Neo-Feudalism
Posted by aogWednesday, 15 May 2013 at 16:43 TrackBack Ping URL

I can tell you that what’s become clearly apparent is a culture throughout the federal government — not just the IRS, but the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. We’ve seen that now through three different incidents that basically use the government as an instrument of political activity that target your political opponents to make life difficult for people that are saying things you don’t like, to make life difficult for whistleblowers that are saying things about the State Department that you don’t like. And I believe that all that comes from the top of any organization. So, I think that’s where the questions are increasingly leading, and it’s embarrassing for the country. These are things you typically see in the third world, from unestablished republics and other places. You don’t see that here, and I think that’s what’s really troubling about the recent string of events. … I don’t think that that kind of environment can flourish unless there’s created a space or an environment where it’s encouraged. … It’s a general culture of a willingness to use the instruments of governments to put what you consider to be your political opponents in a bad position.

Senator Marc Rubio

This is how you set up a neo-feudalist society, where the peasants (taxpayers) tithe whatever the lords (political ruling class) demands and the favor of a lord is needed to get ahead or avoid punishment. Anyone who makes life difficult for an appartchik lordling can be squashed by this kind of selective enforcement of regulations. You can’t justify this by making the false dichotomy that the alternative to selective, politically motivated enforcement is no enforcement at all. If you can’t enforce the law as the law, as it is written, then it would be better to not have it or its enforcement at all.

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Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 15 May 2013 at 18:21

Update — apparently the IRS was also releasing confidential information on conservative groups to political action groups in the opposition.

Hey Skipper Wednesday, 15 May 2013 at 21:43
These are things you typically see in the third world, from unestablished republics and other places.

Like Warmenists? And not just a little like, but exactly like.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 15 May 2013 at 22:38

Yes, it’s all about using the power of government to de facto outlaw your opponents because dissent simply can’t be tolerated.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 08:40

More updates —

Applications were declining, not surging when the IRS decided to crack down on politically incorrect applications.

Lois Lerner, who set the spark for this, has been involved earlier and directly. While conservative groups were being grilled with bizarre and probably illegal questions others were being treated differently

Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.
In that latter case, Obama had collected money long before he was granted his tax-exempt status. Lerner helped him out by making his status retroactive all the way to 2008, shielding him from exposure to any tax evasion nastiness.

There is also evidence of piling on from other government agencies for the groups the apparat really didn’t like.

erp Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 09:36

aog, isn’t Lerner getting some sort of a medal at a WH ceremony as well!

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 09:57

I haven’t heard that, but I wouldn’t be surprised. She got a lot of bonuses while doing this work.

Bret Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 11:18

aog wrote: “Yes, it’s all about using the power of government to de facto outlaw your opponents because dissent simply can’t be tolerated.

Of course. As I’ve said elsewhere, if I had the power, I’d do the same thing. Opponents are a pain in the ass.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 11:45

Bret;

If that’s a generally accepted attitude then how can we maintain our republic? Is not Rubio correct, that is the essential politics of failed nations? Just gang warfare writ large.

I have to say, I certainly would not do so. It’s difficult for me to not feel deep contempt for those who would. I don’t think it’s been the general attitude of the American Street for most of our history and if it is now, then I can’t see how our experiment in self government is not doomed.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 12:36

Bret;

Here you wrote

it might possibly be illegal

which I read as “if I were in power, I would commit illegal acts to further that power”. Is that really what you mean?

Bret Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 13:00

aog wrote: “If that’s a generally accepted attitude then how can we maintain our republic?

With the size, power, and ideology of the MAL, there’s no possible way to maintain our republic. Though the real question is, what republic? We have a republic? Not for a while now as far as I can tell.

And that’s absolutely the general attitude of the MAL.

aog wrote: “Just gang warfare writ large.

Yes. Best to minimize contact with the gangs and therefore best to be unnoticeable to the gangs.

But if you’re going to engage (i.e. be part of government), don’t bring a plastic knife to a gunfight.

aog wrote: “It’s difficult for me to not feel deep contempt for those who would.

You seem surprisingly naive to me.

I see the MAL severely damaging the future of the country. If I bothered to engage, I would do everything possible short of violence to maximize the destruction of their power and influence.

