Just Who Are We Radicals And Reactionaries?

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“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.” — H.L. Mencken

I have often considered the possibility that I am the guy that Mencken described. But for those involved in the traditional political realm of left and right, I am simply delusional, labeled a “radical” by those on the right and a “reactionary” by those on the left. In fact, I am neither. Rather, I am the dreaded Libertarian who believes that government, if it must exist at all, must be structurally limited. And it is clear that in that belief I am a part of a small minority.

To suggest to the majority (who remain emotionally invested in the pseudo left-right paradigm) that democracy is perhaps the worst form of government will get you written off quickly. To most, such an assertion is worse than delusional. It is traitorous. Most members of the herd don’t understand that the Founding Fathers likewise believed democracies were doomed to failure and that, left unchecked, ended up as nothing more than another form of tyranny: the tyranny of the majority. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies:

…have . . . been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found compatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. (The Federalist, No. 10)

It results in a deep and angry consternation that such a radical notion, an indictment of the revered democracy that America now exports at the end of a gun, was not suggested by the likes of radicals or reactionaries, but by James Madison, the U.S. President referred to on the White House’s own website as the “Father of the Constitution.” Few people believe he was radical or reactionary. Even fewer people know of his disdain for unfettered democracy. And that is unfortunate.

Democracy, as a form of government, is like a ship without a rudder. It will move, but it is impossible to determine a direction. Each of the individual liberties so many Americans are proud of come from a republic with a constitution firmly protecting individual rights against intrusion by government, not a democracy that fundamentally assumes that 51 percent of the people are correct 100 percent of the time. In a pure democracy, if 51 percent of the people want to enslave a group or steal their personal property, they have the legal (and moral) right to do so. No property rights, no personal freedoms and no individual rights, regardless of genesis, are immune to a majority wanting to eliminate them. As did Madison, Ayn Rand, the often-reviled objectivist philosopher and novelist, railed against such tyranny, saying that individual rights should not be subject to a public vote and that the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities, noting that the smallest minority on Earth is the individual. Simply put, without effective structural limitation, the majority in a democracy can (and will) oppress the minority by simply having or buying more votes. The irony of a democracy is that it functions only if it can be restrained from actually being one. Such was the idea of the framers of the United States Constitution, and they were right.

Where they got it wrong was to assume a determined majority could not and would not trample the structural hurdles put in front of them. They will and they have. A good example is the 2nd Amendment, simple in its wording, clear in its intent:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The anti-gun minority — or majority, or whatever the current polls shows them to be — argues that the words do not mean what they say. In a disgraceful and intellectually deceitful rewriting of history, they suggest that the Founders meant the right to have a hunting rifle, since so many people hunted for food at that time in history.

But, in fact, history tells a different story. To wit, the 2nd Amendment’s purpose was to ensure that if and when another government needed to be overthrown, the people would have the armament to get it done.

Such clarity is lost on those with an agenda to rewrite the 2nd Amendment, and so they do. Recently, a textbook in the state of Texas for students in Advanced Placement programs quoted a new version of the old 2nd Amendment:

The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.

Such difference is not a simple oversight. An oversight is leaving out a marginally important phrase or a misspelling a word, not a dramatic sentence restructuring that changes the entire meaning of the sentence. And it is not as if there is any historical support for that revised language.

To the contrary, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” And, if that wasn’t clear enough, he left no doubt of the Framers’ intent when he wrote:

And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

“Arms” meant then (and still mean today) everything necessary to fight a war against a tyrannical government, not necessarily to overthrow it but to protect oneself from its abuses. Any comment to the contrary is merely ignorance of history or the worst form of disingenuous historical revisionism. To that end, I am reminded of former Senator Daniel Moynihan’s admonishment: “You are entitled to your own viewpoint, just not to your own facts.”

The ability to protect oneself from government is best evidenced in modernity by the increasingly frequent abuses of citizens by government agents. An elderly man in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, was killed when a half dozen police broke into his house and he pointed a gun at what he believed to be intruders. Indeed, they were intruders; but they wore badges and bulletproof vests. It turns out they had the wrong address, which government writes off as merely being a mistake and which resulted in his being killed. Murdered is a better term, if only because it is more accurate.

Last week, cops killed a Florida State athlete when he ran to their car trying to get help. They shot him 11 times and used a Taser on him. A few months ago, police in Los Angeles shot up a truck carrying two women delivering newspapers. Officers riddled the pickup with bullets and shot the women because their truck was similar to a fugitive’s truck. In the minds of government officials, that gave the police the right to do what they did: open fire without warning.

These are but examples among dozens from a rapidly growing police state — the very kind the Framers worried would one day grow out of a failed Republic and a successful democracy. Rarely are the agents of government punished. The message of government is clear: We will protect our own, no matter how egregious their acts.

Just as the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, it likewise isn’t about protecting ourselves from the bad guys. Rather, it is to protect ourselves from the good guys who become bad guys, which is the eventuality of any democracy, the regrettable, but necessary, end game.

