Archives for category: Institutional Reality

Could the US founding fathers be guilty of creating a nation based on slavery?

…as answered on Quora….

Seems a funny way of putting it.

  1. America’s founders weren’t creating a “nation.” They created a federal union, with each state as a separate sovereign governing in a republican fashion its nation of free people. That is a better description.
  2. Some of those free people in those states owned slaves, in most states. Thomas Jefferson had written anti-slavery passages in his Declaration of Independence, but they were removed by the Continental Congress for fear of alienating states dominated by slaveowners. But most founders recognized that slavery was the opposite of freedom.
  3. The state of Vermont, independent at the time of the Revolution and through the Philadelphia Convention, formally abolished slavery in 1777. It entered the union in 1791. For the next seven decades, northern states, one by one, legislated against the institution of slavery. In the aftermath of the Civil War, slavery was abolished in all states by the 13th Amendment. (Arguably, the federal union ceased to be at that time, and a nation-state was then created — not because of the abolition of slavery, but because of the manner in which it was accomplished . . . but that is another and quite thorny issue.)
  4. At the time of the founding of the United State in the late 18th century, few countries had abolished slavery, though it was not widely practiced in Europe any longer. But it had been practiced from time immemorial. So in that context, did the founders create a political union “based on slavery”? All of civilization was in part “based on slavery.” That is, slavery was a worldwide phenomena. And it is still practiced in Africa and Asia, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
  5. What the founders did do was proclaim freedom as central to their cause. And that proclamation (declaration) along with their expressed desire to “secure the blessings of liberty” leavened the culture and allowed the states of the union, and then the federal government (after a horrific war in no small part the result of this issue), to repudiate slavery. Over time. Which is how social change happens.

The idea of blaming the founders for slavery while not crediting them with the principles that were corrosive to the ancient institution, seems tendentious and . . . twisted . . . to me. Could it serve as part of an agenda on the totalitarian left to discredit individual liberty by means of its opposite — the better to institutionalize not chattel slavery but mass political slavery, the slavery of socialism?


Not Irrelevant:

Did white people oppose slavery?

What did Austrian economists think of slavery?

Why is capitalism not the root cause of slavery?

How different would the U.S. be if it didn’t have slave labor in its beginning stages?

Who thinks slavery was avoidable?

Who was the first U.S. President whose immediate family owned slaves?

Where do human rights come from?

From the Davos speech by Trump in January:

The great scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century — from penicillin, to high-yield wheat, to modern transportation, and breakthrough vaccines — have lifted living standards and saved billions of lives around the world. And we’re continuing to work on things that you’ll be hearing about in the near future that, even today, sitting here right now, you wouldn’t believe it’s possible that we have found the answers. You’ll be hearing about it. But we have found answers to things that people said would not be possible — certainly not in a very short period of time.

But the wonders of the last century will pale in comparison to what today’s young innovators will achieve because they are doing things that nobody thought even feasible to begin. We continue to embrace technology, not to shun it. When people are free to innovate, millions will live longer, happier, healthier lives.

Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, from his address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2020.

Then came the pandemic and its hysterical responses, and now the race riots and mob iconoclasm. What if Trump was talking about very specific things, things he knows to be developing in a technical pipeline but we do not — what if he is not just blowing smoke?

Remember that Biden also promised, not long ago, a cure for cancer?

What if major technological breakthroughs are on the brink, and the competing tribes in government are trying to leverage their positions to take credit for them?

twv

We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

CIA Director William J. Casey, February 1981, Roosevelt Room, White House

The leftist definition of fascism — corporate take-over and tyranny — has been enacted not by self-professed fascists, or the Alt-Right, or Donald J. Trump, but by leftists themselves.

For years leftists told libertarians that corporate power could be suppressive, oppressive, tyrannical. Libertarians scoffed. Demanded evidence.

So leftists provided that evidence: they developed major social media (with a little help from the alphabet soup of U.S. “intelligence” agencies) and then used their leverage to censor information, inquiry and opinions that run counter to their narrative and party line. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter now routinely censor opinions on the coronavirus they (and the World Health Organization) don’t like. And more.

They proved their point. They became the oppressors they warned us about.

Libertarians lost the argument, and are doubly unhappy about it: they were proven wrong and they are oppressed. But leftists? Their win must be . . . bittersweet. I mean, to win by losing: by becoming the very thing you most hate!

twv

While I should be writing something for pay, or mowing the lawn, today I wrote a bunch of answers on Quora:

Can authoritarianism come to America?

It’s here. In the platforms, habits, demands and reverenced rhetoric of both major parties.

