Sunday, June 14, 2009

Progressivism's pointless future

Watching Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge at NRO, done in cooperation with the Hoover Institution, with Charles Kesler, Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, on the topic of the Grand Liberal Project (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) is an exciting and yet troubling as it points out some of the problematical parts of Liberalism as it moved off of its older, individual oriented scope of the Enlightenment to mid-19th century, and went on to embrace a form of populism and group based identity based on the concept of 'progress'.  What 'progress' was conceived of was to morph government away from its known structure of limited powers granted by society, to one of making the government the focus of changing society and responding to society as it changed.  That meant, however, shifting away from understood norms of the role of government as protector via stewardship of the Nation, thus allowing each individual to achieve as they will, to one of promoting social 'good' via such activism.  This would start with Theodore Roosevelt's administration which was one that aimed at Progressive goals via Anti-Trust laws and agreeing to attend the Shanghai Convention on Opium: both areas where the federal government had little or no rightful say in the proceedings of the American people.  Additionally the Constitution was ratified by popular support to undo the restraints of the federal government both in terms of power and scope of influence: the Amendments to allow for the direct election of Senators negated the power of State government to be a countervailing influence against the federal government, and the Amendment to allow for varied income taxes based on income to be collected directly by the federal government gave it power to reach into the lives of ordinary Americans to take funds directly from the source, instead of relying upon the States for that.

Missing that is a quibble with the series of interviews, and the foundation set by Progressives under Theodore Roosevelt set the stage for Woodrow Wilson who profoundly believed that the Constitution was a 'living document' and that such things as the Declaration of Independence addressed only those things at the point of time it was written and was harshly constrained by them.  He had advocated for a move to a Parliamentary system of government while younger so as to more quickly alter the social landscape by government to 'improve' the lot of Americans.  I will be picking up some themes that I have examined previously in my writings, particularly from The 10 years that changed the path of America and Wilsonianism and the start of Transnationalism.  What watching the series brought up was a somewhat deeper interpretation of what Progressivism is from its roots and the starkness of where it winds up, today, is given in the contrast between Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as the former address attacks by the latter in his autobiography.  This passage is the one that brings the change that Woodrow Wilson brought to Progressivism, and I think it is key and I will leave the highlighting from a previous post of mine:

After reading Mr. Wilson's book, I am still entirely in the dark as to what he means by the "New Freedom." Mr. Wilson is an accomplished and scholarly man, a master of rhetoric, and the sentences in the book are well-phrased statements, usually inculcating a morality which is sound although vague and ill defined. There are certain proposals (already long set forth and practiced by me and by others who have recently formed the Progressive party) made by Mr. Wilson with which I cordially agree. There are, however, certain things he has said, even as regards matters of abstract morality, with which I emphatically disagree. For example, in arguing for proper business publicity, as to which I cordially agree with Mr. Wilson, he commits himself to the following statement:

"You know there is temptation in loneliness and secrecy. Haven't you experienced it? I have. We are never so proper in our conduct as when everybody can look and see exactly what we are doing. If you are off in some distant part of the world and suppose that nobody who lives within a mile of your home is anywhere around, there are times when you adjourn your ordinary standards. You say to yourself, 'Well, I'll have a fling this time; nobody will know anything about it.' If you were on the Desert of Sahara, you would feel that you might permit yourself—well, say, some slight latitude of conduct; but if you saw one of your immediate neighbors coming the other way on a camel, you would behave yourself until he got out of sight. The most dangerous thing in the world is to get off where nobody knows you. I advise you to stay around among the neighbors, and then you may keep out of jail. That is the only way some of us can keep out of jail."

I emphatically disagree with what seems to be the morality inculcated in this statement, which is that a man is expected to do and is to be pardoned for doing all kinds of immoral things if he does them alone and does not expect to be found out. Surely it is not necessary, in insisting upon proper publicity, to preach a morality of so basely material a character.

There is much more that Mr. Wilson says as to which I do not understand him clearly, and where I condemn what I do understand. In economic matters the course he advocates as part of the "New Freedom" simply means the old, old "freedom" of leaving the individual strong man at liberty, unchecked by common action, to prey on the weak and the helpless. The "New Freedom" in the abstract seems to be the freedom of the big to devour the little. In the concrete I may add that Mr. Wilson's misrepresentations of what I have said seem to indicate that he regards the new freedom as freedom from all obligation to obey the Ninth Commandment.

But, after all, my views or the principles of the Progressive party are of much less importance now than the purposes of Mr. Wilson. These are wrapped in impenetrable mystery. His speeches and writings serve but to make them more obscure. If these attempts to refute his misrepresentation of my attitude towards the trusts should result in making his own clear, then this discussion will have borne fruits of substantial value to the country. If Mr. Wilson has any plan of his own for dealing with the trusts, it is to suppress all great industrial organizations—presumably on the principle proclaimed by his Secretary of State four years ago, that every corporation which produced more than a certain percentage of a given commodity—I think the amount specified was twenty-five per cent—no matter how valuable its service, should be suppressed. The simple fact is that such a plan is futile. In operation it would do far more damage than it could remedy. The Progressive plan would give the people full control of, and in masterful fashion prevent all wrongdoing by, the trusts, while utilizing for the public welfare every industrial energy and ability that operates to swell abundance, while obeying strictly the moral law and the law of the land. Mr. Wilson's plan would ultimately benefit the trusts and would permanently damage nobody but the people. For example, one of the steel corporations which has been guilty of the worst practices towards its employees is the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bryan's plan would, if successful, merely mean permitting four such companies, absolutely uncontrolled, to monopolize every big industry in the country. To talk of such an accomplishment as being "The New Freedom" is enough to make the term one of contemptuous derision.

This difference strikes at the heart of what Progressivism is and Theodore Roosevelt can be seen as the 'transitional figure' who still believed that the individual has a duty to be civilized at all times, while Woodrow Wilson sees that man is unable to rule himself while alone and only conforms to law when there is society.  Wilson's reaction to the concept of loneliness is one that is telling as it points to his view that he would NOT be a civilized person without society to rule him and that society, in its turn, requires government to keep him in line.  To anyone of the older order of Liberal views, that of the Rights of Man as an Individual, this is a horrific concept as it puts the civilizing capability in the hands of society and government, not the individual and family.  It is also contrary to all knowledge as civilization could not form or be maintained without pre-existing society and government by that Progressive view, and yet that is what has happened time and again.  Mankind does not come together to grant rights to each other, but to have government protect society from the excesses of those that will not abide by civil law.  Social pressure only happens when the individual acknowledges worth in other individuals and recognizes that respect is reciprocated at all times and that one cannot be a savage at some times and be civilized at others as the savagery is deadly, lethal to yourself, if you make but one mistake in when to use civilization as a mask for your inherent adherence to barbarism.  Indeed society and all individuals are to protect to themselves against barbarians who will not put themselves under civil law and seek remedy outside such law as a law unto themselves.

Yet it is that belief that propriety only exists amongst our fellow man and is directed and forced by government that comes to bear as an underlying theme of Progressivism, although not to uphold standards but to 'progress' standards as discussed in the series of interviews.  Beyond that, however, is a mindset that goes with this idea of control of the individual by society and government that is a long-running one in Western culture on the nature of man dating at least as far back as Divine Right Monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church anointing some as 'protectors of the Faith' fit to rule while those that are the subjects of such a ruler are to follow him in his religion.  This would again appear in the French Revolution and its activities to wipe out the old regime and go so far as to rename the seasons, the months, the days and then attempt to enforce a new morality upon society from government. Those are what the United States was founded to go against, and to ensure that human liberty has the greatest play in society so as to uplift all persons, while government is harshly restricted and circumscribed in what it can do as it is the protector of society by the investment of negative liberties in it. The traditional view from that is that man must seek to a better life and lead a better life through understanding of himself in his relationship to God and his fellow man.  By coming to terms with his long term place in life, that he is mortal and imperfect, in seeking greater union with God and his fellow man, the individual becomes 'more perfect' as Jefferson and Franklin put it and that  man does not become perfect save in death and in union with God, but can strive to be closer to God by helping his fellow man via the formation of society and a government by that society to protect society.  This is inward driven and builds society and produces government to restrict the abuses of man against his fellow man.  These abuses are ones that threaten life, liberty, property, and society as a whole, and are grievous enough to require pulling those who commit such acts out of society for the protection of all members of society.

