Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ignoring Principle, On Principle

Lance asked in Heating Up! "One of the interesting things was that even when a President has campaigned on a platform of smaller government. They still have enlarged the system by giving either their enemies or friends a stake in the system."

That is a good question, and the answer, I think, goes beyond the particulars of politics. Now of course, Gov’t by nature of the people who enter it, political actions amongst political people doing and returning favors, it inevitably grows… and it almost certainly always will, but there was for a time something that kept it within reasonable bounds… what? How and when did Gov't not just grow, but grow beyond those reasonable bounds, and when you find that "They still have enlarged the system by giving either their enemies or friends a stake in the system.", it usually means that a principle has been neglected.

The ink was hardly dry on the constitution, when congress began trying to glory in its own generosity, but there still were restraints. James Madison said, in 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief to French refugees fleeing from insurrection in San Domingo (now Haiti) to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison said disapprovingly, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

Why did he say that? When they fell back on the 'General Welfare' clause of the Constitution, thinking 'well, this is for the general welfare... we'll sure feel swell doing it, why not?'. Madison was able to draw upon his understanding of the principles involved (of course fathering the Constitution helped…), and say "With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." He also said at a later time in a related matter, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions."

Thomas Jefferson explained, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." That was a critical principle to be observed.

Why did congress try to violate that? A key factor that spurred them on, was the growing Progressivist philosophy, which was becoming influential across both political parties, the feeling, the desire to do, to manage, and more to allow those who obviously know better (have you read Rousseau’s piece on ‘Legislators’?), to do what they knew would make things better, and if you could give it a patina of 'scientific' knowledge, all the better.

But for the longest time, the Principle of ‘principle’ was well enough respected, that if you pointed out that a proposal violated it, that was that, as did Madison and Jefferson and many others, but over time, and under the growing influence of Hume, Rousseau, Godwin, Kant, etc, with the doubt that we really could know something or even anything, our belief in our ability to grasp reality began to fade, and the primacy of principle along with it. That became key to the notions of Progressivim and its emphasis on pragmatism, taking isolated actions 'that work', rather than being 'straight jacketed' by Principle.

Franklin Pierce said, after vetoing an appropriation to assist the mentally ill, "I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity," adding, "To approve such spending would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded." Buchanan gave similar reasons for to Pierce's, when he vetoed Republican Senator Morrill's proposal for Federally controlled 'Land Grant' colleges, as with Madison and others he saw the Fed Gov't had no business being involved in such a thing, but he was the last to successfully fend off the progressives.

With the Civil War, Morril tried again, this time spinning it as a War measure 'Educate them reb's and they won't be dumb enough to rebel again'. Lincoln bought it, and the chink in that Constitutional armor that had so long frustrated the Progressives, had been made. Education had always been the primary target of the Progressives (which I've detailed before), and what they used to fuel the spread of their ideas and programs, and the field which I think shows the greatest evidence of their rot.

A few more presidents had the gumption to oppose measures on Constitutional principle; Grover Cleveland vetoed hundreds of spending bills, similarly saying, "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.", but now they were doing so on their own personal power, the backing of reverence for the U.S. Constitution on Principle, was fading fast – the leading Progressives were already attacking it as an outmoded document that shouldn’t hinder their doing somethingIt was another Progressive Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt who put us past the tipping point towards an obese Fed Gov’t, floating trial balloons for everything Wilson and FDR would succeed in doing, he made it 'respectable' to talk of such unconstitutional measures as Fed Gov't direct taxation, involvement in businesses, etc.

Those who think we can pass quick fixes to correct things, are, I think dreaming. Though I think it would be great to repeal the Income Tax, Social Security, and so on... unless people again understand the principles of the Constitution, of limited enumerated powers, and again grasp the importance of Principles themselves, and that we are capable of grasping and understanding Reality - any such changes would soon be nullified by some other similar proposal. One of the principles still understood in the 18th & 19th centuries, almost wordlessly, was that Gov't, when stepping in to 'help' in private life, does so by relieving people of the necessity and responsibility, to be worthy people. No longer do you have to be concerned about that person that needs help, Gov't will handle it. People want Gov't to handle a problem, so that they can avoid it. Decent people didn't cotton to such thoughts. Such thoughts once cottoned to, are not easily legislated over, they have to be uprooted the same way they were first planted - through education.

Ideas matter, and they guide how we act in the world, and before we ever have a chance of grasping the revolutionary nature of Classical Liberalism, that most deeply entrenched holding of 'the enemy' will have to be retaken, Education, and Philosophy - no lasting battles will be won without them.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The New Scholastics

I'm going to take a detour from my next post on the roots of Liberal Fascism, by reviewing one of its shining examples alive and living in Academe. I had a visit this weekend to my post on Liberal Fascism - Getting to the Root of the Matter, by Lance of the long locks (he thinks I'm envious, but I cut mine years ago(and am forced to keep cutting them all too often - thinning hair and baldness welcome here), no longer finding any strength in extending it. Actually I perceive he has a strong vein of vanity there,

and so I delightedly tweak it), who chided me:

"What a pile of colossal arrogance. To think that you could attack Hume just make me laugh. Wow."

