THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 878, June 26, 2016
No king! No queen! No lord! No master!
We will not be fooled again!
A Cultural Height
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
"My horror at your crimes is only matched by my admiration at the skill it took to achieve them. You used the anarchists and their bombs to create a crisis in Europe. Nation against nation. Under various pseudonyms you bought, schemed, or murdered your way into numerous industries, assuring none of it could be traced to you. Cotton, opium, steel. Now arms, chemical weaponry, all to be shipped across Europe in less than a week. Everything from bullets to bandages. And now that you own the supply, you intend to create the demand. A war with everyone, a world war."
Recently, my good friend Gator Greenwill and I were discussing American culture. In some ways, we were also discussing Western civilisation, such as it is. We talked about the pinnacle of American culture, as a culture.
Now, people who have been reading my writings, which have been somewhat prolific since my first letter to the editor appeared in the Lawrence Journal World back in 1977, and increasingly so since my first essay appeared here in L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise in 1995, probably know quite a bit about me. I gave the valedictory speech to my high school graduating class, collected a National Merit Scholarship, was named a Kansas Scholar and a John Jay Scholar, completed my bachelor's degree in history with a minor in astrophysics at Columbia University, took a master's degree in business administration specialising in marketing and entrepreneurship at Rice University, and recently completed a graduate degree in Somali studies; I've worked in recycling, lawn care, banking, aerospace, real estate sales, sweepstakes, real estate development, science fiction merchandising, teaching at a community college, teaching at private schools, database software development, software documentation, healthcare practice management, business consulting, port development, toll road development, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and writing. I'm a meat popsicle, author, entrepreneur, raconteur, financier, and globe trotter. My greatest personal ambition is to own a flying car and my personal goal in life is to make humanity a multi-planetary species for fun and profit.
Since I'm discussing a recent conversation, I should introduce the other party in the discussion. Gator Greenwill graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University with degrees in both mathematics and philosophy. He attended law school at the University of Chicago and taught mathematics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence where he currently resides. His beginnings in entrepreneurship started with ownership interests in the family automotive business and expanded to commercial real estate and commodities trading soon after. In addition to managing the family business holdings and GKG Capital's interests, Mr. Greenwill is a devoted student of martial arts, is a member of the Missions Committee for the Midwest Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, the Treasurer for Reconciliation Services Kansas City, and is currently the Finance Committee Chair for the Young Republicans National Federation.
It is probably also appropriate to mention that Gator and I met in a very croweded room in the Java Break coffee shoppe in Lawrence in December 2007 where we were attending a meeting of the Ron Paul for president campaign. I doubt if any other person I know has quite as much intellectual and spiritual devotion to the cause of human liberty as Gator.
American culture is a product of a great many things. One of the most important works of the 20th Century was the dissertation of Frederick Jackson Turner, who wrote about the closing of the American frontier. If you imagine the situation attendant in the 17th Century when America as we know it today was being colonised by British people, you have a sense of many of the conflicts inherent in European society. There were classes in Europe, not quite as deeply ingrained as the caste system of India, but a definite tendency for people to be expected to "know their place." There were traditions in England, Scotland, and Ireland of well-armed commoners, yeomen, especially bowmen. In some parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the feats of bowmen (William Tell, e.g.) play an especially significant role in the extent to which ordinary people had freedom in certain places.
Indentured servitude and chattel slavery were common in Europe in the 17th Century. But these institutions were not especially successful in keeping Europeans enslaved in British North America. People ran away. Great numbers of people ran away, making the use of indentured servitude extremely impractical. Wage slavery wasn't very successful in America, either, because a person working in a factory in Boston who didn't like the boss, the working conditions, or other factors could put down his tools, take his day's wages, and walk to the frontier. The closing of that frontier with the Oklahoma land rush, and the subsequent closing of the Antarctic frontier, the space frontier, and the ocean frontier by international treaty organisations have had tremendous impacts not only on how people act, but on how they think and feel.
So, given all these factors, when was the peak of American culture? In our conversation, Gator and I concluded that a cultural height was reached in the period from about 1880 to 1910. It was a period of significant laissez faire, of limited government, a period when a great number of inventions were brought into view, a period of of comparative peace and prosperity, with, of course, a few fatal flaws destined to make it all go away. Seeds of oligarchy, such as the design of central banking systems, the operation of Native American reservations, the beginnings of American overseas adventurism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, as well as Central America, together with the conceit of national regulatory agencies, all contributed to a century of disorder.
There were a great many inventions after that period, of course. But the culture entered a period of decay. Instead of admiring the freedom, independence, and individual sovereignty of Americans, the culture, deliberately directed by the owners of major newspapers, magazines, and cinema studios, began to attack those ideals. A culture which had resisted the foreign impetus of state socialism from its invention by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and its first great European expansion in the 1840s up to the election of Woodrow Wilson began to be torn at, flayed, and subsequently eviscerated.
