The third law of politics 16

These are Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of politics:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples. Of the Third, he noted that an example of a bureaucracy controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies was the postwar British secret service. (Learn more from the podcast we took this from, by John Derbyshire speaking at National Review.)

It is the Third Law that concerns us now.

It has become apparent during the US presidency of Donald Trump that the permanent bureaucracy of the government – what in Britain is called the civil service – is controlled by “a secret cabal of its enemies”.

And as a body it has long since become left-wing.

Charles Lipson writes at Real Clear Politics:

Donald Trump and Republicans are furious that U.S. Attorney John Durham has not brought indictments against senior people who spied on the president’s campaign, lied repeatedly to judges in order to do it, and based their intrusions on specious evidence, which they knew to be false — and had been commissioned by the opposition political party. We know the broad outlines of this coordinated operation, but we still don’t know its full extent, all those involved, and what precise roles they played.

Attorney General William Barr promised major developments in this probe by late spring, then mid-summer, then Labor Day, and now sometime after the election. If, as Republicans say (and the evidence seems to show), there was a systematic effort to weaponize federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political purposes, the public has a compelling right to know. This need-to-know is urgent because the Democrats’ presidential nominee, Joe Biden, served as the second-highest ranking member of the administration that conducted these acts.

Why have Barr and Durham delayed issuing indictments or producing a comprehensive report?

Durham met predictable resistance from the same agencies that had committed the very acts being investigated. The CIA, now headed by Gina Haspel, and the FBI, now headed by Christopher Wray, refused to turn over any documents they weren’t forced to. Their resistance significantly slowed Durham’s work. So did the pandemic, which prevented grand juries from meeting to consider the evidence he uncovered. …

The crimes being investigated were directed at political figures, had political consequences, and may have been politically motivated.

May have been? What other motivation could there possibly be?

Citizens have a right to know — right now, before another Election Day — how the results of the previous presidential election were undermined by the very agencies who are supposed to be the bulwarks of American democracy. The targeting by the FBI and CIA of Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, and presidency corrupts the very idea of free-and-fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, and nonpartisan law enforcement. If that’s what happened, Americans must know who did it. …

How can citizens acquire the information they need between now and Nov. 3? How can they find out what senior officials in the Obama administration did to surveil political opponents and cover it up when they lost the election?

There aren’t many options. The only realistic one is exactly what President Trump is demanding: Executive branch agencies must release all relevant documents with as few redactions as possible. His demand is entirely political, designed to help him win reelection. Still, he has the legal authority to do it. Whether it helps the country depends on what the documents tell us and whether they disclose any secret intelligence techniques.

What we have seen so far is a textbook example of bureaucrats covering their tracks, even if it harms the country they were hired to serve. Although some redactions are necessary to protect national security and on-going criminal investigations, many others were likely made to protect government agencies from humiliation or worse. That self-protection is why the State Department, FBI, and CIA have refused to give up documents. Lower-level bureaucrats have an additional reason. They fear the disclosures will help Trump.

Now that Election Day is so imminent, these agencies have even more leverage to keep their secrets. Trump cannot fire the Slow-Walkers-in-Chief, Christopher Wray and Gina Haspel, since doing so would ignite a political firestorm, just as firing Comey did. Wray, Haspel, and their colleagues know that, so they try to wait out Trump and hope for the best.

Still, the president does have some levers. John Ratcliffe, who is the director of national intelligence, outranks Haspel and can overrule her. He should do so if he thinks she is stalling to protect her agency or her position. She is vulnerable because she headed the CIA’s London station when Obama’s CIA ran so many anti-Trump operations on her territory. As for Wray, he is Barr’s subordinate in the Justice Department. The AG should override the FBI director unless disclosures would imperil a Durham prosecution. The practical danger is that Wray would complain to the New York Times and Washington Post, just as Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, did. Those friendly [to the left] publications would undoubtedly reprise their old headlines: “Sources say AG undermining rule of law to help Trump”. 

So what if a political firestorm were ignited? Hasn’t there been an ongoing political firestorm ever since President Trump was elected? Is it not raging now with extra fury?

And why should the president or the Republicans or anyone fear the headlines of those gutter publications supporting the far-left, the New York Times and the Washington Post? They publish scurrilous headlines every day. For four years they have published lies and smears about President Trump in every issue.

