Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hispanics who oppose the law are, I am sure, indeed concerned with racial profiling, and a good argument could be made that they should be. I despise any distinctions made among individuals which are based on race. An individual's race, so far as I have ever been able to tell, has no bearing at all on any aspect of human action.
Those advocates of the Arizona law who claim that racial profiling won't take place just can't be serious. From where, after all, are all these millions upon millions of illegal immigrants coming from who are pouring into the United States? Are we being deluged with illegal Norwegians? Of course racial profiling will take place.
But the Hispanic concern with racial profiling appears to conceal a deeper intent. They certainly know better than anyone else where the vast majority of illegal immigrants is coming from, and what most of them look like. At least to some extent, this concern is a red herring designed to conceal a far more important concern: An advocacy for open borders with limitless illegal immigration with nothing more than a slap on the wrist as punishment for violating U.S. immigration law. The Hispanic community dares not admit this, because they know very well that such a position would not be well received by large numbers of legal U.S. residents. A concern for racial profiling is a convenient, and very politically-correct, substitute for the real agenda. But I must say, I sympathize in principle. The whole thing smacks far too strongly of the Police State for my taste.
Regardless of what anyone may say to the contrary, U.S. borders ARE essentially open, and have always been so. I live just a few miles from the Mexican border, and I could take you to any number of places where anyone who had a mind to could simply walk into the United States. I myself have walked into Mexico in a very remote section of the border by taking a few steps across that pathetic trickle known as the Rio Grande River. I stood on the Mexican side for a few seconds, just for the heck of it, and then, in just a few paces, I was back in the U.S. No problem. I spent the first half of my life living along the Canadian border, which, if such a thing is imaginable, is even more porous than our border with Mexico.
The real question that has to be addressed is this: Exactly what is wrong with open borders and unlimited immigration? Over the decades, it has certainly served our neighbors to the south very well indeed. Mexican politicians will not admit this, but hoards of Mexicans pouring into the United States have always acted as a SAFETY VALVE for the Mexican State. Without that safety valve, Mexico would have exploded in revolution many years ago. And those politicians would have found themselves doing air-dances from lamp posts in Mexico City's Zocalo. They certainly don't want that. The contents of all of those numbered Swiss bank accounts would go unclaimed. What a waste of perfectly good graft and corruption! Believe me, I know of what I speak. I have travelled in Mexico for forty years, and lived in the country for a year. I once had the ENTIRE MUNICIPAL POLICE DEPARTMENT OF A MAJOR MEXICAN CAPITAL CITY ON THE TAKE! Furthermore, it is my understanding that remittances to Mexico from Mexicans working in the U.S. now constitute the single largest source of revenue for the entire Republic of Mexico. I may stand corrected there. With an official unemployment rate of around twenty-five percent, and underemployment much higher than that, without the export of unemployed Mexicans to the United States the roof would have blown off the country long ago.
The unfortunate truth is that the Mexican economy -- not to mention its political system -- simply has never worked. This has been true ever since Cortez conquered Tenochtitlan. Actually, the place didn't function well at all long before that. Mexico's failure certainly is NOT because the Mexican people are stupid. Mexicans are as intelligent, clever, and as innovative as any human beings on the planet. It is also most definitely NOT because they are lazy. Over the decades, I have been amazed at how hard-working the Mexican people are. I'll stack them up against anyone on Earth.
As an advocate of pure, Austrian laissez-faire economics, I am well aware of the purely economic advantages to be derived -- at least for most of us -- from large numbers of immigrants. Because of the increased supply, the price of labor comes down, tremendously benefitting anyone who is a net consumer of labor-intensive goods. Fine. I get that. But my point here is that the DISADVANTAGES of such massive immigration far outweigh the ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES. In my opinion, a slight drop in the price of labor is not worth the destruction of my country!
After many years of study as a working Political Scientist both in Mexico and here along the border-- and I have to snicker when I use the word "science" in connection with the field. There's hardly anything scientific about it -- I have reached the conclusion that Mexico's failure has been entirely CULTURAL. By any reconning, Mexico should be a paradise. The country has everything: Incredibly abundant natural resourses, enormous -- and gorgeous -- coastlines, one of the best climates in the world, an intelligent, hard-working population. All that is lacking, all that has ever been lacking, is a system of beliefs and values which are conducive to economic and political success, i.e. an efficacious culture. Mexico did not become a filthy, impoverished, pestilential kleptocratic hell-hole by accident. It became one because the Mexican people made it one.
I know that in today's multi-cultural world, where all cultures are considered to be equally efficacious, what I have just said is the worst form of heresy. There are undoubtedly many who would like to burn me at the stake just for suggesting such a thing. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH! It is the only variable I have ever been able to isolate which explains Mexico's failure over the last five hundred years.
