Let’s Get Fundamental

(midnight – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

“The generation that made the nation thought secrecy in government one of the instruments of Old World tyranny and committed itself to the principle that a democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to.”

—Henry Steele Commager

I took that quote from a recent posting by Bruce Fein on the Libertarian site of the The Future of Freedom Foundation. Commager was a great influence on me as a young student and Fein is a hero of mine. Fine delights me, not because I share his POV completely but because he is one of those rare creatures that do exist in Washington–a decent and honorable man of principle. Fein and other libertarians like him believe in a kind of Constitutional fundamentalism. They believe in limited government, of course, but they believe that the separation of powers is fundamental to a relatively free society. The Founders were intelligent students of political science and had, unlike most people today who write about politics, read the classics. Reading the classics makes one skeptical of mankind and governing systems. So the Founders devised a system that was somewhat inefficient but insured political stability. One of the chief means of doing that was to put the power of the purse and or war squarely in the hands of Congress which is closest to the people.  

The gist of Fein’s article is that we are living in an Empire and that it is precisely what the Founders feared. Fein is standing up for the fundamentals of our society. Sure, the U.S. has a checkered history yet, it maintained social stability, provided a place for people from all over the world to earn a better living than the place they came from (by and large) and gave all social forces a playing field on which to struggle. Reforms were possible in the American Republic if the people wanted reform. And this was only possible because the Constitution was always there and, in fact, was central to the American identity. The Constitution is not a perfect document but it is good enough for what it does which is to give us a sufficiently loose structure that make it difficult for small groups to dominate the country.

I am touched by Fein’s faith in civic virtue and his concern for the high principles we can rightly claim as our inheritance. God, if we would only claim that inheritance!

The Founding Fathers correctly feared that the president would gratuitously initiate war, because military conflict confers on the commander in chief patriotic or jingoistic public support, secrecy, money, appointments, and the tempting opportunity to transform the world.

—Bruce Fein

The essence of the problems we complain about on DD is that the Executive branch of government has become too powerful due to the Imperial project. This project is based on the ability of the President to claim all kinds of threats from “evildoers” outside our borders and to use secrecy as an excuse for not sharing with us the nature of this threat. I believe the threat does not really exist and is largely manufactured both through false-flag operations and in deliberately provoking other countries and forces in the world to become belligerent. Conflict-resolution techniques are well-known and often effective yet they are, for the most part, ignored by American policy-makers. Attaining national goals is not the point of government policy anymore. I suggest that, increasingly it has been to further personal and group goals of a narrow elite who have in their hands power garnered from the creation of a national security state since WWII.

Since propaganda is essential to maintain cooperation of the people the MSM has been formed through both direct government involvement in covertly funding various outlets and writers and through influencing professionals through all the means at a powerful central government’s disposal (let your imagination soar). The end result is that we have a controlled and managed MSM that acts pretty much in lock-step other than directing the same message in a different way to a particular audience’s cultural prejudices.

If you read Fein’s piece you may be struck with how strange it sounds. People today are not interested in principles or honor or Constitutional niceties. People in this country worship brute force and “kicking ass” because that is what they see in popular entertainments cynically created by large corporate supporters of a strong Executive branch. We need to join in with Fein and Ron Paul-style right-wingers in moving towards a return to Constitutional fundamentals. We need to say no to secrecy. We need to question the so-called threats that keep us in thrall to the military and the security services. We need a patriotic front uniting left and right to return to the Republic.

All the other issues we speak of here cannot be dealt with until we return to Constitutional rule. While I don’t think it’s very likely it will, at least, increase the numbers and unity of the opposition to the Empire and make it a bit harder to dominate us.  


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    • banger on May 20, 2010 at 15:28

    Can we and should we make common cause with the right to return to Constitutional rule? Or should we just hope for a breakdown and hope something good emerges?

  1. in the world by population, you’ll see that the upper one’s are very corrupt.

    1 China

    2 India

    3 United States

    In the United States, the so called founding fathers had a good idea in the house, which was once tied to population (now only marginally so) –but a very bad one in the Senate, a bad one in the Presidency, and whether they can be blamed for the courts or not I don’t know.

    The current system has the US controlled by less than 500 in the house, 50 odd in the senate, and one in the white house.  The US’s population is


    In other words, around 1 “representative” for every 573,000 humans.  It’s really worse than that though, mostly because of the Senate, which tilts “representation” towards rural states and areas. Vermont has about the same population as Washington, DC – but has 3x the representation (and only this year is DC represented at all) . Actually more, because 2 of those 3 are Senators.

    There is no way at all that anything on that scale of “representation” is ever going to represent anything other than very powerful Oligarchical interests.

    China, India, the US. With a massive population gap between India and the US.   Massive corruption.  Too big to succeed (as democracies) , all with a lot of power concentrated in the hands of very few. Same with the other big countries: Russia, Japan, Indonesia etc.

    Break it up.

  2. equality/ parity doesn’t really matter when you look at the bigger picture. It’s the mechanisms and processes that are in place now that have co-opted our democracy. It’s all about the money and what they secretly do with it. (The Secret Government by Bill Moyer)

    From above:

    The Founders were intelligent students of political science and had, unlike most people today who write about politics, read the classics. Reading the classics makes one skeptical of mankind and governing systems.

    People today are not interested in principles or honor or Constitutional niceties. People in this country worship brute force and “kicking ass” because that is what they see in popular entertainments cynically created by large corporate supporters of a strong Executive branch.

