Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Fight Like a Brave
There's a great line in the Butthole Surfer song, "Pepper," that goes: "You never know just how to look through other people's eyes."
This is especially true when it comes to the way we view our Native American peoples. On the one hand, we have the writings of Thomas Hobbes, who believed all Indians were savages who lived lives that were "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." He would go on to surmise in his political treatise, Leviathan, that all people, civilized as well as savage, would revert to or remain in this state of brutishness if left ungoverned. Hence, the necessity of a strong arm government to make us all behave.
On the other hand, there is the idea of the Noble Savage as reflected in the 17th writings of the French ethnologist, Baron de Lahontan, who lived with the Canadian Huron tribe from 1683 to 1694. He chronicles one of their leaders as saying: “We are born free and united brothers, each as much a great lord as the other, while you are all the slaves of one sole man. I am the master of my body, I dispose of myself, I do as I wish, I am the first and the last of my nation.” Lahontan went on to describe the Huron’s political systems as “anarchic,” that is, “A highly orderly society, but one lacking a formal government that compelled such order.”
Later, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson would incorporate much of the ideals of the Noble Savage (in this case the Sioux) into writings that refuted the Hobbesian view of life and instead promoted the idea of all people as free and equal under the law, with inalienable rights to their life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unfettered by an overarching government.
How fitting, then, that in these times of Leviathan-like trouble – in which the Democrats view humankind as victims in need of rescue and the Republicans see us as criminals in need of marshaling – that once again, we can turn to the Sioux for guidance on a third way.
Russell Means has been a thorn in the bloated backside of our federal government since the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. A vocal leader in the American Indian Movement (AIM), he also sought the Libertarian Party presidential candidacy in 1987 (he lost to Ron Paul) and the governorship of New Mexico in 2001.
Today, Means seeks to establish an alternative to our current leviathan, the 93,000-acre Republic of Lakota, an independent, peaceable, and lawful nation designed to provide people of all races with the only thing he believes encourages creativity, productivity, and prosperity: a life free of taxes and other hinderances to our civil liberties.
In this video interview Means states:
"I've never understood the patriarchal [political system] that somehow convinces its people that income tax and property tax are a necessary evil for civilization. People ask me, 'How can you run a government without income tax?' and I say, wait a minute, the United States for longer than 50 percent of its existence went without an income tax . . . So it has been done and property tax - the most onerous and stupid tax of all in human existence, where you never own your property and can't even be sure of passing it down to the next generation because of taxes – we're going to eliminate those taxes too . . . and consequently have a political system that is run by consensus. Having two major political parties in an alleged republic . . . it's impossible to guarantee individual rights under a two party system."
Interesting stuff. I encourage you to view the entire video and to do more research. If for no other reason than this, Party People, is a radical idea in the best sense of the word. Talk about hopey/changey. The Republic of Lakota may never fly, but hey, if it does, S.B. and I just may join up. The only drawback? I'm not so sure that I can fit "She Who Walks the Plains in Four Inch Heels" on a business card.