Hermit's Weblog
everything your mother never taught you about how the world really works.

Mon, 19 Apr 2004

The Flaws in the Argument that Americans Should Give up some of their Civil Rights in the War on Terrorism, in order to be more Secure.

I am going to write the following in the general, while at the same time using the War on Terrorism as a specific example. This is because there are general principles involved, but understanding them can be aided by focusing on a specific instance.

The fundamental logical flaw can be found it the proposition that government, in order to carry out its duty to provide security for the People it serves, must be given greater latitude during times of crisis. Basically what government is saying is that it can't carry out these duties, unless it violates well established principles of law. The State tells us it has to break the law in order to keep us secure.

When the United States form of government was created, the Founders had no expectation that those drawn to the exercise of power would be angels. They knew too well that human beings had many human flaws, and the document was designed precisely to take account of this reality. For example, the careful and finely wrought division of powers among the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches was put in place to keep those in power in one Branch from overwhelming and controlling the other Branches.

When, subsequent to finishing the Constitution, the Founders realized that certain assumptions that they had felt were obvious, were in fact not obvious to many, they then added what we know of as the Bill of Rights, or the first ten amendments. They realized that not only did the three Branches have to have a finely tuned and balanced division of powers, but that the whole government needed to have restraints put in place to protect the People from excesses of either of the various Branches of government, or from what was understood as a tyranny of the majority. The Founders understood that to the extent our form of Government was a Constitutional Democratic Republic (which by the way is not a Democracy), it would be possible for slight majorities, during moments of passion, to abuse the rights of minorities, and for this additional reason the Bill of Rights was added.

The Civil Rights of Americans are not mere window dressing, something that can be set aside at any excuse, but are rather the most Fundamental Expression of the Limits that the People themselves have placed on Government. The Constitution is a document that says: Government can do this and only this, and only in this way. The People always are to Rule, and a siting President, or an dominant political Party, are not to Rule.

So when the siting Government comes to the People and says we can't do the job of keeping you secure, unless you forego your most fundamental and sacred Rights, this government has confessed its incapacity and failings and now wants to make us give up what it has no right to, in order to shelter it from the consequences of its own weakness, ambitions and errors. Such a government wants to draw to itself ever greater Powers, and this vain desire needs to be seen exactly for the arrogant ignorance it displays, because the true and primary Duty of our Government is to secure us in our Rights, not to diminish them.

Lets look now at what is being called the War on Terrorism, and is being used by the siting Government to justify its desire for a lessening of our Civil Rights.

We should start with an observations I made about the time this War was declared (without a formal declaration of Congress, by the way, for who could declare a War on what are essentially nameless individuals, only loosely connected to an foreign State). Here is the older essay, should the reader what to peruse it: The Problem of Terrorism - in the light of a reconsideration of the nature of foreign policy. In that essay I noted (among much else) some of the following points:

Twice before politicians have declared these kinds of abstract Wars: the War on Poverty, and the War on Drugs. In case nobody has been paying attention, we lost both those Wars. What reason do we have for thinking we can win the so-called War on Terrorism?

The fact is that such a war, given the vague nature of who it would be waged against, is really only another excuse for Government to spend money looking like they are doing something about a problem they really don't demonstrate, in practice, any reasonable chance of solving. Declaring such a War doesn't solve the problem. That declaration is just words, and vain posturing. The real question is what is done. It is never the words of politicians we need to mark, only their deeds.

This does leave us with a problem: What can be done about terrorism? Well, to do something about anything, you need to understand it. Terrorism is not like some recurring weed in our front lawn, to which we can apply some chemical on a regular basis. Terrorism is a complicated modern problem in a complicated modern world, and when our siting government reduces these complex issues to some kind of vague War, they are not providing illumination, only rhetoric - no light, just self-serving words.

The fact is that among causes of death in the world, the acts of terrorists hardly compare to preventable disease, starvation, aids, drugs; and in the United States one is more likely to die in a car accident caused by a drunk driver than to die at the hands of a madman with a bomb in the subway. We also need to recognize that the terrorist is acting in the way they are acting precisely because they want to make us be fearful - to cause terror. At the same time, their attacks against the innocent are far less frequent and devastating than those losses of life that are routinely caused by Nature through hurricane, flood and other natural disasters.

