America’s Temple to Political Plunder
"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.