|From: Brumar89||4/8/2018 4:46:04 PM|
|Ten Conservative PrinciplesBy Russell Kirk|
Adapted from The Politics of Prudence(ISI Books, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by Russell Kirk. Used by permission of the Estate of Russell Kirk.
Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapitalto provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries. After some introductory remarks on this general theme, I will proceed to list ten such conservative principles.
Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.
The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.
In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy “change is the means of our preservation.”) A people’s historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude.
It is not possible to draw up a neat catalogue of conservatives’ convictions; nevertheless, I offer you, summarily, ten general principles; it seems safe to say that most conservatives would subscribe to most of these maxims. In various editions of my book The Conservative Mind I have listed certain canons of conservative thought—the list differing somewhat from edition to edition; in my anthology The Portable Conservative Reader I offer variations upon this theme. Now I present to you a summary of conservative assumptions differing somewhat from my canons in those two books of mine. In fine, the diversity of ways in which conservative views may find expression is itself proof that conservatism is no fixed ideology. What particular principles conservatives emphasize during any given time will vary with the circumstances and necessities of that era. The following ten articles of belief reflect the emphases of conservatives in America nowadays.
First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.
This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservativebecame a term of politics.
Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order.
It has been said by liberal intellectuals that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society—whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society—no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.
Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.
Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted. Burke’s reminder of the necessity for prudent change is in the mind of the conservative. But necessary change, conservatives argue, ought to be gradual and discriminatory, never unfixing old interests at once.
Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescription—that is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquity—including rights to property, often. Similarly, our morals are prescriptive in great part. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.
Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.
Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety. They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality.
Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontent—or else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order. But if the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: “the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell.
Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic levelling, conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.
Sir Henry Maine, in his Village Communities, puts strongly the case for private property, as distinguished from communal property: “Nobody is at liberty to attack several property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled.” For the institution of several property—that is, private property—has been a powerful instrument for teaching men and women responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labor; to be able to see one’s work made permanent; to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one’s own—these are advantages difficult to deny. The conservative acknowledges that the possession of property fixes certain duties upon the possessor; he accepts those moral and legal obligations cheerfully.
Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for a successful spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. Some of these functions are carried out by local political bodies, others by private associations: so long as they are kept local, and are marked by the general agreement of those affected, they constitute healthy community. But when these functions pass by default or usurpation to centralized authority, then community is in serious danger. Whatever is beneficent and prudent in modern democracy is made possible through cooperative volition. If, then, in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction—why, real government by the consent of the governed gives way to a standardizing process hostile to freedom and human dignity.
For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities. That experiment has been made before; and it has been disastrous. It is the performance of our duties in community that teaches us prudence and efficiency and charity.
Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. Politically speaking, power is the ability to do as one likes, regardless of the wills of one’s fellows. A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic. When every person claims to be a power unto himself, then society falls into anarchy. Anarchy never lasts long, being intolerable for everyone, and contrary to the ineluctable fact that some persons are more strong and more clever than their neighbors. To anarchy there succeeds tyranny or oligarchy, in which power is monopolized by a very few.
The conservative endeavors to so limit and balance political power that anarchy or tyranny may not arise. In every age, nevertheless, men and women are tempted to overthrow the limitations upon power, for the sake of some fancied temporary advantage. It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for good—so long as the power falls into his hands. In the name of liberty, the French and Russian revolutionaries abolished the old restraints upon power; but power cannot be abolished; it always finds its way into someone’s hands. That power which the revolutionaries had thought oppressive in the hands of the old regime became many times as tyrannical in the hands of the radical new masters of the state.
Knowing human nature for a mixture of good and evil, the conservative does not put his trust in mere benevolence. Constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws, the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetite—these the conservative approves as instruments of freedom and order. A just government maintains a healthy tension between the claims of authority and the claims of liberty.
Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society. The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate.
Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.
Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.
Such, then, are ten principles that have loomed large during the two centuries of modern conservative thought. Other principles of equal importance might have been discussed here: the conservative understanding of justice, for one, or the conservative view of education. But such subjects, time running on, I must leave to your private investigation.
