Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Print Version of Localism, A Philosophy of Government is Out!

Buy the book.

Until now, Localism had only been available as an E-book, except for a few rare hard covers of an early edition.   The fourth edition is the best yet.  In the end, it is going to be either globalism or localism. If for no other reason than because no other philosophy of government can defend its society against globalism. For those who believe government should be limited but notice we are losing and don't know why or what we should work toward to stop it, this book is for you. Click the picture above to buy the book.

We Need to Take Your Freedom to Protect You From the Monster We Created

Buy the book.

Most knowledgeable people know that Al-Qaeda was, and is, funded by the U.S. and its allies in the mid-east.   It started as a loose coalition of Jihadi groups which took aid from the Saudis and the U.S. and they have been getting aide from the U.S. and the Saudis ever since.    It appears, depending on your view, that 9/11 was a case of Dr. Frankenstein losing control of the monster he created.  Since then there has been a conflict between that Al-Qaeda and the "good Al-Qaeda" that our state department still wants to fund.  Not that any faction of them are really good, it is just that our state department imagines that they control some factions because they will cash our checks.

Once Obama made it clear that Malaki had to go, Putin gave Malaki is full support.  Two months later, Sunni terrorists show up and seemingly out of nowhere with U.S. equipment and take over a third of Iraq.   Only when they attack the Kurds does Obama order a very limited attack.

ISIS is a spin-off of Al-Qaeda, and its members were trained by the United States and funded by the U.S. allies Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.   It increasingly looks like our government itself is the one creating the boogieman that they use as the excuse to take away our freedoms.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Fatal Conceit of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was the last of Rome's "Five Good Emperors."   As a Stoic philosopher, he lived a simple life with (for an Emperor) few pleasures.   His creed as shown above dictated a life of virtue, but not devotion to the gods.    He was what we would call today a "salvation by works" kind of guy.  He reasoned that if he lived a good enough life, then just gods would allow him to be welcomed into their company.  If they were unjust, then being admitted to their company was not desirable.  If no gods existed, then hisr noble life would at least inspire his loved ones who lived on.

The man was a fabulous and just emperor all the way to the end of his reign.   His highest pleasure seemed to be ruling wisely and justly.   Examining his performance, and those of his four  predecessors, could almost convince one of the virtue of the central state left in the hands of virtuous rulers.

Aurelius though, had a fatal conceit.  Fatal to the Roman Empire and the ideas of justice he cherished.  He did not understand his own nature. Men are not good, except when compared to one another.   None can be trusted with great power over others indefinitely.   It goes to their heads, in most cases in ways that are obvious, and in other cases ways that are more subtly but just as vainglorious and destructive.

In the Christian view, the religion that was sweeping through the empire during the reign of Aurelius, devotion to God was not just another way to earn points to get accepted into God's company.  Rather it was a heartfelt response to the knowledge that though we are not virtuous, God Himself provided a way into His company which we could not otherwise earn.  By the tenants of this faith none are righteous, none are worthy, on the basis of our own virtue, to sit in the presence of God.  Indeed, in the course of time the great thinkers and theologians of this faith concluded that none but God alone are worthy, on the basis of their own virtue, to sit on a throne over the rest of mankind.   The rulers need restraints on their behavior as much as the ruled, perhaps more so.  The law of heaven, whatever it may be, was above both and if the laws of man did not reflect its heavenly ideal then it was the rulers who made them which were unjust, not the citizens who might demand their abolishment.

None of the previous "Good Emperors" had a son of their own blood.  Each of them adopted as sons someone who was responsible and as virtuous as humans can be.   Though sitting on the throne would in time reveal the corruption present in any man, they wisely picked men who had already shown an aversion and resistance in corruption and in whom the habits of moral living were deeply ingrained.   The mortality of man would take them from the earth before the corruption of the throne had greatly marred their character.

