Free Speech and Big Tech – The Legislative Betrayal

Before we sort out what to do about Big Tech’s assaults on free speech, let’s examine the special treatment Congress granted to Big Tech, which treatment enabled it to infringe so broadly on free speech and sort out the implications and consequences of that legislation.

To get a clear picture of the situation, one must first recognize that people who publish slanderous or libelous words (“defame”) have committed a tort against the person(s) defamed are liable for damages caused by their tort. Publishers of such defamation are liable as a joint participant in the defamation.

When Big Tech came up with the idea of creating platforms on which users would post comments, Big Tech executives knew (1) their platforms would facilitate the propagation of much defamation by users, and (2) they would face huge, potentially untenable, liabilities if they were to be held responsible for the defamation posted on their platforms by users.

Before the internet, the established law was: “Distributors, such as booksellers, newsvendors, and libraries, merely distribute content and hence bear liability only upon a showing of knowledge or negligence. Common carriers, such as telephone companies, transmit information mechanically with no opportunity to review its content. Therefore, common carriers are not liable for the transfer of harmful data.”[i] In 1991 a court had held that Compuserve[ii] was a distributor rather than a publisher of content, i.e., not liable for defamation posted by users. On May 24, 1995, however, a New York Supreme Court ruled that “Prodigy was liable as the publisher of the content created by its users because it exercised editorial control over the messages on their bulletin boards in three ways: 1) by posting Content Guidelines for users, 2) by enforcing those guidelines with “Board Leaders,” and 3) by utilizing screening software designed to remove offensive language.”[iii] In response, Big Tech, that was doing things identical or similar to what Prodigy had been held liable for, ramped up lobbying efforts to obtain a federal law shielding Big Tech from publisher liability. By that time, Big Tech was in a position to greatly affect what was heard or said about Representatives and Senators. Big Tech’s lobbying efforts paid off in less than nine months.[iv]

Big Tech’s argument to Congress (at least for public consumption—more on this below) to justify a liability shield for content published on their platforms by users was that, unlike publishers who pick and choose what to publish (thereby being directly involved in the act of publishing the defamation), Big Tech, subject to a few, reasonably objective and appropriate exceptions, would not be involved curating or filtering what was published by users. Their platforms were to be open public forums available to all.

A necessary and proper role of democratic-republican governments is to ensure that public forums exist. Cass Sunstein put it this way, “The idea (the “Public Forum Doctrine”[v]) is, in addition to saying the government can’t censor speech of which it disapproves, it has to maintain spaces open for expressive activity. Parks and streets; and this is a historically-based idea, that streets and parks have been open for expressive activity. Supreme Court has actually said that’s part of what free speech tradition requires. And that’s important because it gives us an opportunity, if we want to use the streets, to have access to people with whom we have a beef–so, we can protest.”[vi] Consequently, it was appropriate and beneficial to the public for Congress to enable Big Tech to deliver on the promise of the greatest and most effective and unbiased forum for free speech humans have ever experienced.  Adopting a law that, in effect, would accomplish approximately the opposite of a neutral forum open to all (and putting their interests ahead of the public’s interest in free speech in the process), however, was a betrayal of the American people.

The 1996 law, 47 U.S. Code § 230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material (“Section 230”) codified the betrayal. This law is startlingly short but directly enabled the unfathomably long list of Big Tech’s destructive abuses of blocking and filtering powers. Amending Section 230 could be a means to address the Big Tech problem. Sorting out the contrast between what the law proclaimed it would do and what it did is essential to understanding the issues involved.[vii]

The findings of Section 230 were reasonably accurate—in 1996:

(a) Findings The Congress finds the following:

(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.

(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.

(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.

(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.

(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.

The finding, “(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops” could not be found today—after more than 20 years the law’s consequences, quite the opposite. As Big Tech has honed its algorithms, finding the facts/truth about something is easy only if the facts/truth comport with the biases of Big Tech. Facts/truth that do not so comport crop up, if at all, after many pages of search results comprised of debunking, biased “fact checks,” counter-takes, and ridicule of the searched proposition, while the most effective critics of Big Tech’s biased “facts/truth” are suppressed, ridiculed, demonetized, and/or de-platformed.

Proof that Big Tech designs their algorithms to serve up what Big Tech leftists want users to see rather than give “users a great degree of control over the information that they receive” is in prior posts in this series. In Douglas Murray’s insightful new book, “The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity,” another way to make the point glaringly obvious was presented. Take a look at these two screenshots of Google searches that I took on 10/9/19.

SW Couples

SB Couples

The first search was for images of “straight white couples.” You will see that only 16 of the first 36 images presented were of possibly straight white couples. Six of that 16, however, were of a white couple who lost a court battle seeking equal treatment under the law for straight couples, most with controversial protest signs behind them. (Is that what typically comes to mind when you think of straight white couples?). So, only 11 of 36 different examples of straight white couples were presented. Worse, only four of the 36 results were of normal, reasonably happy, white couples. The second search was for “straight black couples.” Compared to the search for straight white couples, the search for straight black couples produced twice as many different examples of straight black couples. Moreover, 15 (as opposed to only four for whites) of the examples were of normal, reasonably happy, black couples. Note also, that when searching for “straight white couples,” Google took it upon itself to eliminate results that were limited to “straight” white couples, but did not do so for black couples. Obviously, according to Google’s biases, being a happy straight black couple is OK, but being a happy straight white couple is not.

Based on the examples given in Murray’s book, it appears that the results Google presents now have been tamed down after his book was published. Little doubt, Google will return to its more aggressive “nudging” when the hullabaloo of the book wears off. By reporting that Google’s search results in non-Western foreign countries evince none of the shenanigans described above proves that Google can tweak its algorithms to give “users a great degree of control over the information that they receive,” but chooses not to do so in Western countries.

As if the above was not bad enough, the following screenshot of Google results for “straight white couples” leaves no doubt about what Google executives want you to think about straight white couples and the lengths to which they will go to get you and everyone else to think it as Google executives do. The below image is an example of groupthink and attempted brain-washing of the highest and most evil order. A free society cannot allow this to go on for much longer.

SW Couples HteIf “(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse…” was true before Section 230’s adoption, it has not been true after. Big Tech has been and is shutting down as much diversity of political thought as rapidly as Big Tech believes it can, which is a great deal. The more they have done, the more it becomes unnoteworthy, and the more they can do without effective hue and cry.

It is truer now than in 1996 that “(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.” That is why it is so important that Congress undo the damage that Section 230 enabled Big Tech to inflict.

The policies Congress was trying to implement were laudable:

    (b) Policy It is the policy of the United States—

(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;

(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and

(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.

If only the laudable stated policy objectives had been sincere.

Note that the removal of the “disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material” has not worked out as advertised. Though many blocking and filtering technologies are thankfully now available to parents, Big Tech is using blocking and filtering technologies to achieve other ends, i.e., to restrict, bury deep in search results, and eliminate access by adults to content Big Tech believes, in its own, arrogant, biased, and uncircumspect opinion, to be objectionable. To defend itself against criticism of that practice, Big Tech testifies that what it is doing is necessary to keep out of search results and platform posts what essentially everyone believes should not be in our K-12 school libraries. Because Big Tech is fully capable of producing multiple search engines equivalent to movie ratings (G, GP, GP-13, R, M, etc.) to overcome the stated obstacle to real free speech in the public forum, this defense is merely a smokescreen for their treatment adults as their who must be indoctrinated (propagandized) in the ideologies approved by the Big Tech-Government Complex. That is precisely the opposite of achieving “a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity” for adults while providing “technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services.” They could do both, but they falsely proclaim that Big Tech is not capable of delivering on the policies Section 230 purports to deliver. In practice, the language of the “Findings” and the “Policies” of Section are false advertising to provide cover for technologies and powers that enable Big Tech to coordinate with the federal government to enhance the powers of both.

The protections the law created were a mixed bag:

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

(2) Civil Liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph.

To divine in 1996 that all Big Tech executives will always be “Good Samaritans” in the use of blocking and screening powers granted to them by Section 230 was both naively presumptuous,[viii] a dereliction of duty, and a violation of their oaths of office. Congresspeople could have been responsible had they defined in the law what Big Tech had to do and what standards they had to meet to avail themselves of immunities a Good Samaritan would deserve, but, as you can see from the text, they did not. On the contrary, they granted blanket immunity, i.e., they, in effect, deemed Big Tech executives to be “Good Samaritans” regardless of their future conduct. As it turned out, far from being Good Samaritans, Big Tech executives now play the role of priests who pass by on the far side of the road when they see a non-leftist naked, bruised, and abandoned on the internet highway (unlike the priests of the Bible, however, the Big Tech priests, at a minimum, appear to sneer at and often smear the abandoned soul as they pass)—all with, IMO, solemn perjurious denials and arrogant impunity.

The coup de gras of the betrayal is in subsection (c)(2)(A): “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of— (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable…” [Emphasis added.]

