AIER: Book Review – “A Republic if You Can Keep It” by Justice Gorsuch

The AIER reviews Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch’s book A Republic if You Can Keep It.

America in 2020 does not look like the America we were taught about in school. Of course the values we are taught are aspirational in nature and our country is an ongoing project of moving closer to those ideals. America has yet to live up to its founding principles but moving closer brings us closer to a more perfect union. Moving away from those ideas will doom societies to despotism and despair. That is what makes Justice Neil Gorsuch’s latest book, A Republic if You Can Keep It, so important. It is a book filled with tremendous legal knowledge, moving speeches, a stalwart defense of Originalism, and eternal wisdom regarding good government. Although it was published in 2019 to educate the general public, it could have just as easily been published in 2020 as a guide for a country that has lost its way.

America is a republic if you can keep it

Americans and now the rest of the free world live under a very special form of government. One that was built to preserve a system of self-governance and most importantly, individual liberty. It was not built to cater to the wishes of the mob such as a pure democracy and it was not built to cater to the elite such as an oligarchy or a monarchy. Justice Gorsuch writes,

“This republic belongs to us all–and it is up to all of us to keep it. I think that’s what Benjamin Franklin was getting at when he spoke publicly after he emerged from the Constitutional Convention. A passerby asked what kind of government the delegates intended to propose, and Franklin reportedly replied: “A republic, if you can keep it”.

As the saying goes: democracy is a verb. The success of our system is dependent on the participation and enthusiasm of the public. However, preserving a republic goes much further than that. In particular, a republic like ours requires an even greater emphasis on protecting individual liberty and upholding the institutions that do so, not just voting. Democracy in and of itself is nothing to be proud of nor will it lead to a flourishing society. A constitutional republic like the United States has laws that even the will of the majority must adhere to. The result is a rule of law that promotes freedom and prosperity. Things like the Bill of Rights, the Separation of Powers Doctrine, and federalism. Such institutions of liberty are not necessarily upheld by democratic participation but through a jealous and partisan defense of freedom.

Protecting our freedom is the ultimate reason why the American government exists. That is apparent in our founding documents that Gorsuch explains when he writes,

“Take the idea found in the very first sentence of the Constitution. The Constitution’s preamble says that “We the People” ordain and establish this Constitution” in order to secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” It is no small thing that the founders claimed our new government was formed by “We the People.” They didn’t say our new government was formed by the Continental Army or the Congress or the States or some bureaucratic drafting committee. Institutions like those, the preamble made clear, exist to serve the people–not the other way around.”

It goes without saying that service to the people means first and foremost protecting our liberty. Although it may be tempting to believe that our government should serve the interest of the majority or be a sort of parental body, our government exists first to preserve our life, liberty, and property. The Founders were adamant about this system of limited government because they saw firsthand what an unrestrained government was capable of. The entire premise of the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights was inspired by their confrontations with the British crown. The Bill of Rights itself was a compromise with the Anti-Federalists who were skeptical of the Constitution’s ability to protect those rights. The Founders looked to history and observed the instability of pure democracies, the bloodshed created by monarchies, and the despotism inherent to systems without a separation of powers. They believed that with a robust system of constitutional self-rule that exists primarily to facilitate a system of ordered liberty, they could create a country that could last through the ages. That is why preserving our system of liberties is so important, even over alleged problems that might be solved by breaking these ideals. The temptations of short-term political gratification will likely render our country, the most prosperous and freest polity in human history, a short footnote in history.

The Separation of Powers Doctrine

The Separation of Powers doctrine is something Justice Gorsuch spends much time speaking about and for good reason. It is the bulwark against tyranny and essential to a system of self-government. In 2019, such a topic was certainly important because of the ever-growing power of the Executive branch and the atrophy of the Legislative branch along with the Judicial branch. In 2020, we have seen firsthand what happens when we deviate from this essential doctrine. Justice Gorsuch writes,

“The framers firmly believed that the rule of law depends on keeping all three governmental powers in their proper spheres. They knew, too, that eliding these boundaries can prove powerfully tempting. Handing over judicial functions to the executive branch, for example, surely holds much allure… They knew that when the executive is free to withdraw your legal rights, those rights are no longer protected by neutral legal principles, the judgment of independent judges, and a jury of your peers.”

