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Downsizing federal lands

The federal government owns 85% of Nevada, 57% of Utah, 53% of Oregon, 45% of California, 42% of Wyoming, and 37% of Colorado. That's just for starters. Federal lands add up to 30% of the territory of the United States. The Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service combined manage 446 million acres, or 70% of the total. Both of these departments should be gradually eliminated. Their lands should be divided and disbursed to state governments, county governments, and thousands of private homesteaders with generous conditions.

This sounds radical, but it's the most conservative thing in the world. Massive federal land ownership in the western states is what's radical. The feds own 65% of the land west of Denver and 2% of the land east of Denver. There is no excuse for it. State and local governments are perfectly capable of managing public lands, when public ownership is necessary, and that determination should be left to the people who live there. But the more important issue is that, due to the federal land monopoly, many otherwise productive and intelligent citizens are denied the opportunity to possess and develop land of their own. Due to this highly unnatural and, yes, unjust arrangement we westerners are treated as aliens in our own country.

But there are signs of progress. Faux "environmentalists" bent on creating a planet unfit for human habitation are engaged in their usual temper tantrums because (among other things) an extremely modest bill in Congress proposes to allow the western states to obtain ownership of 5% of federal lands within their borders. They have yet to explain why a state like Vermont, with 83% of its forested land in private hands, ranks as the "greenest state" in America; or why Connecticut, with federal land ownership at 0.4%, ranks as the 6th "greenest state".

I trust that proponents of political subsidiarity, economic liberty, constitutionalism, and Catholic social doctrine will find themselves allied on this point, no?

Comments (27)

I agree with you, Jeff. It wouldn't matter so much that the federal government owns this or that land if all the land were being used in valuable ways. Part of the problem in some of these cases is that they are "neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring." My impression is that many ranchers, for example, in Western states have been allowed for a long time to use federal lands for their animals. Then along come the environmentalists and talk as though this long-standing arrangement is some sort of welfare to the ranchers.

Moreover, we have seen in past presidencies that land can be suddenly magically declared protected wilderness for purely political reasons and thus snatched from the states that might otherwise develop it. (I seem to recall that President Clinton was particularly adept at this sort of thing.)

I would note here, as an economic side point, that if we take the position that the federal government should be liquidating any significant amount of its land assets, this should influence our willingness to take federal debt to be somehow "offset" by federal assets. The truth is that there should be many fewer federal assets. After all, nobody actually thinks the federal government is going to give federal lands to China in payment of its debts! Nor even develop those lands productively to pay its debts. The whole idea that the federal government is in some sense a real fiscal entity (a productive entity?) like a giant corporation, with possibly balancing debts and assets is, in my opinion, the wrong model. I bring this point up not to hijack the thread but merely to connect the proposal in this post with something Zippy brought up a couple of times when he was still with us--namely, the idea that the federal government _is_ such an entity, if only we could get hold of a reliable balance sheet.

"Moreover, we have seen in past presidencies that land can be suddenly magically declared protected wilderness for purely political reasons and thus snatched from the states that might otherwise develop it. (I seem to recall that President Clinton was particularly adept at this sort of thing.)"

Lydia, would you care top back up that statement and list those parcels? If you can't do it off the top of your head you don't know enough about the topic to be commenting like you did. Have you ever read the Wilderness Act or followed the years of process involved in getting an area designated as wilderness?.

Some years back i was listening to a conservative Christian radio program and a guest came on who headed one of those "wise use" outfits that plagued the land awhile back. He started carrying on about all the land the feds had closed off to the public. I called in and asked him where all that land was. Could he tell use the locations? There was silence, at least thirty seconds of dead, absolutely dead air until the host started sputtering.

Something was then said about the Escalante being closed off. An unfortunate remark for him as I had just passed through there going to Aspen. "I was just there" said i, "and all you got to do is turn right just outside of town and you can go till the road runs out." Again dead air.

Only the Congress can create wilderness areas and it can easily take years. The president can designate parts of federal land as a national monument, something presidents have been doing in one form or another since at least Benjamin Harrison (politics is always involved - the Angeles National Forest was set aside as watershed due to pressure from farmers in the San Gabriel Valley - it was still a good thing to do).

Among other things Clinton set aside some redwood groves in Sequoia National Forest and the Carrizo Plain in western Kern County (BLM land). Both are national treasures.

