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Thread: America's Temple to Political Plunder

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    America's Temple to Political Plunder

    If there is one thing that, in my outsider's remote perspective, I could pinpoint as the one thing that is ruining America, it is how democracy has been elevated to a religion and presidents such as Lincoln made into demigods. Lincoln is the poster child for what Republicans, and any democratic politician for that matter, is today: profiteer, exploiter, plunderer.
    America’s Temple to Political Plunder
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo111.html


    "If democracy can be said to have temples, the Lincoln Memorial is our most sacred."

    ~ Bill Moyers (tompaine.com, Oct. 6)

    "The state is indeed divine, as being the great incarnation of a nation’s rights, privileges, honor, and life."

    ~ Unitarian Minister Henry Bellows (1866),
    on the meaning of the North’s victory in the War to Prevent Southern Independence

    The Lincoln Memorial is to PBS journalist Bill Moyers what Mecca and Medina are to devout Muslims. In an October 6 article entitled "Lincoln Weeps" on the web site tompaine.com (financially supported by Moyers) the state-run television personality reminisced about how "Back in 1954 . . . I made my first visit to the Lincoln Memorial. . . . I have returned many times since . . . silently contemplating the words" of Lincoln. (Replace the word "visit" with "pilgrimage" and you can see the Moyers/Muslim analogy. It is his "sacred temple").

    On his latest visit/pilgrimage to film a television show about Republican Party corruption, Moyers says he was "overcome by a sense of melancholy" (defined by Webster’s Dictionary as ("gloomy state of mind . . . dejection . . . a condition of depression and irritability. . ."). And why is Moyers so gloomy, dejected, depressed, and irritable? Because, says Moyers, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist have "turned the conservative revolution into a racket" that makes of mockery of "Lincoln’s words." "This is no longer his city," opines Moyers, because it has become "a subservient subsidiary of richly endowed patrons," by which he means corporate lobbyists. Bill Moyers is depressed over the fact that "special interests" are influential in a democracy.

    Moyers has a naïve child’s view of government. More than two hundred years ago James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other American founders proclaimed that their preeminent concern was to "restrain the violence of faction," which they knew was always a threat to civilization under democracy. "Violence of faction" was their synonym for democracy. They were not so foolish to believe that it could ever be eliminated, but only minimized – hopefully.

    There is no such thing as "democracy" that is not controlled to a large degree (or completely) by special-interest politics, and there never has been in the history of the world. The study of government, going back many centuries, has catalogued how it has always been born of conquest, and then used by one group ("the majority" under democracy) to exploit and plunder politically weaker groups. (See Franz Oppenheimer, The State; Murray Rothbard’s essay on "The State" in For a New Liberty; Albert Jay Nock’s classic, Our Enemy, The State; and Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed.) The bigger government becomes, and the more resources it controls, the greater will be the efforts of lobbyists to plunder the treasury and (legally) rob their neighbors through its auspices. This is ancient wisdom, but liberals like Moyers are oblivious to it.

    The most charitable one could be towards Moyers is to assume that what really upsets him is that the wrong special interests are exerting too much influence. After all, when he was in the Johnson administration one of his primary responsibilities was to rally various special interests in support of the welfare/warfare state.

    Moyers’ view of Lincoln is even more childish, amateurish, and uninformed than are his views of government. Washington, D.C., with all of its lies, deceptions, corruption, perversions, and legal plunder is indeed Lincoln’s town more than anyone else’s. The Lincoln Memorial – the Zeus-like image of a corporate lobbyist in an armchair – is the perfect symbol of that corrupt den of thievery. (My new book, Lincoln Unmasked, includes an entire chapter on "The Great Railroad Lobbyist," which Lincoln certainly was.)

    Lincoln was a corporate lobbyist long before the term lobbyist was even invented. When he began his political career in 1832 he announced that, as a Whig, his goal was to promote policies that would benefit the country’s wealthy corporate elite at the expense of the rest of the nation: protectionism, corporate welfare for "internal improvements," and legalized counterfeiting by a bank operated by politicians in Washington, D.C. He and his fellow Whigs were the political sons of Alexander Hamilton, who spent all of his political life after the Revolution trying to introduce British mercantilism – the very system the revolutionaries fought a war against – to America. Hamilton’s Federalists, then later the Whigs, and then the Republicans, always believed that the corrupt British mercantilist system was not so bad after all, as long as they could be the ones pulling the strings and benefiting from it. They always viewed it as a means to perpetual political power and wealth for the ruling party and its wealthy, ruling class supporters.

    [...]
    Stalin and Saddam Hussein had statues of themselves built, but never anything like the temple enjoyed by Lincoln. Hopefully the latter's figure will one day suffer the same fate as the former.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Stalin and Saddam Hussein had statues of themselves built, but never anything like the temple enjoyed by Lincoln.
    No, Lincoln never one a statue built for himself...they were built after him to commemorate his legacy. Please don't confuse Lincoln with Stalin/Saddam.

