Monday, October 31, 2016

Marxism Made Easy - Part 6: Building Socialism



"The new social system has only just been established and requires time for its consolidation. It must not be assumed that the new system can be completely consolidated the moment it is established, for that is impossible. It has to be consolidated systematically. To achieve its ultimate consolidation, it is necessary not only to bring about the socialist industrialization of the country and persevere in the socialist revolution on the economic front, but also to carry on constant and arduous socialist revolutionary struggles and socialist education on the political and ideological fronts. Moreover, various contributory international factors are required." -Mao Tse-Tung, 1957

In the previous article we discussed the nature and difficulty of socialist revolution. Now, we will take on the issue of applying socialist principles after a socialist revolution. For this we will start by looking at what lessons the past can teach us while also remembering that the shape socialism takes will be highly dependent on the conditions where it is implemented.

Let's say theoretically that we went ahead and had a socialist revolution in one nation and succeeded, the workers control the businesses, the capitalists have been dispossessed, time to implement a moneyless, stateless, classless, society right? Full communism for everyone! 

Wrong. Dead wrong.

This has been tried before in Catalonia in the 1930s and the Ukraine before that. The results were disastrous. These "anarchist" revolutionary territories almost immediately fell back into having borders, money, and class. All the trappings of the state they hated so much, even to the point of employing forced conscription and forced labor camps. Why? Because they had not gotten rid of the conditions that lead to state formation. They were surrounded on all sides by enemies, thus requiring a coordinated military to defend the territory along with all the administration that requires. They did not eliminate resource scarcity which allows the rise of class via competition which then required anarchist organizations to step in and regulate things leading to a central government. They attempted to implement this society amongst a group of people who had literally no experience with everything an anarchist society would entail and instead with a lifetime of experience in class based society. This was not a recipe for success. Sadly right up until the end, these anarchists proclaimed that they had achieved anarchism and all of their trappings of a state simply didn't count as a state. Clearly, this utopianism was not the correct path to take.

So Marx is correct, if we are to achieve the classless, moneyless, stateless society that is full communism we can't transition to it immediately, we have to first destroy the old ways of doing things, then prepare the groundwork upon which the new society will be based. So we need a socialist state, we need worker control, but centralized worker control, a workers state that can defend itself, put down capitalist attempts to regain power, that can get the people accustomed to new ways of doing things. We know that revolution is the only way to do this, but revolution, as utterly difficult as it is, is the easy part. Actually building socialism, this will be monumentally harder.

So we build ourselves a socialist state, with a strong working class in control, organized into a party, in control of the state. Cool? Yes, but with the nation in its infancy, and threats everywhere, the nation state, in the long term, for revolution to succeed, in the long term, must transition into a global event. However, what happens if the conditions for global revolution are neither present nor available to be made present in the future? The answer is to consolidate our gains in the socialist state, and attempt to the best of our ability to build, defend, and promote socialism wherever possible. This is also highly dangerous as the Soviet Union found out as they ended up in a position of siege, forced to expend huge resources on military spending to maintain security against  advanced and unscrupulous capitalist nations.

Many questions a new socialist state has to answer are specific to the conditions of a given area. For example: how does one implement socialism in a nation still under mostly feudal conditions, where peasants still exist and with nobility only recently deposed? How do you implement socialism in a formerly exploited colony? How would this happen in what is now the United States? Conditions in the US are very different, the US is highly developed industrially, it has no peasants and no former nobility to worry about; instead, it is dominated by at a routine conflict between races, which requires confronting and resolution of historical of colonial settlerism, as well as, American imperialism. Addressing this would require respecting the Native and African American nation's right's to self determination including the right to form their own nations on formerly US land. It would also require returning all the wealth to the exploited from the various nations who sent their slaves or settlers to this former forced work house.

These are just a few of the questions facing a would be socialist state and they are discussed here mostly to give an idea of just how huge and difficult the task of building socialism is, let alone transitioning to communism. Individual communists will answer these questions differently but it is the masses that will ultimately decide these questions, right or wrong, as it is the masses that decide history, not individuals. And that is the note we will end this brief series on Marxism on: the emphasis on the masses, the working classes. It's up to us together to take on the challenge. A hard sell for sure, but a necessary one if we truly believe in progress.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Superman is Dead, Long Live Batman



"Faith cannot exist without a measurable source of trust. Essentially, the object of one's faith must be a tangible entity." - Kent Allen Halliburton

Throughout history men have endeavored to be qualified to speak for God; they have put themselves in positions of power to minister to people, to have others believe that they speak for God, better than anyone else. This has flavored the world with the chase for 'right' (chasing Right), to be educated, to be learned, to promote the idea that 'I know better than you', because i have learned, because I am in a position of authority to tell you what to do.

The internet killed this argument for authority. On the internet no one cares 'who' you are, they only care about their own truth and how they can justify it. No matter who you are, you cannot promote truth by authority, especially if truth is supposed to stand on it's own. No authority on the internet will convince others that what they say is the absolute truth simply because of who they happen to be.

Superman vs Batman

Religious people put Jesus on a pedestal, to make him 'Super', but to promote Jesus as Superman, is just wrong. Such an act causes people to become selfish, less likely to act for themselves, and more likely to simply wait for Superman to 'Save' them. They do not realize that this is the real corruption, waiting for Jesus to come along and magically save you without first acting  for yourself.

Jesus is MORE like Batman, he is human, he is comparable to Batman, we have the ability to be batman ourselves, to relate to Jesus, an example to aspire to be like. The term Christian, or Christ-ian, means to be Christ 'Like', If one compares Christ to Superman, then this possibility is eliminated because human beings do not have the ability to obtain super human status. Expecting Jesus to be such a person only diminishes human's ability to be more like Christ because such a caricature treats him as though he was never human himself, IOW we treat ourselves like shit because we can't be like Jesus,

"Without understanding there can be no compassion, without compassion there can be no love." -Jung

With Jesus as Superman, we do not focus on understanding, we focus on waiting for someone else to help us. This is a recipe for apathy, to do nothing, to wait for Superman to save us, with this waiting, and our failure to step up, we let others determine the direction of our lives, we give our authority over to someone who does not have the understanding to tell us what to do. It makes people dependent on other people's authority, who then define 'who' they are, regardless of their 'frame of reference', IOW we buy into others judgement of us, regardless of our own experiences. This is the corruption which is rampant in churches. They promote individual frames of references as objective reality. However, your experiences are different than mine. Just because God would not do 'this' in your life, does not mean God will not do 'this' in mine.

Our relationship with should God should be a personal one. God won't show you what you do not need to know, and he does not shout 'I DID THIS' when he does something. People are left with 'Faith,' and faith is not objective. Faith is subjective to the individual. Faith is confidence in God, nothing more, nothing less. A person cannot have confidence in someone else's beliefs. One MUST have faith and confidence in God on their own terms. One's own 'Faith,' is just that, their own. YOUR FAITH IS YOURS, and my faith is mine.

Jesus leads by Example, just as parents are supposed to lead by example, not by trying to justify one's beliefs or by compelling others to believe the same as they do. This is not Faith, this is an argument for authority and justification for that authority. 'If i can convince others my beliefs are true that justifies my beliefs'. 'Because i said so', has never been a valid argument. This is also known as confirmation bias, which promotes cognitive dissonance and ignorance. To ignore anything that speaks against one's own faith, as if to argue, "My faith is better than your faith", is a sign of pure ignorance, to be a person who is intolerant toward to those holding different opinions...

This is one the subtleties of religion. It can be abused. When people do not allow God to Work, but rather, use the bible as a rule book, do as you're told or suffer, they limit God. Such doctrines objectify human behavior, as if the only true believer is one that is unerring, infallible, and that 'do as they're told' is the goal, Again, such an interpretation of the bible limits God, and does not allow for testimonies outside the Bible. God did not stop working with people after that book was compiled, He still works with people,  religion as a whole, has devalued this aspect by promoting the argument for their authority putting more priority and focus on doctrine than God, essentially, what right does a piece of paper have to take priority over listening for God? This creates pharisee's, or people who are more concern for doctrine than Jesus's message.

I have argued with many Atheists in the hopes of opening them up to the possibility that there is a god. When I do so, I share that Jesus's message was to HELP others who struggle, not to condemn them, not to point fingers at them to make them 'feel' wrong. Jesus saves by encouraging us to follow his example, like Batman. We are supposed to learn how to be that Superhero for others, not wait for Superman to show up and save us. WE ARE SUPPOSE TO BE BATMAN! Not Superman. We are supposed to be the Hero's, helping others with their struggles, not waiting for someone else to save us.

