The View From 1776
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Who Are We? - Additional Comments
The United States was founded upon the English and Protestant (WASP) culture brought to North America in the early 1600s. That culture was the unwritten constitution of the United States until the mid-20th century.
The term WASP, as a symbol for the original unwritten constitution, has now become one of derision or aspersion. Understanding why is the central theme of THE VIEW FROM 1776.
?Who Are We?? The Challenges to America?s National Identity,? by Samuel P. Huntington was recommended reading in the most recent posting. It presents a very useful history of the development of America’s consciousness of itself as a single nation. It reminds us that originally colonies, then states, were the primary identity of most people, that until after the Civil War, people spoke of “these” United States, rather than “the” United States.
Professor Huntington, with startling political incorrectness, states the simple fact that everything about the nation’s understanding of itself arose from its unified heritage as an English, Protestant, i.e., WASP, society. Stating it boldly is a social gaffe today. But anyone reading the literature of the past would find it the common understanding at the time, from the 1780s observations of French immigrant Hector St. John de Crevecoeur to the 1831 report by Alexis de Tocqueville in “Democracy in America.”
Among the most important elements of our unwritten constitution were: a government of laws, not men, represented by universal application of English common law; insistence upon a government of limited powers, subordinated to the legislature; and natural law, which viewed human nature and political societies as subject to God-given qualities and structures, all of which implied that the greatest happiness of a political society is found in individualistic pursuit of moral conduct as revealed in Protestant Christianity. A further, and essential, implication of natural law is that every individual has an inalienable right to pursue life, liberty, and the private property essential to maintenance of his life and liberty.
While individual colonies excluded non-Protestants such as Quakers and Catholics in early decades, rapid growth of immigration and expansion of commerce and settlement of western territories soon made Jews, Quakers, and Catholics accepted members of the community, PROVIDED that they adhered to the other basic principles of the unwritten constitution.
Why has that understanding changed? And why has the term WASP become a pejorative or a subject of ridicule?
Professor Huntington recounts the changes as if they “just happened” in a sort of Darwinian evolutionary fashion, that is, as the result of purely random and materialistic factors. The perspective underlying everything in THE VIEW FROM 1776 is somewhat different.
Our unwritten constitution, from the 1600s until the 20th century, saw humans as part of the cosmological structure created by God. Humans’ duty is to try to understand the Will of God, which dictates individual morality, and a very definite belief that some things are right and some things are sinful. The Old Testament prophets calling the Israelites back to the law of God seemed to be living members of the early American community. Hebrew first names were very common; towns frequently had Biblical names. People sought Salvation by looking upward to God for guidance.
What Professor Huntington does not emphasize among the factors he cites for disintegration of our national identity is the advent of the secular religion of socialism. Equally with Islam, socialism is completely opposed to our original unwritten constitution. And American liberals, both Republicans and Democrats, are members of the American congregation of the Socialist International.
Islam commands its believers to regard all non-Moslems as enemies who must be subjected to the sword and converted, killed, or sold into slavery. This is the active practice today throughout Africa and the Middle East, where Arab Muslims still run a thriving business in slavery and butcher Christians in the Sudan and elsewhere. In a Muslim society, there is no differentiation between political and religious law. Both are governed by the Koran, which is what gives the Mullahs their extraordinary powers. And, as the Koran is regarded as the literal and absolute word of god, Muslim society must forever remain mired in the conditions and the outlook of 622 AD.
Socialism is based on a simple-minded theory that humans are inherently good and benevolent in societies that have no private property rights. Give people equal claim on all of society’s goods and services, regardless of whether they have contributed equally to the production of those goods and services, and they will be sweet and gentle. Permit some people to have more than others simply because they contributed more than others to the production of those goods and services, and you force people to become aggressive and nasty.
Hence, in the religious perspective of liberal-socialism, crime and wars are caused by people like President Bush for the benefit of Halliburton Company. Criminals are the victims of a society permitting private property ownership, and the great and heroic exemplars of social justice, like Senator Ted Kennedy, must use the power of government to tax “the rich” and redistribute their ill-got gains to “the people.”
One comforting aspect of the religion of liberal-socialism is that it makes no demands upon individual conduct. It matters not that Senator Kennedy was thrown out of Harvard for cheating on exams, that he two-timed his wife with a young lady whom he let drown in an attempt to protect his political reputation, that he drove his first wife into depression and drugs, that he was catting about with his young nephew in recent years in an incident in which young ladies alleged attempted rape. Nor does it matter that Senator Kerry, the putative nominee of the Democratic party, has never worked a day in his life, living the plutocratic life of a rich “enemy of society” by marrying very rich women. Nor does it matter that Senator Kerry built his political career on perjury under oath before a Congressional committee, when he told blatant lies about the conduct of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in Vietnam.
The disintegration of our national identity and worship of “diversity,” under liberal-socialism’s multi-cultural education and speech-and-behavior codes, along with Federal programs to support special-interest groups and to give aliens legal rights not available to native-born citizens, is not a matter than can be worked out by political compromise. This is clear, for example, from Democrats’ blocking all judicial and departmental nominees who do not meet their tests of fidelity to socialism.
We are confronting an unavoidable civil war. The only question is whether it will be a bloody, armed conflict, or whether our original unwritten constitution can be reasserted in our educational system and in Congress.
Historical experience shows that societies riven by internal dissension between diametrically opposed camps either settle the issue by civil war, or they fall victim to a despot who will settle the dispute by force. That is what happened in Germany of the 1930s, as the socialist Weimar Republic sank into a cesspool of hedonism that shocked even the degenerates of Paris. Hitler’s National Socialism stepped into the breech, promising to restore traditional German social values and, in standard socialist fashion, to harness the landed aristocracy and big business for the benefit of the Deutsche Volk.
Lawrence Auster (View From The Right) states it with stark accuracy:
“The confrontation with Islam shows the absolute limits of liberalism.? Liberalism says we’re all alike and it seeks to reconstruct society on that basis.? But Islam shows definitively that we’re not all alike.? So liberalism is now being challenged as it never has before.? As I’ve been saying since 9/11, we’re in the apocalypse of liberalism:? either liberalism dies, and the West has a chance to live, or liberalism does not die, and the West dies too, and then liberalism will die with it.”
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Who Are We?
Please read “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity,” by Samuel P. Huntington.
In scholarly, non-polemic fashion, Professor Huntington describes the disintegration facing the United States. With today’s combination of large-scale and continuing immigration and anti-American doctrine in education, there is no longer a central core of beliefs that unites the formerly United States.
Huntington is Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard and chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. How he has survived without being denied tenure or being ousted from the university is a mystery. Professors who hold the views expressed in this book usually are hauled before a faculty disciplinary committee version of Moscow’s show trials of the 1930s, facing charges by anonymous feminists, Hispanics, or some other special-interest group of creating “a threatening atmosphere” that interferes with teaching the catechism of the socialist religion.
As articles in this blog continually emphasize, liberals since the end of the Civil War have worked ceaselessly to destroy Christianity (which is Western civilization itself) and to impose the atheistic and materialistic religion of socialism. As Professor Huntington notes, President Clinton made it official policy when he stated that “America needed a third ‘great revolution’ (in addition to the American Revolution and the civil rights revolution) to ‘prove that we literally can live without a dominant European culture.’ Attacks on that culture undermined the Creed that it produced, and were reflected in the various movements promoting group rights and against individual rights.”
No political association, even as small and remote as a central African tribe, has ever existed without a concept of its own traditions and religion, which define who is a member of the society and who is an outsider. And no society ever has endured very long when that sense of identity has been lost. 20th century examples are the USSR and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both were political entities that spanned hundreds of different language, racial, ethnic, and religious groups, united only by centralized administrations in Moscow and Vienna. Such groups can be held together only by force of arms, or in Moscow’s case, by totalitarian terrorism.
Liberal-socialists can despise Christianity and ridicule the concept of morality, what they call value judgments. But they cannot truthfully deny that the colonies of British North American were able to unite in 1776 to fight for political independence only by virtue of their common heritage of Christian morality and the belief in God-given natural law as a higher law to which political rulers are subject. To become an atheistic, liberal-socialist society is to repudiate every aspect of the Constitution and to substitute for it the arbitrary diktats of socialist intellectuals.
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Monday, May 24, 2004
The Decline of Western Civilization: Explanatory Notes - Part Three
This is Part Three of the summarized narrative to supplement the list of dates and events in the time-line posted below on May 15, 2004.? It brings us up to conditions in 20th century America.
The full time-line is also accessible via the sidebar to the right of your screen.
To understand the views that led American colonists in 1776 to fight for independence and to write the Constitution in 1787 you must have some familiarity with the historical and philosophical background of the Western world.
Part One of the explanatory notes covered Plato and Aristotle, noting that both held that morality, for individuals and for the political state, is the highest and best expression of human nature. Aristotle explains this as part of the natural law, the intelligent design of the world, to which everything in existence conforms.