And it is going to get worse and reach its full flower with the new coronavirus menace, for people of vacuous spirituality demand to be “saved” by the sacrifice of others’ freedoms.

That’s authoritarianism in a very popular form.

It is effrontery first, tyranny second.

twv (5/13/20)

Why is it that people either intensely love Trump or […] intensely hate him?

I do not either intensely hate Trump or love him. You may be surprised to discover that this attitude is actually very common in America.

I do find him funny, though. But his enemies are funnier, if not in a praiseworthy way. He is not the idiot that his detractors incessantly insist he is, for it is obvious that he is smarter than most of his political opponents.

But he really is a different creature in the White House, and he breaks many norms. Since presidents following those norms have led us to war and insolvency, seeing them broken does not offend me much. I laugh at those who are offended, but I also chuckle at his adoring acolytes.

As for what he has done and what he believes or pretends to believe? I dislike Trump’s protectionism, his know-nothing nationalism, his crankish approach to policy, his inelegant and seemingly racist speech, but at least he is not a warmonger, and I would never side with the Deep State that demands his ouster. I am an anti-imperialist and anti-nationalist. Trump’s forays against the empire? I had some hope for him. But we did not see his ideas put into play. We saw reaction. At least now we can see who the real rulers are, for they have come out of hiding by trying to remove Trump from office. I know who freedom’s real enemies are, and they reside in the national security state and in shady global alliances of the hyper-wealthy.

But that does not get to the heart of the love/hate, does it? So let us confront one obvious truth: the main bone of contention is his sexual style. He is a traditional “alpha male.” As such, this offends beta male cultures on the Christian right and the pagan left, as well as modish feminism. But most women are not feminists, and his style does not offend everyone. And the right-leaning Christians have lost so many battles that they have in a sense given up: if God gives them an imperfect defender, they no longer prissily complain.

And the enthusiasm for Trump appears to be enthusiasm for someone who regularly humiliates their persecutors — and if any group is openly scorned in America, it is evangelical Christians . . . by coastal cognitive elites. And Trump makes a mockery of them.

Besides, could it be that Americans are beginning to see an ancient principle at work?

The Law of Nemesis turns pride and hubris inside-out, into some form of destruction. Sometimes this occurs by flaunting a parody of one’s enemies against us, other times by turning ourselves into parodies of our own values.

Bush Era hubris brought the empty and ludicrous sanctimony of the Obama years, while the selection of the ultra-corrupt Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party’s standard bearer fed fuel to the rise of Trump. Part of the comedy here is that Hillary is thought of as a feminist, but she was cruel and unjust in persecuting her husband’s lovers and victims, so a parody of Bill Clinton became her conqueror. And Trump’s most infamous sexual indiscretion? That was his boast how women would fall over themselves for a rich and powerful man, even going so far to allow such men to “grab them by the pussy.” So what do Democrats now promote? A man accused of literally grabbing her accuser by the pussy, but against her will, not, as Trump said, by permission. This is almost a parody of the basic philosophies of right and left: the right produces and entices, the left steals.

All quite hilarious. I laugh at Americans every day. Sometimes I laugh at Trump, but more often I laugh at his enemies. Ridiculous is our descent into madness!

And why?

In times past I would have given reasons out of sociology and political economy — the Thomas Theorem, the Tragedy of the Commons, etc. — but now I suggest we wonder if the gods may not be jesting, playing with us. “The Progressives have had their century, and are a proud tower of folly; now we shall inflict their fall, as we take away their power, dignity, and reason for being.”

Why the love/hate? Because the participants are too entrenched in their own fates, unable to see the principles at work.

Take a step back and laugh with the gods.

twv (5/13/20)

Do you favor libertarian separatism?

I have written about this on my blog. I will summarize.

I support putting the general government of these United States under receivership. I think all the states should secede from the union and form several smaller unions, and those unions, or the departed states, should appoint the Receiver to liquidate the assets of the U.S.A., bring home from abroad all the military and divvy it up, with close attention to major contractors of the military-industrial complex, and pay off what debts can be managed without creating a worse situation than before.

I do not think there is any other way of restoring balance to our political-legal system. Culturally, financially, militarily, monetarily, the United States is a mess.

I liked the idea of the Constitution, I confess. Federalism — as conceived by the true federalists, called “anti-federalists” — is a pretty good idea. But it was a dead letter on accession in the early 1790s, and quickly became a mercantilist national state. The nationalism grew and grew, and morphed into a new form of imperialism.

I oppose nearly everything the United States have become.

So, this all assumes the persistence of large states. It also assumes that we might be able to make an orderly reorganization. This latter is a long shot. But barring this sort of thing, I foresee major chaos, and probably a triumph of totalitarian controls. Our nation of serviles is pushing for that now. Ugh.

What should libertarians do? I do not know. In a time of chaos it might be good to have a sovereign state with a concentrated population of libertarians. But if the totalitarianism comes, then they sure would be easy to round up.

Obviously, I support secession and voluntary, peaceable assembly. But the cult of the total state is getting ugly. And the cult’s acolytes are whipping themselves into a bloodletting frenzy. I know many leftists right now who would be glad to see me carted off to a prison camp.

The biggest problem? There are just so few libertarians. Congregating in one area will mean a slight increase in influence in that area, sure, but also would entail few per cultural checks in the regions abandoned.

If we have time, and if the Q Anon folks are wrong about what is really going on, a slow migration to specific regions might make sense. Perhaps to encourage the idea of restructuring by secession we should encourage the partitioning of a half dozen or so states. New York’s boroughs should be separated from the rest of New York; Chicago’s Cook Country should become a separate state; California needs to split into many pieces, with LA County being itself a separate state, and the much requested “Jefferson” created out of the north of the state snd southern Oregon; eastern Oregon and eastern Washington should become a new state of Adams; King Country, Wsshington, and the counties directly north, should become a separate state as well. The point of all this is to wrest power away from ruling cliques and make manageable states that could actually sport something close to founding era ideas of representation.

I think libertarians would have a better chance to influence politics for the better in any of the more rural new states: Jefferson, Adams, new Illinois, greater New York, etc.

But libertarians would be spread pretty thin. I fear that what will happen will be chaotic, tyrannical, and a horror. Pushing secession as a solution to problems might save the country, though, and, if not, allow for future formal bankruptcy proceedings, as I suggest up top.

I of course think all peaceful people should separate themselves from criminals, if they can. And the biggest criminal is the total state.

twv (5/13/20)

If a policy is promoted and put into action by touting Rationale A, but, after that case begins to crumble, the policy receives a completely new defense by recourse to Rationale B, I not unreasonably wonder what Rationale C might be, and whether it constituted the real motivating principle from the beginning.

If you start shouting “Conspiracy Theory!“ that C looks better and better every moment.

It is not “stimulus” to give money to businesses that are not allowed to operate. So either the two-plus trillion-buck stimulus bill targets those enterprises that are actually allowed to operate, or the bill actually serves as a compensation package for those business that have been suppressed, prohibited. (“Non-essential” ones, you know.) Ah, policy in the plague year!

And the idea that Congress must “save” the airlines is ridiculous. There is very little air traffic right now. Had they been allowed to go into bankruptcy — barring loans or stock takeovers — some other businesses would buy the planes and fly them in better times. Boo hoo about current ownership.
Without loss, the profit-and-loss system is null and void. It becomes a profit-and-subsidy system. It is “bipartisan socialism,” if you will, where all risk has been socialized by the federal government, but where profit is allowed as a political favor.

Laughing (I am) at those who say they want to “get money out of politics” in that regime. No one can be that naive.

Politics in such a regime — state bailout capitalism, we could call it — is ALL ABOUT MONEY. It is Alexander Hamilton’s dream system, where the corruption is built into the fabric of government.

Neither party’s ideological supporters can defend this. Woke social democracy cannot defend this, and the Republicans’ family-centered nationalism has nothing to do with this, intrinsically. Bailouts are something else again, and its support is quite mercenary.

So the open question is: was it forced upon Trump, by circumstance, or was this his end-game?

We are often told that sometimes we must act as if the worst could happen, even if the worst is unlikely, because the worst is so bad.

This is the precautionary principle.

I am dubious about the usual applications of the principle, in part because of framing.

That is, the prophet of doom who delivers the extremist message of disaster has framed the imagined situation in such a way as to preclude other, equally valid scenarios in which the same principle works against his dire warning.

Take the current situation with the coronavirus.

We are being corralled like cattle with little or no respect for our rights. We are being told the government must do these things to stave off the worst outcomes.

There is a lot going on here. But consider another use of the same extremist imagining:

Conspiracy.

We were introduced to the contagion immediately along with the possibility that it was the product of human engineering leaked from a medical lab, perhaps by accident, perhaps by sabotage or worse.

Quickly the major news sources and political players and the usual academic upholders of Respectable Opinion worked to squelch such notions. Almost certainly, we were told, it was the inadvertent if predictable outcome of the Chinese practice of raising and selling cultivated wild animal meat in “wet markets.” The caging of farmed wild animals brought them too close together, allowing for a new virus to spring up and infect the world.