Jeff, the green ratings you mention factor in a number of item such as miles driven which will put any western state behind the eight ball and has nothing to do with public lands (you might ponder that Vermont has a socialist Senator).

Out west a goodly amount of the BLM land is leased to ranchers who own the associated ranch (usually the area that has reliable water (go to google maps - if incurious, try Callao, Utah - and randomly peruse the west, those circles are private land where irrigation is feasible). There isn't enough water to homestead most of it.

Public land is one of the best features of the United States. We are lucky to have it. Try to enjoy it - most places all you got to do is turn off the highway.

Public land is one of the best features of the United States. We are lucky to have it. Try to enjoy it - most places all you got to do is turn off the highway.

Except in California where they are about to say no to that anymore.

I don't have any idea how much of the land "owned" by the feds is land that has some productive use - even "productive" for enough wildlife to actually be able to count, just as a sort of minimal use. But having driven through 22 states during May and June, I do know that there are vast stretches that are under federal control that don't have anything actually going on there.

Some of the areas out there are tribal lands. Are they part of the 65%, Jeff? If so, they should be counted rather as non-federal land.

Other than that and military reservations, and a dozen truly important parks of national stature, that land should have become state land when the territories became states. There simply isn't a national reason to have held onto the land (than sheer greed, of course). The states can maintain their own parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and so on.

"and a dozen truly important parks of national stature,"

Which wouldn't exist if your prescription had been followed.

"even "productive" for enough wildlife to actually be able to count,"

Something wild lives on all that land. Did you stop from time to time or just stay on the highway and keep driving? The water is mostly taken.

"Except in California where they are about to say no to that anymore."

Huh? Please elaborate, I live in California and if I walk out my back door and head north by north east I could walk on public land to Canada.

"...and thousands of private homesteaders with generous conditions."

Like we did with the short grass prairie on hundred years ago?

al, Jeff didn't prescribe getting rid of public land. He just said that the public entity that owns it should be the state or county, on the principle that that government can manage land best that is closer to that land. What makes the federal government better able to administer to natural parks and monuments? I can't think of anything. The federal government is more than capable of selling out its federal lands for cash... or federal waters, as it is about to do with its upcoming auctioning of the waters in the Gulf for offshore oil platforms. Should that be up to the federal government, or up to the people of Louisiana or Florida?

Lydia, would you care top back up that statement and list those parcels? If you can't do it off the top of your head you don't know enough about the topic to be commenting like you did. Have you ever read the Wilderness Act or followed the years of process involved in getting an area designated as wilderness?.

Well Al, declaring already owned Federal land a National Monument under the Antiquities Act pretty much puts the kabosh on any land use. When the Feds own 53% of Utah and then declare that they are no longer going to allow people to use 1.9 million acres (goodbye clean burning coal) of that because it was declared a NM, then that is a land grab. Previously, mineral rights, logging, etc. were allowed under Federal law. The NM designation wipes that out. You're trying to play lawyer and parse Lydia's words but her point is valid. The Feds grabbed land that, while owned by the Feds, was previously available for a variety of uses.

Sure, that road may still be there, but it is never going to change.

Clinton declared over 5 million acres as new NMs.

and a dozen truly important parks of national stature
Which wouldn't exist if your prescription had been followed.

You know, I actually noticed that when I wrote it. Since the feds formed the first national park out of land that was still territories, (Yellowstone was made a park before Montana and Wyoming were states) the states seem to have been able to form parks just fine. I am willing to at least consider the prospect of maybe a few parks never having been formed if in the bargain we got a federal government that actually respected states' rights properly. Might be that other goods of national statute might be present that are not now, or are too weak to be of much value.

Something wild lives on all that land. Did you stop from time to time or just stay on the highway and keep driving? The water is mostly taken.

Oh, yes, we stopped plenty. We were camping part of the time. But when we were travelling through Montana and Wyoming and South Dakota etc they were experiencing truly staggering floods all over the place, so we didn't get to see the more usual dry, waterless conditions.

Huh? Please elaborate, I live in California and if I walk out my back door and head north by north east I could walk on public land to Canada.

Sorry, I wasn't intending to be cryptic or suggest public land is going anywhere or anything, I was just referring to Jeff's previous thread in which he brought up the Travel Management Plan, which will prevent people from "turning off the highway" in most places. The "not anymore" was about turning off the roads.

