Friday, July 22, 2016

It’s Over...

     ...the Republican National Convention, that is...and the Democrats’ jamboree will soon follow. The serious Sturm und Drang is on its way.

     Several speakers at the RNC characterized Hillary Clinton as a criminal, and wholly corrupt. I shan’t dispute the point – I can’t, really; no honest man can – but I shall point out that in our time, the fraction of office seekers who aren’t at least somewhat corrupt is vanishingly small. While that doesn’t make Republican disparagement of Mrs. Clinton a case of “the pot calling the kettle black,” let it serve as a reminder: He who points his finger at another is pointing three other fingers back at himself.

     The final stage of the campaign is likely to be as vitriolic as any political contest in American history. Moreover, it’s possible that this will be part of the Democrats’ strategy, as Democrat voters are harder to drive away from the polls with simple nastiness. Unfortunately, the GOP’s nomination of Donald Trump gives them a clear target: Trump’s embrace of insult and vilification as weapons to wield against his Republican opponents opens him wide to such attacks. But then, they also showered such attacks on Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, two of the most gentlemanly men to enter politics in a century.

     Do you get the sense that I’m not looking forward to what’s next, Gentle Reader?

     Everyone has opinions. I’m open about mine, as any Gentle Reader will attest. One of them is that no matter whom the voters choose on November 8, “the government” will remain as it has been since the inception of the New Deal. I’d like to be wrong about that, but Of course I don’t think I am.

     Something else is “over,” something apart from and much larger than any political party’s convention: the presumption of individual rights as the foremost of all legal and political considerations. The Deep State, the militarization of state and local police forces and large parts of the federal bureaucracy, and the rise of a political class that:

  1. Believes itself entitled to power;
  2. Believes itself above all laws, including the Constitution;
  3. Has rigged the game such that it cannot be defeated by any nonviolent means;

...have put an end to that aspect of the American creed.

     Freedom as our grandfathers spoke of it – i.e., as a political attribute – is dead. For practical purposes, every assertion of a right – to speak, to worship, to bear arms, to assemble, to be secure in one’s possessions, to a trial by a jury of one’s peers, and so on – can be nullified by an assertion of “compelling government interest.”

     For any “right to vote” fans in the audience, that’s been reduced to a farce by vote fraud, voter intimidation, and the casting of ballots by millions of illegal aliens. But do go ahead if it makes you happy. Just remember that I’ve said it: We’re not voting our way out of this.

     An alternate approach is required.

     In his novel The Black Cloud, the late Sir Fred Hoyle had his protagonist character opine openly that political authority is a matter of belief:

     ‘Here’s a fine thing,’ he gurgled. ‘I forgot to stop our conversation going out on ten centimetres. They’ve been hearing everything we’ve been saying – Alexis’s reference to the Kremlin, Chris’s remark about cutting their throats. No wonder they’re in a rage! I reckon the fat’s in the fire now, all right.’
     No one seemed quite to know what to do. At length Kingsley walked over to the control board. He flicked a number of switches, and said into a microphone:
     ‘This is Nortonstowe, Christopher Kingsley speaking. If you have any message, get on with it.’
     An angry voice came over the loud-speaker:
     ‘So you’re there, are you, Nortonstowe! We’ve been trying to get through to you for the last three hours.’
     ‘Who is that speaking?’
     ‘Grohmer, U.S. Secretary for Defence. I might tell you that you are talking to a very angry man, Mr Kingsley. I am waiting for an explanation of tonight’s outrageous conduct.’
     ‘Then you will go on waiting, I fear. I will give you another thirty seconds, and if your statements have not assumed some reasonably cogent form by then, I shall switch off again.’
     The voice became quieter, and more threatening:
     ‘Mr Kingsley, I have heard before of your insufferable obstructiveness, but this is the first time I have encountered it myself. For your information, I intend that it shall be the last time. This is not a warning. I am simply telling you here and now that very shortly you will be removed from Nortonstowe. Where you will be removed to, I shall leave to your own imagination.’
     ‘I am anxious that in your plans for me, Mr Grohmer, you have given full consideration to one very important point.’
     ‘And what is that, may I ask?’
     ‘That it is within my power to obliterate the whole continent of America. If you doubt this statement ask your astronomers what happened to the Moon on the evening of 7 August. You might also like to take into account that it would take me substantially less than five minutes to implement this threat.’
     Kingsley clicked off a group of switches and the lights at the control panel went off. Marlowe was white-faced and there were little beads of sweat on his forehead and on his upper lip. ‘Chris, that was not well done, it was not well done,’ he said. Kingsley was genuinely disturbed.
     ‘I’m sorry, Geoff. It never occurred to me while I was speaking that America is your country. I say again that I’m sorry, but by way of excuse you must know that I’d have said the same thing to London, or to Moscow, or to anybody.’
     Marlowe shook his head.
     ‘You’ve got me wrong, Chris. I’m not objecting because America is my country. In any case I know you were only putting up a bluff. What worries me is that the bluff may turn out to be damn dangerous.’
     ‘Nonsense. You’re giving an exaggerated importance to a storm in a tea-cup. You still haven’t got over the idea that politicians are important because the newspapers tell you so. They’ll probably realize that I might be bluffing but while there’s just the possibility that I could make good my threat they’ll lay off the strong arm stuff. You’ll see.’
     But in this matter Marlowe was right and Kingsley wrong, as events soon showed.

