Tag Archives: Locke

Political Passions and Upcoming Elections: Does It All Really Matter?

San Diego — To me, the upcoming election for President of the United States presents the clearest contest between two very opposing views of the world, the economy, and the role of government we have witnessed in my lifetime.  As I perceive it, the core philosophies the two candidates represent differ on the following primary issues:

  1. The role and ‘job’ of government,
  2. The contest of freedom versus security,
  3. The best economic model to follow, and
  4. The role and place of the US on the world stage
  5. The ethical appraisal of America itself

I said “core” philosophies because I believe one of them is a true believer, steeped to his toes in the tenets of his beliefs.  I’m not so sure about the other to be honest but to take him at his word and his claims du jour, if he is sincere, then those issues will break down pretty much as follows.

The Role of Government.  Is it constrained by the very specific requirements and limitations spelled out with absolute clarity in the Constitution or is it to be all things to all people and the source of determination as to what is fair or not and how to remedy it or not?

Freedom versus Security.  Do we as a people value our freedoms as granted in the Constitution enough to sometimes risk danger or are we so cowed by circumstances that we prefer to be protected against all danger even at the loss of essential freedoms?

Social Justice. Do we believe that those who are productive should be encouraged to be even more productive because it has a broader positive effect on society or do we believe that those who are productive should give the results of their efforts to those who are not?  Do we believe in the equality of opportunity or the equality of results?

 Economic Models.  As we look across the geopolitical stage of history and examine nation states based on the economic models they adopted, do we think those that pursued a more or less free-market system were more successful than those who adopted a government-controlled system?

The World Stage.  Do we look out at the world and see it filled with people who would gladly be our friends and supporters if we only would continue our aid to them and allow them to butcher their people and their neighbors as they wish, or do we see it populated with people whose schools and places of worship teach them to kill or convert all who disagree and most especially America?  Do we see the world as a safer place with the Soviet Union on the midden heap of history or do we see the world grown more dangerous with rogue elements holding serious weaponry and totally unconstrained by a larger power?

America Itself.  Do we see America as one of the grandest, boldest experiments in the history of mankind which, despite mistakes and failures still strives to be that beacon for freedom to the world or do we see it as a result of a flawed founding document that needs to be transformed into a different view of propriety from that of the founding fathers?

The parties in play could not possibly be farther apart philosophically in their espoused core beliefs about what America is and what it ought to be.  If ever there was a clear distinction in goals and objectives this election seems to provide it. if ever it truly mattered it is now.  Based on those opposing points of view at play, this could be the most important election in our nation’s history in terms of how it advances into the future.

But is that real or is it a giant shell game of red herrings and straw men whose purpose is to rally the true-believers on each side and keep them focused away from the real action?  There are a growing number of observers who believe the facts point toward a very different shadow power that really runs things and uses such issues as distractions to keep the passionate populace focussed away from what is really happening.

Unfortunately, that ‘conspiracy theory, normally relgated to the realm of crackpots and political loons, contains a certain logic because there is a common thread that binds the otherwise opposing parties.  Now to me it could either be the result of a benign and coincidental philanthropy, or, as the conspiracy loons suggest, revealing of an ugly oligarchy underlying it all and making our apparent choices pretty much irrelevant.  Here is the problem…

The major funding – for BOTH parties — comes from the SAME sources, mostly financial institutions including such banksters as Goldman-Sachs, Credit Suisse Group, Morgan Stanley, HIG Capital, Barclays, Bank of America, JP Morgan & Chase, USB AG, Wells Fargo, Blackstone Group, Citigroup or their proxies.  But it is Goldman-Sachs that would be the chief entity of interest in a search for a primary Oligarch pulling political strings since they not only provide more money than the others, they also have provided the manpower to populate administration officials and officers throughout the government.  A simple review of resumes will reveal this interesting common employer.

Now a financial entity so huge certainly has a huge employment base so a few dozen individuals in key governmental positions all coming from it could be coincidental.  It is also quite possible that these well heeled groups donate to both sides because they believe in allowing each a loud voice to reach the voters and are simply and patriotically doing their share, collectively and individually to facilitate that.  It is possibly a sheer and amazing coincidence that these major contributors, all capitalist pillars, included the groups bailed out because they were ‘too big to fail’ and allowed to rise above the law as it would apply to normal citizens which could not possibly be more antagonistic to capitalist principals.

