THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 760, March 2, 2014
We Stand With the Gun Owners of Connecticut
From the Rust Belt to the Asteroid Belt: Greater Appalachia & the Freeholder's Dilemma
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
A few days after the turning of the New Year—I learned of a new concept of America as a patchwork of several distinct regional sub-cultures that are in a way like nations.
It brought back memories of a conversational thread one Sunday eve last summer on the front porch of the Redneck Chateau. My friend Bruce the Historian may have been right after all in his assessment of the rural culture of western Pennsylvania as an outlier of the West. I stumbled on this interesting tidbit while kicking back after a day trip with him to the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
Braving what was the beginning of this nasty winter of current repute—we arrived downtown shortly after opening time in the late morning and pretty much stayed all day. The main attraction was the Civil War exhibit but there were lots of other permanent attractions pertaining to the Industrial Revolution and a really good one on the French & Indian War! It was a longer than expected day as the Historian was determined to get his money's worth out of the $30 admission for two and the experience was worth the lost time at home. The Civil War with its sad music toward the end of the exhibit hall was a bit depressing when you think of all the death and destruction and look at the wheel chair and bone saws. And think of all the lives disrupted by the draft. And the thought of the way the war set the prescidence for idea of a command economy that has become the rule of life in the modern era.
The trip yielded many deep thoughts on contemporary politics. Lately, the Historian has openly lamented his own perception of himself as an outsider in his own country. This has a lot to do with the fact that while our region is a TEA Party stronghold with a long history of deeply rooted anti-government sentiment—it also has a history of labor strife and unions. So you have two potentially antagonistic populations living side by side depending on the political zeitgeist and how things align. We are not rich—other than maybe land property and the amenity of open space and privacy which are dear to us—and do not see ourselves as members of the proletariat down for the struggle against "The Man". Which makes us an enigma to some fellow plebes who do not understand us. They cannot understand how we can be for the Tea Party and conservative or libertarian policies that conflict with the interests of working people. In turn they are an enigma to us—especially those who own property, farm or are employed by manufacturing. How can they support a political party that is openly antagonistic toward such activities?
My guess; it has much to do with their belief in the promise of the Free Lunch and class envy that Plebeian Tyrants have been pandering to the plebes for millennia. And the Low Information Plebiscite which may be selectively blind to truths that might undermine the legitimacy of their claim on the fortunes and lives of others.
There you have it—our dilemma. So says the Historian: "We are not ordinary Plebeians nor are we Plebeian Tyrants" and very few have us figured out. Among the first to put me on track to understanding was William Tucker (">Progress & Privilege: America in the Age of Environmentalism)* in referring to the Reagan Democrats which I could not understand in my younger days—as "the poor defending the rights of the rich". That book which was part of the sociology course on Technology & Social Change at Pitt / Greensburg campus was very eye opening on the structure and shifting alignments of American politics and social classes. It also introduced me to the concept of the Sagebrush Rebellion and was overall as enlightening as that CS Lewis quote about those who torment us for our own good and Robert Zubrin weighing in on the bankruptcy of Malthusianism.
In those bygone days I could not understand how all these people voted for Reagan when the steel mills were going down the crapper. As if it were his fault. Much of that thinking stems from the protectionist mentality and populist sentiments common in a Blue State like Pennsylvania. Because he wouldn't do something. My awakening began in the early 90s with the realization that Bill Clinton was in no hurry to do anything about it either—(like my mother: a diehard Yellow Dog Democrat paraphrased that old Schoolhouse Rock civics lesson of Saturday morning fame—[link to Wikipedia]—it was just "Bill on Capital Hill doing Nil"!)—and I could not understand why he was in such a hurry to sign onto NAFTA and give the blue collar man the SHAFTA!
President George W. Bush of all people actually did do something in the way of temporary relief in the way of a tariff early on in his administration. Jim Quinn; our well known regional conservative talk DJ was very critical of that policy on the grounds of Austrian economics which I was slowly catching onto at the time. Quinn had also previously explained why Clinton and the Dems were jumping on the same bandwagon with republicans to support the outsourcing of good paying jobs to Mexico and China. Because: in order to support the dependent clients and bloated bureaucracy of a welfare state it is necessary to secure slave labor from low wage countries that don't have to comply with US environmental regulation and union demands that have driven so much manufacturing out of the country. I noted on the world map in the glassmaking exhibit that showed dots for PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) Industries mostly in Germany & China.
Sort of a weird vindication of the complaint of Marxists in the 20th Century about the em-bourgeoising of the proletariat in First World countries. But instead, America and other western nations have embourgeoised the government workers at the expense of blue collar labor and the Freeholders who suffer the onslaught of more regulations, higher taxes and declining wages.
One of the significant points of the displays on the Industrial Revolution—was that such was a series of revolutions that dramatically changed production and displaced workers. Even highly skilled ones. Which brings me again to the Freeholder Theorem I have been working on for the past year. It started with the "From the Rust Belt to the Asteroid Belt" articles last summer and today between the thread with the Historian and another look at the conflict and culture of yesterday's frontier everything is really starting to come together for the theorem and more background for a fictional scenario I have been spinning of a man and his descendants on their road from the hills of Pennsylvania to Texas, to the asteroids and beyond. Since I saw that map in the link above—that pathway makes even more sense!
