Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Current Ruling Class as a Corporate Commodus

Most of us have seen the movie "Gladiator" in which Joaquin Phoenix chillingly portrays the deeply disturbed Roman Emperor Commodus. The movie fictionalizes Marcus Aurelius character concerning the events surrounding who should succeed him, but what a great movie for what it says about real life.   Let's take a case in point. Here is an excerpt from the original script for the movie "Gladiator" by David Franzoni and John Logan:

GAIUS
  And what pays for it?  These games
  are costing a fortune and yet we
  have no new taxes.

     LUCILLA
  The future.  The future pays for
  it...

A beat.  She looks at them.

     LUCILLA
  He's started selling the grain
  reserves.   

     GAIUS
  No.

     MARCELLUS
  That can't be true...

     LUCILLA
  He's selling Rome's reserves of
  grain.  The people will be starving
  in two years.  I hope they are
  enjoying the spectacles because soon
  enough they will be dead because of
  them.

The Senators, representatives of the Patrician class in Rome, are shocked when they hear that Commodus is selling the future just to keep the masses happy now.   As viewers watch the movie, they too are supposed to be shocked and sympathetic towards the group as they plot a coup against the madman who has taken over their government.

It is too bad that more of those same movie viewers fail to notice that what madman Commodus is doing in the movie is extremely similar to what today's ruling class in both parties is doing to us right now.   They are expanding government rapidly even though it is clear that we don't have the money to pay for the government we have now.  Like the insane Commodus, they are doing it by selling the future, in this case by using debt to pay for all the goodies they deign to dispense to the masses, after their friends take a large cut of course.

For many years Americans trusted the experts to run the country for us while we pursued the American Dream.  It turns out they ran the country for their own benefit and stole the American dream from our children.  Only the hollowed out remains of an economy shackled by debt remains.  If we don't quit out-sourcing the job of protecting our liberties to two D.C. based political clubs which have ruined our children's future to enrich their global cronies then nothing but debt-serfdom remains for our progeny.    

It is not just inefficient welfare programs at home that our government squanders money on. That money is just to bribe the lower classes into supporting the current system in which the ruling class systematically loots the middle and upper middle classes.   Do you realize that the United States has already budgeted more money, even after adjusting for inflation, to rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding 16 European nations after WWII with the Marshall Plan?    That is because its not really about rebuilding Afghanistan.  It is about enriching the defense contractors and international construction firms who profit by our insane policy of blowing up bridges with million dollar cruse missiles and then re-building them again until the next time we blow them up.

It is shocking how much money the United States government borrows on our credit and then spends overseas.   Not only is the debt overhang hurting our economy, but the fact that those dollars leave our shores and are sucked out of our economy also hurts.  These studies of which states get back more from the federal government than they pay in never seem to account for the borrowing.   That is, a state may pay in less in taxes than it gets in federal income, but such accounting does not consider that FEDGOV is borrowing forty three cents for every dollar it spends.   

When you factor that in you will discover that we don't have a situation where half the states are better off with our current FEDGOV and half the states are worse.  Instead you will realize that almost all states in the union are worse off because of FEDGOV's mad policies of borrowing mind-boggling amounts of money on our credit from the rest of the world and then spending that money stimulating other economies overseas, after their friends make a hefty profit of course.

Like the Senators in the movie, responsible people in our nation must come to grips with the stark reality that our present ruling class is corrupt or insane or possibly both.    Asking the institutions which they control, such as the Republican or Democratic parties, to fix it, is useless as well as delusional. They are not going to fix it.  They caused it and the interests which fund them profit from it.   One of their primary functions is to weed out candidates who are sincere in their efforts to fix it, which is why any candidate who is serious about ending these abuses is attacked viciously by the opposing party as well as by the establishment of their own party, as well as by the media.  You have some good people in the state legislature, and a handful in Congress, but it is the scoundrels who will get the real party backing.

What is the solution to this predicament?   Revert to self-government.   Is that a lot of work?  Sure.  That's why we outsourced the job of protecting our interests to these D.C. based organizations in the first place.  We were trying to get out of work, so we wanted to believe that people who don't know us in a city we rarely or never visit would look out for us.   Now we see that was an unreasonable, even foolish, expectation.    

