its territory.  The ability to form community of a very basic sort, that of existing alongside others like us, dates back far into the pre-historic eons and we see evidence of this in the fossil record: Tyrannosaurs living in family 'groups' or 'packs' and even evidence millions of years before that to the first of those developing an internal support structure of schooling and living in swarms so that a predator would have problems getting any, single individual.  Perfect liberty that would see us as alone in the wild was quickly put aside for the purpose of group survival of those who looked the same and could be bred with.  Perfect liberty saw its first compromise, not due to governments, not due to society, not due to any other action save to survive.  Those that hunt alone are pure descriptions of perfect liberty: alone, depending solely on one's wits, and rarely coming together to form a larger group.  We, perhaps, over idolize such beasts as they are all, without exception, carnivores and range over territory in search of one thing: prey.

A more discomforting thought cannot be presented to those seeking perfect liberty: be the hunter or the hunted and being the former can still mean the latter.  To survive by depending upon others that look and act like us is something so deep that it cannot be easily expunged, and those who try live short, bloody lives.  Being solitary or 'a loner' gets one distance from society, true, but society also begins to withdraw its cover for that person.  Because we have some predatory pre-history in our lineage as evidenced by our teeth and internal organs, our civilized society can and does breed contempt and hatred for such outcasts because they, like others that live in that way, are perceived as predators.  By taking up the negative liberty of isolation so as to gain more perfect freedom, society begins to diminish the rights of those to be free and at liberty to do these things.  It is that process of gaining coherence that allows society to be created that is the greatest turning point in our species, and it has brought with it marvels of advance and perils of disaster, both.  For the Law of Nature never cuts just one way.

In forming social groups we begin to form this thing known as 'society', and this formulation demands that some negative liberties be set aside to gain a part of the greater whole of society.  While solitary survival can be accepted for certain times, say initiation rights so that a youngster experiences and understands what the value of society is outside of Nature, for most times those negative liberties, negative rights and negative freedoms must be set aside for that social grouping.  We see these basic forms of society in primitive peoples who have come to light in the 20th century: Yanamamo, Higgi, Dani, amongst many.  These peoples create common norms and accepted behaviors within their groups to form culture and the basis of society, and then express those things via their culture to demonstrate that they understand nature and themselves and are actively making themselves different than man in the State of Nature.  These societies also demonstrate the hard and fast limits to them: population density and being able to get along with your fellow man. 

Ethnographers examining these cultures with as little influence as possible see a maximum size of the cultural village as between 80 and 210 people, often centering on the 150 mark.  That is man's natural tolerance for higher identification in those first and most basic of societies and causes factionation, fractionation, division and creation of new societies due to disagreements within larger groups.  And when 'bad blood' causes a split, it also brings with it the Natural Law of War which is available to all individuals.  These early societies do try to curb it by setting up a status system or systems, often depending on tribal leaders, but the ability of an individual to fight, on his or her own, and still be praised for it is present.  Of the greatest leaps of mankind, the ability to finally distinguish between the negative liberty of personal war and separate it from the necessary liberty of war for survival has not been bridged and both are utilized with no differences seen between them so long as an individual benefits their social group by personal warfare.

Early civilization would require something known as 'civility' towards those with differences and a recognition of common culture even with superficial differences.  That 'civility' comes at a price, and the price is to learn to set aside differences and create a common culture that is deeper than minor differences and disputes.  To achieve this there must be a commonality of structure between villages and that requires a higher order of connection and ways to resolve disputes.  It creates the most capable and most lethal of things that mankind has ever devised:  government.  This is not just government on the local scale, which could be based on age, insight, personal power or a combination of all of those, but one of starting to invest more of the negative liberties and their regulation to a common form of government that all under it would abide by.  If the shift from solitary to group for survival was stunning and the movement of groups to social organizations necessary, then a move to common, agreed-upon government is revolutionary as it creates the first true structure outside of the Law of Nature that is absolutely driven by human means and desires.

