Thinking about Harney County

A few people have asked me what I think of the Occupiers of Harney County.  In his work The Collapse of Complex Societies, archeologist Joseph Tainter identifies decreasing benefits from complexity as the great common thread among civilizational collapses.  Simply put, families, towns and entire provinces begin to get very little out of the central government; only unjustified and unfair controls and burdens.  The Harney County Committee of Safety recently issued a public statement demonstrating that Harney County, Oregon stands as a flashpoint in our own civilizational collapse—but it is a collapse that, if the Roman precedent holds, could take decades or even centuries to play out.


What is tragic about the Occupiers is that unlike the Romans, we can still vote, and we can still replace the ignorant, spineless and corrupt politicians that we have sent to control the federal government.  Thoreau said there are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.  The root of nearly all our evils is a federal government that has blown through its Constitutional constraints, although the cancer it began has long since metastasized to state governments as well. 


              The inexorable expansion of federal power can only be controlled by changes in federal law.  The federal government came to hold the public lands with the initial intention of conveying them to the People, whether by grant, sale, homestead or patent.  The laws changed, and they can change again.  The only thing that will change those laws is electing people with a different point of view, and a much, much more aggressive attitude toward the need for change. The only thing that will change anything for the better is replacing public officials.   Websites, petitions, demonstrations and Facebook postings are nothing compared to throwing the bums out.


              The Occupiers identify “branches of evil”, and hack at them, but imagine if the same effort had been focused upon defeating Sen. Harry Reid, and replacing him with Sharron Angle.  Imagine if the Committee of Safety focused on taking over the Republican Party apparatus, county by county, throughout Oregon.  The path to power lies in painstaking work to gather Precinct Committee Persons and turn the Republican Party toward a single-minded focus on promoting the interests of its members by electing uncompromising, principled officials.  Principled federal representatives could have solved Harney County’s problems long ago by refusing to appropriate one thin dime for the salaries of the federal officials impoverishing the County.


              We should not be concerned that the Occupiers suffer vicious attacks from the know-nothings of Portland.  In a particularly unhinged attempt to tie them to the Left’s Emmanuel Goldstein (the Koch Brothers), brain-dead reactionary liberal Steve Duin accuses them bulldozing tribal archeological sites.  This is Newspeak for the fact that Native American tribes now define “Traditional Cultural Properties” to include miles of land they do not own or control.  To the Left anyone operating a bulldozer there—like the Occupiers—is engaged in desecration of holy ground.  The Left stands for freedom from all religion except their own:  a polytheistic worship of native species, Tribes and the institutions of government. 


              The Oregonian also reports that some townfolk want the Occupiers gone.  All local schools were closed for a week because Occupiers seized a building nowhere near a school?  Isn’t the manipulation transparent?  It’s not just the Senator Harry Reids that need to be shown the door—the rot extends to the very officials living in the County.   Do the majority of Harney County really feel they must cower behind closed doors because a few armed men seized a remote wildlife station?  I doubt it, though if so, we are doomed.  So many elections could be so easily won, if the People of Harney County would have the courage to seize the goal of the Occupiers and work toward it, whether or not they agree with their methods. 


              As I write this piece, rumors fly that the federal governments appear to be moving toward heeding the Governor’s call to attack the Occupiers.  Perhaps they will time an attack to cover more adverse publicity concerning the Left’s corrupt standardbearer Hillary—we might even hope for an indictment, as the facts get worse and worse.


              Whatever happens to the Occupiers, I honor their motivations, if not their tactics.  They know that federal land policy is based on lies, in service of a “rural cleansing” that leaves no room for anyone in the rural West other than hordes of officials to eat out its substance, and their  carpetbagging followers like the Center for Biological Diversity.


              The Sagebrush Rebellion needs to grow up and take power the good old-fashioned way, by stuffing rural ballot boxes full of votes for uncompromising candidates who will shut Washington, D.C.—and the State capitols—down until they stop abusing the rural West.  Real change will come from painstaking work required to build power with enduring institutions, rather than just attract media or law enforcement attention.  I stand in solidarity with the people of Harney County who want to restore local control of local land, and I wish them the best.


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  • James Buchal
    commented 2016-01-26 11:38:01 -0800
    In response to Mr. Lynch, I would note that what rural communities are generally seeking is the return of National Forest and BLM lands, not national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges or wilderness areas. However, there are also actual and threatened abuses of the monument and wilderness area designations. Basically, the federal government already controls too much of the West, and no significant environmental destruction need result from returns to local control.