RIGHTS, LOCALLY ENFORCED
a recent conference, I heard a slogan attributed to
the late Murray
Rothbard: "universal rights, locally enforced."
This requires some exposition. Rothbard was a rationalist
in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, who believed
in natural law, from which can be derived natural rights.
Now this is not your Mexican
Constitution of 1917 list of rights, or your UN
Declaration of Universal Rights, or even new rights
lately found oozing out of the "penumbras"
and "emanations" of favored amendments. Rothbard
had in mind what might be called the 18th-century
"short list" of rights, corresponding roughly
to the rights of Englishmen as understood in the thirteen
colonies as of 1776, or those addressed by writers such
Locke. The Anglo-American threesome – life, liberty,
and property – is at the heart of this conception of
rights. The whole thing got somewhat garbled in the
French transcription, with unfortunate results.
much for the rights. What about that "local"
enforcement? This is rightly a source of much concern.
In fact, it seems very wicked. It leaves nothing for
Boutros and Kofi to fret about and no one for the Empire
or NATO to bomb into submission. It leaves room for
slippage, local exceptions, and a slackening of Progress.
But Progress is a universal project best left for interpretation
to Mr. Francis
Fukuyama and his predecessor M. Alexander Kojeve,
philosopher, Russian émigré, and French
bureaucrat (whom unkind souls have lately marked as
a Stalinist agent who gave away French secrets to historical
forces embodying the World Soul, that is, the KGB).
As such, Progress is not to be denied.
was an Austrian
School economist and the slogan came up at a recent
conference at the Ludwig
von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. This is
very suspicious indeed. Austrian economists might be
suspected of partiality towards Austria. They have been
known to say that socialism as an economic system cannot
calculate rationally. They point to the Soviet collapse
as a real-world instance. They question the worth of
the entire array of softer social-democratic economic
interventions, as well as centralized state management
Austrian economists, most of whom are not Austrians
these days, criticize the EU’s corporatist and social-democratic
establishment. Joerg Haider criticizes that same establishment.
Joerg Haider is said to be Hitler. For the Left, then,
Austrian economists will be seen to agree with Haider,
whom they have equated with Hitler. The conclusion must
be obvious. The Left are honorable men. They would not
lie to us about these things. This is very troubling.
PLURALISM, PLURALIST NOMINALISM
is all by way of coming to one of the most strife-laden
questions in all political thinking, namely, what is
the proper locus of decision-making in geographically
extensive states, empires, federations, or customs unions?
Briefly, there are those strong in the faith that all
decisions should be made at the center. Opposed to these
centralists are those who would devolve decisions to
the lowest appropriate level. This is sometimes called
"subsidiarity" – a term taken from Catholic
social thought. EU centralizers have caught onto the
popularity of this concept and have taken it up, appropriately
emptied of all real content. It may well go the way
of "civil society" in short order. "Small
is beautiful," especially when implemented from
the United States we don’t speak of subsidiarity, but
a similar notion – state rights or state sovereignty
– used to exist. Its failure to deliver social democracy
on schedule is held to have discredited all talk of
division of power, responsibility, and the like between
the central government and localities. To confuse matters
even more, the central government, more and more distracted
by its duty to micromanage the world and schedule all
those air strikes, is still referred to as "federal,"
implying the existence of a federation, which in turn
implies some division of powers, responsibilities, and
we Americans have theorized our way into a corner, mostly
by not thinking at all about our institutional traditions.
Fortunately, not thinking is something Americans have
come to be very good at. A few more decades of our world-famous
"schooling" and no one in the ruling elite
will have to worry about informed discontent arising
from that quarter provided, of course, the elite
has taken care to send its children to different schools.
But I digress.
WILL CUSTODIATE THE CUSTODIANS?
the words "state rights" and "state sovereignty"
are associated with those awful Southern states,
which in the present climate renders further discussion
unnecessary. To continue would probably be as deliberate
and criminal a provocation as the flag over the South
Carolina capitol. I only bring these distasteful things
up in relation to a larger point, which is that there
nonetheless remain some drawbacks flowing from the ideal
of centralized power and universal management.
might start with the millions of people murdered
by centralized regimes with historical missions in this
century. A visit to Mr. Ruml’s website is in order for
those who wish to see some numbers. We could question
the historical missions, I suppose, but not really,
since only one of them is open to criticism having
come "from the Right," whatever that might
mean. Actually, that regime’s program was a compendium
of all the half-baked ideas of the times – socialism
in one country, national fraternity, aggressive military
Darwinism – most of them owing something to the Left…
but never mind. That regime’s leader was an Austrian.