The continuity of Greater Appalachia. That is the name of the light red on the map that reaches from here all the way across the upper south to Texas. That is just beyond amazing. A regional culture that is different from the interior West and "West America" of El Neil's novels—as well as the Southland which is split between Dixie and the Tidewater culture of the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. Yet would probably align with them in times of crisis against the Blue States—aka Yankeedom. Obviously is the culture of Greater Appalachia that is the Scotch-Irish frontier culture will predominate Texas which will become the New Republic which will alley with the Red State Coalition made up of the interior western states plus southern states west of the Mississippi—but remain distinctly independent. The opposing regional power bloc will be the the Blue State Union—"Yankeedom" which will be composed of the northeastern states where the Progressives hold sway plus much of Dixie and the Tidewater region and Old Appalachia including Western Pennsylvania which will want to go with the West but the Blues will be unwilling to let go of the land and rich oil and gas resources—despite their bemoaning of global warming (if only!) and dirty water and dirty air. They will likely call upon European allies to provide military help in holding down resistance—and the Europeans will probably be happy to oblige—guessing without American troops to keep the Middle East from up heaving there will be no energy flowing from there—except maybe to China. Russia may also cut Europe off from the pipeline coming from Siberia.
A lot of speculation can be woven around a World War III scenario in which America ends up retreating from the rest of the world and Russia and China divvy up the Middle East and its oil reserves. That may be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the way of the United States collapsing financially and breaking apart being that it becomes unable to hold the nation together. Going to war being a last ditch attempt to achieve that end.
And my speculations aside; there was yet another history lesson from my friend the Historian that day.
As we were talking about the decline of the steel industry in the region—he said that the Vietnam War only delayed the final collapse by a decade—which hit full force in the 1980s. The captains of industry took advantage of the government contracts to squeeze more profit out of the old mills of early 20th Century vintage and then let them go. Getting rid of obsolete production and expensive labor and other obligations. Not pretty but part of the process of creative destruction that is capitalism and technological progress.
In reference to the transformational nature of market economies—it is certain that even more transformational changes are coming involving automation and other technologies that could make most human labor obsolete. Then mankind will come to a crossroads where it must be decided what exactly is the meaning and value of human life? I think that Ayn Rand may have answered that in Atlas Shrugged in saying that every individual life is an end in itself. She also expressed in the same work in the lines of one of her characters—something about a purpose in life being the enhancement of ones own life. Which pretty much has much to do with the Pursuit of Happiness as defined in our founding documents. That is where the solution to many of our social problems will likely be found, which I hope to develop farther as part of the Freeholder Theorem to be outlined in more detail in future writings.
I did a more comprehensive search on the Scotch-Irish & Greater Appalachia. Other epithets for that sub-culture might be "High Redneck" or "Upper Southland" as it is similar in many ways but also culturally distinct from the Deep South. Perhaps "Hillbilly" is a more appropriate term than Redneck since the footprint of the settlement pattern seems to reflect a cultural preference for mountainous or hilly terrain which with exception to the far western portion is predominantly deciduous forest in the natural state and roughly corresponds to zones 6 & 7 on the USDA climate map.
It is definitely my favorite habitat—and it would take a lot to make me leave. The one main reason the Asteroids have so much appeal to me is because we can shape them into things like the space habitat in a link I sent out to friends the previous week and create a similar climate and ecosystem within.
I was thinking a lot when I was out ands about a couple months back how it might be when a party of future homesteaders land on 2012 Westmoreland—a hypothetical potato shaped rock about the size of Westmoreland County Pennsylvania after which it is named. As they proceed to chew out and terraform the interior there is reflection on the irony of the New Frontier on which the culture of the Old labors to create what their antecedents once used to destroy.
The Scotch-Irish Americans like their counterparts did previously in the Old Country had transitioned from barbarism to a Freeholder culture and higher science. In their historic abode in North America they changed the land often to the detriment of the preexisting ecosystem but also adapted to it and learned how to conserve it in a sustainable manner. Also the wildlife adapted to the human encroachment and became a valuable resource. The major source of conflict was the rural vs urban divide in which the elites of the more numerous urban populations sought control over natural resources and wealth outside the cities—backed by the urban Plebeian class that resented the prosperity and freedom of rural folk and thought it somehow unfair that they were not contributing their fair share toward solving urban problems. Also the collectivist default of human psychology and the Marxist perception that "Property is Theft" leads those who live in the cities to presume themselves "stakeholders" in regard to land in sparsely populated areas and therefore entitled to a say in what goes on there—if not outright seizure and eviction of the resident population and conversion of the land to public ownership.
