The cold civil war 7

What has happened?

What can be done?

We quote parts of a column by Thomas D. Klingenstein at American Greatness in which he describes what has happened as cold civil war, and looks for signs that our side might win.

We find ourselves in a cold civil war. But we have no real generals. A war without generals is no war at all. There is no liberty or death, only death, the death of our once cherished republic. …

This is a war not over the size of government or taxes, but over the American way of life. The war is between those who salute the flag, and those who take a knee. Those who believe that America is built on freedom, and those who believe America is built on racism. Those who are convinced that America is good, and those who are convinced America is bad. These differences are too large to bridge. This is what makes it a war. In this case, a cold civil war.

Winning a war requires two fundamental understandings. First, you must understand that you are, in fact, in a war. Wartime requires very different rhetoric, strategy, and people than peacetime. Trump is a wartime leader. Second, you must understand your enemy, what it wants and how it goes about getting what it wants. What our enemy wants is the destruction of the American way of life. It goes about it by trying to force everyone to say, “America is systemically racist.” If it can convince us of this falsehood, it will be well on its way to overturning the American way of life.

Every time Joe Biden accuses America of being systemically racist, he is, though he doesn’t know it, calling for the overthrow of the American way of life. In a war, you must play to win. But you cannot win against an enemy that has no name, or has many names—identity politics, multiculturalism, anti-racism, wokeism, and more. My entry for a name is Woke Communism, Woke Comm for short. Whatever the name, I think it should communicate totalitarianism because this is what the enemy seeks to impose.

In a traditional totalitarian regime, the government uses arbitrary violence to control every aspect of public and private life, all the way down to Little League. In America, the government does not control everything, but today, through the power of the purse and the courts, the government influences a lot. And where the government leaves off, the cultural business complex takes over.

Education, corporate media, entertainment, big business, and especially Big Tech, are to varying degrees aligned with the Democratic Party, which is now controlled by the Woke Comms. These institutions together with the government function as a totalitarian regime, crafting narratives that advance their agenda and suppressing those that do not. Instead of violence, there is canceling.

This may not look like a totalitarian regime, but it acts like one.

Last summer’s riots are a case in point. Woke Comm agitators sparked the flame that lit the riots. Their intellectual leaders justified the riots, their corporate donors gave billions to the Black Lives Matter network, their media looked the other way, and their politicians—from Joe Biden on down—fanned the flames.

What is Woke Communism? Like any regime, Woke Communism is built on a particular understanding of justice. For the Woke Coms justice is outcome equality. That is, the proportional representation of all identity groups in all aspects of American life. So for example, the Woke Communists believe that blacks, who count for about 13 percent of the population, should have 13 percent of the nation’s chief executive officers, prisoners, heart attacks, wealth, top test scores, homes, corporate board seats, school suspensions, and everything else you can think of. Equal everything is what Woke Comms call social justice. Any disparities, say the Woke Coms, are due to racism and nothing else.

If, as the Woke Communists contend, racism has insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of the American way of life, then quite obviously, it is necessary to throw out that way of life. This is why there simply can be no peace between Woke Communism and America. In a free society like America there will always be group outcome differences, particularly between men and women. Eliminating such group outcome differences, as the Woke Coms aim to do, can only be achieved at the expense of freedom.

In totalitarian regimes, there can be no institutions of moral authority that compete with the state. Of course, the institution that the Woke Comms [as the state] must completely control is education. The Woke Comms must no longer teach our children about an America striving, however imperfectly, towards its noble ideals. Instead, they must teach about an America conceived in oppression and dedicated to racism. In short, Woke Communism will replace American justice with social justice, and destroy law and order, the rule of law, and both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Successful implementation of the Woke Communist agenda, above all, requires convincing American citizens of a series of lies. The first and most important lie, as I have said, is “America is racist”. That is the big lie. We hear it from every direction from morning to night, but endless repetition does not make it true. It isn’t true. The corollary to the big lie is another lie. America is about to be overrun by white supremacists. This is pure nonsense.

What the Woke Coms mean in perpetuating this lie is to suggest that anyone unwilling to kneel before Black Lives Matter is a white supremacist.

“Police target blacks.”  That is another lie. Blacks commit 50 percent of the violent crimes in America. Should we be surprised that the blacks account for about 25 percent of those killed by the police. Before we start talking about defunding the police, perhaps we should face the facts.