Consequently there is a certain uneasy logic to the people who see this as evidence of a vast conspiracy; not of the left or right, but of the world’s oligarchs to be able to influence the policies of what was, at least, the world’s greatest power (and perhaps other powers as well).  I do not know the answer to that; I am not fully persuaded by either argument about their intents and goals in political funding.  but it does raise some interesting questions.

Unions are much more obvious: they are working in their own self interest which is what I believe they do all the time while pretending to protect but instead work to gain dependencies from the workers in their various clutches.  But big banks and financial institutions?  From a political perspective they could be either the ultimate evil or one of the more benign aides.  As usual in such cloudy areas the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle.

So until I am persuaded one way or the other about the sources and results of this major money I’ll continue to assume – or perhaps more accurately, hope – that the candidates are true to their core or avowed philosophies and vote based on that.  But that doesn’t help me much because, truth to tell, I think BOTH ideologies as they are currently finding expression, are wrong and living in some other century.

And no, I do not mean just conservatives.  I also mean the liberal/progressives because their ideology belongs to the past just as much as some of the conservative ideology does.

Both are based on thinking starting in the 17th century and flowing forward into the late 19th century when it solidified.  While I do believe one of them comes closer to representing accurately the underlying human nature at play in political interactions (and that is the ideology flowing from Locke and Burke) as they are being expressed in this contest in 2012, neither is truly dealing with the world as it now is.

Both are based on a world view predicated on sovereign or nearly sovereign and nearly self sufficient nation-states for whom trade was a common and handy but unnecessary thing.  Neither are, in their pristine forms, fully suitable for a world of global markets, revolutionary changes in the methods of production and the sources of revenue, nor well calculated to serve anyone, in any class, in a world of mutually capable destruction and growing competition for global but finite resources.

Conservative philosophies are based on a world that largely no longer exists while progressive philosophies are based on a world that NEVER existed.  And yet passionate partisanship has convinced us that we have a simple “either-or” set of choices and ignored the reality that the best choice is probably… “neither.”

I do believe that conservative ideals, however, are based in a far more accurate appraisal of the realities of human nature and that modern liberal approaches are based more on a marvelously Machiavellian awareness of the power that flows from dependencies but unfortunately that requires a subjugation of human nature to work.  But both now are off in fantasyland, ignoring the inconvenient truth that while they were busy focusing on fighting each other the world changed and with it, the U.S.  Our relations with that world in both an economic and a geo-political sense have not kept pace.  So though I think the best foundation for addressing this new world would come from the Locke/Burke/Jefferson flow of thinking but I see none of the current candidates attempting to apply it.  They are mostly applying it to a world that hasn’t existed for 50 years and maybe longer.

I have watched the debates hoping for someone to get beyond petty in-fighting and speak to the realities of the incredibly dangerous issues facing us both internally and externally and offer their ideas as to how to best deal with them.  I have heard nothing but platitudes and promises of results but not a single working plan. Pabalum for the true believers of all stripes but no real meat in any of them.  If they would come up with that sort of implied leadership then I think they would win, and if they do not then they may once again cede the election to King Barrack and unless the congress falls completely to the other team, we will, in my opinion, see a systematic dismantling of the Constitution; a concentration of power in the executive and his appointed czars in opposition to the legislative branch, and a transformation of this country just as he said he would.

And that scares me to death.  But, to ne honest, not all that much more than having someone from the other side, equally oblivious to the changed world realities, fomenting policies and actions in blind obediance to obsolete policies created in blind ignorance to a world that has changed while they were not looking.

But maybe, in the end, even that fear is unfounded because perhaps that same bankster-contrived and controlled oligarchy, if it actually exists and actually does understand the new world because it created it, will not allow its own golden goose to be cooked and will rein in either side as its pendulum starts to swing to far wide of a workable middle.  I do not know the answer to that nor will pretend to.  And I do not know if that potential phantom safety net would be a good thing or not een if it existed.

Orwell, who foresaw something eerily similar did not think so nor did most people who read his book when i did back in the 60s.  But those people must all be dead since there was no cry against recent announcements of domestic drone surveillance following the passage of the act allowing us to be targets of interest for domestic spying.  While on one hand you might try to argue that a world-wide oligarchy who rules from the shadows in utter self interest would not allow real war to break out, I would suggest you re-read 1984 to see a true nightmare: phony wars with real casualties all to keep the people distracted and in line but without actually destroying production centers and facilities.

