Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Republic, if We Can Keep It

By Michael Applebaum, MD


With its uninterrupted history of peaceful transition of power through elections, America has a multitude of citizens who justifiably feel pride in the strength of their democracy. But it cannot be denied that political tensions are rising, and it is not uncommon for occupants of the extreme end of both sides of the political spectrum to voice fears of (or hopes for) revolution. Is there any reason to believe that the republic is in danger of revolutionary activity?
Crane Brinton authored The Anatomy of Revolution (hereinafter "Anatomy"). The "aim [of his] study is the modest one of attempting to establish, as the scientist might, certain first approximations of uniformities to be noted in the course of four successful revolutions in modern states" (Anatomy, at 7).
He intended to accomplish his goal by application "of the bare elements of scientific thinking - conceptual scheme, facts, especially 'case histories,' logical operations, uniformities..." (Anatomy, at 13).
Brinton identified certain characteristics common to the revolutions he analyzed. Due to space limitations, I will focus principally and briefly on just two: structural weaknesses in the economy and politics.
The economic events Brinton linked to successful revolution were "unusually serious economic, or at least financial, difficulties of a special kind":
... in all of these societies, it was the government that is in financial difficulties, not the societies themselves. [Italics in the original.]
The first two Stuarts were in perpetual conflict with their Parliaments over taxes[.] ...
Americans need not be reminded of the part trouble over taxation played in the years just before the shot fired at Concord[.] ...
In 1789 the French Estates-General, the calling of which precipitated the revolution, was made unavoidable by the bad financial state of the government[.] ...
... three years of war had put such a strain on Russian finances[.] (Anatomy, at 29)
That the government of the USA faces financial difficulties and tax issues is axiomatic. (It is also agreed upon by both major political parties.)
Economic deprivation of society at large was not a factor Brinton found to be of significance (Anatomy, at 32). However:
... what provokes a group to attack a government is not simply deprivation or misery, but an "intolerable gap between what people want and what they get[.]" (Anatomy, at 30)
Thus, the animating element is not necessarily true deprivation so much as perceived deprivation.
In the USA, the perception of deprivation is rife despite the absence of true widespread privation.
Nicholas Eberstadt, in his 2008 book The Poverty of "The Poverty Rate," has evaluated the official U.S. federal metric used to assess deprivation and material need. Citing federal data, the:
... consumer patterns of officially poor households ... have recorded simultaneous, steady and significant increases in consumption of food housing, transportation and health...examination of the remaining categories within the market basket of the low-income consumer - clothing, entertainment, personal care, and so on - would reveal additional and analogous improvements in material circumstances[.]
The data and conclusions in Eberstadt's tome were recently confirmed by Robert Rector, and also by using the government's own numbers.
Brinton demonstrates that:
... revolutions did not occur in societies ... undergoing widespread and long-term economic misery or depression. You will not find in these societies of the old regime anything like widespread economic want[.] (Anatomy, at 29)
Of much greater importance is the existence among a group, or groups, of a feeling that prevailing conditions limit or hinder their economic activity. (Anatomy, at 33)
To sum up ... we note first, that these societies have been on the whole prosperous; second, that their governments are chronically short of money - shorter, that is, than most governments usually are; third, that certain groups feel that governmental policies are against their particular economic interests[.] (Anatomy, at 35-36)
This sounds quite in keeping with the conditions in the USA.
Addressing the political milieu in the years leading to revolution, Brinton notes that regarding:
... the actual workings of the machinery of government[,] ... there are obviously degrees of governmental inefficiency, and degrees of patience on the part of the governed. In our four societies, the governments seem to have been relatively inefficient, and the governed relatively impatient[.] (Anatomy, at 36)
... in eighteenth-century France it was very hard to get action from the government[.] (Anatomy, at 37)
... What is most striking in the English situation is the total inadequacy to modern government of a tax system based on the modest needs of a feudal central government. For the government of James I was beginning to be a modern government, to undertake certain elementary social services[.] ... The chronic need for money...brought them into sharp quarrels with the only people from whom they could in those days readily collect money - the gentry and the middle class[.] (Anatomy, at 37-38)
In America ... the attempted reform in colonial administration ... only made matters worse ... since it was carried out in a series of advances and retreats, cajoling and menaces, blowing-hot and blowing-cold. (Anatomy, at 38)
Russia[n] ... failure in war had ... brought with it a partial collapse of the machinery of internal administration. (Anatomy, at 38)
Finally, one of the most evident uniformities we can record is the effort made in each of our societies to reform the machinery of government. Nothing can be more erroneous than the picture of the old regime as an unregenerate tyranny, sweeping to its end in a climax of despotic indifference to the clamor of its abused subjects. (Anatomy, at 39)
This, too, sounds quite in keeping with conditions in the USA.
Though one can question the sincerity or gusto behind efforts made to reform the machinery of the federal government, one cannot in good faith deny that election after election, government reform is raised as an issue.
In summation, Brinton lists the preliminary signs of revolution, which include:
... government deficits, more than the usual complaints over taxation, conspicuous governmental favoring of one set of economic interests over another, administrative entanglements and confusions ... the intensification of social antagonisms, the stoppage at certain points...of the career open to talents, the separation of economic power from political power and social distinction ... (Anatomy, at 65)
The conditions above do not sound foreign to the times.
But, as Brinton acknowledges, these matters are generally present to some degree, and grumbling about them is not usually absent. In referring to the successful revolutions:
In all of them ... there is, as the actual outbreak of revolution approaches, increasing talk about revolution, increasing consciousness of social tension, increasing "cramp" and irritation[.] (Anatomy, at 65-66)
As some have noted, the conversations, tensions, and irritations are ratcheting up, and arguably enough to consider the possibility of a more violent future -- i.e., revolution or civil war.
Whether civil war will precede revolution, be contemporaneous with it, or not occur at all is unknowable and likely will depend to some degree on the influence of Fifth Columnists and their religious/racial/ethnic/cultural/philosophic/violent inclinations. As to them, we will have to see.
Predicting the future remains a tough game.
Still, many among us try to prepare for/predict the future, which is unknowable in its specifics -- e.g., folks buy insurance, evildoers (according to some) speculate in the markets, and those hopeful of heavenly reward perform good deeds and/or kill.
If Brinton's analysis has merit and is properly applied, life in the USA might be in some danger. Responsible Americans of all political stripes should seek to keep our political conflicts within the boundaries constitutionally laid out for change.
Michael Applebaum is a physician and attorney practicing in Chicago. His website FackBarack.com is up and running. His website civilwarwatch.us is in public beta. He asks that you come visit so he can work out any bugs over the next few months. Thanks.
This article was edited after publication.

