Author presented his main idea in executive summary and here are the main points:
” The international community recognizes a “free and fair” election as one in which the secret ballot is “absolute”; where individuals may “express political opinions without interference”; where voters may “seek, receive and impart information”; and where candidates have “equal opportunity of access to the media.” These standards were violated by the 2020 election:
- A new system of voting, vote-by-mail, was adopted on a widespread basis at the urging of Democrats — often over the objections of Republicans.
- … political violence, carried out by Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and falsely labeled “peaceful protest.”
- censorship, imposed by Silicon Valley through the manipulation of search results, and suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
- Military intervention was a factor, as retired defense and intelligence officials attacked the president, and even current officials spoke out against his efforts to calm riots.
- False claims of “Russia collusion,” hyped by the mainstream media and the Democrats
- “cancel culture” emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement, making Republicans and conservatives afraid of sharing their views for fear of losing their jobs or their lives.
- The debates were stacked against Trump.
Based on all above author claims that “elections were neither free nor fair”, regardless of actual manipulation of results of voting by counting non-existing votes, discounting existing, and changing result via data manipulation.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Here author discusses the fact that American general manner of voting does not meet criteria established by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). He then provides some recent history: Florida recount, ACORN, and then he repeats the same points he made in executive summary. However, at the end he makes the following statement:” The 2020 election was neither free nor fair. We should treat the results as legitimate, for the sake of the country”
Chapter 2 – Fear;
Here author discusses mass media complains intended to create fear of Trump dictatorship among population even if there were no indicators that Trump intends or even has any option to do anything like this. Moreover, there clearly was massive attempt to blame Trump for leftist violence, which was at least somewhat successful.
Chapter 3 – ‘Russia Collusion”;
This is about another propagandist campaign to present Trump as traitor working for Russia. Even if it was not that successful and ended in Muller fiasco, it still distracted administration and inflicted serious loses on Trump supporters such as general Flynn.
Chapter 4 – Media bias;
This part is about media bias and methods of its expression:
- Fake News of Trump doing something reprehensible that he never really did.
- Hoaxing false narratives not only about Trump, but also about everything and everybody even remotely related
- Creating propaganda tool of “Fact Checking” were propagandist pretending being independent provided “confirmation” of false narratives and rejection of truth.
Summary – Part One
Here author summarize the Part one, concluding that totality of analyzed propagandist effort:” The climate was hostile to fair and open democratic debate.”
Chapter 5 – Impeachment
Author’s analysis of this attack concludes:” Impeaching Trump in an election year, on so flimsy a basis, with no prospect of success, had one purpose: to cast a cloud of illegitimacy over his presidency and his re-election.”
Chapter 6 – Coronavirus
The coronavirus unlike impeachment was not the product of democratic subversion, but rather biological attack by Chinese communist party that Democrats successfully used to further undermine elections integrity and overall democracy in USA by using control of mass media and local executive power in key states to grab power way beyond constitutional limits, prevent public gathering, demonstrations, except leftists, and therefore nearly completely eliminate free expression in support of Trump. Trump was reasonably successful in handling epidemiological problem, but absolutely failed to prevent democratic power grab.
Chapter 7 – Race riots
Here author retells the story of racial protest and rioting lead by enforcement branches of democratic party: Black lives matter and Antifa, former specializing in inciting racism to divide population and latter in limited violent attacks against small businesses and capitalism overall. Once again democratic party succeeded in creating environment of intimidation of their opponents, and convincing population that Trump’s frequent pronouncement of supporting law and order being completely hollow.
Chapter 8 – Big Tech
Here author provides abundant evidence that high tech companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook for all intendent purposes implemented censorship against Trump supporters by preventing them from effectively using contemporary electronic media, consequently providing huge political advantage to democratic party. Once again Trump failed counterattack effectively. His twits and other pronouncements came out as futile complains of powerless victim.
Summary – Part Two
Author’s conclusion from information presented in this part:” Several major events in 2020 made it nearly impossible to conduct a free and fair election.”
Chapter 9 – Vote-by-Mail
Here author discusses in details not only deficiencies of vote by mail, which until now had very limited use, but also democratic operatives who successfully used lawfare to establish rules preferred by democrats. One charming thing about this is that these rules were different, even opposite in different times for different places and democrats managed elsewhere to established the once they preferred.
Chapter 10 – Political violence
Under political violence author listed here anti-police riots ignited by few cases of legitimate use of force against black criminals. Despite violence in form of mass looting and burning of businesses was obvious, democratic propaganda machine presented it as peaceful protests. Once again Trump failed miserably to decisively suppress rioting and looting, restricting himself to twits and tough talking.
Chapter 11 – The Military
In this chapter author discusses military or more precisely its top brass both retired and on active duty who in their public utterances and non-public actions did everything they could to undermine Trump administration, leak classified information if it could be used against Trump and even openly announced that they would refuse suppress riots even if ordered to do so. Trump as usual twitted and pronounced tough talk, but did not do anything substantial referring to need for approval from Democratic local executives.
Chapter 12 – The Polls
The final chapter of this part about polls should belong to previous part about propaganda war, rather than to the part about kinetic actions used by democrats against Trump. The majority of polls was used as propaganda tool aimed to deceive low information voters who could support Trump that they are alone in this support and it is against dominant majority’s opinion. Author also looks at more benign explanations of huge errors rate such as attempt to increase fundraising and “shy” Trump voters that prefer to hide their true believes.
Summary – Part Three
In summary author just briefly repeats the same points he made in different chapters of this part.
Chapter 13 – The Debates
Here author briefly reviews history of presidential debates and how the process had been developing during this cycle. Author demonstrates that, as everything else, debates were used to undermine Trump’s campaign as much as possibly by moderators with somewhat interesting quirk that republican members of debate commission were as much anti-Trump as democrats leading to consistent attempt modify format to Trump’s disadvantage.
Chapter 14 – Hunter Biden’s Laptop
In this chapter author reviews history of Biden’s family wrongdoing that came up close to election despite FBI one-year log effort to hide this information from public. It is somewhat interesting because in normal circumstances with republican candidate as similar to democratic candidate by all parameters, including ideology, as were Bush and Gore, media would make lots of noise about such egregious sample of corruption. This year it made tremendous effort to hide it from the public. Based on after election polls this effort was successful and significant share of voters would vote differently if they knew about this story.
