Allodial Rights

I’ve made reference before to the concept of “allodial rights” or “allodial land rights,” the idea that a person’s land is his, completely and absolutely.  The land is not a grant subject to the authority of any king or magistrate, or subordinated into smaller plots under one governing authority; rather, the land belongs fully to the landowner.

When writing my piece Saturday about the Dukes and their struggle with the Town Council in Society Hill, South Carolina, I found a piece at The Center for Social Leadership on the topic of allodial rights.  The piece argues that allodial land rights—which are the norm in the United States—differ from those of the feudal system.  In a feudal system, the lord or king of a land controls all of the land, and leases or grants that land to subsidiaries with certain fees or obligations to the lord in exchange for the use of the land.

Under an allodial system, however, every landowner owns his land free and clear (or has the potential to do so), and is not subject to any higher authority in the use, maintenance, and disbursement of that land.  He is, essentially, the king of his parcel.

Of course, that’s never completely true.  The use of the land is subject to the restrictions of local ordinances.  Some towns enforce certain minimum standards of upkeep, and issue fines for particularly dilapidated and dangerous structures on private property.  Local governments assess property taxes; if those taxes go unpaid long enough, the government can and will strip you of your land.

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TBT: High-Tech Agrarianism

Lately I’ve been heavily focused on yard work, as my lawn and flower beds were resembling an abandoned lot more than a well-maintained lawn.  As such, I’ve had small-scale farming on the brain more lately, even though the only edibles I planted were one forlorn banana pepper plant and some oregano (although the celosia leaves are edible before the plants flower).

Naturally, my mind returned to this March 2020 essay, “High-Tech Agrarianism.”  It’s perhaps a testament to how much we have adjusted to The Age of The Virus that I did not go out and till my half-acre, instead letting it loose to its recent weedy state.

Reading over this essay, which I wrote in the week after South Carolina schools shut down, it’s interesting how much I’ve mellowed on The Virus.  I was skeptical of it beforehand, but when schools were shuttered for the last two months of the academic year, the sense that something big was wrong only grew.  The most remarkable aspect of The Virus is that, even with shutdowns, the economy kept going, and there’s not the same sense of depressing listlessness that reigned during the Great Recession.

Of course, the economic fallout may very well be delayed, and I’m in a much better position financially and professionally this time around than I was in 2009.  The government distributing $1200 checks and propping up businesses probably smoothed out the economic disruption a bit, too.

It’s also interesting that other than wearing masks and sanitizing ourselves and our things constantly, life seems to be marching on more normally.  The True Believers in The Virus scold large gatherings, but people want to be together.  We can limit crowds only so much—people are going to congregate.

The Age of The Virus aside, the idea of tilling suburban and small town acreage is a prudent, if difficult, job.  I still maintain it’s a better use of land than a lawn.  Instead of mowing and edging, put that effort towards watering, weeding, and fertilizing.  Crops look good—and taste good, too.

That last paragraph probably highlights my ignorance about agriculture—something I’m working on as I flirt more and more with the idea of converting my yard into arable square feet.  We’ll see where I am in another six months.

Here’s “High-Tech Agrarianism“:

The coronavirus situation—which I am convinced is both quite serious, but also inspiring some huge overreactions—has created a world that feels almost entirely different than it did even a few days ago.  This time last week, I was convinced that the whole thing was way overblown, and that life would largely continue apace, minus some school closures here and there.

By Friday evening I was growing more concerned, as everything began to get closed or cancelled.  I proctored the SAT Saturday morning and even went out of town that evening.  At that point, I thought the risk of my school closing was greater than it had been even two or three days before, but I still figured it was a relatively remote possibility.

Then Governor McMaster announced the closure of all South Carolina public schools (I teach at a private school, but we always follow gubernatorial closures)—and a bunch of other stuff shut down.  I picked up dinner at a Hardee’s in Florence, South Carolina Monday evening after a guitar lesson, and it was surreal—everything was gone from the front, and the cashier had to give me a lid and straw according to their new cleanliness guidelines.

(Let’s take a moment to thank all those service industry folks and long-distance truckers who are continuing to work and risking exposure; they are unsung heroes.  Also, spare a thought to people in those industries that are out-of-work at the moment.  They need our love and charity now more than ever.)

That’s all to say that, in a remarkably short period of time, the United States has undergone a major paradigm shift.  The world of Saturday, 14 March 2020 at 2 PM—when I emerged from the cocoon of extended time SAT testing—was a different than the world of Wednesday, 18 March 2020 at 9 PM (when I’m writing this very belated blog post).

One trend—that I think will be positive if it endures—is the implicit rejection of globalism.  People are suddenly awakening, dramatically, to the manifold downsides of open borders and excessive global economic integration.  Suddenly, localism is back in vogue.

