Friday, December 26, 2008

Acting Locally

Our national capital correspondent Tuan Jim sent us an email with his thoughts about the current political situation in the United States and Europe:

The more I read some different postings from people, I have to wonder if Europeans share the same definition of “civic virtue” that we traditionally use in the US. For a point of reference, I know we have US posters here that are veterans, what about our European friends? I spent four years on active duty with the army in Iraq, Korea and elsewhere. I’m currently in the reserves although I’m in the process of applying to return to duty with a different service. I’ve been considering public service in local politics for a while now as well — but I don’t necessarily see it happening particularly soon — depending on where I get stationed.

I’m very curious if any of our European friends have served in the military — either as conscripts or volunteers? Have any worked in the police force or local government or run for local office? I know that there are many incredibly patriotic Europeans serving their countries in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world on many different missions — I’m curious if any of them are among the regular readers and posters here as well?

I’m curious if some of the disconnect I see regarding personal civil responsibility (at least in recent comments) is due to different experiences regarding public service in one sphere or another. I know that my world view was greatly shaped by twelve living in Southeast Asia, but things have changed greatly since then, and four years serving my country, particularly coming after university, has given me a whole new appreciation for civic duty — and a better understanding of what it means to serve for the good of the body politic — whether or not I voted for one president or another. I know many of the people I served with over the years are among the most politically knowledgeable and civically minded folks I’ve ever met.

I realize that we have come to regard blogs such as Gates of Vienna, not to mention essays by folks like Fjordman, to be exceptionally good outlets of information and opinions on topics that most of us consider do not receive enough or proper coverage in other media sources. That said, how many of us have actually taken the initiative to get seriously, physically involved in our communities? Sure we complain about how the local parties don’t represent us — but do we try and change them — or try to work independently?

A lot of what seems insurmountable on the national level begins at the local level. Simultaneously, we are beginning to see a shift in the balance of some parties in many European countries as well — as evidenced by many recent news articles in the feed. The Danish Peoples Party is gaining votes. The opposition parties in Austria picked up seats. The conservatives in Sweden, Finland and Norway are all gaining popularity as well.
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People across the EU continue to argue against the loss of national sovereignty while still appreciating the tangible benefits that the Union has also brought in more limited measures. The changes we have previously seen and posted on and railed about are not permanent by any stretch of the imagination, nor are they insurmountable in the long run if we just care enough to get involved.

Conferences like Pro-Cologne and the like are a great start, but Cologne itself is a long way (not necessarily in physical distance) from Charlottesville, Denver, Manchester, Prague, Milan, Vancouver, Copenhagen and Malmö. If we don’t care enough to get involved locally in our own neighborhoods, communities, states and even countries, does it really matter?

If you don’t care enough to regularly meet with your kid’s teachers at school with the PTA (in the US) or the local equivalent — how can you complain later about what’s being taught in the local schools? Sure we post articles about other parents complaining about one thing or another — but do we (those of us with kids) take the time to find out what our kids are actually studying and take it up with the local school board — or to the local media if necessary? There are certainly enough outlets interested in publishing stories on controversial issues when they are found.

These are just a few things that have been running through my mind over the last day or so following some of our recent discussions. Hopefully they’ll give us pause as we consider ways to better change our world this next year — one step at a time. Really hoping to hear back from some Euro Vets too.

Happy New Year, everybody!

13 comments:

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

I generally agree with the tenor of Tuan Jim's article about acting locally.

One big caveat though - in early 20th century America, "acting locally" was often done by a lynch mob.

Be careful what you wish for.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Good and important point. In an age of increasing disconnect between the citizen and the elite, we can't really count on the elite turning around to fix things, can we?

Nope...

One of the better ways to set things right is to embarrass the elite for not understanding the situation, not reacting for the benefit of their nation, or not having the courage to do the Right Thing. But that's more of a top-level thing.

Locally, getting in and getting involved has - at least in Denmark - never been easier. I've been involved in my local branch of Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Peoples' Party) for some two years now - got the push by the chairman calling me because of a booklet about Mo I had translated, and the letters I had sent to the newspapers.

It was dead easy. They asked me to hold a lecture (to some 20-30 members) about my activities regarding Turkey and EU, and after that they asked me to join the board of directors, which I did.

Now I'm doing things that may seem benign, but work well. More letters to newspapers, organizing meetings for members, keeping in touch with our members in parliament, tipping off our press staff and writing things, figuring out who should run for local elections next time, etc.

Building relations to people is important, and that is best done by helping them do whatever they do even better. Supplying spokesmen with relevant documentation - like piracy around Somalia (thanks, Baron!) - is a good way to build friendships.

Which in turn means that when they look around for candidates for the next election, they'll ask you to run, because they know you and trust you. Knowing basic rules of civilized behaviour - like avoiding 'ad hominem' attacks - and taking time to read and follow the news will get you a long way.

