Remembering Memorial Day

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Image credit: history.com

People are capable of only recalling and mediating on so many things in any given day.  So, the chances of a population going through the same level and focus of recall and remembrance is especially rare and improbable.  Perhaps, people from ancient times developed holidays to not let an entire culture forget certain key aspects of itself and, in this way, to help it keep going.

The purpose of holidays, therefore, is to have a cultural body purposefully remember a single fact, notion, or event that that people does not wish to forget.  It is a very future-oriented tradition; for the creators of a holiday wish that generations of people yet born would one day know what the present generation knows.  In this sense a holiday is almost a natural time machine or time capsule, transmitting thoughts and feelings from one culture and time period to another.  It also acts a method to preserve culture between the two generations: the one that is present, and “real,” and the one that is future, and “not real” – the time here and the time to come.

So, what is the meaning of this holiday?  I don’t wish to conjure up false feelings of grief or remorse – especially when such a feeling is unnecessary.  As a student of grief, in both theory and practice, I fully acknowledge and preach that one is not supposed to suppress nor manufacture feelings associated with the grieving process.  (For example, tears may not be the best thing for you personally to experience, or it may be for you but right now is a bad time!)  So, is the purpose of Memorial Day – today’s holiday – supposed to evict in us observing American citizens feelings of self-condemnation or pain?  No.  It is a day that is meant to meaningfully, however that might be, and collectively not forget the people who have died: died in the line of duty, died (in this nation’s case) not just for a country – for America is more than a country – but for ideals, principles, and freedom.

I give thanks for the men and women brave enough to, in effect, give their very own lives for me – trading their potentials for mine.  They fought – and not in vain! – for me to tap into my God-given potential in a society that is free enough for me to discover my potential and eventually to execute it in a moral and civilly responsible way, paying tribute to God, my family, and my country.

The civil society needs days of remembrance; for without them, we risk losing our touch with the community – not just of space, but of time.

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Trump-Clinton Debate: Final Chapter

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It is to the relief of many Americans that the final debate is finally over.  Partially, because it means that we are mere weeks away from this whole election cycle being over.  And partially because large swaths of us have grown weary of hearing these two adults fight with each other on stage more immaturely than we do with our co-workers.  If this is the best that our Republic has to offer us, then, boy, do we need a revival indeed!

The Moderator

The debate was moderated by Chris Wallace, who came off as demeaning and chiding in how he told the audience to not say a word during the whole televised event.  …It makes one wonder if an audience is needed if their feedback (like in a play or a TV show) is shut down and apparently not needed.  Why not have the candidates behind a glass wall, or why not pipe the broadcast into another room?  If the people’s presence is unnecessary, then take them out of the equation – it’ll make your job a lot easier, Chris Wallace.

The Candidates

As for Trump and Hillary: they have wrapped a hose around each other so thoroughly up to this debate and during that I think they both lost and people are still wondering what to do on Nov. 8th.  Hillary’s greatest attacks were Trump’s recent and alleged victims of sexual assault (best for last by the Democratic campaign); and Trump’s greatest advantage were the recent WikiLeaks exposing Clinton’s infiltration of Trump rallies causing assaults and hurt bodies (a very timely dump by powers abroad interested, presumably, in Hillary’s defeat).  I hope that the real and honest truth emerges and is embraced by the American people before Election Day arrives.  Let facts be facts and truths be truths, and let the country have the best option for its survival.  These are two bad candidates, and Americans want a third candidate – but even that option seems unpalatable.

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Overall Impression

All three personalities came off as rather smug to me.  Hillary’s overtures and cackling were too rehearsed and annoying.  When Trump would be attacked by his counterpart, his demeanor would tend to tense up even more than where it was to begin with and then relax after a few seconds back to its staid, steely-eyed state.  The third debate is usually the culmination of years’ worth of research and self-analysis; so, what you see there is usually the best version of each candidate that he/she desires.  A lot of work has been put into tonight, and I think that you got the best performance of each in a debate setting: Hillary with her bobbing head, and Trump with his squinting eyes.  She didn’t have a seizure, and he wasn’t unrestrained.

As far as the appearance of being more substantive (they both could have done better in this regard), the former Obama staffer spat out the names of more topics than Trump did, although he was good at the rhetorical flourishes which most politicians yearn to master.  We yearn for both rhetorical prowess and cold hard facts in a debate, speech, or TV interview.  You can’t have just one or the other and win an election and advance a worthy movement.  (Reagan understood this and was gifted in both.)  Like a typical statist, all the wife of the impeached pervert had was rhetoric, because her record (which is worsening) is horrible.  She even cited the unpopular and forced Obamacare as a great healthcare system because it props up another healthcare system – both of which are state-run and both of which are going under.

I do think that Trump came off as strong, but I’m concerned that he might have come off as too strong or arrogant.  And, honestly, juxtaposed to her, I don’t think that he came off as really too differently than she.  At several points, all three – the Democrat, the Republican, and the moderator – all talked over each other.  I think the interjectory one-liners from Trump during Hillary’s time where sometimes funny but mostly unnecessary and will probably be used as political fodder by his Leftist opponents, whereas Hillary’s self-willed and long extensions of her time were always obnoxious and probably didn’t help her at all.

All in all, we’ll have to see what the polls say after this debate to see who “won the hearts of many,” because from what I see neither the Donald nor the long time political fixer successfully painted the other as terrifically worse than oneself – which is unfortunate for both parties and unfortunate for America.

Specific Points of Interest

Donald Trump used the word constitution repeatedly in response to what caliber of justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court if elected and argued pretty well, I thought, that that sacred document ought to be interpreted as the Framers originally intended it to be interpreted.  Hillary Clinton basically wants to put as many court justices who are liberal in the third branch of civil government and that, as Antonin Scalia ardently warned and taught, is a bad thing for the constitution and a free republic.  Conservatives see that any form of government, whether it is called “America” or not, when put in the hands of a relative few is tyranny and freedom, and the blessings thereof, die.

Clinton stated that “33,000” human beings in America die a year due solely to gun violence.  She said that closing “gun show loopholes” will fix that.  How many deaths in America in the last year were caused by any gun purchased via said “loopholes”?  33,000 of them?  Look, she, like any good statist, wants power over the individual human being, not his safety.  Look at the utter loss of humanity in Democrat-controlled metropolitan areas in America with the most severe gun restrictions?  Is it just the good intentions that matter in that case?  The violence is caused by Democrats.  How about Obamacare degrading our once-best healthcare system in the world?  Is this, another Democrat plan, not causing more deaths in American families than if Americans were just left alone by the federal government?

Finally, how about Benghazi and the rise of the murderous ISIS in Iraq and all over the Middle East over which she, as Secretary of State under Obama, presided?  She and the Left are really for life after birth.  Aren’t they.  She feels nothing for the poor and cares nothing for “the little guy.”

Trump took a stand against partial birth abortion – aborting a fetus up to the day of delivery – whereas Clinton took a stand for Planned Parenthood which actively targets today black children in black neighborhoods.  She also lied, saying that partial birth abortion does not extend as late into the pregnancy as it does, referring to truth as “scare rhetoric.”  (Hey, if the federal government wants to stick its nose in that business, then we have to fight back hard and at least discuss it.  And if we are only free to talk about liberal policies so long as it goes only in a particular direction, then we are talking about a totalitarian state, then, aren’t we?)

The pro-life movement needs a leader to discuss not just the value of life within a mother’s womb but also outside of it and how real, constitutional conservatism, with its emphasis on life and morals and the civil society, is a much clearer alternative than “one more government program,” “one more government program,” “one more tax increase,” one more tax increase,” “you have no idea…it’s really going to work this time!”  Trump did more on the pro-life matter than I thought he might, but we still have a long way to go to get the whole message out there.  Life extends from the womb to the tomb, and our government, which is ruled by political masterminds who are temporary yet whose power is forever, needs to have minimal involvement all in all.