The voters need Durham’s report before the election. It is theirs. They paid for it. By withholding it Barr and Durham are actively helping the far-left Democrats. 

Is the conclusion unavoidable that US Attorney General William Barr and US Attorney John Durham are members of the secret cabal of the administration’s – and America’s – enemies?

Trending left 1

The late great Robert Conquest, Sovietologist, historian and poet, propounded three “laws of politics”. They are (as recalled by John Derbyshire at National Review):

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples.

Of the Third, he noted that a bureaucracy sometimes actually IS controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies – e.g. the postwar British secret service.

We would add as more examples of the Third, the US State Department and the Republican Party.

And Emmett Tyrrell, writing at Townhall, finds that once an organization – true to Conquest’s Second Law – begins its leftward trend, it forgets what it’s for:

When any entity falls under the dominance of liberalism, it loses all sense of its fundamental purpose.

A city [authority] loses all sense of its purpose, which is governance.

A university loses all sense of its purpose, which is education.

You name the entity – if it falls under the dominance of liberalism, it becomes utterly confused as to its goal.

Now, under liberalism’s more extreme evolutionary stage, called progressivism or leftism, progressives and the left cannot even maintain a public toilet facility for men or women. Going to the bathroom at a public comfort station today can be a source of embarrassment, or even an actionable civil rights matter where the left is in charge.

So if you, as an organization, take the left road – the one more traveled by – you’re on your way to aimlessness, worthlessness, futility.

It seems that is the road the whole of the Western world, our civilization, has taken.

Posted under Leftism, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, July 20, 2017

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The origin and decay of American liberty 4

The United States of America was – uniquely among nations – established on the idea of liberty.

Liberty is not, however, as The Declaration of Independence declares it to be, an “unalienable Right” endowed to Men by “their Creator”.

Nor is it “natural”.

It is a man-made artifact.

We quote from The Constitution of Liberty by F. A. Hayek, Chapter Four, Freedom, Reason, and Tradition:

Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design. …

The development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the eighteenth century. It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty, the second did not. As a result, we have had to the present day two different traditions in the theory of liberty … the first based on an interpretation of traditions and institutions which had spontaneously grown up … the second aiming at the construction of a utopia, which has often been tried but never successfully. …

What we have called the “British tradition” was made explicit mainly by a group of Scottish moral philosophers led by David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson … drawing largely on a tradition rooted in the jurisprudence of the common law. Opposed to them was the tradition of the French Enlightenment … the Encyclopedists and Rousseau … are their best known representatives. …

There is hardly a greater contrast imaginable between their respective conceptions of the evolution and functioning of a social order and the role played in it by liberty. …

The British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the French school was simply and completely wrong. …

Those British philosophers have given us an interpretation of the growth of civilization that is still the indispensable foundation of the argument for liberty. They find the origin of institutions, not in contrivance or design, but in the survival of the successful. …

This demonstration … represented in some ways an even grater challenge to all design theories than even the later theory of biological evolution. For the first time it was shown that an evident order which was not the product of a designing human intelligence need not therefore be ascribed to the design of a higher, supernatural intelligence, but that there was a third possibility – the emergence of order as the result of adaptive evolution.

While liberty needs to be guarded by the rule of law, it will dwindle and perish under regulation.

The more a nation is regulated and organized, the less liberty the people have. A society highly organized and regulated by government is an unfree society.

The United States is becoming ever less free. Its successive governments have become increasingly regulatory, or to put it another way, increasingly Leftist. The trend was interrupted and to some extent reversed by the presidency of Ronald Reagan. When he left office, the decay of liberty resumed. In the last eight years, President Obama – a firm believer in regulatory government – has all too often imposed his personal will by dictatorial executive order. In doing so, he acted as an enemy of the country he presided over.

The great Sovietologist, Robert Conquest, noted that there are “Three Laws of Politics”.

John Derbyshire recently recalled them, writing at National Review:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

And he adds:

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples. Of the Third, he noted that a bureaucracy sometimes actually IS controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies – e.g. the postwar British secret service.

As the most historically important example of the Second Law, we can now add the United States of America.

Excellent as the US Constitution is, it has not kept governments from the fatal tendency.

The Democratic Party has become a wholly left-wing organization. If the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is elected to the presidency in 2016, the people will lose such liberty as remains to them.