Exactly why Mexico's culture, and the culture of all of Latin America in general, is a failed culture is very complicated. I need to write an entire book on the subject. But here it is in a nutshell: Mexico's culture has always been what I have characterized as the "Paternalistic Political Culture." This is to distinguish it from the "Individualistic Political Culture," which dominated the United States for the first one hundred fifty years or so of their existence.
Individuals who possess the Individualistic Political Culture, as did Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and virtually all the rest of our Founders, want government to be SMALL, with SPECIFIC LIMITED FUNCTIONS, INEXPENSIVE (with low taxes, leaving virtually all of the product of your labor for your own use as you see fit), and THEY BELIEVE THAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE IN A POSITION TO TELL THE GOVERNMENT WHAT TO DO, AND NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND. The analogy I like to use is that Individualists want government to be like a soccer ball at their feet, which they have the power to "kick around" as they see fit. THEY ARE THE BOSSES -- NOT THE STATE! And, most importantly, THOSE WHO POSSESS THE INDIVIDUALISTIC POLITICAL CULTURE BELIEVE THAT THEY -- AND THEY ALONE -- ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN ECONOMIC WELL-BEING! THIS PART OF IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL!
The Paternalistic Political Culture is diametrically opposite in every regard. The KEY to understanding the Paternalistic Political Culture is that it involves the expectation that there will be some entity within society to which individuals can look TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE ECONOMIC GOODS WHICH THEY NEED TO SURVIVE. That is why I chose the term "Paternalistic" to describe this culture: "Pater," the Latin for "father," describes this culture to a T. Someone -- anyone -- is expected to act in the role of parent, providing individuals with all of the economic goods we usually associate with parents providing for their children: food, clothing, education, medical care, housing, etc. This expectation has always existed in Mexico. The entity that is expected to provide the economic goods has changed with time: the King of Spain, the Viceroy, the Encomendero, the Hacendado, and, since the 1910 Revolution, the State. But always -- for five centuries -- the expectation has been there.
Individuals do not hang their old culture at the door when they emmigrate to another country. Culture is a funny thing. It exists in one's head, and is one of the most persistent aspects of human nature. Determined individuals CAN reject their old culture. It is possible. But it is very unlikely for the vast majority.
Now we get to the title of this blog entry: The Death of the U.S. Nation. A nation is not to be confused with a country or with a State. A nation is a GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY WITH EACH OTHER IN ONE OR MORE WAYS. Throughout most of U.S. history, our "Nation of People" has possessed the Individualistic Political Culture. THAT, IT MY STRONG CONTENTION, EXPLAINS THE FANTASTIC ECONOMIC SUCCESS OF THIS COUNTRY, AT LEAST UNTIL RECENT DECADES. Since the immigration laws changed in 1965, the U.S. has been inundated with millions upon millions of people most of whom possess the entirely alien Paternalistic Political Culture. Their numbers have reached critical mass. They are in the process of overwhelming our ill-conceived and thoroughly reprehensible Welfare State. They expect, as have their ancestors for five centuries, SOMEONE, ANYONE, to take care of them, to provide them with economic goods. If you have a job or run a business, if you are a net producer, THAT MEANS YOU!
What remains of the original U.S. Nation, a Nation of Individualists, may already constitute a minority in this country. All of the evidence points to the fact that it does. The United States is on the verge of a fiscal Apocalypse which will be so horrendous so as to surpass our wildest nightmares. And the reason is obvious. The Paternalistic Political Culture has become dominant -- and it just doesn't work. It's as simple as that. It has never worked in Mexico, and it will not work here.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of going back, of turning back the clock. The die is cast. We have crossed the Rubicon. Our Magnificent Jeffersonian Statesmen in Washington-- our Parliament of Whores -- realize full well on which side their bread is buttered. If they want to be re-elected -- which is really all politicians care about -- they will cater to the now-dominant Paternalism. These Statist turds, floating around in the Beltway Cesspool, can be expected to do no less.
I really hate to be so pessimistic. But I see no option, at least none that I care to discuss in this blog entry. Stay tuned. There are options. I'm sure some of you are already well aware of them. I'll address them in future.
And now for the clincher. Given all that has been written above, you may consider what follows to be very bizarre indeed -- unbelievable really. But here it is. Should my worst fears come to pass regarding the economic, social, and even civilizational future of the United States, and in all probability that of all of Western Civilization, the entire issue of illegal immigration will fade away into irrelevancy. In just a few years, we may all be laughing at ourselves for having taken the issue as seriously as we are taking it now. Individuals will have far, far more important things to worry about, first and foremost among them the brutal, daily struggle for basic physical survival. They will be scouring the alleys of the United States desperately searching for the next putrid rat corpse which will keep them from starving to death for another day.
