“You may drive nature out with a pitchfork, yet she’ll constantly be running back, and before you know it, will burst triumphantly through your foolish caprices.”
In the closing days of January 1789, (a few days prior to the first congressional election, held on Feb. 3rd), close friends yet political adversaries James Madison and James Monroe set to meet at church in Germanna, VA, to engage in debate in front of a few church-goers. It was terrifically cold, and the days of the Union were still in their nascent stages shortly after the ratification of the Constitution by a majority of the states. The two men, bound by a common cause but emboldened by opposing means, requested the compliment of a few of their fellow citizen’s time. Madison documented it in his journal and, being fond of the memory, was known to recount the story to friends later in life:
“We used to meet in days of considerable excitement and address the people on our respective sides. But there never was an atom of ill will between us. On one occasion we met at a church up here (pointing to the northwest). There was a nest of Dutchmen in that quarter who generally went together and whose votes might very probably turn the scale. We met there, a church service was performed, and they had music with two fiddles. When it was all over, we addressed these people and kept them standing in the snow listening to this discussion of constitutional subjects. They stood it out very patiently, seemed to consider it a sort of fight of which they were required to be spectators. I then had to ride in the night 12 miles to quarters and got my nose frost-bitten of which now I bear the mark still.”
Before his career in politics Madison had already distinguished himself in academia, graduating a year early from College of New Jersey (present day Princeton) with a BA in classical languages and Enlightenment Philosophy, then staying an extra year to learn Hebrew. Once he was done with school he went home to Montpelier, Orange, VA and went into a depressive spell, believing if things didn’t change he would die of purposelessness (I’m not quite sure what that means, it could range from his frail frame being prone to illness, a romantic vision of death by ennui, or simply feeling suicidal). He was only 5’4”, 115 pounds—the man wouldn’t have fared well on the pulpit or in the pubs and wouldn’t have made a competent cut out in the plantation fields, even his own. However, early 1770s America’s Facebook status with Britain could have read “It’s Complicated”; while most of its inhabitants all knew that “It’s complicated” meant “It’s abusive.” In a twisted circumstance of fortune, the rumblings of revolution drew him to politics.
He served as a member of Congress and the House Delegates of Virginia 1774-1786 under the Articles of Confederation which were put in place at the outset of the Revolutionary War and thus were inadequate at serving as a tenable system of government particularly for the peace time to follow. During his service he became close with the likes of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and George Washington and through several demonstrations of political competence was tasked with taking on reform of the Articles of Confederation after some serious red flags were signaled by Shays Rebellion. He helped other congressmen authorize the Philadelphia Convention, and drafted The Virginia Plan — which was a detailed outline consisting of three branches of government and a Congress that would operate in a bicameral manner, apportioned by population and bring about an extended republic with a small republic feel; a system of incentivized public participation in government to develop a sustainable sense of citizenry input — to take with him. This move to draw up a detailed template essentially set the agenda for the entire convention and thus gave him and the Federalists a leg up in the debates that led to voting in favor of it. After months spent in the small quarters of Independence Hall amid the dead heat of central Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 the Constitution was voted on and approved given certain conditions, i.e. what became The Bill of Rights, and pending states approval would be the new system of government in America. This system was enshrined in a document written in common, non-litigative language for citizens to read and discuss and give their genuine input to those elected to serve in positions of authority within the system. It was a document that denoted a system that was designed to bring people together in sincere but lively discussion over how they all wish to be governed. It enabled the public to govern themselves under a system that was capable of adapting along with the evolving sense of public opinion on what that system should look like, and the evolving sense of the term "citizen". it encouraged each American citizen to engage in debate as to what they felt was the true shape of liberty. It was a document designed to build a sense of community and a responsibility toward one’s fellow citizens as informed members of society under a system of laws shaped by those very citizens. He and the framers who aided in its formation envisioned an ever-evolving conversation where citizens under one nation, bound by a shared fate, openly and humbly engaged with one another in the spirit of neighborliness.
Madison wanted to create a system that arranged an “intercourse of sentiments”, which is a marvelous verbal rendering for it exquisitely characterizes inherently incompatible predispositions engaging with one another in a fecund manner; a fruitful friction. Whereas, the likes of Plato would have his society in “harmony”, “wholistic” and as one (based on his philosophy of an ideal realm of perfect Forms), ignoring — if not outright acting in defiance of — nature, Madison confronts the conflicting nature of things. This is the whole reason we need government, for “if men were angels there’d be no need for government.” Madison wove conflict into this system of government because it was already “sewn into the nature of man.” So, his aim was to develop a system of well-ordered political conflict. This being a way to harness, or organize rather, the human tendency towards factionalism in a way that would cancel itself out (think Stoicism’s “what stands in the way becomes the way.”). Men will fight over anything. Even if there is nothing to fight about, or no one to hate, we’ll just make something up. He called this “the violence of faction.” Nature is brutally indifferent. Human nature has an added layer of boredom with indifference, i.e. we are not indifferent—and that’s why we need a system of government because we have needs and petty self-interests (Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground is a splendid creative elucidation on this ineluctable reality). The expression “sexual intercourse” was in common use around 1771, thus, a man of Madison’s learning and powers of expression would have been keen on the implications imbedded in the term “intercourse” at the time. Sex, after all, is inextricably bound to violence, it’s a rough play (thank God) with parturient ends, and this acute awareness of an inherently unpeaceful union denotes a sort of compassionate ferocity. Fundamentally Aristotelian.
Now, I don’t know if the arch of the moral universe bends towards justice — Luther King Jr. was quoting Theodore Parker, a Transcendentalist and a Unitarian minister — that is a religious, eschatological claim. I can’t know for sure if it is an actuality – at least in the material sense; maybe a verity of the ontological epiphany that is the universe, but it comes off as simply a utilitarian cognitive device poorly phrased. Maybe there is a moral absolute but perhaps it is outside of time and space, separate from all that the prima materia spawned. Maybe certain moments, through acts of will, bring into momentary harmony the material and immaterial in some just manner, but I believe Parker’s dictum “the arch of the moral universe bends towards justice” is a sentiment which inherently takes the responsibility off the shoulders of people to comport themselves in a manner that is neighborly; a sort of no matter what you do, eventually things will be set right—and I don’t know if that’s true, it certainly doesn’t strike me as wise to live out your days as if it were. To look at the world as though it were headed independently in some just trajectory seems disastrously naïve. What after all is a trajectory to the outside of our little spinning oblate spheroid? If history has proved anything it’s that people have willed elemental things into order; over time certain individuals or groups of them have achieved a sense of justice in that their will led to advancement. But this was only because they brought themselves to do so. Bach was the youngest of eight children – but Bach wasn’t Bach because Bach was Bach by design, he willed himself into the man we know today (it also helps if you’re born into such a musically gifted family as the Bach’s were). The point being, that a sentiment like justice being something of a cosmic destiny is detrimental to the reality of our predicament; the fragility of order and balance is not something to be left to concepts of fate. If you give people an out, they’ll take it.