Plausible story. Likely story. But it is by no means certain.

As I argued with Emile Phaneuf on the last episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, if you were Doctor Evil and sought to engage in an international power play using a major contagion as a weapon, but wanted to hide your activity, you would release it in Wuhan.

That would be cover.

And, as David Icke notes, if you take note of the infection patterns in America’s Public Enemy No. 1, Iran, and do not at least suspect a weaponization, how stupid are you? Just how much of a mark, a sap, a willing victim do you have to be?

I say: you would be a stooge. The useful idiot of malign forces.

You don’t have to believe in the conspiracy conjecture. You don’t have the evidence.

But if you resist thinking about the possibility, you make yourself an easy mark for the worst of our species.

And we know that the worst of our species can be very bad indeed.

Belief is not the issue: it is suspicion and caution that the precautionary principle requires.

We do not KNOW if the coronavirus was deployed as an instrument of social control. But we do know it IS being used to rob us of freedoms and create a nation, indeed, a world, of servile sheep to be corralled and shorn and perhaps slaughtered for the benefit of an elite who likes being in charge.

That being the case, it would be a form of the precautionary principle to act as if the coronavirus had been deployed as a weapon, and therefore resist tyrannical paternalism and instead promote distributed responsibility as the way to increase the safety of the population.

Note what I’m saying here: if the precautionary principle seems to require a fixation on an extremely bad outcome of a contagion, just so it requires us to consider that it is being used as a means of suppressing freedom. That is, the bad outcome of a plot to take away our freedoms.

Belief in the face of the unknown is not relevant. Probability comes into play in cultivating wisdom, and so do other principles of prudence.

So, to those of you who reject “conspiracy theories” out of hand? I say: don’t be a stooge, either to a possible malign organization or to the tricky nature of a system spinning out of control, and into a new form of dangerous control.

Free people aren’t stooges.

twv

How Lines of Inquiry Get Shut Down

Finally, someone smart and not a coward asks the obvious questions and expresses the requisite incredulity:

The lack of professional curiosity among journalists about the Jeffrey Epstein case is astounding. Eric Weinstein is speaking truth — to power, even (for the Fourth Estate is indeed a power) — here, simply by denying the lies commonly used to smother public interest and coverage of the subject.

But I have a conjecture. I may know why.

Indeed, I suspect everybody knows why: for everybody knows that at the highest levels of government, and feeding around The Giant Pool of Money, the institutions and people are fantastically corrupt. No, that is too light. Everybody knows that at the top, there is profound evil.

You know it, your neighbor knows it, and the media mavens know it.

But the knowledge is suppressed, quite willingly, by nearly everyone. Why?

Well, most people depend upon — and even obtain their sense of “identity” from — the governments that are evil. Everyone is morally compromised, “journalists” most of all . . . because they seek to be the manipulators of public opinion, and they (for the most part) want the power of the State to grow. Everyone has dirty hands and compromised consciences, so the knowledge of the evil at the heart and mind of the modern state is rarely spoken of, and those who do speak of it are scorned or derided or ignored.

We pretend it isn’t knowledge, and because we all speak of it so rarely, the knowledge ceases to be public, and thus not testable. And this, in turn, discourages tests.

It is a feedback loop of corruption, and it extends from the pinnacles to the barnacles.

Of society.

And Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself.

Richard Grenell, the new Acting Director of National Security, late of the Ambassadorship to Germany, is being attacked by Democrats for incompetence, lack of credentials, etc., but not heralded for being ‘openly gay,’ for what it is worth. I know, I know: had a Democrat appointed a similarly credentialed leftist, the hosannahs of wokitude would skirl and keen heavenward incessantly. Oh, well.

He used to be on Fox News, during the brief period I watched the channel. He seemed like a moderately reasonable conservative of the War Party, and not as egregious as the horrid John Bolton. Seemed staid and acceptable; has proved Plausibly Promotable.

I see no evidence for the charges of incompetence or lack of preparation I read on Twitter. I am not saying he is competent — I would not know — but he looks like yet another ambitious Beltway Operative to me. 

The deference Greg Gutfeld showed him was over the top, but I never got Gutfeld’s war policy mania. Which is no surprise, since I consider the very pool itself a swamp, not swampish because of the partisan inhabitants thereof.

But if Grenell orchestrates a UFO disclosure and forces the CIA to come clean on the JFK assassination, hosannahs shall come forth from my very lips.

twv