How Our Republic is Rotting From the Head
It is gone, that lovely adherence to fidelity and truth; it is gone.
It has passed from this vast and wonderful land; that healthy pride born of self-reliance and industry; it is gone.
The beauty of a people able to make a correct determination about what is moral and what is not, capable of correcting the wrongs and punishing the wrongdoers; of enhancing and promoting the good, and sharing it with those in need – that beauty is gone.
Gone is the beacon of light – our shining city on the hill that was the destination in spirit for all the peoples of earth. It is gone; it is gone. Entitlement and selfishness in the disguise of compassion have replaced it.
Those of us who created and lived in that city watched while it was razed. Progressive and liberal barbarians were seen everywhere – in public office, in academia, in corrupt unionism, in the arts, in literature; infiltrating private organizations devoted to issues of race, religion, public policy. They were seen creeping into privately held trusts founded either by patriots whose wealth has been turned against their expressed interests, or by successful but guilt-ridden capitalists whose wealth was accumulated by cozy, fascist-like arrangements with the government doing all to knock down what the Framers erected.
They deceived the people by skillful and manipulative use of the language promising that the human condition itself could be overcome, disparity would end, dreams would all be fulfilled, and justice would roll down if only we give up our freedoms and let the benign coercives regulate our daily activities. Thus highly paid clerks control the destinies of the creators, the risk takers, the builders.
Imagining themselves to be the harbingers of a new utopia, without conscience they preyed (and still do) on the fears and hopes of people who struggle daily with the difference between what they desire and what they have been able to acquire. The barbarians inaugurated a campaign designed to elevate the deadly sin of envy to a virtue by, calling it an entitlement.
By inaugurating permanent solutions for illusory or temporary problems, over the decades the government that launched the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ became the hegemon of absolute power over the people. To accomplish this hegemony, they used a kind of ‘legal Judo.’ This martial art consists of using the power of your enemy against him. They perfected the art of obfuscating the clear language of the Constitution by corrupting its words which obliterated its meaning. Thus they used the powerful language of the Constitution to turn it into an instrument of coercion against the people whose individual freedoms it was written to preserve.
Our leaders now openly reprobate that healthy pride of accomplishment as undeserved, and unseemly; it should be an embarrassment, a guilt-creating thing they say. No one should receive credit for self-sacrifice, delayed gratification, and hard work to create a business – government clerks made it all possible; government giveth and government taketh away, blessed by the name of the Democrat Party. Many of our leaders no longer encourage self-reliance and industry at all; instead, they elevate the virtue of dependence, and denounce productive and generous citizens as selfish.
We are chastised when we congratulate ourselves for having determined what was morally wrong, and for dying to correct it – and we are told that having fought a war to provide equal rights to every person, we are more evil than ever; that even if we do not sin, we still have sin in our heart (that no one can find), and we deserve the opprobrium they heap on us. We deserve to have our substance plundered. We deserve to be scorned, ignored, and dismissed.
And yet the citizens cry for more of the same. Nothing is more clear in history than the citizens worshipping the tyrant who enslaves them.
Among American citizens fatigue has set in. Like the cat chasing the laser beam we are exhausted by the constant misdirection and prevarication by leaders who laugh at our calamity, and congratulate themselves for their cunning deceit. Deceit in the pursuit of a utopian chimera is considered a virtue. We race from point to point while they – like puppet masters – confuse us for their own personal profit and entertainment. They consider it their civic duty to use the coercive power of government to force on us things we neither want nor deserve.
The loss of Christian Virtue
I see two general strands that have woven together to take from the citizens of this great country the joy and pride that came from doing what was right in order to do what is good.
First is the decline of the practice and philosophy of the Christian religion. I have written elsewhere and will write much more about its contributions to the formation of the ideals that underlie our civilization: government by consent of the governed, no person is above the law, every person has equal and infinite value, and more; so I will keep my remarks brief.
