Tag Archive for: history

Forget Basement Campaign — It’s Been A Whole Basement Presidency For Joe Biden

Critics of President Joe Biden have begun dusting off the “basement campaign” allegation now that the 2024 election cycle is in full-swing, but a low-profile, press-free campaign would fall right in line with how Biden has conducted his entire presidency.

During Biden’s run for president in 2020, the now 81-year-old was criticized for running a “basement campaign” as he often stayed in his home studio for media appearances and had limited, low-attendance rallies. Now, as the 2024 election approaches, similar critiques are bubbling after Biden ducked out on a traditional end of year press conference and opted out of a prime-time Super Bowl interview.

Going on his fourth year in office, Biden is averaging about 11 press conferences a year, according to data compiled by the University of California at Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project. Biden’s average is the lowest since former President Ronald Reagan, who held office from 1981 to 1989, and averaged 5.8 press conferences per year.

The parallel between Biden and Reagan is not a coincidence, historian Barbara Perry, co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told the Daily Caller.

“I think it’s more than coincidental that you have these two presidents with an aging factor. And I don’t mean to say that he’s non compos mentis and he’s going down. I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying I do think it’s more than coincidental that oftentimes as these presidents get older, they want to do these kinds of pressers less. Prior to that would be the third and most elderly president was Eisenhower, who was well known for having trouble with his syntax,” Perry told the Daily Caller.

“I just think that’s part and parcel of what happens when you have older presidents, that to be on the hair trigger and be able to respond immediately to let’s face it, and I think this is the role of the press is to press and ask pressing questions instead, sometimes may even be hostile or at the very least, be pointed, and ask presidents to explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing things and to be controversial,” Perry continued.

In addition to snubbing press conferences, Biden has participated in fewer interviews with media outlets than his predecessors, according to NBC News. Since his 2021 inauguration, Biden has done 86 interviews with media outlets, NBC tallied. Former President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama trounce Biden’s numbers, each doing 300 and 422 interviews, respectively, at the same point in their presidency.

When Biden has done sit-down interviews with the media, his administration has often chosen to go the non-traditional route, sometimes avoiding hard-hitting journalists in favor of celebrity personalities. The president has done interviews with the Weather Channel, CBS News’ 60 MinutesRyan Seacrest and comedian Conan O’Brien.

In 2024, Biden has already foregone media opportunities. Biden turned down a prime-time Super Bowl interview for the second year in a row. His campaign then claimed that they wanted to give Americans a break from politics during the game, CNN reported. The NFL, however, is notoriously political, playing the black national anthem before the U.S. national anthem while players don helmet stickers reading “End racism” and “It takes all of us.”

“We are being less traditional because less people get their news from traditional mediums than ever before,” a Biden campaign official told CNN.

This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched program in television history.

After giving an address on border initiatives being debated in Congress, Biden promised reporters on Feb. 5 that he would be back sometime during the week to answer questions. That same week the president unexpectedly gave a press conference to address a special counsel report that had been released that day discussing the president’s physical and mental state. It was widely panned after Biden mixed up the presidents of Egypt and Mexico and snapped at reporters who asked about his age.

Biden again promised to take questions from reporters following remarks on Ukraine funding stalling in Congress. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed further questions about the president’s promise.

“On Tuesday, President Biden, he said, ‘I’m not going to answer your questions today. I will answer them tomorrow and the day after,’” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre during a press briefing. “What was he talking about?”

“Well, he was outside yesterday, and he took questions from some of you,” Jean-Pierre responded, referring to when the president told the media he was giving them up for Lent. Biden also continued to repeat “Happy Valentines day” as he was asked about a mysterious national security threat.

“And what about today?” the reporter followed up.

“Today I don’t have anything to share beyond what you all know, don’t have anything to add on his public schedule,” Jean-Pierre followed up.

Mark R. Weaver, a GOP strategist, pointed to the quick-witted nature of press conferences as a reason Biden may be conducting less of them.

“It can be a little bit like playing ping pong. So in these gaggles, the reporter can serve the ping pong ball towards him, and he can hit once back, but he can’t hit the next shot or the next shot. He’ll walk away before he does. So [for example a reporter]  will say ‘Mr. President, why are the prices still so high?’ And he is able to give a first response he will say ‘Well, that’s because the Republicans in Congress’ right, so we can get a first response out,” Weaver said.

“But then the reporter will follow up ‘no, Mr. President, you did you know, you did this policy, you forgave student loans and and that change this monetary policy, what do you have to say about that,’ and then he’ll mumble and walk away. He can’t hit that second shot,” Weaver continued.

The White House dismissed questions about the president’s lack of press interactions during a February press briefing.

“The numbers show that President Biden has engaged in about 33 news conferences.  Compare that to Obama’s 66 and Donald Trump’s 52 by this time in their presidencies.  Can you explain why the President isn’t doing more?” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre on Feb. 12.

“We’re always going to try to find ways — obviously, outside of press conferences as well — t0 — for the President to be out there. And we have found some nontraditional ways.  We think it’s important to try and meet the American people where they are,” Jean-Pierre responded.

“As far as press conferences, we’re going to try and make sure when it’s the right time for — for those to happen, certainly we will — we will do so. But it doesn’t mean that this President does not engage with — with the press corps — with the White — White House press corps or with other reporters, journalists out there who have different — different ways with communicating with the American people as well.  We think that’s important too,” the press secretary continued, pointing to the amount of times Biden takes questions from reporters while on the road.

Biden does appear more willing to speak to the press when it is spontaneous, whether that be during trips or following a speech.

As of Oct. 17, 2023, Biden has engaged with the press 492 times in an informal “gaggle,” which is more than any other president aside from Trump, the Washington Post reported. The president is averaging about 131 interactions with the press per year as of Feb. 20, according to the American Presidency Project. The number is less than Trump, though far more than Obama who averaged 25 exchanges with the press per year.

Perry recounted a time she attended a December 2022 event at the White House and had an opportunity to speak to the president. Biden’s strength, Perry noted to the Daily Caller, is more personal, unexpected interaction.

“About 10 to 15 years, slid off his face between standing on that stage looking kind of tired and coming down and talking to each person standing behind the velvet rope line. And so I do think that part is a shame that to the extent that he is not out as much as maybe he would have been as a younger person meeting and greeting and pressing the flesh because that is his strength,” Perry told the Daily Caller.

While doing fewer press conferences, the Biden White House has still made an effort to meet the Americans through social media platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok, the Washington Post previously reported. Throughout his presidency, Biden and his administration have leaned heavily on social media influencers in an effort to reach a younger crowd, though some argued to the outlet that the medium allows the White House to control the president’s messaging more.

“I think we should also point out that the press these days and in part may be trying to keep up with social media, may be more confrontational than at other times in long past,” Perry noted. “I mean, certainly the press was confrontational with Reagan, they were confrontational with Nixon, and I would compare him to someone like Trump, who really disliked the press. I don’t think Joe Biden dislikes the press, I think he probably misses the days when he could go toe to toe with them.”

AUTHOR

REAGAN REESE

White House correspondent. Follow Reagan on Twitter.

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

American Patriotism Is on the Rise, But for How Long?

A new survey is revealing an increase in patriotism, especially an appreciation for America’s birthday. A Rasmussen Reports poll published Tuesday found that 55% of Americans consider Independence Day to be on the nations’ “most important” holiday’s — that’s up from 53% just last year. Only 6% of Americans ranked the holiday one of the “least important.” However, only 34% of Americans responded that the Founding Fathers would view America today as a success.

Though marginal, the increase over last year’s patriotism is heartening, and it comes largely from the expected quarters: Republicans (at 69%) and unaffiliated voters (at 55%) are more likely to rank Independence Day as important compared to Democrats (at a paltry 44%). Somewhat ironically, though by no means surprisingly, Democrats (at 42%) are more likely to say the Founding Fathers would see America today as a success than unaffiliated voters (at 31%) and Republicans (at 29%), despite also ranking Independence Day as less important.

These statistics, while interesting, can only be properly understood in light of other cultural trends and, of course, in light of both history and objective moral truth.

First, to other cultural trends — namely, the shift away from religion. A recent Pew Research Center poll reported that religious service attendance is down post-COVID lockdowns, dropping from only one third of Americans in 2019 to a meager 30% in 2022. A more recent report from the Public Religion Research Institute found only 16% of Americans considered religion the most important aspect of their lives. The results of this decline in faith are evident across politics, media, culture, and nearly every stratum of American society: from the inundation of pro-LGBT propaganda to America’s cataclysmic split over abortion to the prevalence of divorce and pornography, and the list goes on.

This leads to the next point to consider: history. The form of government devised by the Founding Fathers was unique up to that point in history, crafting a sort of hybrid from ancient republics like Rome, free democracies like those proposed by French Enlightenment writers, and even from England itself, most notably the Magna Carta, a precursor to America’s Constitution. The Magna Carta came about in circumstances similar to those resulting in the American Revolution. The 13th century King John of England (perhaps best known as the archvillain in the “Robin Hood” stories) pushed the nation’s barons too far in abusing his power as monarch, particularly by levying unfairly high taxes. The baron’s revolted and pressured John to sign the Magna Carta, which established that the king was subject to the law, he could only make new laws with consent of the governed (represented by the barons), and his subjects owed him obedience not absolutely, but only on the condition that he governed justly and in their interest.

Similar ideas can be detected in America’s Constitution. It may surprise many to learn that the Founding Fathers’ chief issue was not solely with monarchy but with Parliament. The grievances listed against King George III in the Declaration of Independence largely center on his inaction — both his failure to protect the American colonies from Parliament’s seemingly Draconian laws and his refusal to consent to the predominantly-English-blooded colonists representing themselves and their interests in Parliament. The British Parliament was the aggressor, in the eyes of the Founding Fathers, interfering with the colonies’ internal self-governance, levying increasingly-disproportionate taxes on the colonists, stationing a standing army in America and forcing the colonists to pay for it, restricting freedom of speech, and more. The king was not the aggressor, and the colonists didn’t outright reject the notion of a constitutional monarchy.

In fact, officers of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War even petitioned George Washington to be king of the United States and do away with the fledgling Continental Congress. Washington famously rejected the offer and, when his troops grew restless after months of no pay issued by Congress, Washington prevented a military rebellion and ensured his men respected whatever new form of government Congress decided to bestow upon the young nation. The authors of the Constitution even considered a constitutional monarchy. When the Constitutional Convention closed in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was famously asked what form of government had been decided upon, a monarchy or a republic. He responded, “A republic — if you can keep it.” Those words, “if you can keep it,” are crucial.

This leads, then, to moral truth. Under a monarchy, a king accepts tremendous responsibility for his people; while it’s true that not all kings have upheld that responsibility, and some have even neglected it and abused their powers, the responsibility itself has always existed. The form of government the Founding Fathers bestowed upon America is, in some ways, a more grown-up form of government. Every citizen — from the wealthiest to the poorest, from the strongest to the weakest, from the smartest to the dullest — is entrusted with the responsibility of governing himself and his fellow men. In order to live up to that responsibility, a virtuous populace is required, a people noble enough to give of themselves to tend to the souls of others, and wise enough to know how to do so.

