Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11: Never again... or for ever more? Dave McArthur's bloody truth

There were two calls in to Dana Loesch's radio show on the afternoon of September 10th, which bracketed the issues we are still facing this September 11th, 2014, and which are the same issues that we have been studiously attempting to turn away from ever since September 11th, 2001.

The first call came in from someone identifying himself as an Army Ranger, in response to President Obama's earlier calls to contain and manage ISIS; he asked in frustration:
"How do you defeat an idea?"
Which is a question that our govt and intellectual leaders have unfortunately given very little consideration to (certainly less than they've given to the more Politically Correct ideas of how our culture can go about accommodating all ideas).

The second call came in from a popular local bakery owner here in St. Louis, Dave McArthur, who pointed out that central to our waging WWII was our publicly, explicitly, identifying America's enemies to the American people. To that end propaganda posters filled our cities to remind us of the ugly business we were engaged in, reminded us of the brutal realities that such a war entailed and reminded us of the very real reasons why we were at war with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Propaganda can of course be, and usually is, misused, but that was actually one of its few legitimate purposes it has, and it spurred Americans on the home-front on to victory; to a victory which was understood to be necessary, and a victory which would require us to devastate our enemies in Japan, and Germany to the point that they totally, unqualifiably, surrendered.

IOW we had a strategy which meant that "We win, they lose".

Why did victory require the devastating defeat and unqualified surrender of our enemies? Because, as with our world today, WWII was not about issues that could be negotiated, it was not about simple border or trade disputes, but about the violent and expansive imposition of absolutist political schemes in order to dominate some or all of the world.

WWII was not fought for things, but for ideas, ideas of liberty or tyranny. And as long as we desired to remain free, there was no possibility open for bargaining with such enemies of liberty, only their total defeat and surrender (It's also worth noting that after winning WWII, in fewer years than we've expended since 09/11/2001 to today, we had not only imposed a government and a constitution upon both Axis powers, but they had become, and have remained, actual allies of ours ever since; something the Paul Bremer-Bush admin kinder gentler coalition would never achieve in Iraq).

What Dave McArthur said about defeating the islamists of ISIS - and all the rest of those who wish to impose islamic rule upon the world - that it requires total war, is something that is horribly, painfully and exactly true.

There is no alternative - other than "We lose. They win", that is.

How do you defeat an idea?
The first caller asked exactly the right question:
"How do you defeat an idea?"
And the answer is, if it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:
You cannot defeat an idea.
All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about.

This is not an anti-Islamic position, nor is it limited to radical islamists. For any of those that believe that the Emperor, or der Fuhrer, or das Capital, or Sharia, or whatever else the case might be, when they believe that their belief system entitles them to impose their political rule upon others by the sword, that killing those who don't agree with them is a viable policy, then they must be made to either die, or vigorously and forever repent of ever having had such ideas, plans and policies to impose tyrannical rule upon others.

And if we do not face up to the fact that that is the reality of what we are facing and fighting, then we cannot, and we will not, achieve victory - and the peace - that we seek.

And when we do finally face up to it, we will have to realize, and it will be the responsibility of our political and intellectual leaders to clarify what that means and to keep it current in public opinion that we will have to defeat ISIS exactly as we did the Nazi's and Imperial Japan - by destroying them, ruthlessly, utterly and completely.

Our failure, and our leaders failure, has been to try and turn away from that reality. It's what we failed to face up to after the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon under Reagan, what we failed to face up to during and after the Gulf War under Bush I, what we failed to face up to during the World Trade Tower bombing under Clinton and what we have continued to fail to face up to during and after Iraq & Afghanistan with Bush II and Obama today.

And that is why, 13 years after September 11th, 2001, we are still being threatened, and why our people are still being harangued and murdered by islamist radicals today. And despite President Obama's denial that ISIS is not a 'legitimate state', their undocumented state covers great swaths of Syria and Iraq - territory which we must now, one way or another, rid them of.

If we want these conflicts to end, then we will have to ensure that the idea that it is acceptable, desirable and practical idea to impose their radical ideology upon us, we must make it thoroughly understood that that idea means death and destruction for those holding it - or we will remain ever at their mercy.

It is an alternative we'd better face up to this September 11th: 9/11 never again... or 9/11
for ever more?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beyond the rants: Culture, Seinfeld and the Ferguson Riots - A Society of Culturettes

No, I'm not going to write about the old TV show 'Seinfeld' (sorry, I never liked that show), but about something I once overheard from a table next to me at lunch. Two middle aged fans of the show were attempting to 'speak Seinfeld' with a third, younger, companion at their table, who they simply assumed was as familiar with their favorite TV show as they were, 'cause, you know, Seinfeld!

As the two were chuckling at the reference one just made, they suddenly noticed the blank look on their friend's face. So the one who'd told the story repeated himself, something about what Kramer had said in such 'n such scene being just like what someone in their office had done earlier that day, but this time he spoke more slllooowwwlyyy like there was a language issue at the root of their failure to communicate; and yet - still no response from their young friend.
"Didn't you ever see that?"
"See what?"
"That episode? Of SEINfeld?"
"Nah, never watched the show."
The two chucklers gasped in shock.
"What...? Seriously?" and in unison "You've never seen Seinfeld?!"
"Nope." came the entirely unconcerned reply, and "Pass the ketchup.", as he went about the more important task of spurting condiments on his burger and digging in.
Sadly, there are still, however many years after the show went off the air, scores of people who routinely 'speak Seinfeld', and do so in supreme confidence that they're enhancing their conversations with these allusions and references to critical episodes, scenes and gags from the show. No doubt for those who're as familiar with it as they are, they get the meaning, they get the joke, and they COMPLETELY know how it relates to the present moment, and I've no doubt their conversations are ever so much more than they otherwise would have been, because of their show references.

And yet there are other people, many more other people, more and more every day, who've never seen Seinfeld, who do not have and never have had any mental space reserved for the show; and even many who would do everything they could to leave the room if someone were to turn it on. And these Seinfeld-less people, a distressingly expanding portion of those that the Seinfeldians know, will so deeply frustrate them with their inability to have communicated to them, that certain laugh, that important Seinfeldian insight ("Soup Nazi!"), and they will have to endure the 'cut off in mid sentence' sensation of coming up against not just a lack of understanding, but the utter absence of there even being the possibility of communicating what the Seinfeldian had in their mind, to the Seinfeld-less person they were attempting to let in on the joke.

Appropriately enough, for a show famously about nothing, there's more to the Seinfeldian's discomfort here than meets the eye.

For when I overheard this scene I'd thought I understood how those two at the lunch table must have felt. I'd spent the 80's in a travelling Rock band on the West Coast, and we'd developed a lingo of meaningful references all our own; particular looks, expressions, words, phrases (for the few of you still out there, here ya go:... "Nice boots", "Pigeon Poaching", "Would you believe?!", "Oh Knawful", "San Deigo", "40", "Roller Skates", "Going north", "Too much air today", "U-Haul", "50 cycle hum", "Jartran" - you're welcome), which passed volumes between us, becoming our (only partly intentionally) secret code language. And as I still occasionally lapse into an expression here or there, being the only person able to 'get the joke', I thought I'd felt what those Seinfeldians were feeling; the realization that you can't help the person you're talking to, to 'get the joke'. And if you try to explain it... the humor escapes and only your odd meaninglessness remains to them.