This problem of the practice and philosophy of Christianity includes more than only those who are seriously committed Christians, it includes those who live the virtues of Christianity in their life whether or not they are professing communicants. As is well known most of the Founders of our nation, writers of our Constitution, first Presidents, and leading legislators were committed Christians. But note this confirmed handwritten history of an encounter with Thomas Jefferson who is frequently not considered to be a professing Christian.
The letter gives a contemporaneous account of Mr. Jefferson’s exchange with a friend who happened to meet Jefferson walking on his way to church from the White House on a Sunday morning. Mr. Jefferson was carrying his personal copy of a large prayer book.
“You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it,” the friend said.
“Sir,” said Jefferson, “no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir.” (Quoted from One Nation, Two Cultures; Gertrude Himmelfarb; Alfred A Knopf, New York;1999, p. 86. Original source: Nicholas Von Hoffman, “God Was Present at the Founding,” Civilization, April/May 1998 p.39)
The rise of scientism – that squalid, naturalistic philosophy that murders the soul of man – has long since replaced Christianity as the prevailing worldview of the political class, the academic class, and the chattering class. Scientism has now reached its ultimate destiny, its logical conclusion – it reprobates virtue and reticence. Because the physical world is all there is, morals, goods, and forbidden activities are a mere matter of choice’ nothing more; nothing is really right or wrong.
Married couples are called “breeders,” official government bureau’s hold “gay pride” celebrations (but not heterosexual pride days) children born to conservative two parent traditional families are considered “sheltered,” while bastards born to celebrities without honor of marriage are celebrated; abortion, not children, is the sacrament of womanhood. If you choose to murder unborn children, you are only deciding to be “pro-choice.” But it’s all okay because experience is everything.
For those who espouse scientism either consciously or unconsciously, you are born, you live, then you die and that’s the end. Reason, contemplation, virtue, and transcendence are nothing. Self denial becomes a secular sin, delaying gratification is insane; and objective truth is a howling joke. The cultural and moral consequences are immediately obvious.
We now have a nation where a vast majority of Americans use drugs and/or alcohol to alter the state of their mind. Apparently the real world is too complex or evil to contemplate because the human condition is intolerable to them. Even now we read about some individuals on a new drug so out of their mind they strip off their clothes, and cannibalize the raw flesh of innocent individuals. We have accepted a world where we tolerate fathers murdering their children or wife because they acted in a way that violated the father’s honor – we accept it because it is a virtue to be multicultural and it is a progressive sin to denounce a person for murder.
We now have reached a state where government officials are promoting the idea of plural marriage, same-sex marriage; and the murder of newborn full term babies because they didn’t arrive with the consent of the mother. Where a recent president was venerated because he was such an expert and loveable liar. Where voting in favor of a politician solely because of his race is congratulated. Where increasing the number of people in poverty is considered an accomplishment. Where refusing to administer the law is met with approval. Juvenal remarked panem et circenses: the people want food and entertainment – bread and circuses – more than freedom. It was so in second century Rome, and so it is here and for the very same reason – the culture was pagan, not Christian.
We have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. What the parents do in moderation, the children do to excess and so we come to our present state. Being taught that an internal moral compass is not only not necessary but is only excess weight holding you back from ultimate experiences; being taught that you are the only thing that matters, that esteeming yourself to be of great value is most important, that our existence is all there is- these are the virtues of our time.
Our children, having been taught that they are free from having to learn anything from their ancestors has created a generation that understands that owing nothing to one’s ancestors means owing nothing to our descendents. The individual is all. We have become as gods. C. S. Lewis wrote, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” (The Abolition of Man)
The consequences of rejecting the traditions and wisdom of ancestors leads to indifference toward descendents. Public debt to be repaid by our children can be damned; the charnel house of aborted babies can be damned; what matters is me; after all it really is about me and what I want and when I want it. The proletarians pursue constant peak experiences in sex, drugs, booze, and danger. Since “the moment,” the present, for the individual is all there is, they have an untroubled mind about all the children they abort, the social diseases they spread, the reputations they bring down, the political havoc they bring, the social upheaval they produce, the poverty they cause, the wealth they squander, and the lights they extinguish. They are untroubled because noting matters but them. They have eaten the fruit, their eyes are opened, and they have become like God.
