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Discussion Point XXIV

Before the end of this century, there will be another American Civil War.

105 comments to Discussion Point XXIV

  • Gene

    I’d say there is a 20 percent chance of that happening, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a shooting war.

  • JOe

    Before the middle of this century, there will be another American Civil War that will happen as the nation breaks up.

  • Richard Thomas

    Maybe. I’d predict a period of severe civil unrest culminating in a coup.

  • I respectfully disagree. I have felt, and been preaching, that there would be an armed and violent revolution in this country within 50 years. I have been saying this for 10 years now.

    However, I don’t think that it will be the end of the country, or even it’s dissolution into several competing states. Rather, I think it will be a kind of populist uprising, a la the Russian Revolution (if you’ll pardon my invoking the communist’s first shebang). I believe that the next several generations of our government will be progressively more and more totalitarian, demanding more and more of us as citizens until we have fulfilled the promise of Orwell’s 1984. As we approach that point, there will be more and more angry muttering from the people, and let’s face it: the standing army of the US is deployed abroad, and most of the national guardsmen stand to suffer just as much as the rest of us.

    There will come a time, sooner and sooner, when we will find ourselves refusing to pay our taxes, simply refusing to cooperate with our government. I hope that we will not make the first move, but it may well work out that way. But what is, I feel, inevitable is that we should be pushed just a little too hard, and the backlash will be unbelievable.

    I have to believe this, because the alternative is acceptance, and despair.

  • Mart

    Between who? I don’t see the current social and political divides leading to anything other than one side starting out with all the people who could actually fight, and the other side only having placard wavers.

  • Mart makes a good point – to the best of my knowledge, most gun-takers aren’t also gun-owners. So what, really, is my democratic, pro-state neighbor going to do to force me to pay my taxes? Spit at me? I spit back, with fire.

  • Richard Thomas

    Unfortunately, the only taxes I can currently think of which I am “at liberty” to refuse to pay are my property tax and car tax. Whilst I find both irksome, failing to pay them would not be especially productive.

  • Midwesterner

    It depends on what you mean by ‘war’. What will happen is that the government/treasury/federal reserve will be unable to sustain the economic model and the currency will fail. Government will lose the ability to bribe people with their (and others’) children’s futures. At that point, all bets are off, I don’t know what will happen.

    And it will happen well before the end of the century. Maybe in the not too distant future.

  • Anonymous Wanker

    Civil wars are bad for business. It ain’t gonna happen, unless government forces the way.

    European civil war is more likely, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.

  • lucklucky

    We will be too connect. The Civil War will be the First World Civil War.

  • Bubba Thudd

    The U.S. military and law enforcement community is overwhelmingly drawn from and on the side of the gun owning conservatives. It is unlikely that they would take up arms against the people on orders from an oppresive leftist government.

    If there was a left vs right revolution, it would be swift – more like a coup than a full on war (like the last one). Pacifying the larger urban areas (strongholds of liberal supporters) during the final phases might get ugly – think of the LA riots on a larger scale.

  • Agreed, Bubba Thudd, but the point is not that it would be one sided, but that it would be horrible to contemplate. Yes, the advantage would belong to the conservatives in strength of arms – yet the lefties have the backing of the European powers. The parallels to the first American Civil War are uncanny.

  • Ham

    I can’t help but notice a significant apocalyptic strain developing in this blog over the last few weeks. Fantasising about murdering our political enemies isn’t a healthy use of our time.

  • veryretired


    The next major civil wars will be in the same places they occurred in the 20th century—Europe and Asia.

    There will be continuing conflict in the mideast and Africa, some perhaps fairly substantial.

    In the US, civil unrest and the possibility of martial law by mid-century as the ponzi schemes the government has been running go bust. There will be sporadic acts of violence against government entities, but not any organized, military based insurrection ala the 19th century.

    Once again, this is someone projecting their own fears for the dissolution of the european political and cultural order upon the US. The US will be here long after europe and Russia have collapsed into warring factions, divided along religious and cultural lines.

    China is also a house of cards, held together by an aging and increasingly de-legitimized autocracy based on the former communist party. India, in fact, is much more likely to prosper in the long run, and will become a major US ally in the future.

    I’m glad I won’t be around to see what the US looks like by the end of the 21st century, but there won’t be any full scale revolt as there was in the 1860’s.

  • Before the end of this century, there will be another American Civil War.

    Good. I’ve saved lots of Confederate money.

    Seriously, all this talk of who has the most guns belongs in the 19th century, and it wasn’t too much of an advantage then. In the American Civil War, the South began with more guns and better marksmen.

    Also, while monitoring National Public Radio a few weeks ago, I heard a fascinating interview with an author who had penned a new release about the huge cavalry advantage the South had in owning so many of their own horses. The advantage only lasted for about two years. I didn’t write down the title, and can’t find anything about the book online.
    Does anyone know the book I’m thinking of?
    It’s all about who has the means of production.

  • Millie Woods

    Civik war I think not. The people presently in power in the presidency, congress and senate are terminal thickies whose knowledge of the techno-engineered world in which they live is not just negligible but woefully so.
    Furthermore they are a disorganized lot who trend slobwards in every facet of life. They are not resourceful, they are not capable of mature thought or action and they grossly over-estimate their abilities just as they underestimate the ability of others. Lastly they lack joie de vivre on a monumental scale.
    How do I know all this? I spent my adult life toiling in the groves of academe from whence comes most of the tosh these loutish creatures want desperately to foist on the rest of us.

  • I have to say that while I feel that some form on violent conflict is inevitable, I do not believe it will destroy the US. I’m with VeryRetired on this one: the US will be here after all the others have faded. But this path we’ve been on for over 50 years, this gradual erosion of liberty in favor of the concrete monuments of Orwellian statism, cannot conclude anywhere but revolution. Violent? Perhaps. Peaceful? Hopefully! I personally feel that it’s a little late in the game to vote the idiots out, but I would be delighted to be wrong.

    Still, we are seeing our society fracturing along it’s fault-lines into little groups: the haves and the have-nots; the literate and the illiterate; the technological and the non; the productive and the parasitic; etc. The biggest problem is that some of our “political opponents”, as Ham said, are mixed among these groups. It’s not an “us and them” situation, it’s an Us and Us situation. There can be no pleasant end to any conflict in this country.

    Still – I read Perry de Havilland’s article on Obama’s Election and was inspired by it. I have spoken to members of my family and groups of my friends, urging them to moderation, and to patience. It is something we should all consider, our joking comments to one another aside. None of us wants revolution – we’re just desperately scared that it’s coming.

    So let’s work together, in the next four years, to make certain that it does not, or that it is a peaceful instead of violent changing-of-hands. We can always hold out Hope – and yes, the irony of that statement is painful.

  • Richard Thomas

    I think we’re at a critical point (chaos theory wise). We have a government which has shown it is willing to respond to a poor market in a way which will only weaken that market. In an otherwise good market, I don’t think Obama would be too much to fear (over and above the ever-present creeping socialism) but with him in place, the wrong reaction is all the more likely. Couple that in with the unrealisic expectations he has engendered and I can very well imagine elements of civil unrest by mid 2009.

    Of course, by asserting this as being a “critical point”, if it doesn’t work out that way, I’m not proven wrong. 🙂

  • *grins at Richard* Ahh yes – beautiful Chaos theory, which states that if you’re wrong, you’re not wrong.

  • naman

    No chance for another Civil War. I might dislike the Kos Kidz and their comrades, but they’re still my fellow American citizens at the end of the day. If some foreign invader tried to conquer Northern California, I’d be driving up there ready to defend those pansy-a…, sorry, my fellow citizens (gotta defend Napa Valley, ya see).

    Anyway, in 10 years we’ll all be talking about the resurgence of the conservative movement in America or something similar.

  • Richard Thomas

    naman: Maybe. Unfortunately, there’s a possibility with the backlash involved that we’ll be discussing the rise of Nehemiah Scudder.

  • watcher in the dark

    Without even beginning to know enough about America, what if one of the States – which say was almost completely on one side of the political divide – wanted to secede?

    Is this feasible? Would the state raise a militia, and then would it be put down by force by the other 49?

