The View From 1776
Saturday, October 18, 2014
American Ebola meets the Jesse Jackson race brigade.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014
Too Much Money, Too Little Growth
Steve Forbes provides a timely summation:
“Money measures wealth; it is not wealth itself. It is a claim on products and services that people have created. That’s why counterfeiting is illegal; it’s thievery. But when government does this, it’s called quantitative easing, or stimulus.”
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Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The Metastasis Of ClimateGate Criminality
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Our Divisive, Racist President
Attorney General Eric Holder having announced his pending resignation, to carry on the administration’s blatantly anti-white racism, President Obama’s best appointment would be Al Sharpton, a self-promoting liar with many years’ experience fomenting riots, looting, and black mob attacks on policemen.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Big Brother Will Watch Over Your Children
Connecticut’s latest proposal to control people’s daily lives is reminiscent of atheist Richard Dawkins’s assertion that people who do not believe in Darwinian evolution should have their children taken away and placed under care of the socialist political state.
Connecticut Targets Homeschoolers
In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, a state panel tries to restrict parental rights.
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Friday, October 03, 2014
New York City, the nation’s largest, overwhelmingly socialistic city, shows the way. It’s all about class warfare.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Understanding Why Our Enemy Is Our Enemy
Frank Madarasz alerted me to this article:
Neither wishful thinking nor politically-correct suppression of free speech in the public square will alter the reality of the brutal aims and methods of Islamic Jihad.
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Monday, September 22, 2014
The Scottish Renaissance In America
Scottish scholars were the most influential single group of teachers during the founding of the United States. Today none of these great educators could find employment at major universities, because of their non-politically-correct understanding of reality.
Educating the Founders
By Robert Curry
“At age sixteen Jefferson and Madison and Hamilton were all being schooled by Scots who had come to America as adults.”
Garry Wills, Inventing America
This remarkable fact was no mere coincidence. Scholars from Scotland were held in the highest esteem in colonial America because of the preeminence of Scottish thinkers and Scottish universities at that time. The Scottish Enlightenment (it lasted from about 1730 until about 1790) was an explosion of creative intellectual energy in science, philosophy, economics, and technological innovation. It arrived just in time to have a decisive influence on the Founders.
Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton are the architects of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and The Federalist Papers. If we want to understand their thinking and their writings, we need to start with the fact that the Scottish Enlightenment provided their teachers.
Jefferson’s tutor, William Douglas, had studied at Glasgow and Edinburgh, but the great intellectual influence on Jefferson was William Small. Small was a powerful representative of the Scottish Enlightenment, and he was by far the most brilliant member of the faculty at William and Mary. He came to America to teach only from 1758 to 1764—at precisely the right time to guide Jefferson’s studies there. Small left America when he did in response to an urgent request from James Watt. Watt wanted his help with the development of the steam engine.
Madison’s tutor, Donald Robertson, was also a product of the Scottish Enlightenment at its peak, but the great intellectual influence on Madison was John Witherspoon, also a Scot. Witherspoon’s own education can help us see just how close the Founders were to the Scottish Enlightenment. Before coming to America, he studied with Adam Smith and Thomas Reid. When Madison entered Princeton in 1769, under the leadership of Witherspoon it had become the American university where the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment—Francis Hutcheson, Thomas Reid, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson and David Hume—were studied most intensely.
Hamilton had set out from the island of St. Croix to enroll at Princeton in 1772. He was sent by two sponsors, men who had recognized his astonishing gifts, his employer and Hugh Knox, a Scot and a Presbyterian minister who was a Princeton graduate. When Witherspoon did not accept Hamilton’s typically bold proposal that he be allowed to blaze through his studies at a rate only determined by his intellectual powers, Hamilton made the same proposal at King’s College (today’s Columbia) and was accepted. His tutor there, Robert Harpur, was also a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, having studied at Glasgow before coming to America.
The ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment were studied and hotly debated just about everywhere in colonial America. In the words of the eminent scholar Douglass Adair, “At Princeton, at William and Mary, at Pennsylvania, at Yale, at King’s, and at Harvard, the young men who rode off to war in 1776 had been trained in the texts of Scottish social science.” James Foster’s admirable book Scottish Philosophy in America states it this way:
The Scottish Enlightenment provided the fledgling United States of America and its emerging universities with a philosophical orientation. For a hundred years or more, Scottish philosophers were both taught and emulated by professors at Princeton, Harvard and Yale, as well as newly founded colleges stretching from Rhode Island to Texas.”
