Jul 3, 2014

In the Grip of Forces Beyond Their Ken - a guest post on Economics

  HRH Richard recently posted a link to an article about Distributism as an example of the uphill battle we face merely to undo the misconceptions others hold about the very core concepts of Distributism. The author of the piece, Kevin D. Williamson, makes the most common of errors: thinking that 'Distributism' is about 'controlling or planning the distribution of goods'. As I said, this is a very common error, but a profound one. 
  More critically it demonstrates clearly and directly that Mr. Williamson quite literally does not know what he is talking about
  Of course Mr. Williamson also reveals a painful ignorance of human history. He writes,
  "In the 200,000-year history of Homo sapiens, neither of those great religious traditions [Buddhism and Catholicism], nor anything else that human beings ever came up with, made a dent in the poverty rate. Capitalism did."
  If it were not said with such earnestness I would assume this was clumsy satire. But I must conclude that Mr. Williamson is, in fact, totally ignorant of the huge impact of the monastery system upon European, North African, and Middle Eastern poverty.
  Yes, many of the gains the Church won between 600 AD and 1600 AD were wiped out as  the common man suffered from Islamic invaders as well as by the dismantling of the monastery system in Europe by the Industrial Revolution, both of which  returned vast swaths of people to poverty. Mr. Williamson also seems ignorant of the fact that the nutrition and calorie count of a Medieval British peasant was better than a modern British citizen until the mid- to late- 20th century. And, of course, the medieval peasant had more leisure time and more of them were self-employed than a modern worker under Capitalism. 
  I am sure that the lack of debt-backed money in the peasant's pocket will be profound to Mr. Williamson in some manner, but I remain unconvinced that a British citizen of 1930 was substantially better off than a British citizen of 1330.
  It could also be pointed out that the greatest increases in human prosperity came from: the aftermath of the Black Death; the development of the various manorial systems we lump together as Feudalism; the monastic system previously mentioned; and the economics system called Mercantilism. In an historical analysis of economics and prosperityCapitalism is a flagging fifth at 'making a dent' in poverty!
  Then again, Mr. Williamson thinks Distributism would involve 'the State' deciding wages, union rules, etc. which, of course, Distributism explicitly wants the State to have as little to do with as possible.

  Mr. Williamson, who I must admit is consistent in error, also states,
  "Catholic thinking about the role of the state has evolved precious little since “render unto Caesar"..."
  Again, if he were not so earnest I would assume this was a joke. But it is a rather telling mistake. Indeed, all Mr. Williamson is doing in this sentence is admitting he is totally ignorant of an entire branch of political thought that includes works such as Augustine's The City of God, Aquinas' Summa Theologica, More's Utopia, and scores more books, many of which are considered essential reading for any serious student of politics or economics....

  Mr. Williamson does make arguments for Libertarianism.
  Well, actually- he has a series of clumsy emotional appeals, typically as part of childish jabs at the Church. These gems include such things as calling Distributism,
   "...a 19th-century [sic] model of economic analysis..."
  Does he consider Capitalism 'an 18th Century model of economics'? If not, why not? Distributism is, yes, based upon philosophical discourse that began in the 19th Century, but it was not even named until the 20th century and growth and development continue to this very day.

  Of all the various childish barbs he spouts, though, my personal favorite is this quote,
  "“The poor you will always have with you,” Jesus said, but in the capitalist world, that simply is not true"
  I must admit; I am not sure if I am more impressed with his disregard for the many poor that still exist within the realm of Capitalism or his unmitigated gall in implying Capitalism trumps Christ.

  Regardless, this article did little more than to convince me that Mr. Williamson is an ignorant hack with an axe to grind with the Church because it wants all activity to be moral and ethical, including business.
  If this sounds harsh and uncharitable to you, please understand - Mr. Williamson has decided to not just argue about economics but take a very direct stance of attacking the Church and its bishops. He has demonstrated that he is no gentleman both in this article and in his public conduct.

  So why am I writing an obscure writer of demonstrated limited knowledge of the topics he writes about?   There are two reasons; Mr. Williamson has waded into a discussion of Distributism and Mr. Williamson released this article today. The critical quote in the piece is not his discussion of profits (after all, just profit is a key element of Distributism) but rather this interesting quote,
  "...large, powerful firms such as McDonald’s and Walmart are effectively unable to raise prices, and firms such as Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo are unable to dictate wages."
  This is a profound statement from a Libertarian. This is a claim that 'large, powerful' corporations are effectively helpless; gripped by economic forces of the market so pervasive, so powerful, so primal that there is nothing they can do to affect them; like ships in a typhoon, they are tossed about by wind and wave, helpless.
  Let us assume that Mr. Williamson is correct - in a laissez-faire Capitalist free market system (or however close we are) macroeconomics are so overwhelmingly true that a large firm is powerless against them. Let us also assume that the rest of his contentions are likewise true - no object has an objective value; there is no such thing as 'just wages' or 'a fair price'; etc. And, of course, a host of other things that neo-classical economists wish to be true.
  Together, these things imply that, if Mr. Williamson is correct, then large firms cannot be 'powerful' but are, rather, powerless. And we should therefore conclude that large firms are objectively bad because they obviate choice and thus remove freedom. Small firms do, indeed, trump large ones.
  Such is a key tenet of Distributism.

  But since Mr. Williamson has demonstrated that he is an ignorant hack I am hesitant to trust his analysis here. Just as I know that Rational Choice Theory is false I also know that the price for a charcoal grill at the local Walmart wasn't written by the Invisible Hand of the Market. As surely as I know that the theory of General Equilibrium is too off from reality to fit it, I also know that wage levels do not appear, pre-approved by the spectre of Adam Smith, on a whiteboard in Goldman Sach's HR department each Monday. 
  Further, if Mr. Williamson's contention were true there could never be a monopoly - any firm large enough to be able to constrain the market  would be too large to perform the actions needed to actually constrain the market.
  Yes, I am aware that some Libertarians claim that monopolies can only arise via governmental interference. I dismiss this for the claptrap that it is. Any analysis of the Standard Oil monopoly development proves this to be a falsehood.
  
