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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 28,2014

May 21

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost on Decentralization of State authority. In  his blogpost, he cited Burke's analysis of the French Revolution and Kuyper's favoring of limited state authority. This appeared in the Acton blog.


Though I don't have Burke's book on the French Revolution and so I might be more easily mistaken in what I am writing here, it is always disturbing to hear people easily compare the American and French Revolutions in a self-flattering way as well so easily put down the centralization of government without questioning the centralization of wealth and power.

A comparison of the participants in the two revolutions should give reason for pause in comparing the two revolutions. One was a revolution against a local government while the other was against a remote one. And though both dealt with a lack of representation, the French Revolution saw pitting of the Church and Aristocracy vs the rest--or those with great wealth vs those with some to no wealth--while the other revolution was at least predominantly led by the local aristocracy because of actions taken by a remote government against it. Our Constitution was written in response to the discontent and even rebellion against the local aristocracy and was a move to centralize authority compared to what was. And finally, we need to compare the aristocracies of the two nations involved. Both had wealth but the French aristocracy was based on birthright while the other was based on economic class first and birth second--note that Madison's wealth was all inherited including his slaves. And our Constitution was written to preserve the place of the local aristocracy. In addition, because of today's situation, we should note that before the French Revolution, financial reforms were enacted that continued to shift the tax burden from the aristocracy to the 3rd estate.

We should also include that the post revolutionary history of our nation was equally bloody to that of the French Revolution if one includes the blood of those for whom our revolution was not intended to benefit: America's indigenous people and Blacks. And see, that is the problem when people compare the two revolutions. We compare the benefits vs costs of the two revolutions by only comparing what happens to those from our own group while the suffering of those outside of our group becomes invisible--much like the suffering of the third estate had become invisible to the Church and aristocracy in France before its revolution.

Finally, if you are going to limit centralized power, you must limit the consolidation of wealth. That is because power always follows wealth and so if you have controls on wealth, you have controls on power. And for those who want to claim the converse, realize that there is a difference between power and authority. Power is used predominantly by those with wealth to preserve and enhance their status and this can be done with or without a centralized authority. Centralized authority has its place and should fluid depending on the needs of all of the people but this should be under one condition. That condition is that the people have control over the centralized authority. And so far, the problem we have in this country is that we are such followers of our own economic aristocracy in hopes of either joining them or riding in on their coattails that we have abdicated our position by relegating democracy to just voting and limit that voting to one of two parties--such a system allows for a consolidation of power.

One more point needs to be made about the French Revolution and we could make this by comparing it with the Civil Rights movement in this country which was a revolution in its own way. The key problem with the French Revolution was that it came under the immediate control of elites who inspired the participants to externalize evil. And in the externalization of evil, they sought to conquer and remove those who were perceived as not being one of them. When we compare that with the Civil Rights movement here, the movement here sought to win over rather than conquer those who were oppressing others out of fear that one could become like one's enemy. In addition, while one was waiting to win them over, democratic controls were sought to stop the oppression.

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May 27

To Ray Nothstine and his Memorial Day blogpost. This appeared on the Acton blog. 


I remember the first Army-Navy game I attended came after a traumatic event for the nation-- the assassination of President Kennedy. The game was played to show the nation that it could move on as Navy under Roger Staubach edged Army led by Rollie Stichwey. The game provided a small therapeutic exercise for the nation and the players of both teams greeted each other as brothers because many of them knew that their next stop would be in Vietnam.

And yet, why should military leaders who have had those under them become fallen warriors be the only ones who lament the loss of those they commanded? True, the President sends our troops into action but we can partially control him by how loud and often we voice our opinions. But to voice our opinions, we first need to be educated to see if the President is sending troops in harm's way to defend freedom or for less honorable reasons. The sensitivity of the commander who forever lives with the losses of those under him should be the sensitivity we should all have as we think about all, including civilian and combatants, who were killed or maimed in the wars and interventions that took place under our democratic watch. 

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To Elise Hilton and her blogpost about the Pope and capitalism and free markets. This appeared in the Acton blog.


I don't see any problem with what the Pope has said about our current form of capitalism. But I do have a problem with those who oversimplify what has lifted people out of poverty. One of the biggest gains has been found in China and China does not have a free market. Another country where the biggest gains have been seen is India, a country that has a free market but there are serious free market problems there. Farmer suicides because of high debt is a significant problem in India and so is suicide among young people who are joining the work force.

Here, we have plenty of food but there is a question about the contamination of that food with pesticides and GMOs. In addition, laws have been passed that protect biotech corporations from legal liability. We have revolving door policy between biotech corporations and the FDA. And food corporations are fighting legislation that would inform customers of the presence of GMO ingredients.

In addition, in order to spread the free market, we have seriously damaged or killed the capability of some countries to produce their own food. Such vulnerabilities make countries susceptible to food shortages when fuel prices spike and it destroys their own sovereignty. In addition, free markets are killing wages and jobs here in America while opening up sweatshops overseas.

So I don't think overlysimplistic statements about the benefits of the free market are either appropriate or intelligent. Rather, they are disingenuous and manipulative.







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