Nov 11, 2012

Adversarial Transition

[from Prince Jonathan]
There are many, many differences between today's society and the ideal Catholic society, and all these differences are sad things. Abortion, adultery, a twisted version of freedom that must conform itself to the materialistic agenda of the world around us, these things we all know. However, I think that there is something that belongs to that very same list that goes mostly unknown, much to society's detriment. This is the fact that relationship after relationship and bond after bond has been transformed from a cooperative relationship into an antagonistic one. This shift has been silent and unnoticed, never happening openly and only striking one place at a time, but it has happened.
Just think of the many roles which should be helpful ones based upon love, or at least respect, but are now thought of as being adversarial against each other. Teenage children are now thought of as being inherently rebellious and opposed to the rule of their parents; indeed, think of all the depictions of children of all ages being in direct opposition to their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. The government and the people are now placed constantly at odds with each other, even though the first should only serve and protect the second. Employers and employees are now at each other's throats through corporate layoffs and the union system, even though they should be allies in the workplace. Contraception and abortion have made parents into the sworn enemies of their children and each other. Through spiritualism and new age beliefs, faith has been, in some cases, turned against religion. Even love has become a carefully calculated tool through the sexual revolution.
Every relationship that should be supportive is now antagonistic, every bond that should be of love or respect is now a matter of advantage; friendship is a competition and romance is war in the twisted world in which we live. And why is this? How could such a warped state of affairs ever come about? Materialism. Atheistic materialism, that is the source of this abomination. If there is no such thing as ethics or morality, then why should we work together? If love is just an expression of the animal drive, then why should we not use it to our own advantage? If there is no God, then there is no reason to do anything in life but look out for yourself.
So it has come to pass, slowly but surely, that all relationships are now thought of in terms of self. What can I gain? What good is this to me? Where is my advantage? I disagree. I want that. No thought is paid to the other members of the relationship, let alone society as a whole. There is no reason to, it is the survival of the fittest, after all; why should the weak and vulnerable be aided?
This is a disastrous philosophy to be so widely held. It is the operating doctrine of warlords, criminals, and tyrants; not a real society. All that civilization is is the side effect of people working together. If we want art and philosophy, peace and stability, morality and freedom; then we must work with and for other people. If not for the cooperations and commonality of society, then the Way Things Are will transition to the strong ruling the weak. This is the basic order of things, the animal order of things; those with the advantage taking whatever they want from those without it. But this isn't the proper order of things. The proper order of things is that mandated by both God and conscience, the rule of empathy and morality. To make all things revolve around one's self is to abandon humanity and ethics for the brutal existence of an animal.
Even if we do not do this ourselves, we can still feel the effects everywhere in modern society. This disordered way of life must be opposed as strongly as contraception and homosexuality, although it is somewhat more difficult to fight against than those two things. It is certainly illicit to try and outlaw a way of thinking, after all. Still, it cannot be allowed to flourish. It is a way of life inimical to the Will of God, and we must oppose it.
Perhaps the best way to fight this rise of the adversarial is to preach by example. The more we show dedication and real respect and love, the more we make businesses and governments the allies of the average person, and the more we show support to those in need as part of our overall lifestyle, the more young people we can talk out of accepting the antagonistic paradigm and the more practitioners of it we can convert. For, after all, it is a hollow philosophy devoid of meaning to make everything about me. It will not stand up long to real exposure to a more full and beautiful way of looking at the world. The only true danger to civilization is that these philosophies of self become so common that we forget all else, so the only good way to fight these battles is to act like you've already won.

Oct 8, 2012

September 11th, October 7th and Solidarity

By HRM Richard

  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a feast first instituted by His Holiness Pope Pius V as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory to commemorate the victory of the Catholic League over Ottoman forces at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7th, 1571 AD, a victory attributed to the intercession of God at the behest of Our Lady after millions of Catholics prayed the rosary for the protection of Christendom against the Ottoman raiders and pirates.
  This victory came just 6 years after the victory at the Siege of Mata on September 11th, 1565 AD, where the Knights of St. John and their local militia forces defeated the vastly-larger Ottoman forces which had attacked them, setting the stage for a renewed Catholic hope and for the success at Lepanto.  In both cases the larger, better-equipped Ottoman forces were defeated by Catholic forces through determination and and luck so great as to be Providential.
  The two victories, both almost half a millennia in the past, represent Solidarity in both its most intimate and most widespread forms. The Knights of St. John were largely alone, virtually abandoned by European forces which assumed they could not possibly win such a lop-sided battle. But their devotion to God, to their Order, and to their mission allowed the Knights to triumph. This was Solidarity at the intimate level, almost as a family, as a few hundred men drew together as a single unit. This demonstration of Solidarity as esprit de corps inspired Europe.
  A handful of years later Lepanto represented the other extreme of Solidarity - despite vast differences in education and wealth, native language and homeland, Catholics all over Europe drew together to support the forces at Lepanto. Millions of people were united in a common task toward a common goal in a show of Solidarity that virtually erased the differences between German and Frenchman, commoner and noble to let them identify as Catholic. Where the Knights were in a single place, the Catholics supporting Lepanto were separated by vast distances yet united in a very real way.
  This is critical to understanding what we mean when we say that territoriality is not important to Edan in the way it is essential to nation-states. Edan is based upon Solidarity; upon shared values, shared morals and shared ethics; upon shared culture, shared goals, and shared laws. In a very real way, Edanians are directly connected even though we have not yet met in person.
  Where Edanians are, there is Edan.

