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Looking ahead to the next step of the quiet coup, and a new America

3 July 2012

Summary: We can look ahead to the next steps in the quiet coup overthrowing the Second Republic, that’s forging a new America. Here are some insightful articles about what to expect.

Contents

Excerpts appear below; please read these articles in full.

  1. “Is this 1936?” by David Bernstein (Prof Law, George Mason U, bio)
  2. “Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America” by Sara Robinson
  3. For more information

But first, some words about the social contract that is America:

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(1)  Preparing for the next phase of the Court shaping America like a pot on the wheel.

The left is applauding its victory with ACA, probably a last hurrah.  For explanation see “Is this 1936?“, David Bernstein (Prof Law, George Mason U, bio), SCOTUSblog, 29 June 2012 — Excerpt:

Now that the Court has voted 5-4 to uphold the ACA, I want to suggest a different historical analogy, also focusing on 1936. What if the Court’s ACA decision, like the Court’s controversial 1936 ruling invalidating a state minimum wage law, turns out to the last gasp of a dying constitutional regime?

In the early part of the 20th century, traditional views of legislative authority gave way to more statist Progressive assumptions. While Progressives thought of themselves as under siege, in retrospect we can say that the pre-New Deal era was one of Progressive dominance. The problem legal Progressives faced, however, was they were never able to achieve a strong majority on the Supreme Court. Disappointing appointees (McReynolds by Wilson), bad luck in the timing of vacancies (Harding’s 4 nominees), and an unwillingness by most of the Justices with a long pre-Court Progressive record to reconsider constitutional verities stymied Progressive reform on the Supreme Court. The Court, nevertheless, did gradually & grudgingly uphold most of the novel regulations that came before it, but failed to relinquish the underlying ideological underpinnings of traditional constitutional doctrine.

The old Warren Court regime is not as thoroughly discredited as the Gilded Age Court was by the 1930s, and the modern era is perhaps not as thoroughly conservative as the early twentieth century was Progressive. But conservative jurists have made remarkable strides in persuading legal elites that originalism & textualism are first rather than last resorts. Conservatives have controlled the Executive Branch for the majority of time since Reagan was elected, but a combination of disappointing appointments (Souter), inopportune timing on the loss of the Senate (Bork), and a reluctance by various of the conservative Justices, save Thomas, to question the underpinnings of the preexisting constitutional regime has stymied radical change.

But what if Mitt Romney gets elected, and what if the current 5-4 conservative majority ultimately becomes a 7-2 majority, as Breyer & Ginsburg leave the Court? The Harriet Miers debacle suggests that conservative constituencies will no longer tolerate a Republican nominee who is not a “sure thing.”

As important, the ACA litigation shows that ideas once deemed beyond the pale in “respectable” legal circles have now become mainstream among elite conservative lawyers. Indeed, though the individual mandate was upheld, the 5 conservative Justices expressed a willingness to put real, substantive limits on the scope of the Commerce power (Lopez and Morrison were easily evaded). The 5 conservatives, plus 2 liberal Justices, also endorsed substantive limits on the Spending power, the first time such limits were applied to Congress since the 1930s.


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Misunderstanding what won the Revolution

Like the other Justice Roberts in the 1936, the current Justice Roberts unexpectedly voted with a 5-4 majority to continue the old regime. But while the Justices continued to dance in 1936, the music had died. Not only did the first Justice Roberts soon become a consistent vote to uphold New Deal legislation, but a series of FDR appointments unleashed a wave of liberal jurisprudence that ultimately went far beyond the Progressives’ original goal of keeping the courts out of economic matters.

The conservatives on the Court have already rewritten the constitutional law of campaign finance, sovereign immunity, and more, but only tenuously with 5 vote majorities. A 7-2 or better majority would expand those rulings, but, more important, expand conservative jurisprudence into areas not currently considered in play.

What would happen to the Contracts Clause with a 7-2 conservative majority? Could vouchers for religious grade schools become mandatory, not just permitted? What powers now denied to the states would be allowed, and what powers now allowed to the federal government would be denied? Or maybe disputes between more “activist” and less “activist” Justices, and between libertarian-leaning and more authoritarian conservative would mimic the infamous Douglas-Black-Frankfurter debates of the early Warren Court. The Old regime would be overthrown, but progress toward affirmative conservative goals for an indefinite period of time.

No one can accurately predict these things, of course, just as no one could have predicted that FDR’s war on an activist judiciary would ultimate result in Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and the like.

(2)  Property rights become the most important rights in America

The ideological and religious foundations of the Second Republic have eroded away.  Classical liberalism (in its 18th and 19th century forms) is almost extinct, no longer vital in people’s hearts — reducing our ability to see ourselves as a community, a people — and to take collective action.

Christianity (as defined in the New Testament) has been replaced on the right by libertarianism, which esteems individuals over communities, sees protection of property as the highest right, and considers empathy for the less fortunate as inimical to acquisition and hoarding of property. These come together in the fanaticism over gun rights, with its delusions of individual supremacy and self-sufficiency.

Where did this cultural virus originate? For one source see “Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America“, Sara Robinson, AlterNet, 28 June 2012 — “America didn’t used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we’re headed that way now. How did that happen?” Excerpt:

It’s been said that the rich are different than you and me. What most Americans don’t know is that they’re also quite different from each other, and that which faction is currently running the show ultimately makes a vast difference in the kind of country we are.

Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has finally gotten the upper hand; a particularly brutal and anti-democratic strain of American aristocrat that the other elites have mostly managed to keep away from the levers of power since the Revolution. Worse: this bunch has set a very ugly tone that’s corrupted how people with power and money behave in every corner of our culture. Here’s what happened, and how it happened, and what it means for America now.

… Since shortly after the Revolution, the Yankee elites have worked hard to keep the upper hand on America’s culture, economy and politics — and much of our success as a nation rests on their success at keeping plantation culture sequestered in the South, and its scions largely away from the levers of power. If we have to have an elite — and there’s never been a society as complex as ours that didn’t have some kind of upper class maintaining social order — we’re far better off in the hands of one that’s essentially meritocratic, civic-minded and generally believes that it will do better when everybody else does better, too.

The Civil War was, at its core, a military battle between these two elites for the soul of the country. It pitted the more communalist, democratic and industrialized Northern vision of the American future against the hierarchical, aristocratic, agrarian Southern one. Though the Union won the war, the fundamental conflict at its root still hasn’t been resolved to this day. (The current conservative culture war is the Civil War still being re-fought by other means.) After the war, the rise of Northern industrialists and the dominance of Northern universities and media ensured that subsequent generations of the American power elite continued to subscribe to the Northern worldview — even when the individual leaders came from other parts of the country.

… From its origins in the fever swamps of the lowland south, the worldview of the old Southern aristocracy can now be found nationwide. Buttressed by the arguments of Ayn Rand — who updated the ancient slaveholder ethic for the modern age — it has been exported to every corner of the culture, infected most of our other elite communities and killed off all but the very last vestiges of noblesse oblige.

It’s not an overstatement to say that we’re now living in Plantation America. As Lind points out: to the horror of his Yankee father, George W. Bush proceeded to run the country exactly like Woodard’s description of a Barbadian slavelord. And Barack Obama has done almost nothing to roll this victory back. We’re now living in an America where rampant inequality is accepted, and even celebrated.

Torture and extrajudicial killing have been reinstated, with no due process required.

The wealthy and powerful are free to abuse employees, break laws, destroy the commons, and crash the economy — without ever being held to account. The rich flaunt their ostentatious wealth without even the pretense of humility, modesty, generosity, or gratitude.

The military — always a Southern-dominated institution — sucks down 60% of our federal discretionary spending, and is undergoing a rapid evangelical takeover as well. Our police are being given paramilitary training and powers that are completely out of line with their duty to serve and protect, but much more in keeping with a mission to subdue and suppress. Even liberal cities like Seattle are now home to the kind of local justice that used to be the hallmark of small-town Alabama sheriffs.