But what I realized this weekend, while watching a livestream of the Ferguson riots and trying to help defend a friend who was being attacked online who was being accused of not being 'black enough' because he cared too much about truth and justice - WHAT?! - and then I realized, that the joke was on me. Those band memories were simply irrelevant personal memories, no different from anyone else's personal recollections of friends & days gone by. But what the Seinfeldians, and the 'not black enoughians' were (and are) experiencing, isn't about the experiences of youth or race, but a microcosm of something that is happening in the wider Western world all around us. There too we have the case of an understanding which is also being shared by fewer and fewer people every day, and the absence of communication which it presents there is infinitely more far reaching in its significance, because what is not being communicated by it is much more than just a laugh track, and much more to do with our being able to live a life worth living.

And what that is, is this:
cul·ture
/ˈkəlCHər/
noun

  1. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
    "20th century popular culture"
    synonyms: the arts, the humanities, intellectual achievement;

Well, not quite that exactly, since as the definition given in the first instance there references "20th century popular culture", which might be more fitting to the Seinfeldians culturette, and it seems remarkably lacking in the ability to convey an understanding of what Culture actually is.

Ok, here's another definition that gets somewhat closer:
"Culture: Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that is both a result of and integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Culture thus consists of language, ideas, beliefs, customs, taboos, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, works of art, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols. It has played a crucial role in human evolution, allowing human beings to adapt the environment to their own purposes rather than depend solely on natural selection to achieve adaptive success. "
There, that's better.

That seems rather... large, doesn't it? Although Culture is a fairly new word, its meaning stretches all the way back to why the Greeks referred to other peoples as barbarians. It wasn't just the the 'bah-bah-bah' sounds of their language, but the fact that their language conveyed little or nothing of what was understood to be important by the Greeks. What the barbarians spoke wasn't Greek to them, its words wouldn't carry the "Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour" of their world and so was meaningless and worthless to them. Culture may be a new word, but its meaning is not only ancient, but all encompassing for a society. Until recently, anyway.

Now ask yourself: what do you suppose remains behind in a society when something that large has been removed from it? All the references and understandings, which, as 'Soup Nazi' is to Culture, are as a punch line is to the collected works of Shakespeare, Sophocles, etc. All of that, was simply cancelled and discarded as if by some remote Intellectual programming executives because its Nielsen ratings had dropped amongst themselves (which is pretty much what happened, but that's another story).

It's a shocking situation for a Culture's die-hard fans to absorb. And as a result, like Seinfeld, fewer and fewer people are 'speaking Western Culture' today, and the increasingly large number of people who do not have any mental space reserved for it in their minds or souls, whose numbers are growing every day, every year, do not 'get the joke', or anything else. We are fast becoming a society that isn't even as well off as those two Seinfeldians I overheard, for their companion, though not a fan, at least knew of what it was they were speaking of.

The people who don't 'speak Western Culture', don't even realize what it is that you're referencing, a Culture; instead they make the mistake of thinking that you're talking about a particular book or an author, rather than about a way of living life itself. A line of Aeschylus or Shakespeare or an observation of Thucydides or Locke, can be made with only a few words, but to those familiar with them, they could, and should, and once did, convey a depth of meaning that went far beyond the scope of trivia or amusing gags.

But to those unfamiliar with these? Nah, never heard of it. Pass the Ketchup.

Try it. Assuming any of this raises even a glimmer of understanding with you, try referencing a quote from Plato, a reference to Plutarch or even King Arthur's knights! These were once common references which communicated volumes of meaning and relevance, cultural references which once had the ability to truly save the day or alter the course of a life, references which served to situate their listeners within their lives, capable of inspiring acts of bravery or the righting of a life - but these are now more often than not, met with a blank stare, a "nah, never heard of it. Pass the Ketchup."

If I dare make reference to the 'rage of Achilles', I might be met, from those who should know it, professors, teachers, 'intellectuals' and the like, with not much more than a recognition of a noun which they remembered to have some dim reference to 'Western Civilization', and as such it will likely be met with some shade of contempt and I'll then be chided about 'checking my privilege'. But whose,  and far more likely, I'll be met with that devastatingly empty glance, one that with some prompting will be followed by a shrug which communicates that "Sorry, I don't speak Western Civilization", and the pain of it strikes deep into the soul.

But here's the question that you, who are currently enjoying the last fruits - perhaps the pits - of that culture, should be asking yourself: 'What is filling that empty space?' What, in its stead, is filling the gaps where there once was something that was "integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations"? What has taken that place?

'Nothing' is not the answer. Some thing or things are filling that gap, they have a shape and form which looks a lot like what is happening in Ferguson MO right now.

We have a world today, possibly the first one ever, which has attempted to trade the substance of it's culture, the stories and events which gave, preserved and passed on its life, with data alone, with facts shorn of the context of those stories which they originally came from and gained their meaning through. Phrases & terms such as : 'Drinking the Hemlock', to 'crossing the rubicon', to 'Battle of Hastings ' and 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers', as a result of being taught, if at all, as options on a multiple choice test, they are at best associated with a name and a date that was once required of them to be memorized, but that is all. No meaning attaches to their reference, no understanding is triggered by it, no deeper recesses of their lives are touched, woken and animated by those factoids. Playwrights such as Sophocles are at best 'a text' which some students once had to scan through in order to pass a test, and for you to try and explain something to them such as a reference to Antigone, would be as fruitless as trying to explain the Seinfeldian's 'Soup Nazi!' joke - the soul of the reference cannot be grasped by explanation... in fact it is mostly because of such explanations that the soul of the story has been put beyond our grasp to begin with. Textbooks are filled with summaries and factoids, without story or with stories that have been gutted and left grey, lifeless, without meaning, and ensuring us only that we'll pass on a society without a common culture (The 'Diversity!' goal of Common Core).

In Western Culture's place we've been given gobs of mini-cultures, call them Culturettes, based around entertainments and activities such as Seinfeld, football, The Simpsons, MTV, etc., which do not enable, and often stop, conversation between the culturettes. Our society is crammed full of these culturettes and without a unifying culture to contain them and us, there is no form for our society to take but that of chaos, and rioting is one of its many outward features.

I've heard a number of people describe what's going on in Ferguson, the rioting, the looting and destruction of their neighborhood, as somehow being the behavior of animals. I haven't asked which animals because there's no need to - it is entirely, authentically, unequivocally, Human behavior.

What it is not, is behavior that is a part of, or compatible with, Western Culture. And as that is the one culture our educational system has been attempting not to teach for so many, many decades, that is behavior that you can expect to see lots more of. To behave like animals, would be a step up, they at least have a raw order to them - humans don't have that instinctual option, cultures define our behavior, and only the West has led to ideas of Justice and the Rule of Law. What you're seeing in Ferguson, is all the different culturettes the West has been replaced with.

'Purty, ain't it?

And make no mistake, nothing so disjointed and empty as the hash of culturettes our culture has been replaced with, can remain standing for long, not even on TV. There is such a thing as intellectual gravity, just as there is physical gravity and falling ratings, and without sufficient supports, the existing structures will collapse and drag you down, and just like your favorite cancelled TV show, no write in campaign will bring it back.

Oh, but let's revise the standards for our School's Textbooks! Let's add some more multiple choice references! More chapters of fun fact bullet points! That'll help! That'll fix it!

Soup Nazi!

