Tuesday, August 11, 2015


     The rising of the tide is slow. He who watches the ocean for only a few minutes would fail to notice it. Only he whose attention persists through several rotations of the Earth has a chance of grasping what’s at work...or of glimpsing the mechanism behind it.

     History, particularly the history of ideas and their applications, is important for that reason. It’s an old saw that “you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been,” but it is nevertheless true. Old ideas have almost all been tried. Those that succeeded were tried again. Those that succeeded repeatedly, such that we became confident that we could trust them to perform as advertised, became part of the conceptual infrastructure of our society.

     Infrastructure of any sort has a bifurcated character. We need it, but we resent having to tend to it. When it fails us, we repair it with many a grumble. When it’s sound, it tends to vanish from our attention. Thus it is with the ideas on which our society was founded: as we gained confidence in them, we gradually ceased to think about them.

     In the above three paragraphs lies a complete explanation for the gradual disintegration of the United States of America.

     This morning, the esteemed Dystopic delivers an illuminating piece on the proper response to a Leftist’s attacks on one’s character:

     Treat the Leftist like what he is: a lunatic, a self-absorbed, arrogant asshole with pretensions of intellectual superiority. How do you do this? Mock him. Ridicule him. Use statements like: “Oh, sure, Socialism is great. Why, just yesterday I was thinking about how wonderful the world would be if Stalin had been immortal.” Don’t attack the Leftist’s character — he has none — attack his intelligence instead. He doesn’t have much of that, either, but he will take offense to the notion that you think he is stupid. He cares about that. That will force him on the defensive and expose him for the worthless liar he is.

     Buried in the above is an implicit recognition of the evanescence of memory and the importance of history. Among the Leftist’s most important assets is the short memory of the typical hearer. Our memories are particularly susceptible to the erasure of unpleasant episodes, whether personal or historical. Who cares to remember such things? Such memories are painful. They might actually be dangerous. Doesn’t recalling atrocities and the monsters who perpetrated them open the door to the possibility of repeating them?

     Of course as Santayana has told us, the exact reverse is true. But no Leftist wants his audience to meditate on that truth, nor on its relevance to our contemporary social, economic, and political maladies.

     Sooner or later, we’ll see bumper stickers and lapel buttons that say:


     I’m convinced that it will be quite soon. The sentiment has appeared at an increasing number of sites. It’s frequently expressed through inaction, particularly the decision of so many Americans not to participate in elections, whether local, state, or national. Here are three representative expressions thereof:

     “At this point… what difference does it make?”

     “None” we say to ourselves. The GOP apologists then proceed to go apoplectic, filling the internet with their rage and bile – spamming Hot Air, The National Review Online, The Wall Street Journal and PJ Media with unvarnished rage directed at us unclean traitors. Oh well. We’ve been the front line in the culture wars for decades. They won’t be saying anything the commentators on MSNBC haven’t already shrieked at us – our hides are thick and calloused – from years of Republican snake bites. It’s doubtful we’ll much note this latest abuse.

     Back in the real world, Obama still get’s his entire agenda – no matter who’s running congress or sitting on the Supreme Court. At least with the moonbat wreckers in charge, we have to endure less “failure theater” and insults to our intellect.

     2014 was your last chance to do as you were told Republicans – you instead took it as an opportunity to give the Chamber of Commerce a hand-job. We got the message – and brought the gasoline.

     You are now witnessing the utter collapse of your political party… and your executioner is a blustering reality-show host.

     It would seem that history has a sense of humor.

     [From Dethguild]

     [R]ight there is the rub: we’re not GOING to stop the apocalypse. Politics as usual has gotten us where we are in general; since the useless GOP has already abdicated its treaty responsibility and capitulated on Obama’s humiliating “deal” with Iran, politics as usual is going to get Iran its nuke, too.

     “There’s an apocalypse to stop”? The GOP certainly isn’t going to do it, and the Democrat Socialists seem to be actively for it. Anybody still trying to understand the outrage behind Trump’s current popularity is hereby cordially invited to consider opening his damned eyes at this point, just a little bit.

