“Beauty Will Save the World”

OSolzhenitsyn Explains Dostoyevsky’s “Beauty Will Save the World”

By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The following is excerpted from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel lecture, given in 1972.

Just as the savage in bewilderment picks up . . . a strange object cast up by the sea?. . . something long buried in the sand? . . . a baffling object fallen from the sky?—intricately shaped, now glistening dully, nowtulips reflecting a brilliant flash of light—just as he turns it this way and that, twirls it, searches for a way to utilize it, seeks to find for it a suitable lowly application, all the while not guessing its higher function . . .

So we also, holding Art in our hands, confidently deem ourselves its masters; we boldly give it direction, bring it up to date, reform it, proclaim it, sell it for money, use it to please the powerful, divert it for amusement—all the way down to vaudeville songs and nightclub acts—or else adapt it (with a muzzle or stick, whatever is handy) toward transient political or limited social needs. But art remains undefiled by our endeavors and the stamp of its origin remains unaffected: Each time and in every usage it bestows upon us a portion of its mysterious inner light.

painted sunsetBut can we encompass the totality of this light? Who would dare to say that he has defined art? Or has enumerated all its aspects? Moreover, perhaps someone already did understand and did name them for us in the preceding centuries, but that could not long detain us; we listened briefly but took no heed; we discarded the words at once, hurrying—as always—to replace even the very best with something else, just so that it might be new. And when we are told the old once again, we won’t even remember that we used to have it earlier.earthAlaska

One artist imagines himself the creator of an autonomous spiritual world; he hoists upon his shoulders the act of creating this world and of populating it, together with the total responsibility for it. But he collapses under the load, for no mortal genius can bear up under it, just as, in general, the man who declares himself the center of existence is unable to create a balanced spiritual system. And if a failure befalls such a man, the blame is promptly laid to the chronic disharmony of the world, to the complexity of modern man’s divided soul, or to the public’s lack of understanding.

Another artist recognizes above himself a higher power and joyfully works as a humble apprentice under God’s heaven, though graver and more demanding still is his responsibility for all he writes or paints—and for the souls which apprehend it. However, it was not he who created this world, nor does he control it; there can be no doubts about its foundations. It is merely given to the artist to sense more keenly than others the harmony of the world, the beauty and ugliness of man’s role in it—and to vividly communicate this to mankind. Even amid failure and at the lower depths of existence— in poverty, in prison, and in illness—a sense of enduring harmony cannot abandon him.

But the very irrationality of art, its dazzling convolutions, its unforeseeable discoveries, its powerful impact on men—all this is too magical to be wholly accounted for by the artist’s view of the world, by his intention, or by the work of his unworthy fingers.T

Archaeologists have yet to discover an early stage of human existence when we possessed no art. In the twilight preceding the dawn of mankind we received it from hands which we did not have a chance to see clearly. Neither had we time to ask: Why this gift for us? How should we treat it?

All those prognosticators of the decay, degeneration, and death of art were wrong and will always be wrong. It shall be we who die; art will remain. And shall we even comprehend before our passing all of its aspects and the entirety of its purposes?

Not everything can be named. Some things draw us beyond words. Art can warm even a chilled and sunless soul to an exalted spiritual experience. Through art we occasionally receive— indistinctly, briefly—revelations the likes of which cannot be achieved by rational thought.

It is like that small mirror of legend: you look into it but instead of yourself you glimpse for a moment the Inaccessible, a realm forever beyond reach. And your soul begins to ache…

Dostoyevsky once let drop an enigmatic remark: “Beauty will save the world.” What is this? For a long time it seemed to me simply a phrase. How could this be possible? When in the bloodthirsty process of history did beauty ever save anyone, and from what? Granted, it ennobled, it elevated—but whom did it ever save?

There is, however, a particular feature in the very essence of beauty—a characteristic trait of art itself: The persuasiveness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable; it prevails even over a resisting heart. A political speech, an aggressive piece of journalism, a program for the organization of society, a philosophical system, can all be constructed—with apparent smoothness and harmony—on an error or on a lie. What is hidden and what is distorted will not be discerned right away. But then a contrary speech, journalistic piece, or program, or a differently structured philosophy, comes forth to join the argument, and everything is again just as smooth and harmonious, and again everything fits. And so they inspire trust—and distrust.

In vain does one repeat what the heart does not find sweet.

But a true work of art carries its verification within itself: Artificial and forced concepts do not survive their trial by images; both image and concept crumble and turn out feeble, pale, and unconvincing. However, works which have drawn on the truth and which have presented it to us in concentrated and vibrant form seize us, attract us to themselves powerfully, and no one ever—even centuries later—will step forth to deny them.

So perhaps the old trinity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is not simply the decorous and antiquated formula it seemed to us at the time of our self-confident materialistic youth. If the tops of these three trees do converge, as thinkers used to claim, and if the all too obvious and the overly straight sprouts of Truth and Goodness have been crushed, cut down, or not permitted to grow, then perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, and ever surprising shoots of Beauty will force their way through and soar up to that very spot, thereby fulfilling the task of all three.

And then no slip of the tongue but a prophecy would be contained in Dostoyevsky’s words: “Beauty will save the world.” For it was given to him to see many things; he had astonishing flashes of insight.

Could not then art and literature in a very real way offer succor to the modern world?

Who else but writers shall condemn their incompetent rulers (in some states this is in fact the easiest way to earn a living; it is done by anyone who feels the urge), who else shall censure their respective societies—be it for cowardly submission or for self-satisfied weakness—as well as the witless excesses of the young and the youthful pirates with knives upraised?

We shall be told: What can literature do in the face of a remorseless assault of open violence? But let us not forget that violence does not and cannot exist by itself: It is invariably intertwined with the lie. They are linked in the most intimate, most organic and profound fashion: Violence cannot conceal itself behind anything except lies, and lies have nothing to maintain them save violence. Anyone who has once proclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose the lie as his principle. At birth, violence acts openly and even takes pride in itself. But as soon as it gains strength and becomes firmly established, it begins to sense the air around it growing thinner; it can no longer exist without veiling itself in a mist of lies, without concealing itself behind the sugary words of falsehood. No longer does violence always and necessarily lunge straight for your throat; more often than not it demands of its subjects only that they pledge allegiance to lies, that they participate in falsehood.

The simple act of an ordinary brave man is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions! His rule: Let that come into the world, let it even reign supreme—only not through me. But it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie! For in the struggle with lies art has always triumphed and shall always triumph! Visibly, irrefutably for all! Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art.

And no sooner will the lies be dispersed than the repulsive nakedness of violence will be exposed—and age-old violence will topple in defeat.

This is why I believe, my friends, that we are capable of helping the world in its hour of crisis. We should not seek to justify our unwillingness by our lack of weapons, nor should we give ourselves up to a life of comfort. We must come out and join the battle!

The favorite proverbs in Russian are about truth. They forcefully express a long and difficult national experience, sometimes in striking fashion:

One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.

It is on such a seemingly fantastic violation of the law of conservation of mass and energy that my own activity is based, and my appeal to the writers of the world.

