Isn't reality a completely cool, completely impossible trip?
Something that's there and we barely notice, taking for granted: A blinking cursor. Before that simple blinking, it was way harder to get things done. This article goes through the history of it's creation, and how much Steve Jobs (pboh) hated them. Good article, except the glaring flaw that says we store files in the CPU. (heh)
The British used to rule 1/4 of the world's landmass and 1/3 of the world's population. To say this gave them a god complex is an understatement. I mean, shiat, the monarch's motto is "God and My Right", as-in, even if God His Own Damned Self told the monarch to fark right off, the monarch still trumps God by their very existence because they have more right to rule than just a mere Yahweh. And the rest of the British think the monarch is a wanker. So, they are more entitled than the guy/gal who thinks they are more entitled than God.
I think the biggest thing I am trying to point out is that right now today, no matter how many things we get rid of, tear down, destroy, or censor - none of us now are going to forget that these things happened. These things were not good. They are mistakes to learn from. But think in the future, 50 years down the road. People who are not even born yet may not know anything about these things happening. On the surface, that seems like a good thing.
On 4 October 1957, 14,000 people watched a large hangar on the outskirts of Toronto open to reveal a beautiful, large, white, delta-wing aircraft. The plane was the Avro Arrow interceptor. A third longer and broader than today’s Eurofighter Typhoon, the Arrow could fly close to Mach 2.0 (1,500 mph, or the maximum speed of Concorde), and had the potential to fly even faster. It was Canada’s Can$250m (US$1,58bn today) bid to become an aviation superpower.
If I had known, 20 years ago, that my side in the ideological wars over gender and sex was going to win so decisively, I would have been ecstatic. Back then, I spent many evenings at the pub or at dinner parties debating gender and identity with other graduate students; or, really, anyone who would listen—my mother-in-law, my relatives, or just a random person unlucky enough to be in my presence. I insisted that there was no such thing as sex. And I knew it. I just knew it. Because I was a gender historian.
Surprising to learn that a language (Fulfulde) spoken by millions of people in West Africa never has had a written format. But they do now! It's even a new Unicode format and is available in Microsoft Office and many other apps now.
Imagine cupping an Ansault pear in your palm, polishing its golden-green belly on your shirtsleeve. Imagine raising it to your lips and biting, the crisp snap as a wafer of buttery flesh falls on your tongue. Imagine the juice shooting out—you bend at the waist and scoot your feet back to prevent the drops from falling on your sneakers. . . .
From: Omaha: The Gate City and Douglas County, Nebraska
Arthur C. Wakeley, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago 1917
Wow, just wow. These people pushed an original 8088 with CGA (4.77 Mhz with a four color video card) and nothing for sound but a beeping PC speaker and made it do 1024 colors, multi-channel audio, and graphics beyond anything that could be imagined when the original IBM PC was released.
Have been doing some research about the religion of the Vikings, Odinism or Asatru.
While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it. In this article I’ll share 8 reasons why you must eventually abandon the baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue conscious living in earnest.
Apple Computer, Inc. is not just a computer/portable device company, but at its inner core a philosophy. It's a philosophy of life, of living, of being alive, of stayin' alive, and of livin' la vida loca. It is a way of thinking and consuming overpriced monochrome technology that's designed with elegance. Being a complete and utter genius, Jobs named his company "Apple" — in honor of both Renaissance Man Johnny Appleseed, and the nutritious fruit that one can buy from the grocery store.
The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do—in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.
1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Pay Attention to #10
I'm not a Dem, I'm not a Rep; I am a middle-middle-class American who is really concerned about the state of affairs, and I can't tell what kind of game is being played right now, but both sides seem dishonest.
Imagine how the tech support situation was when they graduated to printed books from rolled scrolls. :)
As someone who grew up surrounded by cows and corn in the middle of Nebraska, I'm getting a kick out of this. (But not enjoying news of this cartelian censorship.)
This is a PERFECT 'free market' example that easily ends up on the side of the corn farmer people:
1) Cows evolved eating simple grasses and not corn per se.
2) Cows like eating corn more than they like eating grass.
3) Cows that are grass fed do not taste as good as cows that are corn fed. (Grass fed tastes just a little 'gamy'. If you've ever eaten deer, you know the gamy taste.) For a nation raised on corn-fed McBurgers, grass fed just aint the same. (My point got long, sorry)
4) Do it like the Pepsi Challenge/Cola Wars of the 1980s: Get set up with some of the big box grocery stores (Or for total grass roots - hit the small grocery stores that could really use some help in this economy.) and set up tasting booths outside the entrance comparing the taste of [free] samples of steak grilled right in front of people. Get people excited about it. (Just remember not to keep the challenge going so long that people get sick of it like they did with the Cola Wars.)
Pure free-market economics. Both sides win short term, as it's going to sell a lot of both grass-fed and corn-fed.
And, just like the outcome of the cola wars, neither side really won. But the corn growers won - that was the same time that both companies switched from cane sugar to High Fructose Corn Syrup.
Corn guys will probably win just fine on taste alone. And the grass-fed guys will sell a lot more steak for a while. A win-win situation.
by Julian Assange
In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.
These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.
WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?
Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.
People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.
If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.
And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.
We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.
Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?
It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:
The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".
Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay . Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
Copyright 2010 News Limited
"This is a mass grave," Bill Watson said as he led the way through the thick Pennsylvania woods in a suburb about 30 miles from Philadelphia.
"Duffy's Cut," as it's now called, is a short walk from a suburban cul-de-sac in Malvern, an affluent town off the fabled Main Line. Twin brothers Bill and Frank Watson believe 57 Irish immigrants met violent deaths there after a cholera epidemic struck in 1832.
They suspect foul play. [Malvern, Pennsylvania (CNN)]
A primeval legend and early icon depicting a snake consuming it's own tail.
Someone once asked me when I thought we will have defeated racism in this country.
I told him, "When people stop getting the jokes."
Or is it already too late? We are electronic creatures. That some would study this, and attempt to use it to further their agenda, is certain.
"OUR FOREIGN POLICY has always been geared towards gathering as much of the world's resources unto ourselves at the expense of others....the True purpose of our armed forces is to make the world safe for our Big Boss: our Supernationalistic Capitalism and our Cultural and economic assault..the trouble with US Americans is: if our Dollar can't buy more than 6% of its value at home....we get uneasy...and we go abroad so it can buy 100 percent more...and where the Dollar goes, our flag, follows, where the Flag goes, our army goes."
"The Chinese try to understand the whole and how the parts serve the purpose of the whole project. Once they have that concept, then they look at each part in turn. Europeans immediately break everything down and stack up lists. Then they try to resolve each one separately in an ideal way and hope that they all fit together in the future. It's really not as useful," Dr Maccoby says.
Prohibition led to Al Capone and rising crime, violence and corruption, overflowing courts, jails, and prisons, the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law, the dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on civil liberties, hundreds of thousands of Americans blinded, paralyzed, and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol, and the increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the Prohibition laws.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Jan. 1. 1802.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
"They will find all those worldly political philosophies are just lies of men to gain worldly power & wealth over others through brainwashing methods & manipulations."
Relentless public announcements that we should accept our neighbor and be considerate of each other's differences. It's to the point now where people can't even make self-deprecating comments about their own race or sex without being fired for being racist or sexist. Jokes have become illegal. We've made negative feelings essentially taboo -- you can't express anger, dissatisfaction, or anything but sunshine and kittens.
The laws of thermodynamics also loosely apply to social problems: In this case, the rate at which negative emotions are created hasn't changed, but the available space they exist within has been constrained. This has led to a rise in pressure and temperature. Naturally, leaks develop, which result in high pressure discharges into the relative vaccum of positive emotions, which are suspiciously absent right now due to an economic turndown, a lack of socialization amongst our peers (due to the constant fear of them), and so yeah...
We've made it illegal to cry tears, and so... some have started to cry bullets. I'm sorry to say, America -- but life is shit. We need to square with that and be honest. A few more fuck you's and honest brawls between people would do us all a lot of good. Yes, I'm advocating violence here -- because a few punches in the face is a lot easier to get over than a few bullets in the back.
America's unjust sex laws
When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life.
Philip E. Agre
Web version: http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/conservatism.html
Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to
conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again,
liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and
what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions
are also simple:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and
civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality
and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the
These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until
recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves
"conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is.
They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns
of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become
possible to revive democracy in the United States.
//1 The Main Arguments of Conservatism
From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of
ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist
Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history,
there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as
an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.
The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the
most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically
internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the
aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals
often theorize that conservatives use "social issues" as a way to
mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal
of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social
and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality
and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy,
are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply
to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism
that the people must literally love the order that dominates them.
Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is
perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists
such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of
voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety
of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives,
rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe
that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its
intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast,
believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the
antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.
The defenders of aristocracy represent aristocracy as a natural
phenomenon, but in reality it is the most artificial thing on
earth. Although one of the goals of every aristocracy is to make
its preferred social order seem permanent and timeless, in reality
conservatism must be reinvented in every generation. This is true
for many reasons, including internal conflicts among the aristocrats;
institutional shifts due to climate, markets, or warfare; and
ideological gains and losses in the perpetual struggle against
democracy. In some societies the aristocracy is rigid, closed, and
stratified, while in others it is more of an aspiration among various
fluid and factionalized groups. The situation in the United States
right now is toward the latter end of the spectrum. A main goal
in life of all aristocrats, however, is to pass on their positions
of privilege to their children, and many of the aspiring aristocrats
of the United States are appointing their children to positions
in government and in the archipelago of think tanks that promote
Conservatism in every place and time is founded on deception.
The deceptions of conservatism today are especially sophisticated,
simply because culture today is sufficiently democratic that the
myths of earlier times will no longer suffice.
Before analyzing current-day conservatism's machinery of deception,
let us outline the main arguments of conservatism. Although these
arguments have changed little through history, they might seem
unfamiliar to many people today, indeed even to people who claim
to be conservatives. That unfamiliarity is a very recent phenomenon.
Yet it is only through the classical arguments and their fallacies
that we can begin to analyze how conservatism operates now.
According to the first type of argument, found for example in Burke,
social institutions are a kind of capital. A properly ordered society
will be blessed with large quantities of this capital. This capital
has very particular properties. It is a sprawling tangle of social
arrangements and patterns of thought, passed down through generations
as part of the culture. It is generally tacit in nature and cannot
be rationally analyzed. It is fragile and must be conserved, because
a society that lacks it will collapse into anarchy and tyranny.
Innovation is bad, therefore, and prejudice is good. Although
the institutions can tolerate incremental reforms around the edges,
systematic questioning is a threat to social order. In particular,
rational thought is evil. Nothing can be worse for the conservative
than rational thought, because people who think rationally might
decide to try replacing inherited institutions with new ones,
something that a conservative regards as impossible. This is where
the word "conservative" comes from: the supposed importance of
conserving established institutions.
This argument is not wholly false. Institutions are in fact sprawling
tangles of social arrangements and patterns of thought, passed down
through generations as part of the culture. And people who think
they can reengineer the whole of human society overnight are generally
mistaken. The people of ancien regime France were oppressed by the
conservative order of their time, but indeed their revolution did
not work, and would probably not have worked even if conservatives
from elsewhere were not militarily attacking them. After all, the
conservative order had gone to insane lengths to deprive them of the
education, practical experience, and patterns of thought that would
be required to operate a democracy. They could not invent those
Even so, the argument about conserving institutions is mostly untrue.
Most institutions are less fragile and more dynamic than conservatives
claim. Large amounts of institutional innovation happen in every
generation. If people lack a rational analysis of institutions,
that is mostly a product of conservatism rather than an argument for
it. And although conservatism has historically claimed to conserve
institutions, history makes clear that conservatism is only interested
in conserving particular kinds of institutions: the institutions that
reinforce conservative power. Conservatism rarely tries to conserve
institutions such as Social Security and welfare that decrease
the common people's dependency on the aristocracy and the social
authorities that serve it. To the contrary, they represent those
institutions in various twisted ways as dangerous to to the social
order generally or to their beneficiaries in particular.
The opposite of conservatism is democracy, and contempt for democracy
is a constant thread in the history of conservative argument.
Instead, conservatism has argued that society ought to be organized
in a hierarchy of orders and classes and controlled by its uppermost
hierarchical stratum, the aristocracy. Many of these arguments
against egalitarianism are ancient, and most of them are routinely
heard on the radio. One tends to hear the arguments in bits
and pieces, for example the emphatic if vague claim that people
are different. Of course, most of these arguments, if considered
rationally, actually argue for meritocracy rather than for
aristocracy. Meritocracy is a democratic principle. George Bush,
however, was apparently scarred for life by having been one of the
last students admitted to Yale under its old aristocratic admissions
system, and having to attend classes with students admitted under
the meritocratic system who considered themselves to be smarter
than him. Although he has lately claimed to oppose the system of
legacy admissions from which he benefitted, that is a tactic, part
of a package deal to eliminate affirmative action, thereby allowing
conservative social hierarchies to be reaffirmed in other ways.
American culture still being comparatively healthy, overt arguments
for aristocracy (for example, that the children of aristocrats learn
by osmosis the profound arts of government and thereby acquire a
wisdom that mere experts cannot match) are still relatively unusual.
Instead, conservatism must proceed through complicated indirection,
and the next few sections of this article will explain in some
detail how this works. The issue is not that rich people are bad, or
that hierarchical types of organization have no place in a democracy.
Nor are the descendents of aristocrats necessarily bad people if
they do not try to perpetuate conservative types of domination over
society. The issue is both narrow and enormous: no aristocracy should
be allowed to trick the rest of society into deferring to it.
But isn't conservatism about freedom? Of course everyone wants
freedom, and so conservatism has no choice but to promise freedom to
its subjects. In reality conservatism has meant complicated things
by "freedom", and the reality of conservatism in practice has scarcely
corresponded even to the contorted definitions in conservative texts.
To start with, conservatism constantly shifts in its degree of
authoritarianism. Conservative rhetors, in the Wall Street Journal
for example, have no difficulty claiming to be the party of freedom
in one breath and attacking civil liberties in the next.
The real situation with conservatism and freedom is best understood
in historical context. Conservatism constantly changes, always
adapting itself to provide the minimum amount of freedom that is
required to hold together a dominant coalition in the society. In
Burke's day, for example, this meant an alliance between traditional
social authorities and the rising business class. Although the
business class has always defined its agenda in terms of something it
calls "freedom", in reality conservatism from the 18th century onward
has simply implied a shift from one kind of government intervention
in the economy to another, quite different kind, together with a
continuation of medieval models of cultural domination.
This is a central conservative argument: freedom is impossible unless
the common people internalize aristocratic domination. Indeed, many
conservative theorists to the present day have argued that freedom
is not possible at all. Without the internalized domination of
conservatism, it is argued, social order would require the external
domination of state terror. In a sense this argument is correct:
historically conservatives have routinely resorted to terror when
internalized domination has not worked. What is unthinkable by design
here is the possibility that people might organize their lives in a
This alliance between traditional social authorities and the
business class is artificial. The market continually undermines
the institutions of cultural domination. It does this partly through
its constant revolutionizing of institutions generally and partly
by encouraging a culture of entrepreneurial initiative. As a result,
the alliance must be continually reinvented, all the while pretending
that its reinventions simply reinstate an eternal order.
Conservatism promotes (and so does liberalism, misguidedly) the idea
that liberalism is about activist government where conservatism is
not. This is absurd. It is unrelated to the history of conservative
government. Conservatism promotes activist government that acts in
the interests of the aristocracy. This has been true for thousands of
years. What is distinctive about liberalism is not that it promotes
activist government but that it promotes government that acts in the
interests of the majority. Democratic government, however, is not
simply majoritarian. It is, rather, one institutional expression of
a democratic type of culture that is still very much in the process of
//2 How Conservatism Works
Conservative social orders have often described themselves
as civilized, and so one reads in the Wall Street Journal that
"the enemies of civilization hate bow ties". But what conservatism
calls civilization is little but the domination of an aristocracy.
Every aspect of social life is subordinated to this goal. That is
The reality is quite the opposite. To impose its order on society,
conservatism must destroy civilization. In particular conservatism
must destroy conscience, democracy, reason, and language.
* The Destruction of Conscience
Liberalism is a movement of conscience. Liberals speak endlessly of
conscience. Yet conservative rhetors have taken to acting as if they
owned the language of conscience. They even routinely assert that
liberals disparage conscience. The magnitude of the falsehood here
is so great that decent people have been set back on their heels.
Conservatism continually twists the language of conscience into
its opposite. It has no choice: conservatism is unjust, and cannot
survive except by pretending to be the opposite of what it is.