Sigh.
'Where there is no vision, the people perish'
Like most biblical references, that poetic snippet is a fully loaded and prismatic fractal of meaning, and one sense that can be taken from it is that without a common vision, without a shared poetic understanding, a shared story, the people cease to be 'A People', they actively replace themselves with a disintegrated and disparate group of 'peoples', more at odds with each other than with those few barbarians who are still outside the gates, as well as the many more already within.

Like dead men, facts tell no tales.

Without the stories, poems and histories, whatever some standards committee might determine to be 'culturally relevant facts', which had been plucked from them, they cannot convey the meaning that once was accessed through them, a meaning and understanding that knitted its listeners together into A People, a We The People. We have a society today that finds itself almost entirely without a common culture for conveying its significant touchstones. And how well its meaning can be conveyed without those vehicles of story and myth, might be gathered by simply looking around you today. If you want to see what a society of 'No Culture' looks like, if you want to understand the meaning of 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'' is, walk up to a person or two and mention to them about someone being 'rich as Croesus (see below)', and witness the true poverty there to be had in the blank stare staring you in the face - yours and theirs.

Or better yet, look at the rioters in Ferguson MO, who are joining with others streaming in from around the country to burn their neighborhood to the ground in protest for... 'justice'. Having an actual Culture replaced by various culturettes of sports, TV & musical styles... looks a lot like that.

Perhaps even worse, is the fact that the little 'culturettes' that've been slipped to us in the greater culture's stead, the 'Seinfelds' or 'Friends', Rappers, Hip-Hoppers or John Wayne-Eastwood-Schwarzenegger-Rock movies... we soon find ourselves possessors of culturally counterfeit currency whose bills don't even remotely resemble those in use by the person you are trying to 'pay' them to. They don't even seem enough like 'real money' to even begin reaching for; and as with pulling monopoly money out of your pocket to pay for a Coke, the cashier won't even extend a hand for it, you'll only receive an annoyed, blank, stare.

But then again... how often do you even use cash anymore? Just swipe your debit card, or your Kardashians reference, and smile for the selfie!

Yep, Rich as Croesus.

* **************************************************************************************** *

The story of Croesus.
If you've been unfortunate enough to assume that the education you received at school was an actual Education, you may not have heard the story of Croesus. The person celebrated as having originated the concept of 'History', Herodotus, told the story of  the fabulously wealthy Croesus.

Croesus was not only fabulously wealthy, but a powerful ruler of a state as well, and supremely proud and confident that his wealth and fortune made him the happiest of men. As Herodotus told it, one day Solon, the iconic Greek wise man who'd given the Athenians their first constitution, came to dinner, and Croesus was eager to hear this famous wise man laud him for his own wealth and success and happiness. So after providing a luxurious feast, he said "Tell me now, O Solon, who do you think is the happiest of all men?" eagerly expecting him to say, "Croesus."

But Solon, having no use for flattery, answered: "Tellus of Athens, sire."

Croesus was less than pleased at this answer and he demanded to know why. Solon answered,
"First, because his country was flourishing in his days, and he himself had sons both beautiful and good, and he lived to see children born to each of them, and these children all grew up; and further because, after a life spent in what our people look upon as comfort, his end was surpassingly glorious. In a battle between the Athenians and their neighbours near Eleusis, he came to the assistance of his countrymen, routed the foe, and died upon the field most gallantly. The Athenians gave him a public funeral on the spot where he fell, and paid him the highest honours."
Croesus still wasn't pleased, but he thought that surely he'd at least rate second place in Solon's esteem, so he asked again, "Well, who do you think the next most admirable and happy person is.", but again he was to be disappointed.

"Cleobis and Bito," Solon answered, explaining that,
"they were of Argive race; their fortune was enough for their wants, and they were besides endowed with so much bodily strength that they had both gained prizes at the Games. Also this tale is told of them:- There was a great festival in honour of the goddess Juno at Argos, to which their mother must needs be taken in a car. Now the oxen did not come home from the field in time: so the youths, fearful of being too late, put the yoke on their own necks, and themselves drew the car in which their mother rode. Five and forty furlongs did they draw her, and stopped before the temple. This deed of theirs was witnessed by the whole assembly of worshippers, and then their life closed in the best possible way. Herein, too, God showed forth most evidently, how much better a thing for man death is than life. For the Argive men, who stood around the car, extolled the vast strength of the youths; and the Argive women extolled the mother who was blessed with such a pair of sons; and the mother herself, overjoyed at the deed and at the praises it had won, standing straight before the image, besought the goddess to bestow on Cleobis and Bito, the sons who had so mightily honoured her, the highest blessing to which mortals can attain. Her prayer ended, they offered sacrifice and partook of the holy banquet, after which the two youths fell asleep in the temple. They never woke more, but so passed from the earth. The Argives, looking on them as among the best of men, caused statues of them to be made, which they gave to the shrine at Delphi."
Croesus was seething at this, "Is my happiness, then, so utterly set at nought by thee, that thou dost not even put me on a level with private men?"

And Solon answered,
"Oh! Croesus," replied the other, "thou askedst a question concerning the condition of man, of one who knows that the power above us is full of jealousy, and fond of troubling our lot. A long life gives one to witness much, and experience much oneself, that one would not choose. Seventy years I regard as the limit of the life of man. In these seventy years are contained, without reckoning intercalary months, twenty-five thousand and two hundred days. Add an intercalary month to every other year, that the seasons may come round at the right time, and there will be, besides the seventy years, thirty-five such months, making an addition of one thousand and fifty days. The whole number of the days contained in the seventy years will thus be twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty, whereof not one but will produce events unlike the rest. Hence man is wholly accident. For thyself, oh! Croesus, I see that thou art wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations; but with respect to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer to give, until I hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For assuredly he who possesses great store of riches is no nearer happiness than he who has what suffices for his daily needs, unless it so hap that luck attend upon him, and so he continue in the enjoyment of all his good things to the end of life. For many of the wealthiest men have been unfavoured of fortune, and many whose means were moderate have had excellent luck. Men of the former class excel those of the latter but in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability to withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck keeps him clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: he is whole of limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his children, and comely to look upon. If, in addition to all this, he end his life well, he is of a truth the man of whom thou art in search, the man who may rightly be termed happy. Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single human being is complete in every respect- something is always lacking. He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of 'happy.' But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin."
As fate would have it, it wasn't long after that dinner with Solon that Croesus, having let his pride lead him into making one poor decision after another, decisions that inexorably led to his children being killed, his wealth lost, and his kingdom invaded.
Wants to be 'Rich as Croesus'. Already is.

And as his kingdom was defeated and overrun, the invading soldiers dragged Croesus from his throne and out into the town square, where they built a bonfire from the fine furnishings of his ruined palace, tied him onto it and set set it a blaze.

And as the flames kindled beneath him Croesus recalled Solon's words, "No one while he lives is happy." and Croesus cried out Solon's name three times in agony before the flames took him, the richest and most powerful of men, into death.

Without perspective, without the present wisdom of your culture's stories to instill in you the ability to distinguish between what is really of value, what a life worth living actually is, from those things that are merely useful and amusing... you will be lost and remain unfound. Without a vision, you will almost certainly remake yourself as the people who have perished.