Oct 1, 2012

Distributism: Concepts, Basis, and Initial Steps

At its heart, Edan adheres to a handful of core concepts, concepts that run contrary to much current thought. In this article we will discuss the moral basis for the Distributist element of Feudal Technocratic Distributism and introduce the basic steps for becoming more Distributist in your lives as Edanians. A Catholic concept for many years, Socialist tried to co-opt the meaning of solidarity to mean ‘the working classes banded together against the rich’. In reality, solidarity means “the distribution of goods and remuneration for work”, or (more directly) ‘earning a wage and being able to buy things’. It also ‘presupposes the effort for a more just social order’, or ‘the wages should be just and the prices of goods should be just’. Much more importantly than material goods, however, solidarity means friendship and social charity – caring for your fellow men as individuals and working together as a family at the same time. It means not just the poor cooperating with the poor, but with the rich as well – employees and employers banding together to make the workplace a better place. Indeed, at its heart, the concept of solidarity is a rejection of current concepts of 'class' - it is not about employer or employee as classes; just people who happen to do different things, but who share the same needs. no one in any society is alone. The factory owner depends upon the metal worker who makes the forms for the product being made; the metal worker depends upon the toolmaker, who depends upon the smelter, to the miner, who uses the machines made in the owner’s factory. Just like a family, society is a web of inter-dependencies. When this is forgotten, the result is tension, strife, and misunderstanding. This aspect of Catholic solidarity was explicitly referenced in Poland (a very Catholic nation) when the movement for justice that arose among the working men of the factories named itself ‘Solidarity’. It is also important to note that solidarity is more about the spiritual and emotional than it is about the material. The goal is justice, not wealth. Of course, a more stable, more just society often does lead to increased wealth! This is a direct contradiction of many ideologies that are seen as ‘Right Wing’, although the status of Liberatarians as 'Right' is problematic. Libertarians and Objectivists both reject the idea of solidarity. This admission of the fact of inter-connectedness directly opposes their beliefs (‘there is no society, just individuals’ for Libertarians and ‘there are a few demi-gods that everyone else mooches from’ for Objectivists) so that they must either reject solidarity or reject their own beliefs. Yet it is not Leftist, either. There is no compulsion in solidarity and, more critically, no collectivization. Ideas such as compulsory union membership or the seizure of land to make collective farms are alien to solidarity. Solidarity is a voluntary union, a decision made by choice, that forges the friendship that is the core of solidarity. Another key concept in Catholic social justice is Subsidiarity Subsidiarity is defined as the principle that "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1883). The OED defines it to mean “the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks that cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate, local level”. In other words – the smaller and more local, the better. This is a moral choice for two reasons. The first reason is that local efforts are both more likely to be appropriate (charity reaches those in need, business plans match the local economy, etc.) and more efficient (less is wasted on administration, distribution, etc.) than remote efforts. This is a moral impetus to local control because it means that there is less waste and wasted effort. The second, more important, moral reason is that the loss of personal autonomy can be dehumanizing. When people have less control of their own lives a person's free will is impaired. Our sense of worth (when we are mentally and spiritually healthy) comes not from material things, but from the choices we make. The exercise of free will is the motor for our choice. When our choices are constrained, we lose some free will. Although there will always be constraints on will and action, those imposed by others for reasons other than moral ones are the most deleterious to the will. This means that impairment of the will can lead to feelings of disconnection from others, depression, and despair. While efficiency alone is a compelling argument for subsidiarity, the addition of the moral pressure to avoid impairment of the will makes it the standard of the Catholic Church. Catholic social teaching also emphasizes that people have a right to private property (Catechism, para. 2402), but cautions that this comes with responsibilities. As stewards of the earth, owners of property have a responsibility to properly manage their property so that it not only secures them and their families from poverty and violence, but also so that the rights and well being of others are not harmed. Indeed, the Church teaches that property is ‘to be made fruitful’ so that after the owner’s first duty (to his own family) is met, the products of property can be freely shared with others, especially the sick and the poor. Indeed, the catechism states that waste and excessive expense are immoral and that willfully damaging one’s own property in a way that makes it less fruitful is ‘contrary to moral law’ and requires that reparation be made to the community (Catechism, para. 2409). The inevitable conclusion of the ideas of solidarity, subsidiarity, and the right to private property while recognizing the social responsibilities of ownership is the rejection of Communism and Socialism. Communism denies the existence of private property, making people dependent upon others for their livelihood, denying them the security of property, and reducing them to means of the end of production. Socialism uses central planning and ‘the state’ to make economic decisions for all, removing their free will and denying them security and property. However, another inevitable conclusion is the rejection of aissez-faire Capitalism or ‘pure market’ economics. The strict individualism of laissez-faire capitalism rejects the idea of solidarity and the primacy of ‘the market’ reduces humans to means of the end of profit. In both cases things (either goods or profits) are placed in a position of greater importance than people, a clearly immoral position. Derived from this simple, self-evident concepts are the following key elements of Distributism: 1. All men have a right to private property, to just compensation for their goods and labor, and to enter into business agreements, including employment, of their own free will. In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII anticipated the idea of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ which is, simply – things owned by everyone (like communal farms, fisheries, etc.) are depleted because no one is responsible for them and, more critically, no one sees them as critical to their own future or the future of their family. Private property is, overall, better cared for and developed than communal property. It is also generally more productive, creating a larger surplus. These are the basic reasons to approve of and promote private property. Another reason to promote private property is justice; a man is entitled to appropriate compensation for his work. Whether a laborer or a highly-specialized technician, wages should be appropriate and just. This means a living wage is to be paid except in unusual circumstances (a part-time job, for example, may be exempt from the requirement of a living wage). For the compensation to be just, the wage earner must be free to spend his wages as he wishes (within the bounds of moral law, of course) and if he is frugal, hard-working, etc. and accumulates capital, it is his to keep. Similarly, a man who produces goods or commodities must be paid a just amount for those items. This actually may not generate a living wage, but as long as the payment is just, that is acceptable. The concern here is the use of price controls and tariffs to push the margins of producers so low they can no longer afford to produce and sell their goods. One of the elements I find most important is the fact that business agreements, including employment, must be made of free will. While this is often pointed out as meaning that a starving man cannot be forced to sign a lousy deal, it has broader implications. A mandatory-union shop, for example, might be seen as an imposition of coercion. While Catholic social teaching is very clear that people have a right to join organizations such as trade unions, it also states that people must also be free to avoid them, as well. Private ownership of property and work (whether physical, artistic, or intellectual) >are good This is simply the argument that being productive is good for the person doing it. More critically, it points out that the goal of being productive is not just for one’s own benefit, but for the benefit of of the family, community and, thereby, society as a whole.responsibility and decision-making should be ‘pushed down’ as low as possible; the federal government is less efficient at and less capable of making good decisions than the state government, the state less so than the county, etc. down to the family itself. This is the most direct implication (and application!) of the concept of subsidiarity. While I have made arguments that this is a practical issue because of efficiency, it is more critically an issue of justice. People have a right to determine their own destinies and should be given every opportunity to do so as long as the ‘greater good’ is not at risk. This is an extension of the concept that people need to do things of their own free will – the more removed the decision making is from the person affected, the more of an imposition on there free will is involved. Same with private groups being preferable to governmental groups and local being preferable to distant – it grants greater autonomy to the individual as well as providing the best and most direct benefit to the individual’s immediate community. This can be taken too far! There is a need for, as an example, a national military. And I don’t think too many people would disagree with me when I state a military force should be under the control of a legitimate government, not private owners. While people should look for local solutions, this does not mean that there is a prohibition on distant opportunities. If you are a businessman and the only source for widgets is on the other side of the world, go ahead and buy them. You might want to mention to local entrepreneurs, however, your need for widgets! The statement is that local and smaller are better, not that large and distant are evil.4. In general, private organizations are better at getting things done than public ones; this is derived from #3, obviously. Smaller groups are generally better than larger; individuals and families over all are the best. Public groups can easily suffer from the 'tragedy of the commons'. One of the key concepts of a Monarchy/Aristocracy, as pointed out by the Anarcho-Capitalist Hoppe in his book 'Democracy: The god that Failed' is that the ultimate downfall of Democracy and other individualistic concepts of governance is that the government and pblic services are, effectively, 'publicly owned' and deteriorate in a manner similar to the tragedy of the commons. He contrasts this with the "Private Ownership" or a Monarch and Aristocracy, correctly pointing out that a Monarchy/Aristocracy is (overall) much more efficient, less exploitative, and less unjust. Interestingly, the Marxist Theron reaches similar conclusions in the book 'What the Ruling Class Does when it Rules'.The more local, the better. This was discussed, above, as an example of efficiency versus waste and of free will.All families should be as self-sufficient as possibleThere are a number of reasons for this. First of all, of course, is the fact that self-sufficient families do not go hungry. They may not have 3 cars and a boat, but they are also spared the fear of insecurity. It also means that the members of the family have fewer constraints on their free will; if they do not have to worry about the necessities of life they are less likely to be exploited by others. Self-sufficiency is likely to lead to more free time that can be spent on education, art, music, and the other things that make life richer. The idea that every family becoming self-sufficient would lead to a truly just, equal, and happy society