The great line of demarcation in modern politics, Eric Voegelin used to point out, is not a division between liberals on one side and totalitarians on the other. No, on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||4/27/2018 7:17:44 PM|
|Forget lowering unemployment, Bernie Sanders will eliminate it!|
by David Leach • April 25, 2018
You may have heard about how the government of Finland has decided to end its universal basic income experiment where people were paid an unconditional salary by the state in lieu of benefits. Designed as an alternative to welfare and intended to provide motivation for the unemployed to find work, the socialistic scheme did little more than create a new form of government dependency.
During his 2016 Democrat primary campaign, Bernie Sanders was “ absolutely sympathetic” to the idea of a universal basic income; however, he felt that his plans for a $15/hr. minimum wage, expanding Social Security to pay for guaranteed healthcare, and providing free college would do more than creating just another government handout.
But now Bernie has apparently found a way to accomplish his goals as well as the goals of the universal basic income crowd.
Yesterday, we learned that the self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist is ready to announce a plan that will guarantee every American “who wants or needs one” a lifetime government job paying at least $15/hr. and proving paid family and medical leave plus retirement, health, and vacation benefits.
While the details are still being worked on, Bernie has admitted that he currently has no idea exactly how much his plan will cost or where the money to pay for it will come from. However, if his 2016 campaign is any indication, the cost will be irrelevant, and the money to pay for it will come from “the billionaires and oligarchs” he refers to as the “ top one percent of income earners.”
While it would be tempting to shrug off Bernie’s plan as the rantings of a socialist loon living to the left of the left-wing, we should remember how his Marxist beliefs concerning income inequality caught fire with a generation of Constitutionally ignorant voters raised on the socialist ideology taught in today’s public schools indoctrination centers.
And a poll conducted during the 2016 primary season showed that a majority of millennials rejected capitalism.
Democrats would see a huge voter advantage by creating a new state-run workforce dependent upon them for their jobs. And politicians from both parties would have a new voter-bloc to advance their ideological and political agendas.
Bernie’s plan is being called a guaranteed-jobs program, but the only guarantee it gives us is the destruction of capitalism and Constitutional America.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||5/4/2018 4:14:04 PM|
|What Is Upstream From Culture?|
by Erick Erickson
If politics is downstream from culture, what is upstream from culture? A well funded PR machine designed to vilify you.
In the book After the Ball, psychologist Marshall Kirk and ad man Hunter Madsen painted a picture of what the gay rights movement should do to normalize and advance their agenda in America. The book came out in 1990. Kirk and Madsen treated their book as a manifesto and we have witnessed their vision.
The propaganda effort the authors set out included inserting gay men and women into Hollywood to start writing shows with gay positive characters, then make gay characters normal characters on shows. They would get friends in the media to positively cover the gay rights movement. Advertisers would feature gay men and women in advertisements as an ideal. Gay celebrities would be championed. Churches too would be involved, with liberal churches rejecting Christian orthodoxy championed and those that kept the faith vilified.
“Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject, and that a sizable bloc – the most modern, up-to-date citizens – accept or even practice homosexuality,” they wrote. They wanted to be portrayed as victims too. “The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable; that is, to jam with shame the self-righteous pride that would ordinarily accompany and reward their antigay belligerence, and to lay groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.”
Likewise, the very unproven idea of orientation as something you are born with, for which science still offers nothing, had to be normalized. The authors wrote, “To suggest in public that homosexuality might be chosen is to open the can of worms labeled ‘moral choices and sin’ and give the religious intransigents a stick to beat us with. Straights must be taught that it is as natural for some persons to be homosexual as it is for others to be heterosexual: wickedness and seduction have nothing to do with it.”
All of this was written in 1989 and the book published in 1990. The implementation of their manifesto has been wildly successful. When people talk about sexual orientation as something we are all born with, we are fulfilling the wish of that manifesto, not talking about anything founded in science.
