Wayne Lapierre versus Ron Paul

Wayne Lapierre versus Ron Paul.

They’re both right. Well, Ron Paul’s completely right, but Wayne Lapierre (I like NAGR and GAO better than the NRA, but that is a separate issue) still has a good point. Security in schools would go a long way towards deterring random shootings as well as putting a quick end to the ones that do occur. However, does anyone want Janet Napolitano (I can see the turn of events now, both Houses when the vote for the law also voting for an amendment that calls all random shootings acts of domestic terrorism) to monitor the schools? Or any other federally appointed bureaucratic [fill in the blank, I’ve run out of euphemisms]? I didn’t think so.

Ron Paul’s point was not necessarily that security in school is not what is needed nor that it wouldn’t work nor that any security in school is always a sacrifice of liberty that necessitates a loss of both security and liberty. His point was that in order to increase security in schools, you would be better off abolishing existing laws that ban firearms from schools. There are unnecessary (and unconstitutional, unless of course you buy into the idea that guns on school property have something to do with the commerce clause) laws on the books that make a more liberty-friendly (and in fact liberty-encouraging) security impossible. Why write more laws when the simplest thing to do, for the result intended, is to abolish them? In other words, why give up essential liberty for temporary security when you can get more liberty and more security in one fell swoop?

Wayne Lapierre wants a federal law. Perhaps it would be a well written law, with no easy way to turn it into a miniature NDAA or, and there is nothing to be alarmed about (like jackbooted thugs to protect the children). Great, but at the end of the day, it is still something that could best be handled at the local level. Best in every possible way. On the moral level (all taxation is theft, but if you are going to do it, tax closer to the people who get the “benefit” that the tax is used to fund; local taxes to pay for local security, and that is assuming it is the state, county, city, and/or district that provide or pay for security rather than individuals making decisions on their own dime). On the legal level (the Constitution gives the federal government relatively few and limited powers, none of which even remotely resemble the kidnapping, brainwashing, and then surrounding with heavy artillery of children, all on the pretext to educate and protect them). On the cost level (generally speaking, localizing public services or privatizing them will bring down costs).  And on the bureaucratic level (no one size fits all plans that allow some to gain at the expense of others, whether anyone other than the bureaucrat gains at all).

Back before guns were so feared (it reminds me almost of animists afraid of spirits in stones or something), before there were so many laws creating that fear and at the same time bestowing on the criminally insane the incentive to use them randomly against the unarmed and innocent, the fact that there were no laws explicitly banning guns did not mean gun nuts* brought them to school everyday. (I don’t think I’m out of line by saying that gun nuts were few and far between prior to the hysteria of the last few decades, and they are in fact a predictable reaction to the stigma created by the government-media complex). But it seems to me if you were to abolish federal laws that explicitly ban guns from school zones today, everyone and their uncle would bring one where state laws and local ordinances and school policies didn’t necessarily ban them.

So, shouldn’t we keep the law so that doesn’t happen? No! Because when all is said and done, there is no reason to think that things won’t revert to the way they once were, if you emulate the past. And remember, just because a federal prohibition is lifted and the gun nuts will use that fact to bring their guns to as many places as they can, does not mean specific schools have to tolerate it. Given enough time, the stigma and reactionary behavior will die down anyways. In the meantime, just the thought that there might be the gun in the hands of one person who is a reasonably decent shot and has no reason to use it unprovoked would cut down on shootings. No need for a specially trained, vetted, and armed class of citizen, all at taxpayer expense, to do those things which no longer need to be done because they can easily be accomplished by random heroes if or when the need arises, for free no less.

The general lesson and a good statement is that government (when synonymous with the state, rather than using the definition it once had) creates an irrational fear and hatred of things. Even things that can be rationally feared (like radiation) and/or hated (like actual crimes) it blows out of proportion, creating irrationalities about those things in the minds of people who choose to let others do their thinking. But the concluding argument should not be, Therefore, once government is in place we shouldn’t seek to abolish it or roll it back, because the stigma will still remain, and though the stigma wasn’t there to begin with, at least the government can react to its ill-effects, but rather, Therefore, to prevent further, deeper, longer lasting, more widespread stigmatization from government, we should seek to abolish it or roll it back, because any amount of stigma that remains will, 1) be worth having around if we can prevent even more of it, and; 2) eventually wear off.

