Tag Archives: freedom

Rick Tyler on the Threats of Negative Symbolism in a Free Society

» Dealing With the Swastika and the KKK | Tyler for Congress

Source: Dealing With the Swastika and the KKK

On April 10, the 208th Anniversary of the Birth of His Grace, CSA General Leonidas Polk, the First Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana

In thirty days, that is, on April 10, it will be the 208th Anniversary of the Birth of His Grace, General Leonidas Polk, the First Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.  

OK, the Anglicans were clearly latecomers in Louisiana.  The RCs got here a long time before….although their Bishopric only preceded ours by a scant 48 years.  The RC ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS (NOVÆ AURELIÆ) was only erected on 25 April, 1793, as the Diocese of Saint Louis of New Orleans; raised to its present rank and title of Archdiocese on 19 July, 1850.  Amazingly enough to contemplate, the RC Bishop of New Orleans’ original territory comprised the entire original Louisiana purchase plus both East and West Florida, being bounded on the north by Canadian, on the west by the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Perdito, on the east by the English-speaking RC Diocese of Baltimore, and on the south by the Diocese of Linares and the Archdiocese of Durango.  The present boundaries of the RC Archdiocese include the State of Louisiana, between the twenty-ninth and thirty-first degree of north latitude, an area of 23,208 square miles (constantly shrinking due to bad hydraulic and wetland management, but that is a different story).

So it is no surprise that the political and ecclesiastical history of Louisiana are inextricably intertwined.  But Bishop Polk was, as they say, something completely different from any other prelate of local or even national memory.  He was a fighter.  I think it is important to remember and celebrate his 208th birthday this year because we have the opportunity to combine this celebration with the sesquicentennial memorial of his death and martyrdom on June 14, 2014, the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his death from enemy cannon fire atop Pine Mountain in Cobb County, Georgia.  Cobb County’s county seat is Marietta, and it is the last county guarding the northern suburbs of Atlanta (Marietta is now, pretty much a northern suburb of Atlanta, but in the historical metaphor for Scarlett O’Hara’s mythic reality, it was separate.

And it was there, in the 32nd year of Cobb County’s creation out of the Cherokee nation, that General Leonidas Polk died defending the “Old South” (was it really old when it had only existed for 31 solid years—by it’s 32nd Birthday on 2 December 1864—Cobb County was occupied by Sherman’s troops and thus under the heals of the most brutal enemy any Americans had ever known.  Yes indeed, to Southern Partisans and Confederate Patriots, General Leonidas Polk died a hero to right and Constitutional Government, every bit as much as, perhaps more even, than King Charles the Martyr in January 1648/9.  Oliver Cromwell was probably a lot like Sherman, in his self-righteousness, but he lacked the technology and strength of force to be as savage and brutal.  And oddly enough, I doubt Cromwell would have used his power as brutally against his own people (Roundheads or Cavaliers) even if he had had it.  I could be wrong.

There is a Society of King Charles the Martyr (SKCM) to which my devoutly Anglo-Catholic Father belonged.  I have considered joining it.  And there SHOULD be a Society dedicated to the memory of His Grace, General Leonidas Polk of Louisiana.  If I could find any “fellow travelers” I would certainly organize such a society, and you’d think I’d have an easy time of it.

When in New Orleans, on most Sundays (and on this immediate past Ash Wednesday) I attend services at Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles & Sixth Street, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.   His Grace, General Polk, has a magnificent tombstone inside the Cathedral, just to the right of the altar (when facing the Cross) and behind the elaborately carved, elevated wooden pulpit. On other Sundays, more rare in the past but perhaps soon to be more commonly, I attend Holy Eucharist at Trinity Church on Jackson Street, built under the direction of Bishop Polk in the 1850s, with an auditorium called “Bishop Polk Hall.”