–Dr. Kenneth Karger

Dr. Kenneth Karger lives with his wife in Fort Worth, Texas, and Chetumal, Mexico. He is the brother of Jim Karger, a frequent contributor to The Dollar Vigilante and TDV’s concierge in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Personal Liberty

The Dollar Vigilante

(TDV) is a joint-venture publication founded by two respected free-market speakers and analysts in the financial sector, Jeff Berwick and Ed Bugos. Both Jeff and Ed consider themselves financial freedom fighters and have written extensively in the past about the ongoing and impending collapse of the US dollar based financial system. They joined forces to publish TDV, a publication and community for dollar crash survivors.

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  • vicki

    Here is a good video that mirrors the points made in the article above.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4r0VUybeXY

  • dan

    ‘What type of government have you gotten us ,Mr.Franklin?’
    ‘Why a Republic …if you can keep it , Madam.’

    the progressive change agents (communists) in the public schools have brainwashed generations that we live in a democracy….to concede that to them is to surrender to their hidden agenda.

    • Jeff

      We are both more and less “democratic” as a country than when Franklin said that. We are more democratic because more people have a say in what goes on and who runs the place – women, minorities, even white men without property. We are a bit more democratic because we now have direct election of Senators. We are somewhat less democratic in that we actually believe in protecting minority rights using the very Bill of Rights that followed Franklin’s statement – something that didn’t receive a lot of attention until the 1960s. In short, we are a very different country from the one Franklin knew. Get over it.

      • dan

        lol….with the new technology ,the next step in the archetype is one man,one vote or true democracy..the senator business should have never changed (they originally represented the states…now they represent the corporations) but then it would have been better to let slavery die a natural death due to the advances in technology as it did in the rest of the civilized world….just as it would have been better to have honored treaties…but here we are with Empire America overextended,
        bankrupt and crumbling.

  • Warrior

    An excellent expression of thought Doc. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.politecs.com/ PoliTecs

    “if it must exist at all, must be structurally limited…” so you say. And what you are saying is that you are Conservative. And based on the rest of your convoluted article, you also do not know what a Libertarian is. Traditionally as in the 1600’s to late 1700’s, your modern label didn’t exist but then, you were all called hermits! Mountain men and women. Anti socialite’s. Today, a true Liber is a radical in the sense you are far more right than the established political system by the founders. I know you don’t like that fact, none of the Libers I have ever met do but you all better start accepting who you are and also realize you will never convince a majority to go further right than our founders. Just not going to happen!

  • Michael Shreve

    The MAJOR thing people have forgotten about the ORIGINAL U.S. Constitution is that it was written FOR THE PEOPLE to read, NOT for the lawyers to interpret. EVERY word was intended to stand for itself.

  • guy r west

    I would stroungly subjest putting true american history and God back in the schools as it is a shame all too many people to day cant tell you who the first presidents were what war is which or what we faought for. this is also where many devloup their morails and ethics . that are carryed with us the rest of our lives . it would not hurt to have the constitution tought in schools Nor the bible which is like it or not where our basic laws came from. stop tairing the constitution apart it is like the bible says what it means and means what it says
    the arthers of the constitution could not know what we would need to day but in all to many things they hit it right on the head. america its time for a change alright and we man not get back the america we knew growing up But we can sertainly change from the direction the administration has us headed this rout will not lead us any where we want to go. dont beleave it look at histroy and europ i dont think thats for the U.S. at least not for me. I am deeply ashaimed of most of the politions who do not stand for those who elected them . but rather for self and big money . Try listing to what the people are realy saying Not what you think they want get your head our of your Asses and our of obomas ass well . a lieing anti american terouest isnt a man most would want to fallow if they love this countrfy regardless of party or reglion

    • Jeff

      Was that rant for real or was it meant as a “Blazing Saddles” parody of authentic, frontier gibberish?

  • guy r west

    I would stroungly subjest putting true american history and God back in the schools as it is a shame all too many people to day cant tell you who the first presidents were what war is which or what we faought for. this is also where many devloup their morails and ethics . that are carryed with us the rest of our lives . it would not hurt to have the constitution tought in schools Nor the bible which is like it or not where our basic laws came from. stop tairing the constitution apart it is like the bible says what it means and means what it says
    the arthers of the constitution could not know what we would need to day but in all to many things they hit it right on the head. america its time for a change alright and we man not get back the america we knew growing up But we can sertainly change from the direction the administration has us headed this rout will not lead us any where we want to go. dont beleave it look at histroy and europ i dont think thats for the U.S. at least not for me. I am deeply ashaimed of most of the politions who do not stand for those who elected them . but rather for self and big money . Try listing to what the people are realy saying Not what you think they want get your head our of your Asses and our of obomas ass well . a lieing anti american terouest isnt a man most would want to fallow if they love this countrfy regardless of party or reglion

  • Freespirit

    EXCELLENT article and let me, as a founding member of the FIRST Libertarian Party in Canada, add this ( my quote): ” The INDIVIDUAL has the ABSOLUTE and INHERENT Natural RIGHTS to LIFE, LIBERTY and PROPERTY Ownership. The ONLY purpose of a CONSTITUTION is to make AWARE, to the UNINFORMED and AUTHORITARIANS, those Rights and thus PROTECT those Rights by LIMITING, RESTRICTING and CONTROLLING Governments and other VIOLATORS. Controlling the people is NOT the purpose of a CONSTITUTION ”

    Guns ,by the way fall under PROPERTY, albeit VERY Important property.