It is well known that the Founders were on the whole remarkable for their learning. It is fair to say that by modern standards they were as a group almost unimaginably learned. They knew their Aristotle, they knew their Cicero, and they knew the Bible—and often read the texts in the original languages; Jefferson and Adams read Greek, Latin and Hebrew. What is not so well known is how much the Scots contributed to the Founders’ thinking. Those who overlook the Scots’ contributions to the American Founding end up overlooking the American Idea itself.
Witherspoon is no doubt the most important example of the influence of Scottish educators. In the words of Jeffry Morrison in his excellent biography of Witherspoon:
“No other founder (not even James Wilson) did more to channel the Scottish philosophy into the colonies and thus into American political thought.”
In addition to Madison, Witherspoon’s students by one count included twenty-one U.S. senators, twenty-nine members of the House, twelve governors, three Supreme Court Justices, and five delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Is it any wonder that the ideas and arguments of Reid and Smith and their Scottish colleagues are everywhere in the writings of the Founders?
Witherspoon’s course in moral philosophy, which he dictated year after year in largely unchanging form and which his students copied down faithfully, is almost certainly the most influential single college course in America’s history.
Beyond his enormous influence as an educator, Witherspoon was also one of the most important of the Founders. He was an early and influential champion of American independence, and much more than merely a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, he played a central role in the signing.
When the Declaration was completed and ready to be signed, the signers-to-be wavered. For two days they hesitated to affix their signatures. To sign it, after all, was to provide the British with documentary evidence of treason, punishable by death. John Witherspoon rose to the occasion, speaking in his famously thick Scottish accent:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, a nick of time. We perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to content to our own slavery. That noble instrument upon your table, which ensures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning by every pen in this house. He that will not respond to its accents and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions is unworthy the name freeman.”
His speech broke the logjam and, as we all know, the delegates then swiftly signed the Declaration.
Robert Curry is the author of the forthcoming book, Common Sense Nation. You can visit him at https://www.facebook.com/CommonSenseNationBook
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Liberal-Progressive Knee-Jerk Blind Spots
Reader Robert Stapler examines some of liberal-progressives’ off-the-shelf, canned responses and preconceptions which have little, if any, congruence with reality.
Obama’s Middle-Eastern Strategy – A Response to Our In-House Liberal
By Robert Stapler
I began this essay as a rebuttal to comments made by our friendly ‘house liberal’, J. Jay, in another posting by our gracious and sagacious host, Thomas (see http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/comments/3265 ). The subject of that essay was ‘Does or does not our president have a strategy for dealing with ISIS and, if so, has it or will it blow up in his face (and, perhaps, ours with him). Mr. Jay reacted by implying the President’s critics are ‘making a tempest out of a tea-pot’ (i.e., ISIS not much of a threat), and that there are positives to ISIS gaining in power and influence we can somehow exploit (though, of course, he doesn’t say how to go about that).
Mr. Jay’s comments are invariably of the reactive or ‘knee-jerk’ variety, and, as such, represent the views, biases and conduct of a great many liberal-socialists. Though he has some faculty for dressing up talking points in seemingly sensible style, any close examination of his arguments reveals they are (without exception) inaccurate, careless, unmethodical, unrealistic, irresponsible, uninformed (or, more accurately, mal-informed), partisan and, at times, more than a little bizarre or naïve. His views mirror those of his ideology and those of the mainstream (leftist) informational sources from which he draws most (if not all) his talking points. Regardless the absurdity of his remarks, he continues in a condescending manner suggesting his/theirs are the more rational arguments made within these halls, despite his errors having been shown false each and every time he is rebutted (which is often). I use Mr. Jay here as a proxy for all such liberal-socialist in addressing my remarks, and do not, therefore, mean to pick on him especially.
Mr. Jay is forever telling us, his is the party of ideas; that it is we conservatives who lack vision. Yet, in his own opening remark he admits “/There appear to be no good answers to this situation”. Both history and a variety of think tanks (see my links at end of this essay) indicate otherwise, including some on his own side of the political divide (aka, liberal-socialist). The problem then is not a lack of ideas on the matter. The problem is an obvious lack of will at the top compounded by a glut of opposing views (i.e., lack of consensus) regarding matters which, in the past, were more straightforward or quickly solved. Nor is this confusion only as between parties, as the arguments are both inter- and intra-factional. There is one further problem impeding progress here, and that is the lack of agreed upon objectives. In fact, it is the main impediment. Agree on objectives, and the solutions will quickly follow even should the factional distemper continue.