The slight rise in patriotism is heartening not least because patriotism is a virtue. Christian thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to C.S. Lewis have long considered patriotism a virtue, falling under the cardinal virtue of justice, which demands giving to each one his due; patriotism is giving to one’s fatherland the respect and, in a sense, filial devotion it is due. But the contrasting decline in the practice of religion bodes ill, as does the steep rise in recent decades of moral relativism, hedonism, and degeneracies the Founding Fathers could likely never have imagined. For nearly 250 years this American republican has stood, but without virtue can we keep it?

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


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A Brief History of California’s Eugenics Program (1909-2013)

After decades of forced sterilizations followed by feeble apologies, California is shifting to the endgame of its century-long sterilization program: taxing innocent citizens to pay off its victims.


It is a commonsense view that government spending is generally inefficient compared to spending by private people and businesses. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman famously argued, “Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.”

This point about economic efficiency may be true, but it often lets government officials off the hook far too easy. A chilling example of this is how California is currently dealing with its long history of forcing sterilization on unwilling victims and then legislatively immunizing themselves from responsibility.

If you were a taxpayer in the Golden State as recently as 2010, your earnings probably helped fund the forced sterilizations of hundreds of inmates such as the Native American woman Moonlight Pulido.

“While in prison in 2005, Pulido said a doctor told her he needed to remove two ‘growths’ that could be cancer,” the Associated Press reported earlier this month. “She signed a form and had surgery. Later, something didn’t feel right. She was constantly sweating and not feeling like herself. She asked a nurse, who told her she had had a full hysterectomy, a procedure that removes the uterus and the cervix, and sometimes other parts of the reproductive system.”

“I felt like less than a woman,” Pulido told reporter Adam Beam. “We’re the only life-givers, we’re the only ones that can give life and he stole that blessing from me.”

Pulido was not alone. Other victims of this ghoulish policy shared stories with media, including Kimberly Jeffrey, who recalled resisting a tubal ligation procedure while she was sedated and strapped to an operating table.

“Being treated like I was less than human produced in me a despair,” Jeffrey told NPR.

Kelli Dillon, a former inmate at Central California women’s facility, explained how she found out that her ovaries had been removed in 2001 without her knowledge or consent after she was told surgeons were going to take a biopsy and remove a cyst.

“It was like my life wasn’t worth anything. Somebody felt I had nothing to contribute to the point where they had to find this sneaky and diabolical way to take my ability to have children,” Dillon told the Guardian in 2021.

It was not until years later, while still a member of the California State prison system, that Dillon began to realize other inmates were receiving hysterectomies and sterilization procedures without their knowledge, often after being told the procedures “were necessary to look for cancers or correcting gynecological issues.”

If the perpetrators of these violations were held accountable for their actions, such atrocities would be less likely to happen. But instead of being brought to justice for their malfeasance, the California State government is forcing innocent people to pay the price and getting off virtually scott free themselves. It is this sort of application for the expropriation of funds from private and productive citizens that has allowed governments to terrorize their citizens since time immemorial—a pattern that will have no reason to end until measures have been taken to eliminate the power of governments to enact such cruel legislation.

Timeline: California’s Forced Sterilization

1909: The state government of California created a sterilization program that became the largest eugenics movement in the United States, sterilizing more than 20,000 unwilling victims and also inspiring eugenics practices in Nazi Germany. The practices were carried out in public hospitals and other tax-funded institutions for the disabled and mentally ill, because people with disabilities or mental illnesses were deemed unfit for reproduction.

1927: By now the eugenics movement had become mainstream in the United States. It was widely thought among elite American policymakers that the human population could be improved by coercively preventing the reproduction of disliked demographics such as the disabled, the poor, the “feebleminded,” and even people deemed “sexual deviants” such as rapists, prostitutes, or even women who had sex out of wedlock. California’s constitutional right to continue its eugenics practices was enshrined by the United States Supreme Court in the Buck v. Bell case, in which the right of the state of Virginia to sterilize Carrie Buck (who the state falsely declared “feebleminded”) against her will was upheld—and with it the rights of other state governments to make similar decisions for their inhabitants.

Writing for the majority, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (considered an idol of “progressivism” in his time and still by some today) stated, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.”

And thus, he concluded in a famous line that, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

1968-1974: Although the eugenics movement had peaked in the 1930s, California government officials oversaw continued tax-funded sterilizations into the later half of the 20th century. For example, according to an official document released by Los Angeles County five years ago apologizing for a series of sterilizations county officials had overseen between 1968 and 1974, “Over 200 women who delivered babies at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, the majority of whom were low income and born in Mexico, were possibly coerced into getting postpartum tubal ligations. At least some of the women were not aware they had been sterilized, and only learned that they had lost their reproductive rights during subsequent doctors’ visits. It is significant and necessary to acknowledge the irreparable harm inflicted onto the women who were subjected to these coerced sterilizations at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, and to their families.“

1979: California’s eugenics laws were repealed, supposedly ending the practice of state-funded eugenics in CA.

1999 – 2010: California’s eugenics movement was mysteriously revived, but this time under the guise of prison healthcare. According to the Associated Press less than two years ago, “Sterilizations in California prisons appear to date to 1999, when the state changed its policy for unknown reasons to include a sterilization procedure known as “tubal ligation” as part of inmates’ medical care. Over the next decade, women reported they were coerced into this procedure, with some not fully understanding the ramifications.”

2003: While the California government was still funding involuntary sterilizations in their state prisons, California Governor Gray Davis apologized on behalf of “the people of California” for the government’s “past” eugenicist actions. “To the victims and their families of this past injustice, the people of California are deeply sorry for the suffering you endured over the years,” the apology read. “Our hearts are heavy for the pain caused by eugenics. It was a sad and regrettable chapter in the state’s history, and it is one that must never be repeated again.”

2013: The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR, now Reveal) discovered that between 1997 and 2010 California state officials spent at least $147,460 of taxpayer funds to sterilize 148 female inmates. The above-quoted Moonlight Pulido, Kimberly Jeffrey, and Kelli Dillon were just three among them. Many of the records of these sterilizations were “lost or destroyed,” the Associated Press reports. NPR notes that the true number of illicit sterilizations during that period may have been significantly higher than reported, and that the operations appeared to disproportionately target repeat offenders.

The CIR’s claims were denied by the few state officials who commented in this early phase of the scandal. Valley State Prison’s former OB-GYN Dr. James Heinrich claimed that all sterilized inmates had consented to the operations. He even justified this use of tax dollars in a way that seemed to echo Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s disregard for the value of human life back in 1927. “Over a 10-year period, [$147,460] isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children — as they procreated more,” Heinrich said according to NPR.

2014: Prompted by the CIR’s findings, auditors conducted their own investigation to confirm or disconfirm the CIR’s claims. “A state audit found 144 women were sterilized between 2005 and 2013 with little or no evidence they were counseled or offered alternative treatments,” the audit found. The auditors’ report, published at www.auditor.ca.gov, found that the misconduct had occurred with the oversight of either the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or California Correctional Health Care Services.

“This report concludes that during our eight-year audit period, 144 female inmates were sterilized by a procedure known as bilateral tubal ligation, a surgery generally performed for the sole purpose of sterilization,” the auditors wrote.

Later that year, in response to the revelations, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill supposedly written to prohibit future involuntary sterilizations in California prisons. However, as reporting from the Guardian noted, “While the bill passed unanimously, its carefully negotiated language allowed the state to escape further responsibility.”

2021: The California government approved legislation intended to compensate its sterilization victims through tax-funded reparations payments. The program will pay out at least $15,000 to any applicant who can prove to have been one of the victims.

2022-2023: California is searching for the victims that are still alive today, of which there are believed to be more than 600, according to reporting from the Associated Press in 2021 (although many of the victims never knew what was done to them, so it is unclear how they would know to apply for reparations). The government’s search strategy consists of sending posters, flyers, and fact sheets to libraries, prisons, and other establishments across the state, the AP reported this month.

After a year of searching, the government has approved only 51 out of 310 reparations applicants, denied 103 people’s applications, and closed three incomplete applications. According to the AP, “They say it’s difficult to verify the applications as many records have been lost or destroyed.” Therefore, according to Executive Officer of the California Victim Compensation Board Lynda Gledhill, “We try to find all the information we can and sometimes we just have to hope that somebody maybe can find more detailed information on their own. We’re just sometimes not able to verify what happened.”

Of the 51 victims who have been approved for reparations payments, three were sterilized under California’s eugenics laws that were repealed in 1979. The rest were sterilized more recently.

2024: The $4.5 million reparations program, for which an additional $2 million is being spent on advertising, will end.

Any victims still unpaid will have lost their chance to be compensated for the damages to their bodies, sexual identities, human dignity, and potential to pass their genes onto future generations.

The “public servants” governing California appropriated funds from innocent citizens against their will, used those funds to capture and sterilize involuntary victims, “lost or destroyed” the associated records, passed legislation to protect themselves from responsibility (after being caught), finally decided to pay reparations but passed the cost onto unwilling innocent citizens instead of facing any financial or legal repercussions themselves, and have only paid 51 out of at least 600 living victims now that about half the term of the reparations program has passed.

The above history of self-serving legislation and empty apologies confirms the suspicion common sense should lead us to anyway—namely that California government institutions cannot be trusted to legislatively protect the citizenry from continued atrocities given that the atrocities in question are often perpetrated by the government institutions themselves.

When unjustified coercion is consistently used by a group of people, the way to stop them is to impose costs on the guilty individuals that they themselves must suffer until their transgressions are atoned for. It is good that (albeit grossly inadequate) reparations are being paid, but until the perpetrators of the crimes are the ones to pay the price, the crucial lessons will not be learned and the crucial incentives not imposed.

There are several destructive institutions that allowed these eugenics operations to take place, but among them is the practice of government taxation itself. It allowed the perpetrators to conduct their operations without incurring personal expense, and through taxation the innocent many are now being scapegoated to protect the guilty few from what punishments they might otherwise be forced by the outrage of the public to endure.

If the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity aren’t going to be jailed for life or otherwise severely punished as any private citizen likely would for committing the same offenses, then at the very least the citizens who involuntarily pay their salaries and fund the programs of their twisted imaginations could be struggling to end the forced involvement of the citizenry that finances such programs with their tax payments.

If your tax dollars were spent solely to improve the health, education, and protection from violence of your fellow countrymen, instead of often funding the exact opposite of all these things as has been the case in California, then opposing the predation of tax collectors would not be quite so urgent. But in the real world, those malevolent enough (or those sufficiently under the sway of malevolent ideas) to think they should get to spend your money against your will often turn out to be malevolent in many other ways as well.

There are plenty of reasons one might struggle against government taxation. Perhaps you’re a poor or middle-class laborer at pains to afford your childrens’ education. Perhaps you’re a visionary entrepreneur trying to fund some world-changing new technological or medical research.

But at least as good a reason as any to oppose your wealth being confiscated is to prevent institutions such as the California State government from spending another dime on their campaigns of terror and reproductive destruction.