For government to operate it must have powers to enforce the commonality it is taking part in.  We, as individuals, vest in it the negative liberties of restriction of action, punishment, and decision making for the group.  In return there is common order, common laws and common protection against those that have radically different views on society, culture and government.  These societies can still be seen in Pakistan, to this day, where Waziristan and the North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan are home to ethnic Pashtuns, and the south western and Iranian border areas are home to ethnic Baluchs.  These areas have been considered 'lawless' by Empires of all stripes - Chinese, Mongol, Indian, Persian, Russian, British.  This is an area, much like the Balkans, where geography drives ethnic divisions and close adhesion to hard differences due to ethnicity, culture, race and social background.  These are the areas where the largest of those keeping up Private War groups still exists in a form unchanged much by centuries, and they go by the generic name of Lashkar.  These societies still have not taken that greatest of all steps to remove Private War as an acceptable option for individuals, and due to geography these organizations are still very, very effective.

Weakness of these early types of government are seen in that sub-groups without restrictions placed upon them, can bring all their peoples to war by private activity.  Forms of this still go on across the world in Kenya, Turkey, the Caucuses, and the Philippines. Even when there are splendid cities in such areas, they do not form that next step upwards of centralization and investment of negative liberty in government for far greater protection.  That early discovery happened in many places in Mesopotamia, Africa, Asia and the Americas and while their peoples would vary, their creation of this thing called a City State would step from the loose organizations of the past and into one of highly centralized authority for common protection and defense.  Even these formulations, however, would still have deep ties to Private Warfare as that is based with individuals and is a liberty that cannot be removed by any government.   When you are attacked by wild animals in Nature you have the paramount right to wage private war in your defense and no one on this planet dares try to take that from you lest you become mere prey and fodder to the powerful and hungry.

We still have records of the City States of ancient times in Greece, along the Nile, in Mesopotamia, China, Korea, Japan, India, Aztecs, Toltecs, Maya and Inca, these City States would form the nucleus for the first large scale expansion of common culture and common conflict.  If these Empires saw their culture as supreme, and they had no reason not to, then the domination of other cultures was something to be asserted.  These interactions would create the first large scale forms of defense and warfare and the first prosecution of those waging private war that would endanger society.  If their ability to knit together a large area is seen, their weakness of internal structure and to form a vaster cultural common identity is also seen.  That step would be taken many times, on many continents, but the most remembered is the greatest failure that lived almost no time after his death.  If Alexander the Great created a vast Empire, he lacked the means to hold it and yet laid down a common pattern and culture wherever he went so that the tales of his passing are still told in the highlands of Afghanistan.  It was not his Empire that would outlast him, but the common stories and remnants of his culture that would begin a long process of setting a common theme across a large territory.

Alexander picked up after the fall of the City States and a generation past the first attempt to build that hard common culture across multiple Cities that would endure.  That was done by the Spartans at the Hot Gates and their failure would demonstrate that the culture can produce the most stalwart of defenders for all of the people of a land.  And while they failed at the Gates, their comrades and sons would not fail in forcing an Empire back and cutting its floated bridge and rending it asunder.  That society which cohered after the fall of the 300 would produce Alexander who would finally create the first Nation and he would take it to war to avenge the prior attacks on his people and succeed beyond any dreams of success held by any forerunner.  That Nation would more tightly hold City States together by common culture and form the basis of development of a National Identity.  To get that local administrators had to give up local ideas and hold to a more common set of ideals of what it meant to be this thing called 'Greek' which would span across multiple ethnic groups.  The peoples of Attica, Rhodes, Asia Minor, all the way up to those by the Black Sea would gain an identity that went to their culture they held in common and create the Greek Nation.  Alexander's Empire would fall quickly and yet leave those hard traces of Greek culture all the way to Afghanistan and change the ruling culture of Egypt for centuries until the old ones would be lost into dust.

