Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blowing It Forward

For my Christian evangelical brothers and sisters.

       Who is that marvellous actress who plays the silly mother in the classic BBC version (1995) of Pride and Prejudice?  You remember her.  As she is desperately trying to marry off her five daughters to make her old age secure, she alternately admires and despises all the eligible young men who come around.  She admires them in proportion as they appear successful, and she despises them when they  refuse to fit her expectations for her daughters.  (If it has been a while since you saw this beautifully crafted story, reflect back on those hilarious scenes.  If you have not yet had the pleasure of seeing it, you owe it to yourself to see the entire 6-episode series as soon as you can.)

       Her particular favorite is the young officer, Wickham.  She falls in love with his smooth speech, but especially with his vivid red dress uniform; and even when he proves to be a moral degenerate and seduces her daughter, she is willing to forgive him everything, and thinks it fully appropriate that other, more honorable men should have to step in and pay off his prodigal (and prodigious) debts.

       What an apt representative she is of the American "conservative" evangelical church -- shallow, silly, ignorant, self-absorbed, and unteachable.  Surrounded by a family who love her and care for her, she insists on falling for appearances and swoons over the military.

       The "culture-warrior" set that runs the evangelical church/media doesn't like to talk about "blowback" -- the idea that America is being resisted and even attacked by people who have themselves been victimized by an American foreign policy that is as greedy, self-serving, violent, interfering, and condescending as the British Empire that preceded it.

       So, since they don't want to talk about it, let's forget about past American foreign policy and past blowback.  Let us forget that America entered into a "war of liberation" in Iraq and didn't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia -- and doesn't know or care to this day.  Let's forget about the past.  (Should be easy -- anything over ten years ago is ancient history.)

       Instead, I propose that we have a talk about how the American military, with the full support of the American church, has been blowing it forward on lots of pretty helpless people; is doing so now; and has plans to do so for the foreseeable future.  In any country where we introduce coercive force (military or clandestine), this particularly affects the local Christians, who in most places are politically weak and in some places are already politically suspect.

       We could talk about the prospects for the Christians in Korea, or in Iran, if we wanted to borrow trouble.  But let's not borrow trouble.  Let us restrict ourselves to current events.

       I am thinking specifically about the Christians in Iraq.  The Assyrian church has existed since the time of the Apostles in the first century.  It has a two-thousand year history that includes:  welcoming and protecting Christian refugees from the persecutions of the Roman emperors; surviving the onslaughts of Islam; spreading the gospel to India, Mongolia, and China; sending representatives to the Council of Nicea and later councils where the canon of Holy Scripture was recognized; and much, much else.

       What American evangelical Christians, whether pastors or laymen, either know or care about the Assyrian church?  Did you read about them in history?  Did your pastor seriously and respectfully study their history and doctrines in seminary?  Have you had any meaningful fellowship with them in your strategy conferences on "world missions"?

       Do you understand what a disaster has been created in Iraq for both Christian and non-Christian citizens?  Do you understand that this disaster will be repeated and multiplied for every country where we send armed agents of the military-industrial complex?

       When your children are seduced by Mr. Wickham, will you laugh and forgive him, because he looks so handsome in a uniform -- so military -- so virile?  How long do you want your children put at risk, how many of them do you want to die for Mr. Wickham's sins?  How many of my children?

       Whatever may have happened on 9/11, blowback or otherwise, I implore you to think about next time.   The American church's cavalier attitude has been blowing it forward, sowing the wind for these many years.  President Bush would never have invaded Iraq if he hadn't been sure of the enthusiastic support of his "conservative, Christian" base.  President Obama would have long since stopped the war in Iraq and Afghanistan if Christians had outspokenly urged him to do so with the same seriousness they use in ridiculing him.

       Very few people are thinking about the real human beings, and the real body of Christ, in the places that we are strafing and bombing.  They are images on a screen, sound bites, part of the scripted narrative of our official history; nothing more.

       Because you and I do not know, does the Lord of All Worlds not know?  Because you and I do not care -- because we have written these people off as collateral damage -- does the Lord of the Church not care?   Does the Lord the Holy Spirit take His cues from our whims, our media, even our seminaries?

