Yesterday I found a new open source map website. I love looking at maps and over the past week or so have been eyeballing rivers in Africa and big waterfalls around the globe. This new map program shows something I hadn't seen in many years, the routes of the electric grid. So I followed the Pacific DC Intertie up to its source at the Columbia River at The Dalles. I remembered that Google built a data center up there to be close to abundant hydroelectric generation.
The northern terminus of the Pacific DC Intertie is a substation called Celilo. It is named after the falls on the Columbia river that were dammed up 50 years ago. There are videos of natives fishing there as a reminder of what went before and has been lost to modern technology. Where there once was a ramshackle array of wooden platforms and nets to allow people to fish there now stands a complex hydroelectric power plant, locks and spillways spanning the Columbia River. What used to feed a village for hundreds of years now provides electric power for millions. Man uses river.
Without getting deeply into Bentham or Mill, it is a standing axiom that there is something good in the ability for knowledge to be applied in harnessing the powers and bounties of nature for the benefit of mankind. Progress serves humanity. But where is humanity and which humanity should be served? In particular, why should it be considered right and proper to put a fisherman out of business and put a power company in business? I would say that the best use of the river would be the way that was chosen back in the 50s when the project was approved but there is the matter of consent.
Democratic consent is a tricky thing. At the heart of the matter of Julian Assange's assaults on diplomatic secrets is the question of informed consent and the democratic process. It necessarily brings to mind the matter of responsibility and accountability. Whenever the law and the government act to dispossess one party for the sake of another there are critical questions about standing.
Another way into this comes from Russell Kirk whose, The Wise Men Know What Wicked Things Are Written on the Sky, I have been listening to periodically. Kirk says that there are no such thing as human rights, but that there are only civil rights. This is a very consequential argument and I am tending to agree with him. I will spare you the details of the implications on my thinking, but suffice it to say that it will put me deeper on the side of radicals and undoes some of the foundations of the premises of the Old School. In short, Lincoln gets knocked down a peg and King up, for if there is no comfortable mezzanine of 'human rights', there is no excuse for the suppression of civil rights. Any constitutional republic should spell them all out and guarantee them, period. There is no comfort in being a 'person' who doesn't fully enjoy the full reciprocal diet of rights and responsibilities of the nation.
Let us then forget for a moment that there are currently maintained by our State Department at least 300 different status codes for foreign nationals who are granted permanent residency in the United States. Let us forget for the sake of argument the millions of illegal aliens protected as persons living in the US. Let's ignore the distinction in this essay between a prisoner of war and an enemy combatant. You are either a full citizen with full civil rights or you are not. You are either equally protected under the law or you are not. Does this black and white distinction appeal to you? If so, you are in the camp with Russell Kirk. It is thus consequentially hairy, then to consider the implications.
It is that hair suit that is itching me as I read through George W. Bush's memoirs. At stake is my reputation and fidelity to the cause of geopolitical neoconservatism. So far, what's likable about Bush among the many things, has little to do with any convincing he might do about the prospects for a philosophically sound foreign policy - but we already knew he depended on the PNACians. Still, if the endgame is, and I hear no one suggesting substantially otherwise, full citizenship in a democracy, neither Bush nor we need to get pedantic about the details. If 'human rights' of African slaves in America could ever be thought to be insufficient. If Reconstruction in America was a 'recognition of human rights' but still not enough, then by that same principle we should seek full and permanent enfranchisement for everyone everywhere. Black and White.
At Cobb, we've been over the matter of Westphalian sovereignty. I'm for it. I'm a nationalist. I'm against one world government. I'm for ethnic diversity. I'm for single national languages. I'm for full and equal citizenship for all with no permanent exceptions. That means no illegal aliens. That mean no Native American homelands. That means loyalty oaths. That means equal protection under the law. And if I had it my way, then there'd be a separate circuit of courts for everyone who is not a citizen. It might even mean conscription, but that's another debate. You might imagine why an American of African and French descent would be so adamant about a single standard of citizenship, given the this nation's history. The subtleties of legal standing are compromises of the American ideal.
This matters most when it comes to the issue of the legitimate use of legal and political power. Without the consent of full citizens, democratic rule is a farce. All good intentions, all brilliant ideas, all matters of fact have no moral force if they are applied without democratic recourse. That's supply without demand. That way lies tyranny.
So I think of those native fishermen standing on their rickety platforms across the mighty Columbia as I see them woefully presented in the videos about Celilo. I wonder if those who consider their fate with sympathy would grant them sovereignty over the fate of the river on a blood and soil basis, or if they would ask for a democratic show of hands. I think also, by the way, of the ill-fated HavenCo in the Principality of Sealand. The global everything may be in question in these days of economic uncertainty, but the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States provides a standard towards which we have done the good work of liberty. If there is a greater standard somewhere encapsulating and empowering a nation to defend my civil rights, I doubt that I'll find it in the sentiments that would preserve a fish farm in the Pacific Northwest, or in the statement of purpose of Wikileaks.
Let me remind you:
WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. We are a young organisation that has grown very quickly, relying on a network of dedicated volunteers around the globe. Since 2007, when the organisation was officially launched, WikiLeaks has worked to report on and publish important information. We also develop and adapt technologies to support these activities.
WikiLeaks has sustained and triumphed against legal and political attacks designed to silence our publishing organisation, our journalists and our anonymous sources. The broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history. We derive these principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular, Article 19 inspires the work of our journalists and other volunteers. It states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We agree, and we seek to uphold this and the other Articles of the Declaration.
There is a simple question that must be asked. "You and what army?"
It will not be an army of soldiers, or an army of accounts, lawyers, academics or an army of spies. It will be an army of all of those and more supported by millions of people. That will comprise the necessary defense needed to maintain in the face of the collection of nations Assange has sought to embarrass and undermine. So it begins.
I'm prepared to call this Chapter Two in the ongoing drama awaiting the fate of the nation state. It comes at a time when economists are debating and governments in Europe are in the midst of a great crisis determining whether or not international unions can long endure. The odds are in favor of the nations, although it seemed a lot less clear on September Eleventh, Chapter One. Non-state actors may give us iPads or IEDs or state secrets. These things may portend to change the world, but do they really and are we really so loyal to those who produce them?
There are multinational corporations, there are NGOs, there is the World Court and there is the UN. There are all sorts of globalist enterprises. There are even things called Universities who have for centuries educated people from all over the planet and been the source of learning. But these are not things men have defended by their sacred honor and with their lives as home. This they have done for God, King or Country, usually requiring at least two out of the three.
In matters of international diplomacy, there's more at stake than fish and electricity. Any man who plays at this level needs to be prepared to die. When you say you're speaking for humanity, it's an awfully tall order. It helps if you have been democratically elected by full citizens. I believe that it's going to continue to be that way for at least two centuries to come.