Washington, Ct. In his wonderful 1974 book entitled The Roots of American Order, Russell Kirk remarks upon the British and how they are able to “muddle through” periods of social unrest or national tribulation without major incident. It wasn’t always thus, but certainly within the post-American Revolutionary era, they seem to manage their public dirty laundry with greater decorum than we do. Perhaps their innate and jocular cynicism is the relief valve that allows it.
In this country, when the spirit moves, it moves with bellicose invective, shaking fists and righteous anger. From Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre of 1770, when the citizens of Boston had endured quite enough of British Military oversight over the previous two years, to the 1786-87 Shays Rebellion in western Massachusetts when farmers revolted locally for debt and tax relief, to the 1791 Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania when George Washington marched Federal troops to suppress a tax revolt, Americans are not shy about insurrection. The bloodiest and indeed most cinematic revolts against the Federal Government, aside from the Civil War, would seem to be those of the Native Americans, and in particular, the Sioux. The Sioux, roundly tired of watching their woman and children hounded like animals, run down and shot from behind, killed nearly 300 of our soldiers along with their foppish, glory-hog of a commanding officer, George Armstrong Custer. More recently, we saw the labor unrest of the Wobblies as well as the Hooverville Riots of Depression era Washington D.C., when the young General MacArthur routed the “Bonus Army” settlements of un-armed and unemployed WWI veterans and promptly staged a press conference to crow about it. Several decades later, we experienced the Kent State and Chicago Convention Riots of the Viet Nam war era, when college students went up against their government and its grinding war effort. The Federal Government, shamed by photographs of dead youth, and wizened to the ways of the young, has avoided a draft for the current war effort. This is no doubt to ensure that the younger generation will remain quiescent about both the debt that is being handed to them and the deaths of their fellows.
I don’t know about you, but if my parent’s generation busily pitched the foreseeable future into a simmering cauldron of debt and fear vichyssoise with a side of increasingly diminished expectations, I’d be doing more than Tweeting and decorating my navel on Facebook. Perhaps they have arrived at a state of calm of the kind recommended by Ed Abbey when he asserted, “when the situation is hopeless, there is nothing to worry about”. A few anarchists attempted to get something off the ground with riots in Seattle and Miami before the wheels fell off the Global Debt Jamboree, but they were quickly handled with the charming “Free Speech Zones” and effective penning operations of our most recent national political conventions. Rubber bullets and Tasers have a way of encouraging brevity on the run. A protest site under a highway overpass a mile and a half from the scene of the crime is never conducive to proper network notice.
Mobs and aggressively outspoken dissent would seem to be a pregnancy test for the gestating national zeitgeist, demonstrating that something is in the oven and it is about to get really hot. First, we find a group of individuals for organized dissent who have been given the pejorative label of “mob.” Usually, there follows a culminating act of violence that snaps the more circumspect citizen out of their easy complacency with a government enamored of itself. No matter how much validity might accrue to the so called “mob” and their individual participant’s intentions, the “mob” defines the effort and as such, any meaningful resolution is delayed or even ignored until somebody gets hurt or the mob burns out early and goes home. Frequently, the mob sobriquet is actually embraced by the participants themselves, as they exult in their frequently well-earned ill humor and carry the epithet as an honorific. Sober minds and clear heads from outside the mob rarely intervene to deal with the issues at hand. If Socrates himself were to emerge at the head of the “mob,” he would not be able to command attention. In this manner, the issue gets worse to the point of, or indeed past the point of danger, before we pay attention. All too often, the mob finds its figurehead in some roaring lunatic who commands a picturesque grasp of propaganda delivered in a snit, making torch-lit processions a frequent venue. One wonders if another violent denouement is in the offing now. The historical pattern suggests that it might smolder to an open fire and, which should make the media sarcasm about the issue more than a little disquieting. To be sure, the media has adopted the breezy insouciance of the weather forecaster, and are not overly concerned with the final outcome of their reporting.
It has been suggested that there is some “elitism” at work amongst conservatives who criticize the so-called “mob,” but do nothing material to oppose the galloping Federalization of our lives. There may be something that sticks in this fistful of mud. One side attends the various Town Halls to make the politicians understand (in no uncertain terms) that they have had enough of a government that has stumbled the nation into penury and now wants more of the same to include our health care. The other side of the group, although holding similar sentiments, finds the mob distasteful, remarks upon it, but leaves the initiative at that. Meanwhile, despite ample evidence to the contrary, a growing segment of the public (the dominant one, it seems) is ready to surrender to the State’s blandishments despite ample evidence that the State is gouty and getting ever more so. Well coiffed and smartly dressed people assert there is a crisis, which means there must be one, and we should let those in charge solve it like they solve everything else, such as how the Department of Energy solved our dependence on foreign oil.
