H.P. Lovecraft: De Triumpho Naturae or The Triumph Over Nature over Northern Ignorance

Despite being a Yankee himself, H.P. Lovecraft brilliantly describes in this long-forgotten poem the fanatical Yankee obsession with abolitionism that led to countless lives lost (both Northern and Southern).

 

The Northern bigot, with false zeal inflam’d,
The virtues of the Afric race proclaim’d;
Declar’d the blacks his brothers and his peers,
And at their slav’ry shed fraternal tears;
Distorted for his cause the Holy Word,
And deem’d himself commanded by the Lord
To draw his sword, whate’er the cost might be,
And set the sons of Aethiopia free.
First with the South in battle he engag’d;
And four hard years an impious warfare wag’d,
Then, deaf to Nature, and to God’s decree,
He gave the blacks their fatal liberty.
The halls where Southern justice once had reign’d
He now with horrid negro rites profan’d.
Among the free in cursèd mock’ry sate
The grinning Aethiop, conscious of his state.
But reckless folly can no further run;
The will of Nature must in Time be done.
The savage black, the ape-resembling beast,
Hath held too long his Saturnalian feast.
From out the land, by act of far’way Heav’n,
To ling’ring death his numbers shall be driv’n.
Against God’s will the Yankee freed the slave
And in the act consign’d him to the grave.

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Dark Age American: A Bitter legacy

H/T The Archdruid Report

Civilizations normally leave a damaged environment behind them when they fall, and ours shows every sign of following that wearily familiar pattern. The nature and severity of the ecological damage a civilization leaves behind, though, depend on two factors, one obvious, the other less so. The obvious factor derives from the nature of the technologies the civilization deployed in its heyday; the less obvious one depends on how many times those same technologies had been through the same cycle of rise and fall before the civilization under discussion got to them.

There’s an important lesson in this latter factor. Human technologies almost always start off their trajectory through time as environmental disasters looking for a spot marked X, which they inevitably find, and then have the rough edges knocked off them by centuries or millennia of bitter experience. When our species first developed the technologies that enabled hunting bands to take down big game animals, the result was mass slaughter and the extinction of entire species of megafauna, followed by famine and misery; rinse and repeat, and you get the exquisite ecological balance that most hunter-gatherer societies maintained in historic times. In much the same way, early field agriculture yielded bumper crops of topsoil loss and subsistence failure to go along with its less reliable yields of edible grain, and the hard lessons from that experience have driven the rise of more sustainable agricultural systems—a process completed in our time with the emergence of organic agricultural methods that build soil rather than depleting it.

Any brand new mode of human subsistence is thus normally cruising for a bruising, and will get it in due time at the hands of the biosphere. That’s not precisely good news for modern industrial civilization, because ours is a brand new mode of human subsistence; it’s the first human society ever to depend almost entirely on extrasomatic energy—energy, that is, that doesn’t come from human or animal muscles fueled by food crops. In my book The Ecotechnic Future, I’ve suggested that industrial civilization is simply the first and most wasteful of a new mode of human society, the technic society. Eventually, I proposed, technic societies will achieve the same precise accommodation to ecological reality that hunter-gatherer societies worked out long ago, and agricultural societies have spent the last eight thousand years or so pursuing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us much just now.

Modern industrial civilization, in point of fact, has been stunningly clueless in its relationship with the planetary cycles that keep us all alive. Like those early bands of roving hunters who slaughtered every mammoth they could find and then looked around blankly for something to eat, we’ve drawn down the finite stocks of fossil fuels on this planet without the least concern about what the future would bring—well, other than the occasional pious utterance of thoughtstopping mantras of the “Oh, I’m sure they’ll think of something” variety. That’s not the only thing we’ve drawn down recklessly, of course, and the impact of our idiotically short-term thinking on our long-term prospects will be among the most important forces shaping the next five centuries of North America’s future.

Let’s start with one of the most obvious: topsoil, the biologically active layer of soil that can support food crops. On average, as a result of today’s standard agricultural methods, North America’s arable land loses almost three tons of topsoil from each cultivated acre every single year. Most of the topsoil that made North America the breadbasket of the 20th century world is already gone, and at the current rate of loss, all of it will be gone by 2075. That would be bad enough if we could rely on artificial fertilizer to make up for the losses, but by 2075 that won’t be an option: the entire range of chemical fertilizers are made from nonrenewable resources—natural gas is the main feedstock for nitrate fertilizers, rock phosphate for phosphate fertilizers, and so on—and all of these are depleting fast.