  A key point to remember whenever thinking of economics is simply this - 'economics' is just a subset of 'human interaction'. Any claims such as, 
'morals and ethics have no place in economic theory'
  or, 
'large firms are so bound by the laws of economics that they cannot set prices or wages' 
you should translate to be,
'Morals and ethics have no place in human interaction'
  and
'large firms are so bound by human interactions that they can't set wages or prices'
  These claims, when understood for what they are, are laughable.  

  It does paint a chilling image of how Libertarians must see the world; a huge, impersonal place where they are not 'people' but merely 'labor' and the Iron Laws of Economics are so powerful that billionaire CEOs with HR departments staffed with scores of highly-educated wage and staffing specialists are unable to change prices or wages. 
  I prefer reality.

Jun 5, 2014

Shopping for Nations - a short entry

[mild edits have been made]
  The king has been approached by various people, both directly and indirectly, in recent weeks asking to discuss the nascent idea of 'neoreaction'. The king has been aware of this small movement for some time and was even a correspondent with one of the founders many years ago.The recent discussions have centered around the idea of a 'free market of governments' where many small governments compete for citizens allowing the free market to decide which is 'best'.
  Edan rejects the vary notion as flawed. First, free market economics are an inherently Liberal idea; free market Capitalism is focused on individual freedom, the lack of loyalty, and rejects the notion that ethics should or even can be involved in economics; if free markets produce a moral or ethical "winner" this is entirely accidental; such a 'market' largely exists now and is not producing very solid results.
  Yes, Democracy is a system which is proven too flawed to continue very long; yes, the Westphalian conceptualization of a nation-state is too flawed to withstand close scrutiny. The king is a supporter of people rejecting what is for what should be.
  But that decision is not an economic one!
  There is a famous American quote,
  "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"
  The first part directly addresses the neoreaction concept - a nation is not a provider of products or services. To view the government of your nation as if it were a roofer or concierge is to view the world solely as a mass of economic transactions. This idea is Modernist, Liberal, and wrong.
  But the second part is wrong - citizens are not servants. Nor are they employees, nor shareholders, nor co-owners. This idea is Liberal, Modernist, and wrong.
  Just as governments are not manufacturers or service providers, citizens are not employees or consumers!
  Families do not exist to support the government, the government exists to support families. And under the concepts core to Edan [solidarity, subsidiarity, and justice] the government is in a real way an extension of the family. There are real bonds of honor, duty, and of caritas between and amongst the citizens, nobles, and king of Edan.
  Honor, duty, loyalty, family, king, country - these things cannot be bought and sold.
  Leaving the faltering secular humanist Democracies of the world is something the king encourages all people to do. But do not choose Edan in hopes that it will give you good financial returns, nor for its low taxes, nor for its longevity and success. Join us because you will be treated with honor, with loyalty, and with  caritas. Join us because our goals are just. Join us because you believe in Edan.

May 13, 2014

Sovereignty and International Law [guest post by Mr. Floyd, Edanian Citizen]

What makes a country a country? Is it the fact that countries have millions of citizens? Is it due to countries being in the United Nations? Most people do not think about this issue, which is a key part of micronationalism. Micronations, as described by Microwiki, the micronation encyclopedia, are “small unrecognized nations which are often eccentric in nature” (Main Page). Micronations are self-declared independent states that wish to become countries. Micronations are generally groups of people who declare themselves countries. There are hundreds of micronations that currently exist as simulations of real world states or legitimate new nation projects that have declared independence from their associated macronation, or what micronationalists consider conventional countries. There are micronations with many types of governments and diverse cultures, as well as holidays and customs, which are created by their members. No micronation has been accepted into the United Nations, but they have obtained de facto recognition through negotiations and visits with ambassadors from some countries. Because of legal loopholes, legislation and international treaties, micronations should be considered sovereign nations and recognized as such.

First, there are many legal loopholes that allow for micronations to exist in the world. One of the most utilized loopholes is the Treason Act of 1495 which states that “An Acte that noe person going wth the Kinge to the Warres shalbe attaynt of treason.” (Preamble) This is generally interpreted by scholars as any person acting as the de facto sovereign in a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations will be considered the monarch and it is thus illegal to deny their reign. One notable micronation, known as the Principality of Hutt River, declared independence under this provision in the Australian legal code. The self-proclaimed prince stated he would become a new nation loyal to England. The police came to his farm-nation as they claimed to be independent and did not pay taxes. After the farmer went to court with the Australian government, the court ruled it was illegal for the state to dispose of the leadership as they were acting with royal power over the land. Now, the self-proclaimed nation does not pay taxes to the Australian government and does not need to abide by their laws Another piece of legislations that is used by United States citizens declaring their homes as self-governing is the Declaration of Independence, which was passed by the Continental Congress in 1776 which affirms “That whenever any Form (sic) of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” This proves that the United States was founded on the idea that the people have a right to declare independence and to rule themselves through a government by the people if the government does become authoritarian or undemocratic in nature. Many micronationalists believe that most micronations are not in touch with the people and thus are not compelled to take their best wishes into account.

Secondly, international agreements and treaties confirm that micronations have a right to sovereignty. The Atlantic Charter reads: “respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.” This was signed by the US, the UK and many other nations in 1941. In a similar notion, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed in 1966, states that “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status…” Self determination is the right of people to rule over themselves and create their own state. These treaties clearly state that people have the right, under international law, to create their own nation and rule over it freely.

