Friday, October 17, 2014

The Materialist's inversion: When power is not forced to serve Truth, truth is abandoned for Power - Progress or Regress pt.4c

Yesterday's post illustrated a few useful points of History to keep in mind: that savagery is normal, even easy, for human beings, that power over others is naturally tempting for people to seek after and to excuse using in order to maximize their political and personal security. And maybe most important of all, that neither primitive grass skirts, fashionable tweed jackets, nor their accompanying technology (or lack thereof) are reliable indicators of whether or not the people wearing those clothes are savages themselves.

We also left off noting that it would be the simplest and the most natural thing in the world to be socialized into such a society - unless you happen to experience the interference of something which somehow helps to dispel that society's illusions, rather than being drawn in to them. What that is and how to magnify it is a question that's worth asking, continually, because doing so is what leads you to steady Progress, upwards and outwards from the societal baseline. But examining that, for the most part, will have to wait for a later post; not that we won't see hints and flashes of it here and there, but as important as that certain something is, we've still got to get a clearer picture of what it is that we hope to make real progress away from. Because if you don't have a clear idea of what regressive movement would be, we're all too easily tempted to pursue what unknowingly cannot lead to real progress, and so confusing motion itself with making real Progress, and History is replete with this tragic trajectory, we become Pro-Regressive instead.

A worthwhile distinction to make is that while savagery is the historic norm for humanity, being natural, has almost nothing to do with whether it is Right or Good. And if you'll continue to question appearances, you find that the features with which a society naturally flatters itself with, being 'Modern'; having technological skills, material wealth, and a wide web of cultural habits and stylized dress; you'll find that they are not only not, in and of themselves, marks of real progress, but more often than not they are the means of suppressing worthwhile change and avoiding real progress, dressing their natural savagery up in more appealing clothes. The widespread acceptance of the significance of appearances ( from race to technology to fashion) and unquestionably meaningful and distinctive, is a sign that most people are unaware of or unconcerned about the differing directions that Progress and Regress would lead them in.

The problem of Materialism isn't in pursuing stuff, but in becoming stuff
The features of the societal baseline worth taking note of are not those features that seem so very different on their surfaces - remember from the last post that despite what appearances might lead you to expect, the anthropologist's academic brethren behaved every bit as savagely as the Yanomamö did. And so as with other appearances, from war paint to web pages, they are but variations and elaborations on the eternal theme of getting, protecting, and in one way or another, becoming, stuff - the fruits of power. And by 'stuff' I do not mean Money, or 'Property', but the mental action of reducing them to possessions; so that these very different things are easily mistaken for being one and the same. The problem of materialism isn't the quest for more material goods - antibiotics and Smart Phones can be fantastic things to have, improve on, and get more of - but the process of seeing ourselves and our ideals as little more than materials that we desire more of for utility, gain, attaining pleasures and overcoming obstacles, is. The truth is that reducing our goals to these won't differentiate them from of the goals of any other savage in any way other than that of fashion.

The action of seeing people and values as but materials for your goals, is the materialist inversion, and is a most common and time honored societal norm, and key to redirecting movement towards the societal baseline, rather than away from it, and when you seem to see all change reduced to appearances, it's a trick you'll willingly perform upon yourself - a judo flip of the soul.

For instance, the Egyptians could calculate the area of a triangle just as Pythagoras could with his geometrical theorem - Pythagoras very likely learned how to calculate the area from them - but despite appearances, they were not doing the same thing at all. There is something in what Pythagoras added to their calculations which lifted him, Geometry, and the resultant West, far and away above what the Egyptians were doing while working their calculations. And without that certain something, which one approach has, and the other lacks, Progress, takes on two very different meanings and directions. And... again I'm going off in a different direction than we need to in this post, I'll go more into that in coming posts, but for the moment, keep in mind that what separated the Egyptians geometric skills from Pythagoras's Geometric Theorems, is what separates receiving training in vocational skills from getting an actual Education.

Geometry and higher mathematics used to be, in the Pythagorean sense, seen as the pinnacle of higher education, a mark of philosophic excellence. Now however, we see them only as useful skills for our students to pick up to get a good job and compete with the [insert threat of the moment here: Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, etc.].

That there is the Materialist's Judo Flip of the Western soul in action.

And only an Education, meaning a Western Education, which demands that something be true in order to be accepted, can help develop within you a habit of questioning and reflecting upon what is real, once called 'the good, the beautiful and the true', and so be capable of avoiding being fooled by appearances. How else could you judge whether or not your society's' assumptions are either right or good? And why else would you? The answer is that you wouldn't, and the societal baseline knows it.

The changelessness of endless change
Lacking that higher perspective, what would there be, what could there be, to separate the idea of political position, from the desire for political power? That, not that perspective itself, but its lack, is key to recognizing the real appearance of the societal baseline we're in pursuit of. Outside of the West the answer is that power and position and value are synonymous. But within the Western tradition? The answer is no, they're not... or at the very least it raises an uncomfortable question, the asking of which makes it nearly impossible for someone to say, as Gwenyth Paltrow said aloud what so many others implicitly urge:
“It would be wonderful if we are able to give this man all the power he needs to accomplish the things he needs to.”
. More and more the Western Tradition becomes hard to find in the West, and that is because it isn't a tradition which somehow removes us from the perils of humanity, or makes us better than others, it only notices that there is a way to rise above that see if we'll but make the effort to climb. But be that as it may, promoting a political position primarily for the politics of the position, is not and cannot be Progress, as it places the pursuit of Power, over what is Right for power to be used for - Might makes Right - which is, in the most important manner, Regress.

Not surprisingly, trying to explain that to those who do not question their own point of view, who do not look beyond the things they expect it to do for them, will make you seem very strange to them. Man is after all, as Aristotle put it, a political animal, and when his political ideals come primarily from his animal nature, as they are naturally wont to do, that society will be one where those who can physically dominate others by force, will - a distinctive aspect of our 'societal baseline'. It also means that those who are primarily concerned with the Justice of a position, will seem to most people to be very strange and upside down people - and to them they are.