The universe is a battlefield of centripetal and centrifugal forces, as is our little blue rock. What distinguishes us from literally anywhere else is that we have been able to observe the manner in which man has consciously confronted and worked with those opposing forces, even when he wasn’t quite sure what they were. And the most observably effective system, or as close to a just system of governance (one that is set in such a manner that facilitates human advancement) implemented to establish some approximation of order, is enshrined in the US Constitution. It is a cosmos in itself—it has gravity. It works with real world elements and realities. It isn’t a ‘wishful thinking’ document, it’s a willful practice, without the will there is no practice, and without confronting fundamental realities of nature, there is no adept means to approximate order. To acknowledge that nature is conflict, thus conflict is in-circumnavigable—the only way to remedy that awful truth is to utilize it. Sympathy is what arises from such acknowledgement, an appreciation for what little order can be rendered amid the brute chaos of indifference in the natural world. It renders explicit the necessity, while simultaneously incentivizing, a fundamental commitment to decency.
Martin Luther King Jr. fully comprehended the necessity of decency, and built an entire philosophy on it, but his philosophy was conspicuously Platonic – too immersed in the ideal, which I suppose the justice of which Parker and King Jr spoke were indeed the dreams of an ultimate unity, both source and destination; but in actuality the rhetoric of a universal bent towards justice betrays more a return to cosmic union rather than a truth about the fate of our global neighborhood. Justice, then, being that we are all headed to the same place in the end—thus the sentiment doesn’t even serve as utilitarian, but simply defeatist. It is a poetic rendering that could be engraved on the tombstone of humanity:
upon this river we flowed, one direction
so much to be discussed and so little to be done;
instead, sang we
the songs of these
This is not what Dostoyevsky meant when he said, “Beauty will save the world.” It’s a beautiful sentiment – but useless. For what is beauty if there is none to perceive it? A moral universe is what we work towards manifesting materially, not what necessarily exists, maybe immaterially but that’s far too Platonic and Ideal. This Platonism is what has led far too many individuals to behave in a manner that says either A) things will be alright no matter what or B) actively engage in heady-Platonic-art-like activism, a highly subjective and increasingly disconnected means of engaging with the material world. What this spawned was a high matriculation rate where students entered the likes of gender theory, beat poetry, or art studio instead of studying the majesty of particle theory, the poetry of 𝑒𝑖𝜋+1=0, or the artful ubiquity and function of spinors in the atelier of the universe. Seventy-five percent of the cumulative student debt is held by women, a disproportionate number of those women are black—and this is due, in large part, to the fact that these women entered disciplines where the probability of making enough money over a reasonable span of their life (given the high interest rates associated with student debt) was extremely low.
The Welfare state stemming from the 60’s had a terrible impact on minority families: the single motherhood rate of black families increased from an inertial 16% in the late 50’s and prior, to 70% today. These sentiments of heady ideals as reality served as the platform of movements that unintendedly led to indebtedness and a fracturing of societal neighborliness. A decade of well-meaning governmental intervention sparked the fires of governmental industry to churn out legislation after legislation after legislation; government solutions and college degrees became commodities rather than limited means to certain ends. These movements inadvertently shepherded folks from the fields of incentives into the abattoirs of expectations. Irony isn’t some artistic invention – it’s a reality of the universe. The welfare state has done more damage to our cultural mindset than any good. It prescribed a short-term feel-good hit, instead of addressing real problems with real ameliorative means that would span years with regards to continual improvement. Entropy is sped up through ill-conceived but well-meaning actions. This is why something like philanthropy is not only bad, but immoral. Once one understands that the capital market’s pricing mechanism trades off optimization of scarce resources between the short-term and the long-term as efficiently as it can be done, then anything that takes resources away from that winds up being a sub-optimizing force. Once you grok this concept that such forces sub-optimize what’s good for humans in trade-off between the short-term and the long-term, you realize that philanthropy is one of those sub-optimizing forces. You can never unsee it. It’s not the most immoral thing in the world, of course, but it is sub-optimizing of resources, nonetheless. Philanthropy is an impulsive expenditure. It feels good, looks good to others, ceremonies are had in your honor (which also cost a lot of money to put on), plaques and other accolades (also costly) are handed out in praise and commemoration, newspaper columns written and segments broadcast (both of which are immensely costly). A whole lot of money is poured into these gestures of self-aggrandizement and dopaminergic impulses of charity, and hundreds of thousands of millionaires and billionaires do this all the time, imagine just how much goes into these each year, and just how much better those resources could be utilized if culturally we had a wiser sense of personal, domestic, and global finance.
If those who so selflessly and gracefully and without conceit euphorically donating to in the name of charity would instead practice a quiet, humble means of resource optimization (i.e. put their large earnings in a savings account so that money can make its way back out through financial disintermediation – the withdrawal of funds from an intermediary, i.e. bank, stocks, etc. – in order to make a direct investment that will ultimately yield larger returns) it would make its way back out to that capital market’s pricing mechanism to get optimized.
So, how does financial disintermediation work? Let’s say you have a neighbor who has an apple orchard and it produces the biggest and juiciest Red Delicious apples you’ve ever tasted, and in the largest quantity at a far faster rate of growth. You enquire upon him about this and he tells you he has a new system that he developed personally. In fact, it’s a system that isn’t limited to just apples, but practically all produce. You say, “why haven’t you broadened out? A system like that could be useful to the world!” He tells you “no one will invest.” Well, you happen to have be wise with your savings and the company you run, that made you, say, a multi-millionaire, is doing splendidly. You make the man an offer to invest in his orchard and his system with the promise of making a higher return. Through financial disintermediation you take out several million in your savings, which had been sitting and accruing interest, and you invest it in not only the orchard, but to help your neighbor refine and/or scale his system. In this hypothetical let’s say his system turns out to be the next Norman Borlaug system of mass cultivation of produce and this makes food accessible to over a billion people abroad who otherwise would have starved or lived a lower-quality short life. That’s financial disintermediation. This is what revolutionizes the world. Not philanthropy. Investing in people and ideas, not spending money on charities, will better the world tenably. If you want to be charitable, start with practicing the principle of charity in your conversations. Particularly towards those whom with you disagree.
