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24 November 2017

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Tony Wikrent

I am not familiar with the entire corpus of Browder's work, so this comment is based only on the brief portrait supplied by Croesus above.

There are truths, and there are half-truths. To argue--and especially to teach, which I believe carries with it the responsibility to be as truthful as possible--that "America's roots" are entirely European is a half-truth. Just as important as what the USA founders incorporated from Europe, is what they rejected.

For example, one of the most overlooked facts of America's founding is that among the most important legislation first adopted by virtually all the states was the end of British common law regarding primogeniture. This of course was an important attempt to prohibit the creation and perpetuation of the fortunes, power, and rule of oligarchical families, whether local or national. Happily, it the abolition of primogeniture had its intended effect, though today conservatives/libertarians/Republicans are going to practically bring back most of the ill effects of primogeniture with their attempts to abolish the estate tax, and also, imo, the lowering of top marginal income tax rates. When you consider that modern corporations operate much the same as old European oligarchical fondo (funds) you can also see that lowering corporate tax rates will have similarly pernicious effects on the republic.

USA was founded as a republic at a point in world history when all other countries were governed by monarchies, aristocracies, oligarchies, or despotisms. The European states had developed these forms of government to a relatively high level. The founders rejected them all, but tried to blend the the best of each type in their design. Thus we get a very strong executive with many of the powers found in European monarchies, yet (supposedly) subject to the checks and balances of an independent legislature and an independent judiciary. Moreover, the federal structure of independent states subject to a national government was taken directly from the Iroquois confederation of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations.

In economics, the USA founders again adopted the best of Europe, while rejecting the worst. The creation the American republic and its Constitution must be understood in the context of the global shift from the economic and political systems of feudalism, to mercantilism and modern nationalism. The Framers were entirely familiar with mercantilist policies, and the debates in the Constitutional convention make very clear that they had no intent of creating laissez faire and unregulated market capitalism, but a careful and deliberate plan to ensure that all economic activity was channeled and directed to the promotion of the general welfare and national development.

The words “mercantilist” and “mercantilism” are generally used whenever government powers are used to promote a state’s economic powers. By specifying in the Constitution that government powers are used to promote a state’s economic powers in promotion of the general welfare, the American republic made a sharp break from European mercantilism, in which the welfare of a sole monarch or small group of oligarchs was often conflated with the general welfare of a state or nation. Once you understand this history, it becomes clear that the idea that the general welfare is the slippery slope to tyranny, or The Road to Serfdom as Friedrich von Hayek titled his book, is a direct and insidious attack on the founding principles of the American republic.

This fascinating mix of economic policies was carried into effect by first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who is today understood by almost no one, no matter where on the political spectrum they claim to be. Contrary to the mythology peddled by conservatives and libertarians, the USA economy was NOT based on the ideas of Adam Smith--Hamilton thoroughly repudiated Smith, free trade, and laissez faire. For example, In his Report on Manufactures, Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791, Hamilton wrote:

“To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.” And: “Experience teaches, that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practise, that the simplest and most obvious improvements, in the most ordinary occupations, are adopted with hesitation, reluctance, and by slow gradations…. To produce the desirable changes as early as may be expedient may therefore require the incitement and patronage of government… it is of importance that the confidence of cautious, sagacious capitalists, both citizens and foreigners, should be excited. And to inspire this description of persons with confidence, it is essential that they should be made to see in any project which is new—and for that reason alone, if for no other, precarious—the prospect of such a degree of countenance and support from government, as may be capable of overcoming the obstacles inseparable from first experiments.”

And liberals and leftists are wrong in their belief that Hamilton favored the wealthy and powerful over the people. One of Hamilton’s great insights was that economic development depended entirely on improving the productive powers of labor. This meant the development of science and technology, and the spread of machinery to replace muscle power, both animal and human. (Read Section II, Subsection 2, “As to an extension of the use of Machinery...” in Hamilton’s December 1791 Report to Congress on the Subject of Manufactures.) The correct view of Hamilton must be precise: it was not that Hamilton sought to encourage and protect wealth, but to encourage and protect the CREATION of wealth.

Chroniclers of American history have pretty much agreed that George Washington was "the indispensable man." I think the exact same must be said of Washington's closest aid and adviser, Hamilton.