*I use this term loosely and somewhat sarcastically. I know people that like to shoot. I know people that have guns for any number of legitimate reasons. I know people that buy guns low and sell them high. I know people that are strict ideologues in their gun rights advocacy. None of these people are “gun nuts” for any of these reasons, other than in the sarcastic sense that I use it. If I was cornered and asked to describe the people who really are nuts about guns, it would be the gun control lobby. Then the criminal class (and I don’t mean victimless crimes). I might even include anyone that would bring a gun to school and wave it around because it is his right (they haven’t really taken the time to think that, though rights are inalienable, acting responsibly is the best way to make sure you don’t give them up or give others the chance to take them). But I doubt there are too many people like that. It is probably comparable to the kind of situation you would get with the legalization/decriminalization of certain hard drugs. Hardly anybody who didn’t want to before prohibition was lifted would try heroin, but people already with a mind to use it might be slightly more careless. So with guns, perhaps the only people to act stupid with them because of a ban being lifted are the kind of people who already are stupid with them with that ban in place.

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We’ll Probably Fare Better than Jerusalem AD 70

We’ll Probably Fare Better than Jerusalem AD 70.

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. For me it is a joyous season to celebrate my Savior’s birth. I know Christmas has been misdated, infused with pagan rituals, and commercialized to a disgusting extent, but it still the Most Wonderful Time…Of the Year! We had a great sermon this morning from one of our out-of-town Elders (and a Pastor in his own right). Not surprisingly the sermon was on the birth of Christ. And whether you are a believer or not (and if in that case you assume there is still some truth to the story), it is hard to deny that this occurred under very strange (and in some ways remarkably similar to today’s) circumstances.

Judea (aka Israel aka Palestine) at the time was a downtrodden, faithless nation (the people, the land, and the leaders as the man who prayed today put it, though referring mainly to the US), run by usurpers (both Rome and the Idumean dynasty of Herod, if not also the Pharisees and Sadducees), loathing of justice, marred by fear, and lost in despair. This is somewhat understandable given what the Jews had been through, but according to the Bible, was still a result of their own actions (ungratefulness, idolatry, arrogance, forgetfulness). Just as today, the “Jewish Homeland” is “surrounded” on all sides by the nations of Egypt, Assyria (Syria) and Aramea (Syria and Jordan), Nabatea and Idumea (Jordan), Babylonia (Iraq), Philistia (Gaza Strip), Hittites (Turkey), Tyre and Sidon (Lebanon), Ishmael and Sheba (Arabian Peninsula) and Persia (Iran). I don’t read too much into that on a “theological” level (and on the whole I don’t take “ideological” sides in the current conflict), I just find it interesting. But the parallels between Judea under Rome and it’s proxies and America under the United States federal government today are even more interesting. Obviously they are not perfect.

In the sermon we were reminded of the situation. Herod was a bloodthirsty and paranoid usurper. Same thing going on, but ours are much smarter in the way they go about it. The people have lost their way (spiritually, but today, if not back in the day as well, there is a dearth of common sense and basic logic as well). But enough of them fear(ed) and hate(d) their overlords enough for things to eventually come to a head. And I don’t mean at the ballot box. The main difference was that the culmination of events in Palestine (from Herod’s ascension to the fall of Jerusalem) were linked to the birth of Christ, his ministry, his death, as well as other claimants to Messianic claimants or rebel leaders (the Romans, the Herodians, and the Jewish religious establishment all had cause to fear them). I do not contend that such an event, the birth of a Redeemer, will be coming to a stable near us soon. Some poor fools think it has already happened. I think it will be something else. I’m sure it will be plenty earth-shattering*, but not nearly so much as the combination of the end of the Herodians and the beginning of the Christians. Nor so glorious or miraculous.

*If you want to know immediately why I linked, start with the fifth section, sixth if you count the introduction, but please check out the whole piece.

Pro-Gun, Anti-Education, Anti-Christmas Caroling

Pro-Gun, Anti-Education, Anti-Christmas Caroling.

