We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

– from a document that may soon be given a security classification the way things are going.  Simply following that link could brand you as a potential terrorist.  Not to mention get you in trouble with the IRS.

38 comments to IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Mid – the “liberal” elite do regard this document, the Declaration of Independence, as full of forbidden ideas, and (from their perspective) they are right to do so.

    In philosophy the ideas “we hold these truths to self evident” and so on were taken by Jefferson and the others from the Scots Common Sense philosophy of Thomas Reid and co (although the roots are much older – the same defence of such things as free will and the objective existence of morality can be found in the Englishman Ralph Cudworth, and go all the way back to Aristotle and before).

    However such ideas (in both philosophy and politics) went “out of fashion” long ago.

    Once the main work on psychology in the United States was by Noah Porter (the Common Sense School President of Yale) – but in the 1890s the leading work became that of the Pragamist William James (a man who denied not only the dignity of humans as beings – but also denied the existence of objective truth).

    The last of the great Common Sense philosophers was perhaps James McCosh (President of what is now Princeton) – but a few years after his retirement Woodrow Wilson became President of Princeton. Wilson friend and ally of Richard Ely – believer in the “New Freedom” (read collectivism and tyranny – see his own work “The State” and the work of his “other self” Colonel House “Philip Dru: Administrator”). Woodrow Wilson dismissed the Declaration of Independence as just a tract for the time – with no universal principles (as there are no universal principles – everything “evolves” you see… and guess where it “evolves” to…..).

    Classical Liberalism is not compatible with the ideas of people such as William James, Richard Ely and Woodrow Wilson – it is radically incompatible with them. For people to call themselves “liberals” and admire such people is as dishonest and contemptable as for someone to support the ideas of John Rawls (the most cited modern supporter of the redistribution of income and wealth) and yet call themselves a libertarians. Yet in the 1920s even such once Classical Liberal journals as the Nation, endorsed the statist ideas they had been created to oppose.

    To sum up…..

    With such as vast (and long standing) “treason of the intellectuals” the wonder is not that liberty is dying in the United States (and the Western World in general) – but rather the wonder is that some freedom has lasted this long.

  • Paul Marks

    For those who insist on a stage theory of history – interpreting away such things as the words of Lycrophon (who opposed the error of Aristotle in politics of holding that government is there to make people “just and good” – pointing that a more logical conclusion from an understanding of the nature of human beings and the nature of government was a far more, indeed a nonaggression principle view, limited view of government).

    Here is the view of Marcus Aurelius from his Meditations on what “my brother Severus” had taught him.

    “to love my kin, and to love truth, and to love justice; and through him I learned to know Thrasea, Helvidus, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and from him I received the idea of a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed”

    “But the Emperor Marcus Aurelus was a slave owner Paul”.

    So was Thomas Jefferson – the fact that men do not fully live up to their ideas does not make those ideas wrong.

    Roman legal thinkers understood that slavery is against natural law – but they used the “law of all nations” dodge (“everyone else does it”) to try and help them live with themselves (although Pliny the Elder contested the ideas that all other societies had slaves – claiming that Ceylon did not). Even the Ancient Greek Aristotle (famous for his “natural slave” dodge) freed his own slaves in his will (as George Washington did) – clearly he was unconvinced by his own argument (or, by some odd chance, his slaves turned out not to be “natural” ones).

    “But what if a King (or other form of government) does not respect the freedom of the governed”.

    Well Jefferson had an answer to that……

  • Julie near Chicago

    There is an interesting exchange of pieces on Jefferson (and to some extent Washington) between historian David Barton and a professor at Grove City College, in which the former defends their failure to free their slaves, citing mitigating circumstances, and the latter saying the former is nuts and dishonest, and his “evidence” is all wrong anyway.

    I am agnostic for now.

    Unfortunately my hard disk crashed irretrievably 2 weeks after the warranty ran out, so I don’t have the URL’s handy.

    Apologies for going all tangential again.

  • Paul Marks

    Thomas Jefferson was a three time bankrupt (or three time near bankrupt), his creditors might have said they were not his slaves to free.

    However, where there is a will there is a way – and (the fact remains) Jefferson did not do what he knew would be the right thing to do. If it was an easy thing to do it would not earn much moral credit – of course it would have been a massive sacrifice on his part (but that is often the price of doing what is right).

    It is the same on the French Revolution and on ordinary enemy soldiers. Jefferson is not a man whose moral compass could be relied upon – that is not attack on him (it is true of most people in very difficult situations).