    I am not at all sure the gulf between the Dems and Repubs would lead to armed strife, but a collapse of the economy might push a few hotheads to load weapons and think about life on their own. But again, what would the chances be of actually breaking away?

  • Duncan

    “Would the state raise a militia, and then would it be put down by force ”

    Wouldn’t be the first time would it.

  • Kevin B

    I’m not sure about Civil War, but Civil Strife appears almost certain.

    If the Obama/Reid/Pelosi axis carry out their promise to declare CO2 a dangerous pollutant and subject it to licensing by the EPA then, America being the litigous nation it is, some green groups are going to start suing like mad. I can certainly see coal fired power stations coming under a lot of pressure in the courts and it will only take a few judges and juries to go along with the flow and the US could start suffering some serious blackouts.

    Since bread and circuses for the mob depend entirely on energy and over 50% of US electrical supply is supplied by coal these days, then the riots which occur could be pretty widespread.

    Whether this will escalate into Civil war, I seriously doubt. I have, a perhaps misplaced, faith in the politicians that once this particular pile of fecal matter hits the fan, they may realise that they cannot magic up a ‘green’ economy simply by passing a few laws.

    Of course, since our own politicans have taken very similar steps just last week, the potential for civil strife on this side of the pond is similarly high.

  • Kevin B

    Just to add to my comment, the theory goes that as the current generation of pols make complete arses of themselves over this whole global warming nonsense, they will quickly find themselves out of favour with even the chattering classes who support them so enthusiasticly today and will find theselves dropped for a more realistic lot.

  • Brad

    I think it is very likely, and maybe even fairly soon.

    We face an amalgamation of factors that have never been seen before. The market is collapsing, perhaps to a degree not seen since the ’30’s. We have a $54 Trillion accrual debt, $11 Trillion of which is “hard debt”, so as the economy collapses there won’t be the room to borrow as we did in the ’30’s, and we are already at war and have huge warbills to payoff which will further dampen any hope of economic regrowth (see what he 70’s were to payoff the 60’s endeavors).

    On top of which we’ve elected our first minority leader, so when the bellies start going empty it isn’t going to take long for old resentments to come to the fore. Racial hatred is still there and hasn’t disappated much in my opinion. We’ve just been riding an artificial wave of economic growth so racism (of the lyncihing variety) has lain somewhat dormant. If we have a long lasting economic downturn I have little doubt that a successful attempt will be made on the President Elect at some point. If such does happen social order which likely would be just barely hanging on will go over.

    If not, I still see the necessary development of harsher governmental actions to keep order and the government’s position secure. I’d say legitimate attempts to pay for unfunded entitlements, much less expanding those already defined, will lead to a revolution; whether it is a bloodless revolution of coordinated non-compliance, or a bloody revolution, will be up to the then in place government. But such will likely take place within the next decade and a half.

    So I think within the next year to 15 years the US will suffer some degree of civil disorder the likes which have not been seen for decades. We’re a shambles and there’s not a lot of alternatives. The only alternative, the migration to free and clear markets, is apparently off the discussion table, so our destiny is before us. I think an assassination will be a catalyst to bring it up much, much sooner.

    I am giving serious consideration to finally buying some means of personal/family protection and looking into low denomination gold coins to have on hand.

    I really am.

  • Uhm… the “civil war” is happening right now. It’s simply mediated through government.

    What you’re really asking about is un-civil war.

    It’s nearly crazy to try to look at something like this a century out. However, depending on how we would distinguish “war” from “strife”, for instance, I see no way around it eventually if politics continues on the present course. All the violent metaphors in use in American politics exist for real reasons, and their utility at fogging the facts will wear increasingly thin. Sooner or later, all the various “Wars” (the imperious denominations by the state) will be taken at word-value for what they really mean. The natural course of democracy will have its way, with pressure-groups at each others’ throats without mediation of government.

    Or; a couple of kooks at the wrong moment could blow the whole thing up like a spark in a gas-can. (The Gavrilo Princip Principle.)

    I think it’s all far more likely in the near term. By the end of the century, it might all be well written in history.

  • T

    LEFT: You evil conservatives! We will start a civil war to put you in place!

    RIGHT: But we own all the guns….?

    LEFT: Revolution now! You die capitalist dog!

    RIGHT: ….BOOM!!

    RIGHT: That was quick. What’s for dinner?

  • dr kill

    You can’t be serious. Don’t try to make me laugh.

  • James C Bennett

    I doubt that it will be anything so well organized as a civil war. Rather, I expect a return to the usual gray rot that accompanies socialism, culminating in social disorder more along the lines of gang violence than of war. The United States will no longer be the greenest pasture, and those who can will emigrate. Eventually, people will look up and realize that something new has quietly replaced America when they weren’t paying attention, just as the Dark Ages replaced Rome.

  • jon

    the revolution you’re talking about? it happened. google “rubicon in the rearview.” one ought to be familiar with grigg. take it as a refresher if you are. restoration is the word of the day.

    i see some violence. i do see a government attempting gun confiscation. i see it failing miserably, pissing off a lot of people, and creating yet another layer of bad atmosphere where secession talk isn’t so uncommon anymore. the answer to that could be ugly, but it won’t be open war, and certainly not for federal control.

    remember: the response to waco was the okc bombing. nobody planned that and no rights-oriented restorationist ever wanted it, it could never be condoned and only condemned, but it *did* happen. in a way, this is the price we all pay for losing track of the sermon on the mount. so be it.

    nonetheless, the aggression at waco was met with superior firepower. it loosely fit the parameters of a response of force equation (mostly because our leviathan government seems to see us all as one single community to be plundered) and it *did* have a temporary chilling effect on government oppression. the ATF decided to go after FFLs to keep its budget up, instead of storming compounds of harmless, peaceful, slightly wacky people. sure, they went back eventually, but the next time around they did it much quieter, and picked a group of people who probably seemed they wouldn’t and probably actually didn’t have any rifles.

    that will not change: no matter what transgression occurs as the confiscation process spirals out of control, it will end up hitting the wrong nerve with the wrong people. there will be a greater response. that equation models this push-you-pull-me madness, but nowhere in there is there anything about open war.

    recall: federal control. a civil war is when two parties fight for control of the one central government. that is not what happened in the mid-1800s. that is not what will happen now or in the near future, because the republicans simply cannot sell “take it back” to liberty-minded folks. and after the pending depression crushes obama and the senate, they’ll be left with a base that’s not all that different than the ineffectual leftist agitators of the mid-1900s. nobody is organizing that joke-in-progress into a straight line, nevermind a militia.

    so beware the militant that speaks of liberty and the poet that speaks of equality. start knowing ye them by their works, genius.

    i assume what you are getting at, however, is that there is some argument that the country could descend into a 4GW situation with the government labelling any dissident, tax protestor or militant, or anything else they don’t like, as a terrorist. that would basically be the same slow suicide it is now, but with guns and rocks. well, let me say this.

    americans are not like al qaeda. we are not indiscriminate bombers. we know how to pick our targets. we know how to use just enough maneuvering to avoid firefights. we know how to use information. and we’re better-funded, thanks to the free market.

    live and let live.

  • jon

    billy beck has a good point.

    why not subsidize civil war and mediate it through government? then, you, the Public Official, get to play god. you get to pretend you’re the reason society sticks together.

    so i’d just add: stop voting. register to vote, and then don’t. reduce that “turnout” figure they love to trumpet by as much as possible.

  • He that hath no sin… Europe is in far worse shape than America and the UK doubly (at least) so. Has nobody noticed that the UK is now no longer an oil and gas exporting country, Broon’s `economic miracle’ never existed in the first place and the only thing saving him right now is the world economic crisis?

    Europe will explode from the mass of contradictions and ethnic hatreds that smolder behind the facade sooner than you think. The political classes know it and that’s why they’re so desperate for police state measures that would make Hitler and Stalin blush.

  • J

    Hmm, an unusually fantastic thread. There’s little chance of civil war breaking out in the US or in Europe in the next century. No faction believes that they stand enough to gain to make war worthwhile, and certainly no other faction believes that they have enough to lose to make resisting worthwhile. There may be some fragmentation (like Scottish independence) but not with any war involved.

    As for the idea of a left vs right US civil war, that’s especially fantastic.