COMPARATIVELY, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

There was a school shooting the other day. In my opinion that is non-news. That doesn’t mean I am not saddened by the incident, but there is only so much a person can do, and frankly these sorts of things are common occurrences around the globe. I have no more or less sympathy for 20 New England school children than I do 20 Pakistani funeral mourners. Or a 16 year old United States citizen. They were all human beings. They were all unjustly slaughtered. Talking about such things beyond the general underlying problems and actually trying to fix them are complete wastes of time and drains on the ability to think. They distract from far more important issues. What could possibly be more important? Anything that the average person can have a much larger impact on than a [random?] shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And anything where there is much more at stake than the mere possibility that such a tragedy will occur at a school near you. But unfortunately there are those who want to use such a tragedy to muddy the waters. They have gun control in mind. In a way it suddenly becomes a legitimate issue apart the specific incident.

So, as long as we are going to talk about it, let us be blunt. Guns were invented (12th Century, China) in the first place, to injure and ultimately kill people. They can be used in self-defense and they can be used for assault. Hunting and recreation are secondary considerations (it ticks me off every time one of my wretched Democratic senators says people have the right to own guns and then ALWAYS qualify that, albeit subtly, with a “for hunting and recreational use”). I don’t say that because I have anything against hunting or target practice, of course. (I am not a hunter. I own a rifle that I rarely use. I do, on occasion, handle firearms for recreational purposes, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But in general, I am not a “gun person”.) Any discussion of banning or controlling guns, whether for or against, should be honest that the point of guns is to blow people away. Gun banners should feel free to use that as an argument against the ownership of firearms (though in my opinion it is an argument for it, all other things being equal), and gun rights advocates shouldn’t be afraid to admit the fact. In a world where it is no longer popular enough to do so and still have people maintain their Second Amendment Rights, the argument has already been lost. I won’t say what they are, but your options at that point narrow considerably.

THE GOVERNMENT-MEDIA COMPLEX AND THEIR LACKEYS ARE ON CUE

Some are griping that the NRA has only just now broken their silence on the shooting. Where those same folks are when the gun control lobby is silent when lives are saved by guns, I couldn’t tell you. They are probably not hypocrites. Just people who like to shoot their mouths off. Good for them. Whatever.

Currently, the blogosphere is rife with people wringing their hands over this, and the common themes among them are:

If we whine about it and empathize and sympathize to no end the world will be a better place. Let’s pat ourselves on the back.

If we control guns the world will be a better place. Guns are inherently evil.

If we don’t talk about anything other than the victims the world will be a better place. Both sides of the gun control debate are wrong for not wanting to “compromise” and wrong to use this tragedy to even bring the issue up.

If we only make sure that we comply with every law on the books and all the recommendations of the experts, the world will be a better place. We are too stupid to think for ourselves or to exercise our God-given rights and so is everyone else (except the experts who do so not only for themselves, but for us as well).

But I won’t bore you with too many of those articles I read. Instead, I’ve put links to sounder arguments and relevant news in the body of this piece. But here’s one sniveling New York Times columnist’s piece just for fun. His basic points are, some stated, some between the lines:

People are dying not because of criminals but because of guns.

Some numbers. 46 die every day from non-firearm homicides. 32 die every day from firearm homicides. 83 die every day from all forms of firearm use, including by suicide, by accident and by homicide. The #1 weapon used in violent crimes is a baseball bat. Every day 2200 Americans use guns for self defense.

American kids are more likely to be murdered than kids in other industrialized nations.

I don’t doubt this, but I wonder how much of this is the result of urbanization in the United States, the high tolerance for slums (Europeans are much more likely to turn their noses up at such sprawl), localized gun control measures, and political correctness. Maybe he missed the fact that some of the most industrialized nations in the world had more deaths in days than other industrialized nations have in years, all under stringent gun control measures.

There is an argument being made that the reason places such as Europe have far less shootings is cultural. Far less individualism. And before we start an outcry to curtail that, please consider what the results have been elsewhere, notably Russia, Germany, China, Cuba, and Cambodia. And perhaps part of the reason Europe is the way it is, has to do with the fact that after two world wars it is scared of its own shadow.

Some nations with high ownership of guns, have much fewer shooter incidents.

So, comparing one country to another with just one criteria is pretty pathetic. Comparing a country to itself in a different time period would make more sense.

The gun control already on the books has nothing to do with this.

There are different kinds of gun control. The United States may be lax in some areas, but much more stringent to nations it is being compared to in other areas. That is just speculation on my part. I can’t go much further than that because data is hard to come by.

Other things going on in the public life have nothing to do with this.

