Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paranoid? Yep, we're as "paranoid" as the Founders.

Paranoia is a thought process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. -- Wikipedia.


One of the most common labels thrown by our detractors at those of us in the constitutional militia movement is “paranoid.” This mental health diagnosis is whipped out at the drop of a hat by people who refuse to accept our concerns about (and our actions reacting to) portending federal tyranny.

It is said that “even paranoids have real enemies,” but the test of whether or not we are truly “paranoid” -- that is, unreasonably, obsessively fearful -- of federal intentions and the slide of the country into corruption, disorder and tyranny is whether or not

a. the situation in the country is in fact as bad as we believe it to be and whether it is likely to continue to deteriorate, and

b. our preparations to meet it are out of proportion to the threat.

As we view ourselves as the descendants of the Founders and accept the mantle of civic republicanism that they laid upon us -- as we are certainly students of that history of the Founding generation -- we must in any situation ask ourselves what the Founders’ experiences teach us about our present situation.

Put simply, we must ask ourselves: “Were the Founders themselves “paranoid” about the intentions of King George the Third?” The king and his ministers certainly thought so.

I present in evidence of that contention this excerpt from Gordon S. Woods’ magnificent history, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776 - 1787 (University of North Carolina Press, 1969).

The American Revolution has always seemed to be an extraordinary kind of revolution, and no more so than to the Revolutionaries themselves. To those who took stock at the end of these decades of revolutionary activity, the Revolution was not “one of those events which strikes the public eye in the subversions of laws which have usually attended the revolutions of governments.” Because it did not seem to have been a usual revolution, the sources of its force and its momentum appeared strangely unaccountable. “In other revolutions, the sword has been drawn by the arm of offended freedom, under an oppression that threatened the vital powers of society.” But this seemed hardly true of the American Revolution. There was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people, they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer and less burdened with cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had there been so much rebellion with so “little real cause.” It was, wrote Peter Oliver, “the most wanton and unnatural rebellion that ever existed.” The Americans’ response was out of all proportion to the stimuli: “The Annals of no Country can produce an instance of so virulent a Rebellion, of such implacable madness and Fury, originating from such trivial Causes, as those alledged by these unhappy People.” The objective social reality scarcely seemed capable of explaining a revolution.

Yet no American doubted that there had been a revolution. How then was it to be justified and explained? If the American Revolution, lacking “those mad, tumultuous actions which disgraced many of the great revolutions of antiquity,” was not a typical revolution, what kind of revolution was it? If the origin of the American Revolution lay not in the usual passions and interests of men, wherein did it lie? Those Americans who looked back at what they had been through could only marvel at the rationality and moderation, “supported by the energies of well-weighed choice,” involved in their separation from Britain, a revolution remarkably “without violence or convulsion.” It was, said Edmund Randolph, a revolution “without an immediate oppression, without a cause depending so much on hasty feeling as theoretic reasoning.” It seemed in fact to be peculiarly “the result of reason.” The Americans were fortunate in being born at a time when the principles of government and freedom were better known than at any time in history. By “reading and reasoning” on politics they had learned “how to define the rights of nature, -- how to search into, to distinguish, and to comprehend, the principles of physical, moral, religious, and civil liberty,” how, in short, to discover and resist the forces of tyranny before they could be applied. “Justly it may be said, ’the present is an age of philosophy, and America the empire of reason.’”

As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists’ intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured “an actual grievance,” the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. “They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” The crucial questions in the colonists’ minds, wrote John Dickinson in 1768, was “not, what evil HAS ACTUALLY ATTENDED particular measures -- but, what evil, in the nature of things, IS LIKELY TO ATTEND THEM.” Because “nations, in general, are not apt to THINK until they FEEL, . . . Therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.” But not the Americans, as the Abbe Raynal observed. They were an “enlightened people” who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt. -- Gordon S. Woods, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776 - 1787, Chapter One, “The Whig Science of Politics,” pp. 3-5.

The Founders, then, recognized the dangers of a corrupt and autocratic government, compared what they saw and experienced with the pattern of tyranny from history, and determined to avoid the experiences of others throughout history BEFORE THEY THEMSELVES HAD ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED IT. Before, indeed, they knew that events would unfold in the way that they feared.

Seen from the Tory point of view, they were “paranoid.”