By enforcing law across multiple ethnicities the Roman Empire would do what the Greek could not: create the Imperial State.  Rome would arise over Nations and yet leave many of the local ruling systems intact, as they only wished for commonality of trade and laws across the Empire.  In paying that tribute in taxation, a Nation gained protection from Rome and would benefit by vastly increased trade.  Rome prospered even as it decayed, because of this, and only once the power of the Legions was no longer the clear winner on the battlefield did the Empire start to implode.  What Rome had done was demonstrate the clear and remarkable benefits to large scale rule over society, and while the primitive cultures, still existing in the way we see in Pakistan, would overwhelm Rome, they would gain the infusion of what common culture was and how to protect it.  To support their cultures, these people would form City States and then National Identities in quick order, on the scales of lifetimes or even decades, and then the remains of Roman Law would be implemented by the rulers of these Nations and create what we would call Nation States.

In truth the hows and wherefores of how these Nation States would act had already been set centuries earlier by the City States.  We can read about those in the few chronicles of the Spartans, and even before that in the Iliad and Odyssey and see the traces of those ways.  The foreign ministry archive of the Hittites demonstrates that how you ran a State was well understood and its forms and protocols had been set down and existed for centuries as an understanding.  All Empires practiced them and the first Nations would take their steps with Alexander and finally get the solidified commonality of law from Rome and from another group that depended on common law for survival: the Nordic Peoples.

Migrating from the Caucuses, with the Laplanders coming from more polar regions, these peoples would have a harsh identity that grew up from the end of the glacial period.  They were not unaccustomed to working with foreigners in their slow migration north and a little west, and would pick up further sustainment of their common cultures as they went.  While their ethnic differences are high, their agreed-upon emphasis on common law is ancient and took hard root in the lands they settled in with isolated towns requiring strong and local self-defense.  If the southern cultures took up commonality for greater governance, those of the north took it up for greater protection.  What was added in, however, was the harsh accountability of those folk, so that no King would be able to do something contrary to the local officials.  If Empires and Nation States to the south saw Kings ruling over the law and setting it, those in the north saw the King beholden to the law and answerable to it.

Here the coincidence of how these Nations would run bear striking similarities while having vast differences.  If the common people would give up local powers for treaties and such to government, in the South they would have to obey such treaties while in the North they would seek common concurrence  amongst the people.  What would come from the South is a final uniting and, finally, disuniting force, which had held City States, Nations and even Empires together, and that is organized religion on a mass scale.  The Roman Catholic Church even took up the Roman Army divisions amongst personnel to have a recognizable authority structure, and that structure set the tone, temper and outlook of the Church.  If the Roman Empire had failed in secular administration, the Church would seek to give divine administration amongst these Nation States.  That would work well until the ideas of the North had percolated down through the Germanies and into Switzerland, meeting up with similar groups in France and Spain.  If the southern organizations would be persecuted and tortured with little recourse against the Church, those to the North did not take kindly to being told what they should do with the universal message of peace brought by the savior.  Martin Luther would put down that all men had the right to read the Lord's words in their common tongue as the message of salvation was universal.  And millions would die for the right to exercise freedom in pursuit of personal liberty to worship as one wished to do.

Our 'clash' of the secular and divine is not new, it dates back centuries to Martin Luther and that simple and most basic statement of positive liberty to interpret words of salvation to one's own end as one wished without persecution.  The wars in France, Spain, Italy, and finally the Germanies would all be done under the aegis of fighting for 'The Prince of Peace' and would finally put a hard limit and boundary over Nation States and how far they may go in coercing one to live.  Empires have that capability, but Nation States do not save internally and never externally.  Any Nation seeking to do this, today, is Imperial in outlook and is seeking to expand Imperial rule via religion.  That highest of civility, to allow your common man in common culture to worship as he or she pleases is the greatest liberty one has.  Even in the slave pens of Rome, one could worship as they were able, so long as it fell under the sanctions of Roman Law.  A high and dear cost that would count 20% of Europe dead at the end of the 30 years war would set down and establish that the modern Nation State had no say in religious preference of individuals, so long as it was peaceable and within set bounds of society.  There were three allowed:  Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism.  These, in turn, would seek to persecute others *not* within those allowed and the final, great migration of religious outcasts would come to the New World and expand religious liberty  in that doing.

The Peace of Westphalia is a Universal Treaty made to set apart the secular and the sacred.  They can and do influence each other and, with reason, can offer hope, guidance and salvation to each other.  If the United States has Christianity as its Bedrock, then it is in the plurality of the views of Christianity that give it its strength and tolerance.  The greatest gift of mankind is not religion, but reason: so that we can distinguish the actions of the divine from the common and ordinary, and lead good lives with the teachings from the divine to enrich the secular lives we have.  The death toll to *not* doing so, from EITHER SIDE, is staggering, as those Nation States that have practiced the secular over the divine have clearly demonstrated in Stalin's Soviet Union, Pol Pot's regime, Hitler's Germany, and in all the intolerant Nations that still dot this planet in the far east, central asia, middle east, africa and south america.  Both offer staggering death tolls and when reason is set aside for divine or secular mandates that require obedience in the area of the sacred, blood flows.  If you descend from European lineage, all the way to the Poles and Hungarians, then you fall under the Universal Peace.  It allows intolerance within its bounds, but has acceptable toleration as a hallmark and requires civility to those who may, at first, seem strange in their beliefs.  In the United States and Canada we get this through the Restoration of the English Crown after Cromwell via the lineage of the Winter Queen and her children.  To step away from Westphalia requires that a Nation actively do so, because the Treaty is presumptive: it is a civil means to say that Nations coming under its lineage must act in certain ways towards it citizens.

Citizens must also recognize it and behave towards each other in civil ways, as that is the Nordic lineage put in by those who would sign on after Gustavus Adolphus died from wounds in 1632 after defeating Catholic Armies time and again.  Because there must be common and civil understanding to have acceptable norms, that was something that he fought and died for and after his death the Great Peace would embody that ideal.  That requires that personal freedom of intolerance give way to the rights of those who hold other beliefs and that you will not use the negative liberty of Private War against them.  No City State could have clearly done this thing, nor any Empire.  The foundation of the division of secular and sacred requires that it be upheld by Reason created by man as we are too feeble to understand the divine in all its glory.  Nor are we to take the divine laws and put them into force until we use Reason to assure that they are good and that there is support in society for them and accountability to both government and the individual contained within them.  If the Bedrock of the Republic is Christianity the Cement holding it together is Reason.

That high ideal was spoken of often by Christians before, during and after the Founding and upheld time and again as the multiplicity of Christian forms did not fall into any one neat and easy to define category.  Many Christians did not even see Christ as Divine, but a spokesman for divine wisdom granted to man from previous teachings.  More than a few founders, Sam Adams and Thomas Jefferson come to mind, would put forth screeds against Roman Catholics as not being true Christians or so absurdly wrong-headed in their beliefs that they would do more harm than good if they ever held elected offices.  The difference between the Orthodox and those outside the Orthodoxy were high, and some few wondered if it were right to allow these into the larger society.  What would come to the forefront, however, is that doing so made these religions no different than those that persecuted THEM and drove them to the New World.  What would bring these disparate cultures and religious beliefs together is commonality in being oppressed and having their rights ignored by the Crown.  As subjects the colonists also were citizens, and in having the Crown step from the Magna Carta and remove their ability to be heard in Parliament while imposing taxes and authoritarian rule, the differences in religion paled into the commonality of repression and no longer being regarded as equal citizens, but as foreign subjects.

