Thursday, January 28, 2010

Athens and America: The Bog Of The Gaps

“The historian of Greek philosophy we have already quoted remarks on the perfect harmony that Socrates had attained between thought and feeling. If we compare Socrates in this respect with Rousseau, who said that "his heart and his head did not seem to belong to the same individual," we shall perceive the difference between a sage and a sophist”. Irving Babbitt, What Is Humanism? (1908)

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.” Ronald Reagan


A Refreshing Slap Before Double-Checking
I’d planned for this post to dig into some of what Aristotle had learned about our ability to know the world, our place in it and how to double-check our knowledge so that between what we think we know, and what others are telling us they know, we can tell what is in fact so; it’s either that or risk knowing “…so much that isn't so”. Knowing that what we know, is so, and being able to explain how we know it, is not only a handy talent to have, it’s critical to our being able to defend the West in general and our Constitutional Republic in particular, it is also central to a proper concept of Justice.

But as I began writing the post, it seemed to me that the importance of what he learned might be better seen through examining its absence. I thought we might be more motivated to care about being able to tell the difference between a sage and a sophist – by seeing what happens when you can’t. When you lack the ability to connect words to Reality, it invites disaster – and disaster never turns down an invitation. Seeing how that very same lack of knowledge, the same absence of intellectual self-defense, brought low the first high point of the West, Athens, through the well intentioned actions of the Athenians themselves, and seeing how that same lack of understanding
         back then because Aristotle hadn’t yet begun to bring them to light,
         here today because of an educational system devoted to keeping such knowledge in the dark
, is repeating that damage, to the West in general, and to America in particular, today, here, now.

In earlier posts in this series we looked at how the Greco-Roman half of our Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian culture – “The West”, was nurtured through tales like those of Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey; how they sparked a certain Western Sense of life that was common throughout the Greek lands, but it was only a thin and shifting sense, it wasn’t until that sense of life was able to take physical form through the First Democracy of Athens (see “First Democracy” by Paul Woodruff, a good examination of the often forgotten Virtues of Athenian Democracy), and with it’s later poets like Aeschylus and Sophocles, that a recognizably western way of life developed and which has persisted in some form or another down to our day.

Without Athens, all the rest of what we know, never would have become so.

The Athenians, a relatively small community, established the first real working system of citizen self governance, in recorded history, becoming the first to disperse power and initiative amongst the people in general. This freed them to think and act as they saw fit in their own lives, rather than having to abide by rules or beg permission from those in power above them. A lot has been said about the importance of Athens, but to my mind its chief contribution (which unleashed all the rest) was that it made it possible for the first time, for free thinking "Man" to enter into the world.

For the first time in history individuals were able to gather information from the world about them from the bottom up and spread it outwards; it truly was the beginning of the first information age - analog anyway. Citizens were now free to take the materials and facts as they knew them, and useing their own ideas and efforts, reform them into what they judged would be useful products, services and ideas, exchanging and transmitting and further transforming them, from one person to another – expanding knowledge enabling information and creating real wealth and enriching themselves and their world… rather than depending upon, and waiting upon, the single, eternally impoverished rivulet of thought,
...trickling down
..from one closed authorized mind to the next,
..leaving people,
...and things,
...unchanged,
...unenhanced,
...undead - the eternally grey hallmark of Statism.

This new Athenian system produced remarkable results in a very short time for Athens, soon it, along with their other Greek allies, Sparta, etc, had become powerful enough to help to defeat the vastly larger invading armies and navies of Persia, and on top of that heady success, the freed energies of the Athenian example spurred the Greeks to discover, create or refine for the first time in recorded history the fields of Drama, History, Philosophy, Science, Medicine, Politics, and went on to conquer the known world…
… and to defeat... themselves?

Yep.

So a brief (well… it’s been shortened by 15 pages… that’s gotta count for something) historical overview seems to be in order, with huge and painful omissions and generalizations, in order to put our current position into a more useful perspective.

That our Beginnings do not become our Ends – a distant mirror
Solon
In about 594 B.C., with recent wars and strife’s receding, Athens found itself deeply beset by factionalism and divided regionally between those who lived in the hills and favored democracy, while those in the plains - the fields and farms - wanted oligarchy, and others in the sea port market places wanted a mix. There were real divisions between the haves, mostly aristocratic, old and established wealthy families, and the have not’s, who either paid a large percentage of their earnings to their wealthy creditors, or as Plutarch puts it,
“… else they engaged their body for the debt, and might be seized, and either sent into slavery at home, or sold to strangers; some (for no law forbade it) were forced to sell their children, or fly their country to avoid the cruelty
of their creditors

The rich held physical power over the people who, as yet, had no protected and inalienable Rights – what they said went, and as is typical in a situation with such an imbalance of powers, eventually it all went to hell. In short, there was revolution in the air and no Justice on the ground, and all knew it, rich and poor alike.