One of the banes of civic virtue is entertainment. Look up the home page of Yahoo!, MSNBC or some other mainstream news channel, and you'll get all the stuff that you don't need in order to understand what happens and how to influence things. Most of it is useless, and has a great danger of diversion.

Entertainment is becoming a threat do democracy, for it is lost on the iPod generation that wealth and democracy requires active participation. My impression is that the US has a much better tradition for civic virtue than most of us in Europe, particular where French influence (i.e. EU) is strong.

I was excused from military service back then (25 years ago) due to an unusual eye disease, but didn't think much of it, when it all seemed to be about the Balance of Terror and stockpiling nuclear weapons, where the individual soldier didn't really count.

Two years ago I enlisted in the 'home army', where one gets to learn firearms and light military service, like guarding installations and public buildings from attacks. Unfortunately I found that I couldn't spare the hours required, and had to quit again.

I *will* be running for elections next year.

Former Gordon: Lynch mobs happen exactly when civic virtue has not been taken care of in due time.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Locally, getting in and getting involved has - at least in Denmark - never been easier. I've been involved in my local branch of Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Peoples' Party) for some two years now"

Really? Henrik. Down here it will only go with a coup d'était. But for you to have a coup d'était you have to got an elite. And here we do not have such a thing. And I believe that everything that comes FROM below will not work nicely. It has to come from UP with the blessing of those below (confusing statement, I'll try to explain myself better in another comment).

"My impression is that the US has a much better tradition for civic virtue than most of us in Europe, particular where French influence (i.e. EU) is strong."

Me too. Those damned French... and it's true. People here are too poor (mentally and spiritually) to think more broadly, to think beyonde the borders of Socialism.

Here, I will not do such a thing, Henrik. I can speak to one person, and another, but to do what you do - and I admire you for that - to do that here... people simply are not worthy, you know.

Sometimes I think this system of ours is the most Darwinist of all: Those who think for themselves to their own personal gain and are capable of marching over the other, those go far.
Here, nowadays, it is not worthy to look to the outside of one's own window.
People are just too blind. And those who are not, act as if they were because "they have to". It's a dead end.

The European Union has succeeded here over that. Only the fools worry with "the comunity", "the Nation", "the other".

Afonso Henriques said...

"And I believe that everything that comes FROM below will not work nicely. It has to come from UP with the blessing of those below (confusing statement, I'll try to explain myself better in another comment)."

To explain myself better, I could give the example of the European Union which is absolutely directed by an unacountable elite but which is always legitimated by the peoples of Europe who vote always for pro European parties and look to the E.U. uncritically as a good thing, no matter what.

Another good justification is this quote from His Royal Highness, the King D. Duarte de Bragança, heir to the Portuguese throne:

"The Protestant Kings who wanted to became supreme chiefs of the churches of their onw countries created the idea that Royal power derives from a Divine right. The Catholic doctrine is different: all the power originates in God, but it comes to us through the people, it's not arbitrary. The people is who delegates the power to the King. That is why in Portugal the King is only King after being reclaimed as such by the courts."

I pretty much agree with Him. However, it has to be worked on.

Tuan Jim said...

While the beauracracy of the EU is a little more irritatingly solid, the fact is that the MEPs are still elected and the presidency of the EU is rotating.

That's what I think is so important about countries like the Czech Rep. getting the presidency right now as well as Libertas aim of starting an actual legitimate party to counteract what we've been seeing.

A lot of the parties that have been gaining ground locally have the same opportunities to begin exerting influence in the EU on an international basis as well - representing their constituencies. Obviously, it's a long slow process, all the better to begin the focus now. Getting around the ridiculous bureaucracy in Brussels will hurt, but it's not impossible given the will.

Whiskey said...

Gordon's comment is illustrative of the Gentry's contempt for both the Westerners and the non-Gentry, who "act locally."

He'd certainly not make the same remark about Trinity United, or Louis Farrakhan, or the Black Panthers, or ACORN, being a mixture of Marxism and Black Supremacy in their own lynch mobs. Or the internet lynch mobs targeting people for firing for giving money to Prop 8. Including elderly Restaurant Managers.

In the US local action *has* and *can* degenerate into lynch mobs, but generally existed because there was no authority to stop organized criminal activity on the frontier. The 1850's Committee of Vigilance, comprised of hardened Mexican War vets outraged at Irish gangsters running protection rackets in San Francisco (and eating up their profits) or the Regulators in 1790's Frontier South Carolina against roadside bandits speak to this.

It's interesting to note that Lynching of Blacks, Jews, etc. in the NORTH as well as the South took place when local, State, and Federal authorities ceded control and dominance of force to the mobs for political reasons.