From the point of view of my former friend Dice, it no doubt seemed to him as if what he was doing was making progress - he was defending the political security of his tribe, and his own place within it. Actions such as that, forcing others to comply with you because you can, are actions that can be acted on very successfully, for thousands of years at a time, as the tens of centuries the dynastic struggles of the Pharaohs of Egypt can attest to. And within that limited view, such struggles and changes can very much appear to be making progress. Even though what it really means is using power to prevent change.

The truth is that through all those superficial changes, there is rarely any real change occurring, no differences are being made - for all their struggles, no Progress is made. Exchanging one tyrant or dynasty for another is what mankind spent the tens of thousands of years of pre-historic times doing - but nothing of significance ever really changed! That's why they are referred to as being Pre History! The sorts of changes they engaged in, were not the sorts of changes that could produce Progress... and so as we attempt to look closer at them, they simply fade into the mists of time. The existence of History is itself a sign that real change had finally occurred, that change was worth noting, inquiring into, and pondering, so that more real progress could be made.

Those who've flipped their souls (or perhaps it is that they've never done so) mistake appealingly shallow hopes & changes for something more, are in the habit of thinking that things control and dictate our actions, they think that more things makes for better lives, and so they cannot see, do not see, and even laugh at, the person who doesn't value those same things, as they do, over the higher values, ideals and virtues. Those people who look to power for progress, are the 'rich man' who will not only never get his camel through the eye of the needle, but will forever try to hire someone to do it for him.

And they will fiercely persist in calling you the strange one.


Look back at that snippet from Jonathan Alter, and the other headliners - what is it that they are seeking to do? Isn't their primary goal to prevent change? To keep corporations from relocating, to forcibly punish dissent and debate(that 'climate change' was the subject is almost irrelevant), to prevent the wheels of justice from turning, or considering the matter very deeply at all, Why? Because 'maximizing political and personal security was the overwhelming driving force in human, social and cultural evolution.'

And it has always been so, from our day, to Jesus's day, to Aristotle's day and on back before that. From Last book of the Nichomachaen Ethics:
"...Solon, too, was perhaps sketching well the happy man when he described him as moderately furnished with externals but as having done (as Solon thought) the noblest acts, and lived temperately; for one can with but moderate possessions do what one ought. Anaxagoras also seems to have supposed the happy man not to be rich nor a despot, when he said that he would not be surprised if the happy man were to seem to most people a strange person; for they judge by externals, since these are all they perceive..."
And in a society formed around the externals of fashion, image, power, then strange means different, and different is threatening. Translating Anaxagoras into today, is well put in this snippet from Political Philosophy Needs Revelation: A Conversation with James V. Schall
"Gradually, civil government becomes an instrument to implement these ideas fashioned by the leader who promises to lead the people to happiness against their enemies, principally those who affirm that there is an order in nature and that the liberty to do anything or live any way is rather a form of self-chosen and eventually government imposed ideology..."
The roman poet Horace said that 'Power without wisdom falls of its own weight', and the Amazon tribe of Yanomamö are in a perpetual state of free fall, an unchanging struggle for change such as Hobbes' war of all against all. When force governs, not only does nothing of significance ever change, but real change is just what is not wanted. The changing faces of power struggles are routine and pursued all around - and you can just as easily look to Soviet era East Berlin or modern North Korea, as the Yanomamö for neverending changes in the cliques and faces of those in power, but their stagnant lands, the gray souls of their people, those do not change.

But the suggestion of change that might herald higher ideals of truth and rightness than that of might makes right, the slightest hints of ideals of liberty and individual rights, or of ending slavery, those 'fools and poets' are killed off or are sent to the Gulag post haste - real change, real progress will not be tolerated.

Change, not superficial, but real, is what the savage fears most.

Primitives and the power minded, either want no change (climate change?!!! AHHH!!!), or they want a constant stream of superficial alterations which give the appearance of change, but really serve only to distract from what is not being allowed to change in that society. The only exception being changes which lessens or removes that certain something which leads to real progress, that sort of change, fundamental transformations which forces people to accept their diminishment as if nothing had changed at all - while 'maximizing their own political and personal security' - that sort of change they are all for, all night long.

The savage doesn't want what requires THEM to change, and they will gleefully change everything else, up to and including changing you into dust - living or not - to avoid that too real change, that really would be Progress. The dark little secret of the savage, whether tribalist or technologist, is that Progress is what they fear and will fight tooth and nail to avoid.

But that still undefined something which separates the Pythagorean theorem from the Egyptians calculations, is the driving force of real Progress, it is what led to the creation of History and it is feared by the exponents of regressive changes, from the Yanomamö to the Pharaohs, and from Thrasymachus on up to our modern Academics and 'intellectuals' who've never risen to the level required to recognize, let alone make true Progress. They are content with the only answer they can imagine: the rule of power for power's sake. And every step taken in that direction is truly Pro-Regressive.

Our own history shows the Pro-Regressive change in action, in going from the Founder's ideal of people living in liberty, to that of Rousseau's egalitarian ideal of people being be forced to be free, inexorably leads to the Orwellian times where 'telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act', and it is heartbreaking to see, whether in schools turning away from education to indoctrination, or hospitals established by religious orders yielding to laws which require violating their convictions... you know they're telling themselves that they must in order to remain intact, but what they retain is gone - flipped. Those who want to maintain their institutions political and personal security, rather than what it was that their institutions - be it church, media, school or govt - were created to preserve and spread, they will perform the materialist flip and willingly go along with forcing everyone else to be free.

For the greater good.