Schrodinger people
searching for worth,
Schrodinger people,
both right and wrong until measured
Schrodinger people,
convinced they are wrong, conditioned by Man, to see themselves as shame,
Schrodinger people searching for worth, being taught to be superman, and failing to fly,
reinforcing our lack of worth,
Superman is Dead.
We are our own Hero,
Be Batman.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Some Ideas on Power and Human Governance


"Sovereignty and the right to rule cannot be conferred on anyone, no matter who, as a result of an academic discussion. Sovereignty is acquired by force, power, and violence." - Mustafa Kemal Ataturk


"The measure of a man is what he does with power." - Plato

"He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command." - Niccolo Machiavelli

"For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them." - Sir Thomas More

"During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man." - Sir Thomas Hobbes

"It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a minority can." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love over liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort to repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8

"The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class." - Karl Marx

Some Philosophical Background 


"Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life. The far greater part of them he must derive from the labour of other people, and he must be rich or poor according to the quantity of that labour which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase. Therefore, as Mr. Hobbes put it, 'Wealth is power.'" - Adam Smith

Plato's most storied piece of work in this realm of philosophy is, The Republic. It is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the nature of the just man. In it, Socrates, along with various Athenians and some foreigners, discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence "in speech." This culminates in a city called Kallipolis, which is ruled by philosopher-kings. They combine this with an examination of the nature of existing philosophical regimes in their own time.

Niccolo Machiavelli's most famous piece of work is, The Prince. The book deals primarily with the construction, rule, and survival of autocratic regimes. For the period and region in which the book was written, the Sixteenth Century Italian Peninsula, this meant that he was concerned primarily with small principalities, though he did deal with republics in some small form. The book was part of a series political struggles between the Papacy, the Medici family of Florence, and Machiavelli himself. He was trying to retain employment, make a point, and stay alive, all at the same time. His ideal Prince was someone that was willing, able, and well known for doing whatever it took, no matter how brutal, to retain power. However, he was also for someone who could do so while maintaining a public image of grace, humility, and piety.

Sir Thomas More's seminal text is Utopia. It contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly and reasonable social arrangements of Utopia and its substates, Tallstoria, Nolandia, and Aircastle. In Utopia, there would be no need for lawyers because the law would be kept simple, and because all social gatherings were to take place in public view, encouraging participants to behave well, communal ownership private property, equal education amongst both men and women, and the equal toleration of all religions, except for atheists, who are allowed but despised. More used monastic communalism as his model, although other concepts such as legalizing euthanasia, would remain far outside Church doctrine. Hythlodaeus asserts that a man who refuses to believe in a god or an afterlife could never be trusted, because he would not, then, acknowledge any authority or principle outside himself. Some take the novel's principal message to be the social need for order and discipline rather than liberty. Ironically, Hythlodaeus, who believes philosophers should not get involved in politics, addresses More's ultimate conflict between his humanistic beliefs and courtly duties as the King's servant, pointing out that one day those morals will come into conflict with the political reality. In that, one's morals may not coincide with those of one's ruler. Such a conflict cost More his life under the rule of King Henry VIII of England.

Sir Thomas Hobbes is most widely known for his text, The Leviathan, written during the English Civil War, which took place after the execution of King Charles I in 1649 CE. He argued that men exist, in their natural state, with the absence of formal laws. In such a state, people fear death, and lack both the things necessary to commodious living, and the hope of being able to toil to obtain them. So, in order to avoid this tenuous situation, people accede to a social contract and establish a civil society. According to Hobbes, a social society is a population beneath a sovereign authority, to whom all individuals in that society cede some rights for the sake of protection. Any power exercised by this authority cannot be resisted because the protector's sovereign power derives from individuals' surrendering their own sovereign power for protection. The individuals are thereby the authors of all decisions made by the sovereign. Hobbes argues that a person in this society cannot complain of injury from his sovereign because he would essentially be complaining against himself. Nor can he do himself personal sovereign injury, as he would be injuring himself. There is no doctrine of separation of powers in Hobbes' discussion. According to Hobbes, the sovereign must be in control of al civil, military, judicial, and ecclesiastical powers. This text did a lot to ferment the concept of the Divine Right of Kings, or the idea that a king's authority is derived directly from God, and thus, cannot be challenged unless a person wishes to risk the damnation of their eternal soul.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is best known for his text, Of the Social Contract. In this desired social contract, everyone will be free because they all forfeit the same amount of rights and impose the same duties on all. Rousseau argues that it is absurd for a man to surrender his freedom for slavery; thus, the participants must have a right to choose the laws under which they live. Although the contract imposes new laws, including those safeguarding and regulating property, there are restrictions on how that property can be legitimately claimed. His example with land includes three conditions; that the land be uninhabited, that the owner claims only that which is needed for subsistence, and that labor and cultivation give the possession legitimacy. Pretty much, everyone has a right to the private use of land because everyone works the land. One of his biggest lines in the text is, "Let us then admit that force does not create right, and that we are obliged to obey only legitimate powers." Those legitimate powers are those chosen by the voting citizenry. There is some very important to note here, however. As democratic as this sounds, he is still an elitist. The voting citizenry does not include the peasantry, or even industrial workers. It includes only those citizens, on a flat plane. who have acquired enough wealth to own the required amount of property, of which he so 'nobly' speaks, to be able to earn a sufficient living without every having to set foot on the property.

Alexander Hamilton is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. His face is on the Ten Dollar Bill, and he is known for killing Aaron Burr, the 3rd sitting Vice President of the United States, in an open air duel. What he is not as widely known for is his co-authorship of The Federalist Papers. Hamilton was the primary driving force behind the collection of essays. He is the one that brought both John Jay and James Madison on board with the project. He was also the primary author. He wrote fifty-one of the eighty-five essays now in the collection. He defended, most ardently, the Separation of Powers, Judicial Independence, and a powerful Executive within the bounds of the Constitution. Hamilton was not a proponent of popular democracy, as the above quote would suggest. In his lifetime, this would bring him into direct philosophical conflict with Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, who found democracy from the bottom up to be more in the spirit of the Republic and the Revolution, for that matter. As proof for his disdain of popular democracy, one can look to the Alien and Sedition Acts passed into law in 1798. Though the bill was signed into law by President John Adams, Hamilton was the primary author of the bill, and he worked diligently to ensure that they were passed by Congress with very few issues..

There is, then, of course, Karl Marx, who is most commonly recognized for his work on The Communist Manifesto, with Frederick Engels. On his own, however, his largest work is Das Kapital. The Communist Manifesto is the most significant in its effect; however, for it provided, in combination with the work of others, like Vladimir Lenin's What's to be Done?, the foundation for one of the most dominant political philosophies of the past one hundred years. The text is divided into a preamble and four sections, the last of these a short conclusion. The introduction begins by proclaiming "A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre." Pointing out that parties everywhere, including those in government and those in the opposition, have flung the "branding reproach of communism" at each other, the Marx and Engels take from this that the powers that be of their day acknowledged communism to be a power in and of itself. Subsequently, the introduction exhorts Communists to openly publish their views and aims, to "meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself." Communism, or Socialism, was not able to unseat the rising capitalist powers of the mid 19th Century. However, since then, it has given rise to entire nations and provided a legitimate alternative to Capitalism. The only draw back is a key point made by Vladimir Lenin in What's to be Done?. He argued that in order for the revolution that is needed to end capitalism to be successful, a "Vanguard" of educated elites is needed to lead the movement. In this Vanguard, there also likely to be a conflict between the Labor Class and the Investment Class.

It would certainly be fitting, next, to mention The Wealth of Nations, written by Adam Smith, and published in 1776. This was almost seventy-five years before the writing of The Communist Manifesto. The Wealth of Nations was the product of seventeen years of notes. It also involved painstaking observations of conversations among economists of the time concerning economic and societal conditions during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The full text itself took Smith ten years to produce. The result, in its full title, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, was a treatise which sought to offer a practical application for reformed economic theory to replace the mercantilist and physiocratic economic theories that were becoming less relevant in this new time of industrial progress and innovation. It provided the foundation for new economists, politicians, mathematicians, biologists, and thinkers, of all fields, to build upon. Irrespective of historical influence, The Wealth of Nations represented a clear shift in the field of economics. An important theme that persists throughout the work is the idea that the economic system is automatic, and when left with substantial freedom, able to regulate itself. This is often referred to as the "invisible hand." The economic philosophy that was born out of this treatise, of course, was Capitalism. Smith, though he was convinced that capitalism could generate the wealth needed to draw a great many people out of poverty, was not ignorant. He knew that capitalism would be constantly under threat of contamination by social elites. He argued that capitalism's ability to self regulate and to ensure maximum efficiency would be regularly threatened by monopolies, tax preferences, lobbying groups, and other "privileges" extended to certain members, Elites, of the economy, would benefit adversely, at the expense of the others of society, aka, The Working Class.

Some Important Questions


"Instead of having a set of policies that are equipping people for the globalization of the economy, we have policies that are accelerating the most destructive trends of the global economy." - Barack Hussein Obama

If one pays extremely close attention to the sound of each of these individuals, they will notice a very distinct pattern in their use of rhetoric on power and human governance. Plato, Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hamilton, Marx, Smith, Lenin, and even Obama, seen in the theme of his quote above, all have a similar understanding of how things have worked, are working, and should work in the future. One might think this a little questionable, given that some of these philosophies are supposedly diametrically opposed to one another. On the surface, Hamilton and Marx, with Lenin, would have opposed one another, as would have Marx and Smith. Rousseau and Hamilton might have worked well together, but neither of them would have done well with Machiavelli or Hobbes. Obama and Smith would have stood well together, but neither would have been able to reconcile themselves with More's Utopian Regime. Despite these differences, there is still an imposing commonality between all of these men and their political propositions.

So, what is that stands out so glaringly about all of these writers, philosophers, and politicians? It seems that they are all beginning from a single basic premise that they consider to be universal, but what is it? It is quite simple, actually. Not one of these men, despite the universal language that some of them may employ, has any really significant amount of trust in the common people. A thorough understanding of these men leads one to understand that each of these men believes that there are only a certain few individuals that are capable of wielding the power necessary to govern the greater part of human society, and of course, those few individuals are those men who have been formerly prepared to do so by the elite of their society.

There is yet more to learn from this gathering of scholars, leaders, and philosophers. When these men talk about challenges to power, the government, or their ideas, from whom do they believe they are going to face the greatest challenge? Who among the people is going to be the greatest threat to their control? Are they most afraid of the general population? Are they afraid of the factory workers, the farm workers, or the lowly serfs? Not at all. The group of people that they fear the most are those people among their elite structure, who have received the same education and training that hey have, but for whatever reason, are not in power. If a civil war is going to break out, it is most likely going to be between these competing factions. If a rebellion or riot begins, among the lower classes, the response will likely be brutal and punitive, from the perspective of the elite punishing their lessers for misbehaving. The elites will only ever respect challenges from other elites. Anything else is nothing more than an inconvenience to settled quickly with as little inconvenience as possible.

So, on the occasions where the great masses of the people have been motivated by the elite, what was their purpose? Further, when these were motivated, was it voluntary, or were they motivated with the threat of force? The great majority of the time, the masses, when they are called upon to do service, are not called up so that they can serve some broad and noble purpose, even though such lingo may be used by the elites to get them motivated. The great majority of the time, it is their job be cannon fodder. It is their job to serve as a buffer between competing elites; so that, even if one side in a conflict suffers grievous losses, those losses will be felt most strongly amongst the lower orders, not the men who lead them. Now, consider how difficult it must be to motivate, sometimes, millions of people to put their lives on the line for what is not always something that effects them in their immediate daily lives. How difficult must it be to get people to leave their homes, travel thousands of miles, and then kill people that they never knew existed until that very day. Until the rise of mass media, nationalism, and organized propaganda machines, the primary method used to get the lower classes to fight was to threaten their lives or the lives of their families. They had two options. They either fight and risk death, or they refuse and risk the deaths of their entire families. This is brute force, plain and simple; and while one might expect that kind of behavior before the rise of modern technology, nations, and effective propaganda, many people would not expect that kind of behavior now. If they were accustomed to the appropriate propaganda, they would be surprised to learn otherwise.

Some Examples


“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…

If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years.” - Muhammad Ali

Throughout human history, the most common way that elites have gathered the needed troops together to compete with one another set of elites over limited resources has been to conscript the needed men. Conscription has taken many forms over the years, and none of them have been anything but forceful. Conscription, or drafting, is the compulsory enlistment of people into a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names.

So, what are some of the places from which nations and empires have drafted men? One of the most common things to do throughout history, when large numbers were necessary, was for agents of whichever power was calling for men to enter a given area and collect anyone who has moving about the street. This was especially the case in highly urbanized civilizations. The homeless, vagrant, poor, and criminals were usually the primary targets, but this did not stop regular citizens from being whisked away to some distant battlefield to fight a battle against a random leader who they had never met. Speaking of criminals, it was also common for leaders in need of extra troops to empty out their prisons and send the men off to fight on the front. In many ancient armies, it was also common to send slaves into battle. In fact, well up into the times that the Ottoman Empire was at its height, there were entire divisions of highly trained slave units that were sent into battle. The punishment for refusing to fight was execution.

In medieval Europe, the swearing of fealty took the form of an oath made by a vassal, or subordinate, to his feudal Lord. Fealty also referred to the duties incumbent upon a vassal that were owed to the Lord, which consisted of service and aid. One part of the oath of fealty included swearing to always remain faithful to the Lord. The oath of fealty usually took place after the act of homage, when, by the symbolic act of kneeling before the lord and placing his hands between the hands of the lord, the vassal became the man of the Lord. Usually, the Lord also promised to provide for the vassal in some form, either through the granting of a fief or by some other manner of support. Typically, the oath took place upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath taker before God. Fealty and homage were key elements of European Feudalism.

The Oath of Fealty was just what took place amongst the ruling elites of a nation. What about the rest of the people? What about the peasants working the fields or tending to the livestock? What happens to them when war times come around? What might one think would happen to them? They were forced to fight, no matter the conditions. All men, of appropriate fighting age, were expected to sacrifice life and limb and to do whatever their Lord called upon them to do. Failing to answer the call could harbor sever consequences. Many times the call to battle did not even involve the noble in question. Many times that noble was only required to provide for levies sent down from a higher noble in their country. This means, just like many soldiers today, peasants could be sent off to fight in wars many miles from their homes against people they had never even met before. What were the consequences for desertion or refusing to fight? Either the person would be killed, thrown off his Lord's land, or both. He may also have to watch his family be killed or starved to death.

The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Later, most European nations copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve one to eight years on active duty, and then possibly, transfer to the reserve force. Let us just take the United States as an example. During the Revolutionary War, the thirteen colonies each issued orders for their people to form into militias.  Though this resulted in the formation of both Patriot and Loyalist Militias, it was an early form of conscription, as a refusal to serve could have a list of negative consequences, to include a public execution on charges of treason, if the temperament in a given area was particularly high. After this, upon the legal ratification of the Constitution of the United States, the Second Amendment gave all states in the United States the right to draft, train, and enforce a well regulated militia for the defense of the their state, and when  needed, for the defense of the nation. By the time that the Civil War came around, the punishment for refusal to serve or desertion, was almost always prison or death. The only way to avoid the consequences was to either change your identity, pay your way out of service, or run far enough way that that your state's legal authority would be null. Even though this was least dangerous, it was not guaranteed to work. This was so; for, many states would purchase the services of federal marshals, who often doubled as bounty hunters, which meant that anyone they captured could be legally ordered to cross state lines.

The Civil War saw the first time in the United States when a national draft of was actually effective. It would not be until 1917, with the passage of the Selective Service Act, however, that a National Draft Board would exist to enact and enforce a federal draft when it was necessary. This law was, of course, passed just as the United States was in need of bodies for its commitment to World War I, an additional possibly commitment to the Mexican Revolution. Luckily, for citizens, by this point, it was no longer acceptable for the government to execute someone for refusing to serve. The punishment by then, normally, consisted of a lengthy prison sentence and a permanent bar from any future government employment or government issued social benefits. There were, actually, World War II veterans, who were denied federal benefits because they had dodged service in World War I. For popular figures who refused service, their punishment may have included a barring from their trade, ranging from a couple of years to a life time ban. Muhammad Ali, until his case was appealed, was banned from professional boxing for three years, subsequent to serving a five year prison term, which was later reduced to time served and probation, when lucrative contract bough his way out of jail. As the Fifties rolled around, there might also have begun to be social repercussions amongst one's family for refusing service. In that era, for popular figures at least, refusal usually drew the eye of the United States Congress' Committee on Un-American Activities, run by the likes of Senator Joseph McCarthy. For the general public, refusing the draft could cause someone a high paying job. They would either be fired or refused a previously promised position,

On July 1, 1973, just around the beginning of the final year and a half of the Vietnam War, the United States government announced that the United States military forces would be transitioning to into an All Volunteer Force. This marked the end of the 'Active compulsory Draft' in the United States. What it did not do, however, was end mandatory registration for the Selective Service. To this day, every male in the United States that is both mentally and physically able, must register for the Selective Service at the age of eighteen. The option is also now open for females; though, their registration is entirely voluntary. Since 1973, no draft notices have been issued, but since the beginning of the Second Iraq War, the government has attempted, on several occasions, to reignite the conversation. As of yet, they have done so to no avail. Hopefully, it will stay that way. There is one caveat to this; though, for those individuals, males only, who refuse to register for the Selective Service, do face repercussions. In a time of war, jail is still a possibility; however, now, the punishment tends to be more fiscally punitive. If a man wants to go to college and seeks federal or state aid to pay for tuition and expenses, if they have not registered for the Selective Service, they will be denied. If they seek state or federal employment of any kind, and some municipal employment, as well, and they have not registered for the Selective Service, their application will be denied, even if they are the most qualified person for the position.The only way for a man of sound mind and body can get out of signing up for the Selective Service is for him to voluntarily enlist in active duty military service. This trumps the Selective Service requirement.

Outside of Europe


"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." - Lao Tzu

As of now, one would be able to accurately say that the discussion has been majorly focused on European philosophy and European culture. This is largely true, unless you include the first quote of this piece from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first President of Turkey, and former Ottoman Empire army officer. This is largely because my education lies primarily with the history, politics, and philosophy of Europe, its satellites, and its local competitors, which most people collectively refer to as Western Civilization. This definition should, and in my book does, include the Muslim world. Thus, One of the most influential Muslim scholars on government, ever, was Ibn Khaldun. He was a Sunni scholar from the Sultanate of North Africa. He lived from 1332 to 1406 CE. One of his most famous lines on government is that government is "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself." This can be taken as meaning many things, but most scholars have taken it for what it really meant. It was essentially the Muslim version of a Machiavellian sense of rule. The rest of his work, the greatest of which is, Muqaddimah, translated as A Philosophy of History told the leader of his day to what was necessary; but going back to the line, when it served your the purpose of the state, do those things which would best secure face in the eyes of those you meant to rule. He, too, was writing to teach elites how to remain their elite status. Ruthless ideologies, such as this one, were one of the primary tools of survival for the elite.

This, however, still leaves a deficit. The East seems to be missing. However, if anyone knows me closely enough, they know that I am a Buddhist, which further means that the Eastern Philosophies are not unknown to me. In the context of Power and Human Governance, probably the most well known of the Eastern Philosophers is Sun Tzu, of China. He lived from 544 BCE to 496 BCE. In his day, he was an extremely successful General, and a trusted adviser to the Kings of the Chinese state of WU during the Spring and Autumn period of that region's history. During Sun Tzu's lifetime, China existed much the same as Machiavelli's Italy did; as a series of disjointed states vying for control of the entire geographical region. His text, known around the world, is The Art of War. The statement made by Sun Tzu that most relates in the context of this piece is, "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death." Note, Sun Tzu is not speaking to the common man. He is directing his lessons towards elite military commanders and their civilian kings. Though he dose recommend that one treat their soldiers well, this does not mean that he recommends that senior leadership march out to the front line with them. In this line, and many like it, he makes out the regular troops, always pulled from the lower classes, out to be pawns. They are buffers between victory and defeat. They are resources to be expended, whose retention or loss, depend entirely upon the physical conditions of the battle.

One should also take head of the work of O'no Yasumaro. His date of birth is estimated to have been around the middle of the Seventh Century CE. He is known to have died in 723 CE. At the time of his death, he was the leader of his clan. He is best known for his authorship of the text entitled, Kojiki, also known as Furukotofumi. This is, by far, the oldest chronicle of the creation of Japan left in existence. The work was commissioned by the Empress Gemmei, the reigning monarch of Japan during this period. The work is a collection of myths and religious rituals that made up the core of Japanese social, religious, and cultural practices at the time. It was one of the texts that helped to form the code of conduct for early Samurai Culture, the class of warriors that would, not too much later, become the ruling class of all Japan. Notice how cultural, social, religious laws, and later, even military code, were the purview of the ruling class in Japan, as well. In Korea, there was Kim Busik, who lived from 1075 CE to 1151 CE. He was a statesman, a general, a Confucian scholar, and a writer during Korea's Goryeo period. A scion of the Silla royalty and a member of the Kyeongju Kim clan, he was the Supreme Chancellor from 1136 CE to 1142 CE and was in charge of the suppression of the Myo Cheong rebellion. Kim is best known for supervising the compilation of the Samguk Sagi, the oldest extant written history of Korea. This was, of course, a history that justified his family's rise to power, a long with all of the actions that they had to take to get there. Busik was brutal in the suppression of the Myo Cheong rebellion, and in his writings, he pretty much marked his ancestors as the inspiration for that brutality. In his eyes, peasants, monks, or anyone, who did not do their duty to their king, or who rebelled against their king, deserved nothing less than death.

There is then, of course, the matter of the Kingdom of Siam, now known as Thailand. The most famous export to ever come out of Thailand is the combat sport, Muay Thai. The origin of Muay Thai, as a fighting style, is thought to have developed for centuries as tribes migrated south from the steppes of China through what are now the nations of Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia. The major tribes of that period, one of which was the, Tai, or the Siamese, fought fiercely to survive as they moved south and encountered other smaller tribes in what is now northern and central Thailand, and as far south as Malaysia. Through training, loss of life, military tactics, and hand to hand combat, techniques and tactics were honed to a razors edge, and the rudimentary elements of a fighting-style began to take root. Older soldiers and fathers taught their students and sons the offensive and defensive tactics and techniques, proper posture and position, and the skills to enhance mental awareness. Those students and sons went on to teach their children, and the roots and permanent structure of an effective fighting style began to strengthen. Proper technique and power strikes were a vital element in war that required hand to hand skills. Each strike and movement was meant to deliver a debilitating and crushing blow, and enable the fighter to move on to the next opponent quickly without leaving himself exposed to an attack.

Though Muay Thai is probably the most physical combat sport to date, it's true effectiveness does not come from the physical training. Its true effective lies in the intense mental and spiritual training that accompany the physical training. Now, if one does their research properly, they will find that there are only a scarce number of "Elite" Muay Thai academies left operating in Thailand. This is because the fathers, teachers, rulers, and soldiers who were passing down this training to the next generation were members of the Tai elite military caste, who lived and died in the service of their emperor. When not in war time, it was their job to perfect their craft and to maintain order in the empire, as for their faithful service, they were granted control of massive tracts of land. If they could not subdue a local rebellion, they risked the loss of all their earthy wealth, and possibly, their lives. Muay Thai has been reduced to a sport because of the advent of modern military technology, like rifles, pistols, missiles, artillery shells, and sea to shore bombing, which has made hand to hand combat less important.

Going back just a little further, one can also look to the writings of the ancient Hindi philosophers in India. There are men like Atri, Bharadwaja, Gautama, Jamadagni, Kasyapa, Vasishtha, Viswamitra; collectively known as, the Seven Rishis, who are thought to be amongst the earliest of the Hindi philosophers. It is difficult to date these men, however, because mentions of them only come from surviving texts, who tend to contradict one another. There are no surviving contemporary works from these men. There is also Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, who is estimated to have live somewhere between 1000 BCE and 600 BCE. Then, there is Kanada, the founder of the Vaisheshika philosophy, who is thought to have lived somewhere between 600 BCE and 400 BCE. Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was also a significant Hindi scholar. He lived from approximately, 653 BCE to 483 BCE. Aksapada Gautama, author of the Nyaya Sutras, lived around the Second Century BCE. Badarayana, who is loosely dated between 200 BCE and 400 CE, was the author of the Brahma Sutra. Vatsyayana, author of the Kama Sutra, was estimated to have lived around the Second Century CE. Candrakirti, the founder of the Madhyamaka branch of Buddhism, was born around 600 CE. His date of death is unknown. Adi Shankara invented the Advaita Vedanta school of thought. He lived from approximately 788 to 820 CE. There was also Ramanuja, who lived from 1017 to 1137 CE. He qualified the philosophical concept of Non-Dualism and was one of the first Hindi philosophers to be influenced by the tenements of Islam.
The works written by these men have played a massive role on the development of human philosophy. They helped to develop, long before Europe reclaimed itself after the fall of Rome, the fields of Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics, Aesthetics, and much more. However, they too used their work to secure and boost the position of the elite classes of India. There are at least two difering perspectives for the origins of the caste system in ancient and medieval India, which focus on either ideological factors or on socio-economic factors. The first school focuses on the ideological factors which are claimed to drive the caste system and holds that the caste system is rooted in the four Varnas. In this school the system was ideologically perfected several thousand years ago and has remained the primary social reality ever since. The second school of thought focuses on socio-economic factors and claims that those factors drive the caste system. It believes caste to be rooted in the economic, political, and material history of India. This school describes the caste system as an ever-evolving social reality that can only be properly understood by the study of historical evidence of actual practice and the examination of circumstances verifiable in the economic, political and material history of India. Either way it developed, the Caste System in India was developed, supported, and enforced by its elites, to include its philosopher class, to secure their position and use the general masses for their own gain. What was the punishment dealt out to members of the lower castes if they refused to perform for their betters? Their punishment was potentially two fold. In life, they could face execution. In death, they could face spiritual condemnation to an even lower level of the caste system. So, according to the elites, it was in the lower castes' best interest do as they were told, as over time, it will improve their potential spiritual position in the caste system.

