Friday, January 19, 2018

The Real Alexander Hamilton

A contrast between the Hamilton portrayed in the musical vs. the actual man.

Why Switzerland has Few Immigration Problems

In my first book on Localism one of the real-world examples of how localism works in practice was the Swiss Canton system of government. Switzerland has been one of the best-governed nations in human history, though they too are increasingly suffering from centralization. This is because they have failed to keep shut all thirteen of the doorways through which power is taken farther from the individual and gathered up into distant capitals. Still, the process by which local self-determination is lost has not progressed nearly as far there as it has in other western nations. A perfect example of how their system works better (because it is more localist) than that of their neighbors and the United States is the subject of immigration.

I was very amused to read this article about a Dutch busy-body who went to Switzerland apparently on something like our green card, and attempted to make the situation permanent. Apparently the citizens of the town where the immigrants live can vote on whether or not an applicant can become a citizen! The citizens voted "no" because they did not like the way this person came to town and tried to get them to change their customs of putting large cow-bells on the necks of their cattle! That is what passes for "immigration problems" in Switzerland!

How much better would it be (for both citizens and immigrants who wish to attain citizenship) if we used this bottom-up system of deciding who would become a citizen? Instead of Washington D.C. telling communities who they had to take, communities could tell Washington D.C. who had to be taken! Immigrants who came here and became good neighbors would be valued by the community and taken. Those who came here and started trouble would have to go back when their visa expired and their slot could be given to another applicant who would make better use of it.

Right now, central-staters are flooding some communities with immigrants at a higher level than can be integrated without serious tensions. These immigrants often come from such different cultures that problems are almost assured. Meanwhile, other communities have declared themselves "sanctuary cities" which will not cooperate with any central-state attempts to capture and expel illegal immigrants. In fact there is talk of federal agents arresting elected leaders of such cities. And of course there is already an effort to cut federal funds to such cities (not that any cities should get them).

So the central-state, in its usual ham-fisted manner, is both imposing immigrants on communities that the communities do not want, and sanctioning communities for trying to keep immigrants that they do want. It is madness. The central state is madness. We should decentralize this and every other function of government to the maximum extent feasible.

Instead of collective decision made in D.C. to take X number from this nation and Y number from that one, we should evaluate immigrants on a case-by-case basis. If they express a willingness to give something back to our nation and attempt to mesh with our culture and demonstrate some aptitude for doing so then they get a chance to earn the right to stay. The decision on whether to give the an opportunity should be based on those factors. This may result in a larger proportion of immigrants being taken from nations with a western heritage, but there are people in every nation who can adopt a western heritage because our culture is based on universal, not ethnic, values. If the local communities decide they have done well, they can stay. If not, when their visa is up, they are deported.

Don't expect those who run things now to decide to adopt a Swiss-style immigration system. It doesn't matter if they are Republicans or Democrats, central-planners run both parties now and such people cannot fathom voluntarily sending power back down closer to the people. They will continue to try and define the problem as being whether the quotas are too high or too low, or too much from this place and not enough from that.

They can't bear the thought of letting go to a Swiss-style system even though it works fantastically well while their own central planning is a disaster that leaves all sides unhappy. Their confidence in their own ability to run your community from afar better than the people living in it borders on narcissism. The moral course is simple, its just hard. Immigrants with the appropriate desires and aptitudes should be free to go where they are wanted and kept out of places where they are not wanted. That's the fairest thing for both the immigrant and the communities.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

How Socialism Made Liberal a Dirty Word, and What Will do the Same to Conservative.

Thomas Jefferson was a "Classical" Liberal. The Mises Institute defines it like this:

"Classical liberalism" is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade. Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism. The qualifying "classical" is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals. This version of liberalism — if such it can still be called — is sometimes designated as "social," or (erroneously) "modern" or the "new," liberalism. 
Classical liberalism sounds a lot like present-day limited-government conservatism. It sounds a lot like "libertarianish" conservatives. Jefferson was also against big, energetic, government- because he felt it led to tyranny. Liberalism challenged traditions and the most narrow form of "conservative"- the most narrow form of "conservative" would think that the rule of law was secondary to whoever is in charge now being able to bend the rules so that they stay in charge.  Equality under the law for all citizens and skepticism about how much good a big intrusive government could do were hallmarks of classical liberalism. By that latter standard both major parties are "conservative"- they want to bend the rules so that those on top now stay on top. Bail-outs for them, but not for us.