This isn't to say that power is bad - far from it - but it is to say that it must be the tool, not the workmen. Power is an important tool of the Good, and Liberty requires governmental power to enable just Laws to uphold & defend Individual Rights. But Power cannot do good, it can only serve it; to try to do good entails abandoning what is Good and True. If power is not forced to serve Truth, truth will be - in truth has already been - abandoned for power... and used to see that things remain the same.

Ok, it got too late last night as the Cardinals lost, and dinner is calling now, so we'll have to leave fully identifying our 'societal baseline' and that 'certain something' that makes Progress away from it possible... for the next post.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Savagery has a History in the past and the present - Progress or Regress pt.4b

In yesterday's post I proposed taking a trip into the not so distant past, for two reasons. The second reason was the more traditional of the two, to more clearly see the troubles of our present. Has anyone ever fed you that line before? How is that supposed to help? Has anyone ever sat up in History Class (or the 'social studies' that passes for it), and asked
"Why? Why do I need to know what so & so did x hundred years ago?!"
If the answer they give you is only that it's for you to learn 'important and and useful cultural references', you might want to consider leaving. If their answer is 'to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past', you should probably go ahead and get up and start for the door. If their answer is 'to get an appreciation for diverse points of view', I suggest burning rubber to get out of there.

Not that those points, even the last one, aren't useful, and even necessary results of 'inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation' (the original Greek definition of History), they are, but they are not, in and of themselves, separately or combined, worth your wasting hours of your life every week to 'learn'. The purpose, the benefit, the value of studying history, aside from it being just plain interesting (and if yours isn't, then you are probably studying it from a... let me guess... 'textbook'? RUN!) is to gain a better understanding of yourself and your position in your life, and how to better your life, here and now. History enables you to identify and familiarize yourself with the tendencies that are common to men in society everywhere, meaning common not only to those of the past, present & future - but to that space between your own two ears as well,

History isn't for learning about dead people, but about the living, about yourself, so that you can understand something of, and develop the habit of reflecting upon, how people end up doing what they do - that is after all, what History is made of. If you aren't trying to put yourself in the minds of those you are reading about, if you aren't managing to, in some way, identify with the thinking of the slave holder as well as the slave, then you aren't learning any lessons worth the time you're spending on learning them.

Seriously. And if that isn't what you get out of history, or if it seems that those teaching it to you are intent on your not getting those valuables out of their lessons, then you should either figure out how to do it yourself, or get the heck out of there, or if that's not possible, at least do some serious daydreaming.

But I digress. Back to why we're here.

The first reason I'd given was a fairly tangible one: to begin to identify a 'societal baseline', a recognizable point which any sound claims of progress should be clearly moving your society away from, rather than back towards.

Make sense?

And again, what's past isn't the point of studying history, escaping it is - and that requires, as best as you are able, ignoring the differences between your world today, and theirs then, and even whether or not you even live in different times from that being studied. There is nothing preventing, and much to recommend, looking at your own world from an historical perspective.

History provides many examples of this baseline, and by inquiring into the history of societies as separated in time and space as those whose beginnings can be traced from Sumer, Babylon, ancient Egypt, to the modern primitive stone age tribes of the Amazon or New Guinea, as well as the haunts of modernity, they will provide you with plenty of examples of men descending to our sought after zero point on the progress meter. The hope I have here, is that by identifying our baseline Progress point – whether measuring against our past, present or future - we'll have a point to begin measuring real progress, and regress, from.

Without that, how can claims of progress have any real meaning?

Savages are every bit as savage in tweed jackets, as they are in grass skirts
I know of one example that is especially well suited to quickly tying together Cave Men, Philosophers, modernity and academics, and doing so quickly. In 1964, an anthropologist went looking to study a primitive, technologically undeveloped society, where he, shocker, found their society to be one that had not developed civilized behaviors. That anthropologist, Napoleon Chagnon, prior to his expedition, seemingly put little or no thought into the thoughts that went into (or never did) those behaviors he thought of as civilized, and so it took their absence to finally begin to make an impression upon him.

As noted by Professor Backflap (H/T Gagdad Bob):
"Napoleon Chagnon’s Noble Savages is the remarkable memoir of a life dedicated to science—and a revealing account of the clash between science and political activism.

When Napoleon Chagnon arrived in Venezuela’s Amazon region in 1964 to study the Yanomamö Indians, he expected to find Rousseau’s “noble savage.” Instead he found a shockingly violent society. He spent years living among the Yanomamö, observing their often tyrannical headmen, learning to survive under primitive and dangerous conditions. When he published his observations, a firestorm of controversy swept through anthropology departments. Chagnon was vilified by other anthropologists, condemned by his professional association (which subsequently rescinded its reprimand), and ultimately forced to give up his fieldwork. Throughout his ordeal, he never wavered in his defense of science. In 2012 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences."
He expected to find a Noble Savage? Really? In a place he thought of as not having a developed civilization, he expected to find one of the finest fruits of civilization? Would you?

My first question on reading this was how much thought he could have given to the concepts of either nobility or savagery, much less the requirements of either?

My second question was, how prepared was he by his own education and study of History, for the reception his studies received back home in Academia?

Well if he studied the sort of 'History' in college, that was similar to the sort I mentioned in an earlier post, and coming from an anthropology department that was almost certainly the case, then the answer to both of my questions is: little or nothing at all.
[Hey kids, what is the value of an education that tells you so little about your fellow man or even about your own self? Same answer: little or nothing at all.]
More evidence of this can be found in what it was that Chagnon considered to be such a noteworthy discovery: finding that in his observations of the stone age Yanomamö, and soon afterwards with the technologically advanced tribes of Academia, that,
“I discovered that maximizing political and personal security was the overwhelming driving force in human, social and cultural evolution. My observation is based not only on what we have thus far learned from political science and anthropological field reports, but also on a lifetime of experience living with native Amazonian tribesmen who chronically live in what Hobbes called in his major treatise, Leviathan (1651), a condition of war. He likened war to foul weather - not just a shower or two, but a persistent condition for extended periods of time, something chronic. The Yanomamo among whom I lived were constantly worried about attacks from their neighbors and constantly live in fear of this possibility.