with an absence of poverty, is the heart of early Distributist thought and is still the cornerstone of Distributism’s plans and goals. G. K. Chesterton summed it up in a single quote, “The problem with Capitalism is not too much Capitalism, but too few Capitalists. The preferred method of being self-sufficient is to own your own business. For early Distributists this goal meant that they were agrarians and felt each family should have enough land to grown their own food and generate enough income to meet their other needs. Later Distributists argued that the head of each family should have the tools and training to be an independent tradesman (such as a carpenter), and current Distributists acknowledge that certain professions, such as computer programmer, have the potential to meet this goal through specialized skills and knowledge alone.Coops and Guilds are preferred over corporations and unions This also means credit unions are to be preferred over banks. Just as with the preference for local over remote and private over governmental, Distributionism has a preference for coops and guilds to corporations and unions. Where corporations are legal individuals that have owners and employees, coops are employee-owned, meaning there is no differentiation between capitalist and laborer. Consumer coops allow many individuals to act as a community and gain all the advantages of scale by buying in bulk as a community. While unions are the sole domain of employees, pitting the employed against the employer, guilds are ‘vertical’ organizations that include managers, employers, and employees together, erasing the differences between the various people. While a bank is a private or corporate venture aimed at maximizing profits for owners, credit unions are, essentially, coops aimed at maximizing utility of the owner/users. In each case the goal is to provide maximum benefits overall to all participants (who are usually co-owners or have a vested interest in the venture), not maximize profits for a limited group of owners (who are often completely divorced from the actions of the venture other than the collection of profits).
Another point in favor of coops and credit unions is that the employee-owners/customer-owners are local, not remote, the vast majority of the time. Coops are employees working with and for each other; farm coops are local or regional farmers pooling resources and sharing production; consumer coops are local to regional people working together to get better prices, better quality, difficult to obtain goods, or some combination. In all cases people are drawn together, not separated, by work and commerce.8. When engaged in business-to-business ventures, avoid middle-men and deal as directly as possible with the end client/end user. In the age of the Internet this is easier than ever! Closely related to all of the above, avoiding middlemen is a goal of Distributism. In many cases middlemen add no value to goods or services, they simply add costs. There are even cases where middlemen use their access to resources to artificially control markets. In addition to these ‘negative’ reasons, there are good positive reasons; direct sales allows for the development of a personal relationship between buyer and seller/supplier and consumer/etc. Even if the widget factory is in Ghana and your sprocket shop is in Seattle, there is a chance that a direct sales relationship can build community through commerce.9. Government welfare programs are to be eliminated whenever possible, reduced or avoided otherwise. Government welfare is in some ways the antithesis of Distributism. Welfare programs are funded by taxes [which take away from the just earnings of workers and add to the costs of all communities], are administered by bureaucrats [remote, unconnected government agencies with no real interest in either those taxed or those receiving benefits], have no real hope of meeting the actual needs of recipients [those same distant bureaucrats must come up with a generic, one size fits all plan, attempt to implement it on a grand scale, and are further constrained at all times by political issues], and actively degrade communities [non-recipients assume recipients are OK; the recipients are alienated from others by being marked as ‘different’ with no human compassion associated, etc]. Distributism would repeal all such programs as could be repealed without harm immediately and push the rest as far down the ladder (state, county, local government, etc.) as possible and begin phasing the remainder out. Charity should be a matter for communities, not bureaucracies.Usury is to be avoided. "Usury" means “interest on loaned money, or excessive interest”.Traditionally, charging interest on money loaned to another was seen as taking advantage of another person, if not downright theft. It was almost universally condemned in the West until the Reformation and still has detractors. St. Thomas Aquinas argues that charging interest for a loan is the same as charging a person for a thing (after all, you must pay back the principle) and charging for the use of a thing, too; like selling a man a cake and then charging him additionally for each bite he takes. The Catholic position on usury is, bluntly, very complex. A number of theologians have approached the idea of interest on loans from a variety of viewpoints for, essentially, 2,000 years. Although there is disagreement on particulars (how much interest is ‘excessive’?) the basic ideas of just lending are fairly well defined. I will start with what is allowed.
A lender may charge reasonable fees for a loan or for exchanging money. A lender may charge a reasonable penalty for a late payment. Interest that is profit-based (i.e., the ‘loan’ is to purchase a share in a venture) is acceptable, especially if there is an ‘upper cap’ to the earned interest. Investment into public funds (like savings bonds, or t-bills) is acceptable. Loans where the lender shares in risk allow the lender to charge reasonable interest.
What is not allowed is to charge unreasonable interest in any form of loan. You may not charge interest on fee amounts or penalties. The more secure the loan, the less you may charge in interest and fees. If there is collateral held ‘in pledge’ you may not charge interest at all. You may not charge interest if the borrower is driven to a lender by necessity. The preferred manner of lending money that earns interest has always been for a productive venture where the lender shares the risk, such as buying a share in a new business. In this model interest is a share of profits, not a fee for the use of money. The modern stock market is seen by some as a violation of this, however, because investors often buy and sell stocks so rapidly that there is, effectively, very little shared risk. Under the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, the ‘best’ loan for interest would be a joint venture of local or regional investors (or global investors with shared values and a personal relationship) for a productive venture (a farm or factory, real estate development, mine, etc.) where the investors receive a fixed portion of net profits as interest and all share in the risk so that if the venture struggles they earn no interest and if it fails they do not regain their capital. Also, if there is a primary investor/owner, he should have the option of ‘buying out’ shareholders by repaying them their full initial investment in addition to any agreed shares of profits they may have already received. Similarly, interest-earning investments into public bonds, t-bills, and similar instruments is generally acceptable under the concept that the investment is funding the community as a whole. Certain cases (such as a municipal bond to fund the construction of a casino, or for a privately owned ballpark) are more problematic and require individual scrutiny.
The strongest debate on interest/usury is on loans for consumption. The primary examples of these sorts of loans are for family homes and cars. While homes increase in value, a person’s home does so so slowly (in general) and the need for a home is so great that the increase in value is certainly not the primary reason for investing; the primary reason to buy a home is to live there. A car decreases in value over time and is certainly not a productive purchase on its own (with a few exceptions). In almost all cases the lender has provisions to seize the home or car if payments are not made, making their risk very low; in the case of home loans, their risk can often be zero. Many theologians and ethicists that examine such loans argue that mortgage interest rates should be extremely low (on the order of 1-2% ) and others argue that no interest is acceptable at all, only fees. The most despised form of loan with interest is for necessities or passions. These are the use of credit cards to buy groceries, or a loan to a gambler. Their impaired will often leads such borrowers to ‘ruinous circumstances’, situations that usurious loans only make worse.Developing Distributism requires positive reinforcement Or, simply, you get more of what you incentivize. Edan will structure itself to encourage Distributism. Based as it is upon justice and the exercise of free will, Distributionism cannot be imposed. Some advocates of Distributionism argue that land should be seized and reapportioned equally; others want strong taxes on corporations and the wealthy with the tac receipts given to the poor. Both are against the core concepts of private property and free exercise of the will, respectively. Further, such actions would only break down or remove any feelings of solidarity between those who have their property and wages taken from them and those that receive them from no inherent virtue. Lastly, such actions would, by necessity, have to be performed by a national government, violating the spirit of subsidiarity. Distributism must be encouraged by just means.And the most important point for Edanians to remember-
12.There is no utopia, and there never will be. Edan is not and will not be a Utopian concept because there is no Utopia! Edan is an attempt to make a more-just society and nation than currently exists, no more and no less. No earthly system is perfect, nor will there ever be one. Distributism is not a ‘magic bullet’ that will cause the world to spontaneously break into universal peace, the immediate cessation of crime, or the permanent elimination of want and fear. It is an attempt to dampen the harmful excesses of laissez-faire Capitalism without resorting to plans that require the violation of human rights (Socialism) or the conjectured alteration of basic human nature (Communism), all while avoiding the tendency powerful central governments have of deciding that they know what is best for their citizens (Fascism). The tendencies of societies to shift to predatory Capitalism, confiscatory Socialism, authoritarian Fascism, or dictatorial Communism should be obvious. Forging a Distributist society will take time, effort, and some pain. Mistakes will be made, adjustments will be needed, and results will vary. The thing to remember is that the core ideas of Distributionism are the ones that matter; justice, solidarity, subsidiarity, and personal responsibility are the key elements. The details of how to reach a society that embodies those principles will certainly change over time.And, finally, a list of suggestions on starting down the path to being a Distributist.A. Avoid and eliminate debt. Debt is a pressure that limits your freedom of choice and drains your future earning.B. Shop in a Distributist manner. Farmers' Markets, co-ops, Community Supported Agriculture, buying directly from cattle and hog producers, wholesales purchasing from manufacturers, etc. These can often lead to lower costs because you are eliminating middle-menC. Save your money. This should be self-evident.D. Switch to a credit unionE. Increase your self-sufficiency. Increase your skills with tools, computers, etc. Plant a garden, make your own beer, use your saved money to accumulate tools and practice to acquire the skills to produce furniture, etc. Think often of 'how can I/my family do this for myself/ourselves?'.F. Increase your Solidarity. Get to know your neighbors, even the people two and three doors down. Ask them what they are good at, explain what you are good at. Learn self-sufficiency from them; barters services; teach them skills you have and they lack.G. Plan. List the skills and assets you think you need to be self-sufficient and plan on how to acquire them; do the same on working for yourself instead of for someone else. Stick to the plan, routinely review and adjust the plan.Now – go and start making a better country!

