This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a long, long time. Not only is it a good synopsis of American political history, but it offers some compelling prognostications as to where the US may be heading in coming decades.
“The United States has been called the oldest nation in the world, in the sense that it has operated the longest without a major upheaval in its basic institutional structure.
From one perspective, this characterization is fair. The nation still rests on the Constitution of 1787, and no other government can trace its current charter back so far. Since then, France has had a monarchy, two empires, and five republics. England fudges by never writing down its constitutional arrangements, but the polity of Gordon I is remote from that of George III. China’s political convolutions defy summary. “
Not a bad opening paragraph, no?
“Shift the angle of vision and the continuity is less clear, because we have had two upheavals so sweeping that the institutional arrangements under which we now operate can fairly be classified as the Third American Republic. Furthermore, this Third Republic is teetering (these things seem to run in cycles of about 70 years) and is on the edge of giving way to a revised Fourth Republic with arrangements as yet murky to our present-bound perceptions.”
This is what hooked me, right here. It is obvious to me that the current American political system is untenable. It’s all special interests, and those with the money or the political blackmail powers get the goods, which are stolen from the productive members of society, who usually have too much to lose to resist. At some point, however, there will be a straw that breaks the camel’s back. I don’t know what it will be, but it will seem trivial at the time, yet will balloon into an uncontrollable movement.
“The first was the Civil War and its aftermath, which established that sovereignty belongs to the nation first and the state second, and that the nation rather than the state claims a citizen’s primary loyalty. When the United States was founded, this ordering was not so clear. James Madison assumed the opposite in Federalist 46 and a generation of southern West Point graduates followed their states into secession in 1861.”
I also predict that the Fourth Republic will be a looser federation. Personally, I think going back to, “These United States” versus “The United States” would be better for every state. Here in Texas, I often hear resentment, very strongly voiced, about New York shysters telling us how business should be done here. Governor Rick Perry’s – admittedly empty – secession talk recently was just playing to the crowd here. Old time, old school traditional Texans absolutely hate excrement like Barney Fag and Charles Shyster, and count me among them. texas isn’t the only western state with a significant population of citizens who have grown to detest the federal government. I wouldn’t want to be a fed trying to get anything done in many areas of Montana and Wyoming, for example.
“The later historians of the New Deal and the Great Society sneered that the idea of “laissez faire” was an abdication of governmental responsibility, but this was propaganda. The best translation of the term is the activist “let us do,” not the passive “let us be,” and the societal quid pro quo was dynamic economic expansion, not the easy life of the rentier. To a large degree, the ideology of laissez faire was designed to protect interstate commerce from rentiers in the form of government officials extorting payments.”
This is a very astute observation. The difference between “let us be” and “let us do” is significant, with “let us do” implying that the government needs to actively facilitate that. I think this idea will lose credibility, and that “let us be” will be far more like the attitude of the coming American political reformation: If you give the government an inch, they’ll take a mile… and 45% of your income, if you are successful. This stolen money will, of course, be distributed to the lazy and undesirable members of society, and will amount to a subsidized breeding program, only by any other name possible to disguise that fact.
“The next great institutional upheaval was the New Deal, which radically revised the role of government. The process of economic growth was tumultuous, and the losers and dislocated were constantly appealing against the national political commitment to “let us do.” The crisis of the Great Depression provided a great opportunity, and it was seized. Starting in the 1930s, the theoretical limitations on the authority of governments—national or state—to deal with economic or welfare issues were dissolved, and in the course of fighting for this untrammeled power governments eagerly accepted responsibility for the functioning of the economy and the popular welfare.”
That’s where America well and truly jumped Fonzie’s shark, right there. I’ve said for years that if you simply repealed every law and dissolved every government agency created since the inauguration of FDR, we’d have a great country again. Today, I say simply decide to dissolve 85% of all government agencies, and do it by drawing straws: No better result could or would be achieved by picking and choosing, as they’re all bad anyway.
“The real-world answer imposed by the New Deal and its progeny turned out to be special interest capture on steroids. Control comes to rest with those with the greatest interest or the most money at stake, and the result was the creation of a polity called “the Special Interest State” or, in Cornell University Professor Theodore Lowi’s terms, “Interest Group Liberalism.” Its essence is that various interest groups seize control over particular power centers of government and use them for their own ends.”
Bingo. We have liftoff. This guy, who I think is actually a scum-sucking, maggot-out-of-hell, shyster, gets it. Perhaps I’ll put him on my, “Lawyers whose guts I do not hate” list.
“Laws can also raise transaction costs, which is much in the interest of the legal profession, itself one of the most powerful of the special interests. Legal looting also goes on via the endless list of regulatory laws. The Federal Communications Bar Association has over 3,000 members, most of them writing comments and briefs that will be read by very few of the other FCBA members before the Federal Communications Commission does what the congressional committee chairmen tell it to do. At the last annual FCBA dinner, a colleague looked at the 1,000-deep rank of power-necktied lawyers and commented: “Everything wrong with Washington is here in this room.””