The moment you move away from that optimization of the allocation of those scarce resources you begin taking away somebody’s opportunity to be what creates the next human optimizing advance/breakthrough that effects people positively. Thus, taking away from humankind itself, and not simply for a few years, but for decades, centuries even.
The reason philanthropy is bad is because it’s a false beneficence; the reason it’s immoral is because it suppresses genuine beneficence that would otherwise be brought to fruition from the optimization of a limited resource thus benefitting humanity in the long-term. The world is deprived of the next Norman Borlaug, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk because more folks with pools of wealth make feel-good philanthropic expenditures instead of saving until they come across a revolutionary idea to invest wisely and beneficently in; therefore, not only are the next revolutionary and world-saving ideas percolating in the minds of ambitious geniuses left without resources to experiment and create, but there will be countless ideas never be fathomed because we never got to the experiment that lead to the epiphany and thus creation. We need more the likes of Borlaug. We need more Musks.
There was a student at Yale in the 60s who wrote a paper for his economics class on how he wanted to buy 50 jumbo jets and replace the Postal Service with an overnight delivery service. The story goes, he made a C on the paper. Well, he was ambitious, and luckily so, that man’s name is Fred Smith—the creator of Fed-Ex. Back in 1982 a student at the University of Texas in Austin by the name of Gregory Watson was doing some research for a paper and came across an unratified constitutional amendment from 1789. He thus wrote a paper on how it should be amended. Story goes, he too received a C on the paper from the TA. He appealed to the instructor of the class who ultimately declined to overturn the ruling of the TA. Watson then began an epistolary campaign to congressmen regarding the necessity of ratifying this long overdue amendment. The amendment Watson had discovered was the 27th amendment, which hinders congress from being able to raise their pay without going through another election cycle. A decade after he started his letter-writing campaign the amendment was ratified by three-fourths (38) of the states and was voted into law by congress on May 20th, 1992. This country is chock-full of these little moments of deeply invested citizenry innovation. Optimizing another resource scarce to man: time. These are two examples of the human innovation that define America: through wise spending and ingenious entrepreneurship one American revolutionized the mail system; and through persistent epistolary means to communicate a developmental attribution to our governmental system a college undergraduate ratified a Constitutional Amendment.
The silence of outer space may very well be the result of resource sub-optimization. Say what you will about the name “Space Force” – that’s just Trump’s provocative (and demonstrably effective) packaging of an idea conceived within a coterie of visionaries in our DOJ and military IT units. There are wise investments to be made there.
It’s no coincidence that the number of philanthropic organizations and amount of philanthropic expenditures have increased exponentially in this digital age of instantaneous rewards, and serotonin-boosting “likes”, where drug use is skyrocketing. We are a less and less patient people, with more and more desires to quell—click and you shall receive. There is a developing addiction to philanthropic expenditures. You will find more crooks at a charity event than in any casino, and just as many addicts as in a trap-house. Charity is just another drug. It seems neighborly, but it’s just naive—vanity in a more sophisticated disguise. And this tendency towards self-interest at the expense of the neighboring states we call America is why the Constitution was put into place. Madison was keen on human psychology and knew we needed not only a system in place to temper that tendency, but a reminder that the tendency towards selfish impulsivity is there and we need to be thoughtful in our dealings with one another. We are impulsive creatures submitting ourselves to a civilized vision of society rooted in an incentivized work-ethic and cogitative decision-making, and we will fall together if we submit to our impulses. Our fates are intertwined.
This is not an attempt to dispense with, undercut, or overshadow what Martin Luther King Jr. did for Civil Rights in the 60s. What he achieved for that movement is nothing short of remarkable and should be remembered as such, but we have mythologized him—elevated him to that of a prophet, a man who could say and do no wrong (he had no qualms leaving his piousness at the door when entering in hotel rooms). His ideas and writings were indeed inspiring, breathing spirit into a movement in an attempt at unity of mankind, encouraging each of us to open our eyes in order to gaze upon an all too connected tableau of human life, illustrate humanity coming together as one spangled mosaic of siblings. He saw an Eden-like garden of potential. He grasped fully the concept of the Constitution’s soil of neighborliness and the seed of liberty; but he was completely oblivious to the rain of limited government—which, in too much a quantity drowns us all. He was not an economist, and didn’t consult any either, at least none that aided him in any real-world understanding of economy. He had a theatric sense of economics (literally in some cases. Weeks before his assassination, he aimed to put up a tent city on the National Mall to, as Mark Engler put it in The Nation, "dramatize the reality of joblessness and deprivation by bringing those excluded from the economy to the doorstep of the nation's leaders." (*paging Occupy Wall Street organizers)). He championed a universal basic income, which was charming, but his understanding of UBI (which is an alternative I am willing to consider, and would delight in having a real conversation about, say, if an attempt at UBI replaces the welfare state) was unidimensional and, again, had an air of theater rather than laboratory. Madison was no economist either, but he had Hamilton to check that.
MLK’s obliviousness, at times, to irony is something of a marvel. Take his completely anti-constitutional comprehension of the relationship between morality and law rendered.
“Although it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. Even though it may be true that the law can’t change the heart, it can restrain the heartless…although the law cannot change the hearts of men it can change the habits of men. And when you begin to change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes will be changed, pretty soon the hearts will be changed.” – MLK
Much of this sentiment appears true. But if one has honestly read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers one cannot, without intent, infer from those documents an iota of support for more laws, packing on tiers of legislation and enumerating more rights. This is in fact what the 9th and 10th amendment state explicitly: Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius: including one excludes another. The 9th amendment essentially means you have more rights than are included in the document, it is the enumeration of rights. You don’t want to go about legislating all possible rights because liberty is far too nuanced and evolving to ever articulate all your rights, but more importantly, if you begin enumerating rights it begins to appear as though the only rights you have are those that are made explicit in the Constitution. The 9th amendment isn’t designed to be enforced through the supreme court but through the ballot box. The 10th Amendment grants the government certain powers—but nothing outside of those powers. So: The 9th amendment enumerates fundamental rights but makes explicit there are more. Our rights extend beyond what the Constitution stipulates. It creates a space. The 10th amendment enumerates fundamental central powers of the government but makes explicit there are no more. The powers of the government do not extend beyond what the Constitution stipulates. It fills that space. Any reservations or ambiguities fall back on the people of the states to decide, within the states they reside.