Part Two covered the end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Christianity was presented as the basis of Western civilization and the sole unifying force across tribal and national borders. Greek philosophy was incorporated into Christianity in the 13th century with St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa Theologica,” which separated governance into the spiritual realm, under the church, and the secular realm, under the political ruler. Both were part of the God-given natural law, so that separation of church and state did not mean at all that religion had to be rejected by the political state. This is the understanding on which the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are inextricably based. Thus the idea that the First Amendment requires renunciation of all expressions of religion in government is arrant nonsense.
Clearly this understanding is no longer accepted by roughly half the American population today. How did we come to this disconnect with our Constitutional traditions?
Mid-1700s - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Condorcet, Diderot, Voltaire and other intellectuals in France begin a 40-year period of propaganda, asserting that social justice requires the political state to impose equal distribution of property and political rights. The Romantic period in literature, art, and music is born, bringing the fantasy of the Noble Savage who, in the State of Nature, is perfect, benevolent, and lacks nothing in the way of food, clothing, and shelter. People, before the invention of private property, said Rousseau, exhibited no aggression, crime, nor war. Political societies were created by the powerful to protect their property and to exploit “the people.” This is the source of American liberals’ doctrine that criminals are the victims of a society that protects private property, as well as the idiocy that Al Queda was compelled to attack us on 9/11 by unequal property distribution around the world.
Late-1700s - These French Revolutionary philosophers openly propagandize, in books, pamphlets, and newspapers, for overthrow of the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy. The French Revolution of July 14, 1789, is the result. As in Great Society riots in Newark, Detroit, and Los Angeles, 1789 Parisian mobs roam the streets hanging anyone they please from lamp posts and ransacking businesses at will. The Revolution destroys the monarchy and the Church, and exiles the hereditary aristocracy. Rather than good government, the French socialist Revolution introduces political instability continuing to this day in France. France has had more than a dozen different constitutions and repeated restorations of monarchy, empires, and socialist republics, ending with today’s republic established by General De Gaulle’s military coup in 1958.
Far from being the model of social harmony and economic efficiency predicted by French philosophers’ doctrine of socialism, France has become a feckless and declining society, sinking under the weight of its unsupportable welfare-state obligations. Farmers and labor unions today routinely blockade highways and shut down Paris and other principal cities with general strikes if their demands for higher farm prices and more benefits and less work are rebuffed.
The French Revolution becomes the first instance in history of a political upheaval created via manipulation of public opinion (recall Plato?s dim view of uninformed public opinion in a democracy as the source of political legitimacy; see Part One of the notes below). This model is well understood today by American liberals in education and the media. Teach-ins, sit-ins, street demonstrations, and a litany of anti-American courses occupy about as much attention on college campuses as learning useful subject matter. So-called black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton use the same play-book.
Beginning in 1793, the Reign of Terror slaughters more than 70,000 Frenchmen on the guillotine in the world’s first instance of terrorism as official state policy. The Committee of Public Safety declares this barbarism is necessary to eliminate “enemies of the revolution.” Lenin and Stalin later acknowledge the French as their models. Note that the Reign of Terror becomes possible only after Catholic Church property is confiscated and priests and nuns are imprisoned or silenced as paid employees of the state. Without morality and religion, expressed as part of natural law, the intellectuals are unrestrained in their power to impose any degree of brutality to perfect humanity, a pattern repeated in Russia, National Socialist Germany, Fascist Italy, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, etc.
1800-1830s - Order is restored when Napoleon seizes power and directs French fratricidal energies outward for the imperial conquest of Europe. Despotic rule is imposed over most of Continental Europe in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood. Smoldering resentment in the German Confederation paves the way for Bismarck’s creation, 45 years later, of the German Empire, setting the conditions for two world wars. For good measure, Napoleon invades and despoils Egypt, rekindling Islamic resentment against the West and priming the Arab street for Osama Bin Ladin.
French philosophers Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte systematize the early ideas of social justice under the religion of socialism. Saint-Simon, in his last work in 1825, calls it “The New Christianity.” Comte creates The Religion of Humanity, which teaches that God and spiritual religion are superstition and ignorance. The true object of worship, says Comte, is mankind itself.
Saint-Simon and Comte conceptualize a theory of history that sees the 19th century as the new scientific age, following the first and second ages of ignorance, then rational religion and philosophy. This is what Comte calls The Immutable Law of History, which he modestly claims to have discovered. It predetermines the course of history, which needless to say, is toward social justice under socialism.
Mankind has now presumably moved beyond religion, morality, and God, and is prepared to assume the role of God to make its own destiny. Intellectuals, naturally, are the leaders who will take us to earthly perfection of human nature and human society under socialism. Only they understand the Law of History and can instruct the rest of us. All that exists, according to liberal-socialists, is the product of human rationality, therefore intellectuals can remake human nature and human society in any fashion that meets their ideas about social justice. They have only to manipulate uninformed public opinion via the media and education.
Socialism is to be the only religion. Intellectuals will determine the policies of the state, which will be carried out by social engineers and bureaucrats, so that individual greed will be eliminated. Everyone must have equal access to all of society’s goods and services. To that end, property will be “socialized,” or administered for the collective benefit of society, rather than for individual benefit. This does not require state ownership of all property. Bureaucratic regulation of the kind imposed here by the New Deal is sufficient.
Because socialist intellectuals are so much better informed than individual businessmen, economic activity will be organized and carried out more efficiently and the total abundance of goods and services will increase dramatically. To aid this efficiency, intellectuals will determine which goods and services are proper for the people and eliminate production of things they deem undesirable. Hence President Clinton’s statement that he decided against tax reduction, because people would spend the money on the wrong things, for example SUVs and single-family homes in the suburbs that would counter the liberal-socialist doctrine of environmentalism.
Most important of all, intellectuals are to control education so that nothing but the catechism of social justice may be taught. Schools are to become the agencies for converting callow youth to the religion of socialism. Lenin put it bluntly in his 1920s address to the Commissars of Education: we must teach students to hate their parents if the parents aren’t communists. Anti-Americanism, multi-cultural education, and speech-and-behavior codes, anyone?
Intellectuals must also control public opinion, via the media. Remember that the French Revolution was made by manipulating public opinion. In Revolutionary France, that required government licensing and censorship. Such measures are unnecessary in the United States today, because roughly 70 percent of reporters and news casters are self-described liberals, converted to the religion of socialism in college.
Intellectuals teach the view that public opinion is the only source of political legitimacy; moral codes and religion are to play no role, because value judgments are unscientific. Hence the mindless mobs in the world’s streets demanding that American national defense be handed over to that latrine of world opinion, the UN. To keep young people milling in the streets we have Al Franken’s Air America and Al Gore’s new cable network aimed at America’s youth.
1830s - 1930s - Saint-Simonian and Comtean socialist doctrine spreads to Germany in the early decades of the 1800s, where it becomes orthodoxy in German universities. German traditions of statist primacy over individual rights, the belief that individuals have meaning only within the traditions and aims of the political state, are reinforced by socialism and the Comtean view of stages of historical development in three ages. Hegel takes this up in his philosophy of history as the spiritual unfolding of human freedom, reaching its apogee under German Protestantism. Both Hegel and Marx take their dialectic analysis of “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis” from Saint-Simon and Comte.
Marx, unlike Hegel, rejects the unfolding of history as a spiritual phenomenon. In the mid-1800s he says that history and human nature are purely materialistic phenomena. That is, humans have no inherent nature, but are the product of the external, material conditions in which they live and work. Hence Lenin’s expectation of creating The New Soviet Man, a selfless creature who would follow the bidding of state planners for the greater good of humanity.
At the same time that Marx and Engels are publishing “The Communist Manifesto,” Charles Darwin is working on his thesis, published eleven years later as “On the Origin of Species,” the doctrine that rejects all concepts of order in the universe. Life, in Darwin’s materialistic and secular thesis, just “happened” and various life forms evolved entirely by random chance, influenced only by external, material conditions. Marxians welcome Darwin enthusiastically, citing him as further proof of materialistic socialism.
In the same year that Darwin publishes his attack on “the damnable doctrine of christianity,” John Stuart Mill publishes “On Liberty,” a perennial favorite among American liberal-socialists. Mill, an ardent admirer of socialism, touts the idea of unrestrained expression of religious, moral, and political views as a defense for his fellow socialists. His formulation amounts to present-day American liberal-socialist assertions that freedom is the right to destroy individual freedom with collectivized and repressive government control of individual actions, provided it’s for the purpose of instituting socialism.
After the Civil War, German universities and German science become the best in the world, attracting American scholars who aspire to professorships in the U.S. There they absorb the ?scientific? theories of socialism and belief that individualism and private property are selfish greed. They return to America and transform American universities into secular institutions modeled on the German universities.
