HOKA HEY! Part 3.

Other forms of oppression the Plains Indians suffered should serve as object lessons to contemporary Americans.

(ii) The Establishment of the late 1800s deceived the Plains Indians politically through numerous “treaties” that the Great Father in Washington imposed on the Tribes but never honored. Similarly, through its phony “two”-party system, the present-day Establishment has stripped Americans of electoral power to regain control of their country’s economic system and thus their own lives in their own land. This disability is not primarily a matter of rigged elections. Even where elections are scrupulously honest, the results do not matter. The names and party labels of the politicians who are voted in or out may change, but the policies they eventually enact into law do not. As their forebears did with the Indians, contemporary politicians make innumerable “treaties” with common Americans—platforms of political parties, pledges by candidates, promises of officeholders—the vast majority of which none of them has the least intention of honoring.

Even more revealing than this deceitful conduct in general is that modern politicians say nothing at all about reforming—or even investigating the shaky performance of—the monetary and banking systems in particular. Neither the “two” parties, nor their nominees for high office, nor politicians once elected make any promises about money and banking (except, perhaps, that they will urge the Federal Reserve System to expand “credit,” thereby exacerbating the problem). None of them questions the legality or expediency of the Federal Reserve System and its special privilege to create “credit” and “currency” out of debt. And none of them proposes to return the country to constitutional “Money” of silver and gold (as Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 requires), to rein in “fractional-reserve banking,” or otherwise to establish a system of sound money and honest banking on free-market principles. This calculated reticence exposes whose interests the “two” parties really serve.

(iii) The Establishment of the late 1800s generally reviled the Plains Indians’ religion, on the ground that it offended the mainstream Christianity of that era. In dealing with white men, the Indians’ only recourse was to petition the Great Father in Washington, not the Master of Life (often interpreted by white men as “the Great Spirit”) to whom even Christians believed the Great Father was subject. Foresighted Christians (as well as all other monotheists) should have taken no comfort from this, because in less than a century the Establishment came openly to revile Christianity, too—and aggressively to deprive common Americans of any appeal to religion in public affairs, perforce of radical “separation of church and state.” Many individuals assume that this dogma is intended only to stop theological bickering among different religious sects from spilling over into practical politics. Its real purpose, however, is far less benign.

For the modern Establishment, the only “law” is “positive law”—that is, “law” enacted in some statute, or declared in some judicial opinion. No “higher law” of any kind exists by which to judge the legitimacy—and especially the illegitimacy—of “positive law.” This belief plainly negates the principles set out in the Declaration of Independence, that Americans are entitled to “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”; that “all men * * * are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”; that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”; that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government”; and that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations * * * evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

To the contemporary Establishment, however, that contradiction is of scant moment. Indeed, where the Establishment is concerned, outright denial of the Declaration’s tenets is the order of the day. To set up its New World Order, the Establishment must deny America’s national independence. To that end, it must deny that Americans are entitled “to assume among the powers of the earth” a “separate and equal station”—and assert instead that their incumbent government can tell them so. To that end, the Establishment must deny both that “unalienable Rights” set limits to governmental power, and that, to be legitimate, governmental authority must encompass “just powers” only. To that end, it must deny Americans the right to choose their own form of government—and, in particular, the right to change the form of their government when public officeholders threaten their liberties and prosperity. Above all, the Establishment must deny the very existence of any “higher law”—”the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—to which the people can appeal from all these other denials.

This complex of negations has long been the rule where money and banking are concerned. As a medium of exchange intended for free and honest men, true “money” self-evidently rests on a “higher law” that binds individuals, private banks, and governments: Thou shalt not steal. Doubtlessly, that inherent connection between function and precept led the Framers of the Constitution to set out Congress’s power “[t]o coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin” in the selfsame provision that contains its power to “fix the Standard of Weights and Measures” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 5). This juxtaposition teaches, as a matter of constitutional principle, that “Money” cannot be suffered to be dishonest, any more than “Weights and Measures” can.

Yet the recent history of money and banking in America—which must be described as political history, because it can claim next to no basis in constitutional law—is rife with dishonesty. For example, where “Money” is concerned:

  • In the 1930s Congress removed gold coin from the monetary system—not “coin[ing] Money” (as the Constitution requires), but uncoining it.
  • In the 1960s Congress debased America’s silver coinage—not honestly “regulating the Value” of “Money,” but falsifying it. And,
  • Today, Congress declares paper “currency” to be “legal tender” for all debts, even though all such “currency” is absolutely irredeemable in gold or silver. See Title 31, United States Code, Sections 5103 and 5118(b and c).

Similarly, where banking is concerned, Congress licenses “forced savings.” Apparently, this is predicated on the assumption that, by redistributing real wealth from average Americans to the bankers and their clients through the emission of new “credit” and “currency,” this country will experience greater “economic growth”—and, derivatively, the tax bureaucracies can rake in larger revenues—than if that wealth were left in the possession of the people who actually earned it. (On an analogous theory, in the Kelo case the Supreme Court erased constitutional protections for private property against direct seizure by eminent domain.) Of course, such reasoning would rationalize every variety of dishonest weights and measures, too—because imposing “forced savings” on Americans by short-changing them on goods would also leave more real tangible wealth in the hands of special interests purportedly better able to use it.

(iv) The Establishment of the late 1800s assaulted the Plains Indians with the systematic immigration of aggressive, acquisitive white settlers, and incursions by avaricious miners and buffalo hunters, into Tribal lands—all too many of these invasions being illegal, at the least because they violated outstanding treaties. The tactic of conquest through immigration was intended, not simply to despoil the Indians of their lands, but also to destroy them as independent peoples, by denying them the very territory and resources that alone could support their traditional way of life—leaving them with no alternative except to give up their political, economic, and cultural institutions, and be absorbed into an alien society. Unless they forcibly resisted the settlers and other trespassers—in which case the Tribes were subjected to punitive campaigns by the Army aimed at their extermination.

Contemporary Americans are victims of the same tactic. Today’s massive illegal immigration is no accident, but an agenda; not something about which public officeholders can do nothing, but as to which they are intentionally facilitating everything. If the present-day Establishment cannot deprive the generality of common Americans of their land and their way of life in the straightforward way the Indians were dispossessed, it can and has set about demolishing their traditional culture—economic, social, and political—through an all-out attack of “multiculturalism” in which illegal immigrants serve as shock troops. The goal is to destroy America’s national independence—her “separate and equal station” “among the powers of the earth”—first by merger of all the countries in the Northern Hemisphere; followed by merger of all the countries in the Western Hemisphere; and completed by globalization.

The means are floods of aliens who, by failing or refusing to assimilate, will deprive America of a cohesive national identity and integrity. Economically, massive illegal immigration provides a cheap and submissive work force, in order to lower the general American standard of living (even more than exportation of jobs is already doing), and thereby grease the economic skids for a regional merger with Mexico. Socially, massive illegal immigration sows division, dissension, and conflict, and sets up opportunities for the Establishment to employ “divide-and-conquer” tactics, so that Americans will not stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of national sovereignty. And politically, massive illegal immigration infests this country with people who know and care nothing about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in particular, or constitutionalism in general, and thus dilute the influence of those who still do. All this will lay the groundwork for a Caesaristic police state, because that is the only form of “government” most illegal immigrants have ever known; that is what they will assume prevails here, too; that is what they will expect of “government;” and at length that is what they will help to make of it.

The monetary lesson this situation teaches is clear. Most illegal immigrants come from countries with no constitutional tradition of sound money, and certainly no recent experience with it. For such people, in comparison to the media of exchange they knew in their native lands Federal Reserve Notes are “hard currency!” And the “solution” they have almost always seen their leaders apply to economic and political problems at home has been rampant inflation of “currency” and “credit.” Vanishingly small, then, will be the likelihood that here they will align themselves with Americans who press for a return to constitutional money and banking. Rather, they will demand more of that to which they have been accustomed. And,

(v) The Establishment of the late 1800s would have totally disarmed the Plains Indians had the situation warranted it. For native Tribesmen with a tradition of waging war who had recently proven their mettle in numerous engagements could not be systematically dispossessed and oppressed if left with adequate means to fight back. And such a policy could easily have been rationalized on the ground that, as euphemistic “wards” of the United States—or, more realistically, as conquered, subjugated, and dependent peoples stripped of their sovereignty—the Indians had no right to arms. Pervasive “gun control” never proved necessary in that era, however, because so few warriors remained to claim their ancestral prerogatives by wager of battle. Contemporary Americans pose a far more difficult problem for the present-day Establishment.

Far from being mere dependent “wards” of the United States, legally subject to politicians’ whims, Americans—in the Constitution’s first and most important words, “We the People”—are this country’s earthly sovereigns, who have reserved to themselves “the right * * * to keep and bear Arms” on the ground that “[a] well regulated Militia[ is] necessary to the security of a free State” (Amendment II). Moreover, although most common Americans share no particular tradition as warriors of recent memory, tens of millions of them now possess and know how to use firearms well enough to be potentially dangerous to aspiring usurpers and tyrants. Therefore, inasmuch as the Establishment intends to eliminate America’s national sovereignty, which resides in We the People—and inasmuch as arms have always been throughout Western history the primary indicia of, and means for retaining, sovereignty—the Establishment must at some stage in the not-too-distant future attempt to employ pervasive “gun control” to strip common Americans of the arms that symbolize, and in a crisis could be used to claim and confirm, their sovereignty. Doubtlessly, the Establishment plans to achieve this goal through the paramilitarized National police state it is setting up under the guise of “homeland security.”

The relation of this situation to money and banking is plain enough. The two great powers of government are the Power of the Sword and the Power of the Purse—in that order. In his Discourses on Livy, Macchiavelli exploded the shibboleth that “gold forms the sinews of war,” with his commonsensical observation that “gold cannot always find good soldiers, but good soldiers can always find gold.” This insight Mao Tse-tung confirmed in the dictum he drew from experience, that “[p]olitical power grows out of the barrel of a gun”: For the Power of the Purse is a political power; and if (as with all other political power) it “grows out of the barrel of a gun,” then the Power of the Sword must be its antecedent and superior. Moreover, the Second Amendment codifies this relationship as a principle of American constitutional law: For if “[a] well regulated Militia [is] necessary to the security of a free State,” and the Power of the Purse is a power of such a State, then “[a] well regulated Militia[ is] necessary” for “the security,” and ultimately the exercise, of the Power of the Purse—making the Power of the Purse dependent upon the Power of the Sword.

So, should the Establishment ever succeed in disarming common Americans, their hopes for sound money and honest banking would be dashed on the rocks of despair. Based on economic theory, it is a near certainty that, absent extensive reforms, the present regime of fictitious “currency” and “credit” will collapse. Based on America’s own political experience, a very strong possibility exists that, absent Militia “organiz[ed], arm[ed], and disciplin[ed]” and “call[ed] forth to execute the Laws” as the Constitution mandates (Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16), a financial dictatorship will take over in response to the ensuing chaos. (Indeed, on a small scale this is exactly what happened from 1932 to 1934, with the implosion of the Federal Reserve System and the installation of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the central policy of which was to “go off the gold standard”—that is, to empower bankers and politicians to expand the supplies of unsound “currency” and “credit” more than ever before). And, based on the adage that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the likelihood that such a dictatorship, on its own initiative, will ever relinquish power to We the People and return this country to constitutional standards asymptotically approaches zero for as long as the dictatorship persists.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on April 9, 2012, on NewsWithViews.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

HOKA HEY! Part 2.

Inasmuch as human nature never changes, hardly surprising are the similarities between the oppression visited upon the Plains Indians and the oppression common Americans suffer today. For example:

(i) The Establishment of the late 1800s destroyed the Plains Indians’ economic independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and security by killing off the buffalo and thereby rendering the nomadic hunters abjectly dependent on niggardly handouts from the Great Father in Washington’s corrupt Indian agents. This was economic subjugation through control of the actual physical resources necessary for the Indians’ survival.

Yet even before that era, the Establishment had already created institutions designed to deprive all common Americans of their economic independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and security—as well as the ability to retain the real wealth they created and earned by dint of their own efforts. These institutions included the first and second Banks of the United States, numerous State banks, and the National Banks first set up during the Civil War. Eventually, these schemes for the incestuous coupling of bank and state matured into the modern Federal Reserve System, under the aegis of which bank and state now appear inseparable. This was—and remains—economic subjugation through control over so-called “financial” resources.

Control over “financial” resources does provide an extensive measure of control over physical resources of all kinds—otherwise, to modern men steeped in the sin of avarice, it would be pointless. But its great strength as a devious device for social control is that it is indirect, operating through the pseudo-intellectual and legalistic fictions called “currency” and “credit” that not one person in ten thousand understands. Contemporary “currency” purports to be a medium of exchange, a measure of value, a store of value, and even “legal tender” for all debts, public and private—although, in contradistinction to the “money” of the free market and the Constitution, it is not itself composed of silver, gold, or any other valuable physical substance, and is not redeemable in any such substance at a fixed rate of exchange guaranteed by law.

At base, such “currency” amounts to nothing more than the politicians’ trick of transmuting their naked command into an instrument for transferring real wealth. After all, translated from the Latin, the familiar term “fiat currency” means “let it be currency.” Such “currency” is not akin to true “money” by dint of its economic nature and free acceptance among people in the marketplace, but is required—by dint of the government’s physical compulsion when other means fail—to be taken or treated as “money” by everyone. And contemporary “credit” is even more ethereal, being nothing other than the creation of new “currency” out of new debt—the bankers’ alchemical trick of transforming liabilities into assets simply by saying it is so.

Moreover, modern “currency” and “credit” are not even necessary resources for contemporary Americans. The Plains Indians could not survive without food—if not buffalo meat, then whatever rations the Indian agents deigned to provide. Their dependency was physical, and eventually became insurmountable by any actions within their power. Contemporary Americans, conversely, could easily survive without today’s fictitious “currency” and “credit”—and would be far better off without them, and certainly without the parasitical politicians and special-interest groups that fatten off of them. Modern Americans’ dependency is psychopathological, and its continuation largely self-imposed, proving once again the truth in the wag’s dictum that “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time—and that’s good enough!.”

Yet, although ultimately derived from nothing more substantive than economic, political, and legal fictions and deceptions, the Establishment’s ability to create “currency” and “credit” ex nihilo and ad infinitum remains the primary source of its tremendous economic, political, and cultural power, both open and subterranean.

On the surface, that power dominates both the economy and the political process. The entire economic life of the United States has degenerated into servile dependence upon whether the Federal Reserve System increases or decreases interest rates (and by how much)—that is, upon how fast the banks create new “currency” and “credit” (because no significant overall contraction in the so-called “money supply” has occurred since the banking collapse of the early 1930s). The Constitution identifies “We the People of the United States” as its authors. The markets are composed of We the People in their capacity as free economic actors. Congress is the agent of We the People in their capacity as political sovereign. And the Board of Governors as well as the entire Federal Reserve System are the mere statutory creatures of Congress. Nonetheless, the markets await each announcement of the bankers’ pleasure with baited breath. Congress sits in awed silence as the various Chairmen of the Board of Governors lecture it. And We the People do nothing. Self-evidently, this state of affairs proves that, as a practical matter, where money and banking are concerned the free market is held captive by a special-interest group, the constitutionally empowered National legislature is not the actual lawgiver, and worst of all the titular National sovereign is subordinate to someone else.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the alliance among politicians, bankers, and their clients in high finance and big business to control America was widely known as “the Money Power.” As Frederick Townsend Martin observed in 1911, in his book Passing of the Idle Rich, [Also read the book; “The Coming Battle” originally published in 1899] [i]t matters not one iota what political party is in power or what President holds the reins of office. We are not politicians or public thinkers; we are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connections, our purchased senators, our hungry congressmen, our public-speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislature, any political platform, any presidential campaign that threatens the dignity of our estate.

Nothing has changed since then. Today, perspicacious Americans can identify the people who “own America” economically and politically. The question is what can common Americans do about them.

Under the surface, too, the power over modern “financial” resources—the power to create “currency” and “credit” ad libitum—exercises an insidiously corrupting and self-reinforcing influence over Americans. This is no accident. Those seeking to exploit, dominate, and oppress others usually attempt, at an early stage of the process, to corrupt their victims, so that they can manipulate and control them through their vices. In the late 1800s, the Establishment corrupted the Plains Indians and undermined their personal self-respect and communal coherence by plying them with “fire water”. That was simple psychological corruption mediated through physical addiction. False prosperity generated through unlimited debt made possible by expanding supplies of new “currency” and “credit” emitted by the banks is the contemporary “fire water” on which the Establishment has hooked all too many Americans.

Importantly, whereas each Indian’s addiction to “fire water” was a personal predicament, and became a social problem only after sufficient numbers succumbed, Americans’ intoxication by contemporary “credit” is a socially destructive phenomenon from the inception in every instance in which it is involved. Traditional “credit” is simply a deferred execution of a contractual obligation, as when a buyer purchases some commodity today, but pays for it only later on. In such a transaction, the seller has extended “credit” to the buyer, in the form of time. The buyer may pay more for the commodity than the original price (if the “credit” incurs “interest” or some “service charge”); or the seller may receive less than that price in real terms (if the “credit” does not incur such a surcharge, and the seller has a positive time preference). But, in either event, the transaction involves just those two parties, and has no effect whatsoever on the so-called “money supply” of society as a whole. Different amounts of “money” change hands, depending on the terms of the transaction; but the total supply of “money” throughout society remains the same, whatever the terms.

Much contemporary “credit,” distinguishably, is made possible only through the creation of new “currency” when the “credit” is extended and for that purpose. A bank “credits” a client’s account with some amount of “currency” created in order to make that very loan. Thus, the transaction increases the total “money supply.” More consequentially, the new “currency” then enters the economy at a particular point and time, and then spreads through the market on some idiosyncratic path, changing the structure of prices and redistributing real wealth as the market realizes there has been an injection of new purchasing power, and reacts to it. Exactly who the losers in this process may be is difficult to predict. But the bank that generates the new “credit” and its client who employs it are always the winners. And surely society always loses overall. For if banks throughout the system create significant amounts of new “credit” in the capital markets—thereby imposing so-called “forced savings” on the rest of society—their actions set in motion the familiar “business” (or “boom and bust”) cycle, leading eventually to depression, or perhaps to hyperinflation followed by depression. And if the banks create new “credit” for the public treasury—that is, by “monetizing public debt”—their actions facilitate a particularly vicious species of “taxation without representation,” in which part of the present generation receives the benefits of governmental deficit spending, while future generations of taxpayers—who have cast no votes in the matter—are expected to pay for them.