This subsection appears to be specifying the few, reasonably objective, and appropriate authorizations to block or filter user content that a responsible Congress would impose on people who seek immunity from otherwise established law. Given that a court can be called upon to determine whether the platform provider was acting in good faith when blocking or filtering “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or excessively violent” content, this immunity is unobjectionable. A reasonable exception could be taken to the grant to Big Tech the power to determine what is “harassing,” but that grant is not blatantly objectionable. What is blatantly objectionable is the unreasonable delegation of the functional equivalent of governmental power to block “otherwise objectionable” content and effectively placing Big Tech’s blocking and filtering power beyond the review of the courts. Adding “otherwise objectionable” to the list of items permitted to be blocked renders all the previously listed standards superfluous, window dressing for the delegation of abusive power, mere feigns for the knockout punch to people’s natural right to free speech.

The “the functional equivalent of governmental power” claim is founded on the mutuality of interests between government functionaries and Big Tech. The Congresspeople who enacted the law knew that Big Tech executives, like they, are unsympathetic to (or, at a minimum were in a conflict of interest with) the Constitutional principle of “limited government.” People in power typically want unlimited power and Big Tech wanted a grant of immunity to exercise powers that Congress did and could not exercise itself. (Whether Congress can delegate a power it does not have is an interesting constitutional question that will not be sorted out here). Consequently, Congresspeople knew that Big Tech executives would use any blocking and filtering immunity delegated to them to promote posts that support Congress freeing itself from limitations and squelch contrary posts. Consequently, Section 230 was an undermining of the Constitution’s purpose of securing people’s natural rights, which violates their oath of office.

Passing Section 230 created the near-perfect, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement, with each party having the power to do great damage to the other if they stopped scratching. In other words, to maintain the mutually beneficial arrangement, Big Tech must either infringe on speech in the dominant modern public forum in a way that suits Congress so as not to loses the favors of Section 230, and Congress must to either ensure that the government does not prevent Big Tech from doing what it wants to do, or Big Tech will adjust the filters so as to wreak havoc on political careers. The especially delicious icing on this corrupt cake was that by granting such a valuable right to Big Tech, Congress enabled Big Tech to make enough money to thrive even after it delivers luxurious scratches to the backs of Congresspeople.

The phrases, “effectively beyond the review of the courts is the power to block or filter content that Big Tech believes, in good faith, is, in some way objectionable to Big Tech,” refers to the fact that the phrase “otherwise objectionable” in Section 230 is not a standard. Objectionable to whom? Is 66/100% objectionable (i.e., 99 and 44/100% pure/unobjectionable) enough to block speech? Is something objectionable to any madcap moderator sufficient to block, no matter how unfounded, irrational, or biased the objection? When the intent is to grant unlimited power to a third party to do one’s bidding in the public square, unconstitutional vagueness will do the trick.

With the above context in mind, we are in a position to sort out “What to do.” We’ll do that next.


[i] See “Communications Decency Act 230 – Berkeley Law Research,” Page 403.

[ii] See “Cubby v. CompuServe.”

[iii] See “Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy Services Co.”

[iv] See “47 U.S. Code § 230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material.”

[v] See “Public Forum Doctrine.”

[vi] See or listen to “Cass Sunstein on #Republic” at about 6:30.

[vii] The law is comprised of five subsections (a) – (e). Because they are irrelevant to this post, discussions of subsections (d) and (e) will be omitted.

[viii]Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Conundrum

As described earlier in this series,[i] major social media companies, Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (“Big Tech”) infringe on the free speech of people whose views are not in sink with the ideology of the members of Big Tech’s top brass. That the members of Big Tech companies’ top brass are ideologically simpatico is conceded even by left-leaning think tanks. For example, a Brookings report said, “We know that an overwhelming majority of technology entrepreneurs subscribe to a liberal ideology. Despite the claims by companies such as Google, I believe that political biases affect how these companies operate… Empirical evidence support this intuition; By analyzing a dataset consisting of 10.1 million U.S. Facebook users, a 2014 study demonstrated that liberal users are less likely than their conservative counterparts to get exposed to news content that oppose their political views. Another analysis of Yahoo! search queries concluded that ‘more right-leaning a query it is, the more negative sentiments can be  found in its search results.’”[ii] The Washington Post confirms that Big Tech discriminates against non-leftists.[iii]/ As if that were not enough proof, Mark Zuckerburg was caught saying, “It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues. And, you know, it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.”[iv]

As explained in the first two blogs in this series, [v] Big Tech’s selective suppression of free speech is “a big problem.” (Big Tech’s services create other serious problems, e.g., psychiatric problems for individuals,[vi] societal problems,[vii] and have increased the pace at which the cavern between competing ideologies widens, which rends society’s cohesion. All and each of these problems could be reasons to take governmental action to address them, but this series is focused exclusively on the biggest of Big Tech’s negative effects, infringement of free speech.)

While the negative effects of Big Tech’s infringement of free speech (and other domains) are huge, so are Big Tech’s positive effects in many domains. Big Tech provides incomprehensibly fantastic and desirable services. Although productivity increases attributable to information technology have been hard to find or quantify,[viii] the fact that Big Tech’s services are used/consumed in massive quantities is strong evidence that consumers find Big Tech’s services to be very valuable, i.e., are effective means by which people invent and produce things and pursue happiness. Consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that Big Tech deserves significant credit for increases in both productivity and happiness compared to what would have occurred without their services.

So, Big Tech creates huge positive and huge negative effects. We tinker with Big Tech at our peril. However, it is more perilous not to infringe upon Big Tech’s suppression of free speech. However, the extent to which regulations will reduce Big Tech’s ability to retain or increase the positive consequences of its services if Big Tech’s suppression of free speech is suppressed is an open question, but it could very seriously reduce the value of Big Tech’s services. Therein lies a conundrum, i.e., we are damned if we do suppress Big Tech’s suppression of free speech and damned if we don’t. Making matters more complicated, transferring to the government the power to control what speech should be suppressed or promoted is a surefire way to make matters worse.[ix]

Effectively addressing the huge problems Big Tech’s suppression of free speech is creating will not be easy, especially if we demand, as we should, that the policy not undermine our constitutional values. Nevertheless, Big Tech’s negative effects on free speech are so damaging to societies’ ability to enable human flourishing is so overwhelming, all options should be carefully examined and subjected to searing debate to tease out a policy that has a high probability of doing more good than harm.

The biggest hurdles to overcome concerning the regulation of Big Tech’s suppression of free speech are constitutional. The Constitution prohibits governments from infringing upon the rights of American citizens (a) to utter and publish their speech,[x] (b) to assemble peaceably with others (e.g., via a corporation) to exercise their rights as they please (e.g., to achieve political objectives), and (c) to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.[xi] (Note, however, uttering or publishing words to commit a crime or a tort is not the exercise of free speech.[xii])

Big Tech companies are formed by citizens who have assembled with others to exercise their constitutional rights to speak and create portals to facilitate free speech—among other things. Consequently, Big Tech companies, like other publishers, have the constitutional right to publish whatever they want.

On the other hand, Big Tech’s ability to provide the goods and services of search and social media that Americans have grown to love if it were subject to criminal and tort liability like publishers would be severely curtailed. Publishers of speech are jointly and severally liable with the authors of criminal or defamatory content. [Big Tech was granted immunity from such liability in 1996.[xiii] More on this in later posts.] Big Tech could not survive in the form we now know it (could not provide as many positive societal effects) if it were made liable for the criminal and defamatory content that populates its search results and feeds. The resulting tidal wave of lawsuits would vastly weaken them, perhaps to extinction or uselessness.

Consequently, effectively addressing the problem without undermining America’s core principles will be very hard. Telling private companies what they can and cannot do falsely presumes that regulators will selflessly prescribe what they believe is in the best interest of society and knows enough to determine what is in the best interest of society. Regulation is fraught with negative consequences (some intended, some unanticipated), a corruption factory, and is often unconstitutional. All too often, regulations exacerbate the problem they intend to solve.[xiv]

George Gilder has predicted that cloud computing, upon which Big Tech currently relies to do its good and evil, will soon become a thing of the past, i.e., that we don’t need to do anything about Big Tech’s abuses.[xv] On the chance that Gilder’s prediction will not get the job done, let’s sort out what might be done in the next blog.


[i] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem,” “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence,” and “Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse.”

[ii] See “Regulating free speech on social media is dangerous and futile.”

[iii][iii] See one of many examples “Did Facebook bury conservative news? Ex-staffers say yes.”

[iv]/ See “All Hands On Deck.”

[v] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem” and “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence.”

[vi] See “Jordan Peterson: The Psychology of Social Media” and “https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=psychological+problems+created+by+social+media.”

[vii] See “What Impact Has Social Media Truly Had On Society.”

[viii] See “Productivity Paradox.”

[ix] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse.”

[x] See:

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” and

The Fourteenth Amendment: “No state shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

[xi] The Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

[xii] The right to free speech is the right to express ideas, no matter how mean, despicable, offensive, fallacious or untenable an idea is. That right does not mean that one is free to say anything with impunity. One can be sued if she uses speech to commit a tort.  For example, yelling fire in a crowded theater for the purpose of causing a stampede that will injure people, inciting violence, and defaming people (slander or libel) are not considered to be an expression of an idea, “speech.” They are wrongful acts against others, i.e., torts. Publishing tortious words of others is also a tort.