Solon, a poet, who was by birth an Aristocrat, though not particularly wealthy or partial to any one faction or class, had earned himself a reputation for wisdom and ability, and he was the only one whom everyone felt they could trust to resolve the issue justly and avert a disastrous civil war, so he was made Archon (essentially a temporary King) for a period of one year, in order to devise a way to resolve their problems.

Solon knew that that meant that those among both sides and across all regions expected him to give them what they wanted, at the expense of the others… but by artfully managing their opposing ambitions, he managed to lure, shade and spin them to the tolerable limits, neither fully sustaining nor redistributing the wealth, neither enforcing nor cancelling all debts, he bargained and cajoled agreements and actions so that, as Plutarch says,

what he thought he could effect by persuasion upon the pliable, and by force upon the stubborn, this he did, as he himself says,

With force and justice working both in one.”

There’s a contradiction inherent in that, but they didn’t have the means to know it yet (do you?), and for the moment they passed on to more obvious concerns. Solon’s first actions were to forbid the mortgaging of people - even if the debtor agreed and offered himself as collateral to a loan, he decreed that it was forbidden and that no creditor could any longer enslave a person or their family - that Liberty was now unalienable. He also ordered that those who had been repossessed into slavery, were to be repurchased and returned to Athens as free men, so that,
The mortgage-stones that covered her, by me
Removed, — the land that was a slave is free;

Significantly for the future of Athens, he also convinced the landowners to shift from growing grain, which didn’t grow so well in their soil, to olives, which did – more than mere practicality, the long term effects of this was to shape Athens into a trading culture who exchanged less essential, but more desirable products to others, in exchange for the staples they needed at home – and then some, developing through a rapidly growing fleet which plied the Aegean. He cancelled the harsh laws that the earlier Archon Draco had “written in blood” (and which is where we get the word ‘Draconian’ from) and even extended citizenship to foreign craftsmen, those who could contribute to the stability and development of Athens, making Athens one of the few city states whose citizens weren’t homogenous – an early melting pot.

He expanded membership in the Ecclesia, an advisory assembly to the Archon, and also opened up the Law Courts to some of the lower classes, removed much of the legislative power from the aristocrats of the Boule, or Areopagus, (Note: for our purposes we can think of the Areopagus as being equivalent to the English House of Lords, or our Senate, and the Ecclesia as a House of Commons, or House of Representatives – as long as we do so in the same sense that we can refer to horse drawn chariots, railroad cars and SUV’s as ‘Cars’, because people rode in them to get from here to there… while that’s true, few would see them as equivalent) and established it with a ‘Council of 400’ which gave representation to other classes, and gave each citizen the right to bring legal actions against any other as well as requiring them to rely on the Law and trials before a jury, rather than blood feuds to resolve such issues (see the Orestia for a mythical presentation of this) and he required that each Father must teach his son his trade and educate him as well. These, and many other adjustments and innovations, averted the crisis and, as Plutarch says,
Of this equalization he himself makes mention in this manner:
Such power I gave the people as might do,
Abridged not what they had, now lavished new.
Those that were great in wealth and high in place,
My counsel likewise kept from all disgrace.
Before them both I held my shield of might,
And let not either touch the other’s right.;”
, and Plutarch relates,
“…when he was afterwards asked if he had left the Athenians the best laws that could be given, he replied, “The best they could receive.””
A pre-echo of Ben Franklins “A Republic… if you can keep it!”, don’t you think?

It is important I think to note that he didn’t create Rights or “Athenians’ from his decrees, his reforms of “best that they could receive”, were possible because they could receive them, the sense of their rights were already anticipated, Solon only recognized and formalized what was already in some respect known or implied to all Greeks via Homer, that Man was meant to be free – his innovation was to show them the way towards how they could actually be free within the polis, through the new concepts expressed in,
..My counsel likewise kept from all disgrace.
Before them both I held my shield of might,
And let not either touch the other’s right

Like acorn seeds, the intellectual trees which would spring from the ideas expressed in these simple lines, would become mighty oaks of Law and Justice that would shape, shelter and shade the West for thousands of years… but in Solon’s time, they remained but saplings, and while the crisis was averted, not too many years later it all fell apart. The 1911 Britannica sums up the collapse of Solon’s reforms as,
They were too moderate to please the people, too democratic for the nobles. It was found that the government by Boule and Ecclesia did not mean popular control in the full sense; it meant government by the leisured classes, inasmuch as the industrious farmer or herdsman could not leave his work to give his vote at the Ecclesia, or do his duty as a councillor.”

Solon’s plans decentralized power and identified and made a place for the Rights of all citizens, but the aristocrats still retained enough power with too few restraints so that the remaining peoples rights had teeth only if the aristocrat’s didn’t interfere, which meant that they had power in name only. Force still ruled, not Rights and Justice, and as such their system of political power, had no power itself to contain it’s untamed powers and principalities for long, and the political bonds Solon had placed upon them, soon burst.