The lights in the city on the hill have been turned low by our very leaders; they have long grown dim and are just now flickering in anticipation of being extinguished altogether.
Government as Propaganda Machine
The second strand woven into our decline is the almost complete capacity of government to propagandize the people and make them believe lies.
I an a conservative, and adhere to the aphorism that the individual is foolish, but the people are wise. Our pastors and the Founders taught us we must never trust individuals with power; but rather we must trust only “the people” with temporal power. Our Founders gave us the Constitution to insure that these principles endure.
Unfortunately over the past century several factors have combined to enable propaganda to be perpetrated against the people by officials with power.
Consider the secret police under the Czars in Russia that became the KGB and now the FSB – the Federal Security Bureau. We think of the Stasi in East Germany where hundreds of thousands of individuals were involved in keeping track of what people did, wrote, and thought – including almost 200,000 unpaid civilians who were willing to report their family and neighbors to the government. And yet, no tyranny on earth, no dictator at any time had the measure of control over his citizens that our very own federal government has over us at this present moment.
The age of privacy – a constitutional right we are told (apparently attaching only to pregnant women) – is gone forever.
The irreplaceable Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book “One Nation Two Cultures,”wrote:
“The law, we are discovering, is too serious a matter to be left to lawyers or even judges. We are beginning to understand how to use the law to protect ourselves against criminals and depredators. We have yet to learn how to protect ourselves against some of the practitioners of the law itself.”
The population of our nation has increased to more than 300 million souls, and the distance from the average person to his government is measured in light years. This is not to suggest that the influence of his government on him is distant, only that his influence on his government is so distant as to be nonexistent. Oddly, distance in this universe works in only one direction. Big Brother looks over your shoulder watching your every move through the internet, phones (thanks to the NSA), traffic cameras, and so on. Yet it is impossible for you to look over your government’s shoulder – they shield what they do; hide it by Executive Privilege, national security and the like. The proceedings of federal appellate courts have become star chambers to which no one has access and from which on one can seek redress. The legislators can make speeches, and if they don’t like what they said, they Revise and Extend their remarks making it look in the Congressional Record as if they made a splendid speech when it never happened at all.
This distance from our rulers to us is ostensibly closed by various means of communication. In the beginning of our country, those who sought power traveled by wagon and horse to speak to people meeting them in person. This was accompanied by printed reports in news papers and pamphlets. Later came trains that enabled them to travel faster and at greater distances, and at the same time each politician represented more and more people. This made it more and more difficult for the people to actually see their executive officer or legislator.
Then radio came, and shortly later, television became the primary means of communication. But this communication occurs only one way: from the government to you. Television and radio have never become the means through which the people can communicate with their government. Thus, TV has become the grandest propaganda tool ever devised for powerful individuals to control the people through the creation of images and the coercive power of government. All the while we think of TV as merely a window on the world, or a source of entertainment.
Consider: for decades we have not elected real, live people for public office – we elect only images that look like real people. These images are created by people who are highly paid to create them. Images oft-repeated become icons. Icons venerated frequently eventually become idols. Idols, of course, are the symbols of paganism, not Christianity. We haven’t voted to elect real persons for a long time – we elect images, and then are upset when the person turns out to be much different from the image we saw.
The capacity for image-making provided by television, and now the internet, means that what the real candidate is like is remade entirely into an image he thinks the people will elect. It’s like photo shopping – the faux only faintly resembles the real but it is always much better. Worse, the candidate becomes not one image only, but many. One image is presented to a minority audience, another to those concerned about the freedom to carry a weapon, another to union members, still another to entrepreneurs, another to women, soccer moms, Generation this or generation that; and on it goes. Candidates have become narratives; no more than a series of stories (dare I say lies) told to different audiences designed to make the people believe a lie. Truth has become only one option among many, and in politics and media, it is the single option rarely used.