Yes, you too can easily be 'Rich as Croesus'.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ranting against rioting in Ferguson, MO

I too am upset at how the police and our governor have handled the rioting in Ferguson; not for their use of force, but for the lack of it. No one can be secure in their rights in the presence of a mob. There is no right of peaceful assembly if what you are assembling as is a riotous mob gathered in the middle of our public streets, violating everything from traffic laws to disturbing the peace, engaging in the destruction of property and violence, well into the night, and chanting threat's against the community and against the police. And on top of that, we've got communist agitators from Chicago who've inserted themselves into the rioters to egg them on to the violence they much prefer to voting booths.

Honestly it is such a clear cut case for the legitimate use of force as I can imagine. My uninformed non-professional law enforcement advice would be something along the lines of giving the order:
"Disperse or be shot. 10 seconds". Count to 10. Shoot and arrest whoever is still there 1 second later.
If the actual professionals have a more effective tactic that will cause less harm and loss of life, fine, but if that tactic leaves a mob such as this in place for even an hour longer, let alone night after night, then that tactic is doing actual damage to the real rights and safety of those living and working (!) in the immediate surroundings, as well as to the wider community at large. Ya know what happens when you depend upon tear gas to disperse a mob? They move their mob and destruction to another location! There's video on Facebook of the screaming mob running from where they were being tear gassed, to another QuikTrip down the road, which had nothing to do with the original 'cause', but was being overrun and looted!

This prolonged rioting and looting is doing real damage to the safety and security of the entire area and to credibility of the police who are the representatives of law and order for all, and as such it is absolutely unacceptable to allow it continue one moment longer.

To concern yourself with the self-esteem or safety of the rioters, at all, rather than with the people who live in that community, and those surrounding it, who are losing sleep, work, businesses and even forcing children to stay home from school day after day, if your first concern is not with those who are being forced to survive under such a blatant and direct threat to their peace, security and safety which such mob violence poses... well, that is as disgusting a display of ignorance as our modern educational system can boast of.

Listen up: There is no more fundamental duty of government, and specifically of the Police, than to secure the peace so that its citizens can pursue happiness, secure in their lives, rights, liberty and property. To fail in that, to knuckle under to such a direct threat and disregard for the rule of law which a mob is the manifestation
of, is despicable. I could source & cite references from our Founder's era, on back to Cicero and the ancient Greeks to bolster that position, but frankly I should not have to and not a single one of you should need supporting references to 'okay' what should be clear and obvious to a few moments deliberate thought.

To top it off, a friend of mine, Martin Baker, has been one of the few voices calling for calm from the supporters of the police and from those supposedly supporting the family of Michael Brown, one of the few calling for the equal application of the laws, for justice, and for his pains he has been subjected to such a vile stream of insult and slander as can be imagined.

One pitiful excuse for a reporter, Jon Swaine, Tweeted that

  There are perhaps 125 people at this pro-Darren Wilson protest. 124 white people and Martin Baker, aged 44
What he failed to report was where else Martin was in attendance, as Dana Loesch noted:
Now, what with my not being a journalist, perhaps someone could clue me in
Martin Baker is 2nd to the left of Sharpton
as to why, being fully aware of Martin's presence at the rally for Brown, why the first question that this 'reporter' asked wasn't:
"Where are all the other supposed black leaders of the community at the event calling for equal justice for all?"
Instead, he tries to somehow make Martin look bad for actually having the good sense, and guts, to be at both rallies.

Another friend of mine, Stacy Washington, has been receiving threats against herself and her family for also daring to call for law and order while black:

How hideously stupid of a fool must a person be to attack someone else because they are standing up for Law and Justice for all? Apparently the answer can be demonstrated for you by nearly any available leftist you can find, if you simply mention that Martin Baker is black and is also calling for equality before the law and justice for all. Like this idiot Swaine, they'll fall all over themselves to give you a demonstration of just what racist stupidity looks like in real time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look upon the scene in Ferguson and think to yourself primarily about skin color - whether in terms of favoring or opposing the rioters doesn't matter - then you are as foolish as you are bigoted. If you base your arguments, pro or con, around skin color, then your have self-identified yourself as being racist and incapable of coherent thought.

While this rioting has been tolerated and chiefly dealt with by Governor by press conference, the rioters, operating from the clear and present danger of a mob, have been openly making threats into news cameras and tweeting out threats to bring their violence to the surrounding communities, including numerous threats to take the violence to the neighborhoods across the bridge. Well my community is across the bridge, and as such we've had multiple SWAT teams mobilized and even staked out around our mall because those threats have been taken seriously.

I've bought my first gun, a pump action shotgun with #00 shot.

While I am a supporter of the Individual Rights which the 2nd Amendment defends, I've never owned a gun and haven't wanted to, for no other reason that I never felt the need. And even today a burglar is still more likely to receive a mix of ball bearings & bb's in the face from my wrist rocket, than a blast of buckshot from my new shotgun, that form of defense is utterly useless against the sort of mobile mob-in-a-car that we've been threatened with, and so now having been threatened, I feel a need to be able to respond.

That sucks.

But because our Individual Rights are so little respected, because property rights no longer have much real standing in the law, and because so few other actual rights are even attempted to be upheld today, or else are so thoroughly corrupted in practice, there is little more than complete confusion on the issue of what to do about violent mobs rioting and disturbing the peace. And because every branch of the Govt., State, media, wackademia, etc, have been complicit in this state of affairs about, now when we are faced with such a clear cut, basic legitimate function of the State and the use of force, they think themselves entirely helpless as to what to do about it.

And We The People are so damn screwed.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Those who are enabling 'dreamers' are America's worst nightmare

In the video below, two people walk up to Rep. Steve King & Sen. Rand Paul who're eating lunch at a table outside. The moment the lady identifies herself as 'a dreamer' (aka: an illegal immigrant), Rand Paul drops his burger and with his companion, in what looked like very instinctual reactions, flees the confrontation (it is getting harder and harder to see him in a real leadership role). King, on the other hand, sticks it out and handles the situation exactly as he should: calmly, clearly, dispassionately and, despite the 'dreamers' attempts to make it an emotional issue, he handles it as a question of law.

But as offensive as these two illegal immigrant 'dreamers' are, they aren't the real problem.

In the course of this video, and in follow-ups, the two, who quite understandably would rather be referred to euphemistically as 'dreamers', than as the illegal immigrants which they are, emphatically claim, again and again, that they 'love America!'

No. No ma'am, you don't. I state that flatly and without reservation, as someone who does love America for what it is: a nation of Laws. You do not love America, you demonstrate that by your own actions, and those actions which prevent you from being able to love America.

And to ward off some of the support I might unintentionally receive, I say this as an essentially 'open borders' guy. All I want from an Immigration Policy (laws I'd like to see) and from those asking permission to cross our borders, is that they acknowledge that our borders do in fact exist and indicate where the rule and jurisdiction of our laws begin; I expect that immigrants should be able to pass reasonable health & safety checks; that they register on entry, and that they pledge to abide by our laws while they are here for work or pleasure; during which time they should conduct themselves so as to respect our cultural norms and standards during their stay (and if intending an extended stay, I think they should pass a lite version of our citizenry tests and language comprehension... food for future laws). I flatly reject the 'economic arguments' which nationalists (such as FDR & Union bosses) raise against cheap labor, and I contend that all of the other issues oft associated with immigrants would evaporate over night, if they were not extended free public assistance services in the various forms of housing, food, education, etc, which are only due to citizens (but of course I wish American citizens did not seek or receive such things either... laws yet to be corrected). And I'd add to this that I expect that those who violate our laws should be immediately fined and deported without chance of return.

But be that is it may and by our laws as they currently stand, if you entered into America by violating her laws, you are no more able to claim that you love America, than if you forcibly violated Lady Liberty because you claimed to love her. That's not love. No. Sorry. No means no! You may lust after her fruits, but you cannot claim to love America while forcibly violating Lady Liberty's body of laws.

These 'dreamers' dreams are not the American dream, but the result of one of its greatest nightmares. But still, as offensive as these two illegal immigrant 'dreamers' are, they aren't the real problem.

I'll give you that these 'dreamers' may very well be fond of some geographical portion of America, they may enjoy the economic fruits of it, they may even love some of the people living within her, but that, those and they are not America - those are things which to some extent are common to every nation on earth, but such commonalities are not what makes America exceptional and worth loving.

America is an Idea, the first and only nation ever 'conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal', it is the idea of living a life where your Individual Rights are understood to be respected and secured by law so that you can live in liberty. Those Rights, famously summarized as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, are only possible by instituting a government to uphold those rights as a nation of laws. Respect for the rule of law is essential; only then can everyone hope to have and enjoy an equal standing before the law. And those laws are dependent upon a populace who, from the highest office to the most humble of citizens (and visitors), respect its laws and expect, revere and demand the rule of law.

The unobtrusive monster
Which leads us to what the real problem is, and it's not these 'dreamers' - they're a problem that can be identified, debated and dealt with, by law. The real problem is far worse than two or even twenty million illegal immigrants.

The problem which is far worse than individual law breaking 'dreamers', are the unknown number of law ignoring people who are not only amongst us but who are in places of power within our government; people who feel that when the laws of the land, which they have sworn oaths to uphold and administer, conflict with their own personal assessments and political preferences, and so feel no compunction in using the power they've been entrusted with for upholding the law, to violate our laws as it suits their own desires.

What the existence and toleration of such law ignoring government functionaries means, is that Power has been unleashed upon the land. The power of the people of America, which its laws embody, are rapidly falling into the hands of a people who intend to wield that power however they will. When that happens, and it is happening, monsters are unleashed.

Any thinking person who is not alarmed over this, has never learned how to think thoughts worth thinking - thoughts such as those which animate America. You cannot love America while forcibly violating Lady Liberty's body of laws.

And a nation of laws cannot long exist while such people are allowed to hold offices in its government, or grow to be a substantial portion of its populace. But of course that nation will not simply vanish, a changeling will take its place, and that changeling cannot not be monstrous.

... there he is...
P.S. - Don't bother looking for a red-eyed tyrannical monster - that isn't what's being unleashing, not yet anyway. If you want to know how to recognize the lawless monster, watch this video through to the end. Do you see the putz who steps in and tries to stop the lady from videoing the conversation by telling her that he's decided she isn't allowed to video them? That's him. The monstrous power ready to run over us and our laws, is rarely going to take the form of a powerful tyrant, it is far more likely to be a piddling little bureaucrat who, left on their own, don't possess the personal power and authority to influence even a single person to listen to them. But that same faceless bureaucrat will be the one who is more than happy to turn the power of We The People against us, 'for our own good'.

If you don't believe me, read Hannah Arendt's observations on the Nazi's faceless bureaucrats and the banality of evil.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Calvin Coolidge's "The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence"

The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence - Calvin Coolidge (cleaning up after Wilson, July 5, 1926)

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgment of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human
experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. They have long been identified with a great cause. They are the framework of a spiritual event. The world looks upon them, because of their associations of one hundred and fifty years ago, as it looks upon the Holy Land because of what took place there nineteen hundred years ago. Through use for a righteous purpose they have become sanctified.

It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion they were largely economic. The colonists objected to the navigation laws which interfered with their trade, they denied the power of Parliament to impose taxes which they were obliged to pay, and they therefore resisted the royal governors and the royal forces which were sent to secure obedience to these laws. But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World. Life in a new and open country had aspirations which could not be realized in any subordinate position. A separate establishment was ultimately inevitable. It had been decreed by the very laws of human nature. Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them. The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given they were inclined to withhold action.

While North Carolina has the honor of first authorizing its delegates to concur with other Colonies in declaring independence, it was quickly followed by South Carolina and Georgia, which also gave general instructions broad enough to include such action. But the first instructions which unconditionally directed its delegates to declare for independence came from the great Commonwealth of Virginia. These were immediately followed by Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while the other Colonies, with the exception of New York, soon adopted a like course.

This obedience of the delegates to the wishes of their constituents, which in some cases caused them to modify their previous positions, is a matter of great significance. It reveals an orderly process of government in the first place; but more than that, it demonstrates that the Declaration of Independence was the result of the seasoned and deliberate thought of the dominant portion of the people of the Colonies. Adopted after long discussion and as the result of the duly authorized expression of the preponderance of public opinion, it did not partake of dark intrigue or hidden conspiracy. It was well advised. It had about it nothing of the lawless and disordered nature of a riotous insurrection. It was maintained on a plane which rises above the ordinary conception of rebellion. It was in no sense a radical movement but took on the dignity of a resistance to illegal usurpations. It was conservative and represented the action of the colonists to maintain their constitutional rights which from time immemorial had been guaranteed to them under the law of the land.

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession of territory and the establishment of a new nation. Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the admiration and reverence of humanity. There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be under-estimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people. Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

But if these truths to which the declaration refers have not before been adopted in their combined entirety by national authority, it is a fact that they had been long pondered and often expressed in political speculation. It is generally assumed that French thought had some effect upon our public mind during Revolutionary days. This may have been true. But the principles of our declaration had been under discussion in the Colonies for nearly two generations before the advent of the French political philosophy that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century. In fact, they come from an earlier date. A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Rev. Thomas Hooker of Connecticut as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that:

The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people
The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance.

This doctrine found wide acceptance among the nonconformist clergy who later made up the Congregational Church. The great apostle of this movement was the Rev. John Wise, of Massachusetts. He was one of the leaders of the revolt against the royal governor Andros in 1687, for which he suffered imprisonment. He was a liberal in ecclesiastical controversies. He appears to have been familiar with the writings of the political scientist, Samuel Pufendorf, who was born in Saxony in 1632. Wise published a treatise, entitled "The Church's Quarrel Espoused," in 1710 which was amplified in another publication in 1717. In it he dealt with the principles of civil government. His works were reprinted in 1772 and have been declared to have been nothing less than a textbook of liberty for our Revolutionary fathers.

While the written word was the foundation, it is apparent that the spoken word was the vehicle for convincing the people. This came with great force and wide range from the successors of Hooker and Wise, It was carried on with a missionary spirit which did not fail to reach the Scotch Irish of North Carolina, showing its influence by significantly making that Colony the first to give instructions to its delegates looking to independence. This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his "best ideas of democracy" had been secured at church meetings.

