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If We Are to Survive We Must Learn to Ask the Right Questions
Paul Craig Roberts

Reading Ngaio Marsh’s Scales of Justice I realized that the word, “impertinence” has gone out of use.  Indeed, what was once an outrage is now so common that no one recognizes it as impertinence.  Impertinence has become accepted routine behavior and is no longer recognized when it occurs.  

The phenomena of impertinence requires a polite, somewhat formal society in which privacy, self-control, and respect for others are requirements.  Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail.  Tell that to the NSA, CIA, FBI, Google, and all corporations who spy on Internet usage.  In England prior to 1950 it was impertinence for a male to go too far in his compliments to a woman.  When I was a student at Oxford University in the 1960s, it was an impertinence to telephone a person to whom you had not been introduced.  Today we live with constant telephone intrusions from telemarketers, robots, and scam artists.  A society in which impertinence is understood no longer exists. 

Consequently, civilized life has taken on a purely technological meaning.  Insouciant Silicon Valley nerds build more police state tools for Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 and see this as civilization’s progress.

Another concept that has disappeared from use is ladies and gentlemen.  This term implies distinctions among people and cannot survive in a time when even gender differences are denied.  The ultimate impertinence would have been a male declaring himself a women and competing in women’s sports.  

We see the extermination of Western civilization in its politics. In America the fight between Democrats and Republicans is settled by which side’s lies are most convincing to the voters.  Shame has lost its meaning.  A recent Republican fundraiser asks if we “believe that Democrats in Congress are tough enough to stand up to China and Russia?”  How is this question possible with the Biden regime threatening war with China, declaring its commitment to Russia’s defeat in Ukraine, pumping into Ukraine $40 billion, heavy weapons, diplomatic support, sanctions on Russia?   The Democrats oppose parental rights and support sexual perversion and are able to make appeals to voters on this basis.  Florida Democrats are rallying against Gov. DeSantis because he supports parental rights.  Really, this is true. Democrats expect to be elected, because they are against parental rights and the 1st, 2nd, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.  Censorship of free speech (contrary to the 1st Amendment) and imposition of discriminatory quota regimes ( contrary to the 14th Amendment) are mainstays of the Democrats’ agenda.

As I have emphasized in my writings, the United States is the Constitution. In the absence of the Constitution, the United States no longer exists.  Some other entity has taken its place.  The disrespect for the Constitution is bi-partisan.  It was the George W. Bush regime that declared the power to suspend habeas corpus and hold citizens indefinitely without due process.  It was the Obama regime that declared the president’s ability to execute citizens on suspicion alone without due process.  It is the Democrats who discriminate against white males, declare white people “racists,” impose censorship, and attack the 2nd Amendment.  Law schools dissolve the Constitution into an ever-changing “living document” changed at will by judges and law professors. 

Western civilization has been replaced by a rootless tower of babel, a structure without strength.  The question Republicans and Democrats should be asking is how can a civilization as weak as the West go to war against Russia and China?


Hon. Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service, he is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles and a columnist for Investor's Business Daily. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists.

He was Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During 1981-82 he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department's Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.

In 1987 the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

Dr. Roberts' latest books are The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with IPE Fellow Lawrence Stratton, and published by Prima Publishing in May 2000, and Chile: Two Visions - The Allende-Pinochet Era, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen Araujo, and published in Spanish by Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile, in November 2000. The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A Spanish language edition was published by Oxford in 1999. The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in 1995. A paperback edition was published in 1997. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. Harvard University Press published his book, The Supply-Side Revolution, in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." Dr. Roberts is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990. He is the author of Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983. A Spanish language edition was published in 1974.

Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Harper's, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.

Dr. Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, The Dictionary of International Biography, Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century, and 1000 Leaders of World Influence. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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