When one declares oneself to be a conservative, one is not, unfortunately, thereupon visited by tongues of fire that leave one omniscient. The acceptance of a series of premises is just the beginning. After that, we need constantly to inform ourselves, to analyze and to think through our premises and their ramifications. We need to ponder, in the light of the evidence, the strengths and the weaknesses, the consistencies and the inconsistencies, the glory and the frailty of our position, week in and week out. Otherwise, we will not hold our own in a world where informed dedication, not just dedication, is necessary for survival and growth.

William F. Buckley Jr., Feb 8, 1956, NR

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Estne Alea Iacta........A Guess Post From Mustang!

Estne Alea Iacta?

Given our present political situation, let us consider these words from long ago; opposing voices from the same era:

"Humanity is universally imbued with a desire for liberty, and a hatred for servitude."
— Gaius Julius Caesar

— And

"Only a few prefer liberty—the majority seek nothing more than a fair master."
— Gaius Sallustius Crispus

Upon his return from the Gallic Wars, Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon with his legions. It was a decision that effectively ended the Roman Republic; a period during which, contrary to the romantic notions of undereducated scholars, citizens may have boasted about the values of free speech, private property, and rights before the law but, in truth, only Roman slaves enjoyed equality. After seven-hundred years, the Roman citizen grew tired of antique values, much preferring the comfort of easy slavery and "peace" to a never-ending series of wars. It was more desirable to receive free bread, attend magnificent circuses, and let political masters worry about affairs of state. Accepting bribes from politicians was less stressful than listening to hours' long rhetoric on this or that from a rostrum in the forum.

There are those who criticize my propensity to compare/contrast the Roman Republic/Empire with our contemporary United States. I will allow Dr. Sir Ronald Syme to answer, "Prudent men are won't to say — and this not rashly or without good ground — that he who would foresee what has to be should reflect on what has been, for everything that happens in the world at any time has a genuine resemblance to what happened in ancient times."

We are at that time and place when Americans — like the citizens of Rome more than two-thousand years ago — approach an important crossroad. Our direction henceforth will be important because once the journey has begun, there can be no return sans significant social unrest and the likely destruction of important, long valued institutions. Rome's Republic collapsed, Syme tells us, because "The Roman constitution was a screen and a sham." So too has our Constitution become irrelevant to people whom no longer value it, to politicians who ignore it, and a judiciary who reach to feel its pulse. Like Rome, America will cease to exist when our Constitution no longer serves as the guiding principle of our government; it is our Constitution that protects us from government excesses — without it, there is no protection for the American people.

The beginning of our end started with Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal.” The Supreme Court overturned several of these programs as "unconstitutional," but let stand others; the high court determined that since the federal government could not force states to provide unemployment insurance, it was within the general power of Congress to levy taxes to support federal programs that would. And like the days of free bread and bribes in Rome, American politicians realized that social programs, properly packaged as liberalism and progressivism, could enslave all manner of men to the good graces of a beneficent government. What they handed to us, however, is simply Marxism, not so cleverly disguised as human services.

The fallacies associated with Roosevelt's "New Deal," and Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" filled volumes written by those who recognize Marxist ideology when they see it. Few bother to read these works, fewer still are even listening to whispers of dire consequences to progressive-socialist policy. In October 1964, speaking on behalf of presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan told his audience:

"In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they've been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, "The Cold War will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says, "The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state." Or, "Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century." Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us," what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government."

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as "the masses." We haven't applied this term to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government" — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know that when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy."

So even forty-four years ago, honest statesmen warned the American people to exercise care in making political choices, as they carry with them dire consequences. The voices of reason were plain enough, and loud enough, but people didn't listen then; they aren't listening now, either. We have not fully recovered from the psychological and economic maladies of the Roosevelt Era, nor even from the so-called Great Society. We continue to have individuals who demand something in return for nothing. People who have allowed their innate sloth to interfere with good common sense rallied to the Marxist pap of "hope and change," and are frankly too stupid to realize the attendant consequences to our economy and the moral fiber of our people.

Whispering voices continue to speak plainly; mine is one of them. There are hundreds more, each of whom understands the dangerous path ahead, but we cannot speak in hushed tones if we expect anyone to hear — if we expect anyone to pay attention to what we say. "Beware of big brother, for like Marcus Brutus; he does not come to praise us — but to bury us."

It is already late in the day for loud voices; we needed to become alarmed in 2004, but our laziness and an administration inept on too many fronts brought us a Democratic Congress in 2006. Typical of democrats, like the miserable cancer of Marxism, they are spreading out their tentacles and grabbing hold. The fault is clearly ours; our voices were mute or too soft. We have failed to make our case understood to American voters. Republicans have even lost their identity and have joined the socialists — more programs to satisfy the masses.

