Ragnarok and the Administrative State

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In 1983, Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada by American troops, and the Caribbean island was liberated from its Marxist rulers—an event the islanders still celebrate. In one sense, it was just another American military intervention in Latin American affairs, and what else is new? But I would urge us to consider another aspect of the affair, and extract from these events an encouraging and edifying lesson. Let us consider it as a parable for our times.

One of the things that communism had going for it—there actually weren’t that many—was the fact that they had an optimistic eschatology. That when combined with envy has a very long battery life. Their worldview contained the doctrine that the advance of communism was inexorable, and would not be stopped until the dictatorship of the proletariat was finally and fully realized. Before it was a doctrine of economics, or classes, it was a doctrine of history.

As a Cold War kid, I remember growing up in a time when the Soviet Union was a fixture in the cosmos, and when the (much wealthier) West for some reason felt like it had its back to the wall. This was not the result of capitalist propaganda trying to keep her citizens in a constant state of alarm over the commie threat. It was actually the result of the power of an eschatological vision. They had a doctrine of history, and we no longer did. The revolutionaries believed in their cause, and at some level their adversaries also felt the force of it. The wealthy and vacuous will never be a match for the lean and hungry, especially if the lean and hungry have a creed that proclaims that they will necessarily be the victors.

This is where that noxious phrase “the wrong side of history” comes from. And not surprisingly, it is the same sense of eschatological inevitability that is motivating our current globalists, administrative-staters, and regulation-mongers. This is the way the future simply has to be. True conservatives do fight, but without a doctrine of history, every battle is the Alamo.

You can see how conservatives have acquiesced in all of this because we are always fighting the next (inevitable) encroachment, and it never occurs to us to try to actually reverse a previous encroachment.

And this is why the invasion of Grenada was so bracing. The communist expansion, which could never ever be reversed was, well . . . reversed. And conservatives all over the world looked at one another, blinking. We can do that? It was six years later that the Berlin Wall fell, burying the “right side of history” under a pile of rubble. When the promise of inevitability is an over-inflated balloon, it is no real objection to say that the conquest of a teeny-tiny Caribbean island is nothing more than a teeny-tiny needle. How big does a needle have to be in order to puncture a balloon?

More on all of this in a minute.

Essential Background Reading

For those of you who are starting to realize that those red pills you took are starting to wear off, and who have therefore decided that it is time for you to get vermillion-pilled, I would strongly urge you to buy and read this book, Is Administrative Law Lawful? If you need to work up to it, there is a good interview with the author here, and you can also read my review of the book from a few years back right here.

“This book is a fifty-gallon-drum-sized stick of dynamite with the fuse already lit. It is required reading for every attorney, every political activist, and every land owner hassled by the EPA because of that duck that lands in your puddles in the spring, thus making your lower acre a wetlands.”

Me again, elsewhere

The administrative state is the enemy. This is the explanation behind how all our elections go. No matter who wins the election, the government always seems to get in.

My Summary of a Proposed Strategy

There is no talking about all this without using three-letter words—FBI, ATF, IRS, EPA and others like them.

The administrative state—aka the deep state, aka the swamp, aka other names that I don’t use, this being a Christian blog site—is an unconstitutional and illegal aggrandizement of political power in agencies that have no justification for their use of power over us other than the fact that they have it, and that to date no one has been willing to take it from them. The pretense is that these are delegated powers, but this is all just part of the charade. The three lawful branches of government don’t have the authority to delegate the things they were appointed to do, and still less do they have the right to delegate tasks that nobody ever authorized anybody to do.

Suppose we elect a president who wants to make all these alphabet agencies behave. He tells them to do something, and they reply with something like, “Not going to do it.” I believe the word we are looking for is stymied. This happened multiple times in the Trump administration. The administrative state needs to be destroyed, not managed better. And while drain the swamp is great as our stated objective, at some point we are going to need someone to design and build some pumps big enough.

And so it is that I propose the Grenada strategy. What needs to happen is that we need to tackle the myth of administrative inevitability first, and then after that we can raise the question of hunting some big game. We need to start at the right end. First things first. Deal with the doctrine of history first, and deal with most of the troublesome agencies after that.

“Got to start by finding it, have we?” answered Puddleglum. ” Not allowed to start by looking for it, I suppose?”

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

So before we tackle this task, we need to demonstrate first that the thing can actually be done in the modern world. Before we try to eliminate all these agencies, we should attempt the eliminate the mythic-mojo that these agencies have. We do have to actually eradicate one of them in order to do this, but the point is not so much to deal with that particular agency, which (as you shall see) was not doing a great deal of harm, but rather to deal with the idea that government growth is an unstoppable phenomenon. That idea is so deeply embedded in the consciousness of everyone that we actually think that slowing the rate of increase is something called a budget cut.

