How Do We Rediscover Our American Heritage? Start With the Declaration

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 July 8, 2017|
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It’s sobering to consider the degree to which we have lost our knowledge of and connection to our American heritage. As a result, William B. Allen notes that we have been transitioning increasingly from a society of “independent yeomen” to a society of “wards of the state.” The challenge before us is to determine whether we can rediscover our heritage, and relearn the requirements for becoming good and free citizens while also reclaiming the sovereignty we have ceded to the state.

The first step toward recovery, after our recent celebration of the 241st anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, is to remind ourselves of its unique proposition that because we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, equality and our common commitment to the political implications of that equality—not race and blood—are the founding principles of our nation. This principle of justice, where all citizens would be equal, replaced the interest-of-the-stronger principle otherwise found throughout history.

Next, the famous claim that politics is downstream from culture tends to miss the bigger picture and the deeper meaning of the American Founding. Diagrammatically, here is how the functioning of American society under its founding principles has been radically altered by the Progressive revolution:

The American Founding: The Declaration’s Natural Rights ⇒ Individual Character Formation to Create Good Citizens Capable of Self-Government ⇒ Culture with Vibrant Mediating Institutions ⇒ Limited Government

versus

Today’s Progressive Revolution: Relativism in a Naked Public Square ⇒ Society Dominated by a Powerful Elite ⇒ Atrophied Culture ⇒ Individuals as Wards of the State

Let’s now compare and contrast the respective steps of these two alternative worldviews in order better to understand the differences between them and the consequences to society inherent in adopting either one.

The American Founding: The Declaration’s Natural Rights
The Declaration’s famous preamble relied on the existence and authority of a transcendent higher power when it asserted the self evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. In other words, our rights are a gift from God. Richard Reeb once observed, “America’s founders were scrupulously neutral between the numerous religious sects that existed in their time. But it is not true that they were hostile to the God worshipped by all of them.” There is nothing secular or relativistic about the Declaration or the founding, a view reinforced by the words of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson,  James Madison and other founders. Each of them understood the value of a secular government but saw a secular society—one without religion—as a threat to the American experiment in ordered liberty.

Similarly, Calvin Coolidge described the Declaration as a great spiritual document because equality, liberty, and our natural rights are based on religious convictions:

…It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776…that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final…If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people…

The American Founding: Individual Character Formation and Political Humility
We can avoid sliding backwards by recognizing how culture is downstream from individual character formation. In other words, what matters most to changing the state of our culture and enabling the rediscovery of our Declaration heritage is focusing on the important task of forming individuals who possess the character required to live the virtues that make free government possible.

This means having habits and dispositions to be and do good, including acknowledging the existence of certain moral constraints on behaviors. As such, the Founding draws on our instinctive knowledge of right and wrong that is connected to the laws of nature summarized in Micah 6:8, which Washington referenced in 1783: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Lawrence Reed explains that individual character matters because of its direct connection to liberty, and thus to self-government: “If you value liberty, you must understand that character is an indispensable ingredient—a necessary pre-condition—for a free society…no people who lost their character kept their liberties. That may be the most important lesson from the last five thousand years of human history.”

The American Founding:  Creating Good Citizens Capable of Self-Government

Citizenship represents the interactions between individuals and their community. “Political prosperity” results when people of character act as good citizens, forming a good regime by blending together the virtues with “institutions and habits of freedom,” all free from an overbearing state.

Among these good citizens, there is no collective guilt, in either direction, based on race or by role in society. None of us owns any personal responsibility for the sad historical fact of slavery just because we are white. However, we all own personal responsibility for having hearts that hold no hatred for people based merely upon the color of their skin. Similarly, some of us come from families who have been living the American Dream, seeing improvements in educational and financial status generation-over-generation. That doesn’t equate to white privilege or a mandatory feeling of guilt even as we are called to assist those who need a helping hand so they can share in similar opportunities.

The American Founding: Building a Culture with Vibrant Mediating Institutions
A strong culture results from good citizens committing to participate actively in exclusive and reciprocal obligations with other citizens, based on the laws and customs of their communities. They do this through what Alexis de Tocqueville described as the constant formation of associations and Edmund Burke called “little platoons,” efforts that bind people together in the pursuit of aligned purposes—some even altruistic in nature—that also develop a refined sense of individual moral responsibility.