Our political leaders respond in the ways they do, in the face of this insanity in the world (the terrorist is no more sane than a serial killer) because they: a) want to deny that there is any validity to the political and social agendas of terrorists (that is there is no true justification for which the political leader need be responsible); and b) the boogeyman of the terrorist is a convenient scapegoat for the ambitions of politicians, and the wealthy elites which they normally serve.

We can't really take the problem of terrorism out of its wider historical context, and come to any understanding of it at all. For example, the Bush administration came into office bringing with them certain theoreticians of the so-called neo-con variety, who had already written papers in which their 19th Century imperialistic geo-political aspirations could be fulfilled by bringing down the regime in Iraq, and then placing concentrations of American military forces there in order to advance American dominance of the world's oil supplies. 9/11 and terrorism just gave an excuse for an advancement of this long range geo-political goal - one which is entirely in the service of the needs of wealthy elites.

Terrorism is part of a war between the wealthy and the poor, in which the poor and powerless, cornered and unable to act in any rational fashion, are forced into a kind of madness in order to resist the financial aggression by which the world's wealthy elites endeavor to take control everywhere they can, using in the process the good will of the American People as a manipulated and fear driven foil for this elite's own ambitions.

We can't solve the terrorism problem by reducing our Civil Rights, but only by changing the control of wealth over foreign policy so that no longer do the poor and the powerless have to descend into to madness in order to resist the unjust seizure of their homes and lives. It will only be when the American People take common cause with those oppressed peoples, whose pain and suffering breeds the terrorist madness, that anything real can be done. In the meantime, the elites of wealth will use the fear of terrorism to manipulate the American People into believing their only recourse for the intentional failures of American Foreign Policy to bring peace, is to give up Civil Rights.

What is really being asked of the American People is not just a diminishing of our Civil Rights, but our continued political sleep in the face of the real dynamics of the ongoing war between the rich and the poor, of which terrorism is only a symptom.

[14:39] | [] | # | G

The Real Problem with the Patriot Act, and Why it should Not be Renewed without this Egregious Flaw being Changed.

The real problem here is the definition of what a terrorist is. See this essay at Truthout.org: on this problem.. There is nothing I can say that approaches the situation better.

[14:29] | [] | # | G

Fri, 16 Apr 2004

Is it Time to Recognize the Real War?

Let's take a look at the situation in the most stark way possible, assuming that all the worst fears of the real Left are true. These are the assumptions:

1) money rules;

2) the Republican Party is the Party of Wealth;

3) the Republican Party tells all kinds of lies in order to fake what they appear to believe so that they can get the votes of certain disaffected groups (the Religious Right, gun owners, over-burdened taxpayers, hawks, and so forth;

4) the real agenda of the Republican Party is to take and hold power for the financial elites which finance and control the Party's whole structure.

5) The foreign policies of this administration, while often phrased in traditional terms (get rid of weapons of mass destruction, get rid of bad guys, bring freedom to the world etc.), in reality has nothing whatsoever to do with such a positive or creative agenda.

6) 9/11 gave an excuse to invade Iraq as part of a long term policy of the wealthy elite to be able to place massive American troop concentrations in the geographic center of the major oil producing nations of the middle-East, which concentrations would work as a threat matrix for further machinations in the region.

7) Collectively there is a long existing English-American financial establishment (going all the way back to and through Cecil Rhodes), which has been trying to run the world (mostly successfully) for over a century, and which manifests in such institutions as the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.

8) the build up of American military might during the Cold War had little to do with the threat from Russia (the serious experts knew the Russians couldn't mount a real modern war machine), but everything to do with positioning America to be the single super power when communism collapsed, which it eventually had to do.

9) the Wealthy elites don't really care about the poor, and consider them to just be in the way of those who have righteously risen to the top through social rules of natural selection. If your are rich and have power, it was meant to be.

10) because of the hired expertise wealth is able to employ, their understanding of the world is far superior to most governments and universities. The best and the brightest are soon noticed and recruited to be part of this elite. Everyone pretends this intellectual elite is not just paid servants, but Henry Kissinger and the like make so much money and live so high on the hog, that it doesn't seem to make a difference to them that they really don't get to make long term policy decisions (they are servants and not masters).