Although socially destructive and politically abusive, the contemporary “currency” and “credit” scheme is self-reinforcing in its degeneracy. Its first stage involves simply the organization of avarice: providing the means by which some people can obtain something for nothing by redistributing other people’s wealth through spending new “currency” into circulation. This is bad enough. For the easy availability of “credit” convertible into new “currency” encourages an unbridled, debt-based consumerism, steeped in hedonism, materialism, and a mania for “economic growth” which inevitably results in a self-imposed serfdom of consumers to the creators of “credit” and “currency”—whether those consumers be private individuals or public treasuries.

The second stage is worse. It entails support by the clients of the creators of “credit” and “currency” for the entire economic, political, and ideological system that allows the latter to ply their trade—because that system is the only source of future “credit” to subsidize the clients’ on-going exorbitant life-styles that require spending beyond their real means. A never-ending cycle of overconsumption, financed with private and public debt floated by expansion of “credit” and “currency,” demands support for politicians who promote policies that grease the skids for such false prosperity. This turns voters hooked on debt-based consumerism into dependents of the politicians, rather than the politicians being servants of the voters. In their turn, the politicians become dependent on the bankers—so that political, as well as economic, power inexorably gravitates towards one special-interest group to a degree no free society would ever countenance.

The third stage is worse yet. For the types of politicians who support endless expansion of “credit” and “currency” tend to bring with them a compendious agenda of other economic, political, social, and cultural corruptions. For example, no politician who approves of Congress’s creation of the Federal Reserve System, and the System’s “monetization of public debt,” likely employs “original intent” in constitutional interpretation, opposes the delegation of governmental powers to private special-interest groups, believes in limited government, or wants to reduce to the minimum bureaucratic intervention in the free market. Rather, he most probably advocates “the living Constitution” (that is, the Constitution politicians and judges make up as they go along, to serve their immediate interests), political-cum-economic “partnerships” between government and influential private interests, and comprehensive political “management” of the market (what used to be called “central planning,” before the collapse of the East bloc finally discredited that rubric).

The fourth stage is worst of all. For, after this process has worked its insidious wiles on several generations, spiritual corruption takes over. Whatever they may believe, people act as if there were no god but Mammon, with Caesar his prophet and the bankers his priests.

In sum, contemporary “credit” and “currency” constitute a social narcotic more dangerous than the alcohol to which the Plains Indians became addicted. For chemical dependencies hardly ever approach the point at which so many people are affected that an entire society collapses. But a general breakdown has not infrequently afflicted countries hooked on the endless expansion of fictitious “currency” and “credit”1—such as Germany in the early 1920s, and Argentina and other major South American countries serially since World War II.

And this is not the only parallel in the history of oppression that contemporary Americans need to recognize as applicable to them.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on April 9, 2012, on NewsWithViews.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

HOKA HEY! Part 1.

An old adage warns us that “those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This is not because of some inexorable, mysterious decree of Fate, but because (as the ancient Greek historian Thucydides observed) “the kind of events that once took place will by reason of human nature take place again.” One need not look to the distant past, either, to glean material predictive of the immediate future.

For an outstanding example, patriotic Americans can find many ominous, yet also instructive, parallels between their situation today and the predicament of the Plains Indians during the late 1800s. These parallels are particularly striking where money and banking are concerned. For example:

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s was intent on extending its version of “civilization” to—or, perhaps more descriptively, running it roughshod over—the Tribes, so too does the contemporary Establishment intend to bring to—or, perhaps more descriptively, to impose upon—common Americans a new and improved brand of “civilization,” under the trademark of “the New World Order.”

As to money and banking especially, this is an old song, as fallacious as it is familiar. Innovations in the manipulation of “currency” and “credit” are always touted as the products of advanced thought; whereas gold and silver are invariably derided as “barbarous relics” from a primitive age. And the Federal Reserve System—the apogee of modern central banking—is everywhere praised as the great exemplar of “scientific” management of money. Yet gold and silver are obviously no more “barbarous relics” than the free market itself, because they are the media of exchange that a truly free market always chooses (otherwise, their use as money would not so often have been inhibited, even prohibited, by governments and central banks). And the main tenets of central banking—(i) that the supplies of “currency” and “credit” must expand step by step with production of goods and services, so as to maintain a stable “price level;” and (ii) that the self-destructive tendencies of fractional-reserve banking can be fended off by cartelizing the banks under governmental aegis and supplying them with an open-handed “lender of last resort”—are no more “scientific” than the utterly discredited theories of “central economic planning,” of which central banking forms a subset. Or, for that matter, no more plausible than dialectical materialism, historical determinism, and the other assorted pseudo-intellectual claptrap of Marxism—which shares a mutual affinity with central banking, according to a key plank in The Communist Manifesto that calls for “[c]entralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s disparaged the Plains Indians as incorrigible “savages,” stubbornly and stupidly standing in the way of “progress,” so too does the contemporary Establishment dismiss average Americans as a culturally backward and politically reactionary booboisie whose outmoded ideas, traditions, and way of life retard social evolution.

In the field of money and banking as well, proponents of the precious metals as money are roundly derided as doctrinaire “gold bugs,” economic “Neanderthalsm,” or worse; whereas the Federal Reserve System’s touts are fulsomely described as “enlightened.” Yet, as a form of “central economic planning,” central banking is economically atavistic in theory and ultimately unworkable in practice, because it always operates on the basis of ignorance, in comparison to the wealth of relevant information available only to the free market. And, as a species of unrepresentative, elitist—and, if the truth be told in the bluntest possible terms, fascist—bureaucracy, politically privileged central banking is far removed from the “Republican Form of Government” that the Constitution requires the United States to “guarantee to every State in this Union” (Article IV, Section 4).

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s denuded the Indians of their Tribal sovereignties and degraded them to ill-treated “wards” of the General Government, so too does the present-day Establishment decry America’s National sovereignty as a ridiculous anachronism and a galling impediment to the New World Order, and plan to set it aside—first, through regionalization, involving the economic and political merger of the United States, Canada, and Mexico; then, through hemispheric to finally full-fledged global government.

Where money and banking are concerned, globalization is also an imperative. Indeed, the present push for globalization of national economies and then polities probably results more from what the Establishment perceives as the necessity to globalize the contemporary monetary and banking systems than from any other cause. The economic reason is that a global “lender of last resort,” and perhaps a source of some altogether new “currency” and “credit,” will be required to keep the major central banks of various countries—the Federal Reserve System included—afloat in a global liquidity crisis. After all, to stave off the collapse of major banks within various countries during domestic liquidity crises was the purpose of setting up independent central banks in each nation. And the same strategy applies in spades to an international liquidity crisis among national or regional central banks that now operate without an apex to their pyramid of “currency” and “credit” expansion.

The political reason for the globalization of money and banking is that, although the Federal Reserve System now functions as a de facto global central bank (at least to the extent that its “currency” is employed as a “reserve” by most other countries), a truly global central bank, functioning both de facto and de jure for the world as a whole, cannot be the instrument of only one nation or regional grouping of nations. For that nation or group could change its political views on money and banking at any time, throwing a money wrench into the globalist machinery. True enough, if a national central bank, operating as a de facto global central bank, returned to some form of free-market gold or silver standard, the common people of the whole world would eventually benefit. The Establishment, however, would lose out, because its position depends on monetary and banking systems utterly divorced from gold and silver, and thereby from the economic discipline of the free market. And, because the Establishment cannot take that chance, it must promote the globalization of money and banking.

The pressing legal reason for the globalization of money and banking is that the present de facto global central bank—the Federal Reserve System—is subject to the Constitution of the United States, which mandates “gold and silver Coin” as the only official “Money” and “Tender in Payment of Debts” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 and Article I, Section 10, Clause 1). An international liquidity crisis could easily turn into an American constitutional crisis, in which the illegality of the Federal Reserve System could be identified as the cause of the economic chaos, and the System’s political supporters the culprits. Such a situation could sweep into office a political movement that would reverse a century of monetary and banking policy, and return the economy of one major country—and, soon enough, the economy of every other country dependent upon it—to money bottomed on a specie standard and banking stripped of the abusive special privilege of “fractional reserves.”

For all these reasons, to maintain its power the Establishment must eventually separate and insulate the present systems of money and banking from each and every national sovereignty. That is, each and every national sovereignty must be denied jurisdiction over money and banking, even within its own territory. The monetary and banking systems must themselves become wholly independent—and, in fact, private—sovereignties, with global extraterritoriality allowing them to operate within every nation but subject to none. They must become totally unresponsive to (as well as unrepresentative of) the popular will everywhere, yet capable of imposing their will on the people anywhere.

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s declared the Plains Indians to be “hostiles” if they dared to defend themselves and their homelands against economic, political, and cultural aggression, so too does the contemporary Establishment denounce Americans as “extremists” if they strenuously oppose—even only through force of argument, rather than force of arms—the systematic destruction of their country and impoverishment of her citizens.

Perhaps nowhere is the historical parallel more patent than with respect to money and banking. Today, of course, “gold bugs” are subjected only to ridicule in the mass media. In the early 1930s, though, Americans who resisted the General Government’s seizure of their gold were most definitely treated as “hostiles”—even to the extent of having President Franklin Roosevelt apply against them the Trading With the Enemy Act of World War I. Even now this statute remains on the books, providing that “[d]uring time of war, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, and under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, * * * investigate, regulate, or prohibit * * * the importing, exporting, hoarding, melting, or earmarking of gold or silver coin or bullion” (Title 12, United States Code, Section 95a(1)(A)). In this era of a perpetual (albeit undeclared and therefore unconstitutional) “war on terrorism,” during the course of a monetary and banking crisis this statute could be employed just as it was in the 1930s, on the strength of the precedent created at that time. And, once more, common Americans who held gold would be falsely designated their own country’s “enemy.”