That these ideas were prevalent in Virginia is further revealed by the Declaration of Rights, which was prepared by George Mason and presented to the general assembly on May 27, 1776. This document asserted popular sovereignty and inherent natural rights, but confined the doctrine of equality to the assertion that "All men are created equally free and independent". It can scarcely be imagined that Jefferson was unacquainted with what had been done in his own Commonwealth of Virginia when he took up the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. But these thoughts can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was writing in 1710. He said, "Every man must be acknowledged equal to every man". Again, "The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, and so forth . . . ." And again, "For as they have a power every man in his natural state, so upon combination they can and do bequeath this power to others and settle it according as their united discretion shall determine". And still again, "Democracy is Christ's government in church and state". Here was the doctrine of equality, popular sovereignty, and the substance of the theory of inalienable rights clearly asserted by Wise at the opening of the eighteenth century, just as we have the principle of the consent of the governed stated by Hooker as early as 1638.

When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature's God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say "The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven."

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self government; the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that "Democracy is Christ's government". The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few. They undertook the balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guaranties of liberty. As a result of these methods enterprise has been duly protected from confiscation, the people have been free from oppression, and there has been an ever broadening and deepening of the humanities of life.

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general. Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.

Hey America - Dependence, or Independence - which do you declare?

Independence Day is at hand again, but before I re-post "Inspiration of the Declaration of
Independence" from our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, it might help it sink in more thoroughly by first looking at what he'd understood to be 'The Supports of Civilization', and the meaning of Education::
"The process of civilization consists of the discovery by men of the laws of the universe, and of living in harmony with those laws. The most important of them to men are the laws of their own nature.

This is education, the method whereby man is revealed to himself. It is the instruction of his understanding, the training of his sentiments, the direction of his action. It discloses the physical and the spiritual, the unseen and the seen. It includes every human relationship and shows forth every duty. It is alike the source of the intellectual and moral force of all mankind.

I shall assume that civilization is desirable. I do not think that is questioned in any respectable quarter...."
Because, unfortunately for us, there are those who do question whether 'civilization is desirable', people like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who made his splash into philosophic fame by questioning the very assumption that 'civilization is desirable', declaring instead that Civilization, particularly Western Civilization, was the root of all of our incivility. And sadly, it has been ideas like Rousseau's, rather than Coolidge's, that have driven our modern sense of education.

You don't have to check the news or even crank up the Google to verify this, just ask yourself if you can imagine your child coming home from a day at school, let alone from a semester at college, expressing the general sense of things found in this, my favorite passage from Coolidge's speech on the Declaration of Independence:
"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."
Not real likely, right? Coolidge had been doing his best to clean up after our other 'progressive' college professor, Woodrow Wilson, who'd begun peddling his pro-regressive socialistic idiocy,  such as this, back in 1886:
“... Old as democracy is, its organization on a basis of modern ideas and conditions is still an unaccomplished work. The democratic state has yet to be equipped for carrying those enormous burdens of administration which the needs of this industrial and trading age are so fast accumulating. Without comparative studies in government we cannot rid ourselves of the misconception that administration stands upon an essentially different basis in a democratic state from that on which it stands in a non-democratic state….”
Even then, Wilson and his ilk, had begun trying to get us to stop thinking of ourselves as a Republic, and instead for us to refer to ourselves as a 'Democracy'. It's a curious thing, that what he saw as being that 'democratic state', was not so different, in his eyes, or Pro-Regressives eyes today, as Socialism. From Wilson's 'Socialism and Democracy'
"...For it is very clear that in fundamental theory socialism and democracy are almost if not quite one and the same. They both rest at bottom upon the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members. Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals. Limits of wisdom and convenience to the public control there may be: limits of principle there are, upon strict analysis, none.

It is of capital importance to note this substantial correspondence of fundamental conception as between socialism and democracy: a whole system of practical politics may be erected upon it without further foundation...."
What Woodrow Wilson wanted to do with that 'Old Time Progressivism', as Hillary Clinton called it, was to, in effect, to 'Fundamentally Transform America', and he said so, in speech after speech, such as in "What is Progress?", and he said it as clearly as our current college professor president attempts to obscure it:
"All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.
And yep, for those of you who like to spout off about Conservative's 'Social Darwinism'? It's all yours baby. And the means they put in place to 'evolve us', was the Regulatory State. From the ACA's to EPA's, they are the administrative means of transforming a 'Democracy' into an 'improved' version of socialism: 'Progressivism'. Wilson continued:
" Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for freedom that is going on today.

The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in the circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; not a theory for government, but a program of action. Unless we can translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge. ."
The last line is one he did manage to get right: " Unless we can translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge".

America, you need to judge for yourself, which one of these President's visions sounds to you like they mean to see that you will be allowed to live your life as you see fit: Wilson's view of a Darwinist Govt living your life for you, or Coolidge’s idea of living your own life in Liberty?

We are faced with a choice today between the two: Which path to follow? We've been flirting with Teddy Roosevelt's & Woodrow Wilson's path for a century, and this current administration has brought us to the 'put up or shut-up!' stage - which will it be America? A Declaration of Independence such as Coolidge and our Founders envisioned for you and your children, or the Desire for Dependence under the tender mercies of the administrative state, as the Pro-Regressives have planned for you?

It's time to choose.

The sort of life you will be allowed to lead depends upon it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is History, history?

With all that is in the headlines today (together with what is not); scandals at the IRS, VA, NSA and happening abroad in Ukraine and Iraq, it's hard not to get a sense that you are living through History here and now. And since we're in the subject, did you ever ask yourself this question, at least once, while you were in school?:
Polemarchus: "But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.
Certainly not, replied Glaucon.
Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured. "

----------Plato, The Republic, Book 1

"What do I need to study History for?!"
What did you think of the answers you were given? As an adult, with kids in school, you might want to pursue that question a little further with something more like this:
Is what it is that our kids are studying, still History? - or has History itself been relegated to the ash heap of history?
Of course to even be able ask these questions, you have to consult History... so to avoid going 'round and 'round in circles, we'd better first ask the question which very few people ever bother to raise:
What is "History" and what do we hope to learn from it?
If you search for a definition of the word 'History', with the exception of Wiki, believe it or not, you have to look far and wide for any site that gives the original meaning of the Greek word 'History'
"from Greek  historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation"
That understanding of the term was clearly the sense with which it was still defined in Webster's 1828 Dictionary which gave:
"HIS'TORY, n. [L. historia; Gr. knowing, learned, and to inquire, to explore, to learn by inspection or inquiry.]
1. An account of facts, particularly of facts respecting nations or states; a narration of events in the order in which they happened,with their causes and effects. History differs from annals. Annals relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order, without any observations of the annalist. History regards less strictly the arrangement of events under each year, and admits the observations of the writer. This distinction however is not always regarded with strictness. "
Note the phrases I've underlined, the first being that facts & events alone are not History, and second, History includes the observations of the writer. Why? Hold that thought a moment. That understanding still substantially persisted in how Webster's 1913 Dictionary, defined History, although it had slipped down to second place:
"1. A learning or knowing by inquiry; the knowledge of facts and events, so obtained; hence, a formal statement of such information; a narrative; a description; a written record; as, the history of a patient's case; the history of a legislative bill.
2. A systematic, written account of events, particularly of those affecting a nation, institution, science, or art, and usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes;"
But that sense of History is pretty much gone from the modern Webster's definition:
": the study of past events
: events of the past
: past events that relate to a particular subject, place, organization, etc."
This newer definition essentially relegates History to being what the 1828 definition emphasized that History was not: Annals. Up through a century ago, History was still largely seen as knowledge and understanding obtained through inquiries into events "...usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes..."; and now to return to the thought I asked you to hold onto above: for what reason? The historic reason, was that it was in order to obtain Wisdom; to provide a means to a better understanding of ourselves and our culture; to provide an aid in developing an awareness of the pitfalls which our desire to make progress often leads us into, with hopes of it helping us to avoid repeating those errors ourselves; and a means of helping us to better understand the reality of where we are now, in order to help find our way more surely into the future.