    Thomas Jefferson is the better ideas man and the vastly more cultured and civilised.

    John Adams would have irritating to meet – for even a few minutes (he might take offence and explode – for no clear reason).

    But if you were really in a difficult position, with everyone against you, and you needed someone who would do the right thing regardless of the consequences for himself.

    Then John Adams (not Thomas Jefferson) was your man.

    Jefferson for dinner companion – and intellectual discourse.

    Adams – if the world is coming down on your head.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Paul, I understand, and am inclined to agree with your overall assessment — although even if it was in fact possible to free the slaves given sufficient backbone, it seems to me there might also have been lesser-evil questions in terms of the slaves themselves. I don’t say that WAS the case, but only that it might have been a consideration.

    In any case, slavery was and IS a dreadful, horrible evil and no two ways about it. The very idea is perverse in the strongest sense.

    Did you see Glenn Beck’s interview with Dr. Barton, and The Blaze’s investigation of Barton on Jefferson? (I haven’t seen the former nor read the latter.) I did read Dr. B’s and Professor Throckmorton’s (the Grove City College psych prof) back-and-forth, but it was awhile ago.

    If anyone’s interested,

    Beck-Barton video: http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/04/18/david-barton-the-jefferson-lies/

    The Blaze article, with lots of links: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/08/15/david-barton-vs-his-critics-theblazes-extensive-analysis-of-their-claims-thomas-jeffersons-faith/

    One of Throckmorton’s responses to Barton: http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-warren-throckmorton/my-response-and-a-challenge-to-david-barton.html

  • Agreed. Give me Adams for the fight and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate the truth, but government (not of the people, but against the people) be damned.

    To the walls! The British are coming!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Why I smited? And I thought the link to the Smitten Kittens was still lurking up there in the menu bar, but now I can’t find it…sniffle….:(

  • RAB

    I always liked the “Among these” a lovely open ended statement that alludes to there being many more Unalienable rights that are so obvious they didn’t bother to even mention them.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    One could have fun trying to update this document.
    “We have voted on these current temporary rights as being worthy of fighting over to the death…”
    The DoI was, after all, just meant as a propaganda piece- just like the British Bill of Rights. We here in Australia have neither, but some people want to foist some such document on us. Such referendums tend to fail, but they keep trying.

  • the other rob

    While this is not my first Independence Day as an American, it is one of relatively few. I must confess that I had, prior to coming here, regarded “American Exceptionalism” (as exemplified by the Declaration of Independence) to be somewhat mythical.

    The good news is that I arrived in just time to learn, by observation and participation, that it was very real.

    The bad news is that I may have got here in time to watch it all get flushed down the shitter.

  • the other rob

    Heh! “…in just time…”

    That’ll teach me to proof read, rather than rely upon a non-existent edit function.

  • veryretired

    It is a mistake, as some here, and many more in our history, have believed—that the American experiment, and by derivation, humanity’s experiment, with government founded on and justified by the rights of the individual is now over.

    It is not.

    In this past century, the US, and her allies, have withstood, and then soundly defeated, some of the most ferocious and bloodthirsty tyrannies that humanity has ever had the misfortune to experience.

    The doom and gloom crowd now says that day is gone, and we will never see that spirit again.

    You do not know my sons or my daughter, and, by extension, a great many of their friends.

    They, and many more just like them, do not appear in the media, are not quoted by the subservient talking heads on the utterly worthless evening news, do not write columns in the paper asking for more chains and more whips.

    They go to work each day, raise their families, finish their schooling, and do all the ordinary, boring, unglamorous stuff that makes the world go ’round, and the nation function.

    They do not often get excited, march around protesting and making a demonstration, write letters to their congress-critters, or generally make a fuss.

    But I talk to them, and listen to them, and they are not ready or willing to forfeit the freedom that has been their birthright, and would never allow the children they love with all their hearts to be cast into servitude.

    And they are very ready, willing, and able, to defend themselves and defeat any attempt to do so.

    Some of the greatest killing machines in history found that they were forced to accept the unacceptable, and endure the unendurable.

    And so will the collectivist who thinks we will bow to his will, and the Islamic fascist who thinks we will bow to his delusions.

    We have been given the pearl of great price, paid for by the blood of men and women who would not accept life without it, and we will not surrender it now to a nest of cockroaches.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Julie – I did see Glenn Beck discussions with David Barton, I do not always agree with either man, but I like them (and most of what the establishment says about them are lies).

    veryretired – it sounds almost as if you are relying on the Silent Majority.