AUTHOR

Saul Zimet

Saul Zimet is a Website and Data Coordinator for HumanProgress.org at the Cato Institute and a graduate student in economics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Joseph Goebbels’ Own Words Show He Loved Socialism and Saw It as ‘the Future’

Socialists will continue to argue that Nazism was not “real” socialism, but the Nazi propaganda despised capitalism and spoke like Karl Marx.


One of the comforts of growing older is knowing that some things will never change.

Sports fans will always argue over the designated hitter rule and over who was the best heavyweight boxer of all-time (Muhammad Ali). Movie fans will never agree which Godfather movie was better, the first or the second (the first.) And the trumpets will sound at the Second Coming before capitalists and socialists agree on whether the Nazis were “really socialists.”

The last item has always puzzled me, I confess, and not just because the word is right there in the name: National Socialism. If you read the speeches and private conversations of the Nazi hierarchy, it’s clear they loved socialism and despised individualism and capitalism.

In his new book Hitler’s National Socialism, the historian Rainer Zitelmann gives a penetrating look into the ideas that shaped men like Hitler and Goebbels. While it’s clear they saw their own brand of socialism as distinct from Marxism (more on that later), there is no question they saw socialism as the future and despised bourgeoisie capitalism.

Consider, for example, these quotes from Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party:

  1. “Socialism is the ideology of the future.” – Letter to Ernst Graf zu Reventlow as quoted in Goebbels: A Biography
  2. “The bourgeoisie has to yield to the working class … Whatever is about to fall should be pushed. We are all soldiers of the revolution. We want the workers’ victory over filthy lucre. That is socialism.” -quoted in Doctor Goebbels: His Life and Death
  3. “We are socialists, because we see in socialism, that means, in the fateful dependence of all folk comrades upon each other, the sole possibility for the preservation of our racial genetics and thus the re-conquest of our political freedom and for the rejuvenation of the German state. – “Why We Are Socialists?” Der Angriff (The Attack ), July 16, 1928
  4. “We are not a charitable institution but a Party of revolutionary socialists.” -Der Angriff editorial, May 27, 1929
  5. “Capitalism assumes unbearable forms at the moment when the personal purposes that it serves run contrary to the interest of the overall folk. It then proceeds from things and not from people. Money is then the axis around which everything revolves. It is the reverse with socialism. The socialist worldview begins with the folk and then goes over to things. Things are made subservient to the folk; the socialist puts the folk above everything, and things are only means to an end.” -”Capitalism,” Der Angriff, July 15, 1929
  6. “In 1918 there was only one task for the German socialist: to keep the weapons and defend German socialism.” -”Capitalism,” Der Angriff, July 15, 1929
  7. “To be a socialist means to let the ego serve the neighbour, to sacrifice the self for the whole. In its deepest sense socialism equals service.” – diary notes (1926)
  8. “The lines of German socialism are sharp, and our path is clear. We are against the political bourgeoisie, and for genuine nationalism! We are against Marxism, but for true socialism!” – Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)
  9. “We are socialists because we see the social question as a matter of necessity and justice for the very existence of a state for our people, not a question of cheap pity or insulting sentimentality. The worker has a claim to a living standard that corresponds to what he produces.” – Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)
  10. “England is a capitalist democracy. Germany is a socialist people’s state.” – “Englands Schuld” (the speech is not dated, but likely was given in 1939)
  11. “Because we are socialists we have felt the deepest blessings of the nation, and because we are nationalists we want to promote socialist justice in a new Germany.” – Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken (1932)
  12. “The sin of liberal thinking was to overlook socialism’s nation-building strengths, thereby allowing its energies to go in anti-national directions.” – Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken (1932)
  13. “To be a socialist is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole. Socialism is in its deepest sense service.” – as quoted in Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm
  14. “We are a workers’ party because we see in the coming battle between finance and labor the beginning and the end of the structure of the twentieth century. We are on the side of labor and against finance. . . The value of labor under socialism will be determined by its value to the state, to the whole community.”-Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Socialists? (1932)

These quotes represent just a smattering of Goebbels’ views on and conception of socialism. One can see that in many ways the Nazi spoke much like Karl Marx.

Phrases like “we are a workers’ party,” “the worker has a claim to a living standard that corresponds to what he produces,” “money…is the reverse with socialism,” and “we are against the political bourgeoisie” could easily be plucked from Marx’s own speeches and writings—yet it’s clear Goebbels despised Marx and saw his brand of “national socialism” as distinct from Marxism.

So what sets National Socialism apart from Marxism? There are two primary differences.

The first is that Hitler and Goebbels fused their socialism with race and German nationalism, rejecting the international ethos of Marxism—workers of the world unite!—for a more practical one that emphasized Germany’s Völkischen movement.

This was a clever tactic by the Nazis. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek pointed out, it made socialism more palatable to many Germans who were unable to see Nazism for what it truly was.

“The supreme tragedy is still not seen that in Germany it was largely people of good will who, by their socialist policies, prepared the way for the forces which stand for everything they detest,” Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom (1944). “Few recognize that the rise of fascism…was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”

The second difference is that National Socialists were less concerned with directly controlling the means of production.

In his 1940 book German Economy, 1870-1940, Gustav Stolper, an Austrian-German economist and journalist, explained that though National Socialism was anti-capitalist from the beginning, it was also in direct competition with Marxism following World War I. Because of this, National Socialists determined to “woo the masses” from three distinct angles.

“The first angle was the moral principle, the second the financial system, the third the issue of ownership. The moral principle was ‘the commonwealth before self-interest.’ The financial promise was ‘breaking the bondage of interest slavery’. The industrial program was ‘nationalization of all big incorporated business [trusts]’. By accepting the principle ‘the commonwealth before self-interest,’ National Socialism simply emphasizes its antagonism to the spirit of a competitive society as represented supposedly by democratic capitalism . . . But to the Nazis this principle means also the complete subordination of the individual to the exigencies of the state. And in this sense National Socialism is unquestionably a Socialist system . . .”

Stolper, who fled from Germany to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power, noted that the Nazis never initiated a widespread nationalization of industry, but he explained that in some ways this was a distinction without a difference.

“The socialization of the entire German productive machinery, both agricultural and industrial, was achieved by methods other than expropriation, to a much larger extent and on an immeasurably more comprehensive scale than the authors of the party program in 1920 probably ever imagined. In fact, not only the big trusts were gradually but rapidly subjected to government control in Germany, but so was every sort of economic activity, leaving not much more than the title of private ownership.”

In his 1939 book The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism, Guenter Reimann reached a similar conclusion, the economic historian Richard Ebeling notes.

“…while most of the means of production had not been nationalized, they had nonetheless been politicized and collectivized under an intricate web of Nazi planning targets, price and wage regulations, production rules and quotas, and strict limits and restraints on the action and decisions of those who remained; nominally, the owners of private enterprises throughout the country. Every German businessman knew that his conduct was prescribed and positioned within the wider planning goals of the National Socialist regime.”

The historical record is clear: European fascism was simply a different shade of socialism, which helps explain, as Hayek noted, why so many fascists were “former” socialists—”from Mussolini down (and including Laval and Quisling).”

Like Marx, the Nazis loathed capitalism and saw the individual will and individual rights as subordinate to the interests of the state. It should come as little surprise that these different shades of socialism achieved such similar results: poverty and misery.

Socialists will continue to argue that Nazism was not “real” socialism, but the words of the infamous Nazi propaganda minister suggest otherwise.

AUTHOR

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. (Follow him on Substack.) His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Recovering a more perfect union: A rebuke of the 1619 Project

A new book describes the importance of memory, history, and national identity in saving America from desolation.


One of the worst sins of the present — not just ours but any present — is its tendency to condescend toward the past, which is much easier to do when one doesn’t trouble to know the full context of that past or try to grasp the nature of its challenges as they presented themselves at the time.
— Wilfred M. McClay, Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

Jay Leno used to do a regular schtick, Jaywalking, in which he would interview random persons on the street, often young ones, and ask them questions about American history, such as: “Who did America fight in the Revolutionary War?” “How many branches of the U.S. government are there?” “What year was the War of 1812?” Invariably, they could not answer the question, standing mute with Leno’s impertinent microphone pointed at their gaping mouths, or they gave a ridiculous answer.

As deflating as these performances were, it turns out that the state of American education is even worse than Leno documented. Not only does ignorance characterise so much of the citizenry, but Americans are now also imbibing, i.e., being taught, pernicious lies or partial truths about the founding and history of the United States from a tendentious, ideological, and solidly left-wing perspective.

Twisted narrative

This sorry state of affairs is documented in excruciating detail in Timothy S. Goeglein’s enlightening, depressing, and, ultimately, hopeful new book, Toward a More Perfect Union: The Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story.

The distortion of history now routinely fed to elementary and high school students, as well as those attending hopelessly “woke” universities and colleges, has produced many young people who are “cynical, entitled, and aggrieved.” Continues Goeglein:

Rather than being thankful, they are indignant. Rather than proud, they feel ashamed. Rather than feeling free, they feel oppressed. Rather than wanting to fix America’s faults, they want to burn America down. Rather than asking what they can do for their country, they demand to know what their country can do for them — and the answer is increasingly to “cease to exist.”

We have created “a citizenry divorced both intellectually and emotionally from its heritage.” Further, “[w]hen we disassociate history — and memory — from facts, we are lost,” writes Goeglein, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, a former Senate staffer, and, presently, vice-president of external and government relations for Focus on the Family.

Our predicament is exemplified by the absurd, anti-historical 1619 Project of the New York Times, an initiative repudiated by many respectedliberal historians. It is being taught in roughly 4,500 schools nationwide.

In a feat of historical and moral inversion, it maintains that the American Revolution was designed primarily to protect the institution of slavery from being destroyed by the British Empire.

Such a one-sided view of history will alienate Americans from one another, given the dissolution of a common identity and love of country, and disregards those who struggled to make the Declaration of Independence a reality in spite of its obvious flaws, such as slavery.

On the matter of slavery, always a leading complaint against America’s founding, the Washington Post’s George Will has rightly observed that the founders’ Constitution “gave slavery no national validation. It left slavery solely a creature of state laws and therefore susceptible to the process that, in fact, occurred — the process of being regionally confined and put on a path to ultimate extinction. Secession was the South’s desperate response when it recognized this impending outcome that the Constitution had facilitated.”

So, it comes as no surprise that, as “a 2020 Pew Research study found a month before the presidential election, roughly eight in ten registered voters in both camps said their political disagreements with others were about core American values, with roughly nine in ten — liberal and conservative — worried [that] a victory by the other would lead to ‘lasting harm’ to the United States” [emphasis added]. We are now in a situation in which tribe is pitted against tribe, race against race, rich against poor, red against blue states.

We have succumbed to the “termites of self-loathing,” to use a term coined by Ben Stein. There is hardly a historic personage — Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, St Junípero Serra — who is not vilified, “cancelled,” and banished into outer darkness by woke activists and educators. One should be grateful that at least Frederick Douglass and Dr Martin Luther King Jr are spared such treatment, given their devotion to American ideals in the Declaration of Independence, classical literature, and Scripture. They are just ignored.