Possibly Orwell’s 1984 was simply set in the wrong century. 
is there any possible clue we can look for to tell us the truth of it all?  i think there is.  First, will the outcome of the primaries seem to correspond to any sense of reality?  Remember Joe Stalin’s great observation that political power is not in the hands of the voters but in the hands of vote counters.

Then, once the final candidates are chosen, will any of them offer real leadership and some practical, workable, logical solutions to the major issues that face us to include energy costs, the debt crisis, and the middle east power keg?  These are all smart men with the ability, as president, to convene a forum of the brightest minds available to address nearly any subject.  Will they?  And if so, will they follow the recommendations.  Before you answer too quickly, think of the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan commission on the debt and whether ANY of their recommendations were followed.

Now, am I advocating that we throw in the towel and simply walk away to let the wizards behind the curtain do their thing in peace and quiet? That is what the conspiracy theorists are saying: that it does not matter at all what we do or how we vote.  Do I accept that? Absolutely Not!

Until some new data surfaces to support that theory beyond refute then this still remains the most important election of my lifetime and maybe of the lifetime of this country.  Even though i believe the philosophies espoused are too often based on a flawed and/or obsolete world view, I do still believe one of those world views has a better chance at bringing its ideology in line with reality than the other because I believe its political aims and goals are far more moral, practical, and most importantly, far more in keeping with the realities of human nature.

Discussing these possibilities is fun but also important because it helps to focus us on context as well: how do subsequent actions correspond to pre-election rhetoric and if not, why not.  Without knowing why not, we do not know how to fix it because we are bring a hammer to drive in a screw and a wrench to pound in a nail.


Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

De Tocqueville on American Culture, Religious Influence, & Devotion to Equality

San Diego – Much has been made by modern secular progressives and liberals that Americans, including our Founding Fathers, were never all that enthralled with religion per se or with Christianity specifically.  They cite the 1st Amendment as evidence and conveniently forget both the words per se and the annunciated reasons for it.  And they especially ignore that while it mandated that the government never establish a State Religion (which they claim demonstrates their antipathy to religion in general), it also specifically protected the fee expression of religion by the citizens.  Oops…

Modern liberal spokesmouths would have you believe that any association with Judeao-Christian core values was utterly coincidental and that, as King Barrack said, we owed as much to Muslim influences as to Christian or Jewish ones for our founding principles.  That is a little hard to square with the Koran’s directions relative to Jews and Christians that the good Muslim will convert them or “smite their necks” as was done to Daniel Pearl and those who followed him into the merciful clutches of their  righteous Muslim captors.

Yet, In spite of that, the current attacks on both Jewish and Christian traditions coupled with the open acceptance of Muslim traditions does not seem even the slightest bit contradictory to the sycophants fawning before his majesty.  No one notices or finds anything unusual when the National Day of Prayer, started by President Truman and observed for decades is ignored and that at the White House the observation is cancelled because it might offend some groups.  Who, for instance?  Perhaps the 50,000 Muslims that came for THEIR national Day of prayer held on Capital Hill in 2009.  They had no reason for concern since the King had already declared that we were not a Christian Nation.  Now tell me Reverend Wright did not have an influence here…

It is hard for us, the non-readers and politically naive in 2011, to know whether that assertion about the lack of religious influence in the past was true or not. The disciples of our anointed one seem to decide truth not on facts but upon His  Sacred Words from behind the prompter.  And for the others simply too lazy to check facts, that appearance of uncertainty is precisely what liberals hope you conclude because in that vacuum of self imposed ignorance it is easy for nearly any gibberish to be sucked in to fill the void.

But, unfortunately for them, there were lots of eye witnesses who wrote prodigiously about it, not to mention the volumes written by the founders themselves because, as they noted, they knew they were creating something very different and wanted to be sure people later could understand their intent.  The founders would be astonished that modern people wishing to claim ignorance of intent or wishing the intent to be different than what is was, insist no such documentation exists.  For that to be true all libraries would need to be burned to the ground.  Based on the unwillingness of his adulating followers or the adoring press to verify the pronouncements however, they might as well be.

