A New Message: VI. On Political Philosophy
OCTOBER 01, 1976 by JACKSON PEMBERTON
This continues a series of articles in which the author draws upon the extensive collection of the thoughts of the Founding Fathers and lets them speak to us relative to the problems we face in the United States today.
One of the dilemmas of the Convention was the need to grant the government authority sufficient to insure domestic tranquility and yet give the people enough control of the government to protect their rights. The solution to the difficulty lay in a careful balance between anarchy (where there is complete freedom but none of the controls required for the safety of rights) and despotism (where there is complete control and no rights).
The establishment of that balance is the victory of the Constitution, and its maintenance is the desire of every thoughtful and upright citizen. The people are unified upon this point, but only a few recognize the depth and import of our religious declaration of that political philosophy which secured our liberty; 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."
You have been told that religious and political philosophies are two distinct matters. This misconception, disguised as separation of church and state, is being used to impose a religion upon you unawares because it comes as a political philosophy and by political means. But in a world without objective proofs of any man’s faith, one doctrine is as much a religion as another. In this discussion I wish to clarify the irresolvable conflict between the founding philosophy of the government which we gave you, and that which is coming to being under the careful planning of those so eager to govern.
Freedom of conscience requires that government never dictate the doctrine or the practice of religion, but a government devoid of moral principle is a wanton, capricious, and consuming monster. Therefore, separation of church and state is a necessity while separation of religion and politics is a pattern for destruction. It is a narrow distinction with broad implications, for a political philosophy always springs from some concept of man.
If we accept the current propaganda that under freedom of religion, government must not infer anything about man which might be considered religious, then we might as well say that man is nothing. It is philosophical paralysis, for we have said that we must not consider the nature of man while we fashion his government. With that sort of absurdity we can form ships without bottoms, policies without principles, and governments suited to the ambitions of aristocracy.
Or, if we place our confidence in the theory that man is only a smart ape (a fact for some, an opinion for others, and a hoax to the rest), we have said that there is nothing sacred about man or his rights. This is a basic tenet of the religion of Humanism, the modern version of the ancient fraud that "might makes right," for it postulates that the capacities of the human body and the size of its brain is the justification for man’s dominion of the earth. A pattern for tyranny; for while it purports to liberate man from the supposed "shackles" of Christianity, it declares that the authority to rule is established by the superiority of the intellect.
Thus Humanism lays the foundation for a political philosophy which, for all its beautiful phrases of freedom and fulfillment, gives the scepter of power to the most subtle, ruthless, and despicable. It is the antithesis of all you call good, and a frustration of the noble destiny of man.
If man is monkey, or less, there is no anchor for his politics, and although we may say that the good of society shall determine right and wrong, who shall say what is good for society? Furthermore, since there is no final Judge, who is to care? There are no absolutes; all is a mass of relative expediencies. Deceit becomes the servant of the politician, treachery is his gain, and conspiracy is the king of all.
Such are the consequences of the Humanist priestcraft published under the dubious title of "freedom from religion." And Humanism is but the modern name for the doctrines of Communism, whose adherents, as we should expect, surpass all others in their massive crimes of extortion, murder, and unrelenting tyranny.
Clearly, we are considering more than a mere philosophical question: it is also a question of morality, for under one system definite crimes derive from irrefutable rights, while under the others all is uncertain and subject to the wavering opinions of those who decide what is "consonant with social progress." Life, death, and all activities between are fair game for the hunters of power. And what is worse, as they impose their religion many succumb to the temptation to abandon fixed moral principle, and the resulting erosion of personal integrity justifies increased oppression. Thus we see that the struggle for morality is the very substance of liberty. They are inseparable.
But the godless philosophies have an alternative, and it is not without actual glory; for if we affirm that man is a creation of the Almighty, a child to the Father of Lights, there is suddenly a great equality among men, there are sacred rights, a reverence for life and a respect for death, a striving for dignity and a yearning for excellence. With those ennobling principles come restraints upon government and upon the behavior of a man toward his neighbor: an uplifting framework securing the rights of man.