Dearth of patriotism

Recently, a friend whose daughter attended one of the tonier prep schools in Washington, DC, related that his conversations with her on US and Western history were disappointing. She, and her friends, showed no “piety” toward her country or heritage.

It was an interesting word choice and recalled my own school days studying Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem written between 29 and 19 BC. It tells the story of the Trojan Aeneas, who fled the destruction of his city, travelled to Italy, and would later become the ancestor of the Romans.

I remember my Jesuit instructor lauding “pius Aeneas,” “pious” being the most used adjective throughout the poem. In following the will of the gods — he even left the captivating Dido in Carthage — Aeneas demonstrated pietas, a virtue in the eyes of Virgil and my teacher, in his devotion to family, country, and mission. Such piety is no longer encouraged in our educational institutions, or so it would seem.

Major culprit

What brought America to this sorry state? In the beginning there was the “Original Zinn” — Howard Zinn, that is, a Boston University professor of political science and “the godfather of the radical attack on America’s history”, as Goeglein outlines in a pivotal chapter of Toward a More Perfect Union.

Zinn’s “epic screed,” A People’s History of the United States (1980), and his supplemental book for high schoolers, A Young People’s History of the United States (2007), have had an unparalleled impact on social studies teachers. The historian refram[ed]” and “reimagin[ed]” facts to fit a Marxist critique of the US and a Western civilisation marred, claimed Zinn, “by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money.” For Zinn, “standards of historical analysis are merely ‘technical problems’ to be dismissed.”

“You wanna read a real history book?” Matt Damon’s titular character, Will, asks Robin Williams’ Dr Sean Maguire in the movie Good Will Hunting (1997). “Read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. That book’ll f***ing knock you on your ass.” Indeed, it does. It also boggles the mind.

Zinn claims that the nation “has been taken over by men [the founders] who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties.” Again, in service to ideology, Zinn does not believe in objective history as documented by Mary Grabar, PhD, a refugee of communist Yugoslavia, on whom Goeglein draws heavily.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the main author of the 1619 Project, backtracked after respected historians critiqued her work. She claimed that the project was not about history but about “memory.” This is not historically grounded memory, but memory saturated with ideology and politics. This is pure Zinn in methodology. Hence, noted historians such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Eugene Genovese, and Michael Kammen — hardly a crowd of right-wingers — criticised Zinn as a “polemicist, not a historian.”

“His ultimate goal is not a historical one but a political one,” writes Goeglein. “[H]e wanted to depict the United States as an illegitimate enterprise, one demanding a revolution.”

Pushback

According to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, today, only 18 percent of colleges require that students take a US history or government class to graduate. Maybe that is a blessing, given what passes for “history” in today’s woke environment. Ultimately, however, this is devastating to national unity.

Goeglein describes survey after survey that all indicate Americans’ ignorance of their rights under law and history. When the Constitution is taught, it is derided as being not radical enough in terms of the outcomes desired by left-of-centre teachers and advocates.

Toward A More Perfect Union does not specify a political agenda for reform, although it does note efforts made by some governors to reign in educational bureaucracies on, say, critical race theory. It does make a plea for parents to make a concerted effort to teach and counsel their children on the history of the nation and to pay close attention to what their schools are teaching.

It points to excellent resources available with which parents can educate themselves and their children on the complete story of American exceptionalism, not excluding the darker chapters. Parents who can afford the cost should look for alternatives to public schools that sacrifice true learning for the sake of ideology. “Classical” schools, home schooling, and parochial schools — all of which boomed during the COVID lockdowns — are possible options.

Parents who cannot afford private schools or who have special-needs children “must be extra vigilant and expect to receive the full wrath of Leftist activists if they stand up and demand that civics be taught while also standing against the indoctrination their children are receiving.” Specifically, they need to insist on the rights to inspect curricula, to opt out of the teaching of certain subjects, and to insist that controversial issues be discussed impartially. No easy tasks these.

Goeglein concludes:

[W]e must rededicate ourselves to the teaching of history — true, verifiable, factual history, with all its glories and tragedies. We need not fear to teach the ugly truths about America alongside the beautiful ones, because America’s founding vision is pure and her ideals are noble. Our failures do not change that.

Toward a More Perfect Union makes a compelling case that the country’s future, as one nation, demands a reclamation of our educational system and a recovery of the authentic teaching of history and constitutional government rightly understood.

This article has been republished from The American Spectator with permission.

AUTHOR

G. Tracy Mehan III

G. Tracy Mehan, III, was Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Administration of President George W. Bush. He is an adjunct professor at Scalia Law School,… More by G. Tracy Mehan III

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

A Child’s-Eye View of Communism’s Absurdities

Candid childhood memories of life behind the Iron Curtain


It is a truism to say that children have a grasp of reality different from adults; a clearer and more honest grasp that in most cases they lose with maturity. Rare is the man or woman who retains that innocent capacity to see through grown-up hypocrisy and pretence, presented to us so vividly in Hans Andersen’s memorable fairy-tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In this humorous memoir of growing up in a city (unidentified) of 40,000 in the southern Urals of the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s, Fr Alexander Krylov, of Russian-German origin, manages to retain the undeceived eyes of childhood as he relates the absurdities and contradictions of life under Communism.

God and family

So many memoirs of living under the Soviet regime are, understandably, riven with bitterness and anger; the suffering has been too great to forget. The young Krylov, an only child, was protected from this by the love and faith of his family: his Catholic mother and grandmother and his Orthodox father.

The latter died when he was aged seven; showing unusual understanding for his age, Krylov realised that he was now “the one man in the family.” A certain independence of outlook seems to have characterised him from the start — probably because, despite the constant atheist propaganda impressed on him at school and in the wider society, “God’s presence in everyday life was… self-evident for our family.”

Much of this was owing to his grandmother’s influence for, as the family breadwinner, his mother had to work long hours outside the home. This grandmother, who had grown up in a German-speaking colony in Russia, resembled a traditional Russian “babushka” in her fortitude, her generosity and her strong faith that years of living in Leonid Brezhnev’s decrepit Soviet society could not erase.

In this world, all its citizens were officially atheist yet, as Krylov relates, everyone in his neighbourhood “knew” who the believers were and what religion they followed. His grandmother “saw an ally in every human being who was seeking God — Jews, Orthodox and Muslims” because — especially in death — “common prayer was much more important than any disagreement.”

There were no churches in his city and he only saw the inside of an Orthodox church (in western Ukraine) before starting school, aged six. Overwhelmed by its icons, candles and awe-inspiring atmosphere, Krylov told his mother, “Let’s stay here forever.” Undeterred, his grandmother erected a homemade altar in their small apartment, with its holy pictures, holy water, hymns and secret celebrations of the great Christian feasts. A candle would be lit in the window at Christmas; it was “somehow implicitly clear that God does not abandon human beings as long as a light is burning in at least one window on Christmas Eve and at least one person is waiting for the Christ-child.”

Economic woes

The author takes a gentle swipe at western society, obsessed with dietary fashions, when he explains, in a chapter titled “Healthy Diet”, why Soviet citizens had no choice but a healthy diet. Trying to survive in a corrupt and inefficient command economy, almost all families had an allotment with fruit trees and vegetables, to compensate for what they could not buy in the shops: everything possible was pickled, canned, stored or preserved. For some reason chickens were plentiful:

“Thanks to the poor work of the chemical industry, they were raised with no additives and usually looked as though they had walked by themselves from the chicken factory to the grocery store.”

I laughed aloud as I read this and other reminiscences, narrated in the candid way of a man who has not lost the artless gaze of a child. (After a distinguished academic career in Moscow, Fr Krylov decided to become a priest aged 42, on Easter Monday 2011 and was ordained in 2016.)

Another anecdote describes how he briefly worked in a grocery store where the shelves were often lacking common items buyers craved. Organising the shop’s store room, he noticed many such items, piled them on a trolley and wheeled it through into the shop, to the delighted surprise of the customers. The teenage boy could not understand why the manageress looked so discomfited and why his employment was suddenly curtailed.

Inner life

Just as the late Russian poet, Irina Ratushinskaya, who spent four years in the Gulag for writing “subversive” poetry, commented she was told so often as a child “there is no God”, that she began to believe in Him, Krylov reflects: “The prohibition against owning a Bible in the Soviet Union could only confirm its importance.”

In a telling incident in his teens, he describes a classroom meeting where these young Soviet citizens planned “to put socialist democracy into action.” This meant denouncing a fellow student who would not obey the rules. Krylov, who had befriended him, defended him in front of his classmates. They then turned on him, aware that he too was somehow “different.” The author comments, “Although I was always present, I lived my own life”. This hidden, inner life, which they sensed though it was never made explicit, presented an existential threat to his fellow student ideologues.

Inevitably, Lenin’s image was everywhere. Joining the Communist youth group, the Young Pioneers, one wore a red neckerchief and star. “Depicted on this star were the head of Lenin and three tongues of fire. I shared with no one my impression that this star depicted the head of Lenin burning in hell.” This was the response of a child whose private faith, never mentioned in class, helped to protect him against the atheism he was forced to listen to in public.

Finally, aged 15, overhearing the jocular remark of a friend’s father that vodka was “opium for the people”, Krylov comments: “Suddenly my eyes were opened: [I realised that] Communism had simply become a new religion.”

If the Emperor in this case was not exactly naked, nonetheless the short, discrete chapters of this kindly memoir remind readers that his clothes were uncomfortable, unsuitable, ill-fitting and threadbare.

This review has been republished with the author’s permission from The Conservative Woman.

AUTHOR

Francis Phillips

More by Francis Phillips

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Troubling Trends: Is the Christian Era coming to a Close?

Secularisation is decimating the world’s largest faith group.


We live in precarious times. The world is changing in ways we could not fathom a short forty years ago. Believing Christians, pro-family advocates and patriotic folks are fast becoming today’s marginalised communities.

For centuries the West, aka “Western Christendom”, was a dynamic and expanding enterprise that by the late 1800s effectively ruled the world. Even when warring among themselves, Westerners did their utmost to spread the faith. The world has been tremendously enriched by missions, schools, clinics and much else founded in the spirit of Christianity.

Today that is a flagging spirit, something painfully obvious. Two recent batches of demographic data seem to bear that out.

Replacement

The first came from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), reporting that only 42.6% of people in England and Wales identify as Christian. The UK Telegraph headline summed it up:

Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time”

ONS reports that in 2001, 72% of people in England and Wales identified as Christian. Those identifying as “no religion” increased from 15% in 2001 to 37.2% in 2021. In the last decade self-identified Muslims rose by almost a third to 6.5%. For the same period, Hindus realised a 13% increase, rising to 1.7%.

Interestingly, self-identified Muslims are more religious than Christians. More people attend mosque every week in the UK than attend church. It has been that way for a while. According to a Christian Research study from twenty years ago:

51 per cent of the Muslims quizzed in the 2001 census said they prayed every day, compared to just 6.3 per cent of Christians who attend church services each week.