Yes, I was thinking especially of Clinton's executive order declaring land in Utah a national monument and thus blocking its use for previously intended coal development. Utah was not happy at the time.

Public land is one of the best features of the United States. We are lucky to have it. Try to enjoy it - most places all you got to do is turn off the highway.

Yes, but how much of it should be federal land? When a significant percentage of the total land of a state is not accessible to development or use, it has serious issues for housing prices, commerce, etc. You cannot dance around this issue by claiming that this can be offset by some clever little policy--land is a cost that is virtually immune to natural downward market pressures. Artificially limiting access to these lands without a concrete good, such as making a distinction between a real public space like a large national park and land that just happens to be held by the federal government, is going to have a real cost on the lives of the majority of Americans.

The states can maintain their own parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and so on.

And therein is the rub. It's one thing for the government to set aside a piece of land for a distinct purpose. It's quite another to simply hold it like a feudal lord.

"Yes, but how much of it should be federal land? When a significant percentage of the total land of a state is not accessible to development or use,"

Once one goes a few miles inland from the Pacific there one consideration and only one that determines things - WATER - and the water has been mostly allotted for decades if not well over a century. The water table in some areas, Tucson for example, has dropped over 200 feet in areas. Las Vegas is buying up water rights in central and northern Nevada (which has the potential to dry up small communities like Callao in western Utah).

In a part of the world where the calculation is acres/cow not cows /acre intensive development isn't going to happen. This is a purely ideological matter not an economic one. Folks who believe otherwise are fooling themselves which is understandable as the west is littered with the shards of the failed schemes of dreamers and fools.

You want political? Utah is a perfect example of the political driving things. If Utah's boundaries had any relation to culture, religion and community, it would be blob shaped entity called Deseret and would be a Mexican state, The Mormons fled the United States only to have it follow them. Instead of a rectangle it would be a circular blob that included northern Arizona, southern Idaho, southern California, and eastern and southern Nevada.

The Constitution required a dubious compromise in order to get off the ground and as a result we are saddled with the albatross of "sovereign" states. The world can be a scary place. I get that. It's human nature for too many to hunker down and pretend that all their problems come from far away and all would be well if only we could make things smaller. Then we could get things under our control.

This afflicts the right and the left as well as the apolitical (urban gangbangers) but mostly the right. You see this progression from states' rights folks to the county movement to the Sovereign Man thing.

"Utah was not happy at the time."

Utah is some lines on a map. Some residents of Utah were unhappy and some were happy. Same goes for the rest of the country.

I spent a lot of time looking into the coal issue and came away amazed at the amount of coal in the United States. The Escalante area is remote and quite striking; much of it is National Park quality. For the present we can get all the coal we need from areas like Wyoming and Montana where mining is more efficient and transportation isn't an issue (the Utah mine would have required tunneling in which recovery is limited compared to open pit mining).

"And therein is the rub. It's one thing for the government to set aside a piece of land for a distinct purpose. It's quite another to simply hold it like a feudal lord."

Except it's open to all. In this case "government-as-other" is wholly a figment of a certain mindset.

Al, your grudging relation to the very existence of states as recognized by the U.S. Constitution is noted and logged. Not that we didn't already know.

Al, water rights in the west have been political since people were there. That I grant you. Under what basis do you argue (well, you haven't argued anything yet, just stated theses about water) that this makes the resolution of all that land, water, and other resources a federal matter? Even if one resource is better managed publicly than privately, that doesn't mean the public level needs to be federal. And even if one resource like water needs federal involvement (which is not, automatically, federal control from top to bottom), that doesn't mean that the land is ALSO in need of federal involvement, as if every aspect of the property falls under federal jurisdiction merely because the water rights are being raised to higher oversight.

The Constitution required a dubious compromise in order to get off the ground and as a result we are saddled with the albatross of "sovereign" states.

I take it, then, that you simply repudiate subsidiarity altogether? See, some of us think that the US entity became a reality as an ongoing concern, and coalesced with enough stability to become great in the avenues of nations, BECAUSE OF that subsidiarity that was entrenched in the state sovereignty of the Constitution. Without that, the whole enterprise would have either gone the way of the Greek leagues, or would have become a tyrannical dictatorship and then overthrown within a few decades.