Woodrow Wilson's role in this era as a prominent figure in the so-called "Progressive" movement, was extremely inimical to American culture. Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, creating the financial engine for global wars ever since. He created the Federal Bureau of Investigation, segregated the civil service, brought Jim Crow from Missouri to Washington, DC, created a "brown shirt" organisation called the American League intended to suppress dissent, pushed for attacks on free speech which culminated in the Palmer Raids, pushed for constitutional amendments to Prohibit alcohol and reduce the power of the several states to have their state legislatures select senators, and encouraged Congress to declare war on Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Anyone who studies history even in a limited way knows that World War One didn't end in 1918, but simply paused for some years. World War Two was really an extension of the earlier global war, and the Cold War was a continuation, as well. It might be said that the war that began with an assassination of an Austrian duke in Serbia in 1914 did not really end until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the period in between those two years, roughly 75 million Soviet civilians were executed by their own government, often by torture, frequently by starvation. Something around 20 million civilians were killed by the government of Germany. Figures vary a great deal, but it would not be out of line to suppose that on the order of 100 million were killed in the People's Republic of China. Altogether, something like 262 million civilians were killed by their governments during the 20th Century, making it one of the most horrific eras in human history.
Nor did the period of "peace" last very long. The seeds of Islamic jihad were sown in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan by United States, Saudi, Qatari, and other Gulf States dictators from 1979 to 1989. The 1990 invasion of Kuwait was orchestrated by USA diplomats, and the subsequent "New World Order" response against Iraq was organised by George Herbert Walker Bush and his associates not only in the CIA but also in the Carlyle Group. Interventions in Somalia, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Mali, the Philippines, Algeria, Tunisia, and elsewhere strongly indicate an intended global character to what is now officially called a "war on terror," or a war against a particular type of warfare—a type of warfare that is mostly used by national governments to quell rebellions and uprisings.
The world has had a lot of wars since 1910. Americans have been involved in a great many of them. It is hard to see the justice in nearly all of these wars, and even where some justice (defeating Hitler, e.g.) was eked out, it was at considerable cost in lives, treasure, and consequential results (supporting Stalin, nuking Japan twice, creating the OSS which led to the CIA). It has been a long and tragic pursuit of warfare, it has been going on for over a century, and it is time to stop.
I believe it is time to say, "no more." We've seen the oligarchy try to organise a world government, limit national sovereignty, create international treaties on trade and commerce, limit some kinds of global trade and commerce, subsidise other kinds, and always protect the oligarchy. Ordinary people have paid a tremendous price. If you doubt me, if you aren't aware of the price of which I'm writing, go visit a Veterans hospital in a community near you. Go look at the people torn apart by war. Go visit the families of the victims of war, the victims of false flag terror attacks, the victims of government brutality.
There was a time when Americans did not have passports. You could travel internationally without one all during the 1880 to 1910 period. There was a time when Americans did not have internal papers, driver licences, mandatory auto insurance. The first act for a driver licence, in Texas, was put together for the insurance industry by Sam Rayburn in 1911. He went on to Congress afterward. There's a big lake near Orange, Texas named in his honour.
You don't need as much government as you are paying for. You don't need any oversight, most of the time. One of the brilliant aspects of American culture, especially in the period after chattel slavery was abolished, was the idea that Americans didn't need permission to live. We didn't need papers. We didn't need supervision. Our lives were not organised and ordered and directed.
It turns out, as Ludwig von Mises and many others have demonstrated logically, that it is impossible to calculate all the needs of all the people simultaneously. A command economy a "managed society" is impossible. The calculation problem cannot be resolved, ever.
During the century of decay about which I've remarked in this essay, a great many things were noticed and accomplished. Not everything was miserable. People walked on the surface of the Moon and returned safely to Earth. Exploration spacecraft have travelled out of our Solar System, have visited every major planetary body in our Solar System, and have landed on Venus and Mars, repeatedly. People have built tall buildings, flown in dirigibles and heavier than air craft, broken the sound barrier, examined the fundamental particles of reality, investigated quantum mechanics, and created amazing works of art, writing, architecture, and science. We also discovered, during the 1940s to 1970s, that we live in an open system, with a huge fusion reactor, the Sun, pouring energy onto our planet. We found, in the 1980s and 1990s, asteroids with more platinum group metals in each one than have been mined on Earth since the age of the Minoans. We've learned that it is possible to move polluting industries off Earth, access the resources of a Solar System, and live far beyond the limitations of a single planet.
Cornucopia is very real. We live in a universe of boundless possibilities. Go out on any clear night and you can see an endless universe.
So if you are wondering, why are we fighting, perhaps you should ask the fundamental question, "Who benefits?" It isn't you, and it isn't me. The profits from continuous war go to those who make war machines and the materiel that feeds those machines. It is their turn to be impoverished.
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