In fact, the 9th and 10th amendment could be plugged into a revised preamble of the Constitution, they pretty much restate the whole point of government: a government created by the people for the people to accomplish certain objectives in certain (read: limited) ways; reaching for constitutional solutions to political problems in not a good idea. The whole point of the Bill of Rights is to prevent people from using legal instrumentalities to solve political problems, as opposed to solving political problems by listening to voters. The public fills in the specific meaning of, and then enforces, these rights. We have the sovereignty of public opinion on our side—we call the shots. The government is not to interfere, in any manner, with public opinion. Somehow MLK didn’t comprehend that it’s not that the wrong laws were put into place, and that we just needed more of the right ones but that too many laws in general are what bound the African people in chains and what lead to gun confiscations and lynching of African Americans in the south during Jim Crowe. The more laws put in place, for whatever reason, the more the weight of oppressive hermeneutics of law are levied. And the further removed those laws from public interpretation, the more centralized the authority—who will act on selfish impulse. The prince may be impartial to the particulars of public trials, but he will soon have his own interests in the outcome.
Again, it is public opinion that the Constitution is holding in a very high regard. The framers, Madison in particular, knew most politicians were scumbags and didn’t want them formulating their own opinion out of their own interests for the public rather than the public formulating the opinion for the politicians. Being able to communicate with one another was integral and works tremendously if utilized, but it is far too easy for people to be sold on ideas by propaganda rather than developing their own. The press, for instance, was never an objective source. Its origins lay in partisan form: they were political organs, used even to fundraise for their respective parties. The Jeffersonian republicans had far more press in the beginning because Madison was the drafter of the Bill of Rights and thus drafted the first amendment, which was solely for people’s ability to communicate with one another freely and openly. One of those means was through the press but if you just read the papers and didn’t talk to anyone you got a very narrow view of the goings-on in Congress and you certainly weren’t always getting the genuine view of the public.
Madison and Hamilton had their fallout and so the press became split between political sensitivities: Hamiltonians (Federalists) and Jeffersonians (republicans). This bifurcation of view (particularly with Madison who was a Federalist during the Constitutional convention) was due to, well, many things really, but specifically, Hamilton’s call for (and rightly so) to pay off all foreign debts. He also called for the assumption of state debts and the establishment of a national bank (a government after all needs a stable currency, Madison did not grasp this); however, Hamilton called for the bank to be established after dispatching speculators to buy up debt certificates from revolutionary war vets (or their widows). These debt certificates were practically worthless due to the indebted state of the US after the war. So, by assuming the state debts, the value of the debt certificates increased and thus Hamilton and his cronies literally cashed-in on the earnings of those who fought barefoot and starving to liberate our country from the tyranny of King George III by investing those debt certificates in his national bank and lining the pockets of his cronies while simultaneously creating what would become the very economic system we now reside under today. I digress. So, Hamilton organized folks of his own political sensitivities to establish Federalist newspaper outlets.
Interestingly, it was Hamilton who made the biggest impact on the press and free speech, for he eventually took a case — The People v. Croswell 1804 — to the Supreme Court. (The SC had just come into some prestige and was now viewed as a laudable position prior to Marbury v. Madison 1803, being a judge for the Supreme Court was about as exciting and rewarding as traveling by horseback around the states in dismal weather to hear appeals sounds; no one was chomping at the bit to be a SC judge in its beginnings). Jefferson became a little miffed that some newspaper outlets were levying such negative accusations against him, his character, etc. (You think the press is bad today – what we now call “Fake News” was replete in the press, not to mention just how brutal they were in their reporting, nothing was off the table regarding how hard they could hit rhetorically. There is an art to journalism, but journalism is certainly no art.) Jefferson knew he couldn’t do anything on a federal level (that ole Constitution he helped ratify) but on a state level, well, things could be done to silence nay-sayers. Which he did. One of Hamilton’s newspaper outlets, which oscillated between New York/New Jersey, run by Harry Croswell, caught the eye of Jefferson who subsequently took his animus out on that publication and claimed criminal libel. Hamilton lost the case in the state — they weren’t big fans of him there, hence the back and forth of that newspaper outlet between NY and NJ — but took it to the Supreme Court. To support his case that what Croswell was charged with was not justifiable in a free republic Hamilton argued the Roman Law that you should be able to say anything, even/especially negative things, as long as they are true. If you can’t prove what was written or said is false or are unable to prove what was said and/or written isn’t true, then it should be fair game. Croswell was found guilty of libel but wasn’t sentenced and, within the year, New York (a state that hated Hamilton—to the extent that one of their people wound up murdering him) not only conceded Hamilton’s argument was right, but they changed the law to suit the Roman Law. It’s now seen as the moment true free speech in America was birthed.
The civic mindset lost on us today is the responsibility the public has regarding its duty to be neighborly in the sense that we talk to one another about everything. If this responsibility is completely shirked by the public then the process of handing over, in a fit of exhaustion, our power over the US government will be irreversible. The incentive of the first amendment and sovereignty of public opinion is that we try to get to the truth of things amongst ourselves so we don’t fall back on our default settings to act impulsively and make rash decisions, like handing over the very powers that grant us the freedom to talk about and thus develop genuine and informed opinions regarding liberty, and what shape that should take. Politicians will relish the day we hand that responsibility over to them. Our lives are our own. We are responsible to our neighbors, not for them. We are responsible for liberty, not to it. The Swedish system, which so many rebels seem fond of, is one centered around a concept called duktig. It doesn’t translate very well into English, but it approximates something like “competence.” The Swedes have a populace raised and immersed in a culture of competence. The idea that you should bring yourself and your family up so the burden isn’t on your neighbor. This facilitates a mutual respect for one’s neighbor because they are each taking care of business. The other doesn’t have to pick up the slack because of some pent-up sense of entitlement that things are owed to you. The responsibility of bringing up your family and organizing your life is yours and your family’s. Granted it’s a bit of a slight-of-hand concept given the Swedes pay a 62% personal income taxation rate for a welfare system. This is why no innovation comes out of Sweden.
This reliance on public opinion and civic political participation is consistent with Madison’s notion of a small republic experience within an extended republic. The neighborliness of citizenry being those within the states decide who they elect into office to govern them as they wish to be governed. The neighborliness of states bound by the Constitution preserved by a judiciary, overseen and enforced by the executive who gets his feel for national sentiment from congress who are elected to act as a voice-box for the constituents they represent in their respective states. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were drafted in a manner that empowered the citizens at the time, but also to embolden discourse regarding the evolving sense of the term “citizen”. The Framers knew public opinion would become a ferociously diverse economy of values as more and more varied groups, through a continually developing and growing citizenry, aided and abetted by the protection of public and private discourse, contributed to public opinion.