Social justice, properly understood, is then a virtue, a habit associated with individuals of character (instead of society at large), who appreciate how voluntary associations of fellow citizens of varying ideological preferences are the most productive way to effect genuine and lasting societal change.

These activities strengthen the community’s mediating institutions—smaller groups of family, churches, schools, fraternal organizations, and other local efforts—all voluntary activities that build ties between American citizens and have the added benefit of limiting the power of the state. Within these groups, informal norms (often called the “hidden law”) allow judgment and common sense to be applied as a means of regulating daily behaviors and interpersonal conflicts. Along the way, good citizens show their love for America by displaying affection for other Americans, thereby contributing to the building of a national character whose “summit of worth” consists of what Allen calls “independence in character and circumstance.”

The American Founding: Limited Government
People of character exercising their natural rights and freely building communities of good citizens is the very definition of a uniquely American freedom, a freedom that does not need more than the limited government necessary to protect such pre-existing natural rights.

In contrast, today’s Progressive revolution has created an entirely different societal dynamic.

Today’s Progressive Revolution: Relativism in a Naked Public Square
Relativism’s rule across American society means all subjective feelings are deemed valid and, when combined with political correctness and multiculturalism, conversations about “justice, rights, and moral common sense” have become well nigh impossible.

Lost in this assertion that there are no universal moral truths is the irony, described best by William Voegeli, that “no one is really ’value-neutral’ with respect to his own values” as he adds that relativists “always dismiss other people’s beliefs, but spare their own moral preferences from their doctrine’s scoffing” which then leads to there being “no reasons to choose the standards of the wise and good over those of the deranged and cruel.” This is crazy, but consistent with what we see building throughout our society. Roger Scruton offers the antidote:  “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”

However, George Weigel forecasts the ultimate consequences of today’s cultural trajectory:

Freedom untethered from moral truth risks self-destruction. For if there is only your truth and my truth and neither one of us recognizes a transcendent moral standard by which to settle our differences, then either you will impose your power on me or I will impose my power on you . . . Freedom uncoupled from truth . . . leads to chaos and thence to new forms of tyranny.

Such nihilistic power plays have become the new social currency and anyone who disagrees is labeled intolerant and in need of re-education. If this persists, it will not end well as no society has ever survived after basing its existence on relativism.

Today’s Progressive Revolution: Society Dominated by a Powerful Elite
As relativism exerts greater control, all forms of religious faith must become privatized and be taken out of the public square, continuing the destruction of our Western Civilization’s cultural heritage dating back to Athens, Jerusalem and Rome. We see this with today’s attacks on religious liberty and the exercise of rights of conscience. These occur because, as Richard John Neuhaus reminds us, the “vacuum will be filled by the agent left in control of the public square, the state . . . In this manner, a perverse notion of the disestablishment of religion leads to the establishment of the state as church” where the state “displace[s] religion as the generator and bearer of values . . . the public square has only two actors in it—the state and the individual” where “religion as a mediating structure . . . is no longer available as a countervailing force to the ambitions of the state,” regardless of whether the state is defined in national or globalist terms.  

As a result, we have gone backwards, becoming increasingly a regime based on the interest-of-the-stronger, about which the Greek historian Thucydides said: “Questions of justice arise only between equals. As for the rest, the strong do what they will. The weak suffer what they must.” And the Progressives think this is progress!

Today’s Progressive Revolution: Atrophied Culture
Instead of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous words where he wished his children to be judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin, we now hear group blaming derived from identity politics and the resulting cry for “social justice,” which we increasingly see for what it is, a demand for coercive power plays by the state, as special interests seek favors or to play god.

With an increasingly unchallenged, centralized, and rules-based bureaucratic state run for the benefit of elites, mediating institutions and voluntary associations wither away. Hidden law is destroyed, replaced by the rule of a remote, unelected, nameless, faceless, and unaccountable administrative state that seeks to regulate an ever-increasing span of societal activities. One result of these efforts has been the over-criminalization of ordinary life that enables the state to target anyone, only further tightening the noose around liberty’s neck.

Today’s Progressive Revolution: Individuals as Wards of the State and Political Hubris
The incentives to be charitable to others diminish as citizens become incentivized to relinquish all personal responsibility to get involved with and care for the needy because, after all, the state is deemed to be responsible for that. In accepting that worldview, we have passively agreed that a distant bureaucrat can be a better judge than us of how to meet our neighbors’ needs. We know from history that these programs will be ineffective and the costs will only be higher. Soon enough, it gets worse when the recipient of charity begins to feel entitled instead of grateful, eliminating any incentive to modify their behaviors.