Would that there really could be some “elitism,” some leadership that might elevate the debate to one of national clarity and effective action. Instead, we are confronted with a factional political system that either seems to think centrism and consensus is a magic wand, or that a procedural measure called “reconciliation” is suited to the current debate, thereby passing a measure that effects every one of us without conservative Democrat and Republican support. Comprehensive discourse on the existing care system and what might replace or amend it is largely absent because we are beyond comprehension and into the briar patch of crisis. We have a Fourth Estate that has the siege helmet pulled down over its eyes as it does a death dance in a poverty barrel and a majority portion of the public that thinks the act of watching the briefest snippets of opinion qualifies as citizenship. No wonder we have a mob on our hands. It seems the favor needs to be returned with some inspired and principled leadership on both sides of the issue. If September comes and goes with a building replay of the bumptious Town Halls of Congress’s August recess and there is a violent escalation of tension or even worse, but another Frankenstein Legislative Concoction, the Mob will be able to say “I told you so” while their nose bleeds or their pate thumps. I don’t think they relish this role of theirs at all. I think they wish somebody with some oratorical and analytical skill would stand up and relieve them of their need for public dyspepsia. I know they wish they had some proper representation in Congress. Many of them love their country enough to shout about it. Their belligerence is vanishing into the void of our increasingly dysfunctional government with its toady media and nobody is heeding their call.
Regardless of some of the more intemperate or preposterous things being said, there is a clear point to the aggressive gatherings and it is that people in the middle class have seen their lives whipsawed and their government less than supportive to their interests and so, quite simply, they are no longer going to swallow the beggars gruel plopped into their bowls. As to the lack of mainstream Conservative support, this isn’t elitism at work. This is business as usual because there really is no principled and effective conservative force in the United States anymore. There is talk, but no action, and the government suffers mightily for it. When a government no longer has an effective voice endorsing chaste restraint or prudent caution, one can only expect capricious debasement as the primary occupation to come. Think about those monuments in Washington and then imagine them as the site of a continuous sudsy subsidized rave on booze and pills and there you have it.
Though I am a guilty party, further reflection makes me think that we cannot simply sniff our displeasure at the mob. Mobs are an integral part of America’s history and usually, it is only after they have been beat up or worse that some of the essential truth of their assertions are granted a hearing. The mob is telling us something, and we should listen—on both sides of the near-absent aisle. Spectacle is now substance in our image-saturated age, and this current “mob” is telling our handlers in Congress that they do not believe what they either see or hear. It’s really about time somebody exhibited the guts and gumption to do what they are doing while everyone else goes on vacation. The real question here is: “How can we help them?” The swamp of lobby-reinforced centrism combined with an erosion in the separation of powers, the surrender of the Fourth Estate and, as Patrick Deneen puts it: the lack of a “lived experience of self government” places us, in absence of a well developed cynical humor, in a real sticky wicket. This mob needs a Swift to help them deliver the swift kick in the arse this Federal Brute so richly deserves. In as much as Joe Hill might be the wrong role model in this effort (he was shot for his efforts), this weekend is Labor Day. The best labor tribute I can imagine is grabbing this government by the ears and chewing so hard on its bulbous nose that it actually listens for once.
Well now, not only a clever wordsmith but a gracious pundit! If this is an apology I can assure you it is not necessary. The free exchange of political ideas can run toward the frenetic and, sometimes, those that are the most fruitful-niceness is not a requirement!
One quibble: as a card carrying ‘mob’ member-I was the one pumping my fist in the air, shouting “One, two, three, four we don’t want your f*cking war”, eventually realizing that I was having a bong induced flashback- I would re-iterate that the ‘mob’ knows EXACTLY the content of the congressional healthcare legislation while their commie-Dem interlocutor, to busy drinking, whoring, and stealing in the proud tradition of the late Massachusett’s Senator and murderer Teddy Kennedy, has only a few hastily assembled staff notes to inform.
Your final paragraph is the finest bit of writing you’ve done here!
In closing, news has reached this place that an Obama healthcare supporter has bitten off the finger of an elderly, nearly defenseless ‘mob’ member. A sarcastic friend on the left coast emailed me wanting to know if perhaps the perp had not recv’d his welfare check and was, consequently, hungry? I informed him that it’s this kind of attitude that inhibits the work of our UNITER POTUS.
The benefit of hurtling shite on the wall by insinuating that east coast academics and their friends are elitists is that it generates wonderful essays, such as this one.
I would dispute the notion that the English “muddled through” without violence. In fact, there was practically a low-level civil war going on right up through the 1930’s. The English, until then, had a definite policy, neatly expressed by the leading economic light of the Liberals, Nassau Senior, who is now best known as the father of the workhouses:
“There seem to be only three means of governing a densely peopled country in which [the poor] form the large majority. One is to exclude them from political life. This is our English policy.…Another is the existence among them of a blind devotion to the laws and customs of the country….A third plan is to rely on military power—to arm and discipline the higher and middle classes, and to support them by a regular army trained to implicit obedience.”
Senior’s statement illustrates the fact that in any example of “class warfare,” the opening barrage is always fired by the rich, but no matter how much shock and awe this salvo creates, it is never called class warfare until the poor respond.