Jay sneeringly demands of us “ So pray tell … what is the “strategy” that all these arm chair critics suggest the US should employ to “address” the situation? Who should we bomb? I have yet to hear of a single coherent idea that would be in the national interest of the US”. This dismissive remark crystalizes the highly-biased rhetorical implication we (Americans) shouldn’t resort to bombing under any circumstances. Implied also within this seemingly innocent yet prejudicial remark is the suggestion (gratuitously universal among liberal-socialists) that we conservatives are all ‘bomb crazy’ as needs restraining by our more ‘reasonable’ brethren. We are, of course, no more ‘bomb crazy’ than others, yet so successfully poisonous has been this libel that even the politically neutral regard it a ‘truism’. As such, liberal-socialist of the Jay variety stoop to using at every turn in the conversation simply to render anything we say in rebuttal as ‘barbaric’. That it is a patently false and unfair smear tactic should go without saying, yet so accepted has this libel become (as a meme) it needs constant debunking.
That said, bombing clearly IS an option, else our professedly ‘liberal’ President would not now be bombing ISIS (and others). Moreover, he would not be bombing without consulting others (who are more expert regarding its advisability and legality), or threatening to do so. The left (Jay included) does not regard Obama’s use of drones as ‘bombing’ simply because neither the administration nor media have been calling it that. Nor does he regard the more direct recent bombing of Libya in support of radical insurgents as ‘bombing’ for the same reason. Thus, in his world, bombing is not bombing until his party calls it such.
There are a lot of things nations can and should do in their own defense. However and for the past 60 years, liberal-socialists have created a false moral paradigm that places an unfair and impractical burden on civilized nations to remain ‘civilized’ in the face of savagery, before they can act extra-territorially in their own defense. This is true whether the question posed is saturation-bombing or surgically-clandestine warfare. This same paradigm absurdly sets a different (lower) standard of conduct on undeveloped, often savage, nations; as though morality and justice were somehow different under different economic, social or political conditions. By that standard, the Khmer Rouge was justified in its butchery. This narrative has been instilled into our culture for generations purely for political and ideological objectives at odds with reason. Generally, this extreme pacifist standard has served to neuter our military while sowing discord politically to little purpose other than to divide us politically (to their advantage). The effect of this policy and its inflexible mindset has been to limit our options to only those that result (paradoxically) in more, rather than less, killing. In the current context, that means Obama (following the standard liberal-socialist/pacifist narrative) has been willing to bomb but not to send in troops. He does this despite he must by now realize that bombing is ineffective without troops on the ground, that it takes far longer to get any kind of acceptable results (if ever), is typically abandoned after some time as futile (without having accomplished much of anything), and that the total body count is roughly the same or greater. If it is true that bombing alone accomplishes little while bombing combined with ground forces (properly managed) accomplishes much, and the casualty rate is about the same, then the burning moral question should not be whether or not it is okay to bomb but whether it is okay to inflict casualties at all and regardless the means or the threat short of an immediate and collectively existential threat. Regardless, that kind of hamstringing ensures only the civilized get killed.
Jay’s suggestion “I have yet to hear a single coherent notion as would be in the national interest”, is simply and obviously playing the partisan. Clearly, it is not what hasn’t been ‘heard’, but what he refuses to hear that is in question. This is a demeaning throwaway line having no real meaning other than to censure and to tell us ‘your ideas on the matter are a waste of my time’, meaning he will reject them out of hand regardless of merit. This has been the left’s approach to debate from first to last, and there is no getting around such obtuse obstinacy. He/they reject our ideas this way solely and spitefully for no other reason than they come from those standing in the way of their agenda. Let some unmistakably liberal-socialist icon (like John Kerry) put forth those same ideas, and Jay defends them unexamined. We know this to be true because he has done exactly that many times before.