Neither Hobbes nor Rousseau ever saw people like Yanomamo tribesmen living in a "state of nature." Their philosophical positions about Man in a state of nature were derived entirely from speculation. It is therefore astonishing that some cultural anthropologists cling to the Nobel Savage view of human nature when ours is the profession that collected almost all of the empirical data on tribesmen and what social life was like under "pristine" or "Stone Age" conditions. Thus anthropologists should be the most likely people to arrive at a highly informed, empirically defensible view of human nature using the evidence from generations of anthropological research. ”
While it's good that he realized that Hobbes missed a few points and Rousseau was whacked, he shouldn't have needed to take such a long, dangerous expedition to discover what he could have, should have, learned from a basic study of Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy & Tacitus in the comforts of a classroom under a teacher who already understood both them and the common errors students make, before ever having graduated from college. That he didn't, that should tell you something of the historical wasteland of wacademia, and that was from back before the storm of the 1960's broke upon us.

Not too surprisingly, at least for those who aren't delusional enough to expect to find a 'Noble Savage' in a society where the rulers rule because they're strong and others follow because they have to, the strong become the emblems of political security, and personal security depends upon your not being seen as threats to the strong. Savagery without nobility is going to be the norm in such a place.

But also note that his own tribe of anthropologists, although not only thoroughly exposed, in many cases first hand, to the evidence of savagery without nobility, they still refused to acknowledge the evidence of their own experience. Instead they abide by, unquestioningly, parroting, chanting, that which the tribe identifies its security with, and as 'the strong' always do, they say it is for 'the greater good'.

Translation: In the absence of any higher aspirations, maximizing political and personal security is the overwhelming driving force in human affairs.

Question: Where do those higher aspirations come from?

Both of Chagnon's tribes, in the Amazon and Academe, IMHO, demonstrated many of the essentials of the societal baseline we're looking for, and whatever the superficial appearances might be, if understood, then we can use it to identify a life which bears more than a passing resemblance to Hobbes' image of life living red in tooth and claw, and in one way or another, of being nasty, brutish and short.

However, the picture of 'living red in tooth and claw' which Hobbes painted (and Rousseau romanticized and painted over), makes it appear that such societies must be a place where people are wandering about in loin clothes or grass skirts in solitary brutishness, lone wolves hunting a kill in nature; but the fact is that the people of the baseline, more than any other, tend to congregate together with the like minded, as the good political animals they are, within the societies that have developed around them. The only real relevance Rousseau's idea of a 'Noble Savage' still has, is the near talismanic powers it assumes in the hands of the wacademic left. There it's useful primarily for defending the security of those political structures they've built within their academic departments, for utilizing their own hunter-gatherer approach to reaping govt grants of non-taxable income from our public colleges. And you'd better believe that they'll defend their tribal gains every bit as savagely - though without visible bloodshed - as the Yanomamö would.

At this point we should be getting a better picture of what the absence of progress looks like, but little yet about what makes Progress possible. Patience, we'll get there within a few more posts.

The lesson to take away from this post is NOT that undeveloped societies behave savagely, but that,
  • Firstly, that savagery is normal - or at least easy - for human beings,
  • Secondly, that it is not only natural, but deeply tempting for people seek to use, and to excuse, the use of power to maximize their political and personal security,
  • Thirdly, that neither primitive mud huts, modern campuses nor royal palaces are reliable indicators of whether or not the people living within them are savages themselves. 
  • and Fourth, that there is something which some societies do develop, which lifts them above that baseline; What that is should be a constant question for anyone who doesn't wish to remain a savage
Just because a society develops more efficient technologies and stylized habits of dress, shelter and customs, that does not prevent them from behaving just as savagely as the Yanomamö; technology, social norms and a modern fashion sense, aren't key to what makes the difference between nobility and savagery, and if you do make the mistake of thinking that tweed jackets & mahogany libraries either make someone noble or rid one them of their savagery, then you too will be in for a surprise every bit as large as Chagnon's was, when he found the behaviors of the Yanomamö reflected in his fellows of Academe.

The other lesson to learn from this, is that that surprise Chagnon received, is the sort of surprise which is the very thing that a decent Education - which you should have had by High School, let alone by College - is supposed to inure you against.

His didn't. Has yours? Will the education your children are, or will likely receive, prepare them better than Chagnon's did? Does that education even recognize the Fourth point, let alone focus upon it? If your education installs illusions, rather than strives to rid you of them, you might want to question what value it really has.

We'll begin to take a closer look at what separates the appearances of, from the reality of, Progress, in the next post, tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow & Moral Mondays: The Recognition of Progress begins with its absence - Progress or Regress pt.4a

Movement is only progress if it moves in the right direction. That's a fairly non-controversial remark to make, right? I can't imagine that there'd be too many who would argue with that, saying "Nah, it doesn't matter which way you move, forwards or backwards, it's all progress, right?!" Right?
Vis consili expers mole ruit sua.
Power without wisdom falls by its own weight:

Horace - Odes Book III, ode iv, line 65.

Yet many people blithely, even enthusiastically, promote those political actions they find superficially pleasing, without bothering to consider whether or not those actions are good, or even can be good. And forgive me if my bias is showing, but yes Gwenyth Paltrow, I'm looking at you, for saying this:
“It would be wonderful if we are able to give this man all the power he needs to accomplish the things he needs to,”
, because I do take it as uncontroversial - I pray that it is - that wanting to give an already powerful head of state even more power, and with fewer restraints upon that power to do as they please, is an exceedingly poorly thought out... thought.

