On royal prerogative

How do the stewards of the federal government in America plan their budget? It’s not a trivial question to answer.

The President submits a budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Congress, both House and Senate concurrently via the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations (in turn divided into 12 subcommittees), then proceed to draft a budget resolution. It is not considered a bill, so it is not presented for a presidential signature, nor can it be vetoed. It passes on a majority vote. There’s about 19 different budget functions, i.e. spending categories. Approx. 63% of the federal budget is dedicated to mandatory spending, including most entitlement programs, which aren’t even subject to appropriations — it’s just a public obligation.

Various hearings are scheduled, taking comments from experts, officials and perhaps laymen, too. Adopting the resolution then sets in motion various mechanisms for enforcement — discretionary spending caps, the statutory cap (a requirement that if an appropriations bill exceeds statutory limits, a sequester order must be issued by the President cutting all discretionary spending by a uniform percentage — we’re talking values like 0.0013% here; there’s no starving this beast!), and so forth.

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Paul Pecquet du Bellet and the French diplomatic effort in the Confederacy

The Confederacy — what a weirdly polarized phenomenon for the denizens of the American nation, a nation which many still vainly hope is not just a proposition. On one side, you have people who just want to read a fine hagiography of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, fly a battle flag to show their pride, and admire an honorable monument as they sit at a park bench. On the other side, you have people who want topple all these monuments, torch all the flags, and burn “I HAVE A DREAM” onto the forehead of every normie with an accent, or else The Nazis Will Rise Again if they do not. (There’s also a third side of honest adherents to the Old South legacy, but they are politically irrelevant.)

It is understandable that the CSA is such a captivating image. The lost cause of an America before the first 8 amendments of the Bill of Rights were incorporated into state constitutions. An America when the Constitution was just the Articles of Confederation++. An America where the mudsill knew its place… kind of.

I am not a neo-Confederate, though.

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Joel Barlow against the Second Estate

Of the Founding Fathers, plenty has been said. Of the Founding Jacobins, less so. The Mel Bradfords, the Friedrich von Gentzes, and many others, would insist that the American Revolution was no revolution at all, but a conservative revolt for the protection of the customary rights of Englishmen. Yet even Bradford admitted that the conservative heritage of America had already faded by 1819 — presumably chosen for the banking panic of the same year, marking a cut-off between the age of the landed gentleman and the age of the commercial speculator. So, surely, in the aftermath of this calamitous derailing (Hamilton’s bank not helping matters), the Founding Jacobins would become a matter of interest.

But with a Jacobin as outrageous as Joel Barlow, one is enough. A parochial New England man whose main reading for a long time avoided speculative political philosophy; a member and associate to the literary scene known as the “Hartford Wits,” which included the High Federalist cleric Timothy Dwight. Barlow, who served as a chaplain in the American Revolutionary War, was not immunized in any way from interacting with these circles, and would become an ultra-left pamphleteer of astonishing bravado in his assertions, and largely remain so until the end of his days.

At the age of 34, in 1788, he set sail to France, shortly after immersing himself in a fiasco as the agent of a fraudulent land company selling worthless deeds (not deliberately, but out of gross mismanagement) to French colonists for lots in what would later become Ohio.

Soon to commit more fraud in the form of his ideological screeds, he met with Jefferson, Lafayette, Volney and various Girondist deputies, traveling back and forth between France and England, also meeting up with Mary Wollstonecraft and becoming a member of the proto-Chartist Society for Constitutional Information in the latter country. On February 1792, he graced the world with the first of a two-part essay: Advice to the privileged orders, in the several states of Europe, resulting from the necessity and propriety of a general revolution in the principle of government. We need only look at the first part. It was published half a year before the establishment of the National Convention in Paris, which would later grant naturalized citizenship to Joel Barlow, one of three foreigners to receive this dignity.

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Monarchism in America, 1776-1800

You young men who have been born since the Revolution, look with horror upon the name of a King, and upon all propositions for a strong government. It was not so with us. We were born the subjects of a King, and were accustomed to subscribe ourselves ‘His Majesty’s most faithful subjects’; and we began the quarrel which ended in the Revolution, not against the King, but against his parliament.

— Rufus King (Federalist Party)

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Rough edges of the New Deal revolution

You know, the post office in every community ought to be the people’s contact with the government. We ought to make more of it. The post office is a natural for co-operation between the people and the Federal Government.

— FDR as quoted by Frances Perkins in The Roosevelt I Knew (1947) [source]

Selig Perlman was one of the great labor historians in the institutionalist tradition of Richard T. Ely and John R. Commons. Unlike theorists focusing on class struggle, he viewed unionism as creating a “job and wage consciousness” instead, which intersected with a so-called “scarcity consciousness” on part of the psychology of the wage worker, in which his perception of limited economic opportunity precludes him both from entrepreneurialism and any grand scheme of socializing production, instead focusing on immediate pragmatic goals of raising wages, reducing hours, reducing workplace hazard, etc. Impressive, given that Perlman was a Russian-born Jew drunk on the Marxist theory of Plekhanov, until he got deconverted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison… deconverted into something no less peculiar.

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Temporarily Embarrassed Patricians

On July 4, 1838, the well-esteemed congregationalist minister Hubbard Winslow gave out an oration at Old South Church attended by the municipal authorities of Boston, in commemoration of the anniversary of American independence.

Having graduated from the Yale Divinity School by 1825, in 1832 he had succeeded the Rev. Lyman Beecher as Pastor of the Bowdoin Street Church in Boston. Lyman Beecher was the father of, most famously, Harriet Beecher Stowe, among 12 other children who would cement the family legacy as advocates of temperance, abolition and women’s suffrage. Lyman Beecher himself was the co-founder of the American Temperance Society in 1826.

As such, I would reckon that Winslow is a decent proxy for the state of Boston Brahmin opinion at the time, and of the more conservative Old Light (non-revivalist) wing of evangelicalism.

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The Myth of the Socially Conservative Old Left

[A little detour I got the urge to do following internal debates at Thermidor Mag and various recent bouts of Third Positionist communist apologetics.]

Pareto said that history is the graveyard of aristocracies. It is also the graveyard of right-wing political hopes.

Postcolonialisms, critical theories of race, of sex; reader-response theories; one-dimensional men, 888-dimensional men; dialectics of enlightenment, enlightenments of dialectic; queer deconstructionists and undeconstructed queers (we have too many of those) — what is a helpless observer to do, but yell “Damn you to hell, Christ-killing Jew”?

The vagaries of the biological process, though thankfully not condemning us to an infinitely malleable tabula rasa, alas do not imprint us with historical consciousness. The predestined losers of yesterday die, and to take their place, the predestined losers of today are birthed.

These poor sods (I among them), having to undergo the pain of being under the boot of New Lefts, New New Lefts, Lefts of Ever Ascending Novelty, have developed a few heuristics to make sense of where the current New^n (for values of n) has left off from, and what trajectory it is following for the New^n+1 Left to pick up from.

So, a voice rises up:

“The Old Left didn’t raise a ruckus over no damned queers!”

Indeed, the Old Left didn’t raise a ruckus over no damned queers, by and large. Alas, it did for many other things no less destructive, and I don’t mean just economics.

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