The Tools of the Elite


"And when the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' Then I looked and saw a pale horse. Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed close behind. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill by sword, by famine, by plague, and by the beasts of the earth." - St. John, The Apostle, Revelation 6:8

"At the right time, there will be produced for them a great beast from the earth, made of the earthly parts themselves, declaring that the people are not certain about their revelations" - Quran 27:82

A number of things have been show here. First of all, there is not a point in written human history, where the masses were ever in sole control of the reigns of government. In fact, this has shown that the masses have never really gotten anywhere near to being able to actually govern themselves. In all the history of human governance, there has always been a minority ruling elite that has ruled over the majority of the masses. To this very day, and even in nations who espouse "Democratic Values," there are ruling elites who control the political values, social standards, economic values and physical outcomes of their nation's elections, never taking any real stock, if any, in the opinions of the general population. Second, it has also been shown that throughout history, most philosophers and scholars have reasoned that rule by an elite portion of society is not only natural but is also necessary to ensure social stability. Third, it has also been shown that these elites will always make use of whatever tools are made available to them to maintain their position at the top of their society. The two most common tools that have always been available to the elite to sway the actions of the general masses are force and violence. If people have been resistant to change or taking an undesirable action, the elites have used their power to make the people endure the change or perform the undesired action. If force was not enough, then violence was next. This normally resulted in the destruction of property and in the loss of life. Of course, these two tools have generally operated in tandem with one another.

There is also, of course; economic sanctions, which means the creation of money, and economic sanctions can take a great many forms. How better to keep someone down than to pay them so little money that they cannot survive in the world without being dependent upon your benevolence, kindness, or charity? How better to control someone's behavior than to maintain a death grip on the control of all the resources in a given area? Further, make it illegal to harvest, hunt, or consume anything in a given region unless it is received directly from the hands of the local ruler. The elite can also corner the market on social control by targeting those products, services, or resources that are considered vital to daily survival by the general population. They can make these items so expensive that the only way a regular person can have them is to take out a loan from a member of the wealthy class. This, once again, makes the people beholden to their rulers. In all periods of human history, this was one of the primary modes by which the elites, in any given society, maintained control of their people. It is used to this very day.

Everyone needs a place to live, everyone needs transportation, everyone wants to go to college to increase their potential income, and everyone needs to secure the minuscule amounts of monetary security that they have been able to accumulate from the job that barely pays them enough to survive. For these services, people go to the banks that are owned and ran by their social elites, and backed by their government, which is run by those very same social elites. By taking out a mortgage, a car loan, a school loan, and by opening a bank account to store the funds from their poor paying job, they have entered into a contract with their betters. In exchange for access to these modern "necessities," they promise to behave themselves. If they do not, the state brings in force to back themselves up, aka the police or debt collectors, or both. For the people that owe money to these banks, their lives are guaranteed to be full of harassment and stress, and long after they have paid off their debts, the damage of having taken on too much debt will continue show itself anytime they attempt to expand their social, political, or economic reach.

There is, however, a much more powerful tool that the elites of a given society possess. It dwarfs the threats of violence and death, and it makes the spectre of debt and financial loss seem like a newborn kitten. In the annals of human history, one will find that it is actually this tool that has been the most widely used by the elites. It has been the most effective tool of all in ensuring the compliance of the masses in whatever new conquest, thievery, or abominable action they have sought to embark upon. It affects the populace in a way that is so much deeper than any other of the elite's tools that non compliance, for many, is more fearful than death itself. In the recent past, the Scientific Revolution has begun crack this methods effectiveness, as it has begun to explain away all of the things that used to invoke a sort of mystical fear in the hearts of the uneducated, and the almost always desperately poor, masses. If the quotes at the beginning of this section have not given it away yet, then let it now be known that this most dramatically powerful tool, nee weapon, is none other than the spectre of religion. Do not mistake this for an attack on faith. Faith has been so historically misconstrued that a discussion on the topic could fill up a book.

This is just straight religion. It does not have to be any particular religion. It is just the accepted tale in a given society about what happens to people after they die, which is accompanied by a set of required practices and a list of behaviors that define what it meas to be an accepted practitioner of that religion. This is usually followed up by a story about what happens, after death, to those people who are not able to, or refuse to, perform their lives according to the text or group of texts that define the religion. Humans have, historically, had a very dramatic obsession with what happens to them after they die. The Egyptians built pyramids, and the Celts buried their leaders with all of their wealth in tow. This obsession has almost always manifested itself into a deeply seeded fear; especially amongst the lower orders of societies, so the ruling elites have always been able to control the behavior of the masses by suggesting that a failure to perform a given action might result in their eternal damnation. Do not mistake this for a fear of death, as there have been plenty of documented cases where people would be gladly willing to take their own lives, once they knew that their place in the good part of the afterlife had been secured. Elites have forever held the license on what the afterlife is, so the fear is not so strong for them. They have something to pass on, their wealth, which being among the elite, teaches them is what is mot important. The general masses usually do not have a whole lot to pass on, if anything, so they cling to their religion and teach the next generation to do the same.

Eliminate the Need to Compete for Survival


"Your competition is not other people but the time you kill, the ill will you create, the knowledge you neglect to learn, the connections you fail to build, the health you sacrifice along the path, your inability to generate ideas, the people around you who don't support and love your efforts, and whatever god you curse for your bad luck." - James Altucher

So, is there a way to end the madness? Is there way to create a human society that is truly governed by the governed? There seems to be three assumptions that can be made about how this would be possible. The first key to making such a society possible would be to eliminate the need to compete for survival. The second key would be to eliminate divisive political borders. The third key would be to eliminate organized religion. Right off the bat, it is pretty clear that accomplashing any one of these goals is something that should be considered next to impossible. Though such an assumption may have been valid in the past, making such an assumption now would be premature. Human's have had to compete for survival for their entire existence because they have been dependent upon resources, whether it be food, water, electricity, oil, natural gas, or anything else, that were finite in their availability. In that, control of such a source could mean life or death for a tribe, nation, or empire. 

The Twenty-First Century has the potential to make that economic competition unnecessary. Human's have the technology to harness water from thin air, to desalinate the ocean, and secure subterranean water sources. Further, the technology exists such that food can be produced to meet the needs of all human's without having to sacrifice them off to some war. Finally, and most importantly, however, humanity has the ability to make the energy needed to do these things completely free. Instead of relying on sources of energy like oil and natural gas, which are finite, humans can now rely on the energy produced by the sun, wind, its own garbage, biomass, waves, tides, and most infinitely, geothermal energy. In the life of a regular human and their progeny, these sources of energy are infinite, as they will be around, and still producing consumable energy, long after humans have moved on from this place. This basically means that charging for these energy sources would be ridiculous because there is no way to pretend that they could ever possibly be considered scarce, which is the motivation behind making money and securing the distribution of finite resources, in the first place.

The next key would be to eliminate the divisive political borders that artificially divide people from one another. This should not be a difficult task to complete once humans have given up their reliance on sources of energy that are genuinely finite. The purpose of creating reinforced borders, in the first place, was to ensure the security of certain finite resources. Rulers sought to ensure that the resources that they had control of would remain under their control so that they would have what they needed to survive, along with a surplus to trade for those needed resources that they did not possess. With it no longer necessary to forcefully secure access to obsolete finite resources, whether it be for consumption or trade, the need to enforce the required borders to protect them will fade away. The only real remaining attachment to the land will be a nostalgic one, a result of a people living on the same land for an extended period of time. Such an a attachment to the land that one was born to is not only natural, but is also spiritually important for many humans; however, such an attachment does not require that the land be restricted from all others and defended with the force of death. With the need to compete for finite resources removed from the human psyche, the land we are born to can become a shared heritage for all of humanity to enjoy.

Just as the need for organized borders will melt away, when the competition for survival and finite resources are no longer necessary, so to will the need for modern organized religions. It has already been shown that organized religions, as they exist today, were designed by the elites of human society to ensure that they could control the actions of the general masses over which they had secured a ruling position. They did so because they could not secure the finite resources over which they had control by themselves. They needed the help of has many people as they could motivate to assist them. Over years of practice, they found that violence, death, and money have nothing on religion when it comes to being able to control people's actions. For, it is religion that tells the uneducated man what is going to happened to their eternal souls after they die. Using this tool, rulers built massive armies to protect their resources and secure access to additional resources when peaceful trade was not a possibility. Eliminate the need to compete for resources, as well as, the divisive borders now separating humanity, and the need for all modern state organized religions, whether they are in state control now or not, will fade away. This does not mean that religion will fade away. It just means that religions based on the false dichotomy of economic scarcity will not have a place in a world where everyone has equal access to all needed resources, which are, in their turn, infinite in their availability.