Finally, the most well-known and widely used piece of information for micronationalists is the Montevideo Convention. For the western hemisphere, the treaty outlines the duties and of a state in the international community. In the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,  article one proclaims, “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” Micronations do obtain governments, and most if not all have full constitutions. A defined territory generally consists of the houses of its members. A permanent population is comprised of the micronation’s citizens, and it has the capacity to enter relations with other states if they are asked. “The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states”, stated in article three, proves that even without recognition, micronations can operate as international entities. Article five goes on to state, “The fundamental rights of states are not susceptible of being affected in any manner whatsoever,” meaning that countries have no right to impede the workings of micronations. This is explained more in article eight with the clause “No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.” Even without recognition, this applies to any state that fits the criteria affirmed in the treaty.

        On the contrary, many people do not believe micronations are true countries because they cannot exhibit sovereignty over their land. According to Joseph Duncan, President of the People’s Republic of Tiana, “Well [if a person said I could not exhibit sovereignty], I'd say – ‘you're under arrest according to section 5, subsection 6, article 2c of the criminal code of the People's Republic of Tiana. You have the right to remain silent.’” By this statement, he is affirming the fact that micronations can enforce their own laws within their land. The definition of sovereignty, according to Webster’s dictionary, is “Supreme power especially an over body politic,” meaning that micronations can exert sovereignty if they can create their own laws and enforce them. This shows that micronations are sovereign states because they can be free from external influence through having their own government that creates policies and laws. Others will say that states must be a member of the United Nations to be a country, but nowhere in legal documents, unlike the declarative method to statehood, does it state that that is required of them. If this theory is correct, then no countries would have existed until after World War II and if a state needs consent to declare independence, then the United States is still a part of England.

        Are micronations legitimate countries? Evidence shows that they should be recognized as such because of current laws and treaties signed by major world powers. Most micronationalists would agree, “We have a government, a flag, and meet the terms of the montevideo [sic] convention.” says Duncan. Since many micronations meet all the criteria necessary to become a state according to the international community, they should be given the sovereignty they deserve. All legal documents say that they are equal to current states, so they should be given the rights they are entitled to have.

​​Works Cited

Atlantic Charter. Treaty. August 1941.

Duncan, Joseph, Right Honourable, Sir, MZP DSU OWC KBOS OZL ZPO HZW

KC MLEB MLLB, Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Minister of Culture of The Kingdom of Zealandia, Supreme People’s Commissar of Tiana, Sultan of Hakka, Member of the Zonian Parliament, Flanderensisian Ambassador to the United States, Marquis and Viscount. Personal Interview. 1 February. 2012.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Treaty. 16 December. 1966.

“Main Page.” Microwiki. 6 Feb. 2012. Microwiki.org.uk. 18 Jan. 2012

        < http://microwiki.org.uk/index.php?title=Main_Page>

Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. 26 December. 1933.

Apr 16, 2014

Obedience Unto Error by HRH Jonathan

     The article that I am writing here today is targeted specifically at Traditionalists. Others may read it, of course, but take this as your warning that if you do not identify yourself as a Traditionalist, you may not get much out of it.

     That established, let us consider, for a moment, a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that a husband and wife are having an argument over how their children should be educated, with both holding radically opposed views. Which one of them, by the tenets of Traditionalism, should get the final word? The husband, of course, given that he holds the authority within the family. But is this true even if his wife is correct? Must he still be obeyed even if he is objectively in error? Of course! Unless he is somehow invalidating his power through immorality or overreach, he must be obeyed. If his authority was only in force when he was right, it would hardly be authority at all. There would be no order in the family, just a continuous debate as to which side, exactly, was objectively correct.
     Moreover, who has the ability to decide what is right for the family and what is wrong? Short of a perfectly understandable hypothetical situation like this one, does anyone but the husband really have the power to declare one path correct and the other one not? And, if we were to declare the husband's authority void when he is in error, why not take that assertion to its logical conclusion? Why not declare all parental authority void when the parents are in error? Why not let the children weigh in, and, if they are correct and their parents are wrong, make it morally imperative that their commands be the ones obeyed?
     It is truly quite easy to see that paternal authority must be inviolate even when it is in error, for the alternatives are chaos, fragmentation, or worst of all, a justification for intrusive power being granted to the State. Furthermore, it is also easy to see that this extends to all forms of just authority. As long as an authority stays within its rightful purview and does not invalidate itself through immorality, it must be obeyed even if it is in practical error. For otherwise, is it really authority? If whoever is right is the one that must be obeyed, is authority actually in place, or is simple utility and common sense ruling the day? It should be clear to anyone who devotes the thought to it that the necessity to be obedient unto error is, in fact, the defining characteristic of authority, not something alien to it.

     And so we finally come to the main point of this writing, namely, the fact that this extends even into the Ecclesial dimension. That this is true should be patently obvious. Why wouldn't it be true? Religious authority and worldly authority differ from each other only in realm and reliability; in substance, they are the same. Therefore, we may see, religious authority must be obeyed even when it is in error, so long as this error is not somehow invalidating.
     So how can it be that there are such large groups of Catholics who claim to be Traditionalist, claim to have a proper understanding of authority, and claim to hold to the Church in a from almost unchanged from its roots, and yet in the same breath declare the Pope and Magisterium invalid? Even if the central government of the Church is in grave error during the present day, unless it has actively overstepped its bounds, a true and proper understanding of authority demands that we continue to give it our allegiance. Even should the worst of the doomsayers be correct in saying that the Novus Ordō of the liturgy is a tool of damnation, and that modern ecumenism can only damage the unity of the Church, and that the Papal government is doing nothing but continuously undermining true orthodoxy, they are still our rightful, lawful superiors, and we must obey them.

