Steve Scroggins is a volunteer contributor to the Georgia
Heritage Council who lives in Macon. He is the deranged creative force behind
the X-Files parodies.
Empire or Liberty? – Commentary by Steve Scroggins, 2/26/2010
"...peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." --Thomas Jefferson,
from First Inaugural Address, 1801
George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison...
each of our first four Presidents faithfully
expressed the common belief that America's best interests, her safety and liberty, were best served by a policy of
non-interventionism as expressed most concisely in Jefferson's
first inaugural address. "Peace...commerce...friendship with all, entangling alliance with none."
How is it that we strayed so far from our Founding Principles?
So far from the wise policy of non-interventionism?
It's a simple question, really. The short answer is that we wandered away from our Founding Principles in
moments of error and alarm, and we've not yet found our way back.
Of all the Founding Principles as articulated by Long, they are all inter-locking and mutually supportive, the two core principles falling
under immediate attack were (#6) Decentralized
Government and (#5) Limited Government.
Washington, in his 1796 Farewell Address, warned against sectional disputes within the republic and especially
sectional parties seeking to use the power of the central government to gain advantage for one section to oppress another. Suppose that
the states east of the Mississippi formed a party and managed to gain majority power (larger population). Suppose they decided that western
citizens all have to pay 80% of their incomes in taxes while the eastern citizens paid only 20%. Clearly, this violates Principle #12,
the Majority Limited for Liberty. Jefferson
expressed this principle in his 1801 Inaugural Address:
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be
rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be
oppression." --Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801
Now suppose further that the western states determine that negotiation and pleading will not win them justice from the eastern party. Under
the Founding Principle expressed in the Declaration, that just powers are "derived from the consent of the governed", the western
states have but one moral remedy left to protect the liberties (including property rights) of their people (which is the state's purpose and
sworn duty per their constitutions). They
should resolve to peacefully separate, that is secede, from the union or government that seeks to oppress them.
That was the dilemma faced by the American colonies of the 1770s when they seceded from the British empire.
That was the dilemma faced by the Southern states in 1860 with the election of Lincoln and his Republican majority. Remember, Lincoln wasn't
even on the ballot in most southern states. He was elected by a purely northern majority, just over 40%, due to the split of the Democratic
party. At that time before the income tax, the Southern states paid eighty percent (80%) of federal tax revenues in the form of tariffs, which Lincoln and the
Republican Party proposed to increase with the Morrill Tariff. Most of the monies were spent on canals, railroads and infrastructure in the northern states.
My key point here, in returning to the core of this commentary, was what the majority party chose to do in reaction to the departure of the
minority, that is, the minority's declaration of independence. The Founding Principles
teach two options at this point. Peaceful negotiation to bring the western (or southern) states back to the union is one option. The other
is to let the aggrieved party go in peace with a proper accounting for public properties, debts, etc. Another obvious option is one that
the Founding Principles would NOT support: the immoral use of force. Lincoln and his Republican party chose force. They chose
treasure and empire over consent and liberty.
[See James Perloff's A Yankee Apology ]
[ See Horace Greeley's assessment: NY Daily Tribune, Dec. 17, 1860 ]
[See Thomas DiLorenzo's An Abolitionist Defends the South ]
Lysander Spooner, a noted abolitionist and libertarian, clearly saw that the use of force and destruction of consent essentially established political slavery
which is just as morally repugnant as chattel slavery; and, he noted, it would be imposed on the entire country. Spooner's truth is reflected in the
title of Jeffrey Rogers Hummel's 1996 book,
Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.
The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: that men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that
they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.
No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it
triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it be really established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by
the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in
principle---but only in degree---between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself
and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
--Lysander Spooner, from his essay, No Treason, 1867 [emphasis added]
History reveals that the centralizers won in 1865. The original federated republic of republics articulated in the Constitution was consolidated into a
nationalist empire in operation (by selectively ignoring parts of the Constitution). Karl
Marx and Adolf Hitler approved of Lincoln's and the Republican's actions to centralize power in their writings. The goals of both (progressive
utopia for Marxists and world domination and empire for Nazis and Neocons) require centralized government power.
"The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin
of all that has proceeded it." --Robert E. Lee, from letter to Lord Acton, December 15, 1866
Today, we have very different world views in the part of our
globalist empire builders, also known as "Neocons," and their cadre of power brokers and arms merchants in the military industrial
complex, AND in the part of the
"progressive" socialists who see more government power as the solution to every problem (they have a red government hammer, so everything looks like a nail).
These opposing ideologies share all-powerful, UNLIMITED, CENTRALIZED government as their means to power and profit. With either ideology in power,
government grows and liberty recedes.