Pro-Life Fight Against Abortion Providers Compared to David vs Goliath Match-Up

Sat, Mar. 31, 2012 Posted: 10:31 AM EDT

Pro-life and family advocate Dr. James Dobson encouraged pregnancy help service providers this week in their fight against the abortion movement, which he described as vicious.
Dobson, who spoke to more than 600 people attending Heartbeat International's annual conference Thursday, said that being on the frontlines of providing an alternative to groups such as Planned Parenthood was not easy.
"The leaders of the abortion movement are vicious about what they are doing. They are absolutely committed to it," he said. "I've asked myself, 'Why are they so passionate about what they are doing?' There are really two reasons for it. One is population control and the other is they are making a lot of money doing it."
Speaking about the tactics used by the pro-abortion side, he said, "They will intimidate you. They will try to embarrass you. They will even threaten you and I'm sure that there are people here who have been through that. And I've had my bouts with them, too."
Founded in the U.S. in 1971, Heartbeat International is a network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers that has grown to become the largest global network of its kind. The Christian-based association has nearly 1,200 affiliated pregnancy help ministries – including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies in more than 50 countries to provide alternatives to abortion.
Heartbeat President Peggy Hartshorn compared the battle for saving unborn children in today's world to that of the David v. Goliath story found in the Bible. She urged those in the association to "pick up their rock" to help the cause.
"The Goliath of our times is the abortion industry and the face of this giant is Planned Parenthood," Harshorn said. "Planned Parenthood is the largest chain of abortion clinics in the United States. Twenty-seven percent of all abortions done in the U.S. are done in a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic."
She added that 91 percent of pregnant women who enter a Planned Parenthood have an abortion.
The solution is to "get to them first," she said.
"We have hope. Nine states have voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Abortion clinics are closing. They went from having 2,000 abortion clinics in the U.S. to 700," she said. "Fifty-one percent of all Americans now consider themselves pro-life. We need more, but we are advancing. We are producing a culture of life."
Harshorn said Heartbeat has the most expansive network in the world. "About 80 percent who experience an ultrasound choose life. An estimated 2,000 babies are saved each week through you, our pregnancy help center network."
With 25,000 "foot soldiers" working for the association in various capacities, she said, "We are taking ground."
"We are advancing with Christ-centered, strategically located, effective pregnancy help ministries that are working in our communities with the body of Christ to provide [multiple services]," she explained. "We are the alternative to Planned Parenthood."
Dobson said he was at the conference because he believes in the work Heartbeat does and is passionate about the unborn child.
He told those in attendance that when abortion on demand was legalized by the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade more than 39 years ago, it struck him as odd that "there was this silence" from evangelical Christians.
"Christians just yawned and went on. Had it not been for the Catholics there would not have been [any vocal opposition]," Dobson said. "Things started to change but it wasn't until the early '80s. My fellow conservative evangelicals didn't get it at all."
He added that during this time period, some Christians did not understand "what was so wrong" with Planned Parenthood. "To consider how far we've come from there to now with the work of organizations like this I am very grateful," he said.
Alex Murashko

State of Construction: The Best and Worst (Mostly Worst)