Our Constitution, our protector, is slipping from our grasp. The administration of Barack Obama fully intends to strip away our right to hard-earned wages, and give it as supplementary income to those who do not pay taxes. The government fully intends to ignore the Constitution as it forces its will upon the American people, much as it has done to supplant state sovereignty and free-market accountability. Government does not have the right to spend our money on corporate bailouts, to offer grants to subversive organizations, or to force Americans to invest in national healthcare.

The question, then, is whether we are going to preserve and protect the Constitution, or accept that the "dye is cast." If we are dedicated to the former, we could begin by copying this essay and sending it to members of the Congress — even Democrats. We must strengthen our conservative effort, and if necessary, support conservative organization financially. If we are not willing to do this, then like Rome's Republic . . . this once-great nation will transform itself into something else; something dangerous to our individual liberty and a place where only the slaves (to government programs) achieve full equality.

© Social Sense


Patrick M said...

We're already at the point where the majority have latched onto the government for security. I suspect that, without the ability to educate enough people quickly enough, we are going to be quickly consumed by the State.

We are certainly close to seeing the death of what we know as the United states. Or perhaps it has happened already and we just can't see it.

TAO said...

Clever...while having under tones of being nonpartisan the reality is you are comfortable when a Republican usurps your freedoms and rights (as long as they icing that cake with a frosting of national security).

The only way to truly achieve your goals is not via the political system but via revolution. The conservatives and the liberals both have a vested interest in our government as it stands today and in its continued growth.

I admire the democrats at least they tell you they are going to spread the wealth, increases taxes, and increase the size of government.

The republicans are another matter altogether. The department of education was formed in 1979 by Carter and Reagan run on the promise to shut it down and never did. Up to No Child Left Behind the department was the smallest government department and basically only focused on federal funding programs; which left education still somewhat decentralized. But with No child left behind government is now in the curricula and educational standards business. It is only appropriate the Bush II named the Department's headquarters building for LBJ back in 2007.

Then you have Palin who as governor of Alaska oversees the first socialist state in America. Now she gets on television and announces that she can support Obama as commander in chief as long as he surrounds himself with qualified advisors....looks like the beginning of the slippery slope to me...

Gaius Sallustius Crispus was right and that holds true for conservatives as much as liberals.

When the new military manual comes out and our military defines its purpose as nation building and humanitarian aid besides fighting and protecting then I fear all government and both sides of the political spectrum.

I refuse to succumb to the swan song of national defense and love of country as a reason to give up the freedoms that my forefathers fought and died for anymore than I will be won over with promises of cradle to grave comfort...

I refuse to sacrifice my individual freedom to the soothing ripples of socialism nor will I sacrifice them to the drumbeat of fascism.

Robert said...

Once again my brother, Well Done. Thank you for your contribution to our house, and I hope you will continue to participate, whether by guest publishing or via regular comments and discussion.

It was Alexander Hamilton who said “It's not tyranny we desire; it's a just, limited, federal government.” As you have stated, time and lack of attention to matters of philosophy have eroded the respect for the intent of the Constitution. As a society we have placed the temporal, but fleeting sense of personal convenience ahead of the greater good, that being the perpetuation of democracy and commitment to those ideals which established this great nation.

Similarities between the economic times of Roosevelt’s era and today are worth mentioning; the government rushed to provide stability to individuals as opposed to stability of the democracy. While democracy and economic well being are of the same flavor, it is important that government do what is best for the nation as a whole with the concepts of government restraint in the background. The “big three” automakers are standing in line awaiting a handout to overcome poor judgment by management of the companies. I am not ignorant of the overall financial impact should one of these companies fail, as each direct employee of an auto manufacturer is supported by another 10 jobs in the local economy. A layoff of 5,000 at the Acme car company results in an impact to a half million workers. That does not excuse the government from ignoring the long term needs of the state of the democracy. Incrementalism is the enemy of all that we hold dear.

I think that both Julius Caesar and Sallustius Crispus were correct, albeit under different conditions. Caesar is correct, as believed by our founders, that man has an inherent desire for liberty and freedom. Crispus was correct in that after generations of a certain condition that people lose their individuality and drive to achieve. Another case to be made for the denials that liberalism has a greater agenda.

Thank you for your statement that it is “…already late in the day for loud voices.” That is one of the tenets of the belief that drove Jenn and I to begin this venture. We have allowed our party to stumble about for tool long, and we have accepted crumbs in place of meals and now the hunger forces us to act with strength and passion.