    But are they the majority any more? Or has the education system (and the unguarded borders) changed that?

    2008 and 2012 cast doubts.

    However, after 1936 many pro freedom people thought that America was finished (betrayed by its own citizens), and there was a recovery.

    Let us see what happens in 2016.

    I do not expect the Silent Majority to march – but if they do not even vote, then I suspect they do not exist (at least not as a majority).

  • Paul Marks

    RAB – The Ninth Amendment, Common Law nonaggression principle (based upon the traditional idea of justice as to each their own – the enemy of the Social Justice of Plato or John Rawls).

    Modern lawyers tend to deny that any of this exists – and use the Ninth Amendment for their own purposes.

  • veryretired

    Paul—The average citizen is generally disinterested in politics and the endless shenanigans that accompany it.

    As was mentioned by Geraldine Ferraro, the current regime’s leader was only in his position as a serious candidate because he was a minority, and had no other qualifications, as he’s proven over and over again since he was elected.

    Most people still get their general news from the msm, and fail to hear of the many things the msm refuses to cover while they run interference for the progressive agenda.

    The reason the progs keep delaying and pushing back the various elements of the government health care takeover is precisely because they know that it will wake people up to what’s going on, just as the tea party channeled quite a bit of outrage, and prompted the illegal reactions by the state’s cadres in the IRS and other agencies.

    The silent majority is a misnomer—go into any bar or workplace cafeteria and listen to the endless arguments, both good natured and angry, and the “silent” idea will quickly disappear.

    I simply don’t give in to the alluring siren song of the “oh, woe is us” crowd. We’ve come through worse many times, and will in the future.

    A cursory look at either of the first 2 centuries of our history, or both together, quickly reveals the shallowness of the current despair mongers.

    There is simply nothing in the current infestation of vermin to compare with a civil war, or a massive depression, or a world wide conflict on two fronts against two of history’s most militarized and ruthless enemies.

    As for the cold war, I’m afraid the current crop of minor league bad guys has quite a ways to go to measure up to Stalin or Mao for sheer, ruthless pathology.

    I mean, really, baby Kim? Or imadinnerjacket? Or the late, pathetic tropical fart hugo? Even a senile castro and family is more formidable that that bunch.

    I sleep just fine at night. The sun will come up tomorrow, and it shines on fools and knaves as well as decent, hard-working citizens. That is the way of things in this world.

    As I have said many times before, the future lies in the gutter where the bankrupt collectivists have discarded it. It belongs to those of us who believe in the dignity and rights of all men and women to live their lives as they see fit.

    Our task is to grasp it and carry it forward for those that we love so they may also enjoy life as human beings.

    And I believe that we will.

  • Tedd

    I’m inclined to agree with veryretired. Americans are marrying two powerful ideas: the conservative facts of life (as Thatcher described them) and the ideal of individual liberty. I’m no historian, but it seems to me that these ideas have tended to be in separate camps, more often than not. Perhaps when government was small they were not natural allies — perhaps even natural antagonists. But now they both have the modern, progressive state as a common enemy.

  • DP

    Dear Midwesterner

    “- from a document that may soon be given a security classification the way things are going. Simply following that link could brand you as a potential terrorist. Not to mention get you in trouble with the IRS.”

    Our beloved governments continually assure us that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear.

    What has government to fear that it has so much to hide? And from us, the ones who pay their salaries.

    @ Julie near Chicago July 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    “In any case, slavery was and IS a dreadful, horrible evil and no two ways about it. The very idea is perverse in the strongest sense.”

    Slavery is alive and well: we are the livestock of government. Taxation is a politer form of part-time slavery – tax freedom day, anyone?

    Retail slavery may be abolished, but people are traded wholesale regularly by their governments – the ones with so much to hide and everything to fear. The British peoples have been sold to the evil empire of the European Union. One may wonder what price the politicians and bureaucrats who did the deed were paid for us. From our own money too. How neat is that?

    @ the other rob July 5, 2013 at 3:30 am

    ” Heh! “…in just time…””

    Far more poetic.

    DP

  • Regional

    Slavery was being practiced in Europe at the same time as Colonial America, it was called serfdom and ironically the Black Death was a catalyst for the beginning of ending serfdom in the British Isles.

  • RAB

    Your time-line is rather askew Regional. Columbus 1492, Cabot 1497, Black Death 1348-50. What the Black Death did do though, having wiped out half the population was to drive up wages and respect for honest labourers that were very much needed to re-build the counties and economy. This was certainly true in Britain, much less so in continental Europe, where feudalism lasted much much longer.