By Randall T. Perks


Let's take a look at national construction employment. According to the latest available data (February, 2012) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Construction Sector website, national construction employment peaked in April 2006 at 7,726,000 workers. Today, construction employment stands at 5,554,000 workers. Over the last six years, 2,172,000 construction jobs have been lost. The decline is actually larger, given that the undocumented workforce is prevalent on construction jobsites but not in government records.
Looking at the construction un-employment rate is a far more deceptive thing. Beginning with a few definitions, let's take a look at the BLS national construction statistics. As BLS defines it, "[t]he unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force[,]" and "[t]he labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons."
According to BLS, the national unemployment rate in the construction industry peaked in February 2010 at 27.1% with 5,533,000 employees. Two years later, in February 2012, the official construction unemployment rate has fallen to 17.1% with 5,554,000 employees. Given the construction unemployment rate and construction employees, we can calculate the labor force and the number of unemployed, as seen below.
Over the past 24 months, the government's official construction unemployment rate has dropped by 10%, and reported construction employment has grown by 21,000 jobs. However, in order to drop 10% off the unemployment rate, 890,211 workers have been removed from the construction labor force, and 911,211 previously unemployed construction workers have disappeared from the ranks of the unemployed, which now numbers 1,145,638.
Date
BLS Unemployment Rate Construction Industry
BLS Current Construction Employment
Construction Labor Force (Calculated) Unemployed Workers (Calculated)
February 2010
27.1 % 5,533,000 7,589,849 2,056,849
February 2012
17.1% 5,554,000 6,699,638 1,145,638
Change
- 36.9% 21,000 (890,211) (911,211)
The individual state construction employment figures reveal similar destruction. After downloading the most recent (January 2012) BLS historical construction employment data for all 49 states (Nebraska does not provide this data, and several other states combine Construction with Mining & Logging), we see that construction employment in most states reached all-time highs in either 1996 or 1997. Two notable exceptions are North Dakota, the only state that has gained construction jobs under Obama, due primarily to oil and gas development, and Michigan, in decline since 2000.
Looking back from January 2007, the ten states which have withstood the construction employment collapse best include:
STATE PEAK EMPLOYMENT CURRENT EMPLOYMENT CHANGE
North Dakota
19,100
25,900
+ 35.6 %
South Dakota
23,800
21,300
-10.5 %
Oklahoma
76,500
67,500
-11.8 %
Louisiana
136,800
120,100
-12.2 %
Pennsylvania
264,800
230,500
-13.0 %
West Virginia
40,300
34,300
-14.9 %
Kansas
66,600
56,100
-15.8 %
Arkansas
57,600
48,400
-16.0 %
Tennessee
139,100
116,300
-16.4 %
Iowa
76,500
63,900
-16.5 %
The ten states which have suffered the worst construction job loss include:
STATE PEAK EMPLOYMENT CURRENT EMPLOYMENT CHANGE
Georgia
224,000
146,400
-34.6 %
Alabama
113,700
73,800
-35.1 %
Utah
105,700
67,600
-36.0 %
California
945,100
567,100
-40.0 %
South Carolina
127,700
75,100
-41.2 %
Idaho
53,300
31,200
-41.5 %
Michigan
214,200
122,800
-42.7 %
Arizona
244,300
114,900
-53.0 %
Florida
691,900
319,300
-53.9 %
Nevada
146,400
54,300
-62.9 %
For the years January 2007 through January 2012, the following statistics apply:
o Four states -- Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and New York -- reached new lows in construction employment last month.
o Thirteen states -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Texas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin -- have reached new lows in construction employment in the last three months.
o Eighteen states have reached new lows in construction employment within the past six months.
o Twenty-nine states have reached new lows in construction employment in the past year.
o Ten states are within 1% of new lows in construction employment.
o Twenty-eight states are within 5% of new lows in construction employment.
o Forty-four states are within 10% of new lows in construction employment.
o Twenty-one states have fewer construction workers today than in 1990, 22 years ago.
As the statistics above indicate, this is not recovery. The devastation of the construction industry is directly tied to the real estate collapse -- a collapse created almost entirely by poor government policy. What had historically been a stable and dependable foundation of the American dream is in shambles. With trillions of dollars of real estate value lost and 25% of homeowners underwater, recovery won't come quickly.
Our government's war on energy production and the environmental regulatory war on critical products including cement, mining, quarrying, trucks, steel, chemicals, water and air use, noise, dust, demolition, and disposal continue to raise costs and destroy jobs. Material supply and fabrication have been shipped overseas. Go-green LEED standards can double construction costs to resolve problems which never existed. Zoning and permitting have often been taken over by environmentalists. Obama's war on prosperity, the world's highest corporate tax rates, and a government debt larger than all of our money ever created further impede the industry. I can picture solar panels, windmills, and algae ponds in every backyard.
In 2009, Democrats gave us the $840,000,000,000.00 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The construction industry was said to be the single largest beneficiary of the spending frenzy, with a projected 678,000 construction jobs created. Like most everything else run by government, it did not quite work as they told us. As Rush has said, it was just a little-less-than-a-trillion-dollar Democrat slush fund. Government was, is, and will remain the problem, not a solution.
The two million-plus construction jobs lost are real. These were workers who actually produced something in America. The strongest, most capable producers in society have been reduced by 30%. Unlike when the BLS statistician deletes one million people from the workforce and pretends that they no longer exist, these workers remain out there. As the industry continues in decline, the long-term consequences remain unknown. You can't take one third of an industry and hit "delete" without negative consequences arising somewhere. Here we have an early look at the fundamental transformation of America at work.

Military Excuses Muslim Soldiers' Uniformed Political Speech


Friday, March 30, 2012

Political Speech and U.S. Troops

U.S. Troops have been getting in trouble for political speech during the past few months. First, there was the Soldier who appeared on stage in uniform at a Ron Paul rally. Then, a Marine got in trouble for his opinions.

It’s interesting how things change in just a few years. You see, a few years back U.S. Muslim soldier Nasser Abdo appeared on Al-Jazeera TV (in full uniform) to denounce the U.S. Abdo never got in trouble for doing this; he only got in trouble after the government allegedly found him in possession of child porn and later still after he allegedly planned to massacre U.S. Troops a la Nidal Hasan.



On or about the same time, U.S. Muslim soldier Zachari Klawonn went on Al-Jazeera TV (in full uniform) to denounce the U.S.



And if CNSNews.com is accurate, not only did Klawonn not get in trouble for doing this, the Army actually approved his right to do what he did. From CNSNews.com:


A spokesman for Fort Hood told CNSNews.com that, as an American, Klawonn had a right to express his views and that he had informed his commanding officer that he was going to appear on Al-Jazeera. The spokesman said the Army did not agree with what Klawonn said.
Also from CNSNews.com:
Chris Haug, Army branch chief of media relations for Fort Hood, told CNSNews.com that Klawonn has the right to share his personal opinions with the media, even though the Army disagrees with the statements Klawonn made, which Haug said were “inaccurate.”

“He’s an American citizen” Haug said. “As long as there is no security risk, the military can’t stop him from speaking to groups like Al-Jazeera or saying these type of things.”

