Friday, October 21, 2011

Political Philosophy: Liberty or Power

A Prolegomena to Any
Future Political Philosophy

Amagi: Cuneiform for Liberty

"Audit the Fed!" in 2009; the TEA Party 2010 election; the Arab Spring and Wall Street Occupancy of 2011; Ron Paul's 2012 campaign: anti-establishment political activism is on the rise. But not just activism; rather also, real root-cause analysis and willingness to explore ideas. Action Items:
Implementation: January, 2013:
For example, there was a vibrant discussion on a TEA Party forum a few weeks ago about the Hegelian Dialectic and the prospects for Liberty. That discussion prompted me to think about the basis of the concept of Individual Liberty and to look at the historic roots of freedom from the Ancient City to the modern Internet.

At one point in the discussion, one of the posters opined that Hegelian philosophy was, in essence, very pessimistic. I replied:
That is certainly a depressing view of ‘it all’ -- but also certainly one consistent with the ‘dialectic’ and its belief in unending repeated cycles of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

That's why, in earlier postings on this thread, I've proposed the Misian alternative to the dialectic which is based on the Axiom of Human Action and which rejects the dialectic for what Mises sometimes referred to as an "evenly rotating economy."

We do not need to accept the premises of the ‘progressives.’ There is an entire intellectual tradition which has, for over a hundred years, rejected the dialectic and Marxian materialism.

That school of thought, sometimes referred to as the "Austrian School," or Free Market School, proposes Human Action, guided by individual choice on the market, as the primary subject of real philosophy, or what Mises calls "praxiology" -- the study of Human Action.

Just look through the chapter headings in Mises' monumental Human Action and see the scope of that school of thought. [1]

The dialectic represents a failed philosophy which ought to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Mises, Rothbard and the Free Market School are the proper basis for all future political philosophy. They have offered us a true “Prolegomena to any Future Political Philosophy.”
In a similar vein, my co-trustee at Natural Solutions Foundation, and its President, Oath Keeper Maj. Gen. Bert Stubblebine (US Army, ret.) engaged with Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) and sent a powerful Emergency Message on the occasion of World Food Day, October 16, 2011.
“War is not good for children or other living things…” said those who protested and resisted the Viet Nam war, at a time when I was commanding US Army intelligence units in the jungles of Viet Nam – and being doused with Agent Orange... Today we are at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and, increasingly involved in expansive, and expensive, imperial entanglements around the world. But there is another war being waged against US, right here at home. “Trillions and trillions wasted…” as Dr. Ron Paul says...”[2]
One major factor in common among all of these diverse anti-establishment stirrings: the idea that individuals matter; that individuals can come together and effectively demand liberty.

Advocates of liberty can look back to the earliest stirrings of human culture for the beginnings of the concept of self-ownership and the right to liberty which that entails. Early cuneiform written about 2300 B.C. in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash included the word “amagi” which is translated as “freedom.” Sixth Century BCE philosopher Lao Tse championed personal freedom of conscience and during the subsequent millennia the idea of freedom became ever more a driving force in the development of human culture.

But, we must not think of the Ancient City as a place of what Mises might have understood as Liberty. One extraordinary work exploring the governance of the Ancient City is the 1864 master work of jurist and scholar Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City.

There we find:
The city had been founded on a religion and constituted a church. Hence its strength; hence, also, its omnipotence and the absolute empire which it exercised over its members. In a society established on such principles, individual liberty could not exist. The citizen was subordinate in everything, and without any reserve, to the city; he belonged to it body and soul. The religion which had produced the state, and the state which supported the religion, sustained each other, and made but one; these two powers, associated and confounded, formed a power almost superhuman, to which the soul and body were equally enslaved… There was nothing independent in man… Private life did not escape this omnipotence of the state… The state allowed no man to be indifferent to its interests… The ancients, therefore, knew neither liberty in private life, liberty in education, nor religious liberty…

It is a singular error, therefore… to believe that in the ancient cities men enjoyed liberty. They had not even the idea of it. They did not believe that there could exist any right as against the city and its gods… The government was called by turns monarchy, aristocracy, democracy; but none of these revolutions gave man true liberty, individual liberty. To have political rights, to vote, to name magistrates, to have the privilege of being archon, -- this was called liberty; but man was not the less enslaved to the state…[3]
In contradistinction to the ancient past, the past half millennium has seen very significant advances in liberty and, in the past century or so, a clear theory of human action, or praxeology, has developed which posits Freedom of Choice as a driving factor in the advance of human civilization, as “dissatisfied” individuals engage in human action.

Control over most humans has been maintained for millennia through the use of religious and, later, political ideologies that justify the dominance of the few over the many. Through the use of what early freedom theorists such as Lysandor Spooner saw as the great monopolies created by political power, this strict social control dominated human society. These included the monopolies over conscience (state religions), over the bodies of certain people (chattel slavery; caste systems), or the property rights of about half of the species (the legal “infirmities” of women) and over property through regal claims to “own” the land and economic activities of a territory (feudalism and mercantilism). But in more modern times, the structure of bureaucracy itself has been the control system; consider, for, example, how the regulatory structure of the Military Draft was used in the USA during the 1960s and ‘70s to “channel” students into certain fields, such as science, which were considered of benefit to the state.

During the past few centuries the King’s age-old monopolies have begun to break-down and disappear. The world-wide outlawing of chattel slavery and the movement toward equality for women and an end to caste systems have freed-up extraordinary level of human creativity. As a result, despite the enormous growth of government and the burden that system of coercion imposes on all people, human economic activity has reached new levels of organization and efficiency. More people live longer, healthier and wealthier lives than ever before in human history.