Topsoil loss driven by bad agricultural practices is actually quite a common factor in the collapse of civilizations. Sea-floor cores in the waters around Greece, for example, show a spike in sediment deposition from rapidly eroding topsoil right around the end of the Mycenean civilization, and another from the latter years of the Roman Empire. If archeologists thousands of years from now try the same test, they’ll find yet another eroded topsoil layer at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the legacy of an agricultural system that put quarterly profits ahead of the relatively modest changes that might have preserved the soil for future generations.

The methods of organic agriculture mentioned earlier could help very significantly with this problem, since those include techniques for preserving existing topsoil, and rebuilding depleted soil at a rate considerably faster than nature’s pace. To make any kind of difference, though, those methods would have to be deployed on a very broad scale, and then passed down through the difficult years ahead. Lacking that, even where desertification driven by climate change doesn’t make farming impossible, a very large part of today’s North American farm belt will likely be unable to support crops for centuries or millennia to come. Eventually, the same slow processes that replenished the soil on land scraped bare by the ice age glaciers will do the same thing to land stripped of topsoil by industrial farming, but “eventually” will not come quickly enough to spare our descendants many hungry days.

The same tune in a different key is currently being played across the world’s oceans, and as a result my readers can look forward, in the not too distant future, to tasting the last piece of seafood they will ever eat. Conservatively managed, the world’s fish stocks could have produced large yields indefinitely, but they were not conservatively managed; where regulation was attempted, political and economic pressure consistently drove catch limits above sustainable levels, and of course cheating was pervasive and the penalties for being caught were merely another cost of doing business. Fishery after fishery has accordingly collapsed, and the increasingly frantic struggle to feed seven billion hungry mouths is unlikely to leave any of those that remain intact for long.

Worse, all of this is happening in oceans that are being hammered by other aspects of our collective ecological stupidity. Global climate change, by boosting the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, is acidifying the oceans and causing sweeping shifts in oceanic food chains. Those shifts involve winners as well as losers; where calcium-shelled diatoms and corals are suffering population declines, seaweeds and algae, which are not so sensitive to changes in the acid-alkaline balance, are thriving on the increased CO2 in the water—but the fish that feed on seaweeds and algae are not the same as those that feed on diatoms and corals, and the resulting changes are whipsawing ocean ecologies.

Close to shore, toxic effluents from human industry and agriculture are also adding to the trouble. The deep oceans, all things considered, offer sparse pickings for most saltwater creatures; the vast majority of ocean life thrives within a few hundred miles of land, where rivers, upwelling zones, and the like provide nutrients in relative abundance. We’re already seeing serious problems with toxic substances concentrating up through oceanic food chains; unless communities close to the water’s edge respond to rising sea levels with consummate care, hauling every source of toxic chemicals out of reach of the waters, that problem is only going to grow worse. Different species react differently to this or that toxin; some kind of aquatic ecosystem will emerge and thrive even in the most toxic estuaries of deindustrial North America, but it’s unlikely that those ecosystems will produce anything fit for human beings to eat, and making the attempt may not be particularly good for one’s health.

Over the long run, that, too, will right itself. Bioaccumulated toxins will end up entombed in the muck on the ocean’s floor, providing yet another interesting data point for the archeologists of the far future; food chains and ecosystems will reorganize, quite possibly in very different forms from the ones they have now. Changes in water temperature, and potentially in the patterns of ocean currents, will bring unfamiliar species into contact with one another, and living things that survive the deindustrial years in isolated refugia will expand into their former range. These are normal stages in the adaptation of ecosystems to large-scale shocks. Still, those processes of renewal take time, and the deindustrial dark ages ahead of us will be long gone before the seas are restored to biological abundance.

Barren lands and empty seas aren’t the only bitter legacies we’re leaving our descendants, of course. One of the others has received quite a bit of attention on the apocalyptic end of the peak oil blogosphere for several years now—since March 11, 2011, to be precise, when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster got under way. Nuclear power exerts a curious magnetism on the modern mind, drawing it toward extremes in one direction or the other; the wildly unrealistic claims about its limitless potential to power the future that have been made by its supporters are neatly balanced by the wildly unrealistic claims about its limitless potential as a source of human extinction on the other. Negotiating a path between those extremes is not always an easy matter.