The glorification of imperialism is a good place to start looking. And then maybe we could move on to the war on drugs, which though present in other industrialized nations, is at its most potent and prevalent among them in the one in which it began, the US of A. Certain kinds of unwarranted violence made justifiable in the eyes of the public and that includes the youth. Fatherless homes because of wars and prison, that sort of thing. (Is it too soon for me to ask if Adam Lanza’s father played a big enough of, or the right kind of, role in his son’s life?)

Teachers who die in a pool of blood for standing up to gunmen are heroes in spite of the fact that they realistically could do nothing to prevent the deaths.

They may have been heroes. They may have pulled kids out of the line of fire. They may have gotten in the shooter’s way long enough to buy others time. But with guns and body armor, as silly as that sounds, it wouldn’t be a matter of hearsay and speculation.

The fact that there are few cases of ordinary citizens stopping shooters is an argument FOR gun control.

It is actually an argument against it!

Arbitrary legal measures that hurt those operating inside of the law prevent a single action of those who have no regard for the law.

It is criminals that commit crimes.

The government using tax payer money to buy guns from gun owners and destroy them is a good thing.

Broken window fallacy.

The purchase and destruction of firearms by government is what caused the elimination of crime in Australia

If you think about it, you are subsidizing people not to commit crimes, so of course crime will go down! It has nothing to do with the ban, it is the subsidy! You could have just payed those among them most likely to commit crimes, or bought them gun safes, etc, and allowed them to keep their guns and have the same result!

Preventing accidents and preventing massacres is the same thing.

Obviously a seat belt can save a life in a crash. The net benefit of a seat belt, however, differs from person to person. And the idea of a seatbelt law, just like any other law with a benevolent purpose, sets a dangerous precedent. Seat belt laws are not what save lives. Seat belts are. No, people who put on seat belts are. Seat belts were invented in the private sector.

But a person with intent to kill is a another matter entirely. There are far more variables. Making policies meant to control the physics of a situation boils down to a mathematical equation. Making policies meant to control one of the least understood things you can think of (human nature) almost always has the opposite of the intended effect because humans are self-aware.

Preventing automobile deaths are as easy as driving carefully and that includes putting on the seat belt. Cars do not have intent, so they do not respond to preventative measures by operating outside of the law. I doubt there would ever be black markets (nor the violence associated with them) in seat belt free cars because it is the natural disposition of every driver not intending to commit suicide by crashing his vehicle, to live, and if he chooses not to, it is a as simple as taking the belt off. People, whether killers, or gun owners, or gun sellers, do have intent. This includes the intent to do what they feel is necessary or what they enjoy doing regardless of the consequences. Or perhaps because of the consequences. Men are not so malleable as matter.

 SO, WHAT TO DO

It’s counter-intuitive (more guns, less violence), but some lawmakers in Tennessee have the right idea.

It has long been my opinion that government-run indoctrination centers are far more dangerous than guns (though perhaps neither is more dangerous than the criminally insane that abuse both of them). There are two primary reasons. One, the children are inculcated with pablum from their first day of kindergarten. They are told they are there to learn but alongside their traditional studies they are run through the emotional wringer and told that recess and coloring books are academic activities. Any meaningful sense of personal responsibility that they may have once had is scraped clean from the insides of their noggins by the time they graduate.

This learning model helps to eliminate critical thinking skills and shrink emotional IQ. I would even go so far as to say that lack of these engenders not only the shooter mentality (and the criminal mind in general) but also the prohibition mentality (which ignores the historical record which shows that prohibition incentivizes not only violence, but the use of the prohibited item by those who we seek most to keep it away from), which in this specific case I would hazard a guess that they share at least as much blame as the shooter’s mother and her lifestyle. Public schools themselves practically invite shooters. Innocent, harmless children all together in one place; small rooms crammed full of them with usually one way in or out; mostly female staff; self-defense banned on school grounds and in some cases anywhere within 1000 feet of a school. The inherent vulnerability of this environment is only a small part of the reason why public schools should be abolished (or highly decentralized).

Some have already said those who want to place some of the blame on public schools are little different than those who want to ban guns. They say that neither “right” should be taken away. I already responded to one person saying this with,

“There is no right to someone else’s money. There is no right to free education. There is no right to kidnap children. Thus the public school system is invalid. It is not a question of whether it should be banned instead of guns. It is a question of whether its existence does not, by necessity, already ban other far more fundamental things. The right to the fruits of one’s labor. Responsibility for oneself and one’s own. Freedom of association. All these things are partially banned by the mere existence of a public school system.”