Any arguments with that? No? Good.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if you don’t know whether or not the actions you are taking are good, if you haven’t carefully considered what those actions mean, what premises they rely upon, and what they are likely to lead to, and yet you advocate for them because of the fond feelings you have for them (whether Left, Right or Center matters not), can you really be said to be for ‘Progress’? You might be Pro-Furthering your personal agenda of the Left, Right or Center, but that cannot legitimately be called Pro-> Progress. True?

Can any of you tell me how taking any action at all, differs from taking an action you find pleasing but don't understand? Anyone? Personally I find it difficult to see the difference between the two. And unfortunately many of our leaders, intellectuals, business leaders, reporters, legal counsels, members of congress and legislators, are more of Paltrow's mind, than mine.

How could such a thing possibly be Progress? And the answer of course, is that it can't. A further answer is that when people speak of Progress... they don't know what they are talking about - and worse - they don't know that they don't know what Progress is, or what it could not be.

That's a problem. Especially since everyone is running around urging us to make progress, could anything come of that but Regress? No. Which means that what such people are actually advocating for is Pro-Regressive. That's disturbing. Isn't it?

This is not simply a political matter, it is far greater than that, and I'm continually amazed that the question of Progress vs Pro-Regress is not seen as a bi-partisan, tri-partisan, if not entirely non-partisan affair. But too many otherwise intelligent people that I know are oblivious to the fact that the positions they are advancing, have far more to do with ideas that are entirely regressive, rather than progressive - and it is their ignorance which has enabled the dangerous state of foolishness we have today, where people laugh at 'brainless' starlets, yet nod at 'deep thinkers' who say the very same things, but with more words.

For those who may be riled up by that, can you explain why? Can you base your explanation upon anything other than a reference to what some party, politician or other such person said or did? And can you explain in your own words, why? If you can, please do, I've been waiting a very long time to hear from you. Otherwise, I'll continue.

Looking for a marker to mark Progress from
To help with clarifying where we are, to be able to recognize Progress when we see it, we need to know what its absence looks like. And to do that, it seems to me that we need to define a marker for recognizing where the lowest societal baseline is. We need to be able to see that point which, if not lifted up from, societies (and the individuals who comprise them) will naturally fall back down to, and even below, perhaps without even knowing it. The benefit of this of course, being that once identified, that marker can be seen in relation to your own life, giving you the conscious opportunity to transform yourself from being yet another useful cog in the efficient error repeating machinery of history, into being someone who is able to help with writing and righting history.

With that power in hand, we can begin to calibrate the zero point on our Progress meter, we can begin to see whether or not those movements that a society, any society, has made, or is making, have even a hope of making real progress - or not.

One of the reasons I see this as being so important to do now, is because of statements such as the following, which show just how badly we need to be aware of where we are in relation to just such a baseline, so that we might avoid becoming yet another set of useful cogs in history's machinery.

First there's this bit from Jonathan Alter, is calling for 'Loyalty Oaths' to support President Obama's 'Economic Patriotism',
"...Even if comprehensive tax reform miraculously passes, it wouldn't reduce the corporate tax rate enough to stop the desertions. That’s because other countries have slashed their corporate taxes or eliminated them altogether.

So it’s time for red-blooded Americans to take matters into our own hands. My answer is to make every corporation sign something.

Sign what? If Republicans cared about this issue, which most don’t, they would revive McCarthy-era loyalty oaths, where people were forced to swear that they weren’t communists....."
[emphasis mine]
There's another fine example of those who know best, deciding what others will, or won't, be permitted to think, RFK jr. on those who have not been convinced of Al Gore's wisdom:
""I think it's treason. Do I think the Koch Brothers are treasonous, yes I do," Kennedy explained.

"They are enjoying making themselves billionaires by impoverishing the rest of us. Do I think they should be in jail, I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague with all the other war criminals," Kennedy declared."
, and then there's the 'No Justice, no peace!" crowd, where one of the many wannabe spokesgroups for the rioters, calling themselves 'Ferguson October', is promoting something it calls "Moral Monday",.. and to help with that they invited Cornell West to attend, and while attending, he said "I didn't come to speak, I came to get arrested!". Also on hand, was a key organizer of the 1999 Seattle WTO Riots, Lisa Fithian, and large numbers of other like-minded protesters (aka:rioters) who spent 'Moral Monday', and the days leading up to it, busily marching about, breaking things, burning stolen flags, threatening police, testing the limits of sedition and treason and shutting down Quik Trip stores, upscale malls and WalMarts. Some even engaged in some cheerful rounds of chanting:
"Who do you want? #DarrenWilson ! How do you want him? Dead!"
Doesn't that sound Moral to you? Can't you just feel the reverence for Justice in that? I heard on NPR the next morning the comments of one exuberant student, who, I kid you not, after attending a seminar on race relations, said:
"I feel very empowered! There's an overall sense that this movement is too big to fail!"
Does that sound to you as if the 'Progress' such activities might lead to, will be a place that any sane person would want to bother progressing to? But that is where it is leading to. Are you going to follow?

Do none of these people detect even the nose of a contradiction peaking out from under the big tent of their good intentions?

No, they do not. One reason why, is because whatever it is that they are using to measure their progress from, has no existence in the real world that either they, or we, could point to or agree upon. One way we can know this, is that they aren't bothering to make any reasoned arguments, they are making demands instead, which means that they do not intend to get what they want by reasoning, but by exerting power. Upon you.

We don't need to examine their premises too deeply at the moment - we will in later posts - but for now, just mull it over yourself. Have things such as these worked in the past?
  • Demanding loyalty oaths?
  • Imprisoning people within their own country?
  • Punishing ideas that don't comport with what is politically popular?
  • Threatening mob violence?
  • Letting the passions of the mob supersede the wheels of Justice?
  • Promoting an ungrounded youthful zeal for political change?
Have such things ever turned out well? Have they ever failed? More than once? Do you care? If not, then you've already transformed yourself into one of history’s many and oh so useful cogs, helping us to repeat the errors of the past. Ten years from now, is that a memory you'll want to look back upon?

