Democracy Against The Family: Part 2

Here is the second part of my article on this all-important topic of exactly how democratic states that have mutated from their original foundation in liberty begin to erode their own civil societies.

You can read it all here, or click below to read it as published by Epoch Times newspaper:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/democracy-against-the-family-part-2_3004975.html

For more than a century all the modern democracies, each at a different rate, have been abandoning their foundation in ordered liberty for a new foundation of mandated equality. This is justified as a necessary means to create a more fair and equal polity. That has nothing to do with the original democratic promise of an equal start-line in the race of life, but rather, with the creation by law of a more or less equal finish-line. Equal enough, that is, to garner more gratitude and thus more citizen-loyalty to the democratic state. Ironically, this ambition is carried out by way of an incremental war on various kinds of privilege and moral distinction created spontaneously by our own civil societies.

So the democracies are now at war with themselves. Privilege-producing civil societies, within equality-forcing democratic states, have ended up pitched against each other in a troubling battle to the death for citizen loyalty. Even though it is by far the more humanly gratifying, civil society is also by far the weaker, and has been losing the war badly.

One of the great ironies of our time is that we celebrate a public love of equality, but also of human community. But the latter can only be produced by a process of social-bonding that creates insiders and outsiders, or unequals. Let’s see how that works.

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Thoughts On Compassion, The Law, and Constitutions

What follows is drawn from my recent discussions with a group of friends.

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On Compassion

I think “compassion” is an over-used term. Seems to me all human beings except the very sick have some degree of natural compassion for others, depending on whether they are friends and loved ones, or even just strangers in trouble. We even kill our  enemies out of compassion for our own.

Special wariness is called for whenever the word is used by governments and states and all who work for them. There is usually an underlying, self-serving agenda being camouflaged by a show of compassion (such as when we hear a gov’t worker arguing for socialized medicine as a benefit for all).

It is especially interesting, I think, to see so many modern men showing “compassion” and the requisite tears in public when this was once frowned upon as unmanly. Hard for me not to equate this with a weakened polity, a feminized populace, and as the outcome of an egalitarian ethic which, quite wrongly, takes for granted that the sexes, for example, are the same, and so their modes of expression (like spontaneous tears) ought to be the same. The intended message of the teary male is: If I show spontaneous emotion and tears, people will see that I have my tender feminine side, too, and so I am a well-rounded and virtuous person.

Don’t get me started on the plethora of movies and TV sitcoms where some woman is slugging every man in the place, firing machine guns, and doing kick-flips like a whirling dervish to knock the bad guys out. It’s ridiculous, really, and it falsifies the reality that if you toss a dead mouse at a man, he will likely step on it, but if you throw it at a woman, she will probably faint.

Sometimes this sort of thing is a cultural theme of the day. Such as when in a Jane Austen novel or movie, for example, we see women fainting over some emotional slight or insult. I mean to say, fainting was a required performance for any feeling, delicate woman back then. Now, men cry easily, and women punch people out.

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On Rights

My theory is that “Liberalism” in the West has mutated through four stages to arrive at our present condition, which, well beyond Hayek and all the other excellent liberal theorists we are familiar with, I call “libertarian-socialism”. (You can find the theory spelled out in my book, The Great Divide).

This is a hybrid, or fusion of the two terms, perfectly neither, but enough of both to have resolved the contradiction into which the Western democracies shifted when they tried to stand on two contradictory foundations: liberty and forced equality. It can’t be done, because more of one will always produce less of the other.

But it can be done (as I argue) by splitting the body politic into two bodies – a public body (more or less socialist), and a private body (more or less libertarian). Canada and Sweden are, historically-speaking, the two exemplar nations of this modern reality. It’s a political form never before seen in human history.

So all who use terms like  “liberalism” or “libertarianism” or “classical liberalism” or “conservatism” today to speak of Western political regimes, are in my opinion behind the times and wearing blinkers, because every western nation is now to a greater or lesser degree, libertarian-socialist.