And yet everyone in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana is totally embarrassed by General Leonidas Polk.  “He was a villain” said Christ Church Cathedral Dean David A. duPlantier on Sunday, 20 October of last year (2013), just before delivering a sermon on the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18: 1-8), which just happens to be one of my favorite texts in the Bible.  And yes, I thought the irony was delicious: that Dean DuPlantier so harshly and unjustly judged the founder of the Church where he preaches….  I have become much colder in my feelings towards Christ Church Cathedral ever since.  How can they dishonor their founder?  How can a people so viciously toss away and condemn their own heritage?  My grandmother was baptized in a Church (Holy Trinity) built by Bishop Polk in Nachitoches, Louisiana even before Trinity on Jackson here in New Orleans.  Holy Trinity in Nachitoches is, I think, the oldest standing Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi.  It may well be the oldest Protestant Church West of the Mississippi.  Trinity on Jackson is, to be sure, East of the Mississippi although only by a few blocks.

I grieve for the disregarded and disrespected heritage of my Southern Ancestors who fought for freedom.  I certainly do not grieve for the passing of slavery, but I think the price was much too high: in no other nation on earth did it require a bloody “civil war” to abolish slavery.   Nor was the War of 1861-65 really either a Civil War nor a War to End Slavery—it was the first experiment in self-righteous Yankee Imperialism by a powerful centralized government designed for world conquest for the benefit of the few, not the many, and above all for the occult purpose of instituting a form of government which can only by called, somewhat ironically, “Corporate Communism”—an oligarchy of institutions sponsored by the government and sponsoring the government, who protest and proclaim that their purpose is to redistribute wealth and grant equality to all people.  

To all people except those who remember and respect history, of course.


Some Austrian thoughts for Americans Analyzing the first day after the passage of National Health Care Plan

Words cannot describe my COMPLETE lack of Surprise that Obamacare, National Health Care, passed.  It was Hillary Clinton’s priority in 1992-95, 18-15 years ago, and look where she is now?  The Oligarchy has imposed Collectivism on an unwilling Majority, certain, like Barbara Boxer, that the members of the Elite know so much better than the ignorant masses how to govern themselves than the people could possibly do themselves.  Individual Freedom, Individual Autonomy, the importance of the individual itself—all of these are obstacles.  Individualism must give way to acquiescence in the greater good, as if the “greater good” were not the sum total of individual well-being.  I say, as I so often have said in this blog, “Cry, the Beloved Country.”  We are on a path of self-destruction and ruination. 162 years after the Communist Manifesto, Barack Obama is President, Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State.  Cass Sunstein is a Czar….

National Health Care is the logical outcome and conclusion of the process that began with Social Security, and it is no more mandatory, coercive, or invasive of private liberty than the Social Security “tax”—universally forced purchase of a rather modest retirement pension which the government periodically loots and which has never been managed by true fiduciary standards at all.  Rather than talk about the wretched details, I would prefer to contemplate the radical roots of the problem: the replacement of Classical Liberalism with Socialism, which is no kind of “liberalism” at all.   The full article is quite long and I only intend to give a taste here.  The balance can be read at: http://mises.org/daily/4113, but (even though my current attempt to run as a candidate against Barbara Boxer has stumbled and doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground very well) I will continue my candidacy for U.S. Senator from California (realistic target date 2012 against Feinstein?) and I will work in support of a plan of Classical Economic Liberalism, in fact for “Capitalism and Freedom” to borrow the title of Milton Friedman’s book, and I hope that we will eventually escape from the wreckage that IS the Obamanation of today.

Austrian Economics and Classical Liberalism

Mises Daily: Thursday, March 04, 2010 by 

I. Introduction

Classical liberalism — which we shall call here simply liberalism — is based on the conception of civil society as, by and large, self-regulating when its members are free to act within very wide bounds of their individual rights. Among these the right to private property, including freedom of contract and free disposition of one’s own labor, is given a very high priority. Historically, liberalism has manifested a hostility to state action, which, it insists, should be reduced to a minimum (Raico 1992, 1994).

Austrian economics is the name given to the school, or strand, of economic theory that began with Carl Menger (Kirzner 1987; Hayek 1968), and it has often been linked — both by adherents and opponents — to the liberal doctrine. The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the connections that exist, or have been held to exist, between Austrian economics and liberalism.