Not Aurelius.  He had a son of his own blood, Commodus.  He was determined to make his own son the next Emperor rather than to continue the tradition of adopting someone who had shown themselves worthy, at least for a time, of holding such power.   Commodus loved corruption as much as his father loved justice.   Commodus had a close-up view of his father's sanctimonious living and self-righteous attitude.  Rather than being attracted to it, as Aurelius assumed his loved ones would, he was off-put by it.  He went the other way with reckless abandon. He denied himself no pleasure, and he took no delight in justice.  It was a pagan version of the "preacher's kid" syndrome, which is to say, a consequence of an excessive pretense of self-righteousness in parents, whatever one's faith.

The rule of Commodus was a disaster.  That was the beginning of the end for mighty Rome.   The wilful decision of Marcus Aurelius to make Commodus his successor rather than adopt someone who had demonstrated a life of virtue was an outcome of his fatal conceit which dominoed into the destruction of the Roman Empire.  Despite his philosophy and life of good works, with such a great blame laid at his feet one can imagine that even were the Roman gods just, they might justly ban him from their company.

New Edition is out in E-book Form, Print Version Due in Two Months

The fourth edition of "Localism, a Philosophy of Government" is now out in E-book form.   A print version is also in the works, but it will be about two months in the making.   The new edition contains about twenty total new pages of content which clarify and amplify several key points.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crimea Uproar: Why Shouldn't Regions Be Able to Change Sovereigns?

The governments of the West seem to be in an uproar over Russia's recent annexation of Crimea.  The Western Media, which is to say the establishment media in the West, is trying hard to stir the pot.  People should not be fooled by this fear-mongering and propaganda.

Here is what is really happening in the Ukraine: The population was very evenly split between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians. The government of the United States and other western governments have pumped billions of taxpayer dollars into Ukraine in an effort to influence the outcome of their elections.  How would you feel if you discovered other nations where doing the same to us?  In addition to being seen as a tool of the west, the party the U.S. government was backing turned out to be corrupt.  Because of all of this the swing voters in Ukraine gave the pro-russian party a chance.

When the pro-Russian party, who won the election after all, expressed a preference for a partnership with Russia over the EU, the western-backed party protested and more until the government fell.  The government was in Kiev, where the local population was very pro-western.   The pro-Russian voters were all in the east.  In other words, just because those who supported the government were not handy to counter-riot in the capital, the results of the democratic election were overturned in a coup.

Just like we have treaties with other countries allowing us to keep troops in them, Russia had a deal with the Ukraine which allowed them to keep up to 25,000 troops there.   In response to the coup, they sent in 16,000 to protect the rights of the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea.   The Crimeans held a vote, and 96% of them voted to leave the Ukraine and join with Russia.  They voted to change state affiliations.  This returned Crimea back to Russia, where it was prior to some communist changing lines on a map in 1954.

We should have never spent billions trying to meddle in who the Ukrainians elected to their government in the first place.  It is not our business.   We should not have supported the recent coup over a democratically elected government.   And we should respect the desire of the ethnic Russians in Crimea who want to be ruled from Moscow rather than the rioters in Kiev.  Why are we the ones going around now telling people that what they want does not matter, that they have to be chained together in political union with people they don't like and who want to take the country in a different direction?  Because some communist redrew some lines on a map in 1954 and moved Crimea from Russia to Ukraine?  Why is that so binding?

If there was ever a time to mind our own business, this is it.  Unfortunately our state department seems to be incapable of restraint.   The same out-of-control federal government which goes around meddling in our lives and making us angry with it is also using our tax dollars to meddle overseas and make people around the world angry with us.  There is no reason why foreigners should be any less irritated than we are with our federal government. It is going to be at least as tone-deaf with them as it is towards us.  What happens when we finally realize that we are broke and facing a world full of people that we hacked off with our constant interventions?

Ironically, it is in our best interest for Crimea to go to Russia.   Maybe now that the pro-Russian parties have all the votes they had from Crimea, the rest of the country will elect pro-western leaders.   With Crimea gone, they won't have to foment a coup to get a pro-western government in Kiev, one can be legitimately elected.  We don't need to intervene to save Crimea.  The Crimeans consider that they have already been saved by Russia.

