Friday, July 21, 2017

The Essence and Form of Political Truth

Yesterday while pondering this question of the form and essence of religious truth, it occurred to me that one can look upon the same distinction vis-a-vis politics, at least here in the U.S.

I don't know enough about other political systems to say whether the U.S. is the only one that draws this distinction between "political truth" and its formal expression. However, I do know that the entire project of the left is founded upon denying this distinction.

What I'm talking about is the distinction between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the former expressing universal truth -- the essence -- the latter defining its particular political expression. The essence goes to the nature of reality, AKA the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.

The essence of the Declaration is situated "above" the form of Constitution. It expresses the atemporal and universal truths "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

But these essential truths need a form, hence the Constitution. The Founders even say so: "to secure these [essential] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Which leads to the necessary corollary that when the form fails to uphold the essence, then the form is no longer binding, and we're outta here:

[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these [essential] ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such [anterior and universal] principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The most articulate defender of this view was Abraham Lincoln (cf. the Koon Klassic A New Birth of Freedom). In this regard, you will notice that the civil war we are currently experiencing is the same old civil war that has been going on since the founding, and indeed, since the dawn of man. It is none other than the war between essence and form. It is Genesis 3 All Over Again.

The left of course wants to have its crock and force us to eat it too. Its guiding principle is that Truth Doesn't Exist and We are its Prophets. Or better, Enforcers.

For example, there is no such thing as human nature but women have an absolute right to a dead baby. Or, marriage is just a piece of paper but homosexuals are deprived of the dignity owed human beings without it. The list is pretty much endless. We're especially seeing the drama play out with regard to freedom of speech, about which the left is no longer even trying to conceal its deadly hostility.

Think of the Dred Scott decision: "the language used in the Declaration of Independence" demonstrates that blacks are not "intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument." Oh really? Tell us more: blacks don't even have so much as a single right to which "the white man [is] bound to respect."

Notice the sleight of hand, as Taney even attempts to root this lie in a universal truth that is above the Constitution: this notion of cosmic inequality is "fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race," "an axiom in morals as well as in politics" which no one would ever think of disputing. No one! Welcome to the oppressive world of Political Correctness, 19th century version.

The leftist error of a "living Constitution" isn't the only possible cosmic bainfart here. There are also good conservative judges who only consider the "four corners" of the Constitution, without reference to the Declaration. In other words, they reject the natural rights theory of the Founders, and regard the Constitution as self-sufficient.

But nothing outside God is self-sufficient, and any attempt to render it so will inevitably become brittle and sclerotic. Yes the Constitution is ALIVE!, but only so long as it is rooted in the deathless truths of the Declaration. If the Constitution empowers the hands of the state, it is only because there is a Mind posited in the Declaration. If there is no Mind anterior to them, then the hands just grab Power with no limiting principle.

We're only dealing with the Big Picture today, without getting down into the weeds. But it also occurs to me that the Declaration is about Absoluteness, while the Constitution is necessarily relative -- i.e., relative the absolute truth of the Declaration.

This leads to another trick of the left: deny the absoluteness of the Declaration in order to re-situate it in constitutional law. Indeed, all of their malign constitutional mischief takes this form.

Marriage, for example, is a natural right which is anterior to the state, and which the state can only defend, not create. Nevertheless, homosexual marriage was conjured by the state on June 26, 2015. Which means the state has brazenly undermined a natural right for which reason it exists to defend in the first place. In other words, the state loudly proclaimed a rejection of its reason for being.

More generally, the natural law traditionalist has no rights to which the liberal elitist is bound to respect.

Now, governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But the left's assault on the Laws of Nature and Nature's God isn't very light; pretty heavy-handed, rather. And if it is permanent, then we're outta here.

Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth.... The liberal project began to fail when it began to lie. That was the mid-sixties… the rot set in and has continued since. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

28 comments:

julie said...