I realize it’s quite symmetric. The MAL believes conservatives are destroying the country and feel compelled to do everything possible to destroy conservatives.

aog wrote: “I don’t think it’s been the general attitude of the American Street for most of our history…

That was then, this is now. There were only around 3 million people in the U.S. in 1800 with very slow communication. It’s simply a different street.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 13:34

You seem surprisingly naive to me.

Yeah, I’m probably quite a bit more idealistic than is good for me. But that’s just how I roll.

Hey Skipper Friday, 17 May 2013 at 00:16
I have to say, I certainly would not do so. It’s difficult for me to not feel deep contempt for those who would. I don’t think it’s been the general attitude of the American Street for most of our history and if it is now, then I can’t see how our experiment in self government is not doomed.

+10

With the size, power, and ideology of the MAL, there’s no possible way to maintain our republic.

In order to have a republic, or to believe in personal freedom at all, one thing is axiomatic: people, in the aggregate, are capable of separating wheat from chaff.

To do otherwise is to adopt the sine qua non of the MAL: people are too dumb to know their own good.

erp Friday, 17 May 2013 at 09:19

I haven’t read them in a long time, but don’t our founding documents say somewhere that it all rests on an informed citizenry? That’s the key. The public isn’t dumb and the public isn’t mis-informed, the public has been the victim of a decades-long concerted dis-information campaign headed by the teachers’ unions and the media to divert its attention by the equivalent of shiny colored beads and circuses from the disaster right in front of their noses .

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 May 2013 at 10:09

erp;

That’s not in our founding documents, but it was certainly stated multiple times by many of the Founding Fathers. There’s no doubt they viewed the success of our Republic as ultimately dependent on the virtue of the citizenry. It’s one of the reasons I don’t much support things like a balanced budget amendment - you can’t legislate that kind of virtue. If it exists, you don’t need the legal machinery and if it doesn’t the legal machinery will simply be worked around.

As for the decades long disinformation campaign, see here for quite a lot of documentation on it.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 May 2013 at 10:12

Hey, turns out the person in charge of the office that lead the way on targeting political opponents is now in charge of enforcing POR-care for the IRS. What could go wrong?

Oh, and the IRS demanded of one applicant that the group not protest against Planned Parenthood specifically.

Contrast and compare

On Tuesday, USA Today reported that while the IRS was hounding conservative groups and holding up their applications for tax-exempt status, it was quickly ushering liberal groups with names like “Progress Florida” and “Missourians Organizing for Reform” through the process.

USA Today found that in the 27 months after Feb. 2010, the IRS did not approve a single Tea Party application. Over those same months, however, dozens of applications submitted by liberal groups that were engaged in the same type of activities and were seeking the same tax status as the conservative ones sailed through the agency.

Bret Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:08

Hey Skipper wrote:

In order to have a republic, or to believe in personal freedom at all, one thing is axiomatic: people, in the aggregate, are capable of separating wheat from chaff.

A probably necessary, but certainly not sufficient condition. For example, not only must the people be “capable of separating wheat from chaff”, they must also choose to do so.

But I don’t think that’s the main problem anyway. I think there are inherent emergent characteristics in the system that guarantee it’s fall, for example as described by Mancur Olson’s The Rise and Decline of Nations. We’re clearly in political decline. I just hope it doesn’t accelerate too much.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:37

Bret;

A Fermi Paradox explanation?

Bret Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:52

aog; what? I’m not following.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 May 2013 at 12:06

Bret;

Why haven’t alien civilizations colonized the stars? Because the wealth necessary requires a classical liberal republican form of government. But your claim is that such things structurally contain the seeds of their future decline and failure, therefore they never go on long enough to get off planet.

Bret Friday, 17 May 2013 at 12:59

Ahhhh. Got it. That was quite a jump, literally of a galactic magnitude, which left me behind, sitting here, stumped back on earth. :-)

Anyway, not necessarily. Consider two (of probably many) possibilities: (1) yes, we decline, but knowledge is preserved, and eventually a new nation/civilization rises and pushes technology further - repeat some number of times and humanity or its descendants still make it the stars; (2) we’ll decline politically, but before we become completely nonfunctional, technology increases to a point that keeps us afloat and advancing for a very long time.

Hey Skipper Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 22:19
A probably necessary, but certainly not sufficient condition. For example, not only must the people be “capable of separating wheat from chaff”, they must also choose to do so.