When Woodrow Wilson gives voice to the inherent vice of man, that without society he is unrestrained, then the object of government is to ensure that man cannot be out of the sight of society or government.  Ever.  By putting such restrictions on man for his own benefit, the ability to do wrong is restrained more and more, and from that man is made better.  To do that the poor must be uplifted at the cost of all society, but not through charity, which is built on the understanding that it is our duty and good works to uplift our fellow man, but through government as a punishment to society for not immediately uplifting our fellow man.  That comes at a cost, however, which is not only the taxation required for the inefficient bureaucracy to attempt this endeavor, but it is in the loss of choice that is liberty that goes with this.  Instead of being allowed to use your liberty to do as you wish, which INCLUDES contributing to charity, you are required to contribute to government which takes on a charitable role and the individual then does not have to think nor worry about the plight of the poor.  That is an anti-cohesive force to society when it is built upon the premise of freedom and liberty where the main responsibility to ensure that the individuals of society are cared for are the concern of individuals and their voluntary social organs, and that government merely protects society from abuses so that society can achieve far deeper and meaningful work than JUST the activity that achieves certain ends.  For it is in the giving and acting out of charity that man is brought closer to God and all of society is made better by helping his fellow man: when government does it, it is by rote formula and not via active and deep concern by individuals.  And it must be noted that charities, save those that are corrupt or criminal endeavors or fronts for same, operate far more efficiently than any level of government ever can or will because individuals are willing to make a sacrifice DIRECTLY from their own time and life to ensure that the charity is well run at low cost and overhead at a personal cost to themselves as their liberty allows them to put that effort into such work voluntarily.  In attempting to make 'volunteerism' mandatory, the Liberal agenda strikes at the very heart of liberty and charity, and the role of the individual to uplift society as it is the social responsibility of individuals to help each other not because it is mandated but because it  is GOOD.

These two venues, the now Traditional view of man as an individual and that of Progressive government to guide society, come into steep, harsh and direct contact over the course of the 20th century and what is eroded is the backing of individuality and liberty as government takes on vast projects to 'help' the poor and 'help' the sick and elderly, and then sees the cost of doing those things rise beyond any previously known rates as government can never be flexible enough to account for the diversity of the members of society it is attempting to help.  Social Security would have a set age of retirement and then ignore all demographic trends that, save for the Spanish Influenza epidemic, showed a continual increase in average life expectancy.  While living to 62 would have been problematical in 1936, by 1996 it had become an expected norm with nearly an additional decade of life expected beyond that of their 1936 forebearers.  Yet the fixed concern of government was not changed as too many began to experience benefits of this 'good' that was provided at the expense of the rest of society because individuals were drawing far more than they ever contributed to Social Security.  That imbalance moved the system to an insolvency that was predicted, in the 1980's to be around 2050, then in the 1990's to be near 2030, and now, in 2009, has moved down to 2020 or even lower.  Not only has time marched towards the insolvency point, but the life expectancy and Baby Boomer cohort are now bringing the day when the special taxes for Social Security cannot even meet current payout closer on an almost 1:1 basis:  for every decade we go forward insolvency drops closer by a decade which doubles the overall rate of approach, thus making the turnover point to be 2014 -16 at best.

What was once a minor perk for those not expected to get it for very long has now become a real and visceral threat to bankrupt the Nation, and it is done with the outlook that if the burden of caring for yourself is lifted by government then you will be uplifted and made better.  Even if that were the case, the cost is to bankrupt the government and make it insolvent within the very near future which would then place a horrific burden upon everyone to give the very few a reward.  If any in the Baby Boom Generation had asked individuals from Gen-X or Gen-Y if they expect Social Security to survive to THEIR retirement, the brutal answer has been, for decades: no.  The Boomers, the generation that had the greatest economic boom ever bequeathed to any generation, felt privileged and has acted like it was privileged to special treatment and deference by its very presence (a form of divine right, that of placement to privilege) and has abdicated its responsibility as a generation to following generations by NOT reforming Social Security when it was Boomers that were in power in the government.  That is due to the Baby Boomers getting the most BENEFIT from that 'good' and knowing that it will not live to see the effects of putting following generations into poverty and handing insolvent government over to those generations.  That long trail of 'Progress', of stewardship of the Nation and caretaking of it by government and turning it into an activist concern, has come to the end point in the economic realm of where self-benefit drives expenditures and those getting the benefits are unwilling to do a damned thing to reform government because that would move the set 'good' point further ahead and require them to work longer.

Of dissolving Social Security and giving the funds back  either entirely or at a fixed rate annual return, nothing is ever said because the self-centered concept of Wilson has now moved to center stage:  government will reform you as directed by those in charge and if that is the lash of CAUSING poverty to generations so ONE generation can get some goodies, then so be it.  Progressivism reaches that end point in economics due to the lack of civil understanding of the role of government and why the cost of a 'good thing' from government is unacceptably high in liberty and then pure economics.  This extends to medical care, too, as the changes to subsidize this 'good' by government and then step in to 'help' the poor pay for it have driven costs up over time as ANY subsidy always DOES as it encourages inefficient use of subsidized goods and services.  That is trying to create an economy to run in ways that are not practical, wise, 'good' or even sane to achieve limited 'good' to the very few that were previously looked after by charity run by individuals, churches and other social venues that knit society together from the poorest level upwards.

That is one outcome of 'progress' when man is seen as being the object of government, not government the subject of man.

Even more telling, however, are the social ends of Progressivism and Liberalism over time, and these are, if anything, even more insidious and far worse than the economic ends, and will also incur a cost there as any of these 'New Freedoms' must be paid for by government, as they are artifacts of government provided to individuals at the cost of personal liberty and freedom.  In Part 3 Charles Kesler has a telling view on the 'New Freedom' and its course into the 1960's and then out of it:

"Instead of the virtues which went with the old style of freedom, the new kind of freedom is really liberation.  Its liberation from virtue, from the kind of character you needed to be free in the older understanding."

This is part of his explaining that government's 'New Freedom' is that which it GIVES you (which he had done in a previous part of the series): freedom from poverty, freedom from want.  In the discussion Peter Robinson calls this "the freedom of the kindergarten", a freedom from responsibilities.  This has been an ongoing part of the Liberal view post-Wilson, that people will find 'new ways to be free' that can only be provided for BY government.  This has a direct and corrosive effect upon society, in that man, freed of responsibilities and given good things, has no need to become virtuous.  Indeed, as 'progress' requires less accountability for actions taken, to 'free' you of responsibility, not being virtuous is rewarded and social intercourse becomes degraded as civility is put to the wayside as there is no punishment for being uncivil to other citizens that do not want to take this course.  In fact government is used to try and quell discourse by those basing stances on morals, not liberty, but those morals get defined as group behavior which is 'empowered' by Liberalism as the new way to account for the sub-units of society: the individual only matters to the extent to which he belongs to certain groups.  Thus by taking a stance against giving a 'freedom' to a group, you get branded as racist, sexist, and other anti-social terms which become ways to intimidate individuals so that they will shut up and accept the new social order of government that determines morality.  That is repression of speech that is defined as 'good' to achieve a social outcome and attempts to express the equality of man as the basis for a just society are then castigated as 'whining' by those who don't get 'freedoms' and the benefits of them but are still expected to pay for them for others who DO.