Finally, just as the Establishment of the late 1800s employed certain historically proven techniques of oppression to beat the Plains Indians into submission, so too does today’s Establishment—albeit with far greater subtlety, sophistication, and sinister cynicism. The next part of this commentary will explain how.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published at NewsWithViews.com on May 30, 2006.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

The Founders’ View on National Health Care

Confronted with the strident debate on national health-care legislation, one must be amazed at how often the opponents of the monstrosity being cobbled together by the legislative Doktors Frankenstein in the Disgrace of Columbia fail to appeal to constitutional fundamentals.

In The Federalist No. 57, James Madison relied on a constitutional principle that, for all intents and purposes, disposes of any and every argument in favor of the present bills before Congress. Recall that a main purpose of The Federalist Papers was to refute claims that the Constitution delegated too much power to the General Government, at the expense of the States and WE THE PEOPLE. In No. 57, Madison addressed the contention that “the House of Representatives * * * will be taken from that class of citizens which will have least sympathy with the mass of the people, and be most likely to aim at an ambitious sacrifice of the many to the aggrandizement of the few”.

Madison offered a number of reasons why this argument was invalid. But most relevant here was

a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments of which few governments have furnished examples: but without which every government degenerates into tyranny. If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and, above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.

If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty. [Emphasis supplied.]

Precisely why, as a matter of constitutional law, can Congress “make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society”? Because part of “the genius of the whole system” and “the nature of just and constitutional laws” require equality in all legislation that is capable of equal application. The Preamble sets as one of the Constitution’s goals “to * * * promote the general Welfare”—which, because every power of Congress must be interpreted and applied in conformity with the Preamble, entails that no law that can be written so as to reach Americans in general can be tricked out with “legal discriminations in favor of [Members of Congress] and [any other] particular class of the society”. The Constitution deems the ruling criterion of “the general Welfare” so important that it repeats that requirement in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, which delegates to Congress the “Power to lay and collect Taxes * * * to pay the Debts and provide for the * * * general Welfare of the United States”. So, any legislation which involves taxation, spending, or both must be equally applicable to all similarly situated Americans.

Now, as is self-evident, a scheme for “national health care”—involving taxation, spending, or both—can be written so as to apply to everyone, on precisely equal terms, designed to provide precisely equal benefits for and to impose precisely equal burdens upon Members of Congress, the President, and public officials and employees of the General Government, as well as “Joe Doaks”, “Ma and Pa Kettle”, and every other ordinary American. Yet the national health-care bills before Congress do not provide for universal and equal benefits for and burdens upon all Americans. No, indeed. Members of Congress—“and their friends”, as Madison so delicately put it—are excluded from these bills, and allowed to retain for themselves especially favorable health-care coverage unavailable at any price to average citizens.

On the face of it, then, the present national-health care bills, being (in Madison’s formulation) “[proposed] laws not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people”, are the products and the making of nothing less than tyranny. As the English political philosopher John Locke defined it,

Tyranny is the exercise of Power beyond Right, which no Body can have a Right to. And this is making use of the Power any one has in his hands; not for the good of those, who are under it, but for his own private separate Advantage.

’Tis a Mistake to think this Fault is proper only to Monarchies; other Forms of Government are liable to it, as well as that. For where-ever the Power that is put in any hands for the Government of the People, and the Preservation of their Properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to impoverish, harass, or subdue them to the Arbitrary and Irregular Commands of those that have it: There is presently becomes Tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many.

An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government (London, England: Awnsham Churchill, 1690), §§ 199 and 201.

Even earlier, the eminent theologian and jurist Francisco de Vitoria—from the University of Salamanca in Spain—had held to the same definition: “Herein, indeed, is the difference between a lawful king and a tyrant, that the latter directs his government towards his individual profit and advantage, but a king to the public welfare[.]” De Iure Belli (1557), quoted in James Brown Scott, The Catholic Conception of International Law (Clark, New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2008), at 38.

So, confronted with this crescent tyranny, what should Americans do? The first step must be to revive “the vigilant and manly spirit which [in the past] actuate[d] the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it”. With that spirit rekindled, anything is possible.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published at NewsWithViews.com on April 13, 2010.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

Are Monetary Crises Inevitable in the Near Future?

Contrary to a widespread belief, socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe did not collapse because of the clever geostrategic maneuvers of the Reagan Administration. Neither did the East Bloc break up because its leaders were incompetents who put into practice the wrong plans. Particular politicians and policies—East or West—had next to nothing to do with it.

The East Bloc fell apart—and had to fall apart, no matter what anyone did—because of an obscure principle of economics known as “the impossibility of rational economic calculation under bureaucratic central planning”. Socialism failed—and must always fail—because, without prices for goods and services generated by a free market, central planners cannot allocate resources and manpower intelligently. But central planners cannot allow a free market to set prices (otherwise there could be no central planning). In the long run, this self-imposed bureaucratic blindness to the real values of people and things results in monumental waste, the failure of central plans to deliver sound capital investments and advancing standards of living, and finally the collapse of those societies that allow politicians and bureaucrats, rather than free entrepreneurs and workers, to direct the course of economic affairs.

Although this principle had been recognized by other economists for almost a century theretofore, it received systematic exposition in Ludwig von Mises’s seminal treatise, Socialism, first published in the 1920s. So, during the heyday of central planning from the 1920s to the 1980s, no one should have been unaware of the problem. Nonetheless, the political elite and the intelligentsiia ignored it, just about everywhere. In the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where Stalin and his successors imposed industrial-strength central planning through police-state terrorism and slave labor in the Gulag, the price was higher than in (say) the United States, to which Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to administer only a diluted dose of the same poison. But a price there was, paid as usual by common people.

Economic theory also teaches that any scheme of fiat currency and fractional-reserve central banking is just as inherently flawed, incapable of permanent existence, and inevitably doomed to disaster as all-around, full-blown socialism, because fractional-reserve central banking systematically subverts the free market’s structure of prices through expansion of currency and credit—which results in redistribution of wealth, misallocation of scarce capital, and collapse in either depression or hyperinflation followed by depression. This is no new insight. The problems fractional-reserve banking causes were widely discussed in the 1800s; and the whole subject of political versus free-market money was exhaustively examined by Ludwig von Mises, in his treatise The Theory of Money and Credit, first published in the 1920s. (Probably the best book on this subject now available for the average reader is Murray Rothbard’s The Mystery of Banking.) But, throughout the Western world during the 1900s and even unto the present moment, the political elite, high finance and big business, and their hired intelligentsiia have generally ignored these problems—doubtlessly because irredeemable currency and fractional-reserve central banking have served their short-term interests, and the costs of the system have always been paid by picking the pockets of the common man.

For this country’s system of fractional-reserve central banking, though, Americans cannot blame some foreign dictator such as Stalin, but instead need to indict their own home-grown usurpers and tyrants: primarily, Presidents Woodrow Wilson (who signed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913), Franklin Roosevelt (who outlawed private possession of gold for use as currency in 1933-1934), and Lyndon Johnson (who repudiated the government’s promise to redeem its paper currency in silver coin in 1967-1968). Some people also assign a large share of responsibility to Richard Nixon, who terminated redemption of Federal Reserve Notes in gold for foreign banks in 1971. This, however, is unfair. By “closing the gold window”, Nixon extricated this country from an especially expensive variety of parasitism by the Federal Reserve System: its ability to prop up the value of Federal Reserve Notes by looting America’s gold reserves. Indeed, such was Nixon’s legal duty. Because the Federal Reserve System as a whole is unconstitutional, paying out this nation’s gold in redemption of Federal Reserve Notes is unconstitutional, too. (Nixon, of course, was far from being a constitutionalist. But, as folk wisdom teaches, “God writes straight with crooked lines”.)

In the case of the Federal Reserve, economic history all too strongly confirms economic theory. In 1913, the Federal Reserve’s touts predicted that it would allow bankers and politicians to “manage” currency “scientifically”, and thereby to end business cycles, eliminate inflation, and forefend depressions. Yet, the country soon suffered a sharp, albeit short depression in 1920-1921, followed by the horrendous collapses of the stock market and the banks in 1929-1933, and the Great Depression that festered for the remainder of the 1930s. And since World War II, Federal Reserve Notes have lost more than 90% of their purchasing power—which is a serious consequence of inflation by any reasonable standard.

Moreover, since 1933 the Federal Reserve System has been anything but strengthened, because every link between Federal Reserve Notes and gold or silver coin has been severed. Today, (in the words of former high-level banker John Exter) Federal Reserve Notes are an “I owe you nothing” currency. True, the Treasury and the banks will redeem Federal Reserve Notes for “lawful money”; and the Treasury must receive Federal Reserve Notes in payment of taxes. See Title 12, United States Code, Section 411. But the “lawful money” paid out consists only of base-metallic coins. See Title 31, United States Code, Section 5118(b, c). So redemption amounts to exchanging intrinsically valueless rag currency for almost valueless slugs. And a right to use Federal Reserve Notes to pay taxes is of dubious economic benefit to the taxpayer whose wealth is expropriated through that very payment.