11) the Real War has always been the rich against the poor, and the means has always been the same as it has for millennia - lawlessness, lies, and violence (both threatened and real). We just happen to live in an Age where so-called public education has been carefully influenced by these same tame intellectual servants of the rich, with the result that we are trained from birth to believe we live in a Democracy, when the true facts are that we live in a tyranny of concentrated wealth, and have done so since at least (at least!) the Civil War, when the bankers manipulated Lincoln, and prevented him from fixing the problem with the nature of money.

12) the rich also own the Democratic Party.

13) Clinton's (a Rhodes Scholar) move to the political center destroyed finally what remained of the Democratic Party, which was really dealt its fatal blow during the early days of the Vietnam War, especially over the police riots in Chicago during the Democratic Convention in 1968. Nader is right, the Democrats are no more progressive, or left leaning, than the Republicans. They just have the role of mastering progressive lies more, while the Republicans master conservative lies.

How do we know if these assumptions are true?

14) the Federal Reserve Act of 1919, involved an unconstitutional grant of power from the Federal Government to a private banking group, and was supported by both parties. There are two basic powers of a government over an economy, the monetary power, and the spending and taxing power. The monetary power concerns the managing of the size of the money supply, and the regulation of interest rates, while the taxing and spending powers are just what their names imply. In the Federal Reserve Act, the monetary power was giving over to a private bank (which was named the "Federal" Reserve, to preserve the illusion of its ties to government). In addition, to again further the illusion, the Chairman of the Fed - currently Alan Greenspan - is appointed by the President - who always follows the lead, in making this appointment, of the financial wizards of Wall Street, while less known is the fact that to the rest of the board of the Fed - who actually vote policy, the Chairman is just a figure head, and the members of this board are appointed officials (lap-dogs) of various private banking interests.

15) everyone, who understands this (and favors it), believes it is necessary because it is assumed that the People, through their elected representatives, are just to darned stupid and self interested to be trusted with the management of all that wealth.

16) social security, that great progressive program created in response to the great depression (the bankers sure controlled that one didn't they), was a lie from the beginning, and was again supported by both parties, who managed to exempt Senators, Congressmen and various other appointed and elected officials from having to pay into such a scam, while at the same time granting themselves (and continue to grant themselves) the world's greatest retirement program ever (that is if you get to be elected and sent to Washington). Immediately, in order to hide what actually spending was being done in Washington (again both parties colluded), the social security fund was used as part of the general fund monies (mingled with income tax receipts) that government could spend, and all that was done was that IOU's were placed in the fund. So in effect, our elected representatives of both Parties created a pyramid scheme in which the accounts which showed a positive balance really only contained IOU's for which (guess who) the taxpayer was also responsible. They got us to loan ourselves the money to cover the theft of our own money - so we owe ourselves for our money which they borrowed in an accounting trick that kept us in the dark.

Let's face it. Governments are today about money and power and all the rhetoric about freedom and truth is just a bunch of crap! The rich don't really care who wins in November 2004, because the basic rules will remain the same. Senators and Congressman will still depend upon wealth for their re-elections. They will still keep themselves free of the debacle that is coming to social security. They will continue to gerrymander voting districts to favor the incumbents to the exclusion of any new blood. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and few there are who can step back from this temptation. Dean and Kucinich were abberations, and Kerry is just another bought soul.

The real war is between the rich and the poor, but lets recognize that while they have power and money, there are a hell of a lot more of us. Even if you place in the camp of the rich all their servants (all those who benefit from the present system), the split is about 80-20. Only 20% are trying (with considerable success lets remember) to control the other 80%'s lives.

The trick question is how do we want to play our part in this war? The rich make war on the poor because that is the only method they know, even with its quite questionable moral nature. Do we really want to make war back? What moral path do we want to follow? Suppose we don't want to play? Suppose we say, yea, you want all that stuff, alright you can have it. Then we get about the business of getting together and surviving in spite of their stupidity and greed.

Ask yourself this question: Is it really necessary to pursue the same goals of wealth and power as the rich? If not, then what goals? Maybe we are smarter. Yes, I know, we have to worry about all the evil in the world (that's the great liberal albatross), and make sure that the 9 year old prostitutes in Thailand get freed, and the slaves in equatorial Africa. We have to make sure the Malaysian garment workers are paid a living wage, and the Chinese plastics producers. And in America, we have to have our free music on the Internet, and hamburgers twice a day.