The illegal immigration issue is a big mess.  Clinton said that her “open borders” comment was really about “energy,” but the comment was “open trade AND open borders.”  Trump was able to pin her down on that comment, pointing out how fast she swiveled from talking about her wanting no borders to how evil Vladimir Putin is.

The U.S. federal government is constantly at war with the private sector – that is, you and me.  If it doesn’t come from them, then they don’t like it!  The EPA and the cumbersome IRS – as well as other burdensome regulatory agencies within the government – are bigger stumbling blocks to American capitalism and financial prowess and than any foreign power or company, period.  Unleash the American economy; let foreign trade be free.  This is not something that the Great Trump understands or cares to understand.  In other words, he’s wrong.  Taking up a Bernie Sanders position on the legal border will not make America great again.  And his attacks on Ronnie were a bit…odd and uncouth.  I hope he wins, but…really?

The Clinton Foundation is another point brought up, which Trump bantered with but didn’t really bring it home like I have witnessed other personalities do.  The money that the Clintons have stolen from impoverished Haitians and sincere American citizens is disgusting and, again, speaks to the lie that the Democrat candidate just oh so much cares for women and children.  Women and children overseas and women and children here.  Women and children everywhere.  But her actions speak louder than words.  Unfortunately for Trump, his words speak louder than words; and Haitians or no Haitians, his comments from the past still haunt him and damage us as a party and as a movement.

I want Trump to win, because I don’t want America to loose.  And this nuke deal with Iran and amping up of statism to 11 will put up a higher wall than ever for conservatives to surmount if he looses.  Should he win, we don’t exactly have an easy feat either.

Thank God that that debate is over; but, boy, do we have some work to do!


Image source:

http://www.voanews.com/a/clinton-trump-final-debate/3558044.html.

Freeing the People from a Federal Tyranny

Solutions, solutions.  This series of posts is all about solutions, and not just about what big government (the executive, legislative, and judicial) is doing to the citizen.  Basically, the Framers of our Constitution foresaw this day and time and built something into the Constitution to stop it!  And it is called the Article V convention of the States.

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The U.S. Constitution, the framework for our federal system, offers two legal and legitimate ways of amending that document in times like these.  Only one way has been used so far…  The other, proposing and ratifying amendments through the States only, beckons our use.

First off, the traditional amendment process involves approval of an amendment by 2/3 of both Houses of Congress and ratification (the making-legit-function) of 3/4 of the several States.  This mode of applying amendments to our great document of the United States has only been used 27 times since the Constitution’s own ratification in 1787.  That is the “traditional” way, because it is the only way that it has been successfully done to date.

Now, an “Article V convention of the States,” is another way to legitimately and legally amend our great Constitution but with one important difference – it is done without the federal government’s involvement whatsoever.  This is a dream for those of us who love our country and our individual liberties but see the federal government as a threat rather than as a solution to regaining those fundamental liberties.  This process involves 2/3 of the States’ legislatures (their “mini-congresses”) to propose whatever set of amendments they like and, then, offer it up to the rest of the Union to ratify (3/4 of the States is what is needed).

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Two methods exist to amend our country’s Constitution: the “traditional” way, involving the federal Congress, and a Convention of States, a method that still remains to be used.

A lot of fractions!  But it’s liberty!

2/3 needs to bring them up for debate, and then 3/4 is what is required to ratify them and make them legit.  Now does this sound like tyranny to you? – a central Leviathan consuming the value and dignity of the individual?  That’s what centralized, top-down, authoritarian, Washington-centric, Obamaism is about!  But this 2/3 here and 3/4 over there is what helps ensure that these augmentations to the federal Constitution are actually coming from the people of the United States, and if Congress will not propose amendments that the people want, then it is up to the States to offer them and, then, to ratify them.  The latter process of ratification may not be perfect, but letting an out-of-control Congress propose amendments to limit itself I don’t think is going to happen any time soon.  So, it’s the most perfect (and, perhaps, the last civil) option we do have.

How does this process work?  Who can be involved?  How can we get it underway?

An all-powerful tsunami of federal supremacy over the citizen is what will prevail if the good people of this nation stand idly by and do nothing.  This is the “something” that We the People can do while those words still have meaning!  This state convention, legal process is what is needed to put a belt on the bloated federal system (the executive, the legislative, and the judicial) before they put too many constraints on us!

May we not be among those who stare tyranny in the face yet prefer “lamentation to the hard work of purposeful action.”[1]

May we be among those who prefer action instead of tyranny.[2]

[Next blog: How to Effectively Place Term Limits on Congress]


Sources:

[1] Levin, Mark R. The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. [Page 17]

[2] http://www.cosaction.com/about. [Accessed January 22, 2016]

Image credit:

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

 

Do You Honestly Think Conservatives Want No Gov’t & No Taxes? (Part 2)

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard professors or our overseers in the media say things like: “Conservatives just want no laws and no taxes,” which is absurd if you look at how ardently conservatives fight to bring the majority of our decision-making back down to the local level – which has everything to do with law and order!  In this post I tackle the second axis to that propaganda – that conservatives want no taxes, whatsoever, not a dime!

In a debate, if you are losing an argument legitimately, you can “win” it illegitimately by putting words in your opponent’s mouth – a strategy also known as the “straw man fallacy.”

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Big government specialists want you to think that their staying in power and the system being evermore layered and complicated are essential in order for you to find fulfillment in your life.  But this is not true.  The absurdity of the tax code is so out there, that they need to resort to these tactics in order to keep you in fear of you gaining a little bit of your life and liberty back.

Here is an example: when the little nation called “America” was first established on July 4th 1776, what was comparable to a federal government back then was not even strong enough to enforce the collecting of taxes.[1]  Compare that with today, where Americans – that is, you and me – strive to comply with 74,608 pages of a federal tax code that no one can comprehend.  Yet we are accountable to every page of that matter.  It’s like a Rubik’s Cube that never gets solved but only more complicated.

Federal income tax: nobody ain't got no time for that!

The federal tax law keeps increasing and becoming more complex.

As the National Taxpayer Advocate reported in 2012, “[I]t takes U.S. taxpayers (both individuals and businesses) more than 6.1 billion hours to complete filings required by a tax code that contains almost four million words and that, on average, has more than one new provision added to it daily.” [emphasis added]

Now, is this a system that we want for our posterity?  For our kids, our grandkids, and so on?

This has to stop!  But how?

We need a replacement tax.  Not an add-on tax like the VAT tax which they have implemented in Europe which taxes every single level of production on top of every other tax that they have in those countries.  No, we want a simple, fairer, flat tax that satiates the needs of the government without breaking the back of the citizenry.   This is how it works:

Version 1: the FairTax

The FairTax is a replacement tax that essentially does away with the IRS, the nearly 4 million word tax code, and personal taxes – as well as corporate income taxes, capital gains taxes, the death tax, gift tax, alternative minimum tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and self-employment tax – and puts in their stead a solid, stable, and clearly seen sales tax of 23% at the checkout line for any brand new good or service.  That’s it.  No filing (personal) tax returns.[2]  No scary auditor guy.  No April 15!

This is music to Americans’ ears.  (Except for those of the political class of our society.)

In addition to the evaporation of 6.1 billion hours a year wasted on complying with a tax code that nobody can understand, the FairTax reform gives a prebate at the beginning of every month (hence “pre-,” not rebate at the end of the month) to every citizen of the United States.  Now, you have to be a citizen of the U.S. to get one, but that’s it – no other qualifications necessary.  So, if you have a social security number, which we all do, then you get money.

To clarify, this monthly prebate is a monthly check that covers all the taxes on purchases made up to the poverty level.  (The Department of Health & Human Services [HHS] makes these decisions anyway as to who is considered poor and who is not.  So we would be using their measurement under the FairTax – might as well.)  This poverty level is what one can call the “necessities of life” or basic food and medicine.  So, 23% of said level is given back to the people after this reform.  Put another way, the poor would be totally untaxed by the federal government.  Imagine what you could do with your monthly prebate given you are among those of us who would not need it for the “necessities of life.”  Save?  Give?  Invest?

Also, the underground economy would take a hit under the FairTax.  Since gangsters and criminals playing Grand Theft Auto in real life can’t evade paying for a new Mercedes or designer clothing (not to mention medicine and food!), every time they go to purchase just one of these items they are paying federal taxes – first time, probably some of them, in years!  Imagine an economy that is fueled by newer revenues and one that exists alongside a shrinking, illegitimate economy as well.  Something U.S. citizen and foreigner can enjoy.

[Since the prebate applies only to U.S. citizens, the FairTax would also act as a legal and fiscal wall along our nation’s borders – making it, thus, less tolerable to be an illegal alien in America.  The prebate would not work for them.]

Version 2: the Flat Tax

Like the FairTax, a flat tax is an even tax rate across the board.  The millionaire and those struggling to get by pay the same rate under this system.  Notice that the rate does not change but the millionaire always pays more than those who are less fortunate.  Taxation becomes less about soaking the rich and more about making it easier for poorer citizens to climb the economic ladder of success.  The rich ought not to be penalized for being rich in a free country – a country that encourages people to climb that ladder of success and economic opportunity.  That is where freedom is.  That is where prosperity is!

No, instead, this current system knocks you down before you even try.

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But unlike the FairTax, a system oriented around an individual’s spending, a flat tax is placed on the income side of the equation.  But unlike our present-day federal income tax code, this tax plan actually makes sense.  In fact, Steve Forbes argued that it can fit on a postcard it is so simple and stress-free – which has been so in the countries where it has been proposed and adopted.

The flat tax

The flat tax “postcard” verses the 4 million-word goliath income tax code of today. You decide.

Flat tax rates, you will find, are normally low so that they will not be burdensome to the poorest in the country.

Thus, there are well-reasoned solutions to this ever-increasing federal leviathan which lurks over the individual in day-to-day life, but one solution that you will never hear cross a conservative’s lips is anarchyNever!


Notes:

1. They had to amend that system – the Articles of Confederation – and replace it with the United States Constitution which was at least strong enough to do that.

2. Being obsolete, personal tax returns under the FairTax would be a thing of the past, making the filing of tax returns in general shrink by 90%!  Who could be against such a plan?

Books:

Boortz, Neal and Congressman John Linder. FairTax: The Truth – Answering the Critics. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. [pages 110-7]

Forbes, Steve. Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS.  Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2005.

Levin, Mark. The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic. New York: Threshold Editions, 2013. [pages 73-97]

Relevant site:

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/how-many-words-are-tax-code

Image credit (unless stated elsewhere or unsearchable):

Flat Tax Revolution cover: amazon.com

Do You Honestly Think Conservatives Want No Gov’t & No Taxes? (Part 1)

Conservatives are often accused of wanting anarchy by their Statist friends.  There is a fine line between anarchy and authoritarianism.  We conservatives want to build upon history a society of ordered liberty.  This is not insanity, chaos or disorder.  It’s freedom – freedom and the rule of law.

We actually see how tyranny turns into chaos in that the “rule of law” becomes simply whatever the President governs.  The rule of law is a person and not a system of checks and balances which is predictable, stable, and secure.  In other words, the rule of law is a thing of the past; it is memory which grows more and more distant as time goes on.

President Obama took the unconstitutional health care law which he passed and changed major parts of its legislation without congressional origin – that is, he made law apart from the only legitimate law-making branch of government.  Where does this end?  How can he (or anyone else, for that matter) constitutionally do such a thing?

Furthermore, these Statists desire to expand the maze they’ve been engineering by saying, “You don’t want no government do you?” or “Well, you’ve got to have some laws,” like the nation just started yesterday.

And have you ever noticed that whenever flaws or discomforts concerning their utopian scheme that they have unleashed upon us are ever brought to their attention, they always seem to say something like, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing like what it could have been!”

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Statist deflection #131: Never take responsibility of your own totalitarian nightmare while at the same time proclaiming that the state of things is even better than it has ever been before. (Never deviate from one or the other in public discourse/debate!)

 

On the other hand, brute force is what always replaces utter and total chaos and collapse.  We shift from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite without any respite in between.  But there is another alternative, besides anarchy in politics and anarchy on the streets.  It’s not like we are new to history or that we have never had systems of tradition that have been treated and tested by time that we have inherited from our grandparents and their grandparents before them.   It’s not like we don’t know how to take care of our families or our own bodies.  We, as a human race, have been at this since the dawn of our kind.  Conservatives assent to these facts and acknowledge that all forms of civil government are subject to us as human individuals – not vice versa.

The Statist believes essentially that the government has almost divine qualities in that it’s all-wise, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-good.  This can be seen thoroughly in the arguments for a universal, centralized healthcare system.  The Statists repeatedly reprobated the “imprudence” and “selfishness” of the young among us for deciding not to purchase personal health insurance (one reason, among many, being that we generally do not need health insurance this early in our lives and would rather spend our limited fortune on something else).   However, on our behalf, the utopian president and his fellow masterminds, forced us – along with every other American citizen – to buy health insurance anyway…claiming, as a government, to be more knowledgable about their citizens’ needs than the citizens were (and are) themselves.  As the Great One is prone to say: this government acts as if we are smart enough to elect our own politicians but not wise enough to decide what kind of light bulb to purchase.

The alternative to unlimited government and an uncivil society is a civil society within effective structures that nurture it.  I’ll let Mark explain from Liberty and Tyranny:

“Like the Founders, the Conservative also recognizes in society a harmony of interests, as Adam Smith put it, and rules of cooperation that have developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning that promote the betterment of the individual and society.  This is characterized as ordered liberty, the social contract, or the civil society.

“What are the conditions of this civil society?

“In the civil society, the individual  is recognized and accepted as more than an abstract statistic or faceless member of some group; rather, he is a uniquespiritual being with a soul and a conscience.  He is free to discover his own potential and pursue his own legitimate interests, tempered, however, by a  moral order that has its foundation in faith  and guides his life and all human life through the prudent exercise of judgement.  As such, the individual in the civil society strives, albeit imperfectly, to be virtuous – that is, restrained, ethical, and honorable.  He rejects the relativism that blurs the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, and means and ends.

“In the civil society, the individual has a duty to respect the unalienable rights of others and the values, customs, and traditions, tried and tested over time and passed from one generation to the next, that establish society’s cultural identity.  He is responsible for attending to his own well-being and that of his family.  And he has a duty as a citizen to contribute voluntarily to the welfare of his community through good works.”

Hardly anarchical, in my book.  Nevertheless, Statists would have you believe that there would be total and systemic collapse unless if they reigned supreme – which, if you hear their arguments, according them their power over you and your wealth is never enough, has never been enough, and (like a broken record) will always never be enough.

The fair and inquisitive student must conclude, therefore, that Conservatism does not, indeed, argue that “every man should do whatever is right is his own eyes” (Judges 21:25) just as it also does not want the “man of system” to do whatever is right in his own eyes (Theory of Moral Sentiments); rather, it calmly yet boldly asserts that the government does and should exist…only by way of the amendable confines of a stable and predictable, thus secure, rule of law – the Constitution of the United States…and this all within the greater moral authority of God and the civil society.

How could one not like such a system?

The Conservative, therefore, must argue that he is not against civil law or politics but only against tyranny as seen in political utopianism.