Mr. Cheeks, I do believe Mr. Sabin, a master pike handler, has remembered how to fire phasers.
This may be, perhaps, a political opinion informed by too much gin, but such is, I think, better than one informed by too little tea…
The problem is not class war, not at all, nor in the least in the way portrayed here. The problem is not that the lower class is fighting the upper class; the problem is that the middle class has been convinced it ought to side with the upper class against the lower class. Since when has it been an American (or Populist, or Kansan, or Front Porch) value to assume that some individuals ought to be allowed to profit to excess while their employees or business partners starve or die of pestilence? Since when, in a rational, Christian economy, has life been subordinated to cold financial rationality?
Mr. Sabin, remember that the populism of the “mob” is a Fox News populism – a populism created by advertising and mass media, a populism created for the benefit of that Aussie Murdoch and his neo-con cronies, and not for actual people. While I’m not a Marxist, this is one of the clearest instances of a false consciousness I’ve seen, and to endorse it in any way is precisely to kowtow to the forces that a Front Porch Republican ought to oppose. Let’s not become another First Things.
Again, I say bullshit.
P.S. Let’s not turn into Lew Rockwell here – the “encroaching State” isn’t the only (or primary) potential hazard. You, and the rest of the FPR writers, are more intelligent than the false-apocalypse mongers.
P.P.S. As one of the generation you don’t quite understand, I’ll say that we hold, generally, to one of two positions:
A) it can only get better, so let’s be politically active for progressive candidates.
B) it will inevitably get worse, so let’s get what we can before we become debt peons to the Chinese.
Republican virtue doesn’t really enter into it; at this point, we’re just trying to stay alive for our entire life expectancy. Thanks, baby boomers!
P.P.P.S: To Mr. Médaille: Might I suggest that one means of accomplishing the first object you mention is to convince the middle class that their proper enemy is, in fact, the lower class?
Mr. Parsons. I think you are correct about the pivotal position of the middle class. For example, small businessmen have a tendency to think of business as a monolith, with themselves and the corporations on the same side. In fact, the corporations are “anti-businesses,” out to gobble up what commercial space remains to the small business.
The revolutions that swept Europe and the world in 1848 were largely middle-class revolutions. The resulting welfare states were mainly concerned with the middle class, not with the poor. Indeed, the middle class is largely the beneficiary of the welfare state; people like to complain about welfare, but they really mean welfare for somebody else. Hence the protests simultaneously descrying “socialism” in health-care and demanding that Medicare be left untouched. Go figure.
Right as usual, Mr. Medaille (and much more cogent than I, on this point).
The Brits black humor stems from at least two thousand years of being tyrannized by assorted sociopaths. It serves the purpose of reminding themselves of the point of solidarity leading to collective action to remedy social wrongs. Strong Reprocity if you like. Which is why they rapidly banned gun ownership after the Dunblane Kindergarten Massacre.
The Brits are deeply skeptical of what they see as a schizophrenic American belief system that professes great religiosity where you are meant to be your brother’s keeper whilst simultaneously holding to its opposite of American Dream individualism where getting filthy rich on the backs of others is no contradiction. The Brits have seen this hypocrisy before in the 18th and 19th century Industrial Revolution where the laissez-faire Manchester Liberals imposed so much misery on the working class. The Manchester Liberals, of course, were the fore-runners of today’s American Libertarians who gave the world the miseries of the Sub-Prime Disaster. The poster-children being Reagan, G.W. Bush, Clinton, Greenspan, Gramm to name but a few.
“The Brits Black Humor stems from at least two thousand years of being tyrannized by assorted sociopaths”. Luvelay, I was hoping for a response along these lines. There is nothing like tyranny to develop a finely tuned sense of humor. This is likely why the assorted pampered serfs of this era are stunted at merely slapstick humor or that navel-gazing form of “situational” pop-culture humor. As to Libertarians, they are not near so organized nor “establishment” to pull off the world-class flummoxing of the current financial auto-drubbing. No, this is simply good old fashioned triumphal libertinism. Most these folks you mentioned are just recreational libertarians, dipping into the rhetoric when it suits the scam at hand while employing whatever other economically ecumenical means might be available to feather their own nest as well as the nests of their fluttering friends. No place but in this besotted country could some bright young shoeless Arkansan go to Washington with nothing more than the Worlds Biggest Rolodex and some finely tuned Kennedy Body Language only to retire rich as Croseus 8 years later to a triple residency in Chappaqua, Georgetown and some architectural Gewgaw in Little Rock. If this is Libertarianism, or if Hollywood Reagan was a Libertarian , somebody should inform Lou Rockwell he aint passing muster.
