Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The New Sons of Liberty and the Cosmic Scofflaws of the Left

Judging by the comments, it seems that many readers are already aware of the relationship between metaphysics and political philosophy. Again: get the first question wrong, and everything else follows with it. Not only must you get your ontology straight, but also your anthropology. Otherwise you step into the abyss, which is what virtually every government did prior to the establishment of the United States.

I'm currently reading an outstanding book on this very subject, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future (it must be temporarily out of print, because it shouldn't be nearly that expensive, but it is highly recommended when the price comes down). I'm going to try to weave in some of Spalding's insights as we further discuss Bolton's critique of nondualism -- which, if the latter forms the basis of one's ontology, leads to a radically different conception of politics, being that it eliminates the individual, whereas America's founders were precisely concerned with protecting the individual and allowing him to flourish.

In so doing, the Founders thought deeply about how and where to ground individual liberty. In other words, to simply affirm liberty without grounding it in something metaphysically real is no less rootless or self-serving than to affirm the absolute right of your leftist neighbor to the fruits of your labors. And if "all is one" -- if the individual is an illusion -- then your neighbor surely has that right. If I am you and you are me, then hey, your stuff is mine. Party at Deepak's walled compound! Dibs on the ruby eyeglasses!

Spalding quotes John Adams, who was responding to a question about the real meaning of the American Revolution: "The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution." In other words, this was primarily an interior revolution; nor could it have been successful if this hadn't been the case, for merely exterior revolutions -- as nearly all revolutions are -- only bring about a new set of tyrants.

And it is of course highly higher and highestly important to again emphasize that conservatism is interior and interiorizing whereas leftism is exterior and exteriorizing (i.e., the latter diminishes free will, effaces the individual by reducing him to a group member [e.g., black, female, homosexual, etc.] and promotes his passive victimhood).

Again, consider the stark epistemological consequences that follow from the different ontologies of left and right: "[A]mong the learned elites of our universities and law schools -- those who teach the next generation, shape our popular culture, and set the terms of our political discourse -- the self-evident truths upon which America depends have been supplanted by the passionately held belief that no such truths exist, certainly no truths applicable to all time" (Spalding).

Which is why, ever since this truly sinister metaphysic has become common currency, the federal government can today act "with little regard for the limits placed upon it by the Constitution, which many now regard as obsolete." The leftist assault on the Constitution has been so thorough, that to even point out the truism that a government takeover of healthcare is shockingly unconstitutional is to auto-marginalize oneself.

In other words, for the left, to be American is to be un-American. Obama himself was uncharacteristically honest in acknowledging his belief that America's founders "got it wrong" in their failure to address the issue of material inequality (which, of course, they did address by creating a system through which the self-interest of the individual could freely operate to the benefit of all).

America was intended to be the "workshop of liberty," not the sweatshop of collectivist serfdom. Ironically, Obama is the one public official who swears to God that he is a conservative -- that he will preserve and protect the Constitution, not allow it to be maimed by the tenured pettifuggers of the left.

It is no coincidence whatsoever that the left must eradicate any trace of religion in order to eliminate the principle barrier (along with the sanctity of private property and the family, and the chrome to back them up) to the intrusive and acquisitive reach of the state.

For to affirm God is to sharply limit the state; indeed, it is to affirm that the state and its laws have no legitimacy to the extent that they contravene the transpolitical Laws of Nature and of Nature's God (as the Declaration expresses it). We have no obligation to obey laws that are fundamentally immoral.

For the Founders, "the idea of human dignity, that we are created in the image of God, forms the theological underpinning of the ideas of human nature and human equality -- core principles of liberty" (Spalding). Which is why, for the ACLU and its fellow travelers, the Constitution is unconstitutional. And which is why they feel so free to change it into something more congenial to their interests. But a Constitution that doesn't mean what is says and say what it means, merely means what powerful men want it to mean, and we are right back to the Rule of Men, not of Law. Which, of course, is the whole point of the left.

But metaphysical conservatism stands athwart the left and says STFU! Here is how John Dickenson put it back in the day (1766): the rights essential to human happiness "are created in us by the decrees of Providence, which establish the laws of our nature. They are born with us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power, without taking our lives. In short, they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice" (quoted in Spalding).

Radical then, radical now. In this wide-angle cosmic context, one can see that the leftist counter-revolutionaries are entirely reactionary. Job one for them is to undo what the Founders done did.

