Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Morbid World

In Poitiers, "in what police described as an organized attack, the band shattered store windows, damaged the facades of several banks and spray-painted anarchist slogans on government buildings. Aiming even at the historical heritage of this comfortable provincial town 200 miles southwest of Paris, they fractured a plaque commemorating Joan of Arc's interrogation here in 1429 and -- in Latin -- scrawled  'Everything belongs to everybody' on a stone baptistery that is one of the oldest monuments in Christendom."  The folks who did this--between 150 and 300-- ("we will destroy your morbid world" was spray-painted on a wall) are called ultra-leftists in the piece.
Categories > Politics

Discussions - 9 Comments

And, closer to home, we have this:,2933,566503,00.html?test=latestnews. "I still want my free stuff" doesn't sound as eloquent as "Everything belongs to everybody" in Latin, but the Burlington Coat Factory isn't exactly Poitiers, either.

Here are some thoughts that cut a bit deeper, and closer to the story of the French city, than the pointless story of the crazy lady pulling a lame prank.

"All property, indeed, except the savage's temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it."
- Benjamin Franklin

"The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying, 'This is mine' and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors might the human race had been spared by the one who, upon pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow men: 'Beware of listening to this imposter; you are lost if you forget the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth belongs to no one."
Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1755

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Are you saying that the shopkeepers of Poitiers are the masters of mankind?

I like Craig's quotes...but what are the rules of construction? I think Craig might be citing valid estate law in the state of South Carolina.

So Craig, you like Ben Franklin? You'll love this, then:

"[W]hy should the Palatine Boors [Germans] be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

"Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind."

It's interesting you didn't quote Franklin's support for the end of slavery, or let's say his words/work on the promotion of natural rights and liberty for all, or his work on education or civic improvements, or the march of science, or maybe how he was the most democratic of the American Founders. I guess he and the other Founders are just racists. How very complex your understanding of them is!

I am not sure what difference it makes if Ben Franklin was slightly racist. In other words I am not sure that despite all the things that Tony Williams points out, that Franklin was indeed one of the more enlightened founders...that nevertheless Franklin was not wrong about the partiality of mankind to its own race/complexion. I think this is more a question of beauty, and race is just as readily apparent as religion, and in the case of other european peoples who are not english there is always the question of language and culture, habits, manners and customs. In some sense Franklin seems to be making a racist argument that he thinks might be persuasive by argueing against the germans he also argues against blacks, and by argueing against blacks hopes to persuade against the continuation of the slave trade, which is something that in practice that would lead to an increased number of blacks in america.

I do think that as a matter of property in Estates the fight between Americans descended from european peoples who were not english and those who were english makes more sense when we look at the fights between the Dutch and the English over claims in america. The Spanish established title on the grant of the Pope, and the right of discovery available to civilized Europeans, which meant discovery by Christian people. So France, Great Britain, Spain and Portugal all claimed the right of discovery more or less on the basis of being christian, and having superior firepower. Anti-German feeling was shared by Portugal, Spain and France and Great Britain because the Germans didn't really colonize or discover anything, yet if enough germans moved in they could certainly affect the makeup of the colony.

In some ways Craig's Franklin quote is more racist than Pestis' because in that quote Franklin was trying to be persuasive in argueing against slavery.

But Craig's Franklin quote echoes Cabots commission for discovery going back to 1496. The savage has a limited natural right that is tied to his use and productivity of the land, but all property rights come from positive law or what Franklin calls "the creature of public

In other words because the indian or savage had very little property that was necessary to him...his scope of natural right to property was also limited. The entire country could be granted by the crown( english civilization) while in the occupation of indians. So it was that New-England, New-York and Carolina and Pennsylvania were created.

After the revolutionary war Great Britain relinquished all claim, not only to the goverment but to the property and territorial rights of the United States.

When Franklin says: "but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it."

He means that the indians cannot sell land to individuals.They are incapable of transfering a fee simple absolute, because they don't own one...So says CJ Marshall in Johnson v. M'Intosh.

"As the right of society, to perscribe those rules by which property may be acquired and preserved is not, and cannot be drawn into question; as the title to the lands must depend entirely on the law of the nation in which they lie; it will be necessary, in persuing this inquiry, to examine not singly those principles of abstract justice, which the Creator of all things has impressed on the mind of his creature man, and which are admitted to regulate to a great degree, the rights of civilized nations, whose perfect independence is acknowledged; but those principles which out own government has adopted in the particular case, and given as the rule for our decision."

Other than a sort of stretched Lockeian argument that favors a right in property on the basis of use, or something like what Franklin quotes(utility is strongly favored as a matter of policy in our common law). As Locke differs with Rousseau in that the first man to fence an orchard prevented his labor from going to waste, and was able to reap bennefits and an incentive to be productive...or perhaps Locke agrees with Rousseau that this was the founder of civil society. In any case the tragedy of the commons occurs in the absense of Lockeian property...and little incentive exists to produce if one cannot alienate+exclude others from the bennefits of ones work.

In this context also Adam Smith does not hope to seriously challange the maxim that all for ourselves and none for other people is still operative, the issue is only ensureing that the all for ourselves is a result of our own productivity. The person who tends an apple orchard may not be quick enough in picking apples...all for ourselves and none for others discourages the labor necessary to produce the apples. But notice that the apple theft still grants a larger bennefit to the one who steals...the externality falls upon the community as the the person growing apples ceases to tend the orchard out of futility, eventually even the thief is harmed, but he isn't harmed enough to adjust his behavior in the short run...Essentially then strong property rights are required to overcome the tragedy of the commons story.