I do not think the dye is cast, but I do believe the mold has been formed and it is but a short time before it will be too late to reverse course.

TAO said...

The "greater good" is the argument used to justify the bailing out of Wall Street and eventually US automakers and then the airlines that will follow suit. It is the basis for the whole concept of "too big to fail."

We can wrap ourselves in the constitution and the founding fathers all we want but realistically, if we see job loses at the level of lets say 10 to 15% or maybe higher. Do you realistically believe that Americans will look to themselves to solve their problems or do you realize that Americans will demand that the government solve their problems. If this occurs then the socialism we fear so much now as theory will become an abject reality.

What is the PRAXIS of conservatism? Where do our ideas and our actions meet? From my perspective I would have accepted government intervention in the economy if rather than bailing out Wall Street we would have funneled the bail out money to community and local banks and rather than bail out industry we would have offered interest free small business loans to start ups and small business. I would have focussed on rewarding and developing entrepreneurship rather than rewarding the status quo.

While I adhere to traditional values I do not worship traditional institutions nor traditional ways of thinking. The strength of America has always been Main Street and the individual. It has never been Wall Street or multi national corporations. GM is a disaster of a company not only because of the unions but also because of the management and their lack of innovation...which comes with their size.

I also realize that by funding Main Street and focussing on small companies and start ups we are more apt to be able to achieve the goals of conservatism more readily in the future than we are under our current efforts...the bailout of Wall Street is welfare and is socialism and eventual domination of our lives by BIG government.

I understand that in a democracy we have an obiligation to the majority and that majority is ever changing. But I realize that we have never offered a true alternative to big government/big business AND or big government/welfare. That has always been my issue with conservatives we always talk about small government and lower taxes and we believe that capitalism and free markets are the way to go. But we forget that big business is as strangling of our ideals as is big government. Big Business demands big government. As a conservative I feel more secure in a community that has 100 companies with 10 employees each than I do with 1 company with 1,000 employees.

To have ideals without solutions isn't exactly a way to run anything.

Sam Huntington said...

I believe the United States is on the verge of economic collapse. As the US Congress seeks to fund defunct corporations—billed, of course, as the right thing to do to save thousands of jobs — consider the ultimate consequence of borrowing trillions (with a T) from foreign governments to sustain unenviable companies. Aren’t we simply putting off until tomorrow what is better encountered today? According to one economist whose views I respect, “. . . our spending is unsustainable and it has only been through the power of the US economy that we have been able to support these huge outstanding obligations. Congress just keeps passing the bill to future generations. I think it can be staved off, if we were of one mind but we are not. Instead of a government framework that supports an economy, we are increasingly an economy supporting a government.”

“This will get ugly soon because, it's my belief, that Obama is a true believer, he is a Maoist. Together with leftist and liberal members of Congress, they could do so much damage in just a few months that it will be nearly impossible to recover from without armed insurrection. The problem is that we are economically ignorant and the soothing lies and class warfare rhetoric Obama is appealing to those who have been duped by public education and the media into believing bromides about "fairness" and "equity."

I think Tao over simplifies the “fix” when he suggests, “ we would have funneled the bail out money to community and local banks and rather than bail out industry we would have offered interest free small business loans to start ups and small business.” We are now dealing directly with the aftermath of congressional interference with a free-market economy, which includes the Community Readjustment Act, and deplorable amounts of corruption within the Congress of the United States. How can anyone argue for “more interference?” It is depressing to imagine that if every conservative right now wrote a letter to their congressional representatives, 66% of those would end up in the circular file. Lastly, it appears there is no outrage at this behavior of our government and officials in Congress and the administration, but I cannot help but wonder how we expect the foxes to repair our hen house.

Robert said...

The issue is a history lesson. Had we not abandoned those conservative principles espoused inhe Constitution during tough times, we would not be in this situation. You state that ideology without solutions is not the way to run anything. I understand your point, but if those decisions are routinely made within the ideological frame then there would be no need for a solution. The Chrysler bailout that saved the company...it set the stage for a bailout for the others.

I am not here to revisit every bad decisions in US history, except as it relates to the mission of this blog. I will tell you what I would do if i were king - I would tell the entire country to "cowboy up", get reay to rise at dawn to fix the fence down at the south forty,and immediately proceed to telephone the CEOs of every company that wants bailed out and tell them to forget it.

Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be devestaing to the economy? yes.

The only exception might be the financial sector, since it was failure of government that cause the situation in the first place. When yo have culpability then you should exercise responsibility and be accountable.