*****

The Russian writer and Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spent time in the Soviet gulag and pursued the life of an underground writer until he was catapulted to international fame with the unexpected publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in 1962. Get the rest of his Nobel lecture, in addition to his stories, poems, essays, and speeches, in the comprehensive The Solzhenitsyn Reader.

From the Intercollegiate Review (isi.org)

*See more at: https://home.isi.org/solzhenitsyn-explains-beauty-will-save-world#sthash.SWri3yst.dpuf

 

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Liberal-Democracy as Illiberalism — the Subversion of Liberty

occupy-4The Specter of Soft Totalitarianism

By Daniel J. Mahoney

Alexis de Tocqueville ends his classic work Democracy in America (published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840) with an evocative description of a new “species of oppression” that he believed would menace the democracies of the future. This “mild” or “tutelary” despotism would not torture or kill human beings or be despotic in the usual sense of the term. But it would oppressblm-protest nonetheless, undermining the vitality and self-respect of democratic souls. It would not only be a “soft” or “gentle” despotism (no gulags or political prisons in this horizon); it would be, as the French political philosopher Pierre Manent has suggested, a despotism of the soft, whose pestiferous rules and regulations would aggressively aim to make life both more equal and more humane.

gay-flagsSome have identified Tocqueville’s “mild despotism” with the welfare state. But I think that is to misunderstand the great Frenchman’s intention. Prudent public provision for the poor, or for those who are old and infirm, or a public system of social insurance to compensate for the vagaries of life, is not necessarily “the road to serfdom.” Instead, Tocqueville has something more radical and dangerous in mind. In the name of a more “humane” society, in the name of respect for every human being and every lifestyle (as we say today), democratic man may lose sight of the moral distinctions and the human qualities that allow freedom to flourish. He may identify virtue with softness and lose any sense of the primordialchile-anti-abortion-rally distinction between good and evil. He may come to see the state as a great instrument to flatten distinctions, to equalize all, to bring dignity to the exploited and oppressed (an infinitely flexible category in modern times). Freedom becomes identified with moral relativism and with an indiscriminate egalitarianism. The state becomes the great instrument of social engineering, of a project to create a new man purged of old prejudices (you will have heard resonances of twentieth-century totalitarianism). We have arrived at Tocqueville’s future; his nightmare (cauchemar) is increasingly our reality. To put it succinctly: democracy is at risk of becoming a tyrannical project. How are we to save the democratic project, and a true conception of human liberty and dignity that ought to accompany it?

anti-abortionAll this is brought out with learning and grace by the Polish philosopher and statesman Ryszard Legutko in his important book, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies (Encounter Books, 2016). Legutko speaks mainly of the European situation, but his analysis is perfectly relevant to nations such as Canada and the United States. As John O’Sullivan points out in his introduction to Legutko’s book, it may now be necessary to differentiate two forms of liberal democracy. Liberal democracy in its classic form (the regime praised by Lincoln, FDR, Churchill, and Reagan) is a form of constitutional and majority rule informed by a broadly Judeo-Christian anthropology, or account of human nature. In contrast, liberal-democracy with a hyphen denotes a quasi-tyrannical project to undermine religion, the traditional family, and even a coherent account of human nature (in the world of transgender ideology, human nature has been replaced by a project of radical autonomy that respects no natural limits). Liberal democracy in its original sense did not countenance abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, or any of the myriad rights that are discovered every day (and are ludicrously declared by rogue judges to be required by the constitution of 1787). Liberal-democracy, in O’Sullivan’s second sense, has little respect for self-government or the moral traditions of free peoples. Like the totalitarians of old, emancipatory democrats think in terms of “progress” and “reaction” and will not rest content until moral and political opposition to their “liberationist” project is declared both retrograde and unacceptable. Hence the ubiquity of political correctness on our college campuses and the decided turn of the campus left against free speech. There is, as we see, nothing particularly liberal about this contempt for traditional understandings of human liberty and moral virtue.

In his book, Legutko points out that the Solidarity movement in Poland did not fight for this second, perverted version of liberal-democracy. This great social movement of the late 1970s and 1980s fought against the totalitarian lie in the name of patriotism and human dignity, nobility and truth. In their view, liberty could not be separated from the moral contents of Western civilization. But Poland now finds itself part of a European project that is coextensive with what Roger Scruton has so suggestively called a “culture of repudiation.” Eurocrats and the full range of “progressive” intellectuals paradoxically have the same enemies that the communist totalitarians had: the Church and religion, the nation as a self-governing entity, classical metaphysics, moral conservatism, and the family as it has been understood for two millennia in the Christian West. Liberal-democracy has become an ideology, and an aggressively illiberal one at that.

We see manifestations of the new illiberalism all around us. The new Canadian government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is committed to strengthening “hate laws” in Canada, in defense of the transgendered and other “sexual minorities.” If one believes that God created human beings “male” and “female” (in the language of Genesis), or if one denies that human beings can remake themselves at will (a nihilistic premise of twentieth-century totalitarianism, by the way), then one is simply beyond the pale and has no right to think or speak. This is when soft despotism ceases to be so soft. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that opposition to same-sex marriage (or the moral choice-worthiness of homosexuality) can be rooted only in prejudice or irrational animus, it implicitly condemned the great religions of the Western world, as well as the philosophical wisdom and moral reflections of Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas, Kant, and Burke. The courts have made themselves illiberal instruments of “the culture of repudiation.” They have also made themselves very bad moral philosophers who repudiate the very idea of Socratic inquiry into the true and the just. Hiding behind their moralistic dogmatism is an unrelenting and unthinking relativism. Liberal democracy, in their hands, loses its nobility and luster.

We have reached the reductio ad absurdum of the liberal subversion of liberty with the coming of the bathroom wars in North Carolina. In the name of equal dignity and equal respect, the transgendered (whose freely constituted “gender” has no connection with biology or human nature) have the right to use the public restroom of their choice, or so the Department of Justice tells us. The rights of parents and children, or those reasonably concerned with safety and propriety, are dismissed out of hand. The notion of dignity affirmed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch is incapable of honoring commonsense distinctions. Every choice and affirmation is worthy of our respect (except, of course, the views of those who challenge the regnant relativism) even if it flies in the face of common sense and common decency. In the name of equality, and a groundless and relativistic conception of dignity, we erode the self-government of the American people. And more reasonable accommodations for the transgendered are dismissed out of hand. A point has to be made at all costs, and it must be directed at those Americans “on the wrong side of History.” One will have noticed one more affinity with the totalitarianism of old.

As Joseph Knippenberg recently argued in Public Discourse, we must recover a classical and Christian conception of human dignity that does not empty dignity of any moral substance. It would be a tragedy or worse if the victory of liberal-democracy, with its affinities with soft totalitarianism, was made possible by an appeal to a morally empty conception of human dignity. Facing the specter of soft totalitarianism, we must strengthen liberal democracy with a renewed appeal to the moral resources of the West. In the meantime, we must also appeal to the American people’s proud love of liberty to keep the new despotism at bay. Nothing less than the honor of liberal democracy is at stake.