Concluding Thoughts


"The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden story. The subtext is, all the suffering have you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions. Get smart and I'll fuck you over, sayeth the Lord. Is that not an absolute anti-intellectual religion?" - Frank Zappa

So, what would a world, where the need to compete for survival is no longer necessary, look like? What would a world, where access to needed resources is universal, look like? What would a world, with limitless sources of energy look like? What would a world, with no divisive political borders look like? What would a world, with no oppressive state built religions look like? Hopefully, it would be a world where the pursuit intellectual, physical, and true spiritual balance would be the primary pursuits for all humans. Training academies all over the world would accept students from all over the world and a more integrated human culture would develop, where natural competition would no longer be based on the need to survive, bur rather, the needs to improve oneself and to learn from ones opponent. This, of course, does not mean that humanity would not be done away with hierarchical social orders. It also means that there would be an open possibility for abuse and corruption. This would occur as varying academies compete for prestige on the global stage. Such competition could get viscous as dominant schools of thought attempt to dictate those philosophies that are acceptable and those that are not. 

It could reach the height of the meeting pictured above entitled, The Death of Socrates. It is such a famous piece because Socrates was forced to drink a vile of deathly poisonous hemlock. He had been charged and convicted of "Corrupting the Youth" because he refused to stop teaching the youth of Athens that the Gods supported by the city's ruling council were nothing more than artificial constructs meant to enslave their minds. Hopefully, in a new world where everyone is educated, physically fit, and spiritually in tune with the Earth, such behavior will be a thing of the past, and what we will see, instead, is a world where wise sages spend their days teaching, encouraging, and pushing their pupils to every increase their own abilities. It will further, hopefully be a world where people are not taught what to think, but rather, how to think. This would be a world where people can spend their lives perfecting their craft, continuously developing innovative technology, honing their physical abilities, and paying ever deeper homage to the planet that gave them life. Only time can tell when the "Brotherhood of Man" will finally be a reality.

Dedication


“Either we get responsible with what the Earth has given us, or we sit back, relax, and watch billions of years of evolution die right before our very eyes.” – Kent Allen Halliburton

"I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong. Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it. If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." - John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Friday, October 28, 2016

Some Opinions on a State Run Media


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."  - First Amendment, United States Constitution

There are a multitude of reasons the 1st amendment comes first (it wasn't an accident), but for here I would like to focus on the Freedoms of Speech and the Press. From this country's inception, the media has played an intrinsic role in its development and evolution. News pamphlets kept people abreast of important political, social, and economic developments, as well as, serving a more clandestine purpose, at times. In this country's early years, news pamphlets sometimes served as mechanisms for the broad delivery of military intelligence, especially when an entire populace was at war. This happened regularly during the Revolutionary War. Since Ronald Reagan, in the mid 1980's, the basic usefulness of the media has been under attack and has since been severely blunted. By vetoing a bill regarding the Fairness Doctrine of 1949, which would have renewed certain restrictions on the amount of airtime individual media outlets can own, Reagan left open the door for the monopolization of our available media. Bill Clinton furthered this to a greater extent with his focus on trade and economic expansion. Surprisingly enough, the act passed by the US Congress validating our participation in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, lifted even more restrictions on the concentration of media ownership. The direct result of these two men's actions is profound.

In 1983, 50 corporations owned and CONTROLLED the majority of American media outlets. By 2000, that number had massively shrank to 6. Just, four years later, in 2004, that number dwindled to five. That's correct. Five corporations own and control every bit of information we hear or see. So, who are our media masters? That magic number five is made up of Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch News Corporation, Bertelsmann (Germany), and Viacom. This a viable monopoly when one considers the amount of "smaller" media outlets these corporations actually control. Further, do you think those media moguls have forgotten those who made their media empires possible? Of course they haven't because the Fairness Doctrine was not gutted out of concern for the Freedom of Speech, as touted, but rather, just plain old fashioned greed. Since this unceremonious whacking of the Fairness Doctrine, the corporate media and US politicians have been in bed with one another to such an extent that their relationship resembles something like a Romanesque orgy, paid for at the expense of we, the people, and the information we receive.

Don't believe me? Look back at journalism and, especially, investigative journalism. Around 1983, one can document the beginning of a steady decline in the airing of opposing ideas and opinions and a softening of "hard hitting" journalism. This isn't due to a falling off of journalistic talent. It is due to the fact that journalists and reporters now have to toe corporate line, and the five remaining corporations seem to be colluding with one another. By not doing so, journalists risk not just their jobs, but their whole careers and even their freedom. With five corporations owning and controlling the media that means, basically, five people can now decide what we see and hear and in what light we interpret that information. That's right. Five people have the ability to control, skew, and spin any of the information we receive, and one would be naive to think that these five people and the politicians that they now pay are not working together, hand in glove. So, where does this leave us? Very simply, it leaves us either one step away from a Corporate State Media that dwarfs the power of the government itself , or a defacto State Media organization, ran with the help of Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch News Corporation, Bertelsmann, and Viacom that runs with the effectiveness of the German state media led by Joseph Goebbels, under Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Neither is preferable.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Supreme Court Justices are Not the Objective Arbiters of the Law that They are Made Out to Be


"The constitution is either a superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it. It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. This is the very essence of judicial duty." - John Marshall

"Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever." - William Howard Taft

"It is entirely illogical to assume that a judicial candidate appointed by a political official, who is known to support a given political ideology, whether publicly or privately, will be entirely objective when they make rulings on important legal cases. Their political ideologies play a much bigger role in their decision making processes than is currently projected by the present American legal establishment." - Harold Spaeth

"Yes, I will bring the understanding of a woman to the Court, but I doubt that alone will affect my decisions." - Sandra Day O'Connor

What exactly is the Attitudinal Model? What does is attempt to measure? Is it the only model that attempts to do what it sets out to do, or are there other models that exist that attempt to do the same thing? Very basically, the Attitudinal Model is a social science model. Its primary goal is to explain the behavior of judges who make decisions on important legal cases that have the potential to alter the manner in which the law is read in the United States. This model focuses primarily on United States Supreme Court justices who, through a unique set of circumstances, lifetime tenure being one of the most important, are able to provide an extensive pool of data that assists social scientists dramatically in their efforts to explain how and why these justices behave the way that they do on the bench. This model focuses, more specifically, on judge’s ideological attitudes and social values to determine how they will decide the various cases that come before the Supreme Court. Harold Spaeth and Jeffrey A. Segal outline this model very effectively in The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited, published in 2002. There is also the Legal Model, whose goal it is to do the same thing. However, it relies on the concept that judges are impartial arbiters of the law who make their decisions on the separate merits of each individual case that they hear. Richard Seamon, et al outlines this model in The Supreme Court Sourcebook published in 2013. In each section comparisons will be made, and there will also be a look at some of the positive and negative aspects of each concept. There will then be a comparison between Judicial Behavioralism, another model, and the Attitudinal model. The piece will conclude with a summary that will briefly tie everything up and then offer up a suggestion as to how all of this separation in the field can be rectified. It will also very briefly address the, now, very corporate nature of the Supreme Court.

The Attitudinal Model

Jeffrey Segal and Harold Spaeth published their first book on the Attitudinal Model, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model, in 1993. In this text, they indicated that they sought to offer a scientific analysis of the behavior of the United States Supreme Court and to address what they felt was a major gap in past attempts by scholars, of all kinds, to accurately predict the voting behavior of Supreme Court Justices. This, of course, was not the first time that frustrations about predicting the Supreme Courts’ voting behavior had been made known. In 1978, James L. Gibson made his discontent with the available models quite clear in his piece, “Judges' Role Orientations, Attitudes, and Decisions: An Interactive Model,” published in the journal of the American Political Science Association. He is quoted as saying “Despite almost two decades of behavioral research, our models relating the key variables in judicial decision making are incomplete and inadequate. In particular, the impact of two widely used variables, judges' attitudes and role orientations, is poorly understood. While there appears to be a consensus that attitudes and role orientations are important predictors of behavior, no research has been successful in developing a comprehensive model capable of predicting judges' behaviors.” In 1989, Segal published an article, with Albert D. Cover, “Ideological Values and the Votes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices,” also published in the journal of The American Political Science Association, where it was their goal to provide the very model that Gibson felt was missing. The two men first assumed that a judges’ vote on a case was indicative of their social values. They then collected the voting records of justices from Earl Warren to Anthony Kennedy. Using their voting history, they were able to scientifically confirm each of these justices’ votes on given cases to a ratio of about eighty percent. This level of accuracy had not yet been heard of to that date, and was only a sign of very important improvements to come.