So what I'm proposing here, is taking a trip into the not so distant past, to more clearly see the troubles of our present, and by examining what it looks like when Progress is entirely absent, enabling us to recognize Progress when it is proposed to us, or perhaps even present. Keep in mind that what we inquire into the past for, is not to find the particular origins of one society or another, or to measure the efficiency of their social & political structures and technologies, but to identify and familiarize ourselves with the tendencies that are common to men in society everywhere, past, present and future, so that we really can distinguish between Regress and Progress.

Continued tomorrow....

Thursday, October 02, 2014

DESE: Facilitating the control of your education

Show Me MO Shame!
I spent two days last week in our state capital of Jefferson City, becoming a member of one of the work groups tasked with rewriting our states educational curriculum standards over the course of the next year. While I was there I learned a nice lesson in self governance, and the consequences of its abandonment, a lesson that was willingly taught by DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). Their lesson was very instructive, in one part teaching how to use chaos to control the sale, and in the other part how it is just as important what you do not to do, and not allow to be done, as is what you offer to and intend to do.

If you want to understand this lesson yourself, as well as how you and your children's education is being sold down the river by it, then there are five key issues that need to be addressed:
  1. Why do we have work groups to write our curriculum standards.
  2. Were the work groups convened with an eye towards success.
  3. If not, why.
  4. What does DESE need for a win.
  5. What does Missouri need for a win.
1) The issue here is that the state of Missouri recently passed a law, HB1490, to undertake the significant task of rewriting our educational curriculum standards.The sole reason why this law was passed, was because of DESE's ham-fisted and incompetent attempts over the last several years to roll-out their pet Common Core standards by steam rolling them over any and all questions, debates, and opposition. That behavior infuriated both parents and teachers alike and caused the Missouri Legislature, Left and Right, to pass HB1490 into law, stating that our curriculum standards will be written by representatives from across the state of Missouri, selected from experienced teaching professionals and parents selected by Missouri's Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate Pro Tempore.

2) To successfully lead large numbers of people, departments, divisions and other entities who may have either no history of working together, or worse, a history of working poorly together, there's a common practice to follow. To getting all members working towards a unified goal, the formula would be to,
  • Kick it off by gathering all parties together in one place for a launch meeting,
  • giving leaders from the various stake holders involved an opportunity to set the general tone and key points for the project;
  • clarify your project's purpose and getting understanding and buy in from the various departments and people involved.
  • let participants know who they'll be working with and making them aware of any slots yet to be filled,
  • establish clear channels for coordinating efforts and preserving communication between the several groups,
  • informing all of who will be attending meetings, who to contact with questions,
, and so forth.

It's not rocket science, it's just common sense. So much so that when such a project does not start off in that way, or when major pieces of it are ignored or misunderstandings are spread or even inflamed, people don't just suspect incompetence upon the part of those organizing the project, but a hidden agenda and even deliberate sabotage of the project.

That hidden agenda was not so hidden, even weeks before it was to begin, and when a number of us complained that the upcoming meetings were clearly being organized for DESE's benefit, rather than for the success of the project and compliance with the law, the Speaker's office, and that of the Senate Pro Tem President, reminded DESE of their position and of the intent of the law, and the Thursday prior, they agreed to revise their plans so as to proceed more as above; to include a plenary kickoff meeting, and to arrange for all the work groups to meet in the capital building. However, by Monday morning they'd reneged on their deal and reverted to scattering us around the capital with no meetings or communications established.

IOW, not only did DESE not approach the start of this project in such a way that was likely to lead to success, but they did quite the opposite:
  1. they refused to have a plenary 'kick off' meeting,
  2. they refused to allow the meetings to be convened in a manner conducive to unity and success,
  3. most of those involved were given last minute notification - if at all - that they were being called together from across the state of Missouri to attend two days of meetings in Jefferson City (The MO House & Senate leadership deserves heavy criticism for their lack of leadership in this area as well).
  4. there were no clarifying speeches or discussions,
  5. there were no introductions of the different teams to each other,
  6. there were no clear explanations of what it was we were to accomplish,
  7. the posted meeting places were in multiple buildings around the capital and were even moved, without notice or note, at the last minute, leaving the members to track down the correct meeting room after having been directed to the wrong one.
3) We don't need to turn the clock back very far to figure out why they might not want HB1490 to proceed according to the intent of the law. Try looking at the 'talking tour' they conducted across the state last year, this format of 'permitting' people to speak under very controlled circumstances, and breaking people up into groups without allowing the comparing of notes or receiving direct answers to questions, was and is standard fare for DESE: to divide, to take control of communication and so conquer, which is the same strategy they employed last week, and show every sign of intending to continue.

4) DESE has made clear what standards they would like for Missouri, and that's Common Core, and they've invested a great deal of time, money (yours) and prestige into imposing them. Is it likely then that DESE will see it to be in their interest to have independent work groups successfully writing their own standards?

No.

As one of the legislative assistants sent round during our 1st day of contentious meetings pointed out, if these work groups fail, then Missouri's curriculum standards will fall to DESE to choose what will be used and implement. Is it ever seen as being in the interests of a political body to have others revise or rewrite their core material? No! So why would the legislative leadership permit DESE to have any involvement in re-writing what they have a stake in remaining unchanged? Who's governing who?