Torts, however, are not crimes. A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. The Constitution places limitations on what federal and state governments can do but it does not place limits on what people acting in non-governmental capacities can do.

[xiii] See “47 U.S. Code § 230 (c).”

[xiv] Perhaps the best example is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the 2008 banking crisis. The bill was to solve the problem that banks had been “too big to fail,” which was why they had to be bailed out. After its implementation, the big banks got bigger and many smaller banks could not absorb the extra cost of regulatory compliance and closed their doors. See “The “Too Big to Fail Banks” are Bigger and more Powerful. The Financial Crisis has not Ended … It’s Only Gotten Worse” and “Dodd-Frank at 5 — helping big banks get bigger.”

[xv] See “George Gilder: Forget Cloud Computing, Blockchain is the Future.”

 

Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse

Now that we’ve sorted out how bad it is that Big Tech has as much power over free speech that it now has, we can move on to what to do about the problem. Before we do, however, let’s sort how the typical, knee-jerk reaction would make matters worse.

The typical, knee-jerk reaction when businesses run amok is for people, especially politicians who want more power, demand that government regulates the misbehaving business. That is a proper response concerning some kinds of business misbehavior. However, “as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits.”[i] Another general rule is that regulation of industry almost always winds up creating so much red tape that only the big, long-established companies can compete in the regulated business, i.e., small startups that could produce a higher quality or cheaper good or service are at a disadvantage because the cost of regulatory compliance is a large percentage of a small company’s cost structure and a small percentage of a large company’s cost structure. (Perhaps the best proof of this is Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more government regulation of search and social media.[ii]) New regulations almost always cede more power to a government that is already exercising much too much power already and facilitates even more corruption than already exists.

In light of all of that, for the regulation of a business to be warranted, the harm should be very significant, the regulation should very significantly reduce the likelihood of misbehavior, and the benefits of the foregoing exceed the inevitable negative consequences described above plus some unanticipated, “unintended” consequences. The government regulating search and social media would not come close to meeting this test.

As bad as all of the above described negative consequences of regulation are, they are not the worst consequences of government regulation of search and social media. The worst problem with the government regulating search and social media is that the government would have the power to harness some, if not all, of the power to control, infringe upon free speech that Big Tech now has. It is not just that having and exercising that power would be unconstitutional, which it would be, it is that having that much power would ultimately, if not immediately snuff out the remaining flickers of The Enlightenment ideas that are so essential to truth and a free society.[iii]


[i] “…as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits…Regulatory capture.

[ii] See “Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas” and “Zuckerberg Wants to Regulate the Internet. Here’s Why.”

[iii] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence

Unless the aggregated the power that was described in the first blog of this series, Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem, is not checked and balanced, the likely consequence will be the end to free societies. Recognizing and understanding why that is the case is essential to finding a cure for the problem that does not do as much harm as the disease will be hard.  Let’s sort this out by first pinpointing the problematic consequence.

Big Tech (1) controls the primary means humans use to communicate ideas (speech), something essential to a free society,[i] (2) can tweak its algorithms to promote negative comments and suppress positive comments about anyone and thereby demonize anyone while being blocking or overwhelming the victim’s attempt to defend herself, (3) can ban anyone from the primary communication platforms, and/or (4) can surveil everyone who uses those platforms. These are awesome powers.

Having the power to surveil is particularly important for Big Tech’s power because it enables Big Tech to discover things about people who use the primary means of communication that those people do not want to be made public. Obtaining compromising information about people gives Big Tech the power to blackmail. The threat that Big Tech can allow negative comments about a person to flow far and wide while stifling positive comments (defame people with the curated words of others) gives Big Tech a highly effective way to force people to shut up. Knowing how essential free speech was to a free society, ensuring that every citizen’s right to free speech would not be infringed was a first, and foremost goal of the U.S. founders. Unfortunately, the founders did not have the clairvoyance to see that an institution other than the government might amass enough power to infringe on free speech.

As subversive to a free society Big Tech’s power to infringe on citizen’s free speech rights is, exercising that power against citizens is not the worst consequence of Big Tech’s power. Big Tech power to surveil and blackmail politicians and bureaucrats is worse.

A fundamental and eternal bane of human existence is that while humans flourish more in societies that have rules established by effective rulers, unless those rulers are reasonably restrained, rulers become tyrannical. Societies that have achieved the most humans flourishing have a set of rules that limit the powers of rulers to become tyrannical by giving their citizens an ability to dethrone rulers who exceed the powers delegated to them. That approach to governance is fundamental to the most successful country in human history, America. Big Tech’s power, however, is changing America’s fundamental approach to governance.

As Dr. Robert Epstein testified to Congress in July 2019, “In 2016, Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that shifted at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton, whom I supported… In the weeks leading up to the 2018 election, bias in Google search results may have shifted upwards of 78.2 million votes, spread across many races to the candidates of one political party.”[ii] Politicians are supposedly accountable to the people because the people have the power to vote them out of office if they do not serve the interests of the people. That theory falls apart if there is a separate power that can destroy a politician’s chance of getting elected if she does not serve the political and economic objectives of that power. “One man, one vote” has little meaning when corporations can control who can be nominated.

As bad the high priests of Big Tech meddling in elections is, it is not the worst consequence.

If it is not already there, Big Tech will soon supplant the government as the predominate power that controls how society works. Once free speech is sufficiently stifled, tyranny will follow. This is because “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely… [and] as a person’s power increases, their moral sense diminishes.”[iii] However moral Big Tech may be today, which is debatable, history clearly demonstrates that morality is a minor factor in decision-making by tyrants, if it is a factor at all.[iv]

Whistleblowers, hidden camera videos, and purloined memos of Big Tech officials have revealed that Big Tech is actively exercising its powers to achieve its political and financial objectives.[v] Those practices would be less problematic if (1) humans had not so overwhelmingly gravitated to Big Tech’s modes of communication, (2) Big Tech had not used and would not continue to use the wealth generated by humans consuming its products to invest in product-improving R&D at rates that will outpace potential competitors, (3) all the corporate officers of the companies that run the primary modern modes of communication did not have the same political philosophies and objectives, then Big Tech’s power could be checked by competition from companies with officers that had political philosophies and objectives that challenged the political groupthink that has enthralled Big Tech executives. Because all of that happened, Big Tech is using its unchecked, unchallenged, monolithic power to impose their philosophy (religion, actually) on society, including its electoral processes. This collection of powers has grown constantly and continues to get stronger. In many respects its power to affect elections is greater than any politician, party, or deep state actor.

Perhaps more important than all of that, with its surveillance and speech control abilities, Big Tech has the power to blackmail most, if not all, politicians and bureaucrats to serve their financial and political purposes. A threat by Big Tech to demonize, embarrass, silence, subject to criminal inquiry, etc. against a politician would be highly credible, i.e., effective. In short, Big Tech has or soon will have the power to tell politicians and bureaucrats what laws or regulations they need to support and to lie to Congress and investigators with impunity (prosecutors dare not fall out of favor with Big Tech). The idea that a people can live in a society under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people may be a thing of the past if a way to check Big Tech’s power is not found and implemented.

As will be discussed in the next post, finding a way to address this threat to liberty that does not do more harm than good is a monumental challenge.


[i] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

[ii] See “DR. ROBERT EPSTEIN ON BIG TECH CENSORSHIP” and “Dr. Robert Epstein on Big Tech Censorship.”

[iii] See “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

[iv] See the histories of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and Xi. Note also, Google’s parent company chose not to adopt one of Google’s original rules of conduct, “Don’t be evil.”

[v] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post is more relevant, timely, and important than I knew as I was writing it. As I was working to get the article uploaded to my blog today, Project Veritas posted THIS VIDEO, which is a video of a Google employee whistleblower explaining how Google is manipulating search results to achieve the political objectives of the top brass at Google. The damage that Google and other Big Tech players is doing to America’s democratic republic is tremendous and horrifying.

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The invention and adoption of “The Enlightenment” ideas by people in the “Western World” enabled them to vastly outpace the rest of the world with respect to freedom, inventiveness, prosperity, and human flourishing. In so doing, they produced manifold blessings for themselves and the rest of humankind. Sadly, they inflicted many miseries along the way on others and subsets of their own people. Happily, however, as those countries implemented The Enlightenment ideas more broadly and effectively over a few hundred years, they accelerated the improvement in humans’ standards of living by many millennia compared to what would have been achieved using pre-enlightenment ideas.

Here is a great visual representation of what The Enlightenment bestowed on humankind:

World GDP 1-2008 BCE

This graph adds and zooms in on more recent data:

World GDP 1970-2006 BCE

The AEI article from which I grabbed the first chart above said, “… the chart above could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006.”[i] Abject poverty has continued to fall significantly since 2006—as more and more countries embraced and implemented The Enlightenment ideas.[ii] (Though most countries, even ones that have adopted some Enlightenment ideas, remain plagued with too many unenlightened ideas and too many once enlightened countries are abandoning The Enlightenment ideas.[iii])

So, what was so special about those ideas? The Enlightenment thinker, Immanuel Kant, described The Enlightenment as “humankind’s release from its self-incurred immaturity; ‘immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.’”[iv]  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy had this to say about The Enlightenment:

“The Enlightenment is most identified with its political accomplishments. The era is marked by three political revolutions, which together lay the basis for modern, republican, constitutional democracies: The English Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1775–83), and the French Revolution (1789–99). The success at explaining and understanding the natural world encourages the Enlightenment project of re-making the social/political world, in accord with the models we allegedly find in our reason. Enlightenment philosophers find that the existing social and political orders [e.g., the divine right of kings] do not withstand critical scrutiny.”[v]

The Enlightenment enabled and encouraged everyone, not just the monarchs, lords, and their advisers, to think, explore, experiment, invent, and have a go at finding better ideas and making things better—with a heavy emphasis on thinking. Thinking in a vacuum is much better than not thinking, but bouncing ideas off of others to test whether one’s ideas are sound is an exponentially better process of thinking and to find the truth. Consequently, as a means to extract the maximum value from the power of thinking and discovering what is true, The Enlightenment extolled the virtues of robust and uninfringed free speech.

In short, free speech is essential to making things better because it is what humans use to explore nature and to test the validity and merit of ideas through vigorous debate. Good science and good governance depend on understanding the nature of things and giving due consideration of both the positive and negative aspects and consequences of an idea or a proposed policy. An idea that has survived the gauntlet of honest and vigorous debate is far more likely to make things better (do more good than harm) than an idea that sails through on the wings of blinkering emotions that have been unenlightened by a vigorous challenge. As Jordan Peterson put it, free speech “is bedrock and it is not something that is arbitrary, it’s not a mere game that we’re playing in the West—none of that—it’s the most fundamental truth that the human race has ever discovered, and we lose it at our absolute peril.”[vi]

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution it spawned are, perhaps, the crowning achievement of The Enlightenment. They spawned the most successful and powerful, while (given its capacity to be otherwise) exceptionally non-hegemonic. The essentiality of free speech to an effective democratic-republican government was made clear by its priority in the Bill of Rights. The first two limitations on government in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights deal with free speech. The first item listed was a prohibition of government established/imposed religion, which, by using blasphemy laws, has historically been humankind’s fiercest opponent of free speech and independent thinking. The second item listed was a direct prohibition of any law that infringes on free speech. Many other countries have embraced the virtues of free speech in their governing documents, but few, if any, come close to the reverence for the idea that Americans have—at least historically. (That Americans’ reverence for free speech is waning is the motivation for this post.)

Consequently, if Americans were taught American history as it should be taught, Americans would understand that infringing on speech by government action, by companies with control over our modern means of communications (the power to shadow ban, shadow ban, or demonetize certain speakers while promoting other speakers), or by individuals or groups shouting down speakers, giving low grades on papers that express ideas unsympathetic to the teacher’s beliefs, or mob violence impedes human progress and flourishing. Sadly, Americans are, to a significant, if not a great degree, being taught the opposite.

An ever-growing percentage of Americans is calling for infringement of free speech by both individuals and our institutions.[vii] That children and young adults have been and are being taught to be intolerant of speech they don’t like was starkly evidenced by the University of Chicago feeling compelled to warn incoming freshmen that intellectual inquiry via free speech will be permitted and promoted at UofC. Not only have very few colleges followed suit, many are doubling down on shielding students from ideas that stray even slightly from leftist orthodoxy,[viii] encouraging professors not to debate non-leftists (as if they need encouragement), and are complicit by insufficient suppression of students and professors who do what they can to prevent non-leftists from speaking on or near campus. Many universities are so dedicated to the proposition that people’s freedom to speak of ideas that are incompatible with the leftists’ ideology that they have set up, usually small and avoidable “free speech zones” to keep non-leftist speech as infringed as possible.[ix] In short, higher education has been for a long time and remains filled with crusaders against the ideas (first and foremost, free speech) that are responsible for the hockey sticks of human flourishing depicted above in favor of ideologies that return excessive power to cloistered monks in ivory towers and rulers on thrones of prodigious power.

Let’s pause to note a mental inconsistency by university professors and administrators who suppress speech that runs counter to their dogmas. Universities are, among other things, society’s centers of science. They profess to be society’s primary practitioners, defenders, and champions of the scientific method. A lament often emanating from universities and their acolytes is that much of the general public “deny science” (intending to shame those who deny truths that have been derived from the scientific method). Yet, in large part, the scientific method discovers truths by challenging and disproving prior scientific claims. Scientists and the public continue to refer to Copernicus (born 1473) because he challenged the prevailing groupthink about the solar system. So, while they extol the virtues of challenging orthodoxy in order to discover scientific truths, they blithely promote or tolerate interfering with the use of the scientific method to discover truths concerning ideologies and public policies.

Rarely in human history have rulers not used every power grabbed by or yielded to them to silence opposition to what they do, including the aggregation of ever more power. Though far from perfect, Americans have been exceptionally tolerant of the public criticizing leaders. Not only was such criticism tolerated, Americans believe they have an unalienable the right to do so. That essential attitude toward free speech has been significantly eroded since Big Tech has become the primary means by which humans communicate with each other and, because our societal safeguards were not designed to deal with private entities having greater power to infringe on free speech than the government could ever hope to have, we are in serious jeopardy of losing it all.

For over 200 years the First Amendment has been a somewhat effective shield against being silenced. In 1789, the means by which humans exercised free speech to affect rulers and their policies were face-to-face conversations, speeches/debates in the public square, and the press. All of those primary forms of communication were constitutionally protected against infringement by the two entities that had enough power to stifle a person’s inalienable right to speak freely, government and a government-established church. The founders reasonably believed that the First Amendment’s “wall between church and state” and the prohibition against infringing on a citizen’s inalienable right to speak was sufficient to prevent people in power from stifling free speech. As grounded in reality and blessed with brilliance as they were, the founders could not have imagined that someday a completely new and vastly different group of non-governmental “sheriffs” would come to town packing the power to silence blasphemers, however, the sheriffs self-servingly choose to defined blasphemy. Big Tech has invented and deployed those sheriffs. America, we have a problem.

The new sheriffs, primarily Google/YouTube, Facebook/ Instagram, and Twitter (“Big Tech”), now control people’s primary modes of communication and they are not constrained by the Constitution, or much of anything other than their own conscious and the whims of the mob—the very thing that the Constitution’s checks and balances was designed to prevent. Their power to stifle speech rivals and to promote the speech of their allies exceeds the power of the popes of the Holy Roman Empire or Mohamed and is vastly greater than the constitutionally limited U.S. federal government. It would not be so bad if there were competition among the Big Tech companies as to what speech should be heard, but they all have similar political and moral ideologies.

Of course, Big Tech denies that it is stifling the speech of some and promoting the speech of others.[x] Perhaps they believe their denials. Those denials, however, ring plausible only to those who have been proselytized into the faith of leftist orthodoxy.

That Big Tech has its ideas as to what is good and bad and will use its power to cause what it believes to be the good word and suppress what they believe to be the bad word (and demonize the speakers of bad words) is disputable only with newspeak.  Conservatives have long complained that Google,[xi] Facebook,[xii] Twitter,[xiii] and Instagram (“Big Tech”) stifle their speech. The same is true of Libertarians.[xiv] Prager University has sued in an attempt to stop the abuse of power of Big Tech./[xv] Despite Big Tech’s pious but phony denials, that the new sheriffs have suppressed commentary out of line with leftist orthodoxy cannot be seriously disputed. (If you doubt this, see all the endnote to this post, especially this one.xvi Compelling evidence of the legitimacy of those complaints is the recent Project Veritas reports[xvii] and the fact that Google is attempting to cover its tracks.[xviii]

This reality threatens the single most important bedrock idea that produced the most successful society in human history, the inalienable right to free speech.

In my apocalyptic estimation, the future of America as a good place to live and as the last best hope that freedom[xix] can exist in the world depends on reinstituting Enlightenment ideas in America. It is possible that when snuffed out here those ideas can be rekindled elsewhere, e.g., New Zealand or Croatia, but I doubt it. The only candidate with a reasonable shot at saving The Enlightenment ideas is America. Figuring out how to undo the damage and reverse the course described above will be extremely difficult. I do not have the answer. Let’s hope that not all intellectuals are Intellectual Yet Idiots.

Sadly, like most important societal problems, there are no solutions[xx] to the problem Big Tech has created. There are negative consequences to any course of action. All of the proposed “cures” for the problem of which I am aware might, on balance, make things worse. Those issues are well worth sorting out. Let’s do that in a future post.

UPDATE: Andrew Klaven and Candace Owens had this very good conversation about this topic. As you will read in a future post, one should understand the negative consequences of the remedy Klaven proposes before jumping on board.

 


[i] See “Chart of the greatest and most remarkable achievement in human history, and one you probably never heard about.” Why we “never hear about” this achievement is, to a large degree, because it puts the “Western Ideals,” which is another name for “The Enlightenment Ideals,” in a good light.

[ii] See “The Hong Kong Experiment,” “Singapore: A remarkable free-market success story,” “Singapore: A remarkable free-market success story,” “China’s The Most Viciously Free Market Economy On The Planet Right Now,” “India’s Great Free-Market Economist,”Miracle of Chile,” “The Estonian Economic Miracle” (to cite but a few).

[iii] See “The Left Is Dismantling Western Values” and “We Should Not Be Reluctant to Assert the Superiority of Western Values.”

[iv] See “Enlightenment.”

[v] Id. At 2.1

[vi] See “On the Vital Necessity of Free Speech (are you listening, Saudis)?

[vii] See “Deniers of the war on free speech on college campuses are dead wrong,” and “Colleges Have No Right to Limit Students’ Free Speech,” and “The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018.”

[viii] See “Politics on the American Campus.”

[ix] See “How Campus Policies Limit Free Speech” and “Study: Liberal Bias Among Campus Administrators ‘Astonishing,’ Worse Than Professors.”

[x]Ted Cruz Makes Google Exec Squirm Over Conservative Censorship,” “Senator Hawley Questions Twitter and Facebook Execs on Transparency,” and “Senator Hawley Grills Google Exec During Judiciary Committee Hearing.”

[xi] See “Google Blocks Conservative Websites” and “YouTube vs. Conservative Speech.”

[xii] See “Former Facebook Insider: We Buried Conservative News,” and “Fired by Google, a Republican Engineer Hits Back: ‘There’s Been a Lot of Bullying’

[xiii] See “HIDDEN CAMERA: Twitter Engineers To “Ban a Way of Talking” Through “Shadow Banning,” “How Facebook, Twitter silence conservative voices online” and “Free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd on her Twitter ban: ‘Your instincts should not be to celebrate’.

[xiv] See “GOOGLE CENSORS CONSERVATIVES ON THE INTERNET AND FIRES THOSE WHO WORK FOR THEM.”

[xv] See “PragerU Takes Legal Action Against Google and YouTube for Discrimination.

[xvi] See “Sen. Ted Cruz questions Google about recent Project Veritas report.” As if this were not enough evidence, see THIS screenshot of a YouTube warning I got when I clicked on the Ted Cruz video.

[xvii] See “Insider Blows Whistle & Exec Reveals Google Plan to Prevent “Trump situation” in 2020 on Hidden Cam.” Note that Snopes did not bother to report on its fact check of the Project Veritas report. See “Snopes Search.”

[xviii] See “Google Employees Sure Are Covering Their Tracks Now That Their Censorship Scheme Has Been Exposed” and “Google “Machine Learning Fairness” Whistleblower Goes Public, says: “burden lifted off of my soul”” The skillful prevarication on display in “Sen. Cruz Questions Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on Censorship of Conservatives” is telling.

[xix] See “The last speech of Ronald Reagan as president was on immigration.”

[xx] See “Solutions.”

Choosing Diversity over Competence

On July 29, 2019, six senior staff members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee resigned[i] because of outrage within the party that the party’s leadership was comprised of an insufficient percentage of “oppressed people” (they call it “lack of diversity”). Half of the resigning leaders of the party were women holding the positions of DCCC Executive Director, Political Director, and Top Communications Aide. It is reasonable to assume that those people held those positions because of their competence, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the women nosed out some equally or more capable white men because they were women.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a similar approach when constructing his cabinet which gave “Canada first cabinet with equal number of men and women.”[ii] The group was also ethnically diverse also. “It’s important to be here before you today to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada,” Trudeau, 43, told reporters…” [The Guardian, November 5, 2015.] The result was that he purposefully prioritized diversity over competence.

It is not that women or non-white men are, in general, less competent than white men. It’s that the larger the pool of potential candidates a position, the greater the likelihood the best candidate for any particular job will be in the pool. For example, let’s assume that men and women are, in general, equally capable. While the percentage of working-age women and men in America is approximately equal, about half of women work outside the home while about 75% of men do.[iii] So, the pool of women from whom to choose is only 2/3rds the size of the men’s pool. If one assumes that men and women are equally competent and employers do not discriminate in favor of women or men when seeking to fill high profile, high status government jobs (Trudeau’s example and the general push to get women in high profile jobs for public relations and “social justice” purposes are reasons to doubt the second, possibly generous, assumption), then there should be approximately 50% more eligible men in the labor pool than women, i.e., the probability of the most competent person being a man is larger. Similar, if not even starker, statistics apply to other groupings of people.

With the above in mind, please watch this video to see the disaster Trudeau’s decision has wrought on Canada.

 

 

You might also find THIS VIDEO and THIS VIDEO to be interesting and entertaining.


[i] See “Liberal outrage leads to ‘Monday Night Massacre’ of resignations from senior Democratic staff.”

[ii] See “Trudeau gives Canada first cabinet with equal number of men and women.”

[iii] See “In U.S., Half of Women Prefer a Job Outside the Home.”

Nationalism PART V, Nationalism or One World Government?

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Author’s Note: As readers may have surmised, the overarching point of this series is to sort out whether Nationalism or a One World Government is the better approach to governance. My plan for this morning was to finish this post. To my surprise this morning, a link to THIS SERENDIPITOUS VIDEO (which bears directly on that subject) appeared in my inbox. I encourage you to watch it after you have read this post. It provides a very optimistic spin on how the ideas of this series are gaining currency.

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As discussed previously, nationalistic, capitalistic, democratic republics have produced more successful and moral results for a higher percentage of their populations than any other forms of governance (and their research and inventions have been spread widely across the Earth). Sadly, however, they also create many problems, e.g., high levels of income inequality and other unequal outcomes, and imperialistic nationalistic nations have a history of starting wars.[i] With the advent of weapons of mass destruction, humans now have the capacity to render huge swaths of the world uninhabitable, and conceivably do great damage globally. What is humanity to do?

An oft-touted alternative to nationalism that has not been fully tried is a “One World Government.”[ii] Some intellectuals claim that a One World Government is the only way to avoid a nuclear holocaust.[iii] If a One World Government could, (1) eliminate the possibility of a nuclear holocaust,[iv] (2) not stifle human flourishing, and (3) be sustainable, the case for a One World Government would be compelling. Sadly, a One World Government could not achieve any of those objectives. Not only would a One World Government fail to achieve objectives that might justify it, but it would also make matters worse. Let’s sort out why that is true.

The primary purpose of a government is to establish and enforce rules that enable humans to fare better than if they were to live in chaos. The fundamental problem with governments, however, is that they are run by humans, i.e., a government allows some humans to set the rules under which all humans within the government’s jurisdiction to live. Granting people some power to rule over others enables them to obtain even more power than was granted. A ruler can simply use the power granted to withhold favors or inflict harm on those who are subject to their rules unless the ruled cede more power to a ruler. When it comes to expanding one’s power, the primary difference between a protection racket[v] (e.g., The Mafia or Mexican cartels) and government action is that the government officials need not worry about an external law enforcement agency bringing the hammer down on their racket.

Consequently, because they are not angles,[vi] unless rulers are restrained, they will eventually (and often quickly) amass enough power to do as they please. The more power they garner the less power “the people” have to stop them. One might suppose that rulers would be fearful of becoming so tyrannical that the people will find a way to forcibly dethrone the ruler. However, that so many rulers have been beheaded or dethroned throughout history reveals how much risk of going too far rulers will take to satisfy their lust for power. Gaining ever more power is in the best interest of the powerful and is, most definitely, not in the best interest of the vast majority of people living under the rule of the powerful. Rulers having too much power results in tyranny and misery for all but the most powerful. Yet, unless some power is not granted to rulers, there is chaos. What is humanity to do?

The most ingenious approach to addressing the problem of both granting power to rulers and restraining them from abusing it was devised by the American founders. The key was to set up the system so that rulers could not get anything done unless many antithetical interests, a.k.a, “factions”[vii] agreed that a problem was sufficiently pressing and a proposed solution would be sufficiently effective that the proposed solution should be implemented. To further prevent unnecessary government action, they also added a Bill of Rights that, hopefully, would prevent the adoption of laws that infringed on certain inalienable rights. In this system, “the people” had the ultimate authority to “throw the bastards out” if government officials amassed too much power.

The founders, however, knew that the system was not foolproof. By responding to a lady who asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the Constitutional Convention would propose, he expressed his doubts about the sustainability of the proposed government when he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”[viii] As ingenious as it was, the idea that factions could be kept at bay came into doubt immediately after the founding. In his “Farewell Address,”[ix] Washington signaled out factions as a primary threat to the republic. Interestingly, Washington urged nationalism as the solution:

“…you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

As if the original constitutional structure was not weak enough in its defenses against tyranny, from the beginning, progressives have both whittled away at its protections and diminished the citizens’ fealty to the constitutional system. Consequently, we have only been able to keep some shreds of the checks and balances envisioned by the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, in addition to his many other fine qualities, was prescient.