An object lesson of how this works out are the misnamed 'Human Rights Courts' in Canada, that punish people for merely speaking their mind and try to go so far as to not only censor current and future public speech, but to prohibit PRIVATE speech as well.  What is seen as irritating or degrading to one group is then used to punish an individual and put proscriptions on him for what he has said and thought.  This, too, is freedom from responsibility via directly contacting and discussing items with individuals and is an attempt to use government fiat to suppress thought via suppression of speech.  That manifests in the US via Political Correctness and the overly litigious society that has grown up due to the growing lack of virtue in individuals in society.  In attempting to restrict speech via politics, ideas and lives are degraded via an externally enforced set of ideas that are supposed to 'free' the individual of certain ways of thinking.  This starts in the education system which, as de Tocqueville, Dewey and others examined, would be utilized as the government focal point to wrest control of children from the family via a form of 'soft despotism' (from de Tocqueville).  That is how society shifts from being a great good that is built by individuals to a tool used to coerce individuals to conformity with whatever the freedom du jour is.

Beyond that instating laws to 'empower' classes of people via preferences of race, ethnicity and sex, so as to 'carve out' parts of the marketplace for those efforts, is promoted as a social 'good' to make up for past 'wrongs' which are often three, four or more generations into the distant past.  Previous abuses that were ended by previous generations left the slow righting of wrongs and knitting together of society up to individuals and their institutions to do, and depended on government to restrict abuses of overt racism and other forms of discrimination against citizens in the public venue.  This has 'progressed' to the private venue, via litigation against non-public groups and clubs to 'open up' to outsiders as defined by a voluntary and private organization.  Beyond that Equal Employment Opportunity laws become ways to 'game the system' so as to get those defined as 'minorities' by race, ethnicity or gender, special advances due to their proportion in society, not due to the merits of the individual to actually do their job.  Further costs to provide 'access' to workplaces then start on the path to empower large corporations, which can distribute the cost of such regulations over vast sales, and make the barrier to entry to becoming a large business high as a small business must not only get the cash to create those modes of access, but then must pass that along to a limited production base which impacts their end-unit cost far greater than a big business as the big business has economies of scale to help it.  Big business will also seek subsidies, restrictions on trade and other forms of anti-competitive practice to ensure their position in the marketplace, and by lobbying government for these benefits these corporations become seen as an arm OF government to enact 'good' things.

The fact that these practices of non-merit advancement to jobs so that they are not done to the highest standard and stifling of small business to regulation so as to protect big business are both supported by government seeking to make 'new freedoms' for individuals and large companies at the expense of less efficiency in the workplace, degrading of production standards through the advancement of those not winning by merit alone, and by ensuring that no matter how bad the business practices of corporations are they soon become 'too big to fail' as they are a necessary arm of government control... these things you dare not speak of because they are seen as 'racist', 'sexist' and against small and minority owned businesses, when just the opposite is true: healthy competition and evaluation of skills done at the workplace and marketplace without preference is a great boon to all citizens in driving down production costs, raising wages to keep skilled workers, and building self-esteem through real accomplishment in helping one's fellow man at the workplace and the marketplace to get high quality goods at a lower price.  This has worked so well that to be poor in America now has a tell-tale sign that has never, ever happened in any other society in history: obesity.  That, alone, should be a clue as to the nature of the power of marketplaces to achieve the end of hunger and starvation to the poor.  Instead it is held up as yet another venue for government regulation and control.

In examining the excesses of the 1960's Liberalism, the 'third wave' as per Kesler, the discussion in part 3 goes to how the movement in the area of the sexual revolution and its impact could possibly have grown out of the Progressivist agenda given the character of Woodrow Wilson, FDR and others, including JFK.  This from the discussion:

Kesler: "Well I would say this, you're right, the character of a Woodrow Wilson or FDR is better than their principles. And what happens is their..."

Robinson: "Remind me to keep you on my side..."

Kesler: "...their... insistence on these higher standards, these more traditional kinds of standards, corrodes over time against the idea there is progress... we assume there is progress.  The Progressive assumption is that the future will be better than the present, even as the present is better than the past.  So who are we, in the end, to say that human liberation will not take different, unusual forms?  Sexual liberation, the drug revolution, whatever, of the 1960's, perhaps this is a kind of... the kind of experiments that the growth of human personality requires.  And that's, really how the 60's, I think, comes about."

The discussion moves on to how the Kennedy family sees this change in microcosm, that Joseph Kennedy,JFK and RFK would be appalled as devout Catholics at the stance of Teddy Kennedy on abortion on demand and other social issues and the involvement of government in them at the federal level.  We are reminded that JFK did not start the 'Great Society', that was the work of LBJ who attempted to pin it to JFK after his assassination and to ram the legislation through Congress based on that.  None of those plans were ones in the works or signed off by JFK before his assassination.  While the Kennedy family has had its own share of marital infidelities, those were within marriage and within the understood bounds of it as a social institution, and Teddy Kennedy broken boundaries of religious morality and has paid no price either from his family or from society as a whole.

The conversation continues a bit further on after looking at how Joseph of John Kennedy would have been appalled at the youngest of the clan, Teddy Kennedy, becoming a champion of abortion on demand, and how this happens in barely a generation.  Again Mr. Kesler:

"And that example raises the question that I was skirting earlier which is the old rights and the new rights just don't peacefully coexist.  The new rights come at a huge cost in terms of the old rights because some of these old rights, like the right to under the aegis of the new rights looks less and less absolute or less and less permanent and compelling."

Mr. Kesler's view is, I believe, key in understanding the nature of Progressivism and the Liberal agenda, and it is disturbing in the extreme.

There are no boundaries in being liberated from responsibilities.

To 'liberate' individuals from responsibility, the troubling source of the problems of individuals must then fall upon society for all things and government must right all of those things with its intervention, no matter what the cost in money, effort or lives.  What started out in the academia as a movement to re-orient towards these 'new freedoms' moves into government and into the creation of law and the practice of law as those self-same lawyers become more drawn from the Boomer Generation which has this view given to them by the academic and social 'reformers'.  From that, the already Progressive stance taken by a number of Supreme Court appointees after Woodrow Wilson is then bolstered at the lower courts as Boomers move upwards due to age.  The effects of this self-centered, self-liberated generation with no responsibilities that it is willing to place upon anyone and ever ready to blame upon society has led to the lessening of criminal sanctions for what was once considered odious, and indeed destructive behavior.  Murder is sought to be excused by poverty or 'poor upbringing' and that no one from government took a 'pro-active' stance to step in and do something.  Thus society is to blame for the ills of the individual. 

Something truly heinous against the most defenseless members of society, children, had steep and harsh punishments against it by law, so that child abuse was a major crime.  Even the normal criminal population understood that this was out of bounds for behavior and those already incarcerated would often visit brutal justice upon convicted child abusers.  Now, with lenient judges and juries who give non-jail sentences to child abusers due to the abusers 'lack of control', 'poverty', 'poor upbringing', or any other excuse... or NO excuse...the only way justice CAN be visited upon these criminals is to get sentenced to any time in a major penitentiary for even a short span.  The criminal element in this twisted vision of 'justice' then becomes a bastion and reservoir of social understanding which STILL upholds the safety of children even against the most vicious of gangs that operate today, while our society 'liberates' the attackers and abusers of children who are the most precious members of society as they are NOT adults and is then unwilling to visit any prison time upon them.  And yet the things brought up are excuses for the inexcusable, and even criminals know that.

When criminals understand the worth of children better than the civilian population as a whole, there is a wide-scale problem in society.

This problem goes beyond just abortion, just child abuse, and is an endemic view of attempting to liberate individuals from all social and societal norms and expectations, and thusly kills the concept of virtue as that has a set of standards and norms that allow individuals to identify what virtue actually IS.  Once the punishment for going beyond social norms is removed, there is no compelling way to demonstrate virtue as there become no societal boundaries to transgress.  If this was an actual boon to society, letting those committing horrific acts go free to commit MORE OF THEM when they are GUILTY of them, then we would now have the most virtuous and upstanding society the planet has ever seen.  Yet that is not the case, and the culture has become destructive towards those that disagree with the power elite in politics and the media: attempt to uphold a social value that is one that is now a point of being 'liberation' and those professing to the norms are now seen as the villains.  In attempting to express the virtue of preserving life, of protecting children and of espousing thrift, one finds himself on a road to ready castigation for being anti-feminist, not willing to understand criminals and being unpatriotic to not want to pay MORE in taxes to fund feminism and the pains caused by killers walking free as they are the fault of society, not to be held accountable, as individuals, for their actions as they have been liberated from that responsibility by government.

As 'progress' from standards is defined as something 'good', that progress away from what we were to become a newer and 'more enlightened' society is inherently good, the older terminology (which is highly abused as Orwell pointed it out it would be) of despotism and tyranny return to new life.  This concept of binding society together by government, so that all the 'twigs' can be bound into a strong haft for an axe, say, is not new.  Progressivism deeply influenced the early Fascist movement in Europe, as Jonah Goldberg examines in exquisite detail in his work Liberal Fascism, thus the same ideological roots that would influence Fascism would also come to influence the Liberal establishment of the 20th century in the US.  Even more chillingly is that the abuses of government that could grow out of the problems of the federal system had been widely discussed during the ratification process in 1787-89, and many of the artifacts of the national government overstepping its bounds are clearly seen as problems that the new Constitution had within it.

I've looked at a number of these works over the past (most recently here, here, here, here, here) and the warnings of Congress becoming unrepresentative, the imposition of taxes on nearly everything along with regulation, how a President with a corrupt Senate or House can wield extraordinary powers and that the Supreme Court had venues far beyond judgment in law, only, were all cited as problems because they had been seen in previous republics and democracies.  Further the 'Anti-Federalists' would often cite successful republics (like that of the Swiss) and ask why is there not more 'federalism' in the Constitution.  Indeed these writers were not against federalism as a concept, they went further than the 'Federalists' in how to apply it so as to make the mechanisms such that National government, State government and the people all played roles at the State and National level to keep power grabs from any one segment in check.  While Hamilton's riposte that no design of government can ever stop this from happening as it is based upon people, the rejoinder that a weak system invited this to happen was never responded to by ANY of the 'Federalists' who, instead, relied upon the good will of the people and that such abuses would be 'obvious' to at least one citizen who would speak up and warn his fellow citizens.

And be labeled as a 'crank' or 'racist' or 'sexist' or simply a 'bigot'.

That is the problem with the Hamiltonian view of a robust government presence in the economy: it invites a slow twisting of the system to become one of concentrated power at the highest level and for enforcing that view upon society and individuals by law.  Hamiltonians who declaim themselves to be 'moderate' are the ones who signed up to the venture of big government as it fits neatly with the Hamiltonian view of a robust presence of government in the economy.  Jeffersonians have found their merely legal venues to have been co-opted, over the years, by socially progressive groups so that the ACLU no longer will step in for protecting those who are discriminated against by government and will not step in to protect speech they don't like.  Wilsonians are the CAUSE of this problem as the Progressive movement took sway of the Liberal portion of society and deeply infested BOTH political parties so that by the end of the 20th century it was nearly impossible to find anyone, from either party, who could understand that 'limited government' did not mean slowing the growth of government, but that government was overgrown, officious, promulgating regulations on all aspects of life, handing out 'good things' that were bankrupting the government and the Nation, promulgating bias and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, etc., and was not limited by any scope of anyone's imagination outside of the two parties.

Jacksonians joined the NRA on the basic principle that the fight for your rights is vested in you, and that you must be able to actually fight when push comes to shove.

While the 'ratchet Republicans' those who just want to 'manage' larger government 'better' have no idea of how to say 'rollback of federal power', it is only Jacksonians who can point to the largest roll-back of federal power not due to war in Bank Veto Message of 10 JUL 1832.  Removing power and the halls of it from the federal government can be done, but requires that those venues actually come up for votes and that a President VETO such bills clearly and succinctly to say why such institutions not only have no place in the federal government, but that their power corrupts government that then becomes beholden to them.  This causes a seizure in the 'moderate Hamiltonians' as they do not want a roll-back of government power at the National level.  To Progressivists this is a direct threat against the Liberal agenda as they require the subversion of government to the will of an elite polity to craft the society they want.  Jeffersonian civil means have failed to stop the abuses of government and are now lap dogs to those abuses by being unwilling to stand for their basic premises of supporting equal rights to all citizens.

There is one venue in the modern era that has been wildly successful, and that is the erosion of support for 'gun control', which is the way the Liberals wish to disarm ordinary citizens so they cannot protect their liberty.  This from Gallup Poll of 08 APR 2009:

gallup graph gun control

Pew Research also examined this phenomena on 30 APR 2009, and saw the steady, long-term decline in support for gun control and restrictions on gun ownership from 1993 onwards, and also examined how the position of the public on abortion has been changing in the recent past.

These are positions based on stands that are easy to explain and have a visceral impact on individuals when they are explained on those basic terms and that we are responsible for our own actions in them.  The idea that the 'old rights', those that are protected from government intervention, and the 'new rights', which are artifacts of government, can take over all aspects of life hits stumbling blocks with these topics.  Even when a Liberal Supreme Court with the help of a Liberal Congress and President cannot individually or cumulatively over time sway these subjects that slowly shift back to ones of our own responsibility for ourselves, children and society, the starkness of the Liberal agenda becomes clear by the words and obtuse linkages done by Liberals to link forcing you to do 'good things' with the overall idea that this is a 'good idea'.

That is a firewall being erected by a segment of society to protect all of society and those in the Liberal arena hate that as these people are successful in waging a countervailing influence to Progressive ideas that any change is 'progress' and therefore 'good'.  And while those on the Liberal side wield a multi-culti leveling tool questioning why it is right to put valuations on how some societies act towards their members, say how repressive Muslim societies repress women or kill gays and lesbians, one does come to wonder how those who affiliate with those things that are NOT talked about could have lost all human empathy with their fellow men and women in such conditions.  The lie of Progressive Liberalism is that it is in any way 'liberal' or 'progressive' and that those castigating the use of any measuring tool for other societies are, themselves, wielding a measuring tool to those they castigate and are unwilling to see that the tool, itself, that of multi-culturalism, is an outgrowth of their society and, because of that, biased by the ideology of the wielder.  ALL tools are biased by the wielder be it a hammer, saw, fork, knife, bicycle, or handgun, they all GAIN PURPOSE that is biased by being used to some end.  Disdaining 'traditional' views is putting its own set of measuring tools in place, but ones that are not made to ensure the safety of individuals or society, but are crafted to the end of making government powerful and subjugating society to government.  Those wielding that tool dare not speak of the repression other governments perform as they wish the exact, same power for themselves over their fellow citizens.  As Teddy Roosevelt pointed out so succinctly decades ago, that is the old order of 'freedom':  freedom of the strong over the weak, government over society, the powerful over the poor, and no check upon these things by civil action.

There is no end to the power that Liberals seek to remake society under their benevolent form of tyranny.  No tyranny stays benevolent, especially once it finds that it can examine 'new freedom' to repress others under the guise of this being 'good'.  And just as Wilson, FDR, and JFK would be horrified by the excesses of modern Liberalism, the bounds that are now pushed are those of basic and fundamental human liberty to have ANY freedom FROM government.  While Liberals love to say that conservatives are aghast that someone, somewhere, might be having fun, those watching Liberals see that they are aghast that someone, somewhere, might be outside of their absolute control and seeking to make a life for themselves free of government control.  That is why Big Brother is Everywhere.  You are to be enslaved by the State.