In both cases, though, it’s easy enough to clear away at least some of the confusion by turning to documented facts. It so happens, for instance, that no nation on Earth has ever been able to launch or maintain a nuclear power program without huge and continuing subsidies. Nuclear power never pays for itself; absent a steady stream of government handouts, it doesn’t make enough economic sense to attract enough private investment to cover its costs, much less meet the huge and so far unmet expenses of nuclear waste storage; and in the great majority of cases, the motive behind the program, and the subsidies, is pretty clearly the desire of the local government to arm itself with nuclear weapons at any cost. Thus the tired fantasy of cheap, abundant nuclear power needs to be buried alongside the Eisenhower-era propagandists who dreamed it up in the first place.

It also happens, of course, that there have been quite a few catastrophic nuclear accidents since the dawn of the atomic age just over seventy years ago, especially but not only in the former Soviet Union. Thus it’s no secret what the consequences are when a reactor melts down, or when mismanaged nuclear waste storage facilities catch fire and spew radioactive smoke across the countryside. What results is an unusually dangerous industrial accident, on a par with the sudden collapse of a hydroelectric dam or a chemical plant explosion that sends toxic gases drifting into a populated area; it differs from these mostly in that the contamination left behind by certain nuclear accidents remains dangerous for many years after it comes drifting down from the sky.

There are currently 69 operational nuclear power plants scattered unevenly across the face of North America, with 127 reactors among them; there are also 48 research reactors, most of them much smaller and less vulnerable to meltdown than the power plant reactors. Most North American nuclear power plants store spent fuel rods in pools of cooling water onsite, since the spent rods continue to give off heat and radiation and there’s no long term storage for high-level nuclear waste. Neither a reactor nor a fuel rod storage pool can be left untended for long without serious trouble, and a great many things—including natural disasters and human stupidity—can push them over into meltdown, in the case of reactors, or conflagration, in the case of spent fuel rods. In either case, or both, you’ll get a plume of toxic, highly radioactive smoke drifting in the wind, and a great many people immediately downwind will die quickly or slowly, depending on the details and the dose.

It’s entirely reasonable to predict that this is going to happen to some of those 175 reactors. In a world racked by climate change, resource depletion, economic disintegration, political and social chaos, mass movements of populations, and the other normal features of the decline and fall of a civilization and the coming of a dark age, the short straw is going to be drawn sooner or later, and serious nuclear disasters are going to happen. That doesn’t justify the claim that every one of those reactors is going to melt down catastrophically, every one of the spent-fuel storage facilities is going to catch fire, and so on—though of course that claim does make for more colorful rhetoric.

In the real world, for reasons I’ll be discussing further in this series of posts, we don’t face the kind of sudden collapse that could make all the lights go out at once. Some nations, regions, and local areas within regions will slide faster than others, or be deliberately sacrificed so that resources of one kind or another can be used somewhere else. As long as governments retain any kind of power at all, keeping nuclear facilities from adding to the ongoing list of disasters will be high on their agendas; shutting down reactors that are no longer safe to operate is one step they can certainly do, and so is hauling spent fuel rods out of the pools and putting them somewhere less immediately vulnerable.

It’s probably a safe bet that the further we go along the arc of decline and fall, the further these decommissioning exercises will stray from the optimum. I can all too easily imagine fuel rods being hauled out of their pools by condemned criminals or political prisoners, loaded on flatbed rail cars, taken to some desolate corner of the expanding western deserts, and tipped one at a time into trenches dug in the desert soil, then covered over with a few meters of dirt and left to the elements. Sooner or later the radionuclides will leak out, and that desolate place will become even more desolate, a place of rumors and legends where those who go don’t come back.

