There is a new world order emerging in our demographic mix, our military and our domestic regimes. There is a novus ordo seclorum not intended in the founding nor by me for example. Americans must look at the world and see if the ferment of change all around us is leading somewhere we want to go.
This may not be the easiest time or the most opportune time for Americans from the right to make their case and struggle for change. But it may be the needful time for Americans from the right to make their case and struggle for change. It is in that spirit that write this post mostly about where we are and how we got here and much less about where we are going. There is a film about education called Waiting for Superman and one can interpret the title in many ways bit Nietzsche was not a complete idiot. There is a reality that socio-political shifts to the right require a diagnosis of oversize problems which justify abandoning a truly conservative plan of action and a person or small group of persons willing to take on the role of superman to address and resolve these problems. I am not very much a follower of Nietzsche but like many other failures and success over the course of human history have reached a point where I am able to push myself into the place of involvement in shaping the course of momentous events from above in a relatively detached manner. Fully involved and committed detachment is a kind of hyperanthropy.
Of course this cool logic, hardening of perspective and sense of pragmatism driven by an ideal could never be limited only to the right. Frank Underwood as played by Kevin Spacey in the Netflix series House of Cards is a man capable and ruthless enough to shape his environment and to undertake the business of his country with confidence. There is no indication that he is a rightist although he is at least center right on some issues and based on a British center right fictional character and most of all in the fictional world his politics are not so clear. Lyndon Johnson was our President who strongly embodied the leftist fist under the constitutional glove and sometimes Clinton was not far behind. Of course Stalin, Mao and even a few less successful figures from ancient Rome rush to mind as figures from much further left who were much more brutal. Hitler’s socialism was a s real as his nationalism in many ways. I am not hesitating to say that a change of leadership is demanded by our circumstances, popular culture and other factors. There is a novus ordo seclorum emerging in the Middle East, in international councils around the world and in our countrynot intended in the founding nor by me for example. Americans must look at the world and see if the ferment of change all around us is leading somewhere we want to go.
In this post I cannot review all the evidence I have that America is in a great crisis. I cannot really recite the salient causes for concern. Nor does it seem right that I should try to spell out again in brief all the reasons I have cited for choosing the prescriptions I draw up elsewhere in this blog. Nor do I think a single simple description quite covers my involvement in public life. That has been limited but full of unusual outcomes and instances. Much of what has been my life is poorly captured or not captured at all in this blog.
I am eager to face the realities of my life and the state of things around me as well as I can — but it is not always easy. I have written about some of the concerns in this post before and used some of the same words in the titles of other posts. The fact that the United States beat Ghana in their first game in the 2014 FIFA World Cup down in Brazil and currently has the three points out of possible three and is only in second place to Germany by goal differential is a sign that some good things are going on in the world for the United States. The World Cup is an important event and prism through which the world’s opinion shines and is refined. But it is not everything. There is a novus ordo seclorum that involves our reduced credit rating, our military culture being changed in many ways all at once that was not intended in the founding nor by me for example. Americans must look at the world and see if the ferment of change all around us is leading somewhere we want to go.
Life is being lived across the world and America is dominated by myth through which it connects with the world as are most countries. The myth which defines the interaction for America is a two-headed Janus like creature. The lyrics to the song much of the world hears come from the poem The New Colossus which in part reads:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
America is known for its open spaces through out much of its history and with the onset of diseases, a complex history in centuries just before contact and many other factors which limited the aboriginal American population it is true that settlement and conquest were often less closely linked than in much of European history. But tribes bought their way into Rome fleeing from other groups and people moved around for centuries in complex ways. People of every major European ethnic group. There are levels of difference between America and the rest of the world and it is important that we note those differences properly to chart out future course. America has known many phases of change and evolution. Openness to migrants goes back to the Declaration but so does a careful effort to survive. When we look at the lack of resolution of issues of migration we have to realize tthat here is a novus ordo seclorum not intended in the founding nor by me for example. Americans must look at the world and see if the ferment of change all around us is leading somewhere we want to go. America’s prestige is in decline and the New Order can be putting our posterity very low on the list of nations if we are not careful.