Because Federal Reserve Notes are irredeemable in silver or gold, or any commodity other than the Treasury’s base-metallic slugs (and even then at no permanently fixed ratio of exchange), their purchasing power in the free market ultimately depends upon public confidence—or, more realistically, public gullibility. That is, the Federal Reserve System is a confidence game, in both senses of that term. What should give every American pause is that the powers that be—who are most intimately acquainted with the problem because they are its cause and the reason it is not being solved—lack confidence themselves.

For the most pertinent example, a statute recognizes and provides for the possibility, if not the likelihood, of a recurrence of what happened in 1929-1933:

[D]uring such [financial] emergency period as the President * * * by proclamation may prescribe, no member bank of the Federal reserve system shall transact any banking business except to such extent and subject to such regulations, limitations and restrictions as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, with the approval of the President.

Title 12, United States Code, Section 95(a). As this statute proves, the political and economic Establishment is prepared for banking and currency crises so severe that a national financial dictatorship will be necessary to deal with them.

The Federal Reserve System is a confidence game, not only domestically, but on a global scale as well, because of the status of Federal Reserve Notes as the premier world reserve currency and preferred medium of exchange in international trade. This status, however, is becoming increasingly tenuous—as even a cursory study of today’s financial media will disclose. If unsophisticated Americans allow themselves to be misled by rosy propaganda flowering from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, the rest of the world does not. The instability of Federal Reserve Notes and the Federal Reserve System as a whole is becoming increasingly apparent to foreigners. And knowledge of this increasing instability is itself further increasing instability in the vicious circle characteristic of the break-up of all Ponzi schemes. This auto-catalytic process threatens to generate an accelerating downward spiral of crises, until America’s monetary and banking systems are either reformed or self-destruct. If economic history is any guide, as this process works itself out gold and silver will appreciate step-by-step with the depreciation of Federal Reserve Notes.

More ominously, powerful forces are even now working for major reduction of the role of Federal Reserve Notes as a world reserve currency and medium of international exchange. In Europe, politicians in the European Union desire as much as possible to replace Federal Reserve Notes with the Euro. To the extent the Euro is successful in this competition, the purchasing power of Federal Reserve Notes, at least in international markets, will drop significantly—because, as demand for that currency declines, its supply remaining the same, its value must also decline. And in Asia, Red China—for geostrategic as well as economic reasons—is likely to adopt policies that will diminish the role of Federal Reserve Notes, and therefore decrease their purchasing power, in that huge market, too. Although these actions will threaten Federal Reserve Notes and the Federal Reserve System in particular, they will not necessarily undermine fiat currency and fractional-reserve central banking in principle. Europe, Asia, or both will simply substitute some other fiat currency for Federal Reserve Notes, and rely on some fractional-reserve central banks of issue other than the Federal Reserve. However, the displacement of Federal Reserve Notes and the Federal Reserve System from their leading positions in world finance cannot but throw into serious question the stability of other fiat currencies and the fractional-reserve banks that emit them. Very likely, this will lead to a general increase in the values of gold and silver as against all fiat currencies.

Far more dangerous than these possibilities is the call by radical intellectuals in the Islamic world for more than a billion Muslims to reject all forms of Western fiat currency, and adopt instead the Islamic gold dinar and silver dirhem coins as their exclusive media of exchange, both perforce of their religious duties under Islam and as a means to strike at the Great Satan’s greatest vulnerability. Were this movement to take hold, it would drive the values of gold and silver to unprecedented heights, and the values of Federal Reserve Notes (and all other fiat currencies as well) to unheard-of lows. One need be no expert trader of precious metals to imagine what would happen if (say) 500,000,000 Muslims suddenly entered the markets, each seeking just an ounce of gold, an ounce of silver, or both! And a month later, did the same thing…and so on. Such an eventuality could presage the beginning of the end, not only for irredeemable Federal Reserve Notes, but also for all fiat currencies, and even for fractional-reserve central banking (which is prohibited under Islamic law).

So, the question is not, “Will there be monetary and banking crises in the foreseeable future?” but, “What can common Americans do about them—preferably, before they break out?”

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on March 17,2005 at NewsWithViews.com.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

Trashing the Constitution: How misconstruction of the monetary powers and disabilities subverted the Founding Fathers’ intent

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. It’s my pleasure to be here all the way from Manassas, Virginia, the very backwater of civilization. It’s outside of Washington. My topic is the monetary powers and disabilities of our Constitution; what the government may do, and what it may not do with respect to coinage, currency, credit, and banking.

Now these, to put it bluntly, are not common knowledge. They’re not common knowledge among lay people, and they’re not common knowledge among lawyers. Indeed, in my experience,  very few people can talk intelligently about this subject.

You may ask, “So what? Isn’t this a matter that’s really best left to Congress, and the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, and the Supreme Court, and so forth; the legal and political elite?” Well, I could give you a number of very important reasons why that is not the case, why this is a vitally important subject to you. I could talk about economic reasons, the fundamental one being that a free market functions most efficiently and most fairly when the market determines the quality and the quantity of money that’s being used.

I could talk about political reasons: that throughout history we have seen again and again the instability, the turbulence, in fact the self-destructive tendencies of political systems in which politicians and special-interest groups exercise the power to control or manipulate the purchasing power of money.

Today I could give you geostrategic reasons, because one could easily work out a theory whereby Islamic Fundamentalists, if they understood what they were doing, could strike at the Great Satan by attacking the fragile foundations of our monetary and banking system. I’m not going to tell you about that, because I don’t want to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

I shall touch only on the legal reasons why monetary powers and disabilities are of vital importance. I want to emphasize at the outset that this is not a matter of my opinion or my views. This has nothing to do with personalities or subjective ideas. It’s a matter of what the Constitution provides. That is a matter of historical investigation and understanding from which objective results can be obtained.

I know it’s a little hard work, as Larry pointed out, to read Pieces of Eight. I had to be purer than Caesar’s wife. Everything has been documented. The reason I did that was to show people that everything can be documented. There is nothing in the book that comes from my pen. It comes from the pen of the Founding Fathers. It comes from the pen of the Supreme Court. It comes from the pen of the people that keep the Congressional records. This is all a historical matter.

My reason for getting into this subject is that I’ve always viewed the legal perspective as being the most important aspect of the problem. Why? Because the legal framework in any society is going to have a controlling, a directive, at least an important influence on what happens economically. A society that is based upon freedom of contract and private property is going to have a different set of economic outcomes than a society that is based on a Stalinesque model of central planning. The legal system has a tremendous effect on the economy.

I’d like to make a point here. The government of the United States has never violated anyone’s constitutional rights. Did you know that? The government of the United States will never violate anyone constitutional rights, because it cannot violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The reason for that is: The government of the United States is that set of actions by public officials that are consistent with the Constitution. Outside of its constitutional powers, the government of the United States has no legitimacy. It has no authority; and, it really even has no existence. It is what lawyers call a legal fiction. I give you the famous case Norton v. Shelby County, when they were thinking straight about these issues: 1886. The Court said: “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties. It is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” And that applies to any governmental action outside of the Constitution.

Our present constitutional system, with respect to money and banking, is oxymoronic, because in fact, for a very long time, with respect to coinage, currency, credit, and banking, the political class and the judicial class have not conformed to the Constitution. In the grand scheme of things, there are legal consequences that follow from not adhering to constitutional powers and disabilities, especially constitutional disabilities.

What is the genius of, the condition sine qua non, for a free society? It’s limited government, right? A totalitarian society is one in which the government claims all power; there is no freedom that the government doesn’t allow. There’s always a certain interstitial amount of freedom even in totalitarian society. Remember 1984, Winston Smith? There was a little place in his apartment where he could hide from the telescreen, right? And write his memoirs.

So interstitially, even a totalitarian society can’t control everything; but it states, in principle, its right to do so. What are the defining characteristics of a limited government? They are its disabilities; what it does not have legal authority to do. Look at the First Amendment. Everyone’s familiar with the First Amendment. What does it do? It guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion.

But how does it do that? I quote: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press” et cetera. “Congress shall make no law;” that’s a statement of an absence of power. That’s a statement of a disability. The problem we’ve had in the monetary system is there has been an increasing misuse of Congress’ monetary powers, and an increasing disregard of Congress’ monetary disabilities; and not only in this particular field, of course, in many other fields. But what’s happened in the area of money and banking exemplifies, and in many instances, is the source of what’s happened in other areas.

I can divide this degeneration essentially into two categories. One is the application of the so-called “theory of the Living Constitution.” The other is the overextension of Congressional powers, or the assertion of powers the Congress doesn’t have. Many people may be familiar with the “Living Constitution.” This is the idea that the meaning of the Constitution has to change with the times. The Founding Fathers lived in the horse-and-buggy era. We live in the spaceship era. Obviously, the Constitution has to somehow evolve intellectually to deal with those changes. In effect, this reduces the Constitution to whatever the politically powerful find it expedient to mean from time to time. You could call that “situation law.” I call it “Sante Fe law.” They railroad their ideas through, and they expect us to accept it on faith.