We must find our way back to first principles or the twin forces of socialism and militaristic empire, also known as the
"welfare/warfare state" will spend us into ruin, destroying our peace, prosperity and liberty in the process. Another excerpt
from Jefferson's 1801 Inaugural fits here in 2010 as it did in 1801:
"These principles...The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of
our political faith, the text of civic instruction...and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten
to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety." --Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801
In recent commentaries, the author finds himself too often using the words "ignorant" and "ignorance" without offering sufficient explanation. We are all born
ignorant and through education and lifelong devotion to learning, we move through various stages of ignorance on the road to enlightenment (and hopefully wisdom).
No one can know everything, but there is
some common knowledge we should all share in order to share the responsibilities, which accompany
the rights, of citizenship. The Founders advocated education
in our country as the surest means to enable citizens to maintain their liberty. We have failed to maintain "civic instruction" at the level required and
that failure is evidenced by our fall from relative liberty to tax slavery and empire.
The examples of widespread historical ignorance are many; many have been referenced in recent commentary [ Example 1 -
Example 2 ]. Another is the 2007 survey commissioned by the U.S. Mint
as mentioned in Chuck Norris' recent commentary.
That survey determined that only seven percent (7%) of Americans could correctly name the first four presidents
in the correct order. It should terrify all of us that a significant number of the "ignorant 93%" are voting citizens. My concern is not that 93% are not
equipped to compete in trivia games. If Americans have forgotten the first four presidents, then they have certainly forgotten or perhaps never learned the
Founding Principles those men
espoused and for which these men were the foremost advocates.
Make no mistake. The pretended patriots we know as "Neocons," those war-mongers and hucksters of global empire take every opportunity to twist and distort the Founding
Principles ---and the words of the men who embodied them---to their own nefarious ends. The "progressive elite" whose 'religion' requires larger and more intrusive
government power to address every problem despite the century of abject failure for centrally planned utopia---they, too, twist and distort the Founding
Principles to discredit them. In many cases, they slander the Founders themselves and falsely paint them as selfish, paranoid aristocrats, "dead white
slave-owners" who are no longer relevant
to the modern world's needs. The ad homimem attack on the person rather than the idea is a typical tactic of the "progressive elite."
History shows that Americans for the most part have always favored the Founder's policy of non-interventionism. It has always taken a deceptive leader to
convince Americans that empire and war are morally preferable to available alternatives. Such 'leaders' have always twisted the words of the Founders
to suggest that their proposed ambitions and adventures are the wise, prudent and moral course.
Abraham Lincoln is an admired word-smith whose noble rhetoric has inspired more books than any of the Founding Fathers except George Washington. It's amazing.
Books critical of Lincoln's hypocrisy, brutality and suppression of dissent make a short
list (maybe a few hundred). Books paying courtly attention to Lincoln's words and imagined
good intent while ignoring his acts and not-so-nice words number in the thousands. Strategic omission and logical acrobatics are needed to lionize Lincoln's
behavior at any level of depth.
Author Thomas DiLorenzo rightly labels these acrobatic writers collectively as
"the Lincoln Court historians," the Lincoln Cult, or simply "Lincoln Idolators." Lincoln's
Gettysburg Address is
the best known oration in American history according to H.L. Mencken, and despite its brevity, is one most filled with lies. Virtually every American child
is forced to memorize and recite it in school. Given the prevailing volume of Lincoln mythology, it's little wonder that many Americans rank Lincoln as a "great"
president who "saved the Union." The truth is that Lincoln's war destroyed the union of consent and converted the republic to a national empire.
[ See Lew Rockwell's King Lincoln Archive. ]
As Josh Eboch rightly observes in his commentary entitled
Jefferson v. Lincoln: Americans must choose,
it is absurd, it defies logic for a people to honor both Lincoln and Jefferson. We must choose between Lincoln's force, empire and
tyranny --- or we choose Jefferson's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We can't rationally honor both. It is noted that Lincoln often used language
from the Bible though he was certainly no practitioner of Christian principles. Lincoln often invoked the words of Jefferson and the Declaration of
Independence, but he most certainly
didn't revere the consent of the governed or practice allowing people to peacefully choose their own form of government. Lincoln let it be known that
everything was negotiable EXCEPT paying the tariffs. As Eboch suggests, Lincoln was more like Tony Soprano: "Pay up (tariffs) and nobody gets hurt."
Other deceptive leaders led us to war for causes professed to be noble.
Woodrow Wilson expressly promised not to involve the U.S. in a European War; but after his election, he did. He promised that this war would end all wars.
It simply set the stage for the rise of Hitler's Nazis in Germany. The other major result of Wilson's war was to expand the government. As Robert Higgs'
"rachet effect" tells us, once the government expands to meet war
needs and emergencies, it never returns to its smaller pre-war size and scope.