I certainly hope I'm wrong. But I'm afraid I'm right. Prepare well for what's coming. Best of luck to you.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
From an economic standpoint, the most horiffic crime which has been perpetrated against us by our rapist Masters has been the virtual destruction of our money. Whatever is left of its value is quickly evaporating like dew on a warm summer's morning. For generations, our Masters have foisted upon us their own worthless, paper "fiat" currency in place of true money: gold and silver. These bits of paper with a few drops of ink on them can be printed by our Masters in unlimited quantities. And that's exactly what they've done: printed the stuff in unlimited quantities. To be a little more technical, they've engaged in inflation, an almost universally misunderstood concept which I'll deal with in an upcoming blog. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF INFLATION IF YOU'RE TO HAVE ANY HOPE AT ALL OF SURVIVING WHAT'S ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO YOU!
As I'll explain later, inflation is a hidden tax: a way of taxing away your purchasing power without actually touching the number of dollars, pounds, euros, whatever, which you are holding. If they directly confiscated too much of your money, in a way that you could actually see, you would get very angry, and our Masters might find themselves doing air-dances from lamp posts in every capital city in the industrialized world. They don't want that. So instead they print mountains of "toilet paper money" -- which you can't see them doing -- diluting the purchasing power, or we could say the value, of the money you have.
By now, the process is nearing completion. I predict that soon it will indeed be complete: the fiat currency, or paper money, which you have spent your lives earning and saving, will become totally worthless. It will have no purchasing power at all. No matter how much of it you have, you won't be able to buy anything with it. Not a thing. Think about that.
That raises the question of what WILL you use to buy the things you need to survive after the junk in your wallet assumes the status, and probably the function, of toilet paper. What will you use as money after "The State's Fiat Money" won't buy anything? The answer is that you will use, at least in a pinch, any tangible commodity that possesses real value. In my novel, the "Iron Phoenix," which, by the way, you can buy in autographed, personalized form directly from me on this blog, I write of just such a situation occurring in the United States. In the "Iron Phoenix," the United States becomes a colony of a resurgent Russian empire, is occupied by the Russian military, and its people are forced to accept worthless Russian military scrip as money. I was exactly on the mark when I wrote about that, because that's exactly what's happening to us now, without the foreign occupation. Naturally, no one wants the stuff, and so everyone resorts to using anything they can find of real value in their transactions with other people, "under the table," of course.
For six thousand years or so, gold and silver have been by far the preferred commodities to use as money. There are very good reasons for this, which I'll explain in a future blog. But in my novel, there just isn't enough gold or silver to go around. No country in the world has issued gold or silver coinage for general circulation in a coon's age. The last year in which United States coins were made of 90% silver was 1964. That was a long time ago. So people in the "Iron Phoenix" make other commodities "do" as money. But to function really well as money, a commodity has to possess certain characteristics.
First, it has to be universally, or almost universally, desired. Everyone, or at least most people, have to want some of it. Lots of commodities meet this requirement, like any type of food, for example. And when the time comes, you will indeed be able to use food -- if you're lucky enough to have any -- in simple person-to-person transactions. But there are reasons why food doesn't make for very good money. For one thing, it tends to go rotten. Also, you'd probably need to have quite a lot of it in order to have any significant purchasing power. There are other reasons which you'll understand shortly.
Secondly, it has to be homogeneous: That is, one unit of it has to be identical to every other unit of it. Here, food has a problem. There are carrots, and then there are carrots. Some are bigger than others, or fresher, or more appetizingly attractive. You see the problem. That's one reason why diamonds don't make for very good money. But other commodities don't have this problem. Excellent examples are gold and silver. One pure piece of either metal, produced anywhere in the world, is exactly identical with every other piece. That's one reason why gold and silver have been popular as money for so long. But other commodies meet this requirement too. The characters in my novel, faced with a shortage of gold and silver coins, resort to using ammunition as money. Twenty-two long rifle caliber ammunition is particularly popular, but I have them using other calibers as well. In the United States, if someone owns just one gun, it's probably a twenty-two. Not everyone wants it, but enough people do that it meets the first requirement above. It's also homogeneous: one round of .22 long rifle ammo is, for all practical purposes, just like every other round. So the characters in the "Iron Phoenix," as long as the Russians aren't looking, make small, everyday purchases among themselves using .22's.
When everything hits the fan, ammunition will meet another necessary criterion of money: it will be rare. Whatever Statists may be left by then will be desperately in fear for their lives. It will be pay-back time, and they will know it. If they have any coercive power left -- which they may not have if the State itself collapses -- they will use every shred of it to keep you from getting your hands on ammunition of any kind. Civilian ammunition production will, of course, cease. They'll confiscate however much of it they can get their hands on. I would not be at all surprised to see the death penalty attached to the civilian possession of even one round of ammo. But if there are any of our Statist Masters left by then, rest assured that they will see to it that they have lots of the stuff at their disposal: All the better to keep you unwashed masses in line. Rarity is the reason why many commodities which may be both desirable and homogeneous don't make for good money. Sand and wood come to mind. They aren't rare.
