Never the Twain Shall Meet December 20, 2013Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
Tags: Capitalism, Dr. Robert Owens, freedom, French revolution, laissez-faire, liberty, Progressive agenda, Progressive Movement, utilitarianism
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When Kipling coined this phrase in the 19th century he was lamenting the gulf of understanding between the imperial British and their subjects on the Indian subcontinent. It has since entered general usage meaning two things that are so different they have no opportunity to unite.
In the development and discussion of liberty there are two strains which fit this description. There is the English school of thought born out of fits and starts developed over centuries by trial and error as first the Lords and then the common people of England fought for and gained individual liberty, personal freedom and economic opportunity. On the other side is the French School of thought which sprang from the French Revolution. This revolution was based upon a foundation of several generations of French thinkers who labored under the extremely autocratic divine right monarchy which held France in thrall for so long.
Our Republic sprang from the English tradition, and for most of its History has developed along the lines it defined. Today we find our traditions and our model of governance under assault not from without but from within. After successfully defeating the Fascist totalitarians in World War II and subsequently defeating the Soviet totalitarians in the Cold War we find ourselves face-to-face with home grown want-to-be totalitarians. Many wonder how this can be. How can people raised in America think so differently than Americans have thought for so long?
What we face is a clique of academics who have no real world experience and who have accepted the French as opposed to the English school of thought. Once we explore the two this will reveal it to be what one might expect from those who have inhabited the ivory towers for their entire adult lives.
So what are the differences between the English and the French theories of Liberty?
The English theory was forged in the fires of English History. Starting with the Magna Charta wherein the Lords forced King John to accept some limitation on his absolute power, it continued on through the slow expansion of rights and the Civil War. Leading eventually to the emasculation of the Lords, the triumph of the House, and the primacy of its Prime Minister, the English tradition grew it was not imposed. This process was highly empirical and unsystematic.
The French theory is the product of a slow germination at first by intellectuals and academics who labored under a repressive regime of hereditary elites ruled over by kings who claimed divine right to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to whoever they wanted. These thinkers had no way to experiment. They had no way to see if their ideas worked in the real world. They thought in virtual vacuums building highways in the air to link sand castles of the mind. Their approach was rationalistic and systematic.
The English school built upon such thinkers as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke. The French built upon the works of such notables as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nicolas de Condorcet, and François Quesnay.
The French rationalists believed that man was originally endowed with the intellectual and moral capacity to deliberately build society, civilization and government. The English believe that all three are the result of an evolutionary process of trial and error. The French believed that thinking man could devise new and better forms of governance and impose them from above. The English believed that effective governance was a product of experience discarding that which does not work and perfecting that which does.
The English view is deeply entrenched in Christian tradition and thought. It does not build upon anything like the natural goodness of man, natural harmony, or natural liberty the hallmarks of the French school. They instead realized that it was informed self-interest that was the prime-mover amongst men. However there was no illusion that the natural liberty or natural harmony of interests would direct this self-interest to provide or develop society in a manner which promoted the general good. The English school and the works which their leading lights produced universally saw law and structure as the necessary framework within which the invisible hand could and would benefit the general society by working for the individual good. Or as a famous American once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
It is obvious from even a cursory review of the works of the English school that they do not advocate for either anarchy in government or laissez-faire in economics. Both of which are common charges casually tossed in the direction of American Traditionalists by the progressive elites who control our government and media.
Conversely, the French school not only advocated but coined the phrase laissez-faire, and Anarchy as a political theory was developed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. It is the French tradition which holds that liberty can be imposed from above and yet in a Schizophrenic fit of conscious these would-be liberators could say as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of modern utilitarianism, did, “Every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty.” No matter what their theories say about the greatest good for the greatest number and their goal of a worker’s paradise these are the same people who brought us the Soviet gulag and the Cambodian killing fields.
The differences between the two schools of thought are best illustrated in their fundamental assumptions regarding the essence of human nature. The French relying on their rationalistic conscious design model hold that humans have an innate ability to think and a desire to act rationally based on their natural intelligence and basic goodness. The English believe that it is the institutions and traditions evolved over time that provide a framework which allows man to constrain his fallen nature. They see these institutions as platforms for the launching of society into a trajectory to good while at the same time restraining the darker side of human nature from doing its worst.
