If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Politics and the Arabic Language

Musing a bit further on this article, particularly this section:

Next, our counterterror adviser evokes the perverse logic behind the administration’s recent decision to censor words offensive to Muslims (which I closely explored in this PJM article):
Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.
Inasmuch as he is correct in the first clause of that sentence — “jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community” — he greatly errs in the latter clause, by projecting his own notions of what constitutes “holy,” “legitimate,” and “innocent” onto Islam. In Islam, such terms are often antithetical to the Judeo-Christian/Western understanding. Indeed, the institution of jihad, according to every authoritative Muslim book on Islamic jurisprudence, is nothing less than offensive warfare to spread Sharia law, a cause seen as both “legitimate” and “holy” in Islam. As for “innocence,” by simply being a non-Muslim infidel, one is already guilty in Islam. Brennan understands the definition of jihad; he just has no clue of its application. So he is left fumbling about with a square peg that simply refuses to pass through a round hole.
Until the recent "troubles" it wasn't just Islamic jurisprudence that properly understood what the term Jihad meant; it was universally understood throughout not just Islam but all cultures that had contact with Islam to mean warfare, specifically directed at non-Muslims or those declared heretics and thus deemed to be un-Islamic.

In recent times Muslim spokesmen working in conjunction with the usual suspects of PoMo intellectuals/pseudo-scholars and progressives have attempted to re-define the term. But one needs only to pick up any book from the previous era that even tangentially touches on the subject to see the term used in its proper historic meaning. As a student of ByzantinoRoman history I know this full well. Thus Ibrahim is actually wrong when he says, almost reflecting the thinking of Edward Said, that his "dual Middle-East/Western background gives me the advantage to understand both the Islamicate and American mindsets equally." Previous generations of Westerners also understood the term Jihad properly. The ethnocentric projection Ibrahim rightly condemns is actually a post-modern and multiculturalist phenomenon, and thus a rather recent innovation. This might seem like a minor quibble, but it's critical to our understanding of the problems we face.

It would be more proper to say that the word "Crusade" has transformed from its original meaning than it is to say "Jihad" has. After all, we have such things as "crusades for peace" and "The Billy Graham Crusade," neither of which involve mobilizing armies to recover1 lands from Islam by military means. Jihad has never ceased to mean what it means, however, up through the mobilization of Arabs to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets and down through the present, though we are asked to believe otherwise. But we are told we cannot use the word "Crusade" because it is inflamatory, while also being instructed to re-conceive our understanding of calls for Jihad. This is a form of mental manipulation inflicted upon us not by our enemies, but by ourselves - or at any rate one wing of our own civilization.

And of course many young people, knowing little, having come of age in this era of degenerate pseudo-scholarship, educated by the instructors they have been educated, sincerely believe Jihad does not mean what it means. This is one means of intellectually disarming us, and leading people into accepting the received wisdom of progressivism on the sources and causes of this conflict, rather than connecting it to history. It helps open them to the conclusions of a Said or a Fisk or even their slightly-less-radical imitators: That we are to blame.

Redfining terms by those with an ideological axe to grind is almost invariably aimed at controling the thinking of others.

1Yes, recover: Crusades, aweful as many Crusaders behaved, were launched as counter-attacks. To call any but the 4th aggressive is akin to calling D-Day agressive. But, in this degenerate age, that history, however bad it was even told "straight," has been corrupted for ideological ends.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Plague of Toads

WRM has a decent post on postwar/postimperial Britain's international situation and what to do about it. The first part is essentially a factual narrative and analysis, the second part a recommended policy for Britain.

Arguably it's a policy worth attempting. I'm not sure it will be attempted, in part because the new British government is built on foundation that does not share some of WRM's premises. If it was attempted, there is of course no guarantee it would be effective, but life, and policies, are not about guarantees.

There are three other policies that could be followed. One: The LibDem dream policy of integrating Britain into the Franco-German project, with Britain signing on to the "ever greater union" as envisioned by the Franco-Germans. Britain would stop becoming an "obstacle" and would have apparent/illusory influence. This influence would only be superficial, however, as it would consist of getting along by going along and not making waves.

The second option would be "splendid isolation," withdrawal from the EU itself. This does not have to be as catastrophic as one might think. WRM's article mentions Norway and the fact that Norway is not a member of the EU. But Norway has trading agreements with the EU, and other ties, and gets on fine.