Since that time, most university graduates in the United States have been converted to or strongly influenced by the supposedly scientific doctrine of socialism, often without being aware of the true nature of what they are taught. However abominable his ideas, John Dewey was extremely penetrating in identifying education as the way to transform our society into a socialist despotism. Liberals and their often witless fellow-travelers continue marching down the trail blazed by Dewey. With so many young people now attending college, the conversion rate to socialism is exponential. In another generation, if Al Queda doesn?t conquer us first, the U.S. will have become an entirely materialistic, hedonistic cesspool of socialism.
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Saturday, May 22, 2004
Terrorism as Entertainment
This article was written on September 14, 2001, three days after the Al Queda destruction of the World Trade Towers and the attack on the Pentagon. At that time, I doubted that the Baby Boomer public would support a war on terrorism for more than a few months. While their support has lasted longer than expected, we have now reached the point at which the public wants to surrender to Al Queda and get back to more pleasantly entertaining pursuits.
Once again, this article is timely. The intensely emotional division in public opinion reflects the fundamental animosity between the natural-law concepts of human nature that prevailed in 1776 and the liberal-socialist, intellectual view that government regulators can redefine human nature and impose harmony on the world if we will just follow their orders. In the liberal view opposing the war on terror, social justice (defined as the right to wallow in hedonistic pleasures at the expense of “rich” tax-payers) outweighs old-fashioned ideas of doing the right thing.
Terrorist bombings of Manhattan?s World Trade Center and the Pentagon three days ago on September 11, 2001, prompt some thoughts and questions about the United States?s political and social culture.
The tone for these reflections is set by the incredibly ironic timing of a New York Times feature article that appeared the very day of these terrorist acts. That article is headlined, ?Life With the Weathermen: No Regrets for a Love of Explosives,? and its opening sentence reads, ?“I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. “I feel we didn’t do enough.” The Times adds, ?Between 1970 and 1974 the Weathermen took responsibility for 12 bombings?? and also helped spring Timothy Leary (sentenced on marijuana charges) from jail.?
Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn were the two most notorious spokesmen for the Weatherman group of 1960s student radicals. The Times article says that, ?Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at,” is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.? Bernardine Dohrn is director of the Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern University.
With ?distinguished? professors like Ayers and Dohrn common on university campuses over the past three decades, one need not wonder what college students are being taught. William F. Buckley?s “God and Man at Yale” documented the nearly 100% advocacy, among the faculty and in the standard text books, of secular socialism and the anti-religious amorality of ?social justice? that prevailed as early as 1951. Since that time colleges and universities, with their politically-correct special studies courses and speech-and-behavior codes, have openly and effectively aimed to radicalize their students.
Holding beliefs indistinguishable from the declarations of Osama bin Ladin, how can Baby Boomers simultaneously vow to wage war on terrorism? After all, they were adamantly opposed to fighting for their country during the Vietnam war.
One may ask where is the moral fibre and stamina that will be required to sustain the necessary effort and to endure the likely military and civilian casualties that will result over the next months and years? Will the outpouring of patriotism seen everywhere on TV be more than the fad-of-the-moment, forgotten in a few weeks?
How did we come to this?
Baby Boomer radicals were just recycling the anarchism of the 1890s to 1920s that had preached the virtues of dynamite, killing and wounding hundreds of innocent people across the nation in the name of ?social justice.? The same sort of hare-brained pseudo-intellectualism recently has produced riots and looting from Seattle to Europe by students protesting the World Trade Organization.
In addition to dynamite, anarchists and socialists historically have favored any behavior, such as sexual promiscuity and indulgence in drugs, that challenged accepted standards of social and political conduct.
Thus, after the riots, burnings, lootings, and bombings of that period, the Boomer ethos metamorphasized from terrorist action into self-absorbed sensual gratification. Dropping out and doing drugs became a replacement for dynamite in the war to destroy old ideas of civic virtue.
Among what the New York Times calls mainstream thinkers the only ?virtue? became toleration, that is, the absence of all standards ? anything goes, and the more entertainingly outrageous the better. This was facilitated by a so-called educational system that produced students ignorant of history and devoid of understanding about the ethos underlying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
In our era of instant, mass communications, the media have concluded, not without reason, that a public absorbed in hedonistic sensual gratification wants only to be entertained by ?experiences.? Hence novelty has become the only currency of value in contemporary culture. In pursuit of novelty, movies and TV must descend ever deeper into the cesspool of vulgarity. No social, moral, or religious standard must be left undefiled. The New York Times, in another September, 2001, feature article, noted that TV and movie producers are planning in the new fall run of shows to move the boundaries a notch farther out and introduce foul and offensive language hitherto prohibited by network and movie executives.
The scramble for ratings and box-office revenue focuses on vulgarity, from reality TV to South Park?s in-your-face use of the four-letter word for excrement 168 times in a show whose biggest audience is teenagers. Producers declare this a benefit to society because it attacks the taboos of puritanical morals. Breaking down all standards, coarsening the public taste to the point of insensitivity is called free speech.
Given this pervasive ethos, the current public outrage about the World Trade Center bombings is all too likely to become just another fleeting item in the parade of novelty. Like Roman citizens watching gladiators fight to the death and lions devour Christians, the public will soon become bored, particularly since the last two generations have been exposed to movie special effects that show scenes of Armageddon-like destruction in far more interesting and graphic detail than the videos of the World Trade Towers collapsing. The War on Terrorism will be far less titillating than the latest episodes of Sex in the City.
Most Americans, reared on video games, will expect that dealing with terrorists should be little more trying than pushing the right buttons to win a quick session of Mortal Kombat. When it becomes evident that real blood, sweat, and tears are required, they are likely just to switch channels.
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Thursday, May 20, 2004
The Decline of Western Civilization: Explanatory Notes - Part Two
This is Part Two of the summarized narrative to supplement the list of dates and events in the time-line posted below on May 15, 2004.? The time-line is also accessible via the sidebar to the right of your screen.
To understand the views that led American colonists in 1776 to fight for independence and to write the Constitution in 1787 you must have some familiarity with the historical and philosophical background of the Western world.
END OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, BEGINNING OF THE MIDDLE AGES ? In 324 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine adopts Christianity and founds the city of Constantinople (later known as Byzantium, today as Istanbul, the capital of Turkey). Constantinople becomes the capital of the Eastern portion of the Empire. From the beginning, Constantine and other Eastern Roman Emperors become involved in establishing religious, as well as political, doctrine. Constantine calls the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to condemn the Arian heresy.
In 330 AD, Constantine makes Constantinople the capital of the entire Empire. In 395 AD the Empire is split permanently into Eastern and Western divisions, with the City of Rome remaining the capital of the Western Empire.
The City of Rome, which had dominated the Italian peninsula and the Mediterranean for more than a thousand years, seemed to be The Eternal City. But the Western Roman Empire collapses in the 5th century AD. The Eastern Empire based in Constantinople survives another thousand years, until it is overrun by Islamic hordes in 1453. The Roman Catholic Church, which is already running schools, hospitals, and poor relief for the Western Empire, carries on, preserving libraries, language, Roman law, and other aspects of Roman civilization. St. Augustine’s “City of God” sets forth Christianity’s role in preserving civilization as a matter of spirituality, which is not dependent upon the survival of the Roman Empire.
Almost from the beginning of the split of the Empire into Eastern and Western parts, the Eastern Emperors try to assert military and doctrinal authority over the Bishop of Rome. This is met with stout resistance in a struggle that lasts for centuries. To defend their doctrinal positions, the bishops of Rome, the Popes, proclaim that the Christianized Germanic tribal rulers in northern and western Europe have a duty to defend the Pope and the Catholic Church against the Eastern Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire arises on Christmas day 800 AD when Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne Emperor of the West and the Roman Catholic Church’s official defender against the Eastern Empire.
When the Western Roman Empire collapses in 476 AD, it seems to most people that civilization has ended. To preserve Roman civilization, Germanic tribes north of Italy petition the Pope to send missionaries to convert their peoples to Christianity. They want to preserve the benefits of the Roman Empire, the free flow of trade on good roads protected by garrisons of the Legion, the building skills that had brought comfortable cities with running water, law courts in which impartial justice, under written law, was dispensed, etc.
Christianity spreads slowly across Europe, imparting the Christian and Roman concepts of law, justice, and morality. Christianity becomes the sole unifying force throughout Europe, creating what we now call Western civilization.
Most of European law derives from the Roman Codex, which was incorporated into the Catholic canon law. Popes establish the doctrine from St. Matthew that St. Peter (hence his successors as Pope) is the earthly representative of God and Jesus, with the keys to heaven and the authority on earth to speak for God. Early Popes claim exclusive right to pass on the legitimacy of all religious doctrine and political rule.
Centuries of struggle follow in the West, not about religious doctrine, but about subordination of the political powers of rulers to the Pope. Local rulers demand the right to appoint bishops who will support their rule. The famous “Murder in the Cathedral” of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury Cathedral by knights of Henry II (who incidentally started codification of English common law) is over this issue. Becket had been Henry’s chief political lieutenant as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury at Henry’s urging. But Becket then “got religion” and determined to support Roman church directives against Henry’s political wishes. In the 16th century, Henry VIII resolves the issue, once and for all, breaking with Rome and establishing the Church of England with himself as head of the church (which is what is meant by the First Amendment’s “establishment of religion”).
CONCEPT OF NATURAL LAW - In the 13th century a compromise is effected after Aristotle’s works become known in Western Europe. Aristotle believed strongly in morality, connected with religious piety, but saw political rule as, by nature, separate from theological matters of religious faith. St. Thomas Aquinas writes his celebrated “Summa Theologica,” which incorporates Aristotle’s “Politics” and “Ethics” into Christian doctrine. In this interpretation, the Pope and the church have exclusive jurisdiction over making the good person, and monarchs have jurisdiction over making the good citizen.
Both religious and temporal rule, however, are unified as part of the natural law, which is God-made. This was the meaning of separation of church and state, as late as 1787 when the Constitution was written, along with John Locke’s view of toleration as the right of individuals to believe and to profess their consciences in religious matters. This concept of natural law is what Jefferson references in the Declaration of Independence (”...the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”).
English knights, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215, deny the king’s right to confiscate personal property and to levy taxes and fines without the consent of Parliament. Of Magna Carta’s 63 articles, 47 deal with property rights, two with the rights of bishops, and the remainder with legal safeguards, such as habeas corpus, trial by jury, etc., to protect property-holders imprisoned by the king. Thus ALL individual rights asserted in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights originate in the struggle for protection of property rights.
English, hence American, political liberties all derive from the continual tug-of-war between the English aristocracy and the king, with Parliament ultimately emerging the victor, because the knights and the London merchants controlled the purse strings. In contrast, under the socialism imposed here by the 1930s New Deal, most taxing authority is removed from cities and states and centralized in Washington, DC. People no longer have the leverage of withholding their property to assert individual political liberties. We are reduced to Social Security numbers grouped into social, economic, and ethnic classes.
In France, matters were quite different. The French kings gradually asserted total dominance over the various dukedoms of France, collectivizing all power in Paris by the time of Louis XIV in the late 1600s. Hereditary aristocrats left their provincial domains and lived full time in Paris, twittering about in the foppery of court life and intrigue. By the time of Louis XIV, the Bourbon kings had converted the landed aristocracy into harmless lap-dogs, most of whom never visited their domains and knew nothing about the hardships besetting the peasants whom they were obliged by feudal tradition to protect against the king. To consolidate control over the aristocracy and the Catholic Church, the Bourbons exempt them from most taxes, offsetting the revenue loss with higher taxes on the peasants. Alexis de Tocqueville’s description of the total and minute control of all local activity by the Council of Intendants in Paris sounds very much like Stalin’s rule in the USSR. Thus, even before the Revolution, France was conditioned to accept the despotic, collectivized rule of socialism.
As with Washington, DC, today, all the tax money and administrative power are sucked from the hinterlands into Paris. Everybody floods into Paris, which becomes the largest city in Europe, the Los Angeles of its day. With this come thousands of poorly educated, unemployable people who become the revolutionary street mobs of 1789.
Growing corruption in the Roman Catholic Church leads Martin Luther in 1517 to post his questions on the Wittenberg church door, starting the Reformation. A century of bloody warfare ensues and modern national states come into existence as political rulers asserted the right to determine the religion of their subjects. Northern Europe became Protestant. England was out of that loop, but Henry VIII’s marriage problems led him also to break away from Rome in the mid-16th century. Destructive warfare over religion becames a backdrop for French intellectuals’ assertion that the Catholic Church is evil and that religion in general is destructive ignorance. This view is much in evidence in Voltaire’s “Candide.”
Then, of vital importance in Western history, the 17th century becomes the greatest period in history of advances in basic scientific knowledge and applied technology in transportation and manufacturing. Galileo conceives the idea that all physical phenomena can be described in mathematical equations and derives most of the basic mathematical tools of physics. Descartes creates analytic geometry. And, towering above all, Issac Newton discovers the mathematics of optics, the laws of gravity and motion, and creates the mathematics to describe and predict planetary movements with precise accuracy. In passing, he also creates the math of calculus.
The world suddenly appears to be a giant machine, like a fine watch, that God created, then left to run on its own. In the exhilaration of understanding, intellectuals begin to believe that God is no longer necessary. They presume that they know how to run the machine and can do a better job of it than God. This sets the stage for the French Revolutionary Philosophers and excretion of the vile religion of socialism.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Gasoline Prices and Short-sighted Liberals
Liberals focus on instant gratification, whatever the longer-term costs.
A Reuters news article dated May 18, 2004, begins:
“PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - With the retail price of gasoline topping $2 a gallon for the first time, Democratic White House hopeful John Kerry on Tuesday chided President Bush for failing to offer hard-hit consumers any help.
The Massachusetts senator’s Democratic colleagues plan to pressure the Bush administration to lower gas costs by demanding that up to 60 million barrels of crude oil be released from the nation’s emergency stockpile, but Kerry said last week he would not tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
In remarks prepared for delivery to a roundtable discussion on economic opportunity in Portland, Kerry promised to provide relief by suspending filling the SPR, working more effectively with oil-producing nations and enacting simpler and cleaner national fuel strategies. “
Several things, none of them favorable, can be said about these proposals.
First, adjusted for inflation, gasoline was about $3 a gallon during the liberal-socialist administration of President Jimmy Carter, i.e., roughly 50 percent higher than today’s price.
Second, ANYTHING that ANY President does to control gasoline prices will be harmful to the economy. Doing anything to fix prices at a lower level would just limit or reduce the available supply of gasoline.
What our forebears understood in 1776 was that the public welfare is maximized when individuals are as free as possible to pursue their own goals, without arbitrary government interference. Maximizing the public welfare means living in a moral society where people try to deal fairly with each other and work hard to produce useful goods and services, saving as much as possible to provide for the future of their families. Before the imposition of the socialist welfare-state by the New Deal, more people worked for a living and there were more goods and services available at lower prices. Socialism has ballooned the portion of the work force employed by the government, which produces very little that could be called useful goods and services.
Liberals turn their backs on our founding traditions and look to socialist France for guidance. They implicitly assume that the economy is like a chess board on which people and resources are passive pieces that they can move around any way they choose. Under the sort of socialist state-planning advocated by Senator Kerry, Big Brother will take care of you, but you have to do what Big Brother says, or else.
We got into a similar situation in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the inflationary effects of President Johnson’s Great Society explosion of entitlement benefits led to hyper-inflation. President Nixon nearly wrecked the economy with price controls. When price controls could no longer be maintained, prices shot up even faster.
That’s what happened when President Carter tried the same approach. The result was hours-long waiting in lines at service stations, which often had no gasoline at all. When President Reagan took office, he immediately removed President Carter’s restrictions; production boomed, gasoline became readily available, and prices dropped.
We depend upon the rest of the world to supply a major part of our petroleum. Nothing that John Kerry or his socialist economic counsellors might devise can force the rest of the world to sell to us at less than world market prices. World petroleum prices are set by the intersection of production volume, world oil demand, and available transportation and storage.
In that real-world market, China and other nations are growing rapidly and absorbing ever more of the world’s petroleum output, driving up world oil prices. Moreover, there is very little, if any, additional production capacity in the short run anywhere outside Saudi Arabia. And their additional capacity, even if opened full bore, would have little impact on world oil prices and no effect at all on prices at the gasoline pumps in the U.S. Our oil refineries have no additional production capacity and couldn’t use the added supplies quickly enough to reduce gasoline pump prices during the peak-demand summer months.
Third, taking oil supplies out of the nation’s emergency storage in Texas and Louisiana would be the equivalent, in the middle of a war, to taking ammunition from troops in Iraq to make it more readily available to hunters at home. Those reserves may become critical to the nation’s survival if terrorists should inflict major damage to oil fields in Saudi Arabia or some other major producer. Even to suggest that they be used for temporary reductions in the price of gasoline makes the liberal-socialists look like whiny children on a grocery shopping trip demanding that mommy buy them more candy.
Fourth, none of the liberals’ remedies deals with underlying realities. Gasoline prices are rising for several reasons, of which three of the biggest domestically are caused by liberal-socialist state-planning of the sort that Senator Kerry is now urging upon us.
The first big reason is that gasoline refineries in the U.S. are operating already at capacity, and something like a fire or other disruption at any one refinery immediately cuts supplies and levers up gasoline prices. And why are refineries operating at capacity and, in fact, have insufficient capacity to meet growing market demand? Look no farther than years of liberal-socialist opposition to building new refineries for environmental reasons. Maybe the liberals prefer to cut down every tree in the U.S. to use as fire wood to produce electricity, replacing all the trees with towering and howling wind generators (any birds that survive the loss of trees will be chopped up by the wind generator propellers).