Meanwhile, the reactors and spent-fuel pools that don’t get shut down even in so cavalier a fashion will become the focal points of dead zones of a slightly different kind. The facilities themselves will be off limits for some thousands of years, and the invisible footprints left behind by the plumes of smoke and dust will be dangerous for centuries. The vagaries of deposition and erosion are impossible to predict; in areas downwind from Chernobyl or some of the less famous Soviet nuclear accidents, one piece of overgrown former farmland may be relatively safe while another a quarter hour’s walk away may still set a Geiger counter clicking at way-beyond-safe rates. Here I imagine cow skulls on poles, or some such traditional marker, warning the unwary that they stand on the edge of accursed ground.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all the accursed ground in deindustrial North America will be the result of nuclear accidents. There are already areas on the continent so heavily contaminated with toxic pollutants of less glow-in-the-dark varieties that anyone who attempts to grow food or drink the water there can count on a short life and a wretched death. As the industrial system spirals toward its end, and those environmental protections that haven’t been gutted already get flung aside in the frantic quest to keep the system going just a little bit longer, spills and other industrial accidents are very likely to become a good deal more common than they are already.

There are methods of soil and ecosystem bioremediation that can be done with very simple technologies—for example, plants that concentrate toxic metals in their tissues so it can be hauled away to a less dangerous site, and fungi that break down organic toxins—but if they’re to do any good at all, these will have to be preserved and deployed in the teeth of massive social changes and equally massive hardships. Lacking that, and it’s a considerable gamble at this point, the North America of the future will be spotted with areas where birth defects are a common cause of infant mortality and it will be rare to see anyone over the age of forty or so without the telltale signs of cancer.

There’s a bitter irony in the fact that cancer, a relatively rare disease a century and a half ago—most childhood cancers in particular were so rare that individual cases were written up in medical journals —has become the signature disease of industrial society, expanding its occurrence and death toll in lockstep with our mindless dumping of chemical toxins and radioactive waste into the environment. What, after all, is cancer? A disease of uncontrolled growth.

I sometimes wonder if our descendants in the deindustrial world will appreciate that irony. One way or another, I have no doubt that they’ll have their own opinions about the bitter legacy we’re leaving them. Late at night, when sleep is far away, I sometimes remember Ernest Thompson Seton’s heartrending 1927 prose poem “A Lament,” in which he recalled the beauty of the wild West he had known and the desolation of barbed wire and bleached bones he had seen it become. He projected the same curve of devastation forward until it rebounded on its perpetrators—yes, that would be us—and imagined the voyagers of some other nation landing centuries from now at the ruins of Manhattan, and slowly piecing together the story of a vanished people:

Their chiefs and wiser ones shall know
That here was a wastrel race, cruel and sordid,
Weighed and found wanting,
Once mighty but forgotten now.
And on our last remembrance stone,
These wiser ones will write of us:
They desolated their heritage,
They wrote their own doom.

I suspect, though, that our descendants will put things in language a good deal sharper than this. As they think back on the people of the 20th and early 21st centuries who gave them the barren soil and ravaged fisheries, the chaotic weather and rising oceans, the poisoned land and water, the birth defects and cancers that embitter their lives, how will they remember us? I think I know. I think we will be the orcs and Nazgûl of their legends, the collective Satan of their mythology, the ancient race who ravaged the earth and everything on it so they could enjoy lives of wretched excess at the future’s expense. They will remember us as evil incarnate—and from their perspective, it’s by no means easy to dispute that judgment.

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Pat Buchanan: Why the Democratic West Dreads Diversity

 

From the American Conservative

At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously wrote that our world may be at the “end of history” where “Western liberal democracy” becomes “the final form of human government.” A quarter century on, such optimism seems naive.

Consider the United States, the paragon of liberal democracy. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that only 14 percent of the people approve of Congress and only 19 percent approve of the GOP. Seventy-one percent believe America is headed in the wrong direction. Nor is this the exceptional crisis of a particular presidency.

JFK was assassinated. LBJ was broken by race riots and anti-war demonstrations. Richard Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned. Gerald Ford was rejected by the electorate. Ronald Reagan was highly successful—like Nixon, he won in a 49-state landslide after his first term—but during the Iran-Contra scandal of 1987 there was a real threat of a second impeachment. And Bill Clinton was impeached.

Our democracy seems to be at war with itself. Now there is talk of impeaching Obama. It will become a clamor should he grant executive amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants. Political science has long described what seems to be happening.

From the tribal leader comes the monarch, whose reign gives way to an aristocracy that produces a middle class that creates a republic, the degenerative form of which is that pure democracy of which John Adams wrote: ”Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” Then comes the strong man again.