Of course there have been hysterical claims that this is just like 1938 and Hitler, with Crimea serving as the Sudetenland.  I have heard people say if we "let Putin get away with it" we are like Chamberlain and have not learned that you cannot appease tyrants.  They forget the most important part.  Hitler taking the Sudetenland was not the problem.  The problem was that he had no intention of stopping at the Sudetenland.  Anyone who read his book knew that his goals were to seize not just lands full of Germans who wanted political unity with Germany, but a great swath of Slavic and other lands as well.

Hitler did not stop at the Sudetenland.  If he had, World War II would have never happened.  He quickly took the rest of Czechoslovakia as well.   This demonstrated that he was not after merely in favor of allowing local German populations political self-determination, but in denying those rights to neighboring peoples.   After that the world was wise to him, but of course they should have seen it coming.   He rose to power on a platform which included taking land from the Slavs and giving it to the German Master Race.

Where is the evidence that Putin wants to do the same?   It is very likely that he wants Russia to have a lot of influence in countries that were a part of the former Soviet Union.  We also want influence in those nations. That is why we have filled many of them with our military bases and give them "foreign aid" (taxing the middle class in our country to provide bribes for the rich people in other countries).   I am sure he wants Ukraine to pay the billions of dollars they owe Russia for the Russian gas they took. If someone owed you that much money, wouldn't you be interested in getting it back too?  That is not the same thing as imperialism.  Putin is no sweetheart I am sure, but he is not Hitler.

This brings us to the larger issue.  Why is it "bad" for people to vote to move from affiliation with one political entity to another?   Why are the lines drawn by some political appointee on a map in the past more relevant than the wishes and desires of the people who are alive right now?  Why can't a group of people, especially when the vote is a 96% super-majority, move from one political unit to another without bloodshed?

I am a localist.  Localists have a principle, it is one of the seven pillars of localism, that affiliations between political entities should be voluntary, not coercive. For every political union, there should be a means spelled out to legally dissolve that union.  It is helpful if they are laid out in advance, but even if they are not, the principle is still a just one.   An example of this principle would be a state deciding to leave the union, or a county or group of counties within a state either joining another willing state, or if they are of sufficient size, becoming a new state themselves.

Localism believes that hierarchy and collective are inherently untrustworthy.  Government is both. A political union sustained only by force will not serve people well.  The easier a government is to get away from or alter, the more reluctant it will be to step on the toes of those who have to live under it. The whole aim of the sixth pillar of localism is to subject government to the free market- that is, the choices of individual persons.   Only then, when the opportunity costs to alter and/or escape a government which displeases one are quite low, can government be kept as servant and not become master.

People have different ideas about what a good government would look like.   We should not expect there to be one right answer for what good government ought to look like, because people are different.  In a society built on the pillars of localism, governments will not look alike, but they will each look more like those who live under them wish them to look.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Moving up the E-Book Charts

I was pleased to see that Localism, A Philosophy of Government, was in the top 100 in two of its five categories on Amazon.com, #58 on History and Theory of Political Science and #92 on Ideologies and Doctrines under the "Politics and Government" category. Egghead categories I know, but someone must care about them.... http://www.amazon.com/Localism-A-Philosophy-Government-ebook/dp/B00B0GACAQ/ref=pd_rhf_pe_p_t_2_GB3H

Friday, February 7, 2014

Till Freedom is Gone, The Pursuit of the Hegelian Dialectic in Life and Government

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson.

I once had a man tell me that he was voting for a particular Democratic candidate because he (the voter) was "a Jeffersonian Democrat."   I told him if Thomas Jefferson could somehow spend twenty minutes talking to his candidate, he would probably challenge him to a duel.

Men like Thomas Jefferson aren't welcome in the Democratic party anymore, nor much these days in the Republican party.  Both are increasingly centralized collectives, where the pressure to be a "team player" grows stronger each decade.   To be clear, the folks back home who elected someone to an office are never considered to be the office-holder's "team", rather the globally-financed collective known as a political party is.  

When the goal becomes unity or agreement rather than truth, principle is not just irrelevant, its a hindrance.     This process of squeezing principle, which is to say what is right and wrong, out of the equation of government occurs at least twice- one is the pressure to conform within one's own party and the second when some accommodation between the two parties is sought.