Whether the Progressive revolution—having long ago become a form of religious fundamentalism, albeit one without a transcendent power—is viewed through a public choice lens or a Declaration lens, the revolution presumes it can adversely alter economic and behavioral incentives but still achieve better outcomes through centralized state power. Never in history has that approach succeeded but its proponents only argue for more of the same, the very definition of hubris. As Michael Walsh has said, “the Left never stops, they never sleep, they never quit. If you think you’ve beaten them, you haven’t.”

Rediscovering Our Declaration of Independence Heritage
We are in a cultural crisis, as we recently saw in the Progressive reaction to President Trump’s speech in Poland, a situation that cannot begin to resolve itself until after we first conclude a serious public debate that favorably answers the following four questions, building a new societal consensus that rediscovers our Founding heritage and rejects Progressive idolatry.

Question 1: Do we believe our rights come from the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God or from government?

Question 2: Is it individual character formation, based on universal moral truths and the virtues, to create good and free citizens or is it the nihilism of relativism, with its political correctness and multiculturalism relatives?

Question 3: Should voluntary associations and mediating institutions or the state dominate the public square culture?

Question 4: What is the most effective way to dismantle the administrative state, thereby allowing a sovereign people to reassert their natural rights?

Only after a new consensus has been realized can the second part, the hard work of recovery and living differently, begin in earnest. We have a lot to do if we are going to have any chance of reclaiming our uniquely American heritage of liberty and self-government.

About the Author:

D Hawthorne
D. Hawthorne is an entrepreneur and corporate CEO. He is a graduate of Harvey Mudd College and of Stanford Business School.
  • hamburgertoday2017

    Possibly the clearest description of the differences between one set of values held by one group of people in the US (‘progressives’) and virtually *everyone else*. Hawthorne has done an excellent job of identifying the core principles of the Preamble as well as the equivalent principles in the ‘Progressive’ community. This would be a worthy task for a single essay. But Hawthorne has done something that is really astonishing for such a brief essay: He has explicated the *logical* consequences of these different sets of principles. The only quibble would be Hawthorne’s critique of Andrew Breitbart’s maxim regarding the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘culture’. Breitbart was not, I think, attempting to articulate a political *principle* such as those found in the Preamble, but, rather, a maxim regarding political *strategy* particularly with regard to the way in which mainstream media in all forms promulgates a ‘Progressive’ *culture*. Breitbart was a reformed ‘leftist’ and a great deal of this thinking is informed by the ‘leftist’ part of his life experience. Breitbart understood that the ‘culture war’ was more than just about the values espoused by the conflicting parties, it was also about *how* those values were (or were not) being presented in ‘the media’. Hence Breitbart’s efforts at creating alternative media including the ‘Breitbart’ website. The Declaration of Independence articulates *why* the American colonies no longer wish to be governed by the Crown. Without the part of the Preamble that begins ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident’, the Declaration would simply be a ‘gripe list’ of sorts and likely rarely be given much attention other than providing context for the Constitution. However, the inclusion of the ‘self-evident’ section elevates the Declaration to the position of a *manifesto*, an articulation of *principles* that — whether true or not — are intended to *create* a new context for historical understand and *action*. The Founders *hoped* the Declaration would not result in war, but assumed it would. In context, the Declaration is not only a declaration of principles and a list of grievances, it was also a *declaration of war*. Which brings us back to Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart was a *war leader*, not a philosopher or statesman. My guess is that he would have scoffed at having his ideas about the relationship between culture (media) and politics being considered in any way comparable to those of the Declaration and it is, I think, unfair to do so (and then find his ideas wanting).

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    • DH

      Thank you for your kind words about the essay and also your elaborating on your quibble about my statement regarding Andrew Breitbart.

      Let me take this opportunity to explain further on my thinking about the latter, as we may not be that far apart: We agree that culture is upstream from politics. I then view individual character formation as further upstream from culture.

      The battle to recover our culture requires more and better work to be done at the character formation stage. That is where minds are trained and courageous hearts are developed. Done right, we first form character in our family lives and that effort to teach the virtues should be actively supported by the mediating institutions of our local communities – churches and synagogues, schools, etc. That transmission process has clearly been largely broken down for a long time now.

      Culture is the downstream meeting place where all of us come together. As such, culture does not have standalone content beyond what the many individual citizens bring into that public square. Said another way, it is a transactional space.