Is that our future? Is Western democracy approaching the end of its tether, with the seeming success of authoritarian capitalism in China and Russia? Recent history provides us with examples.

World War I, begun 100 years ago, brought down many of the reigning monarchs of Europe. The caliph of the Ottoman Empire was sent packing by Kemal Ataturk. Czar Nicholas II was murdered on the orders of the usurper Vladimir Lenin.

Fighting off a Bolshevik invasion, Marshal Pilsudski rose to power in Poland. Admiral Miklos Horthy ran the communists out of Budapest and took the helm. Mussolini led the 1922 March on Rome. Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 failed, but his party utilized democracy’s institutions to seize power and murder democracy. Out of the Spanish Civil War came the dictatorship of Gen. Franco. And so it went.

Vladimir Putin may be the most reviled European leader among Western elites today, but he is more popular in his own country than any other Western ruler, with 80 percent approval, for standing up for Russia and Russians everywhere. Polls in France say that, were elections held today, Marine Le Pen would replace Francois Hollande in the Elysee Palace.

Eurocrats bewail what is happening, but, inhibited by secularist ideology, fail to understand it. They believe in economism, rule by scholarly global elites, and recoil at the resurgence of nationalism and populism. They do not understand people of the heart because they do not understand human nature.

People don’t enlist, endure, fight and die for cerebral constructs. Who, then, will own the future—of Europe, America, the world?

The day of the democratist and transnational elite appears to be passing. In Europe, the Scots, Catalans, Corsicans, Venetians, and Flemish seek to secede from England, Spain, France, Italy, and Belgium, respectively. Not only the National Front in France, but also the UK Independence Party of Nigel Farage and a dozen other nationalist parties on the continent want out of the European Union and an end to immigration. And they are no longer intimidated by name-calling.

In America, a tectonic shift has taken place in public opinion with the arrival on our border of 60,000 children from Central America and the threat by Obama to issue executive amnesty to 5 million illegals. Last week, Alabama Congressman “Mo” Brooks said there is a “war on whites” in America, being led by Obama, noting that under civil right laws the only group one may discriminate against is white males.

Nor has Brooks recanted under fire.

In a Washington Post column answering Brooks, “A Welcome End to American Whiteness,” Dana Milbank concedes that, by 2043, white Americans will be less than half of the U.S. population. They were near 90 percent in 1960. Far from being something to fear, Milbank writes, this “is to be celebrated. Indeed, it is the key to our survival.” Immigrants pouring in from the Third World will bring a “fresh labor supply” and “fresh blood to cure us of what ails us.” A tired America will be revitalized.

Perhaps. But sociologist Robert Putnam discovered that the more ethnically and linguistically diverse a society becomes, the more its social capital evaporates, and the less do its multicultural members gather together to cooperate in common causes.

And from those recent polls, Americans seem to look on the prospect of an even more racially and culturally diverse America of tomorrow, not with anticipation, but with a measure of dread.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

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Gists by Ezra Pound

BOURGEOIS

What the working man becomes the moment he has the least opportunity.

SPENDING

The Value of a nation’s money depends, in the long run, on what the nation 9which includes it’s inhabitants) spends it’s money for.

A SLAVE

A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.

THIERS

Thiers borrowed from the banks at 3 per cent when they were charging individuals 5 or 6 per cent. He then got money for 1 per cent. When he proposed to follow Andrew Jackson, the whole set of ‘em, Orleanists, Bourbons, Bonapartists, ganged up against him. Hence the lack of interest in Thiers on the part of professional historians.

CRITICS

To be judged far more by their selections than by their palaver.

CERTAIN CIRCLES

Any proposal for reduction of government personnel causes a curious uneasiness in certain circles.

BOURGEOIS

A term of abuse applied by young writers to writers seven years older than themselves when the latter can afford seven francs more per day for hotel bills.

NATIONAL WELL BEING

No country can suppress truth and live well.

POISON

It is notarsenic in bottle and labeled that is dangerous, but arsenic in good soup.

LAW

The right aim of law is to prevent coercion, either by force or by fraud.

UTOPIA

Where every man has the right to be born free of deby and to be judged, in case of disagreement, by a jury capable of understanding the nature and implications of the charges against him.

ONE AT A TIME

Every man has the right to have his ideas examined one at a time.

USURY

Usury, a charge for the use of purchasing power, levied without regard to production, sometimes with regard even to the possibilities of production.

SOVEREINGTY

Sovereingty inheres in the power to issue money, or to distribute the power to buy (credit or money) whether you have the right to do so or not.

CIVILISATION

Civilisation depends on local control of purchasing power needed for local purposes.

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Charles A. Lindbergh on ‘scientific man’

“Day after day, year after year, scientific man must serve the mechanistic Utopia he has built. If he failed to do so, his entire system would collapse. He does not have the lash at his back, as the common slave of old. He is driven by the more subtle whip of a system whose arm he needs for safety and whose dollars he must have for food, shelter, and the momentary dignity of life – a system which, in its diabolical knowledge, now holds the means of breeding even his mind and body for it’s service.”

 

Charles A Lindbergh, Of Flight and Life, pg. 38-39

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McDonald’s to ban several McDonald’s bugers for sanitary violations

It’s worth noting that McDonald’s has been voters the worst hamburgers in America. Therefore can anyone truly blame Russia for not wanting them in their country?

 

From Reuters

Reuters) – McDonald’s burgers and shakes may become the latest victims of worsening ties between Moscow and Washington after a Russian consumer watchdog agency accused the U.S. chain of sanitary violations.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), which opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow in 1990, became an iconic symbol of flourishing American capitalism during the fall of the Soviet Union.

But its Golden Arches may be in the Kremlin’s crosshairs as ties between Moscow and Washington have fallen to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War with consecutive rounds of U.S. sanctions over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

“We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt,” Anna Popova, the watchdog’s head and Russia’s chief sanitary inspector, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

The watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor has previously been accused of acting in the political interests of the Kremlin, banning Georgian wine as Tbilisi strengthened ties with Washington and spirits from Moldova after the former Soviet republic boosted its drive to partner with the European Union.

A Moscow court told Reuters a regional branch of Rospotrebnadzor had asked it to declare production and sales of some McDonald’s products illegal after the watchdog agency carried out inspections of McDonald’s restaurants last June.

The regulator says the company is deceiving consumers about the energy value of its Cheeseburger Royales, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburgers and Chicken Burgers and about nutritional value of its milkshakes and ice creams.

Its also said in a statement that Caesar wrap sandwiches and a vegetable salad were contaminated with coliform bacteria, which indicates the likelihood of food poisoning.

McDonald’s, which boasts of long lines at its restaurants across Moscow, some of which sit in view of the Kremlin’s red walls, said it had not received any complaint from the regulator and had no information about the lawsuit.

“For the 25 years that McDonald’s has been working in the Russian market, its main priority has been to provide quality and safe products to our visitors,” the company said by email.

It added that its calculations of energy and nutritional value were based on the methodologies approved by state Russian institution.

The court will hold a preliminary hearing on Aug. 13 with the key hearing likely to be scheduled for September, the court’s spokeswoman said.

McDonald’s operates about 400 restaurants in Russia and sees the country as one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report.

The fast-food chain has often become subject to boycotts in various countries to oppose U.S. actions. In 2003, French boycotted McDonald’s to protest against the war in Iraq.

In April, some Russian politicians called for all McDonald’s outlets in the country to be shut after the company closed its restaurants in Crimea, whose annexation by Russia in March triggered U.S. and European sanctions.

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St Thomas Aquinas on immigration and open borders

H/T VDARE and the ASDTFP

 

I’m sure today, St Thomas Aquinas would have been denounced by the modern Roman hierarchy as a “racist”. Its too bad that the current Pope and other bishops don’t heed one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time.

 

In looking at the debate over immigration, it is almost automatically assumed that the Church’s position is one of unconditional charity toward those who enter the nation, legally or illegally.

However, is this the case? What does the Bible say about immigration? What do Church doctors and theologians say? Above all, what does the greatest of doctors, Saint Thomas Aquinas, say about immigration? Does his opinion offer some insights to the burning issues now shaking the nation and blurring the national borders?

Immigration is a modern problem and so some might think that the medieval Saint Thomas would have no opinion about the problem. And yet, he does. One has only to look in his masterpiece, the Summa Theologica, in the second part of the first part, question 105, article 3 (I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). There one finds his analysis based on biblical insights that can add to the national debate. They are entirely applicable to the present.