One wag summed up the alternative modern approach to history, as being one where,
'Americans treat history like a cookbook. Whenever they are uncertain what to do next, they turn to history and look up the proper recipe, invariably designated  "The lesson of history"'
Which is a recipe for bad history.

Cooking the History Books
Looking to 'History' as simply 'the study of past events' in order to provide us with useful responses to situations, is an ahistorical view, downgrading History from a means to wisdom, to that of a useful skill. This new view historically had its proto-Utilitarian beginnings with Helvetius's 'Of the Spirit' (1758), a view which Isiah Berlin summarized in his 'Freedom and Its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty', as
"...history is nothing but the tale of the crimes and the follies of mankind..."
, to be used, as Helvetius conveyed in a dialog by having God declare to Man that:
"...Over thee I set pleasure and pain; the one and the other will watch over thy thoughts and acts, excite thy aversions... set on fire thy desires"
This view sees history's only use as being a record of events & changes to be studied, like strata of geologic rock, in order to be utilized by 'those who know' as a means of making (and justifying) changes and improvements to what they regard as the plastic material of man. Helvetius was actually shocked on reading his friend Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws" (a book that was one of the most referenced by the Framers of our Constitution during its creation), he was alarmed that he'd publish such wisdom for the masses to see, where what they really needed was to be told what to do. Helvetius wrote to Montesquieu
"...You bid us behold the world, how it has been governed, and how it is still ruled: but you too often give the world credit for reason and wisdom, which are in fact your own, and of which it will be much surprised at receiving the honors.

...But have you not flattered them too much? Such a course may propitiate the priests; and in dividing the spoil with those Cerberus's of the church, you silence them with respect to your religion:.... as to the rest, they will not be able to comprehend you. Our lawyers are not able either to read or understand you. As to the aristocrats, and our petty despots of all grades, if they understand you, they cannot praise you too much, and this is the fault I have ever found with the principles of your work. You may recollect, that in our discussions at Brede, I admitted that they might apply to the actual state of things; but I concluded that a writer, anxious to serve mankind, ought rather to lay down just maxims for an improved order of things yet to arise, than to give force or consequence to those which are dangerous, at the moment when prejudice is striving to preserve and perpetuate human ignorance and subjection...."

That is what most of us have in mind when we're asked about what 'Elitist' thinking is: the belief that the mass of people are too dull and stupid to be trusted with their own lives. And in this new modern sense of 'history', our elites, such as Cass Sunstein, view history as being little better than a cookbook of recipes to serve up the most useful actions to be taken, nudging and shoving us as needed in any given situation with maxims of Pleasure and Pain, not as a means of bringing about greater understanding & wisdom, but to order other people's lives as Elites determine as being best for them. So my question, my inquiry, is: If History originally had one purpose, and that has been changed into another, is that change an example of making Progress or Regress? Is it still History? How are you able to know? And how are you able to know, except by inquiring into what men have thought, said and done, and by carefully considering what has resulted from those actions before?

Funny how the answer you receive, even if you try sticking with the modern answer, still finds yourself being returned to the original one, isn't it? Mightn't it be a good idea to give that original answer some further consideration? Not to mention looking very carefully at why you've been led to think that it wasn't enough.

A Textbook Case
Back in January a friend sent me a link to the new AP History standards, asking my opinion of it. I didn't get to get too far into it before realizing that there was only one opinion that could be formed from it: If these standards succeed in becoming The Standard, then the once standard view of history will itself become history; The History as means to Wisdom, such as Montesquieu sought, will be replaced by 'history' as maxims and skills, as Helvetius sought.

The opening paragraph of the Introduction, sets the tone for the tome:
"...The resulting program of study contains clear learning objectives for the AP U.S. History course and exam, emphasizing the development of thinking skills used by historians and aligning with contemporary scholarly perspectives on major issues in U.S. history. The course is designed to encourage students to become apprentice historians who are able to use historical facts and evidence in the service of creating deeper conceptual understandings of critical developments in U.S. history... "
This is the view of History as being nothing more than a means of manipulating the past, in order to build something new upon it. In particular, focusing upon the "development of thinking skills" screams out that it will inhibit any actual thinking, consideration and reflection. Instead it will promote useful skills in using references and citations for a purpose - that of delivering one recipe or another; and "aligning with contemporary scholarly perspectives", confirming that this Standard, has and intends to have, an agenda; to "encourage students to become apprentice historians who are able" to see History as but a useful skill, with apprentice historians being the most useful tools, for employing them.

Actual History might suggest a couple questions that would be useful for us to ask: useful to who and for what? To be employed to further...what? The answers, if you've any of the original spirit of history left in you, is given to us to be read right there between the AP's words: Serving up scholar's accepted and politically correct perspectives, is what they are to be employed in service of. And in that view, history can become little more than data to be quantified; studied, not as a means to a deeper understanding of self and society, but in order to further pre-determined ideological aims, serving up useful nudges to those studying it. How men actually act under the influence of ideas, passions, and adverse or favorable events and circumstances, can and will be given no more consideration than a laundry list for training others in using those references to effectively spin the approved position.

One of the principals behind the abhorrent 'Common Core Standards' is a fellow named David Coleman, unsurprisingly he is also the fellow behind the new AP History standards. One of the 'favorite' make-work terms of CCS is 'compare and contrast' (See Terrence O. Moore's "The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core" for an I-opening look at the dereliction of intellectual duty which their use of that phrase conveys, and what else is being standardized through the Common Core Standards), well, here's a chance to do just that; compare and contrast the AP intro, to the course blurb for History at Hillsdale College"

"...The History program at Hillsdale College strives to develop the minds and improve the hearts of students by engaging them in reflection upon the ideas, events, cultural patterns, and leaders responsible for shaping our Western Heritage, of which the American tradition is a part; to support the classical liberal arts education of our students through the development of critical and free inquiry, through the exposure to a breadth of knowledge about the human past, and through the refinement of oral and written communication skills; and to lead students into a dialogue with the inhabitants of the living past and thereby foster the historical perspective by which the present might be understood as an extension of the past. ..."
"Story-Killers: How the Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls"
Although this is not free of gobbledy-gook ('the development of critical and free inquiry', 'and thereby foster the'), its aim is true: the development of the individuals understanding of self, and society.

More to the original point, is this from Thomas Aquinas College, which teaches 'History' not as a subject itself, but as an understanding which emerges from teaching significant works from history in chronological context with that period's philosophy, literature, political development and so forth (which IMHO is how it should be):
"...No college can claim to complete a student's education, nor should it claim to teach all things. It ought to assert that it will teach him what is first and fundamental. Histories by such writers as Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch, Gibbon, and Tocqueville are read. However, the discussions they provoke are not limited merely to an interest in historical fact. These discussions, for example, may involve an analysis of the assumptions used by the writer in establishing and evaluating historical events. The value of reading history will always depend upon the quality of the reader's general understanding of reality. History itself will not make a well-ordered mind, but the cultivated intellect will profit greatly from the study of history...."[emphasis mine]
Are you seeing some contrast there? In the later view, Reality is seen as the root of all of the studies, and in the AP's, changing people's perception of what reality is, is their point. The language of the AP introduction, is not only tortured, inflated, self flattering and rife with pointless elaboration of terms ("Chronological Reasoning"), it screams out that this is unserious in its regard for History, and is instead intended to manipulate and sell not just a point of view, but a way of developing a point of view which excludes the real value of History - self knowledge. This is not designed to further the aims of anything worthy of the name of Education, but only for the development of useful, meaning 'Politically Correct', skills in furtherance of political ideology.

