The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

Warfare, the Middle East, and how to beat Islamic Fundamentalism

This is a 45 minute lecture (plus questions) by Victor Davis Hanson, so I'll pick out some features to make it easier.

  • You can skip the first 5 minutes of biography, if you like
  • Wars are hard to start, but actually a common part of our life
  • The motivation to start wars is normally perceived grievances, which bear little relationship to the actual grievances
  • [40mins] These perceptions can shift in periods of just a few years, as shown by the reversal of Fascism's fortunes - people want to be in the winning system
  • The concept of deterrence, so familiar to the ancient Greeks, is not attractive to modern, affluent liberal Western societies
  • Consensual societies are lethal, far more so than the Authoritarian/Fascistic ones.

The questions start from 50 mins.  Watch VDH demolish the final question from a delusional pro-Palestinian student.

Tags: Davis, Hanson:, Victor, articles, collected

Views: 238

Replies to This Discussion

I am in the process of watching this right now and just had to stop long enough to make a comment. 


. I always strive to comprehend the "Big Picture." This man painted it.

Hello Alan,

what is a consensual society? what does it consent to? what does 'lethal' actually mean? what other words/phrases could you use instead of lethal? I don't understand what you mean.

I'm just using the words of VDH. I'm just trying to give a helpful outline. You still have to watch the video.

Thanks for sharing this, Alan. Do you know when this talk was given?  It's very informative (please everyone, skip the first 5 minutes - maybe there was a date given in the first 5 mins of backslapping, but I zipped past it). 

The thing is, there are people around the counter-jihad movement who I think are perfectly capable of providing this level of analysis (they have the knowledge and the big picture too, despite what others might think).  However, they don't have the time to produce this kind of work (or the patience).  Then again, that VDH is not jewish probably lends more weight to his analysis than if it was given by a jew (a sad indictment of the very double standards he drives home). His ability to handle the questions is also very good (not that any of them are hostile bar the last one).  His synthesis of ancient history and modern anectodes is very impressive.  It's depressing to think that something as obvious as what he is saying is so rarely found in our "quality" media.

Jack, by "consensual society" I think VDH is using another term for "democracy" (but is perhaps wanting to suggest a more generic phenomenon than the idea of marking a ballot paper every 4 or 5 years).  He means a society that reaches consensus through a variety of means of negotiation, rather than a totalitarian society where there is no negotiation.  But like Alan says, the video really does repay watching - there is a huge amount of information in it.  As a life-long pacifist, I've come round to the idea that war is sometimes necessary.  VDH's example of the need to fight a war to stop the nazis or the slave trade vitiates any kind of absolute pacifism.  Indeed, he takes it further -- not being prepared to fight wars can be seen as the refusal to use deterrence, and thus as behaviour abetting and encouraging the actions of totalitarian societies.  The moral position lies with those who will go to war, not the pacifists. In some contexts, pacifism is immoral.

The reference to "lethality" in Alan's summary refers to the idea that "consensual socieites" are actually more capable of fighting and winning wars than the totalitarian societies (Israel with crappy equipment won the 1967 war against the combined, and better equipped, armies of a plethora of muslim countries).

Fundamentally, VDH is saying that the west has the means, but in recent decades it lacks the will.  Like VDH, I think we should trace the contemporary problems back to the Iranian "revolution".  If Carter had gone to war over the murder of American citizens in Iran in 1979, then the destruction of Iran's revolution may well have changed the last 30 years (and obviated the need for the 2 Gulf wars, Afghanistan, and may have prevented all the islamic terrorist attacks), and may have let to Israel being subjected to far less terrorism from the muslims.


Equality of Opportunity not Equality of Result

Victor Davis Hanson wrote this excellent critique of Fed Chairman Janet Yellen's comments about income inequality.  Even as an outsider, I was shocked by this politicisation of a supposedly neutral role.  I hope the Republican's fire her and replace her by an anti-interventionist candidate when they can.  There's no point in trying to be fair any more, the Left's Alinskyism, has drawn us all down to the level of tit-for-tat.