    Man...you must really be stretching today. Stick to deflating modernist/contemporary architectural design and practice...you're much better at that.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Don't respond to this!

    I am only going to post to encourage others not to post either. Threads die from lack of support.

    It is kind of like the signs that say don’t throw things at the monkeys because they will toss things at you. If we don’t respond, JAWS will have nothing to say.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Phwew! For a minute there, Jaws, I thought you might be engaging in something very much resembling trolling but after carefully re-reading the OP I see that you are actually just a disinterested observer because you refer to yourself as having a 'remote outsider's perspective'.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Phwew! For a minute there, Jaws, I thought you might be engaging in something very much resembling trolling but after carefully re-reading the OP I see that you are actually just a disinterested observer because you refer to yourself as having a 'remote outsider's perspective'.
    Trolling? Like this?
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Trolling? Like this?
    No, more like the variety one might read about in this tome.

    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Please cut the antics out and stick to the topic. Thanks.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Is the issue here Lincoln's actions and the interpretation of those actions

    or

    It's sad that american politics has turned into piss poor leaders quoting (and often out of context) former great leaders to try to legitimate themselves or draw subconscious comparisons among the masses?

    All I can say is, "You're no Jack Kennedy"?

    *********

    As far as trolling, I wonder why US are so put off by those who criticize US? Suggesting that our (US) political process and representatives should be above external criticism is ridiculous and clearly not patriotic... but overly patriotic. Everyone should listen and consider other takes on things.... not that you have to follow them, but at least consider them. Don't we (US) do plenty of political bashing against other countries? Sure we do... "Would you like some freedom fries with that"?
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    Heck, I sorta agree with aspects of Mr. Rockwell. Lincoln was the promulgator of the unified mercantilist state which sorta worked for awhile but is now running up against the limits of its structure. Although, it's ironic, I think he himself recognized the monster he was creating (who has that great quote about the "money power" in their sig line??)

    We have a choice, I believe: outright corporate fascism or a wholesale rethinking about what we want to be as a nation. We know where all the dominant forces in our nation want us to go (mainstream media, fundamentalist religions< the corporate community) And, sadly enough, voting "Deomcratic" is not a real choice at all. (That's why I whaled on Mskis. As well meaning as his "participation" in the system is, I wonder how effective or even worthwhile it is. Not that jaws' sniping from the outside (or mine) is more effective, but the first step is to not buy into the conventional wisdom).

    In the end, was Jefferson (and Washington) right vis a vis the localized, decentralized state versus the centralized industrial behemoth we once were?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Lincoln's presidency saved a nation and freed a people. Nuff said.

    And yes, I know. I broke my own rule. I am throwing the poop back at the monkey, knowing it only encourages him.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Lincoln's presidency saved a nation and freed a people. Nuff said.

    And yes, I know. I broke my own rule. I am throwing the poop back at the monkey, knowing it only encourages him.

    jaws' sniping aside, I think this is an important issue-the nature of the State. And, I'm not too interested in sniping at Lincoln (who I do admire, with some reservations)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    jaws' sniping aside, I think this is an important issue-the nature of the State. And, I'm not too interested in sniping at Lincoln (who I do admire, with some reservations)
    If you hate Republicans for all the special favours to corporations that they dole out, why do you even respect Lincoln? As demonstrated, he pretty much invented the process.

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    No, Lincoln never one a statue built for himself...they were built after him to commemorate his legacy. Please don't confuse Lincoln with Stalin/Saddam.

    Man...you must really be stretching today. Stick to deflating modernist/contemporary architectural design and practice...you're much better at that.
    In relative bodycount (600,000 casualties out of a population of 30,000,000ish), Lincoln was much worse than Saddam Hussein. He's right up there with the worst tyrants of this world, altough Stalin has the excuse of being invaded by a foreign power, and Lincoln on the other hand was the invader himself, so he's more of a Hitler than a Stalin.

    It's interesting how strongly many of you reacted to pointing out basic facts about Lincoln. Just goes to show that he has become the idol of America's religion of democracy.
    Last edited by jaws; 11 Oct 2006 at 2:47 AM.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    You know what, your right now dare they create iconic symbols with their representation. How dare they! I can not even imagine having my face imprinted on a copper disk and distributed by the billions to people!

    Or worse yet, George Washington! He has a larger plate with his representation, and it always has 25 times more value than Lincolns!

    And then there are the paper documents with there images on them. Other than Ben Franklin, I can not even begin to express concern of how we idolize the image of these presidents!
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have slightly different take on this. Or at least, am trying to view it from an even more remote distance. Mind you, I studied Folklore where I looked at collective memory - why we decide to remember certain things and not others and HOW we remember them.