       I pray for the safety of the American troops.  I equally pray for the safety of the people they have been sent to kill; peace for those they have been sent to frighten; and true liberty for those they have been sent to subdue.  The only way I know for both prayers to be answered is for the war to be stopped.

       I do seriously pray and hope that the reaping of the whirlwind will be restrained.  Telling more of the truth, I believe, is one way to move in the right direction.   

*       *       *

       (If anyone is interested, I have a theory why we don't know or care about the Assyrian Church.  It is just a theory.  My theory is that it is because the Assyrian Church has no direct connection with British/Protestantism, which pretty much defines the American evangelical church and any little historical sense it may have.)

       Comments pro and con always welcome.


 

Friday, December 24, 2010

David Nolan and the Libertarians

       Here I am, playing catch-up again.  I just read today that David Nolan passed away, when in fact he left us -- quite suddenly -- a full month ago.   He had just finished a successful campaign for the US Senate from Arizona.  Successful, not because he won (he didn't), but because his candidacy enabled 43,000 good citizens of Arizona not to waste their vote on whoever is the greater of two evils running on the Democratic and Republican tickets.

       (Who was the greater of two evils, you ask?  That's easy:  whoever it was that won.  He/she will be in position to do the greatest damage to the Republic; and being a member-in-good-standing of one of the two established parties, will be fully encouraged and empowered to do so.)

       David Nolan is famous for popularizing the Nolan Chart and the World's Smallest Political Quiz.  Many years ago, when I was teaching in a small public school, a fellow-teacher gave me the Quiz.  And that is how, in one day -- in five minutes -- I found out two things.  First of all, that libertarians existed.  Second, that I was one.  I encourage you to take the take the Quiz right now.  Answer the questions honestly and surprise yourself.

       Nolan is rightly remembered for other achievements.  He helped establish the Libertarian Party in the early 1970's, partly in reaction to the Nixon Administration's imposition of wage and price controls, and he wrote essays on several topics libertarian.  I particularly appreciated his essay,  "The Essence of Liberty," when I read it a few years ago.  He posited five "essential points" of libertarian viewpoint.  It put to rest any lingering concerns I may have had that I was somehow implicitly buying into the quite arbitrary "Objectivism" of Ayn Rand.

       (I had read her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, and her fictional heroine, Dagney Taggart, didn't impress me much. Well, actually, she didn't impress me at all.  In fact, she was a real turn-off;  I had met much better examples of free and responsible women in real life who didn't think like she [or Ayn Rand] did. )

       But as I was saying, the Nolan Chart was the beginning for me.  I would later run into the writings of Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls), Lew Rockwell, and a dozen others.  At the same time, I was discovering that Richard Maybury, John Whitehead, Lord Acton, Charles Williams, and other writers were variously believers in the long tradition of Natural Law.

       Well, what with all those free thinkers, wasn't I bound to run into an atheist or two?  Yes, I did.  Well, didn't it bother me?  Maybe a little, at first.  But then I got used to the hospitality of those sinners and enjoyed feasting at their mostly generous, sometimes boisterous intellectual tables, and I found I didn't much miss the quacking in the synagogues of the pharisees.  When it occurred to me that, in all of this, I was in pretty good Company, I just stopped worrying altogether.

       And I haven't lost my faith.  In fact, it has been quite otherwise.  I've encountered the Master in those places.

*       *       *

       Would several readers be willing to comment, and add to our understanding of libertarian thought and libertarian people?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Learning in War Time

       Those who are familiar with the writings of C. S. Lewis will remember that he wrote an essay with this title.  They may not remember that it was included in the book, The Weight of Glory, which contains several other fine essays of his.  In that essay, which I will not quote here, he makes a persuasive case that if a Christian finds himself in a time of general war (at the time of his writing, the Second World War), and wonders if the pursuit of learning can be justified in such a time (he was thinking of formal institutional learning at a university such as Oxford), the answer is still yes.  And certainly, I agree.

       I have chosen this title for a slightly different reason.  Granted that the normal, common ways of scholarly learning are an entirely legitimate activity on the part of anybody, in war time as in peace time, is there any aspect of learning that might be especially important to a person who loves his country, when his country is at war?  For we live in just such a time.

