You say, "When did large communities come to exist except through conquest. (And the Civil War can be seen as a war of conquest.)" The US in the 1790s and early 1800s was indeed a large community without having really conquered anything. The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the size of the nation with Jefferson's signature and no bloodshed. There was no "conquest" involved here.
And what of the indigenous peoples who inhabitated that territory? They didn't sign over the sovereignty. Hence, military conquest was needed to back up a treaty signed by colonial powers handing land back and forth between themselves. No one ever asked for the opinion or consent of the natives. Even if there are legitimate exceptions in history, the fact remains that the majority of large political communities come to exist through conquest, and the same is true of the United States, whether one looks at its treatment of indigenous peoples, or the action of the Federal Government with respect to the Confederacy.
Of course money in politics is "necessary." When is money not necessary? And most towns do in fact still have town meetings. Go to any local public library or community center and you'll see them.
Yes, but where do the majority of people live? Do the majority live within the metropolitan beltways? or within small towns? Small towns may still have some form of town meeting, but my other point is that these are relatively powerless to protect the community from having their economy wrecked.
The ability of money to influence an election in a small community is less obvious, because the scale of running a campaign to get voters is diminished, and should be virtually unnecessary where the citizens know one another. Instead, in a small community money plays a role when some candidate is trying to directly bribe the voters or indirectly, by make an impression through spending money, and making promises that the party (for example, the initiation of new construction projects to celebrate the grandeur of the community) will continue once he is elected.
Again, you claim, "So what if major players try to influence local elections? What motive do you think they have other than preserving party control? Certainly it's not to protect the local community. In most areas subsidiarity is dead." Party politics is relevant at the local and national level. Of course we want to preserve party control, from the bottom up. The Party platforms, of both parties, have ramifications for local, state and national interests. I'm not sure I understand what your point is. What is your solution here?
The solution is decentralization coupled with the protection of local economies and, ultimately, a return to a real Federation, if not beyond. Is it necessary for the major parties to have their tentatcles all the way down? There are no actual and distinct local and state interests, because there is no subsidiarity. Allowing companies to outsource jobs and remove production for the sake of the national economy has a real deleterious effect on local communitise. The burden of band-aid solutions, like social security and so on, should be taken up by the states, if they had actual economic independence and self-sufficiency.
You say, "when the two parties such have a hold and are not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities, it just becomes a game of 'politics as usual'--no great improvement will take place, and all the talk of substantive differences on important issues pales in comparison to the agreement between the two parties on preserving the status quo." What do you mean, "not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities."? To what extent? How are local communities not being protected and what do we mean by protection? If I vote for a Conservative who cuts taxes, for example, this will have a ripple effect down to the local communities because everyone in them will have more cash, to do with it what they please within the community.
To your example: More cash to do what? Consume non-essential goods, which are produced outside the United States? I don't see how that benefits the community. Is that tax return sufficient for the start and cultivation and maintenance of a home business? Cutting taxes, by itself, does nothing to reform the economic structures and practices as they exist in this country.
Not doing anything to protect native production, the economic independence and self-sufficiency of local communities on a humane, eco-friendly scale, and reducing our dependence on oil = not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities
"An empty tautology if the law is made in their favor. If legal justice is that those who absolutize the acquisition of property then they may not be breaking laws, but their justice isn't true justice." How is the law tailored in favor of the rich? You've begun with a premise that I don't readily accept. We do still live in a rule of law society. Who is above the law in the United States? This isn't Cuba. You make quite a good number of assertions and axioms without providing any concrete examples of either, in this case.
"Rule of law" is easily perverted if the standard of justice is not the right one.
The right to acquire (and to dispose of) property is near-absolute. (The only qualifications here in the U.S. to the right to acquire and dispose of I can think here is eminent domain, taxation, and obvious punishments.) Hence the exercise of this right is by definition just, and in accordance with the law. There is no need to be "above the law" if the law favors and protects one's activities. The "right" is not properly subordinated to the common good of society.
I would like to think that separation of powers and subsidiarity go hand in hand. They compliment each other.
Despite separation of powers, the Federal Government has not protected subsidiarity. Subsidiarity becomes even more necessary as a counter to the centralizing tendency of modern nation-states, but in the past 2 centuries has been the loser.
