Notes in the Margin: I spoke at the Freedom Summit in Phoenix, AZ on the weekend of 3-5 December 2010 and here is a précis and brief introduction to the topic. The speech is available in Media and Interviews on the site. I am pessimistic about the survival of the present political apparatus formally known as the United States of America. It is crumbling by every measure and unsustainable on its present course. I don’t write this as a hopeful missive but as a cautionary tale written before the sad event. Most of these tales are written after the devastation has occurred. You have a unique opportunity to be ready when our Wall collapses. You can be ready for it and not caught without warning. The mental and spiritual preparedness is up to you; I highly recommend you consider G3 – gold, guns and groceries because you will surely need them. Your children don’t have to say a word; you know what you owe them. -BB
The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals. No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle — but only in degree — between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man’s ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
– Lysander Spooner
I am often accused of hyperbole when I compare the America of 1917 with the Russian Revolution starting in the same year. While I think all governments are kakocracies, these models tend to be among the worst. Buppert’s Corollary to Acton’s Axiom is that power attracts the corruptible and that absolute power is even worse. I contend that Lenin and Wilson were in the virtual starting blocks to race to create the perfect Soviet state. Lincoln also shares a great deal of credit for the direction that Wilson steered the course for he wrote the preamble to put us all on the plantation. Both countries flirted with free markets in one fashion or another for the first years of the 1920s. Lenin tried a market liberalization program of in the New Economic Policy in 1921 to make up for the disastrous early consequences of War Communism. The rapid central government planning led to the problems any thinking man assumes will happen when you put the government in charge of anything – shortages skyrocket and quality plummets.
Woodrow Wilson was President from 1912-20 and his yen for government control manifested itself in the pursuit of an income tax, anti-trust policy and the entry of America into the other unnecessary war, WWI. In addition to WWI, this Democratic President also ramped up military action in Latin America. Wilson went on to try to strangle the competitor revolution in Russia in the AEF to Siberia but ultimately failed.
Force — Force to the utmost; Force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust. —
Deranged mass murderer Woodrow Wilson explains his philosophy of government, April 6, 1917.
Deranged mass murderer Vladimir Lenin, agreeing in principle with Wilson.
One can say that the only positive thing to come out of the Wilson regime was the appointment of Supreme Court Justice James C. McReynolds. With the end of Wilson’s reign of Presidential terror the magisterial reigns of Harding and Coolidge saw a ringing in of freedom once again and then the Hoover administration re-energized the Soviet temptation in the American Executive and it has not slowed down since.
What is a Soviet? Soviet is the Russian word for council or harmony; it became the universal parlance for a heavily centralized state in the 20th century. According to the legend in US government schools, they were the main enemy but in essence, what were the differences between the governing philosophies of the two nations? They both relied except for a brief interregnum in the US from 1920-28 on a heavily regulated and centralized bureaucratic state emanating from a capitol region (DC and Moscow respectively). Whether under the flags of Keynesianism or Marxism, both used the government and its planners as the schwerpunkt of all above-ground economic activity. Now mind you, the body count under the more indelicate ministrations of the USSR were quite a bit more bloody-handed but the impetus especially under the Soviet-inspired administration of ReDDR of Marxian mischief made itself manifest across the fruited plain. His Vice President, Henry Wallace, was quite the socialist dimwit.
The American government, whether through careful planning or serendipity, started to look to Mussolini-style state corporatism as a means to milk the cow and control it at the same time. Taking a cue from the National Socialists and Benito’s Fascists, the successors to Roosevelt started to use the central state to vertically and horizontally control corporate behavior through regulation and taxation. It appears that the heavy-handed tactics used by the Marxist-Leninists may have been a bad fit for most Americans while a plea for national security and fairness would be a clever proxy to outright nationalization. Every President since Coolidge has expanded and dwarfed their predecessors in the creation of the American Leviathan state; even the wrongly sainted Reagan failed to reduce one program and expanded the scope and size of the acknowledged Federal budget to monstrous proportions. What Abbott and Costello are to comedy is what Marx and Keynes are to economics and so we have the political theater of the Republicans and Democrats posing as different ideologies when in reality their shared aspirations are one: the continued expansion of central government control into every human transaction. Both parties are certainly war-like if a glance at the 20th century is any indication. The current Clown Posse in the WAFL (War Against Freedom and Liberty) House may be a different party from the Busheviks but the tenor and shape of all policy is the same; endless expansion and limitless intrusion into people’s affairs. I was going to claim ours is rather bloodless but when you see the vicious increases in cop on citizen brutality and the latest security theater antics of another Clown Posse called the TSA in addition to the countless maimed and killed in our campaigns overseas, you get an idea our innocence may be oversold. In 1989, the other central planning model folded but thanks to the Wilsonian variation on the lunatic antics of a centrally and politically managed fiat currency, America has managed to buy some time at the bar. The tab is starting to edge into the astronomically insufferable and economically nonviable but the party continues on the Potomac. Keyne’s animal spirits have truly prevailed in the fifth century Rome that got a new lease on life in DC.