  • Nah. Disorder, sure, but ‘war’? I doubt it. I am guessing the world will gradually change over 20-30 years and the Old World Order in a great many places will go out with a whimper, not a bang.

  • Spiny Norman

    We will be too connect. The Civil War will be the First World Civil War.

    In a way, that has already started, lucklucky: in 1979. The first shots were fired in Tehran, Kabul, and Mecca.

  • Mandeville

    I don’t think we’ll experience a civil war, nor do I think that even with a left wing government now in power we will dramatically move in a totalitarian direction. Symbolically we might, or for very short durations, but not long enough to succeed ideologically. On the contrary, history is moving in a libertarian direction–although most don’t understand how it is happening.

    To undertsand this takes some philosophical insight and understanding of human nature. First of all, man is already totalitarian. It is human competition for power that results in compromises–which take the form of the various conceptions of equity that eventually become custom and ideology. A state of perfect social competition results in an “equality of power” or equality under law or as Spencer said “equal freedom”, but we err in thinking that we are competing for that ideal. We just think we are, but in reality we all want more power because we are totalitarian. Liberty is merely an ideal that we fight for that is better than slavery, but once man has his liberty, his next goal is to improve his circumstances even more.

    Over time more people become empowered and power is shared more evenly. This process is not perfectly linear. Although we see nation states getting larger and more powerful, we err in thinking our freedoms are slowly diminishing. We forget that as those nation states have grown we have simultaneously thrown off the chains of religion which had suppressed individualism far more than has, for example, progressive taxation. We are still becoming freer. Power is eroding faster all around the State even while it is being concentrated within the State.

    The civil war will never happen because globalization will eventually weaken the power of States. Wealth will move too freely to be confiscated. Nation States will compete for that wealth and will be forced to become more libertarian.

    Totalitarian man throughan historical process of competition will accidentally bring forth a libertarain order.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    Deo Adjuvante!

    Contrary to some, the settling of the fate of American society will not involve a geographic separation or secession. We are too intermixed for that. That means that when it does come, it will be incredibly nasty as there will be no sanctuary areas for either side. But I suspect it will also be short.

    Neither of our political parties actually are capable of responding to current reality. Eventually things will collapse and something new will arise. Mind you, while revolutions frequently succeed, revolutionaries usually find that they did not get what they were fighting for. I used the metaphor on another thread of it feeling like 1860. The Gavril Princep metaphor noted on this thread is also on point. There will be a trigger point that will push the system out of stability. Regardless, there will still be an entity called the United States, short of outside interference with nuclear weapons [ from any number of sources]

    I also believe that Europe is in for a longer period of chaos and bloodshed. It has the Muslims, the Russians, and the EU all fighting for absolute control, with the people of Europe as pawns until they rise up.

    The Middle East is careening towards conflict, with nuclear weapons on the table. China is facing horrendous demographic problems combined with catching the domino effect of our economic collapse.

    The vacation from history is over.

  • Oh please. We just had one about 150 years ago. The English haven’t had a civil war for about 350 years – aren’t you overdue?

  • Robert

    I think a U.S. civil war at the end of the twenty first century is going to be part of a world wide phenomenon of Nation-States being shattered by super-empowered individuals.

    Nanite weapons, bio weapons, possible personal nukes, all manufactured by personal portable molecular fabricators would make such a situation possible. Current technological trends point to that.

  • qwfwq

    I suspect many Americans would take it hard if a certain amount of radical Islam or Sharia were forced upon us. That would ignite something. We will not go quietly.

  • mr_ed

    In the near term I could see localized rioting, race vs. race and Islamic vs. non-Islamic. What would happen beyond that, I don’t know. But it seems to me that Americans have accepted the ongoing reduction in freedoms and economics for so long that there’s no tipping point left for us to reach.

    > Fantasising about murdering our political enemies isn’t a healthy use of our time.

    I don’t criticize your fantasies … so shut up. 😉

    How about some fiery Patrick Henry at the Virginia House of Burgesses:

    Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. …

    There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free–if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! …

    Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

    Or some Thomas Paine:

    Now is the winter of our discontent….

    No, wait … wrong guy.

    These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

  • Hugo Williams

    Which way will the civilians go?

    The regimental commandern complains: ‘Well, we broke into a street, and civilians rushed up to us shouting: “Our liberators! Our saviours!” At this moment , the Germans counter-attacked and pushed us back. Their self propelled gun appeared. And I saw the same civilans rush out and start hugging Germans. Well, I gave the order to fire at them with canister.’
    Street fighting is going on. The quieter streets are filled with people. ladies wearing fashionable hats, carrying bright handbags, are cutting pieces of meat off dead horses lying on the pavement

    Vasily Grossman with Chuikov’s 8th Guards Army in Poznan, Jan / Feb 1945.

    A Writer At War, Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941 – 1945 Harvill Press, London, 2005, p322

  • Any widespread violence in America will be caused by multiculturalism, which encourages people to define themselves by race. Once people think of themselves not as individuals but as members of a racial collective, then reason becomes useless. Only force will determine who gets what piece of the pie when racial collectives clash.

  • K

    I can’t see a Civil War.

    What I expect is a splintering.

    Hawaii will go first. The natives there keep gaining ground. At some point they will convince enough morons in Congress to cede the islands. The second Kingdom Of Hawaii.

    Several states with 75% Hispanics demand to join Mexico. And a weak government in Washington with no determination can do anything about it. A little like Buchanan.

    It is difficult to see what could be done with 100 million people who don’t fight but just renounce the US and use passive resistance. Simply ignoring federal orders in every respect.

    Oregon and Washington seem Canadian now. Nothing wrong with that but I see no reason why they would not be happier with Canada. Once California goes to Mexico they would realize they too had a way out.

    Ditto Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Very compatible with Canada. Probably more than with their US neighbors.

    Florida might opt for Mexico or go with Cuba. Thoughts of the homeland die hard. If Cuba is sanely governed then why not?

    From Maine down to Pennsylvania is another region quite at odds with the Ohio valley, southern, plains, and mountain states. Why not break free?

    Let the rednecks keep Washington and an national debt beyond comprehension. Leave em clinging to thar guns and bibles.

    Alaska will find itself far away from shrunken and helpless US. Canada will renounce all treaties with the US and make an alliance with Russia dividing Arctic Oceans with no share for anyone else.

    Harvard University, Amnesty International, and the UN will jointly release a report proving every human rights abuse in history was caused by the remaining portion of the US.

    Sanctions will follow.

  • Laird

    I’m with those who don’t foresee a large-scale “civil war” as much as generalized disorder and more or less random violence.

    Several commenters here have suggested national fragmentation (“a world wide phenomenon of Nation-States being shattered by super-empowered individuals”, as Robert put it), a fracturing along fault-lines (such as “the productive and the parasitic”, as Brad Mitchell wrote). This is very close to the ideas put forth by Davidson and Rees-Mogg in their book “The Sovereign Individual”. They posit that in an age where wealth can be transferred and information transmitted world-wide nearly instantaneously, and the wealthy can base themselves anywhere on the globe where they find the political and economic climate attractive, the nation-state as we know it today will collapse under its own unsustainable weight. It’s a very interesting book, and while I don’t agree with all of their conclusions they make a strong argument. Worth a read.

  • Ian B

    I don’t care any more. I’ve decided to move to Iceland.

  • I am relatively old, and find myself agreeing more and more with my ancestors: “By then, I’ll be safely six feet under.”

  • TS

    There will be no civil war in the US.

    The advancement of weapons technology is increasing the firepower available to to individuals. Islamic militants are certain to use that firepower to make devastating atacks on the West at some point(s) in the future.

    It will take many deaths in the West before it wakes up to this reality and responds. The vote for Obama shows just how depraved and self-loathing the West has become, however it will snap out of this eventually when Islamists go too far, as they will. America will unite in response and will de-Obamify itself. More wars with Middle Eastern countries are inevitable. There will be violence in Europe, where, due to the actions of Islamic extremists, the West and its immigrant populations will get ugly with each other.

  • tomwright

    I have been saying for years that for the US to breakup, watch Canada.

    The Canadian confederation is looser than the US. They also have problems with some provinces being politically disgruntled. Not just the obvious issues with Quebec, but also problems with some of the western provinces over natural resources.

