Archive for the ‘slavery’ Category

Making it viral from The Right Scoop:

From the description:

Louisiana Senator Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) explains why he recently switched from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party. He discusses the history of the Republican Party, founded as an Abolitionist Movement in 1854. Guillory talks about how the welfare state is only a mechanism for politicians to control the black community.

From Chapter 11: The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that hte people should come to regard them as their own ends.  Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

Choice architectureNudge.  A velvet glove on the iron fist.

Hayek elaborates on pg 174:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.  The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen.  And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.  Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regime are expressed.

The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word “liberty.”  It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere.  Indeed, it could almost be said – and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old – that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people.  Even among us we have “planners for freedom” who promise us a “collective freedom for the group,” the nature of which may be gathered from the fact that its advocate finds it necessary to assure us that “naturally the advent of all planned freedom does not mean that all [sic] earlier forms of freedom must be abolished.”  Dr. Karl Mannheim, from whose work these sentences are taken, at least warns us that “a conception of freedom modelled on the preceding age is an obstacle to any real understanding of the problem.”  But his use of the word “freedom” is as misleading as it is in the mouth of totalitarian politicians.  Like their freedom, the “collective freedom” he offers us is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society what he pleases.  It is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.

A simple example is universal single-payer health care.  It’s to provide freedom from the evil insurance companies.  It provides “freedoms” as quoted here in remarks by a speaker at a press conference by Nancy Pelosi:

The new law has not only given me the freedom to stay covered, but has also freed me and my family from the fear that an insurer could drop me at any moment or limit me to go without treatment.

The “freedom to stay covered” is at the expense of someone else – at the expense of the individuals who make up an insurance company, or at the expense of the individual taxpayer.  Their freedom is traded for this patient’s priviledge.  Being “free” from “fear” that he could be dropped means that the insurer, or taxpayer, is now enslaved to his treatment.  He is now a guaranteed recipient of the labor of individuals, whether those individuals who also purchase insurance from a company, and now face increased premiums because of this government-protected claimant, or he is dependant on the taxpayer to cover his bill.  Ultimately, he is “free” only insomuch as he takes from someone else.

He is not free to choose a less expensive company, or free to go to a non-profit charity that would look out for his special case and would desire to help him – he is “free” by shackling others to his needs.  That is not freedom – that is parasitism enforced by the state.  Person A now must pay for Person B’s medical needs because Person B is “free” from the costs.

Hayek continues on pg 175:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers and, not least, by many of the theoreticians of socialism.  But “freedom” or “liberty” are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda.  We have already seen how the same happens to “justice” and “law,” “right” and “equality.”  The list could be extended until it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

This is a major, major point.  This is why “liberals” today are intolerant, closed-minded people.  Virtually every aspect of who they are is the exact opposite of what they are.  They fight for “social justice” which is just redistribution, they fight for “human rights” that include health care, and even food – which cannot be rights – as they come at the expense of others.  They call themselves progressives, but they don’t progress towards greater liberty for the individual, they progress towards greater power for what the state “must do on your behalf“.  This is regressive, towards the totalitarianism of dictatorships and kings, not towards the greater well-being of the individual.  Liberal in Hayek’s day meant closer to what libertarian or even conservative means today.  Not what libertarian or conservative is demonized as by the political left/progressives, but what they actually are.

It is for this reason that conservative author/radio host Mark Levin refers almost exclusively to the left as statists, as their main function is to expand government to their own ends.  Also note that there are right-wing, or socially traditionalist/conservative statists, who are often simply a different brand of moralist from the leftist statist.  The leftist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking for your health and because it’s good for you, the rightist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking because it’s “fiend intemperance”.  The leftist statist will force you to drive a hybrid car because of his Gaia-worship, the rightist statist will force businesses to close on Sunday to keep the Sabbath holy.