These two schools of thought are as different as east and west. Though they may at present in America travel on the same road they are heading for two completely different destinations. They may even race towards each other at a furious speed, and they may collide; however, never the twain shall meet.
Though Harry Reid may call those who oppose the endless spending anarchists, and Pelosi may call those who oppose raising the debt limit advocates of laissez-faire it is they who represent the intrusion of the French school into American politics. It is the Progressives who march around the world trying to impose liberty and democracy on cultures that find democracy abhorrent and ungodly. It is the Progressives who are dedicated to creating a utopia from the top down.
In other words a donkey may call an elephant an ass but that doesn’t make it one.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens
Choose This Day Who You Will Serve October 25, 2012Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
Tags: Capitalism, democratic principles, Dr. Robert Owens, Free choice, free market capitalism, Obama’s agenda, Progressive agenda, Representative republic
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In our current confrontation with Radical Islam the battle lines are portrayed as those between a secular society, us and a religious society, them. I reject this portrayal as a betrayal of the faith of our Founders and of those patriotic Americans who still hold fast to Jesus as God and Savior, we too are a religious people.
America was founded as a Christian country. Anyone who denies that has not studied enough History or has been sadly misled. Columbus accentuated his desire to spread the Christian faith to his patrons the King and Queen of Spain and in his log. The first thing the English did upon landing at Jamestown was set up a cross to dedicate their endeavor to Jesus their Savior. Were these early explorers and colonists always true to their faith? Did they always operate under principles derived from God’s Word? Sadly they did not. However, to say that the Christian faith was not an integral part of their motivation and worldview is simply not true.
In the latter part of the twentieth century Progressive leaders pushing a collectivist agenda decided to declare us a pluralistic society. They sought to detach the heavily Bible influenced Constitution into the dustbin of History by substituting what they call a living constitution for the rock-solid one the Framers bequeathed us. Mr. Obama, the quintessential Progressive in his speech to the Muslims of Egypt, Turkey, and many places spices up his apology tours by asserting that America is not a Christian country. This statement of his belief and goal does not make it true.
All of these recent changes aside, most Americans still believe in God and the majority consider themselves Christians. As a Christian, an Historian, and a Political Scientist in response to numerous questions I would like to share my beliefs concerning government, economies, and the rights of man.
As far as a government goes the only Biblically correct one is that God is God and we are His people. He is the King and we are the sheep of His pasture. As concerning an economic system God’s economy knows no lack and is exceedingly abundantly provisioned by the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.
This being true I do not believe that God mandates any type of human government or economic system as pre-ordained, sanctified, or holy. However, I do believe that humanity as God has created it does require certain governmental and economic conditions to develop and thrive as God intended.
God created us in His own image. He gave us the power to create and to choose. He gave us a mind open to learning and ever eager to improvise. He also gave us what I believe is the most crucial aspect of our make-up: our free will or the power to choose. We can choose to follow Him and do what He desires, or we can choose to follow the leadings not only of our thoughts but of our emotions also. In other words we can dwell within the Kingdom of God wherein He is our King and we are His people or we can choose to live in the Kingdom of man and become the subjects of either our own designs or of whoever manages to gain control of the physical world around us.
If God wanted slaves or robots He could have created slaves or robots. Instead He created us and gave us a mind to think and a will to choose because He wanted us to decide to love Him and follow Him freely without compulsion. Therefore I believe that since free thought and free choice are the foundation of man’s nature freedom is necessary if man is to live as God designed. This being the case I believe that any governmental or economic system that denies man’s freedom interferes with and attempts to supplant God’s plan, which is the definition of evil.
There are of course limits to freedom as expressed in the Ten Commandments. Beyond this we should be free to choose our own way. Will we follow God or will we follow man. Within these limits and building on the moral framework the Bible provides I believe that a republic based upon the commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness using democratic principles is the governmental structure which most closely matches man’s God-given nature. I also believe that free market capitalism is the economic system which best allows man to develop and live as God intended. Conversely, when man rejects God and seeks to create his own utopia he builds some sort of centrally-planned command economy and the intrusive government needed to impose it upon others.
A free economy and the free government it requires allows the independent choices of many to produce the greatest prosperity for all as everyone seeks to do the best they can because they reap the rewards. In a socialist or any type of hybrid economy between capitalism and socialism bureaucrats make the decisions and stagnation is the inevitable result. As Gary North, a Christian economist expresses it, “The essence of democratic socialism is this re-written version of God’s commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.’” Or as Winston Churchill observed, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” And that is not life as God intended.