A 2005 Christian Research study, “The Future of the Church”, predicted that the  number of Muslims attending mosque every week would double that of Christians attending church by 2040, forecasting:

[T]he number of Christians attending Sunday service could see a two-thirds drop over the next three decades. The current 9.4 per cent of the population currently in regular attendance at Sunday service is expected to be under 5 per cent by 2040.

The UK is well on the way to meeting that forecast.

Secularisation

The second batch of troublesome data is the Pew Research Center’s study, “Modeling the Future of Religion in America”. Their findings are that Americans are leaving Christianity   in droves and identifying as “atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular.’”

[I]n 2020, about 64% of Americans, including children, were Christian. People who are religiously unaffiliated, sometimes called religious “nones,” accounted for 30% of the U.S. population. Adherents of all other religions — including Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists — totaled about 6%.

[P]rojections show Christians of all ages shrinking from 64% to between a little more than half (54%) and just above one-third (35%) of all Americans by 2070. Over that same period, “nones” would rise from the current 30% to somewhere between 34% and 52% of the U.S. population.

Similar figures are cited in British sociologist Stephen Bullivant’s just published book Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America (Oxford University Press).

The same trend is found throughout the Anglosphere, Europe and even Latin America. Is the Christian Era coming to a close?

Consider: For the sake of “religious neutrality,” the Christian calendar devised 1500 years ago by Dionysius Exiguus, denominating history per the Incarnation, used B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) for dating history. That practice has been abandoned for BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). While doing so may well be more “inclusive”, it nonetheless attests to the diminishing influence of Christianity. This is just one of modernity’s thousand cuts.

While religious transition is usually a lengthy process — consider the Great Schism, the Renaissance and Reformation — the twentieth century vastly accelerated secularisation of the West. Depleted and demoralised by two world wars, quickly followed by unprecedented affluence and lightning technological progress, the West saw mammon thoroughly triumph by the 1960s, when religious expression was banned from the public square in America.

Sobering consequences

With secularism comes moral relativism, where there are no absolutes. Rather, all is relative, situational and governed by feeling rather than thinking. In fact, those steadfastly standing by absolutes are often the object of chattering class derision. Despite the proliferation of “Pride” festivals throughout the West, today any public declaration of pride in being Christian, Western or White can be a career-terminator.

Along with mammon-worshiping secularism, there has been, worldwide, a 50% decline in fertility in 50 years. This is most acute in the Global North countries and is leading to unsustainable economic and social conditions. Little wonder that governments in the West and elsewhere are doing backflips to boost birthrates. Nothing like the Biblical injunction “be fruitful and multiply” is to be found in globalism, mammon-worship or whatever label that comports with modernism/secularism.

In fact, the fanatical zeal of acolytes of the secular religion, aka “wokeism”, is comparable to that of the early Bolshevik regime. Just note the ostracising, cancelling and complete intolerance of those with whom they disagree. And these folks are in power in most of the West. If you have any doubt, remember your history: as a friend recently reminded me, statues are pulled down and place names are changed after revolutions.

It is long past time that people of faith, the family-friendly and the patriotic types trying to preserve their respective historical nations cease quibbling among themselves and circle the wagons. Yes, the best defence is offence, but we need to consolidate our position first. That is called building community.

Remember that appeasement doesn’t work. Virtue signalling and sacrificing kindred spirits to persuade your enemies that you’re not racist, bigoted, homophobic, etc., are just bending the knee to the bad guys. They validate the regime. That doesn’t build community and solidarity. As the folks say down home, don’t feed the alligator, hoping to be eaten last.

AUTHOR

Louis T. March

Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family… More by Louis T. March

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Night of the Murdered Poets: Remembering One of Stalin’s Forgotten Killing Sprees

The ghastly event happened 70 years ago today, and teaches an important and timeless lesson.


Power kills. Absolute power kills too many to count. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin spoke with personal authority on the subject when he famously said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

To write about any one or more massacres for which Stalin was responsible, one must first answer the question, “Which ones?” There are many. The slaughter of the kulaks during his collectivization campaigns of the 1930s. The Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33. The Great Purge of 1937. The killing of 22,000 Polish military officers and prisoners of war in the Katyn Forest in 1940. The mass deportations of various nationalities, accompanied by countless deaths, that he orchestrated throughout his 30 years in power. On and on. “Uncle Joe,” as Franklin Roosevelt called him, ranks as one of the top five mass murderers of the millennium.

One of Uncle Joe’s almost forgotten killing sprees took place on August 12, 1952 and is known in the history books as the Night of the Murdered Poets. On its 70th anniversary, let us remember both the victims and the larger lesson, namely, that concentrated and unrestrained power is ghastly, criminal business.

Here’s the story…

When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Stalin suddenly became an ally of Britain and the US in the fight against the Nazis. Everybody knows that much, but too many people forget that Stalin connived with Hitler to start World War II in the first place. He signed a secret agreement with Germany in August 1939 by which the two powers agreed to invade and divide Poland. Stalin used the opportunity to attack the Baltic states and Finland as well.

As Nazi forces rolled toward Moscow, Russian Jews knew their lives were on the line for more reasons than one. A few—actor Solomon Mikhoels and poet Itzik Fefer being among the more prominent ones—formed the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) to raise funds and international support for the Soviet war effort. After Hitler’s defeat, the JAC turned its attention to rebuilding Jewish communities and culture inside the Soviet Union. To Stalin, such activity represented a challenge. Absolute power hates even a whiff of competition.

Beginning in 1948, JAC leaders and activists were targeted for arrest, and worse. Mikhoels was killed in a hit-and-run car “accident” on Stalin’s orders, Soviet archives revealed years later. The others were subjected to torture and brutal interrogations and ultimately charged with “counterrevolutionary crimes.” This went on for years before 15 survivors were hauled into court in May and June 1952.

The so-called “trial” lasted six weeks. It was a farce from the start, its outcome pre-determined. Authors Rubenstein, Naumov and Wolfson in their book, Stalin’s Secret Pogrom, described it as “nothing less than terror masquerading as law.” The Jewish defendants—most of whom were poets and literary figures for whom the JAC was a cause, not a full-time profession—were denied defense attorneys. Even the presiding military judge, Alexander Cheptsov, complained about the dearth of evidence but he was overruled by the higher-ups in the Communist power structure. All were found guilty. The rule of law was trampled by the law of the ruler.

During the night of August 12-13, 1952, thirteen of the prisoners were executed in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka Prison. Another escaped death only because he collapsed, fell into a coma, and died months later. The 15th, a noted biochemist named Lina Stern, was regarded as too vital “to the State” so she got off with just 3-1/2 years in prison followed by five years in exile in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Stalin busied himself preparing more fake accusations. In what became known later as the Doctors’ Plot, he set up a number of Jewish doctors to face charges of conspiring against the State. The stage was set for another “Poets”-style trial. The lives of the doctors were saved when Stalin died and his ultimate successor, Nikita Khrushchev, announced that the whole thing was one big lie.

Khrushchev revealed that Stalin—the very same man who once ordered Khrushchev to stoke antisemitism in Ukraine in these chilling terms: “The good workers at the factory should be given clubs so they can beat the hell out of those Jews”—had given instructions to “beat, beat and beat again” until the doctors confessed.

If you are tempted to dismiss the Night of the Murdered Poets or the Doctors’ Plot or any other massacre of history’s innocents as interesting facts made largely irrelevant by the passage of time, please think again. Not by a long shot are they irrelevant.

Ghastly spasms of violence are tools of the trade for history’s tyrannies. And tyrannies, of one variety or another, are what most human beings have lived under. Tyranny is the reason we who claim to be “free” should cherish such principles as separation of powers; checks and balances; due process; habeas corpus; the rule of law; the right to vote; respect for individual rights; freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and religion; indeed, of a written Constitution itself.

Those time-honored notions for which so many brave souls sacrificed everything distinguish civilization from barbarity. From anyone who cares little about them, the rest of us should run for our very lives. We should demand an answer to this question from every elected official: What, if elected, will you do to stop and reverse the concentration of power?

As we note this awful moment in history, let us remember that such awful moments are too numerous to ever count, as are their victims. Let us reflect on the principles we know in our hearts are precious and indispensable in preventing future awful moments.

The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception and Infiltration by Paul Kengor

The Night of the Murdered Poets (video)

Stalin Killed Millions: Was It Genocide? by Cynthia Haven

Stalin’s Genocides by Norman M. Naimark

How Malka Lee Took a Stand Against Stalin After the Night of the Murdered Poets (video)

Stalin’s Secret Pogrom: The Post-War Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee by Joshua Rubenstein, Vladimir P. Naumov, and Laura E. Wolfson

Why FDR Loved Uncle Joe by Ralph Raico

AUTHOR

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. Reed is FEE’s President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow, and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty, having served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is author of the 2020 book, Was Jesus a Socialist? as well as Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction and Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. Follow on LinkedIn and Like his public figure page on Facebook. His website is www.lawrencewreed.com.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Why Do The Woke Hate Clarence Thomas So Much?

Justice Clarence Thomas, being African American, is seen as a traitor to the woke cause.


After the overturning of Roe v Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas has been a particular target of venomous attack from the woke mob. Why do they hate him so much? One might be forgiven for thinking that it is due to his staunch anti-abortion views. But that explanation does not work.

Pope Francis has long expressed that opposing abortion is “closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right”, and yet, the Left is not obsessed with him (in fact, many even take a liking). At some point, even Joe Biden supported letting States overturn Roe v Wade, and again, the Left did not go ballistic on him.

Not behaving as expected

So, why the animus against Thomas? There can only be one explanation: race. In 1991, as he was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, Thomas countered that he was the victim of “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you.”

This was loose talk, as it trivialised the suffering of real lynching victims in America’s troubled history of race relations. But Thomas did have a point in arguing that in the United States, any black person who dares to deviate from the official narrative of how blacks are supposed to act, will face severe harassment.

In 1991, he anticipated a trend that would become mainstream in our times: if you are born with a particular skin colour, you are supposed to behave in a certain way, and uphold a specific ideology. If not, you are a race traitor. As Biden so neatly phrased it:

“[I]f you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Any competent scholar of the history of racism would immediately recognise this as race essentialism. As Angelo Corlett explains in his book Race, Racism and Reparations,
“proponents of race essentialism define human races by a set of genetic or cultural traits shared by all members of a ‘racial’ group.”

Who are the neo-Nazis now?

In the first half of the 20th Century, this view was popular amongst proponents of so-called “racial science”. They believed that racial biological traits determine how people behave. Hitler believed that no matter how much a person with Jewish ancestry tried to assimilate to German society (even converting to another religion), he or she would still be a dangerous Jew, because it was in his or her essence.

Race essentialism is abhorrent, and one might think that after 1945, the world learned a lesson. And yet, race essentialism is alive and kicking, but this time, under the guise of woke progressivism. As per today’s woke rules, if you are black, you must embrace the whole woke mindset.

White people (such as Pope Francis) may occasionally be forgiven for having anti-abortion views, but if you are black and you deviate from the woke line (such as Clarence Thomas), you are a race traitor, an Uncle Tom. Unsurprisingly, Thomas has been called “Uncle Clarence” multiple times.

