"Them Are Fightin’ Words"
by Addison Wiggin
“Life is a fight for territory; so is your success.”
“What if the Founding Fathers had moved off to Belize instead of helping sort out what surely must have been a similar mess right here?” writes reader Zeke L from Oklahoma. Reader mail comes in all forms. We assume Zeke is commenting on the conversation on the Empire of Debt Bill Bonner and I had on The Wiggin Sessions this week.
The very “Idea of America” – as reimagined by Bill Bonner and Pierre Lemieux in 2003 – is by its nature as much a geographical event as an historical event. The triple crown of climate, crops, and the religiously ostracized coalesced into the prime conditions for the seed of American civilization to be planted. “The idea is really very simple,” Bill says.
“Cooperation, win-win deals, is what allowed civilization to go forward.” The colonists were left to their own devices. The climate cooperated. And there was a burgeoning global trade in commodities. There are a lot of pieces to civilization,” Mr. Bonner tries to explain, “but that is probably the critical one, that when you see somebody, you can't kill them and you can't steal their stuff. You have to work with them. You have to work out a deal.”
This is high-level, philosophical stuff, made simple and accessible with everyday language. He continues: "Once you win-win, that means you have to create something. There are other things that go along with civilization. That rule is probably the cornerstone, but you need property rights. If you don't have property rights, then you can't really build because you can't protect what you've got.
And you need money. You need money to be able to exchange your product with other people. And you need a language. You need a written language. Otherwise, you can't make any progress. So all these things sort of came together over thousands of years and these things are different from what a lot of people think of as civilization.
A lot of people think the government can pass a law and make us richer or make us more civilized or whatever. But it ain't so. It doesn't work that way. Civilization arises from the bottom. It doesn't come down from the top and from the bottom people make deals with each other, which are essentially win-win.
We have to remember that the Founding Fathers were revolutionaries in the eyes of the British Crown. Their Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war. And let us not forget the deracination of the Native Americans from the original Thirteen Colonies and the horrors of Amistad. That's why I called it win-win or lose,” Bill says. “Because the opposite, the losing, is what happens all the time when the government gets into the picture and they start a war or something and everybody loses. Civilization goes backward.”
From the Declaration of Independence, in what is called “The Indictment” of the Crown’s overbearing governance: "Such is now the necessity which constrains them [the new Americans] to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
As they’d say in Baltimore… them are fightin’ words. On Wednesday we were ruminating on the anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s poem turned national anthem which happened here in ‘Bawlmer.’ So… I guess we’ve got patriotic themes on the brain.
The true nature of civilization, however, is more than history and geography. Blessed as we may have been to happen upon such a land. Each generation, in choosing to live somewhere – somewhere real, with land and toil and natural rights – a deal must be made. Whether that deal is win-win or lose, is up to those who declare, those who speak up, those who present their case for independence.
This is nothing new, Bill exclaims: "There's nothing new in my book that you can't find in Adam Smith or the texts of Free Market economists or Milton Friedman. A lot of people write about the same sort of thing. And everybody comes at it from a different angle. What I tried to do was to come at it from an angle that made sense to me and this does. And I think so far it's been missed. In fact, our current civilization or our current status of society is going in the other direction, with more and more people who think that they can get something by using political means, which are essentially the opposite of win-win."
A political move, anything political is win-lose by definition. Would such an idea have arisen and manifested had Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton fled to Belize, as Zeke wants to know? Probably not. America could only have happened where it did. “We need all hands on deck to help guide America back in the coming years,” Zeke concludes, and we concur.
It’s Friday folks. Follow your bliss,"
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