”Upon his throne he drank and ate— Johnny Cash, Belshazzar
But for Belshazzer it was getting late
For he was weighed in the balance and found wanting
His kingdom was divided, couldn't stand
He was weighed in the balance and found wanting
His houses were built upon the sand..."
Note from Addison: Well, we did it. We watched the Republican debate last night. The news today described it as the most substantive debate so far. Personally, I didn’t get it. After an opening sequence rather befitting of American Ninja Warrior, the debate began, but it was hard to distinguish one candidate from the other.
From what I could tell they were all articulating the same points in different ways. If I was in a bar talking to a friend about what I heard I would summarize in this way: “We gotta support Israel and Ukraine otherwise Putin wins… we gotta show Iran who’s boss in the region… gotta be tough with China over Taiwan… Abortion is bad to some degree depending on weeks in the womb… Fentanyl is poison, we need to use the Special Forces to take out the cartels and disrupt trade with Chinese resource providers… and build walls, even on the Northern Border.”
This week we interviewed the Libertarian Candidate for President, Michael Rectenwald. If you want to listen to the Session, click here.
Below is one of his essays that has received some attention on social media. Rectenwald descibes the “two Americas” he sees: One worldly, global, and defined by permanent bureacracy; the other, local, homegrown, and a stalwart of free market principles. At its essence, the essay claims that “what people talk about over lunch” is, in fact, very different from the political realities imagined by the “subversive elites” that look to control every aspect of the free American life.
The Two Nations
by Michael Rectenwald, Libertarian Candidate for President
Two political, economic, and cultural movements are vying for the soul of America. One is a program from above, and the other, a movement from below. But neither is nationalist as such. One aims to dissolve the nation into a universalist glob, while the other intends to starve the state of resources and disempower its means of centralized command and control.
The dominant, top-down political orientation of the current regime is globalism. It makes no practical difference to the U.S. whether the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, or any other globalist organization is behind its program, although they are.
It has been fully embraced by the government and its corporate partners, or what I call, in my book Google Archipeligo, “governmentalities,” otherwise “private” companies that operate as state apparatuses and undertake state functions. Globalism has as its aim the de facto if not legal dissolution of the sovereignty of the United States.
It aims at eradicating national borders, nullifying the Constitution, and abrogating the rights of national citizens. It means to control the consumption, reduce the living standards, remold the habits, overwrite the cultures, and even reduce the population of its subjects. Globalism involves a technocracy, with an “expert” class wielding technological tools and systems for surveillance, behavioral modification, and repression.
The globalist state seizes on various “crises” to accomplish these objectives, including “pandemics,” “climate change,” and war. At home and abroad, it thrives on anarchy-tyranny, cultural and political disorientation, the devaluing of the currency, and economic sanctions. It also uses “stakeholder capitalism” and its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) indexing as weapons. ESG is an extra- or para-governmental instrument of coercion that is increasingly backed by government. It infringes on property rights and coerces producers into accepting its precepts and thereby establishes a woke cartel of approved producers while eliminating the noncompliant from the market and even civic life.
The quasi-official dogma of the globalist state is a leftist totalitarian ideology called wokeness. Wokeness functions to censor speech, suppress dissidents, and pit supposedly beleaguered identity groups against the majority. It denies property rights by forcing organizations to hire and promote employees based on their identities and by treating ownership as a “privilege” that can be revoked. It aims at banning the freedom of association and eviscerating the remnants of the natural social order.
Wokeness and anti-white racism are central to the administrative globalist state and its weaponized Justice Department and surveillance agencies, who use them to attack the middle-class or aspiring middle-class majority, whom they see as their primary adversaries, as those most inimical to their rule. They thereby buy the allegiance of special identity groups and weaponize them against the state’s alleged foes. This explains the Biden administration’s insistence that “white nationalism” represents the number one domestic threat to the nation, when white nationalists comprise a minuscule fraction of the population.
Meanwhile, corporate capitalists curry favor with the government and embrace the state religion because they understand who is wielding power and who can strip them of their wealth. They also recognize the power of the woke cartel, which combines companies and activists, who threaten to cancel them if they fail to kowtow to woke demands—by sufficiently censoring speech, adhering to official narratives, or meeting ESG criteria. Thus, cloaked under a thin “anti-racist” and environmentalist scrim, wokeness is statist and centralized but also emanates from governmentalities, which impose extra-governmental sanctions on both business enterprises and individuals, over and above those decreed by the state. Globalism represents a further growth phase of this woke corporate-state hegemon. It dissolves any local or national community to intensify the state’s control and extension over more and more of the population.
Yet an emergent political force, albeit still nascent, is taking shape. This movement, the one from below, may be called localism. It seeks to resist the desiderata of the federal-state globalists and to nullify their encroachments on the self-determination of citizens. It envisions and builds parallel structures under local control. It localizes the control of the police, the sheriff, the school system, property protection, self-defense, the economy, and even privatized competitive banking with private currencies. Localizing these functions and functionaries means to resist the impositions of the federal government (including the Federal Reserve) and its globalist aspirations.
Localist movements are already underway in various states and localities, including in Idaho, Washington state, New Hampshire, and elsewhere. The legal basis of localism is the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states first that “the federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it” and second that “the people of the several states retain the authority to exercise any power that is not delegated to the federal government as long as the Constitution doesn’t expressly prohibit it.” This principle can be taken further—to the local and individual level.
Localism’s watchword is decentralization. Unlike globalism, this movement is straightforward and honest about its objectives. Globalism, on the other hand, acts through deception. It doesn’t announce itself as “globalism” and, therefore, must be detected through its effects. For reasons that I’ll discuss shortly, localism is the only means for circumventing centralized government in the hands of the federal-global state. It is the only antidote to globalist tyranny.
Of these two orientations, globalism is necessarily more powerful, emanating as it does from the corporate-government and extra-governmental ruling class. Contrary to conscious and unconscious Marxists, the ruling class is the state and its beneficiaries, not the “capitalist class.” The state is the only entity that extorts wealth from the productive class through coercion and without an agreement. The state is the real conductor and beneficiary of any “exploitation.” And the ambition of the reigning statists is to globalize, leaving no escape from their clutches.
Of course, the ruling class is hierarchical and striated. It includes the federal government, the central bank, the administrative state, and the permanent bureaucracy or “deep state.” But the ruling class also includes governmentalities—corporate entities that have been drawn into the state’s ambit as state enablers and effectively carry out state functions.
Governmentalities are especially conspicuous today in the cases of Big Tech and Big Pharma. The former serves to censor, disseminate propaganda, and control information while the latter is granted a legal monopoly over medicines and vaccines in exchange for the extension and intensification of state coercion. The mainstream media complex is also a governmentality, as is, of course, the military industrial complex. Along with social media, the former disseminates official narratives and propaganda and buries or discredits conflicting information. The media are the priesthood of the administrative state because they define and enforce the public orthodoxy with which the state identifies itself. Social media are central to this priesthood, which explains why Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter (rebranded as X) apparently poses a threat and why Musk has been dogged by the regime ever since. The military industrial complex is a governmental partner for extracting wealth from the productive class to expand the state’s reach but also to intimidate, suppress, and surveil the domestic population.
The ruling class also includes such state actors who, although not employees of the government, serve as its foot soldiers. These include the standard-issue academics and other leftists, who disseminate statist ideology. Academia is one of several main “ideological state apparatuses,” to use the phrase of French philosopher Louis Althusser. Its function is to rationalize state power, making it appear natural and inevitable; its minions furnish the state with what Austrian School economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe termed “intellectual bodyguards.” These include academics who, like MIT professor Noam Chomsky, posture as radicals. Not surprisingly, many of these academics are socialist. The state encourages the proliferation of socialism because socialism is statist.
Of course, under globalism, the state does not operate strictly to serve national interests. Or, to put it another way, the national interests, as defined by the state, no longer involve the weal of the nation per se. Instead, the ruling class is interested in dissolving the nation into a global hegemon. This global power may be run from the United States, but the ruling class is not interested in maintaining the integrity of the republic. Instead, it aims at making the nation part of a global order, with the citizens of the United States having no particular claim to exclusive citizenship or the rights and privileges that it entails. This accounts for the unfettered immigration that the state encourages with open borders and social welfare. Much like its corporate partners, the state has become globalist. It is a Great Reset state, and the republic is now an impediment to its monopolization of power.
The state has almost unlimited powers of coercion at its disposal. But localism’s power lies in the capacity of the productive class to resist by refusing to participate, by withdrawing its consent and precluding its own exploitation. Although the globalists have vastly more resources at their disposal, their power, nevertheless, depends on the consent and participation of the exploited.
The main resource of localists is an inexhaustible reserve of independence. But to succeed, more and more of the exploited need to develop a new class consciousness, one that understands the state, which includes its governmentalities, as their real exploiter. Academia has been commandeered as a bulwark against this possibility. Likewise, a cadre of libertarian intellectuals must counter the academic intellectual class. As Murray Rothbard wrote in an introduction to Étienne de la Boétie’s The Politics of Disobedience, “libertarian education of the public must include an exposé of this exploitation, and of the economic interests and intellectual apologists who benefit from State rule.”