    I see Canada breaking up first, fairly peacfully.
    Perhaps with one or more provinces seeking US statehood, though that is far less likely than independence. While a separate Quebec would seem likely, separate Alberta, British Columbia or Newfoundland states are also possibilities.

    Once that happens, and U.S. citizens see that secession is possible without a civil war, the people of the U.S. will start to think of the various U.S. secessionist movements as something more than just a bunch or cranks. While some certainly are, Many are not.

    For the U.S., there seem to be various ideas of what natural groupings might arise in a split up. I can see the New England/New Netherland states grouping together, at least at first. The Southwestern states, with a split in California being another, the Northwest another, the Sourtheast and Midwest being others, with Texas and Alaska off by themselves. Some of these might join with breakaway Canadian provinces.
    Some states will likely break up as well. Most of New York state soes not care for the politics of New York City, likewise northern California and southern California, western Massachusetts and Boston. There are others.

    If the USSR can break up, (far more peacefully than it might have otherwise done), so can the US, not to mention Canada.

    What really worries me though is a breakup of China. Now that could be seriously nasty.

  • ruralcounsel

    If it happens, I would think it unlikely to be conducted with major opposing land armies in chivilric fashion, which is the mental image conjured by many here..

    Think Kosovo, Balkans, Yugoslavia, Uganda, Somalia, Chechnya … ethnic/ideological guerrilla warfare as blue states try to eradicate red pockets, and red states try to eradicate blue ones.

    It will be unsafe to travel, and the infrastructure of the economy will collapse.

  • Americanhorse

    Certainly there are enormous issues which are metastisizing(sp?) as they are continually postponed in lieu of bickering over things such as gay marriage and Maureen Dowd. That said, I think the idea of civil war is little more than an historical relic.

    Two words, vertical envelopment. Americans aren’t muj, it won’t take years to figure out the practical reality in those innocuously descriptive terms. Add on infrared and armed conflict is simply not a happening thing; the days of going to the courthouse with like minded individuals for the armed duration are behind us at this point at least. There most assuredly is a reckoning coming, but what shape it will take and when it arrives nobody can say. A dark hour for freedom everywhere.

  • “I can’t help but notice a significant apocalyptic strain developing in this blog over the last few weeks. Fantasising about murdering our political enemies isn’t a healthy use of our time.”

    First, shut up. You’re not thinking straight.

    Second, what do you think the socialists (that be the President/Party Elect) are busy doing right now? Don’t kid yourself if you think there isn’t a sizable faction who are planning it. They’re putting together gun control legislation, reintroducing HR 1022 with even more onerous bullshit than before, as I type this, and Barry will be a more than willing participant in signing that fucker into law.

  • mandeville

    Again, the historical movement is toward individualism, not tribal collectivism. Islam is dying and one poster’s mention of multi-culturalism as a sign of movement toward collectivism is misguided. Racial , ethnic, religious and nationalistic bigotry are all considerably less today in the West than in the past. These tribal ideologies still exist within the West but they are more nuisance than substance. Economic bigotry (protectionism) will also diminish over time.

    We will move toward one world currency and one international rule of law.

    The poster who said that powerful individuals might challenge nation-states is closer to the mark. More pointedly, there will emerge private groups.

    Economic and political liberty go hand in hand as both are the spontaneous byproduct of human competition for power. Short of nuclear disaster, societies will experience an intensification of global competition raher than a reversal of it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    No idea; but I think Billy Beck nailed it. If we regard taxation as theft and regard the use of government power beyond defence of natural rights as illegitimate, then parts of the US population are already in conflict with their fellows.

    I’d actually argue that the issue is more likely to involve secession of certain parts of the US; but then we Europeans ought to remember that there has been a civil war in the United Kingdom (northern Ireland); Spain (the Basques), Italy (the Red Brigades), not to mention much of the Balkans, etc. I think that what is so remarkable about the US is its resilience since the 1860s, not the other way around.

    for sure, I dread the rise of socialism in the US, but I don’t see it ending in some sort of armed explosion. That said, I hear sales of weapons in the US are skyrocketing.

  • Confucious

    I suspect many Americans would take it hard if a certain amount of radical Islam or Sharia were forced upon us. That would ignite something. We will not go quietly.

    Posted by qwfwq at November 8, 2008 02:58 AM

    50 or so years ago most people would have thought the same thing about the British. Turns out they are going quietly.

  • Paul Marks

    Obama’s long friends Wiliam Ayers, his wife (who is worse than he is), Khalidi and so many others have no problem with killing – indeed they enjoy it, so no more of the “you people on the right are so violent”.

    However, if people do buy firearms TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN, otherwise you will be worse that useless.

    And on gold and silver coins.

    The government even moves against private people who mint them – both in Indianapolis and in Florida.

    The last thing the government wants is for people to have an alternative to its fraud fiat money (and the credit bubble banks it works with).

    So keep your gold secret – or be prepared to fight to defend it.

    As for when the fighting may start:

    When and if the government moves against conservative talk radio.

    Then we will see if Americans (like the British people) will “go gently”.

    Or whether they will fight.

  • Allen:

    It’s all about who has the means of production.

    That would be China, no?

    Ian B.: what is the capitol of Island?

  • Foul Harold

    I hear sales of weapons in the US are skyrocketing.

    Right you are, and it’s not Obama supporters clearing them off the shelves.

    Google “gun sales up” and see for yourselves the large number of news stories from all over the United States regarding this phenomenon.

  • RRS

    In the strict semantic sense, there has never been an American CIVIL War.

    During the War of Independence there were aspects of Civil War in some segments, but, nothing like that of England (1642-45).

    That War of Independence was not truly a “revolution.”
    However, it is so known; and what is most likely to occur, given the trends commencing (circa 1890-1916) with the Progressive Movement that evolved into the so-called “Liberal” agenda and continues in the reification of government , is a true American Revolution after our present system of governments and the relationships of individuals to it has degenerated into something very different from what remains of the original Constitutional system.

    The then people will truly “turn bacK’ or revolve to something closer to prior conditions. It may be with some violence, possibly not.

    The nature of “segmentations” will not likely be geographic or even sectional, but arise from shared senses of adverse impacts on individual lives – which have begun to increase incrementally with little effective opposition.

    A “Ruling Class” or coalition that deems itself as “Endowed to Rule” is likely to assert a presence out of what passes today as “Intellectualism.” The attempts to seize and maintain sovereignty could be the triggering set of events for revolution – but not Civil War.

  • Bob

    It’s possible, but it will be brief.

    The Marxist ideology that underpins the Democratic party is at odds with the Constitution. The Constitution posits that some basic freedoms are above government control; Marxism knows no such bounds.

    The Constitution establishes a system of government of the People, by the People, for the People. It assumes that free men are capable of governing themselves, however imperfectly.

    Marxism is government for the People, to the People, in the name of the People. It assumes that the people are too stupid to govern themselves,and must therefore be led by a self-appointed elite.

    This is the core of the current tension in the US. No other nation has a document like this; that’s why it’s unique. To date, the countries that fell under the various flavors of socialism have not had to deal with something like our Constitution. It enshrines individual freedoms and equality. The Marxists currently controlling the Democratic party have quite an obstacle to contend with. I predict that they will try to undermine or set aside key provisions of the Constitution, and that will be the spark.

    A wild card may be the US military. The troops swear an oath not to America or to the president, but “to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” They swear fealty to a set of ideas, not a person of a party. If someone tries to impose something obviously at odds with the Constitution, something may happen. And it may not come from the active forces; we have been cycling a lot of citizens through the military during our dustups in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, perhaps more than any other group of Americans, understand what’s at stake. And they just went through — and applied — the best military training in the world.

    I’m not saying there will be a military coup, but if one group of citizens decides to use force, they will likely be good at it.

  • When(if) Obama fails to bring forth a valid Birth Certificate proving him to be a natural-born US Citizen on 1 December and the Supreme Court decertifies the election, there will be rioting in the streets, but that will be put down in 1 – 3 days. Nothing to call a Civil War.