Content advisory: shocking photo of Yellen at the beginning:

But his article contains one of the best explanations of the proper position, and the position of the US founders, on this issue, so I've copied a section below.

Yellen’s second claim, that income inequality contradicts “values rooted in our nation’s history” like “equality of opportunity,” is equally muddled. If we look at the political order of the Constitution––our most important “national values”–– income inequality was taken for granted, a reflection of an unchanging and flawed human nature. In his famous comments on “factions” in Federalist 10, James Madison wrote, “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government [emphasis added]. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.” Hence “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” Income inequality is a fact of life, not a failure of government or the economy.

Indeed, the clashing interests of those with property and those without, and the political discord they create, were continually on the minds of the delegates to the Constitutional convention. New Yorker Gouverneur Morris, arguing for an appointed rather than a popularly elected Senate, frankly said, “The Rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did. They always will. The proper security against them is to form them into a separate interest. The two forces will then control each other . . . By thus combining and setting apart, the aristocratic interest, the popular interest will be combined against it. There will be a mutual check and mutual security.”

Thus the “mixed government” of the Constitution was designed not to eliminate property inequality, which is rooted in the differences of talent, hard work, virtue, and luck among people. Rather, it was created to prevent any faction, whether the rich or the poor, from taking control of the government in order to aggrandize its own power and serve its own interests at the expense of others’. Only that way can the freedom, property, and opportunity of all be kept safe.

Our “national values,” then, are for equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Yellen pays lip service to the former, yet that sentiment contradicts the whole complaint about income inequality, which is about result, not opportunity. Like most progressives, Yellen is really concerned with equality of result, something the Founders abhorred, for a tyrannical government always promises the masses equality of result, in the form of a redistribution of property, in order to secure the support of the people for centralizing and increasing government power and limiting personal freedom. But equality of result, as the sorry and bloody history of communism shows, is contrary to the reality of human nature and the unequal distribution of talent and character. As Plato wrote, it is “numerical” equality rather than “proportionate equality,” which takes into account the differences of character and virtue that exist among people, and “assigns in proportion what is fitting to each. Indeed, it is precisely this which constitutes for us political justice.”

America’s “national values” have traditionally included equality of opportunity, not equality of result. People should be free to rise to whatever levels their differing talents and virtues can take them. Differences of wealth over time and over large populations reflect those differences more than any unjust manipulation of the economy by the rich. Moreover, in a dynamic, free-market economy, the success of the well off improves the well being of the rest, whether by creating jobs or paying the trillions of dollars in taxes that fund the redistributive programs that have allowed millions of American to enjoy a material existence only dreamed of by most of the human race.

I'm just adding this latest article by VDH here because its so good that I don't want to lose track of it.  I really wonder how much longer VDH can keep on living in his family farm.  One thing that does detract from the excellence of this article though, is that VDH was against Trump all the way till he got elected.

It’s Still a Mad, Mad California

Coastal elites set rules for others, exempt themselves, and tolerate rampant lawlessness from illegal aliens.

One reason for the emergence of outsider Donald Trump is the old outrage that elites seldom experience the consequences of their own ideologically driven agendas.

Hypocrisy, when coupled with sanctimoniousness, grates people like few other human transgressions: Barack Obama opposing charter schools for the inner city as he puts his own children in Washington’s toniest prep schools, or Bay Area greens suing to stop contracted irrigation water from Sierra reservoirs, even as they count on the Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy project to deliver crystal-clear mountain water to their San Francisco taps.

The American progressive elite relies on its influence, education, money, and cultural privilege to exempt itself from the bad schools, unassimilated immigrant communities, dangerous neighborhoods, crime waves, and general impoverishment that are so often the logical consequences of its own policies — consequences for others, that is. Abstract idealism on behalf of the distant is a powerful psychological narcotic that allows caring progressives to dull the guilt they feel about their own privilege and riches.

Nowhere is this paradox truer than in California, a dysfunctional natural paradise in which a group of coastal and governing magnificoes virtue-signal from the world’s most exclusive and beautiful enclaves. The state is currently experiencing another perfect storm of increased crime, decreased incarceration, still ongoing illegal immigration, and record poverty. All that is energized by a strapped middle class that is still fleeing the overregulated and overtaxed state, while the arriving poor take their places in hopes of generous entitlements, jobs servicing the elite, and government employment.

