American Conservatism's Schizophrenic Messenger
"The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of the ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it."
~ Robert E. Lee
Radio talk show host, Mark Levin, is, by all appearances, schizophrenic. While he often sounds like a libertarian when he speaks of governmental domestic policy, he viciously and relentlessly attacks true constitutional libertarians like Dr. Ron Paul. Why? Because, in reality, Levin embraces the very thing he says he hates. When it comes to American militarism and foreign policy Mark Levin is a statist.
As much as he says he admires the Founders and Framers of the Constitution, unlike Dr. Paul, his views on foreign policy are out of line and contrary to that of the Founders. Their view, like Dr. Paul's, is that of defense of America's borders. Levin's view, similar to the Neocons, is one of aggression and jingoistic support of militarism.
If you listen to Levin's radio programs over the years you can only conclude he, like his friend Sean Hannity, never saw an american war he didn't like, or an act of American aggression and intervention he wouldn't applaud and seek to justify — especially if that act came from a Republican administration chock full of Neocons. He seems oblivious to Randolph Bourne's well-known and often repeated apothegm, “War is the health of the state.”
Evidently, Levin and his Neocon compatriots at FOX, the Claremont Institute and elsewhere see American interest and the necessity of American intervention virtually every where they look across the globe. In Levin's mind the American Empire owns and rules the world, acting in ways no other country is allowed to act, treating other nations in ways we would find highly offensive, were the shoe to be on the other foot.
From whence comes Mr. Levin's alleged schizophrenia?
As one might expect, there are two conflicting sources. The first is an understandable admiration of the Framers of the Constitution and the American Republic they subsequently founded. So far, so good. The second, however, is an irrational devotion to a tyrant who was the enemy and destroyer of the American Republic, the sovereignty of the States and American liberty.
Many times on his radio program Mr. Levin has fondly recalled that, as a child, he heard Lincoln ceaselessly praised by his father. Each such reflection is usually followed by one of his famous vocal crescendos, which ends in Mr. Levin shouting at the top of his voice, "Abraham Lincoln! A great man! A great man!!!" To think of Lincoln any other way would be, for Mr. Levin, unthinkable.
These two unharmonious fealties seem to have combined to create a condition of cognitive dissonance in Mr. Levin's thought, compelling him to advocate an array of logically contradictory and internally incoherent policies. Stated another way, you cannot fully embrace both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and end up with coherent, consistent thinking and an internally coherent philosophy of government. Only someone intellectually blinded could fail to see that, had these men been contemporaries, they would have been at greater odds with one another than Jefferson was with Hamilton. Their ideals are logically irreconcilable.
Brainwashing is a terrible thing and the earlier the brainwashing takes place, the more trusted the source, the more effective it is, and the more difficult it is to uproot.
Being both unable and unwilling to do so, Mr. Levin constantly insists the American detritus began only one hundred years ago, in 1913. That was the year what we now called “the progressive amendments" were added to the Constitution.
Indeed, 1913 was a watershed year for progressivism (re; socialism/statism). But none of that could have happened without Mr. Lincoln's great war of consolidation. Mr. Lincoln's unnecessary war destroyed states' rights, transforming the VOLUNTARY Constitutional Compact of SOVEREIGN REPUBLICS into one held together by force, brutality, coercion, extortion, violence, corruption, and bribery.
With all that as background, in this article I would like to share my perspective on Mr. Levin's latest book about how to restore Constitutional government in America. He suggests the best way to do so is to involve the states in a process for the purpose of adding eleven“liberty amendments” to the Constitution to reverse the past century's alarming growth of centralism and socialism in America, growth that has resulted in America being the largest debtor nation in world history, growth that has created an out-of-control, Leviathan scaled, post-constitutional government in Washington.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read Levin's book and don't plan to. What I have done is watch a full hour program on the book, moderated by Levin and Sean Hannity, with comments from an elite cadre of so-called “conservative thinkers.” I have also listened to him speak extensively about it on his daily radio programs.
What I saw and heard on television looked and sounded desperate, like grasping at straws. The process which Mr. Levin outlines in his book seems similar to a process described in philosopher Mortimer Adler's book, "Ten Philosophical Mistakes." In it Adler outlines how, in the past several centuries, philosophical errors have been compounded, one upon another, with the result being the chaotic state of philosophy today.
For example, Adler shows that rather than correcting Descartes' fundamental errors, philosophers who followed him tried to make adjustments to mitigate some of their more repugnant consequences.
In other words, rather than gore Descartes' ox, his ox remained, and oxen upon oxen were subsequently added, with philosopher after philosopher building upon one another's errors. (Sounds like the growth of government bureaucracy, doesn't it?)
What does that have to do with Mr. Levin's book? It's very simple. As stated above, Levin has offered eleven amendments with the intention of restoring constitutional government. But the last thing needed is to increase the number of laws and amendments. That is nothing but an invitation to a process fated from the outset to end in total chaos. Besides, even if the process were successful, eleven new amendments added to a Constitution the ruling elites largely ignore would do little to nothing to improve things. (More on that later).