A major difference is that a rightward traditionalist in America, a mindset which often goes hand in hand with the moralist, can still be reminded that a reason the country was founded, and indeed the 1st Amendment was written, was to escape state-mandated religion.  The leftist, by contrast, believes that history started last week, and will reject the past as outmoded and obsolete in their own quest for power and The Greater Good.  As Thomas Sowell writes in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

Returning to Hayek, pg 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates.  It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible.  And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed conciously or unconciously to direct the people.  Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

To sidetrack a while from the explicitly political, using a pop culture reference as an example, you can see how freedom has changed.  Most of the readers of this blog will know who this is.  On the off chance we have some very young readers or very old readers, this is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots – the good guy Transformers.

His motto: “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

Now consider this online discussion amongst a group of Transformers fans.  Here are a few lines from the discussion, starting off with forum member “Octavius Prime” (hereafter OP) citing a movie review that had this line:

(Movie Review): And when Optimus Prime, the chief good Transformer, declares that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” we know we’re in a Bush-era universe.

(OP): if the reviewers had done maybe 10 minutes of online research (say, on the Teletraan-1 wikia), they’d know that Prime has been spouting his line since before Bush’s dad was president. Moreover, what is so bad about freedom being a basic right? Isn’t that in the hugging Declaration of Independence? What is so quintessentially “Bush” about it?

(SD): Pretty much a case of people shooting words off before doing proper research, and an annoyingly over-liberal mindset. I mean, I don’t care for Bush, to put it lightly, but I also don’t wedge my political views into whatever I type/write.

(S): I can see how that line might be used by the likes of Bush to justify a war like Iraq (the lie that the war is all about human freedom rather than oil).

(PTP): Technically we were in a Regan-era universe when it was written, which isn’t all that much better…

(OP): Maybe, but I still don’t see how the motto that encapsulates democracy would be reduced to represent someone’s biased view of the Bush administration.

(D): I’d be hard pressed to vote for a president who didn’t believe in the basic right of freedom.  I mean there’s liberal, and then there’s blindedly liberal. Gah.

(TNG): I don’t really get why anyone would think that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is a particularly conservative viewpoint. Definitions of exactly what freedom means may differ within the political spectrum but I don’t think you’d find many democrats arguing against freedom as a basic human right.

Liberals=progressives=statists, specifically here, anti-Bush statists, who are competing for the same space as state controllers.  Thus Freedom=Bush talking point.  Freedom=bad, to liberals, who are really progressives, who are really leftist-statists.  Also thus the word liberal, which is supposed to mean accepting of others, is now explicitly anti-freedom (even just in this discussion).  Liberal has gone so far as to also include Reagan and all non-leftist statists, thus even the original quote by Optimus Prime waaay back in about 1984 is rejected as being related to Reagan, Republicans, and therefore to a Liberal is a Bad Thing.

According to the leftist-statist, when Bush says freedom, it means ruthless oppression, even if it is freeing a nation from an actual ruthless oppressor.  Don’t bother them with the facts.  Criticism of a poor operational plan and shoddy intelligence (that leftist-statists agreed on) turned into a rejection of freedom in its entirety.  Leftist rejection of Bush-era domestic policies (that pretty much only targeted terrorists, but that should definitely be questioned in Constitutional interests) including the Patriot Act turned into Bush hates freedom.  This year when the Patriot Act was renewed by Barack Obama, without any of the reforms that were complained about during the Bush-era… well, Obama is still a good-guy to the leftist-statist, because he’s their guy there for The Greater Good.

Liberal is anti-freedom, freedom is oppression, progressive is statist.

Even the notions of left and right are reversed.  In France in 1789, at the French Assembly, the rebels who resisted the state sat on the left, while the supporters of the state sat on the right.  Except the French state was a monarchical state that didn’t represent the people, and had subjects, not citizens.  A rebel to the French state would be resisting tyranny.

The United States, by contrast, were formed by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The government was explicity designed to respond to the citizenry, and to be accountable to the citizenry.  The Constitution itself was a charter document designed to constrain any government to the initial agreement that the citizens had made when they settled on a government.  Consider first that the Declaration of Independence was a rejection of tyranny that called for the people to institute a government from the people, then consider that a government, instituted by the citizenry who choose their government, is how the democratic republic set up by the Constitution was designed.

Thomas Paine explains in concrete terms what a Constitution is:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

The Constitution is static.  It is what the government is based on, and the laws that the government, in order to remain legitimate and existing upon the consent of the people, must adhere to.  Being on the left in the US and rejecting the established Constitutional order is rejecting a truly classically radical liberal document that enshines the rights and liberties of all citizens.  Being on the left is pushing for statism.  Being a conservative who wishes to conserve Constitutional principles is being a classical liberal, a radical libertarian – one who is opposed to the idea of a controlling state.

Religious liberalism and conservatism became injected into political liberalism and conservatism, as well as social liberalism and conservatism – but there is a wide gulf between what one preaches in one’s private or even public life, and what one inflicts through force of government.  Conservative has come to mean statist-religious, liberal to mean statist-humanist/statist-Gaia-or-Science-worshipper.

In this, the leftist-progressive-statist has changed the entire discussion by changing the meaning of words.  For another example: the religious-statist who would use force of government rather than persuasion has changed the word conservative to also mean moralist authoritarian – a term the leftist-statist is very much willing to embrace, as it drives people into their camp – to accept the “freedom from religion” that then turns into trying to destroy the religions of others – which is explicitly illiberal.  Another example: fascism was a brand of statist totalitarianism wherein the economic means of production were controlled by the state, but not always wholly owned.  Communists attacked fascists, with whom they were competing for the same leftist anti-capitalist statist-totalitarian space on the political spectrum, and accused fascists of being capitalist.  Fascism, descended from national socialism as opposed to communist international socialism, suddenly became its opposite, when the two are nary a hair’s breadth apart.  Yet the modern leftist-statist who favors socialism as an economic means to his Greater Good, will accuse someone who opposes them of being a national socialist.

Paine set up concretely what a Constitution is.  Those who support it, must support it for what it is.  It is a compact between we the citizen and those citizens we choose to serve us.  Words do mean something.  Our Constitution was established as a document that can change through the amendment process, but it is not to be manipulated until freedom means slavery.  But that is precisely what the leftist-statist has embraced (as well as the rightist-statist to a lesser degree).  George Orwell summed much of this up with his coining of the term “Newspeak” in his book “1984” several years after The Road to Serfdom had been published.  As Orwell says in “1984”:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Sadly, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, basically a theory of benevolent socialism, but that can be the subject for another tl;dr post.

Lest I forget, the other Hayek:

Eventually I’ll just end up with pictures of chicks from Vienna to represent the Austrian School.

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Many times one is asked to take historical literature and put it in a modern context in how it applies today. One could argue that, if alive today, Frederick Douglass would be a conservative, leaning toward more liberties and less government tyrannies. The fighting spirit and frustration that Frederick Douglass felt lives on today and is probably best summed up in his words:

“I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm (Douglass).”

There are many passionate American citizens who feel this way. They watch, read, and discuss politics with such passion and search for resolve in what they stand against.

When Douglass wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, he was “between twenty-seven and twenty-eight years old.” This was an estimate because he was never given the luxury that one might take for granted – knowing his birth date. It is interesting because his age is similar to many young Americans now who are making their names heard in society and the work force. Given the circumstances Douglass was dealt, he was still able to get on the path of productiveness at a similar age to other young adults in America back then.

An imposing question one could ask is: if Frederick Douglass was alive today he would resent the class-warfare that has spurred debates? In his narrative, he wrote about being a mulatto child of a slave owner and that “the master is frequently compelled to sell this class of his slaves out of deference to the feelings of his white wife.” Now clearly this is in the context of selling children for slaves; but is there any validity that our current administration resents a certain class of people based on their family and social connections? President Obama’s preacher and mentor have made tirades towards America and white people in his sermons (Wright). Also, in President Obama’s book he stated “I knew as well that traveling down the road to self-respect my own white blood would never recede… (Obama)

Another modern correlation, and the only real way one could relate, may be with the paradox of having an unfit master. Where as one would not want to have a master at all but a master who is incompetent could be even worse. Frederick Douglass encountered a slave holder that he described as;

“His airs, words, and actions, were the airs, words, and actions of born slave-holders, and, being assumed, were awkward enough. He was not even a good imitator. He possessed all the disposition to deceive, but wanted the power. Having no resources within himself, he was compelled to be the copyist of many, and being such, he was forever the victim of inconsistency; and of consequence he was an object of contempt (Douglass).”

