for a Post-Federal America
by Karen Kwiatkowski: A
Cautionary Tale for Robert 'Full Menu' Gates and 'Helicopter' Bernanke
As Gary North
has noted, the great 21st century default of the U.S.
government has already started, with the
raiding of federal pension funds to stay solvent a few months
ago. We may recall the 2000 presidential election, when Al Gore
spoke favorably about creating a social security "lockbox,"
even as Social Security "taxes" had been treated for years
as a core part of the federal budget, simple annual "income"
for the state.
"lockbox," as with the words "freedom" and "patriotism"
and "progress" have been used by the state for a long
time to confirm and communicate the false idea that the federal
government is, and has ever been, on solid ground. Gore helped many
millions of us create in our minds a vision of a social security
lockbox that simply never existed, and one that could never exist,
in the context of what George Ayittey described, in several of his
books, "the vampire state."
gave an impassioned and entertaining talk at TED a few years ago,
vs. Hippos." In it, he mentions vampire states, and describes
a begging bowl that leaks. While these metaphors refer to governments
on the African continent, both are well-suited to 20th
and early 21st Century American federalism. Ayittey speaks
of unleashing the "Cheetah generation," and as a metaphor
for what comes next, it is both lovely and powerful.
As we watch
the Washington D.C. megalith begin to crumble, and make no mistake,
we are watching this today – with its frantic decades-long construction
of government facilities and monuments, combined with an even more
frantic last ditch effort to control what individuals do, earn,
say, and where and how they travel. And, might I remind you, all
of this construction, of monuments, prisons, bases and office space
billion square feet for the U.S. military alone) and all these
rules and regulations cost
lots of money to be eternally
loaned by we the people and from interested investors. Funny,
I don’t recall signing a contract or even being asked. Perhaps that
what they mean by patriotism: my country’s spending, right or wrong.
Is it to be
a Cheetah’s generation, or as The
Daily Bell has it, the playing out of the Internet "reformation?"
Will we see the ascension of an anti-individual hivemind?
Will we become Borg
drones or even, as the Federal Government's medical outreach
program has it, zombies in a zombie
apocalypse? Will the future belong to those who recognize the
and lost to those who do not? Has American been zombified?
From my perspective,
while the great futurists and science fiction masters have great
metaphors, I believe it will be the metaphors that speak most simply
to people in their own lives that will prove the most useful. Along
those lines, here are some of my favorites:
the future of the U.S. federal system and its devotees, I can say
no more than a single word. Idiocracy.
Several Lew Rockwell writers have marveled at this hilarious movie,
its only flaw a miscalculation of how far into the future the script
purports to be. Rather than 500 years away, we see that Idiocracy
is alive and expanding now in America. Idiocracy responds to professional
political, social and economic system explainers – the elected politician,
his and her corporate sponsors and financiers, the media "experts,
and the free-lunch Keynesians with a dull, uncomprehending stare.
The movie celebrates both the rule of the hivemind as well as the
degradation of everything government touches, and has a multiplicity
of memorable images and quotes, any of which are applicable and
how the state functions, in a visceral and fundamental way, I love
the concept of Americans not as sheep, or pigs, or even cattle or
bees – but as "livestock" farmed by the state. This metaphor
captures the human tendency to follow the herd, and promotes the
popular and often religion-friendly idea that we are here for some
unified and agreed-upon purpose, waiting only to be pointed in the
"right" direction. The term "livestock" is powerful
because unlike the pejorative "sheep," it allows for subgroups
and variation – a form of individuality Americans cherish even as
they exist as "citizens" with a productive potential defined
by solely by their owner, the state. We look to the state as all-knowing
and protective shepherd, as evidenced in both Republican and Democratic
circles, and as broadcasted every waking minute by all mainstream
media. That we often consider livestock stupid is also a worthwhile
aspect of this metaphor. Of course, farmers understand, like Gump,
that stupid is as stupid does. On the other hand, livestock define
the farmer, as we the people define the state. We should all reflect
on what it means to be farmed by the state.
To know the
state, the popular emergence of the phrase "political class"
is very useful. When we articulate this term, we immediately separate
ourselves from the political class, we become critics of the rulers,
we recognize the unitary nature of the political system, and we
begin to understand how and why it is that we are "farmed"
by the state. Even Rasmussen Reports polls with this term, and the
citizenry responds predictably well in blaming our rulers for many
of our systemic ailments. Of course, it is both herdlike and human
to blame others – but when we recognize a political class, we are
also recognizing that our conception of electoral politics among
a mass of over 300 million people cannot possibly be just and righteous.
Surely we did not ask to be farmed like cattle, ruled like serfs,
raised and routinely sheared like sheep, trained like obedient dogs
and sent forth to die on command by a remote federal state that
enriches itself and grows while we wait and wither. Talking about
the political class, as in kings and princes, works well as an educational
metaphor. And while speaking contemptuously of other powerful classes
is often used successfully by politicians, it is invariably transparent
and revealing when they do so.
I don’t know
if Eric Peters invented it, but I love the term "clovers."
It describes the anti-freedom and pro-state mentality, the nanny-state
mindset, and applies to Americans of all eras who embraced progressivism
and state-as-moral-agent since the late 1800s. It doesn’t sound
exceptionally pejorative, at first glance. It’s not an ugly phrase,
so it is possible one might actually speak to clovers about their
cloverism, in a helpful and constructive way. Cloverism is something
we can see in small and routine ways – as Peters waxes eloquently,
on the highways. Yet it captures an entire battlefront in the ongoing
fight for liberty in America. It’s elegant – useful, purposeful,
and valuable. To be a clover is to imply government is to be trusted,
and obeyed – and yet 99% of clovers probably do not always trust,
obey or believe government pronouncements. Accordingly, many clovers
are libertarians in waiting, and deserve our care and attention.
If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged (safely philosophically
within the confines of state-slavery), a libertarian might be a
clover who wakes up to find the state’s been lying to them.
we be cheetahs, nimble and swift, or livestock confined by, dependent
upon, and serving the state until we are no longer useful? Are we
passionate about our liberty, or fearful unimaginative clovers?
Do we embrace the present idiocracy, or fight it, openly laugh at
it, and work hard to live beyond and outside of it? Do we own ourselves,
or are we serfs who cannot imagine real change? Is it not possible
that the real battle has long been analyzed and defined
by our betters, and that this decade marks not a battle between
human liberty and the state, but a
battle already won by libertarian ideas, and now roughly struggling
to make the transition to peace and real human prosperity and liberty?
another metaphor for this decade – a decade that will pave the way
for peaceful secession of American states, regions, counties, and
communities from the central state’s debt, its political class,
its empire, and its arbitrary rules and false ethics. For cheetahs,
and for recovering clovers, I can see a faithful unwavering light
– an unprecedented era of libertarian reconstruction in North America,
conducted person to person, quietly, often underground, and in the
language of metaphor.
columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send
her mail], a
retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty
and Power and The
Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles,
here or join her Facebook page. She
is currently running for Congress in Virginia's 6th district.
2011 Karen Kwiatkowski
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