English Outsider

David Habakkuk - Thank you for a very useful summary indeed. I shall buy the book. Your final quote from Butler hits the mark just so. I have a feeling it hits more marks than just the neocons.

Do I like the Major-Generals? From what little I know of them, no. Proto-Commissars, set to enforce a consensus rather than find one.
It was no reign of terror - there was neither bureaucratic apparatus nor general fanaticism enough for that, and they were perhaps by that stage more worried about keeping the show on the road than forcing through a New Jerusalem, but they did some damage here and there. As for the spirit they exemplify, I find those times thoroughly modern if one allows for the change from God to Dawkins.

That is no far-fetched comparison. We see there the sequence we see today. An earnest enquiry after the truth leading to a doctrinaire conviction that one has found it. That leading to an insistence on forcing the doctrine found on others. When that spills over into politics, as it did then and as it does now, when it becomes a political force and interacts with other political forces, then dysfunction can be the only result. That and an enforced conformity that kills enquiry and thus kills new solutions. The "rule of the Major Generals", had it been successful and prolonged, must have been as deadening and as sterile as the current doctrinal rule of the Progressives.

Keith Harbaugh

Thanks to Colonel Lang and the other commentators for
some really great insights on this topic.
Thank you again!

As to my thoughts on the topic,
I'm no expert on the upper ranks of the military,
but I think I do have some insight into the motivations of ambitious people.
I've observed how the military has changed in many ways from my ROTC and early career days in the 1960s and 70s.
For example from the strenuously homophobic Jody calls we cadets belted out on our PT runs,
to the welcoming, seemingly anything goes, attitude of our military leaders today.

I have my own theory on two things that caused that change.
First, the military brass surely observes how the general culture has changed (for the worse, IMO),
and worries about being too far out of step with the country they serve.

Second, there is the "Peter Pace" (remember him?) effect.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Pace
Remember, when he was JCS Chairman, he was described by some of his peers as "Perfect Pete",
so well did he exemplify the military ideal.
He had VN combat experience which educated him more than a thousand books would,
and felt deeply about the consequences of unnecessary wars.

But then he made a big booboo, at least so far as his career was concerned.
He spoke openly about his views towards homosexuality.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/13/AR2007031300185.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/14/AR2007031400303.html
OMG! Kiss your career goodbye.
The son of a bitches in the U.S. Senate let it be known that there was no way they could anger the homosexual lobby
and confirm Pace for a second term as JCS Chairman.
So instead we got a fat slob of a Navy supply officer as JCS Chair
to kill "Don't ask, don't tell".
(Colonel: Feel free to edit the above sentence if it might be too offensive to some.)

Anyhow, if I were an ambitious military officer,
the message I would get from that is:
Don't deviate from the liberal or mainstream party line
if you want to rise to the top.
And I can see that applying to rev up support for
the Zionist/Likudnik/neocon "party line" on Iran and elsewhere.

james

well said david.. and yet the politicians in power do not reflect the voices of ordinary people, especially with regard to foreign policy and as it pertains to israel... apparently money is power.. those who have it wield more of it then those who don't... politicians appear bought and paid for, as opposed to representative of the people of their riding or country...

David Habakkuk

EO,

Thanks for that response. In an earlier discussion I mentioned an historian called Patrick Wormald. More years ago than I care to remember, in the course of an irreverent and undistinguished student career, I heard his father, Brian Wormald, lecture on the Commonwealth and Protectorate.

Ironically, the Cambridge college of which he was a fellow – Peterhouse – was also home to a very different historian, Maurice Cowling, whose disciples have played a key role in creating the ‘Henry Jackson Society’, a central institution of the British version of ‘neoconservatism.’ I thought he was a Gollum dreaming of being a Grima Wormtongue – an ambition in which he has been, vicariously, extraordinarily successful.

Although both men could have been classed as ‘High Tories’, Wormald was quite different from Cowling. While his own instinctive sympathies were clearly royalist, what he set out to show were the ways in an unfolding chain of events were perceived by the different protagonists. In particular, he argued that, to understand the key role of millenarian ideas in the 1650s, you had to, as it were, dismantle a lot of intellectual baggage about the Civil War.