The third option, the least likely option (and thus naturally my preferred option) is revitalization of the Commonwealth as an economic and political/international force: The commonwealth as a free trade area which also attempts to coordinate a common foreign policy wherever policy. Frankly I wish that this had been the course followed in the wake of WWII: Instead of America insisting upon effectively neutering the British Commonwealth, encouraging its transformation into a free trade zone and joining it, along with the Philippines and Japan. What I think of as the best is almost always the least likely/possible, but such is life. Plus, if America were to join the Commonwealth, arguably Britain's international influence would not be increased: It would instead just be the reverse side of the same coin that has integrating itself with Franco-German EU policy on the obverse. Only a Commonwealth Free Trade Zone that has Britain as its first-among-equals would potentially increase British influence in world affairs, and as long as India keeps growing as fast as it is, Britain's premere status would necessarily be temporary.

Odds of a revitalized Commonwealth, with or without the U.S. joining, lay somewhere between slim and none. Which leaves Britain with the other three options: WRM's, Harmonized Borgism, or Splendid Isolation. For better or worse, if one wants Britain to have more influence in international affairs (which is what WRM concentrates), neither the HBism nor SIism will achieve that. WRM's outline is the only policy within the realm of the possible that could produce this.

Of course, there are other goods than international influence. Britain might decide the best thing to do would be to avoid getting entangled in such as much as possible and working on its own domestic problems. In which case Splendid Isolation would be the best policy: Being drawn into ever closer union within the EU naturally would involve participating in whatever disputes it has, both within the EU and with the broader world. Britain would not be entirely isolated if it left the EU anyhow: It would still be a member of NATO, for example, and in any case should wake from the Europe-wide revere that war is over and one need not have the capacity to truly defend one's own interests: It should shift its spending priorities to insure it will have the capacity to deter, and if necessary defeat, Argentina again, should that prove necessary.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Depictions of Mohammed

While I see no good reason to deliberately insult people's beliefs simply for the sake of insulting them, there are pre-eminent reasons to stand up for our own belief, and to take a stand against threats of violence, against attempted intimidation, even by a minority within a community. Indeed, that is all the more reason to not be silent: We cannot let a violent minority of any faith or community determine the terms of debate, and effectively hijack it and become its de facto spokesmen.

It is simply not true that depictions of Mohammed have not been allowed in Islam, as the above pictures demonstrate.

If we do nothing, and if moderate, reasonable Moslems do nothing, then our mental image of Mohammed must become this:

As it already is for many people.

In any case, here is my Mohammed for the day:

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

After Virtue Revisited I

Long-time readers of whatever passes for my Blog at any given time know that in addition to Hayek I have a high regard for Alasdair MacIntyre's work. I picked up the 2007 edition of After Virtue. MacIntyre is most noteworthy for his description of the incommensurable demands of conflicting moral stances in modern times, arising out of the enlightenment-era reformulation of philosophy that, he says, discarded Aristotelian thinking and de-emphasized the virtues.

He has a compelling analysis and a good account for a foundation of virtuous ethics. However there are problems with aspects of what he says caused the strident, interminable and conceptually incommensurable nature of modern ethical dialogue.

There is teleological thinking in Mill, Kant, and Hobbes. Even Nietzsche has a Telos beyond "the will to power" for those who know where to look. Kant develops his own account of the virtues and their sources. However there might be in these philosophers a disconnection from the Aristotelian conception of the source and nature of both telos and virtue.

MacIntyre might be incorrect as to the exact nature of what is missing, what got lost, in what he describes as the fragments that became modernism. If so we could see him falling into some of the same pitfalls he deplores.

This does seem to be the case, and it is evident early in the current edition. On pp. xiv-xv he moves seamlessly from decrying "the dominant liberal view, [that] government is to be neutral towards rival conceptions of the human good, and yet in fact what liberalism promotes is a kind of institutional order that is inimical to the construction and sustaining of the types of communal relationship required for the best kind of human life" on the one hand to, in the very next paragraph, decrying the use of the state for coercive purposes, just as any classical liberal might.