*****

Daniel J. Mahoney holds the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College. He is the author, most recently, of The Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order (ISI Books, 2011) and The Other Solzhenitsyn: Telling the Truth about a Misunderstood Writer and Thinker (St. Augustine’s Press, 2014).

*From the Intercollegiate Review (isi.org)

 *See more at: https://home.isi.org/specter-soft-totalitarianism#sthash.IURjaxN3.dpuf

 

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Rediscovering the Essence of the American Idea

chevyThe American Idea: What It Is, Why It Matters, and Why It Is in Jeopardy

By Ben Sasse, Ph.D.

We face great challenges at this moment in history. We face cyber threats. We face a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin. We face a jihadi threat. We face the growing threat of non-state actors, who now can carry out massive attacks and are as able to play on the global stage as state actors. We face the exploding costs of our entitlement programs.american flag

All these challenges are acute, but another dangerous trend is attracting less notice: the crisis of confidence in, and the growing unawareness of, the American idea.

What is the American idea? The American Founding made the bold claim that most peoples and most governments in the history of the world had been wrong about the nature of power and the nature of freedom. Sure, there had been moments in history when certain city-states advanced some conception of liberty. But most people in human history had said that might makes right: if you have a monopoly on power, you can do what you want. Everyone else in those societies was not a citizen but a dependent subject. If you lived in such a society, you needed the king to give you rights. The passive assumption was prohibition. The passive assumption was that if I want to start a business, I need a charter, because it’s illegal to run that business unless the king has sanctioned it. So, I go and supplicate before the king in his court, and he decides whether to give me the right to start that business.

statue of libertyToday we would say that’s bizarre. The voluntary transaction between two people is the very nature of freedom. The American Founders saw that denying people their freedom is fundamentally wrong because it doesn’t comport with the dignity of people who are created in the image of God. People have been endowed with certain inalienable rights. God gives us those rights; government does not.

Government is merely a tool. It provides a framework for ordered liberty so that free people can live fully flowering lives.

This is why Ronald Reagan said that the American Founders “brought about the only true revolution that has ever taken place in man’s history.” Previous revolutions “simply exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers,” Reagan said. But America’s Founders did something different: they developed and fought for “the idea that you and I have within ourselves the God-given right and the ability to determine our own destiny.”writing the constitution

Think about how the framers of the Constitution wrestled with whether to enumerate any rights. What’s the danger in enumerating rights? Your list will never be long enough. The Constitution actually doesn’t define any rights because the Constitution is the way that we give the government limited authority. All the powers that we don’t give to the government are rights that we still retain. Even when the framers came up with the first ten amendments to the Constitution as a Bill of Rights, they couldn’t decide on any one individual right to list first. They had to list five things in the First Amendment: religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to redress grievances. Those five freedoms are all listed as first freedoms because there’s no way you can get the list complete.

And that is a crucial point to understand whenever you hear discussions of “limited government.” We talk about limited government not because we’re obsessed with government; we talk about it because we’re obsessed with the maximal nature of human freedom and human dignity and human potential. The American experience with limited government is not about government. It’s about people—about the dignity and the full lives that God envisioned for people created in his image. Limited government is just a means to that end.

That’s the American idea. And it has had unbelievable results.

America’s Civil Society

Even after the United States won independence from Great Britain, Europeans were tooevening cross distracted by their own issues—the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and so on—to take much notice of the Americans. In fact, not until the conclusion of the War of 1812 did it become clear to Europe that the Americans would retain their freedom.

Then, beginning in the 1820s, America embarked on a market revolution as well as transportation and engineering revolutions. This is when Europeans really began to take notice: Who are these people, and how is all this economic flowering happening over there?

Alexis de Tocqueville came to the new world in 1831 to try to answer such questions, to explain American dynamism to Europeans. What does he do? He goes to Washington, D.C., because if you have a vibrant society, it must be because you have greater bureaucrats than anyone else.

But when Tocqueville arrives in Washington, he finds a swamp. So he realizes he must go elsewhere to find the source of American innovation. He spends nine months traveling up and down the United States. Finally he writes back to Europe and says, I found the meaning of America. It is . . . the Rotary Club.

What Tocqueville found was America’s communal life. Americans had discovered new ways to associate with one another. Europeans wondered, how can you ever take on shared projects if the government isn’t in charge? Tocqueville saw that Americans had found the answer by building a robust civil societyintermediating institutions that struck the balance between the extremes of collectivism, which means that the government is in charge, and isolated individualism.

That’s what Democracy in America is about: the volunteer spirit of Americans who came together to create communal life. The American dynamism of the 1830s was just a working out of an idea that was clear to those who were drafting the Constitution a half century earlier, and that should still be our idea today.

The American Idea in Peril

But now that idea, the American idea, is in peril. Ronald Reagan recognized the importance—and the fragility—of the American idea when he said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed down for them to do the same.”

Today we’re not doing a good job of fighting for or handing down the American idea. Think of President Barack Obama’s response when asked whether he believed in American exceptionalism: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” This is exactly the opposite of what American exceptionalism means.

Obama’s misunderstanding of American exceptionalism was deeply wedded with the philosophy that the Democratic National Committee followed throughout the 2012 election. The videos used to introduce the president on the campaign trail and celebrate his first term featured a troubling line from then-congressman Barney Frank: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” That is an abandonment of the core American understanding of what government is. Remember, government is the tool by which we create a framework for ordered liberty; it guards the natural liberties of the people so they can go out and build flourishing lives.

That flourishing rests, of course, on individual rights, but as Tocqueville saw, individualism alone is not the answer. The American idea of freedom centers on civil society and mediating institutions, all those ways that we form real communities—communities of the heart and communities of the soul; communities of voluntarism, not of compulsory institutions.

We often hear that politics has become too polarized, and that characterization is a fair one when it comes to political elites and the nationally attentive. But I think our more fundamental crisis is a crisis of disengagement. We have so many people who have little understanding of what it means to transmit republican ideals to the next generation that we now see a drift toward the assumption that it is the government’s job is to solve every problem. The framers of the Constitution were quite clear about what governments do and don’t do, and about what powers and responsibilities reside at the federal level versus the state and local levels. But as a people we have lost that clarity.

Government is not “the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” No, as the Founders and Alexis de Tocqueville would have recognized, it is in coming together in voluntary communities outside the sphere of government—in civil society—that we get things done together.

We have big battles to fight to persuade people that the American idea is in crisis, because so many of our fellow citizens have never even heard what it is. To say that the solution to virtually every problem is a government solution, and especially a federal government solution, represents a regression from the American idea. The true greatness of America is the ability of people to build institutions together and to fully flower.

In the economy, in higher education, and in so many other fields, what we need at this moment is more innovation. We need more entrepreneurs. We need more civil society. We need more striving for independence, not more homogenization and standardization. We need to preserve and enhance the communities that have made America great, not seek to become more European in the way we embrace the future.

The full flowering of America has always depended on the private sector. The private sector isn’t just for-profit entities; the private sector includes all of civil society, all those mediating institutions that have defined Tocquevillian American greatness for two centuries.

