Friday, October 12, 2012

Republican Feudalism and Functions of State

The political stability of the United States of America is the most precarious it has been since the Great Depression, and perhaps the Civil War. The very fabric of what his meant by the United States is in question.  The 2013 elections reflect the depth of this conflict.  

The functions of our country as a state have come under relentless coordinated attack from a well organized and very generously funded political-economic insurgency, which has created a political crisis in this country.  Since 1980 with Ronald Reagan's election, and most notably over the past four years, an unrelenting public relations campaign has been underway to convince American citizens the US is a loose confederation of companies, banks and money lenders and investment companies that control the lives of all the people who work for them directly and indirectly,  i.e. you and me and all of the other citizens. That is the heart of the Republican Party's vision of Ayn Rand's philosophy which they are attempting to impose on the country.  The effort has involved establishment of a national television network (FOX "News") providing around the clock propaganda, various well funded organizations to serve as sources of propaganda information (mistakenly called "think tanks," such as the Cato Institute), extremely influential lobbing companies designed to raise money for support the election of state legislators and governors, and organizing campaigns to changing laws to permit unlimited spending to support election of candidates to local, state and federal offices, and the appointment of federal judges to interpret laws to favor those who are paying for them. These groups have no commitment to the modern meaning of the word "state"and more importantly, the functions of a state. Their goal is to create a plutocratic state rendering democracy meaningless. 

A state is a legal/political entity that is comprised of a permanent population, a defined territory; a government ; and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.  According to Woodrow Wilson's classic book,  "The State: The Functions Of Government,"  government has two groups of functions, I.  The Constituent Functions and II. The Ministrant functions. Wilson wrote,  "Under the Constituent I would place that usual category of governmental function, the protection of life, liberty, and property, together with all other functions that are necessary to the civic organization of society, - functions which are not optional with governments, even in the eyes of strictest laissez faire, - which are indeed the very bonds of society.  Under the Ministrant (functions) I would range those other functions (such as education, posts and telegraphs, and the care, say, of forests, which are undertaken, not by way of governing, but by way of advancing the general interests of society....". The Republican Party has proposed that only the Constituent Functions should be recognized and nearly all of the Ministrant Functions abolished. 

Among the Ministrant functions of the US government Wilson enumerated were ten which the Koch Republicans are seeking to eliminate or be emasculated: (1) The regulation of trade and industry, (2) The regulation of labor,  (3) The maintenance of thoroughfares, - including state management of railways and that great group of undertakings which we embrace within the comprehensive term 'Internal Improvements,  (4) The maintenance of postal and telegraph systems, which is very similar in principle to (3) The manufacture and distribution of gas, the maintenance of water-works, etc.(6) Sanitation, including the regulation of trades for sanitary purposes, (7) Education, (8) Care of the poor and incapable,  (9) Care and cultivation of forests and like matters, such as the  stocking of rivers with fish, and (10) Sumptuary laws, such as 'prohibition' laws, for example."

The Republicans are attempting to replicate the disintegration of the state that occurred in the Middle Ages, which is the essence of the strategy of the Koch Brothers' Tea Part, and was the goal of their father Frederick C. Koch's John Birch Society.  Wilson's analysis reminds us that during the Middle Ages, government was replaced by a... "Feudal System as the constituent elements of government fell away from each other. Conceptions of government narrowed themselves to small territorial connections, [much as the Republicans press for states rights or local rights and elimination of most federal rights].  Men became sovereigns in their own right by virtue of owning land in their own right. There was no longer any conception of nations or societies as wholes. Union there was none, but only interdependence.  Allegiance was not to law, but to ownership.  The functions of government under such a system were simply the functions of proprietorship, of command and obedience.....The public function of the baron was to keep peace among his liegemen, to see that their properties were enjoyed according to the custom of the manor....  The baronial conscience, bred in cruel, hardening times, was the only standard of justice; the baronial power the only conclusive test of prerogative."
That is what at stake.  The Koch Brothers Republican Party is in the process of entirely dismantling half of the functions of a modern US state.  That is what all of the rancor is about, a referendum on completion the conversion of America into a feudal state.  Exaggeration?  Regrettably, very little.  

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