Note as well that Nature's Law, as understood by the Founders, obviously did not -- and could not -- apply only to America. Rather, to the extent that it was true, then it was true for all time and for all peoples and even humanities departments. So much for diversity and multiculturalism!

In this regard, Spalding references William Blackstone -- a deep influence on the Founders' thinking -- who wrote that the metacosmic law "is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."

Thus, real conservatism is simply impossible -- for it is grounded in "nothing" -- if its archetypal, transpolitical roots are not perpetually watered from above.

36 Comments:

Blogger Warren said...

Hey, I think I'm gonna like the new greenie troll - he reminds me a little bit of Ray, except stupider and more hysterical. An LGFer, maybe?

12/09/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Nah, I think it's just the dyspeptic omniorthogonal again.

12/09/2009 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America was intended to be the "workshop of liberty," not the sweatshop of collectivist serfdom.

Good thing nothing like serfdom was written into the Constitution, because it might have required war, political struggle, and amendments to correct in the future.

As for the religious beliefs of the founders, they were much less religious than the culture they came from. Jefferson explicitly labelled himself an Epicurian (aka materialist atheist). Seems to me he had something to do with the founding of this country.

John Adams was more religious -- he was a Unitarian. During his tenure as President he signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, which states: As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion - as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen...

12/09/2009 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'll just assume you've been to graduate school and leave it at that.

12/09/2009 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Agenda d' Trolle:

"I come, not only to rebuke and correct, but to teach you sense!"

12/09/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I also happened to study history under Professor Zinn and his ilk, so I'm well familiar with the left's standard litany of historical lies and distortions.

12/09/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous njcommuter said...

Bob, this article should be put on every display in Times Square and run for a week. It should be boxed and run in every college newspaper, and taught three time a year in every high school.

I'm in the middle of a Teaching Co. course on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and the part about denying that any truth is permanent really hits home. If one of the foundations of Western Civ is the product of those three, then this doctrine really does undermine Western Civ.

12/09/2009 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger debass said...

I believe the left is incapable of learning. Every time they succeed in taking over a country, they immediately get rid of the people that helped them take it over.
My bad. I forgot. They were actually reducing the number of CO2 producers. The final global warming solution.

12/09/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, there's no failure quite like leftist success, California being a fine example. The public employee unions have a death grip on the state.

12/09/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

the self-interest of the individual could freely operate to the benefit of all

The operative word in this case being operate...

Debass,
Every time they succeed in taking over a country, they immediately get rid of the people that helped them take it over.

That's because the people that helped are too likely to become disenchanted with the revolution when the promised utopia fails to be delivered within a generation or so. Much easier to reduce their carbon footprint before they come up with a new and improved revolution, or worse discover that perhaps the classical liberals were right all along.

12/09/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Freud said...

Anon,

How's you relationship with your Father?

12/09/2009 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Jefferson said...

"During his tenure as President he signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli"

You'll notice what good the Treaty of Tripoli did as I shortly thereafter had to send the U.S. Marines over to bomb the fuck out of them for their pirating ways. Hoo ahh!
You'll also notice John made sure to include the word tranquility in his statement.
The more things change.....

12/09/2009 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Jefferson said...

Musselmen indeed!

12/09/2009 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Judging by the comments, it seems that many readers are already aware of the relationship between metaphysics and political philosophy. Again: get the first question wrong, and everything else follows with it. Not only must you get your ontology straight, but also your anthropology. Otherwise you step into the abyss, which is what virtually every government did prior to the establishment of the United States."

I'm helping put together a series of seminars on the Constitution and what needs to be known in order to be able to understand and defend it, and am starting there as well - I think to some bafflement (which I touched a little on here).

But if your understanding is not rooted in reality, and politically in Natural Law... in the Good, the Beautiful and the True, then the leftist blueprint for evasion, materialism and moral relativism will kick in by default and lay out the welcome mat for a new victimocracy... 'here's the new boss... same as the old boss...."