The fourth criterion for any commodity to serve as money is that it has to be easily divisible into small units. This is another reason why diamonds make for lousy money. How would anyone make change for a small purchase made with a diamond? Here, gold and silver are stellar performers. Either metal can be chopped up into pieces as small as you like, and each piece will still be homogeneous, desirable, and rare. Ammunition works reasonably well for this, but it's not perfect. You can't cut a .22 in half. But you can divide a box of fifty of them into fifty individual, homogeneous, rare, desirable units. Not perfect, but still pretty good.
Now I'll leave it to your imagination to dream up other commodities that fit the above requirements at least reasonably well. The more requirements they meet, the more useful they will be as money. I have a character in my novel using disposable razors as money. This clever fellow sees all of the s--t approaching the fan, and stocks up on thousands of the things while they're still available at the dollar store dirt cheap. After the razor blades run out, and there's no more electricity to power electric shavers, he makes a killing. One disposable razor, to a man who's desperate for a shave, trades for one silver quarter -- a veritable fortune.
ANY TANGIBLE COMMODITY YOU CAN THINK OF THAT MEETS SOME OR ALL OF THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE STOCKING UP ON RIGHT NOW! Don't wait. Do it now. Don't waste your purchasing power on movies, fancy restaurants, or high-definition TV's. The time is coming -- soon now -- when none of that will be worth a hoot. Simply achieving basic daily physical survival will be a HUGE CHALLENGE! Many among us, those who do not prepare in advance, will not be able to meet that challenge. They will die. It's as simple as that.
So, in conclusion, my advice to you is to get your hands on every gram of silver and gold you possibly can, even if the price in your local, current fiat currency seems high. It will get much, much higher. In fact, I firmly believe that the exchange rate between all existing fiat currencies and a single ounce of gold or silver will eventually reach infinity. If you have anything with "collector value," now is the time to sell it, run as fast as you can to the nearest bullion dealer and exchange its purchasing power for gold or silver. I especially recommend silver right now. By historical standards, they're giving the stuff away. We'll talk more about THAT later.
Ammunition will be great, I promise you. Buy all you can, if your local Tyrants will permit you to do so. Buy candles, razors, ANYTHING that you believe people will want and need. The more of the above requirements they meet, the better.
GET BUSY RIGHT NOW -- OR YOU'LL FIND YOURSELF IN VERY DEEP DOO-DOO!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Do you consider yourself an individual or a member of a group? "I'm an individual, of course," you answer. Well, it might surprise you to find out that according to most social scientists, as well as many policymakers in positions of great power, you're a member of a group first and an individual a distant second. This is not only a wrong-headed way of looking at people, but it is extremely dangerous; it produces horrific outcomes, and has resulted in the deaths of untold millions of human beings.
Let's get one piece of tedious terminology out of the way right off the bat. It's a great nine-dollar term that you can throw around with your friends next time you're have a few beers with them. It is methodological individualism. It means that in any discussion of people—of societies, cultures, nations—the individual human being is the proper unit of analysis, not the group.
Recent history is full of examples of what we could call "group-think": considering groups to be the proper unit of analysis rather than individuals. Adolf Hitler practiced group-think. He thought of Aryans as the Master Race, not as individuals but as a group. And he thought of Jews as another group. He never thought of them as individual human beings, but as a sub-human group fit only for liquidation.
Joseph Stalin felt the same way about the Kulaks, the small land holders of the southern Soviet Union. They were a group, or to use Marxist analysis, a class, that stood in the way of achieving the Communist paradise that Stalin wanted. He wiped them out, perhaps as many as fifty million of them according to the figures that Russian historians are turning up in their archives.
No one seems to know how many millions Mao Zedong murdered in his quest to remove undesirable "groups" from Chinese society during his Cultural Revolution.
There are plenty of lesser, but no less horrible, examples. In Rwanda in 1994, the Hutus slaughtered eight hundred thousand Tutsis not as individuals, but as a group. Serbs killed Bosnians as a group during their ethnic cleansing. Pol Pot of Kampuchia reputedly murdered anyone who wore glasses because they were members of a group of intellectuals rather than being workers. Women in the Islamic world suffer all sorts of injustices because they are members of a group. We could go on and on.
Then there is the question of racism. The United States is not immune to group-think. Since the first slave was imported into this country, and continuing to this very day to some extent at least, black Americans—individual human beings—have been treated as an inferior group, first to be literally owned as property, and later to be discriminated against.
