Destroying power bases

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being in the company of some interesting, well-informed conservatives (and are there any other kind?).  We’d gathered ostensibly as a book club to talk about Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (a book I found informative, but that had a conceit and coyness that irritated me).  As is the case with all good book clubs, though, the conversation took on a life of its own, so that the chapter about potatoes triggered an examination of the hereditary system in Ireland under English rule.

One of the attendees pointed out that part of the problem was that Ireland, rather than having a primogeniture approach to land inheritance (an approach that mandates that property goes only to the eldest son), had a system by which all children were entitled to equal parts of the land.  The result was that land became effectively became non-arable.  Multiple siblings meant the land was broken up into such tiny plots, that, unless the siblings were able to work in concert, it was impossible for anyone to make a living off of a given piece of land.  Potatoes were ultimately the only food that could be grown in these small spaces, and we know how that ended.

An Irishman who was at the meeting told us that this approach was not the traditional Irish way but, instead, was an English law imposed to ensure that no single person or group in Ireland could aggregate too much power and become a meaningful challenge to English rule.  While I hadn’t known this about Irish law, I immediately recognized the principle.  France, too, had no primogeniture, which protected the crown from a single noble family becoming too powerful.  (England’s War of the Roses showed the tremendous risks of feuding power factions.)

Louis XIV further strengthened the Crown’s hand by building Versailles.  That is, he went beyond breaking up the great land holdings and actually removed the nobles from the land altogether.  As with Ireland, this approach did not ultimately work out very well.  While the nobles lived their hedonistic, politically incestuous lives at Versailles, the peasantry, trying to survive on land that the owners completely ignored, coalesced into a burning revolutionary fire.

At this point, I showed my mastery of the obvious by stating that a tyrannical government always has to enact policies that prevent any one person or group from obtaining too much wealth and strength.  Even as the word’s came out of my mouth, I thought of Obama and the Democrats.  Breaking up power structures is precisely what their stated policies are aimed at accomplishing.

They’re planning on taxing the rich to death, destroying industry, and enacting policies that ensure that, like the nobles at Versailles, the American people are utterly dependent on the government for all benefits.  With that system in place, Americans will quickly stop paying attention to, and ultimately lose interest in, opportunities to create their own wealth.  As long as benefits are drizzled over the masses, with no single group able to amass power, the ruling class can maintain itself for a very, very long time — although history indicates that it will almost inevitably end with a high mortality bang.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • David Foster

    My impression was that few if any Irish were allowed to actually *own* land under the English rule–rental was the normal approach, and that was often done through intermediaries (ie, someone would rent a block of the land from a large landlord and then subidivide it and rent it in tiny plots)

  • Charles Martel

    As long as benefits are drizzled over the masses, with no single group able to amass power, the ruling class can maintain itself for a very, very long time — although history indicates that it will almost inevitably end with a high mortality bang.”

    I’m not so sure that we would have to wait too long for things to boil over in this country. There are too many millions of heavily armed, informed, productive, unhypnotized civilians for the Obamas and Pelosis to overcome. And do not think that the armed forces will completely side with that regime when the inevitable rebellion begins. (What will probably set it off is an attempt to radically restrict civilian access to firearms.)

    What the left doesn’t realize is that in contemporary America it is not facing a easily cowed or unarmed populace. Nor does it understand that we are the only country on earth to ever enshrine the principle that a people can overthrow its government when that government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established.

    Expect to see a lot of “Don’t Tread on Me” flags starting to appear across the country. If the left is too stupid to understand that those flags will be way more than symbolic, let it inherit the whirlwind.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Yup! The road to serfdom. Fortunately, the Democrats have been socializing a sizable population into the mindset of servitude to their betters for quite a few decades. It has always been about power.

  • Mike Devx

    I have a question: I keep hearing that once a liberal program is put into place and survives a few years, we conservatives can’t kill it. My question is: Why not? Just kill it!

    Then the media will highlight a few sob stories. So what? We should sneer at the media, and point out that these idiots can just do “X” or “Y”… whatever they did before the program was created in the first place. And then go on to point out how government programs just make us all more helpless.

    Do we lack the courage of our convictions?

  • Bookworm

    “Do we lack the courage of our convictions?”

    We, the people, don’t. Our politicians do.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Every government program creates a beneficiary class, a government worker class, votes, and money with which to buy the program’s continuation into perpetuity through aggressive lobbyists.

  • Mike Devx

    Book #5,
    I was too vague about the “we” in “Do we lack the courage of our convictions?”.
    By “we”, I meant conservatives in general. Certainly a number of us are ready to be viewed by a large number of people as heartless fiends for ending programs.

    But I ask that question because I think in general, conservatives still want to be thought of well by ALL Americans. Thought of well; admired; and SPOKEN of well. And that’s simply not going to happen, once you start slashing socialist programs.