Segregation is increasing everywhere. The rights of women and people of color are under assault. Violence against leaders who agitate for progressive change is up. Racist organizations are undergoing a renaissance nationwide.

We are withdrawing government investments in public education, libraries, infrastructure, health care, and technological innovation — in many areas, to the point where we are falling behind the standards that prevail in every other developed country.

Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as not just silly and soft-headed, but also inviting underclass revolt. The Yankees thought that government’s job was to better the lot of the lower classes. The Southern aristocrats know that its real purpose is to deprive them of all possible means of rising up against their betters.

The rich are different now because the elites who spent four centuries sucking the South dry and turning it into an economic and political backwater have now vanquished the more forward-thinking, democratic Northern elites. Their attitudes towards freedom, authority, community, government, and the social contract aren’t just confined to the country clubs of the Gulf Coast; they can now be found on the ground from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And because of that quiet coup, the entire US is now turning into the global equivalent of a Deep South state.

As long as America runs according to the rules of Southern politics, economics and culture, we’re no longer free citizens exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we’ve always understood them. Instead, we’re being treated like serfs on Massa’s plantation — and increasingly, we’re being granted our liberties only at Massa’s pleasure. Welcome to Plantation America.

(3)  For More Information

To see all posts about this topic, go to the FM Reference Page America – how can we stop the quiet coup now in progress?

Recording our eroding rights. One by one they go away:

  1. An Appalling Threat to Civil Liberties and Democracy, 8 August 2010
  2. Cutting down the tree of liberty, 9 September 2010 — Government secrets trump fair trials.
  3. The guilty ones responsible for the loss of our liberties, 11 September 2010
  4. Let’s gaze upon the corpse of the Fourth Amendment, 12 October 2011
  5. Another bill before Congress pushing the USA further into the dark of endless war, stripping away our liberties, 28 November 2011
  6. An important article to read about another example of the fading rule of law in America, 29 December 2011
  7. Ask the mineshaft: what’s gone wrong with America? The decay spreads faster than I imagined possible., 2 March 2012
  8. How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012
  9. Our leaders explain that we’re sheep. Our role: to obey. Rebel sheep will be imprisoned or destroyed., 7 March 2012
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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Pluto permalink
    3 July 2012 12:09 pm

    I’m going on the record as stating that I believe the situation is far more complicated, and perhaps less hopeless, than Sara Robinson indicates. For example, Gay Marriage seems to be gaining traction in this country in spite of a well-funded, powerful lobbying effort to get it banned.

    I note with some ironic humor that both the far right and far left seem to feel that they are the besieged group and that the country is going in the other direction at an amazing rate. Obviously they can’t both be right but both groups point to the successes of their opponents as examples that their view is the correct one and urge their proponents to redouble their efforts or all will soon be lost. This has led to the collapse of political middle and to the collapse of compromise.

    While it is obvious that both groups cannot be right, is it possible that both groups are wrong? That all they are achieving is to turn the political middle into a barren no-mans land? What are the implications for the country if this is true?

    Like

    • 3 July 2012 12:58 pm

      (1) The topic here is power, from which flows policy. Economic policy, foreign policy — the things that change the fate of peoples.

      Large fractions of the Right want a conservative social policy, but this is no shared by the ruling elements of the GOP. Nixon, Bush Jr, Bush Sr — all played to the desires of the right to move social policy back to pre-1960s, but were in effect ignored. The dominant voice on the right is that of the social liberal but otherwise conservative voices.

      (2) “I note with some ironic humor that both the far right and far left seem to feel that they are the besieged group”

      I note with some humor that my TV says that every toothpaste works best and every car gets me pretty girls. That’s just marketing.

      (3) “is it possible that both groups are wrong?”

