Is the American Presidency like a plague?
Has he so basely assaulted and undermined the Constitution of the United States and the Liberties of us all, betraying the Purpose and the Promise of the American Revolution, replacing it with nothing less than what every Founder of the Nation would call tyranny and despotism?
The unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
This action is a call for a lawless world
in which the powerful will rule
Kelley L. Ross, Vita
My interest in classical liberal economics and libertarian politics was much longer in coming than my connection with Friesian philosophy. I registered as a Democrat at 21 (voting age in those days) and first voted in a Presidential election for George McGovern. That orientation didn't change much over the years. Like a good "Liberal," I assumed that capitalism was basically OK but needed the fixups produced by the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and things like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On the other hand, I was genuinely Liberal enough to believe in drug legalization but not in "affirmative action" preferential policies. I was against censorship, accepted Roe v. Wade, and supported "clothing optional" opportunities (a bit of an issue in the 70's), but at the same time I was against involuntary bussing to create racial balance at public schools. The first I heard of Libertarians was in connection with clothing optional issues in Austin, Texas. I approved of the Libertarians in that respect, though otherwise I thought they had an idiosyncratic, fringe ideology.
The tiny cloud on the horizon that ultimately upset this orientation was Karl Popper. The first I had heard of Popper, I rather disliked him, mainly because of his condemnation of Plato in The Open Society and Its Enemies. I didn't mind his condemnation of Hegel or Marx, but I still had too much of a sentimental regard for Plato on political issues where I didn't even really agree with him much anyway.
Over time, however, I could only have respect for Popper's views about science, and before long I found his references to Fries in The Logic of Scientific Discovery. I thought that Popper had somewhat misconstrued Fries, but it impressed me that he was concerned with him at all. On the other hand, I didn't see much in Popper that was terribly helpful when it came to ethics or other value questions.
I discovered the key to a better application of Popper's ideas to ethics and politics in the Fall of 1991 when I happened to pick up a copy of F.A. Hayek's recently published The Fatal Conceit (1988). I cannot remember now just why I decided to have a look at the book. Hayek had come in for some public notice with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 since he was one of the few Western economists who had always predicted the failure of socialized and command economies.
So I learned of the principles on which he had made that prediction and discovered that he expressed them in terms of the epistemology of David Hume and Karl Popper. This struck me with the force of a revelation and rapidly changed almost everything I had ever believed about economics, capitalism, and much of the history of the 20th Century.
Hayek started me thinking. This all threw a hard light, not just on my own "Liberal" beliefs, but on the kinds of things that my friends, generally of the same persuasion, had always said and done. Indeed, in Austin in the 70's, I even knew some people in the Communist Party USA. At the time, they seemed to me in error, often seriously in error, but in retrospect the error began to seem of a much more tragic and dangerous character.
It had already occurred to me that the events of 1989-91 had, after a fashion, turned the world inside out. It had already seemed peculiar that more recognition had not been given in public life to what it had all meant.
As Milton Friedman was to say, it seemed that the failure of socialism had been taken to mean that more socialism (e.g. nationalized medicine) was necessary. People I knew who persisted in mildly or seriously leftist opinions seemed to me rather like what Talleyrand said of the Bourbons: They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. On top of that, discovering an intellectual universe where the world had always been seen in a very different way anyway was just astonishing.
There remained one last element, however. What I knew and understood was changing rapidly enough, but I still lacked the emotional shove that would push me over into real political activism. That was finally provided by Ayn Rand, in an ironic way.
In the later stages of our relationship, my first wife had read Rand's Atlas Shrugged and had liked it greatly. Her representation of it to me, however, was not very appealing. In particular, she related the incident where Hank Rearden refuses to provide a job, even some meaningless button-sorting job, for his worthless brother.
I didn't think it would hurt Rearden to take care of his brother, but my wife thought he had done the right thing. This disagreement seeming to me to be a bad sign. Seventeen years later, it turned out that my present wife actually had an old copy of Atlas Shrugged herself, having found things she liked, as well as disliked, about the book. So, in January 1992, I sat down to finally read the book myself.
Although, as I have related elsewhere, there are serious problems with Rand's thought, Atlas Shrugged turned out to be an absolutely gripping and compelling book. My objection so many years before to Hank Rearden's behavior turned out to be based on an incomplete representation: His brother did not actually need a job because Rearden had already been supporting him for years! What the brother really wanted was some position where he still wouldn't have to do any work but could boss people around and lord it over them.
To Rearden this was, very properly, unacceptable. Besides clearing up misunderstandings like that, Rand's book finally pushed me over the edge politically.
Overcome with a moral passion rather like Rand's, I knew immediately that the only existing political organization that I could morally be associated with was the Libertarian Party.
For a few days I thought I would support them even while remaining a Democrat, so I could vote in Democratic primaries; but then I realized that there was never going to be anyone worth voting for in a Democratic Primary. In light of the vast engine of theft, fraud, and tyranny that the Democratic Party had become, I would never be voting for any Democrat under any circumstances again. Far better to give everything to the Libertarians.
Now I have been a Libertarian Candidate for California State Assembly twice, getting 6% of the vote in 1994 and 8% in 1996. This has often seemed a hopeless task, and some people might think that I am wasting my time and would be better advised to work within some major party.
However, I will certainly not waste my time on the Republican, Democratic, or any other parties that are already so far gone in sophistry and tyranny that their ideology and practices would be unrecognizable, indeed a disgrace, to the Founders of the Nation.
The truly Liberal views I already held in the 70's now find their mates in the Classical Liberalism of free market economics and the only political organization that is truly dedicated to Jeffersonian democracy.
The AmeriKKKan President