Today it is hard, if not impossible, to get American’s to rally around America’s relatively good set of principles. This is despite the country being mostly populated by people who, for the most part, embrace Judeo-Christian values and have a shared faith in the ideas of The Enlightenment[x] (whether or not they acknowledge that source of their values and ideas). Although America is a relatively diverse country, its diverse citizenry is fairly homogeneous concerning values, ideas, and mores. The idea that all people of the world with profoundly different histories, values, and ideas could be motivated to adhere to principles, values, and mores dictated by a One World Government is preposterous. There is simply no way tribalistic humans can tribalize around one set of ideas, much less ideas dictated by faraway people with whom they have essentially nothing in common. In the 20th Century not even three variations (U.S.S.R, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China) of one set of values and ideas, socialism, could co-exist with each other. None of them could even co-exist with their own citizens, collectively killing more than 100 million of their citizens who wouldn’t or couldn’t get in line with the state’s programs.

If ultimate control of all nuclear weapons were placed in the hands of a small group of people, those people would have as close to ultimate power as has ever existed on Earth. Absolute power will produce absolute tyranny. The notion that humans would thrive in such a world is untenable.

Consider the problems confronting the European Union which is a conglomeration of comparatively homogeneous fellow Europeans. The Brexit vote and the discontent in Germany of Greece holding Germans hostage are just the most visible of the EU’s problems.[xi] In addition to being financially dysfunctional, the relatively globalist ideas that have taken root in Europe create other insolvable problems. Among them are too much welfare, low birthrates, and a necessity to take in more immigrants than can reasonably be assimilated. The confluence of these problems and ideas has created stagnation.

“The EU’s biggest problem is that its economic model has aged alongside its population. Europe has plenty of world-class companies but, unlike the US, none of them were set up in the past 25 years. In Europe’s golden age, Volkswagen was a rival to Ford, and Siemens could go toe to toe with General Electric. But there is no European Google, Facebook or Amazon and in the emerging technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence, Europe is nowhere.”[xii]

With a one-world tyranny, there would be no way out and no reason for the tyrants to ease their tyranny. Contrast that to a world in which nations with relative freedom exist. In such a world, tyrants are exposed to the possibility and reality that humans will flee to relative freedom. Non-enterprising, non-productive, and cowardly people will remain in the already dysfunctional society. (A common saying in the U.S.S.R. was, “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”[xiii]) As we saw in Berlin before the wall fell, enterprising, productive and courageous people who prefer to actually work and actually get paid will risk their lives to get out. As a result, the tyrannical country becomes poorer whether the person escapes or gets killed. Conversely, if the escapees make it out alive, the freer, receiving country is benefits.

By this process, the freer a country is, the more sustainable and prosperous it will be. The more prosperous a country is, the greater a magnet it is to those who are yearning to be free and to have opportunities to become productive and prosperous. Historically, people who have little initiative or courage tend to stay put and hope that the government will take care of them. (Today there are countervailing forces.[xiv]) This reality is a motivation for countries to be freer.

The motivations described above (punishment of tyranny and rewarding freedom) are not merely theoretical. Demonstrations of the effectiveness of those motivations are played out daily in America today. When a U.S. state becomes too tyrannical (e.g., the state considers the wealth of its citizens to be communal, and, therefore, extract exceptionally high taxes on their wealthy citizens and subsidize those who do not work whether or not they are capable of working) migration happens. Wealthy people tend to leave[xv] (with the occasional exception of people who are so wealthy that they need not sweat the loss of extra hundreds of millions in taxes—although even they often move their company’s operations to lower tax states) and less or non-productive people who are spared the high taxes tend to stay and non-productive people from elsewhere move to the state. The next thing you know, they have massive homeless problems.[xvi]

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Please remember to watch THIS SERENDIPITOUS VIDEO.


[i] See “ See “Income Inequality Is More Than It’s Cracked Up To Be.”

[ii] See “ See “World government.” The United Nations is an international body but has so few powers that calling it a government would be an error.

[iii] See “ See “The case for a World State to wipe out war and nuclear weapons and bring global peace and prosperity” and “Pope Francis Calls For ‘One World Government’ To ‘Save Humanity’.”

[iv] See “ “…widespread destruction and radioactive fallout causing the collapse of civilization, through the use of nuclear weapons.”

[v] See “ See “Protection Racket.”

[vi] See “ See “Milton Friedman on Greed, Virtue, and Angels.”

[vii] See “ Originally the structural factions were “the people” (House of Representatives), states (Senate and the Electoral College), and the Courts. There were sub-factions within the House, Senate, and the Courts. To become and remain a law required surviving quite a gauntlet. It was institutional gridlock for all but the most compelling measures that did not violate citizens’ inalienable rights.

[viii] See “ See “A Republic, if You Can Keep It.

[ix] See Washington’s “Farewell Address.”

[x] See “ See “Ideas of the Enlightenment.”

“The Age of Enlightenment refers to a period in which reason was advocated as the primary basis of thought and authority. Logic and rationality were used to explain the ways in which the world worked as opposed to old traditions and superstitions. Free speech, individualism, and tolerance for other ways of life also became important ideas during this time. This period also coincided with the rise of nationalism and introduced great thinkers who later influenced developing democratic governments including the government of the United States.”

[xi] See “ See “The European Union has bigger problems to deal with than Brexit.”

[xii] See “ Id.

[xiii] See “ See “ See “The Economist” Aug 26, 1999.

[xiv] See “  See “The weaponization of Milton Friedman.” This article rightly points out how Friedman’s quote was misused. The article does not, however, prove that Milton Friedman’s statement (below) about immigrants coming illegally to America to have Americans provide for them was incorrect. The most they could say was, “not necessarily.” But the article simply describes some possible offsets to the costs of providing welfare to “illegal immigrants.” The article does not even attempt to put any numbers to determine the net flow of values. Here is what Friedman said:

“It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs, it is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. … [I]f you come under circumstances where each person is entitled to a prorated share of a pot … then the effect of that situation is that free immigration would mean a reduction for everybody.”

[xv] See “ See “The Great Tax Migration,” and “Wealthy Americans flee high-tax states, take billions with them: ‘Tax the rich. The rich leave’

[xvi] See “As California’s homelessness grows, the crisis emerges as a major issue in state’s gubernatorial race.”

Nationalism PART IV, Nix Nationalism?

While nationalism produces many negative consequences, the fact that independent states—all of which are nationalistic to some degree—have survived the evolutionary test of time suggests, if not proves, that nation-states are, on balance, better for humans than chaos and the other approaches to governance that have been tried. At best, however, even the most successful nationalistic states create human conditions that are tragically short of idyllic. The human response to non-idyllic situations is to try to conceive changes to make things better. Such conceiving is noble and necessary if progress is to be made but, sadly, the vast majority of those conceptions when implemented do more harm than good. Even more sadly, no amount of conceiving will produce a set of policies that would create a paradise on Earth.

On the other hand, the fact that a vastly higher percentage of the people alive today are faring better than their ancestors shows that humans over the long haul and with much testing and many setbacks and failures can improve their conditions over time. Such progress can occur, however, only if the preponderance of changes that concern values and policies have been wise. The collapse of The Roman Empire, to name but one of many examples, demonstrates that humans are perfectly capable of choosing changes unwisely and/or failing to do what is necessary to protect and defend their wise decisions. Part of the mission of this blog is to help defer the day that the ideas, ways, and means that have enabled humans to reach the extant pinnacle of human achievement are not unwisely jettisoned in favor of unattainable perfection.[i] [More on that point in future posts.]

With millennia of trials and much error and failures, natural evolution has deemed nationalism to be the winning approach to governance. That does not mean that nationalism is not destined to become extinct when a more successful approach is discovered. It does mean, however, that the odds of any proposed “fundamental transformation” of the evolved state of affairs will work better than the current one are low.

This is not a claim that things are satisfactory here and now. Far from it. Injustice, ill will, rightful righteous indignation (righteous indignation based on wrong analysis is unhelpful noise), unfairness, danger, tragedy, illness, outrageous fortune, and sadness abound. Because, however, (1) anything near creating a perfect form of governance is beyond human grasp, and (2) human’s infinite capacity to imagine how things could be better regardless of their absolute level of general wellbeing, injustice, etc. will always be a permanent part of the human condition—no matter how comparatively great conditions happen to be. For example, all but a tiny fraction of humans who currently live in America, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and several other places have standards of living that rank in the top 1% of all the humans that have ever lived, yet all of the awful things listed above exist everywhere in the world. Jesus’s comment, “The poor will always be with you,” is an eternal truth that no fundamental transformation of policies will change.[ii]

Nevertheless, things can be improved and wanting to improve things is virtuous. The problem is discerning which policies will produce more good than harm. Large human systems are astoundingly complicated and any significant policy change to such systems will produce both positive and negative consequences.[iii] This problem is intractable because the smartest people in the world are not infinitely smart and most the knowledgeable people can obtain only a fraction of the information needed to assess whether a major policy change will, on balance, be positive or negative—although many people claim otherwise.[iv] Making matters worse, in many circumstances the smartest and most knowledgeable people cannot know whether the fraction of the information they possess is a sufficiently high fraction of the information needed to justify the drawing of a conclusion. Examples of this reality were when some really smart, knowledgeable, and well-meaning people decided to remove wolves from Yellowstone National Park[v] (which helped the elk and a few other animals and made the smart/knowledgeable people appear, for a while, to be smarter/more knowledgeable than they were, but destroyed the habitat of many species) and the revolutionaries thinking it was a good idea to replace the terrible czarist Russian government with a communist one[vi] (which worked out well only for the U.S.S.R.’s General Secretaries and a few of their cronies). Contrary to what the instigators believed to be sound ideas, the Yellowstone idea was an example of the government not taking fully into account how nature works concerning wildlife, and the Soviet idea was an example of the government taking fully into account neither human nature nor economics (also a natural phenomenon). Natural, inevitable forces caused those ideas to fail—despite the science, logic, beautiful rhetoric, and good intentions of the ideas’ the “Intellectual Yet Idiot”[vii] conceived.

