The Cult of Legal Plunder

Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve…” —[French economist, statesman, and author Frédéric Bastiat, 1801-1850]

Since time immemorial, the new year has been a time of reflection to set out resolutions to bring about a better tomorrow. Chances are, most have already renounced the New Year’s Day resolutions they made. Today we stand at a most precarious place. To borrow from the Book of Job, I do not want future generations to curse the day we were born. So let us resolve to make that difference. To bring about that better tomorrow, we must resolve to correct those issues bringing ruination to our way of life. Futhermore, we need to resolve to hold the bad actors criminally accountable. Political actions have consequences, and those consequences carry with them a human cost.

From the time of our nation’s founding, the United States has had, for the most part, just two political parties. Over time, they have changed, but we still have largely a two-party system. The first issue we’re facing are the two parties making up that system. On the Left, there’s a quasi-party; the Democratic Party resembles a political party. However due to it’s lack of organization, infighting, backbiting, and all the sell-outs; the Democratic Party has become Republican-lite. On the other side of the aisle, there’s a pseudo-party; the Republican Party puts on airs of being a political party, but the reality is it has transmogrified into a cult.

Identifying Cult-like Behavior in Governance
Dr. Michael Langone, editor of Cultic Studies Journal, and Steve Hassan, a former cult member and one of the nation’s leading experts on cult control, have compiled a list of the tell-tale signs of cult mentality. Among these are;

Cults are led by charismatic leaders seeking the legitimacy their members offer, requiring from the members excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. The charismatic leaders issue the orders and the cult members carry out those orders totally disaffected by any morality.

Political legitimacy is considered a basic condition for governing, without which, a government will suffer legislative deadlock(s) and collapse. British social theoretician John Locke said that political legitimacy derives from popular explicit and implicit consent: “The argument of the [Second] Treatise is that the government is not legitimate unless it is carried on with the consent of the governed.” Our Declaration of Independence states; “… Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”.

There are three types of political legitimacy; Traditional, Charismatic, and the type America was founded on, Rational-legal legitimacy. From June through September of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, there was a land grab known as the Salem Witch Trials. 19 men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to a barren slope near Salem Village called Gallows Hill for hanging. Another 80+ year old man was crushed to death under stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. And this was all for the benefit of the accusers—essentially cult leaders preying upon other cult members; the puritans. Our forefathers learned from this lesson, and created a form of government based upon rational-legal legitimacy strictly separating church from state.

Rational-legal legitimacy is derived from a system of institutional procedure, wherein government institutions establish and enforce law and order in the public interest. Therefore, it is through public trust that the government will abide the law that confers rational-legal legitimacy—otherwise known as rule-by-law. But it has been this rational-legal legitimacy that has been usurped.

One of the great problems we have had in the Republican Party is that we … encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful, and all those Boy Scout words which would be great around the campfire but are lousy in politics. … You’re fighting a war. It is a war for power. … Don’t try to educate. That is not your job. What is the primary purpose of a political leader? To build a majority.” —Newt Gingrich

Using their base—evangelicals—as a veneer to legitimize themselves, Republicans have usurped rational-legal legitimacy, replacing it with charismatic legitimacy—defined as being derived from the ideas and personal charisma of a leader, a man or woman whose authoritative persona charms and psychologically dominates the people of the society to agreement with the government’s régime and rule. A charismatic government usually features weak political and administrative institutions, because they derive authority from the persona of “The Leader,” (E.g.; Saint Ronald Reagan; Republican demigod) and usually disappear without him or her in power. It is under charismatic legitimacy that Adolph Hitler came to power.

Since the right-wing successfully replaced rational-legal legitimacy with charismatic legitimacy, America’s right-wing is now trying to overthrow the separation of church from state. Our founding fathers were empirically explicit on the strict separation of church from state defining that separation to be; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” It is entirely inconceivable how our founding fathers could make any clearer this strict separation short of renouncing and outlawing religion entirely!

Questioning, doubt, and dissent by cult members will not be tolerated. Graded absolutism, or the belief that it is right for charismatic leaders to lie—truth is optional—to achieve a goal, is perfectly permissable.