So the next time someone calls you “paranoid” for auguring “misgovernment at a distance and snuff(ing) the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze,” tell them that if you are, so were the Founders.

Mike Vanderboegh


jdege said...

Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

- Thomas Jefferson, A Declaration setting forth the Causes and Necessity of taking up Arms, 1775.

Old Pablo said...

Good post, teacher. I esp. like the reference to the Woods book, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Have to check it out.

Dennis308 said...

Ok,so I´m Paranoid.
If you believe that someone is out to distroy your way of life people call you paranoid,what do they call it when it´s true?


alanstorm said...

Given that the choice seems to be between paranoia and naivete, I'll take paranoia.

A little paranoia is known as "caution".

Taylor H said...

Thanks for ruining my memory of Sesame Street, lol

1911A1 said...

"Ok,so I´m Paranoid.
If you believe that someone is out to distroy your way of life people call you paranoid,what do they call it when it´s true?


Personally, I call those "somebodies" traitors...

suek said...

In searching for info on the book, I ran across this site. It looks like one that might be of interest to history buffs...


Kevin Wilmeth said...

Most of those who level the charge so easily seem to completely miss the irony of calling anyone who doesn't believe as you do, paranoid.

Maybe it's just me, but I find that riotously funny.

Whose Paranoid said...


Very good post.

E said...

Thomas Jefferson was the most paranoid man on the planet! He was also a student of history! He and I both know that trust in government goes against history and reason! Government is out of control, and we are in a soft tyranny period, that could turn into hard tyranny at any moment. Our government is out of control when it should be constitutionally limited. Our activist judges are giving the executive and the legislative branch unlimited power and saying the Constitution allows for it. You cannot vote out activist supreme court justices can you? We're screwed. The ballot box is dead.

Carl said...

I always liked the sub commander's line from "Hunt for Red Oktober": "Sure I'm paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?" It goes well with the motto of: "Be polite and courteous to everyone you meet, and have a plan to kill them."

Anonymous said...

The old saying, "You aren't paranoid if they really are out to get you." comes to mind.

DMS said...

Prudent caution and response-in-kind is not paranoia. It is in fact a strategy, and a sound one.

Game theory, a branch of mathematics that studies conflict, has shown that in many games involving conflict the most successful strategy is "forgiving tit-for-tat," in which a player cuts potential opponents some slack the first time they interact, but if a potential opponent tries to take advantage of the player the second time they meet, the player brings the hammer down with no mercy--hence the name of the strategy. This strategy of initial trust backed up by massive retaliation for betrayal looks a lot like what the enemies of freedom like to call "paranoia."

In game theory scenarios, the players that try to take advantage of others at every turn generally suffer pretty badly and are often completely wiped out by the ones who follow the "forgiving tit-for-tat" approach. So perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that collectivists, who see the world as a cannibal buffet in which they mean to be the diners and everyone else to be the menu, intuitively know they must marginalize, weaken, and if possible eliminate those who play by "forgiving tit-for-tat."


jdege said...

"Our activist judges are giving the executive and the legislative branch unlimited power and saying the Constitution allows for it."

Or, as Justice Thomas wrote, just yesterday, (Graham v. Florida - dissenting):

The ultimate question in this case is not whether a life without-parole sentence ‘fits’ the crime at issue here or the crimes of juvenile nonhomicide offenders more generally, but to whom the Constitution assigns that decision. The Florida Legislature has concluded that such sentences should be available for persons under 18 who commit certain crimes, and the trial judge in this case decided to impose that legislatively authorized sentence here. Be cause a life-without-parole prison sentence is not a “cruel and unusual” method of punishment under any standard, the Eighth Amendment gives this Court no authority to reject those judgments.

It would be unjustifiable for the Court to declare other wise even if it could claim that a bare majority of state laws supported its independent moral view. The fact that the Court categorically prohibits life-without-parole sentences for juvenile nonhomicide offenders in the face of an overwhelming legislative majority in favor of leaving that sentencing option available under certain cases simply illustrates how far beyond any cognizable constitutional principle the Court has reached to ensure that its own sense of morality and retributive justice pre-empts that of the people and their representatives.

bullbythehorns said...

Paranoid as distinct from "Vigilant"

keenly watchful to detect danger; wary: a vigilant sentry.
ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.