BEING UNPLEASANT AND UNCHARITABLE

I don’t want to come across as insensitive or anything. My views are far more nuanced than that. On a lighter note, another example of my apparent heartlessness can be relayed in something that happened about an hour and a half ago. A good friend of mine called and chewed me out (in that friendly sort of way) for staying home and not going Christmas caroling with him and a few of our friends later this afternoon. Before I hung up on him he called me a Grinch. I wasn’t quick enough to quote anything from How the Grinch Stole Christmas so my last words came instead from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “Bah, Humbug.” If I had been thinking on my feet, these would have come to mind:

From the 1966 Cartoon:

    ~That’s one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!

    ~Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, “Boo Hoo.”

    ~And then, they’ll do something I hate most of all. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, will stand close together… with Christmas bells ringing. They’ll stand hand in hand… and those Whos… will start singing!

From the 2000 live action rendition:

    ~Blast this Christmas music. It’s joyful and triumphant.

    ~I tell you Max, I don’t know why I ever leave this place. I’ve got all the company I need right here. [points to himself]

    ~Be it ever so heinous, there’s no place like home.

But the truth is, I have my reasons. Some selfish by certain standards, some not so much.

Pearl Harbor! Why?

Pearl Harbor! Why?.

World War Two, the last war in which the United States declared its entry in accordance to the Constitution (as in Congress says there is a war and prescribes specifically who against and why, not the UN, not NATO, not the international community, not the president on his own, not the president with Congress making a law giving itself the authority to turn a blind eye ). The Second World War. Not a just war, at least as it pertains to United States entry, but at least a technically “legal” one.

What were the reasons for going to war? There are likely several theories (one of which I formulated myself, but make no claims to being the first). One of them listed here is generally accepted but rests on very shaky ground. Another (also listed) is conventional wisdom, is true even, but relies on circular logic, and the next three I have listed are more plausible but get less play in mainstream circles. They might even be considered conspiratorial. Even more so for the last theory. Until, that is, they are compared to theories that blame the Illuminati or the Jews or the Reptilians among us, which, sorry to tell you, are not listed here.

1. Adolf Hitler was a madman and the Roosevelt Administration and Congress were far sighted enough to realize that if the United States did not go to war (using Germany’s ally, Japan as a pretext), there would be no stopping der Führer from his designs of world conquest. You mainly read this one or very similar ones in the comments section on websites.

This is all so very sensational, and equally absurd. Hitler still had to face down the mighty Soviets (it is true the Soviets suffered the worst losses of the war but they had not yet begun to fight), and his empire was far from a stable one. It remains possible that FDR and company thought Hitler was going to subjugate the entire world, but those arguing this case are likely just projecting pure motives on a man who is their hero for reasons other than his foreign policy. Let me be blunt: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was no hero. He was an effective leader, and by that I mean a tyrant, but not a hero. His administration was probably one of the least transparent, most dishonest, administrations in history, and while some think that his ends were good and therefore all of this is justified, my opinion is that neither his means nor his ends were all that noble.

2. The United States went to war with Japan because Japan provoked the United States. Another mainstream (but less exaggerated) explanation.

This is true on the surface because the declaration of war, in point of fact, did indeed come after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But it is far more accurate to say that Japan went to war with the United States because the United States provoked Japan. Japan made war first by attacking Pearl Harbor (this day 71 years ago), and the United States had little choice but to either lose face and back off from its provocations of Japan or double down and go to war. The same choice that the Japanese faced as a result of the embargoes and sanctions placed on them by the United States and other Western powers. Needless to say, rather than dishonor themselves by relinquishing their conquests Japan chose instead to attack United States soil, shifting the pressure to someone else. Predictably enough, the United States followed suit. This theory still begs the original question. Why?

3. The United States was doing the bidding of other Western Powers, specifically Anglo-Dutch economic interests, and deliberately provoked Japan to war in order to help the governments, economic interests, and allies of Great Britain and Holland (and the Dutch government in exile) to maintain their colonial and petroleum holdings in Southeast Asia. I like to think of this theory as my own, but it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard for anyone to see the connections.

This sounds awfully conspiratorial, but it follows the same trend of many later US interventions (at least three with Iran, four with Iraq, and two with Libya). The events leading up to Pearl Harbor are compatible with this theory, but don’t necessarily prove it.

4. The United States was doing the bidding of Great Britain, just as it had clearly done it World War One, and was brought in as an ally against Germany, but because Germany had no clear quarrel (at least not one worth it for them to declare war over) with us, needed a pretext and used Japan’s attacks (which were provoked, perhaps deliberately) for one. This is LaRouche type of stuff, but again, it is not hard to see the connections. In my humble opinion, the assertion that World War One was entered by the United States as a favor to Great Britain is beyond reproach (not to mention that it dovetails rather nicely with the passing of the Federal Reserve and Liberty Bond acts, which greatly aided the attempts by the United States to bail out Great Britain after the war, but those might just be convenient coincidences).

Another one with questionable merit at first glance, but again borne out by the US foreign policy trends. United States involvement in World War One was largely the result of the pleading of Great Britain. It is also consistent with Germany’s response to US declaration of War on Japan. In World War Two, Germany avoided declaring war on the United States until after the United States declared war on Japan. But they did declare war first (between Germany and the US). Why would Germany do something so ill-advised? One possible answer is hubris. There is probably some truth to that but it still seems to be missing something. Another possibility is that Germany knew that the United States going to war with Japan was little more than a pretext for war with Germany. According to this line of thinking, war with the United States was inevitable. Why delay it any further? By the same token, if the United States had never gone to war with Japan, it may be that the Germans would never had declared war on the United States.

5. The United States was doing the bidding of the USSR, and drew Japan into war with itself so the Soviets would only have to fight on one front, that of Germany. This theory seems to come originally from Waldo Heinrichs (died 1959), from which work I do not know.

Again I will point to trends. The Yalta Conference (which destroyed the entire British excuse for declaring war on Germany, the liberation of Eastern Europe), the events resulting from Japanese surrender and Allied Occupation of Japan (more communist footholds in Kuomintang/nationalist China resulting in Mao’s Peoples’ Republic of China and the death of 70 million people, diplomatic tensions between mainland China and the US over the Republic of China/Taiwan even in the present day, the Korean War as well as the North’s current criminally insane dictatorship, the Viet Nam War, the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, and the Khmer Rouge’s murder of  2 million in Cambodia, but who’s counting?), and the disgustingly warm Anglo-American-Soviet relations at almost all levels (civil government, military, academia, labor , and even big business) prior to, and at times even during, the Cold War, are consistent with this theory.

6. Japan was the pretext for US involvement in World War Two, but the reason for entering the war at all was to provide a form of public works based economic stimulus, the intention either being recovery from the Great Depression (which was rooted in World War One involvement) or distraction from it (and the domestic policies that deepened and broadened it). Regardless of what was intended by this Keynesian experiment, it seems only to have succeeded in the latter. This argument is usually, but not always made in a retroactive way. As though the “fact” that World War Two led to economic recovery is another reason to justify involvement.

I do not know how strong of a theory this is in terms of the thoughts going through the heads of the Roosevelt Administration and the Democratic Congress. Surely military Keynesianism, whether espoused by Keynes himself or not, was a predictable outcome of a world war even prior to the war. There is no reason that peaceful and wartime spending should have different effects, or that world leaders wouldn’t be aware of that fact. And as Keynes was advocating the former since the 1920s and was taken seriously by the British and American governments in the 1930s, it is not a stretch to think that any stimulative spending, including war, could be motivated by or rationalized on Keynesian ideas.

If someone has alternative theories that they have heard or discovered, or reasons why any of the ones listed above are complete  nonsense, I would love to hear from them. I am temporarily revoking Godwin’s law (actually it is a “law” modeled after the immutable laws of physics, but for the sake of having fun I’ll treat it as a prohibition that has been lifted) for just this post, so fire away.

I have consulted Wikipedia, and yes, my memory of events, for the material facts, and beyond that only this piece.

I have written about some of these things and related matters herehere, and here as well. There will be more to come, including a post on energy independence, which is finished and just needs an opportune moment in which to be showcased.

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?)

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?).

Also syndicated here.