Consequently, the most reasonable and reliable test of whether a system is worthy of preservation is whether it has persevered and produced above average results for an above average percentage of its citizenry over a long time. This is particularly troublesome because pretty good is not great. Humans can always imagine things being better than pretty good. They often want, ask for, or demand at least extraordinary, if not great, and sometimes demand near perfection if the status quo does not suit their fancy. (It doesn’t help when “experts” are paid to promote ideas whether or not they are good ideas and social merit badges are dispensed to vainglorious people who excel at demeaning the status quo.[viii])

Though dreadfully short of great, a country that produces above average results for an above average percentage of its people over an extended period is a miracle.[/ix] [In my estimation, the video in this endnote is a “must see.”] As nationalist America has demonstrated, pretty good can produce many miracles. Because there is a baby in that bathwater, significant policy change proposals should be met with great skepticism and the grander the proposal, the greater the skepticism should be. Doing otherwise risks not only a baby going down the drain.

Of course, nationalism has also produced many horrors and has failed to solve horrendous problems. On the other hand, things were never fine for everyone or even most people in the Roman Empire. On the contrary, by the standards of modern societies, things were always awful for everyone in the Roman Empire. More important, however, things were worse for most people both before the rise and after the fall of the Roman Empire. That history will repeat itself if the ideas of the Enlightenment, which enabled the West to achieve what it has for humanity, are not preserved and defended.

Hopefully, someday our bumbling trials and errors will produce an approach to governance that is far superior to nationalism. As the 20th Century taught us, however, taking great leaps forward on a large scale tend to produce much worse outcomes.[x]


[i] See “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

[ii] See “Equal Rights or Equal Outcomes?

[iii] See “Unintended Consequences.”

[iv] See “The Pretence of Knowledge.” “To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible; one might even feel that one ought not to discourage the over-confident because their experiments may after all produce some new insights. But in the social field the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority.”

See also, “It’s a Wonderful Loaf.”

[v] See “How Wolves Change Rivers.”

[vi] See “Russian Revolution.”

[vii] See “The Intellectual Yet Idiot.”

[viii] See “The awful rise of ‘virtue signalling’.”

[ix] See “Jordan Peterson- His Finest Moment.”

[x] See “Mao Zedong- Great Leap Forward.”

Nationalism PART IV, Nationalism and Tribalism

Nationalism is often criticized because nationalism promotes tribalism.[i] That nationalism promotes tribalism is true. The implication of the criticism, that tribalism creates serious negative consequences, is also true. Given, however, that every approach to governance creates serious negative consequences, simply alleging that nationalism promotes tribalism, which creates negative consequences, is not a serious charge. Serious charges along this line would be: (1) Nations can thrive without tribalism, which creates serious negative consequences, yet nationalism promotes tribalism anyway, and (2) Nationalism, which promotes tribalism, generates more negative consequences than alternative approaches to governance. Let’s sort out why those serious charges are not credible.

According to Merriam-Webster, a tribe is:

1            a: a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations together                     with slaves, dependents, or adopted strangers

b: a political division of the Roman people originally representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome

c: PHYLE

2            : a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest… [Emphasis added.]

According to Merriam-Webster, tribalism is:

1            : tribal consciousness and loyalty

                especially: exaltation of the tribe above other groups

2            : strong in-group loyalty

Given what tribalism is, to criticize nationalism because it promotes tribalism implies that there could be viable alternative forms of governance that do not promote allegiance to the ideas, ways, and goals of a nation and loyalty to the perceived virtues of the nation. That is an untenable implication.

Humans are tribal animals. Evidence of that is everywhere. Being proud of (embarrassed by) or promoting or defending one’s family, club, community, city, class, group, movement, political party, school, sports team, society, state, or nation are just some of the ways humans exhibit their tribal nature. An ironic example of tribalism is the large and growing tribe in America that rails against tribalism. They seem to be especially proud of their affiliation with their tribe, consider themselves virtuous for being members of that tribe, praise fellow tribe members, self-approvingly deride, defame, and/or demonize those who oppose or are nonplussed by their tribe (nothing short of admiration will do), and feel so confident of the superiority of their tribe’s values and perceptions of reality that they favor imposing their tribe’s views on everyone else in society—all to the jubilation of their fellow tribe members. Moreover, people who work well within tribes tend to fare better than those who do not, and people who do not fit into tribes tend to live shorter, lonelier, and less flourishing lives[ii].

Consequently, criticizing or railing against tribalism is baying at the moon. No amount of baying will cause humans to shed their tribalism. To be viable, any proposed form of governance must accept and accommodate that human feature/bug.

Nationalism is viable in large part because it works with human nature instead of against it, i.e., it uses human tribalism for the benefit of the tribe (which need not be detrimental to other tribes (nations) and is usually beneficial to other nations[iii]). Note also that even people who condemn tribalism also use tribalism to support their isms. For example, socialists who condemn tribalism in others use the rallying cry, “workers of the world unite” to motivate and increase the size of their tribe. Witness all the flag waving, military marches, and larger than life posters of Nazi Germany, U.S.S.R, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. Rallying a group of people to a cause can be essential to motivating people to get involved and work for the success of cause—and it is an overt fostering of tribalism. Fight songs and flag bearers are on the battlefields a reason, i.e., they increase the chances of success. Doing that which helps their group succeed is part of the nature of humans.

Sebastian Junger explained how the point made above (tribalism is not dispensable) applies to society extremely well:

“… every society has to, first and foremost, take care of two things. It has to physically defend itself from enemies if there are any; and it has to keep itself together. It has to remain cohesive. If it doesn’t remain cohesive, there’s nothing to defend. And if there’s no defense, no amount of cohesion in the world will save you from an enemy. So, you have to do both things. And if you don’t, nothing else is really worth doing.

Baying against tribalism is also baying at that which enables tribes (e.g., a nation), and their denizens, to flourish. Humans seek community and meaning in their lives. Tribalism is a means by which people can find community and meaning. People who find a sufficient amount of both tend to flourish. As noted above, people who don’t find enough tend not to fare well.

On a national scale, the more citizens work together as a tribe, all other things being equal,[iv] the more flourishing there will be in their nation over the long run. A nation can and should[v] tolerate a manageable (that is to say, “low”) levels of disagreements among tribe members and, though corrosive and destructive if taken to an extreme, even some number of dissidents fighting to fundamentally transform the tribe’s belief systems is not only survivable, it may be necessary to properly re-examine and improve (or reassert) the tribe’s values and ways. If, however, the manageable quantum of dissidence is exceeded, the social fabric becomes tattered, human flourishing diminishes, and, ultimately, can instigate a civil war. (Winning a civil war is usually almost as disastrous for the winner as it is for the loser.)

So, what is wrong with the critic’s charge, “Nations can thrive without tribalism, which creates serious negative consequences, but nationalism promotes tribalism anyway?” Its premise is incorrect, i.e., nations can neither thrive nor long endure without a sufficient amount of tribalism. In fact, tribalism is a big part of what enables a nation (or any other group) to thrive.

So, what is wrong with the charge, “Nationalism, which promotes tribalism, generates more negative consequences than alternative approaches to governance?” The problem is that there is no counter-factual with which to test the validity of the charge. Because there is no nation that has thrived without tribalism, there is no way to assess the kind and magnitude of negative consequences such a nation would generate. Because, based on the facts available to be studied, tribalism is essential to flourishing, it is fair to assume there will never be a test of the theory that a non-tribalistic would generate fewer negative consequences. However, we should all be open to the possibility that the charge is valid if such a unicorn ever appears.

There are, of course, untested theories to support the idea that a one world government (the ultimate imperialism) would be better. We’ll sort out some things about those theories in future posts.


[i] See “Bill Clinton slams tribalism, nationalism.”

[ii] See “The Lethality of Loneliness.”

[iii] For example, in 2018, customers in the U.S. bought $2.4 trillion of goods and services from foreign companies and individuals, i.e., U.S. imports were $2.4 trillion. Being able to sell to U.S. customers benefited those foreign sellers tremendously. U.S. consumers benefited by being able to obtain their wants and needs at a lower cost than would have been the case if the products had been produced in the U.S. See “US Imports by Year for Top Five Countries.”

[iv] Natural and human-inflicted disasters can prevent flourishing despite the benefits of tribalism.