From the beginning of the West, successful govt (not just one that maintains peace – graveyards have plenty of that, but enables prosperity) has required not only the recognition of Rights, but their support from all of its citizens, and a balanced dispersal of power; checks and balances which if well arranged, contains political power – the danger of the West has been that when that container is weakened or imbalanced, the dammed up power is unleashed in a flood upon all.

Pisistratus
Pisistratus, a relative of Solon’s who’d shown leadership abilities in war as well as having a silver tongue, began building a following among the people as a ‘man of the people’. There’s a fragment attributed to Solon warning of him,
Fools, you are treading in the footsteps of the fox; can you not read the hidden meaning of these charming words ?

, and apparently the answer was “no”, they couldn’t, they heard fine words and promises but as yet had no way of seeing through them, and so around 560 BC, Pisistratus, took advantage of a struggle between the people of the Plains and the Ports, and setting himself up as defender of the poor, stepped in and took power… and lost it… then came back and took it again (this time in a chariot riding with a nearly 6’ tall blond women dressed in shinning armor whom he claimed to actually be the Goddess Athena come to aid him!), lost it again, and then once more, and this time more successfully, he won and held onto power for about 20 years, until his death in 527 B.C.. When power is unbalanced and rights aggrieved, someone is going to come along who thinks they can take power and restore order, as they see fit, and they will use whatever means available, no matter how ridiculous – whether that be 6‘ Blonde Athena’s or Glowbull Warming - if they believe that will result in their getting a hold of power.

While he was a character, he wasn’t so bad, as tyrants go, less like our low opinion of the term, than theirs – a single ruler taking power to establish order. He did redistribute some lands, but also made low interest loans possible so a middle class could be established and expanded, he undertook several necessary public works projects, made Athens into a respectable and developed polis, city, and even formalized the festival of Dionysius into a venue for drama, presenting plays written by citizens in competition for the recognition of having written the best plays of that year, and wealthier citizens vied for the honor of producing those plays; all of which was done for the purpose of religious observation and the edification of all its citizens – it served as a combination of Church, Sunday School, Movies and Academy Awards and Concerts all rolled into one – and we owe a huge debt to them for our having received the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and others, that have come down to us as a result of the festival of Dionysius.

However when power fell to his sons, they were more in the dark model of what we think of as tyrants, and they battled between themselves and abused the people, until eventually the people had enough, and revolution was in the air once again – enter Cleisthenes, who, after some serious turmoil, succeeded in setting up a clearer, more workable, democracy.

Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes, around 508 BC, solidified the First Democracy through making changes that actually dispersed and balanced power among the full citizenry. He transferred more of the power of the aristocrats from the Areopagus into the hands of other classes by expanding the Ecclesia into an assembly of all male citizens who met every ten days, averaging 5,000 per meeting, and it was they who passed all laws.

He reformed the Council of 400 into a Council of 500, which set the agenda which the Ecclesia would follow, and it executed its laws, served as ‘juries’ in trials (quite a solution for crooked trials - just imagine Al Capone trying to bribe 500 jury members) and was responsible to the Ecclesia for its actions.

Cleisthenes dealt with the regional factionalism by reorganizing the traditional four tribes, which was where local leaders were drawn from, into ten new tribes formed from all regions, classes and clans, and further subdivided each of these into 10 demes (sort of like townships), with each of these having a local administrator who ran meetings and looked after their oarsmen for the state navy, etc. From the whole tribe, each selected a General, who would command them if war were to come – essentially Cleisthenes reorganized Attica along interests common to all in the new ‘Tribes’ and for the first time enabled a shared interest between them all – plains, hills, ports, rich, poor - making cooperation between them a necessity, their newly discovered common causes and values, being benefits to them all. No one person or group could be said to have power, or to be in a position to dispense power. The Council of 500 was literally chosen by lot from the names of all citizens, and no citizen could serve more than twice in a lifetime.

To plausibly pursue public measures, was to pursue measures at least partially acceptable to most Athenians, and not simply by a bare majority, and this is one of Woodruff’s main points, Harmony was a real goal - those of one power base needed the cooperation of those from several other power bases, in order to accomplish what they wished and to maintain any power – in the perennial question of “The One and the Many”, for the first time, though crudely, the needs of the Many were balanced against each other, to the benefit of the One.

He also instituted an interesting feature, called Ostracism – if you became too notorious, too big for your britches or a powerful but disgruntled troublemaker, you could be voted “Most Dangerous Man” and sent into ten years of exile (why does this bring Jimmy Carter to my mind?), and for some time this was a powerful though passive deterrence, while it was effective in causing people to think twice about their activities… it was rarely used – it was twenty or so years before being used for the first time - that is until the rise of sophists and demagogues, who found in it a tool more useful if used actively, rather than passively, to threaten and rally the members of the assembly (at least 6,000 votes were required) towards ostracizing, and thereby cowing, their rivals.

