Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 731, July 28, 2013

"One of the most unmistakable indications
that a civilization is in decline is when
it is no longer capable of telling
its heroes from its villains."

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The 5000 Year Leap: A Heartbeat Away From the Stars
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The Constitution study group last night sponsored by the Monroeville Tea Party went well.

Glad I went and at first I was reluctant to go because the evening was so nice and I could have gotten so much done around the place. I did get the grass around the house cut and fed the turts and looked at the fading blooms of the Mexican shell flowers that last only a day withering in the evening sun. Also caught the recently acquired and equally ephemeral cute little pink flowered cactus too late. The bud looked plump and promising late morning but takes forever to open. Previous times it was still closed when I checked before departing for 11A shift and that day I saw it early evening already on the process of closing and forgot to photograph it prior to departure.

And my departure was anything but smooth. Off to a late start complicated by a voice mail I discovered from Rainforest Flora urging me to call back pertaining to the order I placed yesterday. Had some trouble with my first attempt to submit the order being rejected so I feared there was either problem with the card or a duplicate order like the time I ordered attic decking. Was the latter but they had already figured it out and the order had shipped and was at a terminal in Kentucky—so just a waste of air time and time on the phone. Guess it will arrive Saturday like the order that sparked a previous inspiration for writing.

Travel was farther complicated by pangs of hunger as I had not eaten since breakfast. So I said to myself I will have to be late because I am not sure if there is anything located conveniently near the destination and it would be unbearable to sit thru the meeting on an empty stomach. So I pulled into Wendy's on the strip going onto Greensburg for a Tripple bacon cheeseburger on a pretzel bun and large fries that would surely give Mayor Bloomburg the bugaboos. While dining on that delectable delight that is yet another miracle produced by the Men of Mind—I could not help but think of Ayn Rand and the subject matter of the group study session I was bound for. The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen. The book recommended by Glenn Beck and my friend the Historian alike. Had yet to borrow it from the latter who offered to loan it to me but I am somewhat familiar with it via the many reviews on talk radio and the Internet. In a nutshell it is about—as the caption above the title on the front cover states—A miracle that changed the world.

The miracle of America and the Declaration of Independence that unleashed human genius and brought about the quantum leaps in economics and science that elevated the baseline of existence from a world without electricity and motor vehicles to the Space Age and the Internet. After languishing in darkness for centuries, Western Civilization reawakened in the Italian Renaissance to the shards of knowledge left over from antiquity—the science, arts and culture of the Roman and Greek Civilizations that had been preserved in part by religious scholars in the Christian world and also by the Moslems— though at times a good bit of it had been destroyed in times of tumult when extreme elements of both religions got on a fundamentalist kick to destroy anything that was not of their personal interpretation of the scriptures. Like the account of the Burning of the Library of Alexandria by a mob led by a bishop named Cyril who was later made a saint. I first learned of this as a teenager watching Carl Sagan's mini series Cosmos on PBS back in the early 80s. The late astronomer and philosopher described a pretty barbaric scene of a learned woman—probably one of the librarians—named Hypatia who was one of the institution's defenders. Set upon and beaten. "The flesh stripped from her bones with abalone shekels".

More recently since the onset of the War on Terror I have heard another account attributing the Burning of Alexandria to the wave of Islamic conquest that swept through Egypt in the early Middle Ages. So apparently the Library that was the great repository of knowledge in the ancient world was hit again and that was probably the blow that finished off what the previous one had failed to destroy. And that was the end of Classical Civilization which for the duration of the dark ages that fell over Europe, on into the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment became the standard to regain. That culminated with the efforts of America's founders when they studied the remnants of the classics—sifting thru the history of the Greeks and Romans who were the world's first notable civilizations to experiment with democracy and republicanism. In their endeavor to figure out where those cultures went wrong and perfect their accomplishment they never could have anticipated the outcome would not only raise the level of civilization back up to that of the Roman standard; but propel it way beyond—hence the title of the book The 5000 Year Leap!

Which brings me back to the topic of the study group which I reached a bit late after having overshot the location. But had only missed out on the causal conversation and not the actual lesson itself which had already advanced to near the end of the book—two chapters—one on education, the other on national defense. I ended up buying a copy for ten bucks rather than wait to borrow the copy belonging to "The Historian". Up to now not having time to read it was my excuse. The knowledge gained in the study that night, and the book which I intend on finishing will become a valuable source of info for my ongoing works as well personal growth and development. Which is to say that I actually learned something and no quizzes or tests were involved. I walked away a fair deal smarter than when I went in—and if I recall the chapter on education correctly there was something about a good education stimulating intellectual curiosity on a personal level leading to creative ability—perhaps like the ability to compose a term paper or thesis—or this essay I am in the process of writing. As opposed to merely cramming for a test consisting of multiple choice answers.

