Disgraceful government and the duty to disobey 0

David Solway, whose insights often impress us, has today done us the honor of linking to one of our posts in a new article of his.

The article is at Front Page, titled Is the U.S. Too Big to Fail? Here’s a part of it (but read it all). The link to our post, Speaking of Secession, [April 7, 2010] comes with the words “parting of ways” in the third paragraph:

The Bridge Mix of social, political and economic programs—redistribution of wealth, a bloated bureaucracy, reduction of military power, amnesty for illegals, toleration of inimical communities, government takeover of the marketplace, ideology supplanting pragmatics—adopted by the American liberal-left and rapidly being put in place by the current administration are hurtling the nation toward its moment of truth when it will have to decide whether it survives as the United States of America or devolves into something that, until just a few years ago, would have been almost unimaginable.

Often what seems to be inconceivable is only the prelude to what may well become unavoidable. And in the case of America such a scenario is all too possible. For America has only three options looming before it in a rapidly foreclosing future. The best case scenario is that, assuming a concerned citizenry, the growing Tea Party movement, a return to strict budgetary rectitude and a revival of the wisdom of the Constitution and the Founders, the United States may weather the storm of social and political dismemberment it is presently undergoing and recover its essence as a constitutional republic. To accomplish this aim, however, the policies of the Obama administration must be resisted at every turn. What Henry David Thoreau wrote in On the Duty of Civil Disobedience in 1848 has a proleptic ring to it and is truer today than it ever was: “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

On the other hand the calamity of disintegration, as happened to the Soviet Union not so long ago, is a deeply troubling likelihood. The drive toward secession or what is called “disunion” along red state/blue state lines appears to be acquiring strength by the day. It is in the air. The threat of dissolution cannot be wished away or conveniently ignored. Whether such a parting of ways can be achieved peaceably and rationally or would entail violence and bloodshed remains an open question. But what resembles a bitter marriage between cultural incompatibles, the statist Left and the conservative Right, who have nothing to say to one another and disagree on just about everything, makes an eventual divorce by no means unthinkable. The clash between a pervasive scavenger mentality of collective entitlement and the ancestral belief in the values of personal initiative and individual responsibility cannot, it increasingly appears, be resolved amicably.

The third possibility is that America under the stewardship of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will become an impoverished, socialist, Muslim-friendly country, much like the United Kingdom today or Sweden tomorrow, with devastating consequences for the majority of its citizens. As David Horowitz remarks of the U.S., “its constitutional order is threatened by a political left whose values remain socialist and whose agendas are subversive.” Such is the fundamental transformation promised by the Democratic candidate five days before his election: the intent to legislate outcome at the expense of input, to ensure a syndicalist homogeneity of status among the population while installing a privileged managerial class in the seats of power, and ultimately to transform America’s most industrious entrepreneurial sector into over-taxed and over-regulated obsolescence. Where have we seen this before?

These, then, are the three alternatives between which America will have to choose: recovery, dissolution, socialism. Regarding the latter two, to cite Aeschylus …,  it’s “either way, ruin.” Clearly, the moment of decision is not far down the road. Even a one-term administration for Barack Obama and his cohorts may be sufficient to wreak irreparable damage; a two-term presidency would probably spell the end of the noble and unique American experiment in republican democracy. For there can be little question that Barack Obama and the Democratic ascendancy together form the single greatest disaster to befall the United States in the modern era. If the country does not right itself sooner rather than later, it will find itself broken down the middle or wake up one day to discover that it is now nothing more than another socialist or quasi-Marxist Republic, which is a republic in name only.

Thoreau is on the mark again. Deploring the effects of a “wordy” and ever-compliant Congress which had “not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and freedom” and which was devoid of “talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures,” he argues that without the “seasonable experience…of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.” And we remember, too, that the United States was a much smaller political entity in 1848 than it is in 2010.