It is simply incorrect to say that some racism of the sort that encompasses partiality for the complexion or national origin of a people wasn't determinative in establishing the right to discovery in christian european people when it comes to estates. But the same natural partiality for ones own to the exclusion of merit, operates in the absense of property to insure the triumph of whoever gets a thing first(discovery) without entailling Creation. Without property rights a thing can be discovered an infinite number of times. And in this sense John Locke echoes Rousseau when he says: "Thus in the beginning all the world was america." All the world was capable of discovery...but it obviously matters who is doing the discovery, and some of what matters is obviously going to be measured or identifiable by race, religion and national origin, or some sort of claim that goes back to a group large enough to discourage others from discovering what you have. Thus it was that the European powers who could write and keep records and finance expeditions discovered america, and to the extent that each nation was fairly strong, and remained so, all agreed that the other had discovered what they published in claims.

Was the power of discovery racist? Frequently so because in order to discover a thing, one has to differentiate between the person finding it and the present possessor. The present possesor belongs to a lesser class of people, at the very least under Franklin because his scope of natural right is limited by "All the property that is necessary to a man." This class of people have fewer necessities and are not part of the discovering society. That which makes the property discoverable, prevents marketability by the present possesor as the discovering society regulates all descents and conveyances.

Yersinia (bubonic plague/Black Death), I offered the Franklin quote because it struck me as relevant to the graffiti of the "ultra-leftists" in France. My offering it didn't indicate that I agreed with everything that Franklin ever said or wrote. Like most major historical figures, his thoughts and his actions were a mixed bag - as I would hope your quote makes clear - and with some study one can determine, on balance, what to think of them overall.

Quite interesting, though, that Franklin's view of the Boors/Germans is so similar to that of today's Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, O'Reilly, etc. on the subject of, say, Mexican immigrants and Muslims. But then, none of those right-wing talkers have even approached Franklin's positive accomplishments in words or deeds, so I concede that the comparison is quite limited. But the quote does provide all the more evidence that the concept of race is primarily just b.s., and that the concept of "whiteness" has actively evolved, by careful manipulation, over time. One minute the Swedes and Germans are "swarthy" Others, but fast forward 150 years and the Swedes and Germans are definitively "white" (today's white nationalists frequently associate themselves with (their conceptions of) Nordic people and cultures - minus the national health care, haha), and Americans of Swedish and German descent, along with British, are not infrequently among those who assume themselves as white, with people from X as the "swarming" "alien" invaders who must be kept from polluting the purity of Our Proud Nation (etc., etc.). Today, the idea of "swarthy" seems to be synonymous with Arabic or Muslim (or frequently both, for those who conflate the two) people, not Swedes or Germans - see Ann Coulter and her ideas about "suspicious-looking swarthy males" for starters.

But again, I offered the quotes I did for their relevance, not because I'm some uncritical fan-boy of Franklin (or Smith or Rousseau, for that matter). I don't see how the Franklin quotes you offered relate to the idea expressed in the graffiti, that Peter Schramm highlighted.

If you want to just make the quotation-citing pure sport, I'd be happy to trot some out from that old favorite of conservatives, Winston Churchill - some that I doubt you'd be willing to (publicly) embrace. Although, you're the black plague, it's not like you have an honorable reputation to protect! ;)

This story has the all the makings of a false flag. Out of left field, anarchists, destruction of treasured public property, takes focus away from a non viloent protest ect. By doing things like this "anarchists" just empower the governments they oppose to crackdown on the innocents they claim to represent. Anarchists are the favored group for this sort of thing going all the way back to operation gladio in Italy. I really wonder though if the story has anything to do with this:

ABC's Christophe Schpoliansky reports from Paris:

Angry French farmers blocked the famous Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris early this morning to call attention to the difficulties their sector is going though. Several other French cities were also affected. In Poitiers (western France), farmers dumped about a thousand cubic meters of soil in the city center. French media reported that several hundreds of tractors converged towards the centers of several French cities from north to south, disrupting or stopping traffic on roads and highways. 52,000 protesters took part in the protests nationwide, according to the FNSEA (Fédération Nationale des Exploitants Agricoles), France’s main farmers’ union.

In Paris, about 50 cereal growers set up barriers and dropped bales of hay on the chic Champs-Elysees avenue, next to the posh Fouquet’s restaurant where French President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his election in May 2007. Protesters set hay and tires on fire, completely blocking rush-hour traffic in several streets in the area.

“The farming world is dying”, Damien Greffin, president of the “Young Farmers” organization of the Ile-de-France (regrouping Paris and the surrounding departments) told Agence France Presse. “What we’re asking for, it is an increase in the price of raw material” he added, pointing out that a kilogram of wheat is sold 9 centimes these days for a production cost of 14 centimes.

In 2008, French farmers’ income dropped by as much as 20 percent and the situation is not expected to improve this year, according to the French Farm Ministry.

Farmers are asking the government for an emergency plan worth close to $2.1 billion.

“Today, the whole agricultural France is suffering,” Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 2 TV at midday. “I’m currently working , based on the farm revenue for 2009, on the preparation of a global aid plan to the French agriculture”.

President Sarkozy announced in an interview published in Le Figaro newspaper today that he would take “strong initiatives” before the end of October for the farming sector.

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