Archive for the ‘#politicalphilosophy’ Tag

Define “liberal”   1 comment

We’re having a great conversation over on Facebook about the term “liberal” – exploring it’s different meanings across the US and UK, primarily, but it’s pretty far-ranging. Anyone is welcome to join us. The only rule is … be civil.

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What is the Greatest Threat to Freedom of Conscience?   Leave a comment

My friend Josh Bennett over at Patriot’s Lament knocked one out of the park with this article, so I am blatantly borrowing it. I get my anarchy fix on Saturday mornings on KFAR-660 AM, which you can access through streaming if you’re not in the broadcast area of Fairbanks, Alaska. You can also check out PL’s You-Tube channel, Radio Free Fairbanks, where they repost the 3-hour programs to be listened to whenever you like. The show’s been going for seven years now, so there’s lots of liberty talk from an anarcho-capitalist point of view to refresh your mind with. Lela

The State Will Gladly Protect You from Freedom of Conscience

Josh Bennett

For hundreds of years, western cultures have been refining what is known as Freedom of Conscience.
One of the outcomes of this refinement is Freedom of Speech, a Liberty that is relatively new to the human political experience.
Not long ago, being critical of a government, for instance, could get you killed by that government. Merely speaking out of turn or having critical thought towards the State religion meant torture or death.

But, we have advanced through time to understand that free thought and critical speech is something that a free people must protect and encourage. Thomas Jefferson went as far as to say that repressing Freedom of Conscience was a “Sin against God”.

 

Suppressing Freedom of Conscience though, was and is seen by the State as self-preservation.

 

Today, we have access to information that only 20 years ago was other-worldly. Anyone with a cell phone can post a rant or share information to literally the whole world. Because of this information access, people take the information they get from the State influenced mainstream media with a grain of salt, or immediately disbelieve it, and usually, rightfully so.

 

This is dangerous for the State’s propaganda machine, but the State realizes what is even more dangerous to it, would be for the State to appear to suppress it. Whether on the Left or the Right of the political spectrum, people tend to cherish what we now call, “Free Speech”, and rightfully so.

 

So what is the State to do? What States always do. Make the people fear their Liberty more than Itself.

 

Instead of immediately passing laws suppressing and/or silencing free speech, the State is manipulating the political fears people have to make them feel threatened by what they may think is opposing speech to their beliefs. And the fear the State has spread between opposing political speech has resulted in what not long ago would have been mocked as fairytale superstition.

 

“Words can hurt you. People who disagree with you want to hurt you. You need your feelings protected against all invasion. Dissenting speech or thought is violence towards you.”
Instead of using dissenting views from our own to refine our beliefs and convictions, and to encourage discussion for the betterment of overall society, we are not only growing to fear Opposition of Thought, we want to be protected from it.

Image result for image of nazi railcar

Enter the State.

From legislating pronouns to aggressive threats of imprisonment for incorrect thinking, the State has moved in against Freedom of Conscience to suppress nonconformists. And some cheer this behavior by the State, seen to protect them from all harm. Others see it as a shield to advance their own political agenda opposition-free.
But, as Bastiat explained, while all wish to live at the expense of the State, the State lives at the expense of all.

 

No one’s political or personal thoughts or actions are safe from this aggression by the State. While the State will pick winners and losers in the short run, it’s only a matter of time before the State silences everyone.

 

Before you cheer the State for destroying your opposition’s Freedom of Conscience, remember when your opposition is gone, you will be alone, and no one will be there when the State marches you into the railcar that you have built.

Could the US School Europe on Cannabis?   1 comment

This is Brad, standing in the gap for Lela who is traveling for work. So I decided it’s my blog for the week, so I might as well say what I want. Lela knew this might happen. Maybe she should have changed the password.

 

Did you know that marijuana is not legal in Europe?

Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 20, 2015Yeah, you can buy it in Amsterdam “coffee shops” and possession is decriminalized up to 5 grams, but police can still confiscate that amount and it is not technically legal for those coffee shops to operate, even though the authorities tolerate them. Law enforcement could shut them down any time they like.

Germany, Belgium, Luxembourge, Denmark and Malta also tolerate possession of small amounts of cannabis. Italy allows marijuana use in religious practices, Albania is apparently unable to encourage restrictions on pot, and Freetown (Copenhagen) claims it is independent of Denmark, where marijuana remains illegal. The Czech Republic and Portugal are really on the only countries to actually decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. But still, the Netherlands are the only place that openly tolerates public sale and consumption of pot. Incarceration for possession of minor quantities remains possible in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the Scandinavian nations and virtually all of Central and Eastern Europe. Cyprus has a maximum penalty of eight years for mere possession. Macron’s France is just now lowering possession to a misdemeanor with a fine, but according to a 2014 European Union Commission survey had 53% of 15-24 year-olds stating that marijuana should be banned. The only reason Europe is ignoring drugs these days is it lacks the money to enforce the laws that remain on the books.

Image result for image of legal cannabis in alaskaNow come across the pond to the United States. While Europeans love to hold their noses in the air about how “immature” Americans are, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state allow medical and recreational sales of cannabis and there is a large-scale public debate on the benefits of marijuana and its actual risks as well as a debate on the politics that led to Nixon’s War on Drugs. Americans are actually having discussions about law enforcement’s targeting of minorities through the drug laws and how the percentage of the population in prisons is as a direct result of nonsensical drug policies. It’s even made conservative evangelicals reconsider their stance on the legalization of cannabis. Many of them here in Alaska now openly state that, like alcohol, marijuana should be regulated to reduce its societal problems, but that prohibition doesn’t work and they regret that they didn’t foresee that 20 years ago.

Europe has always maintained that it is superior … more grownup … than America. We’re so provincial with our belief in traditional marriage, people being clothed in public and our higher incarceration rates. That sense of arrogance goes back to the Revolution, when most countries in Europe were certain we’d never last a few years, let alone centuries, and they’ve never really gotten over that, even after we had to sort out their wars twice during the 20th century. And, anyone pointing out America’s horrendous incarceration rate has got my full agreement. But, through the beauty of federalism, Americans are gradually providing (possibly) that cannabis legalization will not be the end of the world. Will Europe learn from our example?

We can only hope.

 

 

 

The Herd Obeys the Rulers   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

 

Image result for image of randolph bourneNothing is more obvious, however, than that every one of us comes into society as into something in whose creation we had not the slightest hand. We have not even the advantage of consciousness before we take up our careers on earth. By the time we find ourselves here we are caught in a network of customs and attitudes, the major directions of our desires and interests have been stamped on our minds, and by the time we have emerged from tutelage and reached the years of discretion when we might conceivably throw our influence to the reshaping of social institutions, most of us have been so molded into the society and class we live in that we are scarcely aware of any distinction between ourselves as judging, desiring individuals and our social environment. We have been kneaded so successfully that we approve of what our society approves, desire what our society desires, and add to the group our own passionate inertia against change, against the effort of reason, and the adventure of beauty.

Every one of us, without exception, is born into a society that is given, just as the fauna and flora of our environment are given. Society and its institutions are, to the individual who enters it, as much naturalistic phenomena as is the weather itself. There is, therefore, no natural sanctity in the State any more than there is in the weather. We may bow down before it, just as our ancestors bowed before the sun and moon, but it is only because something in us unregenerate finds satisfaction in such an attitude, not because there is anything inherently reverential in the institution worshiped. Once the State has begun to function, and a large class finds its interest and its expression of power in maintaining the State, this ruling class may compel obedience from any uninterested minority. The State thus becomes an instrument by which the power of the whole herd is wielded for the benefit of a class. The rulers soon learn to capitalize the reverence which the State produces in the majority, and turn it into a general resistance toward a lessening of their privileges. The sanctity of the State becomes identified with the sanctity of the ruling class, and the latter are permitted to remain in power under the impression that in obeying and serving them, we are obeying and serving society, the nation, the great collectivity of all of us.