Haug said Klawonn informed his battalion commander that he would be speaking to Al-Jazeera.

“(Klawonn) informed Lt. Col. Douglas White about this interview on August 24th at 8:23 a.m.,” Haug said. “He expressed an interest in raising the Muslim awareness around the post--to express a positive image for Muslims, and so forth. He’s been working directly with our spiritual fitness center. There’s been quite a bit of movement in terms of movement in the Muslim community in a very positive way.”

That was 2010. The rules are no longer the same.

Various Milbloggers have ridiculed and/or condemned the Soldier at the Paul rally and the Marine who expressed his opinions, saying that Troops do not have the same free speech rights as civilians. And I’m sure people will find minor details on how Abdo’s and Klawonn’s cases are different from what the Paul supporter and Marine did, and therefore they will claim the Muslim soldiers were right while the Paul supporter and Marine were wrong. I get that. And I get that there used to be a standard for what Troops could and could not do.

But what we are witnessing is Alinsky-ism at its finest: use our own morals/standards to destroy us. In other words, the left is counting on conservatives and others who are Right-of-left to condemn and destroy anyone (Right or left) who speaks contrary to the leftist agenda while currently serving in the Armed Forces (even while not in uniform). At the same time, the left will never do the same. The left is counting on conservatives saying, “Just because they aren’t doing the right thing doesn’t give us the right to do the wrong thing too. We’re better than that.” This behavior is entirely acceptable and correct in a civil society or when dealing on an individual basis. But it is completely unacceptable—indeed, suicidal—when reacting to a tactic that is being used as a weapon in a war (yes, a war) to destroy us in a completely uncivil society. And that is exactly what is happening in America today: leftists are forcing conservatives to play by a set of rules designed to cripple and destroy us even as they have no intention of doing the same.

Thankfully, some conservatives seem to recognize this tactic. OneNewsNow reports on how the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) is voicing support for the Marine (and noting double standards). And The Marine Corps Times is reporting on how Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)—himself a Marine veteran—isn’t ready to roll over on this issue either. Congratulations to these conservatives; it is encouraging to see that not all of us are yet ready to surrender on this issue.

Personally, I have thought about how U.S. Troops can avoid this new crackdown on speech—at least how Reservists and Guardsmen can. Running for office provides a Reservist or Guardsman a whole lot more leeway of what he can and cannot say; what he can and cannot do. And with this in mind, for such Troops who realize what is going on and what is at stake, running for office (even if one thinks his chances of winning are slim) is a legal and moral way to get the same speech rights that American civilians enjoy . . . including American civilians who regularly cheer for our death and defeat, and otherwise hate our guts.