If we look at History it is an outworking of the initial fall of man. In the beginning God created the world including man and it was all good. Then at the dawn of our existence we choose to go our own way instead of following God. We chose to follow the siren song of “You shall be like God” and ever since we have attempted to create heaven on earth. All we have succeeded in doing is to open the gates of Hell instead. A case in point would be the age-old question, if God is good why is there evil in the world followed by the age-old answer God gave us free choice and we chose evil.
With the help and guidance of those who seek to play god themselves humanity has often been convinced to surrender their freedom for security, to bargain away their God-given nature and assume the subservient nature of slaves.
In America the purveyors of socialism cloak their designs in the language of populism. They loudly proclaim that they seek a fair deal for everyone, except of course for the people they intend to loot. They want fair elections as long as nothing is done to stop fraudulent voting. They want equality enforced by unequal treatment. In other words they seek to build the kingdom of man where they can be king.
We have a mind to think and the capacity to make a free choice. As the day of reckoning draws near all I can recommend is, think and choose. We can choose to follow the path of redistribution, class warfare, and collectivist dependency or we can choose to at least attempt a return to limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom. Don’t be fooled by the progressive media and their obvious bias. To be free is God’s design. For us to be a slave to dependency is man’s.
One of America’s most beloved troubadours told us, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls” and one of those secular prophets he was referring to reminded us “You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Or as my favorite book says it, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens email@example.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens
How Do We Re-Industrialize America October 7, 2011Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
Tags: Capitalism, Dr. Robert Owens, Mercantilism, monopolies, Report on Manufactures, subsidies
Manufacturing in America peaked in 1979 when 19.5 million Americans actually produced durable goods. In the last 30 years our manufacturing sector has declined by 40% losing almost 8 million jobs. Nearly 6 million jobs have been lost since 2000 and since the Great Recession began we have lost an average 89,000 manufacturing jobs every month for the last two years. Due to this dramatic constriction America has fallen below 12 million workers employed in manufacturing for the first time since 1946 and is now below levels not seen since 1941. This dismal record portrays the stunning decline of America as a manufacturing superpower. And while a rise in productivity has helped America maintain a prominent position in the world this has not resulted in manufacturing continuing to be an avenue for upward mobility for Americans.
So how do we re-industrialize America? How do we get back all the jobs that have been exported in the last 30 years? What will be the consequences of taking the bold steps necessary to make America once again the engine that drives the world’s economy? What will be the result of failing to do so?
To set this discussion into its proper context first we must look at how America grew from a rustic agricultural nation on the edge of Western civilization into the greatest industrial superpower ever known.
In the interest of full disclosure I must confess that I am a life-long capitalist. I believe that capitalism is the only economic system ever devised by man that requires free choice as a necessary requirement. Every other system is either more or less a command economy. The defense and restoration of America’s capitalist economy is today a hallmark of the conservative movement. Many study the works of Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek. Those of us who want to see economic opportunity unshackled espouse the principles of both the Chicago and the Austrian Schools of economics as opposed to the theories of the Frankfurt School which have moved America in the direction of a centrally planned economy.
Flying in the face of this conventional wisdom for the purposes of this discussion we must ask the question, was it capitalism that provided the environment which set America on the road to material riches and industrial power? Culture to humans is like water to a fish. It is everywhere. It provides the medium through which we move. However, since it is ever present it is not something we constantly notice or concentrate on. Most of those who read these words were raised in a time or by people who taught American History as a positive, ever improving saga. We were taught that America never started a war and never lost one. We were taught that rugged individualism carved out an empire from a raw wilderness. We were taught that capitalism paved and paid the way.
At the hazard of being branded an apostate to conservatism I must continue to ask the question, was capitalism the catalyst for America’s industrial power or do we labor under the after-glow of a time when American History was taught in such a way as to magnify present circumstances by projecting them into the past? Are we looking to a myth of free enterprise to recreate what it didn’t create in the first place?
Was it capitalism that fostered the founding of the colonies which became the seedbed of the United States?