Once we admit that there is a war between the rich and the poor, and that this war dominates all other political decisions, we are left with a number of questions, the very least of which is: Why play the game by their rules? Why seek our own political power in a venue they already control? In Aikido (a very interesting martial Art), the gesture is to embrace the act of violence moving toward one, and respond in such a way that it passes through one without harm and without our losing our center. Is it possible the same goal/method is valid in this war between the rich make upon the poor?

This doesn't mean, by the way, that we can't get political power, but rather that the means by which that is done may well be along lines quite different from those the true Left and real progressives have been pursuing. The question remains, as noted above, do we play the game by their rules, or do we invent our own?

[12:29] | [] | # | G

Thu, 15 Apr 2004

President George Bush, a Sad Man over his Head, or Someone more Mentally Flawed than we have so far imagined?

All of us have a tendency, when we see someone not quite right in their mind, to give them a lot a slack, and perhaps even the benefit of the doubt. Few of us truly see clearly when someone can't really pull their mind into a cohesive state, for the signs are often subtle, and given that we don't want to make such judgments, as noted above, such signs are often overlooked by ordinary people.

We also don't want to see the man with his finger on the button as someone who mentally shouldn't have such power. Yet, as tragic and sad as it is, the performance on April 12th, 2004, by George Bush, our President, displayed for all who are willing to see that he is not competent mentally.

He, of course, may not truly be to blame, for most of those who have such subtle mental deficiencies are often not aware of their problem. But those around him, who live in denial of his fracturing mental processes, cannot be relieved of their responsibility. Rove and company have, for reasons unfathomable, placed in the White House a man not only not equal to the task but quite dangerous. Perhaps Rove and Cheney think they can control him, and maybe they can. But putting President Bush there, and creating this situation, is a crime against humanity.

It will not be possible to detail what can be observed in looking at this mentally deficient performance, but I can endeavor to give some hints and general statements, so that someone with the stomach for it (it was really painful to watch) can find a tape and then look themselves and see the signs.

Much can be learned even by listening to a prepared and read speech, which is the way President Bush began his news conference. There is a well understood mental health idea called "affect", which is what we experience of the emotions being expressed in tone of voice and facial gesture. There can be a disconnect between the affect and the content of the words, so that one might write in nursing notes on a mental health ward, that someone's affect was inappropriate. Someone can reveal that they are emotionally disconnected by looking to see whether the emotional affect and the thought content in the speaking are consistence.

For example, someone can smile while talking about tragic events in their lives, and this would suggest such a disconnect. In the case of President Bush, there was what I would all a "null" affect during his reading of his prepared text. He wasn't emotionally connected at all to what he read. It could have been the most boring material, and even a normal person would have had some kind of emotional response. Here was being read matters vital to the Nation and to the whole World, and President Bush was emotionally dead in the reading of this text. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I think they have him on some kind of drug cocktail. This is one obvious explanation for his lack of affect. The question then becomes: Why is he being medicated?

When we think and then speak, there is a certain kind of relationship between thinking and speaking such that the mental acts become visible in a kind of indirect way. For example, the ability to concentrate and follow a train of thought is often reflected in how the sentences formed by the speaking move from phrase to phase, each phrase representing a captured thought content. A series of broken phrases, often with no relationship (gaps in logical coherence) suggests an inability to think clearly.

During the question and answer section of the press conference, President Bush continuously showed an inability to maintain a connected train of thought. This condition increased whenever he was asked a question that in a normal person would have produced an emotional response (such as don't you think you failed or don't you think you owe the American People an apology). So we could observe his affect (moderated by drugs?) showing no emotions to an obviously emotion producing question, while the thought stream as expressed in speech became more incoherent.

Pauses often reveal that mentally a stop occurred in the thinking, as the train of thought may have been lost and then needed to be grasped once more. Word errors can occur in the sense of a failed usage, or perhaps not really fitting into the train of thought. These stops and word errors increased when emotional questions were asked.

We know that politicians often slide by directly answering questions, and that before such a performance as this, the staff has the politician engage in practice, and trains the politician to refer to so-called "talking points", that is set and planned ideas that can be given as a response to an anticipated question, or just shoved in helter skelter, where the speaker can think of nothing else to say. We are used to such types of performances, for we expect the politician to not have much interest in telling us the truth. All the same, there is a skill in this kind of speaking, which only requires a certain quality of memory and some ability to mouth previously developed trains of thought. President Bush did this some of the time, but again, when the question evoked what in a normal person would have been emotion, he floundered all over the place.