It is not surprising after thousands of years and as many governments, that a consideration of political philosophy should finally be couched as the most fundamental questions that can enter the human mind: Is there a God? Who is man? You must answer, and your answers must find expression in the control of your government, for if you refuse the self-appointed gods of your day will happily continue to impose their answers upon you. They will draw you a picture of a "great people liberated from the blindness of faith in a dead god, free to do whatsoever may be their fancy [so long as it is in harmony with social responsibility], and blessed with equality [of an enforced uniformity]." They proclaim man the center of the universe, the being superior to all others, and then in the midst of that unmitigated pomposity they declare the grand contradiction that man is but a complicated physical mechanism reacting to its world, and that free will is superstition! What profound and abysmal folly! Their religion employs all the lovely words of progress, intelligence, equality and liberty, but denies the source of them all. Freedom without free will? Their sophistry confounds their reason!
I would rather turn your attention to more pleasant subjects, but so many have believed its flattering phrases and not seen the conflict with their own better opinion that I feel it necessary to say a bit more.
There are doubtless many reasons for the confusion of the adherents to these philosophies, but surely one of them is their disdain for the traditional code of personal conduct. They have perceived the principles of a good character as fetters instead of guides, and long to give their feelings greater freedom (which is to say they wish to put their minds in greater submission to their passions). They find humility too humiliating, rules too binding, and faith too demeaning. They seem to require a foolish sort of independence, and like a runaway youth they flee the standards of strength and happiness.
But I am too harsh, for most of those who promote these defective doctrines only parrot the soothing tones of their like-opinioned friends, and have not the mind to root out the basis of the sophistries they delight to cast in the changing lights of their endless books.’ I shall not condemn them all, for I cannot know their hearts; moreover, the evil fruits of their theories are condemnation enough.
But in those books you may find the methods they have used to rationalize their misconceptions. Many of their arguments are based upon great abstractions by which they leave the world of reality and discover intriguing theories about things which do not exist. I will give you examples.
First, they accuse institutions for the errors of people. There is much said of the failings of the home and family, and of free enterprise and the Constitution. They say that those instruments of the nation’s success can no longer cope with its problems. Has the home failed, or have parents left the commitment they made when they married and invited children to share their house? Has free enterprise faltered, or have people circumscribed the liberty required for its proficiency? Has the Constitution slipped, or have politicians abandoned its ordained function? Is the error with the institutions or with the people? And to illustrate my point I ask: If a man violate a law, is the proper remedy a repeal of the law? They have left reality and called good evil.
Second, they transfer the rights and powers of individuals to their society and use the mistaken concept to place the citizen in subjection to his society. But society is only an abstraction and has no self-existence, and can therefore possess no rights or powers except by delegation or usurpation. To base political principles upon so-called "rights of society" is to attribute an intrinsic reality to society and to leap from firm reason into a mysticism which leads to oppression.
We contended with the belief in the divine right of kings, the false notion that the one is superior to the others. Now they advance the more subtle pretext that the others are sovereign above the one. Both are false, for human rights are individual rights and that is the beginning and the end of the matter.
Now I must say a few words regarding philosophies which are near relatives with Humanism and rampant in your world. These are Socialism and Communism. You must be aware that they are based upon the same political philosophy, the chief difference being that the latter is the ruthless and murderous outgrowth of the former—the natural result of the aristocracy obtaining control of all life and property. And the Communists openly declare Socialism as the bridge to their "utopia."
The leaders of these philosophies seek power and their disciples have not learned the lessons of history. In their eagerness for universal prosperity they have ignored the basic facts of human nature, for they suppose that if man is placed in a "great society" he will as if by magic become a great being. But if you will ask them to produce one instance of the correctness of their theory you and they will both be edified by the lack of example in all human existence.