Chapter 15 – The Vote
The final chapter is about the voting process, which was highly irregular, providing lots of fuel for believes that results were corrupted and election was stolen.
Summary – Part Four
In summary, after restating presented findings about elections process, author concludes:” These conditions ensured that one side in the election operated at a constant disadvantage, and struggled to exercise basic rights to free speech, a free press, and legal representation.”
MY TAKE ON IT:
I am not sure to what extent author understand what happened over the last 4 years, but I am pretty sure that Trump failed to comprehend it and from this failure quite logically followed his inability to win this fight. I believe that real meaning of Trump’s presidency is an attempt, not quite consciously recognized, of implementing revolution from the top by using American democratic system that previously twice (Andrew Jackson and FDR) allowed such revolution based on massive popular support. This time similar attempt had clearly failed. The most important lesson of this failure is that this previously existing feature of American system is gone and no outsider, however popular outside top elite layers of American society, would be allowed to capture top executive position ever again.
Obviously, nobody knows the future, but I believe that destruction of American electoral system by democrats was overkill. Taking into account how shy, law abiding, and accommodating in his actions, if not in his twits, was Donald Trump during his presidency, his second term could be relatively easy accommodated to elite interests by providing some food to Trump’s ego. This opportunity is now gone and American elite pretty much delegitimized itself in the eyes of significant part of American society. It may not be evident right now because educated and relatively successful layers of American society consisting of people in the percentile range from 40% to 95% of median income and/or wealth would not tell whether they are pro or anti Trump now, being afraid of negative consequences for their middle level job or small business viability. However, it is extremely dangerous for the system overall that, even if they voted against Trump, Americans’ believe in fairness of elections is now gone and it could not be restored unless mass effort is implemented to assure integrity of not only vote, but also overall election process. I see no reason for leadership of democratic party, which is now in control of all formal federal power, to do anything in this direction, unless they are very smart and strategic, for which I see no compelling evidence.
Revolutions are not happening randomly – they are typically result of material deterioration of quality of life for significant share of population. When they fail, it seldom follows by reversal of this deterioration. On contrary, after the first failed attempt, the elite in power, slightly giddy from success, which makes if overconfident, usually follows by counterrevolution that accelerate this deterioration, resulting in alienation of significant share of forces that initially helped repulse the attempt in the first place, eventually leading to initiation of the second and much more serious act. In current American situation I expect democrats to implement their full program: massive increase in spending for “climate change”, massive enforcement of racist anti-white, sexist anti-male, globalist anti-American, anti-small independent business and pro big business, merged with government, regulations. Combined with massive push of burden for all this extravaganza on middle America, it would probably make people who are middle America very unhappy. I think it would take 1.5 to 3.5 years before the second act of revolution will become recognizable and I doubt that, with trust in elections fairness practically gone, it would be a nice picture.
The main idea of this book is to look at the war as natural function of human society: what causes it, how it fought over time, what technological and psychological ways and means are used, how different parts of society from civilians to warriors participate in it and impacted by it, and how it defines or at least strongly influences various parts of culture.
Here author presents her approach to the phenomenon of war:” War is not an aberration, best forgotten as quickly as possible. Nor is it simply an absence of peace which is really the normal state of affairs. If we fail to grasp how deeply intertwined war and human society are—to the point where we cannot say that one predominates over or causes the other—we are missing an important dimension of the human story. We cannot ignore war and its impact on the development of human society if we hope to understand our world and how we reached this point in history.” She then discusses how contemporary societies were impacted by this phenomenon and how this impact defined various features of these societies from bureaucracy to language, art, social benefits, and what not.
Chapter 1: Humanity, Society and War
Author starts this with reference to Ötzi the Iceman – recently found frozen body of man who lived around 3300 BC and was clearly victim of violence. She then provides evidence from anthropological research and witnesses of hunter gatherers societies that support notion of violent conflict being a normal part of life. She then discusses connection between levels of societal organization and ability to make war, which are highly correlated. She also reviews some philosophical works related to role of violence and war in functioning of human societies from Rousseau and Hobbs to contemporary Ian Morris and Steven Pinker. Finally, she discusses what she believes are positive effects of war on society: technological advancement, bureaucratic organization, increase in scale of societies, and even increase in fairness, as in case when slaves are freed to become fighters and women get involved into production and could have careers when men are fighting.
Chapter 2: Reasons for War
In this chapter author looks at reasons for war from their description from Greek myths to contemporary world with such example as European dynastic wars, religious wars, WWI and WWII, and potential future war between USA and China. Another, and usually much more cruel type of war, are civil wars when one part of society uses violence to force another part to accept some different ideological mores than they have or just fight for resource allocation. She concludes chapter this way:” The excuses for war are many and varied, but the underlying reasons have not changed significantly over the centuries. The vocabulary may be different: where nations once talked of honor they now tend to say prestige or credibility. Yet greed, self-defense and emotions and ideas are still the midwives of war. And in its fundamentals, strategy, meaning the broad goals of war, has not changed. On land or sea, opponents seek to undermine each other’s capacity to wage war or destroy it forever.”
Chapter 3: Ways and Means
This chapters starts with discussion of how methods of war and weapons used are impacted by society’s values. Author goes through history from Peloponnesian war to New York gangs to discuss different attitudes and approaches. These approaches are very different between land warrior states like Sparta or Prussia vs sea power trading states like Athens or USA. There are also difference between concentration on decisive battle followed by some settlement and total war until complete annihilation. Author also discusses here technological advances and their impact throughout the history, information processing, control, and decision making, and drilling as precondition of success.
Chapter 4: Modern War
Here author refer to modern war as the type of war with mass mobilization such as started after French Revolution. Ideologically it became based on the Nationalism of Nation-States. Materially it became dependent on industrial capacity and technological/scientific abilities of societies. Author discusses defense vs. offence developments of XX century from trench warfare of WWI to blitzkrieg of WWII. Another big issue was development of ideologies, which made war much more cruel and costly due to mass mobilization of industries and population. All these put huge pressure on societies, which in some conditions led to explosion and revolution that changed characters of such societies. Author also digs into interesting details such as British traditional reference for Navy and contempt for Army. Author then looks at ideas that modern people have it too well and used to comfort too much, so they would not be able fight effectively, which since the beginning of XX century prompted leaders to plan for quick wars with low casualties, which is seldom the case in reality.