“Trump endorsed white culture.” This is a lie. Trump endorsed not white culture but American culture, which is open to anyone, of any color, willing to embrace it….

We are told that moderate Joe Biden is in charge. Biden is neither moderate nor in charge.

“Black Lives Matter care about black lives or righting past injustices.” These are among the biggest whoppers. But we should pay attention to BLM because, as we learned during the riots, BLM represents the leading edge of the Democratic Party. Any doubt about the prominence of BLM should have been dispelled by the Biden-Harris Administration encouraging American embassies to fly the BLM flag. Think about that. Our embassies, beacons of American freedom, are flying the flag of an organization committed to the destruction of American freedom.

“January 6 was an insurrection.” Every bit a lie. …

“Election fraud is baseless.” This is a lie repeated with such determination that it is forbidden to question it. But the fact is, there is enough evidence of fraud to warrant investigations and now enough obstruction of investigations to warrant further suspicion.

The Woke Coms also lie with language. Racism, they call “equity.” Anti-white, they call “diversity.” The 20th century is piled high with corpses from regimes that falsified language in just this way. 

In totalitarian regimes, it is necessary to silence those who challenge the lies. We see this with increasing regularity. American citizens getting canceled, fired, denied access to social media, even deprived of banking services. Woke corporations punish states that don’t comply with the woke agenda. Information unsanctioned by the regime is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Opinions that contradict Dr. Anthony Fauci, praise the police, or question sex changes or election integrity… don’t get past the tech censors.

More terrifying still, we’re getting used to censorship. Censorship has become a fact of life.

But there is much more than censorship. The rule of law is breaking down. Rioting is sanctioned. Immigration and other laws go unenforced. The Woke Coms said to the Derrick Chauvin jury, convict Chauvin of murder or we will give you a riot the likes of which you have never seen. This is mob rule.

We are no longer a nation of laws.

Top scientists and airline pilots are now being hired based on skin color and gender.

Same with the United States military, which says it is looking not for warriors, but for women with two moms. Other than the Woke Communists, how many of our young men and women will be prepared to die for a country that puts diversity over life? Such a country has a death wish.

China is licking its chops, watching us commit suicide. Statues which help define and inspire us are being toppled. The Statue of Liberty is safe for the moment because the Woke Coms believe it stands for open immigration. But one day, the Woke Coms will discover that immigrants come to America not to be members of their ethnic group, but to be free individuals. When that day comes, Lady Liberty could find herself at the bottom of New York Harbor.

The election of 2020 was stolen. Leave aside fraud, last minute unconstitutional changes to election laws, bogus investigations, even the pandemic. Trump could have survived all these. But what he could not survive was four years of unrelenting, deliberately dishonest media slander. When the media takes pride in bringing down and silencing a sitting president, brace yourself for a long fall.

How should Republicans respond? What should we do about all this? The essential thing, as I’ve tried to stress, is for Republicans to understand we are in a war and then act accordingly. War is not a time for too much civility, compromise, or for imputing good motives to the enemy. Our generals must fight as if the choice were between liberty and death. This is no time for sunshine patriots.

We agree with all that, but ask –

Fight how? Tell us how, Mr. Klingenstein.

He ends with this:

I am not without hope. There are many pockets of resistance bubbling up around the country. Parents are pushing back against “America is racist” curricula. Even San Francisco had a rare moment of sanity when it decided not to remove Abraham Lincoln’s name from a high school. The manly “don’t tread on me” ethos remains part of the American spirit. Many Americans still salute our flag, honor our military dead, and ask God to bless America.

Such citizens are part of the huge army that Trump has mobilized. This army is raring to go, but it needs direction.

If Republican leaders start speaking the truth, loudly and passionately, the army will follow.

Perhaps one of the people who voted to keep Lincoln’s name on that San Francisco High School remembered that Lincoln, at age 30, unknown beyond Central Illinois, wrote about an aspirational fantasy, which was, I suspect, inspired by his heroes, George Washington and Henry Clay. If ever I feel worthy, Lincoln once said,

It is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world . . . and I standing up boldly and alone, . . . hurling defiance at [our] victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, . . . I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause . . . of the land of my life, my Liberty, and my love. . . . But if after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, . . . we never faltered.