[v] In order for a nation to improve over time, the ideas and institutions of a nation must be constantly examined to identify and examine the nature of societal/institutional problems, possible solutions to those problems must be proposed, and extensive civil debate must occur to determine what, if any, suspected problem or potential solution would be propitious. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that humans have a prodigious capacity to dream up what they believe to be improvements on the status quo, and will lose faith in a tribe that has little prospect for improvement over time.

Nationalism PART III, Imperialism

As described in the previous two parts of this series,[i] nationalism and imperialism are separable, nationalism is conducive of societal cohesion (which is a good thing), and nationalism does not necessarily lead to imperialism (contrary to popular belief, and, as we shall see, what imperialists want the public to believe). That they are different, however, does not mean that they cannot go hand in hand. Let’s sort out how the two can be connected by focusing on imperialism.

Imperialism is the “state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas... Imperialism results from a complex of causes in which in varying degrees economic pressures, human aggressiveness, and greed, search for security, drive for power and prestige, nationalist emotions, humanitarianism, and many other factors are effective.”[ii] Encyclopedia Britannica.

As the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals, imperialism is caused by many and varied factors (too many to be listed by the Britannica, much less to be sorted out in this blog). “Nationalist emotions” is included near the end of the list of causal factors. Accurately, the Britannica does not suggest that nationalism is an essential precondition for imperialism to blossom, and because imperialism takes a complex of factors to bloom, there is no suggestion that nationalism in the absence of a complex of other factors is sufficient to cause imperialism. Nationalistic citizenries can and sometimes do rally around tyrants who want to force a nation’s ideals on other nations, but nationalism is not the cause of tyrants wanting to impose their wills on others. It is their belief in imperialism that does that.

To further sort out the differences between imperialism and nationalism, let’s focus on imperialism and nationalism as political philosophies. That is to say, let’s sort out the difference between nationalistic and imperialistic as approaches to governance.

The ultimate imperialistic approach to governance would be a one-world government that sets and enforces the rules for all humans.[iii] The ideal nationalistic approach to governance would be many nations whose values, ways, means, and other cultural characteristics (“ideals”) are self-determined and self-enforced by individual nations. Each has strengths and weaknesses. On balance, however, one is better than the other.

To achieve and maintain an ideal imperialistic government, national, cultural, ethnic, tribal, and clan identity, ideals, patriotism, and pride must be suppressed. Inculcating and promoting national ideals and patriotism is essential to a successful independent nation. Realistic nationalism does not promise perpetual peace, prosperity, dignity, and justice to everyone all the time, far from it. Idealistic imperialism does. My contention (and I am not alone)[iv] is that imperialism delivers even less peace, prosperity, dignity, and justice than does nationalism—despite the imperialists claims to the contrary.

Imperialist philosophers (mostly members of the intelligencia)[v] assert that the existence of independent nations that are free to determine their ideals inevitably results in nations adopting ideals that are antithetical to the ideals of other states. (They are, of course, right about that.) They also believe that the most successful nations (powerful enough to impose their will on others) will inculcate their citizens with respect for what is good about their cultures, i.e., do what they can to cause their citizens to be patriotic about the nation’s chosen ideals. (They are, of course, right about that.) Nations that revere ideals that are antithetical to the ideals of other nations all too often go to war. (Right again.) All of those things, however, are considered by imperialists to be minor compared to the offensive fact that nations left to their own devices do not uniformly adopt and inculcate the ideals that imperialists believe are best. (Right yet again!)

The fact that independent nations have these shortfalls from perfection, however, does not mean that a better option is available. Nevertheless, in the fertile minds of the intelligencia, such shortfalls from perfection (barbarity) call for a “solution”[vi] (whether or not one exists). Not surprisingly, the intelligencia just happens to have a “solution” to the tribal squabbling of nations.[vii] That “solution” is to put the intelligencia in charge of a one-world government that can impose its supposedly superior ideals on everyone in the world.[viii] The end of this fairy tale is that all humans will then become “citizens of the world” with no (or, at least, vastly less) squabbling, i.e., everyone in the world will become cosmopolitan. The more apocalyptic among the intelligencia claim that a one-world government is the only way to prevent an Earth-ending nuclear conflagration.[ix]

History is replete with examples of nationalism and imperialism. Neither has ever been fully implemented. The current state of affairs concerning world governance is, for the most part, nationalist, though attacks on nationalism and advocacy of international organization with enforcement power appear to be growing.

In the 20th century, the U.S.S.R., Nazi Germany, and Hirohito’s Japan were outcroppings of imperialist aspirations and endeavors. Beginning in the 15th century, the Spanish were high on imperialism. In later centuries, the Dutch, Brits Germany, and France got in on the act. Long before any of that, other notable empires included the Chinese, Mongols, Romans (the Roman Catholic Church, with its Holy Roman Empire, and the Byzantines picked up the imperialistic baton from the Romans). From the inception of Islam, most Muslims have believed the best thing for the world would be an Islamic Caliphate imposing Sharia law universally.[x] These are just a few of the many examples of imperialism that demonstrate that imperialism actually solves very little and creates many negative consequences. Imperialism has a vast and deep history of failure. (Interestingly, the Jews have traditionally been loath to imperialism.)

Imperialism, it is argued, is justified, necessary, and moral because independent, self-determining, patriotic nations will often engage in wars, and the only hope for world peace is to have a world government (a.k.a, “One-World Government”) with sufficient power to impose a perpetual peace under a single set of laws (or as close to that as is possible). Wilson’s “League of Nations,” FDR’s “United Nations,” and the European Union are examples of peaceable attempts to achieve governmental organizations to pursue the imperialist approach to world peace. Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Lenin’s, Stalin’s, and Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (collectivists all) were examples of forcible infliction of one nation’s ideas on other nations and fellow citizens. What was wrong with these empires was not their nationalism, it was their imperialism, which is often coupled with totalitarianism, which is also terrible.

Note that none of these empires produced permanent peace or prosperity. On the contrary, each was mostly tyrannical and produced some good and many horrors. Non-imperialistic nationalism has a similar track record. Consequently, being a non-nationalist is not “the” moral option, and nationalist countries can be extraordinarily moral. (Yet, globalists in general and leftist globalists, in particular, typically demonize anyone who does not believe the opposite. We’ll sort out why that is and why they are wrong in future posts.)

By contrast, after its “Manifest Destiny” phase, America has, for the most part, supported and advanced the idea of national self-determination and nationalism. A good case can be made that no country in world history has had as large a military and economic superiority over all other nations than that obtained by America.

Consequently, no nation has ever had more capability to impose its laws and customs on others and taking over or subjugating their governments. Since its conquest and subjugation of Native Americans, however, America has been extraordinarily non-imperialistic given its capabilities (though, of course, members of the intelligencia whose raison d’etre is to demonize America pass their time focusing exclusively on the exceptions to this general rule[xi]). As a result, America has become the most successful nation (on many dimensions) that the world has ever produced, and has been more instrumental in improving the standards of living of the poor in the world than any other nation ever.

In short, imperialism has been oversold, and nationalism has gotten a bum rap.


[i] See “Nationalism—PART I” and “Nationalism—PART II, False Premise.”

[ii] See “Imperialism.”

[iii] For a glimpse of a nascent effort toward this end, see “Ron Paul explains the Council on Foreign Relations and the New World Order,” “The UN Wants to be Our World Government By 2030” and “One World Governance and the Council on Foreign Relations. ‘We Shall have World Government… by Conquest or Consent.’

[iv] See “Jordan Peterson: Why Globalism Fails and Nationalism is Relatable,” “The Virtue of Nationalism” by Yoram Hazony, and “Yoram Hazony on the Virtue of Nationalism

[v] Not a good thing. Nassim Taleb, who dubbed them “Intellectual Yet Idiots,” described them thus: “So we end up populating what we call the intelligentsia with people who are delusional, literally mentally deranged, simply because they never have to pay for the consequences of their actions, repeating modernist slogans stripped of all depth.” Elsewhere he said, “But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them.

[vi] See “Solutions.”

[vii] See “Opening remarks at the World Government Summit.” “We live today in a world that is no longer bipolar, no longer unipolar but it is not yet multipolar. [When was the world really bipolar or unipolar?]… there is a deep mistrust between countries and groups of countries that, of course, facilitates the multiplication of conflicts and the difficulty to solve them. We need a surge of diplomacy for peace. We need to be able to have honest brokers trying to bring together those countries that are essential for the solution of those conflicts we face in different parts of the world…. But we need to able to address the root causes of conflict and to have the international community organized to address the root causes of conflict.” [Emphasis added.]

[viii] See “WORLD GOVERNMENT – Bob Brown wants a ‘Global Parliament’” and “”According to the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haas, ‘states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies id the international system is to function.'” [Note: THIS ARTICLE contains a link to the page of Haass’s essay that was originally published on the CFR website. As you can see here, that essay has been removed from the CFR website.]

[ix] See “One World Government and the War of Tomorrow,” and “The case for a World State to wipe out war and nuclear weapons and bring global peace and prosperity.”

[x] See “Imperialism.”

[xi] See “The imperialist lie that won’t die: America is making the planet safer.” Note how the article infused with myriad slanders (e.g., being imperialistic is expensive and counterproductive—which has nothing to do with whether America is imperialistic).