The View From 1776
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Liberal-progressivism and its subset environmentalism are both secular religions. They are, along with Lenin’s and Stalin’s Communism, Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis), and Mussolini’s Fascism, merely denominations within the church of socialism.
With regard to environmentalism, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, 3/15/15:
From a speech by the late novelist Michael Crichton to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, 2003:
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe. . . .
There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?
With regard to the overarching secular religion of liberal-progressivism. in March 2004 I wrote the following:
Socialism: Our Unconstitutionally Established National Religion
Federal education funding to teach socialism amounts to establishing the secular religion of socialism as the official national church.
The following letter was mailed to Supreme Court Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas:
Dear Mr. Chief Justice:
This letter is in regard to the Court’s recent decision in the Washington State religious scholarship case. The purpose is not to disagree specifically with the Court’s decision, but to question what constitutes a religion, the establishment of which is prohibited by the First Amendment.
It can be demonstrated that secular and materialistic socialism is a religion. That being the case, any use of Federal funds by public schools and universities for the teaching of socialistic doctrine constitutes a prohibited establishment of a specific religion.
That socialism is a religion:
Socialism’s codifier, Henri de Saint-Simon, himself called socialism a religion. His last major work was entitled The New Christianity. Saint-Simon said that the highest socialistic regulatory council should control education so that nothing but the catechism of social justice might be taught (e.g., Darwinian evolution, multiculturalism, Keynesian economics, deconstruction, legal realism, and critical studies).
Saint-Simon’s more famous colleague Auguste Comte went so far as to create The Religion of Humanity as part of his materialistic philosophy of Positivism.
Comte’s Religion of Humanity was approvingly cited by John Stuart Mill in his Chapters on Socialism, in which he mused that the educational system should be changed to indoctrinate the people with the principles of socialism.
The late Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most prominent spokesmen for socialism, said of the World War I German socialist party, “For Social Democracy is not a mere political party, nor even a mere economic theory; it is a complete self-contained philosophy of the world and of human development; it is, in a word, a religion and an ethic. To judge the work of Marx, or the aims and beliefs of his followers, from a narrow economic standpoint, is to overlook the whole body and spirit of their greatness.” (from Lecture One, German Social Democracy).
Irving Howe was, as you know, a leading New York socialist intellectual after World War II, as well as the founding editor of Dissent magazine. In A Margin of Hope: An Intellectual Autobiography, he wrote, “Call it liberal, call it social democratic, a politics devoted to incremental reform even while still claiming a utopian vision, how can such a politics satisfy that part of our imagination still hungering for religious exaltation, still drawn to gestures of heroic violence, still open to the temptations of the apocalypse? Perhaps it was recognition of this fact that led the leadership of the European social democracy in the years just before the First World War to maintain some of the “revolutionary” symbols and language of early Marxism, though their parties had ceased to be revolutionary in any serious respect. Intuitively they grasped that the parties they led were not just political movements but, in some sense, branches of a “church” “
In A Yippie Manifesto, published in May 1969, Jerry Rubin wrote, “America and the West suffer from a great spiritual crisis. And so the yippies are a revolutionary religious movement.A religious-political movement is concerned with peoples souls, with the creation of a magic world which we make real.We offer: sex, drugs, rebellion, heroism, brotherhood. They offer: responsibility, fear, puritanism, repression.”
To round out the liberals’ own characterization of socialism as a religion, start by comparing the similarities in structure between socialism and Christianity. Each has a theory about human nature that prescribes conditions of daily life and holds forth a promise of future redemption for all of humanity, a vision of future perfection that becomes a controlling factor in the daily lives of Christians and socialists. Christians look to salvation and life after death. Liberal-socialists look to The Religion of Humanity’s promise of perfection of man and society, here on earth, by means of materialistic structures planned and administered by intellectuals.
For liberals, there being no God, the ultimate source of legitimacy and authority is the ever-changing ideas of social justice in the minds of intellectuals. Applying that view to our Constitution is the process of judicial activism.