So classical liberalism sounds pretty good. It started a good thing. It became a dirty word because socialists wanted to hijack the positive association of "liberal" to mask their own policies. They used the liberal respect for equal treatment under the law to blend in with them and appropriate the label. But as the section from Mises above hints at, leftists had a vastly different idea of "equality" than classical liberals. They wanted to use government intervention to force equality of outcomes. All classical liberals wanted was the government to treat everyone equally under the law. They wanted government to follow its own rules and treat everyone the same- even if they didn't go to the "right" church or were not from the "right" ethnic background.

And so at first the left joined with liberals under the guise of sharing their goals for equality, but they wound up hijacking the movement. Leftists identified themselves as "liberal" because they wanted to hide their socialism. Eventually, they tainted the word. Leftists were not really liberal, but they used similar language to get into the club, even though their version of "equality" wound up a totalitarian nightmare where goodies were handed out, not by merit or production in free choices between individuals, but by being connected to government re-distributors.

There is a lesson in here for conservatives, because they are next. Soon "conservative" is going to be a dirty word, if its not already. The hallmark of conservatism is respect for tradition. Ironically, many of the traditions conservatives respect were originally "liberal" ideas- the rule of law, suspicion of overly-large government, religious freedom, free-markets. The "liberals" just like those things for what they were, the conservatives valued them as part of our heritage.

But just like socialists co-opted liberalism and turned it into a dirty word so another group is doing the same to the "conservative" label. Like the socialist left, they are so good at it that many conservatives are slowly changing their thinking so as to reflect the values of another philosophy that only masquerades as "conservative."  This philosophy puts "national greatness" over civil rights. It puts "security" over civil rights. It warps our special heritage into some sort of "duty" for a special kind of government program called "war". That is, because our heritage is special we should spread military bases all over the planet and try to compel the rest of the globe to behave in ways that Washington D.C. deems proper (even though D.C. values are even out of touch with that of our own people). That is not the tradition of our founders!

Trade is another area that is warped. They call their trade agreements "free trade" because that is a conservative-liberal value. But again they are just using that name to mask the very different policy of cronyism. As with socialism, goodies are distributed more by connections to the system. They just distribute to corporate collectives instead of collectives of people, such as racial groups or union members.

Now the philosophy that supplanted and corrupted classical liberalism had a name- socialism. The philosophy which is supplanting classical conservatism, which again is also like classical liberalism in policy but for somewhat different reasons. also has a name. Let me sum up the features of the philosophy and see if you can guess what the name of the political philosophy is: 1) It puts national greatness and state security above individual liberty, and thus is collectivist. 2) It often has a belligerent and combative foreign policy since it believes that the special destiny of the nation gives it a right or even duty to impose its will by force. 3) It takes a low view of the checks and balances in a Republic in favor of a "great man" who should be given tremendous power. 4)  There should be a loyal following to his person more than in a set of ideas or principles (like the constitution). Ideally, he should be able to switch positions with his opponent and their followers would never even notice the contradiction. 5) Power should be centralized so that the great man can do great things. 6) It represents the merger of state and corporate power.

Do you know what the original name for that philosophy is?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.


Fascism. The above six points describe fascism to a "T". For obvious historical reasons those who hold this philosophy don't want to call it by its historical name. Their unwillingness to see and call their philosophy what it has been historically called does not change the truth- they are fascists. And if true conservatives- those who treasure classically liberal values but for different reasons than Jefferson did- don't begin to distance themselves from this philosophy and the people who hold it then their label will become as thoroughly poisoned as classical liberalism was poisoned by the socialists who hi-jacked it.

Even worse, over time this failure to sort through these differences will drag your own philosophy of government further and further over into de-facto fascism just by association. As Proverbs says "Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals". The classical liberals had bad company in the socialists, and now "liberal" is considered a dirty word. The same thing is happening to "conservative." Conservatives are noted for valuing tradition and history, we should learn from it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thomas Jefferson and the Two Natural Parties of Man

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, ...Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still, and pursue the same object.” – Thomas Jefferson

There is little doubt that Jefferson is right about the divisions of men into political parties. Jefferson was one who believed that if people were well informed, they could rule themselves. Hamilton thought they could not be counted on to keep themselves well informed, and would not rule wisely even if they were. So who was right?