Linguists, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, political scientists—you name it—all keep stacks of books in their ivory towers that are full of technobabble supposedly justifying a "group" vision of the human race. Watch out for them. They are teaching this dangerous junk to your children. Especially watch out for politicians who want to make you a member of a group rather than to consider you as an individual. They are either stupid or malicious. If elected, the policies they produce will either be failures or worse, they will threaten your individual liberty.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Conservative talk radio has fundamentally changed the political dialog in the United States very much for the better. It advocates limited government, low taxes and the maximization of individual liberty. At least one host of note demonstrates a profound knowledge of the Constitution and is a strong advocate of its principles and of the original intent of its framers. This is most admirable. The Federal Recluse sincerely hopes that everyone listens to this man, learns from him, and demands that the principles he espouses be engraved in stone and embodied in every law of this land forever. But we are not sanguine about the prospect of this happening. It is our perception that a number of these hosts operate under the assumption that a majority, if not a vast majority, of the American people agree with them. If only the word could be gotten out, they seem to believe, the Constitution would once again be respected, liberty would be restored, and all would be well. We doubt that this is the case.
It is often said that we are currently engaged in a culture war pitting the advocates of limited government and individual liberty against those who advocate paternalistic collectivism. Such a war is certainly ongoing. It is our opinion, and we arrived at it reluctantly and sadly, that the forces of collectivism are winning. "Conservative" talk radio is staving off that victory by energizing the remaining individualists in this country. Through the popularity of their programs, they are creating the illusion that individualists are still in the overwhelming majority. But the political culture of individualism has been waning, becoming more and more diluted, for a very long time. Make no mistake, there are still millions upon millions of individualists left, the Federal Recluse being one of them. But at this writing, and for some years past, it has become our opinion that we are being overwhelmed by a massive tidal wave of paternalists who espouse collectivism and its political concomitant, statism.
Those talk show hosts never site their data when they assert that the majority of Americans share their opinions. There is little to cite. Perhaps the best we can do is to look at electoral results since the culture of paternalism first began to assert itself in American politics at approximately the turn of the Twentieth Century. The trend is quite clear. In election after election, the country drifted—and occasionally lurched—in the direction of collectivism and statism. There were exceptions, of course. But these were just holding periods during which statism was briefly held at bay. Any serious attempts to reverse this collectivist drift were soundly rejected by a plurality of the American people. There was, for example, the disastrous candidacy of Barry Goldwater in 1964. When he promised to undo Roosevelt's New Deal sufficient paternalists were appalled that he suffered a devastating defeat. No major party candidate since has been so bold in his opposition to paternalism and statism in this country. Ronald Reagan was the last true individualist to run for and serve as president. Those were a wonderful and refreshing eight years, but frustrating as well. An opposition congress rendered most of his efforts to re-impose individualism in this country fruitless. Newt Gingrich, with his ten-point Contract for America, quickly discovered the immense power of paternalism as he hit the political wall at great speed. Universally pilloried in the press, and castigated by virtually everyone in a position to do so publicly, Speaker Gingrich was virtually ridden out of Washington on a rail. Subsequent politicians learned these lessons well. The Republican Party, which once produced torchbearers of individual liberty like Goldwater and Reagan, now produce national candidates who hardly dare mention individual liberty, much less a reduction in the size and scope of the state. It has reached the point in American politics where such a discussion is no longer considered acceptable political discourse. The Republican Party's current presidential candidate, Senator McCain, is not exactly a paragon of individual liberty. His track record in the Senate speaks otherwise. His opponent, Senator Obama, by all the evidence appears to be a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist, and he is currently leading in the polls. The pendulum has swung that far in just a century.
The future of individualism does not look bright, at least for the immediate future. As has been pointed out in previous entries here, the United States is being inundated by immense waves of immigrants the vast majority of whom possess the paternalistic political culture and are strong advocates of statism. These people now seem to have achieved critical mass, and no candidate with national aspirations dares to challenge their philosophy. On the contrary, pandering is rampant. Add to these the vast numbers of native-born Americans who advocate these same positions, and the magnitude of the problem becomes apparent.
However, all is not be lost. Limited government, individual self-reliance and liberty work. Statism and parasitic paternalism do not. We are, after all, dealing with the real universe, with real immutable laws, and we are not free to concoct any hair-brained political philosophy that makes us feel good. The individualists are right, and the statists are wrong. It is as simple as that. Ultimately, human nature with its entirely selfish desire to be free and to enjoy the product of one's own labor, will reassert itself. The leviathan state under which we all labor will crumble of its own dead weight. So, you individualists, take heart; there are millions of us left and we will win in the end. It is inevitable. Reality is on our side, and it is the ultimate weapon. Continue to listen to talk radio, learn what you can, read voraciously, and above all—keep your powder dry.