The truly sad part? People are hoping that the bailout makes their current situation easier...and are not angry that the government failed when making law, they failed when they did not provide oversight, and now WE have to pay for the cleanup.

If there was no expectation of a cleanup, then perhaps the companies would manage themselves far more responsibly. I can tell you of one such company that has not laid off a single employee, nor have they closed off a single production line, despite a decrease in sales. They manage effectively, respond timely, and are not encumbered by unions.

The worst situation that their employees find themselves in is entertaining a buyout offer that is so generous that more people applied for it than needed.

Anonymous said...

Great post Mustang! You better be back and posting often!! :-)

There are so many issues that have contributed to where we are now. The Constitution needs our protection now more than ever. Dependence on government can lead to a society in which their is no choice, no freedom. That is where we are headed....the financial bail out is evidence of that. That was a grievous error, and it will come back to bit us in the ass. If we are not careful and diligent in our purpose this will happen more and more often, and socialism will be upon us and our hands will be tied!

We need to do as Robert says and "comboy up", take control of the government back where it belongs. For the people! We cannot depend on the government to bail out everyone that needs it. It is not the governments place. We cannot keep allowing them to do so with facing consequences....like getting voted out. Too many Congressman allowed it to happen and then were let of scott free from the people. IMHO their should have been NO buyout whatsoever.

[I admire the democrats at least they tell you they are going to spread the wealth, increases taxes, and increase the size of government.]

This comment threw me for a loop. So you respect them because they tell you flat out that they are going to ruin the country? I don't respect them or their ideals in any way, shape, or form. I'm going to rob someone, so should they respect me if I tell then ahead of time and let them know?

TAO....I ask you this in all seriousness because you seem like a contradiction to me. You say on your blog that you are a moderate. You say on here that you are a conservative. What I read on your blog, has me questioning where you stand. I think by your statements you are against big government and we all have that in common. But then I read some of your comments, like this.....["Clever...while having under tones of being nonpartisan the reality is you are comfortable when a Republican usurps your freedoms and rights (as long as they icing that cake with a frosting of national security)."} and it has me questioning if you are for or against us? No offense is meant, I am just trying to figure you out! :-)

TAO said...


What is a conservative? What is a moderate? On one post Robert claims that we must regain our freedom on another post he waxes lyrical about the benefits of the patriot act, which realistically usurp our freedoms. So which way is it?

It is always Barack Obama that is going to achieve all these evil things as President but then you, Robert and Sam talk about taking back Congress. The financial bailout was sponsored by a Compassionate Conservative and passed by liberals, and once a few tax cuts were added, by fiscal conservatives.

I do respect the democrats for telling us up front exactly what they are going to do. I may not agree with their politics but I can still respect their honesty. That is more than I can say for Republicans.

The Republicans have usurped our freedoms, they have increased the size of government and they have also forgotten that the Laffler Curve which states that lower taxes will spur economic growth also states that taxes too low will have the opposite effect. Taxes that are too low increases government borrowing and government borrowing decreases economic growth.

Robert wants people to cowboy up and get up at dawn and mend fences you want people to cowboy up and take control of the government.

This is a democracy and the people have control of their government through the ballot boxes and thus they have control of their government. The people did vote out alot of congressmen starting in 2006 and they did so again in 2008. It was not by coup that Barack Obama came to power it was by will of the majority.

But I also realize that "free markets" do not exist and "capitalism" in its Adam Smith form died along time ago. I also realize that if we were to immediately balance the government budget today we would have to cut our defense budget in half and that is after cutting all discretionary spending to zero.

As a conservative I realize that poverty and inequality are a threat to my position. I also realize that man is greedy and it is not only the poor supporting the liberals that are representative of this but also the rich and the major corporations and their support of Republicans that is representative of this also. I realize that the concentration of wealth is a evil as the distrubtion of wealth.

The concentration of wealth leads to the concentration of power.

I am a moderate in the sense that I am against big government in all forms which makes me different from those who claim to be against big government in economic and policy issues but for big government in the areas of morals and defense.

I am a conservative in the sense that I am against big government in all forms which makes me different from those who profess to be liberals.

I believe that big government in any form and in any area is a threat to an individual and that anything that threatens the individual is a threat to freedom, liberty, and justice.

If you are trying to pigeon hole me into your traditionally accepted political matrix then you will always be frustrated.

Patrick M said...

Tao: What is a conservative?

I'll take up that question. It will take time to compose it, as Jennifer and Robert want posts, but I'll get back to you.

TAO said...


As you get busy on your "What is a conservative" post remember are you talking about conservativism today or in the 1800's?

Better yet, why don't you write yours and I will write my own definition....