Sunday, June 22, 2014
America has always been Leftist
Up until fairly recently, I had always accepted fairly uncritically the orthodox view of American history. But as an amateur historian I do have the pesky habit of going back to the original documents behind history. So a couple of months ago, I actually read through the Declaration of Independence. What I read there shocked me. It was an entirely different document from the orthodox account of it.
It has taken me a while to integrate that finding into a broader view but I think I can now present a view of American history that makes much more sense of both America's past and her present.
I was greatly helped in forming a new view by the abhorence I have always felt towards America's two civil wars (Independence and North/South). As a former member of Australia's armed forces, I am no pacifist but I do feel that wars should be a last resort -- and that applied to neither of America's civil wars. That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired. Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside.
But to begin at the beginning: As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists. They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally. If that's not communism, nothing is. They were such fanatics that a third of them had to starve to death before they decided that communism wasn't such a good idea and went back to the way things had always been done in stodgy old England.
So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists? What we should expect is exactly what we actually got, I submit.
But before I get to that, let me ensure complete clarity about what the core of Leftism is. The content of Leftism changes from time to time. Before WWII, Leftists world wide were energetic champions of eugenics, for instance. Leftists now abhor it. So what is constant in Leftism? Anger. Leftists in all eras are so dissatisfied with the society in which they live that they want sweeping changes to it. And they thirst for power to achieve that. That is Leftism.
So we come back to the Declaration of Independence. There are a variety of things in it but the centerpiece of it is the complaint that, in good communist style, the New Englanders wanted to pass lots of laws to control their fellow man but the king kept obstructing or disallowing such laws. Whether by intent or neglect, the king was the libertarian obstructing the control freaks. And it was over that that the Yankees went to war. Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke. It was pro-liberty for the elite only. Joe Stalin call your office.
And, in case anyone is not aware of it, the resultant war was at heart a war of the Yankees versus the rest. New York was firmly on the side of the king, for instance. It was a civil war which Yankee determination won, at the cost of 25,000 Yankee deaths. But deaths in war never worry Leftists. Change is the thing. So the Yankee hatred of the British-dominated status quo burnt all other considerations.
And Andrew Jackson, founder of the modern Democratic party, certainly wrought big changes in the territory under his control in the 1830s -- clearing out American Indians and driving them to the then-far-West: Ethnic cleansing.
And then we come to the real horror: The North/South war. "Only" half a million men died there. And for what? EVERY other country on earth abolished slavery without the need for a war. Does that not tell us something? It should. In his famous letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln himself admitted that slavery was not the main issue. The issue was the dominance of central government. V.I. Lenin call your office. Lincoln didn't call it "dominance of central government", of course. He called it "the union" but the result is the same.
And just about everythinng Lincoln did was without a shred of constitional justification and in fact breached the constitution. Hitler at least had the grace to get an "enabling act" passed by the German parliament. Lincoln just marched on regardless. He destroyed the liberty of the press (there goes your first amendment) and locked up thousands of war opponents (there goes your 4th amendment). But most centrally, Lincoln's whole enterprise was a defiance of the basic American constitutional dispensation that the states are sovereign, not the federal government. Lincoln turned that on its head. The feds now became the main source of power and authority. There is no doubt that Lincoln talked a good talk. He even used to persuade me once. But his deeds reek of Fascism.
A good example of the large gap between his deeds and words is that masterpiece of propaganda, the Gettysburg address. Goebbels admired it for good reason. In case anybody hasn't noticed, Lincoln claimed that his war was to ensure "government of the people, by the people, for the people" -- which was exactly what he had just denied to the South! Only Yankees are people, apparently. Hitler thought certain groups weren't people too.
And then we have two world wars. WWI had nothing to do with America but power-mad Democrat President Wilson got America into it any way. He had such fun influencing the eventual re-arrangement of Europe.
And FDR was worse if anything. He subjected Japan to crippling sanctions until an attack on America seemed the only way forward to them. Anything else would have been an intolerable loss of "face". So FDR got his war. For political purposes he once declared "I hate war" but some at least of his biographers believe that he pined for the publicity and power that a war would give him.
But what about the era of US/Soviet rivalry? Was America Leftist then? It was. Top-rate taxes were enormous, for instance. But the USSR was even more Leftist. The Russian peasants who fought for its creation were even angrier -- for good reason -- than the Yankee grandees of George III's time, so the changes in Russia were very sweeping indeed. And Leftists are very hostile people -- even to followers of other brands of Leftism. Note the icepick in the head that Leon Trotsky got from Joe Stalin.
I could go on but does the dominance of political correctness in America today now seem surprising? It is not. It is just another of the many forms of Leftism that America has produced and will continue to produce. And, unfortunately, the rest of the world has followed America, as it often does. As goes California so goes the whole world eventually.
So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields? Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives?
It's simple. America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years. So if you get a bungling legislature in power you soon get the opportunity to boot them out. Britain, by contrast, has to wait five years to get rid of an incompetent or destructive government.
And Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous. So many Americans have their knees under government desks that the productive element of the population is much reduced -- with the result that quite a few countries have per head incomes higher than America. According to the CIA, there are 13 countries with higher PPP incomes per head than America. Be that as it may, however, America is by any measure only one of a peleton of high income countries, not the leader.
And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom. Australia is third. Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes.
It is true that America is not exceptionally Leftist by world standards -- though Mr Obama is working on that -- but that just shows that there have always been angry people, and some groups -- e.g. Russian peasants and British miners -- have been even more angry than New Englanders.
I guess that this post will lose me quite a few readers among American patriots but is being patriotic to a historical hoax really wise? America has many fine people. Be loyal to them, not national myths -- JR
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).