Ahhh… such style with the caca word. “Certainty”…it is at its very best when certainty is at war with an equal but opposite certainty whereupon we find nations burning and the only thing progressing is an accumulation of ash and rubble. While there is a print of Joe Hill and the word “elitism” …..in quotes…, the gist of my essay is not that there is some kind of “class war” at work, nowhere in it can you find the term…this is your interpretation and this interpretation is of the type that is most allied to certainty…the kneejerk type, of the type our yammering media loves to profit by. There is no doubt some of this Fox Network ..Too Much Talk Radio anger at work (Kunstler just brilliantly characterized MSNBC, CNN and FOX as “working the anger centers of the brain”) but, having personally attended a pretty tame while comprehensive Town Hall in my own area last week, this is not the sum total of the dissent by any means. You are roundly mistaken if you believe it is. The preposterous controversy about the President’s Secret Texas Socialist Mind Control Project over this last week is a good example of the media echo chamber but the frustration demonstrated by the Town Halls is far from an organized plan of Rupert Murdoch…he aint that good. In my case, when I impugn the State, I am impugning its un-indicted co-conspirator: the Corporatists. Neither of them are automatically bad, they just seem to employ many shortcuts into the realm of the bad and are like two drunken barfly lovers. Since K Street became the Replacement Fourth Estate, the two are almost inseparable. Statism and its Corporate Engine have the Progressive locomotive fired up and are busily tossing shovelfuls of the citizenry into the coal hopper. The citizen, by all accounts, seems to enjoy the heat. Simply put, if this is a “Class War”, the Maginot Line is long gone in the rear view mirror. Your reliance upon “Progressive Politics” will gain you nothing…the so-called Left of today were granted the most idiotic opposition in the history of politics and they still can’t manage to pull off any productive work without the most sentimental of fawning over foolish long-expired conceits. The Left used to wear Birkenstocks and couldn’t be bought but were sometimes rented. Now they are under long-term lease and simper about in high heels…expensive ones. The Left and Right are Dead, Long Live the Left and Right. As to your assertion of me “not quite understanding” your generation…having just dropped somewhere north of half a million bucks on three of them for their gladly obliged college educations, I understand them well enough. I enjoy them most when they hoist my petard roundly and puncture my dearest held beliefs while once in a while, admitting obliquely that the old man aint all baloney. But…take your snide recriminations against the Baby Boomers someplace else….your generation is the most preposterously indulged generation in history, proving once and for all that constant planned activities creates an incurious edifice the likes of which the world has never seen……again, another generalization only poked out of the hornets nest by your suborning idiocy through simplistic and pedestrian application of invective. But, keep on it…this place aint going to be a Lew Rockwell site , there aint enough Gold Bugs present to qualify because there are too many academics and as we all know, aint no gold in them thar mines. As to this going First Things and all Normy Podhoretzy or Techno Utopian…well, we have a slapping screen door already and aint much more needed than that.
Medaille, Point taken…generalizations are generally like a colander, full of holes but always leaving something behind. My Black Irish County Cork Contingent of the mutt ancestors likely didn’t consider the British to be “muddling through ” as they kept the boot on the Catholics but then, my Corkers didn’t give a damn about the Brits after they came here, nor did they tarry long in Boston….. they were too busy running interference on one of the other gene pools, the Mormons from their gentile railroading redoubt in Ogden. As to the last genetic host…the Dutch and Alsatians…they had a job to do and beat Hollywood to LA when it was still just emerging from its status as a Mexican outpost. The great-grand paterfamilias business card read “Shop at five points…We Do All Kinds of Roof”. Hammers, Saws , Wrenches, a small business, and a wide continent kept the King at bay. We were advancing in the best way, carelessly, preoccupied with things we could actually control the outcome of and largely not giving a simple rats ass what the Satraps of Arabia had to do with a strange political platform including the Knesset, The California Teachers Credit Union and certain Security Firms doing a brisk business on K Street.
I will however, never dispute the fine work of Russell Kirk and so, despite what you assert, it might just have been an energetic form of muddling.
Apology? Don’t go getting soft on me now. Naw, I simply attended the tail end of my own local “Town Hall” , considered the historic roots of dissent and know some of the most pointed commentary came from folks who wouldn’t be caught dead watching Fox for anything other than its theatrical use of dramatic hyperbole. I heard some interesting things from both sides but still have yet to hear much of anything about the real issues at hand. I am finding more and more that Madison’s caution about factionalism is finally coming to a head in this Cliff Notes Nation and the longer the reckoning with reality on both sides is put off, the more likely it will descend into a typically energetic and uniquely American Debacle. We don’t muddle. We are also historicides and will think the carnage we create is original. Somebody has to pay attention to the humor of it and while the nation likes to point fun at all kinds of things, it aint yet exhibited the level of arch humor required of a culture with aspirations to originality.
Interestingly enough, in Kirks book, he notes how Sam Adams and his confreres were making a bang-up business on the backs of the various ill-considered tariffs Burke was shredding in speeches. Seems the Crown was regularly backing down and this cut into Sam’s black market activities and so the Boston Tea Party….Parsons, are you listening?…..was actually a protest against the Crown reducing their taxes and tariffs. It seems the Patriot Sam Adams, like his Irish descendants in the Modern Massachusetts Socialist Republic made a lot of money running rum….or tea or whatever else they could capture a bit of vig on.