*****

Ben Sasse is a United States Senator representing Nebraska. Before his election to the Senate in 2014, he served as president of Midland University, where he turned around a failing institution and made it one of the fastest-growing colleges in America. Senator Sasse holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, and a PhD from Yale.

From the Intercollegiate Review; See more at: https://home.isi.org/american-idea-what-it-why-it-matters-and-why-it-jeopardy#sthash.cgjXa6HF.dpuf

 

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More Conservatism — So the People can be Free

biplane stuntA More American Conservatismdistant sun

By Larry P. Arnn, Ph.D.

The astonishing political campaign of 2016 involved much debate about whether Donald Trump is a conservative. He was not always facile with the lingo of conservatism, and he pointed out once that he was seeking the nomination of the Republican, not the conservative party. Yet there is a lot we can learn from him about conservatism.

What is conservatism? It is a derivative term: it refers to something outside itself. Wetree 2 cannot conserve the present or the future, and the past being full of contradiction, we cannot conserve it entire. In the past one finds heroism and villainy; justice and injustice; freedom and slavery. Things in the past are like things in the present: they must be judged. Conservative people know this if they have any sense.

What then makes them conservative? It is the additional knowledge that things that have had a good reputation for a long time are more trustworthy than new things. This is especially true of original things. The very term principle refers to something that comes first; to change the principle of a thing is to change it into something else. Without the principle, the thing is lost.

AIf American conservatism means anything, then, it means the things found at the beginning of America, when it became a nation. The classics teach us that forming political bonds is natural to people, written in their nature, stemming from the divine gift they have of speech and reason. This means in turn that the Declaration of Independence, where the final causes of our nation are stated, and the Constitution of the United States, where the form of government is established, are the original things. These documents were written by people who were friends and who understood the documents to pursue the same ends. Taken together they are the longest surviving things of their kind, and under their domain our country spread across a continent and became the strongest nation on earth, the bastion of freedom. These documents do not appeal to all conservatives, but I argue that they should, both for their age and for their worthiness.washington dc

It follows then that if Donald Trump helps to conserve these things, he is a conservative in the sense that matters most to the republic of the Americans. Will he?

He will have a hard road. Today the authority of these two documents is in obvious decline for obvious reasons. In the academy they are rejected as obsolete or evil, and this opinion spreads throughout the talking classes, most everywhere in education, journalism, and entertainment. It has spread widely and deeply into the law. As a result our government has swollen beyond recognition, and it is centralized to a degree unimagined in the Constitution. Laws are made now chiefly by regulatory agencies that combine in themselves all three powers of government. The popular or elected freedom rallybranches may overturn these regulations only when they unite to do so, and this is increasingly rare. So every institution in society is in principle subject to comprehensive regulation. Every employer, every school, many clubs, and family life itself are now the subject of rules too complex for the lay person to grasp. These rules are not always enforced, nor can they be, but Americans sense that they better be looking over their shoulders, careful of what they say.supreme court

This has changed the way we live. Compliance increasingly replaces law-abidingness as the public goal. Laws, the Founders held, must be simple, few, and constant. Then we may all know what they are, live under them, and help to enforce them. This makes us equal, ruler and ruled. It means that we do not quail before the forces of the law. We are the forces of the law. Compliance, by contrast, means adapting constantly to changing and complex instructions from central authorities, and it means the employment of specialists to interpret the regulations and make sure others conform. In addition to this, whole populations, and not only in the inner city, live in long-term dependence on the government (read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance). It means that the government is separate from the people, and it means that the government grows.

writing the constitutionThese new features of American government present a danger implicit in the manner of our Constitution. Ours, wrote Madison, is the first nation to adopt purely representative forms. This means that all sovereignty or authority to rule is located in the governed or in the people. But at the same time, the people do not occupy the offices of government—as they did, for instance, in Athenian democracy. America’s pure or simple “republicanism,” as Madison called it, makes possible the separation of powers both between the governed and their government and also inside the parts of the government. The sovereign people delegate their authority to government, separately to separate places. This separation is both horizontal, among the branches of the federal government, and vertical, between the states and the federal government. The people themselves are outside the government, and they may intervene only at election time. Between elections, they watch, judge, and argue—in other words, they think before they act. Over time, but only over time, they may replace the whole lot. This system limits both their power and the power of those in government.picasso anti fascism

Today, however, the government has grown so large that it is a major factor in everything, including elections, and is in the position of taking on a will of its own. It is on the verge of being too big for private people to manage. This is the political crisis of our time. No policy question, with the exception of imminent major war, which we do not have right now, can matter so much.

in a flashTrump has addressed this problem more directly than anyone since Ronald Reagan—in some ways, more than anyone including Reagan. He would drain the swamp. He would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. He has rallied the people in direct opposition to their governing elite. He has appealed to the people directly in opposition to their government. And what has he achieved(?)—from nothing, a constitutional majority that controls all the popular branches at the federal level, soon to have a profound effect on the judiciary. In addition, his party advanced from a strong position in state legislatures and governorships. The party of Trump, if the Republican Party is that party, is in a position to make changes, as good or better a position as it has enjoyed since the Great Society.

Moreover, Trump ran in utter defiance of the political correctness that enforces this new system of government. He did not bend his knee to identity groups. He claimed to represent all “citizens,” a favorite term, by which he means citizens who hold that status under the law. He said he would represent their interest and their country, which he will make great again, and not the interest of any others. He did not care that this intention was conflated with racism. He saw that conflation as another sign of corruption, which it certainly is. Unless he is insensate, which he does not seem, Trump is possessed of moral courage as much as assertiveness, and his assertiveness is a sight to behold.

But can he do anything? Many conservatives have been doubtful of Trump and many others opposed. There are reasons for this. He is the first man elected president as his first significant public service. He is sometimes vulgar. He is a celebrity, star of his own show, which is playing wherever he goes. His is not the understated sort of elitism. Consistent with this, he is a populist: he likes ordinary folk, and they like him. This has made some conservative and libertarian people fear mobs with pitchforks. I fear them myself because I see them on so many college campuses, but not on my own, and not among the Trump supporters. I think these mobs are the product of modern liberalism and the bureaucratic state, not the product of Trump.

I prefer to be hopeful about the future, and I am hopeful about the Trump administration. His campaign and his appointments at this early stage give us some information upon which to speculate. Take one example about which I know something: education.

Trump has called for the abolition of the Department of Education, as did Reagan. By contrast, both Presidents Bush sought to strengthen that Department. Trump has nominated the splendid Betsy DeVos to be secretary of the Department, and she is a fighter for every kind of school choice. The federal government spends seven or eight percent of its money on education, and its method is typical of the federal intrusion into local matters: it gives money from the federal treasury to states and localities on condition. The conditions are myriad, confusing, and usually ugly when they can be understood. Title IV of the Higher Education Act governs federal student aid, and it numbers around 500 pages. A lawyer for our college told me once that I would be unable to read it, because he himself cannot read it, for which reason his firm keeps a specialist who is the only person he knows who understands what it says. For this reason alone, it would be a grand thing to get rid of the Department of Education.