If you are black, not only do you have to act a certain way, but you must also have a special sexual preference. The woke pay lip service to interracial relationships, but amongst them there is a sense of unease when they contemplate a successful black man marrying a white woman.

For example, when Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, USA Today columnist Barbara Reynolds wrote: “Here’s a man who’s going to decide crucial issues for the country and he has already said no to blacks; he has already said if he can’t paint himself white he’ll think white and marry a white woman.” Russell Adams, chairman of African American studies at Howard University, said that Thomas “marrying a white woman is a sign of his rejection of the black community.”

Truly racist

Frantz Fanon is a figure beloved by the Left. In 1952, he published Black Skin, White Masks, a canonical text of wokeness. In that book, he also scorns black men who fall in love with white women. Fanon castigates himself for, at some point, having had these thoughts: “Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind, surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white… I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness.” The implication of this passage is that loving a white woman is an act of racial treason.

Fanon felt disdain for black people who embraced Western values. He claimed they were wearing white masks, as if somehow, they were deviating from their real essence, and were therefore living an inauthentic life. Therefore — so Fanon believed — Western civilisation must be rejected entirely. As he explained in The Wretched of the Earth“When the colonized hear a speech on Western culture, they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand.” He who admires Western values is a sellout.

Ever since Fanon, racial essentialism in the name of progress has only grown worse. People of color are now encouraged not to honour punctuality, because being on time is part of whiteness. Black kids who are academically talented run the risk of being told they are “acting white”. Analysing things objectively is an act of white supremacy. And so on.

Consequently, Clarence Thomas is not allowed to have anti-abortion views. Nobody cares about his anti-abortion arguments, because he is not supposed to make them in the first place. Other jurists, philosophers or theologians will be allowed to oppose abortion, but only if they are white. Thomas is hated not because of his views, but because of his skin colour. He upsets the arbitrary racial classifications that the woke are so eager to embrace.

As per woke taxonomy, black people cannot be conservative, and if they are, they are only wearing a “white mask”. To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens, “identity politics poisons everything”. We can no longer have a meaningful discussion about anything as vital as the ontological status of a fetus, because the race of the discussants will determine who is allowed to uphold a particular view. It’s time to push back against this madness.

AUTHOR

Gabriel Andrade

Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology. More by Gabriel Andrade

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Illinois State Rep Calls for the Abolition of History Classes in the State’s Public Schools

Rep. Ford claims that “current school history teaching leads to white privilege and a racist society.” Meleika Gardner of We Will says: “Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for generations. If Black History continues to be devalued and taught incorrectly, then it will call for further action.” Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty adds: “I support House Bill 4954 because I am interested in learning more and believe the history of Black people should be taught to all children and include all groups, Women, LatinX, and Native Indians who helped to build America.”

All this gives the impression that February is White History Month, not Black History Month, and that the teaching of history in public schools has more of a slant toward the Confederate States than the United States. This is, of course, absurd. We see the products of public education in America today venting their hatred for their native land every night now in Seattle and Portland.

What we need is not more focus on the grievances of this or that group, but rather on what has made the nation great for all of us, of every race and ethnic background. Rep. Ford’s initiative is yet another in a long line of Leftist attempts to erase our history and make us ashamed of being Americans, which will lead us to not having either the will or desire to defend this nation from internal and external attacks.

What we need now, when so many people are telling us that America was never great and is nothing to be proud of, is an unapologetic reaffirmation of what did indeed make this nation the greatest, most magnanimous, freest country the world has ever known. That’s why I wrote Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster, which will be out in a few weeks and which you can preorder now. It evaluates the presidents of the United States on the simple basis of whether or not they were good for America and Americans. Along the way, it gives you a brisk reminder of the history that Leftist destroyers are trying to steal from us. If we do not know our own history, their sinister endeavor will be all the easier to accomplish. Rep. Ford himself put it best regarding why this book is urgently needed now: “the miseducation of our children must stop.”

“Chicago-Area Leaders Call for Illinois to Abolish History Classes,” NBC Chicago, August 2, 2020:

At a news conference, State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford said current history teachings lead to a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities.

Before the event Sunday, Rep. Ford’s office distributed a news release “Rep. Ford Today in Evanston to Call for the Abolishment of History Classes in Illinois Schools,” in which Ford asked the ISBOE and school districts to immediately remove history curriculum and books that “unfairly communicate” history “until a suitable alternative is developed.”…

The full news release is below:

Rep. Ford Today in Evanston to Call for the Abolishment of History Classes in Illinois Schools

Concerned that current school history teaching leads to white privilege and a racist society, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, will join local leaders today at noon at the Robert Crown Center in Evanston to call on the state to stop its current history teaching practices until appropriate alternatives are developed.

“When it comes to teaching history in Illinois, we need to end the miseducation of Illinoisans,” Ford said. “I’m calling on the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts to take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history. Until a suitable alternative is developed, we should instead devote greater attention toward civics and ensuring students understand our democratic processes and how they can be involved. I’m also alarmed that people continue to display symbols of hate, such as the recent display of the Confederate flag in Evanston.”

Attendees at Sunday’s press conference will discuss how current history teaching practices overlook the contributions by Women and members of the Black, Jewish, LGBTQ communities and other groups. These individuals are pushing for an immediate change in history changing practice starting this school year.

The miseducation of our children must stop,” said Meleika Gardner of We Will. “It is urgent that it comes to an end as we witness our current climate become more hostile. Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for generations. If Black History continues to be devalued and taught incorrectly, then it will call for further action.”

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty notes “As Mayor, I am not comfortable speaking on education, curriculum, and whether history lessons should be suspended. This is not my area. Personally, I support House Bill 4954 because I am interested in learning more and believe the history of Black people should be taught to all children and include all groups, Women, LatinX, and Native Indians who helped to build America.”

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

History revised is history denied

Once upon a time, Jewish progressives embraced their people’s history and were willing to die for its modern political realization. Though they eschewed traditional observance, they typically substituted faith in history for belief in G-d.


Edmund Burke famously stated that “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” and this adage has proven true time and again.

However, what of those who know history but reject its lessons, and instead manufacture alternative traditions based on partisan fantasy or political ideology?  Will they merely repeat the mistakes of the past or ensure a future where truth is subjective and morality relative?  If the latter, they risk creating a world devoid of ethical integrity and intellectual honesty.

Unfortunately, historical revisionism has become part of the American political process, and those who use it to promote radical narratives are the ones most responsible for today’s irrational hostility towards Israel and the Jewish People.

Progressive extremists are particularly shrill in denouncing Israel for supposed acts of aggression and callousness that in truth are neither outrageous nor extreme, but instead consistent with international law and Jewish historical rights and tradition.  They are especially indignant when Jewish history conflicts with the claims of Palestinian-Arabs, whose national narrative is a chimerical study in antisemitic rejectionism with little or no foundation.

This was apparent when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking for President Trump, acknowledged the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.  The Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”) responded with a statement urging the President to recant, declaring: “Any unilateral move…would place serious and critical obstacles to a viable two-state solution, damaging the prospect of renewing the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and causing a long-term threat to Israel’s status as a Jewish and democratic state.”  But President Trump’s position reflected sentiments that prevailed before the Obama administration and an understanding that Palestinians oppose a “viable two-state solution” because they deny Israel’s legitimacy. That denial is actually the most “serious and critical” obstacle to peace.

American critics are impertinent when they claim to know what is best for Israel.  And the URJ’s statement is emblematic of this conceit in that it (a) seems oblivious to the impact of Palestinian rejectionism and (b) fails to acknowledge that Israeli “settlements” in Judea and Samaria actually conform to international legal norms and standards.  This  was recognized well before the Obama administration’s eight-year effort to delegitimize the “settlements”. It was Obama’s collusion with the United Nations in 2016 to undermine Israeli sovereignty that constituted a change in US policy, not Trump’s restatement of protocol.

Prior administrations did not resolutely deny the legality of the “settlements” (which were built on ancestral lands where Jews had lived for thousands of years), but believed they could be negotiated based on political considerations.  Indeed, Americans commonly recognized Jewish indigeneity throughout the Land of Israel.

Israel’s acquisition of these lands in 1967 was lawful because it was defending itself from an aggressor nation (Jordan).  Neither the Law of Belligerent Occupation nor the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibit Israel from maintaining possession of territories seized from an aggressor nation that acquired them in violation of international law.  Specifically, Jordan annexed Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem illegally in 1948, before which they had been holdings of a defunct empire. These lands were never independent or part of any autonomous nation-state after Rome conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 136 CE, and certainly not a state of “Palestine” that never existed.  Their liberation by Israel if anything reimposed legitimate sovereignty after a two-thousand-year hiatus.

Once upon a time, Jewish progressives embraced their people’s history with religious-like zeal and were willing to die for its modern political realization.  Though they eschewed traditional observance after the Enlightenment, they typically substituted faith in history for belief in G-d; and while many of them claimed to profess atheism, they nonetheless continued to express their innate religious sensibilities as historical determinism.  They knew where their ancestors came from and believed Jewish national destiny was tied to the ancient homeland.

This ancestral link to Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the rest of ancient Israel was the basis for recognizing the right of Jewish self-determination in the Mandate for Palestine of 1922.  While these lands constituted colonial holdings of successive empires after the fall of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, they never comprised independent sovereign territories between the years 136 and 1948.  Furthermore, they were commonly recognized as ancestrally Jewish and for maintaining a Jewish presence for more than 3,000 years – long before the Roman, Arab, and Ottoman conquests.

In recognition of the Jews’ ancient connection to these lands, Israel’s Provisional State Council on September 16, 1948 enacted the “Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance,” which aimed to extend Israeli jurisdiction beyond the 1947 partition lines to areas traditionally acknowledged as part of the Jewish homeland.  This ordinance (aka “Ben-Gurion’s Law”) was intended to apply to lands liberated by the Israeli military and was effective retroactively to the date of Israel’s independence on May 15, 1948. The law’s justification was inherent in its recognition that certain lands were innately Jewish (leaving its nonenforcement in 1967 open to critical question).

Unfortunately, the old Israeli left sometimes sacrificed historical virtue for the sake of partisan politics.  Though Menachem Begin made a policy of never questioning his political opponents’ patriotism, for example, Labor ideologues were often quick to label him and Herut Party members as Nazis and fascists, thus perverting the context and meaning of those terms for partisan purposes.  This was eventually coopted by Israel-haters to misrepresent the past so as to deny Israeli sovereignty and Jewish national claims.

Historical revisionism is now used to empower BDS, justify antisemitism, and delegitimize Israel by falsely depicting it as a colonial creation built on the ruins of a mythical country called Palestine.  But historical and archeological analysis corroborates Israel’s Jewish past while offering no support for Palestinian authenticity. Though the Jewish homeland was the target of multiple conquests before 1948, colonialism was enforced by Greeks, Romans, Muslim Arabs, Christian Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks – not Jews.  And the history of jihad in the region is one of subjugation, the influence of which continues to inflame anti-Jewish passions today.