What does DESE need to do for a win? Nothing. And they need as much of nothing as they can possibly get. They don't even have to 'get a sale' - they've already purchased their preferred product - Common Core - they only need to be able to retain it. So what do they need from these work group meetings? They only need to:
  • control the narrative,
  • minimize objections,
  • make the objections and those objecting seem unreasonable,
  • control the presentation of how the standards are discussed, enabling them to retain as much of the Common Core standards as possible,
  • If the standards work groups fail, DESE will implement the standards they choose - Common Core.
To accomplish that, and subvert HB1490, DESE took immediate control of the narrative with their first 'press release' for the upcoming work groups, securing a controlling role for themselves, while minimizing the perception of the power those in the work groups would have, in relation to DESE. This line in particular sums it up:
"The meetings are open to the public; however, seating is very limited. Spectators will be provided comment cards if they wish to leave feedback. Only members of the work groups will be given the opportunity to speak during the meetings."[emphasis mine]
Members of the work groups were to be 'Given', the opportunity to speak?In our own meetings? So you tell me, reading that, does it seem to you that DESE's intention is to see to it that autonomous work groups will be convened so as to define the standards that DESE would then have the job of implementing? Or does it seem more as if DESE intends to see these groups as working under the control and guidance of DESE? Add to that the fact that they scheduled the eight work groups in different buildings around the capital, keeping the members as far apart as possible and with as little awareness of each other and those they would be working with, of who and what to expect, and who best to ask questions of, other than DESE themselves, and it's clear that they mean to be the only ones in control of the process.

They've been masterful at minimizing objections and at making those with objections seem unreasonable, and by the end of the first day of meetings it became apparent just how well they'd done so. By convincing some of the legislative leadership to 'be fair' in appointing members (how could it be 'fair' to place people on committees that are opposed to the intent and spirit of the committees and the law which formed them, is something only a politician comfortable with losing, could comprehend), those interested in rewriting our curriculum standards were out numbered on their own work groups - most of which were only half filled (shame on you Missouri!) - and on top of that, DESE took it upon themselves to install their own facilitators to run the meetings, hamper dissent, and limit unwanted discussion from taking place.

But don't let my wording conjure up images of frothing Drill Sargent's shouting down and riding rough shod over their work groups, if you do, you'll not only miss what they're doing, and risk being controlled yourself.

For example, on hearing how they had their objections cast aside. I, and a few of those from our work group, History grades 6-12, which had a somewhat better go of it, assuming that this group hadn't been forceful enough, we offered up our oh-so wise words of wisdom:
"Well you should have done what we did, we said ___"
, and they stared at us in annoyance and answered "We did!". And to each additional
"Oh, well then did you ___?"
of ours, they answered "We did!"

How could this be? How could they not have succeeded if they'd done the same thing? What made the difference? I found the answer on reviewing the recordings from the morning sessions of the other work groups. They did indeed make most of the same points that we did in our meeting, and in some cases they made them better than we did. The only real difference between what we did, and what they did, was what happened in the first few seconds of the meeting. They politely waited for the meeting to get underway before making their points, while we, somewhat rudely, refused to allow the DESE facilitators to begin their presentation, and we refused to allow them the position of recognizing who would speak and when.

This is key: they raised their objections after the meeting began and we did so before it could get started.

That might seem a small point, but small and subtle are two very different things, and very often the more subtle trumps the more bold & brazen. Those who know how to manipulate a group are able to take nearly complete control of that group, if they be allowed to begin speaking from a position of power and control.

Because we refused the DESE facilitators the opportunity to even begin their presentations, or to ask for introductions, or to even finish a sentence, because we asserted from the start that non-work group members would be granted permission to speak only when the business of our work group was at a suitable point for listening to them, DESE's facilitators never had a position of power from which to control the session from.

The videos from the other sessions bear this point out. Where the DESE facilitator was allowed to begin the meeting, to ask for introductions, to lay the 'norms' for the meeting, to direct that questions be written down, and define how they they as oh-so helpful facilitators would politely recognize who would speak and for how long... they accomplished in the first few seconds, and solidified in just a few minutes, their complete control over the meeting for the rest of that day and the next.

Take a look at these two videos. The first lays it out the points you should be looking for, and in the second video, the second shows it in real time action, how difficult it is to prevent their taking control, even though you know what to look for.

Watch the Social Studies K-5, 9/22/14 AM session, and I'll bet that you won't see what's being done to the participants until it's already been done - it was decided in the first minute of their meeting, by letting the DESE facilitator start their meeting. They assumed the sale, took possession of the floor, and having taken the floor, it became theirs.
They began their presentation, nicely, politely, asking for introductions, walking participants through their slides... and so assumed and kept control of the meeting from that point on. Despite the valiant efforts of the two members who had no other connection to MO Ed than being parents - indeed, because of their opposition - the nice facilitators gained more power with every objection they made, seeming more and more reasonable, while the objections, and those making them, seemed more and more small and unreasonable.


It happens that easily.

At one point in the second video, one of the other participants, tsk-tsk'ing the objectors, states that
"The DESE facilitator cannot control this meeting, we of this work group will do that..."
, but that is in fact exactly what happened. Having been able to start the K-5 session, the DESE facilitator didn't just take control, they were assumed to have it, and those who work in one aspect or another of the state schooling industry, felt themselves to have the upper hand along with them, and they never let it go.

It is incredibly easy for that position to be taken and held! That technique, whether you attribute it to Delphi Technique or any number of others, is one that is familiar in office politics, sales and elsewhere, and it really amounts to simple power dynamics and manipulation, which enables one party to take and keep control over another.

If these tactics seem remote to you, I'll bet that you've had more experience with them than you might imagine. Have you ever allowed a salesmen into your home, and found yourself being shown to your own kitchen table, to listen to their presentation? Do you know why? Because that is the way a strong (not pushy) salesmen goes about 'taking control of the sale'. They not only take over your own kitchen, but walk you through their presentation, not answering your questions right off but suggesting that you hold them till the 'appropriate' time, they nicely refuse to give you a price: "Well I can't give you a price until I know the features you're interested in", and it just so happens that know the features you're interested in is what they need to manipulate you into buying what they want to sell you.