       I propose that the following might be important to such a person, myself included:

       1.  Let us learn the ways of peace.  What is peace?  Why do the Hebrew prophets style the Christ as the Prince of Peace?  What are the aspirations of Hebraic shalom and Arabic salaam, both of them ancient and authoritative words for peace?   Are these empty ideals, or even cynical hypocrisies, or do they embody genuine anticipations shared by mortal men, and perhaps by God Himself?  Are they reserved for a future world, or are they to be desired now?  Is there some way, or ways, by which peace -- which certainly includes absence of war -- may be achieved or received?

       2.  Let us learn from our country's history.    Has our nation sought peace -- sometimes, usually, always?  Have we had conspicuous leaders, either inside or outside of government, who have pointed our nation toward peace?  What are their names?  What did they do, or what did they attempt to do?  How successful were they?  Were they opposed by other leaders, either inside or outside of government?  What were their names, and what did they do?  Have there been times when the citizens have been more warlike, and the nation's leadership more moderate?  Have there been times when these sentiments have been reversed?  In our nation's history, which wars have been the "just wars," and which have not?  Does either kind exact a price?  How has our national history led to our current situation?

       3.  Let us learn from human nature.  By any and all means -- diligent research,  personal experience, and whatever other ways we can find -- let us learn as much as we can about people of other cultures, and how they think.  It might be especially good to converse with those with whom we are now on good terms, but were formerly bitter enemies of ours:  Cherokees, Iroquois, Seminoles, Sioux, British,  Mexican, Southerners, Spanish, Filipino, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese,  Cuban, Libyan, Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan.  What are the beliefs and behaviors of their kings and warlords?  Their sages and prophets?  The common people?

       4.  Let us examine our personal motives.  What motivates us -- you and me -- either to peace or to war?  Nearly forty years ago, the Protestant theologian Francis Schaeffer warned that Americans might come to a time when we were motivated merely by a desire for personal peace and affluence.  Was he happily wrong, or was he unfortunately right?

       5.  Let us deeply consider our spirituality.   Almost thirty years ago, in the very depths of the Cold War, the eminent author and Soviet exile, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who had boldly attested to the importance of direct spiritual experience in his own life, warned the intelligentsia of the West that they had "rashly and self confidently pushed away" the "warm hand of God . . . There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide."  Does this dangerous self-delusion of which he spoke only apply to the professional intellectual, or has it filtered down in some measure to the rest of us?   Does your religious tradition urge you, as the Holy Scriptures do, to seek and find the deepest personal experiences of the Holy Spirit's loving power?  Might this contribute not only to your personal peace, but radiate outward from you in some effective and magnificent way?

       6. Here is a meditation from the Hundred Twentieth Psalm.

"I call on the LORD in my distress,
     and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
     from lying lips,
     and from deceitful tongues.

"What will he do to you,
     and what more besides,
     you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior's sharp arrows,
     with burning coals of the broom brush.

"Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
     that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
     among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
     but when I speak, they are for war."
  

       This might be the beginning of a good personal syllabus for learning in war time.

*       *       *

       You may enjoy this link to a commentary on C. S. Lewis's essay.

       As always, comments are most welcome, whether pro or con.  Let us learn together.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seven Presidents Saw Something

1


Thomas Jefferson -- “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

2

Andrew Jackson -- "Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country.  When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank.  You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families.  That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin!  Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin!  You are a den of vipers and thieves.  I intend to rout you out, and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out."

3

Abraham Lincoln -- “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. …corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” (1864)

4

Theodore Roosevelt -- “The citizens of the United States must control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves call into being.”

5

Woodrow Wilson -- “Big business is not dangerous because it is big, but because its bigness is an unwholesome inflation created by privileges and exemptions which it ought not to enjoy.”

6

Franklin D. Roosevelt -- “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

7

Dwight Eisenhower -- “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”  (Farewell address, 1961)

And, lastly, a literary insight:

Theodore Dreiser -- “The government has ceased to function, the corporations are the government.”

*       *       *

Thanks to an Anonymous commenter for this post. Notice from history that each of these presidents had to deal with this power.  Some were successful; most were not.