As I mentioned, some of the brutal aspects of the Russian regime have certainly not been entertained in the West but not for want of trying such as the American Protective League during WWI and the Bonus Marchers beat-down in 1931. We certainly do not have an analog to the Ukrainian terror famine in the 20th century but the aboriginal Americans could make a robust case for the 19th century.
One curious yet ominous analog is the Gulag systems. These were not merely for political prisoners but all manner of convictions ranging from petty theft to murder along with the odious Malum prohibitum diktats government is so fond of. America is now home to the highest per capita prison population on Earth in the Land of the Free. The peak prison population in the gulags in the USSR was 1.7 million in 1953 under Stalin (TIME’s Man of the Year – twice) and we have the honor of matching that or trebling that if we count probation and parole. It has increased tremendously just in the last half century along with a commensurate rise in what is essentially the bane of every free society – professional police forces.
Mind you, it is not as if the economic system the West chose was inferior to the Russians despite the learned prognostications of the eminent economists, Robert Samuelson and others, who through the 1980s thought the Soviet system of production would outstrip America because of his hostility to free markets. To wit: “[T]he Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.” Samuelson was not alone and the idolatry of central planning in both politics and economics was and is a majority position in academia and the chattering classes. One sees it today with the adoration in the Obama administration of admitted Communists who even get positions of authority. I find that in an abstract way one could be at the dawn of the twentieth century and make a case for communism and socialism since they were relatively immature systems from the perspective of being tried on a grand scale. But to be an advocate of central planning whether socialism or communism today is tantamount to being a subscriber to a system of galactic serial killing not to mention egregious economic illiteracy. As a matter of fact, membership in the Communist Party or related activities is no longer a prohibited act to get a security clearance in the US government.
The bottom line is that the two Soviet systems ran on a parallel course for awhile but the American course veered on a more fascistic and less socialist model than our friends in the East. The only distinction being instead of direct nationalization vis a vis British Airways or the BBC or Aeroflot, the US adopted a regulatory regime that through a combination of top-down management and confiscatory taxation gave the illusion of commercial autonomy but married big business to big government. Armentano proved conclusively that monopolies cannot exist if the government does not erect legal barriers to competition so the big businesses use government as a proxy to bludgeon the newcomers. Why does the US Chamber of Commerce consistently behave in a non-capitalist fashion? The powers that be determined that more productivity through regulation and taxation and the massive reeducation efforts in the government school systems would enrich the expansion of government more than the heavy-handed Russian model. With total taxation for individuals in America approaching sixty percent plus of income when all the factors of property, sales, income, excise and corporate taxes are figured along with the myriad of regulatory regimes that distort real prices, America certainly approaches the horrific levels of tax theft imposed on our betters in Europe. The corporate tax rate is actually paid by all the consumers as an added business expense imposed by the government; another indication that a VAT is another tax on top of other…taxes. It is ironic that more proximate the country to Russia, the lower the tax rates and that Russia has significantly lower tax rates than the US at 24 and 13% respectively for corporate and personal income tax rates.
The big question is when will our collapse occur? All empires fall and all fiat currency regimes fail over time. Productivity tends to decline when perverse incentives like all government behavior in the marketplace prompts folks to ask the Russian question: “You pretend to pay us and we’ll pretend to work.” We are in the midst of an economic perfect storm with the debt, deficit, non-funded transfer payment obligations, massive subsidy of sloth and irrational allocation of economic resources without a price signal (that would be ALL government programs) coupled with a death-wish for the world through our refusal to mind our own national business and the growing planet-wide rage to get us out of their lives.
There were NO senior analysts in the US or NATO intelligence organs who predicted the fall of the USSR in 1989. Save one: Robert Conquest, but he was no intelligence analyst. He was one of the few sober Russophiles and Kremlinologists who had not been seduced by the Communist idea (along with the millions of political dissidents and émigrés to the West during the 20th century). He knew that the combination of a massive and intrusive police state, central planning and intrusive control of every aspect of life would inevitably lead to spectacular collapse. We are there and they are us.
So, yes, these united States are Soviet-lite and it is time for a change. And that change is coming and the elites, rulers and innumerable apparatchiks in government positions across America are in for a rude awakening. I hope that none of them share the fate of the late ruler of Romania but, on occasion, even insulated rulers reap what they sow There will be tough times ahead for everyone and let’s hope that the crisis temper of the collapse of the Mordor Republic on the Potomac does not spur the people to replace it with a system that is just as violent, mendacious and venal as the last one.
The American people, North and South, went into the [Civil] war as citizens of their respective states, they came out as subjects … what they thus lost they have never got back.
– H.L. Mencken
Copyright © 2010 by hezekiahwyman.com