One question he was asked was one of those kind of new-agey curve balls: "If you learned anything since 9/11, what did you learn?". Here again was a set of responses lacking either any coherence, or even a sense of humor. Phrases started and stopped. There was almost no connection from one sentence to the next. I had the impression that if this had been a staff meeting, and the President hadn't been on drugs, he would have been screaming his head off in anger. The repressed emotion completely overwhelmed the ability to think and speak at the same time.

Now in a normal person, there is a certain ability to reflect on life, to look back and learn lessons. As we get older, we grow better at this (sometimes), and certainly this ability to reflect is a human quality we absolutely must have in any high official. Clearly President Bush is unfamiliar with this spiritually mature inner process. He most reminded me of what in Alcoholics Anonymous is called a "dry drunk". All the alcoholic behaviors are still there, even though there is no drinking. In President Bush's case, we have denial (I'm not at fault) and blame (the other guy did it, not me) - typical alcoholic behaviors. The anger that drunks (dry or wet) display when confronted with questions that put them on the spot, being repressed by the drug cocktail (I assume), only showed in the President's incoherence in the stream of speech.

We really have several questions: How mentally incompetent is the President? Why is he being drugged? If he isn't being drugged, then just how bad is it that he has no affect and can't express a normal emotional response? Is he a dry drunk? What is going on behind closed doors in the White House that we are going to find out about too late to do anything?

I really wish I had answers to these questions.

It gets worse by the way, and while I am on this point I should take it further.

First, the overwhelming of the ability of maintaining coherent thought when confronted by emotion is the last quality we want in a President. The repression of this by damping down the emotions (and affect) doesn't solve the problem, it only hides it. A President during a crisis needs to be able to think coherently and make decisions, in spite of high levels of emotion. For those who remember, we just have to remind ourselves of President Bush in the grade school class room, having aides come in and tell him we were under attack with planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the President went right on reading the story to the children. Again, evidence of the either the repression of normal human emotional responses by excessive drug use, or worse - if drugs is not the cause, a complete lack of such responses evidencing a socio-pathic personality disorder.

There is a second phenomena here, which is very subtle in a way, but also needs to be noted. Certain kinds of ideas, when thought, produce emotional responses. They engender in us passion for the Ideal. The highest Ideals, such as freedom, love, justice, when inwardly thought and felt, often lead to great passion, witness our history and the passionate oratory of our Founders. There are also lesser ideas, about which we can feel an emotion.

President Bush did get worked up (enthusiastic) a couple of times. This can and was a bit faked, but even in faking it, the President had to care about faking it. What did he care about enough to fake enthusiasm?

Well, he fell into his usual sports metaphors, about winning, and staying the course. He maybe thought that being presidential was about being a good coach, and that that is what the American People needed - a good coach. Unfortunately, what this really shows is how little of the Ideal, of the true nature of our Nation and form of Government, that he appreciates or understands. Perhaps this lack of appreciation comes from his life of privilege, and his continued adolescence (he still hasn't grown up), but the fact remains that the fundamental nature of our People and our Nation, that lives in our History, has no real meaning for him. If he does have an emotional investment to something, it is in not getting caught. He'd like to slide through his Presidency the same way he has slid through life - as painlessly and as effortlessly as possible.

Isn't it wonderful. The Republicans put this kid in highest office, who doesn't really care about anything but himself (typical dry drunk behavior), and who also seems to be slowly unraveling emotionally, otherwise why the drugs (unless, of course, he's a socio-path) and why the minder (Cheney) when he goes before the 9/11 commission?

Of course, there is the question that lurks, if one believes that President Bush is receiving some kind of drug cocktail, as to whether or not included in this mildly euphoric substance is something that makes him more amenable to suggestion. Maybe this is the string that Rove and Cheney pull. Maybe they have taken their dry drunk, turned him into a addict and given him something to want more than he wants to be a boss. Imagine it being said to him, that if he just gets through this press conference, or signs that bill, or makes a certain statement to the press, that he is going to get a nice reward. Makes me sick to think this way, but I believe we need to observe very carefully this whole process, and not be surprised when later much that we now suspect turns out to be true.

Now don't get me started on Kerry, at least not today.

[18:26] | [] | # | G

Mon, 12 Apr 2004

It Really is Time for the American People to Take Charge of their Government

I think most people have a good instinct for this, but in support of the whole Idea I'd like to set out in a little detail the nature of the realities.

