Whenever I mischance to see Paul Begala reciting collectivist talking points on television, I’m struck by his resemblance to Exeter.
No, I’m not referring to the Royal Adviser from Shakespeare’s Henry V, most memorably brought to life by the beloved British stentor Brian Blessed.* I’m referring to the mysterious visitor from the planet Metaluna in the 1955 sci-fi classic This Island Earth. The resemblance, however, is limited to unfortunate coincidences of physiognomy.
Begala is a creature of the entrenched collectivist elite — a Clinton-era courtier-turned-talking head. Whatever his gig, whether in government “service” or as a member of government-centric asteroid belt of official sycophants called the “Washington Press Corps,” Begala invariably extols the supposed virtues of the State and its lethal works — regulation, regimentation, coercion, wealth redistribution, and the like.
He is a perfectly suitable representative of the “new unhappy lords” described by Chesterton, who examine the rest of us through “bright dead alien eyes…. They look at our labor and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.” Those “new unhappy lords,” Chesterton explained, have delegated the hard work of coercion and extraction to others; they “fight by shuffling papers” and “dare not carry their swords.”
In this respect they’re a bit like the advanced but effete Metalunans, who formed a supervisory “cognitive elite” that delegated the grunt work to fearsome mutants. With their own planet under terminal assault, the Metalunans secretly plot to dispossess humanity. They have developed the means to deprive human beings of their free will via mind-transference technology — which operated on the same principle as “Hannitization,” I suppose.
Once again, the resemblances between that pulp-inspired fictional race and our ruling class are remarkable. There is one important sense in which Exeter differs from Begala, however: When the time came to carry out the subjugation of mankind, Exeter rebelled, eventually rescuing the heroes (Dr. Mecham and his inamorata, Dr. Ruth Adams) and sacrificing his own life to thwart the invasion.
By way of contrast, Begala — on the evidence available to us thus far — will never repudiate his loyalty to the parasite class he has served so dutifully for so long. During last week’s tax protests, Begala made himself prominent in the chorus hymning the praises of the redistributionist state, while execrating those who believe that they should be permitted to keep what they earn.
In fact, Begala’s essay was a remarkably pure expression of the view that the people of the United State (that is not a mis-spelling) are valuable only insofar as their persons and property are placed at that state’s disposal.
April 15, smarmed Begala, is “the one day a year our country asks something of us — or at least, the vast majority of us.” For the superior beings in government-issued costumes or government-provided sinecures who “serve” us, he continues, “every day is patriot’s day…. But for [sic] the rest of us, the civilian majority, the government asks very little. Except for April 15.”
Here Begala is peddling his proprietary mixture of ignorance and dishonesty by insisting that the government ruling us extracts taxes only on April 15, as opposed to mulcting most of us with every purchase and every paycheck. And he ignores outright the incessant theft of the value of our earnings by way of inflation.
Through inflation — the deliberate, malevolent debasement of the currency — Government (the term in this instance includes the quasi-governmental entity called the Federal Reserve System) has made itself the only entity capable of stealing from us while we sleep without physically taking possession of a single thing. Inflation is immaculate pilferage, the defining crime of a system of official monetary fraud that was conceived in hell, gestated in the womb of the banker’s cartel, and born as the squalid twin of the income tax system Begala considers the holiest of all public functions.
Begala, like so many others of his despicable sort, insists that the terms “government” and “country” are synonymous; thus when he writes that “patriotism means putting your country ahead of yourself,” what he is really saying is that the trait he mis-labels “patriotism” consists of “enduring with lobotomized tranquility whatever indignity or oppression the Holy State sees fit to inflict upon you, and displaying pathetic, servile gratitude that the State permits you to keep any of what you’re honestly earned.”
Like collectivists of all varieties, Begala also maintains that “selfishness” consists of trying to protect one’s own property, rather than coveting the earnings and property of others. From that perspective, one becomes a “thief” by keeping, rather than taking. Remember that principle well; we’ll come back to it anon.
This year Tax Day came shortly after Resurrection Sunday. On Easter, Christians celebrate the promise of ultimate freedom through the triumph of the ultimate Life-Giver. Tax Day, by way of contrast, is dominated by the ultimate life-stealer — the state.
Each of us invests a portion of our most perishable possession — time — to earn money. Thus every forcible imposition on our earnings, through direct taxation, or its more subtle surrogate, inflation, represents an increment of life stolen by the state.
This isn’t true of free transactions, or the voluntary donation of wealth through charity. What the state ruling us takes, it steals at gunpoint. And what it steals from us it uses to blight the lives of others — either through domestic tyranny or military aggression abroad.
Through taxation, therefore, the State manages to steal life incrementally, rather than destroying it outright. And for this singular labor, the heralds and high priests of the State admonish us to be abjectly grateful.
As a result of last week’s “tea parties” — most of them little more than entertaining distractions for people associated with the Republican variety of totalitarian statism — there was a great outpouring of indignation from the Obama-centered left over what was described as the “treasonous” discontent exhibited by protesters.
Much of that commentary was broadcast via Democrat-friendly talk radio (which remains a niche market at present), and it tended to dwell on what we were to consider a significant contrast between the anti-tax discontent of the 1770s, and the supposedly adolescent “tantrums” that took place last week: You see, the patriots of the founding generation protested taxation without representation, while last week’s events were carried out by people who lost a democratic election. They have representation, but the other side has the power. So there! Just shut up and submit!
That analysis, ironically enough, is based on a correct understanding of the purpose of the voting franchise in a mass democracy: It is the process through which one faction, working in collaboration with the state, obtains the “legitimate authority” to decide how to dispose of the lives and property of others. When refined to its purest and most malignant form, democracy not only allows for the subjugation of an out-of-power minority, it makes the liquidation of that minority a realistic possibility.
This brings us back to Paul Begala, our doliocephalic exemplar of the parasite class. As I’ve pointed out before, back during the sudden death overtime of the 2000 election, when the “Red State”/”Blue State” dichotomy was fresh in people’s minds, Begala wrote another remarkable essay denigrating those he deemed to be politically retrograde. In that case, he wasn’t discussing their resentment over taxes; he was treating them as a seething, undifferentiated mass of uncivilized bigots who not only weren’t capable of self-government, but didn’t deserve it.
Whenever a paragon of progressive “tolerance” expresses such a view of “Red State” America, I find myself wondering why people of that persuasion want to share a country with the people they despise. If the “other side” consists of nothing but incorrigible bigots, why risk sharing political power with them at all? Why not secede, or encourage the other side to do so?
Oh, but the very mention of the possibility of secession is criminal, at least as perceived by those of a “progressive” mind-set. During one “tea party” event, Texas Governor Rick Perry — a Just For Men ™ model chosen by George W. Bush as his successor; an establishment rent-seeker with no detectable ideological ballast — publicly acknowledged the possibility that Texas could someday secede from the United State.
This led progressives, their faces empurpled with patriotic rage, to accuse Perry of “treason.” And it prompted David Brock’s Media Matters organization — dutifully recycling material assembled by the aspiring commissars at the Southern Poverty Law Center — to put into circulation a cut-and-paste “links and ties” screed connecting Perry to all kinds of unsavory people who at one time or another supported the idea of an independent Texas.
“During WWII my father was shot in defense of the greatest country on earth and I proudly wore the uniform of a United States Army Reserve officer,” fulminated liberal blogger John Amato. “So I’m offended when it become [sic] acceptable for anybody to talk about Texas leaving the Union.”
Mr. Amato’s delicate sensibilities aside, he and people of his persuasion miss a very important point: Texas doesn’t belong to them. Neither do Texans. Neither do any of the other “Red States” or their inhabitants. However, there is a tacit yet unmistakable proprietary undercurrent whenever people of Amato’s persuasion discuss secession.
How would peaceful, orderly secession — the reclaiming of independence by a state or, in the case of Texas — be “treason” against “the united States in Congress assembled”? By strict constitutional definition, “treason” consists only of “levying war against them” or in “adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” (Emphasis added.)
Note how this passage refers to “states” in the plural, not to a singular national government. Interestingly, there is no language in the U.S. Constitution that makes “rebellion” against the general (or federal) government a form of treason. And since the federal government was designed to be an agent of the states, a state that chooses to withdraw from that relationship is hardly a “rebel.”
Furthermore, secession is not an act of war, since withdrawing from a social arrangement of any kind is exactly the opposite of aggression. But to understand how collectivists perceive the matter, we have to revisit a principle mentioned earlier — namely, the idea that someone who resists surrendering his property through taxation is a “thief.”
In similar fashion, supporters of the unitary state that rules us insist that the act of revoking one’s consent to be ruled by that state is “aggression,” and the use of force to prevent an act of peaceful withdrawal by a state would be “defensive” in nature.
“The final argument of kingly authority.”
This is why every conversation about the prospect of secession always leads such people to insist that the matter was “settled” by the so-called Civil War — which is to say that logic was compelled to surrender before the ultima ratio regis. And this amounts to yet another key tacit admission: The United State(s), like any other leviathan polity, is held together by the implicit terror of the central government.
As the southern states seceded from the Union, Abraham Lincoln famously fretted, “What, then, will become of my tariff?” Collectivists who despise the inhabitants of the Red States yet abominate the prospect of secession might well be entertaining similar thoughts: “If those living in the Red States leave, how will we tax them? How will we re-engineer their retrograde beliefs, regiment their workplaces, and regulate their repulsively individualistic lifestyles?”
Blue State progressives can find consolation in the fact that most Red States appear to be just as collectivist as they are. In fact, by some measures Red States tend to be net tax consumers, rather than net tax payers. At least some of this reflects the cultivated dependency of southern states on the warfare element of the welfare/warfare state.
Christopher Wesley of the Mises Institute takes note of an irony lost on Blue State critics of secession: “[T]he blue-tax paying states could secede, maintain all federal spending commitments in their states, and have money left over, while their red counterparts would pay a higher economic price for pursuing a similar course — at least in the short run.”
This would appear to offer a compelling case for left-collectivists to support secession, would it not? But buried even deeper in this alignment is another critical fact: There are no “Blue” states, only blue cities. The rural and much of the suburban population in both “Blue” and “Red” states consists of net payers of taxes; what Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute properly calls the “tax eater sector” is overwhelmingly an urban phenomenon (and former “community organizer” Barack Obama is a pure product of the urban tax parasite constituency Malanga describes).
What this means, of course, is that the schism between urban tax-eaters and rural/suburban tax victims will grow steadily wider until something — either the present political/economic system, or the people ruled by it — collapses altogether.
With the government now little more than a full-service plundering arm of Wall Street, now is the best time for states to withdraw from the corporatist unitary state and repudiate its system of taxation, fiat money, inflation, and debt.
Unfortunately, if there is one thing that both Red State national socialists and Blue State socialist nationalists enjoy more than hating and baiting each other, it’s nurturing the prospect of ruling the other side — and this simply can’t be done if the “other side” if permitted the option of exercising the right to peaceful secession.
*Or, as the name is properly spelled, BRIAN BLESSED!