The second big reason is that liberals, again for environmental reasons, have pushed state legislatures to mandate different blends of gasoline. Thus, if Indiana and Illinois were to have different blending mandates, a shortage in Illinois couldn’t be satisfied with surplus supplies from Indiana. In addition, prices at the gas pump have to go up, because there are added costs to blend smaller batches of gasoline tailored to many different and smaller markets, and because smaller, separate storage facilities for each state market are less efficient than larger, centrally located distribution facilities for a single formulation of gasoline.
A third big reason comes to us from liberal-socialist Senators Tom Daschle and Tom Harkin, who were in the forefront of the move to require blending ethanol into gasoline. According to the Wall Street Journal, every gallon of ethanol produced requires using roughly 1.7 gallons of gasoline. So using ethanol inescapably increases the demand for imported oil and drives up the price of gasoline at the pump. This is presumably what Senator Kerry and his socialist economic counsellors have in mind with regard to “enacting simpler and cleaner national fuel strategies” mentioned in the Reuters news article.
The real problem with liberal-socialists like Senator Kerry, however, is more fundamental. They believe in a command-and-control economy in which Federal regulators call all the shots. Nothing to it. If voters are unhappy, just pass a regulation.
But put yourself in the position of the oil field or refinery worker. Would you simply follow orders and work longer hours for less pay, so that gasoline prices could be cut? Businesses are in the same position. The Feds can force price reductions, but costs to produce remain at the same level.
But despair not. Do as the New York Times editors advise: stop using your automobiles, especially your SUVs, and take mass transit.
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Sunday, May 16, 2004
The Decline of Western Civilization: Explanatory Notes - Part One
The following is a highly summarized narrative to supplement the relatively bare list of dates and events in the just-posted time-line. It’s impossible to understand the views that led American colonists in 1776 to fight for independence and to write the Constitution in 1787 without some familiarity with the historical and philosophical background of the Western world.
James Madison, who is generally regarded as making the largest overall contribution in the Constitutional Convention, had studied at Princeton under the Scottish moral philosopher John Witherspoon. Before the start of the Convention, Madison assembled a large library and prepared extensive analyses of historical experiences with various forms of government. He and his contemporaries were intimately familiar with legal and political doctrine from the Greek city-states and the Roman Republic and the later Empire, as well as with English legal and constitutional doctrine.
To keep the doses as mercifully short as possible, there will be several narrative summaries, covering specific time periods.
Classical Greek philosophers - Greek philosophers, beginning around 600 BC, become absorbed in trying to understand the fundamental nature of the world and human existence. Early theories are that everything is derived from water, or fire, or air, etc. By Plato?s time (ca. 399 BC, when Socrates was condemned to death by public opinion in the Athenian democratic assembly), philosophy had become extremely analytical and profound. In fact, there is no doctrine we have seen in the modern world that had not already been identified and analyzed by Plato, Aristotle, and their contemporaries.
Plato is called an Idealist in the sense that he believed that the world we experience is an imperfect view of ultimate reality, which is a master design of Divine origin. This master design can be understood by analogy to geometry, which the Greeks had developed extensively by Plato?s time. The shapes, and ratios, and theorems of geometry are abstract, idealized concepts, yet they are the underlying designs of things found in nature. From Plato?s viewpoint, the abstract concepts are more real, in the ultimate, cosmological sense, than the imperfect manifestations found in nature or made by humans. For example, humans could never make a perfect circle in real life. Even today, machinery can make circular objects, but they are never perfectly circular. They only approximate the Ideal of a circle, albeit with very close tolerances. Similarly, there exists an Ideal of moral behavior and civic virtue, which humans can only strive to understand and emulate. The job of the philosopher (literally, a lover of wisdom) is to do his best to catch clear glimpses of Ideal virtue and to teach his fellows.
Hegel, in the 19th century, is also called an Idealist, because he viewed the true reality of existence as a spiritual phenomenon. For Hegel, the entirety of human history was the Idea, the World Spirit (Welt Geist) unfolding in progressively greater knowledge and freedom, which he believed had reached its peak in German Protestant Christianity.
Conversely, Marx is a materialist. Marx adopts Hegel’s analytical techniques, but turns them upside down, saying that human behavior is controlled by material factors, such as physical working conditions and government regulations. Religion and morality, for Marx, are superstitions imposed by the the ruling classes to oppress the workers. That is why Marxists enthusiastically endorsed Darwin?s evolutionary theory (i.e., that there is no God, no human nature, merely random chance in the form of physical externalities that accidentally produce new species in a world of which the meaning is the struggle for survival). Plato and Hegel declare for the existence of human nature and the human soul; Marx and Darwin will have none of it.
Plato?s teachings are embodied in dialogs between Socrates and, usually, sophists, who were a cross between politicians and stand-up comedians. Sophists traveled from city to city, debating publicly for money. They claimed to be able to ?prove? any argument. Plato?s dialogs are delightfully subtle and complicated arguments in which Socrates reveals that the sophists can?t substantiate their assertions. Sophists were forerunners of today?s liberal-socialists, in that they believed in what John Dewey was to call Pragmatic philosophy. They assert, in Plato?s dialogs, that the idea of morality is nonsense, that people act only from self-interest and want only money, power, and sensual gratification. This is the truncated, materialistic version of human nature that is taught today as psychology (a misnomer, since psyche is the Greek word for the soul).
Interestingly, Plato believed in the immortality of souls, a position elaborated in several dialogs. In a dialog recording Socrates?s last conversation in the Athenian prison, just before he drank the hemlock poison, he tells his grieving friends to cheer up, because his soul is departing for a better life.
One of Plato?s most relevant observations for today is that public opinion is usually wrong. Just as no one would go to a carpenter to have a pair of shoes made, or to a shoemaker to get a house built, one should look, not to uninformed public opinion, but to religion and philosophy for moral guidance. If you were violently ill, you wouldn?t send a pollster into the streets for random interviews with 500 people, then follow the consensus medical advice; you would call for expert opinion from a trained physician.
Just as the media today can distort facts or present falsehoods to manipulate public opinion, the Athenian Assembly had been ?spun? by five men who hated Socrates and spread false stories about him. One of Plato?s most widely read dialogs in colleges (partly because it?s a short one) is The Apology, in which Socrates, having already been falsely convicted, speaks to what sentence should be imposed upon him by the Assembly.
It should be noted that the pure democracy of Athens, in which political decisions were made by 501 men chosen randomly by lot, was the source of Athens?s rash and imprudent actions that had led them to defeat in the recent 27-year Peloponnesian War against the Spartan confederation. Plato repeatedly pounds the point that uninformed, and therefore easily manipulated, public opinion is one of the worst sources of government. Athens repeatedly fell under the sway of tyrants, who gained power by promising benefits to their followers. Sparta, in contrast, had a constitution that had remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of years, and Sparta was the only Greek city-state never to have been ruled by a tyrant.
This history led James Madison in The Federalist to say of pure democracy that it was historically as short in duration as violent in its end. Madison is at pains to say that our Constitution is a multi-layered representative and Federal democracy, precisely to avoid decisions based on quick snap-shots of popular opinion. This is why the Constitution prescribed the Electoral College, rather than popular vote, to choose a President.
In The Apology, Socrates tells the Assembly exactly how his enemies had slandered him. In passing, he remarks that his questioning people and asking them to defend their opinions is no crime, because ?the untried life is not worth living.? Present-day liberal-socialist teachers ignore the main point of the dialog, which is the unreliability of ignorant popular opinion, and focus upon this one remark, calling it a justification for the ACLU position that any actions or any speech, even if by socialists or anarchists bent upon destroying the Constitution, is sanctioned by the First Amendment. For liberals, freedom is the right to destroy freedom, replacing it with the collectivist despotism necessary to impose equality of property and income. This kind of sophistry is the basis of hate-America teaching in our colleges and universities.
Aristotle, who followed closely after Plato, was the world?s first true scientist in the modern sense. He and his students collected thousands of plant and animal specimens, setting up classifications that were the biological standards into the 19th century. He also studied the history and political structures of other societies, such as Egypt and Persia, to gain perspective on the individualism of the Greek city-state experience.
Aristotle concludes that there is a law of nature, or natural law: every thing, every animal, and every person appears to have been designed by nature to fit certain roles in the scheme of things. Each functions best under certain conditions. Humans are by nature political beings, organizing themselves into families, clans, tribes, cities, or larger political groups.
To determine what form of government contributes most to human happiness and welfare, Aristotle distinguishes between sensual pleasure, which is a matter of the moment, and true happiness, which comes from leading a good and moral life. Striving to live a good and moral life calls upon the qualities that are most distinctly human, the qualities that distinguish humans from other animals. The best political state therefore fosters and preserves moral and virtuous conduct through education, religion, laws, and traditions that are in accord with natural law.
Note that liberal-socialism is a materialistic and atheistic religion. Materialism means that liberals think of human well-being in welfare-state benefit terms; handouts without spiritual content, strictly short-term sensual pleasure. The self-respect that comes from individualistic hard work is not on liberals’ radar screen; students are supposed to be given self-respect by being fed multi-culturalism and social promotions, regardless of performance. In the egalitarian socialist state, everyone is presumed to be perfectly happy if no one has anything more than anyone else, a presumption that requires one to believe that humans are merely passive receptors of whatever the intellectuals dole out.