History is not a series of accidents or unrelated events , but is rather a complex living organism with a lot of shape, structure and (to put a very specific face on it) intelligence. There is something quite real we can call the Genius of History.

The historical sequence of civilizations is then developmental and progressive. A long term process is unfolding, driven by many factors, not the least of which is human striving. Human beings have certain basic hungers and desires, and these manifest in the shape and texture of events as these grow and metamorphose over time.

One of the basic hungers is for freedom, or what was said during the French Revolution: "liberty, equality and fraternity". The oppression of the human spirit, whether by an older hereditary aristocracy, or a modern aristocracy of wealth, is always resisted; and, this resistance grows wiser and better over time. This resistance reached a kind of high point in the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the U. S. Constitution.

These documents were an attempt to embody a certain impulse of the human spirit in which the sovereignty of the individual was to predominate, instead of the previous domination of the individual by an aristocracy of blood. This is a huge change in the nature of the relationship between the individual and the State. With the American and French Revolutions this change was set in motion, but as History has revealed, not everything could be done to effect such a change very quickly.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long before a tyranny of concentrated wealth was able to impose its will upon this impulse of the human spirit. We see this in the present corruption of civil processes by wealthy elites, and in the shape and texture of elite globalization. The sovereignty of the individual has yet to fully incarnate in human affairs.

For students of the activity of the Genius of History, it is clear that the End of the 20th Century and the Beginning of the 21st (that is the Dawn of the Third Millennium) is a crisis point at which it is possible to step forward again, and through the efforts of individuals acting in free concert, to take this desire of the human spirit another step further. Granted it sometimes seems that the elites of wealth hold most if not all of the cards, but this is only an appearance - an illusory seeming.

The defeat of the movement to create the Multinational Agreement on Investments is a case in point. Further examples of the resistance of the human spirit to its continued oppression by the tyranny of concentrated wealth can be found everywhere today. What I want to do next is to focus on a rather narrow aspect of this process, one which I hope to demonstrate has quite unusual potential.

Modern States, especially in the industrial West, have over the course of Western Civilization rooted themselves in a number of principles, one of the main principles being the rule of law. Whatever the elites of wealth seek to do, they must make use of the rule of law, and it is through various aspects of the rule of law that minorities resist the continuous efforts at further tyranny. In the United States of America, our Founders were able to place into the rule of law certain very fundamental Ideas, which rest like forgotten treasures whose time of use has now arrived. There are three places where this Idea is expressed, and which clearly reveal that our rule of law is based completely upon an appreciation of the sovereignty of the individual.

The first place is in the Declaration of Independence wherein it is stated: "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,..."

Let's isolate a particular phrase: "...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...". Here is one very exact statement of the intended new relationship. The power of the State, to the extent that it is just in terms of self evident and unalienable Rights, is only just to the extent that it is derived from the consent of the governed. The power of the State is entirely dependent upon Consent, and only Consent, which Consent can be withdrawn.

Now an argument could be made that the Constitution does not contain this language. However, the fact is that the Constitution clearly does contain this Idea, whatever form of language is used. In fact, the Constitution begins and ends with this very Idea.

What else can be meant by the beginning phrases of the Preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.". "We the People...do ordain and establish this Constitution...".

Following this beginning, the Founders discovered to their dismay that some people didn't quite get it, so they had to add what is called the Bill of Rights, or the First Ten Amendments to the original document. It is the Bill of Rights which puts the final touch to the Idea of individual sovereignty with what is sometimes called "the Reserve Clause", or the 10th Amendment: "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."

Thus, the essentials of the Constitution begin with "We the People...do ordain and establish", and ends with "powers not delegated...are reserved...to the people." The rule of law under which we live establishes clearly who is in charge, and upon whose Consent all powers of the State depend.

When, for example, the State, in the guise of Executive and Legislative exercises of granted powers, makes treaties by which it tries to give away sovereignty of the United States, such as in the Multinational Agreement on Investments, the State can only make a limited give away - one which does not bind the People. There is no act which either of the three Branches can make which binds us. Our individual sovereign power is superior in every way.

If there is a difficulty, it is that we have to act collectively, just as we did in the beginning. WE are the "governed" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and WE are the People mentioned in the Preamble and in the Reserve Clause of the Constitution. Our individual sovereignty can only be expressed collectively, to the extent we want to change the nature of the rule of law (our social agreement). This does not, however, as Thoreau clearly saw in his remarks on Civil Disobedience, limit our exercise of our individual sovereign moral will.