Comments always welcome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Annexation of Hawaii

A Christian Queen Addresses the People of the United States

by Frank Golubski

       A few years back, my wife read the 2006 book, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, by Stephen Kinzer.(1)  What an eye-opener!  Kinzer's chapter on our "annexation" of Hawaii was particularly interesting.  Not only did the Hawaiian royal palace have electricity and indoor plumbing before the White House (as Mr. Bradley pointed out),(2) but Queen Liliuokalani was a Christian woman who graciously appealed to Jehovah to judge the cause of her people. She wrote the following on June 17, 1897:

I, Liliuokalani of Hawaii, by the will of God named heir apparent on the tenth day of April, A.D. 1877, and by the grace of God Queen of the Hawaiian Islands on the seventeenth day of January, A.D. 1893, do hereby protest against the ratification of a certain treaty, which, so I am informed, has been signed at Washington by Messrs. Hatch, Thurston, and Kinney, purporting to cede those Islands to the territory and dominion of the United States. I declare such a treaty to be an act of wrong toward the native and part-native people of Hawaii, an invasion of the rights of the ruling chiefs, in violation of international rights both toward my people and toward friendly nations with whom they have made treaties, the perpetuation of the fraud whereby the constitutional government was overthrown, and, finally, an act of gross injustice to me.
Therefore I, Liliuokalani of Hawaii, do hereby call upon the President of that nation, to whom alone I yielded my property and my authority, to withdraw said treaty (ceding said Islands) from further consideration. I ask the honorable Senate of the United States to decline to ratify said treaty, and I implore the people of this great and good nation, from whom my ancestors learned the Christian religion, to sustain their representatives in such acts of justice and equity as may be in accord with the principles of their fathers, and to the Almighty Ruler of the universe, to him who judgeth righteously, I commit my cause.(3)

       And here in the closing paragraphs from her 1898 book, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen, Liliuokalani warns what happens when the powerful take what does not belong to them:

Oh, honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my down-trodden people! Their form of government is as dear to them as yours is precious to you. Quite as warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs. With all your goodly possessions, covering a territory so immense that there yet remains parts unexplored, possessing islands that, although near at hand, had to be neutral ground in time of war, do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth’s, so far from your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you, if not in your day, in that of your children, for “be not deceived, God is not mocked.”  The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call “Father,” and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.
It is for them that I would give the last drop of my blood; it is for them that I would spend, nay, am spending, everything belonging to me.
Will it be in vain? It is for the American people and their representatives in Congress to answer these questions. As they deal with me and my people, kindly, generously, and justly, so may the Great Ruler of all nations deal with the grand and glorious nation of the United States of America.(4)

*       *       *

Sources:

(1) Stephen Kinzer. Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.  Times Books, 2006.

(2) James Bradley, author of  The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War (Little, Brown,  2010), interviewed on Future Quake radio. http://www.futurequake.com/Audio/FQShow234.mp3

(3) http://www.hawaiiankingdom.org/protest_1897_queen.shtml


*       *       *

Frank Golubski is a veteran of the US Air Force.  He and his wife live in Spokane, Washington.   Comments are welcome, below.  Also, visit him at his websites,  Rabbit Trails and Just Warriors ~ Just Wars.

The Ring Must Be Destroyed

by Andrew Hoffmann

My wife and I recently watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  One of the central themes of the films/books, of course, is political power-symbolized by the ring of power.  According to Tolkien’s fictional world, the ring of power cannot be wielded for “good” even if a “good” character were to wield it. This fits in well with Tolkien’s professed philosophical anarchism. (1)

  Despite the overwhelming success of all things Tolkien, this central theme is all but completely ignored by Christians and non-Christians alike.  Instead, most Christian media pundits push the idea that it is our sacred Christian duty to participate in politics and vote Republican.  They are striving to grab hold of and use the “ring of power” rather than working quietly to destroy it.  The Christian media establishment is clearly at odds with Tolkien’s view of the world; so whose views are sounder from a biblical perspective? 

       Another professing Christian academic, Jacques Ellul, makes the argument in Anarchy and Christianity that it is the Christian statists who are out of line with scripture.  “Christianity means a rejection of power and a fight against it” (Ellul 13).  Ellul dismisses the idea that one political party might earn the allegiance of Christians.  “No matter whether one votes for the left or the right, the situation is the same” (14).  Perhaps, then, Christians could form their own party?  “To organize a party is necessarily to adopt a hierarchical structure and to wish to have a share in the exercise of power” (14). 