Conservative arguments are often arbitrary in nature. Consider, for
example, the controversy over Elian Gonzalez. Conservatism claims
that the universe is ordered by absolutes. This would certainly make
life easier if it was true. The difficulty is that the absolutes
constantly conflict with one another. When the absolutes do not
conflict, there is rarely any controversy. But when absolutes do
conflict, conservatism is forced into sophistry. In the case of
Elian Gonzalez, two absolutes conflicted: keeping families together
and not making people return to tyrannies. In a democratic society,
the decision would be made through rational debate. Conservatism,
however, required picking one of the two absolutes arbitrarily (based
perhaps on tactical politics in Florida) and simply accusing anyone
who disagreed of flouting absolutes and thereby nihilistically denying
the fundamental order of the universe. This happens every day.
Arbitrariness replaces reason with authority. When arbitrariness
becomes established in the culture, democracy decays and it becomes
possible for aristocracies to dominate people's minds.
Another example of conservative twisting of the language of
conscience is the argument, in the context of the attacks of 9/11
and the war in Iraq, that holding our side to things like the Geneva
Convention implies an equivalence between ourselves and our enemies.
This is a logical fallacy. The fallacy is something like: they
kill so they are bad, but we are good so it is okay for us to kill.
The argument that everything we do is okay so long as it is not as
bad as the most extreme evil in the world is a rejection of nearly
all of civilization. It is precisely the destruction of conscience.
Or take the notion of "political correctness". It is true that
movements of conscience have piled demands onto people faster than
the culture can absorb them. That is an unfortunate side-effect of
social progress. Conservatism, however, twists language to make the
inconvenience of conscience sound like a kind of oppression. The
campaign against political correctness is thus a search-and-destroy
campaign against all vestiges of conscience in society. The
flamboyant nastiness of rhetors such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter
represents the destruction of conscience as a type of liberation.
They are like cultists, continually egging on their audiences to
destroy their own minds by punching through one layer after another
of their consciences.
Once I wrote on the Internet that bears in zoos are miserable
and should be let go. In response to this, I received an e-mail
viciously mocking me as an animal rights wacko. This is an example
of the destruction of conscience. Any human being with a halfways
functioning conscience will be capable of rationally debating
the notion that unhappy bears in zoos should be let go. Of course,
rational people might have other opinions. They might claim that
the bears are not actually miserable, or that they would be just
as miserable in the forest. Conservatism, though, has stereotyped
concern for animals by associating it with its most extreme fringe.
This sort of mockery of conscience has become systematic and
* The Destruction of Democracy
For thousands of years, conservatism was universally understood as
being in opposition to democracy. Having lost much of its ability
to attack democracy openly, conservatism has tried in recent years
to redefine the word "democracy" while engaging in deception to make
the substance of democracy unthinkable.
Conservative rhetors, for example, have been using the word
"government" in a way that does not distinguish between legitimate
democracy and totalitarianism.
Then there is the notion that politicians who offer health care
reforms, for example, are claiming to be better people than the rest
of us. This is a particularly toxic distortion. Offering reforms
is a basic part of democracy, something that every citizen can do.
Even more toxic is the notion that those who criticize the
president are claiming to be better people than he is. This is
Some conservative rhetors have taken to literally demonizing the very
notion of a democratic opposition. Rush Limbaugh has argued at length
that Tom Daschle resembles Satan simply because he opposes George
Bush's policies. Ever since then, Limbaugh has regularly identified
Daschle as "el diablo". This is the emotional heart of conservatism:
the notion that the conservative order is ordained by God and that
anyone and anything that opposes the conservative order is infinitely
* The Destruction of Reason
Conservatism has opposed rational thought for thousands of years.
What most people know nowadays as conservatism is basically a public
relations campaign aimed at persuading them to lay down their capacity
for rational thought.
Conservatism frequently attempts to destroy rational thought, for
example, by using language in ways that stand just out of reach of
rational debate or rebuttal.
Conservatism has used a wide variety of methods to destroy reason
throughout history. Fortunately, many of these methods, such as
the suppression of popular literacy, are incompatible with a modern
economy. Once the common people started becoming educated, more
sophisticated methods of domination were required. Thus the invention
of public relations, which is a kind of rationalized irrationality.
The great innovation of conservatism in recent decades has been the
systematic reinvention of politics using the technology of public
The main idea of public relations is the distinction between
"messages" and "facts". Messages are the things you want people
to believe. A message should be vague enough that it is difficult
to refute by rational means. (People in politics refer to messages
as "strategies" and people who devise strategies as "strategists".
The Democrats have strategists too, and it is not at all clear that
they should, but they scarcely compare with the vast public relations
machinery of the right.) It is useful to think of each message
as a kind of pipeline: a steady stream of facts is selected (or
twisted, or fabricated) to fit the message. Contrary facts are of
course ignored. The goal is what the professionals call "message
repetition". This provides activists with something to do: come up
with new facts to fit the conservative authorities' chosen messages.
Having become established in this way, messages must also be
continually intertwined with one another. This is one job of pundits.
To the public relations mind, the public sphere is a game in which
the opposition tries to knock you off your message. Take the example
of one successful message, "Gore's lies". The purpose of the game
was to return any interaction to the message, namely that Gore lies.
So if it is noted that the supposed examples of Gore lying (e.g., his
perfectly true claim to have done onerous farm chores) were themselves
untrue, common responses would include, "that doesn't matter, what
matters is Gore's lies", or "the reasons people believe them is
because of Gore's lies", or "yes perhaps, but there are so many other
examples of Gore's lies", or "you're just trying to change the subject
away from Gore's lies", and so on.
Many of these messages have become institutions. Whole organizations
exist to provide a pipeline of "facts" that underwrite the message of
"liberal media bias". These "facts" fall into numerous categories and
exemplify a wide range of fallacies. Some are just factually untrue,
e.g., claims that the New York Times has failed to cover an event
that it actually covered in detail. Other claimed examples of bias
are non sequiturs, e.g., quotations from liberal columns that appear
on the opinion pages, or quotations from liberals in news articles
that also provided balancing quotes from conservatives. Others are
illogical, e.g., media that report news events that represent bad
news for the president. The methods of identifying "bias" are thus
highly elastic. In practice, everything in the media on political
topics that diverges from conservative public relations messages is
contended to be an example of "liberal bias". The goal, clearly, is
to purge the media of everything except conservatism.
The word "inaccurate" has become something of a technical term in
the political use of public relations. It means "differs from our
Public relations aims to break down reason and replace it with mental
associations. One tries to associate "us" with good things and
"them" with bad things. Thus, for example, the famous memo from
Newt Gingrich's (then) organization GOPAC entitled "Language: A Key
Mechanism of Control". It advised Republican candidates to associate
themselves with words like "building", "dream", "freedom", "learn",
"light", "preserve", "success", and "truth" while associating
opponents with words like "bizarre", "decay", "ideological", "lie",
"machine", "pathetic", and "traitors". The issue here is not whether
these words are used at all; of course there do exist individual
liberals that could be described using any of these words. The
issue, rather, is a kind of cognitive surgery: systematically creating
and destroying mental associations with little regard for truth.
Note, in fact, that "truth" is one of the words that Gingrich advised
appropriating in this fashion. Someone who thinks this way cannot
even conceptualize truth.
Conservative strategists construct their messages in a variety of
more or less stereotyped ways. One of the most important patterns
of conservative message-making is projection. Projection is a
psychological notion; it roughly means attacking someone by falsely
claiming that they are attacking you. Conservative strategists engage
in projection constantly. An commonplace example would be taking
something from someone by claiming that they are in fact taking it
from you. Or, having heard a careful and detailed refutation of
something he has said, the projector might snap, "you should not
dismiss what I have said so quickly!". It is a false claim -- what
he said was not dismissed -- that is an example of itself -- he is
dismissing what his opponent has said.
Projection was an important part of the Florida election controversy,
for example when Republicans tried to get illegal ballots counted
and prevent legal ballots from being counted, while claiming that
Democrats were trying to steal the election.
* The Destruction of Language
Reason occurs mostly through the medium of language, and so the
destruction of reason requires the destruction of language. An
underlying notion of conservative politics is that words and phrases
of language are like territory in warfare: owned and controlled by
one side or the other. One of the central goals of conservatism,
as for example with Newt Gingrich's lists of words, is to take control
of every word and phrase in the English language.
George Bush, likewise, owes his election in great measure to a new
language that his people engineered for him. His favorite word,
for example, is "heart". This type of linguistic engineering
is highly evolved in the business milieu from which conservative
public relations derives, and it is the day-to-day work of countless
conservative think tanks. Bush's people, and the concentric circles
of punditry around them, are worlds away from John Kerry deciding
on a moment's notice that he is going to start the word "values".
They do not use a word unless they have an integrated communications
strategy for taking control of that word throughout the whole of
Bush's personal vocabulary is only a small part of conservative
language warfare as a whole. Since around 1990, conservative rhetors
have been systematically turning language into a weapon against
liberals. Words are used in twisted and exaggerated ways, or with the
opposite of their customary meanings. This affects the whole of the
language. The goal of this distorted language is not simply to defeat
an enemy but to destroy the minds of the people who believe themselves
to be conservatives and who constantly challenge themselves to ever
greater extremity in using it.
A simple example of turning language into a weapon might be the word
"predictable", which has become a synonym for "liberal". There is no
rational argument in this usage. Every such use of "predictable" can
be refuted simply by substituting the word "consistent". It is simply
More importantly, conservative rhetors have been systematically
mapping the language that has historically been used to describe the
aristocracy and the traditional authorities that serve it, and have
twisted those words into terms for liberals. This tactic has the dual
advantage of both attacking the aristocracies' opponents and depriving
them of the words that they have used to attack aristocracy.
A simple example is the term "race-baiting". In the Nexis database,
uses of "race-baiting" undergo a sudden switch in the early 1990's.
Before then, "race-baiting" referred to racists. Afterward, it
referred in twisted way to people who oppose racism. What happened
is simple: conservative rhetors, tired of the political advantage that
liberals had been getting from their use of that word, took it away
A more complicated example is the word "racist". Conservative rhetors
have tried to take this word away as well by constantly coming up
with new ways to stick the word onto liberals and their policies. For
example they have referred to affirmative action as "racist". This
is false; it is an attempt to destroy language. Racism is the notion
that one race is intrinsically better than another. Affirmative
action is arguably discriminatory, as a means of partially offsetting
discrimination in other places and times, but it is not racist. Many
conservative rhetors have even stuck the word "racist" on people just
because they oppose racism. The notion seems to be that these people
addressed themselves to the topic of race, and the word "racist" is
sort of an adjective relating somehow to race. In any event this too
is an attack on language.
A recent example is the word "hate". The civil rights movement had
used the word "hate" to refer to terrorism and stereotyping against
black people, and during the 1990's some in the press had identified
as "Clinton-haters" people who had made vast numbers of bizarre
claims that the Clintons had participated in murder and drug-dealing.
Beginning around 2003, conservative rhetors took control of this
word as well by labeling a variety of perfectly ordinary types of
democratic opposition to George Bush as "hate". In addition, they
have constructed a large number of messages of the form "liberals hate
X" (e.g., X=America) and established within their media apparatus a
sophistical pipeline of "facts" to support each one. This is also an
example of the systematic breaking of associations.
The word "partisan" entered into its current political circulation
in the early 1990's when some liberals identified people like Newt
Gingrich as "partisan" for doing things like the memo on language that
I mentioned earlier. To the conservative way of politics, there is
nothing either true or false about the liberal claim. It is simply
that liberals had taken control of some rhetorical territory: the word
"partisan". Conservative rhetors then set about taking control of the
word themselves. They did this in a way that has become mechanical.
They first claimed, falsely, that liberals were identifying as
"partisan" any views other than their own. They thus inflated
the word while projecting this inflation onto the liberals and
disconnecting the word from the particular facts that the liberals had
associated with it. Next, they started using the word "partisan" in
the inflated, dishonest way that they had ascribed to their opponents.
This is, very importantly, a way of attacking people simply for having
a different opinion. In twisting language this way, conservatives
tell themselves that they are simply turning liberal unfairness back
against the liberals. This too is projection.
Another common theme of conservative strategy is that liberals are
themselves an aristocracy. (For those who are really keeping score,
the sophisticated version of this is called the "new class strategy",
the message being that liberals are the American version of the Soviet
nomenklatura.) Thus, for example, the constant pelting of liberals
as "elites", sticking this word and a mass of others semantically
related to it onto liberals on every possible occasion. A pipeline
of "facts" has been established to underwrite this message as well.
Thus, for example, constant false conservative claims that the rich
vote Democratic. When Al Franken recently referred to his new radio
network as "the media elite and proud of it", he demonstrated his
oblivion to the workings of the conservative discourse that he claims
Further examples of this are endless. When a Republican senator
referred to "the few liberals", hardly any liberals gave any sign
of getting what he meant: as all conservatives got just fine, he
was appropriating the phrase "the few", referring to the aristocracy
as opposed to "the many", and sticking this phrase in a false and
mechanical way onto liberals. Rush Limbaugh asserts that "they
[liberals] think they are better than you", this of course being
a phrase that had historically been applied (and applied correctly)
to the aristocracy. Conservative rhetors constantly make false or
exaggerated claims that liberals are engaged in stereotyping -- the
criticism of stereotyping having been one of history's most important
rhetorical devices of democrats. And so on. The goal here is to make
it impossible to criticize aristocracy.
For an especially sorry example of this pattern, consider the word
"hierarchy". Conservatism is a hierarchical social system: a system
of ranked orders and classes. Yet in recent years conservatives
have managed to stick this word onto liberals, the notion being that
"government" (which liberals supposedly endorse and conservatives
supposedly oppose) is hierarchical (whereas corporations, the
military, and the church are somehow vaguely not). Liberals are
losing because it does not even occur to them to refute this kind of
It is often claimed in the media that snooty elitists on the coasts
refer to states in the middle of the country as "flyover country".
Yet I, who have lived in liberal areas of the coasts for most of my
life, have never once heard this usage. In fact, as far as I can
tell, the Nexis database does not contain a single example of anyone
using the phrase "flyover country" to disparage the non-coastal areas
of the United States. Instead, it contains hundreds of examples
of people disparaging residents of the coasts by claiming that they
use the phrase to describe the interior. The phrase is a special
favorite of newspapers in Minneapolis and Denver. This is projection.
Likewise, I have never heard the phrase "political correctness" used
except to disparage the people who supposedly use it.
Conservative remapping of the language of aristocracy and democracy
has been incredibly thorough. Consider, for example, the terms
"entitlement" and "dependency". The term "entitlement" originally
referred to aristocrats. Aristocrats had titles, and they thought
that they were thereby entitled to various things, particularly the
deference of the common people. Everyone else, by contrast, was
dependent on the aristocrats. This is conservatism. Yet in the
1990's, conservative rhetors decided that the people who actually
claim entitlement are people on welfare. They furthermore created
an empirically false association between welfare and dependency.
But, as I have mentioned, welfare is precisely a way of eliminating
dependency on the aristocracy and the cultural authorities that serve
it. I do not recall anyone ever noting this inversion of meaning.
Conservative strategists have also been remapping the language that
has historically been applied to conservative religious authorities,
sticking words such as "orthodoxy", "pious", "dogma", and
"sanctimonious" to liberals at every turn.
//3 Conservatism in American History
Almost all of the early immigrants to America left behind societies
that had been oppressed by conservatism. The democratic culture that
Americans have built is truly one of the monuments of civilization.
And American culture remains vibrant to this day despite centuries
of conservative attack. Yet the history of American democracy
has generally been taught in confused ways. This history might be
sketched in terms of the great turning points that happened to occur
around 1800 and 1900, followed by the great reaction that gathered
steam in the decades leading up to 2000.
America before the revolution was a conservative society. It lacked
an entitled aristocracy, but it was dominated in very much the same
way by its gentry. Americans today have little way of knowing what
this meant -- the hierarchical ties of personal dependency that
organized people's psychology. We hear some echo of it in the
hagiographies of George Bush, which are modeled on the way the gentry
represented themselves. The Founding Fathers, men like Madison,
Adams, and Washington, were, in this sense, products of aristocratic
society. They did not make a revolution in order to establish
democracy. Quite the contrary, they wanted to be aristocrats. They
did not succeed. The revolution that they helped set in motion did
not simply sweep away the church and crown of England. As scholars
such as Gordon Wood have noted, it also swept away the entire social
system of the gentry, and it did so with a suddenness and thoroughness
that surprised and amazed everyone who lived through it. So
completely did Americans repudiate the conservative social system of
the gentry, in fact, that they felt free to mythologize the Founding
Fathers, forgetting the Founding Fathers' aristocratic ambitions
and pretending that they, too, were revolutionary democrats. This
ahistorical practice of projecting all good things onto the Founding
Fathers continues to the present day, and it is unfortunate because
(as Michael Schudson has argued) it makes us forget all of the
work that Americans have subsequently done to build the democratic
institutions of today. In reality, Madison, Adams, and Washington
were much like Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. Like Gorbachev,
they tried to reform an oppressive system without fundamentally
changing it. And like Gorbachev, they were swept away by the very
forces they helped set into motion.
