“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
There was a very infamous incident in the years leading up to the American Civil War (a.k.a. The war of Northern aggression) In which a United States Senator was beaten with a cane in the congressional chamber. And instead of the people being horrified by this violence on the floor of the Senate, some congressmen too to wearing silver canes as adornment.
Flash forward to last week when a progressive terrorist took to shooting a GOP lawmakers at a baseball practice. In this case instead of many being horrified at this shooting, many came out in support of this action and offered words of encouragement. To the point of a Democratic strategist talking about ‘hunting republicans’. While there are marked differences between both incidents, the similarities are more than disturbing. The former lead to a war that had the largest butcher’s bill in the nation’s history and forever altered the country.
So what will happen this go around?
Political discourse is degenerating by the day and while it is foolhardy to blame anyone but the perpetrator for these crimes, there is something to be said for an environment that acts as an echo chamber to reinforce this degeneration. Many use the ‘broken window’ theory in discussing these issues, but there is a simpler and lower level version. When one lives in a rural location it is common to see trash thrown by the roadside. People tend to take cues from others and in this case the assumption is that no one cares and everyone behaves in a certain way. Conversely, when a certain stretch of highway is cleaned up, there is a substantial difference in how much trash is thrown afterwards. People see that no one else has taken this action and they don’t want to be the first.
Not many people throw a rock and break a window, but it is very tempting to simply throw garbage out the window than put it in automobile dustbin. By the same token, if everyone else is screaming insults and making threats, there isn’t much to having pristine discourse interrupted by invective. It’s mob psychology in a verbal realm that quite often results in the same in real life.
Democracy’s tend to have certain life spans of around 200 years. The American experiment is now the world’s oldest.
One of the contentions’ here is that historic events can be viewed by the prism of mathematics and differential equations. One can look at past events and see how they played out over time and apply the same rules to current events given certain initial conditions.
We know that democracies can only last a set time period. This is partially due to the fact that over time the majority learns that it can use the power of the ballot box to plunder the minority and vote itself largess from the public treasury. Many a wise man of the past has made this observation, and we can see this taking place in front of our own eyes.
“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state
lives at the expense of everyone.” Frederic Bastiat
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money”. Alexis de Tocqueville
Over the centuries, many charlatans have dressed up this notion in fancy rhetoric such as Marxism or the more recent term ‘social justice’ but they mean the same thing: A mob majority forcibly taking from the minority. Dressing up theft in words such as equality only shows that the purveyors of such schemes know exactly what they are doing.
The only problem with these little schemes is that they defy basic human nature. The psychological term for this is operant conditioning. Simply put, an organism will tend to do that for which it is rewarded and avoid that for which it is punished. Punish someone by stealing their earnings and they will tend to not work as hard the next time around. Conversely, rewarding someone for not working will tend to keep them in that state. This is basic logic no matter how many long winded articles are written trying to pretend the opposite is true.
So the question is raised again: What we be our lot?
As can been seen from this perspective of history and making predictions informed by past events, the likelihood will be one of the following:
1. The nation divides along amicable lines and both sides certain regions of the continent to see which political philosophy can actually work: Economic Freedom (Free enterprise) or Economic slavery (socialism or whatever the left wants to call it’s ideology this week).
2. The nation divides along the same ideological, but hostile lines. As before, one of the sides will advocate Liberty while the other advocates tyranny. It will be those who want to abolish slavery (Republicans) and those who advocate it’s expansion.
3. The nation stumbles along for a period of time not seen in the history of democracies.
Are there any other possibilities?