That is why Liberals who once disdained the power of the NSA to intercept overseas phone calls because it just might be one that would reveal information between two citizens, now yawn when an Administration they like wields that self-same power.  There is no stance that Liberals will not turn on, no moral they will uphold before they destroy it, and no sanctuary they will ever provide to allow you to live a free life.  Those in the Liberal elite, in the media and politics, cannot stand that ordinary citizens would ever speak out against government spending and taxation at Tea Parties.  They do not understand what Tea Parties actually are... the reassertion of civil venues of control to go after government at all levels.  The Liberal agenda only wants 'legitimate' organized protest, not real protest designed from the ground up.

Just as the excesses of culture in Rome led to people flocking to Christianity because it upheld virtues of chastity, kindness and your need to lead a good life outside of the mandates of government, we now see the exact, same cracks staring to appear in the Liberal Progressive edifice.  And as the weight and officiousness of government increases, the weaknesses along the cracks will be destabilizing.  Reorienting to Christianity came too late and was too large a leap for Roman culture in the West.  As Americans we have to worry that while our society just might recover, the collapse of this government edifice must come with the same view that Americans held at the time of the Founding:

The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflexion. Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by courtesy. Held together by an unexampled concurrence of sentiment, which, is nevertheless subject to change, and which, every secret enemy is endeavouring to dissolve. Our present condition, is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect Independance contending for dependance. The instance is without a precedent; the case never existed before; and who can tell what may be the event? The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things. The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion starts. Nothing is criminal; there is no such thing as treason; wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases. The Tories dared not have assembled offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn, between, English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.

Notwithstanding our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissensions. The Continental Belt is too loosely buckled. And if something is not done in time, it will be too late to do any thing, and we shall fall into a state, in which, neither RECONCILIATION nor INDEPENDANCE will be practicable. The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the Continent, and there are not wanting among us, Printers, who will be busy in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter which appeared a few months ago in two of the New York papers, and likewise in two others, is an evidence that there are men who want either judgment or honesty.

It is easy getting into holes and corners and talking of reconciliation: But do such men seriously consider, how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the Continent divide thereon. Do they take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein. Do they put themselves in the place of the sufferer whose ALL is ALREADY gone, and of the soldier, who hath quitted ALL for the defence of his country. If their ill judged moderation be suited to their own private situations only, regardless of others, the event will convince them, that "they are reckoning without their Host."

Put us, says some, on the footing we were on in sixty-three: To which I answer, the request is not now in the power of Britain to comply with, neither will she propose it; but if it were, and even should be granted, I ask, as a reasonable question, By what means is such a corrupt and faithless court to be kept to its engagements? Another parliament, nay, even the present, may hereafter repeal the obligation, on the pretense, of its being violently obtained, or unwisely granted; and in that case, Where is our redress?—No going to law with nations; cannon are the barristers of Crowns; and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit. To be on the footing of sixty-three, it is not sufficient, that the laws only be put on the same state, but, that our circumstances, likewise, be put on the same state; Our burnt and destroyed towns repaired or built up, our private losses made good, our public debts (contracted for defence) discharged; otherwise, we shall be millions worse than we were at that enviable period. Such a request, had it been complied with a year ago, would have won the heart and soul of the Continent—but now it is too late, "The Rubicon is passed."

Besides, the taking up arms, merely to enforce the repeal of a pecuniary law, seems as unwarrantable by the divine law, and as repugnant to human feelings, as the taking up arms to enforce obedience thereto. The object, on either side, doth not justify the means; for the lives of men are too valuable to be cast away on such trifles. It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: And the instant, in which such a mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independancy of America, should have been considered, as dating its aera from, and published by, THE FIRST MUSKET THAT WAS FIRED AGAINST HER. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.

-Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

Rollback is possible.

And being moderate will only get you enslaved and killed.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Revolution will be self-organized

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.

One push.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Straw, stuffing and notation

A lively look at the use of strawman-based arguments is going on at Hot Air and it is interesting to go through, if you can weed through it to get to some of the views on the use of argumentation style.  This started with a citation of a recent NYT article that actually points out the flimsy use of strawmen by President Obama.  Over at Powerline John Hinderaker begins the analysis of the President's anti-terror speech, as part of an overall analysis of it, in Part II in the series of articles on the dueling speeches of President Obama and Vice President Dick Cheney.  In Part III he then starts to examine some of the views presented by the President and sees if they are honest positions taken in reference to some actual problem or a dishonest presentation of them (and continued in-depth at Part IV).  Scott Johnson, also at Powerline, continues the review in this post, and examines how dishonest presentation of actual history is used to try and bolster non-existent political cases for policy.

Between these two things we see the differences between 'strawmen', which is an assertion of a viewpoint with no attribution to it, and something that I call stuffing or 're-packaging', which is the taking of honest policy and its reason for being and saying that it has no basis for being or that events have somehow indicated policy failure when, by examining actual events, the policy is a demonstrated success.

There is a third type of argumentation style that falls into similar headings, and it is meta-analysis  or 'tagging' or notation: the attempt to identify a block of individuals and put them into a singular category that you create and then mock or otherwise admonish based on the category title you have put on.  This latter is frequently as a positional basis for arguing that can also include strawmen and stuffing: caricature presentations of positions, dishonest historical analysis and then deriving a 'theme' from those that is then used against a swath of people so as to remove individuality of argument from that entire group and demonize the entire group as supporting that caricature and stuffed ahistorical review.


Each of these types of argumentative bases have legitimate counter-parts.

Consider in the realm of military analysis the inter-war years and the examination of the use of airpower in future conflicts.  Gen. Curtis LeMay was a leading proponent in the utility and capability of airpower in future engagements and was following the works of Giulioi Douhet that examined the issues prior to WWI and would start the works on strategic bombing in 1921.  Strategic bombing as a military tactic differed from sieges and assaults by artillery or other long distance attacks in two main venues:  1) deliverable ordinance load deep into enemy territory, and 2) accuracy.  By reaching beyond where conventional artillery could go, as it is based on ground units, air mobile delivery platforms offered a means and methodology to remove the sustained ability of a Nation to field an army by attacking its infrastructure base.

This form of theory is that of total war theory, which had been seen in previous eras to one extent or another, but was first practiced by General Tecumseh Sherman during the campaigns of 1862-63 which recognized the logic of emerging modern warfare: the ability of a Nation to field an army is based on its ability to sustain it.  Attacking an infrastructure of communications, re-supply routes and actual supply sources led to chaos and collapse of the Confederate economy and caused a marked decrease in the ability of the Confederacy to support its soldiers or even protect the internal components of the Confederacy itself.  That has gone on, in one form or another, since the dawn of mass warfare either in the burning of cropland (scorched earth policy) that the Gauls used against the Romans, or in the somewhat misnamed 'Siege of Troy' by the Achaean Greeks which was a multi-year campaign to denude Troy of its outer allies and easy supply lines overland to the Hittites, thus reducing the ability of the city to sustain itself.  All later war theory would recognize this formulation of strategic warfare and even when Grotius was drafting his works on war, peace and the seas, the restrictions on attacking purely civilian holdings that had NO strategic value was seen... anything that did have strategic value was a legitimate target in warfare.

Douhet, LeMay and other theorists like Capt. Basil Liddell-Hart, would examine the use of airpower as a potent mix within the concepts of limited and total war based on analysis of the directions seen in WWI and where they were headed.  What was not known, however, was what the consequences would be on civilian morale of such targeted areas.   The predictions, however, were dire and would postulate casualties and loss of morale that could not be achieved by the weapons of that time nor by the examination of past conflicts as no one had the capability to so destroy the infrastructure of a city that was not in direct contact or within bombardment range, of a conflict.  Unless you look at Troy which is only coming to terms in modern views and the view of it then being a multi-year actual siege with the city taken by trickery was current (and still is in most quarters).  Even that should have given the theorists pause as no actual attacks on the infrastructure of city had taken place, but its entire contact with the outside world and trading partners had been removed.  Thus by the then current view, it was a city in desperate straights that fought on for YEARS while under siege.  Still one cannot blame the theorists as it was 'speculation', and post-WWII analysis would claim many things 'obvious' that weren't when the original work had gone on.