Welcome to the New World. Be it ever so predictable.
Aah Mr Sabin. The very thought of Recreational Libertinnies dipping into Libertarianism for their next scam made me splutter into my hot chocolate!
I’ll try my best to respond, although my over-indulged, over-stimulated, navel-gazing Generation Y brain is having all sorts of trouble parsing such complex paragraphs.
I don’t think I’ve ever been mistaken for a progressive before, so your comment came as something of a surprise. In fact, I’m quite something else. I grew up, intellectually, on The New Pantagruel, which published for most of my college career, and with a few authors from my school. What might be most confusing about the younger generation to someone with your predilection for American-style mob politics is that (apart, of course, from the vast majority who, like the vast majority of all Americans, have bought into the myth of left and right) is that the radicals among us often reject politics as a workable category. Some are anarchists, to be sure, but many more are, whether they know it or not, more or less Hauerwasian in their outlook on social life. Many of us have little use for politics, to be sure, but not because we’re apathetic; rather, we see political activity as a distraction from the real work at hand. (And many of us are working).
On re-reading your article, I’m not sure that I said anything worse about the Baby Boomers than you did, so I’m not sure where the sudden defensiveness comes from. They are, after all, the generation that, according to you, is handing us both debt and “the deaths of [our] fellows;” that is “busily pitch[ing] the foreseeable future into a simmering cauldron of debt and fear vichyssoise with a side of increasingly diminished expectations.” Quite a bit harsher than I was, in fact.
As far as the actual issue of health care, I’ll repeat, again, that I’m not a progressive – but what, exactly, is this mob after? The status quo? The Corporation, we seem to agree, is the handmaiden of the state, so why is the status quo better than a state option? Why the tempest over this money-pit, and not any of the earlier ones? There’s something fishy about this opposition, and I’m not ready to buy your defense of what really goes on at the town meetings, for two reasons: First, there’s been plenty of crazy goings-on there, and not just the picketers outside. Second (and more important), I’m aware of intelligent objections to the plan(s) – I have quite a few myself – but I know probably five people with conspiracy-theory objections for every person who rejects reasonably. I’m in an east-coast university, too, so these are simply people I know from growing up in Ohio, for the most part – in other words, a decent random sampling.
Mr Sabin. Upon reflection now that you have introduced us to the Libertinnies what do you think can be done about them assuming for a moment you can entertain the argument that Global Warming is for real and the American Dream of Entrepreneurial Individualism for the purposes of Looting followed by Conspicuous Consumption is exactly the opposite today of a useful commonsense motivational drive?
Passive aggressive like all churls, I will indulge you a bit more, with pleasure. If you are a graduate of Farmer Stegal Esq’s New Pantagruel, I retract any bad thought I might have harbored , but not yet, as they say. Obviously, I can rip my own generation from stem to stern, self-loathe it, call it the worst thing to happen since Gronk’s son Grank attempted to take Gronk’s girlfriend Broont by Force Majeure in the underbrush but anybody from generation xyz or even the storied “Best Generation” try slandering my witless generation , there is Hell to Pay. If this sounds like I can dish it out but can’t take it, the attack sticks and I surrender my pacifier. If you continue having trouble parsing my paragraphs, just read every 25th word, then jump to a conclusion in high dudgeon like I do and then, continuing in the theme, congratulate yourself on your impenetrable syntax and unseemly addiction to cumbersome strings of arcane adjectives. But I am well beyond any continuing desire to accumulate professional or cash accolades and so you are better advised to keep minding your own business and working in happy indifference to the fire bearing down. Still though, insult at will.
But, I don’t actually possess a “predilection” for mob politics, quite the contrary, I’m like the limo driver that was stuck in traffic in front of me on the middle of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge a few years ago…on the way to a Knicks and Jazz game with the kiddies….. when some shirtless wonder in tight jeans walked right by me in the November chill, strode three cars up, surmounted the rail and promptly jumped. The two ladies directly next to the aerialist started screaming and one looked to faint while clutching her hair but the Limo driver, a jaded New Yakuh…. simply got out to peer over the edge and seeing everything gone according to plan simply stated “good riddance ya freak” before pulling out a cigarette and lighting it up while muttering “friggin zoo, friggen freakin zoo”. Rather than mob histrionics, I’d rather have discourse but we have a discursive form of government held hostage by idiocy and so that aint likley to happen until the joint burns down. In short, I’d rather the freak not interrupt my passage across the bridge but if need be, it would be nice to sit him in a plump soft chair and talk him down from the ledge before he took the swan dive to never never land. Fat Chance.
