America is greater than ‘just OK’

Gene Vieth over at Cranach yesterday referred to a column by Marc Thiessen, that I had missed. It’s a response to that silly video op-ed in the NY Slimes on Independence Day about how the US is just OK.

He points out that at our founding we were an incredible outlier, we were the only country in the world where the people were sovereign. Most had kings, emperors, sultans, or other various satrapies indicating that the key to ruling was power over the people. The closest was the United Kingdom, which about a century before had changed from the king ruling, to the king reigning and parliament ruling. But even today, as we’ve seen parliament hasn’t got the memo completely that the people are sovereign. But their people know, and at some point so will parliament.

Marc notes that as recently as 1938, there were only 17 Democracies in the world, he doesn’t note, but it’s also true that by 1940 they all spoke English as their native language. In the early part of World War II, Great Britain wasn’t quite as alone as it sometimes is said, the Empire was there for them, but that was it

Herman Wouk’s Captain Henry in The Winds of War comments that at church parade in Argentia Bay, they were witnessing the changing of the guard. He was right, that moment marked the end of almost 150 years of the Pax Britannica, at the end of that war, we would see the beginning of the first 75 years of the Pax Americana.

Gene linked to the Daily Oklahoman, probably a good paper, but paywalled so here is a different link to Marc’s column. Here’s a bit of it.

For most of our history, American democracy was a global outlier. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.

That dramatic explosion of freedom didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S.-powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies. (Of those who do not, four out of five live in China.)

The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Last September, the Brookings Institution reported that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind … some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered ‘middle class’ or ‘rich.’”

None of that would be possible without the Pax Americana guaranteed by U.S. military. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom’s frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap. And today, the only thing that stops North Korea from invading South Korea or China from invading Taiwan is American military might.

So, let’s be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.

That is exactly so. Some countries have become wealthier per capita than we are. To me, that’s fine, we’re not doing all that badly, and they got that way by outsourcing much of their defense to the United States. We developed the concepts that were driving Britain to liberty, figured out how to make it work, and wrote it down, for all to learn. And then we (mostly) lived by what we had written. This may be the only place on earth that whenever the chief executive gets frustrated and complains that his country is ungovernable, he is reminded that it is a feature, not a bug.

As we listen to those foolish freshman Congresscritters spout their anti-Americanism, keep that in mind. They do it here because where they or the ancestors came from, they would be imprisoned or dead already. They owe their ability to bad mouth this country to the founders, and so do most of the people in the world.

Marc concludes with this:

The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over the Mall last week make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Trump was right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.

That is better than “just OK.”

Damned straight it is.

In a related note, The Lean Submariner reminds us that 2019 is the centennial of the American Legion, which is one of the stalwart defenders of American freedom. He tells us about it here.

Loud, Proud, and Rowdy, and on a Mission

243 years ago today, a document was read out by the town crier in Center City Philadelphia. That document was and is America’s Mission statement. This is it:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and 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, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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 to 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object 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.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Seal_of_Virginia.svgOf course, it had been building up to that point for years, the shooting had started over a year earlier, when an unlawful government in Massachusetts tried to disarm the people. but in truth the roots were deeper still than that. If one were to look at the Massachusetts state seal, one would find Liberty, with a sword in one hand and Magna Charta in the other, or one could look at Virginia’s state seal.

Because this marked the start of the second of the three cousin’s wars and was the English Civil War, all over again. Again the cause was the rights of freemen, and this time not amongst the relatively calm precincts of England but here where men had learned to breathe free, and already knew the timeless cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”

And so came one of America’s most heartbreaking wars, where we gave up that of which we were most proud, our Britishness, to preserve our English rights. It was hard, and it pretty much ended here.

Tom Paine had it pretty much right when he said, “You can’t conquer an idea with an army.” I’m sure that a few shades of Stuart kings agreed with him. Where that idea went is a modern legend.

4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn’t stopped ‘stirring things up’ on a global scale.

Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. 

America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat’l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.

Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. 