Christianity, like it or not, was the sole unifying structure of Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. For the Judeo-Christian tradition, Original Sin was humans over-reaching to become God-like by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The message was that humans are God’s creatures and must obey God’s Will. Neither Salvation, return to the Garden of Eden, nor eternal bliss, is possible within this world.
Socialism exhibits all the same elements: a Garden of Eden (the State of Nature), original sin, and a promise of salvation revealed in sacred texts delivered by revered prophets. For socialists, Original Sin was the invention of private property and the resulting scramble of individuals to amass property, which introduced greed, avarice, aggression, crime, and wars. But unlike Christianity, socialist salvation is attainable without divine intervention, through the political state, by future generations here on earth.
Socialist salvation, however, is not an individual matter. It applies to the collective masses, in which individuals have no political significance beyond their class identity. Be it noted that our nation was incontrovertibly founded on principles of individualism, not secular and materialistic collectivism.
To be considered true religions, doctrinal beliefs must achieve multi-national and cross-cultural acceptance. Socialism clearly qualifies, having spread from Western Europe to all parts of the world. It has been adopted by countries in the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East, including three of the most populous nations in the world: Russia, India, and China. Great religions commonly are associated with the lives and teachings of larger-than-life individuals such as Moses, Buddha, Jesus, or Mohammed. Socialism qualifies in that respect also. Henri de Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin delivered their revelations of materialistic Truth in the first sixty years of the 1800s.
Marx has become a mythical, god-like figure to billions of people around the world. American school children are taught that Darwin was the embodiment of science and truth, despite the fact that there exists not a single proof of his speculative theory (see Cal-Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson’s Darwin on Trial and Gertrude Himmelfarb’s Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution). Thomas Huxley and American socialists like John Dewey used Darwinian evolution theory as a battering ram against morality and spiritual religions, particularly Christianity.
John Adams said that the Constitution was made for a moral and religious people, self-constrained by individual morality; that it would work for no other. Darwin’s “bulldog,” Thomas Huxley, said that there is no such thing as sin, merely the struggle for survival. Dewey taught that there is no morality, because material conditions are the sole source of human nature, and those conditions change continually in Darwinian fashion. Their fellow socialists Hitler and Stalin found nothing to quibble about in those doctrines.
The prophets of the socialist religion proclaimed that human nature could be returned to its State-of-Nature benevolence by the abolition of private property. Political societies, indeed all of humanity, could be perfected here on earth by restructuring government to place it in the hands of intellectual planners. The state-planner, the minister of socialist religion, sees himself as a modern-day Moses uniquely qualified by his knowledge about the so-called Immutable Law of History to guide humanity to earthly perfection, back to the Original State of Nature.
That the secular and materialistic religion of liberalism (the American sect of the international religion of socialism) is antithetical to and wholly incompatible with the fundamental principles of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution; proselytizing with Federal funds for the religion of socialism is therefore unconstitutional:
The American War of Independence was based philosophically upon John Locke’s Second Treatise, which was founded entirely in natural law. The legitimization for both the ouster of James II and George III was that each had broken the natural-law compact that postulated inalienable, individual natural-law rights to life, liberty, and property. “No taxation without representation.”
Jefferson’s references in the Declaration to “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” are meaningless except in the context of natural law. Ditto with regard to the Bill of Rights.
Natural law, since Aristotle, has been identified with the teleological, intelligent-design paradigm of the cosmos. Aristotle’s natural law, via Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, opened the field of European medieval law to the concept of separation of church and state into political and spiritual realms. One dealt with making people good citizens, the other with making people good humans. Both were rooted in natural law, and natural law was God-given. This was the entire foundation of everything that we now call Western civilization.
Everyone from Franklin to Washington continually invoked the Deity’s blessings for the success of the American cause of independence, and later the Constitution. But American liberal-socialism demands that only the secular doctrine of socialism and Comte’s Positivism be taught in our schools. Because of support from our Federal courts, socialism has been established as the only scientific truth. The natural-law, spiritual-religion foundation of our nation has been dismissed as ignorance from a pre-scientific age. If that position holds, then the Declaration and the Constitution are meaningless drivel that “evolves” in Darwinian evolutionary fashion, subject only to random, chaotic materialistic forces.
As our first socialist Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, repeatedly wrote, there is no such thing as a higher law of morality, merely whatever a particular judge thinks that the law ought to be. As you know, Holmes opined that, if secular materialism changed public opinion to the belief that we should scrap the Constitution and institute Bolshevism, then neither the Court not the Constitution should stand in the way. That contempt for tradition and precedent, for the entirety of Western civilization, has, too often since the 1920s, informed Federal judicial practice, making the Constitution into a Rorschach ink-blot.
The materialistic and secular doctrine of socialism, pushed by the ACLU (e.g., the Scopes monkey trial), liberal-socialist politicians, and the teachers’ unions, in effect decapitates Western civilization. We see this daily in denigration of subject matter produced by “dead white men” and John Dewey’s maxim that “dead” history has no place in the Progressive Education curriculum. William F. Buckley, Jr., documented it in his 1951 God and Man at Yale, and Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate have updated it in The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on Americas Campuses.
Saint-Simon and John Dewey were correct in perceiving that control of education is the most effective way to destroy the essence of Western civilization and replace it with the secular and materialistic religion of socialism. We may hope that education will be rebalanced to require fair presentation of the doctrinal foundations of our Constitution, as well as the dogma of liberal-socialism.
May we hope that the Federal judiciary will abandon its suicide pact with the liberal-socialists?
Thomas E. Brewton
Constitutional Principles • Political Theory • Tradition & Morality • (14) Comments
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Saturday, March 21, 2015
The Fed’s Latest Bubble Creation
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Fed’s continuing policy of artificially depressing interest rates is creating yet another asset bubble, this time in exploration and production (E&P) of petroleum and natural gas.
The Fed’s loose money policy, expressed in very low borrowing costs and highly inflated securities prices in the stock market, is fomenting an over-expansion of business investment in hydro-fracking. This same process created the over-expansion and collapse of the housing market leading up to the collapse of our financial market in 2007 - 2008. Lending institutions already are struggling to collect on bad loans to over-expanded petroleum exploration and production companies.
The repeated economic pattern since the start of the Federal Reserve system in 1913 has been loose money that artificially stimulates sectors of the economy, leading to expansion of production facilities in excess of sustainable longer-term demand. The mischief lies, not in temporary blips of consumer demand, but in over-building basic production facilities that take long periods of time to come into production and which can’t be quickly and temporarily shut down when projected demand fails to materialize.
Producers and sellers of consumer goods can quickly curtail production and liquidate excessive inventories. But home building companies acquire large tracts of land and increase their borrowing in anticipation of continued or rising demand for new housing. When consumers finally are tapped out by rising debt (encouraged by the Fed’s policies), home builders are stuck with non-productive land and unsold houses, leaving no way to service the debt undertaken to acquire the land and to expand their operations.
The Wall Street Journal notes that, “Rising U.S. oil supply is the big factor weighing on prices. And that supply is largely a function of exploration-and-production companies enjoying access to capital to fund drilling budgets that frequently outpace cash flow.
“Witness the rush by several E&P firms to issue shares, especially during the brief rally in oil prices during February. So far this year, the sector has accounted for almost 12% of U.S. equity issuance, the highest proportion by far in at least two decades, according to Dealogic. Even on the debt side, E&P issuance to date is running at the same pace as the past five years.”
Keynesian economics, the secular, socialistic religious doctrine to which the Fed adheres, treats the economy as a series of monolithic blocks that will react in computer-model, predictable ways to spur the economy. The Fed and Keynesian economics deal with aggregate demand, making no allowance for unpredictable reactions and actions by the hundreds of million of individuals who comprise the nation’s economy. In the Keynesian religion the Fed has only to create billions of dollars of fiat money via bookkeeping entries, and the economy, responding like a theoretical socialistic machine, will automatically recover lost economic momentum. As the stock market rises, consumers will be duped into resumed spending, thinking that they are again wealthy (Fed chairman Bernanke’s “wealth effect”).
