Category Archives: Internal

About the Fabius Maximus website.

For the fourth of July let’s mourn the Constitution. It’s dying.

A thought-starter for your Fourth of July festivities — The the post-WWII global order collapses around us, but America seems unable to see this — let alone adapt to it.  This post discusses one of the most important consequences, the slow death of the Constitution. It has been revised several times since publication in 2006.  This is the most important of the 3700 posts on the FM website. Other chapters in this series appear at the end.

“The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican.  It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”

Federalist Paper #39, James Madison (writing as Publius), 18 January 1788. The experiment is still running. Perhaps soon we’ll have a conclusion.

The Constitution: RIP.

Contents

  1. Death of the post-WWII era.
  2. Check the health of the Republic.
  3. Who killed the Constitution?
  4. Consequences for the government.
  5. Consequences for us.
  6. The cutting edge of Death’s scythe.
  7. The future of America.
  8. For more information.

(1)  Introduction — death of the post-WWII era

The post-WWII era was defined by…

  • America as a model state: a capitalistic republic which values its citizens’ liberty.
  • American as a superpower; later the sole superpower.
  • The American dollar as reserve currency; “good as gold” for holding the world’s savings
  • 3rd generation warfare as the dominant mode of military force.
  • Growing American “wealth” through the debt supercycle, continuously expanding debt of government, corporations, and households.
  • Cheap energy, largely from coal, oil, and natural gas.

With each passing day these things slowly fade away.  The daily newspapers record their passing, although most journalists are unaware of the larger significance of what they report.

This essay discusses the fall of our political regime as its heart dies.. We do not see this since we have change blindness, a flaw in our mental processing where we fail to see clearly visible changes right before us. Here is the classic demonstrationHere are other examples.

(2)  A brief self-check on the health of the American regime

“Do not scatter diamonds before ducks. They prefer grain.”
— Chiun, the current Master of Sinanju (from “The Destroyer” series of books by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy; see book one).

Aristotle said that the political regime of a state dominated other aspects of its society. So it has proved for us. Standing firmly on the foundation provided by our Constitution, we obtained wealth and freedom unknown in human history. But a constitution — written or unwritten — lives only to the degree it is inscribed on the hearts of its citizens. That was true throughout most of our history. That is no longer true today.

History shows that people’s recognition of a regime’s passing usually lags behind the facts.  Generations passed before the Roman people recognized that the Republic was dead. So it is today. This is easy to prove. Let’s do a quick test about the health of the American Nation-State. The correct answers are given after the questions.

Read the full article here. It was wild speculation in 2006, but not so wild ten years later.

To understand Campaign 2016, first see America’s lost history

Summary: Now inequality has become too extreme to ignore. Now that the 1% has crushed all opposition, we begin to see the results of their successful counter-revolution. But we do not yet see the hidden struggle that brought the 1% back to power, and cannot yet see how to reform America. Until we see these things others will control our future. Here’s a first step to doing so, stepping outside the approved narrative to see America.  {From the archives, brought back to help understand Campaign 2016.}

The Universe was 5 miles long, and 2,000 feet across. Men scoffed at the legends of such things as stars, or the demented idea that the Ship was moving… for the Ship was the Universe, and there could be nothing outside. Then one man found his way into a forgotten room, and saw the stars – and they moved…

— Summary of “Orphans of the Sky” by Robert Heinlein (1951), one of the first stories about a generation ship traveling to the stars. Like them, we are a crew on an endless journey — who have forgotten who we and where we are.

Phoenix

Somewhere in our future lies the Third Republic

 

(1) A recap of the plot so far

During the long halcyon days of the post-WW2 summer America forgot about economic/social classes — and their cousin, social mobility. The reforms of the New Deal, the post-WW2 social programs (especially the GI bill, the ample funding to education (from primary to graduate-level), the civil rights legislation, and sustained growth of GDP and wages — these fertilized the rise of a middle class and provided a modest degree of social mobility.

We came to consider that social order to be our due as Americans. We came to consider the America of the post-WWII era as the true America — not what it actually was, a hard-won victory after generations of oligarchy.

All this culminated with the long boom — the debt-fueled expansion from 1982 – 2000, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the late 1990’s tech boom. America was exceptional, a new moment in history. Marx became a comic figure. “The only Marxists live in Berkeley and Albania.”

We forgot the century-long struggle that laid the political foundations for the middle class, a slow low-violence revolution. That meant we forgot that this was an unnatural state requiring work to maintain. We forgot we were the officers and crew of America, not passengers on the Love Boat.

But not everybody was happy with summer, and the core New Deal and civil rights reforms with made it possible. They planned a counter-revolution. They had patience, long-vision, and vast resources.

(a) Starting with Goldwater, the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy” slowly returned the antebellum ideologies of racial separatism, States Rights, etc — to break the New Deal coalition, forging an instrument to wage the counter-revolution. There was no plan, just a “run to daylight” strategy of exploiting the internal contradictions and discontents that triumphant liberals had allowed to develop in their coalition.

(b) The Powell Memorandum: Sent by Lewis F. Powell, Jr. on 23 August 1971 (2 months before his nomination to Supreme Court) to Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chairman of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Titled Attack On American Free Enterprise System, it outlined a strategy for large corporations to rollback much of the New Deal reforms on business and crush the unions (perhaps the key brick in the New Deal coalition and the middle class structure).

(c) The article creating the mythology of tax-cuts as the magic elixir: “Taxes and a Two-Santa Theory“, Jude Wanniski, National Observer, 6 March 1976

(d) In his 14 July 1978 testimony to Congress (9 years before becoming Fed Chairman), Alan Greenspan first described the “starve the beast” strategy: “Let us remember that the basic purpose of any tax cut program in today’s environment is to reduce the momentum of expenditure growth by restraining the amount of revenue available and trust that there is a political limit to deficit spending.”

The great New Deal coalition built a new America. But the flower children of the boomer generation forgot that they were in a vessel. They thought they were frolicking in a meadow. Their political activism was limited to groups working to benefit themselves — such as ending the draft, opening the work world to women, rights for gays. These are issues the 1%, as a class, don’t care about. Nobody bothered with the boring work of staffing the engine and control rooms, and running the ship.

Please click here and read the full article.

As the TV show “Castle” ends, remember its vital message about modern marriage!

The TV show “Castle” ends this week (at least in its present form). Last week I wrapped up my series about this fascinating show with some lessons for us drawn from its eight seasons. Here is a repost of the chapter discussing the essence of the show — the long romance culminating in a stormy marriage. It tells us something we need to know.

Summary: The TV show “Castle” shows us the mad nature of marriage in 21st C America, and suggests why we no longer work the machinery that drives our vital institutions (the alienation that social scientists warn of). We no longer believe reforming America requires understanding what’s happening and clearly seeing how we want to live. This leads to folly. Society must be built on rock, not sand.

“… a world-without-end bargain.”
— William Shakespeare describes marriage as it once was, in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” (c. 1595).

Beckett's bridal gown

Contents

  1. In her marriages, Beckett is everygirl.
  2. In their divorces Castle is everyman, Beckett everygirl.
  3. A useful conclusion about marriage.
  4. History of marriage.
  5. Other posts in this series about “Castle”.
  6. For More Information.
  7. Tom Tomorrow gives us A Brief History of Marriage.

 

(1) In her marriages, Beckett is everygirl

We watch hit TV shows because they speak to our dreams, fears, goals, and conflicts. Romantic comedies like “Castle” focus on marriage, one of our foundational institutions. It’s a major theme of the series “Castle”, both of the main characters’ arcs and the individual episode. How people select partners, the ceremony, marriage, divorce, and post-marriage life.

