Browsing "Democracy"
Apr 25, 2015 - Democracy, Equality    No Comments

Democracy and Privileged Clases

A large democracy, in James Fenimore Cooper’s view, allow the people to “become the dupes of demagogues and political schemers” with “most of the crimes of democracies arising from the faults and designs of men of this character.”  Democracy’s ever-present manipulation of public opinion, inflamed by narrow and self-serving interests, is too often a substitute for the rule of law.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy and Its Privileged Classes:

“The dogma of political equality produces the dogma of majority rule, and the old monarchical claim to arbitrary power is transferred to the popular majority. Hence the danger almost inevitably arises in a democracy that the state will be perverted to “a system of favoring a new privileged class of the many and the poor.”

On the other hand, there is the equally grave danger that the modern representative state will be captured by the capitalist class and transformed into a plutocracy. As the nineteenth century has progressed, democracy has found it more and more difficult to resist these twin tendencies, either of which would be fatal to the regime of economic liberty . . . [A] class conflict between capitalism and the proletariat will soon write and end to centuries of societal development.

Democracy has also led increasingly to a new and degraded form of political decision-making. Inevitably, “the consequence [of legislators at the mercy of clamorous factions] is the immense power of the lobby, and the legislation comes to be an affair of coalition between interests to make up a majority.”

(American Conservatism, In the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert Green McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 58-60)

Apr 19, 2015 - Democracy    No Comments

Democracy's Demagogic Plutocracy

It was Plato who observed that “Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.” One of the greatest fears of American statesman John C. Calhoun was that democracy in the United States would evolve into a class warfare system whereby the taxpaying class would be perpetually looted by the tax-consuming class.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Democracy’s Demagogic Plutocracy

“The late Vilfredo Pareto – although recognizing that the democratic dogma, like other political myths, has important practical consequences in impelling men to act in certain ways – maintained that all the terms we use to distinguish forms of political rule are worthless “from the logico-experimental point of view.”

In other words, actual power is never where we imply that it is when we describe a given state as a monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy. Almost everywhere “there is a not very numerous governing class, which keeps itself in power partly by force and partly by consent of the much more numerous class of the governed.” The proportions of force and consent and the ways in which they are applied vary in different communities, but the variations do not follow the differences in the legal or theoretical forms of the state.

Behind the parliaments of so-called democracies, as well as behind all public despots, there is a minority that plays the major part in the real decisions of government. At times, it is true, the actual rulers have to do obeisance to the whims of princes and parliaments, but not for long; soon they resume their power and exercise it with a greater effectiveness than that of the occasional power wielded by the formal government.

In democracies the people are permitted to believe that the official government is actually controlled by their will. The ruling minority concedes to the populace a formal right to decide “general” questions, to which the proper officials may only give “concrete” application; but in the exercise of this latter function, the officers have all the freedom they need to make any sort of application which they, or the minority whom they serve, desire.

“A governmental system in which the “people” expresses its “will” (if we could suppose that the people has a will), without factions, intrigues and cliques, exists only in the state of the pious desires of theorists. Our democracies in France, Italy, England and the United States tend more and more to be demagogic plutocracies. [Pareto]”

(Recent Political Thought, Francis W. Coker, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1934, pp. 328-329)

 

Korea's Temporary American Intervention

Far from being a sterling example of democracy exported from the US, South Korea has been “an unrepresentative and unpopular dictatorship since the early days of American occupation.” Author Bruce Cumings (The Origins of the Korean War) suggests that the claimed North Korean surprise attack in June 1950 was in fact an armed response to frequent border incursions by the American-appointed puppet Syngman Rhee’s military. Not content with ruling only South Korea for his American friends, instigating war with the North could increase his realm.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Korea’s Temporary American Intervention

“America’s three-decade intervention in Korea has shattered an ancient East Asian society. Millions were killed and wounded; millions more became refugees separated from their families and birthplaces. Twenty-nine years after World War II and twenty-one years after the Korean War, the Korean people and peninsula are still divided into two hostile regimes.

The consequences for the United States have also been grave. America suffered casualties of 33,629 killed and 150,000 wounded in the Korean War and has spent tens of billions of dollars for the security and economic development of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The belief that US policies in Korea were a successful model for resisting communism in Asia led directly to the US intervention in Vietnam.

Ironically, although American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam . . . the US expeditionary force remains in South Korea to “ensure stability in Northeast Asia,” a hostage to strategies and ambitions of the cold war past.

American involvement in Korea occurred at a moment of singular renaissance for the Korean people. Japan’s crushing defeat in 1945 meant political and cultural liberation [and a chance] to re-establish the Korean nation after thirty-five years of harsh Japanese colonial rule . . . Korea was a unified country when it lost independence to Japan in 1910. A homogenous population speaking a common language lived on a distinct geographical unit, the Korean peninsula, where they had lived for over a thousand years.

The American forces that landed at Inch’on, Korea, in September 1945 . . . were a harbinger of America’s new role in postwar Asia. The US-USSR agreement in August 1945 on a temporary zonal division of the peninsula to accept the surrender of Japanese forces gave America a limited “temporary” responsibility for southern Korea. Since 1948 the United States has paid directly a large percentage of the ROK’s annual budget and has trained, armed and supplied its military forces.

The post-World War II involvement in Korea differs from areas where US power was traditionally paramount. No United Fruit Company dabbled in Korean politics. The Korean peninsula lacked natural resources and market potential . . . Congress might have limited the US involvement, but instead it passively and indifferently acquiesced to executive branch policies.

The most striking instance was allowing President Harry S. Truman to go to war in Korea in June 1950 without a declaration of war by the Congress, as required by the Constitution. This fateful lapse contributed to the plunge into Vietnam a decade later.

The US intervention in Korea to block the Soviet Union overlooked one factor: the Koreans. Whether the Korean demands for immediate self-government and reforms were communist-inspired or advocated by non-communist radicals and liberals, the US command would not risk a potential challenge to its control [and] Washington ruled that there could be no retreat.

The United States intervention [in June, 1950] prolonged the war [between Korean political factions] by more than three years, bringing an estimated 4.5 million Korean, Chinese and American casualties. The United States attained its objective of keeping the southern half of the peninsula non-communist, but the Koreas remain divided almost three decades later.”

(Without Parallel, The American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, Pantheon Books, 1971, excerpts, pp. 3-16)

French Experiment with Equality

The French Revolution’s promise of equality ended with anarchy and Bonaparte in France; the lofty experiment of equality in St. Domingo terminated not in freedom, but military despotism after a fearful destruction of human life. After all the horrors of their bloody revolution, the blacks in Haiti only effected a change of masters. “The white man had disappeared, and the black man , one of their own race and color, had assumed his pace and his authority.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

French Experiment with Equality

“[We shall quote] from the language of Dr. [W.E.] Channing, the scholar-like and the eloquent, though visionary, advocate of British [slave] emancipation. Even as early as 1842, in an address delivered on the anniversary of that event, he burst into the following strain of impassioned eulogy: “Emancipation works well, far better than could have been anticipated . . . Freedom, simple freedom, is in my estimation just, far prized above all price.”

In these high-sounding praises, which hold up personal freedom as “our proper good,” as “our end,” it is assumed that man was made for liberty, and not liberty for man. It is, indeed, one of the fundamental errors of the abolitionist to regard personal freedom as a great substantive good, or as in itself a blessing, and not merely as a relative good.

It may be, and indeed often it is, an unspeakable benefit, but then it is so only as a means to an end. The end of our existence, the proper good, is the improvement of our intellectual and moral powers, the perfection of our rational and immortal natures.

When freedom subserves this end, it is a good; when it defeats this end, it is an evil. Hence there may be a world of evil as well as a world of good in “this one word.”

The wise man adapts the means to the end. It were the very height of folly to sacrifice the end to the means. No man gives personal freedom to his child because he deems it always and in all cases a good. His heart teaches him a better doctrine when the highest good of his child is concerned. Should we not be permitted then, to have something of the same feeling in regard to those who Providence has placed under our care, especially since . . . they stand in utmost need of guidance and direction?

Few of the abolitionists are disposed to offer any substitute for our method. They are satisfied merely to pull down and destroy, without the least thought or care in regard to consequences.

But what is meant by the freedom of the emancipated slaves, on which so many exalted eulogies have been pronounced? Its first element, it is plain, is a freedom from labor – freedom from the very first law of nature. In one word, its sum and substance is a power on the part of the freed black to act pretty much as he pleases. Now . . . would it not be well to see how he would be pleased to act?

This kind of freedom, it should be remembered, was born in France and cradled in the revolution. May it never be forgotten that the “Friends of the Blacks” at Boston had their exact prototypes in “les Amis des Noirs” of Paris. Of this last society Robespierre was the ruling spirit, and Brissot the orator. By the dark machinations of the one, and the fiery eloquence of the other, the French people . . . were induced, in 1791, to proclaim the principle of equality to and for the free blacks of St. Domingo. This beautiful island . . . thus became the first of the West Indies in which the dreadful experiment of a forced equality was tried.

The authors of that experiment were solemnly warned of the horrors into which it would inevitably plunge both the whites and the blacks of the island. Yet firm and unmovable as death, Robespierre sternly replied, then “Perish the colonies rather than sacrifice one iota of our principles.”

The atrocities of this awful massacre have had . . . no parallel in the annals of human crime. “The Negroes,” says Alison, “marched with spiked infants on their spears instead of colors; they sawed asunder the male prisoners, and violated the females on the dead bodies of their husbands.” The work of death, thus completed with such outbursts of unutterable brutality, constituted and closed the first act in the grand drama of Haytian freedom.

But equality was not yet established. Equality had been proclaimed, and anarchy produced. In this frightful chaos, the ambitious mulattoes, whose insatiable desire for equality had first disturbed the peace of the island, perished miserably beneath the vengeance of the very slaves whom they had roused from subjection and elevated into irresistible power. Thus ended the second act of the horrible drama.”

(An Essay on Liberty and Slavery, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856, pp. 269-278; available from www.confederatereprint.com)

Chase's Loyal and Disloyal Americans

Salmon P. Chase seemed not aware that as defined in the United States Constitution only States themselves can establish the privilege of suffrage, not the agent created by the States. That same Constitution holds that treason can only be committed against a State, by waging war against it or adhering to its enemies, which is precisely what Chase and his revolutionary cohorts were engaged in. Secession was a valid act in 1861, and equally as valid as that in 1776.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Chase’s Loyal and Disloyal Americans

“Salmon P. Chase . . . emerged as an early advocate of self-determination as the best solution to disorder in the South. Throughout the war, Chase argued that the federal government’s policy toward the rebellious South should be based on the principle that “the loyal citizens of a State constitute a State.” He defined as loyal those “who desire the suppression of the rebellion, and consent to the means which the government found necessary for its suppression.”

Loyal citizens included virtually all of the black population together with those whites who accepted emancipation and Negro suffrage. Chase thought it was vital that the federal government make “no distinctions between colored and white loyalists,” and he attributed the shortcomings of Lincoln’s efforts in Louisiana, where Chase believed “the old secession element is rapidly gaining the ascendancy,” to the exclusion of blacks from the ballot.

Chase believed that universal suffrage, incorporating the principle of equal suffrage for blacks, would provide the foundation necessary for universal amnesty and for the final reconciliation of North and South. Touring the South in May 1865, Chase wrote to Secretary of War Stanton that “universal suffrage is essential to thorough pacification.” Most important, he believed, “the white population will acquiesce in this policy without serious opposition if it is clearly announced, & firmly but kindly pursued.”

Like all reformers, Chase accepted the necessity of a period of military reconstruction and, indeed, insisted as chief justice that “military rule must be supreme” until civil order and civil law could be fully and safely restored. Similarly . . . Chase stood with most reformers in opposing [Gerrit] Smith’s dictum that the rebels loyalty to the de facto Confederate government could not be distinguished morally from unionist loyalty to the federal government. “If the rebels waging war against the government are not traitors, Chase responded, “secession was a valid act; and our war was one of conquest.”

(Morality and Utility in American Antislavery Reform, Louis S. Gerteis, UNC Press, 1987, pp. 198-199)

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

By ignoring the Constitution and allowing psychobabble to guide their decision, nine robed men on the Supreme Court in May of 1954 arbitrarily swept aside the legal precedents of generations of Americans from the Founders forward. This Court unconstitutionally legislated from the bench and all congressmen who allowed this to occur should have been impeached for treason. The 1960 source cited below was dedicated to David Lawrence, editor of the US News and World Report, “who befriended the South by telling the truth to the nation.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

“In his sympathetic study of the [American] Negro, Dr. [Eli] Ginsberg [of Columbia University] includes this observation:

“The family structure of Negroes has long been subjected to serious stresses and strains. Moreover, a disproportionately large number of young Negroes are brought up in homes which the father has deserted or in other situations has where major responsibility for the continuance of the family unit centers around the mother and her relatives. According to the 1950 Census, over one-third of the Negro women who had ever been married were no longer married and no longer living with their husbands . . .”

Further proof of this chronic family disruption among Negroes is found in the 1957 study of The Negro Population of Chicago, by Otis Dudley Duncan and Beverly Duncan. With reference to family heads reporting “spouse absent,” they found:

“In both 1940 and 1950 this form of family disruption was reported about four times as often as non-white married males as by white married males, and about five or six times as often by non-white married females as by white married females . . .”

The shortcomings of Negroes in this realm of community life can be attributed to a combination of causes . . . [but] the result is that the average, or typical, Negro family lacks many of the characteristics which are counted desirable by the community – family cohesion and stability; family disciplines of manners, of cleanliness, of obedience; personal standards of reliability, dependability; personal goals based on ambition and the desire for self-improvement.

Is it any wonder that white parents are reluctant to undermine their own attempts to foster such habits among their own children, by exposing them to youngsters whose standards are demonstrably lower in almost every respect?

The professional integrationist, whether Negro or white, does not want either equality or opportunity; he wants merger. [The Negro] prefers to seek advancement by agitation.

Contrast the social worker concepts of contemporary federal judges with the hard-headed logic of a 1896 Supreme Court which was concerned more with establishing the equality of Negroes before the law than with providing solutions for tender feelings. Said the Supreme Court in the Plessy v. Ferguson case:

“The object of the 14th Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the laws, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based on color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms satisfactory to either . . . We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race [chooses] to put that construction upon it.”

(The Case for the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair Company, 1960, pp. 185-188)

Looking to the South for Conservative Influence

The little black cloud mentioned below matured into a dark and powerful storm in the first term of FDR’s presidency, by the 1960’s it had become an American cultural revolution with the Democrat political platform differing little from the Communist Party USA platform of 1936.

Bernhard Thuersam, circa1865.org

 

Looking to the South for Conservative Influence

“The time is coming when this [United States] Government may be put to a test more severe than it has hitherto undergone, and when it will need the utmost support of every intelligent and conservative citizen.

A little black cloud already appears above the horizon, scarcely larger than a man’s hand, but what it portends no one living can tell. How soon the crisis may be upon us, or how long delayed, we do not know, but thoughtful men are anxious and the future looks dark and stormy. We can weather the storm, but that we may do so we must, both in the North and the South, put aside all sectionalism, and rising above mere partisan politics, stand shoulder to shoulder and present a united front against the vicious and revolutionary and communistic elements which threaten the public safety.

Whenever the time comes the nation will have to look to the South in great part for the conservative influence and strength that will enable it to overcome.”

(Memorial Day Services, United States District Court Judge G. R. Sage, Address at the National Cemetery, Nashville. Confederate Veteran, June 1894, page 166)

Casting Out Yankeeism

The author below predicted that had the American Confederacy won its independence, “it would have undoubtedly developed more toward a conservative aristocracy” and more like the Founders’ intended republic. The aversion to the mob-rule democracy of the North was a fundamental reason the South left the Union, and with the Founders’ Constitution firmly in hand.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Casting Out Yankeeism

“There was a growing opinion among Southerners that a proper concept of eternal law was the bulwark of all liberty. Universal suffrage would never be able to discover and conserve this law. Universal suffrage in the North was “organized confiscation, legalized violence and corruption . . . a moral disease of the body politic.”

It was mob government, radical democracy, “the willing instrument of consolidation in the hands of an abolition oligarchy,” which had perverted the old Union. It was this the South was fighting against. The individual must be buried in the institution. The mob did not know what it was voting for, except to obtain money for doing it or to get a drink of whiskey. [John C.] Calhoun had recognized the tyranny of majorities and had sought remedies against them.

The South had never believed in democracy; it had worked with the Democrats in the North only to secure a place of power in the government. Most [government] positions should be appointive and not remunerative. Officers would serve without pay, if they were patriots. Now every petty sheriff, whiskey-drinking constable, and justice of the peace must be elected and get a fee. All of this is Yankeeism, which the South should cast out – all this universal suffrage – elective Judges – biennial Legislatures – and many other features of policy – all tending to degrade government and corrupt the people.”

In line with its conservatism, the Confederacy debated much the abolition of the naturalization laws which it had inherited from the old Union and which made possible the infiltration of masses of foreigners with their “dangerous European radical ideas.” Especially they would exclude Yankees. Representative John B. Clark of Missouri declared that he would “as soon admit to citizenship a devil from hell.” He advocated a law banishing any Southerner who should marry a Yankee. “

(A History of the South, Volume VII, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1950, pp. 64-67)

 

Case for an Educated Postwar Black Debated

Radical Republican political hegemony in the postwar South depended upon the freedmen casting votes, despite their illiteracy and lack of education and experience in a republican form of government. These Republicans formed Union and Loyal Leagues in the South that would teach the freedmen to hate their white neighbors, vote against their interests, and cause irreparable racial wounds which remain today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Case for an Educated Postwar Black Electorate Debated:

“Chaplain Noble, who conducted literacy classes for the enlisted men of the 128th United States Colored Troops in Beaufort (an infantry of ex-slaves), related the outcome of a debate he arranged to “enliven” the class. The question was whether Negroes should be given immediate suffrage or whether they should learn to read first, with “the more intelligent” of the class clearly favoring the latter position “on the ground that you ought never to undertake a job unless you know how to do it.”

But those who learned less easily were in favor of immediate suffrage. One of the speakers — a black thick-lipped orator — commenced his speech as follows:

“de chaplain say we can learn to read in short time. Now dat may de with dem who are mo’ ready. God hasn’t made all of us alike. P’rhaps some will get an eddication in a little while. I knows de next generation will. We hasn’t had no chance at all. De most of us are slow and dull. Dere fo’ Mr. Chaplain, I tink we better not wait for eddication.”

Whether because of the potential logic of universal suffrage for the illiterate black majority, or because the difficulties of the chaplain’s lessons made suffrage based on literacy seem rather remote for some of the slow learners, the speaker’s sagacity brought decisive nods of approval from the majority of the audience.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pg. 34)

 

 

Controlling Elections in a Businesslike Manner

The political campaign of 1872 saw Grant win the presidency again though the corruption and scandals of his administration like Credit Mobilier would not surface until after his reelection. His opponent, Northern newspaperman Horace Greeley, was outspoken against the black vote being manipulated by Grant’s party, stating that “they are an easy, worthless race, taking no thought of the morrow.” He thought the freedmen no longer deserved government support, his harsh injunction being “root, hog, or die.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Controlling Elections in a Businesslike Manner

“In the summer of 1872 . . . my immediate recreation was the heated political campaign which was then in full swing . . . the Republicans had put forward their contention along the most radical lines. A black Negro man had practically dictated the platform, claiming complete civil and social rights; endorsing [scalawag Governor W.W.] Holden, who had been removed by impeachment from his governorship; and injecting various “isms” which had been imported by the carpet-bag elements.

The most distinguished of the deserters from Democracy, Samuel L. Phillips, had begun the campaign with the opening sentence, “Hitherto, I have not been a Republican.”

The Democrats . . . had named for governor Judge Merrimon, from the mountain country and a life-long rival of Governor [Zebulon] Vance, a representative of the Union and war sentiment. In those days there was no place for a Democrat on the Democratic ticket.

Judge Merrimon was a ponderous person, addicted to the Websterian style of garment and the Websterian habit of four-hour speeches. Vance had declined the nomination.

The national features of this election were historically and dramatically set. As North Carolina voted in August, it led the procession . . . The Negroes voted for the first time for a president and were drilled [by Republicans] to vote early and often. The presidential contest was between the regular Republican party, supporting Grant, and the Liberal Republicans, whose candidate, Horace Greeley, had been endorsed by the Democrats.

Fred Douglas, the Negro orator, was sent into the denser populations of colored people in the eastern counties. He spoke before a multitude in Warrenton. His racial instinct to magnify himself and display his superiority made him speak along lines that were so much metaphysics to the audience. They had come to hear paeans of praise for [Republican] officeholders and denunciation of the old masters, with jests broad enough to get over the platform.

John Hyman, a colored barkeeper and later successful candidate for Congress, had placed on the speaker’s table a glass of sherry for Fred Douglas’s refreshment. Douglas sipped it between perorations, explaining it to his audience that it was not liquor, but sherry wine; and that while it might have been worse, it puzzled him to see how.

This gave great offense. His hearers did not believe him; and John Hyman, who had donated the wine, remarked that “Mr. Douglas’s manners – what he has – may be good enough for his northern friends but they don’t set well with folks who know what manners is.”

The regular Republicans followed the military tactics of Grant, their leader, and they sat down to the task of carrying the State in a thoroughly businesslike manner. The Federal courts were prostituted to their purpose and issues thousands of orders for arrest for Democrats who were accused of belonging to the Ku Klux.

A quarter of a million dollars was spent on tipstaffs and underlings connected with the courts. Every branch of the Government was called upon to furnish its quota of force. The Congress had passed bills promising social equality to the black; every State had a garrison of [Northern] troops placed conveniently to suppress any outbreak which should be kindled by political provocation.

The idea of allowing the possession of the Government to pass out of the [Grant Republican] party’s hands was not tolerated [and] . . . The result of the election was foregone.”

(Southern Exposure, Peter Mitchel Wilson, UNC Press, 1927, pp. 83-87)

 

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