Today?s liberal-socialists recognize only the base pleasures of hedonism, which explains the preoccupations of today?s movies, TV, and other media, as well as the widespread existence of college courses on superficial subjects like making porno films and the avoidance of hard subjects like engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences.
Aristotle’s conception of natural law fits perfectly with Christianity, on which Western civilization was based through the Middle Ages and into the 18th century. It is the basis of Jefferson?s reference, in the Declaration of Independence, to ?the Laws of Nature and of Nature?s God.? The whole of the Constitution and the concept of inalienable natural rights to life, liberty, and property are based on natural law. It is precisely this that liberal-socialists aim to destroy, replacing it with the arbitrary rules that intellectuals think are necessary to perfect humanity.
Aristotle notes that there is no fixed set of rules for virtue that will tell people how to deal with every one of life?s situations. But one can identify certain kinds of conduct that are virtuous, such as truthfulness, bravery, loyalty, friendship, charity, etc. Humans have the potential for virtue, but can go to extremes of evil. Pursuit of virtue must be a matter of moderation; extremes in either conservatism or liberalism are equally perversions.
Among other things, Aristotle rejects Plato?s idea of a rigidly controlled political state of the sort described in Plato?s Republic or The Laws. Plato, being disgusted by the excesses and volatility of public opinion in the Athenian democratic assembly, opted for a version of communal property under tight regulatory control, of the sort found in Sparta. Aristotle says that individuals are of all different types, and a city-state with diverse economic, military, and political functions, requires them all. To have communal property would fly in the face of observable differences of interest, ability, and energy of individuals.
(next, End of the Roman Empire, Beginning of the Middle Ages)
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Saturday, May 15, 2004
The Decline of Western Civilization: a Summary
Human history, before the Greek city states emerge around 500 BC, is one of despotic autocracy (e.g., Egypt, Persia, and Babylon). The even older Hebrew Old Testament of the Bible creates a paradigm of history as the unfolding of God’s Will in society’s adherence to moral law. Christianity opens the way for every individual to gain spiritual communion with God and directs each person, as an individual, to live a moral life.
17th century European advances in mathematical and scientific knowledge open the way for French revolutionary intellectuals to declare that God and morality are superstitious ignorance. The new Religion of Humanity is materialistic, atheistic, and amoral socialistic collectivism. Salvation of humanity, they preach, is in the hands of mankind itself, under the leadership of an intellectual elite. Unfortunately for the people, earthly perfection of humanity requires reversion to the despotic autocracy of ancient history in order to impose social justice.
Rather than perfection of humanity, liberal-socialism (the American sect of this religion) brings us the savagery of Revolutionary France, the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, Nationalist Socialist Germany, Red China, and the many other socialist dictatorships of the 20th century.
This time-line was prepared at the request of a reader. It’s presented here as both a reference tool for readers, and as an adjunct to teaching materials for home-schooling parents. The perspective presented, it is safe to say, is not likely to be given to today’s students in our public schools and in our colleges and universities.
ca. 950 BC -500 BC ? Old Testament books of the Hebrew Bible
399 BC ? Socrates condemned by the Athenian democratic assembly.
390 ? 322 BC - Plato and Aristotle
ca. 150-250 AD ? Christian New Testament books of the Bible
411 AD - Alaric sacks Rome; St. Augustine writes The City of God.
476 - End of the Western Roman Empire; last emperor executed by Odoacer.
500 - 1200 - Christianity spreads across Western Europe; becomes the sole unifying force and the foundation of Western civilization.
ca. 1155 - Henry II establishes English common law.
1215 - Magna Carta establishes English private property rights against the king.
1273 - St. Thomas Aquinas writes Summa Theologica, incorporating Aristotle’s theory of natural law into Christian doctrine.
1300s - 1500s - The Renaissance in literature, art, and architecture. Humanism, led by Catholic priest Erasmus, revives knowledge of and interest in classical Greek and Roman literature and their focus on nature.
1517 - Martin Luther starts the Reformation; a century or more of warfare rages across Europe as modern national states come into being; northern Europe breaks away from Rome.
1600s - Tremendous progress in mathematics and science; the age of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton.
1700s - Beginning of modern age in manufactures and shipping; great increases in productivity and general increase in wealth.
1750 - 1780s - French philosophers of the Revolution (Rousseau, Diderot, Condorcet, Turgot, Voltaire, et al) begin propagandizing for social justice via revolt against the monarchy and the Catholic Church.
1787 - Constitutional convention in Philadelphia.
1789 - American Constitution is ratified; it becomes the law of the land. French Revolution of July 14, 1789.
1793 - Reign of Terror slaughters more than 70,000 Frenchmen on the guillotine in the world’s first instance of terrorism as official state policy, after confiscation of Catholic Church property and imprisonment of priests removes all moral restraint.
1795 - Napoleon rises to power; begins military conquest of Western Europe to establish the French Empire in the name of Liberty, Brotherhood, and Equality.
1815 - British and Prussian troops defeat Napoleon at Waterloo; Congress of Vienna imposes monarchy on France, and monarchs of Europe unite to block revolutionary socialism.
1825 - Henri de Saint-Simon systematizes revolutionary doctrines into socialism; publishes The New Christianity, which calls for a catechism of socialistic morality, called social justice, to replace the religion of Christianity. Government is to be by councils of intellectuals and managers empowered to regulate all economic activity. Education will be under intellectual control to insure that only socialism is taught.
1822 - 1842 - Auguste Comte in 1822 publishes System of Positive Philosophy, which is carried to Germany by his young pupils studying with German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, thus cross-pollinating German statist and French socialist philosophies. Comte’s socialist positivism becomes widely studied in German universities. Comte?s Positivism denies existence of God and reality of religion and morals; only reality is things detectable by senses like sight, smell, and hearing; creates The Religion of Humanity, which says that the object of worship is humanity itself; “discovers” the Immutable Law of History that supposedly pushes human society inevitably toward perfection under a government of socialized regulatory control directed by intellectuals.
1830 ? Second revolution in France deposes monarch; triggers revolutionary activity elsewhere in Europe.
1831 - Alexis de Tocqueville comes to the United States, traveling from New England to New Orleans to learn how the Americans, with even more political equality than Revolutionary France, have maintained political order and domestic harmony. Later publishes findings in Democracy in America; concludes that a firm adherence to religious morality is the built-in check that keeps political government from overstepping its bounds and self-regulates its citizens, which he notes is the opposite of conditions in socialist France.
1830s - Industrial revolution, based on division of labor in factory settings, vastly increases productivity and lowers cots of products. England leads the way, with France limping behind; America joins the race in a big way.
1848 - Third wave of socialist revolutions in Europe. Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto. Irish potato famine brings big immigration to cities like Boston and New York, exacerbating city slum problems.
1851 - 1861 - Otto von Bismarck, Prussian landed aristocrat, unites member states of the German Confederacy into the German Empire under Prussian Kaiser Wilhelm I. German socialist party gains considerable power in the Reichstag. British upper class become infected with religion of socialism.
1859 - John Stuart Mill publishes On Liberty, a favorite of American liberals, which defends rights of anarchists and socialists to advocate their religion; says that society is diminished if even one dissenting voice is silenced. Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, with the intent to discredit what he calls “the damnable doctrine” of Christianity. Darwin’s speculative theory, for which there exists no proof at all, maintains that there is no God, no Divine plan to the universe, that everything is random, chaotic chance in which life just “happened” and all species result from external, material influences, with no inherent nature to guide the development of life. Marxists enthusiastically endorse Darwin, exulting that evolution proves the validity of Godless, materialistic socialism.
1860-65 - American Civil War and events leading up to it preoccupy Americans, who are largely unaware of and uninterested in spread of socialist religion from France to Germany, then to England. War creates giant, interstate railroads, mines, steel mills, and other businesses, concentrates financial power in New York City. Farmers begin protests that produce the Populist Party in the 1880s.
1870s - German universities, medical science, chemistry, physics, historical and classical scholarship become the finest in the world. American scholars who aim for advancement in American universities attend German universities, where they absorb the prevailing Hegelian statist and French socialist philosophy. Harvard and Yale convert from schools to train ministers of the Gospel to secular universities, focusing in the social sciences on promulgating the new “scientific” socialism. Johns-Hopkins University is established, modeled on the German universities. Only about 2 percent of Americans go to college, but those who do emerge as the first American liberal-socialists. The first group of American women go to college, emerge openly socialists, working predominantly in the social services such as Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago and settlement houses in other cities. Their goal is to convert America from private property ownership to socialized regulation of the economy. Caring for the less fortunate is transformed from a moral issue, handled by churches and local social organizations, into a national political issue of socialistic “fairness.”
1879 - John Stuart Mill’s Chapters on Socialism declares that socialism is preferable to English constitutionalism, provided that the people can be sufficiently well educated to live good socialist lives.
