05 May 2008

Philosophical musings

And so the sun sets in the west through a grimy and soot filled smoky sky as this dark and overcast May day ends.

I am tempted now to write something revealing and personal, a lasting comment on modern society which will serve as the absolute last word on the topic. After all, we are all searching for meaning in life, grasping for it like straws blowing in the wind. We all want to understand the madness and chaos unfolding around us. We all want to divine the inner workings of the diseased minds of those men (and women) who control, and dispose of, our lives.

(After all, it is how policies are formulated in an absolutist state - by translating the will of the Leader and his flunkies into law. This affects our lives greatly to the point where we all must come to understand this process.)

Most of us, save those privileged and connected few who have been enriched greatly by our current overlords, likely feel deep down in the bones that, despite our facade of greatly increased wealth and abundant technology, America is poorer today, if not materially then definitely spiritually, than, say, fifty years ago.

I cannot really use the 1940s and 1950s, the most common comparisons, as true benchmarks, though. Even then, the Empire was the dominant force in our lives. Two great wars, the 'red menace', and fascism had seen to that.

To truly make a comparison of happiness then and now, I would have to descend further back in time, beyond the memory of most if not all living persons - to perhaps the Edwardian period, before the 'war to end all wars' made Western civilization cynical and inured to great violence; to perhaps the Gilded Age, when capitalism roamed free (or at least freer than it is today) and America was coming into its own as a great nation; or better yet, the antebellum era, a time before it was decided by dint of arms that this country was not a federal republic guided by a democratic polity, but a unitary centralized State ruled by an alliance of Big Business and Big Government, and whose components could never be separated except by way of massive bloodshed and the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

"But wait, didn't slavery still exist then? How could any society be considered 'civilized' if it permitted human involuntary servitude?"

Slavery in the classic sense, as existed in antebellum America, interestingly enough was not necessarily a State creation in itself (though State policies did formalize, support, and perpetuate its existence at various points in time), but an artifact of history dating back to the days of Sumer and Ur. As an institution, its morality, its justification for existence had never been questioned at any point in history - until the early 19th century, not so coincidentally with the rise of capitalism. And this produced results which favored freedom.

One by one countries terminated slavery over the course of the era. The United Kingdom abolished slavery throughout its empire in 1838; many Eastern European countries, including Austria and Russia, eliminated serfdom (a form of slavery) in the 1860s. Brazil ended slavery peacefully in 1888, the last major country to do so.

No wars were fought over the matter - except in America. No bloodshed was involved - except in America. In other countries, slave owners were merely compensated for the slaves' value by the governments involved.

So why was a terrible war fought over the question in the USA? Could there have been, perhaps, more at stake in the conflict than just slavery??? Perhaps there were, eh, philosophical differences at work between those who sought a country of free people under a limited government, and those who desired a strong and powerful State which stood ready to make first claim on the lives of its citizens?

I highly recommend that each and every one of you read Thomas DiLorenzo's great book The Real Lincoln. That will provide you a 'fair and balanced' look at the Great Emancipator, to counter the deification of our 16th President so common in the mainstream media.

Hey, it just might raise questions about just how many aspects of history, or aspects of other subjects, were concealed from you in wonderfully self-serving fashion by your oh-so-dedicated government indoctrinators, I mean public school teachers.

Yes, we can feel it in our bones. Because we know that our ancestors, for all their moral fallacies and hardships which they endured, lived better lives. Definitely not as materially enriched as ours, but certainly freer.

They didn't have TV but they also weren't made into brain dead sheep by electronic media. They didn't possess thermonuclear weapons with the power to slaughter hundreds of millions in an instant - that in itself was wonderful, no further comment needed. They didn't have the nanny state looking after their every need, or the security state watching their every move. They didn't have tens of thousands of troops stationed in hundreds of foreign countries. They didn't exert political hegemony over lands which most Americans knew nothing of. They didn't initiate wars, nor involve themselves in wars waged between other countries. There was no income or sales tax. There were no phony domestic 'wars' on some unpleasant but unavoidable aspect of life or another (poverty, drugs, terror, homelessness, etc.). The only representative of the federal government most people encountered in their lives was the local postmaster.

Those who trade liberty for (economic) security deserve neither.

Tell that to Big Ben Bernanke one of these days.