A good reference might be the FDR Economic Bill of Rights which is a progressive grab-bag of bogus claims against private property. There is also the case of the Cherokee Removal in which a coalition of special interests—wannabe land barrons/ speculators and land hungry little people—(the Jacksonian Democrats***) who lacked the fortitude to go west—pushed for the eviction of Cherokee Indians from the southeastern USA. With little regard to the fact that the Cherokee People had adopted the European way of life including individually owned farms, the Christian religion and contemporary social organization and a written alphabet to express their native tongue. It was very similar to the way some of the Scotch-Irish American settlers were treated as the unorganized territories west of the Appalachians were incorporated into states which did not recognize their claims as valid and deeded the land to others. If somehow the Lockean view** of the creation of property by mixing human labor with the natural world was somehow invalid and that all land and natural resources are collectively owned and only democratically elected governments had the authority to grant and revoke title to land property at their discretion.
This is something that must be corrected. If not here in America—then on the next frontier in space where we might have the chance to put asunder the evils of collectivism and statism once and for all. Then shutting it out and never letting it gain a foothold in the beginning as was the case with the founding of America. If the preponderance of future settlers to the Asteroids are of the freedom oriented persuasion they might be able to set up a more functional society with a higher technology and skill base—that is freer and with fewer social problems. Though the modern TEA Parties derive from the rugged frontier culture—they have also been tempered to some extent by the Germanic influence which also introduced a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship. A major part of their problem now is being stuck here on Earth outnumbered by a dysfunctional plebeian class led by plebeian tyrants. In space they will have a chance to start anew and rebuild on the Jeffersonian vision with a high tech twist. They will also be freer to defend themselves against the power of progressive rule. Under the current situation they are just a heartbeat away from being rounded up and dispossessed should they push back too far.
It will not be perfect either—but light years ahead of what Progressives are trying to achieve. With the kind of technology we have today and what will be likely in the near future the frontier will be anything but backward.
From the Hills of Western Pennsylvania to the Hill Country of Texas. From the Rust Belt to the Asteroid Belt, to Alpha Centauri and Beyond.
Long Live the TEA Party!
* Environmentalism is essentially a War on Freeholders. The "Envi-ron-ment" being a convenient straw-man for progressives to set up as an excuse to attack and erode private property rights and make Freeholding as a way of life; untenable. The Endangered Species Act and other restrictions on land use constitute regulatory harassment. Agenda 21 is in essence a warehousing scheme for dealing with what the central planners have deemed superfluous human population—much like incarceration of people for victimless crimes. A concept worthy of farther exploration and—gasp !—development!
** Lockean treatise and the various incarnations of the Homesteading Principle / Tomahawk Rights and Marshall T. Savage's Millennial Mining Law "First in Time is First in Right". Plus El Neil's ZAP & some of my own ideas including putting all private property off limits to taxation or asset forfeiture. For any reason whatsoever. And pretty much stripping government of its power to punish prohibit or mandate anything—or do anything beyond prosecuting crimes against human life or property and organizing and maintaining defense against hostile foreign powers.
*** Early on in the current crisis—critics referred to the TEA Party phenomenon as "Jacksonian Populism" after the Jacksonian Democrats noted for a mean-spirited egalitarian, anti-intellectualism. Some aspects of that are necessary for confronting the tyranny of progressivism. However populism is too often the seedbed of tyranny and the Jacksonians—aside from being historically infamous for pushing for Indian Removal and Manifest Destiny—and defending slavery—were the beginning of the degeneration of the Democratic Party from the Party of Thomas Jefferson to its modern incarnation as the Party of the Plebeian Tyrants and their bootlickers. TEA Partiers would be wise not to embrace such an association being that they want no part of such things; which are a fatal departure from the philosophical underpinnings of the American Revolution and the 18th Century Enlightenment.
The article in the link above cites the existence of two opposing power blocs among the American Nations—an alliance of Progressive dominated Yankeedom and Left Coast against an alliance of the Deep South—Tidewater and Greater Appalachia with the Interior West. The author maintains that only when one of those two power blocks captures a filibuster proof majority in Congress will the current political battle end with one side imposing its rule on the other. The swing factor being El Norte—the Hispanic sub-culture, Midlands and New France—which unfortunately tend to gravitate toward authoritarianism. Yet El Norte remains a wild card—being the people of northern Mexico and the immigrant population in the US have a streak of independence and resourcefulness not unlike Greater Appalachia. It could come down to whether this population chooses Freedom or the Free Lunch.
If the concept of real freedom can be articulated instead of pandering to class envy or social issues—maybe they will choose the latter.
Bruce and I discussed the role of the Germans who sort of sit on the fence between us and Yankeedom. They often embraced the freedom and independence of the frontier but also like security and order and that makes them susceptible to the allure of the progressives. It seems also that the Progs pushed a lot of their influence on Weimar Germany and were in a big way responsible for the rise of the Nazi Party. Our Progs in turn were influenced by the Prussian culture that many of our easy going but creative and industrious German immigrants fled. Who were just as bad if not worse than the feudal aristocrats who dominated the Germanic countries of Europe before them.
My friend Ray also weighed in with his opinion on the Germanic influence
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