    There’s a clue on how to do it, if you look back at what Wisconsin was able to start, and what Clinton and the Republican Congress did, with welfare in the mid-90’s. If you were on welfare, you were required to look for work, and you couldn’t turn down jobs that were offered. (I think that was how it worked.) It didn’t *end* welfare, but it dramatically cut its scope.

    I think experiments along those lines, as the starting point, could be the way to go. It takes a LOT of effort though, and gives the Dems time to line up their opposition to destroy the effectiveness of your efforts.

    Far better, perhaps, is to use Obama’s current approach, and slam the stuff in so fast, in the first 100 days, a la how Lyndon Johnson and his Congress did it, that the opposition can’t raise awareness fast enough.

    The Goal: Institute socialist programs that will be difficult to undo once they’re in place.

    The Strategy: Fire off a public policy speech that starts with the camouflage and trickery, and then mentions the socialist goal as a side-effect. The public buys into the camouflage, and the real goal slips in underneath the radar.

    Example: Obama says: “My administration is going to halve the budget deficit by the end of my first term, and raising taxes on the rich is one of the steps required to accomplish it.”

    Result: Obama doesn’t really care very much whether he halves the budget deficit or not… the key goal here is the raising of the tax rates on the rich. The public nods about halving the deficit and they feel good about that, and they shrug their shoulders about the second part, thinking, “Oh, well…” But the *second* part is the part that Obama REALLY cares about.

    You will see this pattern repeated over and over. He will use it on nationalized health care as soon as the political winds are favorable, and the establishment of firm national government controls over all decisions (and punishments – fines and levies) on doctors who don’t toe the Obama line.

  • Mike Devx

    Once again, a conservative columnist begs her own question before answering it.
    Jennifer Rubin on where conservatives need to go to form an effective opposition:

    Ms. Rubin reveals herself in her article to be a free-market, individual-liberty conservative. That is her core belief system.

    And what does she advocate as THE PATH for Republicans to take, to form an effective opposition? You guessed it: “Free-markets and individual liberty.”

    So once again, the libertarian conservatives have no respect nor use for social conservatives.

    Now, I am firmly in that same camp: Free markets and individual freedom and responsibility form my own core value system. But I *know*, I swear I *know*, that we will go down to defeat in flames, if we don’t form an effective political coalition. Free markets and individual responsibility meld very well with social conservative requirements. We ought to be reaching out, and we aren’t. We *HAVE* to be reaching out. And we aren’t.

    To be fair, social conservatives aren’t exactly reaching out to free-market, individual-responsibility libertarians either. At least not yet. The clock is ticking.

  • Ymarsakar

    I agree with Book in 5.

    Also it would be of benefit look back on the lessons we learned concerning how Saddam kept control of ever fractious tribes from 3 different separate cultures and geographies: Kurds in the North, Sunnis in the middle, and Shia in the South.

    Saddam did so through giving preferential power one specific group of people, his own particular tribe and close family relations, and then ensuring that all power came from him, that none could be allowed to disaggregate authority or power into a Kurdish politician or a Shia movement.

    When the Absolute Monarchs of France decided that to destroy the nasty tendency of French nobles to rebel against the Crown (and in the process invite foreign invaders in as auxiliary mercenaries) they needed to keep the aristocrats sequestered within the Court and in view of the King, from which all power and privilege comes, this centralization of authority has certain benefits and detriments. The benefit is that the King can now make policy. The detriment is that if the King doesn’t give a damn or is incompetent, the country will go into the toilet, and a French toilet at that.

    The American system is not designed to rely upon a once in a century leader, one with the charisma of Alexander, the wisdom of Aristotle, and the governing ability of Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan. That’s not a gamble that pays off all the time, or even all that many times. As we see with Obama. No, our system was based upon, not centralized authority, but de-centralized authority. The authority is spread out amongst the people which suffers the most and thus are most interested in correcting things. A bottom up counter-insurgency instead of a top down strategic vision where all the commands come from somebody at the top, the “Guru” or “Supreme Leader” or “Expert” or “Intellectual”. Now, while authority is de-centralized, the delegation of the power and authority is centralized in the federal and state governments. Obama wants to transfer the power from differential pools into a single pool, one which he controls rather than controls him. Slaves don’t control their masters, you see. And slaves are what Obama ultimately will create with his programs.

    Saddam made it so that his “nobles”, the ruling elite, knew that the only way they could maintain their power and privilege was to keep on supporting Saddam and his tribe in crushing all opposition to his rule. This is why so many Sunnis complained about how things were “worse” after the US Invasion. Of course it was worse. The combination of a Sunni loss of privilege and the invasion of AL Qaeda would make things worse. After all, if you were a Saddam supporter and loyalist, you were treated pretty well. As opposed to his enemies, of course. Also, don’t forget Saddam let out a bunch of criminals from his jails before the invasion. A deal to the tribes from which those criminals belonged, of course. A deal that consolidated Saddam’s power by guaranteeing support from the tribes. The fact that this might result in more problems for a peaceful and lawful nation afterwards? Not his problem.