Chapter 5: Making the Warrior
In this chapter author discusses reasons that drive people to fighting, sometime even in cases when it is hopeless. She looks at wars of medieval England, American Civil War, Napoleonic Wars and others in search of psychological driving forces that made people to fight rather than desert. Certainly, it includes material rewards, but also satisfaction from prestige and raw power over other people. Not least is strive to avoid boring regular live of lower classes filled with lots of hard monotonous work with no fan. Author also allocates a few pages to discussion of women participation in war both in supportive and combat roles. Finally, author discusses training and drilling as necessary tool to convert thinking and feeling individuals into expendable cogs of military machine and how this process is based on innate qualities of human psyche.
Chapter 6: Fighting
Author’s discussion of the actual process of fighting obviously based on literature about experience of soldiers on land. Typically, the main characteristics of fighting is confusion because people see only what is happening next to them and even for top leaders information flow is slow and unreliable. Similarly, memoirs are unreliable because they are filled with attempt to modify real memory, usually to make it more heroic and beautify it, but sometimes make it scarier. So, author retells bits and pieces of various narratives. Author correctly notes that war is often exhilarating and liberating for some people, providing deep meaning for their lives to such extent that they go there again and again not capable to settle to routine and boring normal live.
Chapter 7: Civilians
The chapter on civilians is, as one would expect, about pain and suffering without glamour and glory. Author discusses in some detail fate of women of the losing side, using example of mass rape of German women by Soviet troops in 1945 and rapes of Muslim women by Serbian troops. Somehow, she did not find place for narrative about mass rape of Russian and Ukrainian women by fathers and brothers of these poor German women that lasted for 3 years from 1941 to 1944. Author also discusses meaning of industrial total war when civil population inevitably involved in production of war goods and deprived of consumption of normal goods, including food, sometimes to such extent that they die from starvation on mass scale as it was during siege of Leningrad. Author also points out that inflicting pain and suffering on civilian population of adversary is quite traditional way of conducting war, which is typically not involved only when war of not existential, but rather kind of negotiating tool used to settle some issues of relatively low import.
Chapter 8: Controlling the Uncontrollable
This chapter about rules making for conduct of war is somewhat curious because real existential war has no rules. The rules are applicable only when there is some area when both sides see some issue as equally beneficial for them, but since nothing is fully equal, any rules are bound to be violated. Author discusses as example American Civil War when both sides more or less adhered to some rules, specifically Lieber Code that tried to formalize rules, but this was not really existential conflict since both sides were culturally close, spoke the same language and used the same religion. Maintain or remove a peculiar institution of slavery on South was not really existential, even for vast majority of Southerners. Author also discusses in some detail Hague Conventions and various attempts to enforce rules by threatening punishment, which obviously could be applied only to losing side. The final part of the chapter discusses variety of international organizations fighting for peace or at least humane behavior during the war. Author also mentions another idea: any humanization of war makes it less threatening and therefore easier initiated and because of lasting longer it causes more pain and suffering than would occur if more powerful side won outright.
Chapter 9: War in Our Imaginations and Our Memories
The final chapter is about presentation of war in culture. It starts with Shakespeare, then goes to Goya’s pictures, Tolstoy and Remark novels. This is mainly about horrors and costs of war. There is also glorification of war and heroism, dehumanization of enemies, military music which serves both inspirational purposes to raise spirit of troops and utilitarian purpose of communications on battlefield. Author then discusses technological advances in imaging of war from photography to movies all of which opens huge opportunities for manipulation of people into supporting or opposing war, which become important part of any hostilities, especially based on ideology. At the end of chapter author discusses cultural narratives build after WWI and WWII by different participant countries.
In conclusion author discusses currently developed in Western societies mixed attitude to war. On one hand it is commemoration and interest to war stories and on other hand complete rejection of war as an option in conflict resolution. Author suggests that currently wars are moving away from being caused by conflict between states to being Civil wars caused by conflict within states, whether racial, ethnic, religious, or ideological. Author also points out:” It is possible at the very least to identify trends in war. The future, like the present, will hold two levels of war, the one employing professional forces and high technology, with all the power of advanced economies and organized societies behind them, and the other will be fought with loosely organized forces using low-cost weapons. And what is also sure is that the two sorts of war will overlap.” Overall author believes that wars are not going away and idea of globalization based on generally accepted rules seems to be not workable, at least for now, and that new technology that are coming on line will case huge, but unpredictable changes in military capabilities and consequently their use at war.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think it is a nice review of the war as tool of competition between human groups from small tribes fighting for control of better hunting grounds to nation states fighting for dominance over global resources of all kinds and control over multibillion populations. I personally believe that massive industrial war between states is not coming back just because nuclear weapons eliminated illusion of invincibility for top leadership of such countries and their families. Survival in bunker someplace deep underground of radioactive desert does not seem palatable option for anybody. However, I think the war is not going away as violent conflict between groups, it just takes different form more of the ideological struggle for minds of adversary’s population which would allow transfer control over resources to aggressor without firefights and bombing. The great example of such new form of war is multidecade aggression of Chinese communist party against USA and Western world overall. It features a very effective bribing of Western elite paid for transfer of financial, industrial, and technological resources to China by providing cheap labor and shelter from environmental regulations that parts of the same Western elite imposed on their own countries. This war so far was as successful as Hitler’s blitzkrieg until fall of 1940 and it seems to be reaching the point when danger of losing its position and becoming some low-level servants in Chinese led global hierarchy is becoming increasingly clear to many in Western elite. At the point of this writing the American elite is still discounting this danger as less important than populist threat of Trump’s movement, but I think it is temporary pause. After temporarily succeeding in suppressing populist movement, elite will have to either reacquire its nationalist mantle and get at the lead of anti-China global war of independence, hopefully with minimal violence, or to be wiped out by internal civil war by resurgent populist movement much more powerful than what they’ve been dealing with so far.
The main idea of this book is to demonstrate that contrary to traditional perception Constitution was created because founders believed that regular people could not rule themselves and had to be restricted by elite via strong and powerful federal government, which is, in addition to limiting states activities and resolving disputes, would be also capable to control economy via control of debt, money supply, and international trade.