What this entire history did was to create a brand, new way of examining what Nations were and how they would come about.  It was summed up in much, much less verbiage in the Declaration of Independence, which starts at the simple, and self-evident truths of all men being created equal.  It then steps through the cause for having society and having government and that government be answerable for its condition.  To form a new Nation there is a direct and specific listing of grievances and of things that have been denied to citizens who have them as their due.  In many ways it is the latter 2/3 of the Declaration that goes absent when we recall it, and yet it is the more powerful part of the document as it is not summing up what is known, but is saying that Reason gives man the right to form Just government for Societies and that it must not do as has been done to us and then lists each and every single thing that has been denied to citizens as their right and expectation of freedom.  In the exercise of liberty these rights must not be abridged and society must be protected via the freedoms we have and by government upholding those freedoms to enact liberty via rightful means.

As the first 1/3 of the Declaration is remembered so well, we forget that the following 2/3 gives the direct reason for creation of new government and that it is not taken up easily or lightly, and that we will, indeed, suffer many ills as citizens until they become insufferable and demand new government.  In giving up negative liberties of coercion, Public Warfare, and regulation to government, citizens can and must be protected by such government, the rights and liberties protected for the people to be free, and that government cannot enforce any more than those few things lest it infringe on the positive liberties and rights of the people.  From that we go from the Condition of Man to How Man Deals With His Condition.  How we deal with it is something that must be individual and recognize the need for common governance that does not infringe upon the good things society is the basis for.  Thomas Paine would sum it up that society is the basis for the good of the Nation and that government a necessary evil: the first a benefactor, the latter a punisher.

It is only in modern times starting with the fallout of the French Revolution and Bismarck in Germany that we start to see the idea that the State coming to control society is a 'good' thing.  This was spurred on by Socialism as avowed in the 19th and early 20th century and taken up by the Progressives in America.  Many would seek to start changing that accountability of government and the citizenry and to make government less accountable and the citizenry more restricted 'for its own good'.  That is a strange thing to put forth in a land where it is the citizenry that is to have the greatest free play of liberty and rights and government is to be held small and accountable lest its ability as punisher be used wantonly.  While busting monopolies and having child labor laws is a good thing, to free up capital and to ensure good opportunities in life for children, restricting medicines and shifting from minor regulations on our economic lives and moving into trying to manage and control the lives of citizens via those means is the slide from 'good and reasonable' to 'punishing due to moral outlook'.  Even worse it diminishes the citizenry by those holding such beliefs and attempts to enforce beliefs without reasonable basis upon the citizenry.

Shifts from reasonable regulation to put actual ingredients in foods and medications to that of suppressing some medications in attempting to cure a 'personal ill' flies in the face of that 'personal ill' reducing as people came to understand what was in their food and medicines.  Government shifting from common defender to common enforcer would also shift the basis of power away from its tripartite self-correcting system between National, State and Citizen input and change it to National and Citizen and begin to relegate the State to obscurity.  Yet it was the cultural differences in the States that made the Union vibrant, even in some forms of disharmony, the work to bring common accord meant a commonality of vision that would need to be reasoned out amongst citizens.  By the mid-20th century that would shift to enforced regulation of personal habits, activities and government trying to do 'good things' in its role as punisher.  That trend comes from the socialist ideal of a common working man needing some 'guidance' from those who knew better, so that while espousing such things as 'workers councils' the formulation of that would be authoritarian and highly controlled from the top heading downwards.  If America grew that during the Progressive era, then Europe would get a serious and contagious infection after World War I and the world would witness the power of industrialized, authoritarian States seeking to impose its will on its own people and its neighbors.  That was not 'progress' but a step back to Empires ruling over States, save that these new forms would try to enforce exterior government and controls, not heeding the wisdom of Rome.