Richard Castle has married twice, a conventional middle-aged American practicing serial monogamy, hoping that the third time is the charm.

Beckett has more interesting history, illustrating the several irrational elements to our social system. Married in a drunken fling while in college, she could not cope with the resulting cognitive dissonance between her logical decision to divorce and her self-image as one who marries for life (“I’m a one and done sort of girl”). In this she is everygirl.

She resolves this is an all-too-human way: she just ignores the marriage. That’s not an obvious FAIL, since there are no central records for marriages in the US (as there are in all other First World nations). The Centers for Disease Control explains why

Information on the total numbers and rates of marriages and divorces at the national and State levels are published in the NCHS National Vital Statistics Reports. The collection of detailed data was suspended beginning in January 1996. Limitations in the information collected by the States as well as budgetary considerations necessitated this action.

A 15-year old Vegas marriage might easily remain secret. Background checks, even by the FBI, don’t query the marriage records of every State — and seldom investigate more than 10 years of history (except the basics, such as birth and education).

But Beckett points us to a deeper conflict in our system of marriage. One we all see, but consider too horrific too mention.

{Click here to read the the rest of the post.}

The new wave: women hitting men

Summary: The revolutions have begun, taking America into realms with few or no historical precedents — normalizing prohibited behavior, breaking unquestioned rules. Films and TV show women hitting men (even in cute rom-com couples). What happens as this becomes accepted in society? Will domestic violence increase? How might this change relationship between the sexes? It’s not an April Fool’s joke, except perhaps on America.

Grrl Power

 

Ancient mores say that men should not hit women. This rule limits the action in film and TV. Good guys can fight bad guys but not bad women (except lightly). Even fights by good girls often are limited because having girls hit by guys seems too violent for many viewers (see examples at the TV Tropes page, and the far fewer exceptions on this page).

Corrosive to this rule is women casually hitting men — often for trivial reasons. It has become commonplace on film and TV. Men can only cower before the righteous rage of grrl-power, since striking back would be wrong.

Here are a few examples of casual girl-on-men violence, starting with two of the odder examples of grrl-power: women abusing their boyfriends. It’s so cute, especially for action-adventure heroes. Afterwards is some speculation about what it means.

One of the many times Beckett humiliates Castle in “Castle”
From S01E03, “Hedge Fund Homeboys

See the full post. It appeared here in error.

The pilgrimage of Martin Luther King: an antidote to amnesia about our history

We tend to memorialize our history by stripping it of deep meaning, preventing us from learning from it. On the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. let’s remember not just what he did but how America — Black and White — responded to him. This from the archives does that better than anything else I’ve read.

——————————–

Summary: Racism stained the American experiment at its formation, and has warped its evolution at every stage since. The civil war could have purged it, but the Union abandoned Reconstruction unfinished — allowing the South’s whites to stage one of the most effective insurgencies in history and regain control (a key part of this was construction of a faux history). Only a century after the Civil War was it defeated. Today we look at a review by Michael Rogin of two books looking at that period, and the central figure in bringing it nonviolently to a success. Our amnesia about this history prevents us from owning our past. Works like this, and the books he reviews, help us to close this painful gap in our minds, and so move forward.

 

The Ugly Revolution

Book review by the late Michael Rogin

London Review of Books, 10 May 2001
Reposted with their generous permission

Red emphasis added

 

Books reviewed:

Conceived in slavery and dedicated to the proposition that black men are created unequal, the United States has attempted to come to terms with its longue durée of white supremacy only twice in its history.

The first effort, made by black and white abolitionists in the period of nationalist expansion, and caught up in the conflict between slave and free labour modes of production, brought hereditary legal servitude to an end. Its national hero, Abraham Lincoln, announced at Gettysburg that a nation ‘conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’ had experienced ‘a new birth of freedom’ in civil war. But with the defeat of Reconstruction a decade after Lincoln’s assassination, the 14th Amendment that was supposed to guarantee former slave ‘persons’ equality before the law came instead to insulate corporations, designated ‘artificial persons’, from popular political control.