Sources:

Levin, Mark. Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. New York: Threshold Editions, 2009. [page 17]

Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. 1790.

 

Ameritopia (Chapter One – the Tyranny of Utopia)

Tyranny, broadly defined, is the use of power to dehumanize the individual and delegitimize his nature. Political utopianism[1] is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even paradisiacal governing ideology. There are, of course, unlimited utopian constructs, for the mind is capable of infinite fantasies. But there are common themes. The fantasies take the form of grand social plans or experiments, the impracticability and impossibility of which, in small ways and large, lead to the individual’s subjugation.

I wanted to show the level of seriousness that my future posts are going to address.  So I chose to present Mark Levin’s Chapter 1 of Ameritopia, which you can download free from here.  (Obviously, the marginal blocks are my words unless quoted.  Levin’s words I have emphasized in bold.)

Karl Popper, a philosopher who eloquently deconstructed the false assumptions and scientific claims of utopianism, arguing it is totalitarian in form and substance, observed that “[a]ny social science which does not teach the impossibility of rational social construction is entirely blind to the most important facts of social life, and must overlook the only social laws of real validity and of real importance. Social sciences seeking to provide a background for social engineering cannot, therefore, be true descriptions of social facts. They are impossible in themselves.”[2] Popper argued that unable to make detailed or precise sociological predictions, long-term forecasts of great sweep and significance not only are intended to compensate for utopianism’s shortcomings but are the only forecasts it considers worth pursuing.[3] (Although Popper differentiated between “piecemeal social engineering” and “utopian social engineering,” it is ahistorical, or at least a leap of faith, to suggest that once unleashed, the social engineers will not become addicted to their power; and Popper never could enunciate a practical solution.)

“There are, of course, unlimited utopian constructs, for the mind is capable of infinite fantasies.”

stalin_holding_childchairman_maoitalian_fascism_croppoedObama-Santa-Obamacare-Aint-Free-SC

But what is this ideology, this force, this authority that threatens us, and its destructiveness, which Reagan, Lincoln, Story, and the Founders so feared?  What kind of power both attracts a free people and destroys them?” – Introduction, Ameritopia

Utopianism is irrational in theory and practice, for it ignores or attempts to control the planned and unplanned complexity of the individual, his nature, and mankind generally. It ignores, rejects, or perverts the teachings and knowledge that have come before—that is, man’s historical, cultural, and social experience and development. Indeed, utopianism seeks to break what the hugely influential eighteenth-century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke argued was the societal continuum “between those who are living and those who are dead and those who are to be born.”[4] Eric Hoffer, a social thinker renowned for his observations about fanaticism and mass movements, commented that “[f]or men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future. . . .[T]hey must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap.”[5]

Utopianism substitutes glorious predictions and unachievable promises for knowledge, science, and reason, while laying claim to them all. Yet there is nothing new in deception disguised as hope and nothing original in abstraction framed as progress. A heavenly society is said to be within reach if only the individual surrenders more of his liberty and being for the general good, meaning the good as prescribed by the state. If he refuses, he will be tormented and ultimately coerced into compliance, for conformity is essential. Indeed, nothing good can come of self-interest, which is condemned as morally indefensible and empty. Through persuasion, deceit, and coercion, the individual must be stripped of his identity and subordinated to the state. He must abandon his own ambitions for the ambitions of the state. He must become reliant on and fearful of the state. His first duty must be to the state—not family, community, and faith, all of which challenge the authority of the state. Once dispirited, the individual can be molded by the state with endless social experiments and lifestyle calibrations.[6]

Especially threatening, therefore, are the industrious, independent, and successful, for they demonstrate what is actually possible under current societal conditions—achievement, happiness, and fulfillment—thereby contradicting and endangering the utopian campaign against what was or is. They must be either co-opted and turned into useful contributors to or advocates for the state, or neutralized through sabotage or other means. Indeed, the individual’s contribution to society must be downplayed, dismissed, or denounced, unless the contribution is directed by the state and involves self-sacrifice for the utopian cause.

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Individual initiative is to be suppressed. Success gained outside of government will be punished. This is because that reality, that concept, is the American dream and has no place within the masterminds’ paradise.

In a somewhat different context, although relatable here, the extraordinary French historian and prescient political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville explained, “When the traces of individual action upon nations are lost, it often happens that you see the world move without the impelling force being evident. As it becomes extremely difficult to discern and analyze the reasons that, acting separately on the will of each member of the community, concur in the end to produce movement in the whole mass, men are led to believe that his movement is involuntary and that societies unconsciously obey some superior force ruling over them. But even when the general fact that governs the private volition of all individuals is supposed to be discovered upon the earth, the principle of human free-will is not made certain. A cause sufficiently extensive to affect millions of men at once and sufficiently strong to bend them all together in the same direction may well seem irresistible, having seen that mankind do yield to it, the mind is close upon the inference that mankind cannot resist it.” [7] Tocqueville was writing of religion but his observation assuredly applies to utopian tyranny.

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“Upgrading is mandatory.”

Utopianism also attempts to shape and dominate the individual by doing two things at once: it strips the individual of his uniqueness, making him indistinguishable from the multitudes that form what is commonly referred to as “the masses,” but it simultaneously assigns him a group identity based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, income, etc., to highlight differences within the masses.

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Get the people to think in terms of groups and classes. Highlight key differences that are already existent amongst themselves like race, ethnicity, age, gender, level of income, and so forth. Then get them to hate each other over said differences.

It then exacerbates old rivalries and disputes or it incites new ones. This way it can speak to the well-being of “the people” as a whole while dividing them against themselves, thereby stampeding them in one direction or another as necessary to collapse the existing society or rule over the new one.

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Rip into the sinews of the existing civil society. Do not let peace reign. Exacerbate old conflicts or instigate new ones based on the lines that you have already drawn in between the people (race, religion, etc.)

Where utopianism is advanced through gradualism rather than revolution, albeit steady and persistent as in democratic societies, it can deceive and disarm an unsuspecting population, which is largely content and passive. It is sold as reforming and improving the existing society’s imperfections and weaknesses without imperiling its basic nature. Under these conditions, it is mostly ignored, dismissed, or tolerated by much of the citizenry and celebrated by some. Transformation is deemed innocuous, well-intentioned, and perhaps constructive but not a dangerous trespass on fundamental liberties.

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Then seize (I mean) save the day!

Tocqueville observed, “By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again. A great many persons . . . are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large . . .” (II, 319)

Utopianism also finds a receptive audience among the society’s disenchanted, disaffected, dissatisfied, and maladjusted who are unwilling or unable to assume responsibility for their own real or perceived conditions but instead blame their surroundings, “the system,” and others. They are lured by the false hopes and promises of utopian transformation and the criticisms of the existing society, to which their connection is tentative or nonexistent. Improving the malcontent’s lot becomes linked to the utopian cause. Moreover, disparaging and diminishing the successful and accomplished becomes an essential tactic. No one should be better than anyone else, regardless of the merits or value of his contributions. By exploiting human frailties, frustrations, jealousies, and inequities, a sense of meaning and self-worth is created in the malcontent’s otherwise unhappy and directionless life. Simply put, equality in misery—that is, equality of result or conformity—is advanced as a just, fair, and virtuous undertaking. Liberty, therefore, is inherently immoral, except where it avails equality.

Equality, in this sense, is a form of radical egalitarianism that has long been the subject of grave concern by advocates of liberty. Tocqueville pointed out that in democracies, the dangers of misapplied equality are not perceived until it is too late. “The evils that extreme equality may produce are slowly disclosed; they creep gradually into the social frame; they are seen only at intervals; and at the moment at which they become most violent, habit already causes them to be no longer felt” [8] (II, 319). Among the leading classical liberal philosophers and free-market economists, Friedrich Hayek wrote, “Equality of the general rules of law and conduct . . . is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty and the only equality which we can secure without destroying liberty. Not only has liberty nothing to do with any sort of equality, but it is even bound to produce inequality in many respects. This is the necessary result and part of the justification of individual liberty: if the result of individual liberty did not demonstrate that some manners of living are more successful than others, much of the case for it would vanish.”[9] Thus, while radical egalitarianism encompasses economic equality, it more broadly involves prostrating the individual.

Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law. Moreover, equality should not be confused with perfection, for man is also imperfect, making his application of equality, even in the most just society, imperfect. Otherwise, inequality is the natural state of man in the sense that each individual is born unique in all his human characteristics. Therefore, equality and inequality, properly comprehended, are both engines of liberty.[10] Still, in democracies, the attraction of equality too often outweighs the appeal of liberty, even though individuals are able to flourish more in democracies than in other societies. Liberty’s wonders and permeance can be subtle and ambiguous and, therefore, unnoticed and underappreciated. Despite its infinite benefits, for many liberty is elusive—for one must look below the surface to identify it. Conversely, equality can be more transparent at surface level. It is posited as a far-off concept of human perfectibility but is also delivered in bits and pieces, or at least appears to be, in daily life. It usually takes the form of material “rights” delivered to the individual by the state. Consequently, equality and liberty are both subjects of utopian demagoguery and manipulation. Liberty is encouraged if its end is equality. Liberty, by itself, is not.

signing_of_the_constitution

“Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law.”

Equality is also disguised as or confused with popular sovereignty—that is, the conflation of “the people’s will” with egalitarian campaigns, such as “social justice,” “environmental justice,” “immigrant rights,” “workers’ rights,” etc. In essence, then, true democracy cannot be achieved unless society is reorganized around the disparate and endless demands of disparate and endless claimants. In due course, such a society becomes chaotic and balkanized. As it dissolves and crises build, the stage is set for escalating coercion or repression.

Utopianism’s authority also knows no definable limits. How could it? If they exist, what are they? Radical egalitarianism or the perfectibility of mankind is an ongoing process of individual and societal transformation that must cast off the limits of history, tradition, and experience for that which is said to be necessary, novel, progressive, and inevitable. Ironically, inconvenient facts and evidence must be rejected or manipulated, as must the very nature of man, for utopianism is a fantasy that evolves into a dogmatic cause, which, in turn, manifests a holy truth for a false religion. There is little or no tolerance for the individual’s deviation from orthodoxy lest it threaten the survival of the enterprise.

In truth, therefore, utopianism is regressive, irrational, and pre-Enlightenment. It robs society of opinions and ideas that may be beneficial to the human condition, now and in the future. It stymies human interaction, including economic activity, which progresses through a historical process of self-organization. Adam Smith, a towering philosopher and economist of the Scottish Enlightenment, referred to it as a harmony of interests creating a spontaneous order where rules of cooperation have developed through generations of human experience.[11] The utopian pursuit, however, commands the imposition of a purported design and structure atop society by a central authority to arrest the evolution of the individual and society.

As Popper noted, “[T]he power of the state is bound to increase until the State becomes nearly identical with society. . . . It is the totalitarian intuition. . . . The term ‘society’ embraces . . . all social relations, including all personal ones.”[12] The power, according to Tocqueville, is “immense and tutelary” and “takes upon itself alone to secure” the people’s “gratifications and watch over their fate.” “That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild.” “Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.” “It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.” (II, 318)

Utopianism’s equality is intolerant of diversity, uniqueness, debate, etc., for utopianism’s purpose requires a singular focus. There can be no competing voices or causes slowing or obstructing society’s long and righteous march. Utopianism relies on deceit, propaganda, dependence, intimidation, and force. In its more aggressive state, as the malignancy of the enterprise becomes more painful and its impossibility more obvious, it incites violence inasmuch as avenues for free expression and civil dissent are cut off. Violence becomes the individual’s primary recourse and the state’s primary response. Ultimately, the only way out is the state’s termination.[13]

In utopia, rule by masterminds is both necessary and necessarily primitive, for it excludes so much that is known to man and about man. The mastermind is driven by his own boundless conceit and delusional aspirations, which he self-identifies as a noble calling. He alone is uniquely qualified to carry out this mission. He is, in his own mind, a savior of mankind, if only man will bend to his will. Such can be the addiction of power. It can be an irrationally egoistic and absurdly frivolous passion that engulfs even sensible people. In this, the mastermind suffers from a psychosis of sorts and endeavors to substitute his own ambitions for the individual ambitions of millions of people.

Legislatures are capable of democratic tyranny by degenerating into a collection of masterminds, passing laws not because they are right or moral, but because they can. Writing of the French Legislative Assembly, Frédéric Bastiat, a statesman and pioneering advocate of classical liberalism, noted, “It is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men—governors and legislators—the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race.” He added that there “is this idea that mankind is merely inert matter, receiving life, organization, morality, and prosperity from the power of the state. And even worse, it will be stated that mankind tends toward degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the mysterious hand of the legislator.” [14] Thomas Jefferson put it this way: “All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating of these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one . . . As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for. . . .” [15]

The mastermind is served by an enthusiastic intelligentsia or “experts” professionally engaged in developing and spreading utopian fantasies. Although there are conspicuous exceptions, longtime Harvard professor and political theoretician Harvey Mansfield explained that modern intellectuals have “monumental impatience . . . with human complexity and imperfection. . . .They believe that politics is a temporary necessity until the rational solution is put in place.” [16] Of course, the rational solutions are not rational at all. While intellectuals are obviously smart, they are not smart enough to have conquered the social sciences and use them to rejigger society. They are posers to knowledge they do not and cannot possess. Meanwhile, intellectuals are immune from the impracticability and consequences of their blueprints for they rarely present themselves for public office. Instead, they seek to influence those who do. They legislate without accountability.

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Joseph Schumpeter, a prominent economics professor and political scientist, was a harsh critic of intellectuals. He wrote, “Intellectuals rarely enter professional politics and still more rarely conquer responsible office. But they staff political bureaus, write party pamphlets and speeches, act as secretaries and advisers, make the . . . politician’s . . . reputation. . . . In doing these things they . . . impress their mentality on almost everything that is being done.”[17]

For the rest, transforming society becomes a struggle between the utopia and self-determination and self-preservation, since the individual must acquiesce to centralized decision-making. Apart from brute force, the mastermind has in his arsenal a weapon that provides him with a predominant advantage—the law. Bastiat explained that “when [the law] has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own proper purpose. The law has been used to destory its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real appeal was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.”[18] When the law is used in this way, the few plunder the many (e.g., public-sector unions), the many plunder the few (e.g., the progressive income tax), and everyone plunders everyone (e.g., universal health care), making utopia unsustainable and ultimately inhumane.

Centralizing and consolidating authority is required to replace dispersed decision-making with a command and control structure, the purpose of which is to coerce behavior in pursuit of a fantasy, a dogmatic cause, a false religion, etc. That is not to say that knowledge and information from outside the central authority go without notice. Rather, it is collected in a self-serving, haphazard, and incomplete way, to tinker and adjust, to torment and control, but never as a means to fundamentally challenge assumptions, reconsider policies, or disprove the utopian ends. How could it, since utopianism rejects rationality and empiricism from the outset? It repudiates experience. It is said to be new, different, better, and bigger.