Or to articulate ideas and concepts taught. Or formulate and articulate new ones. I think that may have been the objective of classical education originally advanced by the Romans and Greeks before their civilizations collapsed into decadence and tyranny. The importance of an enlightened populace is stressed both in the book and video lecture we listened to. As highlighted in the text—and again in the lecture—tyrants generally thrive on ignorance which is definitely the case of our situation today with the plebeian tyrant in the White House; put there by the power of pandering to the current crop of "Low Information Voters".

As for the members of the Monroeville Tea Party group in attendance— themselves an odd assortment of Constitutionalists, Birchers and Ron Paul supporters; they were a veritable treasure troth of information on matters pertaining to central banking and mercantilism that have become the bane and destroyer of the Republic. Little love for the likes of establishment republicans there and one of them even expressed skepticism in regard for Glenn Beck and talk radio in general which he said is just feeding off of us and giving little back in the way of results. And ditto for the support of Romney who I sadly confessed voting for out of desperation as many in the conservative and Tea Party movement did. For a good while the realization has been setting in that the 2012 Election was nothing more than the GOP forcing its favorite son on the Tea Party which did its best to push across the finish line ever so reluctantly. To no avail because after Mitt Romney obviously threw the final debate on issues pertaining to foreign policy where he essentially reiterated the same position as President Obama. And much of conservative talk radio including Glenn Beck was of little help to the cause of freedom in the marginalization of Ron Paul—who as it turned out was the only real voice for smaller, constitutionally limited government in the republican lineup.

It was reasoned that the retiring Texas congressman was crazy on the grounds of his non-interventionalist position on foreign policy. But given our current state of astronomical debt—fueled in great part by our national leadership that insists on maintaining the role of the United States as a world policeman funded by money borrowed from China (a potential future enemy and national security nightmare in itself); well then: who's crazy now? And that was the subject matter of the other chapter in the book covered pertaining to national defense. The author of the 5000 Year Leap asserts that is one of the major areas where America went astray. And already the GOP is ramping up the rhetoric against the two of its current presidential contenders representing the isolationist wing—Rand Paul and Ted Cruz who are deemed least likely to prevail in a contest against Hillary Clinton which not only says volumes about the desperation of the GOP to weed out the Tea Party and libertarian elements early on—but also the true nature of the progressives as warmongers who at the end of the day view war as a powerful social engineering tool for the remaking of worlds.

This harkens back to the early 20th Century and the days of the Woodrow Wilson Administration who took advantage of World War I to transform American culture toward popular acceptance of central planning. Indeed it was argued that the war was a good thing because it united the nation behind a common purpose in addition to a golden excuse for cracking down and imprisoning dissenters as well as imposition of an income tax and a whole slew of other liberty crushing stuff including a central banking system. As many libertarians will say: War is the health of the state.

The author of the book makes the argument for peace through strength in the form of a credible military defense counterbalanced by—that dirty word—isolationism. Yes. Isolationism which is the main reason that Ron Paul and his son Rand and others like them are deemed lunatics by those on both sides of the political isle with a variety of vested interests in maintaining America's roll as "Texas Ranger to the World". But have you seen the rest of the world lately? In light of the turmoil that it is rife with; the idea of heeding again the voices of the founders is beginning to make a whole lot of sense. Isolationism does not have to be a matter of putting your head in the sand as critics often go out on a limb to assert. It can mean a vigilant posture that looks out for the national interest and reaches out to meet an repel foreign threats without indulging in nation building—which is essentially a messianic crusade to spread democracy and progressivism around the world. The latest incarnation being the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine that was the creation of the minds in the Hillary Clinton State Department prior to Benghazi which has succeeded in turning much of the Middle East that was in trouble to begin with onto an even bigger train wreak. Which no doubt serves the progressive agenda well both abroad and at home by jining up tumult and chaos in the world and keeping the American people in a state of fear which makes them more willing to sacrifice more of their freedoms and tax dollars for the promise of protection. As well as yet another form of License for the government to intervene in our private lives in the name of the greater good. Thereby proving the Founders right in their claim that America adventuring abroad to build an empire would be at the risk of loosing its original soul at home.