The revolution, though, proceeded quite differently in the North
and South, and led to a kind of controlled experiment. The North
repudiated conservatism altogether. Indeed it was the only society
in modern history without an aristocracy, and as scholars such as the
late Robert Wiebe have noted, its dynamic democratic culture was most
extraordinary. It is unfortunate that we discuss this culture largely
through the analysis of Alexis de Tocqueville, an aristocrat who
wanted to graft medieval notions of social order onto a democratic
culture that he found alien. In the South, by contrast, the
conservative order of the gentry was modified to something more
resembling the oppressive latifundist systems of Latin America,
relieved mainly by comparatively democratic religious institutions.
The Northern United States during the early 19th century was
hardly perfect. Left-over conservative hierarchies and patterns of
psychology continued to damage people's minds and lives in numerous
ways. But compared to the South, the North was, and has always been,
a more dynamic and successful society. Southern conservatism has
had to modify its strategies in recent decades, but its grip on the
culture is tragically as strong as ever.
Something more complicated happened around 1900. Railroads,
the telegraph, and mass production made for massive new economies
of scale, whereupon the invention of the corporation gave a new
generation of would-be aristocrats new ways to reinvent themselves.
The complicated institutional and ideological events of this era can
be understood in microcosm through the subsequent history of the word
"liberal", which forked into two quite different meanings. The word
"liberal" had originally been part of an intramural dispute within the
conservative alliance between the aristocracy and the rising business
class. Their compromise, as I have noted, is that the aristocracy
would maintain its social control for the benefit of both groups
mainly through psychological means rather than through terror,
and that economic regulation would henceforth be designed to benefit
the business class. And both of these conditions would perversely
be called "freedom". The word "liberal" thus took its modern
meaning in a struggle against the aristocracy's control of the state.
Around 1900, however, the corporation emerged in a society in which
democracy was relatively strong and the aristocracy was relatively
weak. Antitrust and many other types of state regulation were not
part of traditional aristocratic control, but were part of democracy.
And this is why the word "liberal" forked. Democrats continued
using the word in its original sense, to signify the struggle against
aristocracy, in this case the new aristocracy of corporate power.
Business interests, however, reinvented the word to signify a struggle
against something conceptualized very abstractly as "government". In
reality the new business meaning of the word, as worked out in detail
by people like Hayek, went in an opposite direction from its original
meaning: a struggle against the people, rather than against the
At the same time as the corporation provided the occasion for the
founding of a new aristocracy, however, a new middle class founded
a large number of professions. The relationship between the
professional middle class and the aristocracy has been complicated
throughout the 20th century. But whereas the goal of conservatism
throughout history has primarily been to suppress the mob of common
people, the conservatism of the late 20th century was especially
vituperative in its campaigns against the relatively autonomous
democratic cultures of the professions.
One of the professions founded around 1900 was public relations.
Early public relations texts were quite openly conservative, and
public relations practitioners openly affirmed that their profession
existed to manipulate the common people psychologically in order
to ensure the domination of society by a narrow elite. Squeamishness
on this matter is a recent phenomenon indeed.
* the 1970's
The modern history of conservatism begins around 1975, as corporate
interests began to react to the democratic culture of the sixties.
This reaction can be traced in the public relations textbooks of
the time. Elaborate new methods of public relations tried to prevent,
coopt, and defeat democratic initiatives throughout the society.
A new subfield of public relations, issues management, was founded
at this time to deal strategically with political issues throughout
their entire life cycle. One of the few political theories that has
made note of the large-scale institutionalization of public relations
is the early work of Jurgen Habermas.
Even more important was the invention of the think tank, and
especially the systematic application of public relations to politics
by the most important of the conservative think tanks, the Heritage
Foundation. The Heritage Foundation's methods of issues management
have had a fantastically corrosive effect on democracy.
* the 1980's
The great innovation of Ronald Reagan and the political strategists
who worked with him was to submerge conservatism's historically
overt contempt for the common people. The contrast between Reagan's
language and that of conservatives even a decade or two earlier
is most striking. Jacques Barzun's "The House of Intellect" (1959),
for example, fairly bristles with contempt for demotic culture,
the notion being that modern history is the inexorable erosion
of aristocratic civilization by democracy. On a political level,
Reagan's strategy was to place wedges into the many divides in
that era's popular democracy, including both the avoidable divides
that the counterculture had opened up and the divides that had long
been inherent in conservatism's hierarchical order. Reagan created
a mythical working class whose values he conflated with those of
the conservative order, and he opposed this to an equally mythical
professional class of liberal wreckers. Democratic culture in the
sixties had something of a workable theory of conservatism -- one that
has largely been lost. But it was not enough of a theory to explain
to working people why they are on the same side as hippies and gays.
Although crude by comparison with conservative discourse only twenty
years later, Reagan's strategy identified this difficulty with some
precision. People like Ella Baker had explained the psychology of
conservatism -- the internalized deference that makes a conservative
order possible. But the new psychology of democracy does not happen
overnight, and it did not become general in the culture.
* the 1990's
In the 1990's, American conservatism institutionalized public
relations methods of politics on a large scale, and it used
these methods in a savage campaign of delegitimizing democratic
institutions. In particular, a new generation of highly trained
conservative strategists evolved, on the foundation of classical
public relations methods, a sophisticated practice of real-time
politics that integrated ideology and tactics on a year-to-year,
news-cycle-to-news-cycle, and often hour-to-hour basis. This practice
employs advanced models of the dynamics of political issues so as
to launch waves of precisely designed communications in countless
well-analyzed loci throughout the society. For contemporary
conservatism, a political issue -- a war, for example -- is a
consumer product to be researched and rolled out in a planned way
with continuous empirical feedback from polling. So far as citizens
can tell, such issues seem to materialize everywhere at once, swarming
the culture with so many interrelated formulations that it becomes
impossible to think, much less launch an effective rebuttal. Such a
campaign is successful if it occupies precisely the ideological ground
that can be occupied at a given moment, and it includes quite overt
plans for holding that ground through the construction of a pipeline
of facts and intertwining with other, subsequent issues. Although in
one sense this machinery has a profound kinship with the priesthoods
of ancient Egypt, in another sense its radicalism -- its inhuman
thoroughness -- has no precedent in history. Liberals have nothing
//4 The Discovery of Democracy
Humanity has struggled for thousands of years to emerge from the
darkness of conservatism. At every step of the way, conservatism
has always had the advantage of a long historical learning curve.
There have always been experts in the running of conservative society.
Most of the stupid mistakes have been made and forgotten centuries
ago. Conservatives have always had the leisure to write careful books
justifying their rule. Democracy, by contrast, is still very much
in an experimental phase. And so, for example, the 1960's were one
of the great episodes of civilization in human history, and they were
also a time when people did a lot of stupid things like take drugs.
The history of democracy has scarcely been written. Of what has been
written, the great majority of "democratic theory" is based on the
ancient Greek model of deliberative democracy. Much has been written
about the Greeks' limitation of citizenship to perhaps 10% of the
population. But this is not the reason why the Greek model is
inapplicable to the modern world. The real reason is that Greek
democracy was emphatically predicated on a small city-state of a few
thousand people, whereas modern societies have populations in the
tens and hundreds of millions.
The obvious adaptation to the difficulties of scale has been
representation. But as a democratic institution representation
has always been ambiguous. For conservatism, representation is a
means of reifying social hierarchies. The Founding Fathers thought
of themselves as innovators and modernizers, and the myth-making
tradition has thoughtlessly agreed with them. But in reality
the US Constitution, as much as the British system it supposedly
replaced, is little more than the Aristotelian tripartite model of
king, aristocracy, and gentry (supposedly representing the commons),
reformed to some degree as President, Senate, and House. Many
people have noted that George Bush is consolidating executive power
in a kind of elective kingship, but they have done little to place
the various elements of Bush's authoritarian institution-molding
into historical context. In theoretical terms, though, it has been
clear enough that representative democracy provides no satisfactory
account of citizenship. Surely a genuine democracy would
replace the Aristotelian model? Fortunately, there is little
need to replace the Constitution beyond adding a right to privacy.
After all, as historians have noted, Americans almost immediately
started using the Constitution in a considerably different way than
the Founders intended -- in a democratic fashion, simply put, and
not an aristocratic one. The president who claims to be "a uniter
not a divider" is hearkening back to the myth-making of a would-be
aristocracy that claims to be impartial and to stand above controversy
while systematically using the machinery of government to crush its
opponents. But his is not the winning side.
Not that democracy is a done deal. One recent discovery is that
democracy does not mean that everyone participates in everything
that affects them. Every citizen of a modern society participates
in hundreds of institutions, and it is impossible to be fully informed
about all of them, much less sit through endless meetings relating to
all of them. There are too many issues for everyone to be an expert
It follows that citizens in a large modern polity specialize in
particular issues. In fact this kind of issue entrepreneurship is
not restricted to politics. It is central to the making of careers in
nearly every institution of society. Conservatism claims to own the
theme of entrepreneurship, but then conservatism claims to own every
theme. In reality, entrepreneurship on the part of the common people
is antithetical to conservatism, and conservatism has learned and
taught little about the skills of entrepreneurship, most particularly
the entrepreneurial cognition that identifies opportunities
for various sorts of useful careers, whether civic, intellectual,
professional, or economic. Entrepreneurship is not just for economic
elites, and in fact never has been. One part of democracy, contrary
to much socialist teaching, is the democratization of goods and
skills, entrepreneurial skills for example, that had formerly been
associated with the elite. American society has diverged dramatically
from that of Europe largely because of the democratization of
entrepreneurship, and that trend should continue with the writing down
and teaching of generalized entrepreneurial skills.
The real discovery is that democracy is a particular kind of social
organization of knowledge -- a sprawling landscape of overlapping
knowledge spheres and a creative tension on any given issue between
the experts and the laity. It is not a hierarchical divide between
the knowledge-authorities in the professions and a deferential
citizenry; instead it democratizes the skills of knowledge-making
among a citizenry that is plugged together in ways that increasingly
resemble the institutional and cognitive structures of the
professions. This generalized application of entrepreneurial skills
in the context of a knowledge-intensive society -- and not simply
the multiplication of associations that so impressed Tocqueville
-- is civil society. The tremendous fashion for civil society as
a necessary complement and counterbalance to the state in a democracy,
as launched in the 1980's by people like John Keane, has been one
of the most hopeful aspects of recent democratic culture. Indeed, one
measure of the success of the discourse of civil society has been that
conservatism has felt the need to destroy it by means of distorted
theories of "civil society" that place the populace under the tutelage
of the aristocracy and the cultural authorities that serve it.
Economics, unfortunately, is still dominated by the ancien regime.
This consists of three schools. Neoclassical economics is founded
(as Philip Mirowski has argued) on superficial, indeed incoherent
analogies to the mathematics of classical mechanics whose main notion
is equilibrium. Economies, it is held, are dynamic systems that
are constantly moving to an optimal equilibrium, and government
intervention will only move the economy to the wrong equilibrium.
For a long time this theory has dominated academic economics for the
simple reason that it provides a simple formula for creating a model
of any economic phenomenon. Its great difficulty is that it ignores
essentially all issues of information and institutions -- important
topics in the context of any modern economy. Austrian economics
(associated with Hayek and Mises) began in the context of debates
about the practicability of central planning in socialism; as such, it
is organized around an opposition between centralized economies (bad)
and decentralized economies (good). Although preferable in some ways
to neoclassicism in its emphasis on information and institutions, as
well as its rhetorical emphasis on entrepreneurship, it is nonetheless
hopelessly simplistic. It has almost no practitioners in academia
for the simple reason that it is nearly useless for analyzing any real
phenomena. A third school, a particular kind of game theory based on
the work of John Nash, does have elaborate notions about information
and at least a sketchy way of modeling institutions, and as a
result has established itself as the major academic alternative to
neoclassicism. Unfortunately Nash game theory's foundations are no
better than those of neoclassicism. Whereas neoclassicism, though
ultimately incoherent, is actually a powerful and useful way of
thinking about the economy, Nash game theory is based, as Mirowski
again has argued, on a disordered model of relationships between
people. Fortunately it has no particular politics.
The state of economics is unfortunate for democracy. Conservatism
runs on ideologies that bear only a tangential relationship to
reality, but democracy requires universal access to accurate theories
about a large number of nontrivial institutions. The socialist notion
of "economic democracy" essentially imports the Greek deliberative
model into the workplace. As such it is probably useful as a counter
to conservative psychologies of internalized deference that crush
people's minds and prevent useful work from being done. It is,
however, not remotely adequate to the reality of an interconnected
modern economy, in which the workplace is hardly a natural unit.
A better starting place is with analysis of the practical work
of producing goods in social systems of actual finite human beings
-- that is, with analysis of information and institutions, as
for example in the singular work of Thorstein Veblen, John Commons,
Joseph Schumpeter, Karl Polanyi, John von Neumann, Mark Casson,
Joseph Stiglitz, Paul David, Bruno Latour, and Michel Callon.
This work emphasizes knowledge and the very general social conditions
that are required to produce and use it. Simply put, knowledge is
best produced in a liberal culture. This is why the most prosperous
and innovative regions of the United States are also the most
politically liberal, and why the most conservative regions of the
country are also the greatest beneficiaries of transfer payments.
Liberals create wealth and government redistributes it to
conservatives. This is, of course, the opposite of the received
conservative opinion in the media, and indeed in most of academia.
But it is true.
Another connection between democracy and a modern economy is the
democratic nature of entrepreneurialism. People who reflexively defer
to their social betters will never learn the social skills that are
needed to found new types of social relationships. This was clear
enough in the interregnum in the 19th century between the fall of the
American gentry and the rise of the modern corporation. An economy
of generalized entrepreneurialism, moreover, requires an elaborate
institutional matrix that is part public and part private. As
scholars such as Linda Weiss have argued, the conservative spectre
of a conflict between government and entrepreneurial activity is
unrelated to the reality of entrepreneurship. To be sure, much has
been learned about the kinds of government policies that do and do
not lay the foundation for economic dynamism. It is quite correct,
for example, that direct price controls in competitive commodity
markets rarely accomplish anything. (Labor markets are a much more
complicated case, in very much the ways that neoclassical economics
exists to ignore.) Free trade would also be a good thing if it
existed; in practice trade is distorted by subsidies and by uneven
regulation of externalities such as pollution, and "free trade"
negotiations are a kind of power politics that differs little from
the gunboat diplomacy that opened markets in a one-sided way in former
times. The point is scarcely that markets are inherently democratic.
The economic properties of infrastructure and knowledge create
economies of scale that both produce cheap goods (a democratic effect)
and concentrate power (an anti-democratic effect). Conservatives
employ the democratic rhetoric of entrepreneurialism to promote the
opposite values of corporate centralization. But the 19th century's
opinions about the political and economic necessity of antitrust
are still true. More importantly, a wide range of public policies
is required to facilitate a democratic economy and the more general
democratic values on which it depends.
Lastly, an important innovation of democracy during the sixties was
the rights revolution. Rights are democratic because they are limits
to arbitrary authority, and people who believe they have rights cannot
be subjected to conservatism. Conservative rhetors have attacked
the rights revolution in numerous ways as a kind of demotic chatter
that contradicts the eternal wisdom of the conservative order. For
conservatism, not accepting one's settled place in the traditional
hierarchy of orders and classes is a kind of arrogance, and
conservative vocabulary is full of phrases such as "self-important".
Institutions, for conservatism, are more important than people.
For democracy, by contrast, things are more complicated. The rights
revolution is hardly perfect. But the main difficulty with it is
just that it is not enough. A society is not founded on rights
alone. Democracy requires that people learn and practice a range of
nontrivial social skills. But then people are not likely to learn or
practice those skills so long as they have internalized a conservative
psychology of deference. The rights revolution breaks this cycle.
For the civil rights movement, for example, learning to read was
not simply a means of registering to vote, but was also a means
of liberation from the psychology of conservatism. Democratic
institutions, as opposed to the inherited mysteries of conservative
institutions, are made of the everyday exercise of advanced social
skills by people who are liberated in this sense.