  • Regional

    RAB,
    Thankyou for your feedback, so essentially we agree about the Black Death of which there were several plaques, there even was a plague in Sydney at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, what I was trying to allude to was before Napoleon who sold ‘Louisiana’ to a fledging America while Benjamin Franklin was in Britain just as the Slave revolt on St. Johns occurred and incidentally Barrings Merchant Bank financed the deal as you’re aware, Napoleon ended serfdom in Europe, was it necessary to explain this?

  • RAB

    Er… yes it was necessary to explain as a one line generalised gobbet doesn’t really do it, does it?

    No Napoleon did not end serfdom in Europe, but France. The rest of Europe were getting rid of it quietly all on their own without Boney’s help. In his case he was just swapping one kind of Serfdom for another. In England and Wales it was gone before the end of the 16th Century.

    I was taught that the original “British Slaves” in the Americas though, were Bondsmen or indentured labourers, who signed up for this service for a period of years, then they were free to pursue their own fortunes. Alas they died in droves in places like Jamacia, so the Plantation owners went with African slaves bought from the Portugese or eventually from the Arab slavers or African Chiefs who had a bothersome tribe or two they wished to see the back of.

  • Regional

    RAB,
    Gee, we have different interpretations and you make valid points about Napoleon but there’s no exact time line or one cause and remember we’re talking about centuries of history.

  • Deep Lurker

    WRT the hypocrisy of Jefferson et. al. owning slaves, I offer this:

    I take this opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of Anthony Benezet’s book against the slave trade. I thank you for it. It is not a little surprising that the professors of Christianity, whose chief excellence consists in softening the human heart, and in cherishing and improving its finer feelings, should encourage a practice so totally repugnant to the first impressions of right and wrong. What adds to the wonder is that this abominable practice has been introduced in the most enlightened ages. Times, that seem to have pretensions to boast of high improvements in the arts and sciences, and refined morality, have brought into general use, and guarded by many laws, a species of violence and tyranny, which our more rude and barbarous, but more honest ancestors detested. Is it not amazing, that at a time, when the rights of humanity are defined and understood with precision, in a country, above all others, fond of liberty, that in such an age and in such a country, we find men professing a religion the most humane, mild, gentle and generous, adopting a principle as repugnant to humanity, as it is inconsistent with the bible, and destructive to liberty? Every thinking, honest man rejects it in speculation, how few in practice from conscientious motives!

    Would anyone believe I am the master of slaves of my own purchase! I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living here without them. I will not, I cannot justify it. However culpable my conduct, I will so far pay my devoir to virtue, as to own the excellence and rectitude of her precepts, and lament my want of conformity to them.

    I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we can do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot, and an abhorrence of slavery. If we cannot reduce this wished-for reformation to practice, let us treat the unhappy victims with lenity. It is the furthest advance we can make toward justice. It is a debt we owe to the purity of our religion, to show that it is at variance with that law which warrants slavery.

    I know not when to stop. I could say many things on the subject, a serious view of which gives a gloomy perspective to future times.

    – Patrick Henry, in a letter to Robert Pleasants

  • Paul Marks

    Virginians (not just Jefferson) clearly had a way with words – but, like John Adams, I would rather have plain (even ugly) words and good conduct, than wonderful words and bad conduct.

    veryretired – if the average citizen really is disinterested in politics then the Res-Publica will fall. Disinterest in politics (or a corrupt interest in politics “what are you going to give ME”) may be fine in a monarchy or an aristocracy (or even a mixed polity as Britain was till 1832) – but not where very large numbers of people have the vote.

    On the legal background of slavery.

    As judges as far back as the first Elizabeth pointed out – “slavery” is in fact a series of Common Law crimes, False Imprisonment, Assault (and so on). Although it was not till the Mansfield judgement of the 1770s that slavery was finally crushed in England and Wales (Dr Johnson alleged it was not a coincidence that that the Declaration of Independence came only a couple of years after this judgement).

    In the colonies the legal conflict went the other way – the first judgements upholding the idea that someone could be a slave FOR LIFE (not the seven year contract) and could be BORN a slave (making a nonsense of any idea of contract) were, I am told, in the North – (only in the late 18th and early 19th slavery did anti slavery forces manage to outlaw slavery in the North).