The only moral path is the difficult one of governing ourselves.  For those of us who don't know how to do that, it involves building our own decentralized means of getting candidates to the ballot without vetting them through a national party.  In other words, by practicing the precepts in the Third Pillar of Localism.  In my state we have taken the first steps toward doing this with Neighbors of Arkansas,    We are challenging ballot access laws for independents and helping the few good independent candidates where we can.  It's no way to pick a President, but its the best way to pick a legislature.  And if legislatures are selected outside the current party system, its going to matter a lot less who the President is.   A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.   I urge you to take that first step by working toward something similar where you live.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dissent and Progress


Dissent is rapidly becoming both criminalized by the government and demonized by the media. That includes the media which is ostensibly informational, such as news,  and that which is ostensibly entertainment, such as pop culture and sports media.  In the era of the Total State and the Great Collective, all media is indoctrinational, regardless of what purpose the viewer thinks is being served by it.   

It is not surprising that government and media are now moving in the same direction since both are increasingly owned by the same entities.   Mankind has had little enough experience with true self-government, and only a small slice of that has been in conjunction with mass media concentrated in an ever-smaller set of hands.   It may be that actual self-government for the citizens of any nation is simply not possible when the overwhelming majority of its mass media is owned by a few global entities.    The illusion of self-government might be preserved for a while in such circumstances long after the essence of the thing is gone.

In the past, tyrants who tried to lecture their populations on what values to have were often undermined by the popular culture- singers, comedians, and artists of all types.  Increasingly, government and the big media are working together to convince the population to look here and not there.   They are teaching them to feel and not to think. 

The people are repeatedly shown some graphic instances of evil in some foreign land until they demand their government intervene there- which was of course what those running the government wanted all along.   Meanwhile equally insidious evils are happening all around them, maybe even being perpetrated by that same government, but they are not shown that.  Our policy is formed based on what we see, and unless one makes a determined effort all one will ever see is what they wish you to be shown.  No question is asked what right we have to impose our judgement of what ought to be done on foreign lands of which we know next to nothing.   No question is asked whether our intervention will fix it any better than our previous twenty years of interventions, nor how the cost for it all will be paid.

Increasingly, thoughtful dissent from the conventional wisdom is viewed not as a right, but as a disease which undermines our unity and makes us weaker.   This is the collectivist view of dissent.   But if it is true, how did the United States ever become the greatest nation on earth, and why is it that the harder we are pressed into collectivist conformity the more we become mired in mediocrity?

During the time when America was growing economically, artistically, and technologically one of our defining features was our diversity.  Not the superficial diversity of race or sex mind you, but of thought.  This was true, maybe even especially true, of the most controversial questions.  Whereas European nations had some state-approved Church, in America groups of people who would be killing each other over their differences in the Old Country were living and working side by side. We did not all agree on how we should be ruled, or on any other issue.  We resolved these disputes through reason and compromise, not a demand for uniformity.

The Rugged Individualist is an American Archetype.   The term "Yankee Ingenuity" connotes a way of solving problems never thought of before, much less approved of, by the community.   When one uses the head and looks at the evidence of history rather than making decisions based on the emotions generated from exposure to a limited number of heart-wrenching images the conclusion is clear: dissent is not what is holding America back.  Our past respect for it is what permitted America to move forward.   Our accelerating march toward uniformity of thought and action has not made us better.   Its making us worse.  Dissent is not the disease, collectivism is.

Collectivism suffers from an inability to absorb feedback from reality.   Whether we are talking about economic reality, moral reality, or any other sort.   The individual members of the herd are not using their minds to gather information from reality, but rather dedicate their intelligence to detecting which way the leadership of the herd wishes to go.    Most of the herd simply quits thinking for itself.  It quits responding to other stimuli from reality, because acting on them is punished by the heard, while unthinking conformity is rewarded.   

Nations where the ruling class forces conformity, such as Islamic nations or nations such as North Korea where there is a long-entrenched totalitarian state, are backward countries. They are miserable places whose people suffer greatly for their inability to conform to reality.   They simply can't compete with societies where people are free to think for themselves and speak and act on what they discover. 