II. Austrian Economics and Wertfreiheit

Writers have sometimes freely referred to “the Austrian ethical position” (Shand 1984, p. 221) and the “moral and ethical stance” of the Austrian economists (Reekie 1984, p. 176), denoting a position with strong (liberal) implications for politics. At first glance, this is surprising, since Austrian economists have been at pains to affirm the Wertfreiheit (value neutrality) of their theory, and thus its conformity to Weberian strictures on the character of scientific theories (Kirzner 1992b). Ludwig von Mises, for instance (1949, p. 881), stated that, “economics is apolitical or nonpolitical … it is perfectly neutral with regard to judgments of value, as it refers always to means and never to the choice of ultimate ends.”

That said, however, the fact is that all of the major figures in the development of Austrian economics habitually took positions on policy issues that they held to be somehow grounded in their economic doctrines. Mises, for instance, is widely recognized as probably the premier liberal thinker of the 20th century. In his magnum opus, Human Action (1949), he shed light on the connection between value-free economics and liberal politics:

While praxeology, and therefore economics too, uses the terms happiness and removal of uneasiness in a purely formal sense, liberalism attaches to them a concrete meaning. It presupposes that people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty. It teaches man how to act in accordance with these valuations.… The liberals do not assert that men ought to strive after the goals mentioned above. What they maintain is that the immense majority prefer [them]. (p. 154)

According to Mises, economics teaches the means necessary for the promotion of the values most people endorse. Those means comprise, basically, preservation of a free-market economy. Thus, the economist per se passes no value judgments, including political value judgments. He only proposes hypothetical imperatives (if you wish to achieve A, and B is the necessary means for the achievement of A, then do B) (Rothbard 1962, volume 2, pp. 880–881, 1976b). A question that will concern us is whether the division between Austrian theory and liberal principles is as surgically clean-cut as this seems to suggest.

III. Methodological Individualism

Methodological individualism has been a keystone of Austrian economics since the publication of the first Austrian work, Menger’s Principles, in 1871. As Menger wrote in his Investigations,

The nation as such is not a large subject that has needs, that works, practices economy, and consumes.… Thus the phenomena of “national economy” … are, rather, the results of all the innumerable individual economic efforts in the nation … [and] must also be theoretically interpreted in this light.… Whoever wants to understand theoretically the phenomena of “national economy” … must for this reason attempt to go back to their trueelements, to the singular economies in the nation, and to investigate the laws by which the former are built up from the latter. (Menger 1985, p. 93, emphasis in original)

Methodological individualism was endorsed by the other leaders of Austrianism, to the point where Fritz Machlup (1981) could list it as the first of “the most typical requirements for a true adherent of the Austrian school.”

Perhaps because of the connotations of the noun, Austrians have stressed that what is at issue ismethodological individualism. Israel Kirzner (1987, p. 148) cites Machlup’s criteria of Austrianism, including methodological individualism as the first. He warns parenthetically, however, that this is “not to be confused with political or ideological individualism;” it refers merely “to the claim that economic phenomena are to be explained by going back to the actions of individuals.”

Lawrence H. White (1990, p. 356), too, seems to wish to distance methodological individualism from any hint of politics. White criticizes Max Alter for alluding to a “political” battle in this connection, commenting, “in fact the phrase methodological individualism was coined precisely to distinguish it from other varieties of individualism, including the political variety.”

But the interesting question is not whether the characteristic method of the Austrian School isidentical with individualism in the political sense (usually more or less a synonym for liberalism). Obviously, it is not. The question is whether the method itself has any political implications.

It is certainly possible for someone to adopt methodological individualism and not endorse liberalism (Boehm 1985, pp. 252–253). Jon Elster, for instance, is able to insist on the necessity of methodological individualism in the social sciences, while continuing to view himself as a Marxist (Elster 1985, pp. 4–8). Yet it is significant that Elster dismisses certain claims of Marx on the grounds of their inconsistency with methodological individualism.

In general, it seems clear that the Austrian approach in methodology tends to preclude holistic ideologies that happen also to be incompatible with liberalism, such as classical Marxism and certain varieties of racism and hypernationalism. To this extent, then, it is not simplymethodological individualism.