     [From Mike Hendrix]

     Mr. Trump has actually built a successful business empire by creating products and services that people wanted to buy, not by force, graft and shadowy donations. I might point out that Mr. Trump doesn't really care what the Mushroom Media thinks of him, and is actually capable of breaking wind without consulting 27 polls first. I might point out that Mr. Trump is seen as something new and different in an era of worn-out sequels like 'Clinton On K Street II' and 'Night Of The Living Bush III.' I'm certain that these things are important to some of the Trumpsters, but I feel safe in saying that many of them don't really care about any of this. We've simply recognized reality: The American political process is corrupt to the core. It's nothing but a dog-and-pony show, and we're NOT voting our way out of this. PERIOD (no debate pun intended)....

     The war for liberty in America is over. We lost. All we can do now is accelerate the collapse and prepare to come out fighting on the other side. And in the meantime, if we can enjoy the spectacle of Statist Party D, Statist Party R and the Mushroom Media all losing their tiny little minds over being told that at least one person simply doesn't give a fart in a windstorm what they think, that's pretty awesome. If we'd had more of that attitude over the past few decades, America might have survived.

     In the meantime, let it burn and pass the marshmallows.

     [From Weird And Pissed Off]

     There are others.

     What distinguishes the “Let It Burn” crowd from others on the Right of the political spectrum? If they have a case – and I would agree that they do – why don’t other, generally freedom-minded Americans flock to their incendiary banner?

     There are a number of reasons. The most widely applicable one is wishful thinking: a stout resistance to the lessons of history, even recent history, because it would destroy all hope. Yet history speaks plainly and implacably on the dynamic that powers all governments: They grow until they are forcibly destroyed, whether by internal or external forces. Santayana stands beneath its banner proclaiming the importance of attending to it. The lesson is generally ignored.

     “Cato’s Letter” #115, among the seminal documents of the American Founding, contains this passage:

     We know, by infinite examples and experience, that men possessed of power, rather than part with it, will do any thing, even the worst and the blackest, to keep it; and scarce ever any man upon earth went out of it as long as he could carry every thing his own way in it; and when he could not, he resigned. I doubt that there is not one exception in the world to this rule; and that Dioclesian, Charles V, and even Sulla, laid down their power out of pique and discontent, and from opposition and disappointment. This seems certain, that the good of the world, or of their people, was not one of their motives either for continuing in power, or for quitting it.

     It is the nature of power to be ever encroaching, and converting every extraordinary power, granted at particular times, and upon particular occasions, into an ordinary power, to be used at all times, and when there is no occasion; nor does it ever part willingly with any advantage. From this spirit it is, that occasional commissions have grown sometimes perpetual; that three years have been improved into seven, and one into twenty; and that when the people have done with their magistrates, their magistrates will not have done with the people.

     “Cato’s Letter” #73 adds to this observation:

     Alas! Power encroaches daily upon liberty, with a success too evident; and the balance between them is almost lost. Tyranny has engrossed almost the whole earth, and striking at mankind root and branch, makes the world a slaughter-house; and will certainly go on to destroy, till it is either destroyed itself, or, which is most likely, has left nothing else to destroy.

     We are in the terminal stages of such an encroachment. As Ayn Rand once wrote, “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.” Meanwhile, we witness the fattening of every sort of fat cat who has the wit to ally himself with the powerful of his time. He who manages to prosper beyond the officially approved norm without paying obeisance and protection money to power does so only by accident: being fortunate enough to be overlooked.

     If you dispute this, consider Michael Milken.

     When I wrote Which Art In Hope, I still harbored some hope that the Republic That Was might be restored – that if a sufficient number of Americans simply came to their senses, rose up on their hind legs, and demanded the strict observance of Constitutional and moral constraints on government at all levels, it could be done. Therein I depicted a seemingly successful anarcho-capitalist society. It had absented itself from Earthly tyranny and prospered thereby. Yet it had come face to face, albeit unknowingly, with a lethal threat that pure freedom is insufficient to defeat. The solution required one very special man to sacrifice his life, his love, his home, and everything else that mattered to him. Being a hero of the old style, he did so.

     A completely free society whose members believe unanimously that the coercion of the innocent is morally unacceptable could never impose such a fate on anyone. Being so incapable, it would die to the last man...unless that one gifted individual were to freely give himself as the ransom for the rest.