  The problem is not simply that an evil party or evil people are the ones wielding political power, the root of the problem is the political power itself.  Ellul writes, “We must never forget to what degree the holding of political power corrupts” (14).  Ellul points to the examples of Saul, David, and Solomon for examples of the effects of political power on those who hold it. (48-50)  God’s representative was not the king.  God’s side was represented by prophets who spent most of their time chastising and reprimanding the kings.

The prophet was most often a severe critic of royal acts.  He claimed to come from God and carry a word from God.  The word was always in opposition to royal power. … The prophets were a counterforce as we might put it today.  This counterforce did not represent the people -- it represented God. (51)

While surely there was no shortage of pseudo prophets around to predict good things for the kings and their kingdoms, the words of these false prophets are not recorded in scripture.  It is only the “gloom and doomers” who made the editorial cut, and not coincidentally, were proven right. 

  The church does not need power brokers; the church needs prophets.  Ellul argues that it is not the duty of Christians to control the corrupt world system.  Instead, we are to follow the example of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus does not advocate revolt or material conflict with these kings and great ones. … Let them be.  Set up a marginal society which will not be interested in such things, in which there will be no power, authority, or hierarchy.  Do not do things as they are usually done in society, which you cannot change.  Create another society on another foundation. (62)

Ellul is not talking about setting up a commune out in the middle of nowhere.  He is referring to the concept of being “in the world, but not of the world.”  The wrestling over the levers of political power is, and always has been, of this world.  We are called to be defined by our love for one another, not righteous lawmaking.  By resisting the desire for the ring of power, we are able to experience the freedom that only Jesus Christ can give. 

 Notes:  

(1) http://www.lewrockwell.com/carson/carson10.html

 (Ellul 13)  All references to Anarchy and Christianity are taken from the edition published by William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1988.

*       *       *


     Comments welcome.  Andrew Hoffman can also be reached at andrew@eugenicswars.com.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's time to laugh at the Perpetual International Security State

       As I write this, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been arrested in the UK on a warrant from Interpol, ( the EU central police force ),  for extradition to Sweden.  At this point, I hear, his high crime or misdemeanor was not wearing a condom during sex.  With a thirty-something feminist who invited him to her place.   Is this ridiculous or what?

       At the same time, the EU is not executing any outstanding warrants to prosecute intelligence "analysts" who fed cooked "data" and forged documents to their masters to justify wars that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and earned hundreds of billions of dollars for arms merchants.

       At the same time, the EU is not executing any outstanding warrants against "gentlemen" who are running sex-slave rings between Ukraine and Tel Aviv, using literally thousands of vulnerable women in order to make for themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in literally obscene profits.

       At the same time, the EU is not executing any outstanding warrants against international bank fraudsters for stealing hundreds of billions.  Last year; twenty years ago; this year; next year.

       At the same time, the EU is not investigating Tony Blair for conspiracy to commit war crimes.  Not when he was in office; and not when he is out.

       At the same time, the EU is not investigating charges that the CIA was using European airports for staging prisoners to its secret rendition programs in not-so-secret EU locations.  They've been doing it for better than a decade.

       At the same time, the Western Media are not howling for these investigations to happen.

       Which is to say that the EU and the US and the Western Media are the coordinate tentacles of an utterly corrupted political monstrosity, the precise nature of which can only be guessed at.  But it can fairly be called, the Perpetual International Security State.  (I think that an acronym could possibly be devised to identify this entity more briefly and more pungently.)

       So, if things are this bad, why is it time to laugh?

       Because things are this bad.  Only humor has a chance of getting us through this, even if it is gallows humor.  It is high time to subject these foolish shepherds to the ridicule they deserve.  ( Did you hear the one about the poor arms merchants who had to start stealing from each other because nobody else had any money left? )

       It is also time to begin gently but truly ridiculing the sheeple to wake them out of their docility.   (Did you hear the one about the Republican who still thought the war in Iraq was about setting Muslims free?)

       I propose that a collection of well-crafted jokes be devised that holds the mirror up to these guys, while giving them a face-saving way of changing their behavior.


