Mises Institute: Too Much Centralization Is Turning Everything into a Political Crisis

 

Porter Burkett writing at The Mises Institute asks if Too Much Centralization Is Turning Everything into a Political Crisis. When the federal government sticks it fingers into every action of your day, then everything becomes a political battle.

Is American politics reaching a breaking point? A recent study by researchers from Brown and Stanford Universities certainly paints a grim picture of the state of the national discourse. The study attempts to measure “affective polarization,” defined as the extent to which citizens feel more negatively toward other political parties than their own, in nine developed countries, including the United States. The study authors concluded that affective polarization has risen much faster and more drastically in the United States than in any of the other countries they studied (figure 1). They then speculated on possible explanations of increasing polarization, suggesting that changing party composition, increasing racial division, and 24-hour partisan cable news are convincing possible causes. Notably, the research was completed before the coronavirus pandemic or the police killing of George Floyd, two events that have only deepened political division.

While the study is interesting and well written, the authors completely fail to consider a more fundamental potential explanation of increasing polarization, one that is likely to be understood well by libertarians and federalists, who have long railed against the trend toward ever more usurpation of local and state sovereignty in American politics. I propose that the real culprit behind worsening polarization is the gargantuan federal government that has turned the entire country into an unceasing political battleground. When virtually all political issues are settled at the national level, the whole nation becomes a source of potential political opponents. Centralization changes the scale and with it the locus of political debate and conflict. For the average political participant, it is probably true that people with differing ideas live near you, in your city or state, but the mathematical reality is that the vast majority of your political opponents live relatively far away (spread throughout the rest of the country) and thus have no material connection to your life or your community. Political opposition becomes just numbers on a cable news screen: 49 percent for this, 51 percent for that. Sixty-two million votes for one candidate, 65 million for another. These numbers, without names or faces, become simple objects; some are pawns to be moved around, while others are obstacles to be pushed aside. This is not just speculation: previous research has indicated that partisanship is correlated with the use of tactics to dehumanize political opponents. Centralized political decision-making amounts to a systematic dehumanization of anyone who might participate in the political process.

The effects of such a disastrous form of organization are already evident. Political polarization is not confined to academic papers, but has now manifested in the streets of Kenosha and Portland. As the 2020 election approaches, politically charged killings between members of rival factions will only become more likely. What was formerly a central promise of democratic politics—the peaceful transfer of power—has been abandoned in favor of direct action and blood.

If centralization is the cause of our problems, then decentralization is the cure. Pushing decision-making power down to state and local levels as much as possible, closer to the people actually affected by the decisions, is the only way forward. Of course, it will not solve all the problems of political culture today. Policy debates and disagreements could still be just as intense at the local level as at the federal. But it is harder to dehumanize someone who might be a part of your community. Those numbers on the screen are on your local news now, not the national news. Those percentages and vote tallies might include your neighbor down the street, your Uber driver, the person ahead of you in line at the grocery store, or the old man you saw out walking his dog this morning. Technically, this has always been true, and we would do well to remember the humanity of the people we disagree with even while political focus is at the national level. This fact is simply harder to ignore when the primary nexus for political decisions is more immediate and local.

Admittedly, I do not know exactly how decentralization can happen. There is no magic blueprint. Maybe the worst pessimists are right, and we are doomed to fight some sort of second civil war before we remember that those with whom we disagree are people too. I think the future is brighter than that. Perhaps, as Mises Institute president Jeff Deist has pointed out, de facto decentralization has already begun. Fortunately, nobody has to know exactly what the new political structure will look like, and—arguably the best part of decentralization—it does not have to look the same everywhere. Both major parties, and people of all ideological persuasions, will probably have to give up some preferred victory or vanquishing of the “other side.” Many Democrats would love to prevent all abortion laws in the state of Georgia for the rest of time. Some Republicans would love to lock down California’s southern border with an airtight seal. A new era of decentralization means that neither of these things can be accomplished by federal imposition, and their proponents are not going to be happy about that. The task ahead is to demonstrate that whatever the sacrifices required to

Alt-Market: Lessons Learned from Coronavirus So Far

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market has an article up detailing some of his own take-aways from the 2019 Coronavirus and response so far. This article deals less with the disease and more with government responses and future responses and how those responses may negatively affect liberty and sovereignty.

Every disaster contains a lesson or a message that needs to be examined. Every tragedy, no matter how terrible, should be absorbed into the public consciousness and adopted as a cautionary tale; a part of our mythos. These events should not be cast into the memory hole to make life less stressful, they need to be taken seriously. Otherwise, the damage done and the lives lost are all for nothing.

Refusing to examine the dark side of life and its dangers has become a staple of our society, to the point that it has given birth to a kind of religious cult. Naive optimism has become a virtue, a misplaced form of faith that encourages people to remain oblivious in the face of adversity. And the more precarious our system becomes, the more these people see unicorns and rainbows. It is truly bizarre.