One of my musician friends, a bit of a Sandersnista hippie-dippie type (but attractive enough to get away with it) has been posting Left-leaning memes consistently throughout this crisis.  But one meme caught my eye:

Grandma - Local Supply Chain

Here’s good ol’ Granny tending her garden.  The meme is right:  I know from family lore that my Mamaw and Papaw fed themselves, their children, and a lot of other folks in the mountains of southwestern Virginia during the Depression with chickens and crops they raised themselves.

That got me thinking:  could America see the return of widespread of homesteading, or some modern-day version of Jeffersonian agrarianism?

I was pondering this question on my way to church tonight (yes, yes, social distancing, etc., but it’s a small church, and we had a very small turnout, so I’m sure it was fine to attend), driving through the fields on the outskirts of Lamar.  I began pondering the notion of a society with our level of information technology, but that saw most Americans farming or gardening for at least a small bit of their sustenance.

Such a system would be “high-tech agrarianism”—it would combine modern technology, especially information technology like the Internet, with millions of freehold agriculturalists.  Yes, we’d still have the huge mega-farms, we’d have people working in offices, etc.  But people would be making good use of their land, too, growing crops instead of grass.

Of course, I then began to ponder if such a society could have ever developed organically.  My instinct is no—it required the massive integration of local, regional, and national economies to raise production efficiency to the point that we can have widespread, niche-y specialization in tens of thousands of fields.  Greater efficiency fed into greater technological advancement, which in turn led to greater efficiency—and on and on and on, in a revving upward cycle.

But now we’re staring down this virus, which is leading governments all over the world to close stores, cancel events, lay off workers, turn away elderly patients, and on and on.  Those long, efficient supply chains are massively disrupted.  People are hoarding toilet paper and bread in the hopes of riding out likely (and, in some places, actual) quarantines.

I’m assuming life will return to normal… eventually.  But when?  So far, many of my assumptions about the pandemic have been incorrect (it turns out this time, the media wasn’t just crying wolf—well, not entirely, anyway; it still seems that some of this panicked response is driven by ridiculous media spin and speculation).  If we continue down this road of greater and greater decentralized isolation, people are either going to riot, or figure out how to provide for themselves.

In such a world, maybe high technology and small-scale farming could work keyboard-in-glove.  I’ve long advocated for some return to a simpler, more agrarian, more localized life.

Of course, I’m romanticizing America’s Jeffersonian past.  Farming is hard—and risky (of course, that hardness made our nation great).  I certainly don’t know anything about it—another truth to the meme above.  Also, if we’d continued as a mostly farming nation, we wouldn’t have the means to fight this virus, or to figure out how to fight it.

That said, converting your half-acre lawn into a garden full of corn, squash, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, beans, berry bushes, etc., seems like a far more productive use of your little plot of land, and one that could save your life and the lives of others in a pinch.  That seems sensible.

We could also do with some can-do gumption, like Granny had.

Home Depot is operating on shortened hours, but they’re remaining open.  Maybe now is the time to buy a roto-tiller.

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High-Tech Agrarianism

The coronavirus situation—which I am convinced is both quite serious, but also inspiring some huge overreactions—has created a world that feels almost entirely different than it did even a few days ago.  This time last week, I was convinced that the whole thing was way overblown, and that life would largely continue apace, minus some school closures here and there.

By Friday evening I was growing more concerned, as everything began to get closed or cancelled.  I proctored the SAT Saturday morning and even went out of town that evening.  At that point, I thought the risk of my school closing was greater than it had been even two or three days before, but I still figured it was a relatively remote possibility.

Then Governor McMaster announced the closure of all South Carolina public schools (I teach at a private school, but we always follow gubernatorial closures)—and a bunch of other stuff shut down.  I picked up dinner at a Hardee’s in Florence, South Carolina Monday evening after a guitar lesson, and it was surreal—everything was gone from the front, and the cashier had to give me a lid and straw according to their new cleanliness guidelines.

(Let’s take a moment to thank all those service industry folks and long-distance truckers who are continuing to work and risking exposure; they are unsung heroes.  Also, spare a thought to people in those industries that are out-of-work at the moment.  They need our love and charity now more than ever.)

That’s all to say that, in a remarkably short period of time, the United States has undergone a major paradigm shift.  The world of Saturday, 14 March 2020 at 2 PM—when I emerged from the cocoon of extended time SAT testing—was a different than the world of Wednesday, 18 March 2020 at 9 PM (when I’m writing this very belated blog post).