  • Laird

    Bob, I share your veneration of the Constitution, and agree that it has slowed the progress of the international socialist juggernaut in the United States. Still, I don’t think it can hold back the flood forever. We have a long history of ignoring the Constitution when it suits our purposes: Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion by unconstitutional means; there’s a strong argument that the Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional; everyone knows that Lincoln ignored habeus corpus and jailed unfriendly newspaper publishers during the Civil War; and of course the Supreme Court-sanctioned steady erosion of any limits to the powers of the federal government beginning in 1933 is well known to readers of this blog. These days we honor the Constitution more in the breach in the observance; courts at all levels have no compunction against twisting its words beyond recognition in order to achieve the desired ends. So at best it will be a spead bump, not a roadblock, to the coming socialist takeover.

    Whether the military (current and former) will put up with this is, as you say, the wild card. Of course, a military coup would itself be unconstitutional (the best justification we have is from the Declaration of Independence: “[W]henever 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 . . . .”). So however this all goes, the Constitution is unlikely to survive as we know it. Which would be a great tragedy for all humanity.

  • Laird

    Thinking about the perversion of the Constitution has given me an idea, though: why doesn’t a group of states call for a new Constitutional Convention? That would be perfectly legal: Article V provides that “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, [the Congress] shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments . . . .” Surely the continual arrogation of power by Washington grates on all those state legislators who, after all, are just as motivated by personal power as are their federal cousins. Will they continue sit idly by, and meekly consent to the continual erosion of their power by a national government insatiably expanding its reach farther and farther into their purview? Why would they not act to reclaim some of the powers assumed by the golem they themselves created?

    I am aware of the fear that a Constitutional Convention, inherently unlimited in its scope, could produce a worse result than what we have now. But how much worse could it really be? If it resulted in the devolution of power back to the states, at the very least we would have a chance of instituting a libertarian orientation in at least some of them. Isn’t some hope better than none? And if it resulted in a new Constitution consolidating federal power, well, we’re heading there anyway, so nothing is lost.

    Has the time come to start a movement calling for a second Constitutional Convention?

  • Laird:

    Why would they not act to reclaim some of the powers assumed by the golem they themselves created?

    My first intuitive answer was ‘pork’. But I’ve just realized that I know nothing on the common (informal?) relationships between the state and the national legislators. What do you think?

  • To clarify: ‘between the state legislators and the national legislators’.

  • k

    It has been a while since I reviewed the full text about the constitutional convention provision. But I concluded it is a dead end.

    A hostile Congress could refuse to call a convention or prevent it from getting anything done. And who would stop Congress from doing so?

    Your analysis may differ but I suggest anyone interested in the convention route first read what the constitution says carefully before becoming enthusiastic.

    Ditto about Obama’s birth certificate. The Electoral College decides who becomes President. And the ritual counting and certification is done in the Senate. The Supreme Court has no role and no excuse for considering the matter. It would be up to the Electors and the Senate to challenge Obama’s qualifications and they aren’t going to.

    Our military is pledged to defend the Constitution. Forget about a coup. The military will obey the President and they will protect the government established by the Constitution. They aren’t interested in the noble intent of the document itself.

    Maybe they should be but they aren’t.

    As for socialism being impeded by the Constitution in a way unique to the US. Not a chance.

    The Soviet constitutions guaranteed human rights far beyond ours. And the Soviets did as they wished. The constitutions in Cuba and China and Vietnam may be the same. I haven’t checked.

    The US Congress has the ultimate power because can impeach and remove any judge and President. When the President and Congress cooperate they can get their way.

    And in the new Congress the GOP may as well not show up if Reid and Pelosi decide to play it that way.

    Around the world and throughout history Socialists seize total power when it seems possible. When they cannot, or dare not, they pose as just another faction participating in the democratic process.

    Those we usually call Conservative in the US are totally screwed if Obama and the Congress want it to be so.

  • Paul Marks

    The Supreme Court never even defended the gold clauses in private contracts – see the two cases of 1935. Let alone the fact that the Feds have no Constitutional right to issue paper money (it is not “coin money” by accident – and there is nothing about a “private” Federal Reserve system having the right to issue fiat money either).

    No State (none of the fifty) has any Constitutional right to declare that anything but “gold or silver coin” is legal tender. And there are still efforts to mint real coins (as opposed to the fake coins the government mint produces as part of its fraud monetary system).

    The Federal government responds by sending armed men to attack the private mints (for example in Indianapolis and in Florida) NOT because they are fake, but because (unlike the government coins) they are real.

    Of course fake (government) coins are only a small part of the monetary system – even government notes are only a small part of it.

    MB (the monetary base) of fiat (fake – having value only because the government will kick your head in if you will not play ball) notes and coins are vastly smaller than M3 (the Monetary Base plus BANK CREDIT).

    The difference in size between MB and M3 is the size of the credit bubble – and is why there is “debt deflation” when banks collapse. There is “deflation” because the money the banks and other such lent out did not really exist in the first place (they created it by various frauds).

    “Bottom line” the whole financial system stinks.

    The money is fake and the vast majority of bank loans are not even in the fake money.

    And people used to say that such a credit bubble economy was a valid alternative to actually making and growing things – an alternative to farming and manufacturing.

    Finance is a useful service industry – but when it thinks it can be an economy in its own right (without need for the production of real goods) then all is a mess.

  • Paul Marks

    “But what can be done Paul”

    O.K. here is a example of what can be done.

    Hold a news conference and say the following:

    “We intend to mint gold coins, as used to be quite normal in private mints in the United States and other countries, these coins will NOT be called Dollars – so there is no question of violating government copyright, if one thinks they have some sort of claim to the name”.

    “Nor will we be claiming that our private gold coins are legal tender”.

    “We will just be producing private coins and we will not be forcing anyone to use them”

    “Oh by the way, if the F.B.I. turn up waving firearms about we will defend ourselves”.

    Even the media could not have a problem with this position. After all there is a proven demand for private coins and there would be nothing secret or hole in the wall about the operation.

    Either the government would do nothing at all (which is my guess) or they would attack – ignoring a clear warning.

    Then the fighting would start – a fight in which many (most?) government armed people themselves would have no support for the government’s aggression.

  • Pa Annoyed


    Why bother to mint your own? Why not just use digital Gold?

    The government have indeed tried legally to shut private currencies like e-Gold and the Liberty Dollar down, but so far without any definite success. The main difficulties of private currencies are that state institutions like the tax office and national banks don’t accept them, so you don’t get the efficient liquidity of a national exchange system, and you still have to convert to/from the private currency when dealing with the state.

  • “The main difficulties of private currencies are that state institutions like the tax office and national banks don’t accept them..”

    That’s the least of their drawbacks. Try using them to pay your grocery bill or your rent.

  • Paxifist

    I doubt a civil war is likely, but I can not say what a full century will bring. I personally would not wish to have another war between the states. One should remember the number of successful revolutions, in terms of doing what the people who started them wanted is vanishingly small. A more productive question might be the best way in which we can reverse trends against personal liberty and freedom for all Americans. After all the founding Fathers created a democratic state in a world that was cold to the idea at best. Today even the most disgusting despots have to at least mouth along to the idea of democracy. Perhaps we would be best served, by simply looking at times when freedom and liberty have been in the ascendent, and attempt to create such a thing again, rather than considering what is more likely to be a resurrection of the French Terror than the Spirit of ’76.

  • Laird

    I agree with most of K’s post, but not the part about a constitutional convention. Here’s the complete text of Article V:

    “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

    The word “shall” is pretty unambiguous, and if two-thirds of the states called for a convention I can’t see any Supreme Court, no matter how liberal, declining to issue a writ of mandamus if the Congress refused to comply. But I really doubt it would ever get that far; if two-thirds of the states are upset enough about something to seriously threaten calling a constitutional convention Congress would do something to mollify them.

  • K

    Laird: I am assuming the Congress and President are acting together and intend to have unlimited power.

    About what I think of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid as people.

    I think no more of the GOP they defeated but some division of power would have been maintained.

    Back to the words.

    The text works pretty well about a convention but there is no way to force Congress to act.

    If they don’t, they don’t.

    And as I said, a Supreme Court must exist but justices serve at the will of Congress. The obstinate can be removed and/or the court can be altered. The court can be reduced to one person.

    The justice(s) would come to say what Congress and the President wanted said.

