9 Mar


doug smith

FSP regular contributor, author and historian, Doug Smith.


March, 9, 2015

In Barack Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build it” speech, he said that we no longer have to worry about roving bands of marauders.   Webster defines a marauder as one who “roves and wanders in search of plunder”.

We have had marauders throughout much of history. In the dark ages of Europe, ship loads of marauders came southwest from the cold, challenging lands of Scandinavia to go “a Viking” for plunder in Britain and France. It was easier, and more rewarding for them to raid the goods of farmers and fishermen, merchants and tradesmen, and petty lords of England than to do the hard, never ending work of producing their own goods. Just wait for them to build up their goods, raid villages, kill any who resist, and take as much as you can pile into your ships. Then sail back home to wait till time for the next raid.


Someone in England devised a plan to simply meet the Vikings at the shore, and offer them gold to go away without murdering anybody. This appeasement was known as the Dane geld, or Danish Gold. Unfortunately, what they soon realized was that “Once you pay the Dane geld, you’ll never be rid of the Dane.

Now, one enterprising Viking, William II, also known as the Bastard, and the Conqueror, had a better idea. In 1066, he defeated English forces from his lands in Normandy, and established Norman rule of England. William’s line was notable in history: Henry II and 2 of his sons, Richard the Lionhearted, and after his death the younger brother John, villain of the Robin Hood tales. It was from John the “Nobles” (a group of successful marauders) exacted the Magna Carta. Winston Churchill wrote of John “his vices may have contributed more to civilization than the virtues of his predecessors.” This enterprising band of marauders gave their family a new name, based on a common plant used as a broom, symbolizing how they swept any resistance away before their conquests. The plant was the Genets, or Planta Genets, and the family? The Plantagenet.


Thus this family, founded by Vikings, notable for producing nothing except the death of their opponents, (at which they were very good: William, Henry, and Richard were all excellent soldiers and generals) became the first royal family of Britain. They amassed wealth in gold and arms, but most particularly, in land. They ate food which they had never grown, but coerced from the peasant class at the point of a sword. The swords of their knights assured that the lions share would go to the king ( note the family coat of arms: 3 Lions) , and a smaller, but significant share would go to the lesser nobility and knights, who were the armed enforcers of the taxes to the king, dukes, earls, barons and knights. They granted, Noblesse Oblige, a meager living to the peasants, who were bound to the land, as long as they worked, produced, and handed over most of what they produced to the tax collectors. Marauding was very good business.

(The current Queen of England is the wealthiest welfare recipient in the world. She has a net worth of 10 Billion, including palaces and stately homes, and still receives an income from the taxpayers of $50 million annually. )

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The primary product of the class of nobility (marauders who have granted themselves titles) is government, whose primary function is to extract taxes from the people who actually produce the goods.

Now, an interesting phenomenon occurred around the end of the 19th century. The bulk of the income of the English nobility was derived from the agricultural products of the lands which they owned, but permitted farmers to work. An economic depression caused prices to plummet, and the income for many of the nobles was cut in half. Having little business understanding (they were nobles: they hired managers to deal with the vulgar task of managing their estates) and living with huge staffs in their Stately Old Homes, many aristocrats were suddenly teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. They may have the title of Earl or Marquees, inherited from generations of marauders, but no income, and no standing army to send out to raid France. But there was a source of wealth, impressed with the sound of the British titles of nobility, and quite willing to make a trade. The wealthy daughters of Americans who had become wealthy in the Industrial Revolution, but were cut out of the “ old money society” in America, could marry a poor English lord and become a title Lady overnight, thus solving his insolvency and getting her shot at nobility. So the daughters of successful makers were reluctantly accepted into English society on the basis of their money which propped up many failing estates. Most notable among these was the mother of future PM Winston Churchill. It is estimated that these “Dollar Princesses” brought with them in the first decade of the 20th century, some 1 Billion £.


So, the descendants of the marauders were, after all, dependent on the descendants of the makers. They must either marry them, or force them to pay with the threat of violence. Since they are not enough to force them alone, they must employ lesser marauders, who will take up arms and enforce the collections for them, in return for their own lesser share of the plunder. Marauders never make things, or grow things, except for laws and rules that make them seem entitled to the produce of someone else’s labor. And, like their Viking ancestors, marauders are very, very good at coercion, force, and justification of taking what they want, simply because they want it.

America is unique in its founding on a premise that the farmer, in his fields, or the worker in his blacksmith shop will be a free and armed citizen, not a helpless, dependent serf. For much of history, the history of the marauder, the serf was strictly forbidden to hold arms, or speak up about how he was ruled. His betters would protect him from other marauders, and rule with wisdom. They would have titles, letters, and degrees to demonstrate how superior they were. Any resistance, whether with arms or with words, was suppressed violently as their Viking ancestors had taught them through the ages.

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In the American experiment, each man could protest, and take up arms and fight, against the lesser marauders of the “Nobility”. That was, and is, new in history, but marauders? They are as old as history itself.

So, Barack Obama was not comforting anyone who is a maker with his assurance that we need not worry about marauders, because whether he realizes it or not, he and his ilk are the marauders.


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