Patriotism to me can be a love for the place where one lives, which need not necessarily exhibit irrational feelings of superiority or inherent exceptionalism. It also can mean a love for the exceptionalism (which may be incidental or dependent on factors other than race and geography) of a culture, often within geographical confines. It can extend to a willingness to die to preserve the place or the ideas in question. Patriotism can manifest itself in both agreement and dissent.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is blind love for a specific geographical or racial entity for irrational reasons, such as perceived inherent superiority or traditional feuding. Most often it is manifested in a subtle form of groupthink, the consequences of not conforming to include: ostracism, ridicule, bigotry, prohibitions of expressions of culture or language, and even confiscation of property. In extreme forms, and much less subtle, overt violence and genocide. It is often mixed with or perhaps intentionally covered by higher ideals. Democracy. Social justice. Equality. Brotherhood. Humanity. Liberty. To this extent is has an appeal with both the base and the virtuous, and is thus pervasive and not even all those who hold some of the views (for very few hold all of them) realize where they originate, or what their intended purposes are in the form they are presented.

Both ideas rest on that of taste. One acknowledges it as a personal preference and in relations with others it either defends from attacks (ideally not overreacting) or promotes its underlying ideas through persuasion and not force, and the other (according to its own idealism, though not always according to the practice of its leaders) seeks to foist it equally upon all (assuming, of course, you are one of the ones it suffers to live), the consequences and human rights be damned.

According to these definitions, which are my own but not too far distant from how they are defined by others, individual persons and conventions of persons, experts in fields and students of ideas, nationalism is very much the more problematic of the two.

And if you break it down further this is true for two reasons. One is the way it treats outsiders (geographical foreigners, ethnic inferiors, and so on). The other is the way it treats its own. Eliminating nationalism and replacing it with a generic internationalism (some would call this world government) only eradicates the first problem in the best case scenario. A highly decentralized internationalism (some would call this globalization) would go a long way towards reducing, and in some cases eliminating, both problems.

Amongst those that agree that globalization (even those afraid to use the word for fear of being associated with, or who recognize that the word has been misused by; those who either openly embrace, or whose proposals and ideas in some way perpetuate; world government) is a good idea, there is some disagreement about the way to go about it. I won’t go into arguments for or against (uni/bi/multi)lateral/free/managed trade or international law as it pertains to evident violations of human rights or other controversial subjects with well meaning and intelligent individuals on either side of the argument. I would instead like to delineate between potent attempts at world government and relatively impotent (but still menacing in their own right) attempts.

In the first category (potent) I would put imperialism, where it should be obvious that internationalism is in fact just nationalism applied to the world stage. Attempts such as this never fully succeed (partly because they may not really be conscious of what they are doing, or if they are, may have different goals in mind than that of tyrannizing the globe) in subjugating the entire world, but are potent in the sense that they cause much suffering and disorder and do so under a gradually increasing authority (in terms of both power and geography).

Also there is mercantilism. This often goes hand in hand with imperialism. Sometimes they have the same origin. Other times they just “benefit” from each other. And still there may be some combination thereof. In a sense, aspects of it have been practiced by every “traditional” empire going back to the Sumerians, but not until the rise of the modern, benevolent, humanitarian nations did it come into its own. France, Britain, the United States. And though not “true” mercantlism in the sense of application to one nation, several aspects of it have been incorporated into the cooperative efforts of the civilized nations (treaties and alliances; NATO being a prime example, the IMF another).

I wouldn’t even rule transnational corporations (in some instances being creations of, though not always faithful servants to, the state) and Non-Government Organizations out of having at least a small part in this category (potent attempts at world government), but at the present I would like to refrain from theorizing about possible conspiracies.

In the second category (impotent) I would put such things as failed attempts at international cooperation. Take the League of Nations or the United Nations. I do not deny that they were/are to be feared. But the reason has more to do with the stupidity and inefficiency of bureaucracy than it does the greed or violence of imperialism. But more than that it is not so much the bodies themselves that should be of concern, but rather the ways they may be used by the member nations in their imperialistic and mercantilistic endeavors. 

Things such as the World Trade Organization I would have a hard time categorizing. Besides, as I said, I do not wish to formulate arguments on the issue of trade nor delve into conspiracy theories.

New Discovery: Jacques Delacroix (I had not read his piece in its entirety until moments ago, so I hope no one thinks I wrote this as some sort of response to it) goes into all of this as well (I had no idea until, for the purpose of seeing what others had to say on the subject I did a search for “WTO” on my friend Brandon Christensen’s blog), but is far less charitable to these types than I am (I think mirroring his overall more establishmentarian variant of libertarianism).

Anyways, at this stage I am not a flag burner. But neither am I a flag worshipper. At the present, this one will do:

File:Flag of Montana 1905.svg