//5 How to Defeat Conservatism
Conservatism is almost gone. People no longer worship the pharaohs.
If the gentry were among us today we would have no notion of what
they were talking about. For thousands of years, countless people
have worked for the values of democracy in ways large and small.
The industrialized vituperations of conservative propaganda measure
their success. To defeat conservatism today, the main thing we have
to do is to explain what it is and what is wrong with it. This is
* Rebut conservative arguments
This is my most important prescription. Liberals win political
victories through rational debate. But after a victory is won,
liberals tend to drop the issue and move along. As a result,
whole generations have grown up without ever hearing the arguments
in favor of, for example, Social Security. Instead they have heard
massive numbers of conservative arguments against liberalism, and
these arguments have generally gone unrebutted. In order to save
civilization, liberals need a new language, one in which it is easy
to express rebuttals to the particular crop of conservative arguments
of the last few decades. And the way to invent that language is just
to start rebutting the arguments, all of them. This means literally
dozens of new arguments each day.
Do not assume that rebutting conservative arguments is easy, or
that a few phrases will suffice. Do not even assume that you know
what is wrong with the conservative arguments that you hear, or even
indeed what those arguments are, since they are often complicated
and confusing in their internal structure. Do not just repeat a stock
response that worked for some previous generation of liberals, because
your audience has already heard that response and already knows
what the counterargument is. Conservative rhetors have invested
tremendous effort in working around liberals' existing language.
In the old days, racists were racists and polluters were polluters.
But those old labels do not win arguments any more. Liberals
must now provide new answers in plain language to the questions that
ordinary citizens, having heard the arguments of conservatism, now
have. Do environmental regulations work? Why do we protect the civil
liberties of terrorists? Are liberals anti-American? What do we need
government for anyway?
* Benchmark the Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal's opinion page is the most important
conservative publication, and it is often described as a bulletin
board for the conservatism. A better metaphor, however, would be
a war room. Day by day, the Wall Street Journal's editors detect
liberal arguments coming over the horizon, and immediately they gather
up and distribute the arguments that conservatives will need to rebut
them. Since the retirement of its late editor Robert Bartley, the
Journal's opinion page has become more sophisticated. The crude lies
and belligerent irrationality of the Bartley era have not disappeared,
but they have certainly been attenuated. Daniel Henninger in
particular does something interesting with clouds of associations that
are subrational but not quite fallacious.
Liberals should not imitate the antireason of the Journal or other
distribution channels of conservative opinion. Instead, as part of
the hard work of inventing democracy, it will be necessary to tell the
difference between methods that liberals ought to be applying in their
own work, such as the day-to-day rebuttal of arguments, and methods
that liberals need to analyze and place in the same category as the
priesthood of Egypt.
* Build a better pundit
Political pundits in the media today are overwhelmingly conservative,
and the few liberal pundits are overwhelmingly journalists rather than
ideologists. It is difficult to identify a single pundit in the media
who consistently explicates liberal ideology. It is time to build a
To start with, everyone in a modern democracy ought to receive
practical instruction in the communication genres of the mass media.
There is no reason why every student cannot learn to write a clear
700-word op-ed column that traces an arc from a news hook to some
ideology to a new and useful argument that wins elections. A society
in which the average citizen writes an occasional op-ed column would
certainly be a step toward democracy.
But even if the skills of punditry are widespread, there is no
substitute for professional pundits who can make "brand names" of
themselves in the media, and talented people will not make careers
out of democratic punditry until they are reasonably assured of
being able to make money at it. This is where think tanks and their
philanthropic funders come in. Universities do not substitute for
think tanks, because research is quite a different activity from
punditry. Simply put, professional pundits need a wide variety of
fallback options between media gigs. Conservative pundits grow fat
on their own think tanks, and liberals need their own war rooms of
* Say something new
Conservative rhetors win audiences largely because the things they are
saying seem new. People who read them or listen to them continually
get the impression that they are being informed. If news and opinion
editors seem biased against liberals, one reason is simply that
liberals are not delivering the goods. Whenever you get ready to
express a political opinion in the media, first ask whether you have
ever heard that opinion in the media before (as opposed, for example,
to scholarly works). If so, figure out what the counterarguments are
-- because there will be counterarguments -- and then proceed to base
your column on the counterarguments to that. Get ahead of the curve.
* Teach logic
Democracy requires that the great majority of citizens be capable
of logical thought. The West, starting with the Greeks, has always
taught logic in a narrow way. Logic does include the syllogism, but
it also includes a great deal of savoir faire about what constitutes
a good argument, a good counterargument, and a good counterargument
to that. In particular, the citizen must have a kind of map of the
arguments. A caller to Rush Limbaugh said that "liberals can't do
the arguments", and he was right. Existing curricula on "critical
thinking" are unfortunately very weak. They should be founded on
close analysis of actual irrationality.
Many on the left unfortunately abandon reason because they believe
that the actual basis of politics is something they call "power".
People like this have no notion of what power is. For example,
they will argue that reason is useless because the powers that
be will not listen to reason. This is confusion. The purpose of
reason is not to petition the authorities but to help other citizens
to cut through the darkness of conservative deception.
Others on the left believe that reason is the property of the elite.
This is true historically, but that is simply because the essence of
conservatism is to deprive the common people of the capacity to engage
in democracy. Many bad theories of democracy actually reinforce
conservatism, and this is one of them.
Similarly, others on the left argue that requiring politics to be
based on reason tilts the playing field in favor of the elite. This
is historically true as well, and politics based on money does the
same thing. But that is reality. The fact, again, is that democracy
needs the citizenry to be educated, and the skills of reason are the
foundation of democratic education. Democracy cannot be established
in any other way. Aristocratic rule is not reinforced by the use of
reason. The situation is quite the reverse: in order to fight off
democratic values, conservatism must simulate reason, and pretend
that conservative deception is itself reason when it is not. Many
conservative pundits, George Will and Thomas Sowell for example, make
their living saying illogical things in a reasonable tone of voice.
Democracy will be impossible until the great majority of citizens can
identify in reasonable detail just how this trick works.
* Conservatism is the problem
Contemporary conservatism's discourse is engineered with tremendous
sophistication to get past the specific arguments that liberals know
how to make. Conservative strategists, moreover, are willing to
achieve their goals incrementally, depending on the arguments that
liberals are capable of making at a given moment. Of course it is
important for liberals to make the arguments against each increment.
But it is more important to explain what conservatism is in general,
and then to explain what is wrong with it.
For example, I once heard Rush Limbaugh discussing with a listener
how school vouchers were just a conservative tactic, and how
conservatives' real goal was to eliminate public funding for education
altogether. This is the sort of thing that loses elections, and yet I
have never heard a liberal pundit discuss it.
The extreme nature of conservatism -- not just the extremity of
its rhetoric but the oppressiveness of its prescriptions for society
-- is clear enough in the conservatives' own literature, but American
culture no longer has the categories to identify what it is. Indeed,
one can hear fascism, never mind conservatism, on the radio any day of
the week. But Americans have mostly forgotten what fascism even is,
so that they can listen to fascist rhetoric and it will actually sound
kind of fresh.
* Critically analyze leftover conservative theories
Liberal ideology is in disarray. After all, conservative ideology
has dominated human thought for thousands of years, and it takes
concentrated effort to liberate oneself from it. Such intellectual
liberation will never happen without a detailed history of
conservative theories -- which is to say, the ways in which these
theories have been designed to subordinate people's minds to a
hierarchical social order dominated by an aristocracy. Lacking
such a history, liberal ideology draws in random and confused ways
on conservatism, giving it a sentimental update without particularly
changing it. Or else liberalism spins out into something wishfully
called radicalism, which at best inverts conservatism into something
that does not work as well and does not liberate anyone either.
A genuine tradition of liberatory social thought does indeed exist,
but it must be disentangled from its opposite.
As an example, let us consider the notion of social capital, which has
been fashionable among both conservatives and liberals for some time
now. The conservative version of the social capital is a medieval
ideology that justifies the hierarchical conservative order in terms
of the values of community. This medieval notion of community is
particularistic in nature: everyone in a community is knitted to
everyone else through a system of roles and relationships into which
they are born, and which they supposedly accept and love. This
network of relationships is made to sound harmonious, and objections
to it are made to sound divisive, by neglecting to mention the
oppression of the life-long hierarchical bonds that make it up. This
is the kind of society whose passing Tocqueville lamented, and that
is at the core of modern conservatism in authors such as Robert Nisbet.
For Nisbet, modernity could only be understood in a negative way
as an erosion of the particular types of community and order that
traditional institutions provided. This is what many conservatives
mean when they value social capital, regret its decline, and urge its
This notion of social capital should be contrasted, for example, with
Ernest Gellner's notion of the modern democratic citizen as "modular",
that is, as capable of moving about within the society, building and
rebuilding relationships and associations of diverse sorts, because
of a set of social skills and social institutions that facilitate
a generalized, dynamic mobility. The modular citizen gets a place
in society not through birth or the bonds of an inherited order but
through a gregarious kind of entrepreneurial innovation.
The difficulty with too many liberal notions of social capital is
that they are oblivious to the tension between conservatism and
democracy. As a result, they are vague and ambiguous as to the
nature of social capital, how it might be measured, and what kinds
of institutions might erode or encourage it. For example, a theory
of social capital that locates it in plain numbers of social network
connections is insufficient because it undervalues social skills and
overvalues particularistic forms of community that are not adaptive
in a dynamic modern economy. This is how liberals end up quoting
Tocqueville and sounding indistinguishable from conservative theorists
of "intermediary institutions".
Social capital is just one example of a general crisis of liberal
ideology. The first step in resolving this crisis to get clear about
what conservatism is and what is wrong with it.
* Ditch Marx
Post-sixties, many liberals consider themselves to be watered-down
Marxists. They subscribe to a left-to-right spectrum model
of politics in which they, as democrats, are located in some
hard-to-identify place sort-of-somewhat-to-the-left-of-center, whereas
the Marxists have the high ground of a clear and definite location
at the end of the spectrum. These liberals would be further out
on the left if they could find a politically viable way to do it.
Conservative rhetors concur with this model, and indiscriminately
calling liberals communists is back in style. This is all nonsense.
Marxism is not located anywhere on a spectrum. It is just mistaken.
It fails to describe the real world. Attempts to implement it simply
created an ugly and shallow imitation of conservatism at its worst.
Democracy is the right way to live, and conservatism is the wrong way.
Marx was a brilliant analyst for his time. His analysis of
technology's role in the economy was wholly original. He was the
first to analyze the structural dynamism of a capitalist economy.
But his theory of modern society was superficial. It overgeneralized
from the situation of its time: the recent discovery of economies
of scale, crude market institutions, no modern separation of ownership
and control, and a small middle class. Marx followed the political
economy of his day in analyzing markets as essentially independent of
the state. But this is not remotely the case.
One difficulty with Marx, which is the topic of a vast literature,
is that his theory requires a periodization of history that does
not correspond to historical reality. Capitalism, for example, is
supposed to be a discrete totality, but claimed starting dates for
this totality range across a good four hundred years. His economistic
analysis of society, though indisputably productive in the way that
many powerfully wrong ideas are, makes history seem more discontinuous
than it is. In fact, the relationship between conservatism and
democracy is more or less constant throughout thousands of years of
history. One evidence of this, for example, is Orlando Patterson's
stunning discovery that Western notions of freedom were invented by
former slaves in the ancient world and have remained more or less
constant ever since.
In economic terms, Marx's theory is mistaken because he did
not analyze the role the capitalist plays as entrepreneur. The
entrepreneur does an important and distinctive type of work in
inventing new ways to bring together diverse factors of production.
Now in fact the nature of this work has remained largely hidden
throughout history for a wide variety of reasons. Because Marx had no
notion of it, the capitalist's profit seemed to him simple theft. It
does not follow, though, that entrepreneurs earn all of their money.
The theories of mainstream economics notwithstanding, serious how-to
manuals for entrepreneurs are quite clear that the entrepreneur
is trying to identify a market failure, because market failures
are how you make money. The relationship between entrepreneurship
and the state is much more complicated than economics has even tried
to theorize. Capitalists, moreover, are not a class. Particular
networks of capitalists and other well-off or otherwise connected
personages may well try to constitute themselves as an aristocracy,
but this is a phenomenon with several more dimensions than just
Nor is Marxism of any use as politics. All that Marx offered to
people who worked in deadening factory jobs was that they could
take over the factory. While unions and collective bargaining
exist in many contexts for good economic reasons, they are an
essentially medieval system of negotiations among orders and classes.
They presuppose a generally static economy and society. They are
irrelevant to knowledge-intensive forms of work. Nor do they provide
any kind of foundation for democratic politics. People want their
kids to be professionals, not factory workers, and democracy helps
people to knit themselves into the complicated set of institutions
that enable people to build unique and productive lives.
* Talk American
Despite all of the conservative attacks, American English remains a
useful language. So use it, and learn to say democratic things in it.
There is a style of academic "theory"-talk that claims to be advanced
and sophisticated but actually lacks any precision. "Privilege",
for example, is not a verb. If new words are needed and are actually
good for analyzing the deception of conservatism or the invention
of democracy, go ahead and teach them. Integrate them into the
While you are at it, forget the whole strategy of the counterculture.
Be the culture instead.
* Stop surrendering powerful words
Many liberals abandon any word that conservatives start using.
That means, since conservatives systematically lay claim to every
word of the English language, that liberals have been systematically
surrendering powerful words such as family, nation, truth, science,
tradition, and religion. This has made it increasingly difficult
for liberals to explain what they believe. There is no alternative:
if conseratives have been twisting a powerful word, then you have
to explain in concise American English what the word really means
and how the conservatives have distorted it. Contest the signifiers.
Use the words.
* Tipper Gore is right
Snoop Dogg's music really is garbage. Some liberals, however, argue
that racists hate rap and so therefore any disapproval of rap abets
racism. This is bad logic and stupid politics. If racists hate rap
then the logical, rational, politically efficacious thing to do is to
say that some rap is good and some rap is bad, and that good rap is
an art form like any other, and that the bad rap exists because the
people who rap it are bad people.
Do not be afraid of losing contact with young people. If all you
know about youth culture is Snoop Dogg, then I suppose it is time
for some focus groups. Use the focus groups to identify language
that Martin Luther King would approve of. Besides, there is plenty
of good politics in mass culture, as cultural studies professors
have explained at length.
Nor should you be afraid of losing campaign contributions from the
entertainment industry. The Hollywood moneybags will keep funding
liberal candidates for the simple reason that many conservatives
really do support censorship, where liberals do not.
That said, there is certainly a disconnect between some liberal
entertainers and the liberals who win elections. Some entertainers
are willing to get up on stage and embarrass John Kerry. Scorn them.
* Assess the sixties
Make a list of the positive and lasting contributions of the sixties.
Americans would benefit from such a list.
* Teach nonviolence
The spiritual leader of modern liberalism, Martin Luther King,
taught nonviolence. This has been narrowly construed in terms of not
killing people. But, as King made clear, it has other meanings as
well. You have to love your enemies. This is difficult: the reality
of conservatism is so extreme that it is difficult even to discuss
without sounding hateful. There is also an intellectual dimension to
nonviolence. Nonviolence means, among other things, not cooperating
in the destruction of conscience and language. Nonviolence implies
reason. Analyze the various would-be aristocracies, therefore,
and explain them in plain language, but do not stereotype them.
Nonviolence also has an epistemological dimension. Few of us have
the skill to hate with a clear mind. Conservatism is very complicated,
and you cannot defeat it by shouting slogans. This is the difficulty
with Michael Moore. He talks American, which is good. But he is
not intellectually nonviolent. He is not remotely as bad as Ann
Coulter, and liberals have criticized him much more thoroughly than
conservatives have criticized Ann Coulter. But he is not a model for
liberal politics. There is no doubt that Martin Luther King would be
in George Bush's face. But how? That is why liberals need a language.
* Tell the taxpayers what they are getting for their money
Civilization requires a substantial number and variety of public
services, which in turn require moderate and reasonable amounts
of taxes. Despite decades of conservative rhetoric, a majority of
Americans are perfectly happy to pay their taxes. And yet liberals
keep letting conservatives clobber them with rhetoric that makes
taxes sound like a bad thing. It is time for liberals to stop losing
this argument. To start with, do not talk about amounts of money
("we should spend $15 billion on health care"). Instead, talk about
what the money buys ("we should provide medical care to 15 million
children"). And stop letting Bush call his tax policies "tax cuts":
he is not cutting those taxes; he is just postponing them.
* Make government work better for small business
The market continually undermines both conservatism and democracy.