That is what it means to develop thinking skills to be employed for a purpose, a purpose having little or no relation to Reality.

The AP's Standards would have you "use historical facts and evidence in the service of creating deeper conceptual understandings" - that is a dangerous standard to keep. Yes, it is by considering historical facts and evidence, that you may develop a deeper conceptual understanding, but that is not the same as using facts and evidence in order to construct an understanding. Do you see the difference there? It's a small difference that has huge implications, as the later has a pre-conceived answer in mind which the facts and evidence are to be used to rationalize. If you use facts and evidence in service to developing deeper conceptual understanding, that entails cherry picking facts and evidence in order to elaborate a pre-determined conclusion. On the other hand, if you consider the facts and evidence, not simply as material which occurs as striations in the 'fact pattern' of time, but which follow from people's thoughts and actions, you may develop a deeper conceptual understanding... which can dangerous to approved views, as you just might be surprised through such an understanding the suggestion that what you thought you understood, was only a partial truth, shallow or even in error. That is not what standards such as the AP's want students to learn from History.

An actual consideration of the narrative of history goes far beyond mere facts and events, it's hardly a mechanistic 'insert fact 'A' here, attach event 'B' there, then turn knob 'C' for a deeper conceptual understanding' process. How deep that conceptual understanding can be developed will depend upon the purpose given for doing so - if it's understood that the purpose for studying History is to gain a greater understanding of yourself and human nature, then the depths you might discover are limitless. On the other hand, if the purpose for studying history is "aligning with contemporary scholarly perspectives on major issues", then those perspectives have already defined your limits, confining you to the conceptual wading pool of history.

This modern view of history means that those who've 'learned the lessons of history', will be advising people to take actions without either understanding their situation, or what a worthwhile solution to it would be. Consequently Mark Twain's 'history may not repeat, but it does rhyme', will do so at an ever increasing rhythm (and blues), rhyming and repeating the same mistakes in an ever increasing tempo.

Illusory Lessons Learned
If you don't value what is highest, you will foster and encourage what is lowest, and that goes double for human nature and the unfolding of it in time, which is what we should know of as History. When we talk of History, too often we are talking about what has changed over time, rather than those issues we need to pay attention to because they are timeless. Forgetting that the reason why we inquire into the past is to gain a better understanding, not of the illustrious dead, but of ourselves, we begin speaking of historic events and people of 20 years, 200 or 2,000 years ago, as if they have as little to do with us today as aliens from another world (which they will have become).

We repeat the error so easily by presuming that the trivial differences in appearance between one historical period and another are somehow what separate us from them; as if wearing a toga or a suit, or a grass skirt, for that matter, define a person or make us immune from the choices they made, or failed to make, on a daily basis. Why focus upon the dress and styles of those in the past? As Polemarchus asked in the opening of the Republic, can you persuade someone who will not listen? If you supplied a different view of history, to those fed the new AP view, could they be persuaded if they will not listen? If a person is led to believe that the dated appearances of the period, the dress and style of those in it, have more significance, or somehow determine what was said & done, than what was actually said & done... then, like Polemarchus, they won't listen to that which they'd actually said and done, has to say to them now.

I recently had an exchange with a fellow which illustrates just that. In a thread that had begun on the 2nd Amendment, he'd worked himself up to full leftist righteous superiority mode, demanding that I produce statistics to prove how the Free Market would benefit kids and seniors more than Social Security & Medicaid, which, if you've read any of my posts on how not to argue with leftists (such as here and here), you know that that's a lead I'm not going to follow. Don't follow the squirrel of statistics, that's simply a means of not discussing the Principle they're dying to avoid. He was infuriated when I returned to asking him to first explain how the Constitution, let alone Justice and Decency, justified stealing for their good intentions.

Still in full superiority mode, he said "The constitution also once claimed that African Americans were 3/5 of a person". I replied that he was wrong again, that it referred only to "three fifths of all other Persons", which had infuriated the pro-slavery members by refusing to introduce either race or slavery into the law of the land. I gave him a link to what Frederick Douglass had to say on how mistaken such a view of the Constitution was, but he had no comment to that.

Instead, he followed that up with how my 'precious constitution' (meaning it's neither his Constitution, nor precious to him?) denied women the right to vote. I told him, no, wrong yet again, it leaves voting up to the states. He followed that up, still in full leftie mocking mode, with an
"So the original Constitution allowed women and people of African descent to vote? Can you link me to something that will make me unlearn all the history that I have known to this point?"
Which I of course did (here and here). He of course didn't want to acknowledge that either, instead he replied about how 'your social darwinist views' would end life as we know it in America. When I explained that Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism (he's the one who coined the phrase "Survival of the fittest") was not only opposed to everything I'd been explaining to him, but actually underlay nearly every view the he had been prattling on in support of, the irony was lost on him.

Not only did he not know who Herbert Spencer was, but he did not want to know. He did not want to know what the meaning of Social Darwinism was, or that it actually supported what he 'believed', and was in opposition to what I believed. When I pointed out that Spencer was a driver of using statistical Quantities to justify philosophic Qualities, ex: "Capitalism is the greater contributor to the greater good!", which, in conceding and discarding principles in favor of statistics, abandons what makes a Free Market justifiable, he was unimpressed. When I pointed out that Spencer was a driver of discarding an Education centered around knowledge of the best of literature, history, philosophy, virtues, in favor of one that concerned itself only with teaching useful skills, calculative abilities and a slate of memorized places and dates; that Spencer and Social Darwinism itself is in favor of exactly how this fellow was justifying his passion for imposing Social Security & Medicaid programs upon us all; was for his own reasoning for discarding the 2nd Amdt; was for keeping actual History and a regard for our Founder's Era out of our schools, in favor of useful skills for the '21st Century' economy - it made no impression upon him at all. How could it? He wasn't listening.

instead, he doubled down on that view by saying that it doesn't matter what happened a century ago (except with slavery and women's suffrage?), or what Social Darwinism Actually meant (except to accuse me of it?), only with what people like him 'knew' it meant today(without knowing even the first thing about what they claim to know!).

For the Pro-Regressive, the past, because it is past, and does not appear as 'up to date' as we do here and now today, it has no relevance to us. In that view, historical references and assorted facts are only fun to play with as long as they don't blow up in your face, and when they do, you simply deny them and refuse to listen to them. The Pro-Regressives today, approach the situation pretty much the same way as Polemarchus did, 2,500 years ago:
"But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you?"
The answer to that question, then and now, is of course is: No. They will not listen to you, History, or anything else that might thwart those actions they're trying to force others to take - for their own good (as determined by them). They are not seeking after understanding or solutions, but only to change their approach so as to overwhelm your position. When that is the purpose of 'the lessons of history', then the 'educated' not only act without understanding, but boldly reject the need to; and then they rinse and repeat.

And when that lesson is thoroughly learned, History will have truly become history.