Political analysts say that emotions played as big a role as issues in Republican Scott Brown's (pictured left) earthshaking win this week in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts. And those emotions will appear likely to influence the rest of the political season into the November midterm elections. "People are so angry out here in the real world they can't see straight," said Jennifer Donahue, political director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. Independent voters can break an election. It happened in 2008 and once again in 2010. A day after his victory to fill Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat, Brown said Wednesday the one thing he heard the most during his campaign was that people were tired of business as usual. "That means the behind-the-scenes deals. … They want to make sure that their elected officials are doing things in a transparent manner, and doing it with the best interests of our state and mine." – CNN
Dominant Social Theme: Thank goodness for the greatness of the two-party system, a robust handler of discontent.
Free-Market Analysis: We've learned some interesting things in the past 24-hours. According to Newsweek and the New York Times, "FreedomWorks, headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, helped direct the Tea Party movement in Massachusetts to score the upset win for the GOP."
And then there is this from the Philadelphia Enquirer: "During the campaign, Brown spoke about being strong on national security. He said terror suspects shouldn't have the same constitutional protections as U.S. citizens, and chastised Coakley for saying there were no al-Qaeda terrorists left in Afghanistan. He's also positioned himself to the right of his party's 2008 presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, over the simulated drowning tactic known as water-boarding to gain information from suspected terrorists. McCain, who endorsed Brown, opposes water-boarding."
So, from the above reporting, we are to conclude that Republican Dick Armey, the former leader of the House of Representatives, was instrumental in Scott Brown's victory. And also that a purposeful part of Scott Brown's platform was to deny constitutional protections to al-Qaeda terrorists and to torture (water-board) as necessary. We would presume he is a proponent of rendition as well.
Is this surprising? There are certainly questions about Scott Brown (even about his tax-cutting bona fides) but there can be no question that the Tea Party movement in large measure continues to be an inspirational force for freedom, and that the millions who have participated in the movement are neither cynical nor politically calculating. Scott Brown's victory is in a sense the victory of all those who have participated idealistically in Tea Party activism and "made a difference." Scott Brown the symbol may be more important in the long run than Scott Brown the politician.
So while there can be questions about Scott Brown and his obviously energetic support of America's overseas military adventures, we think his election is nonetheless a further harbinger of the real change that is sweeping both America and Europe. The Tea Party movement can be co-opted, as we explained yesterday, by statist conservatives. But one must look BEHIND the Tea Party movement (and others like it) to find out what is driving the phenomenon. And what is driving it is a toxic mix of anger and, increasingly, (incredibly) substantive ideas about freedom and free-market thinking.
Where are people getting these ideas from? Why from the Internet, of course. Why are they acting on them? Because times are tough. Why are times so bad? Because the system itself, with its central bank-driven monetary inflation, is set up to drive people into poverty and despair while concentrating the world's wealth into fewer and fewer hands. It is cyclical the way a grindstone is. But the system won't stand, in our opinion. Internet-based alternative media is revealing the truth just the way the Gutenberg press did.
We write about the Gutenberg press' impact with some frequency since few others seem to. And with the victory of Scott Brown, it would seem to us that our Gutenberg/Internet paradigm is once more affirmed. People have used the Internet to research the reality of their lives, to organize, to discuss evolving views about the world and their places in it – and finally to effect change. This has all happened before. Five-hundred years ago, as Europeans began to read the Gutenberg Bible, they found out that the Roman Catholic Church's dogma was not representative of the Bible itself. They'd been lied to. This sense of injury led to the Reformation and to Protestantism as well. And Protestantism is just what it sounds like. A protest.
Here's a brief look at what happened after people started reading mass-produced books printed by thousands of Gutenberg presses in thousands of basements. The excerpt below features Britain – but Germany and the rest of Europe went through its own convulsions. (Except where noted, credit to http://faculty.ucc.edu)
During the course of the 17th century, the political system of England changed from the Absolute Monarchy of the Tudors to Constitutional Monarchy and the rule of Parliament. …
Gutenberg press invented in 1439
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1398 – February 3, 1468) was a German goldsmith and printer who is credited with being the first to use movable type printing, in around 1439, and the global inventor of the mechanical printing press. His major work, the Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible), has been acclaimed for its high aesthetic and technical quality. (Wikipedia)
Luther nails Theses to church door and sets off religious wars that conclude only in 1648
The Protestant Reformation was the European Christian reform movement that established Protestantism as a constituent branch of contemporary Christianity; it began in 1517, when Martin Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concluded in 1648, with the Peace of Westphalia.
And now to Britain …
The end of Tudor Absolutism
Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603. Like her father, she was an absolute monarch. But the Tudors ruled with the support of Parliament. In England, Parliament was made up of two houses: the House of Lords, representing the hereditary nobility, and the House of Commons, representing the merchants from the towns and the lesser landowners (squires) from the shires of England. Parliament dated back to the Middle Ages when kings were limited in their powers. … There is no question that Parliament was subservient to the kings under the Tudors.
The Early Stuarts: James I and Charles I: Conflict between King and Parliament: 1603 – 1649
She was succeeded by James I of the House of Stuart. James was the first king of England with that name, but he was also the sixth James of Scotland. Under James I, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were dynastically united by having the same king. James was viewed as a "foreigner" from the English perspective. He did not understand the way Elizabeth had governed her kingdom, in what is called the "Elizabethan Compromise." Under his rule and that of his son, the traditional relationships between king and parliament broke down. … These tensions lead to Civil War under Charles I. This Civil War is a power struggle between the supporters of the King, the Cavaliers, and the supporters of Parliament, the Roundheads. Parliament's support came from the townspeople many of whom where radical Protestants or Puritans.