On Restoring American Individualism

By Daren Jonescu


Much of the political crisis facing America today stems from a disintegration of the ethical basis of the free society. That is why the core of the 2012 election fight is not tax rates, job growth, or the national debt. These issues, though of enormous practical importance, are merely the policy manifestations of underlying moral sentiments. The fundamental battle to be waged concerns nothing less than the nature of man, and the moral implications of that nature. If public disapproval of particular Obama policies is to become a lasting movement toward societal renewal, then the conservative's primary objective must be the restoration of American individualism.
The problem is that the warm quilt of entitlement and dependency which the left has so cozily tucked around American society not only restricts freedom of movement; it also effectively reinforces the anti-individualist morality that makes the left's advances possible. In the doublethink names of "fairness" and "security," soft despotism of the modern leftist sort produces a siren-song promise of carefree mother's love forever -- with its corresponding appeal to a toddler's moral myopia, the inability to concretize and respect the wishes and wills of other people. Thus, creeping socialism ushers in a hitherto unknown ethic, which we might dub "collectivist self-absorption."
"We Are the World" and "We are the 99 percent" are both products of this ethic, expressed as, respectively, self-aggrandizing "brotherly love" and self-aggrandizing slothful covetousness. In both cases, the heart of the message is, "We are one; give us what we want." This sensibility is the very meaning of the "entitlement mentality" with which the left seeks to charm America into moral and intellectual submission. The constitutionalist is therefore saddled with the thankless task of serving up the repeated splashes of cold water that might prevent the cozily blanketed moral invalid from drifting into the long, nightmarish sleep of collectivist authoritarianism.
The most indispensable resource in this struggle to renew the individualist ethic is a clear understanding of the moral terms of the argument, and a refusal to allow those terms to be redefined by the authoritarians.
Theoretically, "individualism" is a relatively recent concept. This is not to say that it expresses a new idea, but rather that as a historically significant notion it was born of modern philosophical debates. In short, as nineteenth-century liberal democracy came under attack from those who rejected natural rights and the politico-economic freedom those rights demand, both freedom's critics and its defenders saw fit to introduce a term that might encompass the crux of the ethical dispute. That term, "individualism," was born, therefore, of a need to explain the moral assumptions of liberty.
Individualism does not mean "selfishness," "greed," a reticence to work with others, or even a denial of the interconnectedness of humans and their fates. These misrepresentations are the products of leftist materialism's populist efforts to undermine faith in freedom by aligning freedom with amoral and anti-human inclinations.
At its base, individualism -- or, as its detractors since John Dewey have renamed it, "classical individualism" -- is simply the presupposition that fundamentally discrete human beings do, in fact, exist. Absurdly obvious as that may sound, this presupposition is precisely what modern leftism is calling into question -- not just implicitly, but quite directly.
Late modern philosophy has rejected outright the commonsense awareness, which was elevated to metaphysical theory by Aristotle, that individual existents are the basic facts of material reality. This notion applies, of course, to the category of man as to all else. From this accepted principle -- that the building blocks of human civilization are particular humans, who exist in logical priority to any community or social arrangement -- gradually arose the theoretical edifice of political freedom.
From the classical understanding of the individuated human mind as the essence of man, through the Christian development of the notion of individual moral will, philosophy at last turned, under the influence of modern empirical science, to the attempt to understand man's practical (i.e., moral) essence with a view to determining the most natural social arrangement. This latter effort ushered in the concept of natural rights -- moral constraints on men's behavior towards one another, grounded in the empirical understanding that the primary natural objective of each man is the preservation and progress of his own life, and hence that each man's range of moral authority both limits and is limited by every other individual's primary natural objective of preserving and promoting his own life.
The coinage of a uniquely "American individualism" stems from the fact that America was the first nation grounded explicitly in the most concrete and practical conception of this modern notion of natural rights. Thus, America was a political community that, in its very founding, expressly rejected the hitherto generally accepted premise that the leaders of communities may, and should, determine the purposes and limits of human action. By directly embedding the theory of natural rights -- understood as a moral fence around each individual -- into its basic law and its conception of government, the United States became the first nation founded on the premise that men are by nature free, and therefore that the purpose of government is, and must be, only the protection of that natural freedom.
Prior to the developments described above, "individualism" was not part of the philosophical vernacular, simply because the logical primacy of individuals -- the belief in the existence of individual human beings -- was the given in all theories of human experience. The concept became historically relevant precisely as a means of explaining the American ethic. America translated the Aristotelian "metaphysical" primacy of individuals into socio-political reality. Government may not, constitutionally, encroach upon natural liberty. The law of the land, unlike the laws of all other lands, is first and foremost a set of clear moral restrictions on government, in favor of individual citizens.
The American, then, is the only citizen on the planet who is -- in a manner that is more than an abstraction -- functionally superior in political status to his "government." The American head of state -- unlike all equivalent leaders throughout the world -- is not the "head" of the society (in traditional "body politic" fashion). American government is merely an instrument of the citizens, their tool, assigned a specific set of tasks, with the explicit proviso that it may and should be disbanded if it ceases to perform those tasks within its defined limits.
From this unique political achievement -- genuine practical freedom -- grows a unique moral sense. The American, related to his government in a manner that inverts the normal political relationship, duly sees himself differently. His non-subjecthood, if you will, produces a heightened sense of personal responsibility -- of having no (moral) choice but to "do it himself" -- from which is born the virtue of forward-looking self-reliance that is almost definitive of the American soul. This virtue is the core of the notion of "American individualism"; it is in part the source, and in part the moral outgrowth, of the translation of a metaphysical premise, the primacy of individuals, into a political system -- i.e., rights-based constitutional republicanism.
What came to be called "individualism" can be found in the citizens of other nations, of course; however, it exists as an apolitical principle, in the sense that only in America is individualism consistent with the duties of citizenship. The individualists of other nations, then, may be called "spiritual Americans."
Those who wish to subvert the American republic, and to undermine its founding documents, have always understood that the primary obstacle is ethical individualism. And this subversion, then, if one wishes to dig up America from its roots, requires an attack on the metaphysical presumption of the primacy of individual beings. Dewey, America's friendly face of socialism, shoved the spade in deep. Seeing that individualism was the source of natural rights, he sought to dissolve this nexus by undermining the metaphysical presupposition of discrete individuals.
For Dewey, the father of twentieth-century American public education, the individual as the given -- as an entity complete unto itself -- is the fallacy at the heart of all previous philosophy. Individual human beings -- i.e., individuated minds -- do not exist. Rather, individuals are created through social and educational influences. Thus, the theory of natural rights, which presumes the logical priority of individual men, is destroyed. Where there are no individuals, there can be no individual rights. Dewey, and others following him, expanded upon the European socialist theories that reject individual human nature, instead regarding historical social conditions as the fundamental realities. Community is prior to the individual; the latter is merely the product of the former. "It takes a village," to state this in one of its well-known contemporary manifestations.
Dewey and his collectivist allies take this metaphysical reversal one step farther, arguing that a society based on the "myth" of natural rights -- i.e., America -- actually prevents the development of true "individuals." The laws and liberties of such a society are, for Dewey, antithetical to the growth of the genuine individual, who is progressive and creative in devising new forms of community. Here is a typical outline of the view, from Chapter 22 of Dewey's Democracy and Education:
Not but that there have always been individual diversities, but that a society dominated by conservative custom represses them or at least does not utilize them and promote them. ... Regarding freedom, the important thing to bear in mind is that it designates a mental attitude rather than external unconstraint of movements, but that this quality of mind cannot develop without a fair leeway of movements in exploration, experimentation, application, etc. ... A progressive society counts individual variations as precious since it finds in them the means of its own growth. Hence a democratic society must, in consistency with its ideal, allow for intellectual freedom and the play of diverse gifts and interests in its educational measures.
Since "classical individualism" is based on a pre-societal notion of man, it tends toward the promotion of practical freedom, ultimately through natural rights. By redefining freedom as "a mental attitude rather than external unconstraint of movements" -- as creative "individuality" rather than political liberty -- and by regarding the preservation of liberty through law and custom as a "repression" of genuine individualism, the leftist turns freedom on its head. Freedom now means unconstraint in the "experimentation" and "application" of one's "gifts" to promote the "growth" of the "progressive society."
On this model, Thomas Jefferson is a repressor of individualism; William Ayers is a true individual. This leftist reversal of the moral concepts of individualism and freedom is explicitly grounded in a profound, and profoundly stupid, metaphysical reversal: the proposal that society is prior to the individual, that the individual is a product and instrument of the collective.
Do not be fooled by the modern, Dewey-inspired smokescreen composed of popular lingo such as "individuality" and "being an individual." These groundless notions are the harbingers of the most fundamentally anti-individualist philosophy ever devised.
The struggle facing America and the world over in the coming generations is nothing less than a battle between individualism and collectivism. Do you exist as a unique, rational being, independently of any community? Or are you merely an amorphous blob of nothing, to be shaped by your society, and a "free individual" only insofar as you are "creatively" serving the growth of the progressive community that made you? In political terms, are you, by nature, the master of your "government," or is it, by nature, your master?
Compared to the task of restoring genuine individualism, paying down the national debt will be a walk in the park. However, without ultimate success in this task, all other efforts to save America from the abyss will be futile. The imposed moral infantilism of American collectivism must give way at last to the self-reliant adulthood that is man's birthright. "We Are the World" must give way to "I am in the world -- and I have a right to be here."