Loud, proud and rowdy – early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Liberty Or Death”, “Live Free Or Die” 

Great Satan’s superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment. 

This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world – and for this very reason – America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?

Unconvincing (and either historically igno – or deceitfully dishonest – either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium – to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America’s selfish purposes. 

People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere – not merely in the magical Great Satan.

Americans honestly believe that securing other people’s freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own. […]

Creative destruction is Great Satan’s middle name. It is her natural function, for she is the one truly revolutionary country in the world for more than 2 centuries. 

She does it automatically, and that is precisely why creeps and tyrants hate her guts, and are driven to attack her. An enormous advantage, despots fear her, and oppressed peoples want what she offers: freedom. 

Amazingly, some suspect states, illegit leaders and some people have not yet comprehended that America’s primary intention is to preserve and keep our own land and liberty and all it’s prosperity and that America will do anything and go anywhere to make it happen.

From Great Satan’s Girlfriend, Thanks, Courtney!

So, sit back, enjoy the hotdogs and beer, the tanks on the Mall, the music and the speechifying. We’ve got some problems that Tom Jefferson and the boys in Philadelphia would understand, we’ll get them sorted eventually, I reckon. Meantime the band’s playing our song.

happy-birthday-americaFirst published on 4 July 2015 at All along the Watchtower.

And now we watch with interest as the British themselves join our Revolution against a Parliament grown overpowerful that has become a threat to freedom itself. Godspeed to them, we pray that we aren’t entering the time of the fourth of the cousins’ wars but Americans and Britons will be free.

Of Bias and Banning

Ben Domenech wrote at The Federalist this week on the bannings we are seeing lately.

So regarding this line from Peter Suderman’s piece, critiquing Sen. Josh Hawley and Sohrab Ahmari, titled “The Moral Scolds of the New Illiberal Right Are Coming For Your Internet”: “A private company, like Facebook or Twitter, suspending an account or deleting a post is no more censorship than a bar owner kicking out an unwelcome patron is censorship.”

That’s a particularly libertarian perspective. But is that really how people think about and define censorship? Or is that an uncommon definition at odds with one more commonly held by American citizens?

We have a current example relevant to this question from yesterday in the knitting site crackdown which will permanently ban any accounts posting content in support of Trump or his administration (as representing hate speech and endorsement of white supremacy).

Now, this may not seem like a big deal. But if you’re a mom in Wyoming who’s been making money off of selling your knitted projects for more than a decade – as one of our writers at The Federalist is – does anyone honestly think they don’t view that as censorship? That kids or family don’t view this as grandma getting censored just because of her support of one of the major political parties?

I doubt a narrow definition of censorship which is limited solely to governmental activity sounds that believable to most people. Of course it’s not a First Amendment violation; these are private businesses. But it is pretty obviously a form of market-based censorship: you can’t post on our marketplace if you think X or your product is perceived as supporting X. That view is a lot more common than the narrow “only the government can censor” view.

(I’ve always called it “market based censorship” because there isn’t any natural right to access these markets, but I’m open to a different term. It’s the equivalent of banning a book. You can still print it at Kinkos or post it on your own website – assuming your server isn’t targeted – but you won’t get access to Amazon, book stores, etc.)

An obvious comparable situation would be: If you oppose gay marriage, you can’t advertise your business on Google. That would, by the uncommon definition, not be censorship. I doubt very much the business owners would agree.

When I’m theoretically not involved, I tend towards that very definition, but Ben is correct, it’s a narrow legal one, not really viable in the real world, nor would I think so if I was the one being squelched. He right too, we’ve always relied on the Michael Douglas rule (on both sides) to wit: “Republicans buy shoes too.” It’s served us very well, I doubt we should give it up.

The particularly destructive aspect of this from my perspective is not the “deplatforming” of political speech, but the deplatforming of totally legitimate business activity. I don’t really care (other than being irritated) if as a primarily political entity you get permabanned from Twitter or Facebook for supporting the president. I care more if your business gets hosed from a market – where you spent a bunch of money to access it and build your customer base – entirely because of your political beliefs.

Or from the financial services that allow you to do business in that market, as we are seeing with the big banks, Paypal and all that. Ben ends with this:

A future in which Americans narc on their business competition to get them permabanned from a marketplace is the most pathetic late stage capitalism version of the Cultural Revolution I can imagine. But that possibility seems increasingly real.

It does indeed, and what’s more, it’s gonna be a fast trip from the apex of the first world to being a third (or worse) world shithole, because that is the unavoidable outcome of such a decision. It not that the grocery store can ban you for wearing a Trump cap, that’s one thing. What we are talking about here is all grocery stores banning you for owning (not necessarily wearing) a Trump cap. Read all of Bias At Tech Companies Hurts Americans More Than You Think, and think it through for yourself.

A Brexpanation of the Mess in Westminster

This is, I think, a very good view of Britain as it prepares for what may thankfully be the last phase of Brexit.  It’s from Helen Dale writing in London for Law & Liberty. Let’s take a look.

At time of writing, Boris Johnson has opened a commanding lead in the race to be Conservative Party leader and thus Prime Minister, confirming one of my father’s bits of life advice: “always bet on self-interest, Helen; it’s the only horse that’s trying”. Whether Boris will have a country to govern come July 22 is, however, something of a moot point.

Let me tell you about Brexit Britain, which is in the process of breaking the Big Electric Trainset in the Palace of Westminster.

Since the 23rd of June 2016, when the UK voted to “leave” the European Union, colossal fissures — hitherto obscured from view — have opened in the body politic. More Conservatives voted Leave than Labourites, but Labour represents the most passionately pro-Remain constituencies in the country and the most passionately pro-Leave ones. This means both parties have taken to destroying themselves internally rather than dealing with the vote’s implications.

The Tories are more culpable because they formed government during this period. They stuck with Theresa May, a leader who lacks every leadership quality apart from perseverance and who managed to lose a 20 per cent poll lead against an antediluvian Marxist after calling a completely unnecessary general election. This election produced a hung parliament and forced May’s Tories into a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a Northern Irish outfit that is, to put it mildly, full of strange characters.

Thanks in part to the immense distraction of said unnecessary election, May and her Cabinet Office hangers-on made a complete hash of negotiating Brexit. They failed to appreciate — while slow and ponderous and beset with terrible problems of its own (Italy, Greece, Hungary, people in France attempting to re-run 1789, etc.) — the EU must defend itself on Brexit or risk being torn asunder.

There’s a lot in that. Because Mrs. May fiddled around while the Conservative party burned around her, the EU itself is backed into a corner. Back when the referendum passed, it might have been possible to let the UK go without too many repercussions in the EU itself, at least obviously, and like HMG, the people running the EU give no indication of being deep thinkers. But now, they have something of a continent-wide revolt on their hands, caused not least by Brexit, and so now everybody thinks they are fighting in the last ditch.

They may well be correct in that belief. It’s hard to see Britain surviving as a sovereign country if they take May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which to me (and to most of my British friends) looks slightly more harsh than Versailles agreement that ended the Great War did to Germany. It’s also increasingly hard to see the EU surviving the loss of its second largest contributor.

It is not Project Fear to point out that tariffs will make our goods unappealing to buyers in the EU; that is their point. A large number of British businesses will be affected and many of them will go bust. Industries that cannot relocate, such as Welsh lamb farmers — who depend overwhelmingly on exports — will go to the wall and they will not go quietly (nor should they).

On the other hand, shoppers will be free of EU tariffs on imports and will be able to buy generally superior Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Canada) agricultural produce at a lower price. This is an undoubted benefit of leaving the EU properly but is also a reminder that neither EU nor UK agriculture is remotely competitive with Australian or Canadian agriculture.

