My kids aren’t in the State Indoctrination Camps, we homeschool. I teach world history to homeschoolers every Friday as part of a local tutorial. I love history and firmly believe that even though history doesn’t repeat, it certainly rhymes. Which brings me to my point. Today I was teaching the future leaders of the free world about The French and Indian War. The book I use as a guide doesn’t give the real reason why the French lost that war, and were driven from the continent. It wasn’t because they were bad soldiers or bad military tacticians. They lost because their leaders were out of touch with reality. Louis XIV was a hard-working, brilliant dictator. Even though he began to sow the seeds of France’s destruction with the construction of Versailles by the blood and wealth of his subjects, nevertheless, he was available and attentive to the state of his country. He may not have cared much about his people, but he at least knew of their suffering.
In contrast, Louis XV was a lazy man. His father did not care for him much. As the leader of France he was hated. He died fairly young, but not until he had squandered most of what his father had built in the New World. When he died of small pox, they covered him in lyme, and chucked him in a hole in the middle of the night. While alive, he was suppose to be leading his people in The French and Indian War. Instead, he was absent, aloof, and uncaring concerning the plight of his people. While William Pitt, the Prime Minister of England, with whom he was at war, was making sure his men had money, weapons, food, and supplies to fight the costly war, Louis was lying in the lap of luxury disconnected from the reality of the day to day existence of his citizenry and soldiers. French soldiers didn’t lose because they were cowards, but because they were cold and hungry. French citizens weren’t hungry because they were lazy, but because they were being legally plundered. The French lost North America in the end because of corrupt and aloof leadership
Does this situation sound familiar? While I am thinking of the broader political class, President Obama is a great modern example of this type of clueless, aloof leadership. Many have called him “Vacationer and Chief”. While our soldiers have shed their blood in unjust foreign wars, he appears regularly to be playing more golf than governing. And when he is governing he is busy catering to lobbyists for green energy, attempting to destroy coal power plants and vetoing oil pipelines knowing full well that in the end these actions will drive up the cost of energy for his citizens. Like Louis XV, he doesn’t really care.. Republican leaders are just as aloof and clueless, just on a whole host of different big business lobby driven issues. Republicans are at war with their own conservative and libertarian base, choosing rather to cozy up to the Wall Street and the Country Club wing of their party. Passing omnibus spending bills, fully funding Amnesty, refusing to audit the Federal Reserve, bailing out “to big to fail” banks and car companies, etc. The political class is aloof and out of touch. While food prices go up and wages go down, they publish phony jobs numbers, knowing full well that the jobs being created are either lower wage, or part time, or both. While companies like Hewlett Packard fire 50,000 employees in order to create reserve cash to buy back their own stocks, driving the stock price up, and amassing huge bonuses for their executives. Congress and the President turn a blind eye to such unethical practices because, of course, this pushes up the stock market and allows them to take credit for a fake “economic recovery” so they can get re-elected and continue plundering the American people. Meanwhile, the rich get richer, misguided youth join Occupy Wall Street. Mandatory Minimum Wage movements gain steam. Tea Parties erupt. Libertarians start having a moment. What do all these things have in common? They are all anti-elite-political class movements. Let’s go back to France and Louis XV for a moment.
What happened after his death? The Enlightenment, “The Bloody Revolution”, and the end of Aristocracy in France. What fills the void when elitist, corrupt leaders lose legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens? Before we answer that, we need to ask, “What causes elitist, corrupt leaders to lose legitimacy?” Economic disruption, brought on by the actions and policies of those leaders usually does the trick. When Marie Antoinette supposedly said, “Let them eat cake”, France was in the middle of a desperate economic disruption caused by the constant wars, taxation, and luxuries enjoyed by the Aristocracy. What fills the void left by elitist, corrupt political leaders? Usually populist movements that claim the noble goal of returning the nation to it’s former glory, and promising never to allow a corrupt elitists political class to rule again. Think of Germany pre-World War II. The Treaty of Versailles had stripped Germany of her former glory. Years of punitive damages inflicted by the victors of World War I stunted Germany’s ability to economically recover. An unjust peace left hundreds of thousands of hungry, unemployed, Germans. This major economic disruption toppled the Weidmar Democracy, and led to the rise of the Nazi Party.
Russia at the turn of the 20th century was in a similar state. Years of aloof, corrupt leadership led to constant foreign wars, high taxation, a virtual caste system that was impossible to break out of, and an extremely prejudicial justice system where the poor simply could not get justice. What filled this gap? A populist movement known as the Bolsheviks came to power through revolution, and every member of the aristocracy that didn’t run was summarily executed. This began 70 plus years of rule by communism, which featured millions of deaths, via starvation, execution, Gulags, etc. Russia today is in the middle of such a movement. What is Vladmir Putin trying to accomplish? He is trying to return Russia to its former glory. This Ukrainian business and the Crimean secession is exactly the type of movement I have been describing. Russia needed a leader. A strong, charismatic figure arises and wins the hearts and imaginations of many Russians. Especially older Russians that remember, with nostalgia, Russia’s former place on the world stage. Russia is currently eyeing their former Baltic states as “economic partners”. But the Baltic nations know this partnership is an “offer they can’t refuse”, to quote Vito Corleone.
The U.S. is now showing signs of this process as well. We’ve had one major economic disruption after another since the 1970’s. All caused by the policies of a corrupt and aloof leadership that promise more than they can deliver and then print more money to cover their spending habits. Because we are the reserve currency holder in the world, we are able to print up a fresh batch of cash and infuse it into our economy. But all we are doing is kicking the can down the road a bit. Debt does not build wealth. The debtor is always a slave to the lender. The piper will be paid. Economic disruption is coming in the near future. With interest rates at zero and quantitative easing not working anymore, what’s the plan this time around? We have painted ourselves into a corner with no way out. These populist movements will gain strength. Eventually, Washington, because of aloof, corrupt leadership will lose it’s legitimacy. It is the way of history. Sure as rain, as we say in the south. What kind of movement will fill the void? This question remains unanswered. I just hope the Libertarian moment, becomes a Libertarian day. Of course, as the Evangelical Libertarian, I know that, “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) My prayer is that the people of this wonderful land will peacefully return to the God of their fathers, not through government coercion, but because of the great love that He has shown to us in sending His own Son to die in our place. It is only the Gospel that can bring real peace. It must start between God and man. But when internal peace takes hold in the hearts of men, and the Holy Spirit permeates our homes and hearths, national peace will soon follow. That’s a populist movement to get excited about!