Mercantilism was the economic system that proceeded capitalism in western civilization. This was a system of economic nationalism which sought to build a strong country by maintaining a favorable balance of trade and by being self-sufficient. This was one of the primary reasons why the sea-going European powers sought to establish colonies. They wanted to secure sources of raw materials for their developing industrial sectors and to control external markets allowing them to produce and sell products all within their domestic economy, keeping all the gold at home.
The term mercantilism was coined by Adam Smith the philosophical father of capitalism, but it was not capitalism. Inherently Mercantilism necessitated a centrally planned and controlled economy. What benefitted the nation was permitted and encouraged. What didn’t was prohibited and discouraged. It was under this system that the English colonies were founded. The first viable English colony in the New World, Virginia was founded by the Virginia Company a joint stock company which was given a charter by James I. This charter, like subsequent charters given to the Massachusetts Bay Company and proprietary charters given to individuals such as William Penn and the Lords Baltimore gave these companies and individuals monopolies within specific geographic areas. Government imposed and enforced monopolies are a restraint of trade and by nature incompatible with a free capitalist system.
The colonies founded upon this restraint of trade followed suit giving monopolies to companies and individuals to do everything from making iron to importing. Government planning and control of the economy did not stop there. The colonial governments also granted subsidies, bounties, land grants, loans and money prizes to encourage the birth and prosperity of the industries and services desired. Through these actions the precursors of modern America were doing what is today reviled as inherently un-American, picking winners and losers.
If we fast forward to the founding of the United States do we find the unbridled free enterprise seen today to be the natural state of the Republic?
In 1791 Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton issued his third path-breaking report to Congress the Report on Manufactures. Of all his reports this one is considered the most innovative. It provided a stark revelation of Hamilton’s and his Federalist compatriots’ vision for America and its economy. So did this report outline an economy based upon capitalism and free enterprise? No it did not. This report envisions an America “independent of foreign nations for military and other essential supplies” this is the heart of a mercantilist program. Hamilton proposed subsidies to encourage industry. Some of the mercantilist policies advocated by Hamilton encouraged the central government:
- To constitute a fund for paying the bounties.
- To constitute a fund for a board to promote arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. Hamilton wanted the fund to:
- to defray the expenses of the emigration of artists, and manufacturers in particular branches of extraordinary.
- to induce the prosecution and introduction of useful discoveries, inventions, and improvements, by proportionate rewards.
- to encourage by premiums, both honorable and lucrative, the exertions of individuals and of classes.
The historical evidence of America’s reliance upon protectionist and economic interventionist policies as tools in the building of our greatness can be found everywhere. The central government built, licensed, and encouraged roads and canals to foster interstate trade by providing monopolies, subsidies and grants. It fought wars to safeguard sea lanes and to expand territory and markets. And it birthed, regulated and controlled the financial industry from its very inception.
The incontrovertible evidence points to the fact that America was founded, launched, and nurtured as the successor to and the continuation of mercantilist not capitalist policies.
If these were the policies of economic nationalism which helped foster America’s rise to industrial greatness wouldn’t it seem appropriate for these policies to be the ones that would help it rise again? There is only one national figure who has consistently urged a return to economic nationalism, Patrick Buchanan. He has pointed out for years that our rush to embrace so-called free trade has put American workers at a decided disadvantage. The dissolution of tariff protection forced our workers to compete against people who will work for a small percentage of what Americans can afford to work for in societies with little or no regulation.
How do we get back all the jobs that have been exported in the last 30 years?
If we want to re-industrialize America we have to protect our markets and support our industry otherwise we will soon sink to a supplier of raw materials and a market to China and the other rapidly rising industrial powers of Asia.
What will be the consequences of taking the bold steps necessary to make America once again the engine that drives the world’s economy?
Such a policy calculated to re-build our industry and re-capture our domestic markets from China, Japan, and the four tigers of Asia will carry as many risks as it does benefits. Just as any predator will react to resistance on the part of its prey so to if we enact tariffs on Chinese goods it may well ignite a trade war. Then again anything worth having is worth fighting for. If we want to once again rise to the top of the industrial world to once again have a favorable balance of trade we need to look to what is best for America not what is best for the U. N. or what is best for the globalization lobby.
What will be the result of failing to rebuild our industrial sector?
Some may deride this proposed return to mercantilist policies as isolationism. However, just as a nation without borders will soon cease to be a nation any nation that fails to protect and encourage its industry will find itself an agricultural and raw material colony in all but name for those nations which do.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens