June 7, 2017

The Articles of Confederation – I: Becoming the United States – Extra History

Filed under: Britain, Government, History, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on May 6, 2017

When the thirteen colonies of North America broke away from Great Britain, they struggled to draft their first constitution. After great debate, they created the Articles of Confederation and formed the United States of America.

August 5, 2013

Political symbology

Filed under: Humour, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:36

L. Neil Smith in the latest Libertarian Enterprise:

Author Robert A. Heinlein once observed: “The American eagle eats carrion, never picks on anything its own size, and will soon be extinct.”

Benjamin Franklin wanted our national symbol to be the turkey. He regarded it as a noble creature and didn’t mean it as a joke. It was one of the few times the good Doctor Franklin was wrong. I knew a farm family once, who tried raising turkeys. If it rained they had to get them under cover, fast. Otherwise, they’d look up, gaping, to see where all that water falling on their heads was coming from, and drown.

By the thousands.

On second thought, maybe Ben was onto something, symbolically. That turkey behavior sounds very much like the American electorate today.

The libertarian movement seems to have chosen the porcupine as a symbol. It never starts a fight but always finishes it. Problem is, the porcupine has a brain about the size of a pinto bean, and can be accurately compared to a slow-moving pointy rock. At that, I suppose it’s a lot better than the Hollow French Woman in New York Harbor that the porcupine-bright National Libertarian Party has adopted as its logo.

Personally, I’ve always rather liked the skunk as a national or party symbol. They have a negative reputation they don’t deserve at all. Skunks are highly resourceful organisms, and very, very smart. And they carry the ultimate means of self-defense, something that even wolves and mountain lions respect and give the widest possible berth to. My favorite mental picture is the little guy standing on his front paws, his back legs and tail high in the air, letting the enemy have it.

March 9, 2010

QotD: Early America

Early America enjoyed, perhaps, a little more participatory local democracy than Britain, and had a slightly broader electorate and already the highest standard of living in the world. But the revolution so rapturously mythologized by Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and others, was really, as Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison and Adams did not forget, a somewhat grubby contest over taxes.

In one of the greatest feats of statesmanship of all history, the Americans, and especially Benjamin Franklin, persuaded the British to expel the French from North America, and then persuaded the French to provide the margin of victory in evicting the British themselves. This precocious manipulation of the world’s two greatest powers by a group of colonists showed astounding finesse and precocity, made more piquant and ironic by the fact that their rebellion was against paying the colonies’ share of the cost of removing the French, and the French were recruited to save the Americans their proportionate share of the cost of their own eviction.

All countries swaddle themselves in myths, and the Americans aren’t more self-indulgent than others; only more successful and operating on the grand scale of a country that in two long lifetimes grew to possess completely unprecedented power and influence in the world.

Even without the great pre-eminence of America, the founders of the country possessed a presentational skill that vastly exceeded the procession of demagogues and lunatics that sent and followed each other to the guillotine in the French Revolution. And they were certainly more persuasive and sophisticated than the British spokesmen for constitutional monarchy.

But their unintended legacy of this gift for theatricality is the endless hyperbole and hucksterism of American materialism and individuality.

Conrad Black, “Send in the clowns”, National Post, 2010-03-09

July 16, 2009

Rephrasing Ben Franklin’s old aphorism

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:04

Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as having said “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. Here’s a modern rephrasing, “The more you cede your own well-being to an 800-pound gorilla, the more that 800-pound gorilla is going to act like a thin-skinned asshole.“.

(Cross-posted to the old blog, http://bolditalic.com/quotulatiousness_archive/005589.html.)

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