This first set of lines in the poem by Emma Lazarus sets up a discontinuity with the past evoked in the architecture of our Capitol and the plans of of our District of Columbia and that discontinuity has reached a new level. This vision of an America nothing like Europe’s historic progression is very important to President Barack Hussein Obama who never ceases to speak of such things. His America is a new fantasy land of the glorified refugee camp. Certainly many other views saw America as an heir to the conquests and glories of Greece. Among his words others involved in the founding are Washington’s lines which contrast with the following lines of the poem in tone and implication. Washington exhorted, “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War. ” Lazarus does describe the welcome our lands can afford and we ought not to be ashamed of it but it is not our only legacy or symbol. Her words are:
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
Emma Lazarus has the Liberty Island view as the Sunset Gates of Europe (and Asia and Africa) and not as the Eastern and Sunrise Gates of America itself. Dependence and the end of things is our lot and legacy in this poem. While it is true that Washington and his generation saw the flood of migrants from Europe as part of America’s destiny it is also true that he and they saw a somewhat sterner emblem keeping watch over her shores and future.
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Many Americans have not wanted the old world to keep all its storied pomp. There have been many who wanted some storied pomp of our own. From Smithson, to Lafayette, to Toqueville, to Oppenhiemer and Katherine Drexel there have been those who saw America’s demography of exiles in terms that might take offense at the words describing America’s migrants: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Emma Lazarus has her place in our pantheon of poets and myth-makers but so many other parts are excluded in a view which features her words prominently.
On the domestic side there is another set of words which rings loudest and with even better claim to do so. I have visited this theme before. I wish to remind Americans of the complexity and richness of the Declaration of Independence both as an object and in its text and to see in it new possibilities.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
In my blog as a whole I have focused on how the Constitution of the United States emphasizes change, constitutional conventions and a continuity with any system which preserves equal representation of the States in the Senate. However, it is important to see here the process for changing political structures in accord with the laws of the universe. Here I propose changing our relationships among ourselves and with previous generations rather than with Britain but the same principles apply.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
The passage I just quoted contains the most famous parts of the declaration and that cannot be gotten away from — Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. However organization of powers, Safety, Happiness and Prudence are also values of the Declaration. Values to which mus also pledge our dearly bought support as true Americans.
In discussing any kind of power or governance I am at a different disadvantage than some. I do not look back on a life of great collapses or of nothing ventured, But nonetheless I personally have sunk into a morass of personal powerlessness over the decades. Different people have had different paths but I believe that there is some truth in the end to the phrase that “all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” at least among humans and yet the opposite is also true. Powerlessness corrupts as well. I have forged connections, undertaken risks and done things that would require a sizable bodyguard, huge bases of support and real wealth to maintain my integrity. But as it is I really have no complete integrity because of the lack of really reliable protection I can extend to my sister nieces and nephews going camping this weekend, to friends in China or to many others. There is little place for regret but I am sunk in my own sea of vast disappointments. For me personally life has largely been as pointless as a life largely well lived can be and yet that is not entirely pointless.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
We have to ask whether there is a system of justice which can be found to be worthy of respect when the Presidents ignore the constitutional procedures, the courts decide elections, the intelligence agencies are tapped into everything and politicians lie about the situation. America will never be perfect but when allegations of perfect liberty or equality are used to support abuses at home and abroad by both parties we must ask whether the time has come for a change. Has such a time come?
below this paragraph are the wrongs that inspired the original Declarators. Is this a greater list of grievances than we could draw up today for which to effect the changes our founders wished we should effect when needed?