Any time the history of this country is brought up, and a term like “citizen” is employed a salvo of condemnation and dismissive interjections are made. It must be said, not everything is about slavery, particularly during times of slavery. To inject into every conversation about American history with “yeah, but slavery” is not a revelation, nor even a cautious reminder, it’s simply used these days to shut down any attempts to develop ideas through discourse. And that’s due mostly in part of the discomfort we experience today when confronted with such markedly brutal truths of the past and then are asked to dispassionately analyze the terribly intricate circumstances of history. The nightmare of human history is ferociously nuanced; what our ancestors experienced in the moonlight of consciousness all the way to the first crack of sunlight that was the Enlightenment which led directly to liberty and the 13th amendment has been all but pleasant for those before us to endure and us look back upon with as objective an eye as humanly possible.
In one of the greatest screeds in this nation’s history, the most scathing and true demonstrations of “speaking truth to power”, Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave is the 4th of July was delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, NY, to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. Not only does he refer to the fathers of this nation as “great men” but he solidifies his firm beliefs of their sincerest of intentions:
"Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too — great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.
This speech is one of the most damning indictments of the corruption of principles, when the men that came to power after the founders and framers had poured into the ears of the citizenry the poison of self-interested interpretations of God and Law. The speech begins with the legs of support for the vision the founders and framers had set into action, then ascends the torso where a furious indictment of the sullying of pure principles boils and rages, and concludes with the head and arms of praise in the name of that “GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT” where the eyes gaze upward, the legs and torso of the speech walk us all out into the light of hope, toward the sapphire sky of freedom:
Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which, the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon, as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but, interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a track of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation, for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, common-sense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of slavery is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the Constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the Constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tell us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the Constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.
Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery."
Douglass knew all too well the dangers of pedantic interpretation of text. When the oppressive dogma of a rule of law is wielded and defined by few. More laws and lawyers and elitist, bureaucratic input on a document made by and for the public, is a recipe for the layer cake of oppression. Bitter is its taste. What happened here in the early years was an injustice that only through metaphor can it be grasped and reconciled.
I cannot think of a more apt metaphor for the body of Christ than that of the body of the Africans first shipped here. Whipped and chained and betrayed by their own — Africans were captured, bought and sold in the Atlantic slave trade by black slave owners in northern Africa — torn from their own garden of Gethsemane, brought to trial by auction block to endure the same humiliation and dehumanization as Christ did in his final hours. The primal moan penetrating the island fields of Georgia and South Carolina, reverberating inland after the invention of the cotton gin, which single-handedly turned the institution of slavery into an industry that drove some plantation owners to a maniacal single-mindedness of profiteering. But that moan, ancient in pedigree and tradition beget a harmony of transcendence that turned the eyes of those who exhaled it into existence upward; the moan of Christ on the cross at his most atheistic moment, where he himself questioned the love of his father, and thus faith in himself. A bewailing swept up in a cosmic shift of wind, eerily similar to the “om” of Hinduism; as if some cosmic tune matrixed in some cosmic matrimony with all of space and time and birthed the blues. It was the bluesmen, carrying the songs of their ancestors from the fields to the front porches of the Midwest where senescent black men sang in rocking chairs, teaching the likes of a skinny young white boy from Minnesota how to pluck and hum and wail that would one day be howled from the same steps on the same day in Washington, DC just moments before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech to the world.
The blues was their response to the sins of slavery. The black bluesmen didn’t want war. They saw no use in it anymore. They didn’t want apologies. That was wasted breath. They didn’t want more and more laws. That was just another form of oppression. The wanted companionship and unity in purpose: a shared liberty amongst neighbors. They forgave, and to show their forgiveness they handed over the only thing they had – The Blues: ‘take this’, they said, ‘it will set your soul free.’ Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. Take, drink, this is my blood spilt for you. Take this—it will liberate the world.
And it did.
It brought us together in ways that impelled us to work towards revealing what of Heaven can be achieved on earth. Thus, the body of the slave became the body of the blues, which became an embodiment of the essence of the Christian doctrine: forgiveness. Through forgiveness we were able to move forward in neighborly collaboration. The Blues did that.
And it does still.
Now that’s a revolution.
It’s peculiar. Bob Dylan finding himself onstage with MLK. Both were men who had the label of “prophet” slapped on them. Martin ran with it. Bob ran from it. The rest is history. So it goes.
Douglass was aware that not only are layers of legislation anti-constitutional, they are corrosive on morality. Even good men were convinced to do atrocious things. A good analogue for this phenomenon would be bank regulations, where layers of regulatory processes have been packed on quotidian banking procedures; each regulation containing, whether intentionally or inadvertently, their own incentives to employ a certain semantic trickery in order to be in line with policy while also cutting a deal for both parties. You have layers of legislation packed on top of one another regulating how people must behave in all places. The constraint breeds some ingenuity, but not necessarily the best kinds. The incentive no longer impels one to ask, “is this right” but instead compels one to ask, “does this comply?”
Worse still, this compulsion to legislate and codify into compliance has only worsened, and it stems from a very American form of law. In his essay Legal Realism: Its Cause and Cure Grant Gilmore at Yale University back in 1961 elucidated on this method of law practice and pedagogy; how the means of approach towards justice has been corroded by the acidic verbiage of litigators. He states:
“In England, I am told, the case "on all fours" — the case whose facts are indistinguishable from the facts of the case at bar — far from offering itself in a drift of carbons as it does with us, hardly exists at all. Therefore, in England the precise facts of prior cases are not looked to with particularity; what is important in the precedents — the cases which, being in the same general area, are in point — is the process of reasoning by which they were decided, the general principles which they illustrate.
"Having been trained as an American lawyer, I find this approach to the use of precedent shocking. I know that a case stands on and for its own precise, particular facts. I tell my students with wearisome iteration: Never mention a case without stating its facts; Never quote general language from an opinion, divorced from the factual context in which the language was delivered; take care of the facts and the law will take care of itself. This is the end result of fifty years of experience with an overburdened case-law system. Our use of precedent has become self-defeatingly narrow. We chop logic, we split hairs, we distinguish the indistinguishable. And as we do so, the course of judicial decision, following our impossible refinements, becomes capricious and unpredictable. (My emphasis added) If you sharpen the point of a pencil too fine, the point-or the pencil-will disappear. So to with our use of precedent.”
Though Heaven survives scrutiny. Hell prevails in pedantry.