One trend—that I think will be positive if it endures—is the implicit rejection of globalism.  People are suddenly awakening, dramatically, to the manifold downsides of open borders and excessive global economic integration.  Suddenly, localism is back in vogue.

Read More »

TBT: The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding

My high school American history classes are getting into the American Civil War—or the War of Northern Aggression, or the War for Southern Independence, or whatever you’d like to call it—this week, so we’ve been talking about beginnings a good bit.  The Civil War had deep roots that go back not just to the 1840s or 1850s, and not even to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Indeed, the fundamental division dates back to the English Civil War in the 1648, when the Puritan Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell ousted and beheaded Charles I, and established the English Republic (which—the English having little taste for radicalism or dictatorships, fortunately collapses in 1660 with the restoration of the Stuart monarchs).  Loyalists to the king and the monarchical order were the aristocratic Cavaliers.  Those same Puritans of East Anglia settled heavily in Massachusetts following the Pilgrims’ famous landing at Plymouth Rock, and the Cavaliers—in body and spirit—dominated the tidewater plantations of the South.

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America’s Roman Roots

The Portly Politico is striving towards self-sufficiency.  If you would like to support my work, consider subscribing to my SubscribeStar page.  Your subscription of $1/month or more gains you access to exclusive content every Saturday, including annual #MAGAWeek posts.  If you’ve received any value from my scribblings, I would very much appreciate your support.

Armchair historians and dime-a-dozen political pundits (like yours portly) love to compare the United States to the Roman Empire, usually during its decadent latter-day decline.  The comparison is an easy one to make; just like Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries, the United States possesses an underclass of wage slaves; an obsession with mystery religions and spiritualistic fads; an immigration crisis; a decadent, self-indulgent quasi-morality; declining birth rates; and a sense the precious liberty of the old Republic has been lost.

Yet for all those declinist comparisons—apt though they may be—Americans should extend their historical gaze back further, to the Roman Republic.  That is what Dr. Steele Brand, Assistant Professor of History at The King’s College, urges Americans to do in an op-ed entitled “Why knowing Roman history is key to preserving America’s future” (thanks to a dear former of colleague of mine—and a regular reader of this blog—for sharing this piece).

Read More »

Lazy Sunday XXVI: Small Town Life

I’ve been awash in local boosterism lately.  As a Jeffersonian at heart (especially now that I’m a freehold yeoman farmer, what with my single fig tree, twenty yards of grapevines, and drooping pecan trees), small town, rural living appeals to me at a deep level.  I am, like most Americans, infected with the bug of urgent nationalism, as it seems that every major problem is a national issue (due, in no small part, to two centuries of centralization and the breakdown of federalism), but I increasingly seek to think and act locally.  That’s where the most immediate and substantial changes to our lives occur.

The slow summer news cycle has seen me engaging in a bit more navel-gazing this summer, and thinking more about the things that matter in life:  our towns and communities; good books and music; friends and family.  Cultural issues are, potentially, political; as the late Andrew Breitbart often said, politics is downstream from culture.  Books, music, and movies matter, and the local level is the best place to see culture in action.

All of that armchair philosophizing aside, this week’s Lazy Sunday looks back at some posts about small town life, both in Lamar and Aiken.  Enjoy!

  • Hump Day Hoax” – This post is one of this blog’s most popular, in part because I shared the link to it in the comments section on a major right-wing news website.  It’s a somewhat unfortunate example of small town politicking gone wrong.  The mayor of my little adopted hometown, Lamar, is a very sweet lady, and she seems genuinely interested in improving our town, but she scuttled those endearing efforts when she ran straight to Newsweek claiming that her vehicle had been vandalized as part of a hate crime.  It turns out the mysterious, sticky yellow substance on her car… was pollen.Initially, I thought she was opportunistically trying to gain some grace on the cheap, as the Jussie Smollett hoax was then-current in the news.  After talking it over with some folks, I’m thinking now it’s more of an example of a deep paranoia among some black Americans who are, essentially, brainwashed from birth into believing they are the constant targets of hate crimes from vindictive whites.  Coupled with—sadly—a certain degree of stupidity—how can you have lived in the South for decades and not know what pollen looks like?!—it makes for an embarrassing mix.
  • Egg Scramble Scrambled” – Every April, Lamar hosts a big festival, the Egg Scramble, that attracts around 6000 people to town.  Keep in mind, Lamar’s population sits just south of 1000, so that many people at once creates a huge influx of cash into the local economy.  It’s a big deal.  I was out of town for the Scramble this year, but I was looking up news about it when I discovered it had been ended early due to a fight.It was only later that I learned there was gang activity (my initial thought in the post was that some hooligans just got out of hand, and the police shut the down the event to avoid any future roughhousing), with shots fired.  It doesn’t appear anyone was hurt, but, boy, did this story get buried fast.  It was only from talking to neighbors that I got a more complete picture.