I say at different times and in different circumstances, they both were. Republican government is not possible without virtue. We are entering a time in which the average person does not posses the virtue required for self government. They would use access to the public treasury to loot it for themselves and their friends. Their personal lives are a wreck, the idea of them ruling the nation is beyond the pale. They know, and care to know, next to nothing of economics or geopolitics, but are well acquainted with which pop tart just got out of rehab. They are not the “well informed” populace that Jefferson envisioned. They may think they are informed because they get spoon-fed a steady diet of mis-information and distraction from media controlled by global corporations. These foreign entities have no interest in keeping Americans truly well informed, and thinking one is well informed when they are not is worse than regular ignorance.

On the other hand, power corrupts, and the ruling class have had practical power for a long time. They are deeply corrupt, and irredeemable in a way that ruling elites in the west for the last thousand years have rarely experienced. Once our ruling elites shared a world view that even the lives of peasants was sacred because they were created in the likeness of God. Ever since Darwinsim came along, a new and diabolical mind set has taken over as the world view of the ruling class. They now can believe that there is nothing sacred about human life, and that a soft conscience toward the lower classes, far from being a sign of godliness, is instead a sign of weakness. They can "respectably" believe that conscience is just an artifact left over from some earlier stage of evolution that is holding man back from his next “great leap forward.” Think of what madness people who think like that could (and I believe are) unleashing on the world.

When the lower classes are corrupted, they may be better off for a short while with a ruling class. But the ruling class itself will not be better off with this situation for very long, for power corrupts. Too much power held in too few hands for too long a time will corrupt even the best among us. The only king to be beyond the corrupting influence of this sort of power was Christ, and He refused it in favor of a kingdom based on the free will submission of its individual subjects rather than a worldly kingdom which used external compulsion to enforce its edicts.

The only sure antidote to the corrupting influence of power over others is its dispersal. That is why I, along with the greater part of the Founders, favor a central government that is extremely limited in scope and in reach. Let the state governments have authority in more spheres, and the local governments have authority in yet more. But let none of them have overmuch control. Rather, let those men and women who have demonstrated their capacity for self-rule have great latitude in their actions. Local islands of virtue would have the best chance to grow and avoid being swept away by the tide of the angry state in such a nation. Perhaps they could fashion laws so that those who lack capacity for self-government might attach themselves to someone of means in the former group, even as a servant.

It may be that after spending some years in the service of those who understand the attitudes, values, and disciplines required to rule one’s self, that the servants will one day become masters. But even if they never do, they are much better off with their own choice of patriarch than with the state’s choice of case worker. They are better off living on the estate of a great man than living in a government project with no view of life on the other side and no means to get there.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Iron Chancellor was a Pacifist Compared to U.S. Neocons

Otto von Bismarck, Germany's "Iron Chancellor". 
Can't you tell what a sweetheart he was? 

“The Balkans aren't worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” ― Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck was known as the "Iron Chancellor" of Imperial Germany. He often scoffed at politics, and declared that some issues would not be resolved by majority votes but rather by "iron and blood." By his own admission, he led his nation into three wars in which 800,000 people died. He lamented that these actions were a barrier between him and God. The Nazis loved him so much that they named their best battleship after him!

He sounds like a pretty ruthless character, and history usually judges him as such. Though that may be true, I find Bismarck to be a judicious, humble, and even populist figure compared to the neocons who presently run the foreign policy apparatus of the United States in both establishment parties.

Both they and Bismarck show contempt for democracy. Americans have voted for whichever Presidential candidate promised them peace since the early 1990's but all we seem to get is more war no matter what they campaigned on. See this video where Gore and Bush literally changed positions on foreign policy after the latter was elected. They care even less for what voters want than he did!

Bismarck's moral superiority to today's neocons really shines when you consider the amount of hubris each displays in using the military might of their nations. Obviously, Bismarck was no shrieking violet. But at least he understood that there where areas of the world which were not worth intervening in, even areas as close to Germany as the Balkans. In their extreme arrogance today's neocons have sent our nation's soldiers to just about ever mud hole on earth with absolute confidence in their ability to re-order those societies in what they consider "our" interests.

That these grandiose and bloody adventures have uniformly failed to achieve their visions has not deterred their enthusiasm to play God with the life and treasure of our nation. They act like they have some kind of Divine right to rule the world, using as an excuse fighting the "terrorists" that they themselves, along with their allies in the Arabian Peninsula, created.

The other area which shows the Iron Chancellor to be a much more moral man than the typical neocon today is their respective attitudes before God. Bismarck at least understood that there was a God to which man would be accountable. In the over-whelming hubris of today's neocons God is not a factor, but they don't hesitate to use the name of God when it advances their aims. Unlike him, they seem unrestrained by the fear of God. They act as though God is only an information warfare tool at their disposal!

Obviously the central state is very useful to such warped minds. Our goal should be to decentralize the military to such an extent that it becomes impossible to embroil the nation in endless, ruinous, and pointless foreign wars. The blue book on localism below outlines how such a nation's military might be constructed, as well as identifying all other ways in which power is centralized and what ought to be done about it. The red book defends the view of government proposed in the blue book on a philosophical basis from the two extreme political ideas which might oppose it- anarchy and the central state.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Trouble in Catalan

Catalan has declared independence from Spain. Throughout this process the Spanish government has acted about like the Chinese government would behave - with total inflexibility and threats of force.

The "enlightened" EU members refuse to recognize Catalan. In the end we see that some huge centralized structures may put up better fronts than others, but their interest is in accumulating control which is the antithesis of individual liberty.

I am not a secessionist myself, in the sense that I don't want to secede from the central government, I just want to greatly reduced its sphere of influence. But I am a secessionist in the sense that I believe what the Declaration of Independence says about the right of communities of humans to alter or abolish a form of government which no longer fulfills its just purpose - protecting their God-given rights. This right of secession is meaningless unless it stands whether or not the offending government declares it to be legal or illegal.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 was influenced by the Fascists of the Franco administration. Naturally it puts "National Greatness" over "Human Freedom" in its priorities. But by making it illegal to leave Spain no matter how antagonistic the relationship is we find there was no particular reason for Madrid to treat Catalan with respect or equity. Paradoxically, when it is legally recognized that a province can leave a central state, it sets in motion forces where that province is treated in such a manner that it will tend to not want to leave. When the central state attempts to enforce the fiction that leaving can't even be discussed much less attempted, it will set in motion forces which lead to the dissolution of the nation.

One of the pillars of localism is that relationships between governments at various levels should be voluntary.  And if a sub-unit decides that it wants to change the unit it is in then there should be a legal process by which this can be done. Agreeing in advance on the terms under which a split can occur not only makes inevitable splits less painful and bloody, it can actually reduce the chances that a split is necessary!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Worst Idea Humanly Conceivable

I can understand why people are wary of mixing a religious institution with the institution of the state- it is a combination which has historically proven ruinous to both institutions and also to the people they are supposed to serve. This is why the Founders forbade the Federal government from passing any law respecting or prohibiting any religious establishment. The formal unification of the institutions of Church and State, except in the Person of Christ, is a blasphemy.
On the other hand, they made no effort to separate their personal faith from their ideas on public policy and how they governed. Indeed most of them believed that our Republic could only survive if both leaders and people informed their behavior by religion and morality. That despite the fact that those who governed had far less power than their modern counterparts, because the state was much smaller.
The idea we have these days-  that the people who govern us should act as though there is no God or that He is irrelevant to public policy or governance, is probably the worst idea that can be humanly conceived. Do we really want to give a group of corruptible humans a vast amount of power and tell them "act as though there is no God watching over you. Act as if there will be no eternal accountability for what you do"? 
Between the terrible idea of fusing the institutions of Church and State, and the worst idea humanly conceivable of pretending that the knowledge of God is irrelevant to statecraft, is the classical middle ground advocated by Localism. It is the middle ground between would-be tyrants who use the name of God as an excuse for everything that they themselves wish to do, and the radical secularist who would leave us with the thorough and decentralized, paradoxical, chaotic tyranny which comes from a society which sinks into moral nihilism.

Localism's solutions are subtle, and unfortunately we live in times where many people seize on unsubtle, knee-jerk reactions as "solutions" with little thought or reflection. While slaves can get by with little thought or reflection about the nature of government, in the long run free people can't. Consideration of such matters is inextricably connected to the idea of self-governance. Without a balanced and thought-out view of the role of religious faith in governance we cannot have a complete political philosophy. The second book below in particular makes this clear.