As Hoppe argued in his 1990 essay “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis,” his 2001 book, Democracy: The God That Failed (2001), and elsewhere, under a democratic system, top-down reform of the state is virtually impossible. The holders of power over public “goods” have no compulsion to abdicate their positions as exploiters, especially given the democratic participation of the exploited. Unlike kings, leaders in democratic states wield property that they do not own. Likewise, they have a shorter time preference than kings, which means that they use state resources more profligately.
Before democracy, Hoppe wrote (in his 1990 essay), “it would have been necessary only to force the king to declare that from now on, every citizen would be free to choose his own protector, and pledge allegiance to any government that he wanted.” Under democracy, the terms have changed:
Under democratic rule then, the abolition of the government’s monopoly of justice and protection requires either that a majority of the public and of their elected representatives would have to declare the government’s protection monopoly and accordingly all compulsory taxes abolished, or even more restrictive, that literally no one would vote and the voter turnout would be zero. Only in this case could the democratic protection monopoly be said to be effectively abolished. But this would essentially mean that it was impossible to ever rid ourselves of an economic and moral perversion. Because nowadays it is a given that everyone, including the mob, does participate in politics, and it is inconceivable … that the mob should ever, in its majority or even in its entirety, … renounce or abstain from exercising its right to vote, which is nothing else than exercising the opportunity to loot the property of others.
This leaves bottom-up revolution as the only viable option. The premise is that while people cannot control what the globalist state puppeteers attempt to impose on them, and they are unlikely to convince the majority to abstain from paying taxes or voting, they can nevertheless cut the puppet strings from themselves. This is also the premise of the Grand Refusal, the nine-point plan to stop the Great Reset, as detailed in my book published this year, The Great Reset and the Struggle for Liberty: Unraveling the Global Agenda. This means establishing and extending freedom zones where the dictates of the global state regime can be resisted.
Unlike globalism, however, localism is explicitly anti-totalitarian. Decentralization involves the self-determination of localities and individuals. As a matter of principle, localism does not dictate what various states and regions do in response to global state dictates; whether they accept or reject them is entirely their prerogative. It means positing control in localities as opposed to the central government, as far down the scale as possible.
Under localism, if the state of California wanted an open border with Mexico, then it would be free to allow unfettered immigration. But Idaho would be entitled to close its borders to uninvited immigrants if its inhabitants desired to do so. If towns within California wanted to close their borders to unwanted immigrants, they could exercise that prerogative. If the school board of Poughkeepsie wanted to ban the promotion of transgender ideology and critical race theory in its school system (I’m not suggesting that it does), it could implement this desideratum. But, as it stands, such towns could lose federal funding. This means that localities that exert autonomy must cut the financial strings from the federal government and the state and rely solely on local taxes. Eventually, they will seek to privatize education and other hitherto government functions.
Of course, the obstacles to this movement are manifold, but they are not insurmountable. It has a far better chance of success than any attempt to permanently wrest the reins of the federal government from the grips of the totalitarians who control it. It does not rely on a majoritarian system that is likely rigged in their favor. And it does not depend on convincing the majority to recognize their own servitude. Instead, it depends on the self-determination of properly class-conscious individuals and communities and their capacity to withdraw and flourish independently.
The only possibility for reconstructing the American republic is from the ground up. It must begin with dissociation from the federal-global state under a spirit of voluntarism. Only after filtering interests into autonomous or semi-autonomous freedom zones that protect property and individual rights can the project of the republic be reinvigorated. Then and only then might we rebuild it on a firm foundation. Only from a position of local freedom can the national project be reconfigured. Localism is a distinctly American project. It is a movement for independence from tyranny, and it draws from the same spirit that inspired the first American Revolution.
Libertarian Candidate for President
P.S. from Addison: All the candidates want to solve geopolitical and domestic issues with the military in one way or another. Yes they talked about the economy, but only to empathize with workers trying to make ends meet during inflation. Not one said anything about the huge elephant in the caucus… the fact that government financing of wars and domestic programs is causing inflation. I’d be curious how many times the word debt was mentioned at all, maybe 2 or 3 times.
It was astounding really. That Donald Trump wasn’t even there made it even more surreal.
One of the candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy, suggested the Republican national committee were laying down on the job. If they were serious about engaging the electorate in a debate they would have had “Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson and Elon Musk” moderate and get 10x the viewers.
He’s probably right.
Ah well. So it goes, right?
Today, we offer an alternative from our Wiggin Session this week with Libertarian candidate for president Michael Rectenwald. Click here to watch the full episode with Mr Rectenwald.