Pebble Beach or La Jolla is as far from Madera or Mendota as Mars is from Earth. The elite coastal strip appreciates California’s bifurcated two-class reality, at least in the way that the lords of the Middle Ages treasured their era’s fossilized divisions. Manoralism ensured that peasants remained obedient, dependent, and useful serfs; meanwhile, the masters praised their supposedly enlightened feudal system even as they sought exemptions for their sins from the medieval Church. And without a middle class, the masters had no fear that uncouth others would want their own scaled-down versions of castles and moats.

Go to a U-Haul trailer franchise in the state. The rental-trailer-return rates of going into California are a fraction of those going out. Surely never in civilization’s history have so many been so willing to leave a natural paradise.

Yet collate that fact with the skyrocketing cost of high-demand housing along a 400-mile coastal corridor. The apparent paradox is no paradox: Frustrated Californians of the interior of the state without money and who cannot afford to move to the coastal communities of Santa Monica or Santa Barbara (the entire middle class of the non-coast) are leaving for low-tax refuges out of state — in “if I cannot afford the coast, then on to Idaho” fashion. The state’s economy and housing are moribund in places like Stockton and Tulare, the stagnation being the logical result of the policies of the governing class that would never live there. Meanwhile, the coastal creed is that Facebook, Apple, Hollywood, and Stanford will virtually feed us, 3-D print our gas, or discover apps to provide wood and stone for our homes.

Crime rates are going up again in California, sometimes dramatically so. In Los Angeles, various sorts of robberies, assaults, and homicide rose between 5 and 10 percent over 2015; since 2014, violent crime has skyrocketed by 38 percent. This May, California’s association of police chiefs complained that since the passage of Proposition 47 — which reclassified supposedly “nonserious” crimes as misdemeanors and kept hundreds of thousands of convicted criminals out of jail — crime rates in population centers of more than 100,000 have increased more than 15 percent. California governor Jerry Brown has let out more parolees — including over 2,000 serving life sentences — than any recent governor.

How does that translate to the streets far distant from Brentwood or Atherton?

Let me narrate a recent two-week period in navigating the outlands of Fresno County. A few days ago my neighbor down the road asked whether I had put any outgoing mail in our town’s drive-by blue federal mailbox, adjacent to the downtown Post Office. I had. And he had, too—to have it delivered a few hours later to his home in scraps, with the checks missing, by a good Samaritan. She had collected the torn envelopes with his return address scattered along the street. I’m still waiting to see whether my own bills got collected before the thieves struck the box.

Most of us in rural California go into town to mail our letters, because our rural boxes have been vandalized by gangs so frequently that it is suicidal to mail anything from home. (Many of us now have armored, bullet-proof locked boxes for incoming mail).

On the same day last week, when I was driving outside our farm, I saw a commercial van stopped on the side of the road on the family property, with the logo of a furniture- and carpet-cleaner company emblazoned on the side. The driver was methodically pumping out the day’s effluvia into the orchard. When I approached him, he assured me in broken English that there was “no problem — all organic.” When I insisted he stop the pumping, given that the waste water smelled of solvents, he politely replied, “Okay, already, I’m almost done.” When it looked as if things might further deteriorate, the nice-enough polluter agreed to stop.

In the interior of green California, it is considered rude or worse to ask otherwise pleasant people not to pump out their solvent water on the side of the road. Down the road, I saw the morning’s new trash littered on the roadway — open bags of diapers and junk mail. Apparently California’s new postmodern law barring incorrect plastic grocery bags (and indeed barring free paper grocery bags) has not yet cleaned up our premodern roadsides. Remember: California knows it dare not enforce laws against trash-throwing in rural California; that’s too politically incorrect and would be impossible to enforce anyway. Instead, it charges shoppers for their bags. In California, the neglect of the felony requires the rigid prosecution of the misdemeanor.