Introduction: “Evils Which Produced This Convention”
Author begins with the statement that real birthday of America is not 4th of July 1776, but rather 1787 – Year of Constitutional convention. He stresses that his approach is different from traditional and that real objective of constitution was to resolve the issue of revolutionary debt in such way that would stop growing insurrection against taxes that states had to impose on people to repay it. Author reviews specific writings and behavior of founders, description of events in various states, and focuses on people who opposed the Constitution.
I. THE GREAT DEBATE
1. “Bricks Without Straw” – Grievances
Here author first describes grievances created by government debt situation when debt issued during the war and forcibly imposed on supplies, soldiers, and others in lieu of payments was bought out by speculators for pittance and then required to be paid off by states governments in full. Author stresses how much founders like Madison, Adams, and others relied on such payments often needed to finance their land purchases. At this point government debt holders were mainly members of elite, who controlled policies, making the states to increase taxes to levels by far exceeding burden before revolution in order to assure payment and consequently causing growing resistance and multiple tax revolts. Author provides multiple examples of debtholders including details of Abigail Adams’ business trading in debt and land. There is also a very interesting review of methods that bondholders and politicians designed to pass through tax proceeds for debt payment directly thus eliminating opportunities for public officials to help themselves to this cash flow. However, it did not solve the problem. Here is how author describes the eventual solution:” In time Americans would embrace a radical solution to the problem of excessive taxation. The adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1788 and of a national debt-refinancing law two years later transferred responsibility for redeeming the bonds from the thirteen states to a federal government that was better equipped to handle it and less likely to cave in to taxpayers’ demands for relief. Thus, what historians say about the American and French Revolutions was also true of the Constitution: it might never have come about if the government had not previously run up an enormous war debt.”
2. “The Fault Is All Your Own” – Rebuttals
In this chapter Author discusses resistance to states’ debt payments via excessive taxation. He starts with discussing initial rebellion against British taxation and then proceeds to discuss economic connections with British economy after independence and how it impacted internal economic distress. Author specifically looks at trade in luxury goods, which often generated backlash not only for economic, but also for puritanical reasons. Interestingly enough it was used by elite to accuse regular people in excesses, consuming more than they produced.
3. “To Relieve the Distressed” – Demands
Here author looks at demands for tax relieve that included petition to close courts temporarily, various schemes to discriminate against speculators, and issue paper money for debt payments. During the revolutionary war paper money indeed were issued at such scale that created hyperinflation and author provides multiple examples of victims from George Washington to Joseph Martin. Author makes an important point:” Thus the movement for the Constitution, which prohibited state-issued paper, was rooted partly in state-level struggles over how much property the government should convey from taxpayers to bondholders. Modern claims that pro – currency farmers were simply seeking to defraud their private creditors perpetuate the myth that the constitutional ban on paper money rescued Americans from a failed experiment in self-government.”
4. “Save the People” – Requisitions
Here author makes and interesting statement:” No piece of legislation—at either the state or federal level—did more to advance the movement for the Constitution than the virtually unknown requisition of 1785.” This was basically budget approved by congress in which 30% to be paid in hard currency to foreign landers and $2.5 million to domestic, practically quadrupling previous year payments. Author then discusses payments to military or lack thereof, moving army to the brink of mutiny. It was somewhat resolved by Commutation bonuses, but it also led to formation of Cincinnatus society, which organized former officers and made them into kind of political organization. Author then looks at impact in different states where in some cases it led to rebellion.
Il. VIRTUE AND VICE
5. “Who Will Call This Justice?” – Quarrels
Author starts here with situation of public servants who were not paid because taxes were not paid, while government bonds lost value and compares it with top level politicians, specifically Adams family who get rich buying these bonds at deep discount and then using government to redeem these bonds at full price. He points out that regular Americans understood how it worked, were unhappy about it, and created quarrels about it:” For many Americans on all sides of the dispute over whether tax relief created an injustice or remedied one, the whole question came down to how much money soldiers who had sold their securities should, in their new role as taxpayers, hand over to the speculators who had bought them. Although some of the bondholders’ advocates acknowledged that this transfer of wealth might sometimes be distasteful, they usually went on to insist that it simply could not be avoided.” Author then proceeds to review positions of all sides in these quarrels.
6. “Idle Drones” – Economics
Here author discusses shortage of gold and silver, how it hampered debtors to repay their debt and need to payoff foreign debt in order to maintain credit. Once again:” In the eyes of many of America’s most prominent citizens, the thirteen states’ frequent recourse to tax and debt relief legislation revealed that they were fundamentally flawed. Again, and again state representatives had yielded to their constituents’ most reckless demands, adopting policies that ended up harming even their intended beneficiaries. The lesson was clear: in their first flush of revolutionary enthusiasm, the Patriots had created governments that were far too sensitive to public pressure.”
Author describes situation as catch 22: without paying off debt there would be no new credit, but heavy taxation, foreclosures, and debt prison suppressed economic activity so it would not produce surplus needed to pay debt.
7. “The Fate of Republican Govt” – Redemption
Here author discusses various measures that could conceivably resolve the problem and debates about them: expanded land ownership that would create collateral and paper money. Author also discusses changes in communication method that allowed building of narratives supporting one or another position: writing novels, massive expansion of orations and debates, eventually leading to division of people into multiple groups and subgroups supporting different solutions.
III. UNRULY AMERICANS
8. “A Revolution Which Ought to Be Glorious” – Disenchantment
Here author first discusses disappointment of population in system of government when people discovered that petitions, and even elections give them too little influence on government decisions. It led to disengagement: in some cases, it was elimination of courts, in others non-election of assemblies, and so on. Author then discusses three way to resolve the problem: expansion of economy and author discusses here economic value of Caribbean goods and slave trade. The second one was shifting the debt to federal level, so it could be repaid through tariffs. Finally, the third way was to expand sales of western land, so in relation to this author discusses relations with Indians, their attempts to form unified front to repulse American expansion, which was initially successful since United States were not ready for war against Indians without which no expansion was possible.