Friday, March 30, 2012

History of the International Workingmen's Association

“It is not ... a mere improvement that is contemplated, but nothing less than a regeneration, and that not of one nation only, but of mankind. This is certainly the most extensive aim ever contemplated by any institution, with the exception, perhaps, of the Christian Church. To be brief, this is the programme of the International Workingmen’s Association.”

Contents

The First International, from M.I.A. Encyclopedia
The International Working Men's Association, Its Establishment, Organisation, Political and Social Activity and Growth, by W. Eichhoff (1868)
The International: A Sketch written to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Foundation of the International Working Men’s Association, by G. Jaeck (1905)
History of the First International, by G. M. Stekloff (1928)
Marx-Engels Writings, for the First International (1864-1873)
Documents of the First International (1864-1873)
The Hague Congress of The International, 2-7 September 1872
Marx-Engels Letters on the First International and Working Class Organisation
Archives of members of the First International
Marx and Engels
Mikhail Bakunin (1817-1876)

Wilhelm Liebknecht (1826-1900)
Friedrich Adolph Sorge (1826-1906)
Joseph Dietzgen (1828-1888)

August Bebel (1840-1913)
Paul Lafargue (1841-1911)
Jenny Marx Longuet (1844-1883)
Jules Guesde (1845-1922)

That Troublesome Word: Sovereignty

By Stephen Pratt
We need to agree on the meaning of the words we use if we are to communicate effectively. As I read and hear the word “sovereignty”, it becomes evident that we do not all use the same meaning. For example in a recent news letter from the “Tea Party Patriots” the author wrote: “Current choices in Washington D. C. are a grave threat to our national sovereignty…”. If sovereignty means absolute power and authority, then one could conclude that the power and authority of the Federal Government is at risk or one might conclude that the nation itself is at risk. What we need to ask is did the United States Constitution establish a sovereign nation? In 1886 George Bancroft wrote: “The government of the United States is far, very far removed from the powers of a sovereign state.”1
A recent magazine article in The New American speaks of the “assertion of state sovereignty over those powers not delegated to the federal government.”2 Again we must ask if that means the states did not retain sovereignty or control over the powers they delegated to the federal government in the Constitution. The confusion over the meaning of state sovereignty has been used since the beginning to lead our country toward an ever more powerful central government. In order to correctly understand the word “sovereignty,” it is absolutely necessary to understand the situation of the States before the Constitution was adopted.
The American colonies grew up as separate and distinct entities, each with their own customs and culture. The colonies were “the seeds of nations” as William Penn was reported to have proclaimed.3 When they declared their separation from the mother country, thirteen (13) new nations emerged. This was acknowledged by King George III when he signed the Second Treaty of Paris naming each new nation and recognizing each separate entity as “free, sovereign and independent states.” These thirteen new nations were equal to other nations of the world in choosing their “separate and equal station.” They assumed their positions “among the powers of the earth” equal to “the State of Great Britain.” The separate nations or countries were called “states” or “republics” because they had chosen a representative form of government.4
When the colonies wrested the power from the crown and became “free, sovereign and independent states”, the power passed directly from the king to the people. It passed directly to the people of each colony and not to the people of all the colonies in the aggregate – to thirteen distinct states and not to one.5 Some of these states chose to collaborate with the neighboring independent states and voluntarily sent delegates to a “continental congress.” These delegates represented thirteen sovereign nations gathered to discuss common problems and proposed a plan of confederation.6 One by one each state voluntarily chose to adopt our first constitution: The Articles of Confederation, which declared that “each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence…”
Before long it became apparent that government under the confederation needed some improvement. A convention of states was announced and the states voluntarily sent delegates. Rhode Island, as a free, sovereign, and independent nation, chose not to participate. There was no legal obligation for Rhode Island to participate! A new plan of confederation was proposed and one by one each state at its own ratifying convention adopted the proposed contract between the states and became a member of the new confederation, a republic of republics.7
A contract between states is called a compact. Because the compact constitutes our plan of government, it is called the Constitution and because the words confederation and federation were synonymous at that time, the new umbrella government was called the “federal government”.8 It was created by compact and it was to act as an agent for the ratifying states. The sovereign states “vested” the federal government with a few specific enumerated powers to execute in their behalf but the states retained ownership. The powers were “vested” but NOT ceded to the federal government. All other powers were reserved to the states or the people.
In 1823 legal scholar, John Taylor of Caroline, believed: “The Constitution was thus a compact among the states, resting on the sovereignty of the people as expressed through their state conventions.”9 Noah Webster defined sovereignty as “supreme in power; the possession of the highest power.” Sovereignty is superlative. It cannot be divided. It is a “solecistic absurdity” to speak of dual, divided, delegated or limited sovereignty.10 Think of the word sovereignty like the word pregnancy. A woman is either pregnant or she isn’t. There is no such thing as limited pregnancy. Likewise there is no such thing as divided sovereignty.
Alexander Hamilton correctly explained at the Convention of States: “Two sovereignties cannot co-exist within the same limits.” He also presented the alarming belief: “[We must establish] a complete sovereignty in the General Government… The general power, whatever may be its form, if it preserves itself, must swallow up the state powers.”11 In 1823 John Taylor of Caroline saw the problem developing and wrote: “The consolidating school contends that we have two sovereignties; but that one is sovereign over the other, Mr. Hamilton, that we have co-ordinate sovereignties, but that one is made superlative.”12 The general power swallowed up the state powers during the derailment caused by the “war between American sovereignties, in which the (36) nations were divided into two sets of allies.” What the people lost during the Civil War (the Great War of Coercion), we have yet to get back.13