We are, I think, in a perilous moment such as the one Lincoln imagines. It is time for our leaders, without contemplating consequences, to swear eternal fidelity to the just cause of the land of our liberty, and our love, the land which remains the last best hope of Earth. If after all, we shall fail, be it so. We shall have the proud consolation of saying that in defending America, we never faltered.

Those feeble Republican leaders need only to shout “the truth”? Resistance is “bubbling up”? Some parents are “pushing back” against racist indoctrination? Some citizens are asking “God” to “bless America”?  If we fail we can take pride in not faltering?

These are the remnants we can shore against our ruin?

Better look to Trump to be the general we need. To direct us – the army he mobilized.

If anyone can help us win this war, he can. That’s why the totalitarians fear and hate him.

The case for free trade 10

President Trump is speaking of imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum to boost domestic production.

To explain the case for free trade, we quote from a speech delivered at the (libertarian) Mises Institute a few days ago by Thomas J. DiLorenzo.

It is not an exaggeration to say that trade is the keystone of modern civilization. For as Murray Rothbard wrote:

The market economy is one vast latticework throughout the world, in which each individual, each region, each country, produces what he or it is best at, most relatively efficient in, and exchanges that product for the goods and services of others. Without the division of labor and the trade based upon that division, the entire world would starve. Coerced restraints on trade – such as protectionism – cripple, hobble, and destroy trade, the source of life and prosperity.

Human beings cannot truly be free unless there is a high degree of economic freedom – the freedom to collaborate and coordinate plans with other people from literally all around the world. That is the point of Leonard Read’s famous article, “I Pencil,” which describes how to produce an item as mundane as an ordinary pencil requires the cooperation and collaboration of thousands of people from all around the world, all of whom possess very specific knowledge … that allows them to assist in the production and marketing of pencils. The same is true, of course, for virtually everything else that is produced.

Without economic freedom – the freedom to earn a living for oneself and one’s family – people are destined to become mere wards of the state. Thus, every attempt by the state to interfere with trade is an attempt to deny us our freedom, to impoverish us, and to turn us into modern-day serfs.

[Ludwig von] Mises believed that trade or exchange is “the fundamental social relation” which “weaves the bond which unites men into society”. Man “serves in order to be served” in any trade relationship in the free market. …

Trade involves the exchange of property titles. Restrictions on free trade are therefore an attack on private property itself and not “merely” a matter of “trade policy”. This is why such great classical liberals as Frederic Bastiat spent many years of their lives defending free trade. Bastiat … understood that once one acquiesced in protectionism, then no one’s property will be safe from myriad other governmental acts of theft. To Bastiat, protectionism and communism were essentially the same philosophy.

It has long been recognized by classical liberals that free trade was the most important means of diminishing the likelihood of war. …

[I]t is not democracy that is a safeguard against war but, as the British (classical) Liberals were to recognize, it is free trade. To Richard Cobden and John Bright, the leaders of the British Manchester School, free trade – both domestically and internationally – was a necessary prerequisite for the preservation of peace. …

As Frederic Bastiat often said, if goods can’t cross borders, armies will. This is a quintessentially American philosophy in that it was the position assumed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine, among others. A foreign policy based on commerce,” wrote Paine in Common Sense, would secure for America “the peace and friendship” of the Continent and allow her to “shake hands with the world – and trade in any market.” Paine – the philosopher of the American Revolution – believed that free trade would “temper the human mind”, and help people to “know and understand each other”,  and have a “civilizing effect” on everyone involved in it. Trade was seen as “a pacific system, operating to unite mankind be rendering nations, as well as individuals, useful to each other. . . . “War can never be in the interest of a trading nation.”

George Washington obviously agreed. “Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest,” he stated in his September 19, 1796 Farewell Address. Our commercial policy “should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; deversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing . . .”

The period of world history from the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the eighteenth centuries was an era of growth in world trade and invention and of institutions suited to trade. Technological innovations in shipping, such as the three-masted sail, brought the merchants of Europe to the far reaches of America and Asia. This vast expansion of trade greatly facilitated the worldwide division of labor, greater specialization, and the benefits of comparative advantage.