Monday, June 30, 2008
We've already largely dealt with why people are slaughtering each other because their nations are divided into two or more states or countries in Part One of this two part series. Before we leave that particular topic, there is one more massive example that requires attention: Nazi Germany and the origin of World War II in Europe. This was a slaughter of monumental proportions, and it all began with the problems arising from the concept of nations, states and countries.
Adolf Hitler was very fond of using the same expression over and over in his speeches and writings: "One people, one empire, one leader." Most have heard these words, but few are aware of their significance. Hitler meant by this that it was his intention to unify the German nation into one country or state. In other words, he wanted to create a German nation-state. One by one he invaded his neighbors in that effort. First the Rhineland of France in 1936, then the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in 1938, then Austria with its heavily Germanic population, also in 1938, and finally Poland in 1939, the event that finally triggered a declaration of war. Certainly Hitler's ambitions were not limited to the unification of the German people, as his invasions of other, non-Germanic countries in Europe, including the Soviet Union, demonstrated. But national unification was a prime concern of his, perhaps the principal motivation for all of his actions.
So far we have dealt with two of the four possible permutations involved in the concept of nations, states and countries. Nation-states—a situation in which national and state boundaries coincide—present the fewest problems, with a minimum of violence and instability. One nation divided into two or more states can lead to all sorts of unpleasantries, including world wars. The third possibility is for one state to contain two or more nations. The world is full of these, and there is no end to the mischief they cause.
Rwanda is an excellent and recent example. That country contained two nations of people, one of which decided to establish its own nation-state by simply slaughtering the members of the other nation. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result.
An ongoing example is Sudan, with its Arabic north and its Black-African south. The horrors there continue at this writing, with no end in sight.
French Quebec threatens to secede from English-speaking Canada. What will become of Canada should that happen is anyone's guess. The Atlantic Provinces would be separated from the rest of English-speaking Canada by an enormous geographic gulf. Countries divided in such a way do not have a good track record.
Yugoslavia is a prime example of a state plagued by the problem of multi-nationalism. Strong man Tito was able to suppress the forces of nationalism in that country. But at his death, the place came apart at the seams. The various nations within Yugoslavia asserted themselves. Incredible violence was the result. The most heinous of it involved the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Serbs against the Bosnians. This was more than just a simple slaughter. What is not often recognized is that that ethnic cleansing was an attempt by the Serbs to recapture what they perceived to be Serbian national territory in an attempt to create their own nation-state. To them, the Bosnians were occupying what had historically been Serbian territory, and the Serbs wanted it back so that national and state boundaries would coincide.
The situation in Russia must be keeping that country's leaders awake at night. With the disintegration of central power in Moscow, the non-Russian nationalities on the perimeter of the former Soviet Union peeled away to form their own nation-states. But that is not the end of the story. In what is left of Russia, there are scores of non-Russian nationalities. Should these too decide to seek nation-state status, Russia may find itself reduced to something resembling the original Duchy of Muscovy, a tiny Russian enclave on the Volga, a rump state of little significance.
No discussion of this problem would be complete without considering the current state of affairs in the United States. The question that will determine the entire future of this country is this: is the United States developing into a bi-national country? If it is, we can expect the most serious problems imaginable. These may even include the eventual breakup of the country into two states. The United States of America would be a part of history, to be read about but not experienced by future generations. Across our incredibly porous two-thousand-mile border with Mexico, an endless flood of people enter this country. These are members of an entirely distinct nation, and, in all likelihood, members of an entirely distinct civilization. Should they fail to enculturate, as anthropologists would say, or should they fail to socialize, as political scientists would put it, the future of the United States as we have known it would be in grave jeopardy. If these millions upon millions of newcomers fail to become part of mainstream American culture, if they fail to join the American nation, we face the prospect of a breakup. At this writing, it is unclear as to whether this process of socialization is taking place. But the evidence does not bode well. Los Angeles is now considered, by at least one British newspaper of note, to be a third-world, Spanish-speaking city. The country is effectively becoming bilingual, as is evidenced by the proliferation of Spanish language radio and television stations everywhere. Each time we pick up the telephone and are prompted to choose between Spanish and English, this evolving bi-nationalism is evident. There seems to be little to impede this process. In this era of multiculturalism and diversity the preservation of an American nation appears to be unfashionable, even frowned upon. If you love this country, enjoy it while you can. And hope that you don't live to see what it will become.
Lastly, there is the possibility of a nation of people with no country or state. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the Jewish nation was stateless for nearly nineteen hundred years, until the modern-day establishment of the state of Israel. But this created another problem: what to do with the Palestinians? They claim to be a nation of people, but those claims notwithstanding, their true nationality is in doubt. Yasir Arafat, after all, was born in Egypt. Be that as it may, they claim national status, and it has only been very recently that they have come into possession of something resembling a state. Violence there is relentless. Watch almost any evening news broadcast and you will see it for yourself.