    Any convention convening without a call by Congress could be labeled a criminal conspiracy or a plot to overthrow and the appropriate steps taken. If nothing else, suspend habeas – a power of Congress – and fly trouble makers to Guantanamo.

    Note also that Congress can exclude the state legislatures from the ratification process and let some undefined “convention” ratify in each state.

    Who would be delegates at those ratification conventions? ACORN probably.”

    But perhaps the biggest problem is that Congress can call a sham convention.

    The Constitutions wording doesn’t say who the delegates will be or who will choose them. Congress could simply say:

    “Fine. The Convention will convene next month in the Astrodome, the ten delegates are named on this list, LOL”

    Ayers would be the first name listed, alphabetically.

    No words count when a group has gathered enough power.

  • Midwesterner


    Every time I start thinking about the good things that could be done in a constitutional convention, I remind myself of the shot-with-your-own-gun scenario that would probably result.

    The last time we had a constitutional convention, they waaay overstepped their mandates. It turned out ok but I don’t think it would work out so good now. I suspect the delegates this time would not quite measure up to the batch gathered in Philly in 1787.

  • Richard Thomas

    Pa, I have two objections basically.

    Firstly, in many respects, paper is just paper. It doesn’t really matter if it’s backed by gold or just George Washington’s smiling face. And at this stage, I still have slightly more faith in the US gov, currency wise than small private operations.

    Secondly, gold is pretty arbitrary anyway and has marginal intrinsic value. It has a few engineering and scientific applications but most of its value comes from the “ooh, shiny. Me want” factor.

    That said, I’m considering a small investment in the real-solid-put-it-in-your-pocket kind of gold but I really suspect the smarter place to have money (of small to mid sized amounts) would be in durable and luxury goods that may become hard to come by if worse comes to worst.

  • Laird

    Mid, they might not (probably would not) measure up to the 1787 crowd (although that one was pretty uneven, too, if you get into the details), but I don’t think they could make things any worse than they are now. I rely on the self-interest of the states (and especially their politicians) to jealously guard their powers and limit those delegated to the national government. And even if a convention did approve some bad ideas (and succeeded in getting them ratified by 3/4ths of the states), isn’t it better to have a constitution which everyone (or at least a substantial majority) agrees with and follows, than one which is routinely ignored and circumvented with a nod and a wink from the judiciary? Because that’s where we are today.

    K, read the words. Congress has no discretion in calling a convention if 2/3rds of the states demand it, and no authority to change the method of ratifying or rejecting any of its results. Each state would be represented at a convention by delegates of its own selection, and 3/4ths of the states must ratify any amendment for it to be effective. The most Congress can do is specify whether the state ratifications are by their legislatures or by individual state conventions, and if the latter the state would select the delegates as it saw fit (as was done the last time we ratified a constitution).

    Oh, and Supreme Court justices do not serve “at the will of Congress”. True, their appointments are subject to Senate approval, but that’s it; the justices serve for life unless impeached for a criminal offense (which is what “good behavior” means). Congress (with the consent of the President, or with a large enough majority to override his veto) can change the number of justices, but it cannot remove a sitting one. Roosevelt succeeded in scaring enough justices with his “court-packing scheme” only because he threatened to increase the number of justices and appoint ones who agreed with his policies, not by threatening to remove sitting justices. He didn’t have that power.

    And anyway, if you’re talking about a President and Congress simply ignoring the Constitution and seizing absolute power, that would essentially constitute a coup, at which point all bets would be off. In that case we’re back to the idea of armed insurrection, and any discussion about orderly, lawful, amendments to the Constitution becomes irrelevant.

  • RRS

    It seems off topic, but the comments about currency referred to as “money” are apparently not fully informed.

    The Federal Reserve banks (by Districts) issue bank notes. Those district banks are owned by the Member Banks, which are in turn “private,” being owned by private individuals and investors (stockholders).

    Banks do not issue their own banknotes (promises to redeem in U.S. dollars) because they are taxed at 100% of par or face value. The last bank permitted to issue notes exempt from tax was the First National Bank of Waco, Texas, because of the peculiar circulation situation in Texas.

    The Federal Reserve system pays a portion of the profits made as an issuer of currency to the U.S. Treasury (license fee!).

    All the circulating currency is thus “private” money. The U.S. does not issue circulating money, since the withdrawal of silver certificates, which then represented claims on coinage (per the Constitution).

    The principal “reserve assets” held by the issuing districts “backing” the outstanding bills in circulation are U. S. Gov’t securities and the discounted obligations of businesses and individuals.

    During the Depression, various governmental bodies issued “scrip.” It was (and could be again) widely accepted. Given the tax revenue problems that are arising in counties and municipalities, scrip may come into use again as it has on a temporary basis (teachers’pay e.g.) from time to time.

  • A thoughtful and scholarly discussion.

    …but I swore an oath to defend the constitution. There are 24.9 million like me who aren’t currently serving. I’d bet 90+% are armed. There is no tighter group of people on the planet than vets.

    While most of us are getting a bit long in the tooth, quantity has a quality all it’s own.

    We are watching. We’re probably not as thoughtful or scholarly as we should be, but we do know what is wrong when we see it…and despite out differences we generally think the same.

  • Amen, Midwest. The risk involved with a constitutional converntion right now, with the gang we have running loose as delegates, is too horrible to contemplate.

    Are you guys engaging in all this idle speculation because you don’t know how to deal with the real and current stuff? Like executive orders and such? Not that it’s bad to speculate on eventualities, but they’re about as predictable as global temperatures, which is not at all.

  • mike

    “The main difficulties of private currencies are that state institutions like the tax office and national banks don’t accept them…”

    I rather thought that was the whole point, Pa. What the State does not accept, it does not manipulate.

    “Try using them to pay your grocery bill or your rent.”

    Actually, were the purchasing power of privately issued currencies stabilised relative to a set of commodities then these currencies would not suffer from inflation. Consequently the market demand for them would make it impossible to pay for your groceries or rent in anything else – let alone a filthy old dollar or pound.

    “…so you don’t get the efficient liquidity of a national exchange system, and you still have to convert to/from the private currency when dealing with the state.”

    Naturally, but consider the context of the discussion Pa: a general economic collapse and subsequent civil disorder. A new nationwide medium of exchange (or several of them) will have to emerge from the mess anyway, and I would rather not see a return to the Federal dollar.

  • K

    Laird: we are writing past each other. Congress is directed to call the convention but what if it doesn’t?

    Where would the states get relief?

    Judges can be impeached and removed. You assume that will happen only if they are guilty. I assume it will happen if they encounter a Congress that decides to impeach and remove them.

    When the verdict is known the evidence will appear.

    And finally. The state convention clause means nothing because there is no provision for choosing delegates. Asserting that the states have that power is simply a belief. There are no words to that effect.

    Same thing for the national convention itself. If Congress should call one there is no provision about who would be delegates or how they would be selected.

    Most people would expect that the states would choose and send the delegates just as they did when the nation began.

    Nothing says so. Congress could name itself as the delegation. Who could stop them?

    Yes, I do absolutely think Congress and the President may simply ignore the Constitution. I don’t say it, I only say it is a lot easier than most would think.

    And all bets would indeed then be off.

    Where we differ: You premise that Congress will follow the Constitution. I premise they will unless they decide not to. And that does not seem fantastic to me.

    Americans place a great faith in the concept of checks and balances. But examination reveals the Congress has the key power because it can remove anyone in the other branches and substitute more pliable people.

    Another topic:

    The argument “what is money” is technically interesting. But the federal courts agree that money is what the government says it is.

    To reach that conclusion the courts had to ignore some rather ingenious arguments. I recall a few made by a man named Irvin or Irwin about 40 years ago.

    He insisted he had no income because the bank notes he received were not money. Therefore he owed no income tax. I thought he was correct in words but would be screwed by reality. He was screwed, the IRS won.

    (Irwin, as is common with die hards, also could prove income tax, paper money, minimum wages, the wage and hours laws, and much else was unconstitutional. Dead ends, all of them.)

    RSS and Marks seems versed on the technical nature of federal reserve notes v. real treasury money. I would discuss the topic but why? The matter is settled.

