The View From 1776
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Spiritual Representation In The Modern World
Liberal-progressives assert that God definitely is dead and that liberal-progressivism is the earthly embodiment of truth and power.
Under the ultimately all-encompassing power of liberal-progressive rule, Judeo-Christian morality is to have no role in public life, other than as an object of ridicule by intellectuals, who hubristically claim to have dethroned God and, on their own, conquered the material world. Since the latter days of the 19th century, secularists in education, science, and politics have worked hard to rid society of religious belief, which they see as ignorance and, above all, a road block to political and social progress.
That aim has gained increasingly widespread acceptance since student radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s. By now, we have a couple of generations of Americans who have been inculcated by our educational system to dismiss the idea of God and to worship the political state as the only source of beneficence and benevolence.
Political leaders increasingly have ignored the restraints imposed by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Instead, the tyranny of the majority (Rousseau’s general will), as interpreted by mainstream media and liberal-progressive politicians, is to prevail, no matter what the Constitution ordains (see Nancy Pelosi’s incredulous reaction that anyone should question Congress’s unlimited power to impose the massive, socialistic income-redistribution program known as Obamacare). Obamacare and other government regulations forbid exercising the right to personal morality in the public square. Liberal-progressives have no qualms about forcing religious Jews and Christians to act against their personal moral convictions. Failure to kow-tow to the political state becomes anti-social, possibly criminal, behavior.
Today in the United States, public opinion is heavily steered by the media toward the secularity and amorality of socialism, expressed in the welfare state. More than seventy percent of media reporters, writers, editors and producers are self-identified liberal-progressives.
Liberal-progressives make much of the Darwinian “evolving” Constitution. Since the 1920s, Federal courts increasingly have adopted the view that interpretation of the law and constitutional principles ought to reflect what the judges believe to be the correct sociological viewpoint, as articulated in the pages of the New York Times and in the sociology departments of Ivy League universities.
Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman is widely cited by the liberal-progressive media as an authority on Constitutional law. He teaches the doctrine that the writers of the Constitution “must” have intended that changing public opinion alone effectively amends the Constitution. The writers of the Constitution, Professor Ackerman asserts, surely didn’t really mean to restrict amending the Constitution to the procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution, because those procedures are, in the words of Princeton’s Edward S. Corwin, “well nigh impossible” to implement.
Power backed by public opinion of the moment was the only standard recognized by liberal-progressive icon, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. If the people decide that they prefer Communist Bolshevism to our Constitution, he said, then the Supreme Court should not stand in their way. Apparently, in his view, upholding the law of the land and the Constitution itself is not part of a Supreme Court Justice’s duty.
Abandonment of our original Constitutional ethos can be seen clearly in the person of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo. In 1932 President Herbert Hoover nominated Cardozo, then chief justice of the New York State Court of Appeals, to succeed the retiring Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Cardozo was an appropriate choice to carry on the socialist principles and moral relativism espoused by Justice Holmes.
Cardozo wrote that, whenever possible, legal cases should be decided on the basis of what the social-justice principles of socialism envisioned as the appropriate outcome. What the law or legal precedent directed was less important than using the judicial power to reshape society. This necessarily implied antagonism towards both Judeo-Christian moral principles and English constitutionalism upon which the Constitution was founded.
In the analysis of Eric Voegelin (as I understand it), we have experienced a re-divinization of political, temporal rule: a reversion to the divinization of Roman emperors prior to the gradual roll-back of that power grasp after Constantine’s adoption of Christianity as the unifying religion for the empire.
From the time of Caesar Augustus, more or less contemporaneous with the birth of Jesus Christ, the Roman Emperor laid claim to being the representative of God on earth. As such, the Emperor claimed arbitrary power to impose Roman rule, as he wished it, upon the entire Mediterranean world, suppressing many local customs, religions, and systems of morality.
The early Christian church over time countered that conflation of imperial political and religious power, establishing the church as the representation of God’s will on earth, understood in the life, teaching, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As initially proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, the role of Christianity was to make access to Divine guidance and earthly help available to every individual believer on earth through the intercession of Jesus Christ. The Jews remain the chosen people of God, but their understanding of God as the source of moral righteousness guiding the actions of every ruler and every individual subject was henceforth to become available to anyone in the world who accepted Christ as Savior.
The critically important aspect of the rise of the Christian church was the responsibility thereby imposed upon every person as an individual. Every individual was expected to study the Gospels (Old and New Testaments) and to open his soul to the two most fundamental commandments of Judaism and Christianity: have no god other than God, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That understanding, since the mid-18th century with the advent of French socialistic philosophers, has been turned upside down, resulting in re-divinization of the political state and its earthly rulers as the sole source of guidance for personal conduct and the sole source of economic and social well-being. Note, for example, claims by Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren that no individual can claim to have been successful in business or otherwise; all of it comes from the socialistic political state.
Almost every sentence in an Obama speech features “I will” or “I have done.” More than any president in recent decades, Obama apparently envisions himself as an imperial ruler ordained to transform American society, to calm the world’s oceans, restore tranquility to nature, and to instill political and social harmony domestically and in the wider world. A particularly damaging thrust for America’s economic survival is Obama’s crusade to impose the fiction of man-made global warming in order to gain control of the world’s sources and uses of energy and thereby to regulate every action, 24/7/365, of every individual in the world.
The bottom line is that abandoning God and re-divinizing the political state, under Obama, Lenin, Stalin, or Hitler, leads inexorably towards political tyranny. That is the essence of liberal-progressivism.