I am well aware that you do not enjoy my putting Socialism and Communism together, for you have been instructed that there is a difference, but for each difference you will find more similarities. They are both founded upon the principle of usurpation which gives the state power to withdraw the rights of man and thus places government in a higher order of creation than its creator. They both place an aristocracy over the people. They violate property rights and destroy personal initiative by controlling one’s property against his will. Thus they both lower the economic well-being of the citizen, for if initiative be curtailed so is production. A government may promise but only people can produce.
You have been remiss to ignore the parallels of these philosophies. All Socialism wants to become Communism is a successful despot.
Humanism, Socialism, and Communism all propose that for man to be truly free, he must be freed from the mundane toils of life, free to forget the "creature needs," and free to realize his highest spiritual potentials for charity and human progress: that the proper role of government is to thus "liberate" man. But although the words make a happy sound in your ears, these principles are self-negating.
Man requires the difficulties of earning his bread in the sweat of his brow as a school of experience to teach him wisdom in the affairs of his physical life before he can begin to comprehend the principles of his spiritual life; the lower order being after the pattern of the higher. For, as the majestic poplar has its roots in the muck, so man, to reach them heights of his divine potential, must build his life upon the dirt and toil of physical and mental struggle.
Any system which denies him that opportunity to attend the elementary schools of life, by withholding the challenges of his physical welfare, thrusts him into a university of life where he is inadequate and must fail. Without the wisdom born of success in the temporal affairs of life, how shall man even begin to contend with the less obvious but more profound challenges of character?
Nay, if you wish to lift man, you must allow him to live in the truth, and not place him in an artificial society where his needs are supplied by government. He must live in the real world where only work produces, only toil brings blessings, and only true character brings security. He must be free to lift himself and to serve his needy neighbor by his own charity.
Is it not a universal observation that great men are, with but few if any exceptions, the product of toil and adversity; the greatest seeming to come through the severest tests? Leisure begets no honor; and honest work begets no fools. But if a man has not learned to work, he has not learned to give. If a man has not learned to give, he has not learned nobleness. If he has not learned nobleness, no laws can adequately restrain his abuses. Therein lie the keys to the destiny of man. They may be turned to his honor or his hurt, to his desire or his destruction.
There is also the true cause of your rising crime and perversion. There is the cause of your slackening productivity. There is the source of your sliding morality, your declining arts and your silly music.
I see that you must struggle somewhat to comprehend all these things. Let me encourage you; the more you struggle in your minds the less you will strive in your streets. Now some will call me an alarmist, but I make no excuse. Have I not seen the tyranny of a government grown proud on the stolen rights and riches of the people? Do I not see the same again; crowding and smothering your liberty and your enterprise?
If I am an alarmist so be it! I am constrained to speak the truth in your ears. The political philosophy of the nation is at stake, and it is for you to decide who you are and which philosophy you will require for your government.
If men derive their rights from the Creator then their rights are inherent and must be kept inviolate, but if you accept their source in any other instrumentality, their very existence is in jeopardy and any man of eager hand and lazy character may trample upon them without remorse for himself or rebuke from you. It is in the nature of the issue that either the one philosophy or the other will gain the upper hand. Each generation, and perhaps especially yours must answer Mr. Jefferson’s question: "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"
Next: VII. On Amendment XVII
1 I trust you are aware that your federal government has created and widely published these demoralizing books as school texts for pupils of all ages.
How We Lose Freedom
Few of us seem to want to keep government out of our personal affairs and responsibilities. Many of us seem to favor various types of government-guaranteed and compulsory "security." We say that we want personal freedom, but we demand government housing, government price controls, government-guaranteed jobs and wages. We boast that we are responsible persons, but we vote for candidates who promise us special privileges, government pensions, government subsidies, and government electricity.
Such schemes are directly contrary to the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Our heritage is being lost more through weakness than through deliberate design. The Bill of Rights still shines in all its splendor, but many of us are looking in another direction. Many of us are drifting back to that old concept of government that our forefathers feared and rejected. Many of us are now looking to government for security. Many of us are no longer willing to accept individual responsibility for our own welfare. Yet personal freedom cannot exist without individual responsibility.
DEAN RUSSELL. "The Bill of Rights"