This means that we should find the very smallest, and most glaringly stupid government agency that we can find, and in a surprise attack we need to wipe it off the face of the earth, and then we need to salt the ground. I am writing, of course, about the Federal Agency for the Retraining of Buggy Whip Manufacturers (FARBWM). And we need to eliminate the agency, not merely subsume it under another bigger agency. That kind of move is how compassionate conservatives would help FARBWM manage to get their operating budget tripled. We need to do what we came to do, and then, dusting off our hands, say something like delenda est. The thing has gone bye bye. We need to act like the tribe of Dan attacking Laish, only without the idol and the commandeered Levite.

Having done this most valuable work, we need to realize that the removal of the buggy-whip-retrainer-people will not in any appreciable way affect the daily life of the ordinary American. He might not even notice. He probably won’t notice. But activists will have noticed. Federal agencies can actually cease to be. They are not immortal.

The conquest of this Grenada then needs to be trumpeted as a great victory, not because the territory was all that large but rather because this false doctrine of history is one of the largest things in the world.

And so this is what sets the stage.

Moving On to Bigger Game

Having flexed on the dwarf agency, it is crucial to follow up. What about the big boys, the people who are actively ruining lives?

The order in which these agencies are targeted matters. We just dispensed with the small and relatively innocent one. We should then move on to a large and influential agency, but one that is widely known to be manifestly corrupt (e.g. the FBI). After that the move should be made on an agency that is wildly unpopular and incompetent (e.g. the IRS). When a few victories like this have occurred, it would then be appropriate to move from agencies to departments (e.g. Education).

I pick the FBI to go second because, among many other things, the J6 assault on the Capitol was a joint effort between the Oathkeepers and FBI agents. The Oathkeepers were exasperated because Trump was not inciting an insurrection, and the FBI were involved because in the Oathkeepers they had found what Spinoza would have described as the Platonic ideal of the chump. Now here was something that could be wrapped around Trump’s neck for good and all. And so they did. The FBI’s involvement in these dirty deeds is already widely known, and with very little effort could become universally known. The FBI delenda est.

Now promising to eliminate the Department of Education is a great part of any Republican candidate’s stump speech, sure to get applause. But seriously attempting it going to result in a battle worthy of the ages, and is what I am referring to in my dark allusions to some kind of Ragnarok. If we got to this level, the battle would be an epic struggle. In order to describe this campaign, let me assume a president who wants to do it, and that he has slightly more than razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. Let us assume the judiciary is roughly where it is now.

This by itself will be insufficient. This is because a large number of his party in the House and Senate will not be inclined to use their majority in order to launch a total and absolute war. They will want to settle, and go back to the old ways of growling at the left, but never, ever biting. They will need to be dragged into the war by means of the president speaking directly to the people, with this being the peasants and pitchforks aspect of the affair, and instructing the people on how and when to speak authoritatively to their senators and representatives. If he starts to do this effectively, then we would need to be braced for anything, up to and including assassination attempts.

The first thing to do is have Congress utilize the Exceptions Clause in the Constitution (Art. III, Sec. 2, Clause 2). Under this provision, Congress has the authority to remove the Supreme Court’s power to review any cases arising from agency closures and/or downsizing. This restriction would also apply to lower federal courts as well.

When that is done, on the assumption that the left will certainly fight back, Congress should enact a series of measures, starting with the most obvious. First Congress would present the president with a bill for his signature that would simply eliminate the agency. If that is blocked somehow, then Congress should submit a bill that simply cuts all funding for the agency. In the meantime, the president has fired every employee of the agency that he has the authority to fire. He then either refuses to replace them, or replaces them with capable men who agree beforehand to not show up for work.

As a final flourish, the president needs to sign a proclamation that outlines why this particular agency was unconstitutional and illegal, and that it had gone on to abuse the prerogatives it shouldn’t have had in the first place. As a consequence, the American people were instructed that it was their duty as citizens to disregard any regulations or diktats that had been handed down by the agency in question. It would not be considering disobeying the established authority to ignore their pronouncements. It would be disobeying not to.

Yeah, But

Now however festive all of this is, and however pleasant a daydream it might be, at the end of the day don’t we all have to recognize that this is just what it is? A daydream? That Wilson is using his way with words in order to weave a spell?

“Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

And the enchantment that must be undone is this false view of history. If you want to be disabused of some of the notions you have picked up from Old Slewfoot, the eschatology that suggests, nay, that demands, that the bad guys must always be allowed to win, I suggest that you read just a handful of books—here, try this one, and this one, and this one.

In the meantime, you will have to settle for my poor attempts here to break the spell, even if it does smell like burnt marshwiggle.