A Presidential Pestavus to the Restavus
Yesterday we spoke of how genuine freedom is founded on the love of truth and truth of love. We might say that love bifurcates into freedom and truth.
Charles reminds us that for the founders, the great danger was self-love, AKA pride. They were careful students of human nature and of history, history being human nature prolonged in time. And looked at from one angle -- the angle of the Fall -- history is one disastrous pride-a-thon.
Self-love is a meretricious version of the real thing, which is why it is no coincidence that the left never stops preaching this unholy croctrine ("self esteem") instead of the self-offering of real love.
Along these lines, last week I heard Dennis Prager issue an interesting challenge. First, think of the finest person you know in terms of character. Then ask that person if he or she had "high self esteem" as a child. Prager says he has never met one who did.
This is not to suggest that people of good character have low self esteem or are masochistic, only that they are not prideful and full of themselves. They are secure, but not obnoxious.
Because of pride, human beings long for distinction. The ultimate (and proper) distinction is being known by God, and indeed, God and individual are two sides of the same coin (i.e., without God, we'd all be more or less the same, like other animals; God is the source of our a priori distinction-in-personhood).
But what happens in a secular age when the connection to God is attenuated or lost?
Like any other instinct, the lust for distinction doesn't go away. It is just displaced to the horizontal/human plane (or lower), so that these useless people want to be known and affirmed by lots of other useless people. This is how excellence is displaced by celebrity, and how we end up with a useless President Kardashian.
Anyway, our "founding prophets" (as Charles calls them) were well aware of the phenomenon, which is precisely why they designed the government the way they did.
In other words, it is fair to say that the Constitution was supposed to function as a pre-emptive Obamacide, so that such a self-regarding pestavus couldn't attain power over the rest of us, and diminish our God-given liberty. But no system is perfect.
Shifting over to Schindler, he writes that the (classical) liberal state is "limited precisely because it is subordinate to the truth about man and indeed finally the Creator, or to some transcendent order, as source of that truth."
In other words -- and this should again be self-evident -- both liberty and power must be constrained by a truth that is not defined by the state.
To be clear, our constitution rests on presuppositions which it does not invent or define. If the state starts to define truth -- for example, in the redefinition of marriage, or forcing us to pretend that men are women, or pardoning criminals because they are black -- then that is tyranny, pure and simple.
Again: the purpose of the state is to protect, truth, freedom, and natural rights. If the state becomes their source, then the state can also take them away. Which is precisely what the state has been doing since the left began transforming it into its own ghastly image.
[O]ur main cultural problems stem from a failure to understand that 'freedom possesses an inherently relational dimension' and 'an essential link with the truth'....
[W]hat the modern democratic state, rightly understood, must be about is not the deferral of truth in favor of freedom, but the integration at a basic level of freedom and truth, in such a way that each bears the essential and deepest meaning of the other... --Schindler