See, some of us think that the US entity became a reality as an ongoing concern, and coalesced with enough stability to become great in the avenues of nations, BECAUSE OF that subsidiarity that was entrenched in the state sovereignty of the Constitution.

And without that, the colonies simply wouldn't have ratified the Constitution, and the United States of America would not have come into existence under its Constitution providing for the existence of a federal government. Full stop. I think that's amply borne out by the history of the federalist/anti-federalist controversy. The federalists _had_ to convince the people of the colonies that the states would be real entities with real powers even after the formation of the union.

Some of the areas out there are tribal lands. Are they part of the 65%, Jeff? If so, they should be counted rather as non-federal land.

They are part of the 65% of federal land west of Denver, but they are not a part of the 446 million acres managed by the USFS and BLM, which amounts to 70% of all federal lands. I agree that tribal lands, military facilities, and national parks might reasonably remain under federal control.

"Under what basis do you argue (well, you haven't argued anything yet, just stated theses about water) that this makes the resolution of all that land, water, and other resources a federal matter?"

Well, to start with we have the Constitution and Federal control of "navigable waters" which "Congress, in light of its extensive Commerce Clause authority over this Nation's waters, which does not depend on a stream's "navigability," (KAISER AETNA V. UNITED STATES) puts about all the flowing water (as well as associated wet lands) in the west under Federal control.

I agree with a vigorous application of the Commerce Clause. Its presence is one of the things that gives the Constitution the flexibility that has allowed us to survive and prosper. Had the rigid and limited view that you and Lydia so desire prevailed we should have ended long ago. Your mileage varies, of course, and should your views continue to prevail we shall have a real time experiment.

The Colorado (which also means the Green and San Juan) is allotted by compact and Supreme Court decisions. Other rivers are also allotted as is all of the ground water. Ranches usually come with water rights (which is why they were originally settled and claimed - public land is what was left over) which is what makes them valuable. Western water was created to pay for the education of the children of lawyers.

"And without that, the colonies simply wouldn't have ratified the Constitution, and the United States of America would not have come into existence under its Constitution providing for the existence of a federal government."

Which, I believe, is what I wrote. It would be useful for those holding idealized views on state sovereignty to read the opinions in Chisholm v. Georgia,

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0002_0419_ZX3.html

What was necessary in order to get the project going had little or nothing to do with its persistence. At every inflection point it has been the actions of the national government that made the difference. This was even the case under the Articles of Confederation, the Ordinance of 1787 being a perfect example.

From Hamilton's economic plan through the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican War, the Civil War, through the Great Depression it has been the national government not the states that made things work. The project that tied the country together, the transcontinental railroad was a national project heavily subsidized by the feds.

Likewise our most conspicuous and shameful failure as a nation was the failure to use national power after the Civil War to protect the rights of the newly freed slaves. We ended Reconstruction -a national project - and let the states take over - how did that work out?

Tony, the problem with your view of subsidiarity is that you take a sort of common sense observation and create an ideology - you would endlessly parse every project in an attempt to drive control ever downwards.

Like the Rachel Maddow promo says, some projects are just, by their very nature, national. You should realize that a view derived from 19th century speculation that sounds good but, like its brothers from laissez faire capitalism to communism, will have serious problems in its application.

Education is a perfect example. Local control made sense when travel from one end of a state to another took days or weeks but we are getting out classed by other nations with national systems. We could once survive important decisions being made by local school boards but not so much now. (One of my favorite stories about the "genius" of local school boards concerns a certain small town in Southern California. A friend was on the local board and he mentioned funding problems. i wondered how that could be as most of the city's area consisted of industry and office towers. I assumed a huge tax base for the size of the population. He shook his head and reminded me that back in the day the area in question had been agricultural and the farmers were a couple of Japanese families. Well they couldn't have that so the good citizens on the school board drew the farms out of the school district. Well along came WWII - and Donald Douglas, et al - and some of that farm land became part of the arsenal of democracy and then we had the cold war and the space race. Would it have been worse to have had those lines drawn by some bureaucrat in Sacramento or D.C. looking solely at demographics rather then by local racists?)

The original thirteen colonies did have a certain organic nature but the states added since didn't possess that. In fact the states between California and Kansas were largely drawn to disrupt the one coherent community, the Mormons. California itself went from being Mexico to the California Republic to statehood in a couple of years and with a few exceptions was controlled by folks from all over who had been here a short time.