Abraham Lincoln correctly defined sovereignty in his speech to Congress on July 4, 1861, as “a political community, without a superior.” He then went on to incorrectly declare that “no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty. And even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union… The Union is older than any of the States; and, in fact, it created them as States.” This viewpoint is not in harmony with the historical evidence, but does go along with the nationalist/consolidationist position which the 16th president embraced. Acting on this false premise, sovereignty was yanked from the states and they became administrative agencies of an ever more powerful central government. The country was no longer being governed by compact, but instead by conquest.
In 1866, at the National Union Party convention in Philadelphia, the following declaration was made: “The insurrection against the supreme authority of the nation has been suppressed… The victory achieved by the National Government has been final and decisive… It has established, beyond all further controversy and by the highest of all human sanction, the absolute supremacy of the National Government…” Having passed a pivotal point in our history, the once “free, sovereign, independent states” were now a unitary republic; “one nation, indivisible.” National sovereignty was secured.14
The issue of national sovereignty versus state sovereignty was settled first on the field of battle by force of arms (might makes right) and second by pronouncement of the highest court of the land in Texas v White 1869: “Perpetual union…it was final.” By foisting upon the states the 14th, 16th and 17th Amendments, the nationalists solidified the superiority of the central government over the states.15
On April 13, 2010, in The Charlotte Observer, Robert Higgs wrote of the federal government’s reach into American society: “What of any consequence remains beyond [Washington’s] reach in the United States today? Not wages, working conditions or labor management relations; not health care; not money, banking or financial services; not personal privacy; not transportation or communication; not education or scientific research; not farming or food supply; not nutrition or food quality; not marriage or divorce; not child care; not provision for retirement; not recreation; not insurance of any kind; not smoking or drinking; not gambling; not political campaign funding or publicity; not real-estate development, home construction, or housing or finance; not 1,000 other areas and aspects of economic and social life.”16
In conclusion: Sovereignty is the possession of the highest power. It is impossible for both the state and federal governments to possess the highest power at the same time. Try not to confuse “sovereignty” with the powers that the sovereign may delegate. When the sovereign states created the Constitution, they delegated a few enumerated powers to their new agent called the federal government. There was absolutely no ceding of powers or granting of sovereignty to the new federal agency
There is an awakening in progress. The State Sovereignty Movement, the Tenth Amendment Center and the Patrick Henry Caucus give us hope. State legislatures across the country are beginning to re-assert the founding principles. The power of nullification as a check on an out of control federal government is being applied. Some believe that an amendment to the Constitution would help. This is not likely because the federal government is the biggest transgressor of the Constitution. If a new amendment were passed, can we realistically expect the government to follow the new amendment any better than the rest of the compact, which the legislative, executive and judicial branches continually violate?
We do NOT need to revise the Constitution! The people of each state, working through their state legislatures, need to require that their agent, the federal government, follow the job description specifically enumerated in our Charter of Liberty as originally intended. In addition, if we individually call upon the Author of Liberty, perhaps we can once again “secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity.”
END NOTES
  1. A Plea for the Constitution of the United States Wounded in the House of its Guardians, George Bancroft, 1886
  2. The New American, “States Should Enforce. Not Revise the Constitution!” December 6, 2010, page 17, www.thenewamerican.com
  3. American History, A Survey, Eighth Edition, Alan Brinkley, Richard N. Current, Frank Fridel, T. Harry Williams, pages 51, 53
  4. See definitions in Noah Webster Dictionary of 1828
  5. The Sovereignty of the States, Walter Neale, an oration, July 21, 1910. The concept is attributed to President Monroe and is footnoted in Neale’s writing.
  6. See the Oxford English Dictionary for the definition of the word “Congress” in 1774. Also see the meaning of the word “state” as used by Jefferson in 1774. (OED, 1981, Vol. 11, page 853, definition 30c)
  7. The phrase “a republic of republics” comes from the book: The Republic of Republics: A Retrospect of Our Century of Federal Liberty, Bernard Janin Sage, 1878. The book contains a profound collection of evidence gathered by a skilled researcher. www.confederatereprints.com 2001
  8. See Noah Webster Dictionary 1828
  9. New Views of the Constitution of the United States, John Taylor of Caroline, 1823, 2000 Regnery Publishing, page xxvi. Note: This is perceptive writing by a keen and alert mind.
  10. Sage: Read the entire section on sovereignty.
  11. The Basic Ideas of Alexander Hamilton, Richard B. Morris, 1965, pages 120-121
  12. John Taylor of Caroline, pages 79-80
  13. Neale, pages 117-118 “The proper title of the war that was fought between 1861 and 1865 is, the War between the American States; or, the War between the American Nations. There was no Civil War, there was no War of the rebellion; there was no War between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America; there was no War between the North and the South; but there was a war between American sovereignties, in which the nations were divided into two sets of allies.”
  14. Sage, page 322. Note: After reading this quotation in the Republic of Republics, I read the entire notes of the National Union Party Convention in 1866. Sage did a good summary.
  15. 14th: Dyett v Turner, Utah Supreme Court, 1968. See also: We Hold These Truths: A reverent review of the U. S. Constitution, Congressman Lawrence Patton McDonald, 1976, Chapter VI, “The Illegal Fourteenth.”
    16th: The Law That Never Was. Bill Benson and M. J. ‘Red’ Beckman, 1985, Fourth printing 2001
    17th: The declared adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment violated the exceptions clause of Article V of the United States Constitution.
  16. Independent Thought: A Digest of Print Media, January – June 2010, The Independent Institute, page 43, www.independent.org