Case closed. The other regime alluded to stood for much
the same program and killed even more people, but avoided
that upsetting rhetoric about racial essences – and
was, therefore, a force for Progress.
to one side the kindly ultimate motives and the "scientific"
eschatology of the Stalinist empire, let me just say
that its kill ratio, like that of its Teutonic antagonist,
may give pause in the more nervous classes
as to the wisdom of handing all decisions over to central
authority, anywhere. I say this in full knowledge that
the gentle Eurocrats – and their Great Atlantic Protector
– would never harm anyone for any reason, unless, of
course, they are opposed in something about which
they care deeply, like their power, their perks, their
self-image, their electoral prospects, their inoperable
futurist programs, their right to rule because they
overthrew the Persians….
they will set their mechanized legions, panzers, bombers,
and cruise missiles on the path of total, merciless
"social sanitation" – to use one of Harry
Elmer Barnes’ phrases – until the new Hitlers in
their path, however unlike the real Hitler, are bouncing
with the rubble. So, really, it’s all very simple. Do
what they want and they will let you enjoy the full
scope of your subsidiarity, civil society, and local
plebiscites to confirm what they have wisely decided
for you. Submit or die. That seems fair enough, although
there is that little echo of Oriental-Despotic reasoning.
FAVORITE SUPREME COURT DECISION
perhaps I am getting too far ahead of the facts. Perhaps
the EU is not a power-hungry union of the European political
class bent on creating a sub-empire-by-stealth under
the Americans’ general supervision, as certain hotheads
regularly say in the Salisbury
Review. Perhaps such talk is just the English
reactionary counterpart to the late Garner
Ted Armstrong’s theory that the EU represented a
reconstituted Holy Roman Empire and thus a deplorable
but theologically necessary step on the way to pre-millenialist
so. Nonetheless, I wish to pass something along to our
European cousins, or those of them who haven’t knowingly
chosen to abdicate their self-government, civil society,
and even that terrible thing, sovereignty, to the Brussels
sprouts. That something is a lesson we learned in the
Southern states of the American union during the 1860s.
can best get at this by deconstructing Texas
v. White (1869), my all-time favorite US Supreme
Court decision. This is more than appropriate because
of all those postmodern "silences" and "absences"
in it. Actually, many things are "there" –
you just have to pay attention to the text. Anyway,
I claim the Nine Delphic Oracles as founders of deconstruction,
as many decisions (especially since 1937) seem to show.
1861, His Honesty launched a war against the South on
the claim that it was conceptually impossible for a
state to leave the union. His successors, the Radical
Republicans tried having the concept both ways and their
antics are the source of lingering doubts about the
"ratification" of the liberals’ favorite amendment.
Texas v. White hinged on whether Texas had continued
to be a "state" while wickedly pretending
to be outside the old union and part of another confederation.
Court cobbled together a school-boy rendition of the
theory that the union was "older" than the
states, and moved in for the kill: an argument from
unacceptable consequences. Texas had remained a state
and its people US citizens all through the Confederate
period: "If this were otherwise, the State must
have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners. This
war must have become a war for conquest and subjugation."
My emphasis. Oh yes, that dog appears to hunt.
Draw up the right premises and any law clerk can get
the right answer. Anyway, the Court had already declared
it "needless" to discuss whether any right
of secession had ever existed.
IT IN WRITING –
OR JUST GET OUT!
point is said to have been "settled" by the
surrender of Lee’s army, if not by the ingenious dodgings
of the high court. Maybe. Maybe not. I won’t rehearse
that argument here.
the basis of experience, I merely wish to caution our
European friends that such questions can arise in federations
voluntarily entered by sovereign states and peoples.
We didn’t get it in writing – and look what happened.
It was dead obvious that the union was an experiment,
a thing of instrumental and not ultimate value, but
two generations down the road there arose those who
knew not Joseph and didn’t much care about him or the
colonial and revolutionary background of the second
it in writing that you can withdraw – secede
- from the dear old EU and wave good-bye to the sprouts.
Then you will at least have one of those "parchment
guarantees" of which John Randolph so disparagingly
spoke. Then, when the EU meets your recalcitrance or
withdrawal with economic discrimination, starvation
blockades, and the like, you can point right at that
written provision and put yourselves in the historical
right. Sorry come to think of it, the sort of
people likely to come to power in the New Europe don’t
care much for historically sanctioned right. True "diversity"
must be imposed from the center.
forget everything I just said. I was merely pointing
out the problem. Don’t rely on words on paper. Get
out now! Just do it sometime when Uncle is preoccupied
with dissenters on his other properties. No telling
what he’ll do, if he’s paying attention.
more thing: If the Euro-lords can dictate the composition
of an Austrian government, may we refer to that as a
sort of Anschluss? Does that mean there’s good
Anschluss and bad Anschluss? No matter,
as long as there’s no "voice" or "exit"
for those suspected of not being quite ready for the
projected post-European "Europe." I suppose
the Left will have to quit talking about exit and voice.
The wrong sort might want some, too.
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