Tony, the problem with your view of subsidiarity is that you take a sort of common sense observation and create an ideology - you would endlessly parse every project in an attempt to drive control ever downwards.

I see. I have never witnessed someone who directly denigrates the notion of subsidiarity itself, it is a novel phenomenon. Usually I just see liberals disagree about where the line ought to be drawn in practice, and typically they draw the line several light years to the left of where I would draw it.

You should realize that a view derived from 19th century speculation that sounds good but, like its brothers from laissez faire capitalism to communism, will have serious problems in its application.

Al, you are mistaken if you think subsidiarity is simply a 19th century speculation. Its roots are much older, finding expression in pre-Christian times, and finding development in Aquinas's theory of law and human participation in Divine law by his reason: a multi-level order in which lower levels are held together coherently by hither levels, each fulfilling separate functions and duties. Without this ordering principle, there is nothing to prevent the national government from taking over every aspect of society at every level down to families. And this is exactly what we see happening: continual (unidirectional) encroachment, government intrusion into even familial duties as if the government could fulfill even the most basic obligations of all, to love one's parents and children.

I do not say that subsidiarity is the only principle regulating organization, or even the most important one. But it is definitely one necessary principle of politics, without which men cannot be fully flourishing humans (since another way of expressing the core meaning is "responsible freedom", and human flourishing requires humans freely fulfill their responsibilities). If you cannot see that, then there is no point debating politics with you, the discussion is a dead-end from the start.

Education is a perfect example. Local control made sense...

First, I find this story a little questionable, since I've never heard of a school district in any state getting to draw their own lines. Maybe your friend meant that the local school board petitioned the state to redraw the lines. Of course that means the Feds need to draw every school district in your view. But who is to say they wouldn't draw the lines in some other unreasonable manner?

Second, we never passed a new levy in my entire 12 years at the rural school district I attended. The district was also the largest one area wise in the state. We had some students who would ride the bus over an 1 1/2 hours one way. This whole mess came about because of the state. Just before I started, the state ruled that one existing school district needed to merge. Now that district was composed of what we would call hicks. The were down in the hilly part of the state and let's just say education wasn't a high priority. (Yes Al, everyone involved here is white.) So, the state decided to merge them with our district. That would have been fine except that they never vote "Yes" on a levy. I suppose the Feds would have done better?

Our district made do with what we had and provided a solid education mainly because the older teachers there ignored the latest education fads and stuck with what worked. I survived going to elementary schools that were old high schools that were 70+ years old. High school was fun in the winter because you wore a coat between classes since you were either walking outside to another building or the drafts in the hallway had the temperature in the low-50's.

Finally, most of the "solutions" for fixing education will just make them worse. We already spend large amounts on education and it's not working now. More money isn't going to fix the problem. The vaunted Asian performance is great in some respects but mind dulling in others with its insistence on extreme memorization (some Asians literally memorize their possible SAT essays). The problem with education is multifold and the Feds aren't the solution but have been more of the problem.

Al, nice to see you are a One Worlder authoritarian.

"Likewise our most conspicuous and shameful failure as a nation was the failure to use national power after the Civil War to protect the rights of the newly freed slaves. We ended Reconstruction -a national project - and let the states take over - how did that work out?"

Yeah, and when Reconstruction was going so well!

Chris, the district was formed in California almost a century ago when anti-Asian sentiment drove all sort of things. Seems like you had to deal with the Tea Party morons before the rest of us did.

"Usually I just see liberals disagree about where the line ought to be drawn in practice, and typically they draw the line several light years to the left of where I would draw it."

"I do not say that subsidiarity is the only principle regulating organization, or even the most important one."

Tony, I have yet to see an useful analysis on anything using the principles of subsidiarity. It just isn't a controlling, first order consideration. As you seem to admit, the lines are drawn based on other factors.

It's interesting how everyone seems to like national parks but don't seem to get that absent federally controlled public land we wouldn't have anything like the present system.

The other thing that folks don't seem to get is that the productive land is mostly in private hands. The railroads received millions of acres back in the 19th century. A lot of it was sold off but the railroads still held lots of it in places like the Mojave Desert where the feds bought it back recently for the Mojave Preserve.

"Yeah, and when Reconstruction was going so well!"