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
HERE ARE THE UNREPREPRESENTED CITIZENS OF D.C., PUERTO RICO AND THE TERRITORIES ON THE ONE HAND AND THE RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS UNABLE TO PROTECT THEIR HERITAGE CALLED TO MIND IN OUR TIME.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HERE WE SEE THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURNING ALL THE WORK OF FEDERALISM WHICH SUSTAINS OUR UNION.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
HERE AGAIN MILLIONS OF AMERICANS HAVE NO REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS OR THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE NOR PROSPECT OF IT.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
HERE WE RECOGNIZE A VAST ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS WHICH DISHONESTLY LIMITS THE POWERS OF LEGISLATURES AND PRESERVES HIDDEN POWER ELSEWHERE WITHOUT HONEST CHANGE OF THE STRUCTURES OF SOCIETY OVER TIME.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
HERE WE SEE THE DOMESTIC REGIMES OF STATES DESTROYED BY FEDERAL FIAT. WE SEE EVEN PRIVATE CLUBS RESTRICTED IN ALL THE DETAILS OF THEIR ORGANIZATION.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
LIKE THE DECLARATORS AND OTHERS IN HISTORY WE MUST DECLARE THAT LAW AND JUSTICE TRANSCEND ANY REGIME. THEY EXIST AND DEMAND IN THEIR OWN RIGHT A FITTING STRUCTURE IN WHICH TO ACT.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
OUR PROBLEMS HAVE CHANGED BUT MIGRATION, LAND USE BY THE SOMETIMES WASTEFUL AND SOMETIMES WEAK AND CORRUPT BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT ARE ALL AMONG THE FACTS WHICH MAY DRIVE US TO RIGHTLY SEEK CHANGE.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
THE APPROVAL PROCESS AND OTHER PARTS OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS ARE SURELY OPEN TO SERIOUS CRITICISM TODAY.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
POWER HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO SECRET COURTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND OTHERS WITHOUT HONESTLY SEEKING TO PRESERVE WHAT ROLE THE ELECTED OFFICIALS CAN EXERCISE IN OVERSIGHT IN THESE NEW TIMES.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
DRONES, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DECLARATIONS OF WAR, SECRET WARS AND OTHER ISSUES REQUIRE NEW KINDS OF OVERSIGHT AND NEW FORMS OF CHECKS AND BALANCES.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
AMERICA MAY NEVER AGAIN ENJOY THE KIND OF INDEPENDENCE OUR PEOPLE ONCE HAD BUT AT LEAST TREATIES DESERVE TO BE MUCH BETTER SCRUTINIZED AND PUBLICLY DISCUSSED THAN THEY ARE TODAY.
There may be some similarities in the rest of the Declaration’s list of grievances but really those belong to a situation of open warfare. It is hard to know in a country where violence is so individualized and people are so alienated whether there is in any real likelihood of Civil War or violent war against the population. We are so surrounded with threats perhaps merely throwing open the doors to destruction is the greatest threat of all. But here are the woes that the ones above led to in time and caused our first Revolution.
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Our ancestors in this polity had a vigilant regard for the preservation of the society they desired to live in together. It is up to us to wonder if we will be able to report that we have done all we can if collapse must lead us to radical and rapid action in the end. they could say and write what follows:
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
So I have in this blog sought to lay out my view of things and my proposals for action. It has not been entirely a joyous thing to do. In time we may be impelled to seek change more directly. When they happens we may need to declare our commitments honestly. Our ancestors wrote:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
It is time for America to revisit the myths and narratives which connect it to the world. For me it is not likely to matter much but I have addressed the issues as though it still could matter greatly. And yes, it should be clear to any who wish it to be — I put the result of these labors in God’s Hand. But I propose we must do something to secure our future not necessarily as anything like a single superpower. I propose we stop ourselves becoming a ruined society because there is a novus ordo seclorum not intended in the founding nor by me for example. Americans must look at the world and see if the ferment of change all around us is leading somewhere we want to go.