But whenever human freedom advances, as it did with the growth of trade, state power is threatened. So states did all they could then, as now, to restrict trade. It is the system of trade restrictions and other governmental interferences with the free market, known as mercantilism, that Adam Smith railed against in The Wealth of Nations. … [He] was defending trade on moral as well as economic grounds by enunciating his doctrine of how free trade was part of the system of “natural justice”.  One of the ways he did this was to defend smugglers and the act of smuggling as a means of evading mercantilist restrictions on trade. The smuggler, explained Smith, was engaged in “productive labor” that served his fellow man (i.e., consumers) …

For the same reason, black markets are defensible.

Despite powerful arguments in favor of free trade offered by [Dr. Francois] Quesnay, [Adam] Smith, David Ricardo, and others, England (and other countries of Europe) suffered from protectionist trade policies for the first half of the nineteenth century. But this situation was turned around due to the heroic and brilliant efforts of what came to be known as the “Manchester School,” led by two British businessmen, John Bright and Richard Cobden. Thanks to Bright and Cobden Great Britain achieved complete free trade by 1850.

The British public was plundered by the mercantilist “corn laws” which placed strict import quotas on the importation of food. The laws benefited political supporters of the government who were engaged in farming at the expense of much higher food prices, which was especially harmful to the poor. Bright and Cobden formed the Anti-Corn Law League in 1839 and turned it into a well-oiled political machine with mass support, distributing literally millions of leaflets, holding conferences and gatherings all around the country, delivering hundreds of speeches, and publishing their own newspaper, The League. …

From his home in Mugron, France, Frederic Bastiat single handedly created a free-trade movement in his own country that eventually spread throughout Europe. Bastiat was a gentleman farmer who had inherited the family estate. He was a voracious reader, and spent many years educating himself in classical liberalism and in just about any other field that he could attain information about. After some twenty years of intense intellectual preparation, articles and books began to pour out of Bastiat (in the 1840s). His book, Economic Sophisms, is to this day arguably the best defense of free trade ever published. His second book, Economic Harmonies, quickly followed, while Bastiat published magazine and newspapers all over France. His work was so popular and influential that it was immediately translated into English, Spanish, Italian, and German.

Due to Bastiat’s enormous influence, free-trade associations, modeled after one he had created in France and similar to the one created by his friend, Richard Cobden, in England, began to sprout in Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Prussia, and Germany.

To Bastiat, collectivism in all its forms was immoral as well as economically destructive.

Collectivism constituted “legal plunder,” and to argue against the (natural) right to private property would be similar to arguing that theft and slavery were “moral”. The protection of private property is the only legitimate function of government, Bastiat wrote, which is why trade restrictions – and all other mercantilist schemes – should be condemned. Free trade “is a question of right, of justice, of public order, of property. Because privilege, under whatever form it is manifested, implies the denial or the scorn of property rights.” And “the right to property, once weakened in one form, would soon be attacked in a thousand different forms.”

There is no clearer example of how trade restrictions are the enemy of freedom than the American Revolution. In the seventeenth century all European states practiced the policy of mercantilism. England imposed a series of Trade and Navigation Acts on its colonies in America and elsewhere, which embodied three principles: 1) All trade between England and her colonies must be conducted by English (or English-built) vessels owned and manned by English subjects; 2) All European imports into the colonies must “first be laid on the shores of England” before being sent to the colonies so that extra tariffs could be placed on them; and 3) Certain products from the colonies must be exported to England and England only.

In addition, the colonists were prohibited from trading with Asia because of the East India Company’s state-chartered monopoly. There were import duties placed on all colonial imports into England.

After the Seven Years War (known in America as the French-Indian War), England’s massive land holdings (Canada, India, North America to the Mississippi, most of the West Indies) became very expensive to administer and police. Consequently, the Trade and Navigation Acts were made even more oppressive, which imposed severe hardships on the American colonists and helped lead to revolution.

After the American Revolution trade restrictions nearly caused the New England states — which suffered disproportionately from the restrictions — to secede from the Union. In 1807 Thomas Jefferson was president and England was once again at war with France. England declared that it would “secure her seamen wherever found”,  which included U.S. ships. After a British warship captured the USS Chesapeake off Hampton Roads, Virginia, Jefferson imposed a trade embargo that made all international commerce illegal. After Jefferson left office his successor, James Madison, imposed an “Enforcement Act” which allowed war-on-drugs style seizure of goods suspected to be destined for export.