FDR explicitly promised not to involve the U.S. in a European war unless it was attacked --- promises that wouldn't have been made except to
persuade American voters who wanted non-interventionism. Then, as
Laurence Vance, et. al., have set out, FDR
provoked the Japanese into attacking the U.S. FDR valued his promise to Churchill more than his promise to the American people. Over 400,000 Americans died in
that war; millions of Europeans would have died whether or not we were there. Vance also documents America's long tradition of non-interventionism through
the 19th century. Most Americans favored continuing that policy before and after Wilson's war
to "make the world safe for Democracy."
As Robert Higgs states in his book, RESURGENCE OF THE WARFARE STATE - The Crisis Since 9/11,
his earlier writings accurately predicted the government's reaction to 9/11, "the government’s hasty reactions would resemble its responses to previous crises,
providing little more than opportunities for special interests to feather their nests and for the government itself to expand its powers at the expense of
the public’s wealth and civil liberties." The special interests are the same that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in 1960, the
military industrial complex. The long Cold War kept America ready for another World War at any moment. For the Neocons and their special interests, the
War on Terror has filled the vacuum left by the end of the Cold War as a justification for spending more on "defense" than the next ten nations
of the world combined. No other nation even comes close.
As Pat Buchanan's commentary entitled Liquidating the Empire (text below) lays out,
"Our Navy exceeds in firepower the next 13 navies combined. We have 100,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 in Afghanistan or headed there, 28,000 in Korea, over
35,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany. By the Department of Defense's "Base Structure Report," there are 716 U.S. bases in 38 countries. ...US troops are
stationed in 148 countries and 11 territories." --Pat Buchanan
Buchanan's conclusion is on the mark: "It is preposterous to argue that all these bases are essential to our security. Indeed,
our military presence, our endless wars and our support of despotic regimes have made America, once the most admired of nations, almost everywhere resented
and even hated."
Indeed, and even more importantly, the treasure to pay for this world empire is taken from Americans at rates reducing them to the equivalent of medieval serfs
or 19th century slaves---that is, tax slaves. And our Congress is spending more than is politically feasible to take from voting taxpayers, so they borrow
much of the money from the very people we purport to protect and oppose with our military (to be repaid by our unborn descendants). Buchanan asks the
"Indeed, how do conservatives justify borrowing hundreds of billions yearly from Europe, Japan and the Gulf states -- to defend Europe, Japan and the Arab
Gulf states? Is it not absurd to borrow hundreds of billion annually from China -- to defend Asia from China? Is it not a symptom of senility to borrow
from all over the world in order to defend that world?"
As we've pointed out before, the annual interest on our national debt now exceeds the entire annual budget for "defense" --- defense of an empire's military
the next ten nations all combined. Absurd. Insane. Senile. It's hard to choose the perfect adjective. As Buchanan notes, the empire's military is
"the logical lead cow for the butcher's knife."
But we have to do more. We must "retrace our steps" and regain the road to "peace, liberty and safety" as Jefferson advised. Madison warned us repeatedly that
foreign wars and involvements were the most likely avenue by which we would lose our liberties...to pretended patriots who are in truth domestic tyrants.
"War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement." --James Madison
"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." --James Madison
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." --James Madison
"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."
We must return to our Founding roots and the
Founding Principles. Entangling alliances---sever them.
Public debt---pay if off and use it sparingly. Government spending---multiple amputations are
required to LIMIT spending to Constitutionally authorized objects. We must drive back the socialist progressive centralizers as well as the neocon globalist
secure our liberties and control of our government.
James Madison had to resist the Congress' impulse to spend on unconstitutional charity even in
The Founders believed that a large permanent military is incompatible with republican
liberty. George Washington advocated for a ready military, as a means to keep peace and safety. But not for a world wide empire. The large empires
of history (e.g., Rome) offer ample lessons for us.
What's that sound? It sounds like... a fiddle. Do y'all smell smoke? I heard someone say that
there are barbarians at the gates...but hey, let's not worry about it. Let's go check out the circus.
is Commander of the Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399, Sons of Confederate
Veterans, in Warner Robins, GA. He is the deranged creative force behind
the X-Files parodies.