From his remarks, Jay seems to believe hatred of the West is a secondary (or even a tertiary) consideration among radical-Muslims; and, that what really gets them fired up is hatred of each other. I realize this is a popular myth among those who imagine themselves well-informed without the bother of checking and given to exaggerating their own ‘wonderfulness’, but all it tells me is he has spent very little energy figuring this out and gets his misinformation from people easily as ignorant whose inflexible ideas of how the world works stand in the way of clear thinking. It is also wishful thinking among those who just want the terror to go away. I am not here claiming a vast knowledge of the middle-east or of its denizens (though I have studied the situation in some detail), only that the points Jay makes quite clearly do not fit even such facts as are plainly in view (regardless the source). I don’t think even peaceful Muslims have all that clear an idea what excites their brethren to such barbarism (though some do, and give it their full support). Radical-Muslims, themselves and many times, have told us that we (and not each other) are the primary targets of their enmity, and that the cause of that enmity is our refusal to yield to their religion and their tyranny. They have also told us their schism (which is about whether a [no longer identifiable] descendant of Muhammad or the most capable leader among them should lead) is a secondary consideration. They, themselves, have repeatedly told us their main objective is to spread Islam throughout the world, to spread it by the sword where persuasion fails, that they are commanded to do this by Allah (as proclaimed by Mohammed), and that nothing else takes precedence over this. Just because, right now, ISIS is focusing on making its faction dominant does not mean they have forgotten the ultimate, common, and obligatory goal of subjugating us. ISIS is merely, as a practical matter, exploiting possibilities handed them rather than wasting energy and openings on the elusive (yet still primary) objective of subjugating everyone else.
Another misconception Jay labors under is the notion that keeping the Sunnis and Shiites at each other’s throats somehow works in our favor, that this somehow keeps them from attacking us (i.e., his counterbalance idea). No doubt there may be some slight ‘countervailing effect, but, if so, it apparently isn’t much, and has never been much. What works in some contexts does not work in all, and, if regional stability was ever the objective, the Iraq v Iran countering falls into the latter category.
More broadly, ISIS’s success (plus all the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings) has only emboldened a great many radical-Muslims to join the fight (on both sides). Think of this as a ‘recruitment bonanza’. Not all of these radicals bother to travel all the way to Iraq to fight, but find opportunities to assist the ‘cause’ closer to home. I read only yesterday that more than 2/3 of all British citizens who traveled to Syria-Iraq expressly to fight along side ISIS have returned home, and that violence since their return has increased measurably. What our experts and threat-watchers report is that threat levels have risen even as ISIS gained in power and influence. There may be some disagreement within and without government by how much, but I can find no expert sources who are saying the threat to us is lessened by ISIS or by ISIS versus its rivals. Even assuming we break ISIS up, that still leaves an awful lot of trained (or half-trained) jihadists running about looking for new targets of opportunity.
Quite a few of those who flocked to ISIS’s banner are American citizens with every intention of returning home once (or even before) the dust settles over there. When they do, we can be certain the number of attacks here will only multiply and intensify. The same is true of Britain, France, Australia and every other Western nation (plus Russia, Africa, India, Indonesia, Philippines &c), as they can expect nothing but trouble from their own returning malcontents with a mission from Allah. Our border security is about as nonexistent as it has been in the last 140 years, and that is almost entirely the result of the current (stealth) policy to abet illegal immigration. Only this week, four non-American jihadists were captured crossing our southern border intent on attacking us. 9/11 was not carried out by an army, but by a handful of highly dedicated though minimally-trained ideologues who exploited just such openings. The left appears confused whether or how much of a threat this poses, and that is solely the function of a political narrative that will not or cannot admit of miscalculation and errors. Here again, Jay failed to research this aspect which would have told him his counter-balancing theme had very little merit prior to putting it forward where any half-wit might debunk it.
Jay then argued “… it makes little sense from a geopolitical point of view to enable one group over the other if you can achieve a counterbalance in the interest of stability.” Of course, Jay knows little of geo-politics beyond what he hears from liberal-socialist news sources, sources known to be uninformative and biased. Ergo, he’s at a substantial disadvantage discussing matters he knows only tangentially and through the leftist filter.