Deprived of the right to vote throughout the former Confederacy, freedmen and women were forced to work in repressive systems of labour, on farms, in mines and in chain-gangs; subject to arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and debt peonage; terrorised, brutalised and murdered in the thousands of lynchings often advertised in advance as public entertainments; confined to Jim Crow schools, public accommodation, restaurants and hotels (where any were available at all); made involuntary participants in sterilisation and other medical experiments; and confronted with residential apartheid and job discrimination as they moved North. A falsification that held more universal sway among whites than did any Stalinist rewriting of history in the Soviet Union transformed black Americans in the post-bellum South from victims of re-subjugation into political and sexual predators.

A century after the Civil War, a massive, non-violent black revolution brought three centuries of legally enshrined, lethally enforced white supremacy to an end. Its national hero is Martin Luther King Jr. Far from giving way in the face of moral example and legal right, racial injustice rose to fever pitch during the 1960s.

Click here to read the full article. It’s well-worth your time.

Looking at the FM website project after six million views and 40 thousand comments.

Summary: Last week the FM website had its six millionth page view since starting in November 2007. Over 33 thousand posts, over 40 thousand comments.  Here are our top hits for 2015 so far, plus a few thoughts about the project.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

News

Top hits for 2015

Here are the top 16 posts for this year to date. Some of these are oldies (i.e., the posts about inspiration, the bloat of generals, and Germany’s invasion). Some are recent posts ( (i.e., the 3 climate science posts). Most traffic to posts after the first week comes through the grace of Google.

The FBI told their story about North Korea attacking Sony. Before we retaliate, read what they didn’t tell you. 36,950
The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47% 10,716
For your New Year’s Eve festivities: an inspirational speech from a great leader 09,859
The Texas drought ends; climate alarmists wrong again! 06,278
How close are we to the next recession? 06,144
How bad is our bloat of generals? How does it compare with other armies? 05,832
A Destiny of Failure – Germany’s plans to invade England during WWII 05,545
Is the profession of science broken (a possible cause of the great stagnation)? 05,414
Prepare now, for oil prices will rise again. 05,010
How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future. 03,977

Some TV and film reviews were popular

Continue reading

Politifact tells us about American politics and science. We should pay attention.

Summary: This vignette illustrates important aspects of the climate change debate, and why it has failed to gain sufficient support from Americans to pass large-scale public policy measures. For two decades journalists and scientists have cooperated to produce political propaganda, exaggerating and misrepresenting the work of the IPCC. Their failure should inspire us, showing a resistance to manipulation greater than many people expected (it surprises me).

Orwell: truth as revolutionary act

My post, which started this kerfuffle

In July I published The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47%, which showed the hidden results of an excellent survey of scientists’ agreement with the IPPC’s attribution statements about the role of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in global warming. It was high, but lower than usually described — and below the standard for significance. The question has important implications; Obama’s sweeping Clean Power Plan rests on this finding (details here).

it attracted some attention on skeptics’ websites, and pushback from climate activists (both laypeople and scientists). Then GOP presidential candidate Rich Santorum cited this information, and the activists began their usual smear campaign. The facts are quite simple, for those who want to know.

The article at Politifact

Politifact started the cover-up with “Santorum cites flawed climate change figure, and misquotes it” by Linda Qui. She asked me for information. I gave her several thousand words (which I’ll publish tomorrow). She didn’t find anything useful for smearing me, so she ignored it.

Below are the relevant parts of her hit job. My responses follow each quote. Qui tells me she consulted Verheggen and “6 other climate scientists/people who study the consensus issue” “and they all agreed with the survey author”. As you will see below, all that work produced only the weakest of rebuttals. But we can learn much from their attempt.

This is a duplicate copy of this post, published in error. Read the full post here.
I believe you will find it of use.