This past month has seen a veritable landslide of important events with social, political, and economic ramifications for libertarians everywhere.
These incidents mark several major historical turning points and deserve to be further examined.
Issue #1: The European Union is circling the bowl.
The massive statist bureaucracy in Brussels, along with the political elites who have made a life’s work out of destroying the sovereignty of numerous ancient European nations, is running into a little problem.
Specifically, the governing class has cooked up an Orwellian 232 page document that they claim is a "constitution" for the European Union. This document must be approved by the voters of the member nations before it goes into effect.
Unfortunately for the wizards in Brussels, the constitution’s chances of passage are starting to look grim. It is currently lagging in the polls in several nations, including France and the Netherlands. If it is defeated in one or more major countries, its rout may slam the lid on attempts to create a giant leviathan in Brussels to compete with the American leviathan on the Potomac (and the pinheads couldn’t even get the text of the constitution correct in a pre-vote mailing to the voters).
Being somewhat of a stickler about such things, the first questions coming to my mind when reading of this were:
Q: How many pages must a constitution contain in order to guarantee citizens their rights and to sharply circumscribe the power of their government?
A: Probably not more than two or three.
Q: How many pages must a document contain in order to create a monstrous Total State which will regulate every minute aspect of the nation’s economy and the lives of its citizens?
A: Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 232.
In retrospect, it was a crazy idea to attempt to weld together numerous peoples, each with their own longstanding histories and traditions, under one bloated government. There are too many historical rivalries and ancient hatreds in Europe for this whole affair to have had any chance whatsoever.
As the Union has increased in its size, it has become even more unwieldy. The Union has fallen into bitter infighting over foreign policy, budget discipline, agricultural subsidies, and monetary policy.
The situation has been exacerbated by the cultural sterility of the Union’s governing class. The folks running things in Brussels are largely deracinated Menshevik baby-boomers who are completely out of touch with the cultural and spiritual necessities required to animate an authentic political entity.
The European Union’s new "government" thus inspires all the loyalty and commitment of, say, the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles. All in all, the world is probably better off if this Frankenstein’s monster heads off to the junk pile.
Issue #2: With liberals like these, who needs neocons?
I read a news story last week concerning the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and its prescription for the malaise currently ailing the Democratic Party.
With my curiosity aroused, I went to the DLC’s website (www.ndol.org), to investigate.
What I found there confirmed my opinions about our current political predicament and left me in a cold sweat. As George Wallace once said, "There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference" between the Republican and Democratic Parties.
The DLC’s site is packed with articles that read like the most fevered ravings of Bill Kristol and Max Boot.
Here are a few sadly typical quotes from the DLC which pretty much speak for themselves:
It’s time for the countries with the will and the capacity to intervene and stop the killing to do so, in conjunction with the OAU force. That means the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy.
~ New Democrat Dispatch, April 1, 2005, advocating Western intervention in the Sudan
Nothing would set back the democratic cause in the region more than a premature American disengagement from Iraq, where a critical democratic transition is now underway. Irrespective of whether one supported or opposed the war, we all have a strategic interest in seeing Iraq’s experiment in building a more just and democratic society succeed ~ and we must hold the Bush Administration to its commitment to stay the course in Baghdad.
~ Ronald D. Asmus and Michael McFaul, March 9, 2004
In the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq ~ and in the first days of war on the ground ~ a remarkable one-man show was unfolding in Europe. It was British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s eloquent insistence on standing his ground in support of President Bush and of regime change in Baghdad ~ forcible if necessary ~ despite a tidal wave of homeland opposition.
~ Robert Philpot, April 15, 2003
The entire site is full of this stuff. If you blot out the banner at the top, you’d swear you were reading the Weekly Standard. The extent to which militaristic elites have seized control of the bipartisan governing structures of our nation is a scary sight to behold. The ideology of empire is now the dominant political reality of our age.
Issue #3: Spooky prophecies about the Pope.
While doing some research about the John Paul II, I came across a site containing eerie prophecies made by an Irish bishop, St. Malachy, in the 1100s. He allegedly had "visions" while traveling in Rome which he wrote down and gave to Pope Innocent II. In these documents, he predicted the prominent traits of each of the subsequent 112 popes (including anti-popes).
For instance, he labeled Pope Celestine V (1294) Ex eremo celsus (elevated from a hermit). Prior to his election he was, in fact, a hermit in the monastery of Pouilles.
Malachy predicted that the 180th pope would be Avis Ostiensis (the Bird of Ostia). Pope Gregory IX served as the Cardinal of Ostia before his election.
Malachy labeled the 266th pope (John Paul II) De labore Solis (of the eclipse of the sun). Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 during a solar eclipse, and was buried on April 8, 2005, during another solar eclipse.
While many of these read like horoscopes (bland sayings that can be applied in some way to almost anyone), some of them are downright creepy. Even more alarming, Malachy predicts that there are only two more popes until the Apocalypse. According to this Irish saint, the 267th pope will be Gloria olivae (glory of the olives). What this means, I have no idea. But it will be interesting to see if the pope chosen in the upcoming conclave has some connection to this phrase.