This simply won't wash, it cannot be both ways, and this attitude reflects not so much an escape from the modern condition of confusion and contradictory aspirations on his part, but membership in it. State power is coercive power, and if it is used as the means through which an institutional order is constructed and sustained in the manner he advocates in the first instance, it will be coercive. Imposed conceptions of the good by the sovereign authority are likely not the droids he is looking for anyhow. These include state religions, Marxism itself, and even modern Liberalism itself. In most such cases we can see the development of a crisis of confidence in imposed conceptions of the good, resulting in a hollowing out. There are still many State Religions in European countries, but relatively few people sustain any belief in them. Putatively Marxist countries such as China and Vietnam don't hold any sincere belief in that conception of the good, either. There are some few places where the elites in charge of the imposed conception of the good maintain at least confidence in enforcing it, if not in the belief system itself (it can be hard to tell), but these are not places I think Alasdair MacIntyre would want to live: They are places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea*, and Burma.

What might be missing are alternate authorities and intermediary institutions that even the (liberal/modern) State defers to within their own sphere, and which people respect enough to give weight to their common account of the virtues. These were once predominantly religious authorities and institutions, and in those communities where such are still vital and living, traditional Aristotelian virtues arguably remain strongest (though with of course the breaches and problems. Few of these claim, as outsiders might commonly accuse, of being without vice).

at the start of the preface on page xvii MacIntyre writes that After Virtue came out of "a growing dissatisfaction with the conception of 'moral philosophy' as an independent and isolable area of enquiry." This is probably a true observation, however one of the flaws in how MacIntyre goes about his accounting of the virtues and his attempted revitalization of Aristotilianism is he retains his debt to Marx and Marxism. However, Marx was a bad economist (among other things), getting much wrong. Marx is economics for sociologists (I should know, having taken a Sociology course taught by Joel Rogers) and for philosophers. Marxist economics is very deficient.

This is where one must turn instead to Hayek. There are some who call themselves "Rawlsekians," combining Hayek and Rawls. However, I don't think this is satisfying, in part because I do not think Rawls' effort is ultimately convincing (except to the choir). "Hayintyrian" does not roll off the tongue or even the page very well, but in their accounts of the origins of and basis of an ethos, Hayek and MacIntyre mesh well together and each improves on the other's deficiencies. Hayek, following the lessons of Mises, has a much better understanding of economics than Marx, and because of that is able to develop concepts of spontaneous and extended order:

The Extended order "is a framework of institutions – economic, legal, and moral – into which we fit ourselves by obeying certain rules of conduct that we never made, and which we have never understood in the sense of which we understand how the things that we manufacture function" This "order resulted not from human design or intention but spontaneously: it arose from unintentionally conforming to certain traditional & largely moral practices..."
MacIntyre may not properly understand that due to its nature and purpose, the modern State is ill-suited to serve as the vehicle for advancing a common conception of the good. However his insight, which is not his alone, that the liberal state dissolves and at times actively suppresses institutions and competing authorities that promote common conceptions of the good, is a worthy one. The liberal modern order, if it is not to destroy itself as MacIntyre implies, must exist within a moral framework that is not itself liberal, to paraphrase the thoughts of another.

*Which arguably does not impose the Marxist conception of the good, but whatever degenerate conception the Kims have developed.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Win Ben Stein!

I had a e-mail exchange with Win Ben Stein this weekend after watching him on the "Cost of Freedom" block saying he felt Socialism was inevitable in America. Obviously he wasn't cheering it, he just felt it was inevitable. Well I went to the trouble of looking up his e-mail and having a polite go at him: Yes, I can do polite.

I made a bit of fun of the usual way people start off such e-mails, about saying how they love someone's work and really admire them right before they launch into a vicious attack. Then I launched into my attack not on Mr. Stein but the assertion he made and its underlying premise.

I didn't figure I'd hear back from him: Heck I wasn't even sure I had his correct e-mail. But to my pleasant surprise he did write back, saying it was a great e-mail, before having a brief go at me. Well we went back and forth a bit over the weekend. I'll spare everyone the details except to say he was polite and brief and I rambled. I haven't heard from him since my last reply.