That axiom is the litmus test that separates progressives. Their entering argument is that the people either already agree to progressive ideas, or are suffering from false consciousness.

The alternative is Jefferson’s marketplace of ideas, which is antithetical to using progressives tactics against them.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 23:30

Doom! Peggy Noonan disagrees with Bret’s attitude

So many people are sad about America and cynical about its government. They don’t expect anything good to happen. They think certain poisons have entered the system and nothing can be done about it. Leviathan will not be cut back or tamed, Leviathan will go on abusing the citizen. People are all too willing to believe the Internal Revenue Service is hopelessly political in its judgments and actions. They are not shocked. They don’t think anything can be done, that the system cannot be corrected. They just grip the arms of the seat and wait for the weather to get worse.

But cynicism aids and abets deterioration. You’ve got to stay shocked. It’s disrespectful not to…

How can I hold on to my side when the Nooner is over there too? How can I say Bret is wrong if he can point to this and snicker? Woe is me…

erp Sunday, 19 May 2013 at 08:56

You can do both. Agree with Bret that nothing can stop the current trend and do your darnest to try to stop it. The modern left play the long game. They started with Rousseau and are still in there punching. Many hundreds of years from now, somebody will find a copy of our founding documents buried in the ground or cemented into a wall and perhaps start up another land of the free and home of brave … and wonder, as we used to wonder, how Romans could let their Republic fail.

Bret Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 12:54

aog,

I think you’ll find Harry’s latest on this subject entertaining (or annoying or both).

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 14:11

Bret;

After Eagar’s apologia for the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Europe and comparing the US military to the Red Army unfavorably, it’s hard to get worked up over something like that. It does exemplify two of Eagar’s strongest traits — his inability to argue a case without gratuitous insults and his impenetrability to well established facts that contradict his Narrative.

You asked

Nice ad hominem. Is your argument really so weak that you have to resort to that?

He doesn’t resort to that, he starts with it and never lets up on any political subject.

On a broader note, it’s one thing to fit a different curve to the same data points, but quite another to simply discard any points that don’t fit your preferred curve. I don’t really consider a gestalt or viewpoint a Narrative until you get to that stage of willful ignorance. Under that rubric, you and I don’t have Narratives, but Eagar does.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 15:16

Let’s do some more piling on —

Bret Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 15:39

All data from at least moderately complicated complex systems contain outliers (i.e., measurement errors, etc.). I often feel that what I consider to be valid data, Harry ignores as outliers and vice-versa, causing us to arrive at completely orthogonal results from nearly identical data sets. Harry has also searched to the end of the earth for more data points that look like outliers to me, but they match his narrative. Unfortunately, the science/math of outliers (especially for non-normal distributions) leaves plenty of room for subjective interpretation.

I do have a Narrative. I try to be aware of it as much as possible in order to try and be aware of the inherent biases due to my Narrative, but probably only rarely succeed. It’s much easier to see other people’s Narratives than your own.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 16:08

Bret;

That’s not what I mean at all. Even if you consider data point A to be an outlier (that is, irrelevant to the curve fitting) you’re not denying data point A exists or has a different value. Let’s take Eagar’s claim that the Bolsheviks never resorted to force which is demonstrably false. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about. Or the claim in the same comment that the Red Army withdrew from the parts of Finland it occupied. This is again demonstrably false. The datapoint is erased, not ignored or re-interpreted. That’s a Narrative.

In contrast, arguing about whether the Red Army was a considerate or justified occupier is different, because that at least doesn’t deny the reality of the Red Army’s occupation of Eastern Europe. I don’t consider that to rise to the level of Narrative, regardless of how ahistorical I find it.

Bret Wednesday, 22 May 2013 at 10:45

If I call data point A an outlier, I’m basically assuming either non-relevance (for a known or unknown reason) or mismeasurement (i.e. it’s not actually a data point).

I’ll agree it’s a little different than what Harry does, but related in that if the Red Army’s activities don’t fit his curve (excluding what he considers to be outliers), then he’ll reasonably assume the data is erroneous - i.e. that the Red Army did not actually occupy Finland and any claim that it did so was “mismeasurement” or incorrect observation and that’s why it’s an outlier (and/or the reverse). That’s what it looks like he’s doing to me.

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