I was in my truck — and suddenly I felt blessed that I was lucky enough to have it. Last summer it was stolen from a restaurant parking lot in Fresno when my son borrowed it to go to dinner. The truck was found four days later, still operable but with the ignition console torn apart and the interior ruined, amid the stench of trash, marijuana butts, beer bottles, waste, and paper plates still full of stale rice.

During this same recent 14-day period, my wife stopped at her office condo in Fresno to print out a document. She left the garage door open to the driveway for ten minutes. Ten minutes is a lifetime in the calculus of California thievery. Her relatively new hybrid bicycle was immediately stolen by a fleet-footed thief. I noted to her that recent parolees often walk around the streets until they can afford to buy or manage to steal a car — and therefore for a time like bikes like hers. That same week, her bank notified her that her credit card was canceled — after numerous charges at fast-food franchises showed up in Texas. Cardinal rule in California: Be careful in paying for anything with a credit card, because the number is often stolen and sold off.

I thought things had been getting better until these awful two weeks. One-third of a mile down my rural street, in the last 24 months, at least the swat team crashed a drug/prostitution/fencing operation hidden in a persimmon orchard. The house across the street from that operation was later surrounded by law enforcement to root out gang members. Forest fires started by undocumented-alien pot growers were down in the nearby Sierra. I hadn’t lost copper wire from a pump in two years.

I once also thought the proof of American civilization was predicated on three assumptions: One could confidently mail a letter in a federal postal box on the street; one in extremis could find safe, excellent care in an emergency room; and one could visit a local DMV office to easily clear up a state error.

None are any longer true. I’ll never put another letter in a U.S. postal box, unless I’m in places like Carmel or Atherton that are in the Other California.

Two years ago, I was delivered by ambulance to a local emergency room after a severe bike accident; on fully waking up, I saw a uniformed police officer standing next to my bed to protect fellow ER patients from the patient in the next cubicle — a felon who had punched his fist through a car window in a failed burglary attempt and who was now being visited by his gang-member relatives.

Not long ago, the DMV did not send me the necessary license sticker. Online reservations were booked up. So I made the mistake of visiting the local regional office without an appointment, where I first got my license 47 years ago — the office then was a model of efficiency and professionalism. A half-century later, a line hundreds of feet long snaked out the door. The office is designated as a DMV center for licensing illegal aliens. The entire office, in the linguistic and operational sense, is recalibrated to assist those who are here illegally and to make it difficult if not impossible for citizens to use it as we did in the past. After 20 minutes, when the line had hardly moved, I left.

What makes the law-abiding leave California is not just the sanctimoniousness, the high taxes, or the criminality. It is always the insult added to injury. We suffer not only from the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, but also from nearly the worst schools and infrastructure. We have the costliest entitlements and the most entitled. We have the largest number of billionaires and the largest number of impoverished, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the state population.

California crime likewise reflects the California paradox of two states: a coastal elite and everyone else. California is the most contentious, overregulated, and postmodern state in the Union, and also the most feral and 19th-century.

On my rural street are two residences not far apart. In one, shacks dot the lot. There are dozens of port-a-potties, wrecked cars, and unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs — all untouched by the huge tentacles of the state’s regulatory octopus.

Nearby, another owner is being regulated to death, as he tries to rebuild a small burned house: His well, after 30 years, is suddenly discovered by the state to be in violation, under a new regulation governing the allowed distance between his well and his leach line; so he drills another costly well. Then his neighbor’s agricultural well is suddenly discovered by the state regulators to be too close as well, so he breaks up sections of his expensive new leach line. After a new septic system was built by a licensed contractor and a new well was drilled by a licensed well-driller, he has after a year — $40,000 poorer — still not been permitted to even start to rebuild his 900-square-foot house. From her nest in Rancho Mirage, a desert oasis created by costly water transfers, outgoing senator Barbara Boxer rails about water transfers.

In the former case, the owner of port-a-potties and shacks clearly cannot pay and belongs to an exempt class of the Other. The latter owner is a rare law-abiding Californian, and so he has a regulatory target on his back — because he is someone of the vanishing middle class who can and will do and pay as ordered. He is an endangered species whose revenue-raising torment is necessary to exempt others from the same ordeal.

In feral California, we suffer not just from too many and too few applications of the law, but from the unequal enforcement of it. When the state has one-fourth of its population born in another country, dozens of sanctuary cities exempt from federal law, and millions residing here illegally, it makes politicized cost-benefit choices.

Feral California out here is a live-and-let-live place, a libertarian’s dream (or nightmare). The staggering costs for its illegality are made up by the shrinking few who nod as they always have and follow the law in all its now-scary manifestations.

The rich on the coast tune out. From her nest in Rancho Mirage, a desert oasis created by costly water transfers, outgoing senator Barbara Boxer rails about water transfers. When Jerry Brown leaves his governorship, he will not live in Bakersfield but probably in hip Grass Valley. High crime, the flight of small businesses, and water shortages cannot bound the fences of Nancy Pelosi’s Palladian villa or the security barriers and walls of Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley billionaires — who press for more regulation, and for more compassion for the oppressed, but always from a distance and always from the medieval assumption that their money and privilege exempt them from the consequences of their idealism. There is no such thing as an open border for a neighbor of Mr. Zuckerberg or of Ms. Pelosi.

A final window into the California pathology: Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences.

Why Greece Matters - Victor Davis Hanson

Try listen to the attached podcast while travelling or something, its a remarkable lecture.

Just two of the big lessons I got from this are (roughly paraphrased):

  • What's the difference (between Canada and Mexico)? Canada is part of the Anglo Saxon British tradition, that inherited the European tradition, that inherited the (Greek) classical tradition.  It organises its economy, its politics, its social life in a very different way, and that translates into some very basic facts. ...  If a policeman pulls you over in Tijuana - you're in trouble, in San Diego - you're not.
  • What happened to the Romans between the crisis of 216BC and the defeats from the Huns of 450AD?  They stopped knowing what it is to be a Roman, they stopped believing that their system doesn't have to be perfect to be the best.  History is cruel and when a society stops believing in itself, it is shortly destined for oblivion.

Comment by Kinana:

Society needs a person to articulate what we are about and why.  A shared mind set and a proper understanding of how to conduct social relations is necessary.

I saw a movie about the Texas Rangers who came about in order to defend the state from marauding banditos from across the Rio Grande.  Gangsters were moving in and taking over.  The rule of law had to be enforced for society to function at even a minimal level.  The Rangers were successful at the time but the invasion continues in other ways, and it seems to be a constant struggle and requires constant vigilance. 

There is room for mercy and compassion but only at the margins and within the law.

I look forward to listening to the podcast.

Comment by Jack Rainbow:

How does this 'belief' translate for an individual? Because as an individual I don't believe anything positive at all about the society inwhich I live, it seems self-destructive, based on greed and shallow ideas about right and wrong. David Cretin, the prime minister, offers tough love to criminals but allows the banking system which is responsible for our economic and material hardship, to pay itself what was it £1.4Bn in bonuses.The same cretin has been hobnobbing with newspaper criminals who were recently discovered to have committed criminal acts of tresspass and eavesdropping. The country is, according to the Express, consumed with 'fury' at Cretin's deceit in promising an in/out EU referendum which he now refuses to honour despite the growing clamour (although, apart from the hacks who wrote this drivel, I don't know who exactly is furious, apart from me and a few others who whine about our decline on the web - my neighbours are irritable with me for mentioning uncomfortable truths). Every day tens of thousands of immigrants, completely unwanted by the indigenous population, are allowed to enter the country because our EU membership has removed our right to control our own borders. Its not just David Cretin, either, who is allowing these outrages, it is Sid and Mavis Cretin, everybody's neighbour, who neither care nor understand anything, who have become unable to absorb sufficient information to make a decision about their own community because their attention span has been reduced to that of a child so they are deaf and dumb as donkeys. There are times when I think a little public flogging and a stoning or two might be all they deserve, all they are fit for. I don't believe in Mavis or Sid, do you? Ok then, we are in terminal decline toward oblivion.

Or, is there something we can do or even hope for?

Comment by Antony:

Here is a good article by Richard Landes ; "How Western elites have strengthened the hand of islamism" ;

Think you know about the 2nd world war? Let VDH join the dots.


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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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