So I'm going to say I Win Ben Stein! I'll conclude that I convinced him with my brilliant arguments, while somewhere he's out there no doubt thinking I'm an ignoramus. So then we're both winners!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Gordon Brown is accepting the inevitable in Britain. I wonder if I'll feel the same sympathy for BHO or Pelosi or Reid as I feel for Gordon Brown, when their time comes. I doubt it, because I'm too close to the mater while, howeverso much I admire and identify with Great Britain and wish it all the best and think neither GB nor Labour are good for it, really his situation is more tragic than anything else: A part of something, partly responsible, not apart from it, but none the less held nearly exclusively responsible for things everyone knew when he moved into No. 10 were almost bound to happen.
The real blame goes to Blair, but not for the reasons people dislike Blair, and neither is Blair entirely to blame for he two was and is part of a movement. But one he was more responsible for creating and leading than Brown is.

When Brown moved into the PM seat, pretty much everyone knew at the time that the sunlit days were over and the ship had entered stormy seas, and it would be very difficult for him to pilot Labour to another electoral success, given the difficulties that it was *already* *apparent* Britain was to face.

The fact that he's an unlovable man seems to have been at least as critical in the *dislike* people have for him as any responsibility he may have had as Chancellor (a job that, before the storm clouds appeared on the horizon just as he moved into the job he had always wanted, well until then all the opinion-leaders had praised him for how well he did. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi).

He didn't create the policies, though he surely supported and helped craft them. One man, even one Party, being held to account does not imply a solution if the institutions which are primarily responsible simply carry forward without being held accountable.

As that last link shows, these problems aren't just British in nature. We have them as well. Voting different politicians into office while these are not held accountable solves nothing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Confidence is High

From Walter Russel Mead's Blog:

Wretched as Washington is, Brussels is almost infinitely worse.
Well, that's inspiring, no?

This in a post where he's hoping the markets respond favorably to the EU's bailout of Greece and don't swing against the PIIGS.

It's a fairly vain hope once one recognizes how wretched "Brussels" is, but it may just work. Then, later, when the house of cards comes crashing down at some future date, we can all blame bankers again. Huzzah!

There's also this, for all those who think government is the only way we have to make the world a better place1:
Ten years ago, the European Union with great fanfare unveiled the “Lisbon Agenda”, a ten-year action plan to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”.
How'd that go?
It flopped. Europe is less of a factor today than it was ten years ago in the high-tech world.
Well, lets do emulate Europe, as so many want to do: It's working out so well for them, after all.

From his previous post on the subject:
The point of the protesters is that the rich should pay the costs of the economic crisis not the ‘blameless’ ordinary people whose only sin is to have voted for generations of demagogic politicians who promised to give them the moon and pay for it with other people’s money.
Nothing like that could ever happen here, at least...

1As commenter "Roland" put it in a response to my post of the below at WindsofChange.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

The Governments Have Learned from their Mistakes

It's too easy to satirize the mocking of naive innocents such as Jonah Goldberg, to engage in the fun but unedifying art of tu quoque aimed at the well-meaning gentlemen who note market failure and imply the panacea: Good for what ails you! Got market failure? Government will cure it. Government failure? More government will cure it. Personal problems? Government is here to help you with all your needs.

We live in an era where some fringe cranks focus in an inchoate way on government failure, or the pitfalls of government solutions for perceived market failure.

Sophisticated people focus more on how we acting together in a socially-responsible way can fix the problems that irresponsible private actors have inflicted upon all of us. The enlightened main currents of opinion recognize that it is certainly annoying to clean up after these messes created by private individuals and institutions, but if we don't accept the burden, the costs to us all will be higher.

The trouble is, as sagacious as people like Kevin Drum are when compared to simple-minded people like Jonah Goldberg, these guardians of the main currents of enlightened opinion fail to think beyond stage one: Why is it that bankers won't learn from their mistakes? What incentive structures have been put in place or, as importantly, what has been demolished, so as to discourage them from learning from their mistakes?

Demolished might be too strong a word. Decayed, dissolved, deteriorated might all be better descriptions, as in a building not well maintained, as with much of our public infrastructure (oh, but shovel-ready will fix this as well!)

Here is the question they dislike most, as it reflects a shocking lack of faith in our ability to solve public problems through collective action: Have the institutions they favor demonstrated a better capacity for learning from their mistakes than the ones they mock? If not, why not?

Are California or Michigan or New York &tc doing better learning from their mistakes than Goldman Sachs is? Are they really? We mock the idea that bankers are, but is it a fair mockery? Or the gaunt, chilling laugh of those who are practically undead themselves?