12/09/2009 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

From the Amazon preview pages of "We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future ",

"The view of liberty appropriate for self-government did not appear spontaneously. The moment if which this nation was conceived was not a chance occasion in time; rather, it was the culimation of a larger tradition, stretching back well before this nation began, that forms the foundation upon which America is built - and whithout which it would not have come into being. This foundation was the tradition and history of art, custom, philosophy and political thought, originating thousands of years ago with Greco-Roman culture and its descendants, fundamentally shaped by Judeo-Christian theology and spiritualism, that came to be called Western civilizatin and that formed western Europe and then North America. The United States is a product of this great development."

Hey! He's swiping my stuff!

;-)

That does look like a good on, on to the shopping cart....

12/09/2009 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Saw Benedict XVI today after wrangling an invite from a friend in the Vatican. Powerful and compelling. A calm presence radiating wisdom and love. There were a few hundred people there from perhaps 20 countries. He addressed most of them in their own languages, at least briefly.

Italy has communists too, however unlike in the US they don't have any power.

12/09/2009 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "... he signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, which states... blah blah blah"

I'm kinda tired of answering the latest troll to skim a highly selective gloss of history, so I'll just plop in part of an answer I used the last time I bothered writing it (looks like aug/2008),

"I guess when you've got no depth, shallow is as deep as it goes. Attempting to use the Tripolli agreement is pretty much a toe wetter. Which silly book did you latch onto that example from? The passage you refer to was Barlow's translation of Article 11 from the Arabic, which declared to the religion of peace's sensibilities that the USA was not a Christian nation, in the way that the Pasha's was an islamic nation, which was true. The USA was a nation populated predominatly with Christians, but was not a gov't based on christianity. Not that you are likely to have much interest in a more complete picture, but this site gives a good summation of the full context, of which that initial treaty was but the first in a series, and the only one with such islambo flattery within it."

Btw, the 3/5 rule was not written into the constitution to enable serfdom/slavery, but to prevent the south from benefitting from it's slave population as if their people had the status of full citizens - iow, it was a measure made to deligitimize the south because of their practice, not to legitimize serfdom/slavery.

It was a compromise made between bad and worse choices - for union with the south, or to risk disunion and a repeat of the warring greek citystates (which if you read Madison's reasoning behind the commerce clause, you can see the 13 states were rapidly heading towards that scenario).

As Jefferson said "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."

(I'm sure he'd send his apologies to you for his choice of words)

12/09/2009 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

GB, Can I have a turn wearing the ruby glasses after you?

12/09/2009 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No! I'm the only one that knows how to use them. They're of no use to you!

12/09/2009 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Retriever said...

Another wonderful post. It's important to note that being a Unitarian or even a Deist like Adams and Jefferson was very different in their day to the labels now. Raised in a coherent culture with more daily reference to and veneration for the Deity than is presently shown in the most evangelical of churches, denominational labels attached to the Founding Fathers can mislead us if we assume they meant the same thing then as they do now. Jefferson had some strange ideas about miracles, it's true (he was human...he was mistaken on miracles) but he and the other Founding Fathers lived, moved and fought suffused with faith in God. Knowing that they weren't it.

Interestingly, many of the armchair liberals who support Obama, and trumpet their compassion for illegals with crocodile tears, personally benefit from the new serfdom in our country. All those illegal gardeners, nannies, kitchen helpers and the like who work so cheaply for them. Of course they want the government to mug us to extend health benefits to them so that the taxpaying citizens can subsidize their sweatshop workers. Sorry to rant...

12/09/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Yesterday Warren mentioned that "...the entire materialist project is driven by nothing more exalted than the adolescent desire to indulge total sexual license without feeling guilt or having Daddy (God or the Church) sitting in judgement."

I've often had the same inkling, and bumped into an example today, on author Derek Lin's blog (Taoism.net) about Taoism. Answering a reader's stated wish to think properly about homosexual marriage, Lin stated that the Tao was unconcerned about gender and reproduction, and that "When love exists, nothing else is quite as important, so let us transcend the physical in our thinking. Move to the level of the spiritual and examine the issue there. You'll find that when you strip away all the external layers, the only thing that remains at the core is love in its purest form. This love can express itself in many different ways. That expression, among consenting individuals, flows in perfect alignment with the Tao regardless of the way it manifests."

To me, this seemed a great illustration of Warren's comment. So easy, to swipe religions from other cultures and fill in the voids with your own wishes!

A pity, in my opinion.

12/09/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

OT,
Magnus, what is going on up there?

