Saturday, March 30, 2019

Premises Old And New

     It shouldn’t be necessary to say this over and over, but I’ll say it again: He who controls the premises to an argument can predetermine its outcome. Moreover, he probably will.

     Unspoken premises lie beneath every human action. When you walk across the floor of a room, you assume the floor won’t collapse beneath you. Yet that’s exactly what happens now and then. Similarly, when you cross a street (with the lights and at the crosswalk, as the traffic laws prescribe), you assume that no crazed motorist will seize the opportunity to “score a few points” on your tender carcass. Yet that, too, happens now and then. Both of them have happened to me.

     Obviously, our premises matter. Indeed, nothing in the realm of human thought could possibly matter more.

     With that, allow me to direct your gaze to an excellent article by Daniel Thomas:

     Imagine the effect on a patriotic British citizen watching in utter despair as his Prime Minister uses her exalted position to conspire with a foreign political entity to hand over the governance of the country she has sworn to serve.

     Imagine how he feels as she portrays Great Britain and its people as so weak and pathetic, they are incapable of governing themselves so the reins of power must be handed over to a cabal of foreign bureaucrats who have a history of disrespecting and vilifying them and their country.

     Imagine his despair as he stands powerlessly by as the Prime Minister and Parliament hand over control of the country’s laws, borders, trade and money to an organization that is so corrupt its accounts haven't passed an audit for decades and who’s ruling clique cannot be removed by the ballot box.

     Now imagine the devastating effect on his morale as this disenfranchised Briton tunes in to President Trump’s rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan and watches as the President they elected, fresh from defeating the establishment, pledges to continue reversing the managed decline of the Obama years and keep fighting to make America great again.

     Please read it all.

     List the key premises behind Donald Trump’s agenda. Now list those behind Theresa May’s agenda. Can you imagine changing either set without completely changing the positions and goals of the relevant politician?

     Yes, it’s essentially a rhetorical question. Its answer is “Of course not.” (“Are you BLEEP!ing kidding me?” will also receive full marks.) It illustrates how political premises, including the very oldest of them, shape a nation’s fortunes, including its relations with other nations and political entities.

     The American tradition rests on two premises:

  • The sanctity of individual freedom;
  • The imperative of political independence.

     Those are not notions that can easily be deduced from more fundamental precepts. At least, I’ve met few people who’ve managed it. But they’ve made the United States the crowning glory of human history. Nothing anywhere or anywhen compares to the civilization Americans have built. Even though its legal and political institutions have taken several decades of body blows, America is still the shining light of all Mankind.

     The United Kingdom, formerly the British Empire or Great Britain, and before that the Kingdom of England, has followed another course. It does not include freedom or political independence among its premises. Englishmen’s liberties are considered grants of latitude from the political power, at one time the Crown, and subsequently the Parliament. Neither do the ministers of the U.K.’s government – I distinguish this from the attitudes of Britons themselves – regard political independence as a condition to be conserved.

     Great Britain was once the foremost industrial, commercial, financial, and military power in the world. The United Kingdom is a pitiful fossil from those days of greatness.

     Fortunately for America, we found a champion willing to reverse the destructive course we’d followed over the century behind us. Yet should electoral methods fail us, we will fight the government itself in defense of our freedom; we retain the mindset and the means. Britons were stripped of the means long ago. If any still possess the mindset, much good may it do them.

     Americans have serially rejected the notion of submerging our nation in a superstate such as the U.N. We know what would follow. Britons were sweet-talked into accepting subjugation to the panjandrums of the European Union some years ago. Now that their eyes are open and they’ve screamed to be let out, their own government is trying to deny them what they’ve demanded.

     We might not have needed to be reminded of the supreme importance of our premises. Yet we have had one, from the very nation that provided our Common Law and our first settlers. We should be grateful, even if that’s small consolation to the Britons baffled by the intractability of a government they think of as “theirs,” but which serves no purposes other than its own. As a token of our gratitude I suggest air-dropping weapons and ammunition all over England. Perhaps then we’d see what portion of the spirit of Great Britain remains in the beleaguered subjects of the United Kingdom of today.

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