Civil War: 1642 – 1649
In the person of Oliver Cromwell, the Parliamentary forces found a remarkable leader. Charles I was defeated militarily, tried by Parliament for treason, and executed. It was the first regicide (killing of a king) in modern history. [Parliament declared a republic but soon appointed staunch Puritan Cromwell as Lord Protector. – Wikipedia]
A Glorious Revolution
For eleven years from the execution of Charles I in 1649 to the restoration of his son Charles II in 1660, England and Scotland were republics. Under the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, Great Britain was governed by Oliver Cromwell. The Puritans pioneered many principles of government that were later copied in Massachusetts and the New England colonies. … After Oliver Cromwell died, there was a general groundswell for a restoration of the legitimate king, Charles II.
Restoration: 1660 – 1688
The Restored Stuarts governed from 1660 to 1688. Charles II (1660 -1685) managed to get on with Parliament, but his younger brother, James II (1685 -1688), once again ran into conflict … Religion was, again, one of the root causes of disagreement. James II had married, a second time while in exile during the Cromwell years, a French princess, who was Catholic. It was widely believed that James II was himself a Catholic. When this long-barren marriage produced unexpectedly a son, who was Christened as a Catholic, the country rebelled against the king. … It is difficult to explain to modern students the degree of fear and animosity that religious differences produced at this time. A Catholic king who might restore Catholicism as the official religion of England was simply intolerable to England. The result was the Glorious Revolution.
The Glorious Revolution: 1688 – 1689
Between 1688 and 1689, Parliament engineered the ouster of the legitimate male line of Stuart kings and imported a new Protestant king and queen: William III and Mary II … Parliament had engineered a change of government. Parliament had proven its ultimate superiority to the king. This was the Glorious Revolution. The Glorious Revolution established the victory of Parliament over the King. Various contested issues of power were resolved in favor of Parliament. Parliament had to be convened regularly. All new taxes had to be approved by Parliament. The king and his family had to belong to the Anglican religion. New political arrangements were made with Scotland.
The Later Protestant Stuarts: 1689 – 1714
William and Mary did not have any children. After both monarchs had died, the crown went to Anne, another of Charles II's Protestant daughters. When Anne died, the next Protestant heirs of the Stuarts were the rulers of the German state of Hanover.
The Hanovarian Kings and the Development of the Parliamentary System
George I (1714-1727) was the first of the Hanovarian line of English kings. … Neither King George I nor George II (1727 – 1760) were fluent in English. … They did not preside over the regular meetings of the Cabinet. In their absence, the Chancellor of the Exchequer became the first minister, the Prime Minister. Sir Robert Walpole performed this function from 1721 to 1742. When he lost his parliamentary majority, he resigned his position even though he still had the confidence of the king. He provided a model for others to follow.
We can see from the above, the apparent and painful march of progress from absolutism to British parliamentary procedure. Once people questioned the Catholic church, we think they questioned everything – and eventually, inevitably, the full panorama of the sociopolitical structure. We would argue that the Gutenberg press was an essential element in triggering these events – not just in Britain, but throughout Europe. Sure, there were plenty of other sociopolitical currents swirling around and much unwritten or little known history as well. But the press in our opinion stands near the center of much of it.
And so again today, quite possibly. The Internet is the modern Gutenberg press. But most people still don't fully understand what is in store. They believe (the ones that think about this sort of thing) that power elite promotions are so powerful that they will survive what the Internet will do to them – and has already done to them. We don't think so. We think these dominant social themes are already blowing up around us. Human beings are intensely communicative and idea-driven. Great apes talk. That's what they do best. New concepts spread quickly because the spreading of them is a fundamental human competence. And eventually, given enough accretion, they create a new reality.
In fact, the Internet is speeding up political cycles and exposing the reality of sociopolitical manipulations at a ferocious rate. People won't stand for politics as usual because they are no longer constrained (at a subconscious as well as conscious level) by dominant social themes. The promotional culture of the power elite is breaking down. History shows us this is a degenerative process. It is not reversible. A whole new set of dominant social themes will have to be introduced eventually. But first the power elite will have to take control of the Internet. Good luck with that.
Tea Party movements can be co-opted. False prophets can be elected. But in the bigger picture, it may not be so important. There is a process. It is ongoing and larger than any single individual. And it is not controllable anymore than the eventual ramifications of the Gutenberg press were controllable. The American political cycle is getting shorter and shorter not because people are impatient but because people increasingly DON'T BELIEVE in statist solutions. Even if they can't verbalize it, more and more they don't believe in them. Why should they? The Internet is steadily revealing a whole new paradigm, one that was lost for more than a century.
In America, new economic ideas that feature freedom and personal responsibility are becoming more popular because the initial pre-Civil war culture was based on them – and the Internet is unearthing them once more for an appreciative audience. In fact, we believe the next set of dominant social themes to come under challenge will be the authoritarian ones. The war on terror, rendition, socialist (state) justice, the various domestic spying activities such as warrantless wiretapping – all these will inevitably receive more pushback as the power of the Internet continues to grow.
Shall we be fearful? In the real world, George Orwell's terrible (promotional) vision does always not win. History shows us otherwise. The power elite may eventually have to take a step back, and then two. They are impatient for global government but over the next years and decades, we think there is a possibility they will be grateful to settle for what they've got or even much less. They rush forward, but their promotions are blowing up around them, and their progress will likely grow no easier. No matter the manipulations, the fear-based memes, the elaborately plotted layer of control – it may all continue to unravel. Heck, we think we may even see the day when a private gold and silver standard makes a comeback.
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