Union Gangsters: Heather Booth

Posted By Matthew Vadum On November 29, 2011

Don’t miss FrontPage’s other Union Gangsters profiles featuring Craig Becker, Richard Trumka, Stephen Lerner, Andy Stern, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., John Sweeney, Leo Gerard, Wade Rathke and Daniel De Leon.
When today’s labor leaders want to hone their gangster skills they call 1960s radical Heather Booth, a mentor to generations of the activist Left.
A disciple of Saul Alinsky, the socialist-feminist Booth co-founded the Chicago-based Midwest Academy, a training institute for community organizers. “Alinsky is to community organizing as Freud is to psychoanalysis,” she says. The Midwest Academy is funded in part by radical left-wing philanthropies such as George Soros’s Open Society Institute, Tides Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago. (Barack Obama and Bill Ayers served together on the Woods Fund board.)
The Midwest Academy claims since 1973 to have “trained more than 30,000 activists in progressive organizations, unions, and faith-based groups” to help advance “the struggle for social, economic, and racial justice.” The school “teaches an organizing philosophy, methods and skills that enable ordinary people to actively participate in the democratic process.”
Early in her organizing career, Booth was more honest when discussing her beliefs. “Truly reaching socialism or feminism will likely take a revolution that is in fact violent, a rupture with the old ways in which the current ruling class and elites are wiped out,” she said in the 1970s.
Booth has been honored for her contributions to the American socialist movement. In 1987 the Chicago branch of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) bestowed the Eugene Debs Award on Booth. The honor is named after the five-time presidential candidate and labor organizer who founded the Socialist Party of America. Other radical labor leaders and community organizers to receive the award are AFSCME Council 31 political director John D. Cameron (2011), SEIU executive vice president Eliseo Medina (2004), and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka (1994).
But Booth long ago embraced using Alinskyite stealth and subterfuge to achieve a socialist transformation of America. She knew that political activists who openly self-identify as socialists are usually doomed to fail. So she decided to associate her views with values such as fair play and “democracy.”
Instead of confronting authorities directly, radicals should embrace incrementalism, she reasoned. They ought to push for issues that matter in people’s daily lives such as health care and urban redevelopment.
The Midwest Academy, which is only one of the training facilities she created, helps organizers con the masses into accepting socialism. The school’s website is littered with a smorgasbord of Alinskyite boilerplate. For example:
Oppressive social structures are maintained in part because authorities masquerade as benevolent, define inequalities as too complex for resolution, and hide real conflicts of interest in a fairy tale of paternal benevolence. An organizer, therefore, seeks out confrontations and conflict; for the organizer understands that only in conflict situations do issues become clear with real interests no longer camouflaged; only in conflict situations does the rhetoric of the powerful lie exposed and the mobilization of a movement become possible.
Prominent Midwest Academy alumni include former SEIU chief Andy Stern and Miles S. Rapport, president of the influential left-wing pressure group Demos. Lesser known radicals such as Carlos Jimenez, an organizer with the labor-backed Jobs with Justice, and Becky Wasserman, a lobbyist at the anti-Israel group J Street, are also alumni.
Booth is now one of the better connected labor thugs in Washington, D.C. Her husband is Paul Booth, formerly national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Mr. Booth is executive assistant to Gerald McEntee, president of the powerful public sector employees’ union AFSCME.
In 2007 she was director of the AFL-CIO’s campaign for universal healthcare.
She was also was training director for the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration. She was founding director of the NAACP National Voter Fund in 2000, and claims to have increased black voter turnout by almost 2 million votes. She has done consulting work for the Center for Community Change, MoveOn, Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Campaign for America’s Future, and the National Organization for Women.
In 1992 Booth was director of field operations for Carol Moseley-Braun’s (D-IL) successful run for the U.S. Senate. That was the same campaign that made Barack Obama, who led a get-out-the-vote effort benefiting Moseley-Braun, a rising star in the organizing community.
Booth also founded the innocuous-sounding Americans for Financial Reform, a labor-backed pressure group that advocates an economy-killing “financial speculation tax.”
“A big battle still needs to be waged to curb the incentive for speculation and to get our money back to fund jobs and health care, climate and more,” she said last year. “This fight against Wall Street is part of an even larger fight over who matters in the society, over our values and our priorities, over whether or not we have corporate control in banking, whether BP can destroy the coast, whether the insurance companies can deny our health care, whether companies can dominate our politics saying that money is speech,” Booth said.
On Dec. 13, the Midwest Academy awards in Washington, D.C. will honor one of the chief architects of the mortgage collapse, retiring Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) and radical Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim who co-chairs the far-left Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Booth is likely to provide the entertainment that night.
She can be embarrassingly schmaltzy when surrounded by fellow believers. During a panel discussion at a leftist confab in October, Booth led her fellow Marxists in a stirring recitation of the old labor movement song “Solidarity Forever.”
Perhaps at next month’s awards ceremony she’ll let her guard down and recite the lyrics of “The Internationale” instead.