      There is no greater indicator that the Second Republic is dead than that every discussion comes back to Zeno’s “motion is impossible.” No matter how long the lists of ominous policy changes, how long the descriptions of increased government power, how blatent the list of laws ignored and rights trampled — people say but nothing has changed. When it becomes that obvious that things will have changed, they will have changed for good.

      Like

    • Matt D. permalink
      3 July 2012 1:48 pm

      I’m curious about the selection of gay marriage trends as an indicator of the country’s political health. Even if you believe that it is morally right, how does the acceptance of gay marriage play into the 99% vs. 1% struggle? Put another way, what did gay marriage ever do for the working class?

      There might be an obvious tie in, so I’m genuinely curious to hear people’s opinions.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      4 July 2012 12:20 pm

      FM (responding to your response now that I have access to a fully functional keyboard again):
      My comments were intended to channel more from Boyd than Zeno.

      (1 & 2) Agreed, that is where the heart of my comment lies. Historically political movements derive their power from doing three things for their followers:

      • Condensing world events into a simpler narrative
      • Deriving policy ideas from that narrative which will, in the opinions of the followers, improve the situation
      • Attempting to get the policy ideas implemented (which requires the support of the followers)

      We are currently in a situation where:

      a) The political parties are both beholden to their outliers, not their rank-and-file (although the Republicans are in far worse shape than the Democrats in this regard because of the Tea Party)

      b) As a result, the narrative for both parties is increasingly derived from a desire to engage the outliers than it is to inform the rank-and-file

      c) The policy ideas derived from this narrative are increasingly at odds with reality

      d) The leaders of the parties are not interested in passing the policies their party advocates

      e) This is the part that interests me. The rank-and-file is discouraged because of the lack of success in implementing the party’s policy ideas (which is reflected in reduced voter turn-out and lack of participation in the party’s internal processes) but the outliers are energized by the lack of success and take an increasing amount of control of the party’s internal workings because the rank-and-file is going away.

      (3) I understand the motivation for your comments, but that’s not where I’m going at all. The two parties are currently engaged in a political WWI. Lack of movement doesn’t mean that things are staying the same. Quite the contrary, things are getting demonstrably worse, just as the stalemate in the trenches of WWI made things much worse for the countries involved.

      The stalemate in WWI was caused by a confluence of new and poorly understood technology (machine guns, barbed wire, heavy artillery, poison gas, airplanes) and a lack of understanding about how to use them well. The same is true today, new ways of communicating such as the internet and smart phones combined with the ever-strengthening executive branch (and ever-weakening other branches) have tipped over the apple cart and we don’t yet know how things will end up. The political party leaders are just trying more of the same to satisfy their outliers with a predictable lack of success.

      The disengagement of the more sensible middle has had catastrophic effects on the OODA loop and our social cohesion.

      Matt D.:

      It’s generally not a good idea to use such a simple idea as 99% vs. 1% to explain everything that is happening in the world but I will try.

      “Put another way, what did gay marriage ever do for the working class?”

      Nothing, and that is exactly gay marriage is working. As noted in the Bernstein article, the 1% is not unified. A surprisingly large percentage of the 1% is either gay or willing to support the gay cause. They have the resources to persuade the rest of the country that treating gays the same way heteros are treated is the only moral solution.

      Personal note: I don’t advocate gay marriage specifically but am strongly against modifying our laws to specifically slap down a particular segment (roughly 8-10% of the population according to the latest studies) who have no control about how they were born. This reminds me all too clearly of how the US used to treat the blacks and it is never a good idea.

      Like

    • 4 July 2012 4:22 pm

      My guess is that most of your analysis is wrong.

      “(a) The political parties are both beholden to their outliers”

      I don’t believe that is accurate. In fact it’s absurdly incorrect. Can you cite evidence that the Democrats are “beholden” to the Left? Ditto for (b) (c) and (d).

      “(e) The rank-and-file is discouraged because of the lack of success in implementing the party’s policy ideas” and “hich is reflected in reduced voter turn-out and lack of participation in the party’s internal processes”

      Evidence that this is true for the GOP?