     But this is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone raised in the modern paradigm. After all, what could be more undemocratic than obeying someone you disagree with? What could possibly be more repressive, reactionary, patriarchal, fundamentalist, and otherwise backwards than authority? The modern era is built on disobedience to lawful authority. It is the soil in which it was cultivated, and the water with which it was grown. Many moderners even go so far as to declare that there is no authority, and that any institution exists only through the will of its constituents, who have the transcendent right to break it apart and reshuffle it at will.
     Given how useful this notion is in attacking Christianity, it comes as no surprise that the Adversary has infiltrated it into the midst of the faithful. What is especially disappointing, however, is the pervasiveness of the error. In addition to the progressives and humanists that one would expect to be affected, even the stanchest groups of Traditionalists have been led to fighting against their rightful superiors. This is a depressing turn of events, and it must end. We must excise this troublesome, modern infection from our beliefs. We must relearn how to be obedient.

Mar 18, 2014

The Great Flaw of Anarchism [by Prince Jonathan]

  Anarchism is, in its most fundamental concepts, entirely correct. The structure and concept of the State, as it is known today, is nothing more than a vast mechanism for tyranny. It takes away freedom, harms the common good, and commits acts of unjustified violence simply by existing; all of which it attempts to justify using elaborate political theories with deeply flawed foundations. Edan is not statist. I am not statist. To be otherwise is to be fooled. All this I believe and admit freely, yet I am still not an Anarchist. Indeed, both I and the Kingdom are very strongly anti-anarchy. And how, you ask, is this possible? Is that not a paradoxical position? Why do we oppose both the State and its absence?
  Because we recognize the great flaw of Anarchism. We see that it has developed from its perfectly rational basic principles into a greater philosophy that is largely false. Anarchists do not just wish to abolish the State, they wish to abolish all political action, all authority, and the entirety of the social sphere except for economics and the family, and some of them even the latter. This is the absolute height of foolishness, and Edan thus rejects Anarchism, as I shall now explain.
  Man is, as a very wise man once observed, a political animal, and this truth cannot be denied. Throughout all the history of all the world, government and political association has developed amongst civilized men. Furthermore, contrary to the common belief of Anarchism, it has largely done so in a non-aggressive way. After the gradual collapse of the Roman Empire, there was no government in France, Italy, Spain, or Western Germany. This meant that the only people with power in those places were the land owners, and the only material order their employment of tenant workers. Over time, these landowners, these counts and dukes, made deals amongst themselves, refined their feudal (that is, contractual) relationship with their tenants, and appointed some of their number as kings. Although violence and coercion were certainly involved in some times and places, the origin of government in Western Europe was accomplished through nothing more than the ownership of property, which I highly doubt any true anarchist will criticize. Similar origins may be found for much of the government of the ancient world, though, again, coercion is not completely absent from history.
  And, once more contrary to the typical beliefs of libertarians and anarchists, Anarchism has also been found throughout history. Far from being the first authentically new political development in three thousand years, absolute individual freedom with no form of government or authority has been seen in many different times and places. We find examples in the Judges period of Israel, Pre-Islamic Arabia, and Pre-Cromwellian Ireland, to name just a few. It is not necessary here to rely solely on those societies incapable of developing government; anarchy has existed in the world through the Age of Exploration. Indeed, considering the nations that evolved in Southern Africa and Polynesia, it could be argued that even the most technologically primitive societies are capable of forming governments, though most of them abstain. What is interesting here is that all examples of anarchy found historically, no matter what their culture, religion, or level of technology, share a few basic traits: continuous, bloody warfare, the normalization of atrocities, and a lack of any meaningful development in technology or art. Every time it as been implemented, anarchy has had a terrifyingly negative impact on the civilizations it affected. Even the most stable and moral examples, such as Pre-Cromwellian Ireland, were plagued by war and violence.
  Now, these facts alone would not be enough to condone statism. The ends do not justify the means; we cannot use tyranny and violence to end tyranny and violence. It is, as the majority of anarchists observe, utterly irrational. However, it is more than possible to form governments and establish the rule of law without recourse to coercion. A state-like order can be created in a completely permissible way, so why should anarchy be permitted to survive? If a truly lawless condition leads to such horrid things, why do we not agree to create law?
  So we see that Anarchism is disproved by history, but it is not even necessary to resort to that approach. Reason can also be used to show its flaws, and to demonstrate that a moral society is neither anarchy nor the State, but rather a proper, feudal government.
  It is natural for people to turn a blind eye to the errors in their own position. That is simple human nature, and it cannot be totally avoided, only fought. Anarchism, however, suffers from a general naïveté in excess even of that. Possible abuses of its systems and flaws in its concept of legality are ignored utterly, or supposedly defeated with the argument that market forces will eventually lead to their destruction. Even the most legitimate concerns are given no thought, as a rule.
  For example, let us say that there is a particular factory that produces car frames, and, in order to cut costs and run more efficiently, they switch from their existing chrome-coating method to one involving a much more volatile compound. The run-off and pollution from this compound quickly spreads off the lot of property that the factory is built upon, and begins to poison the water supply of a neighbouring residential district. The factory owner has harmed the health of many other people, so is he accountable to pay damages and switch back to the older, safer method? How much money should he pay out? How is that determined? Suppose the people in the district hire one security company to force him to pay out a large sum of money to them, but he claims that he owes much less, and hires a rival company to defend himself. Or suppose that he even claims that he isn't responsible at all. What happens next? Who determines which side is right? If the side that is wrong wins, who can step in to fix it?
  As another problem, is airspace property? Can sections of the sky and upper atmosphere be claimed, bought, and sold? It's an interesting question when there is no central law regulating it, but it is not the problem here. The problem is what happens when there is a dispute. If a road-owning company claims that it owns the air above its property up to the limit of the atmosphere, and a air-liner company holds that airspace cannot be owned because it cannot be worked, who wins the dispute over the first company charging tolls on passing planes? Let's say that the air company refuses to pay the demanded tolls, so the road-owners call in a private security company that agrees with their claims to force the matter, and then the air company calls in their own security that agrees with them. If negotiations fail, a shooting war will result. This is something of an extreme example, but it is entirely possible, and does a good job of illustrating this sort of problem. In a state of true anarchy, serious problems arise because of a lack of authority. Does this not mean that, according to the very laws of success and failure that Anarchism itself upholds as its unique practical advantage, authority will inevitably result? Is it not in the common interest of everyone to not just agree on a standard convention for such matters, but also create some way of solving similar difficulties in the future? And since this authority is so intimately linked to defence and enforcement, doesn't it make sense that it, the police, and the military should be a united organization? We find here the genesis of good government, and, indeed, of all government.
   And so we can see that Anarchism is neither foolish nor evil, but the belief that it can survive for more than a few generations without descending into violence and disruption is most certainly the former. Anarchists are correct in observing that the way things are today is critically flawed, but they fail to see the flaws in their own ideas again and again. Ultimately, they are, as a movement, over-idealistic. Even if they do not consciously realize it, their system is completely reliant on the total or almost-total eradication of human stupidity, selfishness, and disputes.
  In Edan, however, we recognize that such a utopian event is impossible. So we reject the State, then reject Anarchism, and finally establish ourselves to be a voluntary government. We seek to create the authority, stability, and public beneficence of a well-run State, while still maintaining the proper morality and rationality at the heart of Anarchism. Though this may be difficult, it is still worth striving after; and it is an ideal that we will not abandon for as long as the Kingdom survives.

Mar 13, 2014

Reflections on Lent, Politics, Life, and the Kingdom

  Once upon a time there was a question asked by a newspaper. It was "What's wrong with the world?"
  The modern world is a busy, noisy place. People carry phones with them at all times allowing themselves to bombard themselves with multiple forms of messages from around the world as well as music, news, videos, and games. This is so they can focus on what is important to them because the world around them bombards them with music, games, ads, and messages not of their own choosing.
  People are filled with frenetic energy; children study long hours and fill stacks of notebooks with repetitive work, yet knowledge and even their own test scores decline. There are more and more sources of news and information yet each new development is a surprise since no one expected it.
  The election cycle never ends, a constant parade of new names, new faces, new scandals, new "critical" issues, new voices, new experts. yet each election has 'surprises'. And after each election things always get worse, not better.
  Men rush through school with sports and clubs. They rush through their workdays with projects and lunches and travel. Women do the same. They get home to hobbies and entertaining, travel and art, music and decorating. Mothers take their children to art, soccer, math, enrichment, games, dances, and so on in an endless cacophony of activity for themselves and their husbands and their children. Homeschooling mothers take on even more with conferences, plans, meetings, tests and - of course - education.
  Their husbands do the same with hobbies and meetings and day trading and the lawn, lawn, lawn. Friends at the pub, sport, and discussion of politics.
  Why? Why all this energy? At the end of the day everyone is exhausted, yet as much as they complain no appointments are dropped. Why?
  Fear. Fear of reality. The busy, the make-work, the frenetic activity is to escape. Escape from ourselves and the world around us.
  The children are unhappy? You can't blame the mother, she gave them every advantage. The father slaved day and night! It isn't their fault, they worked so hard. The father doesn't get super-rich? The day trading was just a hobby and the small business just couldn't compete because of competition. The wife is cold and distant? well, she just doesn't understand her husband. The wife feels neglected? Maybe if her husband vacuumed more often....
  The modern world fears silence and still. If the reporters and pundits were to shut up for a week or so people would realize that no one really learns anything from them. The bloggers would be forced to admit that they are the fan-dancers of politics - busy fluttering with great energy but, in the end, there is nothing to be seen. Politicians would be forced to admit that they almost never utter a word worth listening to. People would start to realize that the government of, by, and for the people doesn't like the people very much at all.
  Modernism fears silence and still mainly because of one simple truth; in the silence and still we must all admit that we are our own fault.
  When the Times of London ran the article that asked "What's Wrong with the World" G.K. Chesterton replied, simply, "I am."
  That is part of the Church's goal during Lent. To have us all add a little silence and still to our world so we can remember what is wrong with the world. So if you are adding a ton of activities to your Lenten practices I urge you - don't. Take things out; put in silence and still.
  And every day remind yourself - you are your own fault. We are, indeed, responsible for ourselves. And our children. And our marriage. This is easy to forget when a text interrupts candy crush, hard to escape after 20 minutes alone with your thoughts.
  So we should all stop and be silent. Sit, and be still. Unless we are contemplatives, this is more of a leavening to our lives, a depth to our waters. Like the pauses in the Latin Mass; beauty, chant, bells, and song made more beautiful and more profound by stillness and bouts of silence.
  Yes, this matters to the Kingdom, too. Few elections, and all minor ones; important positions are for life; authority is as small, direct, and local as possible; government is as limited and small as possible. The Kingdom of Edan is meant to be as silent and still as possible, like the pauses in the Mass. Love and duty, honor and care all leavened with silence and stillness.
  So sit, and be silent. Take your children to fewer things. Do less and spend more time together in the quiet and the calm. Realize that you are the real you and that you are more in control when you do less.

Mar 11, 2014

Travel Advisory - March 15th through April 15th

  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has compiled the following list of travel advisories:

Should Not Enter (nations or areas on this list are considered of such high danger that the Ministry advises all citizens to avoid travel to, through, or over these places):

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) [tyranny]
Niger [armed conflict and terrorism]
Nigeria [Islamist insurrection]
Somalia [armed conflict and terrorism]
South Sudan [armed conflict]
Syria [active civil war]

High Risk (nations or areas where people face high risk of injury or detention. The Ministry advises against any non-essential travel to these places):

Afghanistan [unrest]
Algeria [unrest, kidnapping]
Central African Republic [unrest]
Democratic Republic of the Congo [unrest]
Gaza [terrorist activity]
Iran [tyranny]
Iraq [unrest]
Lebanon [unrest]
Libya [unrest]
Mali [unrest]
Mauritania [terrorist activity]
Somalia [terrorist activity]
Sudan [unrest]
Tunisia [state of emergency]
the West Bank [terrorist activity]
Yemen [terrorist activity]

Caution (nations or areas with a risk of injury or detention. The Ministry advises caution for all travellers to these places):

Argentina [active protests]
Burundi [terrorist activity]
Columbia [crime]
Cote d'Ivoire [unrest]
El Salvador [crime]
Eritrea [internal restrictions on foreigners]
Honduras [crime, kidnapping]
Mexico [crime, kidnapping]
Pakistan [terrorist activity]
Ukraine [unrest, possible renewal of armed conflict]
Venezuela [crime, protests]

Other (nations or areas the Ministry determined have 'elements of concern to Edanians')
Haiti [lack of infrastructure]

Mar 3, 2014

Europe and North America Abandon Democracy

  Not too long ago Ukraine descended into violence. While the overall story is oft-repeated the details seem elusive on most news sources, so please forgive me as we sum up.

...

  Ukraine is insolvent: the nation is so deeply in debt that it needs $17 billion USD (almost 10% of Ukraine's annual GDP) to meets its obligations and continue functioning, and it needs this money relatively quickly. It was hoping to receive $20 Bn USD in loans from the European Union so began negotiating a trade deal with the EU that would include such a loan.
  The European Union declined and offered only about $830 million USD in loans and their trade deal required Ukraine to change many internal laws, some of which had no direct bearing on trade.
  Russian then offered $15 Bn USD in loans with a trade agreement that included reducing energy costs to the Ukraine.
  Up against the wall the president of Ukraine was effectively forced to abandon the possibility of a trade deal with the EU and accept a deal with Russia because only Russia was willing to meet Ukraine's needs. This was announced by the Ukrainian government on November 21st, 2013.

  Protests began almost immediately. Some Ukrainian citizens who wish for closer ties to the EU began to gather in Kyiv to protest the trade deal with Russia. By the 24th estimates on the number of protestors ranged as high as 100,000 (although the actual numbers were probably closer to 20,000) and the protestors began breaking police cordons and physically clashing with police. The police responded with tear gas and batons. The protestors began being encouraged and organized by opposition political leaders. The protests also began allowing neo-Nazi groups to take the elad in violence against police forces.
  This is not hyperbole or Godwin's Law - actual self-described neo-Nazi groups led violent attacks on police where isolated groups of police were attacked and their equipment stolen to arm protestors. These protestors, now with riot gear, then continued the escalation of violence.

  Protestors begin assaulting and seizing government buildings, including city hall of the capitol, while continuing violence against police. The protestors used petrol bombs, improvised weapons, and captured firearms to attack police and used arson and burning barricades to distract and repel police. By the middle of January protestors and police were being killed as well as injured.
 
  At the height of the protests prior to any protestors dying the Ukrainian parliament passed anti-protest laws that sparked greater protests and more violence; the laws were repealed and insttead the government offered to release already-arrested protestors and offer amnesty to other protestors if government buildings were released. This exchange of prisoners for buildings was completed by about the 16th of February. On the 18th the protestors began their assaults on police lines and by the 20th had re-taken all the surrendered buildings and taken others, as well.

  During this same time the opposition leaders, who were still leading the protestors, were negotiating with foreign powers for loans and support for when they has succeeded in seizing control of the government. Aresniy Yatsenyuk met with Angela Merkel in person urgin her to impose sanctions and aid the protestors so help them take over the Ukrainian government.

  The opposition tot he elected government in Kyiv was being reflected in greater Ukraine with the Ukrainian-speaking West seizing most government buildings seized by protestors but the Russian-Speaking eastern and southern fringes marked with pro-government forces aiding police is resisting protestors.

  By February 20th enough members of parliament had fled or defected that the opposition parties gained control of the Ukrainian parliament. The president agrees to early elections, has his powers slashed, and several other changes occur in the next few days. Opposition leader Yulia Tymeshenko is released from prison at the vote of the opposition-controlled parliament. By the 23rd the opposition leader and protest organizer Aresniy Yatsenyuk is made Prime Minister as other opposition leaders are placed in charge of the Ukrainian government.

  As this is occurring protestors in Crimea, which is largely Russian-speaking, are rejecting the new government in Kyiv as illegitimate. The regional parliament in Crimea states that they will vote to decide if they will remain part of Ukraine and armed men seize airfields and government buildings in the Crimea. The brand new government in Kyiv states they will not allow the breakup of Ukraine.

  The new government also beings pleading with Europe and the US for - billions of dollars in loans to prop up the Ukrainian economy.

  The crimean regional parliament asks for help from Russia to aid it in its claims to autonomy. Russia agrees and sends troops too support the new Republic of Crimea.

...
 
  We have been continually surprised at the political developments of the last few years where ostensibly Democratic governments in Europe and North America vocally and materially support the violent overthrow of various governments in the world. This may be most surprising in Ukraine.
  Let us be very clear - what occurred in Ukraine is the violent overthrow of the lawfully-elected government by an armed mob led by the losers of the last election. This was not prompted by mass oppression, nor was it triggered by civil rights violations or the illegal grasp for power - the pretext for this armed insurrection was the government's refusal to sign a trade agreement that would have forced Ukraine to modify its internal laws to be advantageous to European nations without giving Ukraine the loans it needed to remain solvent.

  There are already protests in large cities across Ukraine against this new, mob-seated, government by Ukrainians that reject its legitimacy - if more protests arise led by the new opposition what side shal Europe, the BBC, and similar groups take? Will the violent protestors still have the right to change the government via force?

  The last five years have clearly demonstrated through the words and deeds of European and North American political leaders, pundits, and academics that none of them actually believe that Democracy works. What shall they replace it with?

Jan 31, 2014

"Reactionary" is a Poor Choice of Word [by HRH Jonathan]

There are many words for the movement I tend to refer to as, "Traditionalism." For any group so fragmented and with so many distinct points of origin, this is inevitable; but the number of names for Traditionalism exceeds what even those facts would lead one to expect. Social Conservatism, Traditionalism, Reactionism, Counter-Revolutionism, and Anarcho-Imperialism are all names I've seen applied regularly, but in this brief article, I shall discuss only the third one.
     It is becoming increasingly common for Traditionalists to call themselves, "Reactionaries," that is, followers of Reactionism. This is especially true amongst new converts to our fold, who have gone so far as to take up the name, "Neo-Reactionary," seeing themselves as a new flowering of a concept almost entirely effaced after the last fall of the French Monarchy. These Neo-Reactionaries have formed a rough internet alliance of respectable orthodoxy, though they often have weak communications with the rest of the Traditionalist web. They are laudably pursuing the truth, but today, I have one, seemingly-small criticism to level against them.
     I don't like their name.
     A very common topic in the writings of my father and I is that words have power, and also that their meanings are not always obvious to those who use them. These truths are especially applicable to the term, "Reactionary." A Reactionary is, rather obviously, someone who reacts. Someone who pushes back. Someone only interested in the status quō, the way things stood. Reactionism is, by necessity, defined in terms of its enemies and their choices. Regardless of what its followers actually do, the name conjures up images of people who do not think about the future, or care about what is right, or consider their enemies' positions; but are concerned only with the comfortable past. In just the same way as many have gone astray by referring to, "political science," instead of, "political philosophy," those who call themselves, "Reactionary," are unwittingly defining themselves as everything that is actually wrong with Tradition, and separating themselves from what is good
     Of course, the same problem may be found, with less strength, in the word, "Traditionalism," but I do like this term a good deal more. It is a good catch-all term, encompassing a large number of views; it is already established and well-known; and it is not nearly so bad as the topic of this article. In the end, however, there is not a truly good name for those who desire to restore Western Civilization to its full splendour. At least, not unless you count 'Edanian'.

Jan 29, 2014

Snowstorms in Atlanta and Leadership (a quick take)

  I am sure that a great deal of ink will be spilled for months concerning the snow emergency affecting Atlanta (and, thus, the royal family) but we see this as an excellent opportunity to very briefly discuss the differences between management and leadership.
  Let us begin with a little history. While serious winter storms are rare in Atlanta they are far from unheard of. In 2011 a snowstorm paralyzed large section of the state of Georgia and Atlanta in particular. This event prompted the governor of the state and the mayor of Atlanta to work on improving their winter storm response plans.
  In December of 2013 a large conference of local and state authorities and meteorologists gathered in Georgia to review and confirm this new plan, which was heartily endorsed by the majority of the 200+ attendees. It was put into place for the now-current emergency.
  In press conferences and interview the mayor of Atlanta and the Governor of Georgia are repeatedly referring to two things - what other people are responsible for and that their response to this emergency is "much better" than their response in 2011.
  In the meantime the city is gridlocked with thousands of motorists stranded on the roads in their cars with no serious chance of outside help; thousands more abandoned their vehicles and walked to what private shelter they could find; many more thousands are stranded at their workplaces with no real hope of receiving outside aid - which included hundreds of children stranded at schools; a large number, perhaps a majority, of gas stations are out of fuel and many stores and restaurants are out of food. The direct impact on the people of the region is demonstrably higher and worse than in 2011 and the only real hope of relief is to wait for the weather to change.
  So how can people in positions of responsibility both dodge responsibility and claim that their response is better when the results are worse?
 
  Because of the way they think. These politicians and bureaucrats have been trained to manage not to lead.
  Managers focus on reducing costs, minimizing risks, controlling the use of time, communicating between groups, etc. All very useful tasks and skills but, in the end, the main focus is on minimizing the perceived risks to themselves and their organizations. This is not a negative, it is a positive as long as all you expect from a manager is management.
  Leaders focus on giving people a higher purpose and motivating them to excel and, ultimately, on achieving the best possible result.. In the end the main focus is on achieving the best possible result of their duties and responsibilities. This can be expensive and will involve risks and can directly clash with the core goals of management.
 
  I believe that both the mayor and the governor fully believe that they are, yes, providing a 'better response' to this snow storm than the last. Why? Because I am convinced that they are using project management tools and metrics. A disaster response plan was created by various committees over time; this plan was reviewed and accepted by various other committees and by the conference members in December; this plan is being followed and they are checking off little boxes on the project management applications at a steady pace; reports are being sent to those who are supposed to receive them; etc.
  Or, in other words; responsibility was spread as widely as possible; many other managers agreed that this management plan had steps that managers could understand and report on; the various people who farmed out their responsibility are receiving reports from their subordinates that allow them to tell others they are doing as the plan tells them to.
  Or - each team has minimized the perceived risks to themselves and their own organization and can point to how they are reducing costs, minimizing risks, controlling the use of time, communicating between groups, etc. To a manager those things are what is important.
  In the meantime the 9th largest city in the United States, a city larger than Singapore, is effectively shut down.
 
  The lesson is clear: do not ask for leadership from managers.

Dec 20, 2013

Travel Advisory for Edanian Citizens. 20/12/2013 through 31/03/2014

  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has compiled the following list fo travel advisories:

Should Not Enter (nations or areas on this list are considered of such high danger that the Ministry advises all citizens to avoid travel to, through, or over these places):

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) [tyranny]
Syria [active civil war]

High Risk (nations or areas where people face high risk of injury or detention. The Ministry advises against any non-essential travel to these places):

Afghanistan [unrest]
Algeria [unrest, kidnapping]
Central African Republic [unrest]
Democratic Republic of the Congo [unrest]
Gaza [terrorist acticity]
Iran [tyranny]
Iraq [unrest]
Lebanon [unrest]
Libya [unrest]
Mali [unrest]
Mauritania [terrorist activity]
Niger [unrest]
Nigeria [terrorist activity]
Somalia [terrorist activity]
South Sudan [war]
Sudan [unrest]
Tunisia [state of emergency]
the West Bank [terrorist activity]
Yemen [terrorist activity]

Caution (nations or areas with a risk of injury or detention. The Ministry advises caution for all travellers to these places):

Burundi [terrorist activity]
Columbia [crime]
Cote d'Ivoire [unrest]
El Salvador [crime]
Eritrea [internal restrictions on foreigners]
Honduras [crime, kidnapping]
Mexico [crime, kidnapping]
Pakistan [terrorist activity]
Venezuela [crime]

Other (nations or areas the Ministry determined have 'elements of concern to Edanians')
Haiti [lack of infrastructure]

Nov 15, 2013

Pride, Populism, and the Papacy - from Prince Jonathan

It is a truth often repeated by Traditionalists that the Catholic Church is not democratic. Something that should be repeated more often, however, is the basis of this fact. The Church is not just un-democratic in the accidents of her hierarchy and organization, but also in the substance of her underlying philosophies and assumptions. If the Church were somehow altered so that she was governed by popular vote, but was otherwise unchanged, or if the United States were changed to a government identical with that of the Church, but still maintained its integral character; then they would still be at odds. The modern democratic West is un-Catholic at a fundamental level, and in this article, I will attempt to explain why.

The reason is, in a word, individualism. It has been the tendency of thought in the West since the time of the American Revolution to declare that the primary, or in some cases, the only, driver of morality is individual freedom. The foundation of the democratic spirit is that the individual person is the basis of the world, and that society, government, and all else above him exists only at his sufferance. Unless he goes so far as to directly harm others by his actions, his rights to self-determination are paramount.

We see this philosophy everywhere in the modern world. It is the basis of contemporary secular civilization. Marriage is attacked because, after all, marriage is only an institution, and if a few individuals want to ignore or alter this institution, then it is their prerogative to do so. Capitalism is considered the only moral economic system by many, because it allows individuals to conduct their business however they please, which is the only moral way to proceed. Religion and prayer are removed from public events and venues because they may cause people to feel or think that they cannot live in any manner they want, and we can't have that.

It is this pervasive, corrosive conceptualization of the world that sets democracy and Catholicism at odds. But why? Why are they in opposition to each other? After all, the foundations of individualism were invented by Catholic philosophers. The fundamental tenets of liberty and human rights were first proposed by the Church, and are still held by it today. So how is it exactly that the Church is un-democratic and un-individualistic?

The truth is that much of individualism is built on solid ground, which many Traditionalists, in their rush to defeat it, forget. The consent of the governed, human rights, and self-determination are good moral points. What is not a good moral point is the equivocation of these things' existence with the supremacy of the individual man. This claimed supremacy and sovereignty, and, more importantly, the conclusions derived from them, are nothing more than perversions and misuses of philosophy, and a twisting of the basis of a moral society.

For the Catholic Church and the societal views she breeds accept these moral points, but individualism is built upon them. It is entirely based upon them, and admits nothing else. All it has is the individual and his rights and wants. In the end, all it has is "me". In its focus upon "me", it makes it all about "me". It is true that societies, governments, and other such things are most moral, perhaps even only moral, when built up voluntarily; but not to make any attempt to elevate it above "me" is foolish. It causes a strange sort of plague of hubris and narcissism whose bitter fruit we reap today.

Being raised and trained to think politically and philosophically only of yourself and your wants and moral position has not shown itself to be healthy. It has created a generation of people worldwide who truly believe that it is a horrid injustice that they are not allowed to bare their nudity in public, or who feel that they should be free to exploit the poor if it is done via contract, or who think that it is only fair that they should be able to dissolve marriage at will. And, furthermore, it has made this generation into an army of critics and would-be emperors, who deride and despise anything done differently than the way they would do it. It has made people hate any wisdom other than their own, try to tear down anything done against their wants, and treat themselves as the source of all doctrine. Argue with me about this being the result of individualism all you want; I have the brute fact of the modern world on my side.

These things, these beliefs and attitudes, are the logical extension and basic conclusion of individualism; and it is them that the Church is opposed. For these attitudes are the opposite of what is Christian, and are indeed an elevation of the spirit of sin. The world is not about us, nor are we the wisest people of them all, nor is it our place to pass judgement on society itself, nor are we the be-all, end-all of morality. A belief in such things can only come from the Adversary, because to believe in them is, however slightly, to equate ourselves with God. Moreover, to embrace them is also to embrace a spirit of Protestantism, which makes "me" the only true interpreter of the Word of God. After all, if I am the source of all authority, who needs the Hierarchy of the Church?

But sadly enough, this individualism is so widely embraced today as to be considered the norm by all. The Pope is criticized for his actions by lay people across America, Theology is ignored or mistaught by those who disagree with it, and all talk of duty or proper society has vanished from the political sphere. Everything is now about maximizing personal freedom, and optimizing things according to individual wants. The world is now about "me", and this deceitful ordering of things must be defeated.

Not defeated by collectivism and centralization by force, as the most devout individualists hold is the only other stance, but by a simple lack of individualism. As Catholics and Traditionalists ought to know, there are many things that matter more than us. If we want the evils of the modern world to end, I say that the best way to do it is to simply take on a little humility, which is, of course, the simplest and hardest task in the world.