Let me give you an example, the key example in the monetary field. Basic question: “What is a dollar?” Interesting question: “What is a dollar?” That’s the unit of our currency. What is it? Well, if you ask most people, some of them would pull one out these things, a little Sacagawea coin. “This is a dollar.” Or more likely they would probably pull out one of these, a George Washington Federal Reserve Note, and say, “This is a dollar.” And if you asked that person, “Well, why is this thing a dollar?” he or she would probably say, “Well, it’s because Congress says so,” or “the Treasury says so,” or “the Federal Reserve System says so,” or “the Supreme Court says so”—begging the question of whether Congress, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, or the Supreme Court has the authority to say so. Is this simply a matter of raw power?

Let’s have a quick reality check. I have some learning aids here. Here’s a card that says, “One cow.” Is this a cow? Next step: here’s a card that says, “By order of Congress: one cow.” Is this a cow? You’re getting the picture, aren’t you? Here we go, the next step: “By order of the Federal Livestock Board: one cow.” And then the final absurdity: “By order of the Federal Livestock Board: one cow. This is legal tender for all debts public and private.” You don’t have to be a farmer to understand the meaning of this little demonstration.

Let’s take it to another level. “One dollar.” Is it a dollar? “By order of Congress: one dollar.” “By order of the Federal Reserve Board: one dollar.” “By order of the Federal Reserve Board: one dollar. This is legal tender for all debts public and private.” Do you follow this? This is kindergarten material. As the Gershwins told us in Porgy and Bess, “it ain’t necessarily so” simply because someone writes it on a piece of paper.

Where do we look to find Congress’ powers and disabilities in this regard? Well, I guess you look in the Constitution. The Constitution actually mentions the word “dollar” in Article One, Section Nine, Clause One, the famous slave tax provision, that provided a tax or duty might be imposed on the importation of slaves, not exceeding ten dollars for each person. Do you think that was important at the time? It was one of the provisions that was put in as part of the compromise between the Southern slave-owning states and the Northern states. If something like that hadn’t been put in, the Constitution probably would never have been ratified by all the original colonies.

It’s also found in the Seventh Amendment, the word “dollars”: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.” Do you think that was important to those people at that time? Trial by jury was known in that era as the palladium of British liberty, going back to Magna Carta. Do you think those people knew what the word “dollar” meant? Do you think they thought it meant this? [holding up a Federal Reserve Note] It must have had an accepted meaning at that time.

The proponents of the “Living Constitution” will say: “That time has passed, and now we have Congress, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Supreme Court, whatever, to make a new determination”—of course begging the question of whether the definition of the “dollar” can be changed. I want to give you what I think is a conclusive analogy on this point.

If you read the Constitution, you’ll find the word “year” used. For instance: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the United States.” “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the legislature, for six years.” If the meaning of “dollar” can be changed by Congress, why can’t the meaning of “year” be changed?

The principle is exactly the same. Yet we all know that if the Congress passed a statute, and the Supreme Court upheld it, saying that for constitutional purposes the word “year” will no longer mean three hundred and sixty-five days, but seven hundred and thirty days, or fourteen hundred and sixty days, or some arbitrary number, they would he howled down in hoots of ridicule. No one in this country would accept that. In fact, even we the people, amending the Constitution as we can do under Article Five, could not change the true definition of the word “year.” We could change the term of the Representative to something other than two years, the Senator to something other than six years; but we could not amend the Constitution to say that a “year” is something other than what it is. We cannot fly in the face of astronomical reality. Well, if it’s obvious for the word “year,” why isn’t it just as obvious for the word “dollar”?

You all know what the word “year” means in its astronomical significance, and therefore you know what it means in its constitutional significance. And if you knew what the word “dollar” meant in its historical significance, you would know what it meant, or what it means, in its constitutional sense. What did that word mean to the Founding Fathers? It certainly didn’t mean the Sacagawea dollar. It meant this: the Spanish milled dollar. [holding up a coin] And not just in the late 1700s.

The Spanish milled dollar was made the unit or standard for all foreign silver coins in the American colonies in 1704 by Queen Anne (there was a Parliamentary statute in 1707). It was made the standard for the United States by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, before the Constitution was even written. So in fact the dollar preceded the writing of the Constitution. It preceded the ratification of the Constitution. It preceded the first Congress, the first President, the first Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve Board, and everything else. Do you think it might be independent of all those things, having preceded them?

As a historical fact, the dollar is independent of the Constitution. The father of the dollar, in our system, was Thomas Jefferson. He was the one who proposed it to the Continental Congress. In the first government under the Constitution, Jefferson was Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. They didn’t agree on very much, if anything, except this: They both agreed on the monetary system. The Federalists and the Anti-federalists were in complete agreement. And what did Congress and the Treasury do in 1792 with the first coinage act? They went out to determine what the value of this “dollar” was.

How did they do that? They went to the marketplace. In what we would call statistical analysis, they collected a large sampling of Spanish milled dollars that were circulating, and they did a chemical analysis of them to determine on average how much silver they contained. This appears in the Coinage Act of 1792 where they wrote: “The Dollar or Unit shall be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current,” that is, running in the market, “to wit, three hundred and seventy-one and one-quarter grains of silver.”

Now you know something that 99.999% of Americans do not know, and probably a higher percentage of lawyers. The “dollar” is a silver coin containing three hundred and seventy-one and one-quarter grains of silver—and it cannot be changed by constitutional amendment, definitionally, any more than the term “year” can. And yet, as I mentioned before, if you ask the average person what a dollar is, he’ll probably hold this thing up. [holding up a Federal Reserve Note] Is there something wrong here? Do we see some kind of cognitive dissonance when we have a problem with this? I should hope so.

The second area in which the misuse of monetary powers and the disregard for monetary disabilities has corrupted the Constitution, as I said before, is the overextension of powers. I won’t go into these in great detail. If you look at the “Necessary and Proper” clause, which has been wildly expanded to give fantastic powers to Congress, what is the foundational case for that expansion? It’s usually cited to be McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819. What was that case about? It was about the Bank of the United States. It was a money case.

If we go to the doctrine of “Emergency Powers,” which is having a great uplift today, for obvious reasons, what was the foundational case that put that doctrine on the constitutional map? It was Knox vs. Lee, the legal tender cases brought after the Civil War. If we go to the doctrine of “Aggregate Powers,” the doctrine that says, “You can take a little here and a little there and kind of sum them all up, so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” again we go back to the Knox case, a monetary case.

What’s very interesting is to read a dissenting opinion by Justice Stephen Field, the only Justice on the Supreme Court who had the integrity to dissent in every legal tender case that he heard. He wrote a dissenting opinion in Dooley vs. Smith, in 1872. He wrote, “The arguments in favor of the constitutionality of legal tender paper currency tend directly to break down the barriers which separate a government of limited powers from a government resting in the unrestrained will of Congress. Those limitations must be preserved, or our government will inevitably drift from the system established by our Fathers into a vast, centralized, and consolidated government.”

You notice he was not talking specifically about the monetary powers. He wasn’t saying that these arguments would lead to the monetary powers being unrestrained. It was destroying the concept of limited government. “The arguments in favor of the constitutionality of legal tender paper currency tend directly to break down the barriers which separate a government of limited powers from a government resting in the unrestrained will of Congress.” How do you define, or how would you characterize, a government resting in the unrestrained will of Congress, or any other political body? It is by definition a totalitarian government.

The philosopher Richard Weaver, and I’m sure you’re familiar with this statement that he made, said, “Ideas have consequences.” He could have gone further than that. He could have said that bad ideas, once they are politicized, almost inevitably generate crises and catastrophes. If we look throughout American history, we will see that failures of various unconstitutional currency and banking situations, and we’ve had different ones over different periods, have inevitably led to crises and catastrophes. Pre-Civil War, we had a series of cycle collapses (they called them panics in those days), which were brought about by the unstable system of state banks and, to a certain extent, by the national banks that Congress created, the two Banks of the United States.

If you go into the Civil War, you have the crisis of massive inflation that was caused by the emission of the greenbacks, and then the tremendous political controversy over the continuation or the termination of paper money inflationism. Then we come to the Federal Reserve System. Some people here may know of the arguments that were made in favor of the Federal Reserve System. It would have an elastic currency. Through scientific management of the monetary system, depressions would be eliminated. There would be stability in the banking system. What happened?

The Federal Reserve System was there when the greatest banking collapse in American history occurred, in 1932-1933, and in what was called the Great Depression of the 1930s. In that period what happened? The Roosevelt New Deal. What were the powers they were screaming for? Emergency powers. You’ll find that written into many statutes, e.g., The Emergency Banking Act of 1933. You should pay attention to the title, The Emergency Banking Act of 1933, and the “Aggregate Powers” doctrine. It’s been all downhill since then.

I will not say, and I doubt that anyone could say, or defend the idea, that if the constitutional monetary system had been strictly enforced throughout American history there would have been no economic crises, because we all know that economic crises are not caused solely by bad monetary and banking arrangements. But, as sure as I am standing here, I can say that if the Constitution had been observed during that period, there would have been none of the crises that did in fact occur. They would have been essentially impossible, bringing me back to the point I made earlier about the primacy of law.

How should that have been done? Well, Americans would have had to understand and enforce their Constitution. You notice I say Americans, not the Congress or the Supreme Court, because who is the final arbiter of this document? [holding a copy of the Constitution] It is not Congress, and it is not the Supreme Court. It is “we the people.” Read the thing. How does it start? “We the people do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States”; not “we the politicians,” not “we the judges.” Those people are the agents of the people. We the people are the principals.