I don’t know what the hell is going on in this “Health Care Crisis”. (one always loves a political initiative launched on the good ship Crises, one should always reach for ones knife when this occurs). What I do know is that there is a sector of the population that has run out of patience with being screwed by both business and the State and are easily enflamed . Both members of the Left and Right are in this category but it seems to me the Leftys actually think this Democrat government swings left when its really gone Transvestite . This leaves only the frustrated non-aligned and scorched earth right to bellow. What I would like to see is a real dissection of the issue and principled assistance to both sides of the issue so that the system of government we have actually worked as planned rather than the way it isn’t working. At this juncture, the folks in charge think they can legislate like the 1990’s California legislature on the current Federal tax code and create 1960’s style Social engineering without the pesky problems of the 1960’s, high top rate tax code. In other words, nobody today seems compelled to match their aspirations with the taxation rate. Accordingly, it will get worse before quite possibly not getting better. Better yet, we will get programs that fail to work because they are improbable hybrids AND taxes will go up AND we will continue to think Permanent War is a prudent future. The perfect reply to anybody who suggests “conspiracy” to you is to remind them that the current circumstances simply don’t require anything quite so thoughtful as a conspiracy because we are dealing with drunks and floor-flushers here.
A case of the Libertines is usually worked out through either death, war, hybrid economic foolishness or a combination of the three. They do the work of their own suicide quite ably and then the system starts over for a few decades of clarity while everyone works for their own good …which includes a certain enlightened self-interest….. before Government again gets some big ideas and the Libertines can coincidentally find the endless font of cash produced by either making money both in opposition to or in accordance with their professed principles. This is not to be confused with Libertarianism which is a fine vehicle for abstract philosophy but given we are humans, liberty is always something for us but never anybody else unless we say so. That said, in the current climate, we might be well-served by inching a few microns toward libertarian ideas …as opposed to thinking we can get something for nothing like the current crew of abject wankers think we can.
D.W. Nice slam of the loquacious young Mr. Parsons, a fellow buckeye!
I’m in the high desert and only skimming, hoping to jab someone into a splenetic thread, so forget sp, ect. Take care with Smith, he’s an acolyte of Mr. Medialle’s.
At least the postwar baby boomers were able to figure out it was all bs even though they couldn’t differentiate the Marxists nonsense. Which, of course, reminds me of Schelling’s criticism of Kant’s reflective consciousness, seducig us into believing in the ‘subject’ and ‘object’ perscription for reason and knowledge which has lead to this madness. Kinda like what Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth,” where the ‘you’ of course are ‘others.’
I’m at 6,000 feet and headed for the summit, suckin’ air big time…I’ll report back if we find the damn thing!
Mr Sabin. Thank you for your response. Whilst I can not fault it on the parallel of the Brits engaging in war-time black humor mooning of sociopaths somewhat along the lines of the Colonel Bogey Song; “Hitler has only got…etc.” I was hoping to provoke a more positive response from you than just a mooning of the Libertinnies and a sort of resigned fatalism to a cycle of despair. I’m comfortable with the idea that the American Dream is a euphemism for Barbarian Capitalism derived from Roman and Germanic Viking and Anglo-Saxon fore-bears but in an age of green house gases and knowledge of non-zero-sum games I thought, and still hope, you might have some interesting, pro-active and constructive philosophy and ideas to set before us. In short, I believe as far as humanly possible, monkey mooning should be left to Cheeky-Butts!
You have a lot of nerve asking me to be positive when it is so much more fun to throw brickbats at 10 yards.I am not optimistic because the historical pattern does not bode well. Empires have waxed and waned and their environments flourished and were played out for millennia. That said, I would not completely distill the so called “American Dream” down to the runt remains of barbarian forebears because there was at one time …in fact there still is….. a bit of the more poetic aspects of the American Dream at work. It has, like everything, been cheapened and commodified and spun every which way but it still exists and from time to time, amazing things emit from its pursuit. To an extant, the citizen of this country has been able to create their own reality out of the smorgasbord arrayed before them and the ability is still present….if increasingly caricatured by materialism. I believe that the remarkable can-do psyche of the people can be marshaled once again in order to create a new paradigm of life that protects Locke’s notion of property and what the Framer’s changed it to: happiness. The principle obstacle to a recognition of the need to seriously appraise what, indeed is “liberty” and how we might best preserve it is that the culture, on the backs of cheap oil, territorial abundance and the results of an historic level of immigration have been able to evolve a “get something for nothing mindset”. The imperative of stewardship has been removed from our prevailing notion of property and it has been replaced by simple gratification. This reflects almost a mindset of the addict, incapable of planning ahead beyond the next moment of gratification. This is why it becomes only logical to assume that progress can only occur after a bottom is hit , wallowed within and tired of.
As to your assertion about the Libertarians scoffing at any notion of “environmentalism”…many of them refer to it as a new religion and some go so far as to refuse to recognize any meaningful negative impacts by man…..this is my chief point of difference with the libertarian “establishment” if it can be called such a thing. Not because I do not agree that the environmental movement is chock full of didactic “true believers” who are fanatical and downright zany but because the laissez faire approach to the environment is generally one in which external costs are the get out of jail free card and this is profoundly un-economic at basis. I also think the entire debate over whether so called “Global Warming” is man-made or not is beside the point and a distraction. Really, who cares?…the bottom line is that in many ways we are crapping in our own nest and distorting the real economics of our system to an extent that impoverishment and despoilment will be the final outcome. By condoning this zero-sum game, the liberty-loving “Libertarian” insures that liberty will be one of the first notions to suffer as the mine plays out.
In short, the human species, what I have referred to as the great cognitive actor of nature, this being that has the capacity to adjust its environment like no other biologic being…it was only natural that it should have embarked upon an extractive and exploitive modus. The global culture internalized the initial success and built a cathedral around the idea. However, anyone who continues to deny that we are past a point of prudence regarding our relationship with the troposphere is foolhardy and self-destructive. This is both a moral and rational dilemma and will require that both spiritual and reasoning means be employed to reach a point of consensus as to how we might best proceed. The current skirmishing between organized religion and Science are a perfect example of family squabbling in tightened and straitened conditions.
There is a new frontier , both spiritually and technologically that is staring us in the frontier of our mind and it holds the potential for both economic advance and social evolution. Some will assert that centralization and large government is the only agency with enough strength and focus to deal with the challenge but we find the State , in its current manifestation operating within a moral and bureaucratic construct that remains antithetical to the direction we must follow. I believe we must reconstruct our social life.. in a more biological pattern which is best explained by the concept of subsidiarity. Large institutions, collective agreement and action may be conducive or a natural part of this endeavor but not in the top down manner in which they are perceived today. We must treat our existence as though it were a body that functions both simultaneously and collectively as well as independently and in a non-linear manner. We cannot continue to live the compulsive and obsessively yearning life of the addict by injecting a powerful drug to furnish a great experience for our mind or gut only to watch it destroy other realms as a result.
This approach, properly pursued and realized by minds far more intelligent than my own holds the potential for a new definition of prosperity that may have some or perhaps even no relationship to our current understanding of prosperity. Being a revolutionary people, it will begin here or nowhere. But it does have the potential to be more self-reinforcing , more widely productive and far less consumptive than the current paradigm. I would hope that it might continue to enjoy the fertilizing impacts of the role of chance and the quixotic that our current way of life richly includes. It is not a victory over tragedy. I wish I could say more than these foggy musings but I am utterly incapable. I remain gloomily pessimistic but do believe that a new paradigm is staring us in the face….certainly not this mechanistic notion of the great “Convergence” where the Homunculus gets his big Brain Machine and Widescreen …but it is not anti-technological…it is a better ordering of the technological being with the spirit and a bigger revolution than we have ever imagined.
“Cheeky-Butts,” oh, yeah! Well, that is a good one. I haven’t heard that since third grade! And, I’ll refer to you, if Mr. Medallie doesn’t mind, as B.S, or bs!
Bruce, you’ll have to forgive me. I’m a provocateur and can’t help myself when it comes to the anally retentive.
Are you off your meds? What is this “Being a revolutionary people,” business. Hell, we’ve only had three or four,….pleazzzze! We are a socialist-democracy!
BTW, you were running smartly on the subsidiarity thing, however, good luck with implementing that!
I’m back from the mountain….I have seen the cosmos…er, well the other side of the mountain!
Mr Sabin. I think you threw everybody a bouqet of roses with your speech. I liked it enormously especially the Robert Wrightian line of “it was only natural that it (the human species) should have embarked upon an extractive and exploitative modus” (the conspicuous consumption addict). The corollary presumably being that to get us out of this mess we now have to work hard to understand when it’s appropriate to be zero-sum, or non-zero-sum, (particularly with property, rights and the environment) and implement and/or reform the institutions to help us do just that.
And Mr Cheeky Butts, third grade or not, I reluctantly have to call you that because you always seem so anally attentive by monkey mooning other individual’s views you don’t like but painfully shy of putting forward the product of the other end of your anatomy, namely your own belief system, for inspection.
Thank you Smith and you got to the point of it…the Framers gave us a discursive system to operate under and this presents choices, not orders and we should be making them , instead of swallowing the doggerel dished up.
In defense of the cheeky Mr. Cheeks, though I have my disagreements with him, he has presented elements of his philosophy on this site and despite what you might feel about the man, there is a certain joy and poetry in him that makes it almost impossible for me to dismiss him or dislike him. Not infrequently, he presents a certain…ehhh heh, Enlightenment and he can take a punch. After all, this site is in the business of looking askance at the current partisan paradigm and he is just one of the colorfully independent recreational jousters that make this site a whole lot better than what serves as the media …the runt remains of the Fourth Estate…we are saddled with elsewhere.
Mr Sabin. Perhaps you are right. At the heart of subsidiarity though is the paradox that the state must provide the framework, or environment, for the exercise of personal responsibility and I’m weary of individuals who cannot understand this.
Under your assertion about the State providing a “framework, or environment for the exercise of personal responsibility”…it would seem that the citizen and his/her mores is to be the product of the State. One could assume this is what has happened under our form of government and its Constitution. However, I disagree, I believe it is incumbent upon the citizen to conduct themselves as an example and “bottoms-up” generator of the State’s conduct. This is one of the reasons I include religion as one of the checks and balances aspects of our fundamental separation of powers. I think your asserted form is precisely what is happening now, with the citizen a willing supplicant of concocted norms delivered fresh from a dysfunctional oven by the Nanny State and it’s un-indicted co-conspirator, the stenographer media. This is splitting hairs but it is a hair in need of accurate splitting. Again, “rights” can create a resigned and banal boredom….a kind of recreational, amateur republic…… while rights with responsibilities, the professional form of a Republic creates a functioning and vibrant while nonetheless messy polity.
As to Cheeks and his place in this stew, a culture of only those who constantly agree would be a form of retrograde purgatory in my opinion, something far worse than rambunctious debate, even when it gets out of hand…..to a point….What is that point? A properly “bottoms-up” construct would easily find and observe this point because the participants would be engaged and active rather than dis-affected, gullible, excitable and inept, waiting to see what to think and act by watching a safe and secure little broadcast on the myth screen called a television. A healthy Republic, with a subsidiary mechanics will never operate in a zone of safety. Excess safety has, in fact, virtually ruined the current generation of the lapsed-republic’s recipients.
D.W., damn dude, I gotta a little choked up; do that again and I’m outta here!
bs., dude, my intellectual skat, such as it is, is smeared all over these pages but you won’t find it if you’re looking for something like that pedantic crap you and your mentor spue!
BTW, I can see us being really, really close friends in the not to distant future!
And, if you two clowns want to quote the ‘founders’ you might want to quit caressing (intellectually that is) our Kenyan president!
Mr. Cheeks, At this juncture, I think it’s safe to say, “I Rest My Case”. Not that there was any doubt to begin with.
Thanks for the Light show gentlemen.
Mr Sabin. I was trying to address the issue of what you need to be personally responsible. What I saw as a useful example was the widespread use of a genetically modified crop plant that was suspected by farmers of causing a substantial reduction of white butterflies and honey bees. How are the farmers to exercise personal responsibility without access to research on the subject they can trust? Is the agri-business that supplied the crop plant seeds likely to offer the research the farmers need and trust? Broadly speaking the most likely source of funding for such research is going to be the state. This is the framework, or environment, I was talking about. The exercise of powers that nobody else will volunteer to do or be trusted to do!
I don’t have much trouble with the idea of reducing the powers of the state and elite capitalism in line with Principal-Agent Theory as well as Subsidiarity Theory. It sounds like a step towards achieving better sustainability to me. The knee-jerk reaction against all-things state, however, reveals how puerile the arguments have become in this country. We are hopefully starting to emerge from the recession after the second major rescue of capitalism by the state in the last hundred years. Couple that with a history of state orchestrated Poor Law relief going back at least five hundred years to stop the starving slitting the throats of the rich to stay alive and mindless anti-statism starts to look just a tad out of touch with reality.
Lets see now, mindless statism or mindless anti-statism…which shall it be? You can bet the mindless will win. To assert that the benevolent State has “rescued” the private economy is both premature and a bit of a half-story, given the integral role of the State in the current auto-drubbing. I would like to hope it has but the debt accumulating as well as the increasing consolidation of “organizations too big to fail” leads me to believe we have only seen a delaying action leading into a long period of moribund quality. Perhaps better than a disaster, perhaps not. Was the first or second sacking of Rome more enjoyable?
In concept, relying upon the State to act as independent arbiter of unbiased opinions sounds like a fine idea until you put it all into action, whereupon you arrive at a State that is both biased and in thrall to its crony capitalist supporters.
Needless to say, the American State has indeed done some things to further the interests of the dispossessed and downtrodden but I still come away from it all with something along the lines of what has been said before, it is a lesser of evils, but only sometimes barely. What I would prefer to see is a citizenry that actually used its agency in the manner afforded by the Framers, thus, acting effectively as a powerful check and balance , making it far more difficult to practice crony capitalism than it has heretofore been.
Whose “mindlessness” is less mindful? That is the question of the day. At this juncture, I would have to say that this State has met its dream date in this citizenry and the two bar flys shall happily croon away up past last call and well into a pool of drool.
Well if you must follow every road leads to perdition, so be it!
Gloomy? me? why would anyone say that? The principle defect of these here internets is they fail to broadcast facial cues and because I refuse to use them thar emoticons, you cannot see the bits of hope and laughter that I have all the time. How could anyone but an optimist…or perhaps a masochist cross dressing as an optimist, continue to joust with the voluble Mr. Cheeks? One would have to be an optimist to think a Republic could be re-built from a Front Porch and so there you have it:
The End is Near: 7 points This Too Shall Pass: 14 points.
The issue that never gets addressed by all the anti-statists (Libertines and Libertarians) is who will do the measuring as to whether a particular market activity is in the “self-interest” of the planet and thereby all human beings. Human nature being what it is will always have its sociopathic free-loaders who want to enrich themselves, or avoid work, at other individual’s expense. These individuals will fight tooth and nail to avoid the idea that there should be more more than one “bottom line.”
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