9. “A Murmuring Underneath” – Rebellion
Here author describes multiple rebellions that occurred during this period: burning court houses in Virginia, prevention of foreclosures and auctions in New Jersey, military mutiny in Pennsylvania, court closures in Massachusetts, culminating in Shays rebellion, and similar events all over the country. Here is somewhat detailed description:” One state where the connection between fear and relief was especially clear was South Carolina, where the April 1785 Camden Riot was only the beginning of a wave of activism. During the subsequent spring and summer debtors and taxpayers throughout the state protected their property with a massive campaign of “knocking down of sheriffs.” “Americanus” emphasized that the reason backcountry property seizures had ceased was “not by the neglect of duty, or favor in the sheriff’s officers, but from a dread they stand in of their lives in attempting to serve a writ beyond such a distance from the city” of Charleston. One reason that officials backed down was that they feared that conflict among whites might provide an opening to the enslaved half of the population. Even the Camden rebels shared this concern. In the midst of their effort to shut down the civil court, they “professed an anxious Desire of supporting the Criminal Department.”
10. “Excess of Democracy”? Reform
In this chapter author reviews debates about need to adjust Democracy in America to some other level than the existing one, which led to disfunction. Author looks at groups of Americans who saw solution in expansion of Democracy and others who believe that it should be ruled in to some lower level. For example, James Madison:” wanted to “extend the sphere” of government in order to insulate lawmakers against pressure from below, they wished to make state legislators more responsive to the voters by giving them fewer constituents.” Another well-known publicist Herman Husband:” asserted that the ideal election district would be small enough to give every voter “an Opportunity to converse with the Representative.”. There was overall extensive debate about expanding or contracting electoral franchise. Author describes some suggestion that would bring changes in one direction or another.
IV. REINING IN THE REVOLUTION
11. “The House on Fire” – Credit
In this chapter author concentrates on discussion and then measures, mainly anti-democratic that were implemented in Constitution in order to prevent legislature to be responsive to popular demands such as prevention of states from printing paper money, isolation of congressmen and senator from electorate by removing term limits that existed in Confederation, and link of federal franchise to states legislatures. Another measure was veto for chief executive that allow limit legislative initiative. The final solution was to transfer debtor – creditor relation and money supply to national government.
12. “Divide et Impera” – Statecraft
This chapter is about instructions that could be provided by electorate to representatives that was more or less usual practice. Since it made representative more responsible to will of voters, it was eliminated. Author also discusses direct versus indirect elections and compromises that used 3 different methods: direct for representative, indirect via states legislature for senators, and semi-direct via electoral college for president.
13. “More Adequate to the Purposes” – Revenue
This chapter is about resolution of big gap in Article of confederation – collection of taxes exclusive via states. The new constitution created huge source of revenue completely independent from the states. Initially it was federal tariff so it was practically invisible for population. Author also discusses use of revenues – mainly military for purpose to fight Indians. The federal military would also be very useful to “maintain domestic tranquility”, in other words to be a force independent from local population’s preferences and sympathy as in case of Whiskey rebellion. It was also necessary in case of potential slave revolt, that always was a possibility in Southern states.
V. ESAU’S BARGAIN
14. “Take Up the Reins” – Ratification
In this chapter author once again stresses that necessity of Constitution came from weakness of states that were too much democratic, resulting in negative consequences for private interest: those who speculated in government debt, land, including land still under Indian control, and received proceeds from taxes either as government officials or contractors, or landers. Author describes some positive outcomes: expansion of credit, large infrastructure projects such as canals, and so on. Author also discusses some Anti-Federalist points, but not in great details.
15. “More Productive and Less Oppressive” – Taxes
Here author describes process of ratification and how much shift in taxation from direct at state level to indirect via federal tariffs helped to success of this process. It was also greatly helped by expectation that federal army would be an effective tool to suppress rebellions of farmers and Indian resistance to westward movement. At the final analysis author concludes that the New Constitution gave something of value to nearly every American and successfully eliminated Anti-federalist’s resistance by adding Bill of Rights. Author also describes propagandist effort with misleading statements and sometimes outright lies that were used to promote ratification.
16. “As If Impounded” – Consolidation
In the final chapter author first describes how states decided on method of congressmen elections – generally statewide and how objective of Constitution were in main achieved: link between people in power and popular opinion was indeed weakened, national tariff and debt transfer to federal government with eventual payment in full to speculators did occurred – the process, which author describes in some detail. One positive effect from this was that after British lenders were paid off, the gates opened for massive foreign investment into America. However, the successes of Constitution carried steep political price: decrease in democracy with elimination of one-year term limits, direct representation with instructions, and popular control of money supply.
Epilogue: The Underdogs’ Constitution
Here author reaffirms his main thesis that Founding fathers cared much more about their security from popular rebellion, value of their investments in government bonds, and opportunities for land speculation, than about expansion of democracy. Actually, per author, the whole objective of Constitution was to limit democracy of early America, which rightly or wrongly was perceived as causing economic chaos, rebellion, and weakness against Indians and other enemies. In this version the Bill of Right was not intention of founding fathers, but rather their retreat and compromise without which ratification of Constitution would not be possible. Here is how author describes the historic result: “What Americans admire most about their national charter is that it is, at its best, an underdogs’ Constitution, a document that protects even the most unpopular religions and political ideas, the most mistrusted racial and ethnic minorities—and even people accused of crimes. But this book has argued that an underdogs’ Constitution is precisely what the Framers did not intend to write. While there is no reason to question their claim that they hoped to benefit all free Americans, what they meant to give the ordinary citizen was prosperity, not power. Indeed, many of the Amendments that we most cherish today—the enfranchisement of African Americans and women, the direct election of senators, and others—do not just add to the Constitution. They directly contradict the Framers’ antidemocratic intent. For all the lip service Americans pay the authors of the Constitution, in their actions they have often shown much less respect for them than for the men and women with whom the Framers locked horns in the mid-1780s. There are people today who wish to give up their paper money and return to the gold standard, but they are generally viewed as crackpots. Few believe the wealthy possess special qualities of leadership. Most citizens expect their elected officials to do much more than clear away obstructions to private investment. That the nation’s fundamental charter is an underdogs’ Constitution is, for most Americans, a source of tremendous pride. It is richly ironic that what has arguably become history’s greatest experiment in shielding the powerless began as a slur on the capacities of ordinary citizens.”