Now is not the time to take refuge in the smug conviction of indestructibility. America is not too big to fail and it may well be too big not to fail. But one thing is undeniable. As it approaches the eleventh hour, its survival depends on a determined and informed citizen “army” of genuine patriots capable of restoring the practical ideal of limited government  …

Letter from Britain – Just superficial? I’ve barely scratched the surface… 0

Last week, posted at The Atheist Conservative, decrying the existence of Conservative Party members who choose to realise the (usually false) stereotype peddled by the Left – that of the uncaring, vain, white-bread, poor-hating, out-of-touch, arrogant, vulgar, sherry-swilling Conservative party member.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with sherry, it became apparent to me that on the night that the article described, there were a few individuals who choose to fulfil the afore-mentioned image and believed that sherry helped complete the picture. If they must act so boorishly, must they really draw upon such a wonderful fortified wine to do so?

The event was an annual reunion of Conservatives from around the country. The event has in the last few years been punctuated with screaming, shouting, spewing of Monday Club ideals, heavy drinking and the throwing of Brussels sprouts. [The Monday Club is a right-wing Conservative Party pressure group.]

Mere minutes after the article was posted, the accused persons spouted furious tirades through the frantic exchange of phone calls, texts and that tiresome tool known as Facebook.

Furthermore, I received a politely worded message from one attendee of the event. Duncan Flynn informed me that my article was “highly libellous” while at the same time conceding that: “you are entitled to your opinion.” A lawyer by profession (albeit I believe currently unemployed), he wondered if I had the “decency to apologise”. I replied that of course I would apologise if anything I had said was factually incorrect; I have received no reply as of yet.

What was much more heartening was the large number of messages, sent to me through many mediums, that wholeheartedly agreed with me and proclaimed the existence of such persons as a blight on the Conservative Party. These words were sent from local Tories, national Tories, ex-Tories, and even from some very un-Toryish folks in the US.

One such message however, while agreeing that the particular people mentioned were nuisances, did question whether or not my article, entitled ‘Another Reason I will not be Voting Conservative’, was giving a relatively unimportant incident too much publicity. Why, the message read, did the article not provide reasons that explained much more cogently my misgivings regarding Cameron’s Conservatives?

This is, of course, a very fair point. I might have tried instead to pen an article that laments, for example, Mr Cameron’s success at letting the Conservatives become yet another social democratic party.

I have no doubt that author raised a justified point, and it makes one wonder whether my article was somewhat superficial. I must reply: yes! – It was very superficial; incredibly superficial; monstrously superficial.

There are powerful reasons for advocating close examination of such people. It is partly a manifestation of contending with three very similar political parties that perhaps cause the voter to examine the idiosyncrasies of political figures to determine their choice of vote. However, the much more important reason is that, at least for me, the persons I met in that inn were most certainly not representative of the entire Conservative Party; but they are certainly the most loud and the most visible.

I am a Conservative at heart, a slightly apprehensive one at present, but a Conservative nonetheless. I do not want such people to plague the party with which I have some connection and I do not want such people to despoil politics any further. It is sad yet laughable that they then admit their vulgarity and follies by frantically and angrily protesting, and then set about plotting a response to the accounts of their behaviour.

It would be wonderful to be part of a political party that only contains politicians of integrity – politicians that hold office because of worthy reward; rather than career politicians who still seek to desperately re-live their university days and who possess no abilities or experience that would make them good politicians.

This superficial inspection of our politicians-to-be is exceptionally important – these are persons who will lead our country and, in these big-government days, run our lives.

And so should I now refrain from naming those who were involved? Have their names been not mentioned enough times? Can I resist the urge to state such names again? Yes! – yes I can; but I simply choose not to:

Iain Lindley

Gareth Knight

Frank Young

Richard Price

Nick Reeves

On our masters and commanders 4

Why do some people want power over the lives of others?

Theodore Dalrymple writes in a discussion of privileged eduction in France and whether the state should provide ‘equality of opportunity’ – which is to say, a discussion of socialist thinking – that he is mystified by this question.

The heart of the problem lies in the unassailability of the term ‘equality of opportunity,’ and the unthinking assent it commands. I was once asked on Dutch TV whether I was in favour of it, the interviewer assuming that I must be so in spite of all my other appalling opinions; and when I said that I was not, and indeed that I thought it was a truly hideous notion, his eyes opened with surprise. I thought he was going to slip off his chair.