Moreover, the reproduction of knowledge and information that exists outside the central authority would be not only pointless but impossible. Individuals are complicated, complex beings. No centralized authority can know what is in their minds or discern and assimilate the distinctiveness and assortment of their myriad daily activities, no matter how many academics or experts advise it. For example, respecting the social engineers and their distortion of economics to justify their manipulation of behavior and outcomes, Popper noted, “Economics . . . cannot give us any valuable information concerning social reforms. Only a pseudo-economics can seek to offer a background for rational understanding.” [19]

Consequently, the mastermind relies on uniform standards born of insufficient knowledge and information, which are crafted from his own predilections, values, stereotypes, experiences, idiosyncrasies, desires, prejudices and, of course, fantasy. The imposition of these standards may, in the short term, benefit some or perhaps many. But over time, the misery and corrosiveness from their full effects spread through the whole of society. Although the mastermind’s incompetence and vision plague the society, responsibility must be diverted elsewhere—to those assigned to carry them out, or to the people’s lack of sacrifice, or to the enemies of the state who have conspired to thwart the utopian cause—for the mastermind is inextricably linked to the fantasy. If he is fallible then who is to usher in paradise? If his judgment and wisdom are in doubt then the entire venture might invite scrutiny. This leads to grander and bolder social experiments, requiring further coercion. What went before is said to have been piecemeal and therefore inadequate. The steps necessary to achieve true utopianism have yet to be tried.

For the individual and the people generally, this is dispiriting, destabilizing, stagnating, and impoverishing. Although all state action is said to be taken in the people’s interest, the heavy if not crippling burden they shoulder is the price they pay for an impossible cause—a cause greater than their lives, liberty, and happiness. The individual is inconsequential as a person and useful only as an insignificant part of an agglomeration of insignificant parts. He is a worker, part of a mass; nothing more, nothing less. His existence is soulless. Absolute obedience is the highest virtue. After all, only an army of drones is capable of building a rainbow to paradise.

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The cog in the machine: the individual in the utopian society

The immorality of utopianism, albeit obvious to sober thinkers, requires explicit attention nonetheless for, perversely, too many remain enthusiastically committed to it. Utopianism is immoral per se. On what basis does utopianism make such a thorough claim on the individual’s existence? On a mastermind’s dogma? In criticizing socialism’s immorality and its appeal to “dropouts” and “parasites,” Hayek wrote, “Rights derive from systems of relations of which the claimant has become a part through helping to maintain them. If he ceases to do so, or has never done so (or nobody has done so for him) there exists no ground on which such claims could be forwarded. Relations between individuals can exist only as products of their wills, but the mere wish of a claimant can hardly create a duty for others. . . .” [20] More broadly, the individual’s right to live freely and safely and pursue happiness includes the right to benefit from the fruits of his own labor. As the individual’s time on earth is finite, so, too, is his labor. The illegitimate denial or diminution of his labor—that is, the involuntary deprivation of the private property he accumulates from his intellectual and/or physical efforts—is a form of servitude and, hence, immoral.[21]

There is also no morality in utopian deception and distortion to promote an abstraction, forcing the individual to behave in ways that are contrary to his best interests and destructive of his nature; attacking the civil society’s ethical norms and social arrangements; and making commonplace dependency and coercion. Rather than cultivating a moral society and individual virtuousness, whether through faith, education, or sociability, and building on the accumulated experience and wisdom of earlier generations, utopianism breeds dishonesty not good character; it encourages ideology not reason; it rewards rashness not reflection; it attracts fanatics not statesmen; and it is transformative not reformative. As the world around him grows increasingly unpredictable and hostile, and the moral order of the civil society frays and then unravels, the individual may feel that his daily survival depends on abandoning his own moral nature and teaching, including prudence, self-restraint, and forethought. He may become radicalized and join the ranks of predators, or become isolated and conniving, hoping to avoid notice. He may become dispirited and detached, resigned to a life of misery. He may defiantly stand his moral ground, in which case he may become the predators’ prey. In any event, the law of the jungle becomes the law of the land as the civil society disintegrates.

Clearly, utopianism is incompatible with constitutionalism. Utopianism requires power to be concentrated in a central authority with maximum latitude to transform and control. Oppositely, a constitution establishes parameters that define the form and the limits of government. For example, in the United States, the Constitution divides, disperses, and delineates governmental power. It grants the central government not plenary but enumerated powers. It further deconcentrates power through three branches of the central government, reserving the rest of governmental powers to the states and the people. The Constitution enshrines a governing framework intended to ensure the longevity of the existing society and stifle the potential for tyranny.

The Constitution reflects the Founders’ repudiation of utopianism and any notion of omnipotent and omniscient masterminds. In Federalist 51, James Madison wrote, “But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” [22] Madison argued that the draft constitution had achieved that end. In Federalist 45, he explained, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” [23]

For the mastermind, where the Constitution is believed useful to utopian ends, it will be invoked. Where it is not, under the pretense of legitimate differences of interpretation it will be abandoned outright or remade through various doctrinal schemes and administrative evasions. For the mastermind, the Constitution’s words are as undeserving of respect as the rest of history. They will be used to muddle and disarrange, not inform and clarify. Moreover, the Constitution’s authors, ratifiers, and present-day proponents will be dismissed as throwbacks. To follow them will be to renounce modernity and progress. And yet to follow the mastermind is to renounce the American founding and heritage.

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“The Constitution reflects the Founders’ repudiation of utopianism and any notion of omnipotent and omniscient masterminds.”

The late associate Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall demonstrated the point in his repudiation of the Framers. “I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever ‘fixed’ at the Philadelphia Convention. . . . Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight and sense of justice exhibited by the framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendant of an African slave. ‘We the people’ no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of ‘liberty,’ ‘justice’ and ‘equality,’ and who strived to better them.”[24]

There is no denying that slavery blights the history of many societies, including American society. But the Constitution neither preserved nor promoted slavery. As I explained in my response to Marshall in Men in Black, “Discrimination, injustice, and inhumanity are not products of the Constitution. To the extent they exist, they result from man’s imperfection. Consequently, slavery exists today not in the United States but in places like Sudan. Indeed, the evolution of American society has only been possible because of the covenant the framers adopted, and the values, ideals, and rules set forth in that document.”[25] In fact, had there been no Constitution there would have been no United States. If there had been no United States there would have been no Civil War—no Union versus Confederacy. Slavery in the southern colonies and later the territories may well have lasted much longer. While the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were unable to abolish slavery, many tried. Moreover, their progeny did, and at great personal sacrifice.

The Constitution evinces the Founders’ broader comprehension of human nature and natural rights, set forth most succinctly and prominently in the Declaration of Independence. To cast the Constitution off its mooring is to cast off its mooring as well. The Declaration provides, in part:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . .

President Abraham Lincoln, during his 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate, explained: “In [the Founders’] enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began—so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built. . . .” [26]

America’s founding documents set in place the philosophical and political foundation for a just and humane society—unlike any before it or since. Fidelity to these principles abolished slavery, just as they can ensure the civil society’s longevity. The mastermind and his followers mostly ignore the Declaration and pick the Constitution like an old scab. As I wrote in Liberty and Tyranny, “The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state, thereby rejecting the principles of the Declaration and the order of the civil society, in whole or part. For the Modern Liberal, the individual’s imperfection and personal pursuits impede the objective of a utopian state. In this, Modern Liberalism promotes what . . . Tocqueville described as a soft tyranny, which becomes increasingly more oppressive, potentially leading to a hard tyranny (some form of totalitarianism). As the word ‘liberal’ is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate . . . to characterize the Modern Liberal as a Statist.” [27]

Utopianism is not new. It has been repackaged countless times—since Plato and before. It is as old as tyranny itself. In democracies, its practitioners legislate without end. In America, law is piled upon law in contravention and contradiction of the governing law—the Constitution. But there are no actual masterminds who, upon election or appointment, are magically imbued with godlike qualities. There are pretenders with power, lots of power. When they are not rebelling they are dictating, but the ultimate objective is always the same—control over the individual in order to control society. They are adamantly committed to their abstraction and their accumulation of authority to pursue it, to devastating effect. Accordingly, its exploration in this book— from Plato’s Republic to what I term modern-day Ameritopia—is essential to understanding the nature and influence of this force on American society today.