12/09/2009 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Walt said "Yesterday Warren mentioned that "...the entire materialist project is driven by nothing more exalted than the adolescent desire to indulge total sexual license without feeling guilt or having Daddy (God or the Church) sitting in judgement."

While that is certainly so, I think that's more a common effect than the cause, which is closer to "fill in the voids with your own wishes" is closer to the core.

It is the desire to have be what is not. It's using power (in whatever form and amount you can manage) to get the appearance of what you want. And once gotten, you don't want to give it up, or be told you shouldn't have done what you know you shouldn't have done, to get it to begin with. Especially when you know you need to work on getting more of something else, in the same way, as soon as possible.

12/09/2009 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Something interesting, Return of Scipio isn't back exactly, but it's at least no longer gone... used to be an error page... now it's there.

Hmmm.....

12/09/2009 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you notice, the country shifted to a leftist regime and the only effect has been some modifications in the war effort.

To clarify what effects a leftist government (I'm talking about over and above the Bush regime)has on the population of this nation, and I would say very little.

Or can someone prove me wrong?

12/09/2009 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You? No.

12/09/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Walt,

Thanks for that example!

>> Lin stated that the Tao was unconcerned about gender and reproduction

Guy badly needs to read "The Abolition of Man" by C. S. Lewis. (Lewis freaks will get the connection with "the Tao".)

12/09/2009 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> It's using power (in whatever form and amount you can manage) to get the appearance of what you want.

Van,

You are right, this cuts deeper than my original comment. Without God, the will to Power is what will always rush in to fill the void. Nietzsche, for all his stupidities, was dead right about that.

12/09/2009 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Bob is right about the pervasive influence of William Blackstone's work re: English common law on the Founders' thinking. Whatever their religious label, they pretty universally accepted the "laws of nature and of nature's God."

"Sir William Blackstone, the preeminent English legal authority widely followed by the American founders, recognized the binding legal nature of the law of God as understood in its basic principles. Blackstone maintained that English law (and therefore, American law) had its roots in the laws of God.

"Blackstone recognized that 'law, in its most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action.' He identified the essential legal relationship that exists between God and his creation by observing, 'Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being.'20 God was acknowledged as the lawgiver and therefore the one who laid down certain immutable rules of action, that is, of right and wrong conduct.

"Recognizing the relevance of the creation and the Bible, Blackstone noted that '[u]pon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.'21 In other words, the law of God whether written in God's creation (nature) or in the Bible (revelation), spoke with a unified voice. Moreover, this law is absolute: any law of man to the contrary is of no effect.

"Various individuals, peoples, and governments have interpreted God's laws differently at different times.22 The framers of the American system of government, however, were in one accord in 'presuppos[ing] the existence of a God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and government.'23 In other words, the framers recognized that God laid down rules that governed the universe and nations and that these laws could be sufficiently understood because they are communicated by a God who wants people to know them.24 They presupposed a God who is not silent."

12/09/2009 08:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

A video of Matthew Spalding at the Heritage Institute
click here

12/09/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

The book looks to be available on pre-order here isi.org

12/09/2009 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Yep, Blackstone was a huge influence on the Founders, if go through the clauses of the Constitution at "The Founders Constitution", such as the Preamble, you'll find a link to a passage of Blackstone they found relevant for that clause, on most of the clauses.

There was a time, before the proregressives got their meat hooks into it, when the Law was still intelligible, when it was still concerned about Rights and Property, and it wasn't uncommon to find works like Blackstone's in the typical American home, along with Shakespeare and the Bible. I stumbled upon an example of that in a Louis L'Amour Western, Sackett, which illustrates passages of Blackstone's Natural Law ideas in the action of the Western - an unexpected and fun surprise.

Btw, here's a link to Blackstones Commentaries on the Laws online.

12/09/2009 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Thanks for the links Alan.

12/09/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Matthew Spalding was interviewed this morning on the Laura Ingraham Show. I think her interviews are available for downloading, if anyone is interested.

12/10/2009 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Can't recommend the book highly enough. Truly, should be required reading before becoming a citizen. Also mandatory for clueless citizens such as Obama.

12/10/2009 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I just picked up the last "We Still Hold These Truths" in our Borders, tagged at $27... but the ISI link Alan left has an internet special of $17.

(Sorry Dupree, I would have bought it thru the Raccoon store... but... hungry NOW... you understand.)

12/10/2009 08:57:00 AM  

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