I bring up this book because I keep hearing people say culture is upstream from politics. What happens in culture flows into our politics. But After the Ballshould serve as a reminder that there are things upstream from culture and often those things are well orchestrated public relations campaigns designed to reshape culture and reshape our thinking.
Using the media, activists on the left truly do aim to divide up this country. Gun owners are increasingly portrayed as a hostile, rogue fringe by the media. Christians are now intolerant bigots who must be stamped out. Large families are bad too. Their carbon footprint must be reduced. Culture is being shaped by PR and the media is so busy generating outrage for clicks and revenue it does not realize it is being played. But of course some of the media is complicit.
“At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights—long after other gay ads have become commonplace—it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents,” Kirk and Madsen wrote. “To be blunt, they must be vilified.”
The gay rights movement has been normalized through a well orchestrated PR campaign. Those of us who dissent are not only now routinely referred to as bigots, but also increasingly unwelcome on the public stage. It took time on this issue, but the political left in America has lost patience on other fronts. From transgenderism to guns to climate change, the left has moved straight to Kirk and Madsen’s final solution: the vilification and ostracization of dissent.
They have had to go there rapidly because the new fronts in the efforts to change culture are running into common sense. It is hard to convince any sane person that boys can become girls or that snow in April is caused by global warming. So you must be bullied into belief. Bullies with well funded public relations teams are upstream from culture.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||5/17/2018 9:20:34 PM|
|Tuesday’s primaries moved us closer to becoming the United Socialist States of America|
by David Leach • May 17, 2018
In the article I wrote yesterday, I reminded my readers about a grass-roots effort by Barack Obama and Eric Holder to reshape state legislatures in their socialist left-wing image. If successful, Democrats would be in control of Congressional redistricting after the 2020 census, thus creating Democrat majorities lasting for decades.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about how the Democrat party has aligned itself with the socialist ideals of communists such as Karl Marx and how this so-called Democratic-Socialist ideology has been gaining acceptance with millennials.
As this new alignment within the Democrat party grows, we are witnessing the gradual death of capitalism and Constitutional government and the rise of the United Socialist States of America.
If you’re wondering why we took this short trip down memory lane, it’s because of yesterday’s primaries in Pennsylvania.
Four openly socialist candidates supported by the Democratic-Socialists of America (DSA) won their primaries in state House races.
The Pittsburg chapter of DSA strongly backed two candidates in particular: labor organizer Summer Lee and women’s rights activist Sara Innamorato, both of whom are dues-paying members of DSA.
“It feels like a monumental shift,” the group’s Pittsburgh co-chair, Arielle Cohen, told HuffPost. “We won on popular demands that were deemed impossible. We won on health care for all; we won on free education.” (emphasis mine)
The other two winners were Elizabeth Fiedler and Kristen Seale. Of the four winners, only Seale will face a GOP opponent in November, which means that three of Pennsylvania’s legislators next year are guaranteed to be Democratic-Socialists.
Liberal Democrats were winners in other primaries around America yesterday, proving that this lurch to the extreme left isn’t fake news. To paraphrase a line from an episode of Seinfeld, these radicals are real . . . and they’re spectacular.
Despite being presented with an opportunity to select conservative candidates to counter this left-wing extremism, the GOP chose “moderate” candidates because they’re allegedly more electable. And that brings us to the crux of the problem.
When Republicans choose to protect the party by becoming Democrats in order to win, they only ensure that Democrats win and America loses. Democrat-lite is still Democrat, and Democrats are now socialists, which means that Republicans have become accessories to the advance of socialism and can’t be counted on to reverse America’s course.
Conservatives need to completely cut their ties with the GOP, if for no other reason than to let the GOP self-destruct. If we continue to play the #Unibrow game, our Constitution and the Republic it protects are doomed, and the rise of the United Socialist States of America will be inevitable.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: Brumar89 who wrote (145)||5/22/2018 1:21:24 AM|
|It's an interesting perspective, but, mostly for how it exposes the logical error inherent in making irrational leaps from "this is true" to the next step in "so, therefore, we must commit electoral suicide." That's not me suggesting that the best solution is to continue to run "centrists" to try to avoid controversy in closely divided districts... rather than me pointing out that the requirement for success, in that situation, isn't for conservatives to abandon the Republican party on principle, but for them to take control of party leadership away from the shiftless "centrists"... while re-invigorating the party with an effort that provides a more real and meaningful reason for anyone to actually take an interest.|
Division and association are conflicting impulses... in every group.
The challenge isn't ever in how best to foster greater division... but in how to understand the methods being employed against you in imposing, enabling, fostering and sustaining particular divisions that are intended to ensure a result that has your faction always losing, rather than the other guys faction losing.
What I find most important in the "debate"... is that most mainstream Republicans and virtually all of the Democrats, irrespective of their interest group associations within the party, are so far behind the power curve in understanding any of what's happening in politics today... that they're almost irrelevant in the discussion that matters, and the only point in listening to most of them is in judging the degree in how true that is.
The corruption of the existing power elite is so complete that they're almost entirely divorced from reality.
I agree that the "mainstream" R's (or, RINO R's) have long been offering a path that inevitably leads to failure in advancing the party agenda, as has been true for something more than the last half century, at least...
Where I will part paths with others, perhaps, is in NOT simply assuming that they have been and are acting in good faith in making the effort they have. It is clear enough to me that they've failed on purpose... and continue to fail on purpose.
The best news... is that Trump, at least, quite fully understands the nature of the challenge presented by Republican "leaders" who fully intend to lie to their constituency about what they intend to do when elected... and then give the "aw, shucks" routine as an excuse when presented with their failure to deliver... exactly as they intended.
We have, this week, finally reached a "tipping point" in the Trump administration's challenge to end the intrinsic corruption that sustains the "deep state" cabal of the hard left and the RINO right...
And, that's why you saw the unseemly underbelly of the beast finally being exposed in the key event this week... with former CIA perpetrator in chief Brennan THREATENING Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan.
I note how odd it is that no one else seems interested in commenting on what that MEANS... to see the resident heart of evil from Obama's deep state... responding to the proof of the failure of the "compromise" between soft socialist RINO's and the hard D left... with threats.
There is a new division being crafted in American politics this week... or, more accurately, finally being exposed now... as Trump finally shifts from patiently playing defense to playing a fairly aggressive game on offense...
RINO "leadership" still should be expected to remain as unable as ever to find a backbone of their own... but, Trump now having taken leadership of the movement and the party from them, Trump is now holding them accountable in a way that they've not ever been held accountable before...
And that's a change that is going to make the next couple of months easily among the most interesting and entertaining in American political history...
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: sense who wrote (146)||5/22/2018 10:04:25 AM|
|Are you kidding?|
Trump, at least, quite fully understands the nature of the challenge presented by Republican "leaders" who fully intend to lie to their constituency about what they intend to do when elected... and then give the "aw, shucks" routine as an excuse when presented with their failure to deliver... exactly as they intended.
He neither understands nor cares. He's ONE OF THEM. He doesn't care about lying to their constituency, it's what he does as well.
the Trump administration's challenge to end the intrinsic corruption that sustains the "deep state" cabal
Please. The Trump administration exists to enrich itself on corruption.
Trump finally shifts from patiently playing defense to playing a fairly aggressive game on offense...
Trump is more than ever on defense. Scared into advancing insane conspiracy theories as he sees co-conspirators going down (Cohen, Stone, Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, Gates, and more coming).
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||5/25/2018 12:33:48 PM|
|Is the American Republic Dying?|
May 24, 2018 11:00 am EDT Don Sutherland Editorial 5 Comments
In the May/June 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs, Editor Gideon Rose raises the provocative question as to whether global democracy (republican form of governance) is dying. The United States, which has anchored the post-World War II free world, figures prominently in that venerable journal’s bimonthly theme. Opening the publication’s discussion, Rose writes:
Centralization of power in the executive, politicization of the judiciary, attacks on independent media, the use of public office for private gain—the signs of democratic regression are well known. The only surprising thing is where they’ve turned up. As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, “We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.”
The United States has turned out to be less exceptional than many thought. Clearly, it can happen here; the question now is whether it will.
“Whether it will” remains to be seen. Certainly, President Donald Trump’s words, his leadership, and the conduct of his Administration touch all of the characteristics of democratic decline that Rose cites.
Centralization of power in the executive? Check. The White House’s increasingly “hands-on” approach to the Department of Justice highlights a growing centralization of executive power away from Cabinet officers and law enforcement professionals to the President.
Politicization of the Judiciary? Check. The President has railed against judicial decisions, attacked judges, and criticized courts for rulings that cut against his Administration’s policies and goals.
Attacks on the independent media? Check. President Trump has waged an unrelenting war against the “fake media.” He has assailed journalists, vilified news outlets and publications, and even issued implied threats to revoke broadcasting licenses.
Use of public office for private gain? Check. Ethics scandals have embroiled EPA Director Scott Pruitt and former Health Secretary Tom Price. Political and campaign funds have flowed to President Trump’s properties.
So is the American experiment in republican government now in its sunset? Will twilight that inevitably leads to darkness follow?
Harvard University Lecturer on Government Yascha Mounk and University of Melbourne Lecturer in Political Science Roberto Stefan Foa are deeply pessimistic. They suggest that Western democracy’s global clout is nearing an end. The United States is among those democratic countries. In Foreign Affairs, they explain:
Hopes that the current set of democratic countries could somehow regain their erstwhile global position are probably vain. The most likely scenario, then, is that democracies will come to look less and less attractive as they cease to be associated with wealth and power and fail to address their own challenges…
The only remaining question now is whether democracy will transcend its once firm anchoring in the West, a shift that would create the conditions for a truly global democratic century—or whether democracy will become, at best, the lingering form of government in an economically and demographically declining corner of the world.
That “less attractive” appearance has often opened the door to authoritarianism. Once democratic governance has been perceived to be unable to meaningfully address the day’s problems, societies have often turned to illiberal alternatives. The human and economic costs of doing so have been staggering, but such transitions have not ceased. Today, one is witnessing trends toward deepening authoritarianism in such countries as Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela. One is also witnessing the early stages of non-democratic transitions in Austria and Poland.
Russell Walter Mead offers a more hopeful outlook. He writes that the United States has faced and overcome similar transitions before. He writes:
The information revolution is disrupting the country’s social and economic order as profoundly as the Industrial Revolution did. The ideologies and policies that fit American society a generation ago are becoming steadily less applicable to the problems it faces today. The United States’ political parties and most of its political leaders lack the vision and ideas that could solve its most urgent problems….
The effects of rapid change are often unwelcome, but the process of transformation is one of growth and development, not of decline and fall. Indeed, the ability to cope with change remains one of the United States’ greatest sources of strength. In the nineteenth century, people often compared the United States unfavorably with the orderly Prussian-led German empire. Today, the contrast often drawn is with China’s efficient modernization. Yet there is resilience and flexibility in the creative disorder of a free society. There are reasons to believe that, once again, the United States can find a path to an open and humane society that capitalizes on the riches that the new economy will produce.
The large-scale changes that have brought the United States to its current crossroads are occurring even as the nation faces growing political dysfunction. The Trump Administration’s efforts to compromise the independence the nation’s law enforcement and Intelligence communities, its continuing attacks on the news media, and its profligate fiscal policy present a great and gathering challenge. A passive, often subservient Congress that puts narrow partisan interests ahead of broad national ones, is further compounding America’s political affliction.
Nevertheless, the United States still possesses formidable assets on which it can draw. It has a resilient and dynamic economy. It remains at or near the forefront of a wide range of scientific and technological frontiers. Its people are an unsurpassed resource when they are fully free to harness their talents and pursue their imaginations. Its republican form of government has not yet been lost.
Therefore, sufficient time is available for the American electorate to make appropriate political corrections. With such adjustments, the American people will again have the chance to tap into what has been perhaps America’s defining characteristic since the 13 colonies declared their independence in 1776, its seemingly limitless capacity for self-renewal.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: Brumar89 who wrote (148)||5/25/2018 8:13:26 PM|
Part 1: What’s So Great About Our Constitution, Anyway?Essay 9 – 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.”
– James Madison, Federalist 51
The above lines are part of a larger quote from Madison that is among my favorites of the Federalist Papers. In my view, it summarizes the entire concept of how the Constitution was created with human nature in mind so concisely, so precisely, and so elegantly.
Those who passionately debated and deliberated the Constitution during those days were great studies of history, political and otherwise.
After a hard-fought war with great loss of blood, life, and property in order to obtain our liberty, they were extremely leery about handing it over to yet another tyrannical power. They were developing something that had not ever been tried to this extent before…self-government.
They wanted a system that retained the maximum liberty for the individual and for each individual State. That meant that the federal government must be small and limited in its powers with its main objective to protect the natural rights of the individuals. They knew that some form of government was needed, because without it, each individual would have to personally protect all of his/her own rights, which would, of course, always lead to the strongest gaining everything.
Why? Because they knew and acknowledged that men are not angels.
Men are flawed with human nature, and a certain amount of human nature consists of depravity, corruption, and the hunger for power. Since we cannot trust that every person will act like an angel (actually we can trust that they will not), then we need a system (a government) that will put a check on that.
Human nature was the reason that the founders created all of the checks and balances in the system.
These checks and balances consist of such things as the separation of powers, limited government powers, federalism, and a representative republican form of government. We’ll talk about each of these things in more detail, but basically the idea is to ensure that power is not centralized under one entity.
Here is more from Madison’s Federalist 51 quote:
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. 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.”
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” That, in a nutshell, is why we have all of the checks and balances.
Ambition is a part of human nature.
While it was incredibly wise to recognize and acknowledge the flaws in human nature and to create a system that accounts for them, it follows that if that system of checks and balances were to break down, then human nature would take over and corruption would fill the void.
Where we’ve gone wrong…
Too many people tend to discount the role of human nature when forming opinions about issues and policies. Instead of understanding how and why certain aspects of our system were implemented and working to fix those parts of the system that are now broken, they continue to believe that if we just elect the “right people”, then they’ll create the right laws and policies that we want.
They put their faith in the elected people rather than in the very carefully created system that protects us from those people. And because we are such a diverse people, nobody can agree on who the “right people” are, so we end up in a never-ending cycle of inconsistency and strife. One side gains power and implements their chosen policies, then the other side takes over and goes the other direction, and round and round it goes.
Nobody is ever happy, at least not for very long.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||6/1/2018 10:47:35 AM|
|Forget Democratic Socialism and make way for Conservative Socialism|
by David Leach • June 1, 2018
Early last month, I wrote an article warning my readers that, based on the current political climate, we could be on the verge of witnessing the rise of the United Socialist States of America. In that article, I documented how the Democrat party’s embrace of Marxist ideology was fueling the rise of Democratic Socialism, particularly where capitalism and the free market are concerned.
I also shared how a majority of millennials favored the idea of completely rejecting capitalism and replacing it with the economic policies of murderous communist dictators like Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, and Chairman Mao. No surprise, really, in light of the fact that today’s public schools have become indoctrination centers where the Bible and the Constitution have been banned only to be replaced by the politically correct agenda of social justice warriors passing as teachers.
Obviously, those who bear the moniker of Democratic-Socialist are easy to target as being the greatest threat to liberty when it comes to advancing socialist policies. But as I stated in the USSA article, the GOP has abandoned the Constitution and conservatism, so they can’t be counted on to protect America either.
Unfortunately, the advance of socialism has reached its way into the faux conservative remnant of the GOP and is now being promoted as a conservative value.