In particular, you had to get rid of the notion that there was anything predetermined about the Parliamentary victory. It was in substantial measure because Cromwell had not thought this that he was so convinced that he could see the hand of God in what was happening.

As to the notion that the Civil War was in some way inevitable, Wormald argued that this was simply wrong. When Charles was forced to recall Parliament, there was actually a very large element of consensus in the ‘political nation’ that he had violated the unwritten understandings on which the political system depended.

What changed the situation was that the radicals in the Parliamentary leadership had got themselves into negotiations with the Scots which could have been deemed treasonable – so they were pushed into radicalising their demands. At that point, enough of the ‘political nation’ rallied to Charles to make it possible for him to mount a military challenge.

On Filmer, incidentally, an interesting American perspective came in an essay by a famous historian of the South, C. Vann Woodward, on the maverick Confederate political theorist George Fitzhugh. As he notes, the society of the Kent gentry, in which Filmer’s ‘patriarchalism’ was rooted, was in essence reproduced in the area of the James River in Virginia.

(See http://www.ditext.com/woodward/fitzhugh.html .)

What interested Fitzhugh in Filmer was not the ‘absolutist’ element – and indeed, seen in a broader context, it may distract attention from more interesting issues raised by his thought. As regards a basic premise of the ‘social contract’ tradition – that people were born as individuals, and government was formed by some kind of contractual agreement – it is far from clear that Locke’s polemic against him can be defended.

Whether one can provide good grounds why people should obey political authorities on this basis remains a moot point, and as regards history Filmer’s instincts have turned out closer to the mark than those of his critics.

It is here important that ‘absolutism’ is a resurrection of classical ideas in the context of the dilemmas of the Renaissance and Reformation periods. In her study of ‘Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900-1300’, the revised edition of which was published in 1997, the Oxford medievalist Susan Reynolds pointed to the contrast between the generally accepted hierarchical conceptions of society in the period she was studying, and ‘absolutism.’

Also, she pointed to the origins of later ‘nationalisms’ in notions of ‘regnal solidarity’ in medieval Europe, linked to myths of common descent. In concluding remarks summarising where her comparative studies of different nations had led, she argued that, up until 1300, what is striking is how similar patterns in different parts of Europe were:

‘What happened thereafter is another story, but in so far as it starts from the beginning of the fourteenth century it must start from the values and ideas that were then current. In most of Western Europe lay people then believed that government depended on consultation and consent, and that the object was to achieve a harmonious consensus in accordance with the custom and law of the whole community.’

Against this background, it is unsurprising that, in the Civil War, divisions were not simply between people but within them. So Sir Thomas Fairfax, who became Lord General of the New Model Army, had learnt soldiering under Sir Horace Vere, a noted commander on the Protestant side in the Netherlands and Palatinate, and married Vere’s daughter Anne.

It was she who, when the court called to try the King called the her husband, is said to have exclaimed that ‘he had more wit than to be there; and when the court said they were acting for ‘all the good people of England’, shouted ‘No, nor the hundredth part of them!’

After Fairfax retired to his Yorkshire estates, his and Anne’s daughter Mary would be tutored by the poet Andrew Marvell who, shortly before taking up the post, had written ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland.’ (This was after the successful ‘COIN’ operation against the Irish, and prior to the ‘preventive war’ against the Scots.)

It is a deeply ambivalent poem, in that the portrayal of Cromwell is in the shadow of Horace’s portrait of Augustus – bringer of civil peace at home and the defeat of foreign enemies, but also in that of the portrait of Julius Caesar in the great ‘republican’ poem, Lucan’s ‘Pharsalia’.

Decades before, this terrifying figure had been transmuted into English literature in the portrayals of ‘overreachers’ like Tamburlaine in the plays of Christopher Marlowe – and has frequently been seen as a kind of prototype of the ‘totalitarian’ ruler. In the event’, of course, the English ‘republican’ experiment petered out, and Fairfax would collaborate with another estwhile pupil of his father-in-law’s George Monck, in facilitating the Restoration.

The arguments however echo onwards, on both sides of the Atlantic. For one thing, precisely because Soshana Bryen has patently not followed recent discussions about British and European history, she cannot grasp that there was no need whatsoever to defend the American Revolution on the basis of the abstract universalism that Jefferson introduced into the Declaration of Independence. It could perfectly well be justified in terms of a specific English tradition of the mutual obligations of ruler and ruled.