    Yes, they truly could see the dangers:

    Before the existence of express political compacts it was reasonably implied that the magistrate should govern with wisdom and Justice, but mere implication was too feeble to restrain the unbridled ambition of a bad man, or afford security against negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind. It is alledged that the opinions and manners of the people of America, are capable to resist and prevent an extension of prerogative or oppression; but you must recollect that opinion and manners are mutable, and may not always be a permanent obstruction against the encroachments of government; that the progress of a commercial society begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy to restraint; and that ambition and voluptuousness aided by flattery, will teach magistrates, where limits are not explicitly fixed to have separate and distinct interests from the people, besides it will not be denied that government assimilates the manners and opinions of the community to it. Therefore, a general presumption that rulers will govern well is not a sufficient security.-You are then under a sacred obligation to provide for the safety of your posterity, and would you now basely desert their interests, when by a small share of prudence you may transmit to them a beautiful political patrimony, that will prevent the necessity of their travelling through seas of blood to obtain that, which your wisdom might have secured:-It is a duty you owe likewise to your own reputation, for you have a great name to lose; you are characterised as cautious, prudent and jealous in politics; whence is it therefore, that you are about to precipitate yourselves into a sea of uncertainty, and adopt a system so vague, and which has discarded so many of your valuable rights.-Is it because you do not believe that an American can be a tyrant? If this be the case you rest on a weak basis; Americans are like other men in similar situations, when the manners and opinions of the community are changed by the causes I mentioned before, and your political compact inexplicit, your posterity will find that great power connected with ambition, luxury, and flattery, will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman empire.

  3. “normal” America.  What is left will have to be rebuilt at at some later time after a series all consuming disasters.

    One cannot unite dumbed down followers who have been lied to their entire lives.  It is mostly Pavlovian now, responding only to the 30 second talking points of the day.  Far too many are unaware of history, how empires fall and mostly how America and the world really works.

    The powers that be want to get rid of the rights and principles of America in forming their owner/slave dystopian technocracy.  Best hope is that they run out of the resources to do so.

  4. on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution was ratified,

    Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe were happily dreaming of their slave plantations (not having to worry anymore about those pesky British) and the the New England slave merchants were back at it. And all were dreaming about the great West, like Adams, seeing America as an endless, developing republic (notwithstanding that the lands had been populated from time immemorial with other people).

    We were “born” at the dawn of the industrial revolution when oil greased the gears and powered the machines of the new world order. And before “we” knew WTF we were doing, mankind (again “we” for purposes of identifying the key historial player, as they change throughout history) unconsciously and inevitably (while just appearing to have “free will”) experimented with a couple new atomic devices in his latest, hallucinatory attempt at modern warfare.

    America, sadly, is really a land of conquest and exploitation. The dreams of Democracy were just that, a kind of political poetry, a romantic fantasy. Sure, many, many people have prospered in this land from its inception, but many have also died in pitiful poverty while power and wealth slowly consolidated. And as America seeks to maintain its hallow dreams like a serious drug addict, it (the captains of industry) will do whatever it takes to chart the way, slipping iou’s to its enablers.

    If there was ever anything to return to constitutionally, it was an idealism that never transformed itself into a poltical reality. We here possess that idealism, the kind that made some significant inroads before and after WWII,

    but that short lived dream of egalitarianism is nowhere to be seen today. But we here at DD, and those with similar hopes and aspirations, will persevere.

    banger, I thought about your question with respect to making common cause with those on the right and/or Libertarians for quite a while, and my final answer after significant equivocation is NO. The earth and her resources don’t belong to those who happen to hold the weapon of private property or those who work the hardest to acquire what cannot belong to them in the first place.

  5. in many places world wide by governments. I was just talking to someone who knows the South Korean constitution–apparently it’s wonderful, with all sorts of equal rights provisions–and she told me it’s routinely ignored.

    You can put whatever you want on a piece of paper, but in reality you need to have something quite different from a top down structure–or else you always end up with an elite vs all the rest.

  6. in my mind, is one in which I visualize the people as being able to observe the actions of their government, similar to that of peering through a one-way glass.

    Unfortunately, perhaps in large part, on the heels of 9/11, that glass has been removed and turned in the opposite direction.

    “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson

  7. Our sacred documents are as you said a good foundation, a brilliant one at that. The system is being torn down not just tweeked but ripped up. Yes I agree that we need to restore our constitutional basis and our checks and balances and separation of the branches but I do not think that Libertarians are a good ally for this. Other then guns they seem to have no interests in the rights of humans, either civil or human.  Property and ‘free market’ are not the solution nor is drowning the government. Restoring the laws and actually enforcing them would be a start. Our enemy seems to have been declared a person by our kangaroo supreme court. don’t know how we are going to restore the Law at this point but it will prevail as it is a culmination of centuries of human progress towards equality and self governance. It is bigger then politics.      

  8. “They” say renewable energy isn’t cost-effective blah blah blah.  And while energy harvesting technologies IS expensive on the front end, it is the initial investment that is “scary”. But once in place, the amenities of renewables become immediately apparent and we immediately begin to reap the benefits. This is because energy becomes virtually free afterward, except for minor upkeep and maintenance.

    I am not sure where it is, but logically it stands to reason that there is a bell curve on initial investment costs. The supply and demand of energy harvesting technologies versus the ramp up to mass production of these technologies. One would think that it could be possible to historically model what happened with personal computers as a frame of reference.

    If our government were to subsidize the initial investment and guarentee by law, open access to the grid for all players, the conversion to renewable energy would literally take off. People would see the benefits right away and want to do the same thing. The problem is getting over the initial hump and out of the starting gate.  

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