How does this play out with 'strawmen'?  Well, WWII actually did put the the postulations to the test, and found theory wanting in many areas but not completely so.  If bombing of major cities and factory complexes in Germany did not create a situation of sudden German collapse (just as the Germans had been unable to do with Britain), what it did see is an incremental reduction in the ability to supply modern forces.  The equation that arrived of delivering massive destructive capability at low aggressor cost in manpower would play out successfully in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There the collapse of the government was a very near thing as the ruling military elite were very close to staging a coup if the Emperor surrendered, and that was a deal of minutes and hours and an extremely close call.  Using conventional weapons and forces, the US was planning a huge invasion of the Japanese main islands and expecting Okinawa and Iwo Jima proportional losses.  The Purple Hearts minted for that invasion have still, to this day, not been handed out even with conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and Afghanistan between 1945 and now. 

Thus if later historians deride the proponents of strategic air bombardment in the concept of total war, the originators can point to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as actual proof of their concepts.  Their hypothetical conclusions were backed, yes, but by scanty evidence: they had firm basis on the technical and military side, but little to none on the social side.  The effects of those hypothetical conclusions playing out and have been used in 'strawman' attacks against those who put forward their views.  Yet they had little actual evidence in any venue to help demonstrate the effects on larger populations of what they were talking about, and so you get projections that had assumptions built-into them of the ability of the general population in a city or Nation to hold up to such bombardment.  In a sense they were straw-propositions, not descriptions, as there was no hard and fast theory of strategic bombing and what its impact was.  Working from knowns they moved into unknowns, and if some postulations proved wrong (collapse of morale amongst the target population in conventional raids) they also proved very correct in their overall assessment of strategic airpower.  In looking towards the best possible outcomes, the analysis, itself, was faulty and the straw proposition, it was hoped, would never be put to the test.

Thus while the rose-colored expectations of airpower of the original theorists was misplaced, it had a basis in fact and within theory: they lacked the understanding of civilian population resilience while under attack in the modern era, indeed, all heads of State and governments had no good guiding light on that.  The horrific calculus of reduction in morale and ability to fight was one that required a shift in deliverable capability outside of normal expectations, but that, in turn, would have a large influence on governments.  For modern critics to miss the salient points of strategic airpower is disingenuous: the theory behind it was sound, as far as it could go on the knowns, and only failed in extrapolation into the unknowns as the social sciences then, as now, cannot tell how large, national populations will react to strategic use of airpower.  We now have markers to understand it: the Battle of Britain, the Battle for Stalingrad, the bombing of Dresden, the attack on ball bearing plants in Germany, the attacks on the dams of the Rhine, the bombing of the Ploesti oil fields, the firebombing of Tokyo and other cities, and the use of nuclear devices on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Only at the last was more than large scale air assault, where a single aircraft could destroy entire cities, did the internal domestic understanding fall into line with strategic airpower theory.  And that part was also a hypothetical before WWII.

Before the war only a few physicists understood that this was possible not only as a matter of physics theory, but as engineering, and they were at the highest point in the physics establishment and worried that the German technical and scientific communities would hit upon a successful combination just as they did in WWI with poison gas.  No one could know, with any certainty, that these postulation would prove correct.  Both were extrapolations with backing, neither had high predictive value, however, but had high descriptive value in examining past work and understanding the underlying social trends behind them.  Physics is a different realm from strategic airpower theory, since it is a description of the physical universe and based on experimental confirmation of hypotheses to put together an understood framework of how the universe manifests itself.  There are, by the way mathematics works, isolated pockets of information and facts that will be unattached to the greater framework, as was demonstrated by Kurt Gödel, but extensions to what we would come to call 'the standard model' of physics as a body of interlocking work examining the known parts that can be easily observed and understood are things that anyone can find out via experimentation. 

The physics was known before WWII, but the engineering was not understood, especially on nuclear fission.  Simple questions of types of atoms that can undergo fission and release decay particles to cause other unstable atoms to divide, the mass of material, its necessary density and even such things as timing of the reaction were all in the realm of engineering which is applied physics.  FDR could not ignore the hard physics as explained to him by Einstein and others, and recognized that pre-war Germany was a pre-eminent scientific and engineering power in the world and had the skills (even after driving Jewish scientists away or killing them), manpower and engineering skills to commence such a project.  There was no 'genie' to put back in the bottle as the necessary scientific understanding was one that could be checked out by any competent lab and all that was required was time, money, effort and understanding the physics of the problem.  The engineering necessary for this pointed to a very high state of work, however, which would be limited to a very few highly industrialized nations.  One could not say in 1939 that Germany would not have produced and tested a nuclear device: their industry and scientific establishment was well capable of that, and by then the 'genie' had already escaped as fission had already been demonstrated by Enrico Fermi.  Nuclear scientists soon found themselves at the forefront of nuclear engineering, however, which was a major change for them as they had to move from theory to application and understand the rest of the engineering work around the nuclear part to create such a device.  The predictions were clear due to understanding of wartime needs, the German scientific establishment and the industrial capacity of Germany.

That latter part, however, could not be observed due to the war that had started, and no one could imagine that Germany would inefficiently use its industrial power.  Yet that is exactly what happened, as multiple design bureaus would compete with different designs (post-1941) in aircraft once they understood the suite of aircraft made before the war was going to be supplanted and surpassed during it.  Taking a very few years off on jet aircraft design would prove disastrous, as would concentration on heavier tanks instead of more mobile ones.  Running industry from Government is highly inefficient, and that was demonstrated by Germany having come very, very close to many revolutionary designs only by post-war analysis.  There the societal changes due to National Socialism were not understood nor were the basics of government inefficiency taken into account: both were areas of very low research in the social sciences then and now, and only economics having started to peek into the latter in a serious way post-war.  If the physics cohort that lobbied FDR was wrong in their understanding of German use of industrial capacity, then so were all the leaders of the Allied powers.  What was presented was a 'worst case scenario' that was within the realm of the believable... just like the strategic airpower theorists did.  Little did these two disparate communities come to realize that, together, they had formulated a new area of strategic nuclear weapons theory, which has its own untested conclusions and theories.

In the final analysis the extreme predictions of both strategic airpower theorists AND a handful of leading physicists proved correct.  Their postulations on future conditions were into an unknown but highly reasonable extrapolation of the known, and pure speculation when there was no data to back any conclusion.  As there is no absolute predictive capability in detail or even gross overview of the future, we are left with those who can demonstrate a firm basis of understanding of the present and then look to those trends in the future for understanding what the threats are in the modern world.  Such extrapolations run the gamut from the fantastical (as seen in cinematic presentations) all the way down to the extremely and chillingly indicative like War Plan Orange created before WWII and describing a possible future conflict with Japan.  There are differences in strawmen and postulations, then, between those of caricature of opponents or opposition arguments, and those of postulating future events based on past ones and our understanding of them.  Ones based on known facts and how they work together become hypothetical forecasts, and those used to describe past activities to partisan gain with no backing are an attempt to seek a demonization of those who are getting a strawman put in front of them.  Both can be blown away with factual review: not all strawmen put forward in hypotheses prove correct, in fact most don't, but they serve as points of clarification; and those trying to describe past action and impute impure or poorly based motives when those were clearly stated at the time and accepted are attacking an unsupported figure with no backing at all.  The strawman hypothesis ('If X is true then does Y follow it based on how we understand X and Y?') runs many of the same risks of the caricature strawman used against political opponents: they can support unsustainable work, as Lysenkoism did in the USSR,  leading to ill-based, ill-conceived and un-backed experimentation.  In science even a basically right hypothesis, such as that of plate tectonics, can be deemed wrong when it is not backed by sufficient data or examination of the effects of the postulation.  That is no help to the scientist who loses his scientific reputation, but points to the need for well considered and reasoned points backed by data.