By 1993, with the publication of The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model, Segal and Spaeth had been able to take another four years to refine their procedures, gather more data on the voting records of various justices, and increase the accuracy of their predictions to nearly ninety percent. More importantly, however, they had done enough work on the model that they were able to respond to various criticisms with well documented accuracy. The first criticism that they received the most early on in their work was that judges were not supposed to be policy makers. Citing the work of Craig Ducat and Harold Chase in their book, Constitutional Interpretation, 4th Edition, published in 1988, they refused to give this criticism any further credence, as they felt that the question had already been sufficiently proven that judges to do in fact make policy. The next criticism that they faced was that their work was time bound. This criticism was rejected fairly quickly. They mentioned, first, the judicial vote database set up by Spaeth, through the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, which he was actively adding to as of the publication of their 1993 text. Spaeth cited the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database, 1953- Terms, the database that he helped to construct. This database contains all of the behavioral and policy data that he and his teammates have collected throughout the years, and it is still active and continues to be augmented. It is an amazing and highly useful piece of work. They then quoted the first work on the Attitudinal Model done by Glendon Schubert. He covered the Vinson Court, from 1946 to 1952, in works published in 1965 and 1979. His latest piece, Quantitative Analysis of Judicial Behavior, published in 1979, was the most accurate, as well as, the mostly closely related support of their work to be found.

The next way the Attitudinal Model has received criticism is through what scholars like to call Institutional Criticism, in that they argue that the Attitudinal Model governs only the actions and behaviors of the Supreme Court itself. The most significant response to this criticism is that the study of the Supreme Court has a unique barrier that does not exist for the study of lower courts. When a person is appointed to the Supreme Court, there is no position higher than that upon which they can then sit. Segal and Spaeth quoted Sandra Day O’Connor, perfectly, when she said, “I have no next career step. This is it.” Justice O'Connor is quoted by Lawrence Bodine in his piece entitled, “Sandra Day O’Connor,” published in the journal of the American Bar Association, in 1983. Their basic point was that yeah, things will be a little different when one is studying judges who have nothing left to prove and whose job description comes with a lifetime tenure. The next criticism that is made against the Attitudinal Model is that in some cases, it does not account for Non-Attitudinal factors that may be influencing the justice’s behavior. This is a point where Segal and Spaeth, in 1993, admit that their model had not yet properly accounted for decisions on things like unions, economic activity, judicial power, federalism, and federal taxation. They did admitted that more work was yet to be done; however, they also argued that they were not the only ones making progress in this field of research. They quoted the work of C. Herman Pritchett, “The Development of Judicial Research,” published in Joel B. Grossman and Joseph Tanenhau's book, Frontiers of Judicial Research, in 1969. They noted that he had actually made positive progress in the areas where they were lacking long before they had ever written their book.

The next criticism is that the Supreme Court is still a court. They refer back to C. Herman Pritchett who, while he does admit that attitudinal factors can play a big role in how judges make their decisions, also argues that it is incumbent upon scholars to remember that these judges are also influenced by the need to maintain an image of impartiality when making their decisions. Segal and Spaeth respond by citing a number of cases where the exact opposite happened when the justices made their decisions in regards to certain cases, to the point of even being comical. They cite United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936)Flood v. Kuhn (407 U.S. 258 (1972)Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1894), and United States v. Maine, 469 U.S. 504 (1985). In each of these cases, Spaeth and Segal argue, the Supreme Court justices' attempts to mask their decisions with impartiality served to prove even more conclusively that they were, in fact, extremely biased in their opinions when making rulings on the cases that come before their court. It is their professional opinion that there has never once been a case that has gone before the Supreme Court that has not suffered the wrath of the biased jurisprudence involved. The people that sit atop the highest appeals court in the United States are human beings, after all. To believe that they would not be affected by their own biases and political ideologies is to assume that they are robots, and of course, they indeed, are not.

Of all the criticisms that Segal and Spaeth recognize against the Attitudinal Model, it is the criticism that the model is guilty of circular reasoning that they both agree is the most damning. They admit that the attitudes used to explain the justice’s votes are based on those selfsame votes. They explain that earlier on, behaviorists who did work on this model used cumulative scales and factor analyses to explain the justice’s votes, with the scales and factors used to evidence the explanatory power of the Attitudinal Model. Essentially, this circular reasoning issue has always been a problem with the model. They quote the work of Epstein, Walker, and Dixon, “The Supreme Court and Criminal Justice Disputes: A Neo-Institutional Perspective,” published in the American Journal of Political Science, in 1989, to give credit to their detractors. To help eliminate this problem, they have included three different things to minimize critic’s ability to levy this argument against the Attitudinal Model. They include the use of facts derived from the lower court records of cases decided by the Supreme Court Justices earlier on in their careers, they use content analysis of editorials appearing in advance of a nominee’s confirmation, and they use the justice’s past voting behavior to predict their votes in subsequent cases. They outline this in further detail in their book, an all of this data is available for review in their database at the University of Michigan.

In 2002, just under ten years after the original publication of The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model, Segal and Spaeth published an updated version of their work entitled, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited. In this text, they provided a very clear definition of the Attitudinal Model, which, by then, had been given a lot more time to prove itself. The Attitudinal Model was now defined as a melding together of key concepts from legal realism, political science, psychology and economics. The Attitudinal model is rooted in the Legal Realist movement of the 1920s, led by Karl Llewellyn and Jerome Frank. These men and others were responding negatively to the conservative and formalist nature of American jurisprudence that was then the style. This was a period when the law was seen as a static entity in which judges merely found the needed statutes to make rulings rather than making law with their rulings. Legal Realism argued that law could not possibly exist this way, and Karl Llewellyn is quoted as saying that he had a “conception of law in flux, of moving law, and of judicial creation of law.” He is quoted from his piece, “Some Realism about Realism: Responding to Dean Pound,” published in the Harvard Law Review, in 1931. Legal realists have since argued further that the judicial creation of law does not create bad jurists out for self-empowerment. What it actually does is develop intuitive judges who create law as they make their decisions. Segal and Spaeth argue that this makes for a broader way to study judicial decision making, which can help to make predictions about their behavior in the court room dramatically more effective.

Scholars of the Attitudinal Model saw the potential flaws in just relying on Legal Realism to make their predictions about the judicial behavior of the Supreme Court, so they turned to a more scientific approach to making their predictions. These men became known as Behavioralists, and their work became known as Behavioralism. Segal and Spaeth quote the work of Albert Somit and Joseph Tanenhaus to enumerate the points made by Behavioralists, who felt that Political Science, and thus, the work of predicting judicial actions, should become more scientific. In their text, The Development of Political Science, published in 1967, they outlined what they argued were the four key adjustments to the study of politics that would help political scientists to better explain and predict what goes on in the courts. Political science must, ultimately, become a science capable of prediction and explanation. Political science should concern itself primarily, if not exclusively, with phenomena which can actually be observed. Data should be quantified and “findings” based on quantifiable data. Research should be theory oriented and theory directed. There is then, of course, the Psychological Influence on the process of predicting judicial behavior. This is where the individual justice’s attitudes and beliefs began to come into play in attempting to predict their behavior in a given Supreme Court case. The judge’s attitude came out of this. In a book of his own, An Introduction to Supreme Court Decision Making: Revised Edition, published in 1972, Harold Spaeth defined an attitude as an “interrelated set of beliefs about an object or situation. For social action to occur, at least two interacting attitudes, one concerning the attitude object and the other concerning the attitude situation, must occur.”

Finally, there is the influence of economics. In this case, the justices are influenced by their career goals. This is, of course, case policy formation. The rules of the game step in next. If a justice must be elected to a limited term in office or appointed for a limited term, their behavior is going to be different from that of a justice who is appointed for a life term and has nowhere else to go. This means, specifically, any other justices on any other court in the land will be measured differently from a Supreme Court Justice. Such freedom can allow a Supreme Court Justice to behave differently than any other justice in any one of the other given situations that may occur in a lower court. Spaeth and Segal argue that this makes the Supreme Court prime for the use of the Attitudinal Model because it frees Justices from the bounds of having to meet the expectations of either a voting public or a nominating official. They can revert to their own ideologies and vote in whichever way most makes them comfortable. In other words, if you really want to see how a judge feels about a given topic area, put them on the Supreme Court, and their decisions on related cases will give you a pretty good idea of where they actually stand on political and social issues.

