Walmart: What’s so Bad?

Walmart Store
Walmart – American Success Story

I was thinking, for some inexplicable reason, about those who protest against Walmart and their employee pay scale and benefit package, or lack thereof. And then I thought, why don’t we protest against all businesses that aren't Walmart?

Here’s my reasoning; tell me where I’m wrong.

forced to shop at walmart?
Have all these people been forced to shop at Walmart?

Walmart doesn't force anyone to work for them. Slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century. I can only reach the conclusion that everyone working at Walmart is doing so voluntarily and because employment there is better than the next best option available to them. In other words, Walmart is offering each person who works there better pay, better benefits, or a better overall situation, all things considered, than any other option that person has.

The only conclusion I can reach, given that logic, is that every employer other than Walmart is offering less to potential employees and we should do something about it. I say we go through the Yellow Pages, starting with A, and protest every business that refuses to hire a Walmart employee for more pay and better benefits.

Walmart protesters
Target would love to see Walmart raise wages to $15 an hour for entry level employees.

Who’s with me?

Musings of a Male of European Descent

I realize this article by Fred Reed is somewhat harsh and makes some points based on generalizations. As with statistical samples, generalizations and stereotypes say absolutely nothing about a single individual, but where and when some truth lies buried in generalizations and stereotypes it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, especially when it is directly related to the amount of anger and violence we experience as a matter of course in America today. When truths are borne out by observation time and time again, they have a plaPreparing for the riotce in reasoned discussion of broad, societal issues.

Feeling uncomfortably in agreement with Mr. Reed, I find myself at a point of existential crisis as a white male of European descent in twenty-first century America. (If you’ll pardon the abbreviation for United States of America; I know the name America comprises two continents as well as the countries of Central America. Most readers assume correctly I’m talking about U.S.A.) My discomfort stems from the difficulty of reconciling a healthy, positive sense of self with what is thrust upon me in current American culture as a White Male of European descent. Celebrations of Asian pride, Black pride, Gay pride, Pinoy Pride, La Raza, and other group identities are not only glorified, but attendance at these celebrations has become de rigueur for media coverage, which is necessarily extremely positive, wherever they occur.

But European pride? Why, that’s just a synonym for White Racism. Everyone knows that. Never mind white Europeans, for the most part led by males, built the very foundations of the culture of personal liberty that allows the masses to celebrate their otherness without fear of having their tongues cut out, their noses cut off, or being beheaded in the public square, punishments that still occur in some non-western countries. The peoples of European stock banned slavery in the West while it continued to be practiced throughout much of the rest of the world. More specifically, it was Roman Catholic priests who began the original fight against slavery and oppression of the inhabitants of what they knew as the new world. Christian nations ended slavery centuries before it was banned in virtually every other major civilization (only outlawed in Mauritania in 1981), yet there are multitudes among us who continue to flog themselves with guilt at every opportunity. With all the advances the European culture has brought to the human race, still white European Christians are the only group that not only takes delight in criticizing itself but diligently seeks opportunities to do so in the public square. We relish to no end the shouting of mea culpas for anyone who will listen. European civilization and its Greek and Roman predecessors are responsible for the lion’s share of philosophy, art, science, and technology that brought the western world out of a life of hard labor and early death. But the more we apologize, the more we are lambasted with criticism. To unearth more insults and to find more to criticize in those of European ancestry, the Social Justice Warriors have turned to seeking out micro aggressions; there just aren’t enough real aggressions or insults to complain about these days, so we're examined under a microscope, seeking out any and every possible word, phrase, or mode of living that could possibly be interpreted by a hyper-sensitive SJW as an insult to someone's vaunted pride.

Image of police over-reactionWe see now the backlash of decades of political correctness and the onslaught of Social Justice Warriors.  The great unwashed masses, the mundanes in fly-over country, the deplorables are standing up and yelling, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” An American businessman who is rough around the edges (to put it mildly) and is the opposite of a polished political speaker (to put it very mildly), and definitely not a schmoozer with the elites and the Wall Street/D.C. crowd, grabbed the emotions of millions upon millions who have reached the breaking point of feeling guilty and sorry and remorseful and responsible for every ill of the downtrodden protected classes of the country and was elected president due to the sentiment. The limousine liberals, the SJW’s, the poor-me crowd, those who have profited from divisiveness and especially all those who would like to see all of us of European heritage die a natural or not so natural death have sown the wind. Prepare for the whirlwind.

The Scourge of Graffiti

grafitti in Granada 1
While this is a nice picture, still, it's not the artist's wall.

Someone wants to express himself (and I’m willing to bet 99 times out of 100 it’s a he who wields the spray can) so he takes a can of paint and goes out at four o’clock in the morning and makes his “artistic” mark on whatever vertical surface looks most appealing or that has the fewest people around to observe him. He and countless others leave their graffiti on some wall like a pack of dogs marking their territory, and normally what they paint has just as much to offer.

I really don’t care if the guy is a budding Rembrandt; the wall or the bus or the train or whatever isn’t his to paint on. I was having a discussion about graffiti with another person who said if the painter really has talent she doesn’t really mind—some graffiti is really nice art.

Grafitti in Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Could anyone, even an adolescent male, not think this is ugly?

Really? I wonder if she would have said that if the “artist” had painted a nice picture on the side of her car.

This is specifically the point. In the right context people can understand the idea of private property—that it’s not OK for someone to do whatever he wants with your property. What if it’s someone else’s property? Most people would agree that it’s not right to paint on the side of someone’s house. OK. So what about the side of an office building, or a wall along a street? Now it’s a matter of whether the owner of the building or the wall has more money than you think he needs, or owns a business you don’t like. Then, for some reason, it’s OK to paint on his or her wall. What if the wall is “public property?” Ignoring the fact that all “public property” is property purchased with money stolen from others in the form of taxation, it remains the case that even the “public” wall is not the property of the one painting on it. The painter has no right to alter a wall that he doesn't own.

I see graffiti as one symptom of a larger problem, a problem that affects our entire society: the fact that the right to private property is not acknowledged as a fundamental principal, inviolable and sacrosanct.

Ubiquitous graffiti in Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Ubiquitous graffiti in Granada, Andalucia, Spain

It is specifically the right to private property that is a fundamental bedrock of an advanced society.

Without it, there is no incentive to plan for the future, to save and invest, to give up today what you might enjoy in the present in order to have something tomorrow. Without the fundamental confidence in the principal that your property is yours and will continue to be yours into the future, forever, to do with as you please, to give to whomever you will, there is no motivation not to consume today everything you produce today. On the contrary, the incentive is not only to consume all you produce, but to produce absolutely no more than you can immediately consume.

It would be nice if human nature were otherwise; if people would work unceasingly solely to give to others without regard for their own well being. It would be a wonderful existence if we were all angels, if no one desired their own property to do with as they please, to make their own lives more enjoyable and comfortable, to secure their own future and the future of their families against an unknown future.

But we’re not angels. And the best way all societies have found throughout history to incentivize individuals to produce more than they consume is to protect and preserve the inviolable right to private property. Property rights promote stability, enable and encourage people to preserve the fruits of their individual labor. Private property enhances economic efficiency.

More graffiti in Granada
Ugly ugly ugly

Regarding the problem of graffiti, “We may say that a man’s right to property tells us not so much what he may properly do but rather what others may not properly do to him.” (Eric Dalton. “Private Property and Collective Security” Left and Right, No. 3 (Autumn 1966): 33-47.) I would add, not only to him, but to his property.

The graffiti that is so prevalent is not a disease, it is only a symptom. It’s an obvious and ugly symptom, but it’s nothing compared with the devolution of civilized society that is characterized by cynicism, mistrust, and the slow but steady collapse of not only our economic systems but of an entire civilization.

The coming downfall will have been brought on by myriad causes, but in large part it will be the result of the loss of respect for the concept of private property.

Graffiti in Granada, Andalucia, Spain

Hypocrisy and Immigration

I'll let Mr. Molyneux speak for himself, but I'll just preface this brief video to say that I fully support the nation of Israel having the right to determine and control who is allowed to immigrate to their country. They have every right to not only protect their citizens but to also maintain their culture.

With that said, I also have to state categorically that other nations have the same right.

A Brave New World

If this is the Brave New World, count me a coward. I'm glad I won't be around to see the destruction of Western society, if only the coming deluge holds out long enough.

There aren't enough of us with the courage to stand up and say some things are simply wrong. The Social Justice Warriors will win because we are so afraid to be called sexist, racist, cisist, misogynistic, homophobic, or whatever other -ic, -ist, or -phobic epithet comes next. We are all to believe that anything and everything should be allowed, no matter the consequences to ourselves and society, all so that 1/10 of 1% can feel good about themselves. But what the SJWs insist we throw away is the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of thousands of years of developed civilization. They cry for the jettisoning of all we've learned, not only what we call common sense, but even scientific and mathematical knowledge as if that's only a “social construct” that each generation and society should be able to accept or reject as it wishes.

In ages past some science was incorrect, and some things we today know to be true will be shown to be false in the future. But that doesn't mean that we throw out the baby with the bathwater. And the SJW's use “social construct” as if that, by definition, is bad. In fact, there are social constructs surrounding sexual identity that have enabled the human race to sustain itself and develop over the past hundred thousand years. I'm not ready to throw those in the ash heap of history.

With that said, whether one is male or female is not a social construct. There are, in fact, two sexes.

In some cases, people are born with the sexual organs of both sexes. Did you get that? BOTH SEXES. Not all three, four, five, or thirteen. Both. In days past we would call that a birth defect. The person is not defective, any more than someone born without two arms is defective, but he or she (he or she) does have a birth defect. If a person believes himself to be multiple people depending on some unknown trigger in the brain, he has a psychological defect. If someone born with XX chromosomes believes herself to be male, by the same token, she has a psychological defect. She can have sexual relations with any willing partner over the accepted legal age, regardless of that person's chromosomal makeup. She can wear a suit and tie. She can operate a crane, drive a truck, or volunteer for the Marines and carry a gun in battle. All that notwithstanding, she is a female, graced by XX chromosomes.

However, I accept defeat. There is now an eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not offend anyone, anytime, in any manner. The poor, delicate souls who are offended then have the right to ruin said offender in their business or career, to destroy them financially, to drag them through the courts until they, as if in Mao's Red China, beat their breast and declare to the world that they are ignorant, antisocial, cowardly fools and beg forgiveness of the greater society they have insulted.

I will now step aside and watch the slow and inevitable ruin of a once-great Western Society as it is swept into the dustbin of history, thankful that I won't be around to see the ultimate collapse.

But I'll still write articles. It gives me something to do. And thankfully, I'm not the only sane person left.

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Living in an area with too many people and cars, I spend a lot of time in mine. I can’t stand commercials and useless traffic reports, and I’m too cheap to pay for a subscription service.

Fortunately, I’m alive at the most wonderful time in human history! I have

I listened to A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving recently. I enjoyed the book so much I bought a hardback copy for my personal library—such as it is; I gave most of my hundreds of books to the Mt. Vernon, Iowa library a few years ago to lighten my load when I thought I was moving to Spain.

But some books require your absolute attention and this is one of them. Listening while driving is a good way to get something out of your time in awful traffic, but you miss a lot. For some odd reason, other things keep taking your mind away from the book you’re listening to.

You don’t want to miss a single word of A Prayer for Owen Meany.

One particular page caught my attention. The book tells the life of Owen Meany from his childhood. Owen is a small person, very intelligent, seems to have some powers of discernment and knowledge of the future, and believes he is one of God’s instruments on Earth. Toward the end of the book, our hero, Owen has passed through the age of innocence. Previously a rabid fan of JFK, he’s found out that President Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe and tells Johnny Wheelwright, his friend, and the story’s narrator,

“Those famous, powerful men—did they really love her? Did they take care of her? If she was ever with the Kennedys, they couldn’t have loved her—they were just using her, they were just being careless and treating themselves to a thrill. That’s what powerful men do to this country—it’s a beautiful, sexy, breathless country, and powerful men use it to treat themselves to a thrill! They say they love it but they don’t mean it. They say things to make themselves appear good—they make themselves appear moral. That’s what I thought Kennedy was: a moralist. But he was just giving us a snow job, he was just being a good seducer. I thought he was a savior. I thought he wanted to use his power to do good. But people will say and do anything just to get the power, then they’ll use the power just to get a thrill. Marilyn Monroe was always looking for the best man—maybe she wanted the man with the most integrity, maybe she wanted the man with the most ability to do good. And she was seduced, over and over again—she got fooled, she was tricked, she got used, she was used up. Just like the country. The country wants a savior. The country is a sucker for powerful men who look good. We think they’re moralists and then they just use us. That’s what’s going to happen to you and me,” said Owen Meany. “We’re going to be used.”

John Irving, speaking through his protagonist, Owen Meany, is right. This country is a sucker for powerful men who look good. The thing that’s so difficult to fathom, though, is that we continue to allow ourselves to be played for suckers. Every election cycle we’re fed the same bullshit and we keep eating it up. (Yes, I intended that sentence to be disgusting. It's exactly how I feel.)

I believe we are programmed to forget unpleasantness, and the more unpleasant, the faster we forget. I believe someday we'll find there's a gene that’s responsible for this behavior. I only have second-hand knowledge of most of the human procreation process, but by anyone’s standards, anyone I’ve ever known, the entire gestation period is uncomfortable, to say the least, fraught with problems or the risk of problems, and the birth process itself seems to be something no women in her right mind would go through a second time. But the human brain is programmed to forget just how awful the process was as soon as it’s over. Were it not so, the human race would have become extinct hundreds of thousands of years ago.

We also seem to have a gene that gives us an infinite ability to believe the future is going to be better than the present. Because of this and the fact that we so easily and quickly forget the past, we believe someday we’ll elect the right person and the laws of economics and human nature itself will all be changed. We’ll have heaven on Earth. Maybe this unquenchable hope for the future, combined with the innate ability, and even requirement, to forget horrible moments of the past is what keeps us all moving forward.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to possess much of an imagination gene. We forget the past and look to the future, but without the ability to question whether just possibly we’ve gone down a bunny trail leading nowhere.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s wrong, but something is and we keep looking to powerful people to lead us, to fix all that ails us, to comfort us, and to be our moral leader through all tribulation. We keep wanting what we can’t have, so we keep disliking what we get.

Maybe next time we’ll get it right. Until then, I’m glad I can lose myself in writing such as John Irving produces.


An Elegy to American Culture

Here are a couple of paragraphs from my book, Where the Roads Lead (link below), a memoir of my pilgrimage to Rome, walking from Barcelona. Toward the end of the book, it seemed appropriate to include some thoughts about what the experience meant to me.

The lessons are still in their formative stages and slow in coming, but one thing I found while walking through a few European countries: I’m strengthened in my feeling that one’s culture is worth preserving. That nebulous thing composed of shared history, values, beliefs, and language is irreplaceable and important enough to do everything in one’s power to maintain. We’re all on the Earth together and yes, we’re all human, and of course we all fly through the Universe on the same small planet. But there are very real and, more importantly, very valuable subsets of humanness and divisions of the planet that have generated pockets of creativeness and ingenuity because of the environment—physical, spiritual, and existential, the basis of culture—in which a group of people found themselves. One’s culture is nothing to apologize for, be it Spanish, French, or Italian; Catalan, Provençal, Haute-Alps, Lombardy, Tuscan; or of Barcelona, St. Michel l’Observatoir, or San Gimignano. More, as I was walking through small European towns I found myself feeling envious of the residents who have a deep, ingrained culture through a shared history of countless generations of their families living in one place. Whenever I return to the States after an extended period of time in Europe, I feel engulfed by a cultural void. Here’s how I described my feelings about walking through Galicia in my previous book about walking the Camino de Santiago from Montserrat in 2012:

As I think back with help from the photos I took, I felt and can still feel, an attachment to the country that I've never been able to muster for anyplace I've lived in the United States. When I was a child, my family moved frequently, owing to my father’s job, so I never had the opportunity to develop feelings of home for a geographical location. Even when I got older and my family stopped moving so much, I didn't feel any attachment to a city, a state, or even the country in which I lived. I chalked this up to having lived a transient lifestyle, never settling in one place during those early years of life when we develop attachments to the land, a region, or a culture. Feeling an attachment to a region was not even in my capacity to imagine in the past. But here, in Galicia, it was easy to comprehend how people could feel oneness with their pueblo and with Galicia, how one could feel that, absent their homeland, they would be incomplete.

I had never had that feeling, but nevertheless, I missed it and envied Gallegos and all Spaniards for having it.

This feeling of emptiness was especially apparent when I returned from my first failed attempt to live in Spain and landed an employment contract in Phoenix, a city that can best be described, in my humble opinion, as a giant, new, gleaming, effervescent shopping mall. I know there is an old part of that town that actually maintains its long history, but the Phoenix I experienced had been inundated by all things bright and shiny and above all, uniform. It’s a microcosm of what the United States is becoming—sterile, without soul, without a history its people can admire and hold onto, and with a future that is anyone’s guess.

The U.S. is a ship without a rudder that goes whichever way the tides of other’s cultural forces push it. Since we want to readily admit, and even take pride in the fact that we have no cultural base worth preserving, we will almost surely founder on the rocks of multi-culturalism, which means in essence and in practice, no-culturalism.

People are, deep down, tribal animals. That in itself is not a good or bad thing. We prefer to be among those who are like ourselves, who share our values and beliefs, and this has helped to keep humanity from extinction. We enjoy occasionally dipping our toe in other people’s pools, but left to our own devices, Polish people prefer to hang out with Polish people, Vietnamese people socialize with other Vietnamese, Russians with Russians, Afghanis with Afghanis, Nigerians with Nigerians, and so forth. This has absolutely nothing to do with skin color; it’s a matter of shared cultures and being able to communicate and truly understand each other on a level deeper than words can convey. Each person stands on the cultural soil cultivated by generations of his forebears. Shared experiences, beliefs, world views—culture—become embedded in ones DNA. For this reason and this reason alone, each has an unstated, genetic understanding of others within his own culture.

Bruce Tuckman came up with a model of group dynamics some fifty years ago that is still taught and used as a framework for managing groups and projects. He listed four stages that a group goes through: forming, storming, norming, and performing. (Management models always have to have some pithy rhyme or sequence structure to make them memorable.) I see this same dynamic in the progression of the culture of the United States. We left the forming stage by the end of the eighteenth century. We went through a terrible phase of storming until the latter part of the nineteenth century. But somehow we got mired in the norming phase. Much of the populace refuses to allow it, as if norms—socially accepted values by which we identify our culture—are an evil that must be eradicated.

A Judeo-Christian culture brought America to where it was in the mid-twentieth century. Highly imperfect, but certainly not something that should be thoughtlessly jettisoned like so much flotsam from a ship’s bilge. Our main problem seems to stem from the fact that European civilization, for whatever reason, is particularly adept at and energized by self-criticism. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living, but let us not conflate self-examination with self-flagellation. It was not America’s natural resources that brought and continue to bring immigrants here. It was not ideal weather or ease of life. What draws people to American shores is the result of our European culture, a culture that created, among many other advantageous circumstances, an environment of respect for property, individualism, and the rule of law. Although implemented imperfectly, these vitally important criteria have created a pretty good place to live. I’m not alone in that opinion; hundreds of millions since the founding of this country have demonstrated their agreement through their actions. People have risked their lives to come to America.

To be proud of your heritage and culture is in no way to disparage others, but we seem to be engulfed within a popular worldview that forces us to violently tear down everything we’ve built, as if half the populace of our nation needs to go through “re-education camp,” as if our entire culture—repeating the disaster of Mao’s Communist Revolution—has to be literally destroyed in order to correct some perceived imperfections.

Nature abhors a vacuum. No less so, human nature. If the majority of people of the United States continue to deny that this country has a culture worth preserving, to try to maintain a cultural void, accepting any and all without defending our heritage, those who value their culture and take pride in their heritage, and who have the willpower to impose it will step in to fill that void. It has happened over and over throughout history.


Mr. Lincoln

In a previous post I made reference to mass murders—not the John Wayne Gacys and Charles Whitmans of the world, but the truly great among mass murderers: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. I assume not a few readers might have stumbled when they read Abraham Lincoln’s name included among those luminaries. Gacy killed at least 33 boys; Whitman claimed 15 killed and 32 injured. They operated on their own, mana a mano. But to be really productive at murder you have to have a national government and an army at your disposal. The mass murderers who stand out in history number their victims in the millions. Our sainted Lincoln was only responsible for 650,000 military dead on both sides and enough civilian casualties from disease, malnutrition, and starvation to bring that number to the one million range. If that’s not mass murder, I don’t know what is.

I know, it was a war. But those who instigate war are held responsible for its consequences. But didn't South Carolina start the war by firing on the USS Harriet Lane? There is a sufficient body of evidence that Lincoln not only knew that U.S. supply ships approaching Charleston Harbor would be fired upon, but that this was exactly his intention. (See this article by Joe Ryan.) Lincoln used the excuse that he only wanted to bring food to the U.S. troops still stationed there, but merchants of Charleston had already been supplying food to the troops and had stated that they would continue doing so until an agreement and arrangements for their removal could be made.

When a president wants to start an unpopular war, he needs someone else to take the first shot. So we have the Confederates firing on the “defenseless” ship in Charleston Harbor, the Vietnamese firing on a U.S. ship in the Golf of Tonkin, and some would still say the “unprovoked” attack by the Japanese on U.S. ships at Pearl Harbor. We could also include Mr. Bush 41 using Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait to launch his war against Iraq, even though in a meeting between Mr. Hussein and the U.S. envoy to Iraq, April Glaspie, the U.S. government let it be known that we had no opinion on the matter and virtually gave Iraq the go-ahead for annexing Kuwait. Then there was the ingenious propaganda campaign leading the American public to believe that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 incident, which whipped up support for the second attack on Iraq by Mr. Bush 43.

Lincoln’s intent, at all costs, was to maintain The Union. This, even though he stated some years 
earlier, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.” (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 1, p. 438). But when the southern states attempted to leave the Union, Lincoln sang a different tune. He saw his “American System” in danger. The import and export duties and other taxes taken from the southern states were financing his plan for a plutocracy in these United States of America. I suppose the operative phrase in his words was, “and having the power.” He would see about that.

The party of Lincoln is actually the party of Alexander Hamilton who, even though he was a signatory to the Constitution, began trying to dismantle the principles in that document from virtually the first day after its ratification and create a mercantile system modeled after Great Britain’s. Hamilton was the first to refer to this as “The American System.” His vision of the United States included a central bank, nationalization of the (fiat) currency, an income tax, perpetual government debt, a standing army, and collusion and cooperation between government and business. Henry Clay continued fighting for this during his entire political career, then passed the standard to Lincoln.

From Lincoln the Man (Edgar Lee Masters. The Foundation for American Education (December 1, 1997)). “Clay was the champion of that political system which doles favors to the strong in order to win and to keep their adherence to the government. His system offered shelter to devious schemes and corrupt enterprises… “He was the beloved son of Alexander Hamilton with his corrupt funding schemes, his superstitions concerning the advantage of a public debt, and a people taxed to make profits for enterprises that cannot stand alone. His example and his doctrines led to the creation of a party that had no platform to announce, because its principles were plunder and nothing else.”

Lincoln said all of his political thoughts flowed from the politics of Henry Clay.

The question of slavery had been a sticking point between northern and southern states throughout much of the first half of the nineteenth century. The final nail in the coffin, the issue that finally drove the southern states to secede was the taxes, levies, and import and export duties being charged to southern commerce to finance the north's internal improvements—government financed roads, canals, railroads, and other infrastructure that were primarily being built in the northern states but funded by the south. Protectionist tariffs were designed to help northern manufacturers, but they hurt the economy of the southern, mostly agricultural states. The tariff bills also included subsidies, bailouts, and cheap credit to politically well-connected businesses.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the result of the party of Lincoln that’s continued to this day and has become a “corrupt system of government of the plutocrats, for the plutocrats, by the plutocrats. (DiLorenzo.

Let’s say that all that is true. Still, the war ended slavery, didn't it? If that’s the case, then all the death and destruction were worth it.

Every other country in the western world ended slavery without a war. Slavery may have ended with the war, but that wasn't the goal according to its instigator. There was high energy in the abolition movement and it was only a matter of time before that and the industrial revolution put an end to slavery in the last country in the western world to allow it, an end that could have come without not only the loss of life and property, but the heritage of extreme racism and violence caused by the politics of Reconstruction and its concomitant scapegoating and resentment.

Why was a war that cost a million lives and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of property destruction the only way out here in the land of the free and home of the brave? Northern society in the U.S. has made a fine art of demonizing southerners. But racism doesn't end at the Mason Dixon Line: Blacks were not allowed in Lincoln’s Illinois, and it was only a short time prior to the war, historically speaking, that slavery was abolished in the northern states. There was still segregation in (previously) northern states in the 1960s. Does anyone remember that Brown vs Board of Education was a law suit from Kansas?

It must be taken into account that between ninety and ninety-four percent (records are inexact) of all southerners owned not a single slave. Disregarding the moral question, if we only consider the practical and economic situation, it is obvious that slavery was economically detrimental to white labor and landowners who could not afford slaves or for moral reasons chose not to use them. And there were plenty of landowners who refused to take part in the institution. The abolition movement in the United States started in the south. Further, the industrial revolution would soon make slavery uneconomical even for the minority in the south that still supported it. The CSA (Confederate States of America) leadership supported ending slavery well before the end of the war. This included not only Jefferson Davis, but Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston and others. (Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hattaway and Beringer, University Press of Kansas; (June 13, 2002).

Even Lincoln himself said that the war was not about slavery. While I believe, based on what I have read, that Lincoln abhorred slavery, still, he was a politician, and like all politicians, his principles were somewhat less than solidly planted beneath him. What was important to him was preserving the union and increasing the power of the national government. He said that if he could preserve the union by abolishing slavery, he would do it; if he could preserve the union by keeping slavery, he would do that. Whatever his personal views on the “peculiar institution,” the higher priority was a strong, national, plutocratic government based on a mercantile economic system.

From one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates: “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. And more:

“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” (Abraham Lincoln, August 21, 1858, Ottawa, IL)

Dec 22, 1860: from a private letter – Do the people of the south really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, there is no cause for such fears.”

“Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of them” (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (CW), Vol. II, p. 256).

What I would most desire,” Abraham Lincoln also declared, “would be the separation of the white and black races” (CW, Vol. II, p.  521). “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races… I am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 16).

Senator Douglas remarked…that…this government was made for white people and not for negroes. Why, in point of mere fact, I think so too,” (CW, Vol. II, p. 281).

These and numerous other comments concerning slavery can leave no doubt that the war to prevent southern independence was never predicated on the question of slavery.

Lincoln is also famous for having the first meeting with a group of black men in the White House in 1862. What is less well known is the topic of “discussion.” In point of fact, records show there was no discussion; Mr. Lincoln lectured his guests then invited them to leave. He explained to them that, because of the inherent differences between the white and black races, they could never live together, and so he urged them to lead by example and colonize themselves in Liberia.

Lincoln supported the Illinois Constitution that prohibited the emigration of black people into the state, and also supported the Illinois Black Codes that stripped the small number of free blacks in the state of virtually any rights of citizenship.

Professor Campbell quotes an August 27, 1858 speech by Lincoln in which he said, “I have never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of Southern States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave Law” (p 189).

Even after he started the war, Lincoln was adamant that the fight had nothing to do with the question of slavery. When Union Army General Benjamin Butler offered to allow runaway slaves to remain free Lincoln insisted they be returned to their owners. Lincoln revoked orders given by Union generals to free slaves. For example, early in the war General John Freemont took Missouri, declared martial law, and declared that all slaves of owners who supported secession were free. Lincoln reversed the order. The following year Union General David Hunter issued an order that all slaves in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina were free. Again, Lincoln reversed the order.

Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, “runaway” slaves from those states not affected by The Great Emancipator’s famous proclamation were returned to their “owners.” Twelve days after its issue, four black women and three children were arrested in Maryland and returned by federal marshals to their “owner.” Six months later this was repeated with two black men. Remember, only slaves in rebelling states were “emancipated.” The proclamation didn't affect slaves in non-rebelling states—those states over which Lincoln actually had some authority, even if unconstitutional.

It’s well-known that Lincoln eviscerated the Constitution during his presidency. Even Lincoln apologists admit as much. More, they praise him for it. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus. He arrested tens of thousands of political enemies. He shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisoned their editors and owners without due process. Yet he continued to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. From Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, by Stanley W. Campbell (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1968/2011).

A fugitive slave named Harris, his wife, and two children were apprehended in Chicago on April 3 [1861] and sent to Springfield [Lincoln’s home town] for a hearing before a United States commissioner. Harris was owned by one man, his wife and children by another, both residents of St. Louis County, Missouri. After the hearing, the slaves were remanded to their owners and quietly returned to Missouri (p 188).

And for this the commander-in-chief was willing to unleash the dogs of war. Not to end slavery, but to maintain a union for the benefit of government and business plutocrats. The war wasn't constrained to combatants, although most of those were conscripts. No, this was total war against the entirety of the people of the southern states.

From U.S. War Department publication, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, as discussed in Walter Brian Cisco’s outstanding work of scholarship, War Crimes Against Southern Civilians: “Colonel Adin Underwood of Massachusetts described Sherman’s gratuitous bombing and burning of Atlanta after the Confederate Army had left the city as having burned to the ground “37 percent of the city” according to Sherman’s military engineers. This included many private homes and even churches.”

The Official Records also record how federal soldiers extorted money from Southern civilians by 
demanding “insurance” payments to avoid having their homes ransacked and burned down. Because of this, southerners were hiding their valuables. “Let them do it if they dare. We’ll burn every house, barn, church, and everything else we come to; we’ll leave their families homeless without food; their towns will all be destroyed and nothing but the most complete desolation will be found in our track. “-Major James Austin Connolly (Lee Kennett, Marching Through Georgia, p. 279).

From Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War, John Walters, p. 137). “Bothered by his inability to apprehend Confederate snipers who had been shooting at his railroad trains, he sent the following order to a General Louis D. Watkins: ‘Cannot you send over about Fairmount and Adairsville, burn ten or twelve houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random, and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired on?’”

Lincoln’s brutality extends well beyond the borders of the War for Southern Independence. As Commander-in-Chief, Lincoln was responsible for the actions of his Generals and armies in the wars against Native Americans to clear the way for White folk and the coming trains, from which Lincoln would profit handsomely. (He purchased land in Council Bluffs, Iowa where the Transcontinental Railroad would later have its eastern terminus.) The 1864 forced march of Navajo—more than 300 miles during the winter—resulted in the deaths of hundreds. They were then placed in a concentration camp (reservation) far from the ancestral lands. In the next four years over 10,000 would be placed in that camp and over 3,500 would die.

And this from John Toland’s biography of Adolf Hitler, “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much , so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history.” Hitler was “very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations.”

And with all of this, Abraham Lincoln is the closest thing the United States has to a patron saint. It’s been said of him, “Lincoln died on Good Friday and died for America’s sins just as Christ died for the world’s sins.”

Jeffrey Tucker has said (

Lincoln emerges as the consummate politician, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Political power was his driving principle. All else was malleable, words and rhetoric formulated as means to an end, and that end was centralization of the state. This is sadly true of his late-life sympathies to the abolitionist cause. They served his purposes well.

Americans only know the Lincoln presented in official histories or Hollywood movies. In these accounts, he is a champion of democracy, an apostle of racial equality, and a paragon of social justice. These are tales, however, of a man who never was.

Lincoln did not establish liberty in America; he unleashed terror on Americans. Lincoln shredded the Constitution; ignored the courts; obstructed free and fair elections; criminalized speech; outlawed dissent; refused to honor existing treaties with Indian nations; proclaimed women and children, the sick, and the elderly legitimate military targets; and waged an unprovoked and illegal war, which killed more than 600,000 Americans.

Edmund Wilson, quoted by Thomas DiLorenzo ( “It was Lincoln, Lenin, and Bismarck who did more than any other individuals in their respective countries to introduce highly centralized governmental bureaucracies. Lincoln did this in America by destroying the system of states’ rights and federalism that was created by the founding fathers by destroying the rights of secession and nullification. He destroyed the original American union and replaced it with a Soviet-style coerced union held together by mass murdering literally hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens for simply asserting the truth of the founders that the original union was voluntary, as described in Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution.”

Some people, even recognizing all this about our national saint, the one it is forbidden to criticize or even consider under the light of historical reality, still cling to the idea that he held the union together and ask where the world would be if the United States had remained a loose confederation of independent states, united only for their own security and self-defense as the Constitution designed.

To that, I’ll let Thomas DiLorenzo* reply:

Without U.S. entry into World War I, financed in part by the new national bank of the sort that Lincoln longed for his entire adult life, the European powers would have eventually settled their disputes, as they always had done in the past. There would have been no Versailles Treaty that pushed Germany into the hands of Hitler, and the Russian communists would have been much weaker. Consequently, there would not likely have been a World War II and a 45-year long Cold War that followed.

As a decentralized, federal system that had long ago abolished slavery peacefully, as all the rest of the world did in the nineteenth century (including New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc.) America would have been a counter-example to all the world compared to the centralized, socialistic bureaucracies that dominated the 20th century (especially Russia and China and all the other socialist countries).

America may well have not been transformed from a constitutional republic to an empire with military bases in more than 150 countries. Presidents and their propagandists would not have repeated the Lincolnian mantra that “all men everywhere are created equal” to “justify” foreign military intervention in hundreds of places in the name of “spreading democracy and freedom” (but in reality for the purpose of confiscating resources or imposing mercantilism on foreign lands by military force for the benefit of American corporations).

This is not “capitalism” but corporatism or neo-mercantilism. Real capitalism is a system of mutually-advantageous, voluntary trade and does not require imposition at the barrel of a gun.

The Confederate States could have formed their own government to manage their affairs and deal peacefully with the United States as does Canada, Mexico, and any other country.

If there had been a war needing the support of the Americas, the model of the United States working with England, France, Canada, and other allied countries could have worked just as well in partnership with the CSA. The USA and CSA could have had trade relations just as the United States does today with other countries. Had the south prevailed we might still have had some semblance of the Constitution and the government the founders envisioned. We might have seen World War I end after two years instead of being drawn out an additional two by U.S. blood and money. And we probably would not have experienced part two of that same conflict after a twenty-year respite. It's all conjecture, but one can't help wondering, what if…

One thing is certain, though: There was no reason for Mr. Lincoln’s unnecessary, murderous war.

* To Mr. DiLorenzo I owe much gratitude; his articles on Lew have led me to most of the information cited in this article. My history education until well past university was one hundred percent “government approved.” It wasn't until later that I began widening my horizons and Mr. DiLorenzo has been one of my main sources of information concerning nineteenth century U.S. history.

A Few Thoughts on Anarchy

I took a risk by posting this article on anarchy. Few people, hardly any in fact, have any idea what capitalism is, much less anarchism. But as Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” I never have. So, for anyone who's interested, here are a few words about anarchism. I'll save capitalism for another post.
First, what anarchism is not. It is not what transpires when some hoodlum throws bricks through a Starbucks window or spray paints a symbol on an office building. Anarchism is not synonymous with chaos and disorder. And anarchism certainly doesn't have anything to do with anarcho-syndicalism, that failed political philosophy that became famous during the Spanish Civil War.
People can co-opt a word and frequently do, but that doesn't change its meaning. Plenty of Christians have killed, claiming it was part of their god's plan, or even that their god told them to. That doesn't change the meaning of Christianity one wit. The Strategic Air Command says “Peace is Our Mission.” Just because they use the words doesn't make it true. Words are only metaphors for ideas, for tiny electrical impulses in human brains, and they are very inaccurate metaphors at that. This is one reason people can argue so heatedly and finally, at some point, find that what they were arguing about was not at all what they thought they were – it was all just a misunderstanding.
Anarchy comes from the Greek anarkhos and simply means “without a ruler.” Rulers force people to do what they do not want to do, and prohibit them from doing what they would like to do by threat or actual use of violence and force. We anarchists believe it is wrong to aggress upon others, that it is wrong to initiate violence upon another. That doesn't mean that we have any disagreement with having some means to govern the manner in which people act toward one another or to defend oneself or others, but that we do not believe it to be a morally tenable position to support a State or any governing body that holds a monopoly on the use of force within a given territory. Because the very nature of the state, at its most basic, is to threaten and use violence to enforce its dictates, one who holds that there is no moral justification to initiate violence and aggression against others cannot be anything other than an anarchist.
To disagree with that last statement one must either say that the state does not rely on the threat and use of violence to enforce its dictates, or one must say that, at times, the use of force and violence against others, to aggress upon them, is justified and morally correct.
Arguing against the first tenet is a non-starter. In the twentieth century alone states around the globe used the ultimate violence – killing their own citizens – on over 200,000,000 individuals. And no, this does not include those killed in wars. This is state violence against its own citizens to enforce state-sanctioned policies. For a matter as small as a parking ticket, should the “offender” continue to refuse the fines and the court appearances the state will demand, the end game will certainly include violence at the hands of a person in a state-issue uniform. The basic, foundational nature of the state is force and violence, pure and simple.
Then there are those who will say that using force and violence is acceptable under certain circumstances. Criminals would surely agree.
A person needs money. Not having it, he takes it from someone who does. Because the person who has the money may not want to give it to the other, some use of force, of violence, will have to be employed to separate the owner from his property.
On the other side of the same coin, other criminals, those of the public sort who work for the State, first pass a law giving themselves the right to take the property of another. Most, the Dick Cheneys of the world not included, would agree that it is wrong to take from someone what is rightfully his (or hers). That has been understood for thousands of years and has enabled societies to grow through millennia. (See a previous blog post for more on this.) Anarchists do not believe that the principle of the right of private property, the strictures against theft and killing, are negated by majority vote, by the divine right of kings, or any other political rationalization. Principles are principles. Wrong is wrong.
But, even though some might agree that the principle of non-violence is good, they say it's impractical; it will never work. We anarchists are even called “Utopian,” as if that's a bad thing. But what has practicality got to do with one's beliefs and moral principles? We will never rid the world of the evil that men do, but does that stop one from being against evil? Should we not do everything in our power to avoid it and rid the world of it? Just as there will always be private criminals, there will always be public criminals: men who desire political power over others to use it to their advantage. Being an anarchist simply means I believe that to be wrong and that I will not support his efforts, even if what that person would do in power is to my benefit.
We might also reconsider the axiom that anarchy will never work.  Do we not have anarchy within government and even at the very top – among governments themselves? There is no central authority to settle disputes within the United States national government. Congress disagrees with the Executive; the Executive disagrees with the Judicial, and they all disagree internally within their own jurisdictions, Yet there is no authority that stands above them to enforce one decision or another. In the United States we have accepted that the Supreme Court is the referee in disagreements in the interpretation of laws and regulations, but this has developed by standard practice and is a perfect example of how disputes are resolved within anarchy.
States (meaning countries) answer to no one. There is a deliberative body, but in the end, there is no super-legal means to force one state to do what other states would like. This is anarchy. I would posit that those who are against anarchy, to be perfectly consistent, must favor an over-arching one-world government.
And, as an aside, for those who say anarchy could never and has never worked in human society, I would respond that we had anarchy in the western territories of the United States before states and governments were formed. Contrary to popular belief, created by mythology and movies, the west was not that wild. For the most part people were civil and settled disputes amicably. In Law for the Elephant: Property and Social Behavior on the Overland Trail (John Phillip Reid, 1996) Mr. Reid documents how, for the greatest part, settlers respected contracts and property rights and settled disputes in a civilized and amicable manner absent any form of government or state-imposed law enforcement. Even between the settlers and Native Americans, deaths numbered in the low hundreds on each side during the entire settlement period, even though the people moving across the country during those decades numbered in the millions. (That's not to say that literally millions of Native Americans weren't killed, but that was at the hand of government (State) forces, not the settlers. For the most part, the extermination of Native Americans was a policy pursued by the government in support of the railroads and other businesses and industries with political connections to government.)
And bank robberies? The mythology says the untamed, ungoverned west was rife with robberies at every turn. Except it wasn't. Researchers can find only eight (8) bank robberies in the 40 years we count as the great move westward. There are plenty of examples of societies that existed for centuries without central governmental authorities. For more interesting reading, check out this article by Daniel Hawkins.
Do I believe that anarchy can ever, will ever be achieved? No. Evil will always exist, but we resist it nonetheless. The same with the State. But even if the moral argument – the use of force and violence is wrong in all cases except defense – did not exist, there is another. Mark Corske in Engines of Domination: Political Power and the Human Emergency makes the point that government is simply unsustainable. He says that human beings are, by nature, domesticators. By that he means that we make tools and we harness external sources of energy – mostly by domesticating plants and animals. Political power was a later innovation, based on domestication, when groups of men learned how to domesticate small groups of people. Like domesticated animals, those people eventually came to believe that they could not live any other way.
But, says Corske, to harness any source of energy you have to have some kind of engine – a method to convert human energy of the community into authority and privilege for the rulers at the expense of the community and its habitat. As with any manipulation of a natural system, there are unintended consequences. In the case of subjugating people with political power, those unintended consequences include war and the race to find greater means of destruction. Power has to expand because it exhausts the riches of the region it occupies and has to move on to others. It inevitably damages and eventually destroys the habitat. We are on a course to an unsustainable world at the hands of governments that are working hand-in-hand with world financial powers to squeeze the life out of those who sustain them.
If the institution of The State isn't ended for moral reasons, it will bring itself to an end, and the rest of us with it.