This powerful, world-wide movement toward greater liberty has met nearly equally powerful resistance among the beneficiaries of the monopolies. Fundamentalists among the three related monotheistic religions have especially resisted the equality of women. Politicians of various persuasions have many spurious arguments to make about economic controls that are just variations on the King’s Monopolies that had been rejected by the European Classical Liberal Tradition, from which the work of Mises and Rothbard arose.

The Twenty-First Century has enhanced intellectual tools to bring to the battle of ideas; the instantaneous communications of the Internet Social Networking universe allow no one to hide behind old, disproven ideas. Nonetheless, Hegelian concepts about “collectives,” echoed by the intellectual heirs of Hegel, the Nazis and the Marxists, and more recently taken up by collectivists of various more seemingly-modest varieties, are still raised in an attempt to impose “Politically Correct” restrictions on speech and intellectual inquiry, especially in the government’s “public” universities and other “public” spaces. Similarly, collectivist arguments are made by Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, against freedom of conscience and for government restrictions on freely chosen Human Action. Of course, against this we find many expressive association non-governmental organization (NGOs)[4] using the most advanced forms of Internet communication, to pursue the Liberty we have come to expect as of right.

Advocates of liberty see only one ethical limit on Human Action: non-coercion against non-coercers. In this way, libertarian political theory stands in direct opposition to the ideologies of the old Right/Left paradigm. The Misian approach counters arguments about legal fictions such as “peoples” – “races” – “nations” – “religions” – “classes” – “corporations”, with arguments about the root of Human Action – the Axiom of Human Action: individual dissatisfaction. These legal fictions cannot act in the real world. Only humans act; sometimes pretending to act on behalf of these fictions. It's time, though, to wake up from the mythic ancient city and assert the real roots of human culture, in Human Action. It's time to take responsibility for what is real.
“Man's freedom to choose and to act is restricted in a threefold way. There are first the physical laws to whose unfeeling absoluteness man must adjust his conduct if he wants to live. There are second the individual's innate constitutional characteristics and dispositions and the operation of environmental factors; we know that they influence both the choice of the ends and that of the means, although our cognizance of the mode of their operation is rather vague. There is finally the regularity of phenomena with regard to the interconnectedness of means and ends, viz., the praxeological law as distinct from the physical and from the physiological law.

The elucidation and the categorical and formal examination of this third class of laws of the universe is the subject matter of praxeology and its hitherto best-developed branch, economics. The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.” - Human Action, Pg 885.[4]
Thus, the line in the sand...

Mises, speaking to a group of then rather young libertarians at a Society for Individual Liberty conference in Philadelphia warned us all back in 1971. He wagged his finger at his long-haired audience (including a Nobel laureate's son; several future best-selling authors; even a congress-critter-in-the-making...) and told us, "You are eating your seed corn..."

And so we have been... but we have also been learning and communicating in ways that visionaries like Mises, or Buckminster Fuller, were just dimly perceiving just a few decades ago. It was Fuller who opined, just before his passing, that the then new computer media would make what he called "the secret government" impossible.

I firmly believe that the Tea Party #teaparty and Occupy Wall Street #OWS can constructively engage, in a transpartisan discussion - since both movements see the the same mis/non and malfeasance of the crony corporatists and their minions in govt.

However, "IMHO" it is the Ron Paul libertarians, who can "stand in both camps," who can best bridge to actual solutions to the problems, and an opportunity to teach a whole "progressive" generation that govt is not any solution!

The solution is to adopt the strong market-oriented reforms, such as Rep. Ron Paul, as House chair of Monetary Policy, has offered.

HR 1094, 1098 and 2768 are a comprehensive restructuring and de-socializing of the USA's centralized banking system. I wrote about that HERE. Similarly, he is offering a comprehensive Trillion Dollar Budget Reform that rapidly returns to a balanced budget, and a series of bills about health and food freedom, such as the Raw Milk Freedom Bill, HR.1830, about which I wrote, HERE, that, in his wording, would "Legalize freedom!"

It appears to some analysts, such as Gen. Stubblebine, that the globalists want to use #OWS as a counterfoil to what they perceive as a potential Tea Party Tsunami. The General thinks we need to outflank them by weening the movement from pro-govt stands to a truly radical rejection of the Left-Neocons that now control the White House.

General Bert's Emergency Message & Video to Occupy Wall Street:

A globalist "Genocidal Agenda" is discussed by Dr. Rima E. Laibow MD in this appearance at the School of Enlightenment, Yelm, WA.

In this new approach to politics, this transpartisan approach, once again Dr. Paul has shown extraordinary leadership. Examples include garnering over 320 House co-sponsors to his tough Audit the Fed bill in 2010, and the 2008 Joint Policy Statement what he calls the "Principled Third Parties" issued together, in an unprecedented "right/left" show of support for his leadership, about which I wrote HERE. Any wonder Dr. Paul has photos of Mises and Rothbard on his DC office wall?

These are, as the old Chinese curse has it, "exciting times..." they are times that cry out for concerted, well-considered Human Action.

Liberty rests on the restlessness of the individual; on our individual dissatisfaction, as we each seek to maximize our individual good…

Here is Dr. Paul on Pushing Back for Freedom:

 To paraphrase Mises:
Only Individuals think.
Only Individuals plan.
Only Individuals engage in Human Action.

All the rest is political fiction. Any future politics must take this Truth into account.

[2] Gen. Bert's Message:
[2]Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City, p 222 – 223, Doubleday Anchor Books, Library of Congress #55-12307 /
[3] Some of which are: – – – – – and