Both systems must continually improvise to accommodate it.
The difference is that conservatism pretends to be a timeless
order whereas democracy is all about experiment, innovation,
and entrepreneurial culture. Conservatives have historically tried
to include entrepreneurs in their coalition, even though conservatism
is almost the opposite of the cultural conditions of a modern economy.
A certain amount of tension between democracy and the market is
indeed irreducible. But a great deal has been learned about markets
and their relationship to government, and the democratic culture of
innovation can reduce the unnecessary tensions between small business
and government while providing for social values such as urban design,
consumer information, and the environment.
An excellent example of this is duplicative paperwork. Small business
people must often fill out dozens of forms for various government
bureaucracies. This is a significant expense. These forms should be
combined and given a clean and unified interface. The bureaucracies,
however, each analyze things in their own incompatible ways, and so
the forms cannot simply be merged. Like much of democracy, this is an
interesting design matter.
* Clone George Soros
George Soros is an excellent citizen. Conservatism has gotten so
out of sync with the conditions of a modern economy that significant
numbers of wealthy people, especially young entrepreneurs who live and
breathe the liberal culture that makes successes like theirs possible,
would be happy to help build the institutions that a democratic
society needs. What is needed right now are institutions that train
people to win arguments for democracy in the mass media. Antireason
has become thoroughly established in the media, and it will take real
work to invent languages of reason that are fresh and cool. And this
work just costs money.
* Build the Democratic Party
Your model should be Pat Robertson. He is as extreme on the right
as anybody in the United States is on the left. Yet his people took
over large parts of the Republican Party. They did this in three
ways: laboriously designing a mainstream-sounding language, identifying
large numbers of talented activists and training them in the
day-to-day work of issue and party politics, and building their own
communications systems. Liberals should do the same.
Now, many liberals argue that the Democratic Party would magically
start winning again if it would only move to the left. This is lazy
nonsense. The Democratic Party has moved to the right for the simple
reason that liberals do not have a language that wins elections. To
take over the Democratic Party, liberals need to replace the left-wing
policies that do not work and, for the policies that do work, get a
language that moves 51% of likely voters to vote Democratic.
Other liberals argue that the Democratic Party, and the "system" in
general, are irretrievably broken, and that they must build a third
party, such as the Green Party with its endorsement of Ralph Nader.
The difficulties with this notion are hard to count. For one,
splitting the left is a certain recipe for centuries of aristocratic
domination. For another, building a party with only people who share
your opinions to the nth degree is a certain recipe for factionalism
and isolation. For another, the Green Party is a chaotic mess
that has no serious chance of becoming a mass-based political party.
Life under aristocratic domination is horrible. The United States
is blessed to have little notion of what this horror is like. Europe,
for example, staggered under the weight of its aristocracies for
thousands of years. European aristocracies are in decline, and Europe
certainly has its democratic heroes and its own dawning varieties
of civilized life, and yet the psychology and institutions that the
aristocracies left behind continue to make European societies rigid
and blunt Europeans' minds with layers of internalized oppression.
People come to America to get away from all of that. Conservatism
is as alien here as it could possibly be. Only through the most
comprehensive campaign of deception in human history has it managed
to establish its very tentative control of the country's major
political institutions. Conservatism until very recently was quite
open about the fact that it is incompatible with the modern world.
That is right. The modern world is a good place, and it will win.
It's About America
by Willie Nelson
Originally published September 6, 2003
They say timing is everything. This speech made to the National Farmers Union 81st convention on March 1, 1983. Could have been this morning. It's time for the American people to know why the economy is going downhill. It was going downhill in 1983 and it's still going downhill. Why? We once were strong - now we are not. Why? Eddie Albert knew the answer in 1983. I believe it is still true today. What do you think?
-- Willie Nelson
Entertainer Willie Nelson is the president of FarmAid. FarmAid 2008 was held on September 20th in Mansfield, Massachusetts and included performances by Willie, Arlo Guthrie, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Steve Earle. For more information about the concert including a webcast, go here. For more information about Willie's tours and news, go to www.willienelson.com.
* * * *
81st Annual Convention
National Farmers Union
San Diego, California
March 1, 1983
There was once a strong farm policy. It developed during the other depression -- the thirties.
A lot of thought went on to figure out what went wrong -- why, how, when and where.
Some of the thinkers wanted to prevent another depression. Others had in mind making money out of it.
There were some good farm programs proposed, but there were some strong forces lined up opposing their adoption.
Although in 1941 the depression still continued, there was a war coming on and there were a few intelligent congressmen who realized that if we were to win this war, we must have a strong economic base.
Early in 1942, the Banking and Currency Committee adopted the concept of "parity". Congress then passed the Steagall amendment, which provided for 100 percent parity for all raw materials and the amendment was attached to the "defense act of W.W. II".
Hitler had already done the same thing. Germany had been destitute and gearing up for war, Hitler established a fair price floor for all raw materials. Within a year, Germany was on the road to recovery.
Our recovery started in 1942, the year of the Steagall amendment, but the war got the credit.
From 1943 to 1952, we had the Steagall amendment and economic stability. Farm raw materials were supported at 100 percent of parity. It provided a steady flow of earned income to buy government bonds to finance the war and post-war conversion to peacetime.
There was a sound dollar, no inflation.
There was approximate full employment.
Now, these circumstances didn't just evolve as the natural consequences of "supply side" economics, or "demand side" economics. They evolved as the result of some careful thought by some very intelligent people which resulted in laws and regulations enacted by Congress and certain wartime powers delegated to the president of the United States.
They included the Steagall amendment, wage and price controls, the temporary abandonment of the gold standard and other measures, plus the dedication of a proud and loyal citizenry determined to win the war and also to win the peace. And they worked!
However, as I said, some folks didn't like this. They didn't like restriction on their actions, their investment return, the growing political power of farmers and their friendship with labor. That bothered them.
They are powerful people -- well organized.
After the war, in 1952, (the Steagall amendment) was allowed to expire after ten years of economic stability.
In 1953, the Farm Act of 1953 took its place with sliding parity, 60 to 90 percent. The bad guys won. You and I know which of those figures it's going to slide toward.
That was their first important step. What these folks had decided was they had to have ownership of the land. That would eliminate government interference and they knew something about making money during shortages.
The shortages in the 80's and 90's will be mainly in food. Ownership of the land is where the power lies - political and dollar power. Land is collateral. Ownership controls wages, surpluses. Ask the South American farmers. This has been true for centuries.
So their goal, very clearly, was to get hold of the land and they decided to do this by moving 2 million farmers off the land into the cities and replace them with a small number of super farms, corporate-owned, a few large family managed operations, and several million small farms, financed primarily by off-farm income.
These plans were spelled out in literally dozens of reports, policy recommendations and studies that are available in almost any land-grant college library or the Library of Congress.
And so, the Committee for Economic Development (CED) was born. Let me give you some actual quotes from its papers - its approach was:
"Removal of excess resources (farmers) to be utilized in other sectors of the economy, to generate greater returns on investments. (Excess resources -- farmers -- were measured by return on investment).
"The movement of people has not been fast enough to take full advantage of the opportunities that improving farm technologies, thus increasing capital, create". (You are not moving fast enough, they have a plan).
Their plan, which was called "the adaptive approach," was almost identical with Russia's first ‘five-year plan' of ‘28-33. We, too, were to move millions of farmers and ranchers into cities for the advantage of industry. Never mind the city problems!
"The adaptive approach utilizes positive government action to facilitate and promote the movement of labor and capital where they will be most productive and will earn the most income".
"The support of prices has deterred the movement out of agriculture."
And, how about this?
"If the farm labor force were to be, five years hence, no more than two-thirds as large as it's present size of approximately 5.5 millions, the program would involve moving off the farm about two million of the present labor force, plus a number equal to a large part of the new entrants, who would otherwise join the farm labor force in the five years."
There you go kids.
"The price supports for wheat, cotton, rice, feed, grains and related crops, new under price supports, be reduced immediately." (3 cents a lb. on rice, 22 cents a lb. on cotton...). Never mind the market, the demand, your costs.
"The importance of such price adjustments would discourage further commitments of new productive resources to those crops unless it appeared profitable at lower prices." Profitable at lower prices? Whose?
The corporate presidents and academics who make up the CED, recommended the elimination of one third of the farm population within five years by enforcing low parity pricing. As they stated, the primary benefits of their recommendations would be:
1. Increased return on corporate investment in agriculture.
2. Over two million farmers and families entering the urban labor pool, which would tend to depress wages.
3. Lower prices of agriculture products which would both increase foreign trade and provide cheaper raw materials for domestic food and fiber processors.
4. "...invest in projects that break up village life by drawing people to centers of employment away from the village...because village life is a major source of opposition to change. Where there are religious obstacles to modern economic progress, the religion may have to be taken seriously or its character altered."
Eight years later they issued a report:
"The desired result--one-third fewer farmers--was achieved."
Two million farmers were moved off their family farms-by suppressing supports--were moved into the cities to look for employment, housing, depress labor's wages, bankrupt some cities. Bankrupt their rural towns and communities, close their schools, over crowd the city schools, hospitals. Over 200 years to build the greatest nation in human history, and in only five years, shattering our delicate economic balance by tampering with the farm prices and bringing on our greatest, and most painful and dangerous depression.
Back to the report--
Their evaluation was that their analysis and recommendations were fundamentally correct and that the government had faithfully implemented their recommended policies.
"We do not mean to overlook the poverty that still persists among many small farmers and other rural Americans." One third of U.S. families are rural and 40 percent of these live in poverty.
"Farmers who can neither attain a decent standard of living nor find an adequate non-farm job represent a strong case for direct income support.....assistance to low income farmers should be contingent, not upon farm production or a presumption that low farm prices are the cause of an adequate income, but upon need.... we believe development of adequate federal welfare programs." Not a fair price for production, but welfare.
Although the strategies and tactics of the CED are carefully spelled out, it is never hinted until the very end what their underlying goals and motivations might be.
"A recurrence of agricultural instability must be kept in mind so as to maintain an atmosphere relatively free of the political pressures from farmers in the past."
Minimizing farmers' power was crucial to the corporations for several reasons.
Farmers had historically aligned themselves with trade unions and urban workers, including the formation of farmer-labor parties, which held political power in a dozen Midwest and southwest states. The men who developed these specific programs to accomplish the aims of lenders and large corporations were mostly hired economists who were then placed in the necessary positions of power within the government (USDA), to bring into being their recommended programs.
Now, do you still believe that your problems result from what the economists call "supply and demand" and that nothing can be done about the surplus but lower the price even further?
Why did I stress all raw materials, and especially farm income? Is there something different, something we haven't discussed?
Let me go back for a moment to those ten successful stable years of parity, from '43 to '52, and the Steagall amendment.
What did we learn from those ten years? What lessons?
An economist named Kuznets, later a Nobel Prize winner, noticed that there seemed to be six most important sectors that dominated our economy. They were:
1. Farm income
3. Interest income
4. Small businesses and professionals
Hubert Humphrey expressed it even shorter: "A 3 legged stool -- capital, raw materials and labor. Short change any one of those three legs and the stool falls over". He was talking of balance.
Go back to six sectors. Kuznets states that to provide a healthy economy, they, too must exist in a reasonably precise balance in relations to our national income. For example, (1) farm income, which they intended to suppress, should share in about six to 8 percent of our national income; (2) wages, labor, etc. 66 or 67 percent, (3) interest income 1.2 percent; (4) small business 10.5 percent; (5) rents 3.8 percent; (6) corporations 12.6 percent.
Those were roughly the shares of those sectors of our national income during our prosperous base period, ‘43 - ‘52.
For example, 40 years of statistics show that (1) if farm income falls one percent, then unemployment for labor rises one percent; and (2) if farm income rises one percent, then unemployment falls one percent. All six sectors are connected. Touch one and you affect the other five.
They intended to suppress farm income to achieve their plan. Now, to tamper with farm income, raw materials, is foolish and dangerous.
Unlike the other five sectors, farm products are "raw materials". Raw materials -- grain, oil, minerals, coal, timber, fish, etc., etc. -- they are the base of our economy, the foundation. When they are harvested, dug up, cut down, whatever, they are new wealth for our nation, something that did not exist before. In the case of farm products, they are new every year, are perishable, non-storable, are consumed every year - unlike metals, for example -- and farm products are 70 percent of all our raw materials.
I'm indebted for this information, by the way, to the Raw Materials National Council and the National Organization of Raw Materials........
Back to raw materials - grain, oil, iron ore, coal, minerals, cotton, wool, tobacco are raw materials.
As I said, new raw materials are the base of our new growth each year, our prosperity. A factory wheel does not turn until some fellow drives up in a truck, up to the factory door, unloads some raw materials, gets a receipt and drives off.
Only then can the processing start. Labor takes over; oil is turned into gasoline, plastics, fertilizer, energy. Grain is turned into bread and Twinkies. Iron ore into steel, steel into cars, planes, skyscrapers, concrete into highways and all into prosperity wages for consumers. And let us not forget that although nothing happens to the raw materials until labor gets her or his hands on it and starts the raw materials up the processing ladder.
The raw materials rise in value as they are improved, worked upon, transformed, creating jobs for labor, wages turning workers into consumers with money in their pockets, enabling them to buy the farmer's produce and surplus and enabling the farmer to have money to buy industry's production of tools, trucks, combines, etc.
Now, what is of equal importance and can not be exaggerated, these raw materials must have a price, not only a fair price to the producer, but a correct price, to carry out that balance correctly -- neither too high nor too low.
By the time those raw materials reach the top of the processing ladder, those base price dollars for the raw materials will multiply themselves five times, all the way up to contribute five-to-one to our nation's annual income and that raw material processing and national income figure represents our strength, our health, our wealth, our security, our livelihood, our democracy, our freedom, our civilization.
Another bit of good news. Raw materials multiply-five-to-one. But, agricultural raw materials multiply seven-to-one.
This is known as the "multiplier effect." It is known as the lever. I'll tell you why.
Let's say the base price is 3 dollars a bushel. Multiply that by 7. That's 21 dollars. But, you multiply 21 dollars by 12 billion bushels and you get 252 billion dollars.
That's serious money, but the lever works both ways.
Suppose the price is suppressed to $2. Two times 7 is only 14, not 21. 14 times 12 billion bushels equals 168 billion dollars. By dropping the farm price $1, we have robbed the national income, jobs, wages, and consumption by $84 billion in one harvest.
Farm production is 70 percent of raw materials and, unlike five sectors of the economy, multiples itself seven-to-one. You can't short change a lever like this without causing a depression. And, you don't forget, farmers have been short changed in the past 30 tears --$2, $3, $4 a bushel. Using the average figures from our ‘43-‘52 base as a yardstick, and nothing that the farm sector's 6.6 percent share at the national income in ‘43-'52 was purchased downward for 30 years until today - it is no longer 6.6 per cent but 8/10th of one percent, multiply that loss per bushel times seven times 12 billion bushels, times 30 years and you are talking very serious money, around $5 trillion -maybe more- lost forever to the people of the United States.
Imagine $5 trillion held back from the economic processing ladder, held back from creating jobs, wages, construction, consumption taxes, our world leadership actually - because a few clever fellows decided they would rip off the farmers.
If you start chopping away at the roots of a tree you have no right to be surprised when you see the leaves and branches whither and die, the roots are not fed and almost die.
They don't realize that 12 million workers are idle, out of jobs, because the farmer has not been getting enough money to buy the industrial tools those workers had been making. The plants were closed down and workers were put out on the street. Idle. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Those 12 million idle, hungry American workers have no money to buy the farmer's food--his grain, bread, cereals, corn, and beef-- so the farmer has a surplus.
Debt. Easy credit. Land prices going up. Remember "get big or get out? Remember Butz? Open up marginal land. Seventy million acres. Plant fence row to fence row. Right up to the doorstop, debt.
After 30 years of this, our public and private debt over $6 trillion. Who knows? Some say over $11 trillion. What's the annual interest on that? How, who will pay it? Our national deficit this year around $200 billion, and growing. And next year, worse.
Two hundred billion dollars is your farm loan this year. Interest, say $20 billion. But did I hear correctly? Your income is around 19 billion.
Six trillion; 11 trillion. Nobody seems to know. A debt has to be paid and will be paid, either by the borrowers or the lenders or the taxpayers.
Who pays it? My new granddaughter? Yours? Our great grandchildren? Our great, great, great grandchildren? How?
What have we done with this rich continent that god gave us, free? These beautiful United States of America. What have we done?
What are we going to do?
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WE ALWAYS SEE AREN'T THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
You may already know this but just in case......