Our individual sovereignty then is expressed collectively in grants of power to the State, wherein WE arrive at a shared rule of law, or social contract, concerning the legal rules to which WE all agree, or individually in acts of moral choice (higher law) rooted in the sovereignty of our own I-AM (or spirit).

What does it mean that the Power of the State under the rule of law is limited to that which we collectively grant to it? How does this effect our path into the future and how we act during the many social crises we now face?

My view is that these facts challenge us to recognize that to truly face our current problems, we must go all the way into reconsidering the nature of the most fundamental acts of governance by, for and of the People. It is hard to do this properly. It first requires that we recognize that the normal processes of governance are so corrupted that they must be abandoned. We have to reject our current co-dependence upon a flawed two party system and on those lamed public servants, who lack enough wisdom to correct the effects of the tyranny of concentrated wealth as these manifest in the excesses currently observable in our society connected to corporate abuses of power and other symptoms of social dysfunction.

What I am suggesting is that we can do nothing less then start again from the very beginning, and do this is such a way that we are not dependent at all upon those currently in office. We must have another Constitutional Convention - one that is created and drawn together entirely outside existing forms and structures.

We need not ask the permission of any Branch of Government to do this. Those powers previously granted can be withdrawn, and we can rewrite the whole thing once again, from the bottom up. We need not wait for the Legislative Branch to rewrite the laws governing Corporations, but can change the very Constitution ourselves to keep a Corporation from falsely claiming the same Rights as living sovereign human individuals. We need not fear the excesses of a right-wing minority, whose influences in our Government are unconscionable, such that they seek to be able to make their personal morality have the force and effect of law. By turning our attention to a Second Constitutional Convention we take up the fundamental power upon which any derivative power of the State depends.

Does anyone doubt at all that we must rise to this full potential of Citizenship, and using our sovereign individuality in conscious cooperation, once again consider the deepest questions of the nature of the State and its relationship to its Citizens?

Yes, this will take time. But again the question's answer is obvious - it is serious grants of time and effort we must spend if we want to count ourselves as alive in this grave and troublesome moment in History. Where else is the Genius of History to be found, but in the acts of the collective wisdom of the human spirit?

Let's go at this Idea one more time, so that the reality can become as clear as possible.

History is progressive and developmental, being an unfolding of the human spirit as it seeks to express itself. The desire for freedom, equality and brotherhood, that arose in the time of the Revolutions in America and France, was only able to begin the process of the transformation (metamorphosis) of the earlier relationship of the State and its People. We are now on the cusp of a further deepening of this transformation.

Our tool in this can be no less than that tool first used by the Founders - a gathering and engendering of the collective will (WE) of individual sovereign human spirits (I-AMs), which we came to call the Constitutional Convention. Once again we must gather together and consider the fundamental relationships of the State and its consenting People, in the light of our experiences since the first convention.

This will not be easy. Nor will it be accomplished without drawing toward itself the greatest opposition.

At the same time, History demands of us no lesser act. If the expression of human individual sovereignty is to move forward during this time of crisis, it will only do so to the extent that we risk,and put in play, our comfortable material existence and our very lives. The Altar of Freedom requires no less Sacrifice.

This is a sacred charge, one requiring discipline and sobriety. It needs to be done carefully, and with a mind alerted to prior excesses. The anti-establishment actions of the '60's and '70's are not appropriate here. We cannot indulge ourselves in an us versus them confrontational process, but must recognize that all are Citizens and sovereign individuals, whether one is homeless, in prison, or the CEO of a Fortune Five Hundred company.

Our blessing is that the Founders did succeed in embodying the basic Idea. First in the Declaration of Independence, with its expression: "Governments...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"; and then second, in the U.S. Constitution, which begins: ""We the People...do ordain and establish", and ends with "powers not delegated...are reserved...to the people."

One of those powers is to have a new Constitutional Convention whenever we deem it necessary. Isn't it about time?

[background reading: America's Global Responsibility: individuation, initiation and threefolding; by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon.]

[14:16] | [] | # | G

Fri, 09 Apr 2004

The Lesson of Terrorism is the Futility of Force as an Agent of Change

How do we get terrorism? Why does it exist?