  • Laird

    K, you’re right; our premises are different. Congress and the courts make a great show of observing the constitution, even as they ignore its true meaning. I think if they were to blatantly ignore it, when a substantial majority (2/3rds) of the states are so unhappy that they have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a convention, then we would indeed have an armed insurrection. I just don’t believe they would do that; they would call the convention and individual members would do their best to manipulate it by being included in their state’s delegation. Don’t forget, every member of Congress is from one of those states.

    Incidentally, as to your comment about Irwin, I always thought his argument was silly (in addition to being an obvious loser): whether or not those bank notes in which he was paid are “money”, he was being asked to pay taxes in those same bank notes.

  • Midwesterner

    Laird, I wish I shared your optimism. As Paul Marks would say “I would not start from here.” The first and second constitutional conventions were working from the context of monarchy either poorly restrained or not restrained at all. The first conventions were staffed almost entirely by members of the land and business owning classes. These constitutions were then ratified by assemblies of politicians made up overwhelmingly of members of the land and business owning classes.

    Today, we are not bringing “liberty” to Iraq. We are bringing “democracy”. Today popular culture doesn’t understand that we are a constitutional republic, but rather seizes on one of the lesser features in our constitution and believes with all its heart (and a shortfall of thought) that we are in fact a democracy. We now have a popularly elected president who, along with a majority of the citizenry, believes this. Our president elect has even said on record that that the Supreme Court pays to much heed to the constitution and not enough to the popular will.

    Into this arena, we bring a third constitutional convention. Only this time, instead of being land and business owners who dabble in politics as an avocation, the delegates are professional career politicians who’s only ever job is raising and spending campaign cash and voting bills to buy more voters in their home districts. And the same forces that have long refined politician-buying skills discover a new class of much more powerful politician to buy – a constitutional convention delegate. And throughout the electorate is a saturation of ‘democracy’ meta-context. There is not grass roots support for constitutional supremacy. Sad but true. The grass roots believes ‘constitutional’ and ‘democratic’ are synonyms.

    Since state assemblies are all ready well bought in the great majority of states (just look at health insurance required coverages for one small sample) we will get at the convention level, and ratify at the state level, a constitution of generic corruptibility. No one group will own it but the groups that buy politicians as a business method will defeat what few small business people slip through the cracks. It will look like the EU constitution with candy for everybody.

    We will get unfettered democracy with carte blanc for the sale of official powers. You are right. Politicians will represent their own interests. But their own personal interests are not their own state’s interests.

    What we appear to have now is a president who’s avowed intent, and a congress who’s demonstrated record, is to ignore the constitution and just seize power in the name of democracy and equality. Ever since the SCOTUS backed down in Worcester v. Georgia it has been unarguable that there is not much the court can do in the face of a hostile executive.

    All that a third convention will do is put a seal of approval on it. And take all of the vets who swore and oath to the Constitution out of the picture.

  • Midwesterner

    Spelling alert. “Carte blanc” should of course be “carte blanche”. Think of it as an accidental but apropos nod to Louis Blanc of “Á  chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés” fame.

  • Paul Marks


    The Constitution of the United States nowhere gives the government the power to set up a “private” Federal Reserve system and issue paper money.

    As for bank credit – there is a vast gap between real savings and loans. Most loans are based on fraud.

    “Fraud” is not too hard a word for loans that are not from real savings.

    Hence the vast difference between the Monetary Base (the notes and coins – the fiat notes and coins in the modern case) and bank credit (such as M3).

    That is why people like Tim Congdon worry about “debt deflation” – such debt deflation would not be possible if all loans came from real savings. As loans would not be expanding the money supply – they would simply be moving money from some people to other people (not increasing the amount of money).

    As for the attack someone made on using private coins to pay the rent.

    Actually gold and silver coins are in high demand (once their quality is proved) – hence the armed raids by government thugs.

    If people would not accept the private money then the government would have no reason to attack.


    Fine IF it is 100% from real gold.

    I am an not a “gold bug” but I am a “reality bug”.

    If money is gold it must be real gold – ditto silver or anything else.

  • Chris Durnell

    There is almost no chance of another civil war in the USA. Who, exactly, are the sides? What issue will actually provoke someone to take arms?

    Everyone saw the Civil War coming as slavery had produced constitutional crisis after crisis and even lead to actual fighting between people (Bleeding Kansas) for a period of 40 years. Much of politics during that time was devoted to preventing that. There is no issue anywhere comparable to that.

    As for sectionalism, it does not exist to the extent that enough people would support secession. First, unlike in 1861, everyone understand that secession is not legal and will not be tolerated. Second, people are no longer heavily tied to their home state or state identities. They consider themselves Americans first and many people have moved from state to state and know that so will their children.

    Americans are highly unlikely to be inspired by a break up of Canada. If Quebec does secede, Americans will understand that French speakers want their own nation and simply shrug. If Canada does break up, the most likely event is that some, and perhaps all, of the English speaking provinces will join the USA. First the Maritimes, then maybe British Columbia or Alberta. The rest of Canada will follow suit except maybe Ontario who will dither for a while. Economic logic and a common language and heritage will prove inexorable.

    The only real potential sources of civil disorder are 1) the continued decline of black urban communities and 2) Mexican immigration. Both are managable problems, and the only real scare is that of a popular demagogue.

    From 1932 to 1964, most Americans considered themselves liberal and “conservative” was a dirty word. It was not until the Great Society not only failed to preven the civil disorder of the late ’60s and ’70s, but actually seemed to encourage it that conservatism became electorally popular. If President Obama and the Democratic Congress move too far to the left, there will be a very quick reaction and it will be done within the bounds of the law just like the last time. Same thing anytime in the next 100 years.

    We are a long way off from Caesarism, and the US political system is much better at handling rivalries than the Roman Republic.

    A far more likely scenario is that the US becomes more isolationist and withdraws its armed forces from overseas. That may prompt certain predatory powers from rolling the dice, but at that point it won’t be America’s problem anyway.

  • Kim du Toit

    Not going to happen. We are a nation of laws, and the system would hav to break down in its entirety before we adopted the last resort.

    Chaos is more likely than civil war.

    As for gun confiscation, it’s a liberal/Marxist wet dream, (and a wet dream for the pointy-heads, for that matter). Everyone knows it’s impossible, physically speaking.

    What will happen to gun ownership instead is strangulation by legislation and regulation (especially the latter), and, where possible, by onerous taxation.

    Remember that Comrade Urkel (Obama, to you Brits) still doesn’t even have a decisive majority in Congress sufficient to ramrod un-Constitutional law upon us.

    And the backlash, where and when it comes, will come from the states — a couple at first, and then more and more as the situation gets worse and worse.

    I should also point out that the repeal of ANY of the Bill of Rights would likely cause secession, as the BoR was the sine qua non of confederation.

  • RRS

    Mr. Marks:

    The Constitution of the United States nowhere gives the government the power to set up a “private” Federal Reserve system and issue paper money.

    See: Art I; Section 8 Ist and 3d paragraphs.

    True, it does not give Congress the power to issue “paper money” that does not represent coinage.

    However, there was nothing to prevent private interests from funding District Reserve Banks, nothing to prevent them from issuing Bank Notes (promises to pay) “paper money,” nothing to prevent Congress from taxing all other forms of Bank Notes; nothing to prevent regulations of banks that affect interstate commerce through establishing a Federal Reserve Board to do so – that Board does not issue paper money – the District Banks do so.

    In regulating interstate commerce, Congress has the power to fix Legal Tender status.

    But, beyond that, as has been noted on this site, the Constitution provides the Legislative Branch with whatever that Branch says it does, until someone else with sufficient counter- balancing authority says otherwise.

    AND – “…except for all the others.”

  • Midwesterner


    nothing to prevent Congress from taxing all other forms of Bank Notes;

    I don’t doubt they found some rationalization for this, but for my enlightenment, could you explain it? I thought it required an amendment in order to legally create a tax that is not uniform or apportioned. But XVI only covers income taxes. How can Fed system dollars be exempt from the tax? That’s not uniform.

  • Saladman

    At times I’ve thought that myself, but I’m learning not to underestimate two things. One, just how many Americans can be seduced by soft socialism. And two, just how how far freedom-loving Americans can be pushed before they push back, and how few they really are.