    Even in Georgia (yes “Gone With The Wind” country) slavery was specifically forbidden by the founder of the colony – but George Whitfield supported the corrupt forces that influenced the courts to allow the series of crimes that make up the institution of slavery – think what might have happened had things gone the other way (if Georgia had not become a Slave State there could have been no “Slave Power” in the colonies that became the United States).

    Who was George Whitfield?

    He was the arch predestination supporter (the other side of the religious revival of which the good side was represented by John Wesley). It is not that Whitfield had no moral concerns, on the contrary he waged a moral crusade against…. WEDGEWOOD CHINA.

    Yes those evil cups and plates.. corrupting people with their vile luxury….(but if all conduct is predestined what is the point of lecturing people against buying Wedgewood China, surely whether they buy it is predestined…… “SHUT UP PAUL”). It is not always the case that the theological (and philosophical) slavery of predestination (passing the buck to Divine Providence) goes together with actual slavery (chains, whips and so on), but in this case they did.

    It was, of course, a total coincidence that Mr Wedgewood was a leading opponent of slavery (so much so that he gave his anti slavery china products to anyone who wanted them – free, i.e. at his own expense).

    As fcr the “Lincoln’s War” crowd – the killing (on both sides) actually started in “Bleeding Kansas” before Lincoln was even elected (actually the Slave Power not only had designs on the American West – but even on Latin America).

    And having attacked George Whitfield (doubtless a good man in many other ways) – I should point out that the anti slavery side in Kansas (out of which the Republican party grew in the State – and is still dominated by people like them) was actually MORE “Bible thumping” than the pro slavery side. Indeed their religion was at the heart of their anti slavery position.

    In these days when subMarxist interpretations dominate everything (“and the Northern manufacturers demanded war to protect their captive market”) the RELIGIOUS element in the American Civil War has been lost (as has the religious element in American history generally. There was a strong religious element in the American Civil War – fundamentally different ways of interpreting Christianity (and religion).

    Perhaps this religious element explains the savagery of the war – for in the Civil War American lost more people than in all other wars put together (and out of a population that was only a tiny fraction of what it is today).

    The view of relgion that grew from such people as Roger Williams (of Rhode Island) or Judge Sewall of Mass (yes the same judge as in the Salem witch trial – by the time he wrote “Selling Joeseph” in 1700, he had bitterly repented of his conduct) is not compatible with the view of religion (or philosophy) that passed the buck to God (or to physics).

    The Bible thumpers in Kansas have their faults – but at least they do not fall for the “it is not my fault ….. MADE me do it, it was predestined by a chain of cause and effect from the start of the universe”.

  • Laird

    If I may return to Midwesterner’s original post, some here might appreciate the black humor in this.

    Veryretired, with regard to your comment, and with all due respect to your children and their friends (all of whom, I am certain, are fine people), if they are not now “generally making a fuss” what will it take to impel them to do so? When will the tipping point be reached? When storm troopers are breaking down the front door? By then it will be too late. I agree that the country is full of decent people just like you describe, but the problem is that, for all their professed desire to retain their freedoms, they are in fact doing nothing about it. The pot is already boiling and still the frog doesn’t make any effort to leap out.

    As you say, the average citizen is indeed “generally disinterested in politics.” Which is precisely the problem, and why our society is lost. As Heinlein said, “politics is barely less important than your heartbeat.”

    And while I’m quoting Heinlein, I’ll add another of his that seems appropriate to the thread: “The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle anywhere, any time and with utter recklessness.” We’ve lost the will to pay that price.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Absolutely agree with Laird. This is one of the reasons why I despise this “rational ignorance” nonsense as applied to politics and voting. The argument appeals because it gives people an excuse to avoid doing something that bores them or perhaps frightens or angers them: It tells them that their political acts (not just their votes) are meaningless, so why bother. Well, some people are acting and voting, and some issues and agendas and candidates are winning, which which facts already refute the whole theory.

    Laird does not like me to rant :) , so I will just reiterate that the “theory” rests on a misapplication of statistics; and as well as being self-evidently wrong, as above, it’s anti-rational, because while it is perfectly rational to prioritize one’s actions (including political, historical, and philosophical investigations) according to one’s assessment of the importance and urgency of one’s objectives, ignorance regarding practical matters which directly affect one is a condition to be barely tolerated, and remedied as soon as practicable.

  • the other rob

    Laird has nailed it. But forget being willing to do battle, it appears that we’re no longer even willing to contemplate for ten seconds.

    By way of example: we stopped in at World Market today, to buy some groceries, beer, wine, etc. SWMBO popped next door, to another store, leaving me to navigate the register.