Exactly right! In this retrograded American republic in which I find myself, we allow lawyers – a sub-citizen group who create nothing, produce nothing, and who provide no essential service that men cannot live without – to make the law, judge the law, prosecute the law, and defend us from the law. And this is all “regulated” by the ABA… a lobbying group made up of nothing but scum-sucking, maggot-out-of-hell, shysters. This American legal system has long been nothing but the worst sort of racket, and all of the lawyers in it have long been nothing short of racketeers. If I have anything to say about it, no lawyer in America v4.0 will be allowed to be a judge, and no lawyer will be allowed to be a legislator: It is a blatant conflict of interest to have lawyers making and judging law, and besides, lawyers bear fals witness for a living – prosecutors prosecute the innocent and defense attorneys defend the guilty – and so lawyers are intrinsically dishonorable people!
As an aside, I have come to believe that anyone who even wants to go to law school has likely been morally deficient from the womb, and that once they are brainwashed and indoctrinated by a law school, they are no longer even capable of recognizing simple right and wrong, and are therefore totally untrustworthy. As I’ve said before, I’d trust a crack whore before I trusted a lawyer… but I digress (Hey, I have to indulge my hatred for all things, “rule of law” every once and a while).
“This Third Republic has had a good run. It was wobbling in the late 1970s, but got bailed out by a run of good luck—Reagan; the fall of the USSR; the computer and information revolution; the rise of the Asian Tigers and the “BRICs”; the basic dynamism and talent of the American people—that kept the bicycle moving and thus upright.”
This sounds sorta/kinda right to me, but I didn’t have the same level of angst in the 70’s that I have now. Then again, I was in high school and smoking lots of pot at that time. LOL! One thing I am convinced of is that the American republic is completely broken and has been since about the middle of the Vietnam war.
“But it is more likely that the Special Interest State has reached a limit.
Few Washington lawyers and lobbyists know that it was once questioned whether the Special Interest State is an appropriate form of organization for a polity. This may seem a dubious statement, at a time when the ideology of total government is at an acme, but it is not unusual for decadent political arrangements to blaze brightly before their end. Indeed, the total victory of the old arrangements may be crucial to bringing into being the forces that will overthrow it. In some ways, the grip of the aristocracy on 18th-century France tightened in the decades leading up to 1789, and the alliance-of-states idea could have lasted a while longer had the Confederacy not precipitated the crisis. So the utter triumph of the Special Interest State over the past 15 years, and particularly in the recent election, looks like the beginning of its end.”
Decadent. Yes, that is precisely the word I was looking for. All the lawyer-politicians are on the take, all the lawyer-lobbyists are on the take, all the lawyer-judges are on the take, all the lawyer-prosecutors are on the take, and they are all fed by the legal-industrial complex, which is positively ruled by criminal defense attorneys, personal injury lawyers, and other similar excrement (Police and prison guard unions come to mind, since they are just the muscle for the shyster class anymore): It’s a legal circle jerk.
“We are in a crisis of legitimacy. The concept of legitimacy, the right to rule, is the single most important factor in political life. The particulars of how it is gained and lost are infinitely varied, according to the culture and history of the polity. In Monty Python’s “Holy Grail,” Dennis says to King Arthur: “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” But indeed the Lady of the Lake can be sufficient, if that is what enough people think, and a proponent of the Divine Right of Kings would regard committing the decision to the votes of the people as ludicrous.”
Sure is with me. I view no lawyer as a legit judge (Calling a lawyer-judge, “Your Honor” is hypocrisy of the highest level), and no lawyer as a legit legislator (The honorable shyster from New York?), regardless of what electorate they hoodwinked to get their jobs. Another problem with America v3.0 is that there is way too much democracy: Democracy is rule by fool, because the masses are asses, as I like to say. America v4.0 needs to have an objective method of voter qualification, and I propose this: Home ownership. And I mean outright ownership, not sharing the house with a bank through a mortgage (I would be disqualified under my own guidelines, by the way). I don’t care what your measured IQ is, and I don’t care what your education level is – much of that is subjective and the result of uncontrollable circumstance anyway – if you have figured out the American system well enough that you have bought and paid for the house – or condo, or townhouse – that you live in, that ought to be good enough. In any event, it should be obvious that allowing anyone who has simply survived 18 years to vote is cultural suicide. I, after all, turned 18 just in time to vote for Jimmy Carter. LOL!
The Constitution has a residue of the original alliance-of-states polity that has never been used. Two-thirds of the state legislatures can force Congress to call a constitutional convention, and the results of that enterprise can then be ratified by three-quarters of the states. So reform efforts could start at the grassroots and coalesce around states until two-thirds of them decide to march on the Capitol. There is already a lively movement along these lines. On the other hand, the states are no paragons, in that the model of the Special Interest State reigns triumphantly there as well, so a few comments about pots and kettles could be made. Realistically, though, organization from the bottom up is a real possibility.”
Oh, it will be grass roots, all right, but this next revision of the US may well have a few elements of the French Revolution to it. Obviously, I’d shed few tears over a Great Terror if applied solely to lawyers. LOL!
It’s very long, but you really ought to read the whole enchilada.