But the left's assault on the Laws of Nature and Nature's God isn't very light; pretty heavy-handed, rather. And if it is permanent, then we're outta here.

We have some friends who immigrated from Venezuela probably 10 years or so ago. They are fortunate; when the socialists took over, they had some place to go.

As Americans, we have no backup nation. If the left wins here...

Keep on praying.

julie said...

Have you read The Political Pope yet? Looks interesting. Most of the people in my parish, regardless of their politics, seem to adore Francis. I don't blame them, though - they only seem to hear the good about him, and think accordingly.

Gagdad Bob said...

Arrives tomorrow. In the mail today was Luther and His Progeny: 500 Years of Protestantism and Its Consequences for Church, State, and Society, which looks like it may contribute to the current discussion.

Van Harvey said...

"This leads to another trick of the left: deny the absoluteness of the Declaration in order to re-situate it in constitutional law. Indeed, all of their malign constitutional mischief takes this form."

Exactly so.

common sense bob said...

Brother Bob,

This is excellent.

Essence and Form: "As above, so below"

Best

Rick said...

OT: Dunkirk is a masterpiece.
People will refer to it and watch it forever.

julie said...

It is angering all the right people. These days that's often high praise.

Anonymous said...

When the Constitution gets in the way of any leftist agenda item, it must flex or give or way.

This is because of the principle of the "will to power."

The will to power doesn't get the credit it deserves. Indeed, it is very natural and legitimate principle, and trumps or supersedes many other principles, including the "inalienable" rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I assure you these rights are very "alienable." These rights are workable only if some enemy doesn't snatch them away.

And this is why we have a military which protects those rights, as long as the budget and leadership of the country are to its satisfaction. If they are not, you will have a coup, a putsch, or whatever you want to call it, to keep the military on top.

So we can discuss them as "truths," but all rights really depend on force. Whoever wields more force, has more rights.

So, the left realizes that power and control are of the essence, and goes for it. Are they evil, or are they just being practical?

The US right wing has long understood force is king, and have made strenuous efforts to make us the most forceful nation, for quite some time.

So that's the situation. The Constitution is well and good, depending on who controls it. As long as the right wing controls it, they will want to keep it static (unless they need enhanced surveillance of citizens, etc). The left would like to control it, but to do so they need to tweak it to fit their program.

Petey said...

Is that true?

mushroom said...

Marriage, for example, is a natural right which is anterior to the state, and which the state can only defend, not create.

So true.

Anonymous said...

Pigeons select a single opposite sex mate, and mate for life. They don't call it marriage. They call it "Coo-coo-coo." But look at it: it's a marriage.

So there is a natural instinct to be monogamous with one opposite sex partner of the same species for life. I guess you could call it a right, and it is anterior to the state.

However, "marriage" is a human word, kind of fluffy and liable to be freighted with a lot of different things.

I would say gay marriage "violates" a certain natural instinct to reproduce; but since marriage is kind of malleable, you could tag on to it; but I don't think Mother Nature will be fooled.

Gagdad Bob said...

Julie -- The book on Francis is quite good so far, which means that Francis is much worse than you think. For balance, might be a good idea to read the so-far outstanding book on Luther, who is also much worse than you think. Bottom line: Christianity would be so great if it weren't for Christians!

Rick said...

If marriage is fluffy, it's because people think of it that way. Not the other way around.

julie said...

Re, Francis, yikes! Had an interesting chat with some fellow parishioners today; it was good to know we aren't the only ones with serious reservations about him at our parish. They all loved Benedict, though. Good folks.

As to the conclusion about Christians, yes. Ironically, the better we understand that about ourselves, the better Christians we are.

Gagdad Bob said...

The left calls Pius XII "Hitler's pope," a disgusting smear invented by communists. But based on what I've read so far, it can be said without exaggeration that Francis is "Lenin's pope." And proud of it.

Rick said...

On Dunkirk: I don't know what the specific complaints are. I saw something about the French claiming they were there. The French are mentioned a little and that part in my opinion showed the English in a unfavorable light. But it was a small part. I don't think it's right to insist things be in movies just because you want them. Make your own movie about those points. This movie was about other points. I wouldn't change a damn thing about it. I don't even care if it didn't exactly happen the way it did in the movie -- it's that good a story.
There were visual elements I'd never scene done before (the plane/pilot at the end) - brilliant.
The sound track is awesome.
And so many other things.

julie said...

Ugh. I may have to buy that book now.
If I didn't have faith that God has His hand in all this, there would be reason to despair.

Re. Dunkirk, I've seen complaints about the fact that the cast is insufficiently pigmented and has too many Y chromosomes. Pretty sure it fails the Bechdel test, too. Therefore, it's a hatefilm.

Gagdad Bob said...

Just get it at the library. It's a pretty quick read.

julie said...

Thanks - I'll do that. Was just thinking $13 is a tad expensive to shell out for a Kindle book.

Rick said...

Lol - Julie!
I can't imagine living my life like that -- the simple pleasures I'd be denying myself (head-shake). I am so grateful.

Gagdad Bob said...

I only buy used books for cheap unless it's impossible. It's like getting them hot on the street!

Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, Francis has gone too far: he "has given appointments to liberal churchmen from obscure dioceses in developing countries with minuscule Catholic populations," for example, appointing as cardinal a radical environmentalist "from the tiny island of Tonga."

julie said...

This aggression cannot stand, man!

Mr. Lebowski said...

Your "revolution" is over, Mr. Bergoglio! Condolences! The bums lost! My advice is, do what your parents did! Get a job, sir! The bums will always lose, do you hear me!

Abdulmonem Othman said...

It seems we have a coup to have god out of the human activities, to let humans do whatever they like,forgetting that god does not allow violations of his code go without severe negative consequences. Tit for tat, irrespective of time space individual or collective. One should not mix the divine setup with human setup.There is no war between forms and essence, between names and named in the divine world. The war takes place in the human realm where misinterpretations and falsifications are rampant. There is no problem in the name horse written or recited with the embodied horse irrespective of color, height or age. Everything has four aspects of existence, save god who is not subjected to the human logic, the linguistic existence in both form of written and oral The mental existence and the physical existence where god departs to the realm of non-physical consciousness,pure awareness that creates and runs everything. The dilemma of the humans resides in his unawareness of the divine awareness that let him or her commits all these ugly violations. The apparent freedom is a disguised freedom for the in-attentive that is why the sages in their spiritual observation know that and look all the time not to abuse that so-called freedom. Religion is one despite its different versions that different time culture and space demand,because it is coming from the same divine source. Spirit, the carrier of knowledge, is in full swing in our time to show humans the truth of the revelation and warn them from falling into the scholastic enslavement den. In the Koran there is a verse that pops up all the time reminding the humans of the day that he or she will be asked about his truthfulness and nothing else.

ted said...

On Francis: I wonder if he's a needed counterbalance with his focus on mercy over justice. I can acknowledge some of his moves are disconcerting to the more conservative branch of the Church, but as I understand it so was some of Benedict's moves around the Church's scandal. I believe if the scandal never happened, there would be no need for a Francis.

Gagdad Bob said...

Nah, Francis is part of a much more longstanding and diabolical strategy of patient radicals within the "deep church." After reading this book, I'm convinced that he's not even Catholic, strictly speaking. Furthermore, Francis's policies will only cause more abuse. Recall that it was mainly a homosexual hebephile and ephebophile scandal, not a pedophile scandal, and Francis is ardently pro-homosexual.

Gagdad Bob said...

Also, he may appear superficially merciful, but he is passive-aggressive in the extreme. And as the Talmud teaches, those who are merciful to the cruel (e.g., Palestinians and Castro brothers) will be cruel to the kind (e.g., Catholic traditionalists).