Only under conditions reminiscent of those of Brave New World could there be equality of opportunity. But, of course, the very unattainability of equality of opportunity (in any sense other than that of an absence of formal, legal impediments to social advance) is precisely what recommends it as an ideal to politicians such as President Sarkozy, and indeed to most other western politicians, virtually irrespective of their putative political stripe. The fact that, reform notwithstanding, there are always differences in outcomes for different groups or classes of human beings in any society means that there is always scope, in the name of equality of opportunity, for further interference and control by politicians and bureaucrats. Not permanent revolution (to change the communist metaphor from Stalinism to Trotskyism), but permanent reform is the modern western politico-bureaucratic class’s route to lasting power and control.

Why anyone should want lasting power and control is to me a mystery: I suppose it must be the answer to a deep and insatiable inner emptiness.

And Bill Whittle at PJTV (here) seeks an answer to the question: ‘What type of person wants to run for office?’ He cites two men in history who attained supreme power and did not cling to it. Each of them saw his position as a temporary job, the exercise of power as a duty he owed to the people, and when he had done what was needed, stepped down from high office and returned to private life. One was the (5th.century B.C.E.) Roman leader Cincinnatus, and the other was George Washington.

If there are any politicians now who consider taking on elected office only as a service, they would be found (and it’s really not very likely that they exist) on the conservative right. Leftist politicians want above all to command, manipulate, control people, even force them to change their nature. There’s an old and ongoing debate among political philosophers of the left as to whether The Revolution will bring about a transformation of human nature, or whether it is necessary for human nature to be reconstructed first in order for The Revolution to be accomplished. (An infamous example of a Commie who fretted over this artifiical problem is Herbert Marcuse, guru of the 1968 New Left in Europe.)

Right now, ‘progressive’ bureaucrats in New York see it as their  business – and of course their pleasure – to interfere not just in New Yorkers’ but the whole nation’s private lives by dictating what people may eat or not eat.

Daniel Compton writes in OpenMarket.org:

On Monday, city officials rolled out an initiative to curb the salt content in manufactured and packaged foods. But the idea behind it — that salt intake has reached extreme levels in America — is a myth, and this “solution” wouldn’t work, anyway.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley aims to lead a national campaign to reduce the amount of salt in manufactured foods by 25 percent over the next five years. Cutting salt intake is supposed to reduce hypertension-related health problems. But while doctors may advise particular patients to cut down on salt, the science tells us that this is not a public-health problem. …

In other words, Farley’s trying to fight a problem that doesn’t exist. Worse, his new guidelines say that daily sodium intake for most people shouldn’t exceed 1,500 mg — which is a ridiculous 45 percent below the bottom of the normal consumption range [a] UC Davis study identified, and a full 60 percent lower than the worldwide average. …

The UC Davis study also cites surveys showing that sodium intake in the United Kingdom has “varied minimally” over the last 25 years, despite a major government campaign to reduce it.

Overall, the researchers found, salt intake “is unlikely to be malleable by public policy initiatives,” and attempts to change it would “expend valuable national and personal resources against unachievable goals.”

The New York guidelines are voluntary — for now. But the city’s ban on trans fats started that way, too. And the federal Food and Drug Administration has also been looking to get in on the action — it may classify it as a “food additive,” subject to regulation, sometime this year.

Then he comes to what all this regulation-for-our-own-good is really all about:

But this campaign isn’t about public health — it’s about grandstanding on a pseudo-issue ginned up by activists, when science clearly shows that there’s neither a crisis nor a way for the government to actually alter our salt intake.

All these initiatives do is win headlines for ambitious policymakers (New York’s last health commissioner parlayed his trans-fat activism into a promotion to FDA chief), while making food slightly more costly and leaving a bad taste in the mouths of consumers — literally.

Of course, if (or is it when?) the state is the sole provider of health care, it will claim justification for dictating to us what we may eat and how we must live, on the grounds that as it pays for our cures it has the right or the duty to instruct us to stay healthy. That’s why Obama and the Democrats so desperately want their health care legislation to be passed: not really to help keep us alive, but to have the means and the pretext for controlling us. As always with the left, they will boss us about in the name of a benign intention and an essential need.

The despotic personality is hard if not impossible for libertarians to understand. Individualists are appalled by the totalitarian vision of collectivists. Speaking for ourselves, in no conceivable circumstances would we want to organize a community. We find in the weakness of our unreconstructed human nature that it’s hard enough to run even one life – each our own.