And “the people” like this kind of regime a lot. So this  fusion will continue to tighten its grip on all western populations, and will likely spread slowly around the world as other presently more autocratic nations become wealthier, produce greater tax harvests for eager statists, and so become far more tightly regulated, and the people will resign themselves even more to the compensatory pleasures of their own once-forbidden, but today more numerous private liberties.

 

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On Common Law, Code Law, and Canada’s Charter

 

I would just add, if I may, that English “common law” rights (and privileges and protections) really grew from centuries of case law, or common-law judgements. Bottom-up, actual concrete legal precedents and judgements preserved in legal documents.

 

The so-called Civil Code favored by French-style nations was and remains an effort to rid society of conflicting case-law judgements by appeal to a set of abstract principles intended to govern all lower forms of laws be requiring them to conform with abstract legal or constitutional principles imposed from above.

 

Canada began on a British common-law basis, and its British North-America Act was mostly an administrative agreement sorting out and defining the distribution of powers and obligations as between the Federal/Central government, and the Provinces.

 

But Trudeau Sr. was like Voltaire, who complained: “you English change the (common) law when going from one place to another as often as a traveler changes horses!” He wanted one law for all. He wanted a French-style Code-law Charter imposed on our historic British Common-Law and Parliamentary system

 

So … Canada ended up with its 1982 The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was plopped on top of our common laws and henceforth control all legal decisions as our “supreme” law.

 

However, Civil codes and Charters are not self-interpreting. So this meant that henceforth judges, rather than legislators, would determine the ultimate meaning(s) of Canada’s laws. I argue this infantilized Parliament with the stroke of a pen. And that was Trudeau’s intent. He thought Parliament was a bad joke and infamously described Canada’s Legislators as “a bunch of losers.”

 

Conclusion? The English won the battle on the Plains of Abraham. But the French have been winning the war.

 

I call it “the revenge of Montcalm.”

 

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“living tree” vs “originalist” meanings of a Constitution

Parliament no longer dares to debate contentious moral issues. Those get kicked upstairs to the Supreme Court, and then judges (according to whether left or right or centrist in disposition) “read in” the meanings they prefer for the abstract terms of the Charter.

 

They have to do that, because Charters are not self-interpreting.

 

Just one example will do. Section 15 is about “equality” rights.

 

But the Charter does not specify except very generally what “equality” means.

 

So judges (if so inclined) simply read in, or construct, their preferred meaning of the word.

 

This is justified by the “living tree” concept of a constitution, which basically means that a constitution is alive, like a tree that sprouts new branches, and so ought to be adaptable to new situations or standards that arise, that were unforseen. Modern progressives love this view because it means society can be engineered to social and moral perfection from the top down.

 

Conservatives prefer the “originalist” position which is basically that the Founders who wrote the original constitution had specific and narrow meanings in mind (which we can determine from their actual history of deliberation), and contemporary judges should not be inserting their own interpretations or over-riding original intent with personal views and values. For, if they do that, they are basically declaring, as have so many past Kings and tyrants: “the law is in my mouth!”

 

So modern liberals and progressives assert they ought to be able to change the intended meanings of a constitution. But conservatives disagree, and argue: We have procedures for amending a Constitution. They make amendment difficult, we agree. But it should be difficult. For if a Constitution has no determinate meaning, then why have a Constitution in the first place? You might as well scrap it all and just let judges and legislators change the laws as they go along and as they please – then, the law will be in their mouths.

 

Why “Taking A Knee” Is A Lie

I have had a disagreement with a few friends over the business of “taking a knee” at public events.

Sport has been one of the great healing realities of our age. And what has been ruining it are three things: drugs, politics, and money.

Kneeling is about politics. And my main reason for disagreement is that one man’s knee is another man’s salute.

In other words, “taking a knee” for something you personally disapprove of may be an attack on something others personally favor (like their country). But a kneeler decides for personal reasons to over-ride that possibility for his or her own moral purposes. So from this perspective, kneeling is actually a form of moral bullying.

After all, who am I, or anyone, to commandeer a public event everyone came to enjoy free of unpleasantness, and turn it into a caustic and divisive moral war? Taking a knee, besides being a personal and partisan move, as I say, is morally-insulting to those who may sincerely support whatever the kneeler happens to disapprove of, but are simply too well-mannered to convert into a public quarrel.