Instead, Mr. Levin ought to have the courage and honesty to do the thing his youthful brainwashing precludes. Rather that pile error upon error, confusion upon confusion, and complexity upon complexity, he should gore Lincoln, Story, Clay and Hamilton's Statist Ox! But he simply cannot. He is in too deep. He has, in fact, made their ox his own, and is compelled to constantly justify and rationalize the horrific means by which the Imperialistic, Centralized, Command and Control government they envisioned was brutally imposed upon the once free American Republics, and the voluntary nature of the union ruthlessly destroyed by the arm of raw military might. Long ago, on his father's knee, Levin trustingly joined himself at the hip with America's first out of the closet, barefaced, crony capitalist and imperialist president, Abraham Lincoln, and he can neither admit nor recant his error.
Therefore, he has made of himself a form of modern day Oedipus. He has blinded himself to the whole truth. Consequently,Mr. Levin speaks as if the progressives sprang full blown from the mind of Zeus. NONSENSE! What Lincoln and his cronies did to consolidate power and create a centralized Federal government provided the perfect political milieu for the progressives of the early 20th century. It was as if Lincoln loaded the gun and the Radical Republicans who followed him cocked the trigger. When the Progressives came along the weapon of despotic, centralized government was locked, loaded and ready to fire. And fire they have!
Let me cut to the chase and state categorically that we do not need eleven new amendments to further confuse and torture the Constitution. Only one ox would have to be gored, not eleven, for the return of both sanity and harmony to the American union. Only one right restored to the proper Sovereigns is needed to reestablish republican, constitutional government in these United States. It is a right the SOVEREIGN STATES had from the beginning—it is the right all parties have in a free and VOLUNTARY compact: It is the right of secession and self-determination.
The right of self-determination and its' protectoress hand maiden, secession, are the quintessential American principles, and, if Mr. Jefferson's celebrated Declaration has anything to say about it, they are natural rights given by God. The state cannot bestow them, the state can only unjustly prevent their exercise through the unlawful used of force.
Even Lincoln himself stated as much in 1848, saying,
“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.” (underlines are my emphasis).
A bit later, in a speech in 1852 in support of Hungarian freedom, Lincoln said, "Be it resolved, that it is the RIGHT of ANY PEOPLE, sufficiently numerous for national independence, TO THROW OFF, to REVOLUTIONIZE, their existing form of government, and to establish such other in its stead AS THEY MAY CHOOSE."
Apparently Lincoln, for reasons that yet remain unclear, thought Americans in 1861 ought not have the same rights as Hungarians in 1852.
It is not hard to see that Lincoln's deeds seldom matched his words.
Secession was a right understood by all, even, and perhaps especially by the Framers of the Constitution—even Lincoln understood and promoted it as “a most sacred right,” until he rose to the high throne of the American presidency.
Without secession understood as a fundamental right in the early Republic, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves, penned by Jefferson and Madison respectively, look superfluous, feckless—even absurd, for they would have no means of ultimate leverage in the face of Federal resistance. Without the right of secession the states could not leave the gaming table and cash out. Rather, their protestations notwithstanding, they would be forced stay and play the game, even if the game the federal croupier was running was crooked—and it almost always was.
The New England states understood secession to be a right. They convened a convention and threatened secession in the war of 1812. They even sent representatives to Washington with a declaration of secession. The only thing that prevented them from delivering it was the sudden end of the war and the restoration of trade with England. Even after the war of 1812 we find the right to secede stated in the law books Lee, Grant, Jackson, Sheridan and Sherman studied at West Point in the 1830s.
Even Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's personally appointed supreme court justice, ranted that Jefferson Davis should not have been captured, that Lincoln never intended for him to be captured, and that he must not be tried. Why? Because, said Chase, everyone knew secession was legal, that no law had been broken, and that by seceding the Southern Sovereign Republics had done that which was their SOVEREIGN, CONSTITUTIONAL right. Here is Chase's direct quote ca. 1865:
"If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion...His [Jefferson Davis'] capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason."
The north and Lincoln should have been condemned by all freedom loving Americans for the horrors they committed against the south in the name of "saving the union." New Yorkers were so furious at Lincoln for the war and the slaughter of New Yorkers by Federal troops in the Battle of Manhattan, the best trial lawyer in New York offered to defend Jefferson Davis, pro bono.
But the Yankee cowards let Jefferson Davis go free, denying him his day in court. All the while, Davis called for a trial that he was sure would vindicate him and the south.
Even the celebrated Massachusetts Lawyer, entrepreneur, and abolitionist, Lysander Spooner, was disgusted by the war and the actions of the Federal government under Lincoln's leadership. Soon after the war he penned these damning words [my underlines]:
"The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals. No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle --- but only in degree --- between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure."
The South was right, both morally and legally. The South had upheld the quintessential American principle of self-determination and had acted upon it by seceding in the face of federal abuses and plunder. In contrast, the North and Lincoln joined George III on history's long and lugubrious list of tyrants, depots and enemies of Liberty.
In a perfect world one could depend upon the honor of elected leaders to restrain their actions and policies, and exercise only the few, limited, and enumerated powers delegated (not surrendered) by the Sovereign State to the Federal Agent. But we do not live in a perfect world of impeccable people. Quite the contrary. Therefore, in order to keep leaders in check more is needed than simply relying on their good will and honor. A means of ultimate leverage is needed. That ultimate means is the act of secession.
One could protest and say secession is not permitted by the Constitution. But constitutional permission is not required. The rights of the Sovereign States, unlike those of the Federal Agent, are many, unenumerated, and unlimited. Therefore, in order to prevent a state from exercising a particular right, such as secession, the Constitution would have to specifically and explicitly forbid it, not specifically allow it. No such explicit prohibition is found in the Constitution, and had it been the states would never have ratified it, for doing so would have been nothing short of a sovereignty death pact for the states—the very thing Patrick Henry warned against in his anti-federalist speeches.
Secession, therefore, was the right of the states then, and it ought to be the right of the states today. In fact, a much better case can be made for the right of secession as an effective means for restoring Constitutional government, than engaging in a process of adding eleven more amendments to a Constitution that is already too big, a Constitution which, in any case, goes largely ignored by the statists in Washington. Why?
The Constitution is ignored and passed over because there is no ultimate reason for politicians to practice political restraint. Unlike Dionysus, Federal politicians and judges can do as they please with impunity, for they have no Sword of Damocles hanging by a single horse hair over their heads should they overstep the bounds set by the Constitution.
The political weapon of the states and the people that protected their rights and liberties, their sword of Damocles, so to speak, was officially taken from them in 1869 by an act of raw judicial power with the bogus Supreme Court ruling in the case of White vs Texas.
To repeat, the Constitution is ignored and its law's arrogantly broken by those in power because the Sovereign states and their peoples have no ultimate means of leverage against Federal abuses, criminality and even treason. That ultimate and necessary leverage is what the right of secession provided in the early days of the Republic, and that is exactly what it would provide today were the right restored, as it should be.
Until American's come to understand that and demand the right of secession by public acclamation, the Federal government will continue to beat the states and abuse the people like a cruel husband batters his wife--a wife who has no recourse to or respite from such brutal battering.
This ONE RIGHT, this one power, secession, restored to the rightful sovereigns, would very quickly rein in the Federal government, severely limit Federal abuses, and restore, not only the rights of the states, but the rights and liberties of the citizens of the states as well.
While statists howell and wail at such a thought, paradoxically, it may be that restoration of the right of secession is the only thing that will ultimately save the union. It is not altogether irrational to think that the right of secession restored would have felicitous and even unifying effects upon the people of the Sovereign States. The right of secession restored is nothing less than the restoration of American liberty.
But Levin, as smart and schooled as he is, seems blinded by his brainwashing. He cannot allow himself to see Lincoln for the tyrant he was. He cannot bear to consider the truth that the consolidation Lincoln began is, in fact, the cause of most all of the horrific things over which he bemoans and opines on his daily radio programs: the growth of the leviathan state in America, the massive American debt, and the increasing loss of liberty. Without Lincoln's brutal and horrific consolidation none of these things could have come to pass so quickly and easily.
No eleven amendments are needed to restore Constitutional government. Such a thing will never and should never happen. The sole benefit Mr. Levin's book will have is upon his and his publisher's bank accounts.
Only one thing is needed: gore Lincoln's statist ox, and restore the right of secession to its rightful institutions: the Sovereign States and the peoples therein.
Two things are sacred since Lincoln's consolidation: equality and union.These two oxen, run amok, have become the most badly behaving bulls in the China shop of American liberty, and the most costly, in terms of dollars, blood and liberty. These bad actors, above all, must be gored if liberty is to be restored. These two concepts, which have been allowed to grow unchecked since 1865, are fast bringing about the death of what remains of American Liberty and the Constitutional Republic, both of which, by all evidence, are presently in their death throes.
In time, when the evidence becomes so overwhelming, maybe even Mark Levin will be able to see the truth about America's history. If that happens, it will become clear to him that no solution can effectively bring about the restoration of constitutional government unless it is preceded by the restoration of the voluntary nature of the Constitutional Compact. He will also come to know what we of the South have known for over a century and a half. As Donnie Kennedy is fond of saying, “If you can't leave, you're not free.”
It is possible that Mr. Levin and his Neocon statist friends could come to their senses and see that our constitutional rights and freedoms can only be preserved if they rest upon the foundation of the Freedom of Association, the unencumbered exercise of which necessarily includes the right of free peoples to secede. After all, As Mr. Lincoln said, such a right is "a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world." They could conceivably come to see that at some point in the future, but don't hold your breath.
"If you can't leave, you're not free."