    The power of memorials, particularly in Europe and European America, has historically been rooted in the creation of images of individual people as a representation of a whole host of important lessons, attributes, events, etc. that society feels it important to know. These sentiments get heaped on this iconic image who is often attributed to accomplishing far more than perhaps they actually did. They become larger than life. It is, essentially, one step in the process of establishing mythology (one reason why it is in the form of a Greek Doric temple - the Greeks being the wellspring from which we drew our myth-making tools at that time).

    So I ask whether the importance of the Lincoln Memorial as a symbol of the sentiments it tries to commemmorate isn't more important than the specific historical facts about Lincoln himself? Perhaps there was a different way to express that, but in 1917, this was pretty much par for the course. Does it really matter that it is "Lincoln" sitting in that temple? Are the words written there and the ideas they express not the true heart of the memorial? Was it not important after the Civil War to find some way of remembering lessons learned?

    Today, artists have experiemented with different ways of remembering these types of things that are not centered on projecting righteousness into the image of an individual (who could not possibly be as righteous as we would like to pretennd). The Vietnam Memorial, for example, takes a very different approach. But, hey, it was 1917 when they built it...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    If you hate Republicans for all the special favours to corporations that they dole out, why do you even respect Lincoln? As demonstrated, he pretty much invented the process.
    Post-Modernist history is no more satisfying than post-modernist architecture.

    In relative bodycount (600,000 casualties out of a population of 30,000,000ish), Lincoln was much worse than Saddam Hussein. He's right up there with the worst tyrants of this world, altough Stalin has the excuse of being invaded by a foreign power, and Lincoln on the other hand was the invader himself, so he's more of a Hitler than a Stalin.
    What pogrom, exactly, was Lincoln responsible for? I feel cmpelled to feed the monkey: The CSA fired the first shots, refusing to allow the rightful government to re-supply its legal property.

    It's interesting how strongly many of you reacted to pointing out basic facts about Lincoln. Just goes to show that he has become the idol of America's religion of democracy.
    Millions of pages have been written about Lincoln, both critical and not so. Now we are to see him as the Hitler of America? That's laughable at best.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Post-Modernist history is no more satisfying than post-modernist architecture.

    What pogrom, exactly, was Lincoln responsible for? I feel cmpelled to feed the monkey: The CSA fired the first shots, refusing to allow the rightful government to re-supply its legal property.

    Millions of pages have been written about Lincoln, both critical and not so. Now we are to see him as the Hitler of America? That's laughable at best.
    What he said. Any comparison between Hitler, Stalin or Hussein and Abe Lincoln is ludicrous.

    Lincoln was a truly great man. One of the greatest men this country and perhaps this world has known. He displayed courage, perseverance, wisdom, compassion, wisdom and humor in the most critical time of our nation. He experienced the death of the love of his life, the death of a child, depression, and the mental instability of a spouse, any of which might have destroyed lesser men. Yet he went on to do great things. He fought a just war at great cost to himself and the nation. In the end he was martyred for saving a nation.

    Sounds to me like dwalves casting stones at a giant.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I have slightly different take on this. Or at least, am trying to view it from an even more remote distance. Mind you, I studied Folklore where I looked at collective memory - why we decide to remember certain things and not others and HOW we remember them.

    The power of memorials, particularly in Europe and European America, has historically been rooted in the creation of images of individual people as a representation of a whole host of important lessons, attributes, events, etc. that society feels it important to know. These sentiments get heaped on this iconic image who is often attributed to accomplishing far more than perhaps they actually did. They become larger than life. It is, essentially, one step in the process of establishing mythology (one reason why it is in the form of a Greek Doric temple - the Greeks being the wellspring from which we drew our myth-making tools at that time).

    So I ask whether the importance of the Lincoln Memorial as a symbol of the sentiments it tries to commemmorate isn't more important than the specific historical facts about Lincoln himself? Perhaps there was a different way to express that, but in 1917, this was pretty much par for the course. Does it really matter that it is "Lincoln" sitting in that temple? Are the words written there and the ideas they express not the true heart of the memorial? Was it not important after the Civil War to find some way of remembering lessons learned?
    What should be remembered was that Lincoln launched an invasion that annihilated hundreds of thousands of lives, ruined countless others, by enslaving American citizens in order to build the foundation of the American empire. In the process he made a lot of bucks for himself and his friends in the railroad industry, and would have gotten away with it clean had some vengeful individual not decided to settle the score violently.

    The mythology of Lincoln was that of America's first warlord. It represents the birth of the American empire in bloodshed and slavery, the original founders' vision of an alliance of independent states conquered and annexed by force. Lincoln stands for everything the founders stood against. The myth is nothing more than that, a useful myth for today's warlords, coincidentally the same political party.