The next pope after Gloria olivae is identified as Petrus Romanus, or Peter the Roman. Malachy states that this pope will guide the Church through the tribulation at the end of times.
Being somewhat of a skeptic, I have my doubts about these types of prophecies and hasten to add that the Church makes no claims about any of Malachy’s prognostications either. Nevertheless, if the guy who shows up next week on the balcony of St. Peter’s is named "Oliver", it might be a good time to start hording canned goods.
Better safe than sorry, I always say.
Issue #4: Humorous prophecies about the British Royal Family.
While surfing around in some of the more "new age" corners of the web, I came across claims that Nostradamus (some sites say it was Rasputin) prophesized that if a member of the ancient Battenberg family ever ascends the throne of England, it will mark the end of the British monarchy. The sites went on to claim that Prince Charles has Battenberg blood via his father, Prince Philip.
Nostradamus aside, one must wonder if there has ever been a more hapless Prince of Wales in history. Last week, thankfully, his seemingly cursed wedding finally took place at the town hall in Windsor, England. The venue was only a tad more majestic than one of those neon chapels on the Vegas strip and was not attended by most of his family.
His first marriage was a globally publicized debacle, his personal staff has been beset by numerous sordid sex scandals, and his second wedding had the misfortune of being originally scheduled on the same day as the largest funeral in planetary history. Since the Queen’s mother lived to be over a hundred, and the Queen herself is still going strong into her late 70s, it is probable that Charles will be a senior citizen himself before ever ascending the throne.
Polls in the UK show that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the idea of Prince Charles becoming king. But one needn’t be a prophet to predict that this is one Battenberg whose string of personal disasters may terminate what had been the most prominent ruling family in the world.
Issue #5: Is the Catholic Church a post nation-state fourth generation force in world politics?
While watching the Pope’s funeral last week, I was especially surprised at the European turnout. Hundreds of thousands made their way across the continent to pay their last respects, and many slept on the streets and sidewalks of Vatican City in order to attend the ceremony.
This is ironic in that the reputation of contemporary Europeans is anything but pious. The general stereotype is that they are awash in socialist dependency and cultural decadence. Nevertheless, something about Pope John Paul II called them home to their roots. Perhaps this will mark a turning point in Europe’s history.
Geopolitical thinkers such as William Lind frequently discuss what they call "fourth generation warfare." Our world is, they claim, entering a period marked by a crisis of the nation state and a reversion of people’s loyalties to non-state entities.
In my humble opinion, I think that this crisis is a good thing. The nation state, which reached its apogee in the hideous 20th Century, has given humanity little more than bureaucracy, concentration camps, overbearing regulation, and devastating wars. By contrast, the elites who worship the state (from communists and fascists to liberals and neoconservatives) will fight bitterly to prevent its passing. For them, the nation state is an unrivaled tool which enables them to impose their fevered hallucinations onto society at large.
Hopefully, the vacuum left by the nation state’s demise will be by something more than just Road Warrior-style chaos.
This general theory is relevant to the pope’s funeral in two ways.
First, it was amazing to see the massive turnout for a man who essentially had no formal worldly power whatsoever. He had no political pork or "favors" to offer his followers. The people who mourned him did so of their own free will. People followed him by choice, not compulsion, and his church is maintained by donations, not taxation. During the several days leading up to his funeral, the police stated that there was not a single crime reported anywhere in Vatican City despite the presence of literally millions of pilgrims.
One of the most frequent criticisms of libertarianism is the claim that it is a libertine philosophy. Because we advocate the legalization of drugs, etc., it is assumed that we advocate indulgence. These critics maintain that our advocacy of minimal government will lead to the broad degeneration of society into a moral and ethical cesspool. This mistake is what I call "governo-centrism" (i.e., the idea that the government is the center of the human experience and the ultimate arbiter of morality). Such critics do not distinguish between the immorality of engaging in vices and the philosophical issues involved in enacting their legal prohibition. Similarly, these critics believe that our desire to abolish the welfare state means that we want poor people to starve, or that our opposition to socialized medicine means that we want the sick and disabled to "die in the streets."
The life (and death) of Pope John Paul II offers a concrete example of the power of ideas in uplifting the lives of individuals. No laws or government regulations dictated the actions and beliefs of the people during the whole experience in Rome. People came together, often at great cost and inconvenience, in response to a personal religious calling.
That funeral was thus a monument to the power of free men and free women to engage in a moral life without any form of compulsion whatsoever.
The second issue raised by the funeral was the question of how most political leaders around the world are esteemed in comparison with this pope. Can anyone think of a single head of state who commands this sort of respect and reverence from his people? Are there any governments or political movements anywhere in Europe that imbue people with the emotion that was on display last week?
The Church, and other similar entities around the world, is a voluntary organization that is steeped in history and culture. It diligently attempts to instruct people on the requirements of moral living. As such, it offers a vision of life that upholds civilization without leaning on the obligatory and often abusive power of the state.
If the nation-state truly is in crisis, then it behooves us all to nurture those organizations which hopefully will someday fill in the void left behind by its demise. I saw hope for that possibility in the teeming millions at the Vatican.