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Image credits (unless stated elsewhere or unsearchable):

Mao poster: chineseposters.net

Mussolini pic: Italian Fascism in Color (film, 2007)

Molotov cocktail thrower: belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Leviathan (Sovereign with scepter): Thomas Hobbes

Signing of the Constitution of the US: Howard Chandler Christy

cogs: c1.staticflickr.com

Distinctions Between God’s Sovereignty and National Sovereignty

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Words define us as a people. They give us ideas and concepts that we otherwise wouldn’t have on our own. And some of these words are actually too important for us to allow to be lost to time. They are too important for that to happen. That is why it is imperative for us to take a break and explain what they mean from time to time: like the distinctions between God’s sovereignty and national sovereignty.

When we submit ourselves to the future, sometimes we forget what the past is all about. But by recovering the past, by recovering history, we can open ourselves up to other options besides repeating it over and over again.

I challenge you to see for yourselves what the difference is between them.

Sovereignty, first of all, lexically means “the quality or state of having supreme rank, power or authority.”  When the notion of sovereignty is acknowledged in reverence toward God, we are saying that He is great, He is powerful, and that there is no other like Him.  What this term is also saying in this context is that God is the highest authority mankind will ever have to contend with.  In other words, He is Judge, not we.  We will have to give Him an account, not the other way around.  Therefore, He is not in office by popular demand.  God, in fact, constantly reached out to Israel in the Old Testament but was normally denied – hence the frustration of many OT prophets.  So, God is not ruling right now at our behest.  We are His subjects, not vice versa.

And this is an important principle if we are to consider inalienable rights.  We have these rights given by the Creator – they had better be sturdy!  If they were given by a human authority – let’s say, by Hobbes’ “Sovereign” – then they are revocable, for they are attached to human whim.  If a human can grant them then a human can take them away.  If, however, God grants them, then no human can ever remove them.  They are permanent.  They are forever.  Therefore, it is God’s sovereignty that grants the essence of inalienability to our natural rights as human beings.

Sovereignty, in relation to God, emphasizes the notion that there is no one like Him and that He is truly the omnipotent ruler of all the universe.

In the sovereignty of God there is hope for the future.

But what does it mean for a nation to be “sovereign”?

This notion comes from amongst the oldest of concepts in civilization: borders, independence from other like-states, and treaty-making abilities with those states. One legal dictionary explains it this way:

The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which an independent state is governed and from which all specific political powers are derived; the intentional independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign interference. [emphasis added]

1) One of the ways that this is actualized is via something called borders. A nation without borders is not a nation at all – at least not for long! What is separating one country from another? If there are no countries, then we – every citizen of God’s green Earth – are actually each a member of, what science fiction has called, an ecumenopolis: a world-city.

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Without national sovereignty, there would be massive anarchy stretching from one end of the globe to the other or a massive, single planet-state – if you think about it.

However, is this really the way to go? A planet with one, heavily centralized, global government with no individual liberty or the freedom for us to go about our business? Having localized authority gives the citizen a deeper sense of control over his or her life – doesn’t it you? Nation-states are an important idea to keep around for a long time, I think.

So clearly this is not the case.  Clearly, the world is full of countries with borders; it just seems that we are the only ones who don’t give a hoot about it.  If we follow this through and become in essence the only nation in the existence of the world to have no national demarcations, then where are we?  Either every human being is a member of the United States or no human being is.  Furthermore, America will not last long as a sovereign nation-state if it does not treat its own borders with respect and dignity; for who else will?  Who else will…

2) Having the ability to decide who is and is not allowed to enter your sovereign space is a critical part of nation-hood.

National sovereignty incorporates the idea of having the authority to decide who is and who is not allowed to come through those borders.  Boundaries, in general, involve the concept of saying “no” to some and “yes” to others. Otherwise, what’s the point of having them? Of course, it would be immoral to say “no” to a person based on race alone or something in those regards. But what about somebody’s criminal record?  What about any communicable diseases they are carrying as we speak?  This is perfectly within the realm of reason to inquire about; don’t you think so?

3) Treaty-making power. Every nation-state has got to have some. In the course of time it may become prudent to enter into an alliance with another sovereign nation or two, if it is in her best interest to do so for the time being. For example, after the hell of the Second World War came to a crushing end, NATO was formed. This North Atlantic Treaty Organization holds to this day as a principle that if just one of its members – say Iceland, Italy, or America – is hit, all of the nations will respond as one fighting force. In this way, these independent nation-states “got each other’s backs” in order to help stave off another multi-continental war of previous magnitude. So far, it has done a good job.

4) Nation-hood requires enough power to write, enforce, and adjudicate its own laws.  To illustrate this point, I can turn to another – and less effective – inter-national organization: the U.N.  What was once designed as an effort to manage the affairs between sovereign states has now declined into an enterprise of managing affairs within them. Case in point, environmentalism. The United Nations has taken upon itself, via its self-named “Ageneda 21,” the initiative of managing all things climate-related in all countries who are a part of this membership – particularly Western states. The degree of supranational intrusion is immense when the amount of city planning given to “sustainable growth” projects that are directly connected to this initiative is properly examined for what it is.

A nationally sovereign country will not stand up for those shenanigans from an outside political body for long.

5) This idea embodies the aspect of trading with other nation-states.  Trade enables an iron-sharpens-iron fervor that improves and does not diminish the overall quality of products (goods or services).

6) A nation has to be able to defend itself.

Images from:

Attitudes Photo

zoetnet

Hazza42

Offline Source:

Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

The Giver

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So what if the utopian masterminds do gain the upper hand?  After all, liberty (the kind that we know here in the U.S.) is a rare bird in the greater history of mankind.  But what if the utopian statists win?  I mean, get everything that they want?  Well, if the Giver is any indication, that future is dim entirely.  No, I mean literally.   These folks cannot see color on the spectrum of light, only dull tones of black and gray.  Experience and research show that people who are cooped up inside a poorly lit house suffer emotionally and socially compared to people who see regularly the outdoor light and all the vibrant colors that it brings.  It holds a revivifying effect on the senses and re-energizes the soul.

Most utopias, it seems, try to take the route of iron-fisted, top-down, centralized authority to stamp out human greed and inequality (but human greed and inequality is always obvious within the very masterminds who try to stamp it out!)  This book/movie takes the rarer route of actually changing the state of human nature itself.  (I won’t tell you how, but they do!)

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The Giver is rich in the poetic origins of suffering.  In order to properly vanquish immorality once and for all certain other positive dispositions have to be extinguished also: like love, for example.  If we can flatline emotion altogether – at least the major, mountainous parts of it – then we will have “the perfect system” (to quote Tron).

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What is the “perfect system”?  Maybe it’s not so perfect after all.

Plato, one of the earliest and most pronounced philosophers on attempting to create the perfect “Ideal City,” tried twice to make utopia and failed miserably on both occasions.  In his final attempt, Plato envisioned a grand city in which there were three classes: Guardians (philosopher-kings who could be trusted because they could do no wrong), Auxiliaries (the military caste), and Producers (who had very little rights and fulfilled the tasks of virtual slaves).  You can easily see this method of government play out in history on horrible repeat (Marxism, Socialism, Democratic-Socialism; in other words, Statism and Neo-Statism in general…we’ll just clump them all together right here).

So what was Plato’s problem with moving forward with utopia?  Well, for one, history.  There was simply too much of it lying around for utopianism to advance forward.  In other words, the majority of any population subject to statist control would remember….  And memory is a problem for this style of autocratic, Soviet-style government.  There is too much memory going on here, and THAT. HAS TO BE. SQUELCHED!

If we loose history, we loose freedom.