1881 - Bismarck establishes world’s first social welfare system, both to neutralize socialists, and, as he said, to enable him to herd the German people like cattle, because of their resulting dependancy on the national state. (Franklin Roosevelt adopts Bismarck’s policy in 1935 with imposition of Social Security; mandatory FICA taxes remove source of voluntary funding for church-based and other local charity groups).
1880s and 1890s - In England and the U.S., industrialization brings people off the farms and into the cities, where living conditions often are horrible. American industry already is the colossus of the world, producing almost as much as the rest of the world combined. Twenty million or more immigrants flood into the U.S. to supply insatiable demand for cheap labor. They bring with them traditions that are the opposite of ours, traditions in which property ownership is the enemy of the people. Nonetheless, American education’s “melting pot” approach Americanizes their children, and immigrants desire to become full-fledged American citizens. But significant fringe elements of socialist and anarchist radicals are concentrated in New York and other large cities, the Mid-West, and the Pacific Coast. Radical leaders like Emma Goldman preach “propaganda of the deed,” i.e., assassinations, bombing property. One of her followers assassinates President William McKinley in 1901.
Beginning of the Progressive movement in American politics. Progressives were today?s liberal socialists and liberal Republicans. Progressivism was more a religious state of mind than a national political party. Progressivism coincides with the Victorian era faith in Progress, the certainty that the world was progressing toward ever greater political freedom and perfection of humanity, as envisioned by Comte in his Religion of Humanity and Positivist philosophy. World War I brutally ends euphoric optimism and creates a disillusioned generation with millions of its young men lying in European battlefield cemeteries; leaves the 1920s intellectuals open to the clarion call of Communism and the 1917 Russian Revolution as the messianic solution to the world?s problems.
1890s - 1930s - Beginning in the 1890s, William James, along with John Dewey, pioneers philosophy of pragmatism. James’s The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) make the case for agnosticism in a scientific age that had corroded faith in spiritual religion. Both James and Dewey preach that, with the world and our knowledge of it continually evolving (in keeping with Darwin’s theory), there can be no fixed principles of morality or timeless religious truth. Dewey, in addition, is immensely influential in moving education away from teaching fixed bodies of knowledge (why pupils today test at the bottom of the world in math, chemistry, and physics). His Democracy and Education (1916) is the catalyst for Progressive education, which teaches that pupils learn by “experience,” that is they are to be conditioned to communal living under socialism by emphasizing “projects” and “field trips” to give them an “appreciation” for cooperative living. Individualism is to be shunned as selfishness and greed. In 1919, Dewey and a group of fellow socialists found the New School for Social Research in New York City (of which former Senator Robert Kerry is now president), inspired by Soviet education after the 1917 Russian Revolution.
President McKinley assassinated (1901) by anarchist follower of Emma Goldman. Teddy Roosevelt becomes first activist President; embraces many social justice causes; inclined to act unilaterally in Bismarckian fashion (as with Panama Canal and fomenting revolution in Columbia to gain access for the canal route).
Herbert Croly in 1909 published widely-read The Promise of American Life, which advocates a Bismarckian approach to American politics: a strong leader must simply override Congress and state legislative bodies to impose intellectuals’ vision of socialized regulation to perfect society and move America from mediocrity to French and German socialist greatness. Croly’s father earlier had founded an Auguste-Comte church for The Religion of Humanity in Manhattan and published the first American exposition of Comte’s Positivist philosophy and religion. Croly and young Walter Lippmann, fresh from the presidency of Harvard’s student socialist club, found The New Republic in 1914. That journal becomes the most influential liberal-socialist publication in the first half of the 20th century.
The ACLU comes into being in 1916, as America begins preparations to enter World War I. ACLU co-founder Roger Baldwin was a follower of terrorist-anarchist Emma Goldman and set the ACLU to defending socialists and anarchists who attempted to sabotage American war efforts. Like today’s protesters against anti-terrorist military action, 1916 adherents to world socialism believed that the war was fomented by greedy capitalists just to make war profits and that social justice (equalizing property distribution) was the only route to world peace. Baldwin, in the 1920s, conceives strategy of judicial activism to pull an end-run around Congress and legislate from the judicial bench in support of socializing the Constitution.
Supreme Court - In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appoints Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. to the Supreme Court. Holmes?s 1881 The Common Law sought to undermine 700-year traditions of English and American common law, declaring that law had to evolve in keeping with Darwin?s doctrine of evolution. As Harvard Law School professor and Massachusetts Supreme Court judge, Holmes organizes Cambride, Massachusetts, group to promote ?scientific? socialism; close friend is Harvard professor Harold Laski, who edits and publishes Holmes?s essays. Laski later returns to his native England and assumes leadership in socialist London School of Economics. In his essays and legal opinions, Holmes flatly rejects ideas of natural law (the basis of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution), morality, or any other form of higher law, maintaining that the law is no more than whatever a judge declares it to be. Echoing John Dewey?s emphasis on ?experience? vs. learning, Holmes writes, ?The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.? The law should develop with social experience and should permit the National State to experiment with social planning. On the United States Supreme Court he becomes the first activist judge to support socialist causes.
Holmes?s socialist colleague Louis D. Brandeis, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, was famous for his ?Brandeis briefs? when he had argued before the Court as an attorney. Brandeis did not argue from principles of established law, but adduced massive volumes of social statistics to argue his cases on the basis of social justice, which he believed should trump established law. In complete agreement with socialist doctrine of Saint-Simon and Comte, he strongly favored regulation of the economy. In his Supreme Court opinions, he argued that state-run enterprises always were preferable to privately-run businesses. Private business was to be looked upon with suspicion, whereas state-run business would be more efficient, productive, and beneficial to the people. Agreeing with Holmes, Brandeis declared that the economy should be regulated ?to meet changing social and economic needs.?
Benjamin N. Cardozo, was chief judge of the New York State court system when he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Hoover in 1932. He generally sided with liberals Louis Brandeis and Harlan Stone in approving New Deal social planning. He wrote the majority opinion upholding Social Security legislation that destroyed the American system of individual responsibility and morality that successfully had protected families against undeserved misfortune during the preceding 315 years of American life.
1920s and 1930s Novelists and Playwrights, centered in New York?s Greenwich Village, are nearly unanimously adherents of socialism, anarchism, or Soviet Communism. They include most of the writers who constitute the standard canon of American literature for college students: the New Yorker magazine?s Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, and Robert Benchley; novelist Theodore Dreiser, playwrights George Bernard Shaw (a leader of the British socialist party) and Eugene O?Neil, Carl Sandburg, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Frank Harris, William Dean Howells, Jack London and Upton Sinclair. Journalists Henry Demarest Lloyd, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Herrick, Frank Norris, Charles Edward Russell, Allan Benson, and David Graham Phillips.
In 1906, Upton Sinclair and Jack London had founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. Journalist John Reed, a staff writer for Max Eastman?s The Masses, wrote Ten Days That Shook the World, the 1919 account of the Bolshevik revolution that made him an official hero of the Soviet Union. In recent years Reed was made the subject of the sympathetic Hollywood movie Reds.
A 1935 American Writers? Congress proclamation called for the destruction of capitalism and the establishment of a workers? government. Among the signatories were John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Waldo Frank, Lewis Mumford, Richard Wright, Malcolm Cowley, Nathanael West, Erskine Caldwell, and Nelson Algren.
Economist Thorstein Veblen savaged the capitalist system in his 1899 Theory of the Leisure Class. In 1913, Charles A. Beard?s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States endeavored to prove that the Constitution was no more than a conspiracy by wealthy property owners to exploit the workers. Historians like Vernon L. Parrington in his Main Currents in American Thought ignored the actual concerns of colonists that led to 1776 War of Independence, instead declaring that the essence of American history was its conversion to French-style social democracy at the expense of inalienable natural-law rights to private property.
1929 ? The Great Depression begins; President Hoover, a professional mining engineer, tries three years of social engineering to prevent job layoffs and wage reductions, working against the only way to get out of a recession without inflation. With no success, he loses to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election. FDR fulfills campaign promises and begins collectivization of power in Washington; institutes New Deal programs modeled directly on Mussolini?s Fascist State Corporatism (note that Fascism and Nazism are merely nationalistic sects of socialist collectivism). For the first time, an American President attempts to manage the entire economy with French and Soviet-style regulation. None of it succeeds; Depression is as bad in 1938 as in 1933, when FDR took office.
1941 ? Japan ends the Depression by bombing Pearl Harbor. World War II creates further concentration of Federal power at expense of state and local governments.
1946 - Congress passes Employment Act that creates Council of Economic Advisors and makes it official policy for the Federal government to manage the economy to promote full employment. Government?s performance has been abysmally bad. Beginning in 1776, in all periods before the imposition of socialism by the New Deal, price levels had always risen sharply during times of war, then dropped rapidly back to the levels prevailing before the wars. Since FDR took office in 1933, prices have risen dramatically and steadily, year after year, during wars and peacetime. Prices today are 942% higher than in 1932, when commodity price levels were at the average that had prevailed since 1776. $10 today buys less than $1 bought in 1932. Individuals once saved for their children?s futures, but inflation has made that a chancy tactic. As a result, the savings level has fallen from around 5% of income in the 1920s to less than zero today (i.e., using credit cards, people are spending more than they earn).