Saint Thomas: “Man’s relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful, and hostile: and in directing both kinds of relation the Law contained suitable precepts.”

Commentary: In making this affirmation, Saint Thomas affirms that not all immigrants are equal. Every nation has the right to decide which immigrants are beneficial, that is, “peaceful,” to the common good. As a matter of self-defense, the State can reject those criminal elements, traitors, enemies and others who it deems harmful or “hostile” to its citizens.

The second thing he affirms is that the manner of dealing with immigration is determined by law in the cases of both beneficial and “hostile” immigration. The State has the right and duty to apply its law.

Saint Thomas: “For the Jews were offered three opportunities of peaceful relations with foreigners. First, when foreigners passed through their land as travelers. Secondly, when they came to dwell in their land as newcomers. And in both these respects the Law made kind provision in its precepts: for it is written (Exodus 22:21): ’Thou shalt not molest a stranger [advenam]’; and again (Exodus 22:9): ’Thou shalt not molest a stranger [peregrino].’”

Commentary: Here Saint Thomas acknowledges the fact that others will want to come to visit or even stay in the land for some time. Such foreigners deserved to be treated with charity, respect and courtesy, which is due to any human of good will. In these cases, the law can and should protect foreigners from being badly treated or molested.

Saint Thomas: “Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 1).”

Commentary: Saint Thomas recognizes that there will be those who will want to stay and become citizens of the lands they visit. However, he sets as the first condition for acceptance a desire to integrate fully into what would today be considered the culture and life of the nation.

A second condition is that the granting of citizenship would not be immediate. The integration process takes time. People need to adapt themselves to the nation. He quotes the philosopher Aristotle as saying this process was once deemed to take two or three generations. Saint Thomas himself does not give a timeframe for this integration, but he does admit that it can take a long time.

Saint Thomas: “The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.”

Commentary: The common sense of Saint Thomas is certainly not politically correct but it is logical. The theologian notes that living in a nation is a complex thing. It takes time to know the issues affecting the nation. Those familiar with the long history of their nation are in the best position to make the long-term decisions about its future. It is harmful and unjust to put the future of a place in the hands of those recently arrived, who, although through no fault of their own, have little idea of what is happening or has happened in the nation. Such a policy could lead to the destruction of the nation.

As an illustration of this point, Saint Thomas later notes that the Jewish people did not treat all nations equally since those nations closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those who were not as close. Some hostile peoples were not to be admitted at all into full fellowship due to their enmity toward the Jewish people.

Saint Thomas: “Nevertheless it was possible by dispensation for a man to be admitted to citizenship on account of some act of virtue: thus it is related (Judith 14:6) that Achior, the captain of the children of Ammon, ‘was joined to the people of Israel, with all the succession of his kindred.’”

Commentary: That is to say, the rules were not rigid. There were exceptions that were granted based on the circumstances. However, such exceptions were not arbitrary but always had in mind the common good. The example of Achior describes the citizenship bestowed upon the captain and his children for the good services rendered to the nation.

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These are some of the thoughts of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the matter of immigration based on biblical principles. It is clear that immigration must have two things in mind: the first is the nation’s unity; and the second is the common good.

Immigration should have as its goal integration, not disintegration or segregation. The immigrant should not only desire to assume the benefits but the responsibilities of joining into the full fellowship of the nation. By becoming a citizen, a person becomes part of a broad family over the long term and not a shareholder in a joint stock company seeking only short-term self-interest.

Secondly, Saint Thomas teaches that immigration must have in mind the common good; it cannot destroy or overwhelm a nation.
This explains why so many Americans experience uneasiness caused by massive and disproportional immigration. Such policy artificially introduces a situation that destroys common points of unity and overwhelms the ability of a society to absorb new elements organically into a unified culture. The common good is no longer considered.

A proportional immigration has always been a healthy development in a society since it injects new life and qualities into a social body. But when it loses that proportion and undermines the purpose of the State, it threatens the well-being of the nation.

When this happens, the nation would do well to follow the advice of Saint Thomas Aquinas and biblical principles. The nation must practice justice and charity towards all, including foreigners, but it must above all safeguard the common good and its unity, without which no country can long endure.

 

 

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