Have the PIIGS learned from their mistakes? Really now, have they? Is there at least as much at stake here as there is in even the biggest "too big to fail" bank or corporation?

Those who think the problem was embedded in a previous Administration or one side of the aisle need to free their minds as well. The reassuring myth that it is all caused by having the wrong sort of people in government, and now we've got the right sort of master-minds involved; those who believe in government and have faith in its capacity to solve all problems, is one they may want to reconsider, and take a more historical view. If they can open their mind to untainted history.

A few points to keep in mind as they open their minds: Firstly, a group that swept into power asserting that they were going to make break with the failed policies of the past often use as one of their cudgels against those who object to their policies the fact that their policies are no different from that of the previous Administration's. This double-think has an old and dishonorable history, dating back at least to the Administration they most admire: FDR's, which has gone down in progressive history as a sharp contrast from the supposedly do-nothing lassez faire Hoover Administration, when the truth was "practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started," as Rex Tugwell admitted.

Why is this ancient history important? Isn't it true that only cranks and nutters, usually on TV or Radio or at some obscure Think Tank, rave on about comparisons between Hoover and FDR? True, but ideological finger-pointing and sneering over this obscures rather than illuminates: It closes the mind you want open to engage in any reconsideration.

Exactly as it is meant to.

In this way, we lose track of the original task: Unravelling the big ball of string that has come down to us, in order to see where it leads us in answering our question: Why our are institutions, private as well as public, apparently no longer capable of learning from experience?

(Btw, how's fixing education working out for you? How has throwing money at the problem worked out for you? Do you retain faith in the same government that has complete and sole responsible for one District's public education system, the District of Columbia's, to solve the problem's of our country's education system? Where does DC rank in per-pupil spending? Has it become the shining jewel which the rest of the country should emulate?. Over the last, pick a time period, lets say 35 years, has government learned from its mistakes when it comes to the provision of education? And yet the wise are confident it will do the best of all possible jobs when it comes to, say, health care...or student loans...or home mortgages...or the auto industry).

Our enlightened, when they speak of society's problems and the need for "society" to address them, they always mean by the later government. <--- Non-sequitur inserted to keep in mind when considering all of this. Is their confident mocking laughter really warranted? From who's knee have the Banker's learned from since 1933 (or before)? Who shields them from the consequences of their own decisions? Who is shielding the rest of us from the consequences of ours? This confidence that we out here, private individuals and institutions, make mistakes, make blunders, but they are wise and will ever nudge us in the Correct Direction, save us from folly, and never lead us all into folly or, like lemmings, off a cliff (such as a cliff of unsustainable unfunded future mandates): Is it justified?

I assume the proper response is: If only we fallible members of the public would ever select the "correct" people to hold public trust, and never the "Right", all would be well: But again, it is our blundering that makes a mess out of their efforts on our behalf. We should not mock this confidence they have in their own ability, good intentions, and their sense that it is only the saboteurs and wreckers that constitute their political opposition who cause failures in government. But we should question this confidence as we untangle the ball of string that they have handed us in the form of opinion-leading Lippmanesque journalism and Schlessingeresque Court Historianism.

We might find that the tu quoque isn't a tu quoque at all, and that indeed it is their mindset that is the source of much of what they decry: That in the evolution of things, the problem is they have created a government that creates problems, then appoints itself to fix them, rinse and repeat ad infinatum, and that after sufficient iterations of this there is an utter displacement of responsibility. Who or what for example is really entirely to blame for the financial crisis? Both and all sides have some merit in the narratives they construct in order to point fingers at their despised boogiemen and hated political opponents. When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible, and this is the political economy we have created, and will deserve until we fix it "as a society."

If you know the solution, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. But if you think you know the solution with the confident mockery that some have, but the solution you have is a sham-solution, one that merely iterates the cycle again rather than breaking and reversing it, then you are not a better man at all, but the worst, however full of passionate intensity you may be.

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Prominent Governor Gives Aid and Comfort to "Sedition"

On March 2nd 1930 a prominent Governor of a major U.S. State gave the following speech. Be sure to check out the highlighted portions:

I have been asked to talk about the respective powers of the National and State Governments to rule and regulate, where one begins and the other ends. By some curious twist of the public mind, under the terms "Home Rule" or "States’ Rights," this problem has been considered by many to apply, primarily, to the prohibition issue.