If anything, you could draw direct parallels between Malmo and Rosengard and the inaction of the authorities and the local, State, and Federal Authorities tolerating the Klan in places like Indiana, or Chicago, or Detroit, or New York, during the 1920's. Indeed as the book "Notre Dame vs. the Klan" makes clear, it was local action by the Notre Dame students and football team, incensed by anti-Catholic intimidation of the Klan during the Klan's invasion of South Bend that tipped the scales (the students and athletes kicked the Klan out of South Bend thoroughly and physically, directly). This gave political cover for the State Attorney General to pursue murder charges against the Klan's main man in Indiana (he'd murdered his mistress).

christian soldier said...

To me -acting locally-means -walking precinct-supporting HONORABLE candidates-running fund raisers for them in my home----etc.
NOT lynching anyone!

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute put out a 2009 calendar titled _Pretty in MINK_..I obtained several for my board -LALFL- and for my other conservative friends....

I noticed that I was blessed to attend 'first' speeches from some of the conservative women 'starring' in the calendar---
I've been in this a LOOOONG time
One of my fiends suggested -today that I take a 'rest'...
My answer was ..NO..

I must stay in the fray
Til the day
that the Lord
takes me
Away...

God Bless the USA--We're NOT going away!

Carol-CS

christian soldier said...

PS-I'm getting REALLY tired of the 'high and mighty' in europe (lcop) thumbing their noses at we-the citizens of the USA!
Carol-CS

christian soldier said...

PSS-
eu-(lcop)-clean up your own-VERY DIRTY house before you diss the USA!
Carol-CS

grainnewale said...

I can only speak for what I've seen over the past decade in The republic of Ireland.

I'm a 66- year old American who retired to the land of my ancestors. I was a member of the USMC in the early 1960's (Pre Vietnam). The United States had involuntary conscription then (for the better). Young men were expected to serve in the military and they, for the most part, were the better for it.

The Irish on the other hand see absolutely NO threats to their country from outside. And that's why the creeping rot of "multi-culturalism" is slowly taking over. Appeasement and political correctness are the two weapons used by numerous Liberals to deny the right of anyone who tries to speak out and point out the threat to Ireland. Mention anything counter to the Liberal's agenda and you are hit with the stacatto burst of RACIST.

Ireland wears a cloak of "Neutrality" like a whore wears a string of pearls. They may look good, make the whore feel good, but at the end of the day they will not serve to protect her from as much as a flea bite.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Henrik R Clausen said...

Carol, we do have some issues with some of the US foreign policy decisions over the last couple of decades. The Balkan stuff ranks among the worst of it. Last chance to fully revise and reverse it was September 12th 2001, but that did not happen.

I expect our American friends and allies to take criticism seriously, for it is not all born of anti-American sentiment.

That said, I agree:

God bless America!

Afonso Henriques said...

"The Irish on the other hand see absolutely NO threats to their country from outside. And that's why the creeping rot of "multi-culturalism" is slowly taking over. Appeasement and political correctness are the two weapons used by numerous Liberals to deny the right of anyone who tries to speak out and point out the threat to Ireland. Mention anything counter to the Liberal's agenda and you are hit with the stacatto burst of RACIST.

Ireland wears a cloak of "Neutrality" like a whore wears a string of pearls. They may look good, make the whore feel good, but at the end of the day they will not serve to protect her from as much as a flea bite."

Exactly. And I think it is not only Ireland but the whole of European Civilisation. For instance, even the Greeks look to Turks as non threathening!

And I don't see Americans "afraid" of Canada or Mexico; Or Spaniards "worried" with Moroccans...

Not even Argentina fear the Native American Communist Oil rich Bolivia, nor the entire axis that is being fomed. Nor do the Australians "suspect" the 10 times more numerous agressive Indonesian muslims.

The exception may be Eastern Europe, Russia included, but let's see how well the European Union subverts those Slavs...
And here we are, all shape at the image of France, who naturally fears no one since the Revolution... desite all the wars it lost.

The great achievment of "the occult forces" is that, throughout European Civilisation, people seem not to always fall in "fracturing causes" with their family: Parents, wife, husband but then go immediately to aid foreigners, as if they were to be trusted.
We fear more our own then the others. And we romanticise the other, looking to them as if somewhat less flawed.

Well done Gramsci!

ole said...

I basically agree with Tuan Jim in all he says.
The american notion of civic vertue goes much further than its present european counterpart,which does in no way include militaery service.
Note that no european GOV blogger ( except Henrik,god bless him) came forward to tell "what he has done for his country" in the full american meaning.
In Israel ,where I live, civic vertue is meaningless whithout its militaery component.
It means serving in the "RESERVE-ARMY" , which is the main component , for 20 years or as long as your health hold out.
It means being ready to come whenever you are called for.
It is not impossible, that europeans of the future will get to know what this means , when the muslim ghettos in their major cities grows just a little bigger...