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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Roots of Today's Political Controversies in the US

The great political debate in US history was, and now is, framed by the fundamental disagreement between Hamilton and Jefferson. Jefferson was anti federal banking system, anti Washington, anti federal intrusion into education, anti "Wall Street" and for limited federal power and authority. Jeffersonian became the Democratic party under Andrew Jackson in response to the Federalist progressive Hamiltonian policies of J Q Adams, Webster, Clay and Calhoun (who later defects). JQ Adams proposed the American system of federal support for infrastructure to benefit American business and to create jobs through federally supported education. This became the Whig party in active opposition to the disastrous economic polices of Jackson's Anti banking, Jeffersonian Tea Party view (resulting in the Financial Panic of 1837). The Whigs attempted a progressive agenda side stepping the issue of slavery; the result was, when the Jeffersonian Jacksonian Democratic "Tea Party" forced the issue of no regulation of personal business decisions and federal regulation such as owning slaves, the Whig including Lincoln had to reform as a radical Progressive Party (GOP) to respond to the Tea Party led by Jefferson Davis and others who believed that  community standards trump federal authority.

1 comment:

John said...

The first wave of reaction was by the anti-nationalist "Old Republicans" or quids (from tertium quid, or third force) led by John Randolph of Virginia, who opposed "corrupt innovations". A major source of disagreement was the extent to which there should be Federal support for interstate commerce through road and canal construction. Probably our first public works bill (setting aside construction of the Capitol), the Bonus Bill of the lame duck congress of 1816-17, was championed by Federalists of the mid-Atlantic states to build national infrastructure for westward expansion. "Let us ... bind the republic together with a perfect system of roads and canals. Let us conquer space" in the words of Bonus Bill champion Calhoun. Madison vetoed the bill on his last day in office. Madison's anointed successor, James Monroe, promised continuity with Jefferson and Madison's policies, but strayed from the path by supporting "the improvement of our country by roads and canals". New England and the south benefited little from infrastructure; and Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina presciently observed in 1818 that "if Congress can make canals, they can with more propriety emancipate."

What's striking to me is the correlation of progressive tendencies (suffrage, education, free trade) and central power, and the correlation of conservative tendencies with local power. Bismarck, I'm reminded, championed education and worker rights, not because they were moral imperatives, but because he needed a healthy, smart army. At some point, the logic of progressivism becomes the logic of state control. The true logic of conservatism on the other hand, appears to head in the direction of disunion and factionalism (neocon embrace of state power notwithstanding).

Resilient communities need a balance between landscape level (big picture) governance and local control. Mathematically, what do we call that point called between expansion and dissolution (and please oh please don't say "singularity"!).