As a matter of fact and law, the governing rights of the States are all of those which have not been surrendered to the National Government by the Constitution or its amendments. Wisely or unwisely, people know that under the Eighteenth Amendment Congress has been given the right to legislate on this particular subject, but this is not the case in the matter of a great number of other vital problems of government, such as the conduct of public utilities, of banks, of insurance, of business, of agriculture, of education, of social welfare and of a dozen other important features. In these, Washington must not be encouraged to interfere.

The proper relations between the government of the United States and the governments of the separate States thereof depend entirely, in their legal aspects, on what powers have been voluntarily ceded to the central government by the States themselves. What these powers of government are is contained in our Federal Constitution, either by direct language, by judicial interpretation thereof during many years, or by implication so plain as to have been recognized by the people generally.

The United States Constitution has proved itself the more marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written. Drawn up at a time when the population of this country was practically confined to a fringe along our Atlantic coast, combining into one nation for the first time scattered and feeble States, newly released from the autocratic control of the English Government, its preparation involved innumerable compromises between the different Commonwealths. Fortunately for the stability of our Nation, it was already apparent that the vastness of the territory presented geographical and climatic differences which gave to the States wide differences in the nature of their industry, their agriculture and their commerce. Already the New England States had turned toward shipping and manufacturing, while the South was devoting itself almost exclusively to the easier agriculture which a milder climate permitted. Thus, it was clear to the framers of our Constitution that the greatest possible liberty of self-government must be given to each State, and that any national administration attempting to make all laws for the whole Nation, such as was wholly practical in Great Britain, would inevitably result at some future time in a dissolution of the Union itself.

The preservation of this "Home Rule" by the States is not a cry of jealous Commonwealths seeking their own aggrandizement at the expense of sister States. It is a fundamental necessity if we are to remain a truly united country. The whole success of our democracy has not been that it is a democracy wherein the will of a bare majority of the total inhabitants is imposed upon the minority, but that it has been a democracy where through a division of government into units called States the rights and interests of the minority have been respected and have always been given a voice in the control of our affairs. This is the principle on which the little State of Rhode Island is given just as large a voice in our national Senate as the great State of New York.

The moment a mere numerical superiority by either States or voters in this country proceeds to ignore the needs and desires of the minority, and, for their own selfish purposes or advancement, hamper or oppress that minority, or debar them in any way from equal privileges and equal rights - that moment will mark the failure of our constitutional system.

For this reason a proper understanding of the fundamental powers of the States is very necessary and important. There are, I am sorry to say, danger signals flying. A lack of study and knowledge of the matter of sovereign power of the people through State government has led us to drift insensibly toward that dangerous disregard of minority needs which marks the beginning of autocracy. Let us not forget that there can be an autocracy of special classes or commercial interests which is utterly incompatible with a real democracy whose boasted motto is, "of the people, by the people and for the people." Already the more thinly populated agricultural districts of the West are bitterly complaining that rich and powerful industrial interests of the East have shaped the course of government to selfish advantage.

The doctrine of regulation and legislation by "master minds," in whose judgment and will all the people may gladly and quietly acquiesce, has been too glaringly apparent at Washington during these last ten years. [For "master minds" read also "brain trust", "best and brightest", genius "Czars" - Porphy] Were it possible to find "master minds" so unselfish, so willing to decide unhesitatingly against their own personal interests or private prejudices, men almost god-like in their ability to hold the scales of Justice with an even hand, such a government might be to the interest of the country, but there are none such on our political horizon, and we cannot expect a complete reversal of all the teachings of history.

Now, to bring about government by oligarchy masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our National Government. The individual sovereignty of our States must first be destroyed, except in mere minor matters of legislation. We are safe from the danger of any such departure from the principles on which this country was founded just so long as the individual home rule of the States is scrupulously preserved and fought for whenever it seems in danger.

Thus it will be seen that this "Home Rule" is a most important thing, a most vital thing, if we are to continue along the course on which we have so far progressed with such unprecedented success.