    I am, perhaps, not acquitting my adopted home town well.  It really is a lovely—and very cheap—place to live.  I suppose I’ll have to write a more favorable account of Lamar life soon to make up for these two negative portrayals.

  • 250th Day Update” – This post is a bit of a stretch for this week’s theme, but it includes a hodge-podge of updates that, in one way or another, connect to small town life:  high school football games, local festivals, relaxing holidays, and the like.  Those little things are what make life colorful, and enjoyable—and they’re the things that truly matter.  Read the update for more.
  • Aiken Amblings” – A late-night SubscribeStar Saturday post, this subscriber-exclusive post details my visit to Aiken’s Makin’, Aiken’s long-running crafts festival.  It’s probably the best example of local boosterism I’ve ever experienced personally, and I am surely a booster for it.  It also didn’t devolve into gangland violence, so that’s a plus.  For just $1, you can read the full account—and all of the other great pieces on my SubscribeStar page!

That’s it for this Lazy Sunday.  I’m hoping to check out Yemassee‘s Shrimp Festival later this month (September 19-21), schedule-permitting.  As the days shorten and the weather slowly cools, it’s time to get out to some local festivals in some small, rural towns.

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Friday Night Recommendation: The Abbeville Institute

The Internet is a vast place, with a niche for everything.  It’s interesting to consider how much import users put into their own little online worlds—they know everything about what makes their little corner of the web tick, or click—but, if you’re outside of that niche, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist.  It’s like planets filled with intelligent life that cannot perceive or know one another, except when one spunky interstellar craft stumbles upon a distant world.

Regardless, this phenomenon certainly exists online, which explains, in part, why some Americans know everything wicked the progressive Left is unleashing upon our world, while others are blissfully unaware of their impending dooms.  One website that is doing yeomen’s work on our side is the Abbeville Institute.

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Lazy Sunday XVII: #MAGAWeek2019

This past week was #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post was a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed.  But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more.  That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”

But enough sales pitches.  Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:

  • Fast Food” – After a long day on the road last Sunday, I decided to do something fun and lighthearted to kick off #MAGAWeek2019.  President Trump famously loves fast food, even feeding it to the Clemsux National Championship football team in vast quantities.  I, too, appreciate good fast food, and marvel at its ability to provide a filling, calorie-rich meal at an affordable price.  You can read more of my high cholesterol musings on the topic at my SubscribeStar page.
  • Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated.  Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
  • John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile.  Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
  • President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech.  Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.”  It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday XVI: #MAGAWeek2018

This week marks the beginning of #MAGAWeek2019, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting Monday, July 1 and running through Friday, July 5, this year’s #MAGAWeek2019 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

To celebrate #MAGAWeek2019, this edition of Lazy Sunday features the four essays from #MAGAWeek2018.  They pull from my years of teaching and reading American history, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

1.) “George Washington” – The Father of Our Country!  Social justice bleeding hearts and historical revisionists have striven for years to cast Washington and the other Founders as greedy slave owners who wrote a wicked, capitalistic Constitution to preserve their own power.  What a cartoonishly stupid view of American history!  George Washington was an able leader, and demonstrated a trait that the modern Left would do well to learn:  mercy.

2.) “John Quincy Adams” – John Quincy Adams was a terrible president, and suffered from the aloof elitism of our modern coastal elites (he was even staged against the Trump of his time, the populist hero Andrew Jackson).  That said, he was the best Secretary of State this nation ever had (so don’t be too hasty in drawing comparisons between him and Secretary Hillary Clinton).  JQA crafted America’s expansion across the continent with adept skill.  Read all about it in my lengthy biography.

3.) “Thomas Jefferson & The Declaration of Independence” – Jefferson is, other Washington, Madison, Hamilton, and a handful of other Founders, our most important Founding Father.  He wrote the Declaration of Independence, with its lofty ideals of God-given rights and liberty.  He was a Renaissance Man, talented in many areas, and while he harbored a naive support for the French Revolution (and revolutions generally), his philosophic mind bequeathed to the world a document that is a thunderclap for liberty here and abroad.

4.) “Limited Government” – This post largely focused on the Madisonian system of the Constitution.  I fear that we no longer truly live under the constitutional order that Madison and the fifty-four other Framers created, as our insidious Deep State and bureaucratic elite resist the results of elections and despise the very citizens they are charged to serve.  Let us hope the spirit of 1787 will move Americans again to insist upon the restoration of limited government.

Enjoy this look back at our nation’s history, and stay tuned for more #MAGAWeek entries this week!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: