SONS OF LIBERTY VS. NATIONAL FRONT- Jeb Kinnison
I’ve tried to concentrate on the next book, but events conspire to suck me into the current mess re Trump. Like a lot of observers, so long as he was a sideshow I could see his almost-daily newsmaking as colorful and perhaps useful in allowing others to speak more freely some of the things that needed to be spoken. By doing so he was expanding the Overton Window and giving a voice to sentiments held by large segments of the population that had been suppressed by the MSM, like nativism and the desire to see immigration laws enforced.
But he’s primarily a demagogue who tells the formerly voiceless what they want to hear and promises to defend them against the dangers the privileged “respectable” politicians want to cover up while they continue business as usual — managing the decline of the over-regulated economy and spending the tax money of citizens to bring in new dependent populations who will presumably vote to keep them in place. Having mined this vein of formerly-voiceless anger at the sale of their country to outsiders, Trump has used it to gain the lead in the Republican race despite having no apparent grasp of most policy issues and some frighteningly authoritarian instincts. He has been called a Jacksonian man on a horse, which has some resonance with Osama bin Laden’s remark: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” Trump’s rise has opportunistic pols and job-seekers endorsing him as a strong horse who can take charge.
The US was founded by several different groups from diverse parts of Britain, and greatly expanded by immigration from Europe. There was no control over immigration — everyone was welcome to pay their own way here, try to survive and fit in, succeed or fail as their abilities and luck allowed. Many returned to their native lands, but most worked hard and helped to settle the land, build the railroads, and grow the cities. In the mid-1800s, just before the Civil War, large numbers of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy flooded Eastern cities and were seen as a threat. The Know-Nothing Party gained power in some Northern cities on a platform of controlling immigration of Catholics, who were thought to be culturally unsuited to freedom and likely to take commands from their corrupt and foreign Pope. Riots between Catholics and Know-Nothings erupted; 22 died in a riot in Louisville, Kentucky before a contested election.
Lincoln needed the support of the remaining Know-Nothings in the election of 1856, when Republicans began to pick up their support to oppose the Democrats who supported slavery. But in a private letter, he said:
I am not a Know-Nothing — that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
These nativist movements were defused by the tensions over slavery and the approaching Civil War, and the Know-Nothing Party faded after 1856. Irish took over the police forces of most Northern cities, and Democratic political machines used the Irish and Italian immigrants as a base to take over most big city governments. Over generations, these supposedly bloc-voting groups splintered, and the rough and ready disciplines of capitalist employment encouraged integration.
Immigration began to be restricted after a flood of Chinese workers to the West. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which targeted a single ethnic group by specifically limiting further Chinese immigration. In 1907, a “Gentleman’s Agreement” with the Japanese government limited visas for immigration from Japan. Restrictions on the number of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were imposed in 1924, and in 1932-33 immigration was shut off by FDR’s executive order. Democrat FDR coerced repatriation and deportation of between 500,000 and 2 million Mexican Americans, mostly citizens, in the Mexican Repatriation.
In 1965 the immigration law was rewritten, with tight quotas for Eastern and Western hemispheres. Separately, “family class” immigrants were favored outside of the quota system, so one immigrant could settle then sponsor others, who sponsored others, and so forth, allowing entire culturally foreign communities to immigrate over time to create enclaves — which slowed integration into American culture. While intended to be humane, family class preferences did not choose the immigrants that would be most likely to be valuable additions to the country and its economy.
In recent years, immigration has become a political third rail. One side views the US as “social worker to the world” — just as they see it as the duty of government to supply housing, food, and healthcare for poor people in the US, they see a moral duty to accept poor people from around the world, especially refugees from war-torn countries. The other side is partly motivated by the remaining nativist impulse — keep the special privileges of being a citizen for current citizens and deny outsiders work and social welfare spending to preserve these benefits for natives.
As a part-time economist, I support free trade generally, and would like to see a reformed immigration policy that takes advantage of the attractiveness of the US to recruit the best of the immigrant candidates. The current system blocks the immigrants most ready to contribute and tolerates illegals from Mexico and points south. The US loses many highly-beneficial immigrants to Canada and Australia and other countries that are less difficult about legal immigration for the high-skilled, and allows in large numbers who are unskilled and likely to be dependent on social welfare services for at least two generations. The H-1B visas enable employers to take advantage of highly skilled immigrants and use their low salaries to keep down the salaries of US citizen engineers and scientists. The system is rotten from top to bottom and badly needs a thorough reform.
It’s also important that those new immigrants accept the guiding principles of the Constitution and quickly integrate into the polity of free individuals and voluntary associations that allows the US to contain multiple religions and cultures to the benefit of all. There is nothing wrong with screening immigrant candidates for beliefs inconsistent with the principles of Americanism — specifically that no government will enact into law specific religious precepts. Thus devout Muslims who are Islamist (believe government must be Islamic and implement Sharia law) should be barred. It is not a violation of any citizen’s rights to ask all candidates for citizenship to pledge to uphold the Constitution and refrain from imposing their beliefs on others. This point of view would have been seen as mainstream as little as one generation ago, but now is considered politically incorrect by our coastal ruling class.
Donald Trump’s rise is due to the backlash from the bipartisan failure to do anything about the failure of immigration policy. His promise to build a wall and deport the millions of Mexican illegals is viewed as outrageous by the same Democrats who idolize FDR — that heroic New Deal president who started Euro-style social insurance schemes, deported as many as 2 million Mexicans (some of them legal citizens), and interned over 110,000 Japanese-origin US citizens during World War II. Trump’s suggested immigration and trade policies closely resemble FDR’s!
Trump has opened up discussion and encouraged speech from reasonable nativists, but also from formerly muzzled white supremacists and bigots of all kinds. His appeal is similar to the National Front in France: he has attracted nativists and middle and lower class people who have felt shut out by “repectable” social democratic parties. To analyze the commenters of a blog which shall go unlinked, responding to Sarah Hoyt:
[Sarah Hoyt] “Whether we were born elsewhere or here, Americans — those of us who are proud of the name — are rebels, revolutionaries, something new under the sun: a people who believe people should be equal in their right to life, the right to liberty, the right to pursue their happiness undisturbed by either inimical neighbors or oppressive “betters.””
Equality and Egalite are French Enlightenment abstractions designed to finish off the last of the Church, and to rationalize the totalitarian impulses and actions of The Mob . . . people like Sarah Hoyt.
Equality is a satanic concept and provides, in practice, the exact opposite of equity and fairness. Without ‘equality’ people like Sarah Hoyt don’t become successful, much less famous. They become instead what they merit, which isn’t much. They damn well know it, too, which is why they’re so full of vitriol — afraid of losing their vast, unearned privileges. Which they are going to lose, anyway.
Equality, like Women’s ‘liberation’, permits Sarah and her fellow traitors to crush their betters — yes, they DO have betters, and boy do they HATE HATE that — and take over nations under cover of helping the downtrodden and oppressed’. That’d Themselves and their friends, in case you’ve been asleep the past half-century.
Think you have Equality? Sistahood Sarah threatens to punch a mere male, and will not be punished if she does. Try punching Little Miss Virtue Signal and see what happens.
Liars and cowards selling their popular, self-serving lies, while patting themselves on the back for being Brave Rebels who are standing up to The Evil (non-existent) Patriarchy.
This is an interesting mix of “truthiness” and bigotry. Sarah is American by belief and choice, accused of being a “traitor” by people who think their ancestry and presence on the landmass of the US since birth make them guardians of the US nation-state. Aside from the incoherence (how can she be a traitor if she is not a member of the tribe?), the commenter attempts to other her by lumping her in with the virtue-signalling SJWs.
This commenter is sadly unAmerican in his resort to racist and sexist issue framing, completely misapplied to Sarah Hoyt. It’s unfortunate that the loud outpourings of these people, few in number but egging each other on in the fever swamps of sites like this blog-which-shall-go-unlinked, can so easily be used by progressive scribblers elsewhere to tar all dissenters from the Progressive program of thought control as racists, misogynists, and neo-Nazis (or worse!)
Which brings up a valid point these people have made: if Americanism is a bundle of individualist beliefs and attitudes, what about those with deep roots in the US, born and raised for generations there, who don’t accept those beliefs? If tolerance of difference is a watchword, then should those who don’t tolerate differences be suppressed or removed?
Our answer starts with looking at how we got to this point, where government has expanded and encroached on the private sphere of business and social organizations to the point where private action is viewed with suspicion, and a significant percentage of the population believes democracy means subjecting every action of business to the political process and regulation.
Americans were formerly known for their commitment to private charity and self-help organizations; the America of Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835 teemed with churches and private social organizations and lacked the inherited privilege and concentrations of unearned wealth and power seen in Europe. But he worried that “… a despotism under a democracy could see ‘a multitude of men’, uniformly alike, equal, ‘constantly circling for petty pleasures’, unaware of fellow citizens, and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an ‘immense protective power’. Tocqueville compared a potentially despotic democratic government to a protective parent who wants to keep its citizens (children) as ‘perpetual children’, and which doesn’t break men’s wills but rather guides it, and presides over people in the same way as a shepherd looking after a ‘flock of timid animals’. He also wrote that “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
He was prescient. We have arrived at that state. Half the US population believes they are victims of the “malefactors of great wealth” demonized by FDR; FDR’s experiment in Democratic Socialism was derailed by his own nominally Democratic-controlled Congress by 1938, but enough remained of his expanded regulation of business and greatly-increased size of the Federal government to send the US down the road to permanent bureaucracy and a Deep State that constantly seeks to expand its power and resources. Eisenhower warned of the “Military-Industrial Complex,” but it’s no longer just defense contractors in league with Congress to pork-barrel spend, it’s a much larger group of special interests influencing legislation and regulation to give themselves protection from competition as well as direct access to public money. As governments have increased their control of all sectors of the economy, growth has slowed, prices have risen, and young people have found themselves in debt to an education complex which graduates them with few useful skills, then forces them to buy health insurance at higher-than-market prices to subsidize wealthier old people.
Americans are largely still believers in the principles of Americanism — live and let live, equality under the law, free enterprise, and a civil society that ideally doesn’t discriminate by color or sex. But several generations of public schools, originally introduced on a Prussian model and intended to mold a population to more uniformly accept direction as cogs in a military-industrial machine, have weakened their resistance to collectivist thought. The Wikipedia entry on the Prussian education system says:
Early 19th-century American educators were also fascinated by German educational trends. In 1818, John Griscom gave a favorable report of Prussian education. English translations were made of French philosopher Victor Cousin’s work, Report on the State of Public Education in Prussia. Calvin E. Stowe, Henry Barnard, Horace Mann, George Bancroft and Joseph Cogswell all had a vigorous interest in German education. The Prussian approach was used for example in the Michigan Constitution of 1835, which fully embraced the Prussian system by introducing a range of primary schools, secondary schools, and the University of Michigan itself, all administered by the state and supported with tax-based funding. However, e.g. the concepts in the Prussian reforms of primordial education, Bildung and its close interaction of education, society and nation-building are in conflict with some aspects of American state-sceptical libertarian thinking.
In 1843, Horace Mann traveled to Germany to investigate how the educational process worked. Upon his return to the United States, he lobbied heavily to have the “Prussian model” adopted. In 1852, Mann was instrumental in the decision to adopt the Prussian education system in Massachusetts. Governor Edward Everett of Massachusetts instituted a mandatory education policy based on the system. Mann persuaded his fellow modernizers, especially those in the Whig Party, to legislate tax-supported elementary public education in their states. New York state soon set up the same method in 12 different schools on a trial basis. Most northern states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for “normal schools” to train professional teachers.
Americans were especially impressed with the Prussian system when they set up normal schools to train teachers, because they admired the German emphasis on social cohesion. By the 20th century, however, the progressive education movement emphasized individuality and creativity more and opted for a less European-inspired curriculum and lower social cohesion and uniformity. The Progressives faced a major setback with the Sputnik crisis, which led again to more focus on quality education and selectiveness of the school system. The derogatory use of the term may contrast 19th-century pedagogy (see the poisonous pedagogy debate in Germany) with the introduction of new technology into classrooms during the Information Age. While Joel Rose appreciates Horace Mann’s commitment to a public education but is aiming at renewing how to deliver it, authors like Conservative Party of New York State activist John Taylor Gatto and further home-schooling activist Sheldon Richman claim that illiteracy rates in the USA were lower before compulsory schooling was introduced.
Those “normal schools” to train educators are a primary source of the substandard teachers of today, taken from the bottom third of college applicants and trained to promote “correct” social thinking. Big city schools, especially, are run for the benefit of union teachers and not the students.Parents get little or no choice in their children’s education, children get limited instruction, and disciplinary problems detract from study.
But even in the better districts, a uniform Progressive ideology has gradually been impressed on the students. The elementary teaching generation after World War II was still fairly high-quality, and many bright young women went into it as a caring career which would allow children and family interruptions. The advent of both expanded professional opportunities for women and social pressure to go after higher-paid professional careers removed many of the most-competent people from elementary school teaching, and the newer generations of teachers have been trained to promote social ideals over knowledge, with less time for Western classics, civics and history, science, and economics, and more time for environmentalism and “corrective” diversity. As a result, graduating students, while more sophisticated in some areas, lack the basic knowledge of government and history needed for American citizenship. They have been trained in Progressive ideals, including the notion that passing a new law can address every social problem.
Another import from Bismarck’s Germany: State Socialism. Bismarck set up the basic social welfare state as we know it, with state health insurance, pension, and disability programs, in the 1880s. Social Security was FDR’s similar effort to defuse the tide of full socialism in the Depression; by borrowing from the future, it could provide state support for the elderly at seemingly little cost in payroll taxes.
These efforts to protect and provide for citizens via state programs have enfeebled private efforts to save and enter mutual support agreements. Half the population now believes they are owed a good job and a living through government action. Politicians speak about “creating jobs” as if that is their proper role, interest groups unashamedly lobby for more subsidies for their particular interest from the money tree of the taxed private economy, and the common political response to high-priced and low-quality housing in the coastal cities is public housing subsidies, rent controls, and “inclusionary zoning” (the requirement to build “affordable” housing as part of every market-rate project.) All of which drive down supply and increase costs further.
Many people see what’s happened and have tried to sound the alarm. But dissension from the program has been suppressed for decades. And now we have Trump and others feeding off the anger of those who have suffered under a system which rewards the connected and wealthy at the expense of the hard-working, blue-collar citizens not enjoying privileged coastal lifestyles. Our politics has suffered from the sound of silence — the supposed racist and sexist origins of all anti-Progressive efforts, the Conventional Wisdom of the mass media which filters out anything nonmainstream, the gradual corruption of the academy by government funding and directives.
The antidote to this encroaching tribal collectivism is electing representatives willing to focus on the core function of government — defense, justice, and enforcement of contracts. Returning power to decision makers closer to the decision — state and local governments and private citizens — reduces the rewards of corruption and empowers the people to take responsibility for their own and their children’s welfare. Education should be funded by parents and local associations, not mega-school districts and Federal bureaucrats. Parental desires for their children’s upbringing should be respected.
What should not be respected is the “isms” — belief systems incompatible with the Constitutionally limited government that made the US the desirable place to live for productive people. racism, sexism, classism, etc., should never be tolerated in the action of law. Dividing up citizens by skin color and tribe and doling out affirmative action rewards to the favored may have been justified for one generation, but now create more racism and sexism than they alleviate. Islamists and other religionists who believe that government should enforce their religious laws without the consensus of other citizens should never gain a foothold in our politics.
There will always be people living in America who disagree with one or more aspects of Americanism. If they follow our laws and support themselves, the US can accommodate some number of them short of a majority. But we should seek to screen them out when they apply for immigration, and refuse to support them with welfare payments and subsidies. If they find it more comfortable to live in a country that supports their beliefs, they should move there. And we are under no obligation to associate with them, employ them, or be kind to them.
As Sam Adams said on August 1st, 1776: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”