Let us see, then, what are the rights of the different States, as distinguished from the rights of the National Government. The Constitution says that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people," and Article IX, which precedes this, reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Now, what are the powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution? First of all, the National Government is entrusted with the duty of protecting any or all States from the danger of invasion or conquest by foreign powers by sea or land, and in return the States surrender the right to engage in any private wars of their own. This involves, of course, the creation of the army and navy and the right to enroll citizens of any State in time of need. Next is given the treaty-making power and the sole right of all intercourse with foreign States, the issuing of money and its protection from counterfeiting. The regulation of weights and measures so as to be uniform, the entire control and regulation of commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, the protection of patents and copyrights, the erection of minor Federal tribunals throughout the country, and the establishment of post offices are specifically enumerated. The power to collect taxes, duties and imposts, to pay the debts for the common defense and general welfare of the country is also given to the United States Congress, as the law-making body of the Nation.

It is interesting to note that under the power to create post offices the Constitution specifically provides for the building of post roads as a Federal enterprise, thus early recognizing that good roads were of benefit to intercommunications between the several States, and that districts too poor to afford to construct them at their own expense were entitled to some measure of Federal assistance. It is on this same principle that New York and other States are aiding rural counties, or constructing entirely at State expense improved thoroughfares suited to modern traffic. The Constitution also contains guarantees of religious freedom, of equality before the law of all possible acts of injustice to the individual citizens; and Congress is empowered to pass laws enforcing these guarantees of the Constitution, which is declared to be the supreme law of the land.

On such a small foundation have we erected the whole enormous fabric of Federal Government which costs us now $3,500,000,000 every year, and if we do not halt this steady process of building commissions and regulatory bodies and special legislation like huge inverted pyramids over every one of the simple Constitutional provisions, we shall soon be spending many billions of dollars more.

A few additional powers have been granted to the Federal Government by subsequent amendments. Slavery has been prohibited. All citizens, including women, have been given the franchise; the right to levy taxes on income, as well as the famous Eighteenth Amendment regarding intoxicating liquors, practically complete these later changes.

So much for what may be called the "legal side of national versus State sovereignty." But what are the underlying principles on which this Government is founded? There is, first and foremost, the new thought that every citizen is entitled to live his own life in his own way so long as his conduct does not injure any of his fellowmen. This was to be a new "Land of Promise" where a man could worship God in the way he saw fit, where he could rise by industry, thrift and intelligence to the highest places in the Commonwealth, where he could be secure from tyranny and injustice - a free agent, the maker or the destroyer of his own destiny.

But the minute a man or any collection of men sought to achieve power or wealth by crowding others off the path of progress, by using their strength, individually or collectively, to force the weak to the wall - that moment the whole power of Government, backed, as is every edict of the Government, by the entire army and navy of the United States, was pledged to make progress through tyranny or oppression impossible.

On this sure foundation of the protection of the weak against the strong; stone by stone, our entire edifice of Government has been erected. As the individual is protected from possible oppression by his neighbors, so the smallest political unit, the town, is, in theory at least, allowed to manage its own affairs, secure from undue interference by the larger unit of the county which, in turn, is protected from mischievous meddling by the State.

This is what we call the doctrine of "Home Rule," and the whole spirit and intent of the Constitution is to carry this great principle into the relations between the National Government and the Governments of the States.

Let us remember that from the very beginning differences in climate, soil, conditions, habits and modes of living in States separated by thousands of miles rendered it necessary to give the fullest individual latitude to the individual States. Let us further remember that the mining States of the Rockies, the fertile savannas of the South, the prairies of the West, and the rocky soil of the New England States created many problems and introduced many factors in each locality, which have no existence in others. It must be obvious that almost every new or old problem of government must be solved, if it is to be solved to the satisfaction of the people of the whole country, by each State in its own way.

There are many glaring examples where exclusive Federal control is manifestly against the scheme and intent of our Constitution.

It is, to me, unfortunate that under a clause in our Constitution, itself primarily intended for an entirely different purpose, our Federal Courts have been made a refuge by those who seek to evade the mandates of the State Judiciary.
[Commerce Clause, anyone? - Porphy]

I think if we understand what I have tried to make clear tonight as to the fundamental principles on which our Government is built, and what the underlying idea of the relations between individuals and States and States and the National Government should be, we can all of us reason for ourselves what should be the proper course in regard to Federal legislation on any questions of the day.
(Emphasis added).

That Governor was, of course, the Governor of New York, a man who certainly knew a Blueprint for Action when he saw one: FDR.

(Per text in his Public Papers and Addresses, 1938, I, 569---also New York Times March 3, 1930)

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