While many of these countries would be seen as 'successful' and 'modern' in their rise, after the Second World War they would be despised in outward form even as many elites admired their inward control over their citizens.  If the American curve on 'Progressive' attitudes is more retarded in compared to those in Europe, it is due to the Founding influences, even as they are attacked on a daily and continual basis by elites of all stripes.  That would see those playing upon race and divisive ethnic politics supporting removing individuals from home ownership in poor areas of cities and concentrating them into high rise tenements that would dissolve the ownership culture and truly impoverish them, not just keep them poor.  In no time at all the existing culture decayed, violence rose and thugs of all sorts would roam the streets... because this was a 'good thing'.  And if you spoke out against the violence done by removing that culture of ownership you were deemed 'racist'.  Strange that the very ones who would espouse the hatred of government would come looking to it for handouts.  While urban poor turning to gangs has been a constant theme in America, those gangs were moderated by a large presence of steady homes and families.  Once that stability was removed, gang violence increased and the ability to enforce any civility declined.  And then government would come in with regulators to try and change the basis of society and how we live our daily lives.

Over half if not two-thirds of all government regulations have been put in place since 1972, and for that we get to pay high taxes for things that industry and commercial groups were already doing to themselves.  Engineering, accounting and other standards bodies required no government oversight, yet got them.  Today it is impossible to live without breaking some standard, some law or some minor bureaucratic rule, and the citizenry has gotten not to care about that.  In changing from the Rule of Law to the Law of Rules, we get a society where lawyers were few and far between in the 19th century to being a positive growth service that has much time, energy and money sunk into it with little return.  Even into modern times it was possible to sit on the Supreme Court and not ever have been a lawyer or judge: the common man could understand the effects of law and see if it conformed with our liberties and freedoms.  Today you can't even make sure that walking across the street is legal.  That is the form of government by punishment and restriction that starts to sound a lot like the rule of the Divine over the Secular.  This time it is the Elite Secular over everyone, and their credos, maxims and ideals start to look a lot like a religion.

Yet we are born free.

Those Elites wish you to believe that encroaching government is a one-way street or a 'nose of the camel under the tent'.  I take the alleyways.  And once the head is under the tent, its a good time to step outside and let the body of the beast know it can't be in two places at once... and it just might make good camel steaks.  Having our liberty and freedom exercised via our rights is a great boon to create good society and hold government accountable.  What is done by the hand of man, save for taking of life and there are arguments on the common law side there, too, can be undone.  It is not 'the rights of the unborn' but trying to keep a society together so that we can have children not brought up in chaos that matter to me.  I am willing to let common law from ancient times have its say as moderated by our scientific advances, so that we don't get a new elite view to go with that of other elites each seeking to restrict liberty and freedom.  Using Reason requires us to acknowledge that no matter what the Divine Will *is*, the hand of man must control his destiny until we get more perfection in our understanding of ourselves and the Divine.  It is the authoritarian attempt to impose *any* culture from government on the citizenry that I detest, and the ways and means it does so is toxic to having a common culture and National Identity.  If we cannot keep this limited form of government LIMITED then the next step is Imperial Rule, and we have a few main competitors for that in religion and the secular side and NONE have any reason to espouse liberty, freedom and your rights as a good thing to uphold.

Believe as they do.

Or else.

I am not impressed by either the Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, who espouse using government to enforce their beliefs upon society.  It is authoritarianism at its most toxic, heading to its lethal form as it builds up and cannot be gotten rid of by the citizenry.  And it is the citizenry who are hurt the worst in giving up their rights, freedom and liberty to decide for themselves, as these new Imperial dogmas have the liquidation of non-believers as its goal.

Over these last few days and the days to come we face the turning point of government as regulator to government as controller.  President Andrew Jackson stopped the National Bank when it came up for re-approval, so that our security would be in our own hands as citizens in the economic realm.  Today the Elites have made sure that no government institution ever comes up for re-approval.  That is their one-way street.

It is a dead end for your freedom, rights and liberty.

The headlong rush at high speed into that dead end is worrying.

And no one willing to pull the Emergency Brake and say 'End this infringement upon the common man' is horrifying.

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