July 8, 1947
Many of you will recall that on July 8 1947, a little over 60 years ago, witnesses claim that an unidentified flying object (UFO) with five aliens aboard, crashed onto a sheep and cattle ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico. This is a well known incident that many say has long been covered up by the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies and organizations.
However, what you may NOT know is that in the month of April 1948, nine months after that historic day, the following people were born:
As reported by Searching For Bigfoot, Inc., a living family of several creatures known as Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, has been located. They have also retrieved a 500 pound carcass.
By John Gray – Published by TvNewsLies.org – July, 2004
Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised. All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought the employers for paid medical insurance, so now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dad’s. His car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.
After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives. After all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.
BUT OF COURSE ALL OF THIS IS BEING DISMANTLED.
Published on Friday, May 16, 2008 by The Nation
Manufacturing a Food Crisis
by Walden Bello
When tens of thousands of people staged demonstrations in Mexico last year to protest a 60 percent increase in the price of tortillas, many analysts pointed to biofuel as the culprit. Because of US government subsidies, American farmers were devoting more and more acreage to corn for ethanol than for food, which sparked a steep rise in corn prices. The diversion of corn from tortillas to biofuel was certainly one cause of skyrocketing prices, though speculation on biofuel demand by transnational middlemen may have played a bigger role. However, an intriguing question escaped many observers: how on earth did Mexicans, who live in the land where corn was domesticated, become dependent on US imports in the first place?
In the seven ages of man (The ~10,000 year cycles, not the poem from Shakespeare referring to the Stone/Bronze/Iron ages, but the times in which one age is all but forgotten by the next age.), each time mankind has attained the technology plateau to establish civilization on Mars it has been short-lived. The societal stresses from multiple worlds is something our race has yet still not learned to appreciate. Man still seems to need to control and destroy.
Very few relics of the previous age persist. Even the garbage of the previous age has been lost to time. Very occasionally, we will find a curious relic, such as a spark plug inside of a rock.
Curiously the longest-lasting civilization was during the 3rd Age. Nearly 500 years before collapsing. But then it collapsed with the worst destruction so far. Even the moon shows the scars from that horrible conflict - all the largest patches on the moon are from fusion weapons, not naturally-occurring craters as they would have us believe. Fusion weapons to wipe all trace of there ever being cities on the moon. To return the world to a simplistic agrarian existence until the rise of the next golden age.
Mars is the filter; the filter to see if we have yet reached the evolutionary level to not bicker as small children when in this situation. So far, every time we've made it there, it's eventually led to the falling of civilization once again. Sometimes making it to a higher peak the first time, and others worse.
Why do you think the named the planet after the god of war anyway? Simple: Racial memory.
What else explains Bush wanting to send people to Mars - he's not just betting on a single apocalyptic prediction, the Armageddon legend isn't failsafe. [Just kidding about that one - I hope!!]
i am eohippus, oldest of my famliy.
i am eohippus, oldest of my family.
it's my blood that keeps you warm -
i visit you when the sun goes away.
it's my blood that keeps you warm -
i visit you when the sun goes away.
i follow you softly on a lonesome trail,
wind caressing me with your smell.
i follow you softly on a lonesome trail,
wind caressing me with your smell.
i follow you until the dawn -
leave you at the light of day.
i follow you until the dawn -
leave you at the light of day.
watch the way i'm shaking my tail!
fanning into the morning sky.
watch the way i'm shaking my tail!
fanning into the morning sky.
see the shape i leave to haunt you -
see the shape i leave to haunt you -
feathery cloud is still above you.
i am eohippus, oldest of my famliy.
i am eohippus, oldest of my family.
oldest of my family.
Chapter 2: Banketeering - The Money Supply and Related Scams
(Note - this short essay is written about Canada, but the same general ideas apply to every modern western democracy with a 'modern' banking system - the details may vary, but the underlying process and results are the same everywhere)
In Canada, people believe that their government creates the money they use. The details of how much there is, or how it gets from 'creation' to circulation are fuzzy at best, no questions asked no answers provided - it's just something we have and use every day in our communities and country. We get 'our' money from working and when people have good enough jobs that they don't spend every cent of the paycheque every week, they save their extra money, most commonly through bank deposits. Banks then loan out some of the accumulated deposits to other people or businesses who want a loan for whatever reason, and make their profits through the interest differential between the deposit and loan interest rates. There's the stock markets and things, but that's not really stuff that Averagejoejane pay much attention to.
Beyond that basic story, few Canadians ever question things about money or economics - actually, they are pretty much encouraged NOT to ask much about economics, beyond learning to balance their chequebook (which seems to be a task beyond most people, considering all the joking about it), or stashing some money in a retirement plan because you don't expect anyone else to look after when you're too old to work in this society, do you? The subject is invariably presented as something the common citizen should recognize as serious to the life of the country, but the details of which are something very difficult that only eggheads and university trained people and business reporters can understand. All that economics stuff is also, like, pretty booooring with lots of really difficult mathematics and models and equations with lots of letters and stuff that we all learn to hate in school, and since it's being well looked after by others, we 'normal people with better things to do' can just spend our weekends at the mall and watching Hot Babes on Sandy Beaches on tv and bungee jumping and doing all the fun stuff we like to do that's available for us in modern Canada in our spare time. But that's ok, really, actually knowing anything about economics, and making decisions about economic policy, is a serious and complicated business, not for average citizens to worry about, but is best left exclusively in the hands of Economists and Bankers and Finance Ministers and Investment Counselors and Economic Analysts and Business Commentators, guided by business organisations like the CCC or CCCE or CBC (that's not the news people, it's the Conference Board of Canada) or the Fraser Institute, whom we can all place our trust in to do the right thing for us all, according to themselves and the Canadian mainstream media and anyone you might talk to in the Canadian education system.
Anyway, all Mr/Ms Average Citizen really knows or needs to know about economics is that it is about money, and they need money to survive in our society, the more of it you have the better, and you get it by working. Some lucky people are born rich and don't worry about it, but most people have to. Economically speaking, we all know, Canada is a pretty good place to be for most people, so there's not much point in complaining about anything, it don't get much better jack.
Although this little civics book scenario has elements of truth, like any great and successful scam it presents a happy little picture, but one that is far from the 'whole' truth, and uses that picture to conceal some much larger and much, MUCH less pleasant truths. The 'good' truth here is that Canada was at one time a reasonably well run democracy, trying to be progressive and create a good country for all its people, with a monetary system carefully administered by responsible people looking out for the best interests of Canadians - and the rather ugly truth in this case is that during the 1970s the Canadian monetary system was transformed into a huge scam designed to essentially steal tens of billions of dollars from Canadians every year - as much as a couple of Trillion dollars since the mid-70s when it got seriously underway - and a lot of other ugly things started growing from that beginning as well.
Yea, you can read that again. A couple of trillion dollars have been stolen from the Canadian people, through the scam of the monetary supply system in Canada. It's the wake up call. And it's true.
I know that's a pretty serious allegation, but when you understand the facts, and the history as it does not appear in CBC 'in-depth' features or on government websites or in the sanitized 'history' course you get in school, it's not really deniable. And once you finish this, I think you're going to be understanding some pretty high-up people in our country have been lying to you for quite a while too. And stealing a LOT of money. There's just nowhere else to go once you understand some things they've been pretty careful to see that you never learned about before.
The first and biggest and most important truth they are hiding here, that they never tell you about the Canadian money supply system, from which everything else in the multi-layered scam arises like a cancer spreading to every organ and system in the body, is one very simple fact - the government of Canada actually creates only about 1-2% of the money supply of Canada through the bank notes and coins that most people use every day, the stuff you get from the ATM machine and pay for your Tim Horton's double-double with. The rest of the money in Canada - about 98% - is created by private banks from, essentially, thin air, in the form of loans - they accept an application, type some numbers into their computer, and voila, new 'money'. And of course on all that money they create as loans, they charge interest, as banks do. And not just once, but year after year after year.
Yea, don't rush on, let that sink in for a minute. 98% of the Canadian money supply is created by private banks, as loans. And they get paid money on all of that. Private banks get paid interest on 98% of the Canadian money supply. Every year.
Bet you didn't know that before. Few people do. For some reason neither the gov, nor the banks, nor the business commentators at the CBC, seem to think that is important enough to be telling people.
This fact - that most of 'our' money in Canada is created through bank 'loans' for which the banks then collect interest - is the basis of every single economic problem we have in the country. And a lot of other problems that are related to money, here and worldwide (it's not just a Canada scam) or things that are done with money, or not having enough of it.
This sounds a bit shocking at first, or maybe more than a bit shocking, but you can verify it easily enough yourself with a bit of looking around. First, the total amount of Canadian currency (real Cdn bank notes authorised and supplied by the Cdn gov via the Cdn mint, plus a smaller amount of coins - what you have in your wallet and use every day) in circulation is about $50 billion - an exact 'authorised' figure is hard to find, but these two non-conspiracy-theory sources give figures indicating the same ballpark - Taxtips.ca (question 1, about half way through - 40 billion) and Bank of Canada Fact Sheets - Seigniorage Revenue (last para, 35 billion 'in recent years' - prior to 2001). And second, three other interesting figures that are well enough known or could be but nobody ever connects any dots, at least in the mainstream media - we all know the 'national debt' is around $500 billion, and consumer debt is around a trillion (Where Does the Money Go: The Increasing Reliance on Household Debt in Canada (from the CGA, Certified General Accountants of Canada, probably reliable non-conspiracy theory data); and finally, as a major figure, I can't be bothered doing the googling and hunting on a slow line, but provincial and municipal debt is at least another $500 billion - just have a look yourself if you're curious at provincial budgets and check out the debt figures. And I suspect you can then see that it would take some doing using the mythological scenario of 'loaning out your 'real money' deposits' to turn ~50 billion in currency or coins provided by the Cdn gov into 2 trillion dollars in loans. And I suspect even that quite awesome figure is actually lowballing things quite a lot, as you might note there is no mention of business loans - they don't get all their money from stock markets by a long shot - but this is a big picture kind of essay and getting lost in details is not necessary and even counterproductive - if you spend all your time arguing about whether to go right or left around every pothole in the road, you'll never get to the end of it where the real candy awaits.
Let's flesh out a few details, now that the bones of this absolutely monstrous scam (and that is not hyperbole and I am not exaggerating - wait and see) have been laid bare on the table.
1. Most importantly is simply this: Why would a sovereign people, i.e. the People of Canada, in a country that is theoretically at least 'their' democracy collectively, allow private individuals (for that is all banks are, a group of investors, otherwise 'private citizens') to create the great bulk of their money supply through interest-demanding loans that the people 'borrow' into circulation? What is 'our' government doing giving private individuals that power, and essentially in secret, as there has never been any sort of public debate over this issue nor is there any widespread awareness and acceptance of the few simple facts I offer above? Well-regulated banks certainly have a role in an (also well-regulated) democratic market economy, but allowing them to create almost all of the national money supply as interest-bearing debt is very obviously as detrimental to the economic wellbeing of a sovereign country as it is a golden cash cow to those given this amazing privilege (if why it is very, very detrimental is not obvious to you right away - I understand they don't teach you this in school nor talk about it on Business Digest and actually encourage you not to think about such things at all - well, read on, and find what they don't explain to you (quite a lot, you will see)... ).
2. Those who support the current system of banks creating money, when confronted with someone who thinks there may be something wrong with the system and asked to explain why our government doesn't create the money supply instead, explain somewhat condescendingly that governments creating money is terribly, terribly irresponsible and the world would surely end practically overnight through horrible inflationary forces were such a tragedy ever to be allowed to happen - billions of dollars for a loaf of bread oh horrors!! As an example of this, note the small note here from the Government of Canada's 'civics book economics primer for slow 8-year-olds' to try to keep you from thinking about things you actually *should* be thinking about, as I explain herein - 4. Why doesn't the Bank of Canada just print enough money to pay off the national debt? - and after you have a look, you might have a question of your own, that nobody will answer, at least on 'their' side 'Ah - but what if it wasn't the government 'creating money' in great gobs in addition to the bank-created money, but instead of????'. Every scam artist, big and small, in history protests that they are doing the best thing for everyone!!! and tries to steer the suspicious mark away from true in-depth analysis of anything - and this deflection of very honest questions is nothing more than an attempt to keep people away from understanding things that would put their little (that is to say, very big) scam in serious jeopardy.
Let's try and put a lid on this very false idea once and for all. Their premise seems to be that very irresponsible and/or stupid people run the government, but bankers are ever so clever and responsible. (little alarm lights ought to be flashing already at that last idea, if you've been paying any attention at all to what banks have been doing the last 20 years)
If we take a brief look at the financial history of our country, we can find clearly demonstrated the hugeness and brazenness of the lie of governments creating money as 'terribly irresponsible' and banks being somehow the epitome of responsibility - and the perversity of this lie as well, because it is actually quite demonstrably the reverse situation, it is banks themselves who are terribly irresponsible (or worse) when entrusted with something as important as the creation and management of a nation's money supply. (note, although I will direct you to a few interesting places, I'll leave you to google up most of any corroborating info yourself - most is available in various places, and that way you can't accuse me of steering you to 'conspiracy theory' places (but you might note that this whole chapter is indeed the story of a huge conspiracy, and, as you will come to see, there's nothing 'theoretical' about it...)
We all know of, or should, although I understand what passes for 'education' these days is getting distressingly shallow, the great financial crash of 1929, which led to the Great Depression of the 30s. This crash was caused by the pretty much unregulated banks of the time acting extremely irresponsibly (with various other high-level financial players, of course) in various ways, and as the dust from this shattering event began to settle, the Bank of Canada was created in 1934 with the major purpose of trying to stabilise Canada's money supply and establish some regulations to control the excesses of the banks in Canada. And they did so quite well, and from then through the early 1970s the Bank of Canada kept a pretty tight watch on banks and other financial institutions, and created, through interest-free loans to itself, a considerable amount of the Canadian money supply, financing, for instance, a substantial part of the great Canadian effort in WWII, and the social growth of our country following that horrendous event, with the pensions and health care and UI and education and other infrastructure development and social programs that made Canada one of the most prosperous and leading social democracies in the world by the 1970s, admired by people around all of the world. During this period the government also borrowed some money from private banks which were still creating some of the money supply too, as they always had - but following 1934 and the creation of the Bank of Canada, until the mid-70s, the government kept a close watch on the private money creation to ensure the banks did not get out of control as they had in earlier times. During that period, mid-30s to the early 1970s, with this system of managing the money in Canada, even after huge war debts being created and paid back and massive development of the Canadian infrastructure both socially and physically, the Canadian gov debt stood at a very low level in relation to government income and the Canadian economy, the interest on which was nothing more than a small item in the national budget (check out a couple of short films by a guy called Bill Abram on this history - very interesting. Also, you might look at App 2 The Corporate Reactionary Revolution now for a bit of useful background about this period and the leadin to what follows from a broader perspective. If you are into this kind of thing, and want better understanding of this stuff, you need to delve into American history a bit here as well, and the story of the American (privately owned, misleadingly named) 'Federal' Reserve, established in 1913 or 14 - and go deeper, much deeper, than the thoroughly sanitized 'official version' (of this or anything else) - you might try starting with a book called The Creature from Jekyll Island, a bit off the far-right wall in interpretation of some of the facts, as they tend to be about everything, but it does tell the general story more or less accurately with a lot of other interesting stuff. You will NOT find any of this stuff on the CBC's 'in depth' reports or websites of the Gov of Canada or Cdn banks or any congruent American official sites, but it helps considerably in understanding the Cdn situation to be aware of such things. Stuff you will never, never, never see on the CBC or the rest of the Canadian media, which brags about its freedom often enough, but doesn't care to talk about 'responsibility' as the word applies to them and telling Canadians important things like I talk about here. None of the really good stuff gets on the CBC. Or taught at university anymore. Grok that as you're going through this stuff too. It's important, very important - either the media are being scammed by these people, as are most Canadians - or they're part of the scam. Your reaction to that idea will give you an idea of how much work you still need to do to get out of the box....)
So without getting into a lot of historical details, the point of that little discussion was so that we can see that from the mid-30s and the creation of the Bank of Canada, through the early 70s, once we got back on our feet after the banks-engineered 29 crash and subsequent depression, the government of Canada was doing an exemplary job of responsible handling of the Canadian finances, in every way. It is pretty difficult to make any argument otherwise. And during this period they were creating a good chunk of the Canadian money supply through the Bank of Canada, financing all of that development, and the country did not come crashing down around our ears in a financial tsunami because of it. Ask those who tell you that governments creating money is about the worst thing that could ever be done, and is terribly irresponsible, to comment on this, and the amount of development that had been done through this money creation, and the excellent shape of the country's books ~1970, just before you ask the next question which you will have after reading about the big scam I am talking about began in earnest.
But then, in the mid-70s 'our' government decided to no longer use the Bank of Canada for at least some of their own governmental needs, and looking at our financial history from that time until the present, and comparing it with the previous 40 years, you couldn't ask for a much better demonstration of gross irresponsibility in the handling of the nation's money supply by government allowing private banks to create it all, outside of the trifling amount of actual 'legal tender' currency. (Defenders of the current system will try to stop you here, and protest that world conditions were responsible for what happened then and has happened since, and to some extent that is true - the same things as I describe in App 2 The Corporate Reactionary Revolution were taking place all over the western world - but Canada could have stood tall and been the good guy and fought this corporate/bank takeover instead of embracing it. There is always argument to be made about what was right to do at the time and in the world conditions, but that the government of that time did give in to the corporate and bank demands, leading to the problems I describe, while they most assuredly had other choices available, and choices that would have been far, far better for the people of Canada, as I show here, is not debatable. Nor is the fact that they kept, and continue to keep, most of this history that I talk about here essentially secret from the Canadian people, which is not a sign of innocent behavior....).
Back to the main story.
In the short 30-year period since the mid-70s when all this began, the Canadian banks, deregulated almost completely by the early 90s, creating money to all intents and purposes at will, and speculating it all away in the most irresponsible way imaginable (check a Cdn website called COMER for some very interesting reading about our banks and what they have been up to), have required two major bailouts (no bailouts from 35-75), engineered at least two major recessions (nor recessions from 45-75 after we got out of the big 30s one), and driven several financial bubbles (nor any of these) by creating way too much money, bubbles which burst as bubbles inevitably do with the inevitable retractions of the economy and sufferings of average people losing jobs, savings, homes, retirement plans, etc. On their own part, within ten years of turning the money-creation business entirely over to private banks, our government had gone from a modest, easily manageable national debt into a massive national debt to the tune of a half trillion dollars, with 'interest' payments becoming (and they still are) the single major item in the national accounts, ranging from $30-50 billion per year (double that by counting provincial/municipal debt) and causing considerable hardship because of it with major cutbacks to social programs and seriously lapsing infrastructure maintenance, repercussions which are felt to this day in many ways, for instance the ongoing angst about not enough doctors or hospital beds. And to make it even worse, most of that debt was just accumulating interest combined with borrowed money to pay interest on money borrowed earlier, one of the serious red flags of grossly irresponsible money handling, a complete abandonment and even betrayal of the fiduciary responsibility of the government to the people of Canada to look after their financial affairs in the best way possible. And the second bank bailout, in the early 1990s, came even after several years of the banks receiving windfall payouts from the government, in interest on the national debt the government quite intentionally arranged for them, of $40 Billion dollars per year and more (and double that if you add in provincial etc debt)! (there's a more detailed explanation of this in App 1 The Great National Debt Scam).
This behaviour since the great banketeering scam got underway in the mid-70s, by both government and banks, has been very demonstrably about as 'responsible' as the worst VGT addict gambling away the paycheque every Friday, then telling his family the cupboard was bare while going to cheque cashing companies and loan sharks and getting deeper and deeper and deeper into debt.
So when you consider these two periods, and compare them - well, let's just not hear any more from the 'government printing money is soooo irresponsible!!!!!' gang, ever again, please. It's just too much of a blatant and brazen lie, with the very opposite so demonstrably the actual case. (as a sort of last gasp the proponents of the 'government printing money bad!!' notion will bring up the only actual cases there are of such things, such as Germany in the 1920s or one or two others, but the situations in these cases were nothing whatsoever like the situation in Canada today, and of no more credibility than saying something like Hitler was a bad man so all Germans must be too. Leave them and their lastgasp arguments to wither in the sun, pay them no more attention)
(A kind of sarcastic caveat (often a lot of truth to be found in sarcasm) - it does depend on who you are being responsible to, of course, whether you call the above noted activities of 'our' government 'responsible' or not. If the government was supposed to be being fiduciarilly responsible to the people of Canada, it of course failed miserably and we've been paying the price ever since they turned full money creation powers over to private banks, deregulated them, and managed to run up that huge debt. But if they were actually being responsible to someone else, behind the scenes as it were, doing what they did for reasons never talked about in public, then the turning over of the money creation power to the banks, with the transfer of a couple of trillion dollars of taxpayer money to certain 'investors', with the attendant gutting of the Canadian social and physical infrastructure and all of the other pro-business, anti-worker changes made to facilitate the ascendancy of 'market-based fundamentals' a la the Friedman/Chicago 'school of economics' over the same time period - then all of these things could be interpreted as carrying out their 'true' responsibilities to their actual masters very ably indeed. I leave it to the reader to wander through those ideas alone a bit. If you're ready to get out of the box, it shouldn't present much of a challenge.)
3. A few words on exactly why letting privately-owned banks create most of our money supply is such a bad idea.
3a: Interest = Real Property
When thinking about why it is a bad idea to allow private banks to create most of our money as interest-bearing debt, the first question one needs to consider is simply - where does the interest come from?
The answer to this simple question is as revealing of what is happening here Mr Jones as the answer to the first question I asked in this essay (where does the money come from?, if you're getting confused already) - and as important. (you can kind of tell how important some things are by the exposure they get on the CBC or in other major media - this is very, very important stuff, and you will never, never, never hear their business commentators talking about it, or find any discussion of it checking around their ludicrously named 'in-depth' reports, which might better be labelled something like 'what good children believe if they want a pat on the head' reports).
The thing, the very BIG thing, is - if banks are the only entities creating the 'non-government-created-bank notes' computer-entry-money in Canada, and they create 98% of the nation's money supply by lending it to people, and they expect interest on that money at the end of the year - where is the interest coming from????
Think on this a bit too. It becomes a growth experience, and I'm not talking about bank profits. Well, I am, but from the other perspective.
If the banks were doing as the civics school dogma wants you to believe - taking real, already existing government-created money from existing deposits, and loaning some of that money out as a business, and charging interest as their profit - that would be acceptable, providing a certain useful business service to the community and country. But when the banks **create** XXX dollars essentially out of thin air, and the money they thus create comprises the great bulk of the nation's actual money supply, and then require XXX + Y dollars when you pay back the loan - where does Y come from? There is the supply of 'real' government created 'legal tender' bank notes circulating, of course, but there's not enough of that to cover more than a fraction of all the interest required (even if it could all be gathered in one place, a highly unlikely idea since it circulates daily a few bucks at a time amongst tens of millions of people and businesses) - since the mid-80s when the national debt reached the level they apparently wanted it at (since it's been around there since then, sucking a regular 30-40 billion bucks from us to the banks/'investors' every year, about as gold-plated an 'investment' as you could imagine), all the circulating cash money would barely cover a year's interest on the national debt alone without even getting at the interest due on the provincial debts or consumer debt.
So what are we going to do about that interest? The Canadian economy is, of course, a huge and complex system with hundreds of billions of dollars circulating every year and tens of millions of users large and small, private and business, interacting also with other countries around the world and reaching over years of time, and there is a lot of room to shuffle the couple of trillion dollars of bank-created debt-money around between Peter's and Paula's and Tom Biznessman's accounts to a certain extent, and there's always many loans being paid off and many more being created each year, often as 'rollover' or including new loans specifically to pay interest on an existing debt, which meets some of that interest requirement - but at some point in time (actually many, many points, ongoing), like a game of musical chairs, some careless or unlucky schmucks will find there is no bank-created money anywhere for them to shuffle or access to pay to the bank, and then what?
Well, every serious loan of course requires collateral - real property of some sort. When the money can't be found - there goes the real property. And when you stand back from the middle of the daily forest of millions of tiny daily transactions, and look at the big picture from somewhere high over the side of the box all these transactions are happening in, you can see that over time, in return for being allowed to create that huge amount of money, 98% of the entire nation's money supply, and demand interest on it and collect the collateral when the interest cannot be found, the bank owners are going to start picking up a lot of real property in lieu of that interest that cannot be paid. Every year that game of musical 'where's the interest ohoh!!?!?' chairs claims many, many victims, every year interest is due, every year a significant amount of it has to be paid in real property because the banks created the loan money but not the interest money they demand on top of the loan. (It gets even more perverse when you figure how many loans owed (such as most of the federal national debt) were and are simply money borrowed to pay interest that could not be found elsewhere - they'll let you do that for awhile, making the eventual property grab that much larger).
Think of it - for being granted the right to create the Canadian money supply out of thin air, and charging interest on it (and even making loans for no other purpose than to cover due interest!!) - they get real property in return. Much real property. On top of the massive amounts of interest they get for creating money out of thin air (quite a good chunk on a couple of trillion dollars each year), and the 'service' charges that keep increasing as do bank profits. Business opps don't get much better than that, I would think. Although modern capitalists are quite creative with the ways they have of making us work while they get rich off that work, but that's stuff for another chapter.
This 'we'll take your property if you can't pay us!' is not a new banking game since the 70s, of course, and has been going on as long as we have had banks, but it just kind of went on steroids since the 70s, after 40 years of careful regulation, when the government turned over its money-creation Bank of Canada function to the private banks, and removed what had been a certain balance between interest-demanding money and non-interest-demanding money circulating. And when the government started borrowing their own money, and thus putting government property into the 'collateral' kitty once-removed, things really started getting out of control as governments began to sell 'our' property to make up income shortages (just as a little self-study exercise in helping to understand all this, try to make a little list of government properties that have been sold off over the last 30 years, usually at far below market value, whether in the name of privatisation or getting rid of services deemed 'unnecessary' by business groups or rightwing politicians or whatever, but always with at least the partial justification of 'making money to pay down that darn ol debt!' (which oddly enough doesn't seem to ever get paid down much no matter how much they claim to throw at it). Think of big things like CN and Petrocan and Ontario Hydro, and start working your way through a long list. Think about how much YOU were consulted about the selling of YOUR property. Get one of Mel Hurtig's recent books (the one coming in May/08 sounds like the scariest of all) for stuff on this and a lot more. Get more than one sheet of paper. Get whatever chemicals you need when your temper starts getting out of control and you get a strong feeling you want to really hit someone. Get determined to do something about this.).
3B: The other "I" word:
Deregulating these banks at the same time as letting them create almost all of the nation's money supply out of thin air and collect interest from those who do the borrowing of that newly created money makes inflation completely inevitable.
How can it not? The people who use the borrowed money in their businesses have a choice to make - they can either reduce their profits each year by the money they pay in 'service charges' on that borrowed money (and you can imagine how that idea would go over with today's 'investors'), or they can increase their costs to cover the interest - and businesses don't stay in business long if their profits keep falling. Every year, 98% of the Canadian money supply must have interest paid on it. Aside from causing great bank profits, that interest causes inflation - how can it not!?! Even if you personally do not have a business loan to pay interest on, you will be dealing with many people who do have such loans, and when those people increase their prices, you must increase yours as well, if you are a business, or see your profits fall, and fall, and fall, as you meet the rising demands, year after year, of others to cover their interest. There is no escape. That's how inflation works its way through an economy - sort of like the falling domino idea.
If you are a common wage-earning working person, of course, as are most of us, your salary does not go up as much as inflation rises year after year after year, so you fall behind - everyone knows how employers resist giving employees raises, it's just one of the givens of modern life (it's another lie of the scammers that unions demanding raises creates inflation - there may be the odd instance in the past to point to of a powerful union managing a raise over cost increases, but in the big picture of all workers, and especially in the globalised 'race to the bottom' de-unionised world of the 21st century, no freaking way, as they say). Banks that charge interest, and businesses that raise their prices each year, keep up with inflation, and even get ahead of it (inflation 3% cost increase 5% - you see it everywhere, adding to the basic inflationary pressure caused by a bank-created, interest-demanding money supply) - but the income of most working people always lags behind. And lags more and more each year. You know it - since this got underway in the 70s, every year your money does not buy as much as it used to, your savings account is smaller every year, the credit card bills get bigger and bigger as you just try to stay even, let alone think about getting ahead - while the banks brag about bigger and bigger profits every year, year after year, every quarter these days, and a business without constantly rising profits will not be in business long. After 30 years of this (sooner, really, these big repercussions started being seriously felt in the 80s and escalated through the 90s and the first years of this century), most families need two adults working now to even think of a comfortable middle class sort of life, whereas prior to the advent of the current situation in the 70s as I describe here and elsewhere, most families could have a decent life with only one working person.
Which, again, is a direct result of letting the banks create almost all of our money, without anything more than the most nominal government supervision.
But is there a better way??
Banks creating money may seem to be a bad idea as you explain it here, but what can we do to replace this system? We do seem prosperous enough as a country, and the system of bank-created money and capitalism, problems though there are, certainly seems to have been instrumental in the creation of our great technologically advanced world and prosperous and still pretty free western democracies??? So - if banks don't create money, where does it come from??
Re our great and prosperous technological society and freedom - this debate could go on a long time, and I'm not getting into it here - the whole book is about that, in many ways, and I do look at this in a bit more length in the final couple of chapters - but the distaff side of that argument is simply that insofar as our society is so great and free, it is in spite of capitalism and the modern banking system, not because of it (the people running this place lie about the money, and they lie about a lot of other things such as how wonderful their society is too - there are some good things certainly, but there are also many very bad things such as the control of the money supply I talk about here that they do NOT talk about at all that need to be considered in any equation talking about how good all of this *really* is). And I might also note that it is pretty obviously because of the banking/money system we have allowed to be imposed upon us, as I describe above, that the freedom and prosperity and security of the average citizen we enjoyed before this modern era began in the 70s are now very much being rolled back in a major way through bank-created money-creation and inflation and other problems related to the cancer-like capitalist growth imperative; you know how they impact you and everyone else in a considerably non-wonderful way, and the considerably non-wonderful pressures most people face daily from money problems. Imagine a human body - a complex and wonderful thing. Then a cancer strikes, secretly turning the cells and organs in your body into being used against you rather than for you. The human body is still an amazing and beautiful thing, even in its weakened state - but what a much more wonderful and beautiful thing it returns to after you realise that illness is there and get rid of it. Capitalism, which is what all of this banking stuff is about, is nothing more than a cancer infesting our body politic, a cancer which has now metastasized into every corner of our society, causing death and destruction and disease everywhere its influence is felt - and we all will be far, far, far better off once we understand this cancer and ban it from our presence forever.
But about the money creation, the subject of this chapter - Is there a better way? Of course there is, and a blindingly obvious one, as are most truths once the curtain they have been concealed behind is drawn back and they enter the public consciousness - We the People create our own money through *our* government - and issue it debt-free. No interest required every year on *our* money that is circulating in *our* country, paid to private individuals who alone operate and control a highly, highly lucrative for them (and cancerous for us) money-creation cash cow. This very idea, of course, is what the bankers fear most, the death blow to their great privilege as it were, which is why they are so determined to make everyone believe 'Governments creating money must not be allowed!!!' - their safety lies in having that false belief be so strong in your brain that if it is ever raised you reject it without even thinking about it. So far they have been quite successful. I hope this little essay can help change that.
Consider our current system. Currently, as I noted earlier, with the bank-created debt-as-money-supply system, we have a more-or-less set amount of money - the bank notes and coins - of about $50 billion, and then another 2-3 Trillion on top of that that the banks create as loans, all that huge pool endlessly demanding more money be found for its 'interest'. This huge pool of bank-created credit money is constantly coming and going - as loans get paid off, the money disappears from the computers, but as new loans are made there is new money added to the computer pool. With populations and economies growing, the trend of course is creating more new loans than there are old loans being paid off, so the money supply expands with time - but the control of this interest-bearing money creation in the hands of secretive banks whose primary objective is maxing their own profits leads to all the problems discussed earlier. And also, with that huge amount of floating loan money constantly appearing and disappearing in bank computers there can be no decent oversight even if the government was so inclined, and abuses and excesses are inevitable when the people in charge of it are much more concerned with maxing their own profit in any way possible than in maintaining a stable money supply for the people of the country, as we have seen over and over again the last 30 years since the banks were once again freed from serious government oversight. Or as we also see at other times, when some of the high players get too clever with their games, added to the out-of-control money creation, and the latest speculative pyramid they have built together crashes down, as they do every decade or so, then the short-sighted 'must have bigbig profit this quarter!!' banks and their investors retreat a bit to protect themselves, and get over-cautious about making new loans for awhile, leading to a contraction of the money supply, and we get a recession (and let their loot accumulate - the property others are losing because of the recession, as long as they control things they run a 'heads I win tails you lose' sort of game). There are many other problems I am sure you can think of as well - I am not trying to provide an exhaustive list here, just examples.
But consider what might happen if this was the other way around - our government and not private individuals controlled our money supply, with, say, for instance, 80-90% of the money supply fixed - that is to say, not created-out-of-thin-air as debt that would disappear when it was paid back, but living 'forever' in our government-controlled computers, ebbing and flowing here and there between various accounts as our daily transactions dictated, but never disappearing, and not demanding interest from someone every year - and only a sort of buffer zone of perhaps 10-20% of the money supply comprised of floating, create-uncreate loans (with some fairly strict guidelines on how much new money was created, and for what purpose, to avoid inflation and crazy speculation). In such a situation, such things as speculative inflation from secretive banks creating too much money, or collaborating with other big time financiers and creating hedge fund or subprime crises, or recession because they created too little, would be virtually impossible. (People should be free to speculate with stocks or gamble in any way they please, of course, but only with their own money, and not with the collusion of bank 'investors' also looking for windfall profits, endangering the stability of the national money supply by creating huge amounts of money for nothing more than gambling.)
Fiat money? Gold-based money? What to replace Bank 'Money'?
Many people rail at length against 'fiat money', and say that a 'return to the gold standard' is the only way to have a stable money supply.
I seriously disagree with all of that.
1. Their basic argument is that governments creating money is terribly irresponsible, they just print huge scads of bills and destroy the value of everything through hyperinflation, and I dealt with that particular demonstrably false, perversely false, bogeyman earlier. It's not the fiat money that is problematic, it is who is creating and controlling it - as I explained at length, letting banks, led by secretive, greedy, manipulative, dishonest 'investors', control money is a recipe pretty much guaranteeing sustained disaster and ongoing crises. I'll talk about government in a minute.
2. Gold-based money is a good sounding idea, on the surface, a sort of 'eternal' store of value in something scarce and precious that cannot be made worthless by simply turning on a printing press and cranking out billions of pieces of it. And to some extent, no doubt, this idea may have been useful a couple of hundred or thousand years ago, when there were no reasonably stable countries to guarantee a money supply, and no accepted means of reaching agreeable conversion rates between the many currencies being developed, and even the many banks in some countries issuing their own script of various sorts and reliabilities, and everything was in a great deal more flux than today, and the whole idea of 'money' was something that was just being developed, like so many other things. But nowadays walking around pushing to go back to 'gold' as the baseline of all monetary value makes about as much sense as going back to candles to light our houses because electricity generation causes pollution or costs too much or can be unreliable if there is too much demand - these things are true, but we deal with them by going ahead, not backwards.
Consider a few problems:
So we are a prosperous country with a Fort Knox full of gold that is the bedrock of our currency and economy. In a very imaginable scenario today, some clever terrorist sets off a nuclear weapon on the Fort - or some clever thief devises some fiendish plan and steals it all - and then what? Overnight the entire money supply becomes worthless, people cannot go to work or buy things for dinner that night because their gold is no longer available, so their currency is valueless and the whole economy collapses because a few stock traders get panicy? That seems like a pretty insecure basis for a money supply.
And what about a little country like Green Island, with no natural gold - we're supposed to go begging to gold merchants somewhere, and somehow exchange some huge amount of our real property or other goods or services for a few bars of this yellow metal, which really has no particular value, when you think of it, beyond some mystical power that it has become imbued with over the ages - and in effect we allow those who have the gold already to become our bankers because we are extremely heavily indebted to them? Is the value of all our property, built over hundreds of years, or our work on the farms and oceans and office buildings to be deemed as zero because we have no gold? Again, seems pretty senseless and even foolish, when you understand the problems with letting bankers run an economy as I described above. (and what about the country the bankers take the gold from to sell to us? Does their economy become diminished by that amount of gold?)
In general, gold is pretty finite, but human society, at least for now, is growing a lot. Problems.
But those are, to me, still lesser arguments.
To me, the biggest argument for fiat money is simply that this is the only kind of medium of exchange necessary, or possible, in an advanced democracy of intelligent, engaged, honest citizens. An advanced democracy will feature many characteristics, but two of them certainly will be a general trust among the citizens because we are by nature an honest and sharing species, and a very strong, functioning democratic process - and a gold standard signifies just the opposite, a general distrust, and an accepted hierarchical decision making process. It cannot be otherwise. (If you're thinking you already live in a 'real' democracy so we're already doing the best we can, I would beg to differ, quite seriously - as discussed in Ch 4: The Democracy Scam - the fact you have known essentially nothing about this huge money scam I describe here, as perpetrated by 'your' government the last 3 decades, should be clear enough evidence to start with - and there's lots more)
With a 'gold standard', the belief is that we cannot trust 'others', even including 'our' government, to maintain a stable currency, so we need a 'standard' of some sort that is somehow above human interference (we cannot create gold at will as we can, for instance, bank notes, so cannot influence its supply). Also, it is quite undeniable, in a gold-based society, that 'he who has the gold, rules', all talk of 'democracy' being nothing more than theoretical - as your understanding should now show, 'your' government has been working for they who have the gold for the last 30 years, and lying to you about it, as such people do. And then if you think about it, you will also see that both of these precepts are central to capitalism, which is what the banks are all about, of course. Capitalism is all about 'he who has the gold' ruling - and capitalism is also very much about a non-trustworthy, non-sharing, dog-eat-dog society, rather than a society in which trust and honesty and sharing rule - the entire history of capitalism shows that although you may be able to find the odd exception of a hard-working and honest specimen here and there, in general a capitalist makes their fortune through any means possible, as they are really in the power game and the wealth is simply the path to power. The only thing that counts is getting that wealth, as afterwards, well, of course, the winners make the laws and control the policing, and we peasants do as we're told or face consequences. And when one is so lawless oneself, one obviously assumes others to be at least as lawless, so is of course naturally disinclined to trust others, especially in anything to do with money. And when these people run the society, their 'values' of 'getting ahead at any cost' and other dog-eat-dog ideas trickle down to at least some extent, as many people emulate their leaders trying to climb the ladder to success, and many others must do things they might not normally do just to survive.
These imperatives of those who prefer life in a dog-eat-dog, lawless, winner-take-all society, such as we are becoming more and more each day in Canada, should be seen as what they are - problems to be overcome by a society of intelligent, informed individuals who truly wish to live in a democracy, a real democracy run by intelligent, informed people rather than a rich elite pretending to embrace democracy but in reality running everything behind the scenes. And a fundamental condition of a democracy is that we trust the others in our community - yes, there will be the odd untrustworthy sort, but they soon expose themselves and we deal with them, and the basic value of trust remains. The capitalist, on the other hand, starts from the premise that noone can be trusted with 'their' money (since, of course, they could not be trusted with anyone else's), and a solid police presence, restrictive laws, and constant distrust and surveillance of everyone must be the norm.
The great majority of us are honest people, wanting a decent life and willing to do our share of the work to maintain our society. It is only because we have allowed a gang of essentially lawless predators to take over our society, and set the basic norms, that things are as they are (and I do not, of course, mean the elected politicians, many of whom are good enough people, I mean of course the behind-the-scenes 'real' rulers, who contaminate everything with their cancerous dictates - including our 'democracy').
As a community, our strength lies in working together and trusting one another - and this solidarity and trust should be the foundation of our currency as well. Any type of money is only as good as the confidence people place in it, and if we trust ourselves and our neighbors, then we can trust our money. And this applies to a larger political entity as well, for instance a country like Canada, where you can know only a small, small percentage of the people therein personally, but still trust the people overall. We have this today, when you think of it - I can sell my goods in Halifax to somebody, accept Canadian currency in return, and be completely confident that when I travel to Saskatoon and need to buy something, anyone in Saskatoon will accept the money I received in Halifax.
And Canadian money is not backed by gold, but by the trust we have in each other, through our government and through years of stable and honest society.
The 'gold standard' is the capitalist way, the golden rule idea, he who holds the magic talisman, the great sword, the gold - rules!! - rule in the hands of a few. We will not be free in 'our' democracy until we free ourselves from the rule of those who control the gold, and control whatever kind of money we use ourselves. (and if you're wondering about LOTR allegories - so am I - it fits in every way, although Tolkien denied consciously doing such a thing)
The We the People way of true, all-inclusive democracy is to say no - no one person will rule, we all rule together. Our wealth lies not in a few pieces of yellow metal, but in the collective strength we wield together, the trust we have in one another, our ability to work and act together to prevent the few who would be our rulers from gaining that power over us.
The gold standard is a way to allow those who would rule to get the people to accept that the repository of our wealth as a country can be deposited in some small symbol - some small thing that can thus be controlled by a small group of people.
But when We the People rule ourselves, it is because we see that our strength is wide and deep, and no one person or small group of people can claim the right to rule. There is strength in diversity - we all know the old and very true saying about eggs in one basket, anyone familiar with basic biological principles understands that strength lies in diversity.
Very much like democracy itself - if we allow Those Who Would Be King Over All to convince us to place our trust in a few 'representatives', then those who would subvert our society to selfish ends need only control these few representatives - but if we as citizens insist on true democratic participation in all decisions of consequence, then it is almost impossible to so subvert us all, and our democracy will be almost unassailable.
So finally - we forget the idea of bank-created interest-bearing debt as money, and we forget tying our money to gold, whose dangers are much greater than its temptations warrant, and we establish a simple fiat currency (after establishing a real democracy, of course, I didn't say this was going to be easy), in a system carefully overseen by qualified employees truly democratically responsible to We the People, and always closely supervised by us - a money residing mostly in computer accounts as at present, but the great bulk of which is free from encumbrance - no interest to be paid on it every year, just shuffling back and forth between various accounts as we all carry out our daily business.
This will mean some quite large changes in our society - almost every problem we read about in the papers every day these days can be traced back to the change of policy in the 70s and the start of this period of banks creating most of our money and strongly influencing the economy through this, through serious systemic inflation, the creation of bubbles through out-of-control money creation and subsequent crashes, and the various plans to funnel wealth from the bottom to the top, and etc and etc - the problems that are inevitable when a small group of avaricious, manipulative, lying, secretive individuals are allowed to control a nation's money supply.
Without this insatiable demand for interest on the nation's money, and the need to replenish the amount that is transferred into 'investor' accounts each year, the frantic pace of life can slow down for most of us. Those few people who like frantic will be free to be so, but they'll no longer be able to force the majority of us who would rather a calmer pace, with more time to devote to personal things and family, to leap through their endless hoops, working overtime to make more and more for them to steal.
The great economic crises we have been facing regularly these last 30 years will become a thing of the past, as those controlling our money supply no longer encourage such things, thus making our economy much more stable.
The newly married couple who wish to buy a house will find it much easier and cheaper than now - they can still apply for a loan, of course, nobody will be giving them money, but will not need to pay at least the value of the house twice over in interest payments. And if they run into a hard time for some reason, nobody is going to come along and boot them from the house, always a favorite trick of capitalist bankers, but completely uncalled for with one of our own neighbors. In a true democracy, people are cherished, not money.
Our communities will become much greener, as we use our money to support green things such as local organic farms and cooperative businesses, rather than major polluting industries run by international corporations, which capitalist banks of course support, and the capitalist imperative no longer requires the transformation of natural areas into desolation in the name of quarterly growth and meeting endless 'service charges' on money loaned into existence.
Inflation would again become an insignificant background noise, as the basic inflationary driver of paying interest on everything including government 'borrowing' would be gone, as would the goosing inflationary force of banks creating far too much money for speculation and engineered crashes wiping out thousands of little people and transferring their property to winners higher on the financial feeding chain.
Taxes will go down a lot - the whole idea of taxes will need to be rethought, as taxation is basically tribute paid by peasants to a ruler. When we ourselves rule our society democratically, and create the money ourselves that we use for public purposes, and do not have an arrangement to hand over a large percentage of the tax money to banks and major 'investors' each year which then has to be replaced for our own needs, we will be able to do a lot more for 'our' country than we do now, but with a lot less taxation, and a lot less work required on our part to maintain a stable society, rather than re-filling the coffers each year as the money gets sucked into offshore accounts as we must now.
Things like closing public facilities, doctor and hospital shortages, infrastructure neglect and most of the current 'problems' we face in Canada, ALL of which are related to shortages of money which are the direct result of the banks putting in place this great funnel directing tens of billions of our produced wealth/dollars into their offshore bank accounts each year, will also become a thing of the past.
We will be able to start seriously working for world peace, rather than endless war, as no truly democratic government will ever be a warlike government.
- and many, many other things.
There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.
- my bro
Refs and stuff
For one of the best descriptions, in a scholarly but very readable presentation, of the history of banks and interest, and what it means to 'we the people', check out The Grip of Death, by an English writer named Michael Rowbotham.
A good place to get a lot more background on the whole subject of monetary reform is the same website Prosperity UK.
Brief recent interesting historical look here Show us the money
A few more Kennedy quotes - you can see why he had to go - NONE of this stuff fits the capitalist dystopia. "...Harry Truman once said there are 14 or 15 million Americans who have the resources to have representatives in Washington to protect their interests, and that the interests of the great mass of other people, the hundred and fifty or sixty million, is the responsibility of the President of the United States. And I propose to fulfill it..." Not for long. Byebye Mr Pres. Bush is more what the capitalists want. And in today's world, what the capitalists want, the capitalists get.
Hyperinflation - check out the list at the end, and look at the dates. Almost all since 1980. Nothing from the 50s or 60s.
Just as I finish this (Feb 22/08), a perfect example - Rescue plan for ailing Toronto - let's sell that property to pay the debts, boys! - and look at the bloody sign - claiming this is a 'blueprint for fiscal stability and economic prosperity'!! - they can't be that stupid, so they have to be lying. And next year when the money is gone??? - well, there'll be more stuff to sell. Selling assets is about the very last resort of a normal person on their last legs financially. And they brag about it.
Manitoba families struggling to get ahead - Feb 08, stories like this every week, people falling behind and behind over the last 2-3 decades - for reasons I explain above.
Ch 3 - The Work Scam
At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) had this to say about “The Fall of The Athenian Republic” some 2,000 years prior.
When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, it took the astronauts to a Navajo reservation in Arizona for training. One day, a Navajo elder and his son came across the space crew walking among the rocks.
The elder, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question. His son translated for the NASA people: "What are these guys in the big suits doing?"
One of the astronauts said that they were practicing for a trip to the moon.
When his son relayed this comment, the Navajo elder got all excited and asked if it would be possible to give the astronauts a message to deliver to the moon.
Recognizing a promotional opportunity when he saw one, a NASA official accompanying the astronauts said, "Why certainly!" and told an underling to get a tape recorder.
The Navajo elder's comments into the microphone were brief. The NASA official asked the son if he would translate what his father had said. The son listened to the recording and laughed uproariously. But he refused to translate.
So the NASA people took the tape to a nearby Navajo village and played it for other members of the tribe. They too laughed long and loudly, but also refused to translate the elder's message to the moon.
An official government translator was summoned. After he finally stopped laughing, the translator relayed the message:
"WATCH OUT FOR THESE ASSHOLES. THEY HAVE COME TO STEAL YOUR LAND!"
This so destroys the common argument these days about "The founding fathers could in no way predict the way things are these days, so we should treat the constitution as a modifiable document." (Like George Bush saying "It's just a god damn piece of paper".)
This was written by George Washington as he prepared to leave office after his second term as president.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:
1 The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.
2 I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.
3 The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence impelled me to abandon the idea.
4 I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.
5 The impressions, with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied, that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.ok
6 In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; than, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it.
7 Here, perhaps I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.
8 Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.
9 The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
10 For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of american, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
11 But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those, which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the Union of the whole.
12 The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds, in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.
13 While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighbouring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is, that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.
14 These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a primary object of Patriotic desire. Is there a doubt, whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavour to weaken its bands.
15 In contemplating the causes, which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by Geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren, and connect them with aliens?
16 To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.
17 All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
18 However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
19 Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations, which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that, for the efficient management of our common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.
20 I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
21 This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
22 The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
23 Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
24 It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
25 There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
26 It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way, which the constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
27 Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
28 It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
29 Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
30 As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.
31 Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?
32 In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.
33 So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
34 As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.
35 Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
36 The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
37 Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
38 Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
39 Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
40 It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
41 Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
42 Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
[43-50 omitted from some newspaper printings.]
43 In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
44 How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
45 In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April 1793, is the index to my Plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
46 After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
47 The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
48 The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
49 The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
50 Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
51 Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.
United States - September 17, 1796
Retrieved from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Washington%27s_Farewell_Address
Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put a set of stairs under it.
Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, Turn off the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.
Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? "Because that's the way it's always been around here."
And that's how company policy begins........
There is no justifiable reason for doing this, but it is company policy.