In an article from NewsMax.com, Lee Mercer, the president of Healthcare for All Oregon-Action, is making an appeal to Donald Trump to make the “ conservative case for single payer healthcare.” While Mercer is more on the Democratic-Socialist side of the aisle, he quotes “conservatives” from Canada and the US to Trump to make his case.
Using the recently released healthcare documentary “ Fix it: Healthcare at the Tipping Point” as a reference, Mercer quotes Dann Konkin, President of AMPCO Manufacturers in British Columbia, who gave his views on business and healthcare.
“I am a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. We stand for removing waste, being more efficient and finding ways to grow our own businesses and one of the ways we can grow our business is to reduce cost. That is why we embrace the Canadian healthcare system. What I don’t understand is why my fellow conservatives in the United States tend to fight this.”
And from the US, Mercer quotes former GOP Rep. David Steil (PA):
“Business when they look at the single payer model, will come quickly to the conclusion that it is the least expensive and most supportive of a free market and will have the most direct effect on their cost of operations. As a business owner and as a former Republican legislator I have said conservatives should be supportive of single payer because it costs less.”
So, according to these so-called conservatives, socialized medicine is a free-market solution to the healthcare crisis . . . and it’s conservative.
Democratic Socialism has brought America to the brink of becoming the United Socialist States of America, but it looks like Conservative Socialism will finish the job.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: Brumar89||6/3/2018 2:47:00 PM|
|Markets Are as Old as Civilization|
By Nima Sanandaji
What is capitalism? According to our modern understanding, capitalism is a relatively new idea, and the intellectual foundations for a free market model can be traced to the 18th century philosopher Adam Smith. However, this narrative about the development of free markets is fundamentally flawed.
Far from being a recent innovation, enterprises, banks, advanced commercial practices and free markets evolved some 4,000 years ago in the countries we today know as Iraq and Syria. A better understanding of the story of capitalism is needed; since it shows us how important markets have been for human progress as well as how universal the link between development and market policy is across different societies.
Over time, archaeologists have uncovered and translated a great deal of tablets left from ancient civilisations. Many of the tablets from Babylonia and Assyria, in contemporary Iraq and Syria, are receipts of economic ventures. They show that private profit-seeking merchants, rather sophisticated investment ventures and market price setting were common in these civilisations. Astronomical diaries written some 2,500 years ago show how market prices changed on a monthly, or even weekly, basis in Babylonia.
Historians have found considerable evidence for market economy being an ancient Middle Eastern innovation. Dutch historians Robartus Johannes van der Spek and Kees Mandamakers wrote already in 2002: “That market mechanisms played their part in the Babylonian economy seems now to be unquestionable.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given how prosperous the ancient Middle Eastern civilisations were and how important they were for human progress, it should come as no surprise that they were the birthplace of enterprise and market economy. Egypt on the other hand relied more on central planning, and predictably stagnated.
Free markets, in different forms, also seem to have formed in the three other cradles of human civilisation – India, China and Mesoamerica. Since ancient times China has fluctuated between free market policies and statist control. The periods of free markets are those in which China has prospered.
Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise since many of our most important inventions have originated in China. Only during recent centuries, when Europe has developed and embraced modern capitalism, have European civilisations become the dominant force for growth and technology in the world. Before then this role fell to the Middle East, China and India – the market economies of the world. Around a thousand years ago the concept of Sreni, the first known proto-corporation, evolved in India.
It seems that the cradles of human civilisation all developed a market economy, in more or less evolved form. This even goes for Mesoamerica, where the Aztecs and Mayan economies had aspects of the free market. This is worth keeping in mind. If one believes the modern narrative that capitalism is a fairly new European invention, then other models have existed in human history that gave rise to the spectacular development seen in ancient Eastern civilisations such as Babylonia, Persia, China, Phoenicia and Asia minor (modern day Turkey). Yet, in truth, the periods of prosperity in these regions were the same in which market economy was adopted. So it turns out, the link between markets and prosperity is quite universal.