Many people feel this way about the current politicians and administration that has been inconsistent and poor imitators of a leader. The owner of Douglass marrying into the situation of owning slaves had similar inexperience to a senator who served barely a year in office becoming president.

Another source of Frederick Douglass’s contempt was the hypocrisy of the Southern slaveholders. They used religion as a platform and justification for many of the horrible things they did. Assuming that Frederick Douglass was true to his creed one would be hard impressed to imagine him approving of “In God We Trust” removed from silver dollar coins. Yes, people who lean to the left are religious, but conservation of religion is usually more of a right-wing stance.

Many Americans hoped that the President’s stance on being a Christian would make him more morally sensitive to religious issues. This is just like Frederick Douglass, who “hope(d) that his conversion would lead him to emancipate his slaves, and that, if he did not do this, it would, at any rate, make him more kind and humane (Douglass).” In both cases one could argue that there is not enough Christian conservatism to meet the liking of Frederick Douglass.

Many people feel that politicians marginalize minorities into categories and usually get frustrated when minorities step outside those lines. Recently the leader of the Black Chamber of Commerce spoke out against Senator Barbara Boxer and said “She loves poor black people in their place (Alford).” In comparison, Frederick Douglass spoke of his master’s ideology towards slaves when he said,

“If you teach that nigger [speaking of myself (Douglas)] how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy (Douglass).”

One could say this is a prime example of some politicians’ mindsets when they assume they know what is best for the people they represent. The marginalizing lies in that when a black person or Hispanic has more conservative ideals, they are often chastised and challenged by other minorities in their communities. In comparison, Alford was commenting on Senator Barbara Boxer’s attempt to pit NCAAP against the Black Chamber of Commerce and how it was like in the south white plantation owners would pit one black preacher against the other (Alford).

The comparisons go on and on because under a socialist country, which is where many believe the United States is headed, it needs its citizens to be reliant on the government to work properly, much as a slave owner needs the slaves to rely on him or her. There are many people that resist the tyranny that can take away certain liberties and freedoms. The quote from Douglass that says, “ In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress (Douglass),” Could be a metaphor for Americans who resist ruling powers, but use it’s loopholes of law as its “mistress of aid.”

Douglass envied other slaves who did not have the knowledge of the persecution of which the establishment of slavery was made. He wished at times that he did not know all that he knew because it consumed him. In this envy he still felt it upon himself to spread the knowledge of the truth because it was important that other slaves knew of the tyranny involved.

Many people under the George W. Bush administration felt purpose against the administration and used their voice and stood together to make a change. Americans voted on a new ruler but discovered that there was not more freedom – and some think less freedom. The bickering between Republicans and Democrats is similar to two slaves debating which slave master is better. Douglass realized that the real issue was the establishment of slavery as some Americans believe that government is becoming an establishment of tyranny.

The spirit and emotion that Douglass portrayed is truly inspiring to read. Douglass was a proud man, he knew the best master is being ones “own master (Douglass).” It is hard to fathom that Douglass would tolerate being overly taxed when he showed outrage in this passage from his book:

“I was compelled to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh. And why? Not because he earned it,–not because he had any hand in earning it,–not because I owed it to him,–nor because he possessed the slightest shadow of a right to it; but solely because he had the power to compel me to give it up (Douglass).”

Ultimately, perhaps all Americans will, sooner or later, value hard work and the liberty and freedom that is bestowed upon the individual. Probably no one put it better than Frederick Douglas himself:

“Hard work for me; but I went at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own master. It was a happy moment, the rapture of which can be understood only by those who have been slaves. It was the first work, the reward of which was to be entirely my own. There was no Master Hugh standing ready, the moment I earned the money, to rob me of it. I worked that day with a pleasure I had never before experienced.”

Works Cited

Alford, Harry. The Factor with Bill O’Reily Bill O’reily. 20 July 2009.

Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. NY: The Anti-Slavery Office, 1845.

Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father. New York: Random House, 2004.

Wright, Reverend. Chicago, 5 January 2006.