1960s ? President John F. Kennedy preaches individual responsibility, but lends sympathetic ear to Socialist Party president Michael Harrington, whose The Other America declares that a third of Americans live in abject poverty, ignored by the rest. After JFK?s assassination in 1963, President Lyndon Johnson takes Harrington?s prescription to heart, expanding government jobs to employ everyone. The Great Society (a name borrowed from British socialist Graham Wallas) institutes full socialism by dedicating Federal policy to redistributing income, jobs, and educational slots equally, without regard to individual talent, performance, or merit. Concept of entitlement replaces equality of opportunity.
1960s Student anarchists ? Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) developed after the 1962 ?Port Huron Statement? drafted by Tom Hayden, later ?Hanoi Jane? Fonda?s husband. Hayden?s statement accused the U.S. of imperialism abroad and Fascist repression at home. His fellow SDS leaders included Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin. Two years later, Rubin led the protests that became known as the Cal-Berkeley Free Speech movement, at about the same time that John Kerry testified before Congress that he had witnessed widespread raping, ear-amputations, and murders as routine actions by American soldiers, under orders from their officers. A more radical underground offshoot, Weatherman, led by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayer, aligned with the Black Panthers and other minority groups and began a series of burglaries, murders, and bombings. Protesting the Vietnam War, their slogan was ?Bring the war home! Ice a few pigs!? Members were exhorted to arm themselves and take to the streets for armed revolt. Today Dohrn and Ayer are what the New York Times called respected members of academia.
1968 ? Richard Nixon becomes President; takes the dollar completely off the gold standard, removing last barrier against inflation; institutes price and wage controls; balloons Federal spending. Nixon proclaims, ?We are all Keynesians now,? referring to British economist John Maynard Keynes, who formulated the economic theory that the Depression was caused by people saving too much money and that the answer to every economic problem is to tax the rich and spend the revenues on anything, even digging holes and refilling them the next day. Hyperinflation begins, leaving President Carter to inherit the whirlwind. Inflation hits 22% annually, unprecedented in American history, wiping out roughly 57% of the value of people?s life savings. Just to pay the bills, men are forced to moonlight on two or three jobs, women forced to enter the full-time labor force (women?s full-time participation rose from 28% in 1958 to 51% in 1968). Children left at home turn to delinquency and drugs. Education falls off the cliff, crime rates more than quadruple, unmarried pregnancies hit levels never before experienced in world history, and nearly two-thirds of young blacks under the age of 20 in 1965, when the Great Society entitlements begin, never even attempt to enter the labor force (historically, black men and whites had participated at the same 78% level).
1970s onward ? Student radicals became legislators, judges, and educators, instituting multi-cultural education and speech-and-behavior codes through leverage of Federal funding to education that began under LBJ?s Great Society.
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Thursday, May 13, 2004
The UN: The Liberals
Being a liberal requires believing in fairy tales. In their version, however, nobody lives happily ever after.
We are fighting a two-front war as the June 30 Iraqui government hand-over date approaches. Terrorist counter-attacks in Iraq have intensified. At the same time, liberals at home have launched an all-out offensive to discredit President Bush?s handling of every aspect of the Iraqui situation.
The 9/11 Investigation Commission has been revealed as effectively an adjunct to the liberals? campaign to elect John Kerry and turn over America?s national defense to the French-led UN. The Commission has focused publicly on discrediting the Bush administration, while ignoring eight years of anti-terror fecklessness under Bill Clinton (who had more important things to do with Monica Lewinsky).
Liberal-socialists, led by John Kerry, keep singing the same song: the United States must never act on its own to protect our national security; we must always defer to the UN. Abstractions called ?world opinion? and ?the community of nations? are, they say, more important than defending the Constitution.
The odd thing about liberals? demand is that the UN doesn?t want the job. That august body not only refused to enforce its decade of resolutions against Saddam, but turned tail and ran from its limited humanitarian activity in Iraq after terrorist attacks. Secretary General Kofi Annan just recently announced formally that Iraq is too violent for the UN to send its missions there again.
An important reason for French and Russian opposition in the UN has since become clear in the massive corruption now coming to light in the oil-for- humanitarian aid program administered by the UN. Preliminary evidence suggests that everyone, from Jacques Chirac, to Vladimir Putin, and Kofi Annan?s son, was raking in millions of dollars of pay-offs from Saddam, who pocketed even more, while shortchanging his own people.
Even so, the administration gave it a college try, spending precious months fruitlessly asking for UN support before start of military operations. So why are liberals so insistently pushing this corrupted wet noodle, as if it possesses magic power to right all wrongs?
In addition to using any handy stick to cudgel the administration, the answer is that in liberal ideology Darwinian ?evolving? public opinion amounts to an amendment of the Constitution. When liberals control popular opinion, neither original Constitutional principles nor religious morality can stand in the way, as we saw with Roe vs Wade.
To manipulate public opinion, liberals look to the UN and they mobilize mindless mobs in the streets of the world to denounce the War on Terror as an under-the?table payoff to Big Business: American blood for oil. They say that no American action is legitimate if it?s not supported by ?world opinion.?
Popular opinion, since the French Revolution in 1789, has been the tool of choice for liberals. For the first time in world history, intellectuals? propaganda incited a revolution that destroyed a sovereign state?s government and the established church.
Using a flood of pamphlets and newspaper stories to whip up mob spirit, socialist France?s Revolutionary Tribunal confiscated the church?s assets and condemned more than 70,000 French Christians to the guillotine in the name of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Historian Andre Maurois described the pathetic scenes:
??[Robespierre] called for heads and ever more heads. Bishops, monks, atheists, royalists, republicans, the virgins of Verdun and tax collectors - all were thrown to the guillotine. In the dismal tumbrils, little girls and men of eighty were seen passing by; whole families paid for the flight of one or two ?migr?s.?
Lenin said that he modeled the 1917 Russian revolution on the propaganda techniques pioneered by our ?allies,? the French. American liberals are the direct philosophical descendants of those nice people who brought us the Reign of Terror and the Gulags.
Reasonable people, however, have to ask, what will happen if American foreign policy is determined by volatile public opinion? How will turning Iraq over to the UN make things better?
Karl Marx believed that changing the name on property deeds from individuals to the collectivized government would magically transform human nature. Liberals appear to believe that, if we put the UN stamp of approval on a military action, the terrorists will stop and say, ?Gee whiz! Now that we know that the UN is on the case, we give up.? Describing liberals as simple-minded is perhaps too harsh, but the thought does spring to mind.
This is more than a disagreement about foreign policy. It is a war between the moral principles of spiritual religion and the theories of secular and materialistic socialism. Liberals make no secret that they despise President Bush?s profession of Christian faith and morality. Exemplars of moral relativism like Teddy Kennedy, ?the hero of Chappaquiddick,? and Bill Clinton are more to their taste.
For all the grand talk about ?world opinion? and ?the community of nations,? what the liberals are fighting for is a world without Christianity and moral principle.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Al Gore’s Cable Network
One more liberal-socialist tool to convert young students to the religion of socialism.
Last week, as part of an investment group, Al Gore bought the cable channel Newsworld International. Most news stories dwell on the fact that it has a relatively small audience and is carried by a limited number of outlets. This makes it too easy to overlook what’s in store.
Mr. Gore announced that his intention is to focus on the 18-to-34 age group audience, with “appropriate” programming. Given the difficulties in challenging the much bigger cable networks for advertising sponsorship, as well as the cost of developing programming, it seems doubtful that Mr. Gore and his investment group have invested their reported $70 million for purely commercial purposes.
Why then have these political liberals put up that much money?
The answer, we can speculate, is to extend the reach of education for the purpose of proselytizing young students and converting them to the religion of socialism. In that respect, it will serve the same purpose as the public educational system now does.
With the leverage of Federal funding, arising from President Johnson’s Great Society Elementary and Secondary Education bill, public education has been woefully degraded by teachers unions, Federal courts, and textbook review committees. Local control of education by parents and local school boards is a thing of the past. Hard subject matter is slighted in favor of socializing courses designed to teach students that individualism is selfish greed, that cooperative collectivism is the only socially acceptable attitude. Students are no longer taught using the great classics of Western literature that supplied examples of moral courage and civic virtue. Instead, they are taught that any action is acceptable, if it works for the student, because declaring actions to be right or wrong is to make an unscientific value judgment.
What Mr. Gore no doubt will attempt is a repetition of socialist philosopher John Dewey’s masterly corruption of public education. Recognizing that public education has delivered several generations, since the late 1960s, who are unable to read, or uninterested in doing so, Gore’s Newsworld International will use the new broadband media to snare them.