“After 1900, the task of codifying the common law became the never-ending preoccupation of the state legislatures. Statutes, uniform and nonuniform, increased by geometrical proportion. But many basic areas of the law for a long time resisted, and in some instances continue to resist, the process. Yet even where the legislatures forebore to intervene, the progressive breakdown of a relatively pure case-law system manifested itself in odd and interesting fashions. It is of the essence of such a system that it defies precise analysis: it is fluid, like mercury to the grasp. (My emphasis added.) It can be described in a series of rough approximations; it resists being pinned down by any form of authoritative statement.”
Fathom that—a system of law resistant to being “pinned down by any form of authoritative statement.” My God, what have we been reading? What is a system of law if it refuses to both authority and fixity? This is one of the reasons the Articles of Confederation blew up in the framers faces, they did not denote a fixed set of laws in a fixed system. What is law if it is constantly in flux? What is a system if it too is always in flux? The mutability and proliferation of law was precisely what the Constitution is developed to avoid. Gilmore notes:
“We do not yet have enough experience with our modern, tightly drafted statutes to know how well they will work in the long run. One of the strengths of the older statutes was their imprecision and formlessness: as conditions changed, the courts, with almost as much facility as if they were dealing with a judge-made rule, could mold the old statute to the new conditions. Modern statutes are much less susceptible to judicial manipulation. (My emphasis added) An unexpected change in the business cycle might leave the courts powerless until the complicated mechanisms of the state and federal legislatures could be set in remedial motion. One thing does become clearer with each decade—going off the common law standard is like going off the gold standard, you can never go back. Of the making of statutes there is, and will be, no end.”
Again, we run up against this notion of fine-tuning the universe of state and constitutional law, and what is permissible therein, enumerating too explicitly and thus causing more confusion rather than serving as a clarifying lens. Gilmore goes on:
“Since the establishment of the Republic it has been assumed, almost without discussion, that a federal statute is a limited thing, just as the Federal Government is one of limited powers. When a gap appears in a federal statute, it should be filled in, according to traditional theory, by resort to the great corpus of the common law—that is, by resort to state law (since, except in the limited area staked out by Swift v. Tyson, there was assumed to be no general federal common law). The new principle gives to federal statutes an area of much wider application: gaps, it now appears, should be filled in by extrapolation from the statute itself. Thus, we might say, each federal statute carries with it a sort of floating penumbra of potential common law all its own. (Again, my emphasis added).”
Think: little bubbles containing their own systems of law for each statute. Now think of the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie and Grandpa take sips of the Fizzy Lifting drinks.
Gilmore sums up:
"Legal realism was essentially a demonstration that the system of law which had evolved in this country had become intolerably overburdened and unworkably complex. Realism in this century has been an American exclusive: it has had no counterpart in England or in the European countries whose legal systems are closely related to our own. It was a response to an American crisis — a crisis which was precipitated by our phenomenally rapid national growth in population, in wealth, in diversity of economic organization and cultural circumstance."
Alas, we have the current state of law in this country. I have no solutions for this particular facet of our predicament. I sure would like to talk about it. This is why petty quibbles are sparked in situations like Senate Judiciary hearings when Kamala Harris uses a term such as “suggest” when inquiring upon William Barr if anyone “suggested he open an investigation on the FBI.” “Suggest” is not a legal term, it’s wabbly and prosaic, used in common speech, and thus implies (Harris mistakenly used the term “inferred” when listing synonyms for “suggest” while interrogating Barr on whether someone had suggested he look into opening an investigation on other agencies—Barr was trying to infer what Harris was implying by utilizing so colloquial a term as “suggest”. Now that’s the difference between scrutiny and pedantry. I’m not suggesting she doesn’t know the difference, but one could infer as much given the implications of her misuse.), or reveals, rather, that she was playing a lawyer’s game trying to catch Barr in a perjuring pickle. He’s far too experienced to fall for that though, saw right through it. Congressional proceedings are littered with these types of semantic games. C-SPAN is a true revelation as to the actual goings-on in these sessions; mostly an arena of filibustering and lexical gymnastics.
These little word games have metastasized into the cultural conversation, infecting our public discourse with uneducated pedants weaseling their way into real conversations, shutting them down with anti-ideas like “why are there only white people on that stage?” or “men have no right to talk about women’s rights!” The list goes on and on and on just as the laws the likes of those pedants would have adjudicated and amended into the Constitution would go on and on and on if the public chooses to wave their sovereign right to form the systems of neighborly justice and support themselves. It’s fascinating, really, the rebels and revolutionaries these days are the ones championing more rules.
We need to begin approaching our political conversations not as though the world is going to end, but with the understanding that it can continue to get infinitely worse if we don’t take them seriously. We must engage them through a dispassionate discussion of ideas that bridge, not with tactics that divide. Viewing those who opposes you as a villain instead of the embodiment of a different perspective is not simply unproductive, it’s counterproductive. It is a mistake to make a monolith out of whom you disagree. “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle” as Jefferson so aptly noted. Arguments about the environment will continue devolving into epithets and outright slander, the most vulgar of extemporizations hurled in the absence of wit and facts; the earth is not fragile – increasingly, human beings are projecting onto the earth their own fragility. Demolition of the greatest economic system and doctrinal polity ever created is paroxysmal, not productive. Brain development doesn’t stop until you’re 26. I hear congress is contemplating lowering the voting age to 16.
Revolution isn’t necessarily the prerequisite to doing something revolutionary. And full on government is tyranny. Revolution and tyranny are the default setting of the ideologue. It’s not enough to care about what the ideologue cares about. You must also care about it in the same way he does. There is no freedom in that. Vacillating between no government and all government is the dizzying manifestation of volatile puerility. You don’t want the arthritic hand of the government spreading the contagious dotage of tyranny over the youthful body of a sovereign public opinion, nor do you want the senselessness fist of anarchy bashing everything on a whim of emotion. Calls for more government or no government are the kind of rhetorical explosions that boil up from an inept system of education that, as Canadian Philosopher Stefan Molyneux concisely put it, has “bored [our children] into raging compliance. For what is rage but boredom spread thin?” When education is in limited supply, demagoguery runs in surplus.