There are also some excellent intermediate steps. If one changed the conditions of the federal education money that goes to states, localities, and schools, there could be an immediate influence. Education is one of those things that is easy enough to understand, but hard to do. The first thing to understand is that human beings are made to learn, and they desire to do it naturally. This means the job of teachers, like the job of parents, is to help children learn, not to make them or cause them to learn. Good schools are built around this fact. It also means that authority over the schools can best be exercised by those who are closest to the students. What if the federal government required states to pass charter laws that delegated wide latitude and real authority to schools, not to the Department of Education or to state departments of education or to school districts? What if it relied, not upon high-stakes centralized testing as in Common Core, but in the simple fact that parents and teachers are much more likely to care for students than strangers, even if those strangers are highly trained federal bureaucrats?

The chairman of our education program at Hillsdale College has written a series of standards that states might adopt for K-12 education. For each grade, they take up about half a page. But if a child can do the things on that half a page, the child has learned a lot. Here is a way for higher levels of government to be sure that any money they give to lower levels is well spent in education. It involves hardly any management of details. That is the constitutional model, the model that comes from our Founding.

To follow this practice would liberalize the system. It would mean that there would be plenty of bad charter schools, just as there are plenty of bad schools now. But it would also mean that there would be a proliferation of good ones. Hillsdale College has helped to found 16 charter schools, with more coming, and they are all doing well. Everybody wears a uniform and signs an honor code. Everybody—indeed everybody in kindergarten—learns to read. Everybody studies mathematics at least through pre-calculus. Everybody learns Latin, history, literature, philosophy, physics, biology, and chemistry. Everybody is admitted by a lottery system. For the inner-city schools, care is taken to advertise only in the immediate area, to make the opportunity available to the children who live in poor areas. The students in these schools make on the average excellent scores on the ubiquitous state standardized tests, and they do this without class time or curriculum set aside to prepare for those tests. They do very well even in relation to the legions of public schools that now take months to cram only for those tests, which means the students know little more than what is on those tests, and all the adults get raises and promotions if the students do well. That’s why there have been spectacular instances of cheating—by teachers and school administrators!—on those tests.

The kind of education going on in Hillsdale’s charter schools is not something that could be advanced nationally by a federal mandate. Key to the success of these schools is that the school leaders, the parents, and the teachers are all glad to be there and all help willingly to make it work. In other words, they are all volunteers. It is a partnership. Partnerships are cooperative, not imperative. If you force people who are unwilling to do something, they will not do it very well, which is the encapsulation of human freedom.

Nowhere is this freedom more evident than in the process of learning. At Hillsdale College the curriculum is rigorous and the standards of behavior are high. But they are not imperative. The ultimate penalty is simply this question: are you sure you want to be here, when there are so many other options, options generally not quite so difficult or strict? The student who responds yes to that question is self-governing, which is the aim. That is why we at Hillsdale would not support a national law that everyone had to do what we do. We know too much about human beings to think that would work.

Let us say that the Department of Education began to reform itself along these lines. It is in a real position to lead if it will do so, because it would be setting a profound example: it would be teaching the governments below not to give people orders all the time. It would be teaching them that parents do after all love their children in the great majority of cases, and that the strongest institutions are built on love. It would be teaching them that schools can do better without a national engineering project to take over their work, to set their tests, to prescribe their behavior. And this would lay the ground for the Department’s abolition.

If this is possible in education, it might work in other places too. Since the Founding, twelve cabinet offices have been added to the federal establishment. In the original federal government there was a Secretary of State to handle the relations of the American people with other countries. There must be such relations. There was a Secretary of War (now Defense) to manage the defense of our nation from enemies. We have such enemies, and we must defend ourselves. There was a Secretary of the Treasury to manage the budget and the money of the federal government. To operate, the federal government must collect taxes and spend money. And there was an Attorney General (not originally overseeing a department) to enforce the laws of the federal government. One can see that these functions are necessary to the federal government in a way that the functions of other departments are not.

The Department of Education was founded in 1979, whereas Hillsdale College was founded in 1844. Educa­tion was a thing to behold in the United States long before there was a Depart­ment [of Education]. Likewise people had houses before we had a Department of Housing and Urban Development; they traveled before we had a Department of Transportation; they traded before we had a Department of Commerce. You can see the line of thought. A federal government with four cabinet officers would be a federal government doing what it was built to do. That is why it is breathtaking that Trump would call for the elimination of departments, and breathtaking that he would appoint some and interview others who at least want to restrict the activities of those departments so people can be free.

We do not know what this election means. That is in the future. If it means that we will return to constitutional government, it means the most important thing that it can mean.

Some say it will mean the denigration of immigrants based on race or religion. Trump has not said that: he has said that our country belongs to its citizens. Think of consent of the governed, the principle of the relationship between the people and the government in America. That cannot mean just the will of the people, that they can do whatever they want. Otherwise they would be giving consent to governments that would immediately take away their right to consent. It must mean, if it means anything, that consent is rightly given only to governments that protect their right to consent.

Moreover, it cannot mean that anyone has a right to be a citizen of the United States, even if it is truly said that the principles of the nation are universal. It means rather that the United States, alone among the nations of the earth, is a set of practices and beliefs, available in principle to every people to believe those beliefs and adopt those practices. It means also that citizens have the right to determine who becomes a citizen. In the Declaration of Independence, one of the complaints against the King is that he expanded the borders of Quebec down into the American colonies, having given that province a government by his fiat alone. The King was attempting to choose the people, whereas the people have the right to choose the government. Trump and the American people seem to favor the latter, and in that vital respect they are on the side of the Founders.

Some say that Trump will turn us toward “isolationism” and away from “internationalism.” These are not principles to which one can assign any meaning. The purpose of the government of the United States is to protect the rights of the people of the United States. If we mean by internationalism the practices and institutions that Winston Churchill helped to build, including NATO, I revere them. Also, I know that Churchill helped build those according to his best judgment how to protect the actual life of freedom, responsibility, and prosperity of the British people, first and foremost, because he worked for them.

Russia may be a problem today, but not the problem that the Soviet Union was. Western Europe may be an ally today, but is it so good an ally as it was before it built an unaccountable Europe-wide government, in defiance of the popular votes of several countries still subject to it? The United States can be the leader of the world only if it is strong, and it now for the first time is deeply in debt. Lincoln said, “As our case is new, so we must think anew.” The case is new today. I for one would stay close to Britain and Israel, old friends who have the art of self-government. But everything including that must be thought through. We seem to have a chance to do that now.

The polls tell us that the American people today live in fear of the government. Now they have elected someone new, and we will soon know if he is good. It is a simple fact that he has never done anything like this before, and very great people have found such things difficult. But I would be hopeful for many reasons. One of the main ones is that he (Trump) wrote this, on January 16 of this year (2016):

“The United States of America is a land of laws, and Americans value the rule of law above all. Why, then, has our Congress allowed the president and the executive branch to take on near-dictatorial power? . . . What is needed in Washington is a president who will rein in the executive branch and work with Congress to make sure the legislative branch does its job.”

Trump has said that these are his purposes. Pray that he achieves them.