  • LINDITA

    AS PEOPLE, GIPSY ROOT IN PREDATORY TRIBE GREEK ARE RADICALS AND REACTIONARIES. HITLER HAS BEEN GIPSY, TOO AND ALL OF THEM ARE HITLER FOLLOWERS. THEY WANT TO REPLACE AMERICA’S VALUE, TO PUT ON STATUE OF LIBERTY A THORN CROWN, TO REPLACE THE GOD. OBAMA MUST LEAVE FROM THE OFFICE NOW. WE DON’T TRUST HIM AND HIS TRIBE ADMINISTRATION. SO, SAFE AGAIN WITH PATRIOTS, BUSH-CHENEY ADMINISTRATION. AMEN!

    • Vigilant

      ?????

  • Vigilant

    “[Democracies]…have . . . been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found compatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. (The Federalist, No. 10).”

    Humongous error, in both the original Dollar Vigilante blog and perpetuated in this PLD article. The word is INCOMPATIBLE, not “compatible.” I thought I had gone nuts until I checked the Federalist Paper cited.

  • Vigilant

    “Where [the framers of the United States Constitution] got it wrong was to assume a determined majority could not and would not trample the structural hurdles put in front of them.”

    While the nation has tended to a more democratic process in some ways, I would characterize our present ills as the product of just the opposite process, i.e., the acting of government very much against the will of its people.

    We don’t want Obamacare, and if were left up to the majority, we wouldn’t have it. The majority does not want to have guns confiscated, but government continues on its slow process of attempting to achieve just that. The majority does not want a corporatocracy, but we’ve got it. In many areas the government is NOT discharging the will of the people, and THAT’S where we have the disconnect.

  • rbrooks

    while your article is factually correct, the vast majority of americans, including the vast majority of the few who frequent this site, do not agree with you.

    most of those folks agree with the numerous current restrictions on the 2nd amendment.

    just as long as those restrictions do not infringe on their ‘personal liberty’. they have no qualms with exempting any one else from those same personal liberty’s.

    • Cassinus

      Are you trying to argue that the premise of this article is wrong by paraphrasing sections of the article?

      • rbrooks

        do you a reading comprehension problem?

        • Cassinus

          I wasn’t trying to be rude when I asked that question. I was simply curious. Normally, at least as far as I can tell, when someone begins a statement with “while” they are recognizing the truth of something in the first clause of that statement then refuting the original conclusion reached in the second. In this case, where you should have a different conclusion based on the facts presented in the article you instead have a recitation of facts previously mentioned in the article. Dr. Karger explicitly stated that he was part of a minority. You respond to that by saying “Yes, Dr. Karger, your facts are accurate, but most people disagree with you.” Does that not make him part of a minority? So, no, rbrooks, I do not “[have] a reading comprehension problem.” What I have is a problem understanding your post due to your inability to make an argument that is logically and grammatically correct. Let me offer you an example of such an argument:

          Although I have trouble understanding your post, it does not mean that I have a reading comprehension problem, like you assumed. The reason I failed to understand you is that you failed to articulate any point.

          See how that works? I offered up an agreement to what you implied, that I didn’t understand your statement, while contrasting your conclusion with one of my own. You concluded that I had a disability, I concluded that you’re an illiterate jackass.

          • rbrooks

            actually, you were trying. you simply were unable to comprehend the post. if you needed it explained at your level, you could have just said you were mentally handicapped.

          • Cassinus

            Fantastic ad hominem. Well done. Respond to the argument posted simply by attacking me. You’re winning the internet.

          • Cassinus

            You still haven’t explained what you were getting at in your first post.

          • rbrooks

            “radical”, “reactionary”, Libertarian who believes that government, if it must exist at all, must be structurally limited. -The anti-gun minority — or majority, or whatever the current polls shows them to be. – railed against such tyranny, saying that individual rights should not
            be subject to a public vote and that the political function of rights is
            precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities,

            we can start with the above.

            &, the posting of this story on an alleged libertarian site that claims to be fighting for personal liberty’s.

            while the majority of those who author the story’s, and those who support and comment on those story’s, do not hold the 2nd amendment in the same regard as the good dr.

            advocating anarchy. should be interesting to see the reaction if that ever happens.

            the claim that he is of the few. is he a part of the minority or the majority?

            the rights of the minority, the individual, suppressed by the majority. only under a democracy? ( yes, a democracy is the worst form of govt.) but suppression is not just from a democracy.

            can you work with this now?

            btw- you should note the number of comments as well.

          • Cassinus

            Actually, no. That is quite rambling and incoherent. I’m having trouble finding even one complete sentence or thought.

          • rbrooks

            i figured it really was your lack of comprehension.

          • rbrooks

            it was an appropriate response to your oblique ad hominem response.