MY TAKE ON IT:
This is a very nice history of American elite consolidating power after successful expulsion of naughty British elite from America. I think there is misunderstanding of American revolution as revolt of American patriots against British oppressive colonial rule. In reality it was in main revolt of American elite against British elite, which refused to accept these colonials as equal part of itself. A pretty good example would be colonial colonel Washington who was rejected commission as officer of British army. This book demonstrates that after British were gone, the local elite proved itself much more oppressive by imposing higher taxes, creating mess with economy, and implementing speculative scheme that allowed them obtaining government debt at rock bottom prices from regular people that then were forced under the gun to accept this debt, so elite would be paid full price by state governments they controlled. One had to admire inventiveness of American elite that managed to succeed in such daring endeavor by implementing Constitution that shifted debt payments to federal government and made it to be done via tariffs rather than direct taxes so that regular people would not see it happening. Actually, the success of this brilliant move confirmed that American economic potential was so high that it left enough space for both: enrichment of elite via debt repayment and land speculation and increased prosperity of regular people via land acquisition whether legally or by squatter rights. It clearly demonstrated that option of increasing pie, even if most of it going to elite, is by far superior than fighting for bigger share of smaller pie. The price elite paid in form of Bill of rights was mainly insignificant, since control of all powers, however divided and balanced, always remained in the hands of elite making these rights mute, except in case of elite’s internal struggles. Even if real history presented in this book is very different from typical BS about America, it is still by far superior to any other country’s arrangements and did provide some space for relative prosperity of great many regular Americans.
The main idea of this book is to express author’s believe about natural development of morality in human societies with god(s) being invented just to support and enforce already existing norms, rather than being actually existing supreme law givers. Author uses multitude of experimental data with animals that demonstrate practically the same behavior that could be typical for moral humans even if they have no religion, no formal laws and even no language.
CHAPTER 1: EARTHLY DELIGHTS
Author starts with reference to his place of birth Den Bosch and discusses triptych by Bosch “The Garden of Earthly Delight” showing humanity free of guilt that author uses to discuss sin, religiosity, and contemporary discoveries that demonstrated unexpected features of animal in natural world such as altruism and other behaviors that humans consider highly moral. Author discusses his encounter with Dalai Lama and discussion with him about animal empathy. Then author moves to discuss similarities between humans and their biological relatives:
A very important point of this discussion are bonobos and their history when for long time people would not recognize them as different species from chimpanzees except for their behavior, which is much more peaceful. Finally author concentrates on explaining main points of this book: analysis morality as it relates to animals and is not necessarily depends on religion to such extent as usually thought.
CHAPTER 2: GOODNESS EXPLAINED
This chapter starts with the story of dying chip who carefully hided any sign of sickness to the end and was helped by others. Author discusses how “The incident illustrated two contrasting sides of primate social life. First, primates live in a cutthroat world, which forces a male to conceal physical impairment for as long as possible in order to keep up a tough façade. But second, they are part of a tight community, in which they can count on affection and assistance from others, including nonrelatives.” Author then discusses morality, altruism, and their costs. Whether such behavior genetic or learned, role of kin selection, and works of scientists that make contribution: Maynard Smith, Haldane, Ronald Fisher, von Neumann, and Price. The general conclusion is:” Mammals have what I call an “altruistic impulse” in that they respond to signs of distress in others and feel an urge to improve their situation. To recognize the need of others, and react appropriately, is really not the same as a preprogrammed tendency to sacrifice oneself for the genetic good.”
Author looks in detail at work and life of Thomas Henry Huxley – Darwin’s bulldog. It brings issue of morality and God, as its necessary condition. Author also mentions Veneer Theory and Darwin’s rejection of this theory:” He speculated, for example, that morality grew straight out of animal social instincts, saying that “it would be absurd to speak of these instincts as having been developed from selfishness.” Darwin saw the potential for genuine altruism, at least at the psychological level. Like most biologists, he drew a sharp line between the process of natural selection, which indeed has nothing nice about it, and its many products, which cover a wide range of tendencies. He disagreed that a nasty process ipso facto needs to produce nasty results.” Author also provided graphic representation of this theory:
After that auithor discusses his own research and life experience that demonstrated that goodness is not just veneer, it comes naturally:” Given its intrinsic rewards, some like to label care for family and close associates “selfish,” at least at an emotional level. While not incorrect, this obviously undermines the whole distinction between selfishness and altruism.”
CHAPTER 3: BONOBOS IN THE FAMILY TREE
This is extended look at bonobos and their place in relation to humans and other apes.
Author narrates history of bononos recognition that came late and only after long time of mixing them with chimps. Author then discusses specific of their organization and behaviours, which includes female dominance and massive use of sex as communication, interaction, and cooperation tool. At the end of chapter author concludes that bonobos and their super free love is not necessarily good example for humans to follow and that “the emphatic brain” could use other methods of expression.
CHAPTER 4: IS GOD DEAD OR JUST IN A COMA?
Author was born and raised as catholic, which was bound to create some cognitive dissonance when he became biologist. In this chapter he explores his history of coping and becoming atheist, but then coming to America and encountering this weird culture where people like guns, do not like soccer, and read Bible. Author also discusses relation between faith and science and notes that in his experience scientist often behave with huge deference to authority, denying on practice their proffered believes and demonstrating that they are not that different from believers. At the end of chapter author discusses “Somethingism”, which is probably the true believe of majority of people.
CHAPTER 5: THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SIMIAN
Here author is using example with elephants to demonstrate how poor understanding of animals leads to poor design experiments, leading to incorrect conclusion about animals’ abilities. One such example with mirror and elephant’s ability to recognize itself is really typical. After that author discusses a number of well-designed experiments that demonstrate animals’ ability to cooperate and emphasize with others. Author uses parable of good Samaritan and shows that even rats could and do help other even if it involves opportunity cost. In this case humans not necessarily do much better as was demonstrated by this experiment:” University students were ordered to hurry from one campus building to the next while a slumping “victim” was planted in their path. Only 40 percent asked the “victim” what was wrong. Students who had to make haste helped far less than students with time on their hands. Some literally stepped over the moaning “victim.” They did so even though, ironically, the topic they were to address in their lecture was the good Samaritan.”