Modern State is Irrational   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

Image result for image of randolph bourneThe distinction between Government and State, however, has not been so carefully observed. In time of war it is natural that Government as the seat of authority should be confused with the State or the mystic source of authority. You cannot very well injure a mystical idea which is the State, but you can very well interfere with the processes of Government. So that the two become identified in the public mind, and any contempt for or opposition to the workings of the machinery of Government is considered equivalent to contempt for the sacred State. The State, it is felt, is being injured in its faithful surrogate, and public emotion rallies passionately to defend it. It even makes any criticism of the form of Government a crime.

The inextricable union of militarism and the State is beautifully shown by those laws which emphasize interference with the Army and Navy as the most culpable of seditious crimes. Pragmatically, a case of capitalistic sabotage, or a strike in war industry would seem to be far more dangerous to the successful prosecution of the war than the isolated and ineffectual efforts of an individual to prevent recruiting. But in the tradition of the State ideal, such industrial interference with national policy is not identified as a crime against the State. It may be grumbled against; it may be seen quite rationally as an impediment of the utmost gravity. But it is not felt in those obscure seats of the herd mind which dictate the identity of crime and fix their proportional punishments. Army and Navy, however, are the very arms of the State; in them flows its most precious lifeblood. To paralyze them is to touch the very State itself. And the majesty of the State is so sacred that even to attempt such a paralysis is a crime equal to a successful strike. The will is deemed sufficient. Even though the individual in his effort to impede recruiting should utterly and lamentably fail, he shall be in no wise spared. Let the wrath of the State descend upon him for his impiety! Even if he does not try any overt action, but merely utters sentiments that may incidentally in the most indirect way cause someone to refrain from enlisting, he is guilty. The guardians of the State do not ask whether any pragmatic effect flowed out of this evil will or desire. It is enough that the will is present. Fifteen or twenty years in prison is not deemed too much for such sacrilege.

Such attitudes and such laws, which affront every principle of human reason, are no accident, nor are they the result of hysteria caused by the war. They are considered just, proper, beautiful by all the classes which have the State ideal, and they express only an extreme of health and vigor in the reaction of the State to its non-friends.

Such attitudes are inevitable as arising from the devotees of the State. For the State is a personal as well as a mystical symbol, and it can only be understood by tracing its historical origin. The modern State is not the rational and intelligent product of modern men desiring to live harmoniously together with security of life, property, and opinion. It is not an organization which has been devised as pragmatic means to a desired social end. All the idealism with which we have been instructed to endow the State is the fruit of our retrospective imaginations. What it does for us in the way of security and benefit of life, it does incidentally as a by-product and development of its original functions, and not because at any time men or classes in the full possession of their insight and intelligence have desired that it be so. It is very important that we should occasionally lift the incorrigible veil of that ex post facto idealism by which we throw a glamour of rationalization over what is, and pretend in the ecstasies of social conceit that we have personally invented and set up for the glory of God and man the hoary institutions which we see around us. Things are what they are, and come down to us with all their thick encrustations of error and malevolence. Political philosophy can delight us with fantasy and convince us who need illusion to live that the actual is a fair and approximate copy—full of failings, of course, but approximately sound and sincere—of that ideal society which we can imagine ourselves as creating. From this it is a step to the tacit assumption that we have somehow had a hand in its creation and are responsible for its maintenance and sanctity.