      Yes, we have to take the fight to them in the culture’s public square, as Breitbart both articulated and practiced well, and so few had done well before then. I would describe that effort as necessary but not enough. It is a necessary step to blow up the veneer of political correctness and cultural Marxism, allowing the recovery of the meaning of words/language and the correcting of the misrepresentations of our Western Civilization history. But, because it is a transactional space, the impact may not be lasting…unless it leads to true upstream changes, where beliefs are changed.

      As such, the culture war will only be won if we combine that clarifying effort in the public square of culture with the foundational work of forming people of character, who believe in moral truths and live accordingly as they then return to the cultural public square.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.

      • Adobe_Walls

        One of an excellent series of articles covering our founder’s vision, on this site over the last couple of weeks.

      • hamburgertoday2017

        I agree with the distinction you make between ‘transaction’ and ‘foundational’ aspects of culture. The problem is, from my perspective, that the ‘foundational’ institutions of culture are much harder to change. It took cultural Marxism 50 years to achieve primacy in our cultural institutions and that was with the existing institutions not being genuinely resistant to the change. Imagine how long it will take for cultural Marxist influenced thinking to be displaced *with* its practitioners fighting tooth-and-claw every every second of every day? Why did cultural Marxism gain any traction at all? I think, in part, the answer is ‘theory’. Maybe that sounds odd, but I think it’s more true than false. In the 60’s, when cultural Marxism really began to take hold, the ‘old guard’ was not prepared to fight theory with theory, or, to the extent they did, they did not put the theory of the Republic in terms that made sense to the 60’s audience. Take for instance the invocation of ‘freedom’ versus that of ‘liberty’. ‘Freedom’ sounds really good, much better than ‘liberty’ to the modern audience including the ‘let it all hang out’ generation of the 60’s. But ‘liberty’ is what the Founders fought for, not ‘freedom’. and there’s a reason for that. ‘Freedom’ is simply not practical, eventually someone’s freedom is going to collide with some else’s and then what? The logical result of unfettered freedom is the war of ‘all against all’ not universal achievement of all desires. ‘Liberty’ — the fettering of freedom to allow was much freedom as possible for as many as possible —
        is the answer to this problem. You might not agree with this formulation of the notion of ‘liberty’ but I have explained this freedom/liberty distinction to young people and seen ‘the light’ go on. It was obvious that ‘liberty’ had never been explained them, it never occurred to them that ‘liberty’ something other than ‘old people’ way of saying ‘freedom’. In your essay you did a great job of distilling out the ‘theory’ of the Preamble such that it could be taught in 5 minutes or so. This is the kind of thing we need to create a promulgate through both the ‘transactional and ‘foundational’ institutions.

        • DH

          Thank you for another thoughtful response. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and your comments deserve more than a hurried reply.

          We share a common belief that the foundational institutions of culture are now under the control of the cultural Marxists. They conducted their long march through those institutions and successfully took them over. I also agree that they achieved that primacy without much of a fight from the other side. Getting them back will indeed be a massive battle. They started the fight decades ago on a war footing, which they remain in due today based on strength derived from their “religious” dogma. As a result, they are certain while the other side often holds to no certain beliefs and, lacking courage, frequently acts passively, surrendering without much of a fight. It’s civilizational suicide, if left unchanged.

          So, where do we go from here? I think one of the first places to start is with language, i.e., the recovery of the meaning of words. When Reagan described the USSR as the “evil empire,” it jarred many people’s senses but he was morally and factually right, and time proved it. We need to call the cultural Marxists out using words that confidently assert similar moral truths. I think your liberty/freedom distinction is a good one and fits within that paradigm.

          Richard Fernandez wrote this article in the last week –

          https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

          These words from the article struck me: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

          Several days ago, I wrote these words about the article: “I think the above article’s thoughts are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

          “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

          Finally, I strongly agree that we have to take the fight across both the foundational and transactional fields of play, engaging the enemy with verve.

        • DH

          Thank you for another thoughtful comment. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and you deserve more than a hurried response. (I also posted a response several hours ago and somehow it went away after I edited it! So I am going to try to recreate it again.)

          We agree that the cultural Marxists conducted their successful long march through our institutions and now control them. We further agree that the other side did not put up much of a fight and winning back those institutions will be long and hard as the cultural Marxists have been in war mode all along while the other side still is not. The cultural Marxists bring a certainty of belief that comes from their “religious” doctrine while the other side has limited-to-no cultural confidence and responds passively/defensively. The latter is behavior that will lead to civilizational suicide, if unchanged.

          What should be done now? I think it begins with the reclaiming of language, the meaning of words. When Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” many people were shocked and offended but he was right, people were liberated by calling it what it was, and time proved him right. We need to boldly reclaim the meaning of the words which comprise the language of liberty and universal moral truths.

          I am generally sympathetic to your idea of distinguishing between liberty and freedom. I would encourage you to listen to this Thomas West podcast

          (http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/07/04/rights-duties-and-the-american-republic-a-conversation-with-thomas-west/)

          where he discussed his new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding

          (https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theory-American-Founding-Conditions/dp/1316506037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499807620&sr=1-1&keywords=thomas+west+founding).

          West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

          But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

          I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

          I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

          “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

          We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

          Thanks again for your comments.

        • DH

          See my response up higher. It has deleted two responses of mine to you so I responded with an entirely fresh comment.

          • DH

            hamburgertoday2017, my replies to you have been dropped multiple times for reasons I don’t understand. Let me try to break my response into two parts. Here is part 1 –

            Thank you for another thoughtful comment. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and you deserve more than a hurried response. (I also posted a response several hours ago and somehow it went away after I edited it! So I am going to try to recreate it again.)

            We agree that the cultural Marxists conducted their successful long march through our institutions and now control them. We further agree that the other side did not put up much of a fight and winning back those institutions will be long and hard as the cultural Marxists have been in war mode all along while the other side still is not. The cultural Marxists bring a certainty of belief that comes from their “religious” doctrine while the other side has limited-to-no cultural confidence and responds passively/defensively. The latter is behavior that will lead to civilizational suicide, if unchanged.

            What should be done now? I think it begins with the reclaiming of language, the meaning of words. When Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” many people were shocked and offended but he was right, people were liberated by calling it what it was, and time proved him right. We need to boldly reclaim the meaning of the words which comprise the language of liberty and universal moral truths.

            I am generally sympathetic to your idea of distinguishing between liberty and freedom. I would encourage you to listen to this Thomas West podcast

            (http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/07/04/rights-duties-and-the-american-republic-a-conversation-with-thomas-west/)

            where he discussed his new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding

            (https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theory-American-Founding-Conditions/dp/1316506037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499807620&sr=1-1&keywords=thomas+west+founding).

          • DH

            Here is part 2 of my response –

            West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

            But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

            I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

            I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

            “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

            We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

            Thanks again for your comments.

          • DH

            Part 2 of 2 response –

            West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

            But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

            I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

            I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

            “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

            We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

            Thanks again for your comments.

        • DH

          My part 2 reply –

          West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

          But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

          I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

          I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

          “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

          We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

          Thanks again for your comments.

        • DH

          hamburgertoday2017, here is my part 2 of 2 reply, which Disquis keeps deleting for unknown reasons –

          West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

          But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

          I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

          I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

          “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

          We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

          Thanks again for your comments.

    • 57nomad

      Two principles were encapsulated in the phrase “we hold these truths to be self-evident … and are endowed by their creator…”

      The first showed the Founders as products of the Age of Reason. All meaningful statements, synthetic apriori, were those that were based on intuitively obvious, ie, ‘self-evident,” foundations. The Declaration is first of all a philosophical treatise. It was written, Jefferson said to address a “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Here is appealing directly to European intellectuals in the way common to the Age of Reason.

      In the same sentence he destroys 2000 years of European governing philosophy, ALL European countries were monarchies whose legitimacy rests on the biblical injunction to honor the king. To this day, the surviving European kings lengthy introductions end with the phrase “by the grace of God” as in ‘by the grace of God, Queen of England”. It’s the same for all European kings. What this meant to their subjects was that their rights were given and could be taken away by the State.

      With just a few words Jefferson put an end to this and assigned rights as dispensed “and are endowed by their creator” by God directly to every individual person, the king had nothing to say about it. Think about it; six words. The statists have this figured out and the drive to exclude religion from public life is a direct assault upon that principle. Once God is divorced to governance, tyranny walks in, granting rights to those who play ball and denying them to those who don’t. This principle is the MO on nearly every university in America. The Constitution may be amended upon necessity. The Declaration is whole and timeless.

  • 57nomad

    The education establishment is trying to eradicate the importance of the Declaration and the notion of God given rights. It is now the Department of Indoctrination.

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    • BlueBoomPony

      This is why I hate Buckley style “conservatives” even more than the Progressives. They’re the ones who ceded control of everything that matters to the Left. That’s why we call them cuckservatives. They were cuckolded to the Left. They got fat and happy being the noble, but out of power opposition.

      Now, with people waking up, the GOP has most statehouses, all of Congress, the White House and SCOTUS, and they can’t get anything done, with Trump being the only one even trying.

      Take note, you NeverTrumpers out there- when the cultural civil war turns hot, you’re just another target along side the ProgLeft filth. There will be no mercy for you.

      • Quiet Desperation

        Even less mercy. The Prog foot soldiers are just lackwits and emotionally stunted, mentally ill useful idiots. Putting them down will be a mercy- to both sides.

        The old guard conservatives, however, knew better, and STILL sold us all out. They’re not stupid. They’re craven, spinless cowards, and the world is well rid of them. The offices of National Review need to burn in the night along with the CNNs.

  • ek ErilaR

    Hawthorne needs to read more broadly.

    Jefferson’s “inalienable rights” were simply the “ancient rights and liberties of Englishmen” that Coke, Selden and many others had been going on about since 1628 dressed up in the language of the Enlightenment. Coke, and perhaps Selden, traced these rights and liberties not to God but to time immemorial – well before 1066 and likely well before the time of Alfred the Great.

    Of course, when something is that old and that important, Jefferson can be forgiven for conflating custom, tradition and culture with “endowed by their Creator.” But technically, these rights and liberties derive exclusively from the “Norman Yoke” theory that drove the populist republican faction during Puritan Revolution in England between 1628-60 and that was imported in its entirety to America by the Winthrop Fleet in 1630.

    See: “The Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641”: http://history.hanover.edu/texts/masslib.html#ms

    Jefferson can be forgiven for calling these right and liberties God given and universal but they are not. They are the product of a particular culture; a culture that Trump has just challenged us to defend,

  • u.r.tripping

    1. Take a cross country road trip- you can’t understand America from your living room.
    2. Serve in the Armed Forces.

    • BlueBoomPony

      “I fly over it and glance down. I’ve seen enough.” — some Progressive somewhere, very probably.

  • BCML

    Most of the Declaration was a lift from prior British documents, notably the Petition of Right and others. Americans want desperately to believe that our founding was somehow unique. Maybe it was but the verbiage was “borrowed”. And what about the black slaves??? Forgot?? Sadly, this omission makes it one of the most hypocritical “manifestos” in history. All men are created equal, except…..them and them and them and, of course, women. The omission of blacks could almost be forgiven except that it presaged the fact that America had to fight a civil war to be rid of the vile institution, the only country on earth that clung to slavery like grim death. Deep down, Jefferson was a slave owner, a slave molester, and a lot of unflattering things. Historical research has popped his little bubble. The more you learn about our history, the different ways in which you view the country. And mostly, less positively.

    • curmudgeoninchief

      Your anger and disappointment are noted, as is your refusal to drop the sunglasses.

      First, get a life. I recommend http://www.getalife.com, but it’s your choice. Then learn to live it as something other than a twaddle-spouting tool of the Clinton Crime Family.

      Thank you for your support, and your commitment to American ideals.

  • BCML

    Having re-read the article, I find it to be a pile of glib, cliche-ridden twaddle. The Jeffersonian world of agrarian utopia, little/no government, yeoman farmers and freemen artisans is looked back as if it were a golden age. It was an unrealistic foolish bit of self-serving idiocy and it did not stand the forest test. He saw a virtually nonexistent central government, no national standing army, and no central bank. Jefferson was a eloquent fool. His vision was really designed to ensure his slave holdings would remain unchallenged and allow him to operate a plantation/harem without being brought to heel. When he wasn’t going bankrupt he was chasing his slaves around, and catching them often, based on recent DNA research. But the author is naively romanced by the notion of “little communities” dancing around to their benefit. But we live in an industrial society, we need massive regulation and a robust financial/transportation/legal framework supported by a public education system that will furnish skilled people to operate the economy. Jeffersonian minimalist government is, frankly, ridiculously stupid.

    • BlueBoomPony

      “we need … a robust financial/transportation/legal
      framework supported by a public education system that will furnish
      skilled people to operate the economy.”

      I agree heartily, sir!

      Is such a thing in the planning stages yet? When can we expect to see it?

  • Severn

    Do we believe our rights come from the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God or from government?

    What about “None of the above”? Our rights come from the American people, and will perish if/when that entity perishes. The Founders were fighting not for some transcendent universal ideals but for the “rights of Englishmen”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_Englishmen

    Should voluntary associations and mediating institutions or the state dominate the public square culture?

    What is the most effective way to dismantle the administrative state, thereby allowing a sovereign people to reassert their natural rights?

    The best way to dismantle the modern mass state is to push back against the modern idea of individualism, which has been been and is being used by the mass state to crush all those mediating institutions. While that modern idea of individualism has zero basis in the Declaration of Independence, the language of the Declaration (actually just that one famous sentence fragment which everyone goes on about) is widely used to justify the “right” of individuals to be “free” of those mediating institutions.

  • DH

    My response to the second comment below from hamburgertoday2017 –

    Thank you for another thoughtful comment. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and you deserve more than a hurried response. (I also posted a response several hours ago and somehow it went away after I edited it! So I am going to try to recreate it again.)

    We agree that the cultural Marxists conducted their successful long march through our institutions and now control them. We further agree that the other side did not put up much of a fight and winning back those institutions will be long and hard as the cultural Marxists have been in war mode all along while the other side still is not. The cultural Marxists bring a certainty of belief that comes from their “religious” doctrine while the other side has limited-to-no cultural confidence and responds passively/defensively. The latter is behavior that will lead to civilizational suicide, if unchanged.

    What should be done now? I think it begins with the reclaiming of language, the meaning of words. When Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” many people were shocked and offended but he was right, people were liberated by calling it what it was, and time proved him right. We need to boldly reclaim the meaning of the words which comprise the language of liberty and universal moral truths.

    I am generally sympathetic to your idea of distinguishing between liberty and freedom. I would encourage you to listen to this Thomas West podcast

    (http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/07/04/rights-duties-and-the-american-republic-a-conversation-with-thomas-west/)

    where he discussed his new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding

    (https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theory-American-Founding-Conditions/dp/1316506037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499807620&sr=1-1&keywords=thomas+west+founding).

    West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

    But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

    I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

    I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

    “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

    We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • DH

    This is a response to the second comment from hamburgertoday2017 –

    Thank you for another thoughtful comment. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and you deserve more than a hurried response. (I also posted a response several hours ago and somehow it went away after I edited it! So I am going to try to recreate it again.)

    We agree that the cultural Marxists conducted their successful long march through our institutions and now control them. We further agree that the other side did not put up much of a fight and winning back those institutions will be long and hard as the cultural Marxists have been in war mode all along while the other side still is not. The cultural Marxists bring a certainty of belief that comes from their “religious” doctrine while the other side has limited-to-no cultural confidence and responds passively/defensively. The latter is behavior that will lead to civilizational suicide, if unchanged.

    What should be done now? I think it begins with the reclaiming of language, the meaning of words. When Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” many people were shocked and offended but he was right, people were liberated by calling it what it was, and time proved him right. We need to boldly reclaim the meaning of the words which comprise the language of liberty and universal moral truths.

    I am generally sympathetic to your idea of distinguishing between liberty and freedom. I would encourage you to listen to this Thomas West podcast

    (http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/07/04/rights-duties-and-the-american-republic-a-conversation-with-thomas-west/)

    where he discussed his new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding

    (https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theory-American-Founding-Conditions/dp/1316506037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499807620&sr=1-1&keywords=thomas+west+founding).

    West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

    But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

    I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

    I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

    “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

    We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • BlueBoomPony

    Nobody lost anything. We opened the doors (in 1965) to millions of people who really don’t care about any of those things you lament about, but we can’t even discuss this lest we get depicted as demonic, baby eating Nazis. Fortunately more and more of us no longer care what names we get called.

    Unless a majority of folks can start being honest, this “America” you describe will completely disappear in a few more decades as the world descends into some sort of global serfdom and eventually a new dark age.

    And, no, there will be no godlike A.I. or replicators or nanoforges to save us any more than the previous era’s 200 mph freeways, autogyros and office building sized flying wings came to be. World saving tech and the Singularity are geek religion about as valid as any other theology.

  • Bellator

    The preamble to the US Constitution explicitly states for whom it exists: “…and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. ..”. Then look at the Naturalization acts of 1790 and 1795. It is very clear who they meant to be included – and who was not included.

