I like old machinery. It tends to be simple, and rugged. Because it is considered obsolete, it tends to be available, cheap, and with a little tinkering it will often get the job done very well. I was unloading a truck and pulling saplings out of the ground with my 89 year old tractor just yesterday.
I think this interest is practical, but many more pursue it as a hobby. There are numerous web-sites devoted to this interest, innumerable threads about “Look what I found in the woods”, and “Hear it start for the first time in 20/50/80 years!”
Of course, people keep refining old principles and inventing new machines to speed up or lighten any task you may think of. The new stuff is lighter, faster, cheaper (than what the old stuff originally sold for in those mythical “constant dollars”), maybe easier to use if you can figure out those Chinese instructions. It also tends not to last very long, but that’s okay because a newer even better one is coming soon. Some have a lot of fancy lights and noises that may not contribute much to the function, but they look cool. Some have lots of safety features, to keep you from doing things with them that someone thinks you oughtn’t, or from sticking your fingers In the wrong place. I mildly crunched a car once that I was rolling because it would not start, because the steering wheel was locked, a feature that somebody thought was a good idea. Often it reports to some central data hub all about you and what you are doing…What could go wrong with that?
I confess, I’m an engineer. I absolutely love God and Nature more than machinery, but playing with machinery lets anyone feel a tiny bit God-like, in the sense that we can pretty well understand its processes, start and stop it at our will, get great piles of stuff done with it, and often improve it as we learn .
Of course the actual inner complexity of every piece, every bolt and every atom of metal is infinitely more complicated as God created it than we will ever understand, but it apparently pleases Him to let us ignore most of that, and make things work.
It is possible to look at human societies as machines, too, with components and functions, and we know a good deal about the “atoms” of societies, too: the individual fallen human beings like us.
All societies have parts that make things, raise food, build houses, and defend against dangers to the parts and to the society as a whole. Craftsmen, farmers, builders, soldiers. Often many individuals contribute to more than one function.
Most societies have parts that tell other parts what to do and what not to do, although you would think that the farmer makes it his business to know how to farm and the other trades likewise, and right and wrong everyone knows, however hard we all occasionally try to push the boundaries just a little.
The “tell you what to do” parts of a society are very good at convincing everyone else that they are the most important part, although they actually contribute next to to nothing of value, and they are also very good at making sure that they collect for themselves an abundance of the useful stuff they want, from the people who actually produce it. As societies get bigger and more complicated, the “tell-you-what-to-do” parts get better and better at playing a sleight-of-hand, taking stuff away from some people and handing a little of it back to to others, and threatening, until they have bought loyalty and subservience from most of the people.
Of course the lazy and dishonest people in any society tend to drift into the tell-you-what-to-do parts, where there is no real work to do and lots of “free” stuff, and maybe most important , the respect of many people who have swallowed their fairy-tale about the relative importance of the different components of society.
Often the “tell-you” part will convince the rest that they are threatened beyond their ability to just work together to defend themselves, and need to form an army, a special component specialized and dedicated to nothing but killing people and breaking things. Since the army is directly under the control of the tell-you’s, everybody else decides they had better not ask any questions, and now the tell-you’s have a tool they can use to steal stuff from you and me as well as from other societies, of course almost always after explaining why they had no choice.
Of course I am using funny terms and the machine metaphor to make you think in a new way about things you think you know well, namely societies and their governments. These things are almost as old as people, and we are not the first to perceive their substantial benefits and their equally substantial drawbacks. Scripture tells us all we really need to know, not only about our own characters but about organized societies and rulers. You might say that the yeast of Scripture working in the harshly kneaded dough of England as she was trying to sort herself out after the fall of the Roman Empire, produced the first actual codified Law limiting the powers of rulers and detailing how those limitations were to be enforced. After Arthur’s star flared and died, it was another few hundred years, around the end of the first Millennium after Christ, until the Dooms of Ethelred that we so often refer to.
Seven-odd hundred years later, our forefathers on this continent, an ocean away from the intricate forms and bureaucracies of England and Europe, mostly bereft of the “tell-yous” (who had stayed behind in the Old World where life was less risky), and self-selected for a level of courage and self-reliance scarcely imaginable to us, had been discovering just how well they could do, taking care of their own, and doing what made sense to themselves, without being either told, or heavily mulcted for the privilege. As the tell-yous over there extended a heavier and heavier and more and more threatening grasping hand to us here in the New World, eventually we decided to refuse its oh-so-traditional demands, and make our hard-earned independence a legal fact.