That’s very true, and unlike 2016, the United States has a president that believes in Brexit and is willing to do a very good trade agreement, and our agriculture would make for overwhelming pressure on UK farmers, that’s one of the reasons that the EU’s agriculture tariffs are so high. But agriculture isn’t merely another business, aside from the fact that being able to feed yourself (or come close) is a strategic matter, for all of us agriculture is our base, it is how we grew our countries. That’s true for Britain, and France, and Germany, but also Canada and the United States, and Australia. It’s much more important to all of us than business, it’s very deep in our personalities.

One of the reasons the 2016 EU Referendum was so destructive of civil society is because Westminster is a system of representative democracy. We elect MPs to make law, and it is their role to deliberate in Parliament and make decisions on behalf of those they represent, but not at their behest. Over its long development, anything even vaguely populist was drained out of the UK’s constitutional architecture. Politicians are not supposed to keep picking at some electoral scab or another using direct democracy. 2016 was thus a horrible disruption of the constitutional order precisely because referendums are not how one does things.

A referendum became necessary, though, as the UK outsourced so many legislative competencies — most importantly trade and immigration — to the EU. Constitutionally, the electorate entrusts MPs with legislative power, but Parliament had no authority to give that power away; it required a popular mandate. Britain’s greatest constitutional lawyer, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, pointed out that a referendum should have been held in 1993 (before signing the Maastricht Treaty). His advice was ignored. Instead, former Prime Minister David Cameron, Bognanor’s most famous student, was forced by circumstances to lance the national boil in 2016.

UK politicians have legislated and governed within such a constrained field for so long they are now literally out of practice. Westminster is no more than a Big Electric Trainset. The concomitant loss of capacity among civil servants is notable. It is difficult, for example, to imagine the Home Office replicating Australia’s points-based immigration system, even if it wanted to.

And that is the baseline, I think. I can remember a very good friend telling me that the reason that every governmental function in Britain is Londoncentric is because there are no competent people in local government. I suspect he is correct. The problem now (that neither of us suspected then) is that there are none in Westminster, either.

Maybe Boris Johnson can find some, or Nigel Garage, or somebody. Because it is important that some develop from somewhere, or the whole thing is gonna fail.

Do read the whole article at Brexplaining the UK’s Future. It’s excellent.

A Very British Protest

Americans are likely the foremost proponents of individual freedom in the world. We have been as long as there have been Americans. There sits John Winthrop’s “Shining Citte on a hill’. Over there is the Declaration that fueled both the French and Russian Revolutions, although they both let it get out of hand, which we didn’t. There is a Constitution that almost uniquely has been honored for over 200 years more in its use than its breach.  But that is our heritage, above all that is what makes Americans, Americans. But it didn’t spring forth like Pallas Athena from Zeus’s brow on 4 July 1776, where did it come from? Edmund Burke knew and put it as well as anyone ever has when he said…

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English constitution, to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove, that the right had been acknowledged in ancient parchments, and blind usages, to reside in a certain body called a House of Commons. [emphasis mine]

But we are not, and never have been alone. This is the heritage of Britain, seen undiluted in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and some others, and imperfectly in others such as India. But it is the most powerful drive in the world. Take another look at the picture that leads this article. That is not London, nor any other great British city. That is a picture of the protests last weekend in Hong Kong. The former crown colony, now belonging to China, but with guarantees till mid-century about its English style justice system which is now being threatened by mainland China.

A good write up in The Federalist.

Last Sunday, more than 1 million Hong Kong residents, despite brazing heat, took to the streets to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill. Should this bill become law, Beijing will be able to demand Hong Kong authorities extradite anyone, including pro-democracy dissidents and human rights activists.

The Sunday protest is the largest since the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to Beijing in 1997. The protest was peaceful until midnight, when a small group of protestors clashed with local police. For an event involving 1 million people, a mostly pacifist protest is a no small accomplishment.

In some way, Sunday’s protest feels like Hong Kongers’ Alamo moment. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive appointed by Beijing, vowed the day after the massive protest that she would push ahead with the extradition bill in spite of dissent. She probably doesn’t have much choice, because Beijing won’t allow her to back down. Since 1989, Beijing has always suppresed any dissent immediately and ruthlessly.