Bourne is gradually introducing the idea that the State is a religion that, especially in times of war, people adhere to as if it were a god. The United States is an approximate, if flawed copy of the ideal society … even when we know it isn’t.  Lela

What is the State?   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

 

Image result for image of randolph bourneWhat is the State essentially? The more closely we examine it, the more mystical and personal it becomes. On the Nation we can put our hand as a definite social group, with attitudes and qualities exact enough to mean something. On the Government we can put our hand as a certain organization of ruling functions, the machinery of lawmaking and law-enforcing. The Administration is a recognizable group of political functionaries, temporarily in charge of the government. But the State stands as an idea behind them all, eternal, sanctified, and from it Government and Administration conceive themselves to have the breath of life. Even the nation, especially in times of war—or at least, its significant classes—considers that it derives its authority and its purpose from the idea of the State. Nation and State are scarcely differentiated, and the concrete, practical, apparent facts are sunk in the symbol. We reverence not our country but the flag. We may criticize ever so severely our country, but we are disrespectful to the flag at our peril. It is the flag and the uniform that make men’s heart beat high and fill them with noble emotions, not the thought of and pious hopes for America as a free and enlightened nation.

It cannot be said that the object of emotion is the same, because the flag is the symbol of the nation, so that in reverencing the American flag we are reverencing the nation. For the flag is not a symbol of the country as a cultural group, following certain ideals of life, but solely a symbol of the political State, inseparable from its prestige and expansion. The flag is most intimately connected with military achievement, military memory. It represents the country not in its intensive life, but in its far-flung challenge to the world. The flag is primarily the banner of war; it is allied with patriotic anthem and holiday. It recalls old martial memories. A nation’s patriotic history is solely the history of its wars, that is, of the State in its health and glorious functioning. So in responding to the appeal of the flag, we are responding to the appeal of the State, to the symbol of the herd organized as an offensive and defensive body, conscious of its prowess and its mystical herd strength.

Even those authorities in the present Administration, to whom has been granted autocratic control over opinion, feel, though they are scarcely able to philosophize over, this distinction. It has been authoritatively declared that the horrid penalties against seditious opinion must not be construed as inhibiting legitimate, that is, partisan criticism of the Administration. A distinction is made between the Administration and the Government. It is quite accurately suggested by this attitude that the Administration is a temporary band of partisan politicians in charge of the machinery of Government, carrying out the mystical policies of State. The manner in which they operate this machinery may be freely discussed and objected to by their political opponents. The Governmental machinery may also be legitimately altered, in case of necessity. What may not be discussed or criticized is the mystical policy itself or the motives of the State in inaugurating such a policy. The President, it is true, has made certain partisan distinctions between candidates for office on the ground of support or nonsupport of the Administration, but what he means was really support or nonsupport of the State policy as faithfully carried out by the Administration. Certain of the Administration measures were devised directly to increase the health of the State, such as the Conscription and the Espionage laws. Others were concerned merely with the machinery. To oppose the first was to oppose the State and was therefore not tolerable. To oppose the second was to oppose fallible human judgment, and was therefore, though to be depreciated, not to be wholly interpreted as political suicide.


Bourne may not have been the first to point out the distinction between the State (that governmental study that remains from one president to another and the Administration that changes with the occupant in the White House, but that distinction is moot today. Because the permanent administration remains from president to president, it is not temporary, but permanent. I think Bourne would have strong words against it were he alive to see the mess we’ve made.         Lela

Duped by the State   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

 

Randolph  BourneIt must never be forgotten that nations do not declare war on each other, nor in the strictest sense is it nations that fight each other. Much has been said to the effect that modern wars are wars of whole peoples and not of dynasties. Because the entire nation is regimented and the whole resources of the country are levied on for war, this does not mean that it is the country, our country which is fighting, and only as a State would it possibly fight. So, literally, it is States which make war on each other and not peoples. Governments are the agents of States, and it is Governments which declare war on each other, acting truest to form in the interests of the great State ideal which they represent. There is no case known in modern times of the people being consulted in the initiation of a war. The present demand for democratic control of foreign policy indicates how completely, even in the most democratic of modern nations, foreign policy has been the secret private possession of the executive branch of Government.

However a representative of the people Parliaments and Congresses may be in all that concerns the internal administration of a country’s political affairs, in international relations it has never been possible to maintain that the popular body acted except as a wholly mechanical ratifier of the Executive’s will. The formality by which Parliaments and Congresses declare war is the merest technicality. Before such a declaration can take place, the country will have been brought to the very brink of war by the foreign policy of the Executive. A long series of steps on the downward path, each one more fatally committing the unsuspecting country to a warlike course of action will have been taken without either the people or its representatives being consulted or expressing its feeling. When the declaration of war is finally demanded by the Executive, the Parliament or Congress could not refuse it without reversing the course of history, without repudiating what has been representing itself in the eyes of the other states as the symbol and interpreter of the nation’s will and animus. To repudiate an Executive at that time would be to publish to the entire world the evidence that the country had been grossly deceived by its own Government, that the country with an almost criminal carelessness had allowed its Government to commit it to gigantic national enterprises in which it had no heart. In such a crisis, even a Parliament which in the most democratic States represents the common man and not the significant classes who most strongly cherish the State ideal, will cheerfully sustain the foreign policy which it understands even less than it would care for if it understood, and will vote almost unanimously for an incalculable war, in which the nation may be brought well nigh to ruin. That is why the referendum which was advocated by some people as a test of American sentiment in entering the war was considered even by thoughtful democrats to be something subtly improper. The die had been cast. Popular whim could derange and bungle monstrously the majestic march of State policy in its new crusade for the peace of the world. The irresistible State ideal got hold of the bowels of men. Whereas up to this time, it had been irreproachable to be neutral in word and deed, for the foreign policy of the State had so decided it, henceforth it became the most arrant crime to remain neutral. The Middle West, which had been soddenly pacifistic in our days of neutrality, became in a few months just as soddenly bellicose, and in its zeal for witch-burning and its scent for enemies within gave precedence to no section of the country. The herd-mind followed faithfully the State-mind and, the agitation for a referendum being soon forgotten, the country fell into the universal conclusion that, since its Congress had formally declared the war, the nation itself had in the most solemn and universal way devised and brought on the entire affair.

Oppression of minorities became justified on the plea that the latter were perversely resisting the rationally constructed and solemnly declared will of a majority of the nation. The herd coalescence of opinion which became inevitable the moment the State had set flowing the war attitudes became interpreted as a prewar popular decision, and disinclination to bow to the herd was treated as a monstrously antisocial act. So that the State, which had vigorously resisted the idea of a referendum and clung tenaciously and, of course, with entire success to its autocratic and absolute control of foreign policy, had the pleasure of seeing the country, within a few months, given over to the retrospective impression that a genuine referendum had taken place. When once a country has lapped up these State attitudes, its memory fades; it conceives itself not as merely accepting, but of having itself willed, the whole policy and technique of war. The significant classes, with their trailing satellites, identify themselves with the State, so that what the State, through the agency of the Government, has willed, this majority conceives itself to have willed.


Bourne lived during the 1st World War and he highlighted some of the history of that war. Americans, by and large, were non-interventionists. They didn’t want to go to war. Particularly in the Midwest, populated by those of German, Irish and Eastern European descent, the taste for war was dead as dust. But Woodrow Wilson spent his first term maneuvering the country toward war, assisting Britain in aggravating sentiments toward war in Europe and then arming Britain in direct violation of our own neutrality stance. The elites of America wanted our entry into war because it meant they could make money, but how to get the working class folks to agree. That was absolutely necessary since they would populate the military. All it took was the torpedoing of the Lusitania, which was carrying arms bound for England. Tell the American people that it was an unarmed civilian ship and — all of a sudden, war seemed the right thing to do.

And, let’s not pretend it hasn’t happened since. Gulf of Tonkin should ring a bell. Lela

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