So we find it almost impossible to know the truth about a candidate running for office. We are removed from him by distance; we only have information he has gathered from us spun to motivate us to support him. His opponent is engaged in the same activity of image creation. Each candidate seeks to create an image of his opponent as well. This is designed to encourage us to vote for him rather than the opponent. Thus, lies in the form of images and stories are told by every politician about himself, and then more lies are told by every politician about his opponent. Then the citizens congratulate themselves that they have carried out their civic duty when they vote for or against some image they think is a reality.
The result is stultifying boredom; frustration; and disgust on the part of the people. So most of them remain unengaged, and largely uninterested in the political process and refuse to take the time to pierce through the images crafted to deceive them and discover the real candidate – it’s just too much work. Because the process is purposely complex, the most citizens rather resort to entertainments, and then at the last minute decide who to support for public office as determined by a fleeting glimpse of physical appearance as seen on TV, skin color, speech patterns, perceived likeability; or by partisan friends and news media all the while congratulating themselves on being wise, and an integral part of a great democracy. We get – if I may borrow from Jacques Barzun – the government we deserve.
We Really Can Trust the People
Can we trust the people? Yes, I still believe that individual people cannot be trusted with power, and that we must trust the people. But propagandists have used the power to tax the people then have used the very money they extract from them to propagandize and pervert their collective wisdom.
Yes, some people are so willingly ignorant of what’s at stake in the positions taken by various politicians and party platforms. But I do not blame the large community of American citizens altogether for their poor choices. The political power system purposely creates and maintains a system so dense, unintuitive, complicated, and misleading for the purpose of preventing the nuisance of the prying eyes of citizens.
In these later years, many politicians insist on keeping even the voting system as open as possible rather than insuring that those who vote are Constitutionally qualified to do so. Apparently it’s harder to cheat when you have honest elections. Hopefully we will put an end to this scheme to steal elections. As Apostle John said, “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
But this isn’t forever, you know. In the quote spuriously attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool some of the people all of the time; and you can fool all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
There is a magnificent and encouraging decline of control over the flow of information about various candidates running for office, about government acts, legislation, and federal court debates and decisions; and this decline is occurring because of a tsunami of citizen journalism on the internet.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, “In our day a citizen who is oppressed has therefore only one means of defending himself; it is to address the nation as a whole, and if it is deaf to him, the human race; he has only one means of doing it, which is the press. Thus freedom of the press is infinitely more precious in democratic nations than in all others; it alone cures most of the ills that equality can produce. Equality isolates and weakens men, but the press places at the side of each of them a very powerful arm that the weakest and most isolated can make use of it.”
The problem has been that it required a great deal of money to start a newspaper; it’s very hard to get a book published. It’s even more expensive to buy a TV channel. We know that beginning in the 1940′s, broadcast network television was limited to three channels all three of which were hopelessly in love with the hypnotizing appeal of the progressive utopians – regardless of the cost to our Constitution, or to the people themselves.
The media controlled the Vietnam war, not the generals; the media enacted Johnson’s “Great Society” that has finally just now bankrupted America, not the legislators; the media elects most of the officials serving in national government, not the people. But, to borrow from Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a’changing.”
The light of day is shining into the dark corners of official malfeasance and deal-making. We now see in almost real-time the corruption, the intimidation, the payoffs that result in legislation that blesses the few at the expense of the many. In a quote frequently attributed to Otto von Bismarck, Prime Minister of Prussia, “Laws are like sausages – it is best not to see them being made.” I observe that the amount of pork fat included in legislative sausage is in direct relation to its negative impact on the American people – and the increasing need to conceal it. “We have to pass the bill for you to know what’s in it.” Congress in recent decades has become almost entirely a marketplace; a trading floor, where the act of purchasing and selling votes by spending more of your money has just about destroyed our Republic.
So thank God, Rush, Drudge, Breitbart, Malkin and a constellation of others for turning the lights in the city on the hill back on. Citizen journalism may yet save our freedom – but only if we act. It is up to us to re-erect the bulwarks, the citadels, the temples and cathedrals and churches and town halls that protect individual liberty. We have many cobwebs to remove; infinite debris, and the accumulated detritus created by charlatans who crept into the hallowed halls by deceit to dismantle our system from within; but we will succeed if we don’t grow faint.
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