Here is nice graphic representation:
CHAPTER 6: TEN COMMANDMENTS TOO MANY
In this chapter author discusses morality and dominance using quite appropriately example of rich and powerful politician DSK and cleaning lady in hotel. Author also provides here his definition:” Morality is a system of rules concerning the two H’s of Helping or at least not Hurting fellow human beings. It addresses the well-being of others and puts the community before the individual. It does not deny self-interest, yet curbs its pursuit so as to promote a cooperative society.” He then provides multiple examples that this is completely applicable to many animals.
CHAPTER 7: THE GOD GAP
Here author moves to the issue of morality and God. After reviewing both theoretical and theological ideas and experimental data he concludes:” …my own thinking that morality predates religion, certainly the dominant religions of today. We humans were plenty moral when we still roamed the savanna in small bands. Only when the scale of society began to grow and rules of reciprocity and reputation began to falter did a moralizing God become necessary. In this view, it wasn’t God who introduced us to morality; rather, it was the other way around. God was put into place to help us live the way we felt we ought to…”
At the end of this chapter he discusses secularization of Europe and expresses believe that god is not required for morality:” a recent study compared the reasons why believers and nonbelievers assist others. It found nonbelievers to be more sensitive to the situation of others, basing their altruism on feelings of compassion. Believers, in contrast, seemed driven by a sense of obligation and how they ought to behave according to their religion. The behavioral outcome was the same, but the underlying motivations seemed different. Clearly, there are many reasons for kindness, and religion is just one of them. The secular model is currently being tried out in northern Europe, where it has progressed to the point that children naïvely ask why there are so many “plus signs” on large buildings called “churches,” and where people have no idea anymore of the biblical origin of their expressions, from “washing your hands of the matter” to “a drop in the bucket.” Civic institutions have taken over many of the functions originally fulfilled by the churches, such as care for the sick, poor, and old. Despite being largely agnostic or nonpracticing, the citizenry of these countries stands firmly behind this effort. It is a giant experiment, both economically and morally, that may tell us whether large nation-states can forge a well-functioning moral contract without religion. If one believes, as I do, that morality comes mostly from within, there is every reason to support this effort…”
CHAPTER 8: BOTTOM-UP MORALITY
This final chapter summarizes author’s understanding:” The moral law is not imposed from above or derived from well-reasoned principles; rather, it arises from ingrained values that have been there since the beginning of time. The most fundamental one derives from the survival value of group life. The desire to belong, to get along, to love and be loved, prompts us to do everything in our power to stay on good terms with those on whom we depend. Other social primates share this value and rely on the same filter between emotion and action to reach a mutually agreeable modus vivendi. “
MY TAKE ON IT:
I generally agree with this approach. Similarly, I believe that morality is natural product of evolution when survival of individual is highly dependent on behavior of other individuals in the group, creating dual evolutionary pressure to act in such way as to assure survival of both, individual and group. Such duality provides for very complex patterns of behavior when combination of internal state of individual and external circumstances lead to variety of outcomes sometimes more beneficial to individual at the expense of group, but sometimes more beneficial to the group at the expense of individual. Moreover, I do not think that it is possible to create such environment, either via religious training or secular indoctrination, that human individuals would consistently prefer interest of group over their own. Actually, I believe that if one includes into “own interest” psychological condition of individual, then it would come down to resolution of internal conflict of preference between fear of material deterioration of one’s circumstances and fear of psychological deterioration of one’s condition from acting against norms one is indoctrinated into. Since choice depends on unpredictable and highly variable combination of internal and external circumstances, the outcome would also be unpredictable. I think that the one and only way to improvement is to minimize possibilities of such conflict, so action in interest of individual survival would not conflict with group survival.
I think comparing war and business would be a good illustration of this point. In a war the group of individuals who put own survival first would always loose to the group of individuals ready to sacrifice for common cause. In this case the objective is simple and obvious – to win and it is defined by one or a few individuals that are dominant in the group, which in practice means sacrificing by individuals at the bottom of group’s hierarchy to benefit of individuals at the top. However, in much more complex situation of business when mix of goods and services produced defined via competition between multiple individuals, who believe that their offer is better, suppression of individual choices of individuals at the bottom to will of individuals at the top would lead to selection of inferior products, especially if individuals at the top are not limited to the same selection. So, my conclusion would be maximizing morality and enforcement of deference to decisions of superiors in small number of war and war-like situations and expand individual’s ability to decide for themselves in all other situations. This way the competing values of group survival vs. individual survival would be applied in situations when they most effective and efficient.
The main idea of this book is that American culture is under siege by the Leftist barbarians who captured institutions of education, press, entertainment, and to somewhat lesser extent political power. They are in process of establishing anti-scientific, racist, and bigoted ideological framework and, if not stopped, will destroy democracy and Western civilization. Author suggests that everybody who wants to save Western civilization should participate in ideological resistance to this attack and speak out.
Here author present his main thesis that:” The West is currently suffering from such a devastating pandemic, a collective malady that destroys people’s capacity to think rationally. Unlike other pandemics where biological pathogens are to blame, the current culprit is composed of a collection of bad ideas, spawned on university campuses, that chip away at our edifices of reason, freedom, and individual dignity.”
Author then briefly describes ideas and structure of the book.
Chapter One: From Civil War to the Battle of Ideas
This chapter is somewhat biographical where author presents his background and “ideals of seeking freedom and truth”. He narrates his history of growing up Jewish in Lebanon during civil war of 1970s when his family narrowly escaped annihilation. He discusses how he developed love for freedom and truth, while rejecting stifling religious traditions. Author makes a very interesting point about relations between truth and humility:” The quest for truth should always supersede one’s ego-defensive desire to be proven right. This is not an easy task because for most people it is difficult to admit to being wrong. This is precisely why science is so liberating. It offers a framework for auto-correction because scientific knowledge is always provisional. An accepted scientific fact today might be refuted tomorrow. As such, the scientific method engenders epistemic humility.”