There was also a different interpretation of the original concept of Manifest Destiny which had more to do with America by virtue of its economic power and military strength leading the world by example to a universally accepted standard of respect for human rights and all the freedoms upheld in the Bill of Rights. Not the Jacksonian perversion of Indian removal that resulted in the unjust dispossession of groups like the Cherokee who had settled down to develop a civilized lifestyle complete with farms, towns and even Christianity -— perhaps the first large scale example of eminent domain abuse in American history! Nor was it meant to become the license for endless wars to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy and progressivism.

In the video lecture the subject of missile defense came up and it was tempting to mention the "Paris Gun" concept advanced in Down With Power in the discussion afterward but decided to wait. But I did make comparison of a change in the wording in the Preamble of the Pennsylvania state Constitution to the "consent" vs "unanimous consent" of the governed pointed out near the end of the Probability Broach novel on which the point of divergence between the two worlds hinges. In the case of where my state may have gone wrong big time, it is the word "unalienable" as in "unalienable rights" as stated in the original 1776 version that was changed to "indefeasible" which according to the interpretations of one of the group members means that the state government had granted itself license to coerce us into signing away our rights via contract every time we sign a government document—ie a driver's license. So much for my thinking that the PA constitution was better than the national document on the grounds that it states the right to acquire, possess and defend property in addition to pursuit of happiness. In a way it still is but that one word change really invites the Commonwealth of PA to do its worse to you. Yet on other ways it might prove to be an Achilles heel if we can muster the brains and courage to exploit it.

I remember in Atlas Shrugged where Hank Rearden is bully ragged into signing the patent of his invention—his intellectual property— Rearden Metal alloy over to the government. Something was said about the government and its minions needing to secure consent rather than taking things by force to soothe their own conscience. But knowing progressives for the fascists they truly are deep down inside—in the end they will just go ahead and take it if they think the majority of the population will condone as they will too often do in a time of crisis. Which is definitely upon us according to Generational Theory advanced by Strauss-Howe. We also discussed that briefly. Times are currently ripe for the rise of a plebeian tyrant which seems to happen with historic regularity when the political pendulum swings to the left in coincidence with a major economic downturn at the start of a crisis era. Last time it was FDR. But even in the better times the creep of tyranny as proceeded at a slower pace—albeit unrelenting. The Proggies have been working hard to advance their agenda over the long term and as reflected in some of the opinions heard last night; it may be too late already. Which is a rather depressing thought as it eludes to the likelihood that the wonderful world created by the miracles unleashed in the 5000 Year Leap may be over. If that is true then it will be as tragic as the destruction of the Library of Alexandria which Carl Sagan compared to a nuclear war—when he predicted our civilization might self-destruct and plunge humanity into a new dark age darker and deeper than the one that followed the collapse of classical civilization. A possibility even more now than back in the latter 20th Century when his book Cosmos was written and turned into a TV miniseries.

Sagan spun a scenario of where we might be today in a world in which Alexandria never burned and classic civilization continued to endure. The possibility of interstellar travel by the 20th Century, if not sooner. There is an illustration of Bussard Ramjet type vessel in the book lettered with Greek script that translates as "The Starship Theodorus from the Planet Earth". It was a statement of what the world of that day had lost and what we stand to loose today as we now stand but a heartbeat away from the stars. The 5000 year leap initiated by America's founders catapulted their posterity—us—from a world that ran on the muscle power of men and animals to one that runs on electricity and combustion engines and stands but a few decades away from colonizing the solar system and perhaps a century away from reaching the planets of Alpha Centauri and other nearby stellar systems. To think that there are actually people out there who would actually welcome a new dark age and the prospect of the opportunity of reaching the stars slipping away is disturbing to say the least. Perhaps even more so than the looters, haters, rotters and destroyers of dreams who deplore and seek to undo so many other accomplishments wrought during the course of the 5000 Year Leap—everything from automobiles and power plants to supermarkets with well stocked shelves and the evil flush toilet.

I left the meeting with a renewed appreciation of both group study and self-education. But also an uneasy feeling about the future. The fatalism in some of the conversations at the end haunted me on the drive home. Will we eventually overcome the twin scourges of populism and the central planners who stand on the path of dreams between us and a manifest Cosmic Destiny?—or are we doomed to a future of eternal tyranny or extinction?

Had to sleep on that one and more before I could write this article.

Now rested and refreshed I managed to finish it—hopefully in time for the next issue and to free the remainder of the day for the "Tinfoil Fair"—aka The Kecksburg UFO & Old Fashioned Festival. Which should make excellent fodder for yet another another one.

Hang onto your tinfoil hats!

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