This radicalized the New England secessionists, who had been plotting to secede ever since Jefferson was elected, issued a public declaration reminding the nation that “the U.S. Constitution was a Treaty of Alliance and Confederation” and that the central government was no more than an association of the states. Consequently, “whenever its [i.e., the Constitution’s] provisions were violated, or its original principles departed from by a majority of the states or their people, it is no longer an effective instrument, but that any state is at liberty by the spirit of that contract to withdraw itself from the union.”

The Massachusetts legislature formally condemned the embargo, demanded its repeal by Congress, and declared that it was “not legally binding”. In other words, the Massachusetts legislature “nullified” the law. Madison was forced to end the embargo in March of 1809. …

John Taylor, a noted Anti-Federalist, was a lifelong critic of mercantilism and laid out his criticisms in his 1822 book, Tyranny Unmasked. Like Bastiat, Taylor saw protectionism as an assault on private property that was diametrically opposed to the freedom the American revolutionaries had fought and died for. The tyranny that Taylor sought to “unmask” was the collection of fables and lies that had been devised by mercantilists to promote their system of plunder. If one looks at England’s mercantilist policies, Taylor wrote, “No equal mode of enriching the party of government, and impoverishing the party of people, has ever been discovered.” …

Many of Taylor’s arguments were adopted and expanded upon by the great South Carolinian statesman John C. Calhoun during the struggle over the 1828 “Tariff of Abomination”,  which a South Carolina political convention voted to nullify. The confrontation between South Carolina, which was very heavily import dependent, as was most of the South, and the federal government over the Tariff of Abominations almost led to the state’s secession some thirty years prior to the War for Southern Independence. The federal government backed down and reduced the tariff rate in 1833.

The Northern manufacturers who wanted to impose British-style mercantilism on the U.S. did not give up, however; they formed the American Whig party, which advocated three mercantilist schemes: protectionism, corporate welfare for themselves, and a central bank to pay for it all. From 1832 until 1861 the Whigs, led by Henry Clay and, later, by Abraham Lincoln, fought mightily in the political arena to bring seventeenth-century mercantilism to America.

The Whig party died in 1852, but the Whigs simply began calling themselves Republicans.

We have often praised the Republican Party for its opposition to slavery, but we do not praise it for this:

The tariff was the centerpiece of the Republican party platform of 1860, as it had been when the same collection of Northern economic interests called itself “Whigs” for the previous thirty years.

By 1857 the level of tariffs had been reduced to the lowest level since 1815, according to Frank Taussig in his classic Tariff History of the United States. But when the Republicans controlled the White House and the Southern Democrats left the Congress the Republicans did what, as former Whigs, they had been itching to do for decades: go on a protectionist frenzy. In his First Inaugural Address Lincoln stated that he had no intention to disturb slavery in the Southern states and, even if he did, there would be no constitutional basis for doing so. But when it came to the tariff, he promised a military invasion if tariff revenues were not collected. …

By 1862 the average tariff rate had crept up to 47.06 percent, the highest level ever, even higher than the 1828 Tariff of Abominations. These high rates lasted for decades after the war.

[B]y 1860 England itself had moved to complete free trade; France sharply reduced her tariff rates in that very year; and Bastiat’s free-trade movement was spreading throughout Europe. Only the Northern United States was clinging steadfastly to seventeenth-century mercantilism.

After the war the Northern manufacturing interests who financed and controlled the Republican party (i.e., the old Whigs) were firmly in control and they “ushered in a long period of high tariffs. With the tariff of 1897, protection reached an average level of 57 percent.” This political plunder continued for about fifty years after the war, at which time international competition forced tariff rates down moderately. By 1913 the average tariff rate in the U.S. had declined to 29 percent.

But the same clique of Northern manufacturers was begging for “protection” and persisted until they got it when Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1929, which increased the average tariff rate on over 800 items back up to 59.1 percent. The Smoot-Hawley tariff spawned an international trade war that resulted in about a 50 percent reduction in total exports from the United States between 1929 and 1932. Poverty and misery was the inevitable result. Even worse, the government responded to these problems of its own creation with a massive increase in government intervention, which only produced even more poverty and misery and deprived Americans of more and more of their freedoms.

The case for President Trump’s tariffs follows immediately in the next post. …