How did we ever reach such an unprincipled place?  Some readers might not be familiar with the Hegelian dialectic, and Dean Gotcher's expose on it, but we should.  The results are affecting our lives daily.  The Hegelian dialectic is another way to resolve disputes besides the classical way of presenting evidence to determine who is "right" or "wrong".  With the Hegelian dialectic truth or falsehood is irrelevant to problem solving.  "Truth" need not even exist and becomes irrelevant to the process. This makes the Hegelian Dialectic the method of choice for dispute resolution for a post-modern culture which has rejected the very concept of absolute truth.

This is how the Hegelian dialectic works: It starts with a Thesis (an idea or proposal).  Standing against the thesis is an Anti-thesis (an opposing idea or proposal).  The goal is "Synthesis", a compromise or coming together of the two positions.  Thesis - Anti-Thesis ---> Synthesis.  Of course politicians who "solve" problems using this method always compromise and never stand on principle.  That is because they are functioning within a model where compromise is the only principle.

While the ruling class has abandoned the idea of absolute truth, much of the population has not. This is often why people wind up talking past each other when having debates over issues.   One side is trying to make a case that what they espouse is true and right.  This side does not understand why the other cares so little for the evidence. The other side is trying to find "common ground" for accommodation and final synthesis of the two positions, and does not understand why the other is being so "intransigent".

It is often appropriate to find a way to come together with people, in particular in matters of style.  But when it is a matter of the truth or a lie, coming together produces a half-truth, which is to say an untruth.    With matters of right and wrong, this method of problem solving is guaranteed to never get the correct answer, unlike a dispute-resolution method with truth-discovery as the goal.

Sadly, our present culture has no love of the truth, and no patience with seeking it out.   Such a culture will invariably wind up drenched and permeated in lies, as our culture has become.  The mess we are in is not an accident.  It is the unavoidable outcome of our failure as a society to love the truth.  The problem will only get worse until people began to tire of it, repent, and value the truth as a goal above other things.

If and when a love of truth returns to our culture, our institutions will no longer automatically accept a Hegelian framework to resolve disputes.  Such a method is only appropriate on questions of procedure not principle.  That is, "how should we go about accomplishing "X" should only be addressed after it is determined on principle that 1) "X" is something that could be done and 2) "X" that we, whoever we are, are the proper ones to be doing it.

The health care debate is a prominent example of the problem.   The Democrats propose a major expansion of government, and the Republicans are automatically under pressure to "do something" to provide health care to Americans without it.   The idea that it should simply be repealed, leaving us back where we were until a truly better idea comes along, has been set aside.  Instead, they have produced their own plan, which is not that dissimilar to the disaster now wrecking havoc with the U.S. healthcare system.   The only thing many Republicans in Congress don't like about Obamacare is the Obama, along with the fact that their friends get too many of the bills and too little of the loot.   There is no objection on principle to more government plunder, only an objection as to the procedures and details by which it is distributed.

Within the Hegelian dialectic, whichever side makes the most demands automatically wins.  All the advantage then goes to the side who first demands the change.   Whenever someone advances a Thesis, those who hold the Anti-thesis view on that question are supposed to meet them in the middle.

If powerful interests wanted Americans to be subsumed into a global collective, they could do it by having the party most identified with centralizing and growing government be the party that is always on the offensive and making sweeping proposals.   Then they could make the other party, the one who is supposed to be the "opposition" to the growing-government party, a reactionary party.  That is, rather than pushing for big changes that truly roll back the size and scope of government intrusion into our lives, they simply react against the expansions proposed by the other side.   The media can then beat the drums for "compromise" and berate the passive party for "just saying no" and "having no ideas of their own."   The public's illusion of a free society is, for a time, preserved, but the march towards totalitarianism will never be stopped until the destination is reached.

If you wish you and your children to live in a totalitarian police state, just relax and keep doing what you have been doing- you need change nothing.  You can continue to invest all of your political capital in the two existing political parties and this will inevitably occur.   If you desire any other outcome, you must do something different.  You must become a part of a better way of doing politics which escapes and end-runs the Hegelian trap and makes government incapable of doing anything for which there is not broad public agreement. A model for this can be found at http://www.arneighbors.org.