Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – This piece by Albert J. Nock comes in handy, “What America Can Learn from Kutusov.” This was published in 1936, so we’re going to hop in the King Dude’s wayback machine and go back a little bit in time. I believe that Nock’s take on this and take on our general affliction is inspirational. It ties in nicely and neatly with [r]epublicanism, which is what I encourage people to practice, because that’s what your founders and the generation after the founders and the one after them practiced, and the generations before the founders. They were practicing [r]epublicanism. That’s why we’re trying to make the [r] a talking point. We want people to ask: What’s that [r] mean? Check out the rest in today’s transcript…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I also think that there is a different attitude towards these things these days. The attitude today is that there is no God; therefore, anytime there is a God or mention of God, that’s wrong and we’ve got to snuff it out. That is not the American experience. That’s not the experience of Western civilization before the great enlightenment of the early part of the 19th century. In other words, we, again, are standing toward history saying: Yeah, let’s destroy that history. We have no tie to that. We can make our own history.
All the while, all the traditional signs of what a good society and a good order are crumbling all around us. We’re just supposed to go: Yeah, that’s progress. Really? That’s progress? Tens of millions of children growing up children of divorced parents, tens of millions that will never even know they have a father or know they had a father, that’s just part of evolution and we should do nothing about that? All that is directly related to the rejection of the moral order. When you reject the moral order, you reject the transcended, you reject God, regardless of which God it is.
This piece by Albert J. Nock comes in handy, “What America Can Learn from Kutusov.” This was published in 1936, so we’re going to hop in the King Dude’s wayback machine and go back a little bit in time. I believe that Nock’s take on this and take on our general affliction is inspirational. It ties in nicely and neatly with [r]epublicanism, which is what I encourage people to practice, because that’s what your founders and the generation after the founders and the one after them practiced, and the generations before the founders. They were practicing [r]epublicanism. That’s why we’re trying to make the [r] a talking point. We want people to ask: What’s that [r] mean? Why do I see that [r] popping up? Could you imagine if the [r] becomes as ubiquitous as “Who is John Galt?” If people start asking the serious question: What’s the difference between Republican and republican? Pull up an ice block and lend an ear. Nock wrote, in part:
Let us shift the discussion to another field. It seems that what we call Big Business has for some time been growing unwieldy. Not only its size and spread, but also the complexity of its relations and the delicacy of adjustment which they entail, make it so sensitive and “kittle,” as the Scots say, that it puts a breaking strain on those who manage it. Recent happenings in business seem to suggest that this state of things is disadvantageous and that it ought to be improved; and so far, our efforts to improve it have not been so successful as we hoped they might be, chiefly because our strategy, as always, has been to meet the difficulty squarely with a frontal defense. At the very first skirmish, society encouraged the government to step in and offer a pitched battle, and it now seems certain that the last state of our campaign will be worse than the first. No social danger due to the original complications has been permanently disposed of, and the effect of the new complications has been merely to introduce new dangers which are far more serious than those which our strategy was designed to avert.
Mike: This is why this applies to the fiscal cliff, to the debt ceiling, to limiting the size and scope of government, which isn’t going to happen, or to restoring virtue in republicanism. Listen up. This is where Nock begins to hit that proverbial nail on the head.
Suppose, however, that instead of trying to meet this situation face to face, society had deliberately backed up, and backed up far enough to be well in the clear of any debatable ground. Kutusov did not only back up on Moscow; he went straight through it and kept going for 70 miles. [Mike: He’s talking about the general that beat Napoleon.] Suppose society made up its mind to shift its economic structure entirely away from the basis of big business and deliberately reverted to the local cracker-barrel stage of industry and commerce. We have all observed, I suppose, the extraordinary amount of pressure that the economic structure of France seems able to stand by comparison with ours. As I write, it shows signs of giving way under the terrific pressure of the last two years; yet it has shown these signs many times before and still managed to hold together. I have heard it said that this remarkable power of resistance is chiefly due to the fact that the French structure rests on a foundation of small business rather than on big business, as ours does…
Mike: If Nock could be alive today to see our reliance on the big, er-thing gotta be big. Bigger is better. Gotta have a big box store, gotta have big box online retailer, big box this, big box that. Of course, if a big retailer delivers it in a certain manner, then the little guy has to. If the little guy doesn’t, there’s something inherently wrong, he’s crooked, he’s shifty. Trust me, I know this from experience. Is bigger always better? That’s the question Nock is asking. You can apply this to government. Is bigger always better? The answer is, I believe, no. He continues:
I have heard it said that this remarkable power of resistance is chiefly due to the fact that the French structure rests on a foundation of small business rather than on big business, as ours does; a foundation of 5,000,000 small-holding landed proprietors, and 800,000 small independent business enterprises. I do not know enough about such matters to be entitled to an opinion on the soundness of this theory, but it looks plausible.
Again, shifting the discussion to the field of politics, we have lately come face to face with some extremely disturbing realities. Our steady progress in centralization, begun in 1789, [Mike: Remember earlier I said the founders made mistakes? Ratification was one of them. Ratifying before amending, I should say, was one of them.] has brought us to a pass where every American finds himself virtually living for the State. The governmental machine absorbs so much of his earnings that he may now be said to be working mainly for the State; and its inquisitions, coercions, supervisions, regulations, leave him so small a margin of existence to dispose of as he pleases that his status is hardly distinguishable from involuntary servitude. The worst of it is, moreover, that with a century and a half of acceleration behind it, this progress is likely to go on until such vestiges of economic and political self determination as remain to the individual disappear bodily in a regime of collectivism. [Mike: If you could see us today, Mr. Nock, we are at the event horizon, sir.]
In the face of this prospect, all the proposals for decentralization that I have so far heard of do not go beyond the old-established line of state sovereignty; they contemplate merely a repartition of power between the largest political unit and the next largest. This is a retreat, no doubt, but a very short one, too short to do any good. Suppose, however, that society should retreat the full distance and lodge the whole sovereign power (which includes the exclusive right to levy taxes) in the smallest political unit—the rural township and the urban ward—thus decomposing our present union of nominally sovereign states into a union of actually sovereign townships. [Mike: He’s going farther with his republicanism than anyone that I have contemporarily read. This is exactly where I think and have thought and Jefferson thought we need to go.]
Absurd as this suggestion appears, or would appear if it were made seriously, there is great interest in remarking that every polity which calls itself republican must finally come to just this, or else give up the publican system as impracticable. As far back as the beginning of the 18th century, Montesquieu perceived that a republican system is practicable only in a very small unit; and as we all know, Mr. Jefferson held to the same view—he says in a letter to John Taylor, written in 1816, that “such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township.”
Mike: Have you people thought about your government, instead of wasting away and wasting your time worrying about Boehner and company, wouldn’t it be more prudent to worry about Mayor Burgermeister or the Meisterburger? Wouldn’t it be more prudent, more productive, wouldn’t your government be closer to you and less likely to be able to tyrannize you if all you had to deal with was your city council that could only be elected to one-year terms? This is what Mr. Nock is talking about. This is what Thomas Jefferson was talking about. This is what John Taylor of Caroline spent the last 30 years of his life devoted to, writing about and chronicling, how it needed to be preserved in the United States. Of course, it wasn’t, and here we are today, $16 trillion in the hole directly, $220 trillion in the hole indirectly. We have no seeming control over any of our political machinations, less they be overruled by some federal magistrate. Weren’t these guys pressing or what? Why aren’t we paying attention to these men? Why do we continue to look, for salvation, to the current, to the large, to the big? It can’t fix the problem again, ladies and gentlemen.
I realize it’s early in the morning on the East Coast, but this ought to be simple to grasp. Recent history ought to demonstrate that this ought to be easy to grasp. Why is it you so fear President Obama? Because he controls a large menacing government that can come after you, take your money, draft your children and imprison you, can’t he? Is that possible in a smaller sphere where liberty is cherished and is the direct end, as Patrick Henry said, of all our negotiations? I suppose it is. Is it likely? No. To put the final point on this:
Absurd as the idea of township sovereignty may seem, it is not nearly so absurd as the notion that a republican system can possibly be stretched over an area as large and populous as France, Spain, the United States, or even Delaware or Rhode Island. Our self-styled modern republics are not republics, they are nothing like republics. They are merely the sort of thing, as the great Guizot contemptuously said, that “begins with Plato, and necessarily ends with a policeman.”
This discussion can be extended indefinitely. For example, suppose society should weary of its fruitless efforts to educate the ineducable, and should back up all the way to the severe and sensible selective system proposed by Mr. Jefferson in the plan that he drew up for public education in Virginia. It would mean the permanent closing of at least 90 percent of our schools, colleges, and universities, and no doubt this would be regarded as a calamity worse than the burning of Moscow. Yet clearly the only alternative is dragging out a hopeless conflict with the unbeatable forces of nature.
End Mike Church Show Transcript