What evidence does he provide for this his assertion allowing (or encouraging) small adversaries to slug it out keeps others safe from their violence? Absolutely none, only the vacuous talking points he gleans from MSNBC, PBS and CNN suggest this. Conservatives have also sometimes applied this same concept out of context, but more often and generally we take some greater pains to get our facts straight before committing to such an unlikely assertion. Anyone who has ever been caught in someone else’s fire-fight can tell you this is not a healthy situation for bystanders, not even bystanders better armed, stronger or more numerous than those in blazing away. Even for bystanders with a stake in the outcome and some means to control its overflow, there are serious risks involved as should not be undertaken lightly or sloppily.
History is replete with examples of war occurring often and precisely when rivals are equally (or very nearly) matched; and of long periods of peace precisely when some single power dominates its rivals. Did not Rome maintain its Pax Romana by virtue of its relative might? And, did not Rome’s several enemies attack precisely when Rome was weakest, when over-extended or had allowed its ranks to thin (i.e., when the forces were more equal)? Did not Nazi Germany attack Russia just as it had subjugated France yet still fully engaged against Britain? Did we not elect to fight our own multi-front war against Germany and Japan (which, at the time, was less than a certain proposition)? Aggression is often a question of opportunity and constraints on the strong more than greed or hatreds. Also, just about every war spills onto neighbors and additional rivals such that this notion of ‘counterbalance’ is, at best, a means not to be over-relied on. Mr. Jay needs to consider these are mad-men flush with power and overconfidence, men to whom a little ‘side-action’ involving low-risk pokes at us while fully engaged against local rivals is perfectly reasonable; especially given the temper and prejudices of our current administration.
History also shows that aggressors who succeed initially and spectacularly tend to quickly morph from ‘non-threats’ to ‘threats’ against successively larger enemies. Success excites potential allies to swell its ranks, as well as emboldens its own troops to do more. A quick succession of early victories enables a victor to catapult weapons and resources captured into expanded possibilities. That was how Alexander did it starting from small resources, weapons and objectives, expanding a tiny army of Greeks into a vast army of subject states.
Jay tries the usual and gratuitous gambit of blame shifting (onto Bush) to distract us from the obvious failure by Obama to lead; probably the real and only objective in his entire rant. He did that by claiming Bush (in his rush to avenge) destroyed a critical feature necessary to middle-eastern stability, the much ballyhooed ‘counterbalance’ that Jay, himself, previously inserted into the debate. Yes, Saddam did, at one time, serve as a counterweight to Iran, but that counterweight was short lived and consisted mainly of U.S. backing. That counter-balance and stability, however, only existed until Saddam began attacking first Iran, then Kuwait. In other words, only so long as Saddam participated in the shared objective of peacekeeping. In that context, having Iraq as our frontline proxy against Iran (with the implication we’d throw in our weight on Saddam’s side) did serve to contain Iranian aggression for a time. However, Iran soon figured out it could attack its own enemies via proxies (i.e., Hezbollah & other terrorists) and began a clandestine program to acquire nuclear weapons. That was hardly what we’d call a ‘stable situation’. Our initial reason for allying with Iraq, however, wasn’t Iran; and our continued support of Iraq beyond our initial reasons had far more to do with countering the (then) Soviet-Iranian alliance with one of our own as kept both those countries out of the Soviet crosshairs. Iraq had been part of the U.S. encirclement of Soviet Russia, and its role in that was fairly minor. Using Iraq as a counterweight to Iran, therefore, was never more than an after-thought; and not an especially promising one. Between the Soviet collapse (1989) and the invasion of Kuwait 1990, continued support for Saddam was merely a question of as yet un-reformulated policy.
By the time Bush toppled Saddam, Iraq had long ceased to provide any kind of counterweight to Iran (or the Soviets). That, in fact, ended with Saddam’s failed invasion of Iran (1982-1988). Up to 1989, Soviet influence with Iran also helped to damp Iranian aggressions. In fact, in the preceding decade, that had probably mattered more than the U.S./Iraq alliance in maintaining the status quo. What constrained Iran after 1989 was direct U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf enabled by Iran’s loss of its powerful (Soviet) ally. It still had Chinese backing, but China was, at that time, still unable to project its power globally. The Iraq-Iran region has, in fact, been inherently unstable since the inter-war period (WWI to WWII), and post-war policy has been struggling to stabilize the region ever since to little effect. Therefore, Jay’s claim Bush-43 ‘destabilized the region’ is at least 13 years out of date, bogus, and more than a little absurd.