Political factors played a role in the debate over Austrian methodology from the start. The very fact that “nation” and “state,” understood as holistic entities, were not primaries in his system set Menger apart from important currents of economic thought in the German-speaking world of his time. Indeed, it was on the basis of Menger’s methodology that Gustav Schmoller, leader of the German Historical School, instantly politicized the whole debate. In his review of Menger’sInvestigations, Schmoller accused Menger of adhering to Manchestertum (laissez-faire), since his abstract and “atomistic” method might better be called “the Manchesterist-individualist” method (Schmoller 1883, p. 241).

Friedrich von Wieser (1923), himself one of the founders of the Austrian School, introduced a curious political note in discussing the origins of Austrianism. Wieser recalled how, as young economists, both he and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk had been struck by the contradiction in classical economics:

While the chief accusation that was raised at the time against the classical economists in Germany concerned their [political] individualism, we found that they had become unfaithful to their individualistic creed from the start. As true individualists they would have had to explain the economy from the meaning of the individuals engaged in economic activity who were joined together in the economy. (p. 87)

Many decades later, Hayek, in a sense, concurred with Schmoller and Wieser. The central idea of his most extensive work on methodology, The Counter-Revolution of Science, is precisely the historical and theoretical connections between the denial of methodological individualism and the growth of socialism. Hayek (1955) assails “methodological collectivism,” with

its tendency to treat wholes like “society” or the “economy,” “capitalism” … or a particular “industry” or “class” or “country” as definitely given objects about which we can discover laws by observing their behavior as wholes.… The naive view which regards the complexes which history studies as given wholes naturally leads to the belief that their observation can reveal “laws” of the development of these wholes. (pp. 53, 73)

The supposed discovery of such laws has resulted in the construction of philosophies of history on which major socialist projects have been erected — Marxism, of course, but particularly Saint-Simonianism, the system Hayek dissects in his book. The Saint-Simonians were practitioners par excellence of scientism, the illegitimate application to the study of society of the methods of the natural sciences.

And it is scientism — the negation of methodological individualism — that, according to Hayek, “through its popularizers has done more to create the present trend towards socialism than all the conflicts between economic interests”(Hayek 1955, pp. 100–101). By the same token, political opponents of liberalism, in criticizing Hayek in this area, have assumed that his methodological individualism was closely connected with his political philosophy.

Marxist critics have made a further point regarding Austrian methodology. In their view, it stunts our understanding of social reality. According to Ronald Meek (1972), marginalism — including Austrian economics — took refuge in a schema centering on the psychology of isolated, atomistic individuals, thus (unconsciously) diverting attention from the crucial questions of political economythat had been the focus of classical economics (including Marxism). As a result, “real-life” issues, such as the division of the social product among competing classes — “those great problems of capitalist reality which worried the man in the street” (1972, p. 505) — have been systematically ignored.

This Marxist criticism would seem to be misguided, however. The abstracting approach of Austrianism pertains — necessarily — to its theory. Many Austrians, it may be conceded, have neglected to apply their theory to the understanding of concrete, “real-life” issues. That this failing is not intrinsic to Austrian economics, however, is shown by the fact that at least one well-known Austrian economist, Murray N. Rothbard, has devoted himself not only to “pure economics,” but also to highly important questions of political economy, both on a theoretical level and in specific historical contexts (e.g., Rothbard 1963, 1970; on methodological individualism, see Rothbard 1979).

IV. Subjectivism

Austrian economics begins with and constantly emphasizes the action of the individual human being (Mises 1949, pp. 11–29; Rothbard 1962, pp. 1–8). According to Lachmann (1978), for the Austrian School,

the thought design, the economic calculation or economic plan of the individual, always stands in the foreground of theoretical interest.… The significance of the Austrian school in the history of ideas perhaps finds its most pregnant expression in the statement that here, man as an actor stands at the center of economic events (p. 47, 51).[9]

Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech—233 year and 5 months ago—lest we forget, lest we forget….

St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia
March 23, 1775.

MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!