Wow indeed. I asked if he had actually read Hume, or just revered him because of his famed name, was he aware that his own oh so nice calls for "Why not make basic health care a right? How about everyone being able to afford to go to college? " which he and the modern left so yearns to impose upon us all, rest upon some fundamental ideas, and "...Hume is right at the bottom of such facile benevolence", which if wrong, might jeopardize the rest of his 'ideals' - perhaps something he’d find worth looking into. To which Lance O’Locks replied:

"To answer you somewhat long winded question and it appears that you are unable to be anything but long winded. I have read Hume. I was just amazed that you would take him on in such a weak manner. "

I made another not so brief comment about the implications of what he was urging, and that his comment :

"I think government and society in general should be there to help us all live a better life. My path to get there just differs from yours. Does that make my thought any less valid?"

is another implication of the Hume-Rousseau-Godwin-Kant stream of unconsciousness, but Lance O'Locks had nothing further to add, but "**blink blink**" at my lack of brevity. Personally I’d like to be less lengthy, and I have fun with Shakespeare’s “Brevity is the soul of wit” at my own expense, but I also take solace at whose mouth ol’ Will S. put those words into, Polonius, who, as with Lance O’Locks himself, was another uncomprehending spouter of platitudes.

Lance either doesn't want to (which would be fine) debate Hume, doesn't understand Hume (far more likely), or has been told that Hume is one of the founders of all that is wonderful and liberal and scientific, and so is unquestionable gospel. This is a frightening position to take, and one I've no doubt Hume would be appalled at. Hume himself, I’m sure, if he was aware that professor’s were professing his thoughts, would hope that those professors were examining his work with just such criticisms as I’ve been making of him, and urging the students to display their understanding of him by defending hit ideas against such attacks.

That, sadly, is not how it goes today.

Sir Francis Bacon led a charge to end the age of the Scholastics last reign, those clerics and teachers who took the classical authors, Aristotle in particular, as next to gospel, factual and true and blasphemously arrogant of anyone to question anything they revealed. Hume himself, was seeking to expose what he saw as unquestioning examination of accepted truths, through his new Skepticism. As noted in my previous post, I disagree with what Hume thought he discovered as a root of those accepted errors, and instead made an error of his own, that of seeking causality instead of Identity, and with that as his root observation, built a teetering philosophical method upon it; one which has led not only to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Progressivism and Fascism, but supposedly scientific theories such as Poppers 'Falsification Theory of Knowledge' (admiringly built from Humian inspiration).

In other words, the modern leftist, through its churches of academe, has succeeded in establishing that which Liberalism was originally created to overthrow - a new Scholasticism. Professors, and students who blindly accept the statements as unquestioned fact made by their sainted schollars in Hume, Rousseau, Marx, etc - unwilling to question them, and attacking those who do, not by arguing for those ideas, but by ridiculing the attempt to question them.

Today we have a new calcification crusting over all that modern leftism holds and asserts, it refuses to question unless the questioning affirms a more fundamental tenet (as Hegel to Kant), we are living through a new age of Scholastics, and they are attempting to expand their ivory towers to include our living rooms.

They must be stopped. And the only way to do it, is to question their assumptions, and show them to be more naked than the emperors they grovel before.

Now, if you are a student in college, somewhere in between your daily 50 brushstrokes, you should be not memorizing and internalizing the pronouncements of your professors, but examining and questioning them, looking for the principles which they are based upon, and examining them too, in order to arrive at a better comprehension of the Truth of the matter.

That is precisely what Lance and his fellows and mentors do not do. If that were not so, he would accuse me of colossal pile of arrogance for questioning Hume, he would say something like (flicking hair back over the shoulders) "Dude, you wasted a lot of words there because you missed the point that Hume wasn't trying to make our ability to understand anything impossible by removing reality from our grasp, he was actually attempting to establish a standard of questioning what you assume to be true, in order to better grasp reality as it actually is."

Such a comment would show an attitude of respect for the truth, and desire to discover and defend it, and such a commentator I would have respect for. I would answer that, "Yes that is a common interpretation, and one which Hume himself hoped he was doing, but it is completely undermined and subverted by his conception of causality and our inability to never know it, or the Identity of any object in reality..." and on to the rest of my previous post. I would even dare to hope that he might show me an error I had made, and so enable me to better understand and grasp reality, and my place in it, myself.

Such a comment Lance O'Locks did not make, would not make, and I fear is unable to make. You can read Lance O'Locks two sites for yourselves, he is a typical young leftie, full of multi-culti, 'can't we all just get along' and ‘hate america first’ tripe and assumptions, which typifies the leftist line of accepting as true all the yearnings of their causes, and the forceful demonization of any and all who question their lack of questioning.

The New Scholastics are here. The New Liberals (in it's original and proper meaning, as that of the Founding Fathers, and yes even of those who innocently made mistakes such as Hume) are showing them to be not only naked, but possessing knobby knees and unsightly boils, but empty heads as well.

Some points any leftie worth his truth seeking economic salt should be able to refute (as if):
Bastiat’s The Law, and What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,
and Leonard Reads I, Pencil