It is easy to dismiss terrorism as the cowardly use of violence against innocents in a vain (impossible) hope to achieve political ends. Where in history do we find terrorists as having won a war, or achieved their agendas?

We really don't find them successful, except sometimes in the short term. But in the long term their fundamental weakness is exposed. They are too few and ill-armed, at war with a superior force in terms of numbers and tools of violence. The terrorist can't win a conventional war, and knows this. We could say that Vietnam was a terrorist insurgency, which it certain can look like from some points of view, but the truth is the North had an army, and that war was fought in their homeland with invading forces who were ultimately defeated. In Iraq we seem to wander close to that older mess, but really don't get there. Most Iraqies want to be left alone, to raise families and engage in business and other quite ordinary pursuits. The terrorism comes from other agendas, and has one main characteristic.

This characteristic is that those, who are weak and powerless against those who seek to be in control, refuse to capitulate. Forced into a corner, they fight back, using any means necessary to resist. What people would not?

If we step back a bit from the immediacy of the problems in Iraq, and look to it as an ongoing and current lesson being offered by the Genius of History, what do we see?

We see the end of any value in the application of force by an dominating world power. Here was the sitting government of the United States, convinced of the illusions of its own manipulated press, that we had now become the only super power in the world, and anything we willed could be achieved by the application of force of arms, or its threat. With a kind of infinite hubris and arrogance, a small group of intellectuals in the field of international relations, convinced the leading politicians in the Right Wing of the Republican Party that force of arms could achieve just ends (whether economic or political or social - for this point I will assume the ends pursued were just). Yet, every intellectual calculation has proved false, and the assumption that we could enforce our foreign policy desires by arms has failed.

What the terrorist has shown, is not so much that what they desire can be achieved, but rather that the human spirit, when pushed into a corner, is able to resist any raw application of power that is not willing to destroy totally that which it first desired to possess. Obviously we could wipe out huge portions of the middle-East, through the application of our own weapons of mass destruction, but the consequences for the world of such an approach is madness. Our elites wanted Iraq as a power base in the middle-East, and this is being denied them.

The fact is we are not the sole super power, which was really just an delusion. Arms and armies are everywhere, and wherever force of arms is used to achieve a political end, in the finely balanced and complex modern world, it will fail, just as it now fails. The Age of the pursuit of political ends, based upon carrying the big stick, is now over.

The tragic question is: How long will it take modern heads of State, their political sycophants, and the leading generals and arms merchants to realize that the application of force to achieve political ends is no longer viable? How far into Hell on Earth will these vain and arrogant fools drag the rest of us, before they come to their senses?

[12:14] | [] | # | G

Mon, 05 Apr 2004

Why Cheney has to appear with Bush before the 9/11 Commission

I know everyone is wondering about this - why the President of our Country can't go before the 9/11 commission without his VP, but hey, lets keep in mind here who's actually in charge.

A couple of points worth noting:

Bush doesn't do well in situations where he has to think before a live audience, especially where he has to answer questions. He stumbles in his speech, he loses focus and often is unable to produce any clarity of thought. Now he has gotten better in the last few months, but this will be a stressful situation, where he can't get angry and yell if someone asks him a question he doesn't like.

His handlers know this. They have to send a babysitter, and since his (the President's) thoughts on foreign policy really aren't his own at all, but rather represent the ideological agenda of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearl et. al., one of them has to be there to make sure the approved doctrine is presented thoughtfully and forcefully. It would be fun to watch this vaudeville act, if it wasn't indicative of something terribly wrong at the core of our Republic.

Now personally I think there is a worse problem.

I've been in the trenches of the mental health system for 18 of the last 25 years of my working life, and I've seen a lot of people on various kinds of drugs. Personally I think the President is on drugs, probably a low level cocktail of uppers and caffeine, something to give him a little euphoria and confidence, and some artificial clarity of thought. Problem is that still doesn't help where the real problem is competence, and the President is not really competent in a lot of ways. He can't speak with the natural authority of the expert on foreign policy, so even if he is bright and clever from his cocktail, he still needs the VP there to cover the gaps in his knowledge.

Not the best way to run a country.

[13:05] | [] | # | G

< April 2004 >
     1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 910

Joel Wendt


Shapes in the Fire
some thoughts on the nature of public life
Celebration and Theater: a People's Art of Statecraft

Web Sites