Politically, describing a caricature position without then backing it up to demonstrate a wider venue of thought, is dishonest as it attempts to conjoin separate ideas that the backers of such would not conjoin due to rationale and reason for coming to such conclusions in the first place.  To create a one sentence straw argument, and then bash it down is dishonest in the extreme: later war historians and those wishing to distort history (like that of strategic airpower and total war) utilize emotional content and glib, biased verbiage to portray something that is reasonable and rational and comes at the end of a long chain of understood and accepted reasoning as something that starts out as a disingenuous idea when those that were doing such work had no actual spite or mean-spirit in their work.  Doing such in a biased way and offering no positives to such policies nor their reasoning and rationale behind them is a debasement of human argumentative capability and the ability to demonstrate that you can actually reason through an opponents argument and find problems with the way it is argued so as to come to such conclusions WITHOUT imputing poor moral character, dishonest presentation or other reasons outside of the argument itself.  Machiavelli is often misunderstood in his reasoning and rationale for coming to conclusions, and yet they fit fully within the basis of society of his era and show a deeper understanding of human psychological motivations than can be demonstrated today by political scientists: that is why reading his works as 'classics' still compel readers to this day as he offers insight into human nature and how that drives individuals and Nations.  Any Prince, any leader of a Nation, has certain duties and objectives that they must carry out, and Machiavelli applied reason to those and sought the best way possible for a Prince or any other leader to understand why they must carry those out and what was the best way to do so.  The nature of man and the nature of what we can create in this realm has not changed, thus Machiavelli retains a timeless quality about what those natures are, while those putting up strawman seek purely temporal and temporary advantage.


If one is to examine an opponent or their line and methodology of reasoning and its backing, then it is incumbent upon the presenter to do a formal standing up of the case and not put up a glib strawman.  In looking at the works of Oswald Spengler, I examined just how he did that and why his reasoning is deeply moving: he identified larger basis for political and social movements and how those play out over time.  By describing how the human condition drives forms of political and social thought, Mr. Spengler comes to examine outcomes based on such movements and how they use their interior rationale for being to get to such ends.  He does take a clearly biased position, he makes no bones about it, but one arrived at by his own analyses and he does not stint on trying to flesh out political and social movements that he finds abhorrent or misguided.  One can disagree with his rationale and reasoning based on those argumentative points, but no one can say that he is dishonestly presenting a case.  One may not like the tenor or tone of his presentations, they are forceful in the extreme, but he gives a foundation of his understanding, demonstrates it and then looks at those who do not use that set of ideas and sees where they end up due to those differences.

A taste of how that looks from Spengler in Readings from: The Decline of the West and The Hour of Decision (Source: Radical Nationalism in Australia) and I will boldface interesting passages:

Man is a beast of prey. [5] I shall say it again and again. All the would-be moralists and social-ethics people who claim or hope to be "beyond all that" are only beasts of prey with their teeth broken, who hate others on account of the attacks which they themselves are wise enough to avoid. Only look at them. They are too weak to read a book on war, but they herd together in the street to see an accident, letting the blood and the screams play on their nerves. And if even that is too much for them, they enjoy it on the film and in the illustrated papers. If I call man a beast of prey, which do I insult: man or beast? For remember, the larger beasts of prey are noble creatures, perfect of their kind, and without the hypocrisy of human moral due to weakness.

They shout: "No more war" - but they desire class war. They are indignant when a murderer is executed for a crime of passion, but they feel a secret pleasure in hearing of the murder of a political opponent. What objection have they ever raised to the Bolshevist slaughters? There is no getting away from it: conflict is the original fact of life, is life itself, and not the most pitiful pacifist is able entirely to uproot the pleasure it gives his inmost soul. Theoretically, at least, he would like to fight and destroy all opponents of pacifism.

The further we advance into the Caesarism of the Faustian world, the more clearly will it emerge who is destined ethically to be the subject and who the object of historical events. The dreary train of world-improvers has now come to an end of its amble through these centuries, leaving behind it, as sole monument of its existence, mountains of printed paper. The Caesars will now take its place. High policy, the art of the possible, will again enter upon its eternal heritage, free from all systems and theories, itself the judge of the facts by which it rules, and gripping the world between its knees like a good horseman.

This being so, I have only to show here the historical position in which Germany and the world now stand and how this position is the inevitable outcome of the history of past centuries, and will just as inevitably pass on to certain forms and solutions. That is Destiny. We may deny it, but in so doing we deny ourselves.

Even though this is an examination of the political atmosphere of Germany heading into WWII, the reasoning works as well with any movement that tries to deny that man comes from Nature and what the nature of man actually is. 

This view of Spengler's is not one that sits outside the mainstream of thought on political movements or, indeed, Nations, and was actually seen as something so contrary to survival of Nations that in the Law of Nations (1758) by Emmerich de Vattel in Book III about such movements:

§ 3. Right of making war.(136)

In treating of the right to security (Book II. Chap. IV.), we have shown that nature gives men a right to employ force, when it is necessary for their defence, and for the preservation of their rights. This principle is generally acknowledged: reason demonstrates it; and nature herself has engraved it on the heart of man. Some fanatics indeed, taking in a literal sense the moderation recommended in the gospel, have adopted the strange fancy of suffering themselves to be massacred or plundered, rather than oppose force to violence. But we need not fear that this error will make any great progress. The generality of mankind will, of themselves, guard against its contagion — happy, if they as well knew how to keep within the just bounds which nature has set to a right that is granted only through necessity! To mark those just bounds, — and, by the rules of justice, equity, and humanity, to moderate the exercise of that harsh, though too often necessary right — is the intention of this third book.

Oswald Spengler goes further than de Vattel does, due to differences in the nature of their work, but warning that not only is this view of pacifism (or any other system denying the nature of man) fanatical, but that it is on the move against society and his Nation.  Socialism, like all 'perfect' forms of society only gets to that 'perfection' once it extinguishes all other forms of social interaction and becomes monolithic.  It does not matter if that is National Socialism, which is Fascism, or International Socialism, which is Communism: both are fanatical forms of socialism a political theory that, itself, sees only socialism at the end of all discoveries when we can know no more, have no boundaries to expand and, indeed, must divvy up the universe into guided portions to survive as there is no way to make more of the universe.  To that end all pacifist theorems come to a similar end so that any action taken by any Nation to assert the freedom and liberty of the Nation, that highest of organizing powers we create, is eroded and must become subservient to the elitist, perfect view of the world and mankind.  The greatest 'pacifist' will kill to make their 'perfect world' and leave a bloody trail behind them no matter how much they disavow war, they will kill to get it put in place over their fellow man because that is the 'greatest good'.  Just don't mind the corpses of those who disagree.

You may not agree with the basis of the argument, but it is a coherent one using reason and association of valuations and then applying it to those who seek fanatical, perfect world ends.  No matter who chants they are trying to make 'a more perfect Union' under this guise, they are pushing for full, perfect authority to dictate a new moral and social order without respect to society as a whole.  The guidance of perfecting our Union is to make ourselves, as individuals, more in harmony with each other and not to falsely misrepresent other individuals and then dehumanize them by applying a broad-based political tag or notation to them.  That view is divisive and asserts that people are just the sum of their tags, and if you could only properly tag everything they do then you would have the definition of who they are.