Sep 29, 2012

The Scourge of Materialism

[From HRH Jonathan]
What is the greatest scourge that has struck the Church and all other bastions of traditional thought in the last half-millenium? Of all the immoral, false philosophies to count their birth in that time, which has done the most damage to our thought? Some would say progressivism, and point to all the people who have been lured away from the truth by its honeyed face; others would point to capitalism, and all the lives it has wrecked; many would say communism, even though it has little affected the Church herself; some would say socialism, and others objectivism, and there would always be a happy few who would point angrily at nationalism, liberalism, and statism, and bask in the fact that they are far more right than all the others. In truth, however, none of these are the philosophy that I am looking for. They have all done their damage, and they all have their deadly flaws, but there is one that stands above them all as the crowning achievement of the heretics of the last 5 centuries. There is one philosophy which has wormed its hold in so tightly around every philosophy, even every thought, of modern times that there are very many within the Church that do not realize that they too have fallen prey to it. This horrid philosophy, this pernicious outlook, this great thought that has attacked and absorbed so many others; is Materialism.
Materialism; the view of life that places the greatest emphasis upon the physical, the worldly, the material. The great destroyer of virtue; perhaps the most stolid and ferocious enemy of Christian thought. Materialism is an outlook that directs all our thought and energy to the matter of the world: how we dress, how we eat, how much we earn, how much we have, how we measure our success in the wide world of the Mundus Mundanus.
From my (admittedly limited) studies of the matter, I believe that the predominance of Materialism has more to do with coincidence and the machinations of the Adversary than any human agenda. Calvin and the tyrannical Henry VIII, with their prosperity theology and worldly base, began a trend of focusing upon the material that was exacerbated and amplified a hundredfold by generation upon generation of protestant theologian, rationally-inclined merchant, and atheist philosopher. It was carried throughout the lands and cultures of Europe until it became almost unspoken, and then it was used as the basis of the Enlightenment and associated revolutions, and then it was too late.
When you look around at the modern world surrounding us with a Catholic perspective, you will see this horrific doctrine applied everywhere. Turn your television onto any channel for 10 minutes, take a good look at the place where you buy your food, pick a library book at random and read it for a few pages, or study even a single article of modern political dialogue; do any of these things with a clear head, and you are likely to be horrified.
And that does not even begin to take into account the things that the devout materialists of the atheist world around you do. Plastic surgery, lewd clothing, brutal business practices, redefinition of marriage in politics; and these are just the nicer things. It goes from there to abortion and transgenderism, for after all, what are we but material?

“But,” you say helpfully, “those are things that atheists and protestants do, the Church still stands same as ever.”. Well, you are mostly correct; the Church still preaches against, and has carefully worked against, all these things. The problem, however, is that Materialism has wormed its way into the face of the era so totally that it cannot be avoided.
It is a struggle that we must put our backs into daily to live our lives by a compass of God, and not the world; and like all such struggles, our mortal fabrication makes even the greatest of us fail on occasion. The teachings of the Church may still stand the same, but her followers must fight against the rest of the world to follow them.
How often have you measured something by the material above the spiritual? How many times have you used cost, pleasure, or appearance to judge the worth of a thing that should have been measured by merit, positive effect, or religion? There is no avoiding it. Often we must choose between acting Materialistically or Christianly, and the former is always easier and always more encouraged.

Ending this paradigm is not something that can be done partway; a compromising position between Materialism and Catholicism will inevitably swing in favor of one or the other. We must do our best to defeat Materialism, not just avoid it. Since the world goes against us, let us go against the world.

Sep 4, 2012

HRM Jennifer on Hobbies of a Lady

Recently a prospective citizen asked HRM Jennifer,
  "What are proper hobbies for a lady?"
  Her Majesty's response is copied here.
"Traditionally, of course, ladies were encouraged to learn needlework and embroidery, play a musical instrument and/or sing, draw or paint, and be attentive to written correspondence.  I believe these hobbies were thought to be noble because they did not involve base labor, but were about creating beauty and cultivating relationships, which are both very feminine ideals.  I think, in our modern world, we can expand those concepts a little bit to include other, more labor-intensive tasks associated with creating beauty in our homes and for the people around us, including sewing, fiber crafts, home decorating, gardening, even cooking and baking.  Photography could be a modern addition to painting and drawing, a way to capture and catalog the beauty around us.  Keeping written journals, of your thoughts and life events, nature, current events, all could leave a lasting legacy, especially in our digital age.  Reading, studying, and increasing your knowledge and understanding of God's world is also always a noble pursuit.  Working and assisting those less fortunate than you can be a valuable use of time and energy, especially for single women.  In my opinion, exploring the talents God gave you is almost always a good and proper thing, so be sure to be true to yourself and your interests in your hobbies.  Remember to keep in mind the ideals of beauty and relationships, avoid those things which are crass or immodest, and always seek God's glory."

Aug 30, 2012

The Loss of the True Hero

[From HRH Jonathan]

All through our life, we are told stories. Young children have been told stories before they go to sleep since time immemorial, and storyteller is one of the oldest universal professions; being found everywhere from Scandinavia to China. This is because stories have power. It has been known that a good story can influence human thought since good stories have been told. Men have lived for stories, died for stories, and dedicated themselves to what ultimately comes down to nothing more than a story. It disturbs me, then, that the most important and most influencing part of the story has been so changed in the last century. The Hero has been lost, for what is now claimed to be the hero is in truth a different creature entirely.

Let us look at the modern, “hero,” who first appeared in the 1940s and 50s, but has come to true dominance today. Let us look at the protagonists loved and embodied in popular culture today. Ignoring for a moment the diabolical trend of the anti-hero, let us look at famous fictional characters such as Iron Man or Spider-man or the Doctor or any of the other heroes so popular now.
These are characters that you look at and say, “That could be me.” You watch them or read about them, and in all their actions you always think how you would be so similar if you were in there shoes. If you were Iron Man or Spider-man, you would party and abuse your power until the very moment when the chips came down. You look and think, “Wow, they have flaws just like me. They could be me. Why, all I need is superpowers or to be the survivor of an apocalyptic event, and I could be just like them!”
Now contrast this with what a hero has always been. This archetype, which still survives today, but is shrinking and shrinking with each passing year, is a character you see and say, “I wish I could be like that.” You read and you watch, and as the character develops, you think about how wonderful it could be if you emulated the character. You see characters like Beowulf or Gawain, and wonder silently to yourself whether you would be like them or like their enemies if you had their power and strength. The traditional hero makes you think, “Wow, look at what they are willing to do. If I could be even a little like that, maybe I could be pretty good too.”

The difference is small, but it is critical. Unless we try very hard to prevent it, identification with a fictional character will change the way we think. The difference between thinking, “All I need is a power, then I'll be a hero.” and thinking “All I need is virtue, then I'll be like a hero.” is vast. The fact is that few among mankind could be heroes if they had the opportunity, and that number will be far fewer when those who see the opportunity think that the only difference between a hero and a man is strength.
The hero of a story should be a tool of the storyteller to make his audience think of how much they could improve if they made themselves like this unattainable archetype, not a tool to reassure them that their lives aren't that bad. The larger than life archetype of inspiring virtue has been replaced with an exactly realistic archetype of just some man who barely holds it together as a moral person. In the name of realism and a good story, what the story is supposed to be has been destroyed.

And it makes sense, when you think about it, that the story would be destroyed in modern times. Just look and remember for a moment what I wrote in my previous article. The paradigm of democratic thought will not bear something to be possible for one group and impossible for another. If we can't make everyone as virtuous as heroes, then we shall make heroes as virtuous as everyone. The larger than life is no longer greeted with a chuckle at worst and an inspiring thought at best, but with a scowl every time; because it reminds modern philosophy that it is wrong, and there are some people who achieve what others never could.
So please, save the hero. Save the archetype, the ideal, the impossible dream. Characters such as Captain America prove that he has not died yet, but for every Luke Skywalker we get 2 Katniss Everdeens, and the spiral will reach its destructive conclusion before long. Everyone needs something that they can look up to, and if even one young boy is saved from nihilistic despair by an archetypical hero, than it will be more than worth making the stories just a little bit less interesting than they could be.