    I think the left’s elected officials, and the beaurocracies that serve them, are generally smart enough to proceed step by step, not try to do everything at once, and never try to take down more than one or two people at a time.

    Nobody wants to get Ruby Ridged or Waco’d, so everyone makes their separate peace and goes on with their life. There are conservatives and libertarians who would fight, but there’s no general consensus on the right time or the right line in the sand that would trigger a justified fight.

    I also don’t put much faith in uniformed police or military coming in on the Right side. At best, they might sit it out. But police followed orders at Ruby Ridge, at Waco, and in the Katrina gun confiscations, where some National Guardsmen joined in. Nor is that surprising given their training and traditions to follow orders from their chain of command.

    A clear and present danger sign will be if Obama’s proposed youth/student “volunteers” ever get attached to aid or train with the ATF, but I don’t expect them to move quickly enough to see that in this administration.

    To be clear, I’m saying I think the Marxists can win this, with or without a civil war, if they play their cards right.

    I don’t think its certain they will win, though. The left may misstep, they may overreach, or we may just get our own act together, politically and culturally. There are some people already thinking and talking about taking back entertainment and education, which I consider promising.

    Another thing I consider promising is the deterrent power of self-proclaimed 3 percenters who would fight. Part of the history of the Clinton administration has not been written, but reading between the lines it seems that some DOJ or FBI planners somewhere took the militia movement seriously enough to simultaneously cut it off at the knees with stings and entrapment and to back off after Waco enough not to provoke a confrontation. Even if the pessimists are right that a militia can’t win against the regular army and national police, I think they’re clearly wrong about the militia’s deterrent effect.

  • RRS


    The rationale is best understood by following the laws covering Bank Note issue from the National Bank Act of 1864; et seq.

    You will recall that the U.S. did in fact without Constitutional authority issue the infamous “Greenbacks” (which were often accepted only at discount) during the War Between the States.

    Banks were charged a tax based on their notes in circulation as part of the Act creating them. So, you might say the rationale was that of license.

    There was much more to the whole course that lead to the Fed system 95 years ago this coming December.

    My text reference (Westerfield/Yale) is now over 60 years old, but there is the well known Monetary History of the United States (Friedman & Schwartz). A bloody good read, as they say.

  • Paul Marks

    The Federal Reserve system has no Constitutional basis whatever – there is no mention of it in the part of the Constitution that you point to.

    As for “taxing bank notes” – there is no Constitutional basis for considering such bank notes (taxed or untaxed) in any way money.

    As for banks (or other such) – if they lend out money they do not have this money any more.

    If a bank lends out a bag of money it can not (without fraud) use the I.O.U. as the basis of other loans.

    Ditto a deposit – either one is dealing with a safe deposit (in which case the money is really “deposited” and the customer should be charged for that) or the money is lent out. In which case the “depositor” is no such thing – he is a person who is lending out money, but using the bank to decide who gets the loan or loans.

    “The Marxists can win this”

    Actually they can not – as economic law prevents them creating their heart’s desire.

    All they can do is destroy civilization – they can not create the “new civilization” that they crave.

  • RRS

    Apologies to all for getting so far off-topic.

    Mr. Marks –

    Suggested thought:

    Whilst “Legal tender” may be, “Money” is not what any government decrees, by Constitutional authority or not. “Money” is what those engaged in exchanges, storing values, or keeping accounts, decide serves their purposes.

    Even cigarettes may serve as “money,” as have pelts and “Wampum.”

    Today, what serves most of us as money is credit, much represented by plastic cards, paid off by drafts reflecting credit accounts at financial institutions (generally accepted promisors); usually replenished by deposits in the form of drafts on other promissors. That’s life – as it is lived. If it should not be so, there are not many other choices with less favorable consequences.

    This is not the thread for academic or historical review of the “constitutionallity” of the Federal Reserve System, which grew out of the economic stress of 1908.
    Suffice it to say, that issue was resolved long ago (before the Commerce Clause perversions of the New Deal Era).

  • Midwesterner

    Thanks, RRS. Amazon wants almost $50 for the Friedman and Schwartz book even used! It must be a good read. I’ll have to decide if I value the knowledge more than the money. 🙂

  • Eric

    Not going to happen. We are a nation of laws, and the system would hav to break down in its entirety before we adopted the last resort.

    I hope you’re right, Kim, but then I was hoping you would be right about Urkel not being elected 🙂

  • Robert

    Saladman said:

    Even if the pessimists are right that a militia can’t win against the regular army and national police, I think they’re clearly wrong about the militia’s deterrent effect.

    A small militia can destroy a nation-state’s army and police if they can manufacture WMD in their garage such as bio weapons, and nanite weapons (maybe personal nukes) from their desktop fabricators. Given the technological trends, such technology that superempowers individuals is likely by the end of the twenty first century. Thus my earlier post(08NOV2008 0253) where the Second American Civil War would be part of a world wide phenomenon where nation-states and other large institutions throughout the world are shattered by super-empowered individuals and groups.

  • Nate

    St. Neal of the Stephenson, in the Bible of the Diamond Age wrote of the disintegration of the US and other nation states and the eventual reorganization of “phyles” under a common economic protocol. As you may have already concluded, I consider his vision to be nearly prophetic and probably within the time frame mentioned, here: ~100 yrs.
    Fortunately, in most cases the breakup was of the whimper rather than bang variety.

    As for a violent, hot, shooting-type civil war — I think Chris Durnell said it all in the post, above. Nope. Not going to happen. I can see isolated acts of organized violence and chaos, ala the Oklahoma City bombing; but public opinion was strongly against the Tim, et al in doing so. In general, we don’t like to see our fellow Americans being blown up and (with some irony given the current thread) this sentiment is probably strongest amongst conservatives.

  • Laird

    I like Stephenson, but I’ve never gotten around to reading The Diamond Age. Guess you’re telling me that I should, right?

  • Whitehall

    Interesting discussion.

    I’d like to point out that we should be watching how the Obama Administration purges the officer corps that will be part of the downsizing of the military. Political pliability will be one retention criterion so expect the more vocal conservatives to be shown the door.

    The longer term trend is tribes. The most basic level of human organization is indeed racial and tribal. Appeals to tribal pride are already a major part of our political campaigns although any appeals to the white majority are very subtle and muted. Obama got what percentage of black voters? How’s the fight for Hispanic voters going?

    Obama will ruin the US standard of living for the white middle class. With that increased pain will come increased awareness of how the other tribes are out to get the whites. If whites show better unity, they can and will prevail in future elections IF they remain fair and accurate but efforts have long been underway to make them foregone and illegitimate.

    Disorder is on the way. The particular course it will take is partially in the hands of those who understand, plan, and act.

  • The longer term trend is tribes. The most basic level of human organization is indeed racial and tribal.

    Trouble with that theory is the currents of human history have been flowing 180 degrees in the opposite direction for a very long time indeed.

    Humanity has achieved what it has achieved precisely by leaving behind what Hayek called ‘pre-extended society’. In a post-subsistence society, race and tribe simply cannot complete with severalty as the basis for survival. Indeed as society becomes every more technological, the sheer absurdity that tribe and race is relevant to anything becomes impossible to escape.

  • Whitehall


    The trend toward greater civilization indeed moves away from tribes but when a society begins to REGRESS towards tribalism, then civilization regresses too.

    I’d call civil war a regression of civilization and I think a cause is the increased regression to tribalism.

    So we agree on the grand theory but you missed my points of the evidence I offered supporting a current reversal.

  • I’d call civil war a regression of civilization and I think a cause is the increased regression to tribalism.

    That rather depends who wins 😀 However as I think there is little/no chance of the civil war Thaddeus is talking about happening, the point is moot.

    If disorder comes (and depending on where you live, you may conclude it already arrived decades ago), it will be between those using violence to maintain the kleptocratic/patronage system that exists now and those using violence to refuse its predations… there would no doubt be a lot more ‘black’ people on one side than the other but that would not make it a ‘race war’ (it will not even be a civil war in the usual sense) but rather a class war in the Marxist sense of the word, even though the ‘classes’ Marx had in mind do not actually exist.

  • anonymus

    this website is boring