Jay claimed ‘it is silly [to say] Obama wants to be “friends” with mullahs’, yet here too the evidence (both circumstantial and absolute) to a distinctly pro-Muslim Obama. He steadfastly and fawningly refuses to link terrorism with Islam. He prostrates himself before sheiks, Muslim heads of state, and even a few mullahs with some regularity in what is regarded highly irregular (diplomatically speaking), unseemly and un-American fashion. His insults to and unfair condemnations of Israel, even as he courted the PLA make abundantly clear this fawning preference. He has (inappropriately) brought radical-mullahs into the White House, to state functions, and accompanying him into the halls of Congress. He continues to favor high-ranking Muslims on his staff with known links to the Muslim-Brotherhood (a Muslim umbrella organization with a charitable façade and known, direct ties to radical and terrorist organizations worldwide) even after their presence and undue influence was paraded in the press. He speaks only praise for Islam, and defends Muslim groups known to have more directly supported global terrorism (e.g., ISNA and CAIR). Earlier this year, he increased funding to Hamas; right after Hamas began attacking Israel with scores of rockets. Also, this year, he deliberately (and wrongly) released 5 senior Taliban terrorist commanders in exchange for one deserter for no better reason than he still thinks locking them up was unfair, and had found an excuse to set them free (some of whom immediately rejoined the fight against us). What is silly (beyond belief) is that Jay would even pretend Obama doesn’t want to ‘make nice’ with our sworn enemies. Even now, as he brays about defeating ISIS, Obama is excessively careful about getting Muslim approval before developing real and more suitable allies, and likely excluded some longtime allies from his coalition precisely because his Muslim pals would be offended.
What is painfully clear from Mr. Jay’s remarks is that even now, after all that has happened and after all that has been proclaimed by the jihadists and mullahs that their main target is us, he (and the left) still just don’t get it they want us converted, subjugated or dead (in that order) – and that there are no compromises with radical-Islam short of these three. This inability to concede the obvious on the left is driven by a pathologically partisan need to dominate the political narrative.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/380946/iraq-beyond-shia-vs-sunni-tom-rogan - points out Iraqi politics are far more complex than the simple Sunni v Shiite division upon which Mr. Jay stakes his position
http://www.aleteia.org/en/world/article/the-fall-of-iraq-5809214739972096? – Synopsis of the Sunni-Shiite schism
http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2012/05/russia-the-west-and-the-sunni-shiite-trap.html - how American v Russian interests combined by our subsequent withdrawal compound what has happened in Syria-Iraq
Think tanks on instability issue
http://www.meforum.org/3457/obama-doctrine-middle-east - Daniel Pipes’ organization
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2014/s3974977.htm - Australian Broadcasting Corp. (i.e., public media similar to PBS), not the American commercial network
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Today’s Secularity vs. Constitutional Liberties
In his latest book, Professor Ellis Sandoz explores the origins and nature of personal freedoms in the Western world, especially as those freedoms came to be embodied in the Constitution of the United States.
Professor Sandoz is director of the Eric Voegelin Institute at Louisiana State University. The first portion of his book (Give Me Liberty: Studies in Constitutionalism and Philosophy, St. Augustine Press, 2013) , is devoted to exploring the grounding of Western civilization in individuals striving toward religious and political rectitude, exemplified in the American founding experience. In the later portion of his book, Professor Sandoz relates these matters to the philosophy of Eric Voegelin, who is generally regarded as one the 20th century’s greatest philosophers of history.
As Professor Sandoz writes in the preface to his work, “The drift of [the book] is to show the connection of the individual consciousness with Liberty in persons and in politics as this has emerged in Western and endured in Anglo-American civilization…In the teeth of our witheringly secularist times, the argument raises the banner of human nobility through participation in the infinite Good as the foundation of all we hold dear and worthy of devotion…”
The book’s back-cover copy tells us, “The Liberty for which Patriot Patrick Henry was willing to die was more than a rhetorical flourish. The American Patriots and Founders based their ideas about Liberty upon almost 200 years of experience on their own as well as the heritage of English Common Law and even back to the natural order of Thomas Aquinas, not to mention the philosophy of Aristotle and the Biblical Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.”
