Liberty Forged

the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. ` Nock

Posts Tagged ‘randolph bourne’

Why Obama’s Inaugural Speech is faulty.

Posted by Jesse on January 20, 2009

Obama will speak on the theme of One America.

The reality is that there are two Americas (at the very least):

Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power… it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects….

The history of America as a country is quite different from that of America as a State. In one case it is the drama of the pioneering conquest of the land, of the growth of wealth, and the carrying out of spiritual ideals…. But as a State, its history is that of playing a part in the world, making war, obstructing international trade… punishing those citizens who society agrees are offensive, and collecting money to pay for all…

Randolph Bourne, “Unfinished Fragment on the State

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The Heroic Bourne – On ‘Youth’ and Salvation

Posted by Jesse on November 26, 2008

[Y]outh is the incarnation of reason pitted against the rigidity of tradition; youth puts the remorseless questions to everything that is old and established – Why? What is this thing good for? And when it gets the mumbled, evasive answers of the defenders it applies its own fresh, clean spirit of reason to institutions, customs and ideas and finding them stupid, inane or poisonous, turns instinctively to overthrow them and build in their place the things with which its visions teem. . . .

Youth is the leaven that keeps all these questioning, testing attitudes fermenting in the world. If it were not for this troublesome activity of youth, with its hatred of sophisms and glosses, its insistence on things as they are, society would die from sheer decay. It is the policy of the older generation as it gets adjusted to the world to hide away the unpleasant things where it can, or preserve a conspiracy of silence and an elaborate pretense that they do not exist. But meanwhile the sores go on festering just the same. Youth is the drastic antiseptic. . . . It drags skeletons from closets and insists that they be explained. No wonder the older generation fears and distrusts the younger. Youth is the avenging Nemesis on its trail. . . .

Our elders are always optimistic in their views of the present, pessimistic in their views of the future; youth is pessimistic toward the present and gloriously hopeful for the future. And it is this hope which is the lever of progress – one might say, the only lever of progress. . . .

The secret of life is then that this fine youthful spirit shall never be lost. Out of the turbulence of youth should come this fine precipitate – a sane, strong, aggressive spirit of daring and doing. It must be a flexible, growing spirit, with a hospitality to new ideas and a keen insight into experience. To keep one’s reactions warm and true is to have found the secret of perpetual youth, and perpetual youth is salvation.

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Andrew Bacevich, traditional conservative, supports tolerance and peace

Posted by Jesse on October 20, 2008

Listening to Alternative Radio with David Barsamian this morning on my local community radio station, WERU 89.9 FM

Andrew Bacevich is Professor of International Relations at Boston University.

He is one of the 45 speakers at the Restore the Republic Conference hosted by the Future of Freedom Foundation and gave a speech entitled, “US Foreign Policy after Iraq

Find youtube speeches here.

Bacevich wrote Limits of Power and it part of the American Empire Project

Limits of Power on Bill Moyers Journal.

Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC

I took some real quick notes (below) during the interview. hey, im no college student, but one can still get the gist of the interview.


Be wary of government. Just finished an essay (to be published) on Randolph Bourne (War is the Health of the State, The War and Intellectuals). He talked about the country is of the people whereas the state is about aggrandizing power. The people tend towards tolerance and peace. The state is self-serving

“Compulsion to acquire.” Concern because we can’t afford all the things we are buying. Then add the war on top of that. Bush makes claims that we are facing threats that are monstrous and yet everyone just goes back to doing what they were doing. The military has been abused. A small minority are being relied upon to handle these situations.

Concern #1 well being of the military and its burdens. #2 emphasis on hard power. does it make sense?

conservative response to the book. conservatives are split because of the war. minority of con. sees bush policies as anything but cons. we would argue that a genuinely cons. foreign policy needs to be realistic. the world as it is. gray pitted against gray. there are very real limits to power and our ability to anticipate the consequences of our actions.

what happened to pay as you go? Rep will still blame democrats. Sure, but so are Repubs.

security conditions have improved. those that would claim this as an ingenious strategy oversimplify. the situation is complex. is victory at hand? we’re going to be in iraq for many years to come. iraq still is dependent. unless obama says it was a mistake and draws a line in the sand. what have we gained then? no WMDs. Hussein was not in cahoots with al qaeda. the real reason the Bush Admin went in, was that they thought we could make a rapid transition in iraqi society into a liberal society and that would produce a burgeoning effect on the surrounding territories. but even if the war ended tomorrow. what about iran.? pakistan? in a longer term strategic process, this grand idea has failed. what we have done does not provide a template for future actions. this cannot be redone or reproduced.

it seems to me that the strategy still ends up being wrongheaded. the reliance on hard power alienates as many people as it pacifies. maybe more! it is difficult to measure. if one would take at face value that the claims that the bush admin made that we are promoting liberal values and democracy

modernity, does provide food, clothing shelter, technology, opportunitites, to create, invent, explore, and somehow over time there will be a reconciliation between islam and the modern era. but we can’t force it on them.

the bush admin began after 9/11 believing that american hard power could solve the issues the muslim world faces is erroneous.

occupation breeds insurgency.

maybe we can claim victory at some point. but at what cost?

one of the great myths is that america has been isolationist.

there are limits on US power. the bush administration advanced the decline of the american state, a decline that could be argued has been in effect for many years.

our economic position. we have to adjust our expectations of what we can achieve with our military power. these men in power believe that changing the middle east was plausible. but in my opinion there is a downward trajectory and has been for some time. the notion that we should keep going down this path. that having a smart secretary of defense will change anything is still limited by the realistic situation we are faced with. we have not squandered, wealth and good will.

to the extent that we have accelerated our decline we can repair with prudent policies. balance the budget. live within our means. that implies settling for less, sacrifice. getting our house in order.

but we don’t hear the candidates and politicians saying these truths because you can’t get elected that way. ronald reagan told americans what they wanted to hear. and that’s what we see today.

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