Aug 20, 2012

The Flattening of Society

[from HRH Jonathan]

The revolutions and idealogical upheavals of the late 18th century did indeed accomplish more than most monarchists give them credit for. Although it may be true that they were little more than lawbreaking thieves and tyrants, they did cause an event of a sort rarely seen anywhere in the history of the world. A gross and total shift in the ideals and beliefs of an entire cultural group; that is the legacy of the revolution.
It was a shift that seems at first glance to be impossibly sudden and dramatic in comparison to other such events, but that is because we do not take in the whole picture. It is impossible to understand any historical event without understanding the event that preceded it, and the history of the revolutions in America and Europe is sadly often without this background.
The foundation for the change was built by the Protestant Reformation. The rejection of authority and dissent against the ruling paradigm that were the result of that upheaval led to several strains of thought which could not have existed if Catholicism had remained supreme in the West. Then, for a time, the larval forms of what we would now call nationalism, statism, and colonialism were the dominant forms of new thought.
It was through that that the revolutionary ideas were eventually born. It was against the fiery national spirit, constrictive statism, and cruel colonialism that the revolutions of England, France, and America were first conceived to fight. They were created in reaction to a paradigm that had become cruel and faltering through no fault of its own.
The feudal structures and hierarchical symbols that remained in Protestantized countries at the time were truly broken governmental mechanisms, but it was not their fault. The idealogical foundation upon which they had been built had been removed; any system subjected to that will break. The great revolutionary thinkers, however, did not realize this. They attempted to overturn feudalism, religion, and every other old way of running things because they envisioned them as all being constrictive and tyrannical, when the opposite was indeed the case.
The resulting Enlightenment philosophy and doctrine drove the violent revolutions in France and America, which inspired the rest of Europe to change their ways.
A paradigm of Catholic thought and feudal hierarchy was overturned in less than a decade. A handful of radical thinkers at the edge of society managed to thrust their beliefs to the center stage of public thought in what was, in historical terms, an instant. Equality, liberty, and brotherhood; autonomy, independence, and uniqueness; atheism, progressivism, and modernism; all are but the long-lived fruit of that movement.
We all know this, even if we do not realize it. Even if you have never, ever thought of this directly, those philosophical beliefs have influenced you. This probably isn't shocking to anyone. What I do find shocking as I run into it, and what has disturbed me over the last year and a half as I have begun to notice it, is how deeply the concepts of the revolutions have penetrated.

Like all complete beliefs, there is a deep, underlying assumption to revolutionary values. Just as Catholicism is only what it is due to a belief in the words and life of Christ, the philosophy of the revolution exists as a side effect of a certain belief. This conceptual locus has never been named, only its derivatives have ever had the honor, but it might easily be called the Philosophy of Self.
The Philosophy of Self is, in fact, a simple belief. It takes the ages-old truths that no person is inherently morally better than another and each person is entitled to their just measure of freedom, and transmogrifies them into idealogical giants. Using these things as the basis, not a derivative, of their thought, the revolutionaries returned to the basic questions of morality that had been answered eons before.
The doctrine resulting from that line of thought, and the movements that it inspired, are common knowledge. What does not appear to be common knowledge, however, is how deeply the Philosophy of Self permeates every single aspect of society in the modern age.

The core message of the revolutionary Philosophy is one of individuality. What the writers and instigators of the revolutions may not of realized is that by using equality and freedom as the most basic belief, they were making it the highest belief.

This would not have been a problem for other groups if revolutionary thought had gone through the stages of evolution normally embraced by a new philosophy. But of course, that did not happen.

The Philosophy of Self is a pernicious dogma to hold. Like all great ideas and successfully ideologies, it has a sort of appeal to it. It appeals to human nature. The philosophies of the revolutionaries have a unique sort of invocation of our desires to be free and unbound by rules, and they even have a sort of call towards our compassion and charity. After all, should not the lowest be as free as the highest? Is it proper that the strong rule by virtue of their own strength?
This appeal, coupled with the violence surrounding its early rise, gave the Philosophy a sort of momentum that carried it through the world. First it changed the governments of Europe, then that continent's economic and moral opinions, then it associated itself with progress and science. This continued and continued, and continues to this very day.
The Philosophy of Self has inserted itself into every aspect of our current lives. It has taken over religion, first within Protestant churches, then through the opinions of some within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church; to say nothing of Judaism. It has trickled into culture, both current and classic. Even the literary romantics, who nominally were against the Enlightenment, used themes of self-determination and individual expression with reckless abandon.
How many times has fiction impressed upon you the importance of going against the flow? How often is the message of the day something about how hierarchy and separation are bad? How much have you internalized it?
The revolutionary Philosophy even became central to the assorted States of the West just as the countries of the West began to think of themselves as States. Because of that, all fervor, all dedication, all politics, all dialogue, all patriotism; every single action within the political sphere became contingent upon and dedicated to the Philosophy of Self. Everyone with even a spark of dedication to their country sooner or later has to embrace modern thought now.

But enough explanations, let us study the effects of this eminently curious development.

First we shall look at the example that strikes closest to home for me, and probably will for most of you; let us look at what this has done to the Catholic Church. How and what has happened are subtle, but cannot be ignored. Parish councils, altar girls, political discourse, increased focus upon the nun and the lay over the priest and the monk, nationalist tendencies. If you look at all the things that began roughly half a century ago that were never before seen within the Church and see the entirety of what has happened, you will realize that those branches which are truly heretical are only the tip of the iceberg.
The Philosophy of Self, you see, cannot bear to see one of its believers differentiated from the others in any way. If all are equal, and it is all about personal expression, then how can one person be capable of an expression that others are not? In some areas and minds the Philosophy is strong, and churches have been excommunicated due to truly heretical actions; in others it is weak, and we see only minor effects, building up in such a way that we do not realize their existence.

This is far from the only effect of the slow conversion of the West as a whole. Look at the military, where even the eternal necessity of and dedication to pragmatism have done nothing to prevent women from being exposed to the greatest of dangers. Look at the hoops that countless thinkers have jumped through to justify religious pluralism; the constant efforts to insist that everyone holds the fullness of the truth, even when they disagree.
Look too at the most horrible and disastrous of the effects as the arguments of the revolution are taken to their logical extremes. Transgenderism, homosexuality, radical feminism, etc. If is possible and allowed to one group, it must, under the Philosophy of Self, be possible and allowed to all.

I look around and see a world where every barrier is being leveled and every rule broken, no matter how many reasons they had for being in place. I see a possible future totally counter to human nature. And what is most terrible is that because this is the Way Things Are, it is almost impossible to see. Even we of the royal family cannot truly escape these ideas, because they are literally everywhere.
One of the goals of Edan must be to enact a paradigm shift away from these beliefs, no matter how localized. Because until that happens and the cycle of the Philosophy of Self is broken to at least a few, the revolutions that fought the Church will still stand victorious.

Jun 28, 2012

Feudalism, Anarchy and Libertarianism

[from HRH Jonathan]