And a few inspired geniuses saw and took the opportunity to apply all the wisdom of their heritage to designing, not just allowing to happen, the ‘machine’ of their new society.
The result, as we all know, was our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, which made law out of the facts that God made each of us as an individual, and our associations and forms are merely ourselves serving and protecting each other under His Law; and essentially that there are to be no “tell-you’s”. Particularly, the lawful application of force, that tragic final sanction against evil, was never to be separated from US, but was to be wielded directly by us for our defense and for the execution of the Law that protects US: that is the Militia we all know.
Fast forward two bumpy but mostly prospering centuries. As it happened, the combination of our low population density, abundant land and other resources, and our predominant Christian values appeared to require little enforcement of that highest Law, and the prosperity that those coincident blessings brought forth began to seriously soften our once legendary rugged individualism. Growing population offered more than the opportunity to wrest wealth from Nature by intelligence and toil, but to harvest it from other people by fraud, lies, and corruption.
The insatiably mercantile North saw in the South’s lingering vice of human chattel slavery, a pretext for a war that would overthrow the South’s agrarian local self-reliance, and at the same time reapply to the whole Republic the yoke of central control that we had thrown off less than a century before. The trumpeted triumph against slavery, was a silent triumph of a subtler kind of domination. The victory of central control was so destructive, and the propaganda so compelling, that the whole country was shocked and awed into believing that the absolute power of central government was as necessary and inevitable as it was invincible.
Any lingering fond memory of our Law’s specification for individual political self-determination, let alone conscience-based community enforcement of the fundamental principles of freedom, was burned out of our collective consciousness. And we were lulled by the panoply of growing empire, by a cascade of consumer goods, and by one crusade after another in the name not of Law or Justice, but of Democracy, the rule of the mob.
The softer richer, and more European we have become, the more the European diseases of bureaucracy, official parasitism, worship of human celebrities and institutions, and insistence on safety and predictabilty at all costs, have invaded our culture and body politic, not to mention a vile palette of more personal perversions.
Now the parasites are impatient to complete their reconversion of our once hardheadedly moral and independent society, back into their slaves and sycophants. To secure their conquest, they must eradicate a few dangerous vestiges of our former power as sovereigns over ourselves and our society, like the rights to arms, movement, collaboration, work, and worship.
A very few of us have been given the vision to perceive the stealthy process in its youth. We have warned, we have resisted, we have been mocked and marginalized. Suddenly, now, many see it, many are afraid, many are clamoring, “We must do something!”
A tiny group of men was blessed by God a dozen years ago with the vision and the perseverance to begin laboriously rediscovering under layers of lies and forgetfulness, that social machine our Founders built, but which has never yet actually been run, to secure the freedoms God gave us. It is all there. All the parts fit. It looks like it will run….But can we get it started?
Tactical Civics is the name we have given to our program for learning how to start and operate the magnificent “machine” of our Republic as it was intended to be operated: in the language of our Declaration of Independence, “to secure these rights…”
It is a pretty simple, not to say easy, program. It includes demanding that 27 States complete the ratification of the first of the originally-proposed amendments to our Constitution, the first article of the intended Bill of Rights, which will reduce the size of Congressional districts to 50,000 or fewer people. This will give actual representation for the first time to most of the area of our Republic, instead of just to the big cities.
This will also exceed the capacity of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, necessitating our second reform, the Bring Congress Home Act. This will require that Congress meet by telepresence, every Congressman working from a single small office, in his home district, under the watchful eyes of the people he is hired to represent, out of the easy reach of the lobbyists. It will give us a whole new type of Representative: the opportunity to run an inexpensive local campaign with no need for dirty money and to serve from home, without abandoning family and business, will attract down-home statesmen, rather than arrogant, greedy careerists.
Of course down-home Representatives, to say nothing of senators and state legislators and other government employees will still be fallen as we are, as prone to succumb to the temptations of power, so the only truly novel part of our plan we call, the Indictment Engine. This will determine the Constitutionality of every proposed piece of legislation, and allow every representative introducing or sponsoring an unconstitutional bill to withdraw it or face prosecution.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)
Editor’s Note: The author is a co-founder of a plan and organization called Tactical Civics — a Trademarked name.