There is one more mysterious example of a stateless nation that comes to mind. These are the Gypsies. They have wandered the world throughout recorded history. Evidently, even the Romans did not know their origins. They seem satisfied with their stateless condition, a rare if not unique circumstance.
So there you have it, a major source of conflict in the world: nations, states and countries. Once you grasp the concepts in this two-part series, the world will make a great deal more sense to you.
Friday, June 27, 2008
HURRAH FOR THE REPUBLIC! If there is any flesh left on the bones of Thomas Jefferson, his desiccated lips must be curled into a smile at this moment! The Federal Recluse has been waiting with bated breath for the decision just rendered by the Supreme Court regarding the nature of the Second Amendment. As you probably know, the question before the Court was whether that amendment recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms, or whether that right was reserved only for state militias, i.e. National Guard units. Five Justices at least have sufficient regard for individual liberty to have voted for the individual rights interpretation.
No other decision could have been rendered without leaving the Constitution little more than a shredded piece of tissue to be discarded completely. Your individual right to keep and bear arms is the keystone of all your other liberties. In all likelihood, without it, those other liberties recognized—not conferred—by the Bill of Rights would not last long. There are monsters in this world, would-be tyrants who would enslave you it they could. The world is full of examples of people who have first been disarmed by those monsters, and then enslaved—or murdered—by them. But arms keep those monsters at bay. Monsters are terrified by guns. They are horrified by a free, armed populace. It is said that Joseph Stalin was so afraid of being assassinated by some rogue gun owner that he kept numerous lookalike doubles scattered all over the Soviet Union. Virtually no one ever knew where Stalin really was because, even in a country over which he had an iron grip and whose citizens he had largely disarmed, he was afraid that somewhere out there some liberty-loving person would end his reign of terror.
Arms are the ultimate guarantor of liberty. The Framers intended that you should have the ability, should all peaceful means fail, of violently overthrowing tyrannical government. Certainly they considered the benefits of an individual's ability to keep arms for the defense of life, home and property. But from a political standpoint, which was a major concern, it was the overthrow of tyrannical government that was at the heart of the matter. You must have that ability, or you will find yourself a subject and not a citizen. Your liberty, your very life, will be at the mercy—at the whim—of any tyrant who happens to receive a plurality of the popular vote.
In the immediate aftermath of this decision, it is clear that its detractors continue to cling to the belief that the "well regulated militia" clause of the amendment limits the right to keep and bear arms only to state militias, usually interpreted to mean National Guard units. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reading the words of the Framers, during and after the Founding Era, it is crystal clear that among their greatest fears was a standing army. Thousands of years of history, as well as their own experiences under the heel of the British during the colonial period, taught them that a permanent, professional standing army represented a great danger to a free people. The very last thing they would have done in writing the Bill of Rights would have been to restrict access to arms to such an organization. Further, such an interpretation flies in the face of the very intent of the Bill of Rights itself. Its whole purpose was to place limits on government, and certainly not to grant that government a monopoly on the use of force. In the context of the entire Bill of Rights, the National Guard interpretation of the Second Amendment is, quite literally, ridiculous.
So what did the authors of the Second Amendment mean when they used the phrase "a well regulated militia" if not a standing army? Centuries of Anglo-American law and tradition answer that question. The militia to which they were referring, in 1791 and to this very day, is the unorganized militia of the United States, which consists of all able bodied men. The idea was that if all men were armed, the United States could not be conquered by any foreign power. An invader would have to take the country house by house. If anyone thinks that such a concept is outdated, they must consider the fact that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, not so long ago, the Japanese considered an invasion of the west coast of the United States but abandoned the notion after study revealed the almost universal ownership of firearms among the American population. They realized that the Japanese Imperial Army was inadequate to the task. The thought of millions of armed citizens sniping at them from behind every rock, tree and building convinced them of the futility of such an endeavor.
There will be a great deal more concerning the right to keep and bear arms in future entries. The Federal Recluse is among its staunchest supporters. This entry is celebratory: we have taken a giant step in the direction of individual liberty. Those who oppose that freedom, and there are many of them, have this day assumed the role of ankle-biters in the American body politic. They will continue to try to gnaw away, like the rats that they are, at your liberty as just confirmed by the Court. But their legs have been knocked out from under them. There is a great deal of work to be done at the state and local level to drive these rats back into their holes. But at last there is a glimmer of light on the horizon. A brilliant sun will rise over a country that is freer today than it was yesterday, and the rats will scurry from the blazing light. Break open the champagne and toast American liberty! Mr. Jefferson would.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Have you ever wondered why people are slaughtering each other all over the world? What produces the death, the suffering, the artificial famine? What follows does not pretend to explain all of it, but it does explain a great deal of it. Surely there are other factors involved than those you are about to be exposed to. But there are none more important in explaining the woes of this world.
