I Hope I Am Wrong

locke3

It’s been years since I last set down to write anything long form that’s remotely political, in fact 2008, if my search is correct.  In some ways, I can hardly recognize that passionately pedantic punk that felt the urge to scream into the void in the hope of persuasion by shouting (though my friends might argue about that on the occasions when I have more than a couple of gins in me).  I realized around that time that no one was really interested in what I was selling and that I could spend my life in a happier place by worrying about the things that I know I could change which is myself and to focus my time on those around me that I love. I know I’ve been better off for it.

However, I can’t pretend that last night wasn’t historic or momentous.  I am feeling the urge to write something not in the hope of being persuasive or to change the world, but because last night was tragic in a personal and long-term way.  It brought back memories and beliefs of my younger days that I don’t think I will be able to restore from this day forth and I want memorialize them somewhere.

At just before midnight last night when it was apparent what was going to happen, I had a sudden and vivid flashback to a time almost 15 years ago.  One night my dear friend Iva and I got into a heated and hours long debate about the idea that the US was headed towards nationalism.  As the child of citizens of the former Yugoslavia, she brought both logic and personal experience to her argument.  And yet, I could not be persuaded.

I argued fervently that America was different, not because we were special as a people but that we were special in situation.  A country founded purely on a set of enlightenment philosophical ideals, populated by immigrants of almost every country and religion and with a fundamental belief in pluralism couldn’t really be nationalist.  Yes, I wasn’t naïve enough to ignore our history of racial hatred and apartheid.  Nor was I naïve enough to say that we hadn’t had a certain segment of the population that subscribed to nativist and ethnic nationalist ideals; I was already quite familiar with Pat Buchanan.  However, I was unable to believe that as a young country with a complete lack of common ethnic, religious and cultural history that we could really ever become nationalists.  On that, I was wrong.

Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has destroyed the entirety of Europe twice in the 20th century.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has left piles of corpses, broken bodies and weeping widows around the entire globe.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that throws away the enlightenment in pursuit of a philosophy that bestows rights and privileges upon its subjects on the basis of their religion, ethnicity and the coincidence of the geography of their birth.  Last night I watched my country scream an incoherent cry of rage at people who are now to be labeled as the other, as the not-quite-human, as the enemy. Last night I saw the ideals that has made me love my country abandoned, maybe forever.  Last night I saw no better angels of our nature.  But I hope that I am wrong.

Now I am left to put my trust in our political machinery to temper and restrain the normal products of the adoption of nationalism.  As a life long libertarian, that trust isn’t very sturdy in my mind.  I don’t see how a party unified in its abhorrence of intellectualism can be trusted to uphold the abstract ideals of classical liberalism.  I don’t see how a state equipped with an entire legion of well armed militarized police can be trusted to defend the people against authoritarianism.  I don’t see how a country divided at a moment of incredible prosperity and peace can heal itself under the strain of the chaos in front of us. But I hope I am wrong.

Now, I must go back to my quiet life.  I can’t go back to screaming into the void.  I can’t see the point and I don’t have the strength or will to do it.  I must go back to trying to see the best in everyone I meet.  I must go believing that people are fundamentally good both as individuals and in society.  I must start hoping I’m wrong.


Internet Blackout Day

Generally, I avoid joining protests, but occasionally there are ideas so bad that I can’t stay away.  Such is the case with the Protect IP Act (PIPA) which is coming up before the Senate next week.  The goal of protecting intellectual property is certainly a laudable one, but the means to achieve that goal must not come at the expense of the 1st amendment, nor should it fundamentally weaken the technological structure of the Internet.  The Protect-IP bill does all of this with a vague and poorly thought-out bill.

So tomorrow, January 18th, this site will join larger organizations such as Mozilla, WordPress and Wikipedia in a general internet blackout.  I strongly suggest that you contact your Senator and express displeasure at this heavy-handed approach to IP protections.  For some general background on the bill, please check out the video below:


Rights or Privledges

I’m glad to see that the Courts have decided that the 4th Amendment is a geographic privilege and not an actual right.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan upheld the convictions on Monday of three Al Qaeda operatives in a ruling that bolsters the government’s power to investigate terrorism by holding that a key Constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holds for the first time that government agents may obtain admissible evidence against United States citizens through warrantless searches abroad.

Via: Appeals Court Backs Warrantless Searches Abroad – NYTimes.com

I just find it amazing that this can be claimed from a text that reads so simply:

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.

It seems the constitution has become virtually meaningless in the face of the law-and-order mentality at this time.


Bob Barr Joins the Debates, Sort Of . . .

I’m not a big fan of the inclusion of Bob Barr into the ranks of Libertarians, but it will be refreshing to see some limited government responses to the upcoming debate questions.

As usual, the two major political parties are shutting out all third-party candidates from this season’s presidential debates, while trying to out-compete one another for how many government goodies they can promise to voters. Only this time, we have the technology to do something about it.

Via: Hit & Run > Watch Bob Barr Debate the Presidential Candidates, Live! – Reason Magazine