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Guest speaker: Grover Norquist
Date this lecture was recorded: August 29, 2017
[NOTE: All quotations are by Grover Norquist
“The best coalitions come from the hard right and hard left. Center coalitions don’t get you anything except more of the same. Each of them are part of the status quo. So you’re not going to get dramatic changes there.”
“What makes it enduring and work is that there’s a level of trust between people who disagree, on many issues, but can agree on a series of principles.”
“The secret sauce of democracy is the rule of law.”
“There’s a threat of violence behind any law, and if there’s no threat of violence then the law will be ignored.”
“[Throughout] history more people have been murdered by their governments than by foreign invaders. So I kind of think fear of one’s state is a rational fear in history.”
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I agree with several things he says : 1)he so called political center is in fact a gutless dead zone where agreement is often for the worst,2) the libertarian right and the libertarian left have important overlap of agreement about human rights and government overreach,3) too many laws are based on prejudice and scare tactics (drug laws, the knife law, extreme sentences for eco-activism) . 4) his arguments that the military budget and power should be reduced 5) his arguments against over use of incarceration and against government spying are good
On the other hand, the unstated problems of his premises are huge and the questions from the audience were pathetically fawning and vague and failed to address those problems.
His shtick revolves around the idealizing of a somewhat useful but also potentially cruel and horrible concept of human liberty. When you absolutize human liberty it can and does justify all crimes against man and nature. The framers of the constitution had slaves abducted and held by force and threat of death and these exploiters were the major sources of American thinking about liberty. The truth is that their revolution was originated, planned and led by multi millionaire smugglers and merchants who didn’t like paying taxes.
This “liberty” of low taxes for the rich and corporations has been experimented with from Kennedy to now and before that was a huge component of the great depression. During that time since the Roosevelt reforms of the New Deal, more and more wealth has been concentrated in fewer hands, we have massive species die -off, widespread toxic contamination, loss of unions, several extremely costly wars with no positive results, the bank fraud of 2008 and global warming that is melting the arctic, melting glaciers and reducing snow pack along with the acidification of the oceans. Tax reduction for the rich has not produced more liberty for more people but a toxic hate-filled politics of scapegoating the weak while ignoring the the eco-devastation.
The heart of the problem with libertarian ideas is the failure to acknowledge our shared biospheric and social reality, and it is coupled with the failure to acknowledge the unequal power of wealth and military might to bend laws and policies to personal advantage without regard to human rights or eco sanity. One often used, and simple but true illustration of this is toxic materials dumped into a river and the consequences and costs for those downstream. The concept and practice of liberty supported by The Republicans, the Democratic party leaders and Norquist all ignore the rights of those downstream( all life), and are willing to wreck a planet to divvy up piles of cash among their supporters.
(Neither the parties nor libertarians are doing anything serious or effective to stop the surveillance state which is clearly a direct assault on this proposed philosophy. )
Fairly universal to the psychedelic experience, to modern science, and to many mystical traditions is the truth that we are interconnected in a living network in which we are interdependent on the health of all parts. For benign and non war-like human organizations to emerge and enable our continued evolution we must protect the health of the organic whole. We must foster self governing community experiments rooted in clean energy, clean waters, species diversity, and earth friendly food systems. Our notions of personal liberty may need to be more modestly scaled and surely must be rooted in an holistic way of life to escape the current path of planetary catastrophe.
It’s generally agreed the lawmakers brewing up your (so called) “Secret Sauce” of democracy were bought and paid for long ago. So much for the rule of old white male lawyers and those who pay them. Or make them sign pledges about no new taxes.