Unfortunately for the Fed and for liberal-progressive-socialists everywhere, once again Keynesian economic doctrine has disappointed expectations. Our economy, in the real, non-Keynesian world, has suffered the slowest economic recovery in modern times. The only big beneficiaries of the Fed’s Keynesian policies have been stock market speculators, take-over artists, bankers, hedge fund operators, and private equity groups. Being able to borrow unlimited amounts of phony dollars at historically low interest rates, these financial sector players have made a killing in the stock market since 2009. Meanwhile, the average citizen has been left to pick up the scraps. Wage rates and employment, in some areas of the nation, are lower than they were in 2009. Factoring in consumer price inflation, consumers below the level of stock market speculators are in worse economic shape than before the financial collapse.
In sharp contrast, the Austrian school of economics focuses almost entirely on the real-world actions and reactions of individuals, rather than on the theoretical aggregates of Keynesianism. The Fed’s Keynesian economists failed to anticipate severe sectoral dislocations of the sort that occurred in the 1990s dot.com stock market boom, or in the vast over-expansion that occurred in the housing market and the fatal decline in lending standards employed by mortgage lenders.
The Fed’s record, in fact, is abysmal. Only a couple of months before the financial collapse of 2007 - 2008, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke opined that the economy was in good shape and that the only real problem was an excess of saving (at a time when governmental, corporate, and individual debt was soaring to all-time highs).
Given the intuitively and pragmatically established fact that no small groups of experts anywhere can manage an economy as large and complex as that of the United States, Austrian economics is the only sensible approach to policy-making. Austrian economics is aimed, not at managing the economy, but a preventing over-expansions such as the housing market, the stock market, and the now levered-up investment in petroleum E&P. Outside a command economy like the USSR, individual consumers and business executives will always try to game the system to their own advantage. The only effective policy for the Fed is to maintain a stable value for the dollar and to allow interest rates to seek a real balance between demand for money and the real supply of money (savings by businesses and individuals, not fiat money created by the Fed).
Under Austrian economic policies, increased demand (in excess of real savings) for debt or equity to finance basic production would drive up interest rates and force businesses to examine more closely the long-term feasibility of their capital asset investment plans. Without a flood of fiat money sloshing around the economy, banks would again be turned toward realistic evaluations of business and consumer creditworthiness.
Economics • Political Theory • (5) Comments
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Information-Closed Universe of Liberal-Progressivism
Worshippers of the secular, materialistic religion of liberal-progressivism, particularly since Darwin’s 1859 Origin of Species, accept as an unquestioned article of faith that there is a one-on-one relationship between edicts of the political state and results of such political action. If liberal-progressives conceive it, it is an accomplished fact.
Liberal-progressives have been energized by their doctrinaire certainty that God, through His externally imposed intelligent design, is no more than ignorant superstition. Their corollary faith is that all of life on earth is the product of random collisions of material force. This leads liberal-progressives to assert that, their superior intelligence having discerned this supposed reality, they are enabled by their superior knowledge to conquer nature and to structure political society in ways that guarantee perfection of humanity.
This faith in secular, materialistic religion, however, blinds them to the fact that matters seldom work as they predict.
We have seen this in spades during the past eight years in the Federal Reserve’s dogged adherence to Keynesian economics, the product of an economic theory that posits the political state as the primary, if not sole, source of the nation’s economic wellbeing. Ditto with regard to the entirety of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society entitlements programs and the president’s ObamaCare.
As countless commentators have noted, liberal-progressivism excludes the possibility that individuals may know, better then the political state, what is best for them. Also banished from public square discussion is the age-old truth that the spiritual realm, most evident in the West’s Judeo-Christian heritage, is ultimately more powerful than the political state’s secular and materialistic religion.
Read Seth Mandel’s There Is No Such Thing as a Secular Politics, posted on the Commentary website.