  • DH

    My response to hamburgertoday2017’s second comment –

    Thank you for another thoughtful comment. Apologize for my delayed response but I have been traveling and you deserve more than a hurried response. (I also posted a response several hours ago and somehow it went away after I edited it! So I am going to try to recreate it again.)

    We agree that the cultural Marxists conducted their successful long march through our institutions and now control them. We further agree that the other side did not put up much of a fight and winning back those institutions will be long and hard as the cultural Marxists have been in war mode all along while the other side still is not. The cultural Marxists bring a certainty of belief that comes from their “religious” doctrine while the other side has limited-to-no cultural confidence and responds passively/defensively. The latter is behavior that will lead to civilizational suicide, if unchanged.

    What should be done now? I think it begins with the reclaiming of language, the meaning of words. When Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire,” many people were shocked and offended but he was right, people were liberated by calling it what it was, and time proved him right. We need to boldly reclaim the meaning of the words which comprise the language of liberty and universal moral truths.

    I am generally sympathetic to your idea of distinguishing between liberty and freedom. I would encourage you to listen to this Thomas West podcast

    (http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/07/04/rights-duties-and-the-american-republic-a-conversation-with-thomas-west/)

    where he discussed his new book, The Political Theory of the American Founding

    (https://www.amazon.com/Political-Theory-American-Founding-Conditions/dp/1316506037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499807620&sr=1-1&keywords=thomas+west+founding).

    West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

    But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

    I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

    I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

    “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

    We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • HighInformationVoter

    Civic Nationalist nonsense. More MUH CONSERVATISM blather from the people who surrendered women’s bathrooms to 50 year old hairy drag queens.

    Until the Right is willing to discuss race, nothing is going to improve.

  • HighInformationVoter

    “You cannot rediscover a heritage that isn’t yours. You can’t become “American” by a sheer effort of will any more than you can become “Japanese” or “Jewish” that way, no matter how much you like football, sushi, or matzo ball soup.”
    -Vox Day

  • DH

    Part 2 of 2 response to 2nd comment by hamburgertoday2017 –

    West’s discussion clarifies the Founders’ principles, including the meaning of the words they saw as central to the mission of liberty. Among other things, West talks about how the good government principles of the Declaration included (i) government based on consent; and, (ii) the protection of our rights. As to being a sovereign people, West points out how we are not sovereign to the laws of nature, which means a certain moral self-restraint is required in our behaviors. To me, that is similar to your liberty/freedom distinction, which really comes down to accepting what are the moral boundary conditions necessary for a free society. He also points out how the Founding saw the role of government to be one of protecting the rights of life, liberty and property, which has then morphed into providing for others (starting in the 1880’s) and then providing help for the “disadvantaged” (starting in the 1960’s). I was also taken by his point that the Founders saw a free society, lived in accordance with natural law, as requiring both restraint virtues and assertiveness virtues, with the latter including the courage and vigilance to defend liberty and self.

    But that is not all, because I think there is another important angle discussed in Richard Fernandez’s piece of the last week as to the Progressive opponents of liberty: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/07/07/babel/?print=true&singlepage=true#

    I found these words of his to be particularly striking: “Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why, despite having won every culture battle, the Left has lost the war. Look around you. Every single country which adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation”. The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.”

    I offered these thoughts at the time: “I think the article’s thoughts below are a correct read but not an obvious first read when it feels like everything has been lost. The cultural hole may be deep but there is no automatic “end of history” and it is up to us to act as people of faith and have the courage to act through what will likely be some seriously dark times, remembering along the way that our faith tells us rebirth and renewal is always possible in time.

    “On what basis is there reason for hope that the article’s premise is correct? I think the answer is hubris. The Progressive mindset wrongly presumes heaven can be created on earth, which leads them to look for the State to do “God’s work” and, with a utopian mindset, they pressure the State to keep pushing the envelope to the point of absurdity…and collapse. The 20th century taught us that even the deaths of tens of millions and widespread economic collapse did not deter them from pushing ever harder while allegedly on their way to some purported nirvana. Is there any more complete definition of hubris? Hubris is the Progressive’s Achilles heel. We need to remember that and exploit that weakness.”

    We will only be able to attack that weakness if we accept that our republic is a moral and spiritual enterprise at its heart, that it requires people of character. We don’t have to share identical religious beliefs but we have to be such a people of character who are willing to confidently assert and live by the moral conditions of a free society.

    Thanks again for your comments.