I knew Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the black-glove salute on the Olympic Podium in Mexico City in 1968. I completely understood their concerns as black citizens upset with American life at the time (although they were then very privileged black citizens attending a major university free of charge, who attracted lucrative sponsorship interest). And I told them afterward, once back at San Jose State where we all trained, that I thought they made a selfish move that imposed their personal political views on everyone else, and broke the “Olympic Peace” – the understanding that at least once every four weeks, for just a couple of weeks, all the fractious nations of the world can get together to enjoy bonding in the love of sport and just keep their mouths shut.

I have no problem with violence-free protesting. In a free society, individuals who can attract a crowd to hear their grievances and aspirations are free to do so. But sport-kneelers did not attract a crowd to hear them complain. The crowd paid money to watch them win or lose at their sport.

So you could argue – I do – that kneelers are being dishonest; they are moral bullies, unashamed of deceiving an audience that came to watch them perform by imposing on them – stuck in their seats as they are – a different performance than the one they came to see.

Why Gun Control Is Not Crime Control

Seems hard to avoid the “gun control” vs “crime control” confusion. The reaction of most people is that controlling the first controls the second. But does it?
In 1995 Canada passed a law to render any citizen who did not report his or her ownership of a “non-restricted” firearm (even a squirrel gun) within a certain grace period (I think it was 18 months),a criminal, and outside the law.
Even a cherished historical family heirloom such as an ornately-designed colonial musket, could henceforth not be passed on to a child by inheritance. You had to surrender it to government without compensation, whence it would be destroyed. Many considered this property theft by government. There was national anger. I became a criminal over it because I refused to register my 22 caliber biathlon sport rifle.
Being a part of the Post WWII generation, I grew up with firearms, did mandatory military and firearms training in high school, and so found the whole notion of retroactively criminalizing innocent citizens like me to be profoundly obnoxious – especially, as I discovered, because the majority of all gun-homicides at that time were being committed with illegal handguns, and those have been banned in Canada since the 1934!
Obviously, criminals were not about to surrender or report their illegal handguns. Almost all other gun-deaths were suicides. And at the time, about 40% of all homicides were carried out with a knife. This is still the case in Canada and the USA, where 30-40% are knife killings. Was the government going to do a national inventory of kitchen knives and require all homeowners to register them? And if not, why not?
And, I was surprised to learn from the first studies I read on this topic by excellent researchers like Professors/Economists/Criminologists such as Kleck in the USA, and Mauser in Canada, that with the exception of the USA, in every country where strict gun-control has been tried, homicides rates go up, not down!
But why? The explanation seemed to be that in countries like England, where the new gun laws were especially draconian, innocent citizens were now disarmed, and so neither they nor the public the places that in effect became “gun-free” zones, were able to defend themselves. Crazies intent on violence and homicide intentionally picked such sites as targets.
I have heard the recent slaughter site in El Paso was a “gun free” zone, and sensible people are saying that at least if some of those citizens had been armed, the shooter might very well have been stopped. At any rate, after the El Paso massacre, freer gun laws for self-defence, not more restrictive laws, was the immediate demand. That would be my demand, too.
In Canada, a so-called national “Gun-registry” was created in 1995 which was slated to cost 2 million dollars but in fact, by the time the Harper government ditched it in 2012, it had cost taxpayers fully $2 billion. What a disgrace!). Then, Parliament ordered the millions of records that cost $2 billion to collect, destroyed. One of the reasons was testimony in 2003 from such as Joe Fantino, Ontario’s then Chief of Police:

“We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.”

What he doesn’t mention was that another reason, not widely advertised (this I gleaned from an RCMP police officer I interviewed for an article) was that for handsome bribe-money, insiders were too easily able to provide thieves, break-and-enter gangs with exact locations of home-owners’ weapons. They would have all your home details, address, type and number of firearms in your home, etc.
Here is an interesting insight into that boondoogle:

John Hicks, a computer consultant, and webmaster for the Canada Firearms Centre, has said that anyone with a home computer could have easily accessed names, addresses and detailed shopping lists (including make, model and serial number) of registered guns belonging to licensed firearms owners in Canada. Hicks said that “During my tenure as the CFC webmaster I duly informed management [of the national firearms registry] that the website that interfaced to the firearms registry was flawed. It took some $15 million to develop and I broke into it within 30 minutes.”