      “The two parties are currently engaged in a political WWI”

      I don’t know what you mean by that analogy. To me it looks more like WWII, with the GOP blitzkreig winning with only ineffective opposition by the Democrats (ie, mostly by adopting weak forms of GOP positions).

      As for gay marriage…

      Ruling elites in history seldom care about how and who the peons screw. Whatever keeps them happy and quiet. The important thing about marriage laws concern the title to and transfer of property. That’s not a big deal for the 99%, and trivially so for the gay 99%.

      Like

    • 4 July 2012 6:33 pm

      More thoughts on “(a) The political parties are both beholden to their outliers”

      This is a wonderful example of false equivalence, that which confused analysis of the cold war for decades. It’s an easy way to avoid confronting hard insights, especially for people sympathetic to one side of the war — but who wish to avoid recognizing that their side is the problem.

      Recommended reading: It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. Description:

      Acrimony and hyperpartisanship have seeped into every part of the political process. Congress is deadlocked and its approval ratings are at record lows. America’s two main political parties have given up their traditions of compromise, endangering our very system of constitutional democracy. And one of these parties has taken on the role of insurgent outlier; the Republicans have become ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, and ardently opposed to the established social and economic policy regime.

      In It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein identify two overriding problems that have led Congress—and the United States—to the brink of institutional collapse. The first is the serious mismatch between our political parties, which have become as vehemently adversarial as parliamentary parties, and a governing system that, unlike a parliamentary democracy, makes it extremely difficult for majorities to act. Second, while both parties participate in tribal warfare, both sides are not equally culpable. The political system faces what the authors call “asymmetric polarization,” with the Republican Party implacably refusing to allow anything that might help the Democrats politically, no matter the cost.

      With dysfunction rooted in long-term political trends, a coarsened political culture and a new partisan media, the authors conclude that there is no “silver bullet” reform that can solve everything. But they offer a panoply of useful ideas and reforms, endorsing some solutions, like greater public participation and institutional restructuring of the House and Senate, while debunking others, like independent or third-party candidates. Above all, they call on the media as well as the public at large to focus on the true causes of dysfunction rather than just throwing the bums out every election cycle. Until voters learn to act strategically to reward problem solving and punish obstruction, American democracy will remain in serious danger.

      Like

    • 5 July 2012 1:42 pm

      >I don’t believe that is accurate. In fact it’s absurdly incorrect. Can you cite evidence that the Democrats are “beholden” to the Left?<

      FYI, there's actually a (very annoying) set of people (who are also now being funded by millionaire hedge fund managers) of people who claim the Democrats are a "far left" socialist party whist the Republicans are a "far right" theocratic party, so what we need is a "reasonable centrist" party, which often just mirrors Barack Obama's current policy (Huge social spending cuts, tax cuts for the rich, mild social liberalism, sometimes miniscule tax raises). They tried (very poorly) to make a run for the upcoming presidential nomination under the "Americans Elect" banner. I don't think we've seen the last of them (unfortunately).

      Like

  2. Stephen Ward permalink
    3 July 2012 3:37 pm

    Back to Machiavelli and his Discourses. As the current power elite becomes more oligarchical and repressive, progressives from the upper class will form new networks and create an agenda of political and economic reform. Agendas control what should be said and just as importantly, what should not be said and the agenda will not permit discussion of gay marriage or other social issues that peel off support. Interestingly, Obama tried to keep gay marriage off of the agenda but Joe Loose Lips Sink Ships Biden got it back on. The ‘populi’ are too busy scratching out a living to be seriously involved in forming new governments. They can rebel but they don’t have the organization or time to create new governments.

    Hopefully, our democratic institutions will not be totally lost by the time a powerful progessive network takes shape. And have a happy 4th!

    Like

  3. Jim permalink
    3 July 2012 6:42 pm

    I would argue that much recent American historical research on the creation and evolution of what has become our contemporary structure of power tends to support the hypothesis of the gradual interpenetration(over the past 200 some years) of the public and private spheres.