Some of us understand the mechanics of our economic, political and social machine and recognize that they are broken. The system cannot be fixed because it has been corrupted by people with evil intent (globalists); it is designed to fail. The agenda? To crash almost everything and then replace it with a centralized behemoth, a global empire. The intent is to force the masses to accept this “new world order” using a false choice – We can have chaos and death, or “order” through total Orwellian control. Peace, sovereignty and freedom are not offered as choices.

As Richard N. Gardner, former deputy assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under Kennedy and Johnson, and a member of the Trilateral Commission, wrote in the April, 1974 issue of the Council on Foreign Relation’s (CFR) journal Foreign Affairs (pg. 558) in an article titled ‘Hard Road To World Order’:

In short, the ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great ‘booming, buzzing confusion,’ to use William James’ famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault.”

The answer offered to every disaster is always more centralization, even if centralization was part of the problem from the beginning. The coronavirus pandemic event will be no different.

As was hinted at during Event 201, a coronavirus pandemic exercise run by Johns Hopkins, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum only three months before a REAL coronavirus outbreak took place in China, the goal will be to use the event to create a central economic authority to distribute resources to “counter the virus”. You see, the elites never let a good crisis go to waste.

But this plan requires complicity and apathy among the public. It requires our consent in order to work. For if we continue to undermine and resist it the globalists will never feel safe and secure. Like a cancer, they will eventually have to be cut out and removed if the system is to ever be truly fixed.

The pandemic might be an opportunity for the elites, but it is also a learning experience for the rest of us, and it might even bring some clarity to issues that have been hotly debated for several years. But what are some of these lessons?

Lesson #1: The Prepper Movement Was Right All Along

Over the past decade I have seen some extremely odd responses to the prepper movement, including a lot of aggression and hostility not to mention numerous hit pieces and hatchet jobs in the media. What is it about individuals being prepared for a potential crisis that sends so many snowflakes into a meltdown? Why do they care?

If you think that survivalism is all “conspiracy” and “doom and gloom” then why not ignore it like you ignore everything else? If preppers were wrong, then nothing happens, and all we did is spend some of our money on supplies that we will use anyway over time. No harm no foul. Yet, the mainstream acts as if the preparedness mindset is a criminal action that damages the rest of society.

Of course, as we can see from the coronavirus event in China, preppers were right all along. Almost every single potential problem we have warned about and written about over the years is now plaguing the Chinese citizenry, and most of these problems could have been solved by prepared citizenry…

Lesson #2: Supply Lines Will Be Damaged Or Restricted

As noted above, preparedness is the first step to solving most problems, because most crisis events tend to result in similar consequences. In China, food and other goods are being rationed and supply lines in some areas are shut down completely. The only option is to have what you need BEFORE a breakdown occurs…

Lesson #3: Never Trust Government

All governments lie. They will claim they do this to “protect us from ourselves” and to “avoid panic”, but politicians and elites do not care about this. They do not lie to protect society, they lie to maintain power and control, and sometimes, they lie because they want to keep the public docile and vulnerable. For, the more inactive and vulnerable we are, the more dependent we will all be on them when disaster strikes.

The viral outbreak in China has thoroughly illustrated why governments cannot be trusted. China has consistently lied about the infection and death rate surrounding the coronavirus. Numerous health officials in China have leaked information indicating the threat is FAR larger than the government admits. Some of these brave people been punished or have died in the process of trying to warn the rest of the world…

Lesson #4: Expect The Virus To Eventually Arrive In Your Country

In the US, the argument from the apathetic crowd is that we only have 12 cases, so what is there to worry about? I would remind those folks that the ONLY people that have actually been tested for coronavirus in the US are people that have arrived specifically from China in the past few weeks, who are showing symptoms and who voluntarily bring up this fact to health officials.

This means that people who come from Singapore, Thailand or any other nation in Asia that has also been exposed to the virus have likely not been tested at all. With a dormancy period of two weeks (and according to some studies up to 24 DAYS), the coronavirus has no symptoms yet it can still be highly contagious…

Lesson #5: Enforced Quarantine Is Not Necessarily For Your Benefit

As I noted in my article ‘How Viral Pandemic Benefits The Globalist Agenda’, there are many times in which the establishment creates crisis events deliberately, or, they exploit natural crisis events to further their agenda. In the midst of a viral outbreak, most people given the proper information and warning would prepare.  They would stock supplies and self isolate (or group isolate if they are organized) until the infection burns out. But this is not what the establishment wants. They do not want people who are independent and self reliant during a disaster; they want people that are completely unprepared and dependent.

This is why they will continue to lie about the extent of the danger until it is too late…

Lesson #6: Expect Martial Law

If a viral outbreak spreads through the west, do not be surprised if martial law measures are implemented. If you live in a major city and you see or hear about checkpoints being set up, get out immediately. As we’ve seen in China, once the walls are put up you will not be able to get out.

Rural areas are less likely to be effectively locked down by authorities because it would require too many personnel to achieve this. Major population centers on the other hand will be easily cut off…

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