Surely there must be a few who did their homework and discovered the disconnect between his assertions and reality.  No problem, the answer cannot by definition be that he is wrong so it must be that the founders themselves were too close to it and too biased to assess, objectively, how early newly minted American citizens felt and therefore could not speak accurately for themselves. OK, but there is another source often overlooked or ignored and he had no actions to support or personal decision to explain.  In fact, he was not even writing FOR an American audience.

In 1835 Alexis De Tocqueville major French political thinker and historian (1805-1859) published the first edition and volume of his famous work, “Democracy in America”.  His timing was unique and fortuitous; he visited us at a crucial crossroads in American History and worked to capture the essence of American culture and values developing as, after two wars to assure our political stability and freedom from European colonialism, we transitioned into something unknown in the rest of the world, a country virtually obsessed with the concepts of equality. He was a true liberal before the term was hijacked by modern progressives.  He believed in objective observations and gave little credence to the value of power derived through some sense of elitism or anointed authority.

He noted the irony of having northern States, where old concepts of aristocracy were dead or dying and the loss of hereditary wealth and power generated an obsession with the work ethic and equality of opportunity to become the test of value, and a collection of southern States where a landed aristocracy, kept in place like the patricians of Rome and Ancient Greece by a slave-based economy, held on to those aristocratic values and ideals though he saw them as doomed to failure.

But, getting back to the main point here, he also wrote clearly about the role that religion played in the thinking of Americans and below are some quotes to that effect as he discusses the relationships between religion and the broader national culture.

“Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious. There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

“There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.

“Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851 ed.), pp. 331, 332, 335, 336-7, 337.

OK, let’s hear you spin those observations into assertions of secular deists only marginally attached to any religious values…

Also aware of the rise of socialistic philosophies in Europe he saw America as a great experimental testing ground and wrote of the “Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans” by comparing how European socialists and Americans dealt with the concept of equality in Volumes One, Part I, Chapter 3.  He not only recognized our great potential strengths, he also recognized our great potential weaknesses and the traps into which we might fall.

“But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”

“…Furthermore, when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces. But such a combination is not always in evidence.

“…“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude”.

It appears we have fallen into most of those traps.  It is one thing to espouse a personal philosophy that prefers socialism, or secular humanism flowing from Rousseau and Godwin and Marx over the philosophy flowing from Locke and Burke and Jefferson.  Those are legitimate debates to be had.  But they need to be held based on facts not on wishes, and they need to be based on a history that corresponds to reality not on a re-written version that ignores inconvenient facts.

If one believes that religion per se is inherently negative and we, as a country, should turn away from such “superstitions” that is their right.  But it is disingenuous at best and openly deceitful to try to base such an argument on a fabricated history which claims that we NEVER were a religious culture or that the religious tenets of our culture flowed from anything other than Judaeo-Christian roots.

It was De Tocqueville who coined the phrase that “In every democracy the people get the government they deserve.”  if we continue to vote based not on historical realities or on easily verifiable truths but on concepts openly opposed to our long held values then we will get what we deserve but not something that will preserve the nation as we know it.

When we as a democracy, allow all three branches of government to ignore or de facto repeal our Constitution and then allow the media to abrogate its job of finding the truth in favor of supporting its own biases, then all that is left to us is our votes.  And when those votes are primarily cast by people who believe they are entitled to feed at the government trough, and who, as De Tocqueville noted above, “… want to bring the strong down to their level,” and who prefer, “equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”  then as I have said before,  we are truly doomed.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tough Times

San Diego – Things are getting really grim for education in this state and especially for the Community Colleges.  Under the best case scenario we will lose at least 200 course sections at City College by next Fall Semester.  And it could double that number if the State continues to place more emphasis on protecting prison guards and prisoners, prohibiting drilling and refining, and making sure the snail darter and delta smelt are accorded more attention and sympathy than it provides for educating its next generation.  Never mind that without the education that a college offers, individuals will only get lower paid jobs and the tax base to pay for all of those entitled victims feeding at the public trough will get smaller and smaller, or that as taxes rise the employers themselves will continue, as they have already started, to leave for better business environments and with them more contributors to that tax base will evaporate.