The Legal Model

Frank B. Cross, in his piece, “Decision Making in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals,” published in the California Law Review, in 2003, argues that the most obvious and straightforward theory of judicial decision making is the Legal Model. According to this theory, judges decide cases through systematic application of the external objective sources of authority that classically comprise the law. When judges write opinions or orally explain their decisions from the bench, they justify their conclusions by reasoned application of those authorities to the facts of the instant case. This model reflects the theory of judicial decision making commonly taught in law school: judicial decisions are the product of impartial, reasoned analysis, grounded in accepted sources. As support for this, Cross quotes Kathleen M. Sullivan, from her piece, “The Supreme Court, 1991 Term-Foreword: The Justices of Rules and Standards,” published in the Harvard Law Review, in 1992. She says, "Courts are to stick to law, judgment, and reason in making their decisions and should leave politics, will, and value choices to others.” The idea behind repeating, though rewording, the definition is that it seems to be all that this model can really rely on to get its point across to the reader. It’s as if its defenders already know that there is something missing. Its seems in the basic definitions that they give, they know there is something lacking, like they know that they are leaving out the reality that judges are human beings before they are anything else. They know that what they are teaching is naive and needs revision but are sticking to the script, so as to avoid professional and scholastic criticism that could possibly damage their careers. It also seems like they are attempting to guard a secret which, woefully unbeknownst to them, has already long been revealed to the public.

Cross also quotes Anthony T. Kronman from his book, The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession, published in 1993. Kronman says about judicial rulings that “Such legal analysis can and should be free from contaminating political or ideological elements." Immediately, this speaks of the period of critical analysis of the law that existed when political scientists began seeking out a better understanding of the judicial decision making process. One might also see it as an attempt to revitalize the “Good Ole’ Days” of jurisprudence, or something to that effect; however, every time someone pushes this ideology, it just seems more and more na├»ve. People whose last names are followed with the suffix, JD, have been around long enough to know that human beings, no matter how high minded they might be, do not work like this. People that support this theory as the end all be all of describing how judges make decisions, are somehow forgetting that judges are human, and are thus, subject to the environment in which they exist, as well as, their own biases. They also seem to forget that they have an absolutely terrible record when it comes to predicting outcomes in court cases at every level. Objectivity is at best a shield. Segal and Spaeth have offered criticism on the Legal Theory, as well. To them, the Legal Theory collapses under its own weight because a lot of the concepts that Cross mentions, accompanied by things like judicial activism and restraint, mentioned by Segal and Spaeth, which cannot be empirically measured. This makes it impossible to determine their scientific effectiveness in predicting the outcome of the judicial decision making process in any legal case, let alone, a case that has made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

How can one credit such a model as being worth the paper it is written on when it ignores such a glaringly important factor? Spaeth and Segal, in their own words, consider sticking to the Legal Model to be naive. The biggest way to compare the two models to one another, is to say that the legal model is the model from which grew the Attitudinal model because of the dissatisfaction in which scholars were locked as they sought new ways to accurately predict the voting behavior of Supreme Court justices. This is so because while the Legal Model relies on the old axioms that assume that justices are always objective in their thinking, the Attitudinal Model not only assumes that justices are human and will act accordingly, it can measure this behavior with an accuracy that surpasses all other models. Another comparison between the two models is that the Legal Model assumes that justices do not make law, they just find an interpret existing statutes; whereas, the Attitudinal Model assumes that justices make law from the bench, and this should be considered not only normal, but legally and professionally appropriate.

Judicial Behavioralism and the Attitudinal Model

The goal set by judicial behavioralists is the attainment of a scientific explanation of judicial behavior. Their systems discussion alerts them to the impossibility of completely imitating the definition of science, but they still want their work to mirror science as closely as is possible. Many behavioralists emphasize the goal of understanding, rather than prediction and control. It seems like they want their work to resemble that of a chemistry experiment, where a given set of conditions, combined with a given set of stimuli, will produce the same outcome each time an experiment is performed. Bahavioralists seek to develop a model for the prediction of judicial behavior that accounts for self-conscious ambition and that resembles, to them, the very similar goals of natural scientists, who seek to create a set of highly determinate theories for the explanation of empirically observable phenomena. Yet, without demonstrable predictive power, with concomitant implications of the ability to control, is an explanation scientific? Ovid C. Lewis outlines this idea in his piece, “Systems Theory and Judicial Behavioralism,” published in the Case Western Reserve Law Review, in 1970. There seems to be a contradiction in the field itself. Behavioralists recognize the need for prediction while; at the same time, they devalue prediction's ability to enhance the scientific nature of their work.

Dr. Bernard Diamond, in his piece, “The Scientific Method and the Law,” published in, Proceedings: The Thirteenth National Conference of Law Reviews, in 1967, refutes the idea that this kind of work is even scientific. The essence of science is prediction. Observation and description of what has happened is only history: history becomes science when man is able to utilize his observation of things past to predict what is going to happen next. It is through this power of prediction, through his ability to interpolate the past into the future, that he acquires the ability to manipulate the present, and so, manipulate the future. Essentially, behavioralists want to make the process of understanding judicial behavior a scientific process, while eliminating one of most scientific parts of the process, prediction. From what has already been seen of the Attitudinal Model, the absence of prediction would seem to make the Behavioralist Model both incomplete, and frankly, obsolete. Forrest Dill, in his piece, “Judicial Policy-Making: A Critique of the Behavioralist Approach,” published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, in 1967, contends that while there are behavioralists that argue that building up a collection of studies over time can lead to more accurate assumptions about present behavior, this does not make their work scientific. Whereas, it is the immediate ability to predict an outcome that makes an experiment scientific; enter the Attitudinal Model. One can imagine that Spaeth and Segal would not be far behind Dill in calling the Attitudinal Model the more scientific of the two models.

Conclusion

This piece has examined, thoroughly, the Attitudinal Model of Judicial Behavior. It has also reviewed the Legal Model of Judicial Behavior. The primary basis for the understanding of these models was the work of Jeffrey Segal and Harold J. Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited. The Attitudinal Model assumes that Supreme Court Justices are actual living human beings who very rarely make decisions without referring to their own personal biases and political ideologies first. The Legal Model assumes that justices are unbiased arbiters of the law, who read the law as it is and who remain objective at all times. They also differ on how judicial law is made. The Legal Model says that justices only find and interpret existing statutes; whereas, the Attitudinal Model assumes that justices make law from the bench. There is then, also, the Behavioralist Model, which seeks to make the study of judicial behavior a scientific process. They fail to do so, however, because they do not to pay the appropriate amount of respect to the need for prediction. As of yet, the Attitudinal Model is by far the most effective model because it does everything the other models don’t. It recognizes human bias, the need for prediction, the ludicrous nature of the notion that statutes are all that determine the outcome of a legal case, and recognizes its own limitations when there are gaps in the available research.

Moving forward, the only real problem that the Attitudinal Model will continue to face is that its primary field of study is limited to the Supreme Court; however, with time, extensive research, and study, this too can be overcome. Perhaps, if more scholars, from all ranges of the field, will put some more effort into this work, they can help to silence the pundits of the other models, as when it comes down to it, the reality is that the Attitudinal Model is the result of a plethora of research that was motivated by the inadequacies of, first, the Legal Model, and then, the Behavioral Model, only to come around to its present understanding. The key to all of this is, as has already been alluded to, is the realization that Supreme Court justices are not mindless robots. They are, in fact, fallible human beings who can just as easily bring their emotions to work as anyone else. Recognizing this fact should help to begin the process of breaking down the philosophical divides that exist between the scholars of these three models. Who would know what can happen when a healthy amount of collaboration actually begins to take place?

Another key, but not quite as academically pursued, factor in determining how a justice, siting on any court in the country, will vote, is the ability to keep a keen eye on who supports them both politically and financially. This is especially the case for justices that sit on lower courts where their position is subject to elections and financial implications. Local judges who have to participate in elections that threaten their jobs are more likely than not to adopt views on various issues that are in tune with the people that are responsible for voting them in or out of office. These judges are also beholden to the people that fund their campaigns. So, if a particular company donates a large sum of money to their campaign, when they get into office, one should expect their opinions on given cases, especially cases that involve the interests of that company, will be altered accordingly. Now, especially after the Citizens United Case, decided in 2010, Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), many people are applying these very same conditions to the United States Supreme Court. Given the power over election financing that this ruling has given corporations, one cannot blame those people for thinking so. However, as a scholar, one must point back to the Attitudinal Model of Judicial Behavior. The five justices who ruled in favor of corporate donations to political campaigns, Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Stevens, and Chief Justice Roberts, were already known to be pro business justices. It is less likely that they were paid off, and more likely that they were put in the position that they are in by politicians, the George Bush, Jr. Administration, who knew full well how they would vote when the case made its way to the Supreme Court. The subsequent argument over whether or not the Bush Administration was paid to put them there is an entirely different story.