The doctrine is very clear that, being the principals, we are the Constitution’s ultimate interpreters and enforcers. You don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s go back to the Founding Fathers, if I can find the right place. [referring to a book]

The Founding Fathers were profound students of law and political philosophy. Their mentor in that era was William Blackstone, who wrote Blackstone’s Commentaries, probably the most widely read legal treatise of its time, certainly here in the United States. What did Blackstone write about this subject? He wrote, “Whenever a question arises between the society at large and any magistrate vested with powers originally delegated by that society, it must be decided by the voice of the society itself; there is not upon earth any other tribunal to resort to.”

We the people are the Constitution’s ultimate interpreters. But we all know that no people leads itself. Every people, for whatever reason, needs leadership. I look out on you people here today. You are representatives, or a cross-section, if you will, of this country’s elite. I don’t say that to be flattering. I don’t say that to be patronizing. In fact, I’m a messenger who, in a sense, is bringing you some bad news, because the American people out there have to depend on people like you in here, and others like you, for leadership. There’s a very simple reason for that. There’s no one else. Therefore, here’s the bad news: it ultimately is your responsibility to find out what your Constitution means with respect to monetary powers and disabilities, and then to do something about it, before history takes the opportunity out of your hands, and we all suffer the consequences.

Thank you.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This lecture was presented by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Esq., FAME Foundation Scholar to The Rotary Club of New York March 25th, 2003 at the Princeton Club, New York, NY. It was originally published originally published at fame.org.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

Is the Constitution Dead?

All too often when I propose returning America’s monetary and banking systems to constitutional principles, or revitalizing “the Militia of the several States”, I find myself assailed with the retort that “the Constitution is dead”; that attempts to apply its true principles—its “original intent”—as a means of limiting the powers of contemporary public officials are futile; and that my exhortations to the contrary are irrelevant, impotent, and even innately, if innocuously, screwball in character. Although no man is likely to be taken for a prophet in his own country, one’s being spurned in that role does not, by itself, prove his pronouncements erroneous. Especially when the argument against his prophetic gift is as self-evidently nonsensical as that “the Constitution is dead”.

Plainly, the Constitution is anything but “dead” with respect to certain individuals’ access to and employment of political power that affects the lives of every American every day. To the contrary: It is very much alive and active in regard to elections to Congress and the Presidency, to the enactment of statutes, to decisions of the Supreme Court (and hundreds of other tribunals), to the President’s command of the Armed Forces of the United States, and so on. Every transaction in these domains transpires under color of the Constitution, with at least tacit appeal to its authority, and at least in semblance according to its procedures.

True enough, many things done procedurally in the name of the Constitution are substantively unconstitutional. But no one in or seeking office in the General Government or the States dares to admit that he is acting outside, with disregard, or in contradiction of the Constitution, that he intends to violate it, or even that he may be justified in doing so in any particular future circumstances. Even those public officials who flout it in practice nonetheless acknowledge the Constitution to be just what it says it is: “the supreme Law of the Land” (Article VI, Clause 2), which everyone, themselves included, must follow. They invoke the Constitution as the source of their authority, and assert that their actions are fully consistent with it. That this may constitute self-deception, hypocrisy, deceit, or even perjury cannot falsify the Constitution’s character as “the supreme Law”, or deny the efficacy of the transmission and exercise of power pursuant to it.

That criminals violate a law does not negate it. So how is it that the powers the Constitution grants—and all too many that it does not grant—are fully alive; whereas the limitations on power that the Constitution also prescribes, in language no less intelligible and forceful, are supposedly “dead”? Simply because many individuals filling public offices under color of the Constitution choose to assert the powers but to forget the limitations? On what theory of constitutional government can such a pattern of misbehavior be legitimate? On what theory of law can officials enforce the parts of a law that grant them powers, while refusing to obey the parts of the very same law that impose disabilities on them?

Of most practical concern, if “the Constitution is dead” with respect to its limitations on governmental power, then how can anything that public officials do be legally wrong? If public officials refuse to obey the Constitution as to its limitations—and supposedly need not do so because it is to that extent “dead”—then how can Americans criticize, challenge, and condemn what they are doing? On what grounds can Americans chastise them for their misdeeds? If “the Constitution is dead” as to its limitations, then no public official violates his “Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution” (Article VI, Clause 3) when he disregards those supposedly ineffective restraints. Similarly, if “the Constitution is dead” as to its limitations, then it is “dead”, too, as to the individual rights it guarantees, because these rights establish fundamental constraints on governmental power. Thus, no public official violates even Congressional statutes ostensibly protecting civil rights (e.g., Title 18, United States Code, sections 241 and 242) when he disregards those rights as nonexistent.

Moreover, if, on the basis of the excuse that “the Constitution is dead”, Americans supinely obey public officials whenever the latter transgress the Constitution, then by their acquiescence they themselves admit that

  • any statute Congress enacts, any judicial decision, and any order of the President to the Armed Forces is “law”—and even “supreme law”, because there is nothing superior by which to judge it; thus,
  • “law” is just another name for raw power; and, therefore,
  • those who succeed in seizing control of the machinery of government can do whatever they like.

If “the Constitution is dead” as to its limitations, then public officials in the exercise of unbridled power need consult only their own wills, appetites, and vices for direction. They are accountable to no one but themselves. In the truest sense of the term, they are utterly lawless. And common Americans are impotent, imbecile, and impertinent to say anything within the law against them.

It is useless to invoke the electorate as the ultimate—or even a potential—”check and balance” on rogue public officials. For who is to check the electorate, if not the Constitution? The Constitution imposes constraints on voters, as well as officials:

[t]he very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials * * * . One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

If “the Constitution is dead” as to its limitations, though, then the voters, too, may do whatever they choose, and thus become a source of the problem, not its solution. As recent experience has repetitively proven, they may elect the worst possible miscreants to the highest public offices. And that such corrupt characters have been chosen “by the people” will enable them to camouflage their crimes under the whitewash of “democracy”. (Which, no doubt, is why this buzzword has suddenly become so popular in political discourse.) Thus, voters unrestrained by the Constitution will simply provide further evidence for History’s teaching that unbridled democracy leads straight to tyranny. When has it not?

On the other side, if “the Constitution is dead”, then to what authority can patriots appeal against the depredations of malign public officials and a corrupted electorate? Without the Constitution, patriots are mere dreamers or rebels whom the Establishment can condemn as crackpots or criminals.

In short, if common Americans concede that “the Constitution is dead”, they will surrender the high ground, the initiative, and even their own best weapon, and put themselves at their enemies’ mercy.

Moreover, if “the Constitution is dead”, how and with what should or could patriots attempt to replace the present political apparatus that oppresses them? A viable strategy for reform outside of the Constitution must posit some alternative legal structure. Any reasonably intelligent individual can determine what the Constitution means (or ought to mean, perforce of its “original intent”), and how it has been misinterpreted and even perverted over the years. If improper interpretations and applications have stemmed from failures in the original draftsmanship, patriots can propose amendments with some confidence, on the basis of experience. Thus, any necessary reforms can be constructed upon a solid foundation of knowledge, continuity, and above all legitimacy. What, though, can anyone predict about some entirely novel arrangement that would replace the Constitution?

Here, the experience of the Founding Fathers is highly instructive. The so-called “American Revolution” was anything but a “revolution”, in the truest sense of that term. It was a War of Independence—from England, but not from the basic precepts of English law. It was an attempt to perfect those precepts, by substituting as the controlling principles of government fixed constitutional powers and disabilities in place of fluid political precedents. For rule according to the English scheme of reliance on political precedents had proven deficient, because that system could so easily be bent to usurpation and tyranny.

Today, the overexpansion of supposed governmental powers is the result of political precedents: Americans acquiesce in it simply because it has happened, not because it can be proven to have a constitutional basis. Unlike the situation confronting the Founding Fathers, though, the present political Establishment cannot claim that its usurpations are sanctioned by traditional political norms: that political precedents contrary to the Constitution are justified because such precedents always have been. To the contrary: The Establishment’s usurpations are precisely that: exercises of powers which We the People never delegated to their government, and therefore to which no public official acting under color of the Constitution may claim any right perforce of any precedent. Indeed, any precedent for a contemporary usurpation is itself nothing but an usurpation.

And an earlier crime cannot legitimize a later one. “[N]o one acquires a vested or protected right in violation of the Constitution by long use, even when that span of time covers our entire national existence and indeed predates it.” Walz v. Tax Commission, 397 U.S. 664, 678 (1970). Thus, the task facing contemporary Americans is actually less daunting in principle than the one that confronted the Founding Fathers: For they had to create a new Constitution from whole cloth, when the very principle of constitutionalism was novel and unproven. Whereas, now, We the People merely have to defend the Constitution, and rectify its imperfections.

This, however, raises the more profound question of whether, if one concedes that “the Constitution is dead”—such that it cannot be revived, improved, and preserved—one must also concede that constitutionalism is futile, too. Did the Constitution fail simply because it was fatally flawed, or because any attempt to limit political power by legal rules, no matter how carefully contrived, is inevitably doomed? Is “government” in the only worthwhile meaning of the term—that is, organized political power controlled by and answerable to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—impossible?

Without the Constitution, Americans must fall back on the “self-evident” “truths” of the Declaration of Independence, that

all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But the Constitution is the product of, embodies, and depends upon these truths. If “the Constitution is dead”, does not its cause of death extend to the Declaration as well? If the Constitution has proven unworkable perforce of its own internal incoherence, and its principles have thereby exposed themselves as fallacies, then are not the principles on which they rest, the “self-evident” “truths” of the Declaration, also tainted as no less erroneous?