Essentially the doctrine separates authority amongst the three branches of government, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial. No one branch can be judge, jury, and executioner. The ability to make laws lies primarily with the hundreds of elected representatives in the legislature. They ought to be rambunctious, creative, and bold. The duty to enforce those laws lies with the Executive branch. This is where the heads of state reside along with their army of bureaucrats. It is important that they stay within the confines of the authority granted by the legislature, as many are unelected and exist to serve the mandate provided by the people. The numerous governors across America closing down businesses and restricting social activity without the blessing of their state legislatures is a clear violation of this doctrine. Finally, there is the Judicial branch which exists primarily to interpret the written text of the law as it was intended. It does not exist to create its own laws or interpret laws in a way that seems like it may forward what the court sees to be in the public interest.

Civility and Civics

What may be just as important as these institutional checks and balances on government are checks and balances on ourselves as well. Politics is warfare by other means which is why the government needs so many restrictions. However, what can be just as damaging as an unrestrained government is the unrestrained contamination of private life with politics. Justice Gorsuch writes,

“But a government of and by the people rests on the belief that the people should and can govern themselves–and do so in peace, with mutual respect. For all of that to work, the people must have some idea how their government operates–its essential structure and promises, what it was intended to do and prohibited from doing.”

A system of limited government and freedom is one that requires an informed as well as engaged population. Not necessarily just engaged in public service and duty, but also upholding common standards of decency towards one another. Human beings are inherently political animals that seek to dominate one another. One of the pillars of a free society is restraining those urges to give way towards a more inclusive and equal system.

Perhaps one of the most relevant pieces of wisdom Justice Gorsuch has on this topics is the following quote

“History teaches what happens when societies fail to pass on civic understandings and come to disdain civility: Civilization crumbles. Europe in the twentieth century had people, too, who, seeking to remake the social order in the vision of their ideology, thought the stakes of the day were too high to tolerate discourse and dissent. They also believed the ends justified the means, and it didn’t end well.”

The events he referred to have happened within the lifetimes of many still alive today. A continent that was and still is home to some of the most respected countries not too long ago saw the collapse of civilization and the rule of some of the most horrific tyrants in history. This is what makes our founding principles more important than any short-term political passion.

Originalism

With the ideological balance of the Supreme Court now shifted towards the Originalist side of judicial interpretation, reading this book will provide a strong explanation about this judicial philosophy. Prior to the tenure of the late Justice Antontin Scalia, the idea of Originalism was not taken seriously; now six out of nine Supreme Court Justices subscribe to the idea. Justice Gorsuch writes,

“When I was in law school many professors and students seemed to assume that in disputes over a statute’s meaning a judge should turn to its legislative history, seek to discern the law’s purpose, and then do whatever is necessary to promote that perceived purpose in the case at hand…We were told that the Constitution is a “living” document.”

Originalism on the other hand posits that the text has meaning and that a judge should not attempt to tailor the meaning of a law to fit the situation, but to enforce it as it was written. This is especially important when it comes to the Constitution, as Originalism ensures that the rights within it will not be simply waived by a judge who feels that they are not useful at the time. Deferring to the purpose of laws and policies made by the other two branches effectively voids the Judicial branch’s ability to act as a balance. A current example would be the ongoing lockdowns which have resulted in the violation of countless rights. Many judges remain deferential to the intent of lockdowns despite explicit written text in the Constitution preventing such policies. A more severe example would be Korematsu v. United States, where countless Japanese-Americans were rounded up in concentration camps by the US Government during World War 2. The Supreme Court at the time ruled that was constitutional because it did not want to disrupt the war effort. An Originalist court may have prevented such an atrocity by ruling that the text of the Constitution prevents such violations of rights and there is no clause that carves out such powers even in wartime. The policy goals of today do not hold preference over existing law.

Key Takeaway

Justice Gorsuch is a shining example of a patriot and a public servant. He is someone who genuinely cares about the institutions the United States of America was built on and recognizes that those institutions mean nothing without an engaged citizenry. His book attempts to take on the monumental task of educating the reader why exactly we have all sorts of complicated checks and balances, why we have a court system, why the Constitution says what it says. It reminds us that our government exists primarily to protect our freedom and that this framework is something we ought to work to preserve. Preserve not just for ourselves but for future generations of Americans so that they too may experience what it is like to live free.

Ron Paul Institute: ‘Choose Your Liar’ Democracy

‘Choose Your Liar’ Democracy comes via the Ron Paul Institute and is written by James Bovard.

The final weeks of a presidential campaign is one of the best opportunities to view political perfidy in spectacular colors. While the media lectures Americans about their civic duty to vote to save the nation, the candidates continue conniving nonstop with no respect for the facts or decency. After the election is settled, the media and the political establishment will announce “the system worked” and Americans must again respect and obey their rulers (unless Trump is re-elected, of course).

Politicians have mandated warning labels for almost everything except voting booths. Federal agencies require full disclosure of risks for everything from mortgages to volunteering for medical experiments. People are entitled to far more information when testing baldness cures than when casting votes that could lead to war.

Hopefully Americans will not be as gullible after the election as many are before casting their ballot. Dishonesty is the distinguishing trait of the political class, going all the way back to ancient Athens and the satirical plays of Aristophanes. In 1799, Thomas Jefferson observed, “Whenever a man casts a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”

A successful politician is often merely someone who bamboozled more voters than the other liar running for office. Political campaigns rely on deception because, as economist John Burnheim explained, “Overwhelming pressures to lie, to pretend, to conceal… are always present when the object to be sold is intangible and its properties unverifiable until long after the time when the decision to buy can be reversed.”

Lying has long been part of presidents’ job description: the names of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon practically became synonyms for deceit. Former president George W. Bush is being rehabilitated by the media nowadays. But Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda,” as the Center for Public Integrity reported. Bush’s determination to dishonestly drag America into another Middle East war led to the deaths of more than 4,000 American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

President Barack Obama received sainthood even before his election and he retained his halo even though he falsely promised dozens of times that people could keep their doctor after Obamacare’s decrees took effect. Obama campaigned in 2008 on a peace platform and then bombed seven nations. Obama promised “no more illegal wiretapping” but he unleashed the National Security Administration to target any American “searching the web for suspicious stuff.”

The 2016 presidential race was a landmark: never before had American voters been obliged to choose between two such widely despised candidates. Routine deceit by both candidates helped make “post-truth” the 2016 word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The 2020 race is also deluging voters with near-record levels of malarkey. Joe Biden denied referring to American soldiers as “stupid bastards” (despite a video of his spiel), denies that his son Hunter has done anything wrong (despite the pesky laptop emails), and exaggerated the Covid death toll a hundredfold. Trump has ludicrously portrayed his pandemic response as faultless, wildly exaggerates the economic achievements of his administration, and perennially denies the damage inflicted here by his trade wars. The one certainty is that the 2020 election will not be won by an honest man.

If a new president is elected next month, the media will insist that “this time is different” and that Americans can safely trust the White House again. In reality, Election Day merely marks a brief intermission between campaigning lies and governing lies. Yet, if Biden wins, Americans will be encouraged to pretend that election victories expunge the sins – or at least the character defects – of triumphant politicians. Winners supposedly deserve a “honeymoon” where people pretend they are trustworthy enough to enact new laws and launch ruinous new federal programs.

But nothing happens after Election Day to make politicians less venal. Presidents and members of Congress take oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution. But, as former U.S. senator Bob Kerrey explained in 2013, “The problem is, the second your hand comes off the Bible, you become an asshole.” When elected officials scorn the Constitution, politics becomes little more than promising and pilfering.

America is increasingly a “Garbage In, Garbage Out” democracy. Politicians dupe citizens and then invoke deluded votes to sanctify and stretch their power. In the post-9/11 era, politicians treat Americans like medical orderlies treat Alzheimer’s patients, telling them anything that will keep them subdued. It doesn’t matter what untruths the people are fed because they will surely forget them.

Lies subvert democracy by crippling citizens’ ability to rein in government. As Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and mentor for Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, said, “In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.” Any lie accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.

Disregarding political lies paves the way for official crimes. As former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg declared, “When we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality.” If elected politicians can lie and cover up their actions, then how can any reasonable person not expect to be oppressed?

Politicians assure that voters’ apparent consent is irrevocable regardless of how many lies permeated election campaigns. But there is no such thing as retroactive self-government. Belatedly exposing political lies does nothing to resurrect lost freedoms.

Deceiving voters is as much a violation of their rights as barring them from the polling booth. Only if we assume that people consent to being lied to can pervasive political lies be reconciled with democracy. And if people consent to deceit, elections become little more than patients choosing who will inject their sedatives.

President Obama, in his January 2017 farewell address, criticized Americans who “blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.” By Obama’s standard, the perpetual perfidy of the political class would justify condemning voters almost regardless of how they cast their ballots. Obama also condemned people who did not vote. Obama thereby created a no-win situation – except for politicians.

Obama, in his 2016 speech to the Democratic National Convention, also declared, “We do not look to be ruled.” Regardless of the irony of a heavy-handed ruler tossing out that line, it rings true for tens of millions of Americans who make their own liberty their supreme political value.

In the short run, the political game is rigged so that winners capture far more power than many, if not most, Americans would willingly cede to them and vastly more than the Constitution permits. But citizens can reduce the hazards they face by remembering that winning votes never redeemed a rascal. The winner of next month’s presidential election will be a clear and present danger to Americans’ rights and liberties regardless of his margin of victory.

CS Lewis Doodle: Equality

C.S. Lewis sets out why he believes in democracy. Believing in God, that is ‘hierarchy’ or ‘inequality within’, is the foundation stone of ‘equality without’ – that is, legal and political equality. Notes below in video description…
This is an illustration of C.S Lewis’ article published in the British magazine called ‘The Spectator’ on 27 August 1943. The Spectator was a weekly magazine and is the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language. You can find the book containing this article here: https://www.amazon.com/Present-Concer…
(0:07) When C.S. Lewis says he is a ‘democrat’, he means with a small ‘d’. (i.e., a person who believes in democracy, not a member of the Democratic Party of the United States). Dictionary meaning 1 below, not 2.
1. An advocate or supporter of democracy. “as a democrat, I accepted the outcome of the referendum”
2. (in the US) a member of the Democratic Party.
(0:16) Rousseau’s great lie was that: “People in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence, however, is corrupted by the evils of society.” This view is held almost universally in the world today, which clings to its own ‘righteousness’ just as a drowning man is hesitant to leave a sinking, rickety raft, when offered a short swim to a rescuer’s arms. Once this lie of our “inherent goodness” is abandoned, the truth does not lead to the wrong kind of hopelessness as was feared, but for the first time opens the door to the need of a Saviour. Leaving that raft of false hope can give us freedom. Christianity claims, by contrast, that we were once innocent but are now fallen and corrupted. Yet even in their innocent state in paradise, Eve could be deceived, and Adam couldn’t hold to the truth under pressure. They committed an act of betrayal, not just a mistake (Hosea 6.7).
Rousseau is called the ‘father of the totalitarians’. (Lewis, ‘On the Transmission of Christianity’).
(0:55) See “The Screwtape Letters” #1 and #25 for ‘catch words’.
(1:12) Lewis thought himself a natural non-leader (also see Judges 9.11): ‘…I don’t think there are in fact any people who stand to the rest of us as adult to child, man to beast or animate to inanimate. (Note: this is really the same objection as that which I would make to Aristotle’s theory of slavery (Politics 1254A et seq.). We can all recognize the “natural” slaves (I am perhaps one myself) but where are the “natural” masters?’ (Lewis, ‘The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment’).
(1:50) Some high forms of unequal statuses (and burdens) like kingship and the Levitical priesthood were also medicines or corrections, not ideals. See 1 Samuel 8.1-7, Exodus 4.10-14, and even Deuteronomy 5.25-28. But as Lewis points out, the basic headship or ‘shepherdships’ were ideal and began even before the fall of mankind. Before kingship also, God’s ideal system was to raise up leaders and appoint saviours for each individual crisis. In fact the judges refused kingship – mastership – they only took a shepherd’s role. In English history, we would call these military men the ‘Churchills’ I suppose (i.e. the Duke of Marlborough or Winston Churchill) who saw the gathering danger much earlier than others, came from obscurity and disregard, and led the British nation to outstanding, unlikely, victory over powerful enemies.
(5:15) Lewis mentions the feminist writer Naomi Mitchison, author of “The Home and a Changing Civilisation” (London, 1934, Chapter I, pp. 49-50). “Everybody minds being owned economically, even when they acquiesce; nobody minds being owned in love (or, more accurately, everybody wants to be owned in love). But when the two things are mixed there is the devil to pay…”
(7:10) In music, polyphony is one type of musical texture. A polyphony consists of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to (1) a musical texture with just one voice, a monophony, or (2) a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, which is called a homophony.
(7:48) ‘I’m as good as you’ – See the demon’s instruction about democracy in “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”.
The original article had certain words italicised: *real* (2:55, 3:57), *erotic* (5:11), and *wear* (8:28).

Independent: WA Gov. Inslee Says Trump “Fomenting Domestic Rebellion”

In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday accused President Trump of fomenting domestic rebellion for daring to plan for the reopening of states. This despite Governor Inslee’s own efforts throughout his tenure as governor to destroy the liberties and property enjoyed within his own state, creating an antagonistic divide between Eastern and Western Washington.  Inslee accuses Trump of “anti-democrate rhetoric” while his own actual actions have been dictatorial in nature – executive orders with no representative approval.

Jay Inslee, governor of Washington State, has accused President Donald Trump of “encouraging illegal and dangerous acts.”

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the governor said the president’s “unhinged rantings” could lead to violence and were “fomenting domestic rebellion”.

He also warned that the president was putting millions at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The governor was responding to the Mr Trump’s comments earlier on Friday about “liberating” parts of the country from lockdowns put in place to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Inslee says that while on Thursday the president stood alongside White House officials and public health experts, saying that science would guide his plan for easing restrictions, with sensible guidelines to resuming economic activity, “Less than 24 hours later, the president is off the rails.”

“He’s not quoting scientists and doctors but spewing dangerous, anti-democratic rhetoric.”

(continues)

See also We the Governed: A good day for a little rebellion against Washington Governor Inslee

Townhall: Democracy and Tyranny

In his essay Democracy and Tyranny, author Walter Williams echoes some of the danger of the popular vote that we discussed in the earlier article on the three dangers to liberty.

During President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial, we’ll hear a lot of talk about our rules for governing. One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy. If we’ve become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny. In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in our nation’s two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

Here are a few quotations that demonstrate the contempt that our founders held for a democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, wrote that in a pure democracy, “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that “in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.” Alexander Hamilton agreed, saying: “We are now forming a republican government. (Liberty) is found not in “the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. … If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

John Adams reminded us: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

John Marshall, the highly respected fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

Thomas Paine said, “A Democracy is the vilest form of Government there is.”

The framers gave us a Constitution replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One constitutional provision that has come in for recent criticism is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College as a means of deciding presidential elections. That means heavily populated states can’t run roughshod over small, less-populated states.

Were we to choose the president and vice president under a popular vote, the outcome of presidential races would always be decided by a few highly populated states, namely California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, which contain 134.3 million people, or 41% of our population. Presidential candidates could safely ignore the interests of the citizens of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Delaware. Why? They have only 5.58 million Americans, or 1.7% of the U.S. population. We would no longer be a government “of the people.” Instead, our government would be put in power by and accountable to the leaders and citizens of a few highly populated states. It would be the kind of tyranny the framers feared.

It’s Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties. The framers’ distrust is seen in the negative language of our Bill of Rights such as: Congress “shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied.” When we die and if at our next destination we see anything like a Bill of Rights, we know that we’re in hell because a Bill of Rights in heaven would suggest that God couldn’t be trusted.

The Trumpet: America Has Been ‘Fundamentally Transformed’

The following article from The Trumpet and pastor Gerald Flurry of the Philadelphia Church of God makes the claim that there is deliberate effort being made to move the US away from being a constitutional republic toward being only a mob-rule democracy. The opening of the article is below, but it is quite a bit longer through the link.

America’s government has been embroiled in a shameful impeachment charade for months now. The Democrats are demonstrating that there is virtually no limit to what they are willing to do to attack the president and undermine the last election—and the next one. Meanwhile, revelations continue to emerge about their abuse of the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, even the president himself.

People need to understand what a dangerous threat this is to the very foundation of this nation!

What is happening in the Democratic Party is an extension of and intensification of a process started by the previous president.

When Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally change America” during his 2008 presidential run, few people knew what he really meant. Now that he is out of office, it is becoming clearer all the time that the change he was talking about was something far more dangerous than many people assumed.

He meant changing America from a constitutional republic. And what we are witnessing in the country today shows that, to an alarming degree, he succeeded!

In an address to Democratic donors this past November, Mr. Obama said that if Democrats want to be elected, they need to conceal their radical views. “This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” he said. “Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it” (emphasis mine throughout).

The average American doesn’t think that, but he does, and these donors do! And he wasn’t telling them to abandon that goal—only to be more underhanded about it!

Mr. Obama is contemptuously and openly discussing what he meant by fundamentally transforming America. Now that he is out of office, he tells us what his real goal was and still is—“to completely tear down the system and remake it”!

In the past, such revolutions usually caused millions of people to spill their blood.

If you think my view is unreal, consider this: Never have we seen a more bitterly divided America, and this man who fundamentally transformed America caused much of this division. He almost destroyed America’s constitutional republic. Never have we seen such hatred between American people.

All this ought to terrify every American. Many revolutions end in a civil war filled with suffering and death.

In America’s civil war, neither side will win. Bible prophecy thunders a deadly message that an enemy nation will conquer us. We must wake up and repent for God to save us this time…

Click here to read the entire article at The Trumpet.

Rutherford Institute: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Policing the Globe

Here is another good article from author and Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead on whether the U.S.A. will have its empire collapse and remain a democratic republic, or have its democracy collapse and keep the empire. An excerpt follows:

Guns for Hire: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror

Click here to read the entire article at the Rutherford Institute.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: The Next Revolution by Murray Bookchin

Michael Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has a short review/discussion of Murry Bookchin’s collected essays published as The Next Revoltion: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy. Bookchin believed that the ideal was for people to make decisions for themselves in public assemblies or municipalities.

…While there are numerous key points on which Bookchin and I would have disagreed spiritedly, that’s not the purpose of this piece. Aside from being a wealth of information and knowledge (he closely studied nearly every major revolution in the Euro-American world), his greatest service here is a framework through which to understand human governance and how and why it’s all gone so terribly wrong. Many of his themes cover ideas and realizations I’ve come to on my own, but the clarity with which he describes certain key concepts helped refine my thinking. The purpose of this post is to outline some of these ideas…

In The Need to Remake Society he writes:

To create a state is to institutionalize power in the form of a machine that exists apart from the people. It is to professionalize rule and policy-making, to create a distinct interest (be it of bureaucrats, deputies commissars, legislators, the military, the police, ad nauseam) that, however weak or however well intentioned it may be at first, eventually takes on a corruptive power of its own.

One would have to be utterly naive or simply blind to the lessons of history to ignore the fact that the state, “minimal” or not, absorbs and ultimately digests even its most well-meaning critics once they enter it. 

The notion that human freedom can be achieved, much less perpetuated, through a state of any kind is monstrously oxymoronic – a contradiction in terms…

In Cities, he explains:

But democracy, conceived as a face-to-face realm of policymaking, entails a commitment to the Enlightenment belief that all “ordinary” human beings are potentially competent to collectively manage their political affairs — a crucial concept in the thinking, all its limitations aside, of the Athenian democratic tradition and, more radically, of those Parisian sections of 1793 that gave equal voice to women as well as all men.

Bookchin was a huge supporter of direct democracy, in other words, of the people making decisions for themselves within their own communities. He envisioned this being done in a face-to-face manner within public assemblies. Like myself, Bookchin believed this sort of thing would only work properly (and resist statist tendencies) if employed at the local level. He understood that centralization leads to statism and vice versa.

So what did Bookchin see as the ideal political unit for self-governance? He saw it in the municipality…

Further, in Libertarian Municipalism: A Politics of Direct Democracy, he notes:

Today, with the increasing centralization and concentration of power in the nation-state, a “new politics” — one that is genuinely new — must be structured institutionally around the restoration of power by municipalities…it presupposes a genuinely democratic desire by people to arrest the growing powers of the nation-state and reclaim them for their community and region.

Importantly, Bookchin believed such self-governing, decentralized municipalities should be connected with one another in a system called confederalism. He defines the term in his essay, The Meaning of Confederalism:

What, then, is confederalism? It is above all a network of administrative councils whose members or delegates are elected from popular face-to-face democratic assemblies, in the various villages, towns and even neighborhoods of large cities…

What humans employ for governance in 2019 primarily consists of “states,” i.e. professional power, as opposed to people power. The general public is made up of electoral constituents, not free citizens participating in the governance of their communities. Bookchin was in favor of decentralized, local rule via direct democracy in contrast to today’s world governed by centralized mega states showcasing a facade of democracy in order to mask an underlying corporate oligarchy or bureaucratic technocracy.

One thing I didn’t expect to see in his work, but proved a pleasant though sobering surprise, was an admission that people themselves need to change in order to successfully implement the sort of governance model he advocates. Since the public is so used to being mere subjects, it’ll be a monumental task to transform them into actual engaged citizens…

Click here to read the article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.