     I felt the novel to be a sound depiction of an unpleasant but unavoidable truth: that like the State, anarchy is unstable, that it will eventually give way to hegemony, just as hegemony must eventually give way to anarchy. Part of the reason I wrote Freedom’s Scion and Freedom’s Fury, which were no part of my original design, was to bring that truth into even better focus.

     It’s not a proclamation of doom. It’s the recognition that freedom is always temporary, just as is tyranny.

     Once you’ve accepted the core thesis of the “Let It Burn” community, there are only two overall strategies that make sense: passive self-protection and active revolution. Most Americans who’ve adopted the “Let It Burn” mindset choose the former approach. I’ve moved in that direction myself. A commenter to yesterday’s post gives us an example of the considerations that militate toward it:

     In actuarial terms, I have some 20+ years left. I don't know how many stones will be loosed in that time, or how much of that actuarial time I will really have. I thought maybe the idiocy of Ferguson and then the execution of the NY city cops might kick a few more pebbles in the mix. Add the Tennessee jihadist (a word the MSM will not utter) and one would think the avalanche has started.

     Perhaps it has. We probably won’t recognize an actual “start” to the collapse before it’s well under way. But it’s coming as surely as the rising of the Sun.

     Remember your Santayana.


Veritas Engineer said...

Thanks for the concise treatise on why letting it burn makes sense at this point. I was having difficulty articulating it, though I know in my heart that it is now the only viable expectation to hold. Not in joy at the coming misfortune of her would-be pirates, for theirs is their own reward; nor even in the hope of a rebirth of liberty in some new paper wrapper to come; but simply in the acceptance that she has been poisoned - treated to a slow, ugly death by those who could never have loved her, not even in her prime. This is my lament for America.

Such is the season I find myself in, and as seasons have no remedy for their affectation other than simple acceptance, thus do I find myself compelled...


Backwoods Engineer said...

There's so much I want to say about this post, but my thoughts are not as firm and lucid as Fran's (as usual) or the bloggers he quotes (who also impressed me).

I've been reading Spooner, Kenneth Royce, L. Neil Smith, and the Anti-Federalists a lot lately. They're not an encouraging bunch. But their writings, coupled with current events, lead me to believe: 1) this ain't getting better anytime soon, and 2) we ain't voting our way out.

The despair that the American Experiment is pretty much over runs as deep as the horses' bridles in some places, and my heart is among them. I used to think-- as short a time ago as 2007-- that a return to freedom might be in store for the US of A. No longer.

While in some ways, we have gained freedoms-- in arms, particularly, as some states (like my own Sweet Home Alabama) are telling the Federal government to fribble off. In most other areas of concern-- taxes, property, and regulations-- we have lost massive amounts of freedom under King Obama. And we won't get them back until the Federal government falls.

When that happy event will occur, I don't know, nor does anyone this side of Heaven, I suspect. Nor do I pretend to know what comes after the US of A Federal government collapses. Chaos, for sure. Totalitarianism? I'm skeptical; I don't think what happened in Russia and China can be replicated here and now. Freedom? Not for awhile, though some places (the South, Texas, the Intermountain West) may indeed be meccas of freedom, in a relative way.

We can only pray, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

square.wave said...

It occurs to me that history is filled with examples of nations suddenly at war, and only when tested by a real enemy do they discover that their peacetime officer corps were utterly incompetent. Hasty promotions, often several of them, must occur before men fit for the task can be found. Very often it meant generals with lofty reputations and star power being replaced by lower ranked unknowns. The Union army during the Civil War experienced this. The British experienced it in North Africa. The Russians experienced it on the Eastern Front. Eventually they discovered the talents of Grant, Montgomery, and Chuikov. Add your own favorite examples.

That is how I feel about the Republican Party now. They're the established but incompetent General. They either cannot or will not take the fight to the enemy. They've been given ample opportunity to learn from their failures and make corrective actions, but refuse to do so. They must be sacked, and replaced by a new General. This may give the enemy a short term advantage while the new General learns his craft, but it's the necessary cost of cultivating competence. The alternative is to stick with the known quantity, and to continue suffering predictable defeat after predictable defeat.