    So far no one has attempted an actual defense of Lincoln. The counter-argument has boiled down "Lincoln was great so shut the hell up!" You may be onto something with your myth theory.

    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    What pogrom, exactly, was Lincoln responsible for? I feel cmpelled to feed the monkey: The CSA fired the first shots, refusing to allow the rightful government to re-supply its legal property.
    Right. Also the Pearl Harbor attack was completely unprovoked and the boats in the Gulf of Tonkin were just having a nice fishing trip.

  18. #18
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    So far no one has attempted an actual defense of Lincoln. The counter-argument has boiled down "Lincoln was great so shut the hell up!" You may be onto something with your myth theory.
    Well... as President he did manage to abolish slavery (I know I know just another example of government interfering with free-market systems )
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Well... as President he did manage to abolish slavery (I know I know just another example of government interfering with free-market systems )
    He abolished slavery by enslaving hundreds of thousands through the draft? You don't see a bit of a contradiction in that?

    There's a much simpler explanation. The abolition of (private) slavery in the south was just another weapon in the war used to destabilize the CSA. The (public) slavery of the military was inaugured in order to achieve it. One form of slavery was swapped in for another.

  20. #20
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    He abolished slavery by enslaving hundreds of thousands through the draft? You don't see a bit of a contradiction in that?
    There's a much simpler explanation. The abolition of (private) slavery in the south was just another weapon in the war used to destabilize the CSA. The (public) slavery of the military was inaugured in order to achieve it. One form of slavery was swapped in for another.
    No I don't think conscription and slavery are at all the same thing. About the only thing in common is that a draftee may be serving against his will for a limited period of time - slavery is pretty much a guaranteed condition for life. If it were as simple as swapping one form of slavery for another it would be difficult to explain why there were as many volunteers as there were in that war (in fact 179,000 free black volunteer soldiers were in service at the end of the war - 10% of all Union forces).

    I do, however, agree that the abolition of slavery was another weapon in the war. It became a potent moral force that carried the Union cause.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  21. #21
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I believe you may find this group receptive to your theories jaws

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    No I don't think conscription and slavery are at all the same thing. About the only thing in common is that a draftee may be serving against his will for a limited period of time - slavery is pretty much a guaranteed condition for life. If it were as simple as swapping one form of slavery for another it would be difficult to explain why there were as many volunteers as there were in that war (in fact 179,000 free black volunteer soldiers were in service at the end of the war - 10% of all Union forces).

    I do, however, agree that the abolition of slavery was another weapon in the war. It became a potent moral force that carried the Union cause.
    Conscription is a much worse form of slavery. It is a form of slavery where you are very likely to die in the near future, while ordinary private slavery only uses you for your labor and you can reasonably expect to live out your natural life.

    Of course, for black slaves it made sense to take a chance and be a union soldier. They could use it to win back their freedom by cost of risking their life. For free men, it made no sense at all.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Conscription is a much worse form of slavery. It is a form of slavery where you are very likely to die in the near future, while ordinary private slavery only uses you for your labor and you can reasonably expect to live out your natural life.

    Of course, for black slaves it made sense to take a chance and be a union soldier. They could use it to win back their freedom by cost of risking their life. For free men, it made no sense at all.

    For risk of taking this further off-topic, I think it made plenty of sense to those whose family members were still enslaved or who were former slaves themselves and understood why freedom for all was so necessary.

    BTW, there is nothing "ordinary" about slavery.....any form of it.
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    Well...remember...jaws wants us all to be "subjects" of a self-appointed aristocracy that privately "owns" the nation state.

    I would note that there were plenty of draft riots in the North that were put down pretty brutally.

    I would also agree that Lincoln's actions to confirm the centralization of power into a unified state was contrary to one side of the debate that occurred during Revolutionary times-the side I agree with as I view an empire that is now completely jettisoning any "rights" in the pursuit of war for profit.

    Lincoln realized, though, the mistake he made and I disagree with jaws that he acted only or even primarily to "enrich himself" as a private citizen.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by Planderella View post
    For risk of taking this further off-topic, I think it made plenty of sense to those whose family members were still enslaved or who were former slaves themselves and understood why freedom for all was so necessary.

    BTW, there is nothing "ordinary" about slavery.....any form of it.
    It also made sense for Roman citizens of the late empire to sell themselves into slavery so they could avoid paying taxes, but that doesn't mean the initial cause was just.
    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    Well...remember...jaws wants us all to be "subjects" of a self-appointed aristocracy that privately "owns" the nation state.
    That's completely false. You're the ones who want members of a self-appointed political elite to run the republic.
    Last edited by jaws; 12 Oct 2006 at 7:37 AM.

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