Whether you call it 'Delphi Technique', or simply using power to control groups, DESE was serving their own interests, not those of Missouri. They 'took the kitchen table', by selecting the meeting places, and staffing the work groups with their own 'facilitators', who were there to direct and shape the meetings, their context and their content and progress, in a manner that led to what DESE had chosen to sell - something that could not be accomplished if there had been a kick off meeting explaining the purpose of HB1490, DESE's lack of authority in the process, and the forbidden nature of Common Core in rewriting our standards.

There came a joint statement from the Lieutenant Governor, Legislative leaders Issue Statement Clarifying HB1490 Work Groups, and it was welcome when it came the next day, here it is,
“HB1490 was designed to vest in the Education Work Groups the power to shape recommendations for academic standards absent influence from bureaucrats and politicians. Under the law, after DESE convened the initial meeting, the power shifts to the groups alone to guide themselves each month with the goal of delivering their best academic standards recommendations by Oct. 1, 2015. There exists no authority in the statute for DESE to dictate the deliberations of these work groups, nor even to guide their deliberations after the initial organizing meetings held yesterday, unless invited to do so by individual work groups.”
, but really, it was no more helpful than the work group participants questions and statements.

5) As long as DESE is allowed to maintain control over the work groups, which were created to undo what DESE has been so intent on doing, then our work groups will not be able to do what they were convened to do.

Call, write, email your representatives, and let them know that DESE needs to be barred from the proceedings of the work groups, not because they are obstructing our efforts, but because they are leading them, oh so sweetly and firmly, to exactly where DESE wants them to go. And as DESE's poor judgment and proven disrespect for the opinions and rights of those they were established for and hired to serve, they should have no further part in these work group proceedings.

The work of the work groups, while it will be hard work, and it will take time, it is good work, and it doesn't require partisan efforts. Despite DESE's claims, this is not a politically Left/Right issue, or a parent vs. teacher issue - there are many people working to roll back Common Core who are politically on the left, right and center, and many teachers as well. Our work group, the 'Social Studies, 6-12' group, is, I think, split 50/50 politically, but once the manipulators were moved out of the way, we were able to discuss the actual issues of standards, listening to and thinking upon what each had to say, and so were able to make good progress.

We just needed to get DESE out of the way.

If Missouri is to have worthwhile Curriculum Standards for the education of its citizens and future voters, then the Legislature and the Governor need to remove DESE from participating in the process in any way, shape or form. They are the reason why the current process is in disarray, having paid millions for something we do not want, need or have any reason to believe will be successful for any one other than assessment companies.

And perhaps more important than anything else, is that you, if you live in Missouri, then you must insist to your state legislators, and to yourselves, your neighbors, and your teachers, that the remaining number of seats on the work groups - nearly half are unfilled - must be filled as soon as possible. Self Government is but a joke, of no one in a state is willing to take some responsibility and action for governing themselves! There's no pay in this, there's no thanks in this; I'm not getting either money or time off granted for this, it is coming, very painfully, out of my time and our already depleted bank account, and it hurts. But if I, and you, are not willing to do such things... then shame on us for the mockery we've made of 'We The People', and if that is okay-dokey with you, then you can rest assured that you will be getting even more of what you deserve in the coming years, as yet another generation is raised up knowing little or nothing about what self governance is or means.

You will learn the lesson. The only choice you've got is whether you learn it the 'easy way' or the hard way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grateful for the 227th anniversary of the Constitution, and hopeful for many more.

This Constitution Day, marking the 227th anniversary of the signing, September 17, 1787 - September 17, 2014, I'll keep it short. I was given a 'challenge' to post for five days, three things that I was grateful for. Rather than follow in the example of the challenge, praising inexpressible wisdom and love for friends, family and furry animals, I chose to be grateful for what secures the ability of each of us to pursue our own conception of what we are, and hope to be, grateful for.

And there's no need to repeat it for five days - I'm grateful for it every day.

Here ya go:
 1) For this day in particular, September 17th, I'm grateful for the wisdom expressed in the words of our Constitution which define the making of laws and their limits, harnessing our best intentions and worst inclinations, towards securing the lives liberty, and ability of our people to pursue happiness.
 2) Grateful for the ability to reflect on what is valuable in life, and the liberty to make the decisions necessary to pursuing it.
 3) Grateful that those who disagree with my choices are still not, quite, able to force me to live in accordance with theirs. 
BTW WaPo, your ability to answer 13, or 1,300 trivia questions about the Constitution, is no indication of whether or not you understand it well enough to be grateful for it.

Try reading it, reading the arguments for, and against it, and considering what would happen if we should lose the last vestiges of it. Or if you're not quite up to that, one of the best tools I've ever found for considering and reflecting particular parts of the Constitution, is the site "The Founders Constitution". Scroll down on the contents page and you'll find it goes through the Constitution clause by clause, and each is supplied with a list of links to relevant portions of not only the Federalist Papers, but to documents which the Founders had in mind when writing the Constitution, what the Anti-Federalists objected to (this is particularly helpful in understanding the arguments For the Constitution which the Federalist Papers make), as well as early Supreme Court opinions and judgments relevant to that clause, and commentaries by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (which are fantastic).


Constitution of the United States and the First Twelve Amendments 1787--1804

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.


No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article. III.

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.
Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it's equal Suffrage in the Senate.


Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page. Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

Go: Washington--Presidt. and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire { John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman
}
Massachusetts { Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King
Connecticut { Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman
New York Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey { Wil: Livingston
David Brearley.
Wm. Paterson.
Jona: Dayton
Pensylvania { B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris
Delaware { Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom
Maryland { James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl Carroll
Virginia { John Blair--
James Madison Jr.
North Carolina { Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight.
Hu Williamson
South Carolina { J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler.
Georgia { William Few
Abr Baldwin
Amendments to the Constitution
Article I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Article II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Article III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Article IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Article V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Article VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Article VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Article VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Article IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Article XI
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
Article XII
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number
shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 1, Document 9

The University of Chicago Press

Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Edited by Charles C. Tansill. 69th Cong., 1st sess. House Doc. No. 398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.