Mauser and Kleck concluded that the reason homicides and violent crimes in general went down n the USA in the period of their study of new gun laws, but up in all other strict gun-law nations, was that many US states have passed, and others are soon to pass, more liberal concealed-carry laws and have to date issued permits to almost 18 million US citizens, which surely must discouraged criminals in those states. There is a tangle of conflicting opinion on this from researchers (according to whether they are liberal or conservative/libertarian) but no conflict at all from those who have decided to defend themselves and their families!
I should add that Kleck and Mauser (who have often done cooperative research) both concluded from in-depth surveys that in both countries we need to be cognizant of the number of serious crimes and home invasions deterred annually by armed homeowners. An estimated 2.1 million defensive gun uses per year in the USA, and over 32,000 per year in Canada. The US population is about 10 times larger than Canada’s so that seems to jibe. Kleck’s estimate has been criticized, of course, but …

Marvin Wolfgang, who was acknowledged in 1994 by the British Journal of Criminology as ″the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world″, commented on Kleck’s research concerning defensive gun use: “I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. […] The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.”

Well really, even if you slashed Kleck’s estimate in half, that’s a lot of crime stopped in its tracks – and by private citizens, not by police. I defend good police work. But anyone knows they can’t be everywhere, and in an attack on our home or person, time is of the essence.
A well-respected (though of course not without controversy) expert on the extent to which right to carry laws discourage crime in American states with carry laws, is John Lott, whose efforts and recent book, More Guns, Less Crime, can be seen here.
Sorry to go on so long. Got caught up in it.
I think the only thing all can agree on is that the controversy isn’t going to stop tomorrow!

Democracy vs The Family – Part 1

My article on how modern democracy in its current Western form (a form quite distinct from how it began) is playing a corrosive role in the take-down of the Family was published on June 19th by The Epoch Times newspaper and may be read there: https://www.theepochtimes.com/democracy-against-the-family-part-1_2965353.html

or on this website, here:

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The Geneva Argument

The idea that democracy, the political organization we know and love, might be incompatible with – or worse, might gradually be undermining – the most intimate human organization we know and love called “the family”, strikes most people as something close to heresy.

But is it?

When I presented this possibility to The World Congress of Families in Geneva in 1999,  an awkward silence fell upon the room. No one moved, or knew what to say. But twenty years later, I am persuaded more than ever of the Geneva argument, and I refresh it here for Epoch Times readers.

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Most of the disturbing changes in Western family life have to do with easily visible negative trends such as delayed marriage, falling birth rates, fatherless homes, poor single-mothers, high divorce and abortion rates, and more. But researching for my book The War Against The Family made it manifestly clear that not far beneath the surface there are invisible ideological forces rooted in the theory of democracy itself that are inimical to the formation and preservation of family life. That seems a little bizarre, so allow me to explain.

Every major modern democracy took root in the context of a protective faith culture where the good of all was foremost. They were We cultures in which the family was a near-sacramental institution rooted in privacy and freedom where natural human differences were expected to flourish. Equality before the law, and in the eyes of God promised a fair start-line in the race of life, let the chips fall where they may. That was the dominant ideal, if not always met.

Accordingly, some families produced bright kids, some not so bright; some hard-working, some lazy; some rich, and some poor. As time passed, freedom and equality of opportunity produced a lot of successes. But a lot of distressing failures, too.

So the democracies of the West soon found themselves fretting over the possibility that by its very nature, a democracy will produce a permanent underclass. Freedom is not enough. Equality will have to be forced by the state. This meant the private Family proudly nourishing freedom, personal thriving, and natural differences, and the democratic state nourishing forced equality, were on a collision course. They would be ideological enemies competing for citizen loyalty. Thus began the mutation of the Western democracies from their original equal start-line foundation, to their present equal finish-line foundation.

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