*****

Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American EducationThe Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution; and Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.

*The above article was adapted from a speech delivered on December 2, 2016, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

This article was reposted from: www.hillsdale.edu

 

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Beware of Deranged and Vengeful Hillary Supporters

social idiotChristians Targets of Hate Following        Hillaryamerican flag Loss

by Paul Hair

December, 2016

Christians are increasingly the target of hate following Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

As progressives lie about Islamophobia and hate crimes by Donald Trump supporters, as part of their influence operations designed to delegitimize Trump’s election, they are also increasingly targeting Christians with demonization and other attacks.occupy-4

Soon after Election Day, BuzzFeed went after reality TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines for attending a Bible-believing church.

Meanwhile, Christian News Network reported on Dec. 6 that an “Appeals Panel Made Up of ‘Gay Rights’ Activists Allow Fine to Stand Against B&B That Declined Same-Sex Ceremony.” On the same day, the Daily Signal reported that, “This Filmmaking Couple Doesn’t Want to Be Punished for Not Promoting Same-Sex Marriage.”

gay-flagsAnd One News Now reported on Dec. 5 that a “Gay state official challenges group’s ‘charitable’ status.”

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has seen a number of anti-Christian incidents following Hillary’s loss in the election.

PennLive ran stories on Dec. 5 and Dec. 7 about Pittsburgh officials working to criminalize attempts to keep children away from sodomy. On Dec. 13, PennLive wrote that Pittsburgh succeeded in that attempt and noted that the anti-Christian legislation was directly tied to the presidential election.

Pittsburgh has formally adopted Pennsylvania’s first ban on the controversial practice of “conversion” or “ex-gay” therapy for minors, weeks after it first proposed the measure amid mounting post-election anxiety.

Anti-Christian hate wasn’t just confined to the western part of Pennsylvania. WGAL 8 reported on Dec. 6 that someone vandalized a Lancaster-area church with “666” and “upside-down crosses.”AAA

And the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Dec. 22 that, “Across Pennsylvania, Baby Jesus keeps getting stolen from nativity scenes.” The author of the Inquirer article treated these attacks as jokes.

The tradition isn’t new; it’s become so ubiquitous that there’s even a Wikipedia page devoted to Baby Jesus theft. . . .

The thefts, often attributed to someone wanting to pull a prank, are so prevalent that one company, BrickHouse Security, has a “GPS Jesus” program that offers free GPS devices to churches and nonprofits so they can track the location of any stolen statues.

The increased hatred and attacks against Christians following Hillary Clinton’s loss coincides with hatred and attacks on people who backed Trump in the election.

Expect attacks on Christians to continue for the next four years as [intolerant-suppressive] progressives and their [fascist-minded] supporters become increasingly deranged and vengeful as the result of [Hillary] Clinton losing the presidential election.

*****

Article from www.barbwire.com

 

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Top Climate Change Expert gets Prison for Fraud

unknown-clownHow a top climate change expert defrauded EPA bynew-commuter claiming he was an undercover CIA agent so he didn’t have to show up for work

*John C. Beale was a high-profile policy advisory at the Environmental Protection Agency

  • Reported directly to Administrator Gina McCarthy during most of the 13 years of fraud
  • Claimed he was on covert assignments for CIA but really set home reading books or doing chores while earning $206,000 a year
  • Assertions that he had undercover CIA job was never checked out by EPA
  • Publicly retired and threw party for himself, but collected paychecks for another 18 months

By Michael Isikoff and Michael Zennie

A top climate change expert at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasgreenland admitted to defrauding the government out of more than $900,000 by claiming he was an undercover CIA agent so he didn’t have to show up for work for months at a time. John C. Beale, pled guilty to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade and was sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his lies were a “crime of massive proportion” and “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

cone of silence7John C. Beale, 65, was the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest paid employee and reported directly to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy during most of the 13 years he ran the scam.

Two sentencing memos, along with documents obtained by NBC News, offered new details about what some officials describe as one of the most audacious, and creative, federal frauds they have ever encountered. When first looking into Beale’s deceptions last February, Patrick Sullivan said, “I thought, ‘Oh my God, how could this possibly have happened in this agency?” The EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan, who spearheaded the Beale probe, in an interview with NBC News, added, “I’ve worked for the government for 35 years. I’ve never seen a situation like this.”cone of silence6

NBC News reported that no one at the agency questioned or looked into his claims that he was working undercover for the CIA. He left the EPA office for weeks or months at a time — claiming he was at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia; or in Pakistan working on covert missions.

In reality, he was home reading, riding his bicycle or doing housework. Sometimes he escaped to his vacation home on Cape Cod, prosecutors say. He billed taxpayers for 33 plane flights between 2003 and 2011, including personal trips to London and California, which he flew first class. He stayed in five-star hotels and billed the government for expensive meals and limo rides. The total cost: more than $266,000.

He also publicly ‘retired,’ but managed to continue drawing his $206,000 salary for 18 months – despite brazenly throwing a retirement party for himself that was attended by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. (EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was Beale’s boss during most of the 13 years he continued committing fraud).

He even lied and said he had contracted malaria while serving in the Vietnam War in order to get a handicapped parking spot. He neither had malaria nor served in Vietnam, according to prosecutors. EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan told NBC that Beale perpetrated a ‘crime of massive proportions.’

Beale admitted in court to the shocking fraud. Prosecutors are asking for a 30-month prison sentence, but defense lawyers say the judge should give him leniency because he suffered from a ‘highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior.’

Sullivan, who investigated Beale, said he believes the culture of the EPA made it ripe for this sort of fraud. ‘There’s a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing,’ he told NBC. ‘They don’t think like criminal investigators. They tend to be very trusting and accepting.’

Beyond Beale’s individual fate, his case raises larger questions about how he was able to get away with his admitted fraud for so long, according to federal and congressional investigators. Two new reports by the EPA inspector general’s office conclude that top officials at the agency “enabled” Beale by failing to verify any of his phony cover stories about CIA work, and failing to check on hundreds of thousands of dollars paid him in undeserved bonuses and travel expenses — including first-class trips to London where he stayed at five-star hotels and racked up thousands in bills for limos and taxis.

Beale is a Princeton-educated ‘senior policy adviser’ who worked as one of the EPA’s top climate change experts. He helped rewrite the Clean Air Act in 1990, led EPA delegations at climate change conferences in 2000 and 2001, and helped negotiate carbon emissions agreements with India and China. Beale, an NYU grad with a Masters Degree from Princeton, was earning a salary and bonuses of $206,000 a year, making him the highest paid official at the EPA. He earned more money than Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator and who, was for years, his immediate boss, according to agency documents.

He was caught only after McCarthy, who was appointed EPA administrator in July, discovered that he was still on the payroll in March 2012 – nearly six months after his retirement party. She called for an investigation, which led to the criminal charges.

In court, Beale’s lawyer, while acknowledging his guilt, has asked for leniency and offered a psychological explanation for the climate expert’s bizarre tales.

“With the help of his therapist,” wrote attorney John Kern, “Mr. Beale has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior.” Kern also said Beale was driven “to manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives … that are fueled by his insecurities.”

Beale, who served as a “senior policy adviser” in the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, pled guilty to defrauding the U.S. government out of nearly $900,000 since 2000. Beale perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month stretch starting in June 2011 when he did “absolutely no work,” as Kern, Beale’s lawyer, acknowledged in his court filing.

To explain his long absences, Beale told agency officials — including McCarthy — that he was engaged in intelligence work for the CIA, either at agency headquarters or in Pakistan. At one point he claimed to be urgently needed in Pakistan because the Taliban was torturing his CIA replacement, according to Sullivan.

In fact, Beale had no relationship with the CIA at all. Sullivan, the EPA investigator, said he confirmed Beale didn’t even have a security clearance. He spent much of the time he was purportedly working for the CIA at his Northern Virginia home riding bikes, doing housework and reading books, or at a vacation house on Cape Cod.

“He’s never been to Langley (the CIA’s Virginia headquarters),” said Sullivan. “The CIA has no record of him ever walking through the door.”

Nor was that Beale’s only deception, according to court documents. In 2008, Beale didn’t show up at the EPA for six months, telling his boss that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California that were made purely “for personal reasons,” his lawyer acknowledged. (His parents lived there.)

When first questioned by EPA officials early this year about his alleged CIA undercover work, Beale brushed them aside by saying he couldn’t discuss it, according to Sullivan. Weeks later, after being confronted again by investigators, Beale acknowledging the truth but “didn’t show much remorse,” Sullivan said. The explanation he offered for his false CIA story? “He wanted to puff up his own image,” said Sullivan.

Even at that point, prosecutors say, Beale sought to “cover his tracks.’” He told a few close colleagues at EPA that he would plead guilty “to take one for the team,” suggesting that he was willing to go to jail to protect people at the CIA. This has led some EPA officials to continue to believe that Beale actually does have a connection to the CIA, Sullivan said.

Kern, Beale’s lawyer, declined to comment to NBC News. But in his court filing, he asked Judge Ellen Huvelle to balance Beale’s misdeeds against years of admirable work for the government. These include helping to rewrite the Clean Air Act in 1990, heading up EPA delegations to United Nations conferences on climate change in 2000 and 2001, and helping to negotiate agreements to reduce carbon emissions with China, India and other nations.

Two congressional committees pressed the EPA, including administrator McCarthy, for answers on the handling of Beale’s case. The new inspector general’s reports fault the agency for a lack of internal controls and policies that allegedly facilitated Beale’s deceptions.

For example, one of the reports states, Beale took 33 airplane trips between 2003 and 2011, costing the government $266,190. On 70 percent of those, he travelled first class and stayed at high end hotels, charging more than twice the government’s allowed per diem limit. But his expense vouchers were routinely approved by another EPA official, a colleague of Beale’s, whose conduct is now being reviewed by the inspector general, according to congressional investigators briefed on the report.

In a statement to NBC News, Alisha Johnson, McCarthy’s press secretary, said that Beale’s fraud was “uncovered” by McCarthy while she was head of the Office of Air and Radiation. “[Beale] is a convicted felon who went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the U.S. government over the span of more than a decade,” said Johnson. “EPA has worked in coordination with its inspector general and the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Agency has [put] in place additional safeguards to help protect against fraud and abuse related to employee time and attendance, including strengthening supervisory controls of time and attendance, improved review of employee travel and a tightened retention incentive processes.”

At his trial sentencing last week, Beale, the EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job.

John C. Beale’s crimes were “inexplicable” and “unbelievably egregious,” said Judge Ellen Huvelle in imposing the sentence in a Washington. D.C. federal court. Beale has also agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution and forfeiture to the government.

John C.Beale is married to Nancy Kete; who President Barack Obama appointed the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. She is currently managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation.

The couple owns two homes; a $872,000 townhouse in Arlington, Virginia, and a $626,000 vacation home on Cape Cod.

Mmmm! 32 months for at least 13 years of fraud… Justice?

*****

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2524730/John-C-Beale-climate-change-expert-defrauded-EPA-900K-claiming-CIA-agent.html#ixzz4U4rHyTVy

and at: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/climate-change-experts-fraud-was-crime-massive-proportion-say-feds-f2D11751587

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Socialism and the Components of Fascism

depiction of SadeThe Socialist Economics of Italian Fascismanti liberty 2

By Lawrence K. Samuels

The Components of Fascism…

The economics of Italian Fascism is often ignored or trivialized because so much of it is found in today’s world economies. Consider some of the components of fascist economics:U.N. Building central planning, heavy state subsidies, protectionism (high tariffs), steep levels of nationalization, rampant cronyism, large deficits, high government spending, bank and industry bailouts, overlapping bureaucracy, massive social welfare programs, crushing national debt, bouts of inflation and “a highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure.”1

mussoliniOn numerous occasions, Benito Mussolini identified his economic policies with “state capitalism”—the exact phrase that Vladimir Lenin used to usher in his New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin wrote: “State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our Soviet Republic.”2 After Russia’s economy collapsed in 1921, Lenin allowed privatization and private initiative, and he let the people trade, buy and sell for private profit.3 Lenin was moving towards a mixed economy. He even demanded that state-owned companies operate on profit/loss principles.4 Lenin acknowledged that he had to back away from total socialism and allow some capitalism.

Mussolini followed Lenin’s example and proceeded to establish a state-driven economiclenin model in Italy. In essence, Mussolini’s fascism was simply an imitation of Lenin’s “third way,” which combined market-based mechanisms and socialism—similar to Red China’s “market socialism.” In short, Lenin’s revised Marxism culminated in “socialist-lite” policies that helped inspire Mussolini to craft his own Italian-style fascism with a right-wing socialist twist. Thus, one could argue that Lenin’s politics were the first modern-day version of fascism and state-corporatism.

Economist Ludwig von Mises, who fled the Nazi conquest of Europe, contended that the “economic program of Italian Fascism did not differ from the program of British Guild Socialism as propagated by the most eminent British and European socialists.”5/6

In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Sheldon Richman succinctly states: “As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer.”7 He contends that socialism seeks to abolish capitalism outright, while fascism gives the appearance of a market-based economy, even though it relies heavily on the central planning of all economic activities. According to authors Roland Sarti and Rosario Romeo, “[U]nder Fascism the state had more latitude for control of the economy than any other nation at the time except for the Soviet Union.”8

Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”9

After the worldwide Great Depression, Mussolini became more vocal in his claims that fascism explicitly rejected the capitalist elements of economic individualism and laissez-faire liberalism.10 In his “Doctrine of Fascism,” Mussolini wrote: “The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. . . . Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”11

As the effects of the Great Depression lingered, Italy’s government promoted mergers and acquisitions, bailed out failing businesses and “seized the stock holdings of banks, which held large equity interests.”12 The Italian state took over bankrupt corporations, cartelized business, increased government spending, expanded the money supply, and boosted deficits.13 The Italian government promoted heavy industry by “nationalizing it instead of letting the companies go bankrupt.”14

Fascist leaders deemed Italian corporations as “revolutionary,” and claimed that the corporative state would “guarantee economic progress and social justice.”15 Italian Fascist theories of corporatism arose out of revolutionary and national syndicalism that often paralleled the activities of the trade unions, craft guilds and professional societies. Mussolini acknowledged Fascism’s socialist roots and influences. Among those whom he acknowledged as influencing Fascism were French Marxist Georges Sorel and French Revolutionary Unionist Hubert Lagardelle.16 Moreover, Mussolini was a union man: he decreed mandatory unionism for all Italian workers. It is true that Mussolini banned strikes, but Lenin had done the same in the Soviet Union.

Under the fascism of the corporate state, “planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission.” These measures restricted new business from forming or expanding.17/18 Moreover, “levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and ‘excess’ incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or ‘loans.'”19

By the mid-1930s, corporate statism and regulatory concentration had caused the Italian credit system to be put “under the control of the state and parastate agencies” and, by late 1930s, about 80 percent of available credit was “controlled directly or indirectly by the state.”20 As war with Ethiopia approached, Italy’s government imposed price controls, production quotas, and higher tariffs. A large trade deficit swelled, which led to more restrictions on imports, tighter controls on foreign exchange, and greater controls over the distribution of raw materials.21 As Mussolini moved towards “autarky” or self-sufficiency and imposed more protectionist laws, Italy’s “government spending rose and budget deficit increased sevenfold between 1934 and 1937.”22/23

With the passage of the Bank Reform Act in 1936, the Bank of Italy and most of the other major banks became government entities.24 One year earlier, the confiscation of capital had begun with state edicts requiring all banks, businesses, and private citizens to surrender their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the Bank of Italy.25

Mussolini doubled the number of Italian bureaucrats under an enormous bureaucracy of committees. By 1934, one Italian in five worked for the government.26 There was a labyrinth “of overlapping bureaucracies where Mussolini’s orders were constantly being lost or purposely mislaid.”27

In May 1934, as the Institute of Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) started to take over bank assets, Mussolini declared, “Three-fourths of [the] Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.”28/29 In 1939, Italy saw the highest rate of state-owned enterprises in the world, outside of the Soviet Union.30 In that year, the state “controlled over four-fifths of Italy’s shipping and shipbuilding, three-quarters of its pig iron production and almost half that of steel.”31

By September of 1943, Mussolini was heading a Nazi puppet state called the Italian Social Republic (RSI) in which he proposed additional “economic socialization.” He began to display a renewed interest in his earlier radicalism. Claiming that he had never abandoned his left-wing ideals,32 “he returned to a type of socialism which once again attacked capitalism,” in an effort to “annihilate the parasitic plutocracies.”33 In February 1944, Mussolini’s government devised a “socialization law” that called for more nationalization of industry and under which workers would participate in managing factories and businesses, along with land reform.34 The Italian Social Republic “obsessively emphasized” commitments to socialization and a “variety of fascist equalitarianism and an amplified fascist welfare state.”35

In essence, the economics of Italian Fascism was Marxist and syndicalist-inspired—and far more left-wing socialist than the economies of many current western nations that embrace a mixed economy of socialism, welfarism and unionism. Now, if only economists and historians would, even if belatedly, recognize that fact.

*****

Footnotes

  1. Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism 1914-1945, Madison: Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1995, p. 7.
  2. V. I. Lenin, “The Tax in Kind,” written April 21, 1921, Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 329-365.
  3. V. N. Bandera “New Economic Policy (NEP) as an Economic System,” The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 71, No. 3 (June, 1963), 265-79: p. 268.
  4. V. N. Bandera “New Economic Policy,” p. 268.
  5. Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Constitutions for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain, London: UK, London, New York, Longmans, Green & Co. 1920.
  6. Ludwig von Mises, Planned Chaos, Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson: NY, 1970, p.73, first printing 1947.
  7. Sheldon Richman, “Fascism,” in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2nd ed., (Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, 2008). Online at the Library of Economics and Liberty.
  8. Franklin Hugh Adler, Italian Industrialists from Liberalism to Fascism: The Political Development of the Industrial Bourgeoisie, 1906-1934, New York: NY, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p 347; original source: Rosario Romeo, Breve Storia della grande industria in Italia 1861/1961, Bologna, 1975, pp.173-4; Roland Sarti, Fascism and the Industrial Leadership in Italy, 1919-40: A Study in the Expansion of Private Power Under Fascism, 1968, p. 214.
  9. James Strachey Barnes, Universal Aspects of Fascism, Williams and Norgate, London: UK, 1929, pp. 113-114.
  10. Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, London: UK, Victor Gollancz, LTD, 1936, p. 134.
  11. Mussolini, My Autobiography, New York: NY, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928, p. 280.
  12. Michael E. Newton, The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 170.
  13. Jeffrey Herbener, “The Vampire Economy: Italy, Germany, and the US,” Mises Institute, October 13, 2005.
  14. Newton, Path to Tyranny, p. 171.
  15. Martin Blink Horn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 29.
  16. Sternhell, Zeev, Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, English translation ed., Princeton: NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986, p. 203.
  17. Richman, “Fascism.”
  18. Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, London: UK, Victor Gollancz, LTD, 1936, p. 418.
  19. Richman, “Fascism.”
  20. A. James Gregor, Italian Fascism and Developmental Dictatorship, Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 158.
  21. Alexander J. De Grand, Italian Fascism: Its Origins & Development, Lincoln: NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1982, p. 106.
  22. Michael E. Newton, The Path to Tyranny: A history of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 173.
  23. Alexander J. De Grand, Italian Fascism: Its Origins & Development, p. 108.
  24. Alexander J. De Grand, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: The “Fascist” Style of Rule, second edition, New York, NY, Routledge, p. 52.
  25. Jeffrey Herbener, “The Vampire Economy: Italy, Germany, and the US,” Mises Institute, October 13, 2005.
  26. George Seldes, “The Fascist Road to Ruin: Why Italy Plans the Rape of Ethiopia,” The American League Against War and Fascism, 1935.
  27. Jim Powell, “The Economic Leadership Secrets of Benito Mussolini,”Forbes, Feb. 22, 2012.
  28. Gianni Toniolo, editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, Oxford: UK, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 59; Mussolini’s speech on May 26, 1934.
  29. Carl Schmidt, The Corporate State in Action, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1939, pp. 153-76.
  30. Patricia Knight, Mussolini and Fascism (Questions and Analysis in History), New York: Routledge, 2003, p. 65.
  31. Martin Blink Horn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 35.
  32. Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A Biography, New York: NY, Vintage Books, p. 31.
  33. Stephen J. Lee, European Dictatorships 1918-1945, 3rd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 2008, p. 17.
  34. Stephen J. Lee, European Dictatorships, p. 171-172.
  35. R.J.B. Bosworth, Mussolini’s Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship,1915-1945, New York, NY, Penguin Press, 2006, p. 523)

***

L.K. Samuels is author of the 2013 book In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action. He is editor and a contributing author of Facets of Liberty, an anthology of political and economic writings from 1969 to 2009. His website is: www.lksamuels.com

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