    Upon scanning the first alcoholic beverage the young girl operating it said “Can I see your ID?” I replied “No. But you can type in July 8th, 1992, which translates to exactly 21 years of age” (I am early middle aged and could not pass for mid 30s on a good day, let alone younger).

    She, of course, told me that the law required me to show my ID. I gently disabused her of that notion and went on to explain that I wasn’t trying to be awkward, but that this was a very important principle. Indeed her great grandparents and their contemporaries fought and died so that she would not have to live in a society where she was forced to present papers upon demand. I then invited her to think about what type of world she wished to live in and how she might shape that world.

    As I left, I heard her and the customer behind me in the line laughing at the weirdo. I fear that we may be fucked.

  • john.s.allison

    But did you get the booze? One must have one’s priorities, here, don’tcha know?

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Rob, your ancestors claimed that they were fighting for the right to vote for the people who would tax them. Instead of slave auctions, these are Master auctions! Since you have achieved democracy, republican theory says that there is nothing more to fight for, so why worry?

  • the other rob

    John – I did indeed get the booze, including some rather fine Scotch Ale, which I’m enjoying as I type.

    Nick – My ancestors all lived thousands of miles to the east and I grew up expecting to have to fight Germans. I became an American, but I wasn’t born one.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Um, “republic” ≠ “democracy.” (The online Compact OED seems not to know this; but look at Webster’s 1828 and it’s clear.)

    And NO system of government is any good unless the government is somehow persuaded to abide by whatever limits it’s supposed to have.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, very interesting bit of history regarding Messrs. Whitfield and Wedgwood. Thank you. :>)

  • the other rob

    Exactly, Julie. The whole point of a republic is that pure democracies can not be trusted in the long run.

  • Laird

    Agreed on the comments about republic vs democracy. But I really do like Nick’s line “Instead of slave auctions, these are Master auctions!” Worth thinking about.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Laird, blame James Bovard, a writer. He once talked about democracies being reverse-slave auctions. He also mentioned the battered-voter syndrome, where we hope they’ll be better in government this time around!

  • Paul Marks

    veryretired – I am glad you sleep well at night.

    However, as you know well, the United States (and the West in general) is facing de facto economic and social bankruptcy.

    What happens when the current system finally falls apart will be interesting (in the Chinese sense).

    Nick (nice-guy) Gray – an interesting point is that none of the major expansions of the state in Britain or the United States were actually asked for by the people (a point Douglas Carswell makes in a recent book in defence of democracy – and others have made before him).

    The Progressive elite (whether Bismark in Germany or Franklin Roosevelt, or rather the intellectuals behind him, in America or….) decide to expand the state in X way – giving people free stuff. Stuff the people did NOT ask for.

    Only when the people get used to getting the free stuff (plan their lives around it) do they come to believe they are “entitled” to it.

    Historically I would put the key date in American history as late 1965 – only then do the key measures get passed that make America unsustainable (“dysfunctional”) in the long term.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I thought that Labour in Britain came to power after WW2 with a program for the welfare state, and people knew that when they voted for it! Oh, well, live and learn…

  • Paul Marks

    The British Welfarism goes back to Lloyd George – the Liberals won in 1906 on a free trade platform, and (just – it was very close) won the elections of 1910 on resentment at the House of Lords striking down the budget – some people who actually agreed that the 1909 budget was wrong (and it was wrong) did not like the idea of the House of Lords telling the House of Commons what to do.

    As for 1945 – years of World War II time propaganda, blaming the Conservatives for the depression of the 1930s, and blaming the Conservatives for Appeasement of Nazi Germany.

    It was drivel – the economic policies that Labour suggested in the 1930s were worse than the Conservative ones (which is why Labour was smashed in both 1931 and 1935), and Labour was actually MORE anti military than the Conservatives were (for example campaigning to close down the RAF in the 1935 election).

    But after six years of intense propaganda (the left have taken advantage of government power to take control of the government media “information” and such things as the “Army Education Service”) a lot of people believed that up was down, black was white, wet was dry (and on and on).

    Of course a lot of people still knew the truth (even in 1945) – but Lincoln was wrong.

    One does not need to fool “all of the people, all of the time” – just a majority (or close to a majority) at election time.

    As for the Welfare State – the Liberals and the Conservatives were also telling the people it was a wonderful idea.

    The entire establishment were behind it.

    The only Labour party element was direct state ownership of the hospitals (not a popular policy) – “free” X, Y, Z, was common to all the parties.