Anarchism is an interesting way of looking at the world. “Governments can only oppress,” says the Anarchist, “there is no need for governmental power and authority, so all it does is control and limit.” Now, there are problems with this philosophy which I will address below. Another fascinating political philosophy is Libertarianism, which is closely related to Anarchy. “Freedom and the respect of individual rights is the highest good,” says the Libertarian, “governments should only exist to defend those things, and stay away from other people's business.” There are problems here, too, of course. Then I come along and, in the articles immediately below this one, declare that a better paradigm of government is Feudalism, where you can enter into citizenship only by agreement, and can remain free of any government by just not swearing an oath.
Feudalism,although a newer word, is the way things worked before, and it is the way things should work now. Interestingly, it can easily be interpreted through the modern eye as a form of Anarchism or Libertarianism, which it is not. I think that it is important to show how it is not Anarchism or Libertarianism now, before people start getting the wrong ideas. Because Anarchism is foolishness, and true Libertarianism in its fullness cannot be reconciled with the Catholic position.
First, a little background on the arguments I am opposed to here. Anarchism is the belief that all government is inherently evil and disruptive. They say that it exists only to allow the few to exercise power over the many. There are many different flavors of Anarchism. Some say that there would be no need for law if capitalism could go unrestricted, others say that Communism can only rise from a state of anarchy, and still others hold that any regulation of human freedom at all, even the outlawing of such things as prostitution and hard drug use, is an inherent evil.
Libertarianism is closely related to this, often being little more than a half-step between Anarchism and sanity. Most hold that government should only exist to safeguard the rights of the people, and place no limits upon the people they are the government of. Others believe that government should be entirely voluntary, which is basically what we at Edan believe, but almost never manage to separate themselves from the pure freedom beliefs of Libertarianism at large.
Now, both of these things (but Anarchism in particular) make no sense when looked at through the great lens of history. If anarchy is the proper state of man, then why has government developed everywhere? If government is the only thing holding us back, then why did the Huns produce no great advances in science and art? If total freedom is the natural state of man, then why has Anarchist thought only existed for about 300 years? Everyone was free to choose to not be a part of a country or society, but almost no one did. Because anarchy stared people in the face each and every day. Everyone in ancient times knew the cost of anarchy, and no one was willing to pay it.
Simple common sense is even more destructive to Anarchism, and to a lesser extent Libertarianism. If there should be no government, only corporations, then who would defend those corporations from pirates and thieves? Security companies? What would be stopping those security companies from killing off their competition to form a monopoly? Would that really be market forces at work? If freedom is all that the government should provide, then what about the good of the people? Would you really allow slavery, indentured prostitution, and monopolies to form? And no, the Market will not prevent those things from coming about, it never has. If government will only ensure freedom, then what do you do when over-fishing or environmental destruction are perpetrated? Only a central authority can keep a business from doing those things, and the market actually naturally drives towards those things, not away from them.
But above all, what is most important is what the Church has to say about these things. She has always said that there must be a government to safeguard the people, and has never said that all governments should be disintegrated, so Anarchism is out. But what about Libertarianism? There are many people who try to be both Catholic and Libertarian, but I say that this is impossible. Let us consider, for example, marriage. The Church teaches very clearly that the only thing that is marriage is a union between 1 man and 1 woman, yet Libertarianism says that it doesn't matter what kind or number of people is involved, its none of the governments business. How do you reconcile these 2 points? The Church teaches very clearly that prostitution is an evil that should not be stopped whenever possible, yet Libertarianism says that it is just another form of business, and the government should have nothing to do with it. How do you wed these perspectives? And if you say you are a Libertarian, but only believe that business should be unregulated, you are not truly a Libertarian, but rather a free-market capitalist. Real Libertarians believe that nothing should be regulated. No matter my personal thoughts on the matter, it is quite possible to be a pure capitalist and a Catholic.
But still, there is the question, how does this mean that Edan does not espouse Anarchism or Libertarianism? I said it myself, all government aught to be voluntary, so how am I not one a believer in one of the two philosophies I've spent the article fighting? The answer is quite simple, Feudalism is not an attempt at no government, or as little government as possible, and it was not founded because freedom is the highest good. Feudalism is merely a different sort of government. It may be purely voluntary, but it runs on the assumption that everyone will be a part of something. Throughout most of history, this assumption has been perfectly correct, because the average person knew the terrible price that would have to be payed for perfect freedom. When anarchy is a stone's throw away from you, you understand why there is government. So Edan embraces Feudalism because it is a better form of government, and hates Anarchism because it is but foolishness that will perish at the first sign of reality.

May 24, 2012

Problems with Nation-States, part 2

[From HRH Jonathan]
    Let us now return to our discussion of nation-states, for that issue has not been concluded in part 1. I will open this second article on the matter with a pair of seemingly random questions: What does it mean to be free, and what is sovereignty? The first question will seem familiar, although the answer may be alien, and the second question will seem alien, but the answer will be very familiar. Thus I discuss them in the first place, for their meanings have been obscured by the paradigm in which we live.
          What is freedom? The only word to ehich you might receive more varied answers from people is 'humanity'. Some say that it is the simple ability to travel, act, and speak as you wish. That is technically true for some definitions of freedom, but is more accurately termed liberty, and is not the form of freedom I wish to discuss. Others would say it is the ability to do whatever you want, no matter what that may be. This is called license, or more accurately within politics, anarchy, and is a mutation of the freedom I am trying to touch upon. A few people would say that freedom is independence from those that would control you. This is a fascinating answer that is far closer to the truth than than any of the others, but it is still slightly off. When referring to 'freedom' within a society it cannot be truly defined until you know the answer to the second question.
          What is sovereignty? Do you know? It is in fact a word with many meanings, most of them implied. It can mean the authority of a leader, autonomy, excellence, control, or (interestingly enough) freedom from authority. So, in just one sentence the question we had so much difficulty answering (What is societal freedom?) falls into place. Sovereignty is legal control, the authority of controlling a segment of society, the purest power within society. It should be clear, then, that the only way to be truly free is to be sovereign over one's self.
          How, you may be wondering, does this tie in with nation-states? Simply. Within a nation-state system it is impossible to be truly free.
          Is it possible to be truly self-sovereign when you are born into citizenship? Is it possible to truly be free when the laws you abide by and the government you must obey are controlled only by place? Are you free when you must present papers and identifiers simply to travel where you wish? Are you independent enough to honestly be called a free man when you are forced into a social contract against your will? Are you sovereign when those same social contracts are implied, meaning they may change and grow at any time with no chance of control by you? No, no, no, no, and no. Indeed, throughout most of history these restrictions have been placed upon a single class of people only; slaves. Nation-states are unjust because they force people to surrender their sovereignty. Self-sovereignty is the truest measure of freedom, and not a single person possesses a scrap of it within a modern nation-state. If you cannot choose your own loyalties then you are a slave, a shift in language does not change that.
          In a feudal-state, on the other hand, self-sovereignty is all that there is. Higher loyalties are established only by oath, that is; sovereignty over others is gained only by agreement. Instead of having your citizenship determined by birth, it is determined purely by who you swear to obey. The social contract is a formalized mechanic in feudalism, not an unspoken effect, which leads to increased stability because no one can disagree on what the contract entails like they do today. In feudalism free men are free not just to go where they want, say what they want, and (within reason) do what they want, they are also capable of placing their loyalties where they want, even if that is nowhere.
          Feudalism is what Edan embraces. A truer form of freedom is what we strive for. The only way to become a citizen is to swear your allegiance to the King, the Constitution, and all authorities derived from them. You are not born or forced into the deal. Edan is not a place or even a system, it is an idea - an idea embodied  by the people who owe their allegiance to it. Edan is wherever his citizens are because they have agreed that is so. That is the goal of Edan, a world of sovereign individuals working together. A more just, more humane world, which can only be attained by feudalism.

May 4, 2012

Problems with Nation-States, part 1

[From HRH Jonathan]
  Anyone looking at Edan from the outside, or, more properly, from the inside of the modern paradigm, is liable to be some combination of confused, shocked, and uncomprehending at the traits we have given our Kingdom. Male-only suffrage has been addressed, aristocracy has been addressed, and many of our unspoken assumptions have been addressed, but there is a glaring omission in our discussion of Edan's paradigm; the fact that we are not a nation-state. All modern countries that exist as more than a scattering of refugees are nation-states, certainly the entire first world is composed of them, and to the best of my knowledge all other micronations have nation-statehood as their aim. But not us!
The immediate response/thought on this from most of you, the readers, is going to be a resounding, "What?" The reason for that is quite simple. Unless you are an advanced student of esoteric political theory, you may not even really know what the precise definition of a nation-state is, let alone how a country can not be one. I will address this. To describe a nation-state, I will ask you a simple question: what is a country? The most technically correct answer is, "Whatever a group of people who want to have/be a country say it is." but that is hardly an actual description.
Throughout most of the world and most of history, a country has been a group of people who pledge their allegiance to a common leader, and all the assets they collectively control. But in the mid-late colonial era Europe encountered a problem. That definition did not work any more. The reason for this was two-fold. First of all, they were colonial powers, who controlled vast swaths of land and huge numbers of people who had never granted their allegiance to anyone who controlled them now, even when colonization was accomplished peacefully. Secondly, and perhaps more insidiously, in many cases the common leader, the King, had been done away with and replaced with a shifting democratic government, leaving them with no one to pledge their allegiance to in the first place. So they redefined their countries. Redefined them to mean an area of land controlled by a particular government.

This had many interesting effects, some of which have been discussed here before. {that "before" should be a link to my 2011 article "Nation-states and War"} It changed the game considerably. In prior times, national borders were ill-defined, rarely more precise than, "That river marks our border," or, "Beyond the mountains it is your domain," and many countries would be mixed-together, as it were. In the north of modern-day France, for example, you could be French, Norman, or Burgundian depending entirely on what language you spoke and what allegiance you gave. There were even villages where multiple nationalities lived side by side on their identical homeland soil! Now, though, this was impossible. France and Burgundy were lines on a map; on one side you had to be French and on the other you had to be Burgundian, or else you would be kicked out for crossing to a land that wasn't "yours". Modern diplomacy is built around nation-statehood, how else can embassies work the way they do? Modern economics are built around nation-statehood, how else could international shipping even make sense? Politics, war, theory, research, laws, all subject to, and built on, nation-statehood.
So what in the world would a more traditional country look like? What would it even be called? The fact is that there are dozens of paradigms now forgotten, and all of them were dramatically different, but in the end they are all just a form of Feudalism. Not Feudalism as you almost certainly think of it, but what Feudalism actually is.  A paradigm based entirely upon loyalty, where a nation exists only as its citizens. A system where nationality and citizenship were derived purely from the oaths and loyalty given by each individual. This is Edan's goal; a more natural, human system.
Such a Feudal-state is totally alien to the way things work today. Even I, who have thought about it so very much, can barely comprehend what it would look like. Citizenship would be fluid, and borders would only be closed to those who had been exiled. Things that would be totally nonsensical in a nation-state paradigm, like officers commissioning in multiple armies or areas of land going ungoverned, would be commonplace. You would need not be naturalized into citizenship, joining a country is as simple as swearing your loyalty to it. When someone was given governing authority over something, it would not be over this jagged shape on a map, but over the area between these 5 landmarks, and all the people and things within it. A more natural system, with fewer rules, not because of any active effort to be simpler, but because those few rules are all you need.
That is what Edan will look like when we become real. We will not claim a place on a map or a region of the globe, we will claim all that our citizens owe to the Kingdom. Our domain will not be a place, but a people.
Still, the question remains, why? Why would we depart so far from what is known? Why would we select this system over all the others? Because we hold it as better. A more natural system that is easier to grasp, easier to work with, and in the long run simply easier to have around. Because it is an incredibly stable paradigm, where countries cannot truly be destroyed or collapse, but just go away for a little while. And because it is the paradigm that everyone who has ever felt frustration over visa paperwork or international bureaucracy has secretly wanted. A more human system, for a more human paradigm.

Apr 30, 2012

An Essay from HRM Jennifer on Voting and Society

One of the seemingly shocking things about the Edanian constitution is the lack of women's suffrage. King Richard is fond of noting that it was actually his Queen who initially insisted that women should not have the right to vote in Edan. This statement is often met with disbelief, but in this, my first essay as Queen, I am pleased to confirm King Richard's remarks.

As I address some of the reasons behind my exhortations and the decisions of our King as he developed the constitution, please remember that we are speaking only of Edan. I make no assertions or assumptions about women's suffrage in America or anywhere else in our current world. Many things unique to the culture we hope to build in Edan make the lack of women's voting sensible and just in our micronation, but we do not speak for situations and cultures outside of our own.

Let me make clear that in our micronation, the limits placed upon the Edanian vote in no way impede women's dignity, human rights, or freedoms. As Edanians, and Catholics, we believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings, male and female, from conception to natural death. But the modern assumption that being equal means being the same is a fallacy that we Edanians must recognize as the evil it is.

First of all, let us remember that Edan is a constitutional monarchy. We are governed by a King who is not elected, and our local rulers are appointed by our King, not by vote. We do have an elected Senate, but the duties of these elected officials are to guarantee that the common people will always have a voice, even in the event of a tyrant or a calcified aristocracy. In fact, much of the Edanian constitution is devoted to limiting the power of elected officials while maintaining some general public forum to protect our future from being diminished or destroyed by one mad or corrupt King. So we must remember in this discussion of suffrage that an Edanian vote is not central to our governance, unlike the modern capitalistic or socialist democracies we are accustomed to.

But history has shown us that in all democracies, eventually a vote becomes something that can be bought. Bought by wealth or bought by charisma or even bought by something more nefarious, it is still subject to coercion, whether conscious or not. When every citizen has the right to vote, suddenly an entire society and culture can be bought (and made bankrupt). Or, even more frighteningly, as we see in the bipartisan America, a vote becomes "us vs. them" and true debate and progress are stifled.  We believe that if we allow the voice of women in Edan to remain pure and unsullied by political infighting and the lures of coercion, Edan will have an unparalleled asset. Culturally, we will promote the ideal of a strong woman's voice, and women will be encouraged to enter into political debate and even run for office (note that in Edan, while women cannot vote, there is no restriction on women holding elected office). Knowing that we will have a chorus of individuals whose vote cannot be bought means that the ideas they put forth will have more merit, more weight, and will provide a needed balance to the necessary political wrangling that comes from the voting process.

In addition, we believe that it is important that the voting class knows that their vote isn't just a vote for themselves, but also a vote for their wives, daughters, mothers, and grandmothers. Even the seemingly-unfair limitation on single women will be balanced by the actions of responsible single men.  In this way, a vote will not be simply a one to one trade, my vote for whatever will be given to me. A vote will become more precious and more meaningful and more forward-thinking, rather than a selfish choice based upon immediate desires. Thus, the voter will be less susceptible to the political pressures and frustrations that unfortunately prevail in the world of universal suffrage.

But why is it that women do not have the right to vote, rather than men? Because it is natural that women be the voice of reason in society, as a women's inherent nature recognizes relationship more fully. Whether mothers in fact or not, a woman's physiology and psychology are ordered toward motherhood. This allows women to see differently than a man. As Blessed John Paul II said in MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, "Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman's womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and "understands" with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the "beginning", the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings - not only towards her own child, but every human being - which profoundly marks the woman's personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more." By ensuring that the voices of women cannot be purchased or influenced by those seeking her vote, Edan will be blessed with a class of women who not only have the natural attendance to relationship that allows them to more clearly see the impact of society's choices, but also can speak freely about what they see as right and just because they are not susceptible to voting pressures. In contrast, the masculine hormones and physical strength indicate that men are physiologically and psychologically more suited to the direct wielding of authority and dealing with harsh politics. By working within our God-given natures, society will benefit from the best that men and women have to offer.

As I have shown, the thought behind the lack of women's suffrage in Edan is not one of restriction upon, or lack of respect for women. Quite the opposite, it is the elevation of the feminine voice to one that is truly meaningful, and can contribute to all of our society, rather than be reduced to simply another button to be pushed in the voting booth.  

Apr 9, 2012

Happy Easter

 The Royal Family wishes all Edanians a happy Easter Season!

Apr 1, 2012

Happy Constitution Day!

  Today is Constitution Day, the celebration of the finalization of the Edanian Constitution. Since this year's Constitution Day falls on a Sunday, it is observed tomorrow, but we wish to take this time to announce our newest citizen, Peter. Welcome, Peter, to Edan.

Mar 22, 2012

Aristocracy and Society, part 2

As discussed in part I, equality of people means that all people are equal in their basic human rights; no more. In other areas people vary, often widely, in areas of physical and mental ability. This results, naturally and justly, into hierarchies among men in any group, institution or society.
When this tendency toward hierarchy is understood for what it is, the natural response of all people to differences in ability, it is no more or less than part of culture and society. In several cultures this has even been part of an attempt to create a meritocracy where there were incentives for certain abilities and checks on others, or on inabilities,with the goal of quantifying and controlling hierarchies in society for the greater good of all. The traditional Chinese civil service, for example, was based upon a series of formal exams so that the intelligent and well-educated would be promoted to positions of influence and even power.
Most of these attempts at a meritocracy fail over time, however, or reveal some very interesting facts about human nature. For example, the Chinese civil service became a bed of corruption were posts were bought and sold. The armies of Napoleon were based upon meritocracy – promotion and leadership were based upon proven ability to fight, to lead and a demonstrated grasp of tactics and strategy. Napoleon's goal was to have leaders selected based upon merit and proven success. In the end, however, all of his meritocratically-chosen marshals were defeated by the Duke of Wellington, a man who had literally purchased most of his promotions.
As much as Western democracies may speak of all people being equal they are, in the end, all attempts at meritocracies. What are political campaigns but attempts to demonstrate that a particular candidate is better-suited to lead than all others? Many democracies have accepted, if unwritten, 'minimum standards' for political leaders as far as where they were educated, careers before entering politics, hobbies, etc. This forms an unacknowledged aristocracy within democracies, an aristocracy of education and background, of outlook and hobbies.
While the level of ability between a formal and informal aristocracy may be similar, these unacknowledged aristocracies are inferior to recognized aristocracies for three reasons; training, accountability, and responsibility. In a formal aristocratic class, members are aware from a very early age that they are expected to be not just privileged but also responsible, responsible to society as a whole to lead politically, socially and morally. This responsibility is accompanied by accountability; all levels of society know what is expected of the aristocracy, so failure to live up to cultural expectations strikes directly at the very elite status of the aristocrat. Indeed, it can be argued that the decline of aristocratic elites in Europe was tied to a chronic failure to be moral and ethical exemplars as well as a failure to lead politically. Naturally, the combination of responsibility and accountability leads to a lifetime of training for the role of being a leader and an example.
In contrast, the informal aristocracies of the modern democracies haven't these same expectations and there for lack the lifetime of preparation for leadership.
As mentioned before, no system is perfect, and aristocracies are prone to decline and corruption in the absence of a strong moral code. Of course, we have seen that democracies are more prone to this same decline and seem to have a tendency to reject the sorts of moral codes that would prevent this decline and/or lead to periodic renewal of aristocratic virtues.
But this is, we believe, why micronations tend to adopt aristocracies; an acknowledgement of not just Man's need for hierarchy, but an understanding that a formal leadership class is more likely to provide and maintain a strong ethical structure for society as a whole as well as give more stable long-term leadership than other systems. But such groups must be aware that the inescapable consequences of being an aristocrat are increased responsibilities and accountability.