Your comments on Walmart are very interesting. How is Wal-Mart the worst offenders against justice and how are they "further decreasing economic opportunities for members of the community." I would say it's precisely the opposite. Have we reached an insurmountable impass? Perhaps. Again, you've made these broad brush assertions without any real example to back it up. With regard to profit, the overwhelming majority of an industry's profit is actually reinvested into the business to increase production levels, wages, hire new people, etc. Many people seem to think that profits are stored in the backroom of the company or horded by some greedy CEO, but this is not the case. Money is continually flowing in and back into the company. For a tour de force defense of walmart, I recommend the following article from the Mises Institute.
It touches on the usual accusations levied against Wal-Mart that you appear to support. I will highlight a good passage and leave the rest to speak for itself. It also gives a good review of common misunderstandings about economic concepts such as prices, cost, wages, etc.
Many of Wal-Mart's critics are socialists who probably resent the fact that Wal-Mart provides an increasingly clear example of how capitalism can shower abundance on its entire population, as their socialist utopias never could. Many of the critics seem to be motivated by fear of change and fear of economic progress. They have a deep distrust of economic freedom and see doom and gloom around every corner as an economy is advancing.As to be expected from the Austrian school. Who has economic freedom? The corporation? The rich? What of the economic freedom of everyone else? Neglible and not worth protecting.
The economy is advancing? I don't think so--check out Lou Dobbs or Paul Craig Roberts--the economy is shifting to service industries as production is relocated and info/tech jobs are outsourced. The only non-service industries that are growing are those associated with real estate, and we in the middle of the real estate bubble. Just wait until that pops. I've posted some of PCR's articles here, along with links to his archives.
In the past, people like this denounced innovations like the assembly line and mass production for many of the same reasons that they denounce Wal-Mart today. They said that these new methods of production would reduce us all to miserable cogs in a machine enslaved to our employers.And they did, until the rise of unions prevented the egregious abuses that were taking place. Since then, men were willing to be stuck in intellectually numbing job on the assembly line, so long as it paid the bills.
It is ironic that their intellectual descendants now panic at the thought of losing assembly-line manufacturing jobs overseas because of Wal-Mart. The next generation of ignorant critics will probably complain about the loss of Wal-Mart jobs to more efficient producers.Because despite the evil of assembly-line manufacturing jobs, at least they are jobs here, filled by Americans.
Paul Craig Roberts: "Second Thoughts on Free Trade". (Typical response by a member of the Austrian school.) "Moving Our Economy Offshore"
The truth about Wal-Mart's critics is that they aren't really interested in economics at all, but they know that in order to be taken seriously they have to pretend to be addressing the issue from a rational point of view. Economic science is complicated and poorly understood by most people, so propagandists often use it as a tool to lend credibility to their arguments. By misusing economic concepts, terminology, and statistics, Wal-Mart's critics have been able to give many people the impression that they are on the side of science. I hope this essay has demonstrated the utter fallaciousness of that impression.No, Wal-Mart's critics are not interested in unrestrained liberalism and capitalism. As for the true nature of economic pseudo-science, I'll leave that for another post.
As for Wal-Mart itself:
(Professor Bainbridge is no distributist, he's quite the opposite but even he admits that Walmart's practices are not humane.)
The Wal-Mart Effect, by Charles Fishman
"Wal-Mart Memo Suggests Ways to Cut Employee Benefit Costs"
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices
A misc link by people actually debating whether a Wal-Mart should enter their community:
Of course, I'm not calling you, TC, a Socialist, I know you're not, but a lot of the arguments you mentioned, and a lot of Catholics sign onto them to as well, ring familiar. I would hadly use Belloc as a sound economic theorist. Many of his theories are more or less socialist witha a Catholic gloss. This is not to disparage his other writings that cover theology, which are wonderful, but a problem I see over and over again is that many Catholics latch on to these utopian ecnomic theories like distributism, with little or no knowledge of their implications.
If one gives a proper definition of socialism, one will be unable to show that Belloc's writings on distributism are socialist. If we accept as a definition "the collective ownership of the means of production and distribution" or something close, then distributism is not socialism. Distributism is the distribution of the means of production among the members of a community, as individuals and heads of households, not taken collectively. Smearing a doctrine with a name isn't a refutation, especially if the name is misapplied. As for utopian, it's only utopian if justice is utopian. Obviously in a degraded social order it might seem utopian, but it doesn't mean that the degraded social order itself is just nor does it have the proper understanding of justice to judge of it properly.
See the following for more: http://www.cjd.org/paper/roots/recon.html
The Debate Between Dr. Storck and Dr. Woods over the Austrian school:
(First link contains all of the links in the discussion, including the following.)
Dr. Kwasniewski's Summary
Mr. Storck's last response