The Giver is the first fiction that I have encountered which addresses, in essence, that stumbling block of Plato’s paradise – collective memory.  It goes much deeper than just learning lessons in civics class.  It goes into why we as a collective body of people must retain our humanhood and why freedom is dependent upon faith, hope, and love.

I cannot go into it without ruining it. =)

So basically this beautiful movie is about why it is important to remember history, to feel, to retain our basic notions of reality like love and faith, and how freedom rests on these things, and how without these things there is no freedom to pass on from one generation to the next.

[Images from impawards]

Dinesh D’souza’s “America:” Politically Provocative, Philosophically Astounding

America the Movie Poster

Yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing this movie for a second time and thoroughly enjoyed both experiences (on the second time around, I had to bring a pen and notepad).  This political documentary seeks to unwind a lot of the political propaganda out there – on the campaign trail and in the classroom – that says that America is based on an unjust foundation and thus must be removed or “fundamentally transformed.”

Dinesh D’Souza did not want to direct a one-sided propaganda film himself to rebut the false narrative of America-shaming.  Instead, he engages with top authors and academics in order to assert his point.  This movie brings to light commonly unknown facts concerning the loss of land, labor, territory, resources, and, yes, even the American Dream by the American hand. How do we rectify what is wrong?

Some voices in the hallowed halls of academia, like professor Ward Churchill, suggest the annihilation of our country via an atomic bomb if given the opportunity. When D’Souza asked Churchill in an interview if he would drop an atomic bomb on America since he personally holds that our country is the new evil empire – like Nazi Germany – would he do it, it was stunning just to see the expression on his face. It was almost like he had never thought of it before but was relishing the idea; his eyes widened almost like you would do if somebody offered you a deal you couldn’t resist. Those were his eyes, his body language; but more importantly, his verbal answer was yes. Yes, the evil, brutally wicked United States ought to be bombed and bombed to its core.

Now is this societally healthful? How can we progress as a society with liberal self-hating? And by “self-hating,” I really mean “other”-hating, but I say “self”-hating so that I can feel better about myself. When I say “self-hating” I am actually referring to capitalists or people who are more well-off than myself. When I say “self-hating” I am really wanting other people to do the suffering – to do the “penance” for America.

So, D’Souza weeds through all of this. What I liked about the movie is that it went through and took care to unfold the argument point by point: that America is an evil, awful place (so much so that millions of non-Americans break into America annually just to experience a part of the pie).  Howard Zinn’s shame-narrative in The People’s History of the United States of America, which is required reading in most public schools today, is contrasted heavily with the narrative presented by French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited our shores in the nineteenth century to see what made America tick so exceptionally well for such a long time. And what he found is truly remarkable, indeed.

Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville)

Democracy in America – by Alexis de Tocqueville

His research, recorded in Democracy in America, does a better job at analyzing the American heritage than Mr. Zinn ever could – including in describing how slavery was a societal dampener in the places where it was practiced.      The French aristocrat at one point even stands on the border of Kentucky and Ohio and makes an incredible observation: Kentucky, a slave state, had plenty of farms but Ohio had industry coming out at all sides, even though either land mass was completely suitable for either economy.  What happened?  Making a timeless assertion, he observed that since the slave could not keep the property he or she labored for and the master simply relied on the labor of his slaves if he wanted anything involving work to be done, both master and slave experienced far less than what their human potential merited.  Since both elements in this relationship of coercion and lack of freedom endured in the South, the South suffered from a retardation of growth from a purely economic point of view.  And that’s not to mention the human tragedy in all of this!  But that is part of the human tragedy in all of this, isn’t it? – the inability to keep the product of your own labor and the inhibitor of dependence and utter reliance upon another.  The master could not “get ahead in life” because of the slaves.  Only when he could gain his own freedom, could they have gotten theirs.

The humanitarian and benevolence endeavors by faith communities impressed this young philosopher, because the civil government was not into the charity business back then.  But charity was enduring!  Even today, the “secular left” is out-given by fourfold by their political counterparts.  Not that one is tallying numbers here, but since the Left keeps bringing up how hateful and disinterested Americans are without the constant help of the government, we have to step back and say to ourselves, “But I’m seeing a different story here.”  How hateful and disinterested is it to wish a little more hard-earned money to stay in the pocketbooks of Americans, like Ronald Reagan once said?  That’s not selfishness; that’s humanitarianism!  That is prosperity!  You cannot talk about poverty without also talking about its antidote – the lifting up of the individual out of his or her economic plight, the elevation of an individual from one economic level of income to another.  Why. Is. This. Wrong?

America did something different with slavery.  There were advocates seeking to abolish it before the nation’s inception, but the Founding Documents are what enable Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and others to bring it to a close forever.  Slavery actually persists to this day in some places around the world.  But what is uniquely American is that we chose to fight a great war to seek its once and final destruction.

Have you ever been taught that the U.S. was the only country with slavery?

Illegal Immigration on the Rise (On Richard Lamm)

Well, this nation is facing a very real and present refugee crisis on the Mexican border, beginning, it seems, from two years ago (illegals are saying they have arrived here for “amnistia).  But before we say, “Well, they’re here; it is compassionate to let this situation continue, to keep them from assimilating into our national culture and adopting our national heritage,” let’s build our arguments upon facts and reason.

In fact, Governor Richard Lamm makes this same claim in his now-famous speech from a Federation for American Immigration Reform conference one decade ago.  What is surprising is that he is a big-D Democrat, but he speaks up for America and stands upon history while doing so (something not-so typical with the Left these days).  The truthfulness rings loud and clear. Below is the audio and transcript:

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Click on this “public service” announcement for audio.

“I Have a Plan to Destroy America”
by Richard D. Lamm

I have a secret plan to destroy America. If you believe, as many do, that America is too smug, too white bread, too self-satisfied, too rich, let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. History shows that nations are more fragile than their citizens think. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and they all fall, and that “an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.” Here is my plan:

1. We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country. History shows, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. One scholar, Seymour Martin Lipset, put it this way: “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with its Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”

2. I would then invent “multiculturalism” and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal: that there are no cultural differences that are important. I would declare it an article of faith that the black and Hispanic dropout rate is only due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out-of-bounds.

3. We can make the United States a “Hispanic Quebec” without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently, “The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved, not by tolerance, but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically, and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.” I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with a salad bowl metaphor. It is important to insure that we have various cultural sub-groups living in America reinforcing their differences, rather than Americans emphasizing their similarities.

4. Having done all this, I would make our fastest-growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50 percent dropout rate from school.

5. I would then get the big foundations and big business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of victimology. I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was all the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.

6. I would establish dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would “celebrate diversity.” “Diversity” is a wonderfully seductive word. It stresses differences rather than commonalities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other–that is, when they are not killing each other. A “diverse,” peaceful or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together, and we can take advantage of this myopia.

Look at the ancient Greeks. Dorf’s “World History” tells us: “The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus, and all Greeks venerated the shrine of Apollo at Delphi. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet, all of these bonds together were not strong enough to overcome two factors … (local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions …)” If we can put the emphasis on the “pluribus,” instead of the “unum,” we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.

7. Then I would place all these subjects off-limits–make it taboo to talk about. I would find a word similar to “heretic” in the 16th century that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like “racist”, “xenophobe” halt argument and conversation. Having made America a bilingual-bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of “victimology,” I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra –”because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good.” I would make every individual immigrant sympatric and ignore the cumulative impact.

8. Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book “Mexifornia” –this book is dangerous; it exposes my plan to destroy America. So please, please–if you feel that America deserves to be destroyed–please, please–don’t buy this book! This guy is on to my plan.

[emphasis added]

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” –Noam Chomsky, American linguist and U.S. media and foreign policy critic.

Are you noticing these traits today in the Leftists’ arguments regarding this issue?

– Ruminus