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Washington's Integrity - Steve Scroggins, 2/22/10
Comparing Day and Night: Washington v. Obama - X-Files parody, 2/22/10
Voting Rights, Responsibilities (Part 2) - Steve Scroggins, 2/19/10
Voting Rights, Responsibilities (Part 1) - Steve Scroggins, 2/08/10
The American Ideal of 1776: The Twelve Basic American Principles - Hamilton Abert Long
America: Ripe for Destruction? - Steve Scroggins, 2/10/10
Serious About the Constitution - Steve Scroggins, 11/12/09
Perils of Democracy - Part 5 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 1 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 2 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 3 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 4 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
American federalism: What Changed between 1787 and 2005? - Steve Scroggins, Nov. 2005
An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic
America's Worst Scandal: the 14th Amendment - J.A. Davis
FDR's 'rewriting' of the Constitution - Ben Shapiro
FDR v. Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy - by Burt Solomon
Crisis and Leviathan - by Robert Higgs
Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War - by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
Founders' Wisdom v. ignorance and 'democracy' - Steve Scroggins, 4/26/07
The Judicial Activist Coup D'Etat -- Steve Scroggins
Slavery, Apologies & Duty - Steve Scroggins
Liberty Lost - Part 1 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 2 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 3 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 8 - J.A. Davis
Repeal the 17th Amendment - articlev.com
by Patrick Buchanan, 2/23/10
A decade ago, Oldsmobile went. Last year, Pontiac. Saturn, Saab and Hummer were discontinued. A thousand GM dealerships shut down.
To those who grew up in a "GM family," where buying a Chrysler was like converting to Islam, what happened to GM was deeply saddening.
Yet the amputations had to be done -- or GM would die.
And the same may be about to happen to the American Imperium.
Its birth can be traced to World War II, when America put 16 million men in uniform and sent millions across the seas to crush Nazi Germany and Japan. After V-E and V-J Day, the boys came home.
But with the Stalinization of half of Europe, the fall of China, and war in Korea came NATO and alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan and Australia that lasted through the Cold War.
In 1989, however, the Cold War ended dramatically with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the retirement of the Red Army from Europe, the break-up of the Soviet Union and Beijing's abandonment of world communist revolution.
Overnight, our world changed. But America did not change.
As Russia shed her alliances and China set out to capture America's markets, Uncle Sam soldiered on.
We clung to the old alliances and began to add new allies. NATO war guarantees were distributed like credit cards to member states of the old Warsaw Pact and former republics of the Soviet Union.
We invaded Panama and Haiti, smashed Iraq, liberated Kuwait, intervened in Somalia and Bosnia, bombed Serbia, and invaded Iraq again -- and Afghanistan. Now we prepare for a new war -- on Iran.
Author Lawrence Vance has inventoried America's warfare state.
We spend more on defense than the next 10 nations combined.
Our Navy exceeds in firepower the next 13 navies combined. We have 100,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 in Afghanistan or headed there, 28,000 in Korea, over 35,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany. By the Department of Defense's "Base Structure Report," there are 716 U.S. bases in 38 countries.
Chalmers Johnson, who has written books on this subject, claims DOD is minimizing the empire. He discovered some 1,000 U.S. facilities, many of them secret and sensitive. And according to DOD's "Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country," U.S. troops are now stationed in 148 countries and 11 territories.
Estimated combined budgets for the Pentagon, two wars, foreign aid to allies, 16 intelligence agencies, scores of thousands of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our new castle-embassies: $1 trillion a year.
While this worldwide archipelago of bases may have been necessary when we confronted a Sino-Soviet bloc spanning Eurasia from the Elbe to East China Sea, armed with thousands of nuclear weapons and driven by imperial ambition and ideological hatred of us, that is history now.
It is preposterous to argue that all these bases are essential to our security. Indeed, our military presence, our endless wars and our support of despotic regimes have made America, once the most admired of nations, almost everywhere resented and even hated.
Liquidation of this empire should have begun with the end of the Cold War. Now it is being forced upon us by the deficit-debt crisis. Like GM, we can't kick this can up the road any more, because we have come to the end of the road.
Republicans will fight new taxes. Democrats will fight to save social programs. Which leaves the American empire as the logical lead cow for the butcher's knife.
Indeed, how do conservatives justify borrowing hundreds of billions yearly from Europe, Japan and the Gulf states -- to defend Europe, Japan and the Arab Gulf states? Is it not absurd to borrow hundreds of billion annually from China -- to defend Asia from China? Is it not a symptom of senility to borrow from all over the world in order to defend that world?
In their Mount Vernon declaration of principles, conservatives called the Constitution their guiding star. But did not the author of that constitution, James Madison, warn us that wars are the death of republics?
Under Bush II, conservatives, spurning the wisdom of their fathers, let themselves be seduced, neo-conned into enlisting in a Wilsonian crusade that had as its declared utopian goal "ending tyranny in our world."
How could conservatives whose defining virtue is prudence and who pride themselves on following the lamp of experience have been taken into camp by the hustlers and hucksters of empire?
Yet, now that Barack Obama has embraced neo-socialism, Republicans are about to be given a second chance. And just as Rahm Emanuel said liberal Democrats should not let a financial crisis go to waste, but exploit it to ram through their agenda, the right should use the opportunity of the fiscal crisis to take an axe to the warfare state.
Ron Paul's victory at CPAC may be a sign the prodigal sons of the right are casting off the heresy of neoconservatism and coming home to first principles.
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