Grant managed to defeat the Klan. As folks around here are aware, I would have handled things somewhat differently but federal troops were able to protect the Freedmen and ensure their rights. Withdrawing them was a cynical political deal; they should have remained in the south until the last trace of rebellion and treason had been wrung out.

"they should have remained in the south until the last trace of rebellion and treason had been wrung out."

Like the Soviets in Poland? Heh-heh. They'd still be there today...

Come to think of it, that's the way of the left in a nutshell: "Take over and occupy until [name your inequality-du-jour, real or perceived] is eradicated, by force if necessary."

The tyranny of liberalism, indeed.

"Come to think of it, that's the way of the left in a nutshell: "Take over and occupy until [name your inequality-du-jour, real or perceived] is eradicated, by force if necessary."

The Marmot's reference to the Soviets is interesting given just who was operating slave labor camps prior to the Civil War and just who engaged in a century of state sponsored and state sanctioned terror.

Once States and local governments *realize* the meaning and usefulness of the infamous Kelo decision with respect to the federal government being a "landowner" who ties up vast amounts of land from being economically developed, I think we can be assured that one or the other problem (*) will be resolved.

(*) either the States will use the Kelo decision to justify appropriation-for-development lands currently tied up by the federal government, or the federal government will void the Kelo decision so as to put a stop to that.

"The Marmot's reference to the Soviets is interesting given just who was operating slave labor camps prior to the Civil War and just who engaged in a century of state sponsored and state sanctioned terror."

Please. Comparing the Southrons to the Soviets? That's almost as bad as Schlesinger's comparing them to Nazis. Awful as slavery was, I don't recall the South attempting to impose it on the North by force. Get a grip, good fellow.

Yo Marmot, I believe you were the one who first referenced European totalitarians. All I am doing is putting things in perspective.

"I don't recall the South attempting to impose it on the North by force."

Just what do you thing the Fugitive Slave Act was? Are you aware of the behavior of Confederate troops in Pennsylvania? They rounded up all the Negros they could find and sent them south into slavery. That act alone justifies my preferred "cure".

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/02/why-do-so-few-blacks-study-the-civil-war/8831/

Oh, and so all would have been well as long as slavery was "voluntary"?
Corey Robbins has an interesting take on the parallels between those distant cousins of the right - American slaveholders and European fascism.

"In the American context, there is a precedent for the conservative rush to empire, which you suggest is mostly a creation of the Cold War. And that is the slaveholders. But the slaveholders developed a fascinating vision of an imperial political economy, which would be centered around the Mississippi and spread out from there to the Caribbean Basin and beyond. It would be centered on slave labor, and it was thought to be a different kind of imperialism."

"And though I’ve never seen anyone discuss this, it strikes me that there are fascinating parallels to be drawn between their vision of a slave empire, based on land, and the Nazis’ vision of an empire in the East, which was also to be based on land. People often forget that Hitler had a major critique of European imperialism in that it was extraterritorial and commercial in its orientation, whereas he wanted an empire that was contiguous territorially and based on slave labor and agriculture."

http://coreyrobin.com/2011/11/03/from-the-american-slaveholders-to-the-nazis/

"Southrons"

Confederate Scientologists?

"I believe you were the one who first referenced European totalitarians. All I am doing is putting things in perspective."

Wrong perspective. It isn't conservatives who desire to "improve" humanity by force.

"Just what do you thing the Fugitive Slave Act was?"

Well, it can be looked at from a number of angles (constitutionally, morally, economically, etc.) but one thing it was not was an attempt to turn Northern free states into slave states.

"That act alone justifies my preferred 'cure'."

Really? And what about the Northern soldiers who terrorized and mistreated blacks during Sherman's and Sheridan's campaigns? Physician, heal thyself.

"Oh, and so all would have been well as long as slavery was 'voluntary'?"

Can voluntary slavery still be called slavery? Anyways, you didn't get that from me.

The parallels between the slaveholders and the Fascists are superficial. Some critics during the 30s brought the same charge against the Agrarians. Thing is, lots of people in the US and England were somewhat smitten with Mussolini, until it became clear exactly what he and his movement were (remember, this was long before "instant" news) -- then the distancing began rather rapidly.

By the way, that exchange between Robin and Larison is quite good -- I suggest you read it in its entirety. Robin exhibits the same misinterpretations of conservatism that you do (birds of a feather?) and Larison, who's a favorite of mine, seeks to straighten him out.

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