We have entered an age of performance-based identities as opposed to productivity-based identities; identities of opposition, not identities of reconciliation. Kids, teenagers, late adolescents are bored and ill-served, thus acting out, shooting up schools due to neglect from the society that says the youth are its hope of tomorrow while imbuing them with cynicism. An education system just tilling the soil of misanthropy. Children are the future! They say. But babies in the womb are not babies, they’re dispensable clusters of jelly cells that make women look fat and become moody and then lock them in the 18-year prison sentence of motherhood. No wonder kids and teens are overdosing and killing themselves (or others) in droves – mothers everywhere are increasingly expressing a contempt for motherhood. These aren't the actions of neighbors who have your back, this how you behave toward a nuisance. Reactions to reports on Heartbeat Bills rather than responses to the bills themselves, and the contents therein. If you’re angry about something the government is doing, good! Let’s figure it out, together. But just because you’re angry doesn’t mean you’re right. The only truth in your anger is that you’re truly angry. This renders you vulnerable to joining movements compelled by adrenaline, not impelled by spirit; acrimonious action, not spirited discussion. Consult those closest to you and then branch out to your neighbors. If you don’t want to have children no one faults you for that. But when women en masse storm the streets with hoarse voices championing state and federal mandates that allow abortions up to the day of birth what are kids and teenagers supposed to think? At 6, 11, 17—hell 20 years old I could have never been able to articulate what kind of confusion that would stir in me regarding the feeling of having ruined my mom’s life because she decided to go to term. But I certainly can imagine the inability to reconcile myself with that idea, dreaming up drastic measures to achieve some inchoate and ultimately fatal remedy, just as kids and teens are doing every day, more and more in this country, and around the world. Our neighbors are dying, younger and younger, as we get further and further from the principles encapsulated in that GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT.
When it comes to abortion, I’m torn. Instinctively when I hear “Pro-Choice” I think Yes! Choices?! Of course. I’m a capitalist, I love choices! When I hear “do you support a woman’s right to opt for abortion?” – on impulse I hear a little voice in my head that says, “let the chick choose.” But when I think about it. When I begin unraveling the matter, reasoning with myself, rationalizing my principles, I always wind up choosing life. I suppose that renders me somewhat of a Falstaffian contradiction. I’ll have to set this issue aside for another essay and attempt to get at its core. But I certainly don’t see any justification in federally mandating abortion’s legality. That is absurd.
These arguments about rights come from a blatant misunderstanding or flat out ignorance of what the Bill of Rights are; thus, the majority of those making the argument start with how “rights” and “needs” should be enumerated, instead of gestating on how our system creates a space where the right to communicate with our neighbors is necessary to formulate a public opinion that needs our input. The problem with needs is people only argue for their needs when they need something. Increasingly, less people plan ahead for anything. And those life-long elected (seriously, how is it that the terms “life-long” and “elected” describe the same group of people?) members of congress and unelected bureaucrats are taking advantage of the tumultuous impoverishment of education and forethought, the true disservice to the framers like Madison and the likes of Frederick Douglass, who knew what government separate from the people would do, and an injustice to all our neighbors. This day in age, the moment you’re elected you’re protected—and that’s bullshit. The right to assemble was literally designed so the public could be threatening to representatives. I will never encourage nor condone threatening measures against another human being, particularly physical threats, but the public has this right to be a threat to the system when they are angry at those who represent us. This is the fundamental reasoning behind the right to assemble. We are supposed to be able to take away all the power elected officials possess—because it’s us who gave it to them. We are supposed to be protected from those who grasp the gavel of power. They aren’t supposed to be protected from us. We have experienced an entire inversion of what the Constitution is designed to do. And those in charge relish in the controversy we create amongst ourselves – because they realize it’s only a matter of time before we tire out and simply hand over the dials of democracy, the levers of legislation, and the sacred realm of our republic to career politicians and their bureaucratic legion.
When this happens, you get two years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars blown in effort to cover up the fact that the head of your CIA (John Brennan) was utilizing foreign intelligence agents, occupying the same position as himself abroad, in order to develop information on the former administration’s (Barack Obama’s) political opponents stemming back (that we know) as far as seven years (2012), maybe further, and when those sources ran dry, said head of CIA employed domestic tools, i.e. our courts, issuing FISA warrants to legalize the spying. Said CIA head passes on the information he receives from different sources, particularly a former British intelligence agent (Christopher Steele), to your FBI through what is known as a Parallel Construction Scheme. Said British intelligence agent is scouted out and hired through a research firm-turned Secret Political Yard —SPY— (Fusion GPS). Said British Intelligence agent is getting his information from his sources and those (Russian) sources happen to be intelligence agents (Vyacheslav Trubnikov and Vladislav Surkov) who knew that with all the frenzy over a rush to secure a certain political candidate’s (Hillary Clinton) win they could take advantage of the acrimony towards the unfavorable (and severely underestimated) candidate (Donald Trump) and how any information whatsoever that seemed damning would be accepted prima facie, because the British intelligence agent (Steele) hired by the SPY research firm (Fusion GPS) had some established cred amongst the bureaucratic sauna of top-tier members of the DOJ due to some aide in a prior investigation nearly a decade ago (FIFA scandal in 2010). With the help of a domestic spy (Stefan Halper) who teaches at a prestigious university (Cambridge) with one of the (Russian) intelligence agents (Trubnikov) and former head of British Secret Service (Richard Dearlove) and through the help of some more bureaucratic DOJ members (Bruce and Nellie Ohr) who are also old friends of said domestic spy (Halper) a misinformation campaign is launched against unfavored candidate (Trump). It is funded through said research firm-turned Secret Political Yard (Fusion GPS) using the opposing side’s committee (DNC) and the favored primary candidate’s (Hillary Clinton’s) money to pay for the British intelligence agent (Steele) to produce connections between the unfavored candidate’s (Trump) campaign and the Kremlin to make it appear as though they worked in concerted effort to sway the election. The British intelligence agent sells his “findings” to the FBI by compiling the information in a narrative that looks suspicious (the dossier)—a story all concocted from a template written years ago in one of your largest newspaper outlets (copying almost verbatim an old Wall Street Journal article titled “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” written by some reporter (Glenn Simpson) back in 2007).
Oh, and the co-founder of said research firm-turned Secret Political Yard (Fusion GPS) and the author of the Wall Street Journal article that was used as a script for the narrative (the dossier) on said victorious candidate are the same guy (Glenn Simpson).
But then, the unexpected occurs—the unfavored candidate wins.