There is one aspect of international relations of which the vast majority of people are almost totally ignorant. This is through no fault of their own. It just isn't taught. But it is absolutely critical for an understanding of violence in the world. It produces genocide, ethnic cleansing, insurrection and wars of every conceivable variety, including world wars. It is responsible for a great deal of the misery and death on this planet. And it does have a powerful bearing on the future of the United States, as you will see. It involves the distinction among three terms which are often used interchangeably, but which are most definitely not the same. They are country, state and nation.
First some definitions: the terms country and state are synonymous. In international relations, a country or a state is what can best be described as a sovereign geopolitical entity. That is, a country or a state is a political unit that occupies territory and is capable, in the current world system, of making decisions for itself without fear of contradiction by some higher authority. The United States, France, Japan, etc., are all countries or states.
A nation is something very different. A nation is a group of people who identify with each other in one or more ways. Those may be ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, historic, or by any other common denominator.
There are four possible combinations of countries or states on the one hand, and nations on the other. The most stable and peaceful arrangement is for national and country or state boundaries to coincide. That is, for virtually every member of the same nation to live within the boundaries of one state or country. This is referred to as a nation-state. Japan is an excellent example. Virtually everyone in Japan is Japanese, ethnically, linguistically and culturally. There is very little political violence in Japan. There is political disagreement, to be sure, but violence is minimal. In fact, Japan guards its nationality very closely. An outsider can visit Japan, but cannot become truly Japanese.
Once we depart from the nation-state, the problems begin. With the other three possible combinations, conflict is the order of the day, and violence is common. First, there is the possibility of one nation being divided into two or more states. Ireland and Northern Ireland come to mind. For decades, the counties of Northern Ireland were plagued by political violence. It must be understood that this violence had as its goal the unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. That is, it was an effort on the part of the Irish nationality of Northern Ireland to establish for itself a nation-state—a situation in which national and state boundaries coincided.
There seems to be a universal desire on the part of all people to live within their own nation-state. We see efforts to establish such political units taking place all over the world. Those efforts are usually accompanied by conflict. North and South Korea, one nation of people divided into two states, has been the scene of continuous violence, war and tension for almost sixty years. A formal state of war still exists there after all that time. To this day, the very real possibility exists that a catastrophic war could erupt there at any moment.
In the former North and South Vietnam the urge to unify the nation was so intense that it produced a decade-long war with the United States. Whatever one's thoughts concerning that war, the element of nationalism cannot be discarded.
Africa has been the scene of continuous violence since the end of the colonial era. On that unfortunate continent there are many nations that are divided into two or more states. There are over two thousand nations of people in Africa. When the European powers decided to establish colonies there, they simply whacked up the place to their own satisfaction with no consideration for nationality. Arbitrary colonial boundaries were drawn all over the continent. The result was an absolute nightmare of circumstances, among which are many nationalities divided into two or more states. The examples are far too numerous to mention.
The former East and West Germany were great examples of this problem. For more than four decades, until the collapse of central power in Moscow, the German nation was divided into two states. Tensions were high. Many predicted that World War Three would break out there. Fortunately, reunification was peaceful, if not exactly comfortable.
Less comfortable are relations between Taiwan and mainland China, Cubans in Cuba and Cubans patiently biding their time in south Florida, and Turks in Cyprus as well as in Turkey, and Greeks in Cyprus as well as in Greece. One may even rightfully include in this category Finns in Finland and members of the Finnish nation stranded in Russian Karelia. Many more examples exist.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the Islamic nation. Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard goes so far as to classify them as much more than a distinct nationality, but as a separate civilization, and the Federal Recluse would certainly agree with that assessment. Here we have well over a billion people united, at the very least, by religion, divided into numerous states stretching across a major region of the globe. The Islamic nation in southwest Asia and even north Africa is partially united not only by religion, but by culture, ethnicity, history, and, to some extent, language. Certainly this national unity is not complete. There are the Iranians to contend with from an ethnic and linguistic standpoint, as well as sectarian differences within Islam, such as between Shiite and Sunni in Iraq and elsewhere. But if one speaks in sufficiently broad terms, as did Huntington, an Islamic nation certainly exists. President Nasser of Egypt attempted a partial political unification decades ago, but was unsuccessful. The success of future attempts seems unlikely, but is not inconceivable. Culture, language and religion are powerful unifying forces. If this nation of people were ever to unify politically, given the hatred and resentment of Western Civilization throughout the region, the West would have a great deal more to worry about than terrorism.
To be continued…