Of course that scenario is mirrored by the Federal government as well which seems determined to spend more, not less, and to adopt as a solution to cash needs the expedient of printing money and loaning it to itself using the wonderful euphemism of “Quantitative Easing” or QE.  Is there no one that reads history?  Are the sycophants of King Barrack or Count Bernacke so willfully blind they refuse to even consider the obvious.  They are all in thrall to the liberal economic theory of John Maynard Keynes but they are so without having actually READ Keynes’s work.  And if they did, they quickly turned the page when he wrote, “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.”  As Milton Friedman noted, only a government can take expensive paper and very good ink and turn the combination into something worthless.

The really scary thing is that maybe they DO know.  Perhaps they are all as smart as claimed and this is not slipping by them, it is being done on purpose.  How did Keynes phrase it? “…overturning the existing basis of society.”  Does that sound like “transforming” society to you?  Before you can transform or overturn a society, unless you are already starting with a generally illiterate populace or one used to autocracies, you have to seriously dumb it down and make it dependent on the authority to keep the food trough filled.   Hmmmmmm.  And what better way of doing that than to start the devaluation of both the currency and the educational system?

A growing cadre of financial advisors and economists are trying to sound the alarm bell that we are heading toward catastrophic inflation but are ignored by the mainstream press.  The government denies it absolutely and tells us instead, in a wonderful example of a magician’s trick, that we are in lessening danger of DEflation.  But gas at the pump has doubled in the past two years.  The increasing fuel costs have increased food costs (it takes fuel for farm implements, transportation, power to stores, and GETTING to the stores) to, in some cases, nearly 50% in that same period.  People may do little more than complain about gas but when they start cutting back on food it will get their undivided attention.  If we, as a society, sheepishly accept that and then accept the sure-to-follow offer of the government to step in and provide for us, then it is hard to see how something could be more transformative from a self reliant people to a dependent people.  it will be a redistribution of wealth all right, redistributed from he people who earned it to the government so they can pay down the debt and get their credit back.

Machiavelli would be proud of King Barrack if he pulls that one off.  Political “good” is achieved when an environment is created that allows citizens to be self reliant and self sufficient and enjoy the fruits of their own labor.  Political “Evil” is achieved when the citizens are made dependent upon the government or “village” to survive.  And what would we call such a system?

Using labels to demonize philosophical opponents is a scurrilous, but effective trick because it halts debate and clouds issues behind an emotional smokescreen, so I am not going to assert that our progressive thinkers are one thing or another.  I would assert however that their ideas and ideals are more closely aligned with those of William Godwin than of John Locke, more clearly flowing from Jean Jaques Rousseau than from Edmund Burke, far more consistent with the thinking of Karl Marx than of Thomas Jefferson, and would garner greater enthusiasm from Gus Hall than from John Kennedy.  And in that is a message that is both critically important and generally ignored.

The silence is deafening and i can see “deer-in-the-headlights” stares aimed at me.  What?  “Who are those people?” you ask.   If you do not know and do not know what they all stood for then I would suggest you have no business taking part in the political discourse and debate because without knowing how we got to where we are you can have no idea where it is going.  It is like mathematically trying to draw a trend line based on a single data point.  If you want to know the truth about someone’s foundational beliefs and where they are likely to lead, then you must understand the foundations of those beliefs.  And if you will do that, and God knows the web can make it far easier for you than it was in the old days of actually having to have or go to a library and, gasp, READ something, then you may be somewhat unsettled by the information and find yourself needing to rethink things a bit.  In doing so you will start, finally, to become one of those “informed citizens” Jefferson said was essential to the success of democracy.  Perhaps you will read and understand the fear the founders had when Madison, and Jefferson, philosophical opponents in may ways, agreed that the greatest danger would come when the people realized that they could, directly or indirectly, write themselves a check from the public treasury.

We are there now.  The danger is bleak and at the gates.  The only question of value at this point is are you going to man the walls to fight it off or run down and open the gates?  Or does it matter?  Have we in fact, as some economists are saying, passed the tipping point from where recovery without tumult is no longer possible?   If so it will be because too many people sat on their hands and researched no more deeply than the talking points of their chosen party, steeped themselves in the profound philosophies of bumper stickers, and blindly followed those choir masters of the chosen choir.  If this culture and country craters around our ears then those blind followers are the people to blame.

Perhaps it will be too late for California’s education system to recover and it, along with the State’s economy, will need to collapse and wait to be rebuilt until the wreckage of its current policies is utterly inescapable to anyone willing to look.  Perhaps it will be the same for the State’s economy and, for that matter, the Country.  I hope not but I must confess I am no longer optimistic.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,