    Since both Big Capital and Big State have historically benefited from this interpenetration (i.e. even progressive victories have almost always supported private corporate power) it is not surprising that especially within the past 30 years many public institutions (Congress, Executive Branch etc.) appear more vulnerable to private influence.

    What we are faced with today is the consequences of the consolidation of power.of these two spheres.

    What modern progressives must ask themsleves is whether our modern state is a mere pawn of private interests or, as it has historically evolved, gradually became an autonomous force in its own right with its own set of interests which are now, as with Big Capital, structually antagonistic to the interests of the average American.

    Much of the earlier historical analysis of the evolution of our modern structure of power was primarily discussed in terms of the unfolding ot the capitalist system. More recent scholarship in organizational history has focused on the unfolding of power of the nation-state itself..

    What if both the modern state and the modern market are the problem– which now requires a dramatic downsizing in both spheres.

    It would be great if this blog could become a center for such a debate.

    .

    Like

    • 3 July 2012 11:05 pm

      That’s a powerful observation. Worth some thought! Please post any follow-ups on these as appropriate, or links to material about this.

      The classic (and early) description of the long-standing interpenetration of the public and private spheres in America is “The Myth of Rugged American Individualism“, Charles A. Beard, Harper’s, December 1931.

      Like

  4. Editor permalink
    3 July 2012 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the article. For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization.

    Like

    • 3 July 2012 10:55 pm

      Thank you for this link! Please advise of any other useful sources of information about Libertarianism.

      Like

  5. Thomas More permalink
    6 July 2012 2:11 am

    Pluto means well, but his observations seems completely off base here — an unusual situation for him. In his first post, Pluto talks about the “far left.” There is no far left in America in 2012. A “far left” today would advocate radical policies like: replacing capitalism with anarcho-syndicalism, eliminating money, a universal goods/services cap on individual consumption (no millionaires, no billionaires, no more “if you can afford it, you can have it” no matter how socially dysfuctional “it” might be — i.e., ban Larry Ellison’s billion-dollar superyacht by law, prohibit rich people from buying private islands, etc.), elimination of private property and replacement with community commons, and so on. I’m not saying that these notions are feasible or workable. What I am saying is that these proposals represent a genuine radical far left vision for society, and on one in the mainstream political sphere is elucidating ‘em. At all. Period.

    As a result, America has only an lunatic fringe right, and an extreme far right. Politicians like Joe Biden, with which his eager advocacy of the insane War on Drugs (he claims marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads users directly to heroin and meth, despite decades of medical research showing just the opposite) and his authorship of the original repressive unconstitutional legislation on which the USA Patriot Act was based (Biden boasts that the Patriot Act was “his idea”) are not “centrists.” Biden is an extreme far right guy who does not believe in the constitution, loves the idea of giving giant corporations private police powers to seize the property of individuals who download mp3 files or movies without court authority, and who adores and espouses the notion that the government should be able to kidnap citizens at will without charges or a court order, hurl ‘em into jail forever without access to a lawyer, and even murder U.S. citizens without even charging them with a crime. That’s not “centrist.” That’s the kind of far-right radical extremist craziness that back in my childhood was espoused only by people considered kooks and cranks, the John Birch fanatics who thought the Red Menace had made the constitution obsolete.

    Barack Obama is a president who today sits around choosing which 17-year-old girl to murder each day based on a stick of pictures which “look like high school yearbook photos” according to the New York Times article “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” 29 May 2012. A guy who sits around deciding when 17-year-old girls to murder based on a stack of pictures of them is generally called a serial killer. We send the FBI after these guys to find them and lock ‘em up in prison. We don’t typically elect this kind of person to lead our country. This is not the behavior of a “centrist” politician, it’s the kind of behavior you only find in a far-right extremist.

    So America has no “far left,” or even any moderate left in power in our politics. We only have radical fringe far-right kooks like Scalia and Bush 43, or extremist far right pols like Biden and Obama.

