Tag: authoritarianism

A Pledge of Allegiance is a Communist Dream

Glenn Verasco | Thailand

The first semester of the Thai school year is a few weeks from completion. Unlike the US, the Thai school calendar is divided into two college-like semesters. The first begins in mid-May and runs through September. After an October recess, the second term starts around November 1st, and the school year culminates in early March.

This has been one of my least favorite aspects of my seven years teaching English in Thailand. As it takes place in the middle of the first semester, I have not had the pleasure of coming home for an American summer since residing abroad. The same goes for Thanksgiving and all but one Christmas. This is beginning to weigh on me, and plans for my wife and I to transition home for good are in the works.

Another aspect of teaching in Thailand that I dislike (though I mostly love what I do) is my students’ morning ritual. When the 2nd or 3rd attendance bell rings (depending on the school), the entire student body stands in rows (either in the halls or an assembly area), sings the national anthem, chants a few Buddhist prayers, and sings or repeats a jingle or hymn unique to each school.

Each step of this routine is undertaken mindlessly and unwillingly by the average student. Social pressures and faculty commands guarantee that they stand in line without protest, and the Buddhist prayers are spoken in Sanskrit that few people, let alone children, even understand. And ever since the Royal Thai Army’s 2014 coup d’etat, I’ve noticed an even greater dip in enthusiasm.

As the US school year is set to be underway, I am reminded of my own mindless chanting as an American schoolboy. Every morning, I put my hand over my heart and pledged allegiance without ever thinking about what pledging or allegiance even mean. I was not persuaded to stand through reason or understanding, but instead through the same social pressures and faculty commands that my students in Thailand are subject to. I do not recall any instances of a fellow student declining to stand, but I know I would have hated that student for doing so. I embodied the social pressure I was subjected to.

Now 12 years removed from high school and 7 years removed from university, I have had ample time to begin my education. And as a now somewhat-educated critical thinker, I can look back at the words I was all but forced to say throughout my youth and see them for what they truly are: BS.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America

A free country like the United States should be above archaic symbols like flags, monuments, and other images of state worship, so pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth (especially one whose design has been altered several times throughout US history) is a backwards idea from the start.

Admittedly, I often get teary eyed when I see the stars and stripes waving in the wind as our national anthem plays before a baseball game. But I want that feeling for myself, not as a part of an obligatory chant among an unthinking cult.

If anything, we should pledge allegiance to the Constitution or, better yet, to the individual human rights and constraints on government it espouses. And we should do it when we feel like it, not force the youth do it in a supposedly educational setting.

And to the republic for which it stands

As the Constitution lays out a framework for a republic (and certainly not a democracy), I am least butthurt over this line.

Pledging allegiance to the republic itself, however, contradicts the character of a free country. If our so-called republic veers off course by, say, plunging its people $21 trillion in debt, establishing a destructive interventionist empire abroad, founding an alphabet soup of unauthorized federal agencies, and imprisoning 2 million of its own people often for victimless crimes, should we continue to commit ourselves to its agenda?

Again, pledging allegiance to our Constitution or our rights would be a more unconditionally honorable promise. The state should commit itself to us, not the other way around.

One nation

The United States of America is not meant to be one nation as much as it is meant to be 50 states. The United States in singular form represents what was intended to be a small legislative body that manages the few, constitutionally-enumerated responsibilities the 50 states are unfit to manage independently.

In plural form, the United States are Alabama, Wyoming, and everything in between. The states are supposed to have tremendous authority as they are far more aware of what is best for their inhabitants than a faraway field of castles in Washington DC. Instead of recognizing one nation, we should recognize the 50 sovereign states.

Under God

God is a subjectively manifested concept that each of us has the liberty to deal with in our own way. I was once an Atheist who scoffed at religion, and I had that right. I am now far more open-minded to the existence of God and have gained some respect for religious discipline and spirituality. But that’s up to me.

Instead of under God, we should exclaim that our nation is subservient to each of our natural, individual human rights: one nation, under us.

Indivisible

This is just plain wrong. Although the process is not easy, states are free to leave the union if they so choose. We should remind ourselves that unification is a choice (which, if you ask me, continues to be a wise decision despite the gross encroachments made by the feds), not that secession is impossible.

Instead of pledging allegiance to enslavement of the states by an out of control federal government, we should pledge allegiance to our free will to remain in the union or leave in accordance with what suits our preferences.

With Liberty and Justice for all

I certainly love the sentiment here, but it is simply not true. Compared to other nations in modern times and throughout history, the liberty and justice that exists in America is arguably on the more preferable end of the spectrum. But this is only in a relative sense and often a result of technological advancements, not good government.

Wholesale liberty and justice do not exist in America, and we should stop saying that they do. The more you say an unaccomplished goal is accomplished, the more you believe it is accomplished, and less energy you put into accomplishing it. A better alternative would be to say that we intend to establish liberty and justice for all or that liberty and justice are a work in progress.

Though it certainly fails to flow off the tongue, here is my revised Pledge of Allegiance for the 2018-2019 American school year:

I pledge allegiance,

To the Constitution,

Of the United States of America,

And to the inalienable rights of myself and my fellow man,

For which it stands,

50 Sovereign States,

Under their people,

Striving for Liberty and Justice for all.

Feel free to comment with a catchier version, and have a great school year!

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A New Look on Authoritarianism: Roman Dmowski

By Daniel Szewc | Republic of Poland

Beyond what most politically oriented people think, authoritarian capitalism hasn’t only existed as the offspring of third-positionism meeting reality, in the form of military dictatorships- (ie late stage Francoism, Pinochet’s Chicago boys or Xiaoping Deng’s opening on the world. In fact, the biggest ideological precursor of free market consequentialism in the interwar period was an authoritarian capitalist. Namely, Roman Dmowski, a world-renowned Polish diplomat, head started the biggest nationalist/right-wing movement that supported free market values in Europe.

Aside for his ideological work, he was a signatory of the Versailles treaty. During his first talk with the big 3 (Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin; U.S.President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill), Dmowski gave a five-hour entry speech concerning Poland’s bid for independence. In it, he explained how an independent Poland would positively influence the balance of power in Europe. Interestingly, after a few sentences in Polish, his dissatisfaction with the translator’s ability to express his points in English and French, he decided to make his points in said languages himself.
After achieving his goal of creating an independent Poland, he proceeded to pursue a short-lived political career as minister of foreign affairs. Moving out of partisan politics completely, he constructed a political ideology named “National Democracy”, based on a principle of nationally aware masses that knew and understood the interest of their nation. He also coined the term “national egoism”, the idea that a nation-state should only pursue its own interest, not foreign ones. As to not make the state Machiavellian in nature, and ready to undermine all other nations, he was a strong supporter of morals and civic responsibility. What’s more, in an era of blatant global antisemitism, and the support for expulsion/extermination of Jews, he proposed a healthy rivalry- for example, instead of burning down Jewish shops, he promoted natives building their own. As to show how far he was from fascism rhetorically, he said that he doubted that fascism would outlive Mussolini himself (prior to the thought of a world war coming up being blatant).
Economically, he despised the “third way”- he was a supporter of the Krakow school of economics, a precursor to the Austrian school of economics. Its first member, (Prof. Dunajewski) was the teacher of Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian school. Later on, Heydel and Rybarski, two Polish economists who proposed extreme deregulation of the economy during the time when most of the world was shifting towards Keynesian economic interventionism, lead the economic thought in his nationalist movement.

Dmowski’s line of reasoning was based upon the logical conclusion of taking the following ideas as principles- that his nation had potential, and that regulations slowed down the economy. The conclusion to this is that the members of the said nation should be allowed to freely compete in a free market, and through it, gain the best results. His hard work results in the fact that the biggest nationalist/libertarian party in Poland, Liberty (Wolność), is a market-oriented, pro-free trade movement.


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The Supreme Court: Enemy of Liberty, Friend of Authoritarianism

By Tj Roberts | United States

Brett Kavanaugh is a loss to liberty, but he is just a symptom to a much worse disease. That disease is the Supreme Court of the United States. Since Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court has been used as a weapon for expanding government power, irreparably damaging individual liberty, and destroying local sovereignty. If the Supreme Court actually acted within its constitutional role, the nomination of Kavanaugh would not be a problem.

To start, the power of judicial review was not given to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. Rather, it was given to the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court itself. In the 1803 Marbury vs. Madison decision, Justice John Marshall gave the Supreme Court the power of Judicial Review, completely subverting the Constitution. By gaining the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court, a small collection of robed politicians, gained the ability to decide whether or not any and all federal/state/local laws are in accordance with the Constitution.

The Supreme Court Justices 2017
The Supreme Court Justices, 2017

Needless to say, this power is immense. With there being eight (and likely soon to be nine) Supreme Court Justices, fewer than ten people have full control over whether or not your rights are protected. But the trend of the Supreme Court has been the disintegration of economic liberty and disregard for personal liberties.

While the fact that the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional has done enough damage, the fact that the Supreme Court will write the law through judicial review adds insult to injury. Roe vs. Wade, for example, passed a federal law stating that state and local governments cannot make laws that restrict abortion. If Hillary Clinton was the president, imagine the damage to economic liberty, gun rights, and private property her nominees would do! While it is worth celebrating every win for liberty, we must remember that the Court should not be able to write the law. If you would not wish your worst enemy to have this power, you must not allow even your closest ally to have this power.

In other words, the Supreme Court is diametrically opposed to liberty. Eight people have more influence over your life than any other individual. The path of the US that the SCOTUS has sent it down is one of centralization and totalitarianism. Even the DC vs. Heller decision opened the door for “reasonable” gun laws. When the court has enough power to claim that a class of human beings are not people (see Dred Scott) or may be locked in concentration camps (see Korematsu), the court has too much power.

How to Stop Government Growth without the Supreme Court

“But what will we do to stop unconstitutional law?” some may ask. This answer has two parts. For one, the Supreme Court has only aided the effort to grow the federal government. Were it not for the jurisprudence of the Court, economic activity would still be considered a fundamental liberty (see footnote 4 in the United States vs. Carolene Products). If we abolished the Supreme Court today, the federal government’s greatest cheerleader would seek to exist.

Second, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us the exact answer to this question. In the 1798 Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jefferson and Madison made it clear that the federal government is inclined to grow and that it is the duty of the states to nullify tyrannical federal legislation. The Tenth Amendment grants a great degree of power to state and local government so that the people will have more power through localization. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions take that power to its logical conclusion: local and state governments have not just the right, but the duty to resist federal tyranny.

Whereas the Court is part of the federal government, it has no incentive to hold back federal growth. The people and local governments, however, have every incentive to do so. The Supreme Court is the enemy of local and individual sovereignty. It is far too powerful. Not only can it cancel a law (at any level, mind you), it can write the law. Liberty cannot be achieved when society is effectively owned by a handful of seemingly omnipotent politicians.


Originally published on freedomandeconomics.org.

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Molon Labe: A Call Against Authoritarians

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Most of us know of the famous phrase “Molon Labe” meaning “Come and take it” in Ancient Greek. But many do not know the captivating history behind it, what it truly means, and how the phrase was originated.

The story behind this phrase represents defiance of authority and a refusal to surrender the natural right to self-preservation. In a time of extreme scrutiny towards the right to bear arms and an ever increasing authoritarian state, this story is an example of ultimate courage in the face of totalitarianism which is important to remember.

The phrase Molon Labe dates back to 480 BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The Persians Achaemenid Empire, led by King Xerxes I, had by far the largest military force in the world at the time. Xerxes wished to conquer all of Greece, wishing to complete the mission of his father who attempted to do the same but died in the first Persian invasion. Xerxes was determined, yet the Greeks would rather have died than become slaves to him.

At the time, Greece was a loose collection of city-states. They had formed an alliance to defend their homeland in the first Persian invasion and remained a loose confederation. Upon learning of the relatively unexpected Persian invasion, a state of panic ensued. They formed a plan to send 10,000 hoplites (the full size of the Spartan professional fighting force) to make a massive stand and hold their position near Mt. Olympus, in the valley of Tempe. But the plans were withdrawn when the true size of the Persian fighting force (which was estimated at the time to be over a million but now expected to be much lower).

Instead they mustered up a force of approximately 7,000 men ( 300 Spartans and their helots with 2,120 Arcadians, 1,000 Lokrians, 1,000 Phokians, 700 Thespians, 400 Corinthians, 400 Thebans, 200 men from Phleious, and 80 Mycenaeans) led by Spartan King Leonidas, to march north and block the Persian at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae, nicknamed “The Hot Gates”.

With the relatively small size of the Greek force, the terrain at Thermopylae was their best option for an advantage.The terrain consisted of a narrow, 15-meter wide mountain pass, with a sheer, jagged cliff one side, and the ocean to the other. The pass created a bottle like effect in which only a small portion of the attacking Persians could confront the Greek force at once. Unable to flank, the Persians would be forced to hurl wave after wave head-on into the Spartan Phalanx. This was the plan.

Upon Persian arrival, King Xerxes sent men to negotiate with Leonidas. He wished to avoid the headache of a battle, which he was sure would end with a quick Persian Victory, and move on to larger fish to fry deeper inland. They were offered their freedom, and the title “friends of the Persian Empire” if they bent the knee.

The Greeks refused.

Upon learning of the refusal, Xerxes sent back the messenger with a handwritten note ordering the greeks to “hand over your arms”. Despite being Outnumbered almost 100-1, Leonidas’ responded simply yet triumphantly with, “Molon Labe.” Come and take it.

Frustrated, the Persian messenger threatened “Our arrows will block out the Sun!” in which Leonidas calmly replied, “Then we shall have our battle in the shade!”

With the Greeks’ refusal came seething anger from the Persian King. To Xerxes it became personal, for nobody disrespected the “God King,” nobody denied his ultimate authority. To him, this was like a small child spitting in his face. Soon after, Xerxes and his Generals began making battle preparations.

On the first day of the battle, Xerxes ordered a mass of 5,000 archers to unleash a barrage of arrows at the awaiting defensive line. Despite firing tens of thousands of arrows from 100 meters away, they proved to be completely ineffective as they deflected off the greeks bronze armor and helmets.

Perplexed, Xerxes proceeded to launch a massive frontal assault, hurling waves of 10,000 Medes and Cissian’s. The terrain and fighting style enabled the Greeks to utilize the least amount of men as effectively possible. They stood shoulder to shoulder, forming a wall of overlapping shields and long spears protruding out from the sides.

This was the standard greek phalanx and it proved to be immensely effective against the massive hordes poorly equipped for this type of warfare. According to Ctesias, an ancient Greek historian, the first waves to engage the Greek Phalanx were “cut to ribbons.”

Getting increasingly frustrated, yet still believing the Greeks could not hold out much longer, Xerxes then threw 10,000 his most elite forces, the immortals, the most highly trained and well equipped fighting force the Persians had to offer, into the second assault. But the immortals fared no better than those who attacked before them.

The Greeks had heard stories of the immortals, they had heard the immortals were one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. Defeating them so decisively had been given the Greeks a source of hope, and became a source of even more courage than they had before.

On the second day, Xerxes launched yet another massive frontal assault, supposing that “the enemies, being so few, were now disabled by wounds and could no longer resist.” Yet after hours of relentless fighting, and wave after wave of Persian assault, they fared no better on the second day than on the first. After thousands of casualties, Xerxes (Totally Perplexed) halted the assault and regrouped with his generals back at their camp.

Xerxes reputation of being a “God-King” was at risk of being discredited, and he was desperate for a plan. Later that day, Xerxes received a massive break. A local named Ephialtes, incentivized by his desire for reward from one of the wealthiest king in the world, informed Xerxes of a path starting from the East of the Persian camp, which encircled the Greek force.

On the night before the third day, the Persians led by the Persian General Hydarnes, took position on the ridge above the Spartan position, effectively encircling them. Leonidas received word from a Phocian runner that the Phocian force had retreated, and that the Persians completely surrounded the them.

Upon learning this, Leonidas rallied his troops together. He proclaimed that as free men, those who wish to leave may leave, and those who wish to stay, to obey Spartan code of Honor and hold off the Persian advance, were welcome to stay with him and fight to the death. Of the original 7,000 men, about 2,000 of the remaining stayed, including all of the remaining Spartans.

These men knew the chances of them surviving were slim to none, yet they were determined to hold off the Persian army until their men could retreat, and carry word of the likely Persian advancement.

On the third and final day of the battle, Xerxes rounded up 10,000 of his most elite infantry and cavalry forces and marched towards the Greek front line. This time, as the Persian front neared 50 meters, the Greeks made a final charge forward from their original position to met the Persian infantry in a wider part of the pass, attempting to slaughter as many of the invading force as possible.

The Spartans put up a heroic last stand. In the clash, two of Xerxes’s brothers, Abrochromes and Hyperanthes, were slain by Greek hoplites. The Spartan King Leonidas was also slain in the assault, picked off by Persian archers. After some time, most of the Greek force had been annihilated, some men retreated to a small hill behind the pass where they made there final stand.

Accepting their fate, the remaining men fought to the death on that hill, while Persian arrows rained down on them. Herodotus wrote: “Here they defended themselves to the last, those who still had swords using them, and the others resisting with their hands and teeth.”

The final death toll at Thermopylae cost the Persians an estimated 20,000+ fatalities. The Greek fatalities, those annihilated in the rearguard and those who died in the first two days of battle, was estimated at about 2,500+ men. When Xerxes men recovered the body of Leonidas and presented it to him, he ordered the corpse to be beheaded, and the body to be crucified.

Some years later, after the Persian Invaders had been defeated, Leonidas’s bones were returned to Sparta, and a Stone lion placed at the battle sight to commemorate his courage and patriotism in the face of tyranny.

The Battle Of Thermopylae has gained a reputation for one of the most famous battles in human history. The last stand of the Greeks is an example of what courageous and determined men can do whilst protecting the liberty of their homeland. It has served as a symbol for patriots standing up to tyranny, and it has become a cultural icon for western civilization.


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Raleigh Police Demand Google Release GPS Data Of Users Near Crime Scenes

According to WRAL, North Carolina police have successfully convinced a Wake County judge to order Google to hand over the data records of citizens found to be within a digital corridor on the night or day of a specified crime scene. The state claims they have the right to access Google’s database in an effort to identify suspects in the area of a crime.

The two cases in question revolve around the murders of a taxi cab driver and another man killed in his driveway last year. Drawing on a satellite map, Raleigh police presented the Wake County judge with a highlighted area encompassing the crime scene. Any citizen that passed within this territory during an estimated time of criminal activity would be included in the digital roundup.

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WRAL

While privacy activists across the country criticized the news, county officials suggested that this is simply the natural evolution of forensic techniques. Raleigh police presented the tech giant with warrants to provide the digital information of any active cell phones found within the area of the two separate murders.

For one of the warrants, the judge ordered Google to hand over the data of any user within a 17 block radius of the crime scene. This area includes residential houses and businesses, meaning that the data dump could potentially include thousands of free and lawful citizen’s private information. Some have suggested this is a breach of our constitutional rights to search without due cause.

According to research, 92% of all Americans own a cellular device. While users have the option to turn off GPS location services, citizens can still be tracked by connected cellular networks that constantly monitor users. Google has remained quiet on the proceedings and offered a brief statement regarding how they decide to release information to authorities:

We have a long-established process that determines how law enforcement may request data about our users. We carefully review each request and always push back when they are overly broad. – Google

The statement suggests that Google protects the rights of its users up to a point. Without any specifics, however, it is tough to assume what their policy really is and how dedicated the tech giant is to its user’s private information. Furthermore, the data was not limited to Android users. Any user connected to a google app was targeted in the sweep. In the case of the two murders in Raleigh, perhaps the search optimization site was shown convincing evidence that compelled them to release the records of thousands of area citizens. Or perhaps this isn’t a battle the Silicon Valley enterprise wants to fight.

According to the presiding judge, this ruling does not allow for a limitless search of a user’s phone. Text messages, emails, and phone calls were precluded from the warrant although the judge suggested these could be obtained with through a different process. This ruling holds precedent in Orange County California where a digital search warrant to comb through the records of cellular users has been used in past cases.

Americans are not stupid. They know they are being watched and recognize that the monolithic tech giants of our age often have no recourse (or interest) in protecting the rights of their consumers. This decision stands and Google’s weak stance on privacy helps illuminate the reality that your right to digital privacy in The United States continues to be eroded with certainty and precision by a new grouping of technological authorities that seem not to possess an understanding or care for constitutional rights.

The fourth amendment to the constitution states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Constitutional advocates will recognize the issue with judges ordering private data of citizens that happen to pass through a geographical territory while a crime is committed. While the information could be used to prosecute a killer, it also serves to disenfranchise the property rights of the other 99.9% of citizens who have a right to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search. Ordering the release of is an unreasonable search.

What’s worse is that this sort of legislation will undoubtedly target minorities as it already did in the taxi driver case. Crime is highest in places of poverty, and if authorities are allowed the opportunity to search private citizen’s property based on territorial generalizations, it is a certainty that the weakest among us will only get weaker. Furthermore, this new technique could possess technological challenges. For instance, this modern form of analytics could lead to false accusations based simply on being within a 17 block area of a committed crime.

As we move into the era of complete technological adoption, clarification regarding privacy and the rights of individuals in the digital age are becoming contested issues. While officials suggest these new measures are in line with a mentality required to investigate crimes of the 21st-century, where does the breach of privacy end? Every inch we give up as Americans is another inch gained by the corporate monoliths of government and business. These latest cases are simply another example of how commonplace it has become for the state to monitor its citizens without their consent.

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