Unfortunately the tags never seem to run out, and those seeking to divide society against itself to enforce a perfect order upon society soon find themselves falling into categories that they don't like.  And when the shift becomes Orwellian, to actually move the meaning of words around to their opposites or obverse meanings, then the categories, themselves, become a means to so attack those who were once mere politically opposed as becoming a moral danger to the ones doing the tagging and changing of meanings.  As the attempt is to squeeze more and more people into categories they don't have agreement with, the fanatics find more resistance internally and become more open to attack externally.  By trying to 'protect the Earth' or the 'environment' and shutting down productive means to utilize both and ensure the common good, we are to disarm in front of Nature to become 'more in tune' with Nature... and the Law of Nature, red of tooth and claw becomes the new social order because that is how Nature is under the Law of Nature and Nature's God.  We must live with that.  We must not believe as did King Canute that we can REPEAL them.

Tagging is a form of notation, of course, and so is all of language as we need the representational ability to talk about things that have far deeper meaning than we can ever say.  A tree is not just a plant, or one that makes wood, or that grows in a forest, although all of those are possible.  Trees grow roots in the soil and thus have symbology of greater actions for individuals, and yet that is not fully the description of a tree, itself.  Nor is the shade that it offers in summer a full notation or tagging of it.  Nor its steadfastness in winter and against storms.  Nor is the roughness or smoothness of its bark added in fully a description of a tree.  It is all those things to us and so much more and is not, still, fully, any individual tree.  Our use of the notations we apply to a tree to denote these things is near infinite in expanse, and limited only by our Earthly selves and our perceptions. 

Yet a tree is a part of Nature and the Law of Nature, and while a tree not that red of tooth and claw, it does render us many things and we can appreciate it in many ways, both when alive and when cut down and dead.  That tree has value beyond price, and yet we can value it in just that way for its utility to us beyond those things that is part of its make-up, yet it also has a price valuation as trees have such high utility value to us as individuals and as a society for building and doing other liberty enhancing activities.  Because we can think and we can put a valuation, both price and non-price, and balance them, we can make decisions that cannot be made in Nature.  If we breed trees to serve a particular purpose, to grow faster and harder, say, for the express purpose of building materials, then the innate valuation, while no less different, becomes one put to purpose and use.  And if we worry about how we will impact other species on the planet, we can also recognize that the planet, itself, plays no favorites in what species live and die over time: it is even handed in what it administers and survival is based on factors not immediately apparent before it does so.  Nature is unthinking, and we are at its mercy as beings of Nature and only by rational examination of our actions and utilizing our liberty can we seek to create more from Nature than is provided by her.  To worship a tree as a tree is fanatical, to recognize its many characteristics, weigh them, balance them and see how any single tree fits within a wider context is to use reason and rational thought that in no way diminishes the stature of the tree, itself, but puts it into the context of multiple competing needs and seeks to find a sufficient outcome to those needs that still preserves the larger valuation of all trees while allowing society to still make use of them for purposes of liberty and social need.

When notation is added to individuals to try and separate them by class, by religion, by ethnicity, we are then assumed to have the characteristics placed upon those categories by those doing the categorizing.  Thus the rich are always snobs, say, or those in the Roman Catholic Church are Papists, or all Polacks are dumb (thus Dumb Polska), but those assumptions are, themselves, extremely broad-based and not distinguishing of the differences amongst individuals within a category.  Thus to be authoritarian is to put a descriptive tag or notation on a broad group of individuals that can have a wide variation within that group.  Roman Catholics follow the Pope for their religious views but may not actually believe the Pope is best set up to govern the planet.  In fact, quite a large percentage of people in Europe died fighting over just that qualification: that one individual was endowed to decide who was and was not a legitimate ruler of their lands in Christendom.  Although the Roman Catholic Church did not sign up to the Treaty of Westphalia, the Treaty covered those that had been in the 30 Years War that was fought over the point of religious freedom within Nations.  It is interesting that when a Pope from Poland or Germany is put in charge of the Church those individuals are STILL under the proscriptions of Westphalia... the once active renunciation of the Church would need to be re-iterated for each Pope put in power who comes from lands provided for under Westphalia as it is an eternal treaty between the warring factions and their faiths.

Our heritage provides for a different and, indeed, radical way of doing things as compared to the ancient uses of biased views depending on religion, ethnicity and politics:  judging people solely on their actions.

If one is looking to be 'fair' and utilize biases in culture, religion, ethnicity and such, then 'fairness' is an ever changing set of winds as guided by an elite group determining who one must be 'fair' to and who you can actively castigate via category.  It is an unhinged system that leads to ongoing warfare, factionalism and a slow degrading of civil society to one of harsh tribalism as 'fairness' becomes something that is only associated with given labels and utilized to break up society into those 'preferred' by the elite and those who are not.  To do this strawmen, stuffing and notation are used to put false representations of actions by individuals forward as what is actually happening.  Ad hoc or catch-all reasoning that puts a series of arguments down without connecting them those are pushed into the strawman and then those imputed to having supported those things is done in an attempt to then utilize negative connotations against them so as to silence them.  The disingenuous strawman serves as the basis for demonization via that methodology of placing negative connotations to the strawman that have no basis in fact.

At no point is judgment on the actual actions and rationale behind them examined because to do so requires an honest commitment to examining just what the actions were, their context and their basis for being, both in how they were done and why they were done via the means they were done. Applying a caricature, then, is an attempt to unmoor happenings from history and from the succession of events over time: to try and make a happening to be something done for just one cause when all of history points the opposite direction of multiple causation.  That level of dishonesty is horrific as it is not only destructive to our understanding of history, and attempts to make individual acts as not proceeding from previous ones, but it then puts fanatical application of ideology to single events and attempts to demean those using historical reasoning as being the ones that are a problem.


That is what we see, today, as those who opposed one politician running for office were deemed 'racist' even when race was not brought up by them as a set of reasons they opposed that politician.  Indeed, it was that politician who appealed via 'the race card' time and again to deflect legitimate criticism of his lack of experience, lack of character (his own great defining point during the campaign!), lack of political comprehension and a number of ties to crooked and criminal individuals who have gotten gain from politics due to such political corruption as seen in his environment.  To bring up those salient points was to be categorized as racist, even when none of those views has any connection to any race: anyone who has such political problems would have similar problems answering them, save for 'the race card'.  Once in place the deficits in character, lack of understanding of the greater culture, lack of contacts outside the small coterie of friends from a limited political environment, and general lack of ability to even reason through the Constitution in good faith have become apparent.

Yet to point those out is, somehow, 'trying to tear down the Nation' or based purely on political grounds, while NONE OF THOSE are based on political grounds, save for the lack of understanding OF politics by that politician.  Living in a hothouse of ideas means that when you go outside and are exposed to the general environment, the first ill-wind is likely to topple you.  Not great for a young tree, but a small loss.  For a Nation to have such a leader in the highest executive office means that the entire Nation is at peril due to the problems of that individual coming to the forefront as brought out by those who are not affected by any 'card'.  The 'race card' doesn't work against tyrants, dictators and despots: they despise all who are not in their ruling class without exception.  Nor does the 'compelling story card' mean something to those who are leaders of Nations as you are expected to be a leader from the moment you ENTER office.  Nor does the 'peace through disarmament card' do anything but encourage those that hate us to test us and seek out our weaknesses to strike at us as unbacked peace is a weakness and a supreme one.

And to continue playing 'cards' inside the Nation builds a house of cards.  Soon you find that one or two 'cards' divide the house and it will not stand.  As politics leaves unchecked power roaming in the capitol, it is grabbed by more and more 'Czars' who have no backing, no support, no check, no balance, only personal fealty to the President.  That is not how a Republic is run.  As the days pile up, so do the 'cards'.  The rumbling that is heard is not just the debt load of a misguided President trying to make government the supreme benefactor to all.

It is the foundation of Liberty shifting.

Soon one card will shift just slightly.

Then we will be back to Thomas Paine, and in need of Common Sense.