    As for Pluto’s assertion that neither party any longer responds to its base, that seems wrong too. Both Democrats and Republicans respond with exquisite sensitivity to the wishes of their base — the giant corporations and the super-rich. Joe Biden introduced increasingly repressive legislation to punish kids who download movies or music, while Obama has stocked his entire administration with ex-RIAA lawyers like Donald B. Verilli Jr, the current Solicitor General of the United States.

    As a result, from top to bottom in America society today, there are no progressives. There are only various shades of conservative extremists. The fringe lunatic conservative extremists (Republicans) want to turn the U.S. into the Confederate States of America, while the radical conservative extremists (Democrats) want to turn back the clock to 1897, when unions were illegal and coporations owned the government and citizens were peons.

    So when people like Jim or Pluto talk about “modern progressives,” they’re talking about mythological beasts. There are no such creatures in the congress or the courts or the executive branch in America today. You only find such people on the marginalized fringes of American society, like Noam Chomsky, who has been permanently barred from appearing on most national news networks because his views are “too crazy.”

    As for libertarianism, can it possibly have escaped the notice of anyone reading this forum that libertarians are merely the useful idiots currently employed as gullible dupes by the super-rich in their ongoing efforts to roll the clock back to 1897? Libertarianism boils down to the political philosophy “I’ve got mine, f**k you!” It’s the political ideology of 6-year-olds. In today’s America, it has the same utility as a can of gasoline in a raging wildfire.

    Like

    • Pluto permalink
      7 July 2012 12:37 am

      You guys are misunderstanding some of what I was trying to say, in large part because I was way too brief. But I don’t have time to expand on the comments so I’m going to let it stand because you’d have been right if I had been trying to say what you understood me to be saying.

      “Pluto means well, but his observations seems completely off base here — an unusual situation for him.”

      Thank you, Thomas. I’m sure FM can cite numerous examples of when I’ve been off base and I’m equally sure I will be off-base again. Part of life and learning is making mistakes…

      Like

    • 7 July 2012 1:20 am

      We’re talking here about things on the edge of the known. Mistakes are frequent and inevitable. See the Smackdowns page for a list of mine.

      Like

  6. Unna permalink
    7 July 2012 3:49 am

    I’ve followed this blog for a number of years, but have never commented, so here goes:

    I read the Plantation America article a day or so ago and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since. Is it too extreme to wonder if America is simply too culturally diverse at the deepest level to be held together over the long run without an extreme form of politics? A politics of domination by one side or the other as a kind of substitute for civil war. I’m about to order the book upon which that article was based.

    Although I wasn’t born there, I lived and worked for a long time in the mountain west. I’ve also lived for a while in a small Vermont town where the government was still “Town Meeting Government”. Is it possible to think that two such completely different places can live together for long under the same political roof?

    Of course, breaking up the territory of the country into seperate government entities calls into question too many things. But my basic question is this: are America’s regional “nations” simply too different at the very depths of their respective cultural souls, simply in the way they “feel” the world, and in what they imagine and want for their own futures, that America as a unified political entity can not at this time be held together without resort to the methods of a semi and growing tyranny – as has been described in these pages?

    I have not read the Executive Unbound, but I do note that is appears to be based somewhat on the legal theories of one Carl Schmitt. Why bother with this book when you can, so to speak, read “Posner” in the original? Such legal theories seem timely, in a perverse sense. But I imagine they’re being dug up from a dark past for a reason. Is it that this theory of executive power is now seen necessary to hold the United States together, or to hold down its people for what is coming?

    The cultural issue is a question apart from the issues of the “necessity” of subjugating Americans for the purposes of permitting concentrated economic exploitation – which again, may merely be the “Southern” cultural form of economic organization according to the author of that article.

    After all, the United States did almost break apart during the War of 1812, and did break apart in the 1860’s only to be pulled back together by the most extreme form of violence. Sure, breaking up would create almost unimaginable problems. But that’s not what I’m asking in this comment.

    Please forgive me for walking and wondering to the edge here.

    Like

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