Jan 23, 2012

Aristocracy and Society, part 1

[from HRH Jonathan]
The Modern Western World demands a form of total equality of everyone exposed to it's touch, an idea that has become ubiquitous. Popular entertainment, education, and such all decry sexism and racism as evil while otherwise denying the possibility of objective morality. Discrimination is painted as one of the greatest of crimes.
However, there are problems with this attitude on the subject. Some forms of discrimination, such as attacks on certain religions or regions, are ignored or even celebrated (can you imagine the stereotypes of American Southerners being as broadly condemned as stereotypes or, say, American Blacks?). Another problem is far more insidious; the belief that any form of stratified social structure or other limitations based on personal status are discrimination.
This is an argument against aristocracies about as old as the French Revolution. There is a pervading vision of the Middle Ages as a time of oppression, with very wealthy and very haughty nobles lording their status over the poor serfs, women being held as completely useless for everything except childbirth, and paranoid kings declaring war on anyone who doesn't share their exact beliefs, a "Dark Age'. Continuing this popular myth, it is also thought that the revolution of democracy reversed this cruel situation of tyranny. All men were finally treated justly, women were finally not just property, governments became inherently enlightened. Of course, this popular myth is just that - myth. Historians don't use the term 'Dark Ages', bad kings were the exception, some of the richest and most powerful people of the Middle Ages were women, etc. But the myth lives on, stronger than reality in the common wisdom.
There are 2 very similar myths commonly held that are perpetuated by, and in turn empower, the concept of feminism. First is the idea that somehow before about 1965 or so women were not allowed to get an education or work outside the home but were kept in a type of slavery in the kitchen. The other is that that any differences between the sexes other than those necessary to reproduction are strictly non-physical social constructs.
Actually, women were receiving excellent educations at college for centuries before the coining of the term 'feminist'; from the Seven Sisters in America to the various women's colleges in Europe women did, yes, have opportunities for advancement in academia and the professional world. As far as work outside the home, women have always done so - throughout urban life the goal of women was being lucky and successful enough to only work in the home. To illustrate this point, the only woman to win the American Medal of Honor was an Army Doctor - in the American Civil War.
There are, or course, irrefutably obvious differences between the sexes beyond the obvious. Differences in musculature, vision, digestion, even neurochemistry. To admit than men are naturally stronger than women no more makes one superior to the other than does the admission that women have better balance than men. But to deny these realities makes it much easier to deny other things, such as the fact that boys and girls are ready to learn certain topics at different ages so holding both to the same academic standards at young ages is an error. With the dozens of differences in physical and mental form and ability, is it truly oppressive and wrong that there are social and political differences?
The claim is that men have discriminated against women throughout history, because in traditional societies men occupy higher positions in the business, politics, warfare, and religion, while women were focused into caring for families misses the point. The division of labor that makes the family the core of society and civilization leads naturally to such divisions at the larger level, as well. While men may dominate politics, women dominate societal norms, an area that arguably has much more actual influence on say-to-day life.
And we must at all times remember the great rule: There are exceptions to every rule when it comes to people. St. Claire, Elizabeth II, and Boudicca all show that in staunchly patriarchal societies women, too, have political and military leadership roles to fill. Thus it is a gender role, not a gender rule. And this gender dynamic has always been in place for a very good reason: There are exceptions to every rule, but in terms of a majority it is still a rule. Though people such as Saint Joan of Arc or Fa Mulan exist, and are perhaps more common then some think, they are still a rarity, and it is the same on the other side of the equation.
But the disruption of traditional structures was not limited to gender norms, there was also a breakdown of class distinctions. The aristocracies were annihilated, and royal houses were deposed, all in the name of progress. But the idea that history is indomitable march towards the future is yet another myth, and the destruction of the hated class system in the name of 'progress' was a dire mistake by the revolutionaries who, in the end, were merely murderers.
Class distinctions have always existed in nearly every Culture above the hunter-gatherer stage. Certainly those which were morally and politically stable had them, and often we find that the sharpness of the distinction is proportional to the stability imparted. Compare Athens to Imperial China for instance, or the Zulu tribes to pre-revolutionary England. Now it is true that stability is not a substitute for morality, but with stability any morality that is in place is unlikely to go away. The codes of Chivalry and Bushido only grew during the rule of aristocratic monarchy in their respective lands, and then vanished with said systems taking with them the codes that channeled the power and strength of the ruling classes toward weal rather than egoism.
The modern thought on traditional class distinctions is a rather universal; "They're evil!". I still do not truly know why. The Enlightenment was a rebellion of the middle and upper-middle classes and it spread a great deal of propoganda, perhaps this is the reason. In any case it is doubtless that the democratic revolutions around the late 1700s and early 1800s considered the nobility and any real political class distinction to be their enemies even as they placed land-owning, gender, and race-based limitations on voting. This caused a great deal of the prejudice we see today. But it is important to remember that it is impossible to break human nature, if there is not a stratified society by design, there will eventually be a stratified society by opportunity. If by Culture and Government there is an existing aristocratic class with distinct duties, goals, and privileges, and limitations then those with the ambition to rise, whether it be good or bad, will have a channel for this ambition. Whereas if there is no existing position to aspire to, then those who would rise high must make their positions, and this is usually very bad. And in the absence of a societal framework many of the duties and limitations will be weak or non-existant, leaving only the power. Giving someone who would become a noble or a general freedom to tailor a position to their own ends is a ticket to disaster, for if this ambition is born of a hunger for power then the ambitious will be free to indulge. Even those with good intentions are likely to stumble when given absolute freedom in this regard, who could resist righting one more wrong?
While there were certainly tyrants in the 'old days' were robber barons any different, other than there being fewer societal checks on their abuses? Today there are corrupt politicians and corporate plutocrats in startling numbers, all able to avoid the ostracism of their peers for we have done away with the Peerage. Mean-spirited nobles have been replaced with graft-ridden senators (no change except that a Senator has no concerns for the lands his heirs will inherit), dark hearted merchant lords have been replaced by all-controlling CEOs (no change at all). And at the same time great nobles have been replaced by voters, and charitable guildsmen have been replaced by unions constantly falling prey to corruption. As much as free-markets and democracies have done to increase profits, they have done more to decrease duty and honor by seeing them as valueless in 'the market'.
All these things are together in my arguments because they are all a different extension of the same principal, segregation. No, not the legal segregation of an oppressed group from its overlords, but the natural separation of the elements of society, even if only leaders from others. While a harsh segregation with no room to change or be an exception is flawed and doomed to failure, I have no doubt that a flexible one is an important part of any stable society. It may seem stifling and wrong when read and spoken of here, but segregation has existed throughout history, and whenever it is taken away darkness follows. There are too many dangers in blurring the lines, and not enough rewards. True equality can only be found in Anarchy, and Anarchy is only destructive, never constructive.
Many problems exploding in this era we are in can be attributed to a breakdown of barriers in society: homosexuality seen as 'no different than' normal behavior; near-plutocracy, rabid entitlement, and other such issues. And so I conclude that civilization needs and aristocracy, and soon.