Despite the historical record, ambivalence regarding Israeli sovereignty long ago infected the political mainstream without protest from Democratic leadership.  In his final television address as Secretary of State, for example, John Kerry inveighed against Israel and pushed the canard that she could not be both Jewish and democratic.  He never expressed concern over the religious and ethnic supremacism that permeates the Arab-Muslim Mideast) and his apparent disregard for Jewish ancestral rights was inexcusable.

Similar bias motivated the Obama administration’s collusion with the UN in 2016 to orchestrate a resolution declaring that Israeli “settlements” violated international law (despite much precedent to the contrary) so that the US could withhold its veto and effectively reverse American policy.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center recognized this as an attack on Israeli sovereignty and proclaimed it the most antisemitic incident of the year. This assault against Israel on the world stage was nonetheless tolerated by Jewish progressives, and even lauded by some. When Jews fail to condemn such conduct, they enable Jew-hatred masquerading as political dialogue; and denying Israeli sovereignty is indeed a form of antisemitism.

Whereas early Jewish progressives regarded their people’s history with reverence, their political descendants lost all sense of its noble origins and lofty mission.  Furthermore, today’s left has altered the past to conform to a worldview that disparages Israel and traditional Judaism.

As Rav Saadia Gaon explained more than a thousand years ago, the Jews are a nation founded on Torah whose national survival requires loyalty to its laws and principles.  Without Torah, he said, the Jewish nation would have disappeared like any other ancient people swallowed by the sands of time. Is Israel’s disappearance the goal of those who now seek to deny Jewish history and suppress Judaism’s eternal values?

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EDITORS NOTE: This Israel International News column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Capitalism Is Good for the Poor by Steven Horwitz

Critics frequently accuse markets and capitalism of making life worse for the poor. This refrain is certainly common in the halls of left-leaning academia as well as in broader intellectual circles. But like so many other criticisms of capitalism, this one ignores the very real, and very available, facts of history.

Nothing has done more to lift humanity out of poverty than the market economy. This claim is true whether we are looking at a time span of decades or of centuries. The number of people worldwide living on less than about two dollars per day today is less than half of what it was in 1990. The biggest gains in the fight against poverty have occurred in countries that have opened up their markets, such as China and India.

If we look over the longer historical period, we can see that the trends today are just the continuation of capitalism’s victories in beating back poverty. For most of human history, we lived in a world of a few haves and lots of have-nots. That slowly began to change with the advent of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. As economic growth took off and spread throughout the population, it created our own world in the West in which there are a whole bunch of haves and a few have-more-and-betters.

For example, the percentage of American households below the poverty line who have basic appliances has grown steadily over the last few decades, with poor families in 2005 being more likely to own things like a clothes dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, or air conditioner than the average household was in 1971. And consumer items that didn’t even exist back then, such as cell phones, were owned by half of poor households in 2005 and are owned by a substantial majority of them today.

Capitalism has also made poor people’s lives far better by reducing infant and child mortality rates, not to mention maternal death rates during childbirth, and by extending life expectancies by decades.

Consider, too, the way capitalism’s engine of growth has enabled the planet to sustain almost 7 billion people, compared to 1 billion in 1800. As Deirdre McCloskey has noted, if you multiply the gains in consumption to the average human by the gain in life expectancy worldwide by 7 (for 7 billion as compared to 1 billion people), humanity as a whole is better off by a factor of around 120. That’s not 120 percent better off, but 120 times better off since 1800.

The competitive market process has also made education, art, and culture available to more and more people. Even the poorest of Americans, not to mention many of the global poor, have access through the Internet and TV to concerts, books, and works of art that were exclusively the province of the wealthy for centuries.

And in the wealthiest countries, the dynamics of capitalism have begun to change the very nature of work. Where once humans toiled for 14 hours per day at backbreaking outdoor labor, now an increasing number of us work inside in climate-controlled comfort. Our workday and workweek have shrunk thanks to the much higher value of labor that comes from working with productive capital. We spend a much smaller percentage of our lives working for pay, whether we’re rich or poor. And even with economic change, the incomes of the poor are much less variable, as they are not linked to the unpredictable changes in weather that are part and parcel of a predominantly agricultural economy long since disappeared.

Think of it this way: the fabulously wealthy kings of old had servants attending to their every need, but an impacted tooth would likely kill them. The poor in largely capitalist countries have access to a quality of medical care and a variety and quality of food that the ancient kings could only dream of.

Consider, too, that the working poor of London 100 years ago were, at best, able to split a pound of meat per week among all of their children, which were greater in number than the two or three of today. In addition, the whole family ate meat once a week on Sunday, the one day the man of the household was home for dinner. That was meat for a week.

Compare that to today, when we worry that poor Americans are too easily able to afford a meal with a quarter pound of meat in it every single day for less than an hour’s labor. Even if you think that capitalism has made poor people overweight, that’s a major accomplishment compared to the precapitalist norm of constant malnutrition and the struggle even 100 years ago for the working poor to get enough calories.

The reality is that the rich have always lived well historically, as for centuries they could commandeer human labor to attend to their every need. In a precapitalist world, the poor had no hope of upward mobility or of relief from the endless physical drudgery that barely kept them alive.

Today, the poor in capitalist countries live like kings, thanks mostly to the freeing of labor and the ability to accumulate capital that makes that labor more productive and enriches even the poorest. The falling cost of what were once luxuries and are now necessities, driven by the competitive market and its profit and loss signals, has brought labor-saving machines to the masses. When profit-seeking and innovation became acceptable behavior for the bourgeoisie, the horn of plenty brought forth its bounty, and even the poorest shared in that wealth.

Once people no longer needed permission to innovate, and once the value of new inventions was judged by the improvements they made to the lives of the masses in the form of profit and loss, the poor began to live lives of comfort and dignity.

These changes are not, as some would say, about technology. After all, the Soviets had great scientists but could not channel that knowledge into material comfort for their poor. And it’s not about natural resources, which is obvious today as resource-poor Hong Kong is among the richest countries in the world thanks to capitalism, while Venezuelan socialism has destroyed that resource-rich country.

Inventions only become innovations when the right institutions exist to make them improve the lives of the masses. That is what capitalism did and continues to do every single day. And that’s why capitalism has been so good for the poor.

Consider, finally, what happened when the Soviets decided to show the film version of The Grapes of Wrath as anticapitalist propaganda. In the novel and film, a poor American family is driven from their Depression-era home by the Dust Bowl. They get in their old car and make a horrifying journey in search of a better life in California. The Soviets had to stop showing the film after a short period because the Russian audiences were astonished that poor Americans were able to own a car.

Even anticapitalist propaganda can’t help but provide evidence that contradicts its own argument. The historical truth is clear: nothing has done more for the poor than capitalism.

Steven HorwitzSteven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions.

He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

What Marriage Was Like before Bureaucracy Marriage by Sarah Skwire

Marriage is not what it once was.

FEE contributor Steve Horwitz’s new book, Hayek’s Modern Family, reminds us all that “the use of ‘traditional’ as an adjective for either marriage or the family more generally is … ahistorical.” Marriage and the family, he argues, have always been changing and evolving institutions, and we are mistaken when we take the practices of one period and valorize them, and them alone, as “traditional.”

What is true for the institutions of marriage and the family is also true for the institutions of betrothal and weddings. By now, we all surely know that traditions like the white wedding dress and the diamond engagement ring are late innovations. The white dress came about after Queen Victoria set the fashion when she married Prince Albert. And while rings had been a popular wedding token for a long time, the diamond engagement ring became all the rage only after a successful campaign by DeBeers in the 1930s. But it is not merely the decorative furbelows that are modern innovations. Nearly everything we think of as defining a betrothal and a wedding used to be up for debate.

I spent some time recently looking at and discussing Jan van Eyck’s famous painting The Arnolfini Portrait. The painting is probably most often called The Arnolfini Marriage Portrait, though scholars have debated for decades over whether it depicts a wedding, a betrothal, or some other legal ceremony. Others have felt it might simply be a portrait of a married couple, or even a memorial for a wife who died young. We’re not entirely sure.

But in the discussion I was involved in, we thought of the painting as a wedding portrait. Because of that, several of the folks involved were a little startled to see the woman looking decidedly pregnant. (In much the same way that we don’t really know the occasion for the portrait, we don’t really know that the woman is pregnant. The style of her dress may just make her appear to be. But to a modern eye, she looks at least seven months along.) Was van Eyck making a moral judgment on the sexual morality of this couple — depicting them as newly married, but with a pregnancy that far advanced? Or is her pregnancy an argument against the notion that this is a wedding portrait, since 15th century morality would not have allowed for premarital sex and pregnancy? What kind of wedding portrait was this, exactly?

I’ll leave the arguments about the accuracy of our thinking about The Arnolfini Portrait to the art historians. What I want to talk about is the accuracy of our thinking about what weddings used to look like.

As the historian Lawrence Stone points out in his book The Family, Sex, and Marriage,

Before 1754 there were still numerous ways of entering into [marriage]. For persons of property it involved a series of distinct steps. The first was a written legal contract between the parents concerning the financial arrangements. The second was the spousals (also called a contract), the formal exchange, usually before witnesses, of oral promises. The third step was the public proclamation of banns in church, three times, the purpose of which was to allow claims of pre-contract to be heard.… The fourth step was the wedding in church, in which mutual consent was publicly verified, and the union received the formal blessing of the Church. The fifth and final step was the sexual consummation.

While parts of the process Stone describes are a little antiquated, they don’t seem completely unfamiliar. And the whole thing sounds remarkably orderly — though it is worth noting that wealthier couples found ways to evade the more tedious parts of the process, such as the triple proclamation of banns, by buying a special license. But the apparent orderliness and familiarity of the process falls apart rapidly when we look just a little more closely.

Stone continues, “But it cannot be emphasized too strongly that according to ecclesiastical law the spousals was as legally binding a contract as the church wedding.… Any sort of exchange of promises before witnesses which was followed by cohabitation was regarded in law as a valid marriage.”

Marriage required no certification by the church or the state. Two individuals merely promised to marry one another in front of witnesses, and then lived together. That was sufficient. And sex and pregnancy in the months between the spousals and a church wedding, if one ever got around to having a church wedding, were routine and accepted.

This sounds like an ideal situation from a libertarian perspective. It’s certainly how I’d prefer that marriages take place. But things soon got even more complicated.

After the Reformation, the Catholic Church required the presence of a priest for a wedding to be valid. The Anglicans did not, though a church wedding came to be expected. However, lawyers still recognized the spousals as valid. And they distinguished between two kinds of spousals — one was not followed by consummation and could be broken. The other was followed by consummation and was binding for life.

Stone reminds us of a few other complexities.

The canons of 1604 stipulated that a church wedding must take place between the hours of 8 am and noon in the church at the place of residence of one of the pair, after the banns had been read for three weeks running. Marriages performed at night, in secular places like inns or private houses, or in towns or villages remote from the place of residence … were now declared illegal [but] they were nonetheless valid and binding for life. This was a paradox the laity found hard to understand.

It could be hard to tell, in other words, if you were married or not. It could be hard to tell, in other words, whether one was engaging in legal married sex or illicit and illegal fornication.

This problem is a key part of Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure, which begins with the arrest of Claudio for fornication with Juliette. Claudio is shocked to be accused of the crime, because, as he says:

… she is fast my wife
Save that we do the denunciation lack
Of outward order.

But with the exacting Angelo now in charge of the city, the more rigorous definition of a legal marriage is being enforced, and Claudio is in trouble.

The attempt to codify and enforce a well-understood and long-standing traditional practice made that practice so complicated that it was incomprehensible and often made criminals out of well-intentioned and honest individuals. (Those who are thinking about the mess that is the discussion of bathroom laws in North Carolina may find that problem familiar.)

There’s little doubt now about who is married and who is not married. The United States has spent years in a painful debate over that question, but we finally do have legal clarity. But as two dear friends of mine head down the aisle this month and I listen to the complications and fees they are facing over the licensing of their marriage and their officiant, I do wonder if we’ve solved anything since the days of spousals contracted in front of witnesses or if we’ve just piled on unnecessary layers of legal complications, forms, and fees.

Sarah Skwire

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network. Email

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Avoid an Illicit Marriage: Marriage Banns.

Failure Made Disney Great by Lawrence W. Reed

December 15, 2016, will mark the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s passing. Half a century later, I vividly recall the intense sadness I felt when I learned, at age 13, that he had died. It was as though I had lost a close member of the family. I doubt that I ever missed a single episode of his television show. I can still hear his avuncular voice in my head as if he had spoken to me just yesterday. I can’t think of a single movie he made that I haven’t seen and enjoyed immensely, multiple times.

What a phenomenal man Walt Disney was! A cartoonist and animator, businessman, filmmaker, theme park pioneer, and cultural icon, he may have manufactured more happiness in the world than any other man or woman of the 20th century. He was an American original and an American patriot, too. He deeply appreciated that liberty in America allowed him to invent, experiment, and ultimately succeed, as evidenced in this remark three years before his death: “To retreat from any of the principles handed down by our forefathers, who shed their blood for the ideals we still embrace, would be a complete victory for those who would destroy liberty and justice for the individual.”

The characters Disney and his colleagues created or popularized boast names that billions of people still know today: Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan, Bambi, and Cinderella, to name only a few. His films include so many that are unforgettable — it’s no wonder he remains the record-holder (a total of 59) for both Oscar nominations and actual wins. Hundreds of millions of people have been enthralled by the movies that featured those characters, as well as by other Disney flicks like Old Yeller, The Absent-Minded Professor, Mary Poppins, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. His company’s representative song, “When You Wish upon a Star,” evokes smiles from all ages in 2016, just as it did when Disney unveiled it way back in 1940.

Some people think that entrepreneurs build, innovate, and take risks just for the money they might make. To the imaginative Walt Disney, money was never the prime motivator. Not even close — though what could be wrong about that if it had been? Money paid the bills, but he hired his brother Roy to worry about it. Walt was driven by the sheer joy of creativity and the fulfillment that comes from bringing happiness to others. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” he once said. These words from his dedication speech at the July 1955 opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, encapsulate his amazing spirit:

To all who come to this happy place, Welcome! Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past … and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

No one could do justice to the life of Walt Disney in a short article, so I won’t even attempt to. Allow me to zero in on one particular aspect that underscores why he’s a hero: he knew failure and how to learn and prosper from it. As he put it himself, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me.… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

In “The Importance of Failure” (Freeman, November 2011), economists Steven Horwitz and Jack Knych explained that permitting failure is just as important as allowing success:

For example, in 1921 Walt Disney started a company called the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation, which went bankrupt two years later. If a friend of Disney or the government hadn’t let him fail and move on, he might never have become the Walt Disney we know today.

More important than this individual learning process is the irreplaceable role failure plays in the social learning process of the competitive market. When we refuse to allow failure to happen, or we cushion its blow, we ultimately harm not only the person who failed but also all of society by denying ourselves a key way to learn how best to allocate resources. Without failure there’s no economic growth or improved human well-being.…

To the imaginative Walt Disney, money was never the prime motivator. 

Failure drives change. While success is the engine that accelerates us toward our goals, it is failure that steers us toward the most valuable goals possible. Once failure is recognized as being just as important as success in the market process, it should be clear that the goal of a society should be to create an environment that not only allows people to succeed freely but to fail freely as well.

Disney heard a lot about failure at the family dinner table before he ever failed himself. His father, Elias, tried twice to be a successful orange grower in Florida but couldn’t make it work. He flopped as a professional fiddle player in Colorado. He didn’t do much better farming in Missouri. Elias tried a lot of things to keep his family fed. That he never quit trying left a deep impression on young Walt.

Before he was 20, Walt Disney had to make several adjustments in his career. He drove an ambulance in France for a time, but when he returned to the United States, he couldn’t find a similar job. He decided to be an actor, then changed his mind in favor of drawing comic strips for newspapers. No luck there, either. Roy found him a job at a bank, but Walt didn’t find the work satisfying. From there, in 1921, he started his first company, the soon-to-go-bankrupt Laugh-O-Gram Corporation. Unable to pay his rent, he even ate dog food until he could get back on his feet.

In 1926, Walt’s prospects suddenly brightened with an animated series centered around a character he created, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but his luck ran out two years later when he lost the rights to Oswald to Universal Studios.

Stephen Schochet, author of Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes about the Stars and Legends of the Movies, notes some of Disney’s later misfortunes, big and small:

When Walt tried to get MGM studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927 he was told that the idea would never work — a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women.

The Three Little Pigs was rejected by distributors in 1933 because it only had four characters; it was felt at that time that cartoons should have as many figures on the screen as possible. It later became very successful and played at one theater so long that the poster outside featured the pigs with long white beards.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was sneak previewed to college students in 1937 who left halfway during the film causing Disney great despair. It turned out the students had to leave early because of dorm curfew.…

For the premiere of Pinocchio Walt hired 11 midgets, dressed them up like the little puppet and put them on top of Radio City Music Hall in New York with a full day’s supply of food and wine. The idea was they would wave hello to the little children entering into the theater. By the middle of the hot afternoon, there were 11 drunken naked midgets running around the top of the marquee, screaming obscenities at the crowd below. The most embarrassed people were the police who had to climb up ladders and take the little fellows off in pillowcases.

Even after Disney scored international fame for his film making, not all of his films made money. Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Pollyanna, for example, were all box office flops at first. Undaunted, Disney faced each disappointment by planning his next adventure.

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there,” he said. “With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

While making movies, he found time for another challenge. It was literally in his own backyard, where he designed and built a miniature, half-mile-long steam railroad. The locomotive was big enough for him to personally ride on it. The project had its own trestle, overpasses, and even a 90-foot tunnel beneath his wife Lillian’s flowerbed. It inspired the railroad he later built around the perimeter of Disneyland.

Unable to pay his rent, Disney even ate dog food until he could get back on his feet.

Perhaps because he had learned from so many previous failures and disappointments, Disney burned the midnight oil to make his Anaheim theme park dream succeed. It was a financial success from the day it opened. Today, the Walt Disney Company is easily the world’s largest operator of theme parks in terms of guest attendance per year and is a $50 billion firm employing more than 175,000 people.

Walt Disney’s legacy is deeply embedded in our culture and for good reason: he knew how to entertain. He produced lasting and happy memories for people in nearly every nation. And he never, ever quit. His advice to young people is as commendable today as it was when he offered it more than half a century ago, in part because it’s also the way he lived his own life: “Do a good job. You don’t have to worry about the money; it will take care of itself. Just do your best work— then try to trump it.”

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Lawrence W. ReedLawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

AUTHORS NOTE: This is the final essay in my formal, weekly Real Heroes series, which began in April 2015. I wish to thank the many readers who sent me encouraging notes after reading one or more of my articles that made an impact in some way. It’s a theme I’ll likely return to in this Friday spot with some frequency, though I now welcome the time to write about some other things as well. In the coming weeks, FEE and a publisher will be announcing the details of a mass-market paperback, due for release in bookstores in September, which will present approximately 40 of my Real Heroes essays.

Liberals HATE the History of The United States and Want to Create Their Own Utopia

In July, there are two nations that celebrate their Independence from one nation. Canada celebrated their independence from Great Britain on July 1 and the United States of America celebrated its independence from Great Britain on July 4. How interesting that the summer month of July produced such nations, birthed by an empire. Now some would argue that the empire that was Great Britain birthed another empire that was even more powerful, the United States.

Surely that was not the intent of our Founders, for us to be an empire and it is our true intent this day. We do not seek to conquer lands far and wide. We do not seek to occupy and hold territory in every corner of the world. But if you listen to Liberals, they would have you believe that the United States is nothing more than a colonial power that takes from other nations and gives nothing back. I have always found that to be strange since every time we defeated a major power or nation, we always gave it back to the people of that nation. Germany, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and the list goes on.

Surely a nation that is bent on world domination does not allow for conquered nations to live their own lives and have their own government. Remember the old Soviet Union? They surrounded themselves with nations that they controlled completely. There was no independence for the likes of the Baltic’s, Poland, East Germany and the list goes on. They had no choice but to do as their masters dictated. They had no choice but to stand and be the shield for Russia.

But Liberals in the United States, those who actually hate the United States, try to paint the picture that the United States is no better than the Soviet Union. They are so brazen with their hatred now that they even write articles that redefine history. They redefine the history of the United States of America by stating that the Revolutionary War was a bad idea. They claim that if the Monarchy of Great Britain ruled over the United States for a little while longer, there would not have been slavery and there would not have been a Civil War. These folks obviously do not know or understand their own history.

These Liberals tell us that the military Veterans of the United States should pay for their own health care. That if we didn’t spend so much on the military and if we didn’t pay our soldiers so much in salary that we could eliminate hunger in the United States and that everyone could go to public college for free. These Liberals preach that the basic foundations that made this country great and prosperous were illegal and immoral. You know, the institution of marriage between one man and one woman, Liberty and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The idea that each man is responsible for his own life.

You know the other ideals such as law and order is good for society. The military deserves our respect and admiration and that we should spend our money providing our soldiers with the best and latest equipment available to help insure their safe return home. Liberals detest the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, the playing and singing of our National Anthem, the military jet fly overs at major sporting events, prayer before government meetings.

Liberals can’t stand the fact that you should have the freedom to choose your doctor, your health insurance, your child’s school, what kind of car you drive, and what words you can and cannot say in public. In the end, if Liberals had their way, we would not have a flag. We would not have a pledge. We would not have a military capable of defending this nation. We would not have the ability and the right to choose to live as we see fit. We would not have the right to choose what we buy, who we elect, where we speak, what we say.

In the end, what Liberals really want, what would really truly make them happy, is the death and destruction of freedom. The end of the United States of America. What Liberals would have is what that great utopian novel most of us read in high school clearly announced. In the world of the novel Animal Farm, clearly the Liberals believe that some people are more equal than others. They are more equal than you or I. And there is nothing more they would love than to be able to march you down to the nearest government building and force you to pledge your allegiance to them and their utopian, Socialistic ways.

But if they did that, would they still celebrate July 4th? Of course not, they don’t like the fact that we eat a lot of meat on that holiday.