My fear is that such societies are becoming increasingly rare as a global elite senses that imposing a global collective is now, for the first time in history, within their grasp.   They may be able to control what is perceived as reality for almost all people in the West.   What they can't do is control actual reality. Frighteningly, I am not even sure they believe in a reality beyond human perception.  Further, by demonizing dissent and imposing a collective viewpoint, they eliminate the vital feedback mechanism by which a population's perception of reality is corrected by input from actual reality.

Following the herd requires a lot less thinking than acting as an individual.   It provides the illusion of an escape from both the hard work of independent thought and the sometimes heavy burden of individual responsibility.  This makes it an alluring trap for us all, but it is a trap nevertheless.  The reality is that humans are made to be social animals, but not herd animals.  We can only become herd animals rather than social ones by abandoning our moral free agency- by renouncing a part of what we really are.   By choosing, subconsciously perhaps, to become a herd animal we renounce a key part of what makes us human. 

I exhort you dear reader, to cling to your humanity.  To cherish it, and to offer it up to no collective on earth, be it a national government, a corporation, a political party, or what have you.  The collective says that dissent is the disease, but dissent is what permits a culture to stay connected to reality.  And the consequences for ignoring reality, for both individuals, groups, and nations, is painful and often fatal.   Collectivism is the true disease, and the freedom to dissent is the cure.






Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beyond Ron Paul on Secession



Ron Paul wrote an article yesterday in which he found encouragement in the recent vote on succession in Scotland and the growth of such movements in general.   The Good Doctor sees such movements as the key to making government smaller and more decentralized.   Of course Paul has always been a fan of making relationships, such as the one between a state and the central government, voluntary rather than compulsory.   There is nothing really new in his position.

I am not sure that much of the media covering Dr. Paul really understands his position, or is even interested in understanding it.   Does he want Texas to secede from the union?   I doubt it, but he does want the federal government to respect both the limits set for it in the constitution and the states which comprise the union.   Right now, it respects neither.   And the reason it respects neither is because there are no consequences for it when FEDGOV disrespects them.   FEDGOV takes the position that its own employees (federal judges) are the final arbiters of the limits of the power of their employers.   Rather than find Dr. Paul's position radical, a fair and unbiased media might give more examination to the radical position assumed by our own federal government.

Without consequences for trampling on the constitution, FEDGOV will in time trample on the constitution.  Without consequences for treating the states with disrespect, FEDGOV will in time treat the states with disrespect.    Secession is not the first option.  It is not something desired of itself.  Its like a safety valve, something created in the hopes that it will never have to be used.   A safety valve is not a part of the primary function of a system, but it helps keep the system within workable parameters.   Its is not there to destroy the system, but rather by its presence prevent the system from destroying itself.   That is how the right to secede would function.

That is how it just did function in Scotland. Dr. Paul rejoices that Britain granted Scotland more local control as part of the effort to induce them to stay in Great Britain.   Brining control closer to the individual, making relationships voluntary instead of compulsory.   Those are the things Dr. Paul was celebrating.

I myself have no interest in secession.   I think America is much better together than apart, but by "America" I mean the people of the nation, not the federal government.  At this point, we would be better off with a central government so much smaller and less intrusive that it would not be recognizable by any of the ruling class in Washington.  Secession would only be in desirable as a safety valve.  It would only be a last resort if Washington insisted on continuing with implacable ruthlessness its policies which gather all power unto itself.

The second of the seven pillars of localism is that there must be remedies by smaller governments against more central governments when they violate the compact which bound them together.  I think Dr. Paul is overly optimistic when he says that breaking into smaller and smaller states alone would bring more liberty and variety of currency.   To stop power from recentralizing each of the seven pillars of localism must be attended to.   Small states can fall prey to large ones.  We need a system of government which combines the protections and advantages of being large with a way to ensure political power is and stays decentralized and in reach of the individual.  Localism is that system.

In the end, it is either going to be localism or globalism.   The reason is simple: other less complete philosophies of government cannot protect their citizens from the various means by which centralizers consolidate power.   Secession is an important component of this process of decentralizing power, but as a safety valve, not a primary function.