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Traditional Order vs. Loss of Country

April 1, 2019

Political stability in free societies is not only valued, but a necessary condition of life. For that reason, American government is grounded in a Constitution designed to assure stability by means of principles of limited government.

James Madison succinctly summarized the problem in The Federalist, #51.

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

The “enlightened” ideas that most of the Framers of the Constitution shared, rooted in the liberal, “Social Contract,” ideas of John Locke were sufficient to establish s stable representative government in the United States until the Civil War. That political crisis accompanied by Darwin’s Origins of Species and the introduction of German idealist humanism by the American “Transcendentalists,” challenged a dominant political order founded on Protestant Christianity. Once that shared theological system was broken, the America of the 18th Century was flung into a cauldron of intellectual currents shaped by political ideologies.

American political conservatives sought ways to preserve and disseminate the principles of traditional order that preserve political and economic freedom. Many were believing Christians who understood that “salvation” was not to be found in this life, and thus they shared a philosophy of limited government that rejected political and economic “final solutions” of the Progressive and totalitarian movements.

World War I and the Great Depression changed the balance of power and wiped away the restraints placed on national government by such 19th century institutions as the Protestant churches and the many private colleges and universities established to shape the character of Americans, train the Protestant clergy, establish a class of attorneys committed to the rule of law, and prepare a military elite to protect the nation and preserve the principle of civilian rule.

In mid-twentieth century, each of the pillars of a former political culture that sought to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” had been destroyed or shaken. The States were dominated by an aggressive, centralized, bureaucratic, administrative State. The Protestant and Catholic churches were motivated to assure salvation in this life. American colleges and universities became a system of indoctrination in “Progressive” political ideology.

By mid-Twentieth century, the free and classical liberal order that the Framers sought to preserve in a Constitution of the United States no longer existed. The task that confronted political and economic “conservatives” was to establish ways by which to recover what was left of traditional order.

For at least three quarters of a century, a “movement” was developed that was political, intellectual and spiritual. Identified by three leaders–Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Barry Goldwater–a community of like-minded defenders of traditional order commenced recovery.

That recovery aimed to influence American government by means of elections, education and assertion of principles of traditional order of Western civilization. Protestant “Evangelical” leaders joined the “movement” and appealed to a “moral majority.” A flurry of new journals and magazines were founded. Attempts to counter the Progressive domination of newspapers were made. New colleges were founded. “Think Tanks” were founded to shape public “policy.”

Looking back, much was accomplished, but something essential in the character of ordinary citizens had changed. To begin with education, though more Americans entered college, few colleges sustained a curriculum that prepared those they educated for responsibilities of citizenship in a self-government democracy. Americans had been “dumbed down.”

The growth of media Empires that utilized broadcast and cable television and new digital means of disseminating information and ideas dominated public life. “Journalists” who once were taught the basis of “reporting” were transformed by training in “communication theory” into advocates of a Progressive agenda. All who sought elective office, and especially Republican office seekers, were subjected to intensive scrutiny of their personal lives. Their policies were subjected to analysis designed to expose their “racism,” misogyny, sexual activity, business interests and religious beliefs.

The price we paid for this unbridled “journalism” was rejection of public service. To be sure, many of our college educated sought employment in government, but fewer and fewer put themselves at risk and sought elective office. The end result is absence of true leadership in our State governments and the Congress of the United States.

Unfortunately, the administration of government is not like administration of a business enterprise. Lessons must be learned about economics, taxation, America’s foreign policy, American history of government and the national interest. Those lessons are best learned in service in elective office. If none but the morally calloused, or persons ignorant of how government actually works, seek political office, the end result will be a failed government and ultimately loss of country. That is why the academy has launched a series of three seminars in June, September and November on the subject “Loss of Country.”

 

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