Seriously: Brennan, Comey, Clapper, McCabe, Baker, Mueller, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Rosenstein, Clinton, Obama, and a slew of others all knew they had to erase all traces of their spying deals which they thought would never have to be dealt with because everybody, everybody, thought Clinton had the office in the bag. Once Trump won, the entire White House and DOJ went into oh shit mode, scrambling to cover their tracks and destroy whatever traces of their operations they had—and true to Washingtonian fashion, they screwed up. But the real kicker is that all of these attempts were done out of loathing for Donald Trump — a non-Washingtonian rogue candidate who had campaigned on puncturing the ballooning powers contained in DC (the swamp)— and this simple fact blinded them from the reality that Russian intel agents, with childlike delight, relishing the opportunity to muck around in an American election, took it upon themselves to toy with top-tier American officials to render internecine the electoral process and cultural climate. Keen they were that all of Washington was in a hissy fit over Trump’s possible victory and sensing that DC officials would take anything, anything, in order to convince themselves, and by utilizing the press, the American people that Donald J. Trump was a puppet of the Kremlin. Now, I don’t believe any of this is treasonous, it’s certainly not legal, but the FISA warrants were renewed four times—through 2017, thus the spying that was facilitated by said FISA warrants occurred not only on a presidential candidate but continued once that candidate became the sitting President of the United States. The FISA warrants were renewed in effort to delegitimize the win and have the President of the United States removed from office before he could figure out what the former administration and their DOJ were up to—and that is about as unethical as it gets. And hardly anyone has covered this. There have been a few in the press who have been on top of this since the beginning. John Solomon deserves a Pulitzer—they’ll never give it to him. Chuck Ross. Mollie Hemingway. Former Secret Service Agent Dan Bongino with his lawyer, a couple of researchers, his sources from his time working in the SS, and a podcast budget of about $10,000 put it together within two months of everything breaking out. Mueller, (encouraged and enabled by the DOJ, the DNC, the former administration, and the Primary winning candidate for the DNC in the 2016 election) took two years and millions of your tax dollars to boondoggle this wishful-thinking scheme that Trump, getting fed up with all of it, would do something impulsive that could be argued in court as obstruction. But Matthew Whitaker came in after Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the whole investigation, saw the information and realized they needed a pro. Cue William Barr. And within two months the investigation came to a close—a process of declassification has begun, most of this will be revealed. Will anything happen? Not likely. That's the power of an Administrative State.
Point is, the Obama administration used domestic intelligence agencies, their contacts (like John Brennan, Stefan Halper) and others, and overseas intelligence contacts (like Christopher Steele, Richard Dearlove) and others, to spy on and then set-up Obama’s (and then Hillary Clinton’s) political opponents and frame them. This is the shit you get when you hand over your sovereign powers to those who work within government and let them run the show.
“The city rose from nature. The frozen shape of human abstractions thrown to the sky and held there by reason and evidence…but the city was hollow. The city had comfort, and power, and electricity, and motion but it had no virtue. It had no ethics. It had philosophical absolutes. In the realm of values, it was hollowed out. And that which is hollowed out cannot stand.” -Stefan Molyneux
The truth will not protect you. That’s what makes it so dangerous to tell. Sovereignty of public opinion is what will protect you, at least constitutionally. The Constitution incentivizes neighborliness so, no matter what your differences, you can at least unite in opposition to a tyrannical force like the government. Though our ancestors were a rowdy, drunken, myopic, and narrow-minded people, they didn’t have much at all to work with, but they were very literate people (70% of adult males were able to read and write, compared to 40% in Britain, and below 30% in France) in the dawning days of this country. America was awash in paper—from smut to sermon, pamphlets (like Thomas Payne’s Common Sense), epistolary, and speeches are what revealed to them the common cause of liberty and self-government. They had all read the Constitution and discussed it at length with each other, either in the pubs, outside of church, in their homes, at work, or through correspondence. They knew when to band together and give a big ole third finger to those in power. Imagine, if you will, a bunch of pissed-off and whiskey-soused farmers knocking on the door of their representative’s home at 2:30 in the morning—requesting a chat. Not to threaten physically the representative, mind you—but to threaten their position, and the very system that imbues that position with some authority. We once could gather and say “we’ve had it with your shit. Govern as we wish to be governed or we will tear your precious little system down.” That was the power that the Constitution says the people retain, the framers put that power in the Constitution, and this power is now practically gone. Our citizenry march against each other more than they do against the injustices of government.
I don’t know what the source of all things is, but I do know there is a source. What is its nature? I don’t know. I sometimes see it being justice. I sometimes see it as arbitrary. I sometimes see both. When I look into the eyes of another human being, I don’t instantly see benevolence but rather some sophisticated curiosity – and I mean “sophisticated” only in a relative sense; relative to that of everything else. We have a curiosity that oscillates between benignity and malevolence. What caresses a flower can uproot the pine. I suppose the evolution of our opposable thumbs had something to do with this tempering curiosity. All the sudden we were able to pick things up and look underneath them. The notion of metaphor itself may have been a result. A world beneath what we could see, thus beyond what we knew—a recipe for imagination. There was a potential to that which surrounded us; a world that could be. The eyes developing afterward due to our primate ancestor’s affinity for fruit, as well as their vulnerability to snakes. It takes a lot of brain power to operate bigger eyes and better vision, so too our cognition developed—and eventually a self-consciousness that revealed to us that we were naked (read: vulnerable). We began to formulate ideas about sun and moon, not simply react to phases of light and dark. Notions of good and evil are too, in this manner, utilities of the mind that aid the advancement of our species in a methodological naturalist sense but the cosmos itself has a source—a mind of some kind, and we are all part of it.
There’s a story long-circulating that when Margaret Thatcher became leader of the opposition party in 1978, and at the annual party rally she said, “people ask me ‘what is our platform?’ She reaches into a giant purse she brought with her and pulls out F.A. Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty and slams it on the table (a tome of over five hundred pages). Points to it and says ‘that’s our platform.’” I don’t expect everyone to have read Hayek. There just isn’t enough time. People have to work and raise families and pay bills and…protest, watch Quintin Tarantino movies, trip shrooms, what-have-you, but you have time to get to know your neighbors and you certainly have the hour or so it would take to read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and then discuss it with them. People brew beer in their garage and have people over for all matter of things, why not discuss the very document that establishes how you are free to do so practically any time you wish? It’s your document. You enforce it on the government. It’s in your best interest that you do. It’s in the national interest that we instill that neighborliness of citizenry to establish some liberating and productive order in this wild west of a human experiment. Order, in the simplest sense of the term, is composure amid excess. That’s justice. One who knows not the system that preserves their youthful spirit becomes withered by the dotage of misunderstanding. The good die young at heart. Don’t ever get old—just accept that your body ages. Don’t allow something like “getting old” to keep you from getting to heaven. Whatever the hell that is. Playing a knowledgeable, participatory role in the system that defines your country is a mind-sharpening, heart-warming exercise of citizenship. Don’t give that way to the legion.
When Madison died of congestive heart failure in Montpelier, Orange, Virginia on June 28th, 1836 he was the last living participant of the constitutional convention; his niece, the only witness to his death, was by his side. Up until that final moment, the fierce cold of that evening in January 1789, that marked him forever after debating with Monroe, was a warm memory.
Now that’s a revolutionary.