Graded absolutism simply means that moral conflict does exist and that when ethical laws are in conflict, there is a ‘right’ choice available via a hierarchy of principles rooted in the moral teachings of Scripture. There are many moral principles rooted in the absolute moral character of God; there are higher and lower moral duties–for example, love for God is a greater duty than love for people. These laws sometimes come into unavoidable moral conflict. In such conflicts, practitioners of graded absolutism are obligated to follow the higher moral law. When practitioners follow the higher moral law, practitioners are not held responsible for not keeping the lower one. This view holds that it is right to lie in order to save lives. It is the greater good and therefore is not sin. However as history has amply proved, it is also a very slippery slope—one practitioners have yet to demonstrably master.

But more importantly, graded absolutism, being a form of hierarchicalism, is inconsistent with the Jeffersonian principle of egalitarianism that was so eloquently stated in our Declaration of Independence—All men are created equal—and used as a rebuttal to the going political theory of the day; the Divine Right of Kings. Because at the root of hierarchicalism is hierarchy—wherein not all men are created equal. Graded absolutism is a remnant of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church), the fissure that created the terms Right and Left during the French Revolution of 1789, referring to seating arrangements in the French parliament. Those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime. Those institutions represent an assumption of, and acceptance for, hierarchicalism. Thus Republicans have casually tossed away a cornerstone of our republic—debauching this nation.

Further, Republicans have, and are, taking steps to remove the ability for Americans to question the ‘Republican cult’ leaders;

Ronald Trowbridge, senior fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (which shares a building in Washington, D.C., with right-wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute and conservative columnist William Kristol’s Weekly Standard), wrote the editorial; “Radical reform of higher education is inevitable,” relying heavily on data from the rather dubious American Enterprise Institute and Clayton Christensen’s theory on  disruptive innovation, to make a case for using education to institutionalize segregating economic classes—essentially conferring royalty upon the wealthy for which all commoners will henceforth submit and prostrate themselves before.

Trowbridge argues in the piece; “They [sic: students wanting a higher education] will be educated at community colleges or for-profit career schools. They will resort to online learning, or to “blended learning,” or to “distance learning.” Speaking as a hiring manager, while community colleges might cut the muster; the others don’t because of their lack of accreditation and extemely high probability for being merely fictitious. But Trowbridge’s tall tale, prevarication, distortion, call it what you will, is understandable because it must be terribly embarrassing for a wealthy, ignorant narcissist to have their class inferiors correct obvious errors on matters both large and small. For that is the benefit of education; education is the great equilizer.

Another tool to silence questioning, doubt, and dissent has been the amalgamation of our news outlets. During the era of the Soviet Union, there was a joke about the news outlets Soviet citizens had access to; Pravda and Izvestia. Pravda translates to ‘news’ and Izvestia translates to ‘truth.’ The joke was there was no ‘truth’ in Pravda (much like Faux Snooze) and no ‘news’ in Izvestia (much like our other amalgamated news outlets).

The charismatic cult leaders are preoccupied with raising money. There is always a need for increasing finances. The cult leaders always take the major credit for the movement’s accomplishments. Cult members become psychologically dependent upon charismatic cult leaders because of this.

Sounds a lot like political fund raising, but there’s also the darker side; legalizing plunder.

The French Revolutions of 1830, and then again, but this time spreading throughout Europe, in 1848 were a result of their economic beliefs—economic social Darwinism. The emerging middle class of industrialists and bankers of Darwin’s time argued that government should not spend their taxes on helping the lower classes, as it would just give the poor less reason to compete by working hard.

Remarkably, they sound just exactly the same as modern-day Republicans—as they offshore and outsource and practice every perfidy imaginable to reduce the salt of the earth to mere tools to be used, abused and then tossed out with the rubbish after they had outlived their usefulness. And just like Herman Cain blamed the unemployed for being unemployed, social Darwinists claimed poverty and other problems were genetically determined, so nature should be allowed to remove the unfortunate, as there was no point in helping them—in other words; let surplus workers die.  And what’s more pathetic; the plunderers are using exactly the same arguments to defend their plundering that they offered in Darwin’s time!

It was during the 1848 French Revolution that Frédéric Bastiat referenced the plunder of ordinary working folk, and that served as Victor Hugo’s inspiration for Les Misérables—meaning the miserable ones or wretched poor. In 19th century America, the limited life expectancies of mill workers under the same circumstances, typically less than 35 years, prompted Indiana newspaper writer John Soule’s 1851 advice, popularized by Horace Greeley; “Go west young man.” Today, the west is settled; so the foreseeable option is that of Hugo’s and Bastiat’s.

One tool used to plunder America’s economy is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, U.S. manufacturing employment has fallen by 5 million jobs, 15 percent of employers in manufacturing, communication, and wholesale/distribution, and for the most part; union jobs, shut down or relocated plants, and our trade deficits with Mexico and Canada have only grown since. One unprecedented section of NAFTA gave corporations the “right” to sue governments for the infringement of “investment rights” should governments take measures to address the problems NAFTA creates concerning employment, workers’ rights, or trade imbalances. According to the Economic Policy Institute, these investor protections are what facilitated the movement of manufacturing plants to Mexico.

Many US exports are simply being shipped to Mexican maquiladores where they are assembled, and then shipped back to the U.S. as finished products. These are not products destined for consumption by Mexicans, yet they constituted 61% of “exports” as recently as 2002; remember, only domestically produced exports support U.S. labor—meaning the U.S. market. That capital mobility and flexibility has undermined the bargaining power of U.S. workers, which is why ordinary Americans have seen their paychecks stagnate, if not fall, and why the U.S. marketplace is shriveling up.

Formerly, when NAFTA was first enacted, workers were faced with the dilemma of settling for fewer worker’s rights because the firm would have the ability to relocate to another country, notably Mexico, where they could obtain cheaper labor and face less resistance from workers. Today, it is common for these incentives to cost American labor their jobs regardless of the status of the labor unions. Further, corporations may move jobs to Mexican maquiladores because of OSHA, or any other “onerous” regulations enacted since the enlightenment following the March 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killing 146, that corporations determine to be an “impediment.”

In 1994, Americans were extremely skeptical about NAFTA. The only measure that alleviated that skepticism was a follow-up legislation to NAFTA that was to address what Americans feared most from NAFTA, specifically simply the aforementioned results from NAFTA. Unfortunately the U.S. Congress, under the leadership of Newt and the boys, quietly swept that follow-up legislation under the rug in favor of pursuing more pressing matters, like finding any reason whatsoever to impeach Bill Clinton—just like todays Republican legislators busy themselves looking for any reason, and expend a great deal of effort inventing reasons, to impeach President Obama—in other words; look that-a-way, not this-a-way when I’m stealing from you.

Writing on the Revolution of February, 1848, Bastiat wrote; “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

Andrew Carnegie perhaps had the best solution for the view from old money that they are entitled to plunder, the Carnegie Foundation was based upon the precept; “I would as soon leave to my son a curse as the almighty dollar…” Andrew Carnegie recognized that with undue wealth comes undue political influence. And Carnegie desired that his offspring would develop the knowledge, skills and character to create their own futures.

The cult’s charismatic leaders generate within cult members “a polarized” mentality, us-versus-them, just like a jealous male lover seeking total control over his woman, sowing seeds of isolationism to keep her from knowing any better.

How much more polarized has America ever been since our Civil War than now? As examples;

“… Gingrich’s rise is the revenge of a Republican base that takes seriously the intense hostility to President Obama, the incendiary accusations against liberals, and the Manichaean division of the world between an “us” and a “them” that his party has been peddling in the interest of electoral success.” —[E.J. Dionne, Wasington Post, Syndicated to the Houston Chronicle]

Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg reports; “The six Walton family members on the Forbes 400 had a net worth equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans.” That would mean six people in one family have a net worth equal to 33,741,114 American households comprising 93,695,700 people. Forbes’ Tim Worstall criticized Goldberg for reporting this. Can you see what is wrong with this picture?

It can only be considered the most cynical of sardonicism this gripe so often repeated by Republicans about “liberals and progressives hating this nation.” For it is not the liberals and progressives who are bringing ruination to our very way of life.

Cult leaders are anti-authoritarian; no one is superior to the charismatic cult leader in any respect.

Remember Newt’s demeaning of Michelle Bachmann in Iowa? But also don’t Republican evangelicals feel that all Democrats and progressives are their inferiors? And do not all Republicans look down upon anyone having a working brain? But again, there’s that darker side…

Even the law must be subordinant to the cult leader. The weekend before Christmas, the political focus on Republicans was Newt Gingrich stating he might ignore court rulings and impeach judges—even though, thanks to Republicans, ten percent of all the 800 Federal benches now sit empty. Republicans blocked seating those empty benches—justice delayed being justice denied. The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. stated; “Everyone agrees that the 2012 election will be a turning point involving one of the most momentous choices in American history.”