*       *       *

       This is a post that I may well modify or extend, since it feels incomplete.  But your comments, and your suggestions for possible good jokes are most welcome.   We need a Saturday Night Live approach, and I am looking for friends who have a well-developed sense of the ridiculous to help me take this on. Funnier than the ones I just tried out in the post above.

       Much funnier.  Seriously.

       Thanks.  See you, hopefully, in the comments section below.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Strike a light for Wikileaks!

       For those of us who want to show our solidarity with Wikileaks, here's something to do that is totally non-threatening, totally non-violent, and will spread the word and get a response.  Best of all, you can make it fun.  Here's the idea.  Let's just see what happens.

       Get a nice little lighter from your favorite convenience store, and whenever you strike a light, say that you're doing it "for Julian Assange and the good guys at Wikileaks."

       When a stranger comes up to you on the street and asks for a light.  ( It may be the first time he has heard of Wikileaks!  Or not; you might be surprised. )

       At the beginning or end of your next staff meeting.  ( Smile. )

       In front of your church, synagogue or mosque right after worship.  ( Smile.  Better yet: wink, and really confuse them! )

       The next time you see your state's representatives.  ( You could tell them:  "Julian Assange represents me." )

       Or whenever.

       But maybe not when you're standing in the feel-up line at the airport . . .  I don't know . . .  Somehow, I don't think so.   After all, they say they really think carrying shampoo is terroristic.

       Worse than that, they have no sense of humor.  In fact, I can't think of anybody this side of the Nazi-Soviet Pact who has a lousier sense of humor than government "security personnel."  While they are seriously "protecting our freedoms," that doesn't include the freedom to have fun in public.

       In fact, forget about doing this in front of government agents at all.  We're not doing this for them; we're doing this to spread the word to real people.  People who want to laugh; who want to have fun; who want to enjoy life.  In other words, who want to feel free; who want to be free.

       Oh, I know.  People might misunderstand and think you were standing up for smokers' rights.  Ha, ha!  You know I'm going to tell you to go ahead and take that chance with your . . . precious reputation!  Do you think I mind?  After all, I like black cavendish pipe tobacco just fine; but I think burley is good, too.

       I've got another great idea.  Stay tuned.


       *       *       *

       Go ahead!  Act on impulse.  Comment me!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The CIA, the Establishment, and Wikileaks

       You will find, if you read many of my posts, that I am very hard on the CIA.  You will also find, I hope, that I could be described as a strict Constitutionalist, a libertarian, a populist, an ordinary Christian, a humanist, and an American patriot.  ( I like to think that I can be all of those good things at the same time. )

       So, why am I hard on the CIA, that fine patriotic organization dedicated to protecting America?

       In a few words:  because it is not dedicated to protecting America.  It is not dedicated to advancing the happiness of the ordinary citizens of America, or America's founding ideals rooted in respect for natural law and the rights of all men.  The CIA was created, and is maintained, for quite a different purpose:  to advance the interests of the well-connected and moneyed families of the United States, and to extend their control over the American people, and over the world, as far as possible.

       If you think that I am talking "conspiracy theory" here,  I have to reply that this is one of the most open  "conspiracies" the world has ever seen.  It has been noticed (and criticized) for centuries, and thoroughly described by historians, philosophers, anthropologists, theologians, and other observers of human nature.  The "conspiracy" that I am describing is, at its most basic, simply the firm, committed intention of a self-selected part of the human race to rule over the rest of us, for their own purposes, and the laws of God or men be damned.  

       For those of us who take a very religious view of reality, we may be quick to credit (or blame) God, or Satan, or the Angels, or Heaven,  for what we see in human affairs and human government; and ultimately we may be quite correct.  But let us not be so quick that we pass over some rather obvious facts.

       In the world of factual appearance, we observe that it is men, not angels, who steal from other men; that men enslave other men; that men abuse other men; that men starve other men; that men murder other men; and women and children.  If there is a spiritual agency, and there well may be, the fact remains that we are describing the behavior of flesh and blood human beings.  People.  The Ordinaries.

       What we further observe is, that men make kings of themselves; that they make whole governments of themselves; that they conceive that they are in some sense "sovereign" over their fellow men; that they establish rules and obligations for "their" people, that favor the favored and disfavor the disfavored;  that the more insecure they are -- and they are always insecure, because they are mortal -- the more they make intrusive "laws" to control "the people," while they manage with some adroitness to exempt "themselves" from the limitations of these selfsame laws.  The Elect Few People.  The self-styled Exceptionals.

       If we are geneticists, or anthropologists, we may readily satisfy ourselves that, for the most part, each of the nations of the world springs from an original tribe or clan, or from the combination of several of them.  The roots of national experience are to be found, therefore, in the actual historical behavior of extended families.

       Over the course of several or many generations, family behavior appears to be similar around the world, regardless of the specific qualities of the political system in which the family operates.  There is a reverence for the old patriarch (or occasionally, matriarch) which becomes a shared tradition; a development of the family enterprise, the business which has made the family prosper, ever elaborating and extending itself;  some method of selecting the single family leader, often the eldest son of the eldest son, who provides the essential consistency of the group;  the women help to extend the family hearth by participation in the market place, the festivals, and the advance of the domestic and fine arts, which extends the general family culture to create a community or even a homeland; the extra sons and daughters are encouraged to become second-level managers, or adventurers who scout out new enterprises and markets for the family.

       It is essential for the family cohesion that it consider itself in some way superior and "insulated" from the "common people" or "competing families."  It must develop its special sense of difference, of superiority, of exceptionalism.

       For the sake of its enterprise, it must maintain any secrets which preserve its advantage, while discovering the secrets of others, which may serve to extend or secure its gains.

       The family will, of course, have its weaknesses, which must also be guarded, or dealt with.  The idiot son, for example, who is totally unfit to take the helm when the father dies; something is going to have to be done.  Or the wayward Capulet daughter who falls in love with a Montague.  Or there is the necessary abortion; the bastard child; or the bit of unpleasantness between our own Cain and Abel that got out of hand; or the erratic servant who seems to be threatening trouble.  All of these things suggest a private family law which remains, forever if possible, out of the public view.

       And so the family must develop its own effective private security functions, and begins to avoid as much as possible the interaction with any public or universal moral law.  Family business is family business.

       These consequences of human nature are so nearly universal that practically every ethnic group has its own private security function:  there is not only an Italian mafia, there is a Russian mafia, and an Irish mafia, a Jewish mafia, an Arab mafia, a British mafia, a Chinese mafia, a Japanese mafia.  Who have I left out?

       The United States.  We have our own.  The fact is, there is a major interlocked group of old, wealthy, and powerful families in America.  They are sometimes referred to as "The Northeastern Establishment," the "Anglo-American Establishment," or sometimes, simply, "the Establishment."  Economists, historians and politicians alike have recognized them as facts of life, not "conspiracy theories," for generations.  Numerous well-documented books exist on the subject of the Establishment and its influence in American life.

       ( At this point, I was going to list some of their names, and I quickly thought of 27 prominent families.  But I'm sure that I would have left out some of your favorites; and who can make a complete list? )

Some of them have been called "captains of industry,"
       while others are better known as "robber barons."
Some have built railroads,
       others have dug canals,
some have organized monopolies and "trusts,"
       others have established banks,
some have run drugs to and from China and Afghanistan since the early 1800s,
       others have run drugs from Southeast Asia, or Colombia, or Mexico,
some have busted unions,
       others have established universities,
some have created tax-free "foundations" to protect their money and extend their influence,
       others have created private armies for the same purpose,
some have forcibly colonized Pacific islands,
       others have seized "banana republics,"
some have picked American presidents, and some have served British kings,
       others have plotted the assassination of American presidents and British kings,
some have created and managed political parties,
       others have created "revolutionary" movements to overthrow them,
some have established multi-national corporations to fleece local populations around the world,
       others have manufactured and sold weapons of mass destruction,
some have organized "international monetary funds," and world federalist organizations,
       others have organized "people's militias" and "patriotic" groups.
some have organized "communist cells,"
       others have organized "security" agencies to infiltrate them.

       Some Establishment efforts have been arbitrary and capricious, but most have been well-thought-out, well-financed, well-organized and well-coordinated.  Often, the "some" and the "others" are the very same people.  These are facts of history, too well established to need citations.

       One of the undisputed facts of history is that these people organized, provoked, and executed the Spanish-American War in 1898, and any number of "little" wars to advance their business interests in Latin America, China, and the Middle East, both before and after that time.

       Perhaps less well known is the fact that the same Establishment financed and controlled the "Allied Powers" in World War I; and financed and controlled, more or less, all sides in World War II; and Korea; and Vietnam; and the current mess in the Middle East.

       And while in the process of running their many wars, they organized and staffed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II, and its successor organization, the CIA, which was officially founded in 1947.

       Which is one of several reasons why I believe that the CIA has practically nothing to do with preserving liberty, protecting and defending the Constitution, respecting the Bill of Rights, or "defending our freedoms."  The CIA was created to serve its creators, and that is all.  Money, yes;  control of "the masses," definitely; extra-judicial killings, certainly; secrecy and deception, absolutely essential.

       Religious people like to think -- indeed, ought to think -- that "the powers that be" are "ordained by God."  It seems that they rarely think that these "ordained powers" are the saints, sages, pastors, philosophers, popes, prophets, poets, teachers, or lawgivers who have discovered natural right or natural law.  They prefer to think that the hijackers of the God-given natural and moral order -- the greedy and the violent -- are somehow the "ordained powers."  Now isn't that strange?

       But according to America's organic law -- that body of documents that extends from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution of the United States -- the people are recognized as being sovereign over their government and all its administrative creatures.  We, the people, are the civil powers that are "ordained" in America.

       Thus, you and I are considered, by our own law, to be sovereign over the CIA.  And I, for one, want to call "our servant," the CIA,  to account.  But I do not know how to do this.

       Given this situation, I am very willing for Wikileaks to act as one of my investigative agents.  As far as I am concerned, they can investigate absolutely anything they want to.  Including, and especially, secret weapons programs.  No more nuclear surprises; no more secret wars.  Not in my name; not without my permission.

*       *       *

       The above does not contradict the fact that good people have had honorable careers in the CIA.  I myself know several.

       As always, comments welcome, pro and con.
      

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2.5 Cheers for Wikileaks

       For those of you who are already cheering the Wikileaks organization for what it is accomplishing in blowing the cover off the Perpetual International Security State -- let me join you in hoisting one for Julian Assange and all the rest of them.  Cheers!

       As far as I can recall at the moment, when it comes to exposing the smarmy side of the people who are suffering from a national security complex, this is the biggest and best breakthrough since Daniel Ellsberg published the "Pentagon Papers" during the US war on Vietnam.

       No, this is not going to endanger the lives of American servicemen.  Yes, it is going to make a few Democrat and Republican politicians uncomfortable.  Yes, it is going to make a bunch of careerists in the US State Department go bonkers.  Yes, it is going to humiliate the talking heads and the writers' guild of the US media, because it is going to expose them for being the gullible bought-and-paid-for hacks that they are.

       Yes, some boys at CIA, and their confederates in a dozen other spy-and-disinformation outfits (some Western, some not) are deeply pissed.

       So, you say, what's not to like?  Why not three cheers for Wikileaks?  Why only a measly 2.5?

       You deserve an answer.  The truth is, I think Wikileaks and Julian Assange deserve three full cheers, but I'm holding 0.5  in reserve, and I'll tell you why.

       If we give three full cheers to Wikileaks, we think we have done all we need to do, as if we were cheering some spectator sport.  Let's reserve the last 0.5 to remind ourselves that we have some follow-up work to do.  These guys have uncovered a lot of stink; now we need to hold some people's noses to it.

       And if we give three cheers to Julian Assange, we are making a hero of a man, who, it will be revealed, has feet of clay; and having unfairly placed him on a pedestal, we will be expected to turn on him and take him down.  They're already accusing him of miscreant behavior in Sweden, like maybe he had unprotected sex with somebody.

       Okay.   Remember Watergate?  Remember Monicagate?  Presidents can pardon.

       So can you.  So can I.   Julian, go and sin no more.  There.

       Two-point-five cheers for Wikileaks and Julian Assange.


*       *       *

       Comments most welcome.  Especially those along the line of what we can do next to help the full-disclosure process along.  I am really tired of these Middle-Eastern wars that are always being done in the dark.