After that author discusses quite a few contemporary ideas popular in miseducated circles of Western Universities characterizing them as “Parasites of Human Mind”, concluding that these ideas could lead to the death of the West by thousand cuts. Author provides a nice graphic representation of this process:
Chapter Two: Thinking versus Feeling, Truth versus Hurt Feelings
This chapter is about thinking versus feelings. Author actually against dichotomy approach:” The desire to divide the world into binary forms is at the root of the thinking versus feeling dichotomy, and this creates a false either-or mindset. We are both thinking and feeling animals. The challenge is to know when to activate the cognitive (thinking) versus the affective (feeling) systems.” However, he takes clear position on truth being more important than hurt feelings and provides examples when people’s behavior denies such approach: media against Trump, attempt of the left to destroy Kavanaugh, story with Larry Summers, and others.
Chapter Three: Non-Negotiable Elements of a Free and Modern Society
In this chapter author:” posit that freedom of speech, the scientific method, intellectual diversity, and a meritocratic ethos rooted in individual dignity rather than adherence to the ideology of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE) are nonnegotiable elements of a truly enlightened society.” He then proceeds to demonstrate that these enlightenment values are under attack in contemporary western society via: Social media companies’ restriction on free speech, bullying that leads to self-censorship, promotion of identity politics in all areas of live, even rejecting science when it contradicts ideology. He also stresses that all this came from leftists capture of institution in academia, mass media, and big companies. Some examples are not just interesting, but somewhat threatening such as physician’s selection of treatment based on ideology.
Chapter Four: Anti-Science, Anti-Reason, and Illiberal Movements
Here author:” addresses several anti-science, anti-reason, and illiberal idea pathogens including postmodernism, radical feminism, and transgender activism, the latter two of which are rooted in a deeply hysterical form of biophobia (fear of biology).” He reviews specific anti-science trends and present the story of parodies accepted for publishing as serious work by pseudo-scientific publications.
Chapter Five: Campus Lunacy: The Rise of the Social Justice Warrior
In this chapter author:” examines how the mindset of social justice warriors gave rise to universities that prioritize minimizing hurt feelings over pursuing truth (a continuation of the theme first addressed in Chapter Two), the Oppression Olympics (intersectionality), Collective Munchausen and the homeostasis of victimology (I’m a victim therefore I am), and pious self-flagellating at the altar of progressivism.” Author looks at movement for safe spaces, promotion of victimhood, growing leftist bigotry, and other maladaptive trends.
Chapter Six: Departures from Reason: Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome
Here author:” explores Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome (OPS), a malady of disordered thinking that robs people of their ability to recognize truths that are as obvious as the existence of the sun. Science denialism is one manifestation of OPS but there are many others.” Author discusses here Faux-Causality when people make weird causal connection like “climate change” to Islamic terrorism, unsupported by neither by reality nor by logic ideas like “Diversity is strength”, Islamic terrorism being not connected to Islam, and other strange ideas.
Chapter Seven: How to Seek Truth: Nomological Networks of Cumulative Evidence
In this chapter author:” examines how to seek truth via the assiduous and careful erecting of nomological networks of cumulative evidence.” He refers to Dan Sperber, Hugo Mercier and their argumentative theory of reasoning, which demonstrated difficulty of changing people’s believe and suggest that it could be done via Nomological Networks of Cumulative Evidence and provides “how to” example: ”Suppose that you wish to demonstrate that men’s universal preference for the hourglass figure was shaped by evolution. How would you go about achieving such a task? The objective would be to build a network of cumulative evidence stemming from widely different sources, all of which serve to construct the final jigsaw puzzle (undoubtedly of a beautiful woman possessing the hourglass figure). Here are some compelling findings: 1) the hourglass figure has been associated with greater fertility and superior health; 2) across a broad range of cultures, online female escorts advertise the hourglass figure to prospective patrons— whether they are lying about said measurements is immaterial; 3) online escorts who possess the hourglass figure command larger fees; 4) statues and figures spanning varied cultures across several millennia exhibit the desired hourglass figure; 5) Playboy centerfolds and Miss America winners throughout the twentieth century possess the preferred hourglass figure; 6) men’s preference for the hourglass figure has been documented across diverse cultures and races using many methods including brain imaging and eye tracking; and 7) men who have never had the gift of sight are also drawn to the hourglass figure (using touch to establish the preference). This constitutes an unassailable body of evidence.” Author then provide Nomological Networks of Cumulative Evidence rejecting leftist ideas for Toy Preferences, Sex Differences, Islam and Terrorism, Infection diseases, and Anti-Semitism.
Chapter Eight Call to Action
In the final chapter author:” propose reasons that cause people to remain passive bystanders in the battle of ideas, and I suggest a course of action to turn the tide. Do not underestimate the power of your voice. Seismic changes start off as small rumbles. Get engaged in the battle for reason and freedom of thought and speech.
Author’s recommendations also include:
- Believe in power of your voice
- Do not be afraid of Judging others and giving offence
- Do not Virtue-Signal
- Be the Penalty Kicker
- Activate your Inner Honey Badger
At the end author provides recommendation on fixing Universities and calls on everybody to get engaged.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think that author adequately describes the current situation and massive attack by leftists against all Western Values. However, he somewhat misses reasons for this attack and consequently his recommendations are not sufficient to repulse this attack. In my views it is not coincidental that after more than hundred years of socialist and national-socialist propaganda it only now seems to be achieving its objectives in English speaking Western societies. It was successful in Central and Easter Europe in early and middle of XX century after destruction of WWI and Great Depression leading to establishment of Soviet and Nazi regimes in Russian and German Empires with their traditional dominance of governmental hierarchies, but failed in more stable UK and USA where such hierarchy was relatively weak and majority of population led economic and intellectual live only slightly impacted by governments. It is not the case anymore so it is no wonder that economic destruction of Western lower middle and working classes caused by globalization would greatly weaken resistance to socialist ideology that promises if not prosperity, then at least safety and stability, however miserable because it deprives people of opportunity for independent economic live. The only way to succeed is to find a place in hierarchy and struggle for such place has to proceed around some normally meaningless ideological markers. The only way out now is to develop alternative economic safety net that would not substitute freedom with place in governmental hierarchy, then use it to regain political power, then eventually use this power to protect freedom on campus and elsewhere. Alternative is to wait until mass frustration caused by living at the bottom of hierarchy will mature enough to explode system similarly to events of 1990s in former USSR. I believe that on the long run people will choose freedom, but it could be very long run indeed.