Unsurprisingly, one now finds a revival of ‘Southern’ traditions which were shaped by the concern that the abstract universalism introduced by Jefferson could very easily justify both a radical assault on their whole way of life – and also reckless adventures abroad.

So if you look at the ‘Occidental Dissent’ site, you see Hunter Wallace discussing Fitzhugh – and also one ‘Palmetto Patriot’ quoting from an 1852 address by William Porcher Miles, whose design became part of the basis for the Confederate flag:

‘Miles stressed that “Political Liberty… is not an Inalienable Right, but an Acquired Privilege” and condemned Thomas Jefferson’s assertion to the contrary as a “monstrous and dangerous fallacy” that “has, even among us, by thinking men been long detected and abandoned.”’

(See http://www.occidentaldissent.com/tag/george-fitzhugh/ ; http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/03/19/alt-south-what-is-conservative-government/

Ironically, this is very close to fundamental tenets of the Russian ‘liberal conservative’ tradition with which Putin has identified himself. Contrary to what imbeciles like David Brooks contend, figures like Berdyaev and Ivan Ilyin were not ‘messianic nationalists’ – they were anti-universalists.

Moreover, the very visible turn in parts of the ‘alt right’ towards anti-semitism, very visible on ‘Occidental Dissent’, simply cannot be dismissed as no more than the revival of some kind of irrational atavistic prejudice, or scapegoating. It is quite clearly related to the way that Jewish identity has been tied to Zionism, and, increasingly, to the ‘invade the world, invite the world’ agenda.

The simple historical fact that, prior to the Holocaust, Jews never constituted any kind of ‘people’ has been consigned to a kind of ‘memory hole.’

It then becomes bitterly ironic to recall that a key text of Russian ‘liberal conservatism’, the 1909 symposium ‘Vekhi’, was the brainchild of the Jewish literary scholar Mikhail Gershenzohn – who accurately predicted that an attempt to introduce ‘political liberty’ overnight into Russia would be a catastrophe.

Back in 2014, on his ‘Mondoweiss’ site, Philip Weiss discussed a letter from the historian Trevor-Roper – whose election as Master of Peterhouse Cowling, in a characteristically Grima-Wormtongue style intrigue – had helped engineer, to the distinguished scientist Max Perutz, a Jewish refugee from Vienna (baptised a Catholic.)

In it, Trevor-Roper said that he thought that similar circumstances were leading Israeli nationalism to assume some of the least desirable features of Prussian. In a comment, Stephen Shenfield – who I recall as the conduit through which the ideas which became Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ were first publicised in Britain – noted that Gershenzon had anticipated that this would be the case.

(See http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/israel-germany-trevor/ .)

Reverting to American complexities, the Secretary of War and then Secretary of State of the Confederacy was the lawyer Judah Benjamin.

There is a vivid portrayal of him close to the start of the first volume of Colonel Lang’s civil war trilogy, which deals with the Confederate secret service, which he supervised. Unfortunately, Benjamin burnt all the records before escaping to London – perhaps if someone looked, they would find revealing material in British records. Over here, he resurrected his legal career, and wrote a classic text, ‘Benjamin on Sales’, which, having been successively amended over the years, is still a basic reference text for the case law and legislation relating sale of goods in the UK and globally.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

Benjamin was indeed supervisor of the civilian Confederate secret service but General Samuel Cooper, the Adjutant General, ran a parallel military service centered on the Signal Corps. Cooper surrendered the War Department records at the end of the war but evidently kept the intelligence records. His family told me twenty years ago that the head of the family in the 1920s burned two leather bound trunks of papers in the back garden of Cooper's home on Quaker Lane here in Alexandria and would not discuss the contents. pl

Balint Somkuti, PhD

Not for long.

The new ships' engines cannot stand the heat. ;-)

Keith Harbaugh

Philip Giraldi has written an article which cites Colonel Lang's post:

"Fighting Israel's Wars"
How the United States military has become Zionized
by Philip Giraldi, 2017-11-28
http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/fighting-israels-wars/

Last Monday, Colonel Pat Lang, former special ops officer and head of the Defense Humint Service, considered Bryen’s assertion, writing ...

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