The market economic tradition of the Middle East would later be connected to that of China and India through the famous Silk Road. It would be revitalised in the early middle ages, resulting in the Islamic Golden age of market exchange with an accompanying industrial revolution (with machinery powered by wind and water). Modern market practices such as bookkeeping, modern commercial farming and industrial knowledge from the Middle East all inspired the market development in places such as Italy and Spain.
But it is not only the institutions of the market that evolved in the East, the same goes for the intellectual support of markets. Adam Smith is often considered to be the father of economics and the first intellectual supporter of free-market ideals. This belief stems from the assumption that Smith was the first to explain how markets develop through the division of labour and specialisation.
However, Xenophon’s writing on the same subject predates Smith by more than 2,000 years. What was Xenophon writing about? He was explaining the market practices of ancient Persia, whose economy evidently functioned on the basis of market mechanisms. In fact, previously unpublished lecture notes from Smith show that he simply seems to have plagiarised Xenophon.
Even more interesting is another piece of writing from this ancient historian. Xenophon wrote about how Cyrus the Great – the most influential ruler of his time – was taught as a prince about how to judge market transactions. The moral of the story is that a wise ruler should not regulate the marketplace based on what the ruler believes to be an efficient exchange. Rather, he should only concern himself with whether the transaction had been conducted in proper accordance with property rights and voluntary transaction.
This is the essence of free market ideology, set out around 550 BC in ancient Iran. No coincidence then that Cyrus freed slaves (such as the Jews from slavery in Babylon), wrote an early declaration of human rights, spread standardised gold coins and built the Royal Road which was the beginning of the Silk Road. Early market economy went in hand with peaceful exchange.
In the 7th century BC, the Guanzi, an important and political and philosophical text from ancient China, described how profit-seeking merchants study demand and supply on the marketplace, and lay the foundation for an efficient economy through their activities: “Marvellous and fantastic things arrive in timely fashion; rare and unusual goods readily gather. Day and night thus engaged, merchants tutor their sons and brothers, speaking the language of profit, teaching them the virtue of timeliness and training them how to recognise the value of goods.”
Numerous ancient Chinese intellectuals had advanced free market ideas some 2,000 years before Adam Smith. Confucius himself was an advocate of limited taxation. Mencius, the second most influential Confucian philosopher, had advanced theories on why market price setting should be free from government involvement and private property protected.
This ancient Chinese intellectual criticised state taxation of market exchange and advocated the rights of the individual. Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, had before Mencius laid the foundations of the first known libertarian ideas: advocating personal as well as economic freedom.
Rational self-interest, an idea commonly attributed to 20th century thinker Ayn Rand, isn’t new either.
Chinese historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien explained around 100 BC how individuals who act in their own self-interest are the driving force for wealth creation: “Therefore, farmers provide food, forest guards supply mountain resources, and merchants distribute these goods. The government did not order the collection of the goods. It was done because each person did what he could best and wanted to get what he needed. When the prices are high, that is a sign they will soon become low. Everybody diligently attends to his task and enjoys doing it just as water flows to a lower place. He keeps working days and nights, comes even if he is not called, and supplies goods even if they are not demanded. This stands to reason and is the way it should be.”
In Qabus Nameh, a major work of Persian literature from the 11th century AD, the mythological king of Iran, Kai Kavus, gives his son advice on economic matters in line with the ideas of rational self-interest. The 15th-century Persian ethicist Asaad Davani wrote: “Experience teaches me this wholesome truth: men work by knowledge, knowledge works by wealth.” Davani explained: “For the wisest, if destitute of money, can be no benefactor of the people; and even in himself, by reason of his attention to require expedients, is withheld from perfection.”
These are just a few examples to illustrate an important point: market economy, its institutions and its intellectual support have played a much longer role in human history than today’s narrative acknowledges. Promoters of free market ideals should strive to learn more about the story of capitalism, in order to broaden their horizons, increase their global appeal and find stronger support for their cause.
After all, it is not only in modern times that free markets have fostered progress while statism has led to stagnation; this seems to be universal pattern over the world throughout history.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|