If so, is the Declaration not also wrong in its assertion that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce the[ people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”? So, must We the People allow themselves to be “reduce[d] * * * under absolute Despotism”, and that “absolute Despotism” then be suffered to continue in perpetuity, until it spontaneously collapses of its own imbecility and corruption, taking down all of society with it?

Any patriot must reject this conclusion out of hand—along with the premise on which it rests. What is “dead” is not the Constitution, or constitutionalism, or the Declaration of Independence, because they embody ideas and ideals that cannot die. But they can find themselves bereft of defenders. All too many Americans no longer entertain these ideas or cling to these ideals, not because they believe them wrong and unattainable, but simply because they lack the gumption to stand up for the way of life the Founding Fathers bequeathed to them.

This, however, is not an unalterably fatal condition. Common Americans once possessed gumption, and they can again. After all, it does not require heroic self-sacrifice—for one does not sacrifice himself by fighting for what is his. It does not require extraordinary courage—for even a cornered rat will resist an attacker. It requires only enough energy and determination to overcome the political sloth that throws in the sponge because that is the least tiresome thing to do.

If Americans cannot muster that energy, then for all practical purposes their country is dead. And the fault for that fatality cannot be attributed to the Constitution.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published at NewsWithViews.com on March 14, 2006.

 

What good is political education without political action?

As Saint James teaches, “faith without works is dead.” God’s grace may be “amazing”; but He desires men’s active cooperation with it for its full effects to emerge in changing their lives for the better.

The same is true—perhaps to an even greater degree—with political education. How often have Americans heard patriotic pundits tell them that education is the key to political reform in this country—to returning it to a true Republic, in which We the People actually govern themselves? But exactly why and how is that true?

After all, education can go on throughout one’s lifetime, without any effect outside of the student’s own mind, unless it inspires him and provides the intellectual and moral resources for action. So, to what ends—to what actions—should and must political education be directed at this moment in America’s existence?

Not just to winning elections every two or four years. Nothing is more familiar than the sequence the pundits promote: educate the voters, elect good candidates, improve government. Yet nothing is more obvious than that this process is not working as promised. Why? Perhaps because, once they elect their favored candidates, the voters return to their private lives, taking little or no further interest in day-to-day politics, let alone participating personally and directly in them. No wonder, then, that even basically honest public officials, after the election season has passed, imagine themselves independent of and superior to the voters—with a “mandate” to do whatever they want for the next two, four, or six years, no matter what the voters may really desire, or what their own oaths of office require. And no wonder, either, that after sufficient election-cycles have come and gone, all too many Americans are inured to this situation, expect it to happen, and even assume it to be the inevitable and unavoidable, if not the natural and just, course of events.

Exacerbating this problem is that contemporary America cannot count on basically honest politicians to any significant degree. The “two” major political parties—aided and abetted by their touts in the big media—have taken over and thoroughly corrupted the election business. The “two” parties operate as a central committee of professional revolutionaries of a rather totalitarian stripe, who purport to act in the name, but actually against the interests, of We the People. Not that they give serious consideration to the People’s interests. Why should they? They hold the People in contempt, distrust the People, deceive the People, and even openly ridicule and defame the People whenever the People oppose them. And they assume they can get away with this misbehavior forever, because the People are ignorant, and more to the point are politically impotent—except to vote in the manner of zombies for the “party list” of candidates hand-picked from behind the scenes, so as to supply a veneer of “democratic” authority to incumbent public officeholders as they misgovern this country for the benefit of special interests.

The overall effect is that America is misruled by a political system not very far removed from Lenin’s prescription in his book What Is To Be Done? And if anyone doubts the accuracy of this description, let him consider simply what has been going on with regard to the “immigration reform” bill now pending in Congress, and what is happening to Representative Ron Paul’s bid for one of the “two” parties’ Presidential nominations.

Oh, yes, after the electioneering hysteria dies down, common Americans may contact “their” legislators to put in their personal two cents on this or that particular issue. Precious little good will it usually do them, though, except to ventilate their own anxieties and frustrations—and with about as much other practical effect as whistling down a wind tunnel. But, besides blowing off steam in this way, what else do people do? What else do they imagine they ought to do, and can do? Not much, if anything at all.

Self-government, however, is not and can never be a spectator sport. It is not someone else’s doings that a patriot simply watches on cable-TV from the comfort of his couch, a frosty-cold beer in hand. Self-government requires active, personal participation—whenever self-government is necessary. Because whenever self-government is necessary, and does not assert itself, some other form of government will. And self-government is always necessary, everywhere throughout this country, because the Forces of Darkness never sleep.

Moreover, self-government requires not simply individual activity, but also and especially concerted activity. Not just self-education about government, but also and especially mass mobilization and organization for direct, coordinated participation in government, so that common people in overwhelming numbers end up exercising legal authority by and for themselves, not having legal authority exercised against them by and for someone else.

That is why “the Militia of the several States” are key to the reinvigoration of self-government in America at the present moment in the course of human events. That the Militia are the indispensable institutions of and for self-government is not simply the hobbyhorse of a lone commentator on NewsWithViews.com. No, indeed. The Constitution itself teaches that the Militia are “necessary to the security of a free State.” Even more tellingly, the Constitution says as much about no other institution or establishment of government. The Constitution never explicitly describes Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court as “necessary,” for any purpose. And certainly imaginable is that all of them could be completely disabled by a “terrorist” strike, some form of natural disaster that struck Washington, D.C., or an epidemic—leaving the country to fend for itself without their direction. Quite unimaginable, though, is what could disable all of “the Militia of the several States,” such that somewhere—indeed, most everywhere throughout the country—sufficient Militiamen would not remain to preserve the continuity of government and protect social order in their Local areas at least, without requiring any assistance whatsoever from the Disgrace of Columbia.

Moreover, that revitalized Militia have the potential to become America’s premier political institutions should be obvious to any American who asks himself what major political issue confronting this country today does not also present a serious “homeland security” problem.

And, perhaps most importantly, a movement for revitalization of “the Militia of the several States” is quintessentially constitutional—which imparts to it a supreme legitimacy and, in principle, legal invulnerability.

Of course, in the face of a tyrannical regime, no guarantee of perfect legal invulnerability exists. Nonetheless, legitimacy remains the most powerful weapon in patriots’ hands in the long march from oppression to liberty. For example, in 1905, Father Gapon, an Orthodox priest, led a peaceful and lawful march of 120,00 Russians through the streets of Saint Petersburg to the Winter Palace, to petition the Tsar to grant his subjects a few elementary rights—whereupon the Tsar’s uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir, ordered troops to fire into the crowd. The people dispersed in panic. But that event—known thereafter as “Bloody Sunday”— signaled the beginning of the end for the Romanovs’ dynasty. What Grand Duke Vladimir imagined would preserve “homeland security” for the ruling class actually cut the ground from under its feet, once and for all—needing only the major national crisis of the Great War finally to dump the regime into History’s dustbin.

America has not yet suffered her own “Bloody Sunday.” But enactments such as the Patriot Act, Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and National Security Presidential Directive No. 51—together with the accelerating para-militarization of National, State, and even Local police agencies, with which every American with open eyes is familiar—provide ample warnings that no prudent patriot will disregard. More ominously, even as each brick of this police-state edifice has been mortared into place, measured layer by measured layer, all too many Americans have simply shrugged their shoulders, nodding in agreement with the little Goebbels-figures who host “conservative” radio talk-shows that all this Nazification is necessary to fight “the global war on terrorism” or some other Neo-Conzi bogeyman conjured up to rationalize the establishment of supra-national fascism.

So, working for revitalization of “the Militia of the several States” will not be a political picnic. Nonetheless, it offers the best, if not the only, means to do the job now that America finds herself infested with all too many Grand Duke (or Duchess) Vladimirs in or contending for the highest public offices in the land.

What is the alternative? To play for time—with major crises looming on the horizon in the Middle East, in the domestic arena of money and banking, and in the plot to hatch a North American Union? Or to allow the Forces of Darkness to prevail, and to destroy this country—and with it every American’s hope for a peaceful, decent life?

If you have not yet had enough of the Forces of Darkness and everything they stand for and are trying to do to you, when will you finally become fed up? When it is too late to do anything about the situation? When your children ask you, “How did you try to stop this evil from fastening itself on our country?” —and you must lower your eyes in silence and shame, while they turn away in disdain and disgrace?

How much foresight does it require to realize that “too late” is approaching all too quickly?

How much courage must be mustered to take a little political action before fighting for your own life, liberty, and property becomes unavoidable—and which action, when it succeeds, will obviate any necessity for fighting?

If these questions do not answer themselves for you, then you are wasting your time perusing NewsWithViews. And you most certainly are not material well suited for “the Militia of the several States.” So, for your own peace of mind (such as it may be), stop reading these commentaries and go back to People magazine.

The time for more, and more, and even more political education is over. Enough Americans already know enough to pinpoint what is wrong, to identify those who are responsible, and to recognize what is necessary to correct the mess in which their country finds itself. Now they need to transform their knowledge into actions, their actions into results. As General MacArthur admonished his countrymen, “There is no substitute for victory!” And, as common sense teaches, no victory can be won without effort.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published at NewsWithViews.com on July 3, 2007.