Of particular importance was John Adams’s claim for the origin of political liberty: “Rights antecedent to all earthly government - Rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws - Rights derived from the great Legislator of the universe…” Needless to say this conception stands in diametric contrast to the secular and materialistic position advocated by liberal-progressive-socialistic government. Think of President Obama’s assertion that “You did not do that yourself,” with the clear meaning that what individuals possess is given to them by collectivized government, things which liberal-progressive-socialistic government is therefore entitled to take from individuals to satisfy government’s vision of social justice. Think also of President Obama’s abrogation, through ObamaCare, of individuals’ religious liberties that, in the past, were guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
This decadent, liberal-progressive-socialistic conception of human nature and of mankind’s place in the order of being grew to crisis proportions in 19th century Europe and was imported into the United States after the Civil War by newly secularist major universities. Darwinian evolutionary theory and the philosophical doctrine of materialistic determinism led, on the one hand, to a view of humans left adrift, without spiritual sustenance, and, on the other hand, to the proclaimed necessity of heavy-handed, collectivized government as the only source of people’s well-being. Hence Nietzsche’s observation in the late 1800s that God was dead. As Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s champion of the evolutionary hypothesis, earlier had asserted, evolution “proves” that there is no good or evil, just the struggle for survival. Powerfully collectivized, arbitrary government thus is both obliged and entitled to regulate the populace into conformity to preconceptions of the self-anointed elite.
In contrast, as Professor Sandoz notes, the historic American tradition was a politics of aspiration, in Jefferson’s phrase in the Declaration of Independence, “the pursuit of happiness.” This aspiration, in the Declaration, was enumerated under God-given, inalienable rights. But under the now regnant paradigm instilled by our education establishment, individual pursuit of happiness is merely an excuse for selfishness and, worst of all, the pursuit of business profit. Our callow youth are schooled to believe the Marxian doctrine that profit is money stolen from the workers and that government’s job is to confiscate profits and redistribute them to the working masses. Unfortunately, as we know too well, membership in the employed, working masses has sharply dwindled under the tender mercies of liberal-progressive-socialistic government.
Professor Sandoz explores in considerable detail the philosophical understandings of Eric Voegelin, one aspect of which was, Professor Sandoz writes, “For while the physical safety of a society may be the cardinal political priority, the spiritual health nurtured by truth and justice in the public order and civic consciousness is essential to the happiness of individuals and to the thriving of the societies they compose.” He quotes Voegelin, “…the divine reality lets the light of its perfection fall into the soul; the illumination of the soul arouses the awareness of man’s existence as a state of imperfection; and this awareness provokes the human movement in response to the divine appeal.”
In contrast, liberal-progressive-socialists, in some quarters, deny the existence of the human soul, and in all quarters dismiss the spiritual realm and human relationship to Divinity as ignorant superstition that impedes the progress of materialistic socialism, which is explicitly an atheistic ideology.
Professor Voegelin was among the first philosophers of history in modern times to understand that liberal-progressivism in all its forms - American liberalism, Marxian socialism, Mussolini’s Fascist state capitalism, and Hitler’s National Socialism - is a gnostic, secular religion. The unbridgeable difference between liberal-progressivism and the Constitutional ethos of our founding generations is liberal-progressivism’s conviction that it is the sole possessor of ultimate knowledge. Professor Sandoz notes that, “…Voegelin insists, the philosopher is a lover of wisdom, never its possessor, for only God is wise and can have knowledge of the Whole.”
In Voegelin’s analysis, a gnostic, secular religion such as liberal-progressivism hubristically claims exclusive, secret knowledge of the proper ordering of political society. Since only the elite have such knowledge, they are entitled to regiment the rest of us, compelling conformity to their vision of society. The views of traditionalists and conservatives, and most of all believers in Judeo-Christian morality, are properly subjects of ridicule and suppression.
Liberal-progressivism’s gnosticism leads to the view the world is a fallen version of the Garden of Eden’s perfection and to interpret society’s fall as resulting from the advent of private property. Property rights, of course, were among the rights that formerly prevailed under the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, hence the continuing attacks on the Fifth Amendment.
The Judeo-Christian tradition postulates that only God has knowledge of perfection and that perfection cannot be created by man here on earth. Salvation is a matter for transcendent reality. Voegelin noted that however much liberal-progressives and other gnostics yearn to create an earthly society of perfect social justice, reality remains unchanged. Liberal-progressivism cannot change reality, but it can dangerously derange political and social order.
Professor Sandoz remind us that, “Now as always before, resistance and conviction form the sine qua non of any Liberty worthy of the name.”