     [Sir Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud]

     As Hoyle illustrates in what follows, political power isn’t about us peones believing that it exists. It consists in the willingness and ability to enforce its will, which arises from weapons and men willing to wield them at the politicians’ behest. In other words, political power is a matter of the allegiance of enforcers.

     It’s been suggested, for example by promoters of the Oath Keepers approach, that one avenue back toward freedom lies in splitting the enforcers off from the politicians and bureaucrats. The allegiance of our military and police forces to the political class isn’t impenetrable. Indeed, many soldiers, sailors, and airmen have expressed disgust with Washington – sotto voce, of course – and have suggested that they might be amenable to a coup. Nevertheless, this is a chancy path to follow; violent revolution always is. The typical revolution is followed by greater tyranny, not greater freedom. At best it’s a roll of a twenty-sided die with all of one’s hopes and prospects staked on getting a twenty.

     Besides, counting on others to liberate you places the ultimate decision out of your hands.

     Freedom, de facto if not de jure, consists in not being interfered with. He who can contrive that precious condition for himself is freer than any obedient citizen of any government, however straitly limited.

     Given the conditions that prevail today, the man determined to be free will find that his best chance of achieving it lies in individual action. Actions taken to reduce one’s visibility, and thus one’s vulnerability, to the State, judiciously supplemented by cooperation with like-minded friends and neighbors, are the most promising way forward. Nor will it matter who prevails at the polls in November. All power seekers want power; that makes them enemies to freedom wherever and whenever it arises.

     There are things “we” can do “together.” The most important of them is the creation, refinement, and dissemination of tactics: methods by which to keep the State unaware of our decisions and actions.

     I’ve suggested this before. However, no significant conversation on the subject has arisen. We’ve spent too much of our precious time and energy listening to politicians scream imprecations at one another. Why, if their posturings will amount to mere noise? Wouldn’t you rather be doing something constructive? Something that will enhance your life, broaden your possibilities, and maybe put a little extra purchasing power in your wallet?

     Wouldn’t you rather be free?


Anonymous said...

"but I shall point out that in our time, the fraction of office seekers who aren’t at least somewhat corrupt is vanishingly small."
I would posit that the fraction is zero. I knew a state representative in flyover country in the 80's who even then and with such a relatively insignificant office that there was no room for an honest man in politics. It is very clear that the situation has become worse, not better. In fact, for any high level of success anywhere it appears that at some point one must sell their soul. Perhaps I'm over cynical and someone can show this is not the case. I often think about the rich man and the eye of the needle.

Paul Bonneau said...

Excellent blog post, Francis.

"the man determined to be free will find that his best chance of achieving it lies in individual action."

Yes. For example, rather than complaining about how rotten government schools have become, and lobbying for reform, instead simply remove your children from them, and let the schools rot.