But just what are those choices? Gingrich’s statements, combined with the corruption and insider dealing we’ve witnessed from the right-wing over the past three decades, clarifies one of those choices. To paraphrase Grover Norquist; to shrink law enforcement down to the size where Republicans can drown it in the bathtub so that Republican backers don’t have to worry about answering for their plunder.

Just as Republicans have delegitimized our government by delegitimizing rational-legal legitimacy; by doing so, Republicans also corrupted and delegitimized the body of the law. Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.”

But when the body of the law, the Corpus juris, the compendium of all laws, cases and the varied interpretations of them have been corrupted, and furthermore threatened by lawmakers themselves as in the case of Newt; then there can no longer be popular explicit and implicit consent to recognize those laws. Frédéric Bastiat wrote; “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”

Today we see countless examples of this—and for just that reason. Republican legislators are enacting whole hosts of laws that attack rational-legal legitimacy—these laws are most definitely not in the public interest. Indeed, they redefine the word ‘corruption.’ In 34 states across the Union, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has created laws to disenfranchise voters, and laws to prevent lawsuits addressing corporate crimes and wrongdoing, as well as to impede business competition by picking favorites. Another Anti-American monstrosity called the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), otherwise known as SLAPP suits—intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition—and likewise enacted under Republican legislators, are further silencing dissent against corporate crimes and wrongdoing. And it doesn’t stop there…

Federal officials are ignoring a growing threat along our southern border—Cartels cooperate with prison gangs. For the second year in a row, the number of fatalities of on-duty police officers are up. While Wall Street’s brigands evade any adjudication, millions of others serve hard time for events that were not even crimes a century ago. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of the end of 2009 (the latest full year, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has only the mid-year for 2010) a total of 7,225,800 people were either on probation, in prison or on parole in America. Plus there’s a growing pandemic, since 9/11, of police brutality cases—bringing to mind a Latin maxim: Summum jus summa injuria (extreme justice is extreme injustice).

According to U.S. Department of Justice/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting, recording only the most serious allegations; every 96 minutes, there is another victim—typically a minority—of police brutality, costing $200 million in related civil litigation expenses. One third of police officers involved were convicted, but sentenced to serve an average 14 months, far less than citizens for the same crimes. And misconduct by category included 18.1% for non-firearm related excessive force; 11.9% for sexual misconduct; and 8.9% for fraud or theft.

Cult members are also seen to occasionally take on new personalities, acting differently, and becoming increasingly antagonistic to family members and long-time friends.

Again, likewise with Republicans—just look at how the Republican contenders refer to Mitt Romney as they try to prove who’s “most conservative” in ways that even the folks at Looney Tunes couldn’t imagine.

And just like Republicans, all the insincere moral doggeral and obnoxious bloviating, enormously inflated egotism from vacuous intellects, vainglorious hate mongering and jingoistic nationalism, hysterical doomsaying, but most of all; the vicious stupidity are simply all traits and tools of cult leaders.

If there is any good news about this cult mentality, it is that Republicans telegraph, through psychological projection onto Democrats and progressives, their motivations and intentions. So there will be forewarning… that is, if the lone five voices of the amalgamated news outlets don’t squelch that forewarning.

The problem is, ultimately; all cults destroy.

On November 18, 1978, a mass suicide and murder of 909 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip became known as the “Jonestown Massacre.” Among those 909 were 303 children who were murdered by cyanide poisoning. The incident was the single greatest loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of 9/11. The irony was that Jim Jones was a good communist—he was an atheist. This cult mentality was followed up in 1993 when David Koresh led seventy-six souls to their deaths in the Waco, Texas compound of the Branch Davidians.

Today’s Republican Party is not the Republican Party of half a century ago. It has transmogrified into an iniquitous, illicit cult full of racketeers, racketeurs, extortionists, mobsters and gangsters; a destructive force requiring a robust, proactive police response. But don’t expect for that police response to happen, because just as Transparency International alluded to in their latest report; the foxes are now in charge of the henhouse.

But a natural economic corollary to our Declaration of Independence’s “… Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …” is; if you play by all the rules and the economy still does not work for you, then it is not a truly legitimate economy. For that is the only legitimate purpose for an economy. Our Declaration of Independence also states; “… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” And there is, likewise, a natural economic corollary to that as well.