Hong Kongers Want to Keep Their Freedoms

But Hong Kongers won’t back down either. More protests are taking place this week. What’s amazing is that, unlike 2014’s “umbrella movement,” which demanded universal suffrage, there is no single visible leader like Joshua Wong who is in charge of this week’s protests. Instead, ordinary Hong Kongers—students, airline crews, office workers, labor union organizers, Catholic Church workers, business people, and even some legislators—are taking part in these protests of their own initiative.

Teachers’ unions called for closing schools on Wednesday so teachers and students could participate in the protest. Art galleries, restaurants, and many other businesses gave their employees a day off so they could join. These grassroots efforts demonstrate that the protest isn’t only about opposing the extradition bill. Hong Kongers are fed up by the constant economic and political squeeze by Beijing. They feel that Beijing has broken its promise of respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy. They are also deeply disappointed in Hong Kong authorities’ submissive attitude. Now, ordinary Hong Kongers are showing they won’t go down without a fight.

Protesters have surrounded Hong Kong’s legislative building since Tuesday, which forced the pro-Beijing legislature to temporarily delay the second round of debate of the bill. However, the Hong Kong government’s responses to the peaceful protests have become more hawkish.

The legislature resumed the debate of the extradition bill on Wednesday. Lam called the protests “riots,” which reminded people of the language Beijing used against the 1989 pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square. The latest video shows Hong Kong police are firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. According to a government report, more than 70 people, including both police and protesters, were injured during the clash.

The most likely outcome of this extraordinary event in Hong Kong is that the legislature will pass some version of the extradition bill. So are Hong Kongers’ efforts futile? I don’t think so.

Helen in her article thinks President Trump should make a statement supporting the protestors. I want to agree, I admire them greatly. But like Hungary in 1956, we cannot effectively support them, so do we risk increasing their casualties by encouraging them, or do we sadly remain silent, recognizing that there are things even the United States cannot do. I don’t know that answer.

But I do that the Hong Kong protestors are in the best tradition of Anglo-American freedom, and I’m cheering for them.

But think of that, it was twenty years ago that Britain gave up control of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, and now like a phoenix, its flag again flies, carried by the former colonists. Takes a special sort of empire for that to happen.

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

On American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson asks this question. It’s a good one, I think. Because almost all of us of the middling sort are pretty angry about things. So let’s have a look.

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

One, illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.

Two, globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. […]

He gives us six, in all. All are, as one would expect, cogent and accurate. So go and read them.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

In other words, elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

That’s a huge part of it in my estimation. It’s one thing if all these things are good for us, or necessary for the world to survive, or something. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish if you’re telling me how important this trash is, but it doesn’t apply to you and your friends. “Do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work any better leading a company, group, country, civilization, or anything else than it does trying to raise a kid. Never has, never will.

What it does is bring rebels. It did when my high school said we couldn’t wear blue jeans. Suddenly my entire class showed up in them. What are you going to do now, Mr. Principal? Give a quarter of the school detention? Makes you look sort of bad, doesn’t it, that your leadership is so bad?

The same principle applies when you and a few hundred of your closest friends fly their private jets into Davos for a party disguised (badly) as a conference.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia into their communities.

As for trade, few still believe in “free” trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn’t elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

Do you know anybody who believes any of this tosh, unless, perhaps, their livelihood depends on it, or the indoctrination they received in school hasn’t been rubbed off yet? I can’t think of one that I do. I know a few trolls who say they do, but I’d bet they’re paid to say that. I do know one person who believes in Global Warming, but he also believes it is beyond the tipping point, so we may as well ‘Rock on’.

If Western nations were really so bad, and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

How was it that elites themselves had made so much money, had gained so much influence, and had enjoyed such material bounty and leisure from such a supposedly toxic system—benefits that they were unwilling to give up despite their tired moralizing about selfishness and privilege?

So where does it end?

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up—or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.

Or in an armed revolt, which I discount less each month. The people are not going to go quietly into the night.

 

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