    The same system under Saddam exists in the US, except in a different form and fashion. What we have is a bunch of elitists, those with the wealth or intellectual degrees, in charge of policy. They tell the lobbyists, businesses, and class warfare advocates that if they want to keep their power, they need to get with the government program. This consolidates both authority and power in the hands of a few, an un-elect few. One chosen arbitrarily by those who wish to sustain their power and influence, and not chosen by those most affected by the consequences of such consolidations.

    Of course, just like the Sunnis were a minority and they controlled things, so is the same for Fake Liberals, Fannie Mae Execs, Chicago politicians, and people like PillowC. They represent the bottom 25% quartile of human wisdom and competence, but they get to be the ones that make 75% of the decisions impacting America. Do you think that is fair? It wasn’t meant to be fair. It was meant to consolidate power in their hands, and away from yours. It is a redistribution of authority, legitimacy, and power, far more than it is a redistribution of wealth. You see, wealth was just a cover, a smokescreen for their real totalitarian goals.

    Before the Iraq war, and even during the Iraq war, conservatives were leery and hesitant about calling their opponents truly evil and truly in favor of America’s destruction. They criticized the loyalty and patriotism of Dems, but stopped short of calling them traitors. There will come a time, however, when that line must be crossed and we are fast approaching it for the majority of common, decent, and good Americans.

  • Ymarsakar

    the delegation of the power and authority

    I shouldn’t say the delegation of authority, since that shouldn’t exist. You can’t delegate authority without losing it. No, what the people in America does is delegate the execution of policies after the authority of the people have decided to make a change. Right now, America delegated it to Obama and the Dems by a majority of Electors and popular votes.

    Once that period of delegation expires, the delegated power returns back to the people. Or at least, that is how it was supposed to work. But that’s not how it will work once the Dems start turning out permanent policies.

  • Mike Devx

    One last comment for this morning…

    As you all know, we’re not just opposing the Obama administration, we are opposing most of the media as well. Here is a case in point. Take a look at this article, and decide what the journalist’s core belief system consists of.

    Even the headline is problematic:
    “Obama wants to raise money via pollution caps”

    This goes hand in hand with a key concept in one paragraph:
    According to Orszag […] the program — which would force companies to buy permits if they exceed pollution emission limits — could generate between 50 and 300 billion dollars a year by 2020.

    The key liberal concept here is contained in the idea that this program could “generate” 50 to 300 billion dollars. Of course that is false. It could redistribute between 50 and 300 billion dollars, is the true concept. It can generate no value whatsoever.

    Another one, breathtaking solely because it forms its own one-sentence paragraph:
    Carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses are the main culprits in causing global warming.

    Now, this may well be a true statement. In fact, I think it is. The key missing concept: Global warming is being seen, more and more, to contribute little to nothing to global temperature fluctuations. Especially since global warming stopped at about 1998, and global cooling has been in effect, ever since. Solar models – based on the concepts of sunspots and the fact that our Sun is a variable star exhibiting cyclic solar output – match this, while the rudimentary, flawed, and sometimes deliberately dishonest climatic models presented by the global warming priesthood do not, and have not ever, matched what is going on with global temperatures.

    So, yes, greenhouse gases cause global warming. So what? Who cares, when it doesn’t matter? Global warming is now known to have almost NO EFFECT on our global temperatures. Missing concept, in the liberal orthodoxy: Because to control global warming, means that governments will institute near-complete control of the activities of all businesses and, really, all individuals, throughout the entire world. And for what effect? Nothing. But that’s the real goal, isn’t it: complete control of everyone’s lives.

    It would be fun, perhaps, to rewrite articles, replacing the leftist bias with a conservative bias instead. Perhaps that would be a useful and educational way for me to start my own blog! Restrict it to rewritten articles. On the left side of the page: The Leftist, mainstream media original article. On the right side: My rewrite.

  • Ymarsakar

    what Clinton and the Republican Congress did

    Clinton wanted to veto the welfare reforms until Dick Morris convinced him that he needed the extra votes more than he needed to veto.

    In so far as Clinton contributed to what the Republican Congress accomplished, it was in signing the bill and not vetoing it like he wanted to.

  • Ymarsakar

    The media are the Taliban occupation that our Special Forces must combat using insurgency principles and methods.

    An insurgency doesn’t use superior numbers and firepower to crush the opposition. An insurgency uses localized superiority to defeat the enemy’s weak points.