Some painful omissions:
Ephiealites
Themistocles

Changing Freedom
Athens by this time was no longer as Athens was. Sparta had previously helped various Athenian factions in one turmoil or another, helping them to retain power and put down revolts, but they soon began to see something which the Athenians themselves hadn’t yet realized – they had become… different. The Spartans knew it when the Athenians had come to aid them in putting down a revolt of their own people, and after a brief interaction, the Spartans said ‘thanks, but no thanks, please return to Athens’, they didn’t want their own people to become infected with this strange new peoples talk about freedom, law, Rights, and a willingness to try innovative plans and ideas – Sparta was a model of totalitarianism and it knew its enemies scent when it smelled it.

This was a promising, monumental and courageous start, a ‘start’ that lasted well over a century (in it’s first phase), but it was turbulent and a shaky basis for government, as we think of it in the West today, and, though this First Democracy was perhaps not as faulty as often portrayed, still it was only a beginning, and it’s middle followed soon afterwards at which point the many features it lacked, which to us, two millennia on, we’ve come to expect; such as a written constitution, a bill of rights, etc, became apparent, leaving that First Democracy open to demagogues to begin herding passions and riding roughshod over its unwritten Virtues. However it was what followed after their promising start, which Madison had in mind, when he noted that,

“…a pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the Government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert results from the form of Government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Pericles
By the time of Athens height, it developed into an Imperial power, with the rise of one of the first truly great statesmen, Pericles, who brought with him further alterations and developments to their democracy; the once powerful Archon was diminished into a figurehead, the tribal generals, Strategoi, which unlike any in the past, Pericles was repeatedly elected to (as FDR was the first, and only, President elected more than twice), and he became immensely powerful and central to the Athenian state, and through his actions, the people were brought into more and more contact and dependence upon, their government.

Pericles was greatly respected for his integrity, his character, ability and forward thinking which he used to solve many a problem which Athens faced. Time after time, through one disturbance, crises and peril after another, the people turned to Pericles to lead them through, and time and again he took on the problem and solved it. He shepparded through many changes, such as the practice of paying members of juries for their duties, making it actually possible for even the lower classes to participate in fact, in the daily business of the Athenian govt. That was followed, much to the horror of the aristocrats who felt such positions of responsibility should be taken for the right reasons only (and by the ‘right sorts’ of people only), by pay for administrative offices, pay for rowing in the navy, and pay for many other positions which had been voluntary before, but Pericles felt that the government and laws of Athens were paramount, and participation in them to be vital:
We obey the laws themselves, especially those which are for the protection of the oppressed, and those unwritten laws which is an acknowledged shame to break.

That last portion, ‘unwritten laws’, was a nod to those early apprehensions of Natural Law, as Sophocles hinted at in Antigone, as well as religious mysteries, and customs… and they saw no contradictions between them and the matters of the first portion which amounted to much of what today would be thought of as Welfare State provisions and services. As Solon had said earlier, they found no conflict between Force and Justice, they felt they could be united… and as yet they had no deeper understanding of the matters necessary to discover their internal conflict… but they would experience it… and provide much empirical data for future study which our Founders found very valuable in creating our system.

Pericles led Athens to expand it’s territory – forcibly - and it’s responsibilities among other like minded Greek states, leading them into further conflicts with Sparta (the conflict was probably unavoidable, but the basis for it could have been different.. but for their hidden contradiction), so that Athens expanded into not just political power, but (to no surprise to those who see the earlier contradictions of Force (initiatory, not retaliatory) and Justice being combined), Imperial power.

Athens was a leading member of the Delian League, a sort of 5th century NATO, which Athens participated in, and contributed, along with other city states, items such as naval ships and so forth, for their common defense - initially in preparation for further expected aggression from Persia, but in its absence, the focus fell upon the perceived threat from Sparta. Pericles proposed that other city states, who were reluctant to build and man the necessary triremes (early equivalents of battleships or aircraft carriers), could just contribute gold, and Athens would provide the materials and men in their place. He also moved that the leagues treasury be moved from the common holy site of Delos, to Athens, building the Parthenon for the purpose of it being a treasury, holy site, and a jewel in the crown of Athens’s prestige.

Pericles made many a smart move, which visibly boosted the power and reputation of Athens into the ruling Imperial power of the Aegean.

A smart man, a smart politician, and an effective leader… and someone who brought change as never before. But as we all know, change and plenty are not always good. There’s probably more than some truth to the idea that Sophocles, who knew and served as a General with Pericles, wrote Oedipus Rex, with Pericles in mind.

With Imperial Power came Imperial difficulties and entanglements, which led soon enough to the onset of war between Athens, the leading naval power, and it’s rival, Sparta, the leading land power, in the Peloponnesian War which grew into a long, drawn out, costly and bloodiest of wars between the two leading Greek city states and their allies, and seeing that it would be so, Thucydides wrote the Peloponnesian War to be a ‘value for the ages’.

It was Pericles who also came up with, and put into practice, the clever policy of frustrating the Spartans when they came to fight the Athenians, of not engaging them, but instead, withdrawing the citizenry from the countryside and into the walls of Athens, leaving the Spartans out there kicking sand and wasting their time trying to hurt the fields, instead of the people of Athens. This was mostly successful, to begin with, but as with most seemingly ‘smart answers’, it brought with it disastrous unforeseen consequences, such as plague.


Safeguards? What Safeguards?
 At the highpoint of that Imperial First Democracy, Pericles spoke in his ‘Funeral Oration’:

“Let me say that this system of government does not copy the institutions of our neighbors. It is more a case of being a model to others, than of our imitating anyone else. Our constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting one person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability, which the man possesses. No one, so long as he has it in him to be of service to the state, is kept in political obscurity because of poverty.

He went on to point out that a people who values Liberty and Freedom, must also value the right of his neighbor to think and value differently, from himself:

“... And, just as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other. We do not get in a state with our next-door neighbor if he enjoys himself in his own way, nor do we give him the kind of black looks, which, though they do no real harm, still do hurt people's feelings. We are free and tolerant in our private lives, but in public affairs we keep the law. This is because it commands our deep respect.“

BTW, if these passages sound familiar, it’s because any number of our Presidents were familiar with, influenced by and borrowed from, this nearly 2,500 years dead Politico. In his later Plague Speech (think of this one as Bush’s 2nd inaugural, in contrast to the earlier Funeral Oration being closer to his first post 9/11 State of the Union speech. I’ll bet that pissed off a few people), Pericles noted the hard, undesirable choice of going to war to defend your freedom, and the even worse decision of not going to war to defend your freedom.

For those of course who have a free choice in the matter and whose fortunes are not at stake, war is the greatest of follies. But if the only choice was between submission with loss of independence, and danger with the hope of preserving that independence, in such a case it is he who will not accept the risk that deserves blame, not he who will.”

(Btw, it’s often interesting to read two or more translations of the same work, here’s the same passage, different translation)

If one has a free choice and can live undisturbed, it is sheer folly to go to war. But suppose this choice was forced upon one—submission and immediate slavery or danger with the hope of survival: Then I prefer the man who stands up to a danger rather than one who runs away from it.”

But no matter how you translate it, it points out that a people who want to enjoy Liberty and Freedom, often must come to grips with making choices between what is Bad, and what is worse – and the people should understand that going in, and it should be a primary concern of their leaders (as opposed to demagogues) to see that they do understand the issues and consequences before them. For the better they are able to understand the issues, the proposed resolutions, and the likely costs between the bad and worse options, the more likely it is that the least bad position might be made. Conversely, if the people think that the solution chosen will lead to a good result, and have given no real consideration to the possible outcomes… the more likely it is that unrest will follow – and they will need to ride that storm out the best they can, with the best leaders still available to them.

Or not.

That very same plague which prompted Pericles’s Plague Speech, soon claimed his life, and it set in motion the toppling of Athens as an Imperial power and as a self governing people. Following Pericles were leaders such as his charismatic nephew Alcibiades (whose life was once saved by Socrates) – a military adventurer and demagogic genius (‘comeback kid’ doesn’t begin to describe him – you gotta read about him, fascinating – imagine if Gen. Eisenhower had been insulted and framed on the eve of invading Europe, had flipped to the side of the Nazi’s and driven the allies from Germany… then later returned and helped nearly defeat the Nazi’s before feeling that he’d been double crossed yet again, and flipped over to the Soviets… imagine that scenario and you sorta get the idea!) and the thug Cleon, and between them strode the doom of Athens.

Sadly for the Athenians, there was not yet then developed a way of navigating the Ship of State much beyond the perceptual level of eyeballing the sky and putting your thumb up into the wind, let alone having an anchor for riding out stormy seas – those tools wouldn’t begin to be developed until some time afterwards with Aristotle - still though, through this historical sketch and these quotes of Pericles, you can see that a vital core of the West was clearly there already... that importance of self government - Individually and politically – and which makes us Western, it was there… raw, unrefined and undeveloped… but there all the same.

And it was not enough to maintain it. At its height, with some of the finest men and ideals and power in all of history, in one place and time in history, the Athenians could not prevail over their enemies, because they could not prevail over themselves.

Double Vision – the view of Sophists over Sages
Why? Why did they collapse? Because they weren’t virtuous? No. The Democracy leading up to and including Pericles's day, had its virtues and the people valued them, Aeschylus summed their attitude up well in “The Persians”, a Persian remarks upon these heroic Greeks opposing them,
Atossa: Who stands over them as a Sheppard, who is master of the host?
Chorus: Of no single master are they called the subjects or the slaves.”

And as a messenger relates the battle of Salamis (where the Athenians defeated the Persian navy)
We could plainly hear
The thunder of their shoutings as they came.
“Forth, sons of Hellas! Free your land, and free
Your children and your wives, the native sets
Of gods your fathers worshipped and their graves,
This is a bout that hazards all you have.

The Athenians, in a very similar position to our own “Greatest Generation”, were a patriotic people, they were a virtuous people and they strongly sensed their own ‘Exceptionalism’. Woodruff identifies their virtues as being:
-          Freedom from tyranny
-          Harmony
-          Rule of Law
-          Natural Equality (there’s a loaded term)
-          Citizen Wisdom
-          Reasoning without Knowledge (a provocative way of describing respectful debate, the art of beginning from a position of antagonistic ignorance and consciously seeking towards one of a discovered knowledge of interests, through principled Reasoning)
-          Education

The Athenians were a virtuous self governing, moral, people; they knew what they valued, but as with our own Greatest Generation who, thanks to proregressive education, shared a similar lack of knowledge with their Athenian counterparts, didn’t know what their very visible exceptionalism derived from, they didn’t know what their Virtues derived from – they saw and took them for being something like cultural artifacts which ‘just were’; they didn’t understand how that inner contradiction assumed and missed by Solon and Pericles, between active Force and Justice, how that would undermine their Virtues, would undermine their exceptionalism and through their lack of understanding, would bring them down.

There was nothing to tie those virtues securely to reality, nothing to prevent their virtues from being degraded and eroded through the influence of what Woodruff calls “Doubles”… terms and ideas which, through what we might call ‘Spin’, act in such a way as to make the Double appear to be the actual ideal it only purports to value, and actually undermines it. Especially vulnerable, were these virtues,
-    Harmony - it extended through the Tribes and sprang from the common interests of all classes and regions who had differences in most everything else, but it was easily turned into disharmony, through demagogues focusing upon the needs of smaller interest groups, and how other groups didn’t satisfy them or even seemingly opposed them. We see something similar today, when we discard the rights of our States, for the apparent interests of subclasses, such as minimum wages or healthcare.
-    Citizen Wisdom – this was the assuredness that anyone, of any class, could find themselves in the highest position in the state, deciding trials, proposing legislation, etc, and be expected to be up to the task, that was turned to a belief that only those who possessed great oratorical skill should be entrusted to important decisions – a counterpart to this today, is our belief that only those who have college or law degrees or some other particularized knowledge, are able to be trusted with positions of power.
-    Education - it initially meant for them, that a child was raised with an understanding of Homer and Hesiod and was taught a trade by their parents, but was turned into a belief that only those with the rhetorical skills of the Sophists, skill at taking either side in an argument without concern for anything but convincing listeners of its superiority, rather than understanding what was true and right, to be the only education worth having – similarly found today in our Politically correct culture of moral relativism and orientation towards getting ahead at any cost.
Note:Today’s wackademics ought to keep in mind that 98% of what is required to graduate college today, was unknown or dismissed as irrelevant, by the likes of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pericles, Thucydides, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc… and probably less than 10% of what they considered valuable, those who literally invented Academia, is known to our wackademics today - but was thoroughly familiar to our Founding Fathers generation - think there might be something wrong with that picture?

As these core virtues became diluted, once again, as Solon foresaw before, they found themselves
“…treading in the footsteps of the fox”
and once again to the unasked question
“… can you not read the hidden meaning of these charming words?”
, their answer was a disarmed ‘No’.

Politically, Woodruff identifies the corrosive big three Doubles as being:
§         Voting’ – Elevating this as a primary ideal, as Jean Jacques Rousseau put it in The Social Contract "Any law which the people has not ratified in person is void; it is not law at all.", rather than the justness of the law, which is music to the ears of a Demagogue; being able to vote doesn’t make one a Democracy, Sadam Hussein compelled people to vote all the time. Having control over what will be voted upon, can be far more important, and is often obscured through the diversion of ‘Voting’.
§         Majority Rule’- Majorities can be as tyrannical as tyrants and just as intent on keeping the minority without a voice – that as an ideal is merely a vehicle for exerting raw power, and does not make one a Democracy; emphasizing Harmony, civility, manners – those things which de Tocqueville found so significant in America, should take precedence over getting your way. Woodruff puts it as “the essential features of First Democracy were freedom from tyranny and the inclusion of all citizens in governance. These go together. Any kind of tyranny – including majority rule – keeps some citizens out of government.”
§         Elected Representatives’ - when influential groups select who can be voted on, like ‘voting’ itself, he says “Elected Representatives’ are “rather like ‘Cooked Ice’” and he points out that the original method of ‘electing’ Representatives to positions on committees, etc, was accomplished by drawing names by lot from that of all eligible citizens - not by vote. Reminds me a bit of William F. Buckley’s “I’d rather be ruled by the first 500 names in the phonebook…”, as well as the GOP’s attempt to impose Dede Scocezzafava on NY23 election.

Now of course the Athenians, at the height of their democracy, were not in any way opposed to voting, to majorities or to having Representatives – they were used and used often; but ideally, they were to be used with restraint and a perspective centered on harmony and ‘the greater good’, and to a great extent the old men of the Persian Wars, their ‘Greatest Generation’, of whom Aeschylus was a veteran, those ideals held. But with no methods or restraints in place to determine whether those ends were in fact being served, or only nominally so while the peoples passions were being stirred up in service of other ends; the traditional Athenian Virtues were dissipated.

Dissipated through the influence of skilled speakers – those who use the skills of rhetoric primarily towards securing assent, at the expense of reasoned understanding, aka Sophistry and with the ready fuel of imperial wealth - the traditional Virtues promoted by Sages like Solon, were transformed into their doppelgangers and Doubles by the rising number of sophistic demagogues for their own purposes, and they soon overran and swamped the system.

Never forget that this democracy which Pericles was speaking of and to, this was the same democracy, the same tolerant people he spoke of as being so willing to put up with the views of those they disagreed with, and yet they were also the same people who would soon vote to put an entire polity to the sword or slavery for the crime of not wanting to be like Athens, and not too long afterwards, those same people, those very same well meaning and tolerant people, would also bring themselves to vote Socrates to death because of his annoying quirks and ideas (which were more significant than Plato portrayed, but nevertheless, worthy of a rebuff, perhaps, but not hemlock).

How the same people, could fall so quickly from virtue, to vice, from Imperial Power, to defeated subject, that’s a question worth answering, isn’t it?

Spinning Out of Control
There is probably something to the theory that democratic innovations, such as the ability of any citizen to bring 'law suits' against any other citizen, brought about the artificial skill of sophistry, of weaving words to influence rather than reveal… but it was only just appearing in Pericles’s day, the old virtues had still been learned, but the new skills were being laid down atop of them, and in conflict with them. This, I think reveals it well, as observed in Pericles’s day as,
We obey the laws themselves, especially those which are for the protection of the oppressed, and those unwritten laws which is an acknowledged shame to break.

, but Pericles himself, brought about the turns in events and changes in society through things like paid services, more easily manipulated laws and services responsive to the desires of the people within, and the Imperial desires of the city state upon other peoples, which brought about the events which would bring to bear upon those uncomfortable contradictions between Natural Law and active Force… and lacking the necessary inner safeguards, Force won out in the contest between Private virtues and insatiable desires, and were demonstrated publically through the Imperial position of ‘Might makes Right’.

Here’s a description from Pg 225 “Periclean Athens” by C.M. Bowra,
“… the Sophist Thracymachus has of Chalcedon, who was busy in Athens before the death of Pericles. Thracymachus advanced the notion that “Justice is the interest of the stronger” and regarded it as simply a matter of success, with no implication that justice should be desired for its own sake. The idea appealed to clever young men, and one, Callicles, portrayed by Plato and surely taken straight from life, held that might, not right, is what really matters. He is willing to deceive the populace in his own interests and regards it as a proper and natural thing to do. He probably belongs to a later generation that in Thracymachus, and his amorality has certain dash and high spirits. He is bored by old-fashioned conventions and admires those who circumvent them. This version of the view of might is right owed its popularity to Sophists, who saw that it appealed to the sons of rich families not wholly at home with the democracy and willing to try other forms of government in which they would be more handsomely treated. It was basically a transference from the theory of public affairs, as it was now known in the Athenian empire, to private life, and it was bound to cause havoc.”

That rhetorical skill (see Aristophanes’ “The Clouds”) was imported into the every day Athenians, every day life, and most visibly it could be seen in the arena of the law courts, where ‘law suits’ became something like the personal triremes of individual citizens own foreign policies against other Athenians who had what they wanted, it was possible in the time leading up to Pericles’s day, for any Athenian to bring a ‘law suit’, or to be the target of one... and so a highly marketable new skill was well under way: teaching people how to use words to sway the (500 people strong) jury to your favor. In that scenario, it’s easy to see how truth and virtue would become optional - and perhaps even undesirable.

Perhaps former Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate, and predatory lawyer, John Edwards, could tell us a thing or two about this phenomena? I’m sure he could – if he understood it, but he probably doesn’t, since he’s also likely lacking that same knowledge which would reveal his own immorality to himself, he is not a self governing person either, but only a subject of his own tyrannical power.

Do you see how this works?

When people are free to act on their passions without any internal or external restraints or checks to cause them to pause and reevaluate the wisdom of their actions, then whatever seems to be in the way, especially something as nebulous as the rights of other individuals (which only serve to keep you from getting what you want), becomes a mere obstacle. If they are allowed, even encouraged, to see such obstacles as only obstacles, they will feel justified in dismissing them in order to obtain their ends, and then all are without safeguard. Man has a choice in life, he can go up, towards the Gods through the deliberate path of Virtue, or, far more easily and naturally, he can travel down, towards the satisfaction of his unmanaged desires, descending down well beneath that of the animals… Sophocles has the chorus in Antigone say,

With cunning beyond belief,
In subtle inventions of art,
He goes his way now to evil, now to good.
When he keeps the laws of the land
And the gods’ rule which he has sworn to uphold,
High is his city. No city has he
Who in rash effrontery
Makes wrong doing his fellow.

And with safeguards and customs and educational norms in place, men can keep to their laws and to the Spirit of their laws, but without them, and with the agitation of events and hardships, the illusory lure of the perceptual good is likely to lead you to that well heated place where all paths paved with good intentions eventually lead to.

Or as Thucydides described the reality of it,
No fear of god or law of man had a restraining influence. As for the gods, it seemed to be the same thing whether one worshipped them or not, when one saw the good and the bad dying indiscriminately. As for offences against human law, no one expected to live long enough to be brought to trial and sentenced.

Freedom is a state of nature, one which is imperiled by the freedoms of other peoples desire to do whatever they feel free to do. Liberty, on the other hand, is a precarious man made invention which requires not only the recognition of your Rights (your own AND others), but the internal safeguards to them, Virtue. This is the difference between freedom and liberty, and any freedom without liberty, is doomed to be lost in the savagery from which it came.

Unfortunately, the last realization such unconstrained people become aware of, is that the mob is itself made up of individuals, and eventually they will be in the way of what others feel justified in taking “First they came for the Jews…” and historically that realization comes too late, as Madison said
“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 controuls 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 controul the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”.

What should be alarming to us, is that these ‘Doubles’, are precisely the spun doppelgangers of ‘Democracy’, which proregressives tout, propagandize and agitate for – from yesteryear, on down through the ages to today, and their effect, then and now, is to erode the safeguards of Virtue, in favor of the passionate urge of the moment. Their indispensible tool, are techniques of separating words from reality, present from past, the loose equivocation of any one item with another via non-essential similarities.

One of Plato's humorous dialogues, Euthydemus, gives us a classic example of such sophistry in action. It describes Socrates recounting of two newly minted rhetoricians, Dionysodorus and Euthydemus (having just left the armory trade for the more lucrative sophist trade), giving a sample demonstration of their verbal wares:

"…What followed, Crito, how can I rightly narrate? For not slight is the task of rehearsing infinite wisdom, and therefore, like the poets, I ought to commence my relation with an invocation to Memory and the Muses. Now Euthydemus, if I remember rightly, began nearly as follows: O Cleinias, are those who learn the wise or the ignorant?
The youth, overpowered by the question blushed, and in his perplexity looked at me for help; and I, knowing that he was disconcerted, said: Take courage, Cleinias, and answer like a man whichever you think; for my belief is that you will derive the greatest benefit from their questions.
Whichever he answers, said Dionysodorus, leaning forward so as to catch my ear, his face beaming with laughter, I prophesy that he will be refuted, Socrates.
While he was speaking to me, Cleinias gave his answer: and therefore I had no time to warn him of the predicament in which he was placed, and he answered that those who learned were the wise.
Euthydemus proceeded: There are some whom you would call teachers, are there not?
The boy assented.
And they are the teachers of those who learn-the grammar-master and the lyre master used to teach you and other boys; and you were the learners?
Yes.
And when you were learners you did not as yet know the things which you were learning?
No, he said.
And were you wise then?
No, indeed, he said.
But if you were not wise you were unlearned?
Certainly.
You then, learning what you did not know, were unlearned when you were learning?
The youth nodded assent.
Then the unlearned learn, and not the wise, Cleinias, as you imagine.
At these words the followers of Euthydemus, of whom I spoke, like a chorus at the bidding of their director, laughed and cheered. Then, before the youth had time to recover his breath, Dionysodorus cleverly took him in hand, and said: Yes, Cleinias; and when the grammar master dictated anything to you, were they the wise boys or the unlearned who learned the dictation?
The wise, replied Cleinias.
Then after all the wise are the learners and not the unlearned; and your last answer to Euthydemus was wrong."

This would be more funny if less true - then and now – but it’s a passage that bears some paying attention to, it demonstrates the methods, effects and purposes of all that assails us today, no less true because done inartfully, but more easily seen because of it. What it does is:

§         It disconnects the subject from reality with arbitrary assertions, things which do not follow, are slipped in and assumed as if connected – “Then the unlearned learn, and not the wise”, because the unlearned learned, does not mean the wise could not, there was no either or proposition.
§         It selects two separate, or even opposing meanings, and presents them as being equal, based on a non essential property through Equivocation, and limits their validity to how well they meet that properties limit. Wise and Learners are made to rest on whether or not something was learned, but is wisdom determined by facts learned, or an better understanding of how to use what you know?
§         It’s purpose is not concerned with truth in the least, only in forcing agreement for it’s purposes “Whichever he answers …he will be refuted” – it’s ends justify it’s means.
§         Each of these depends upon a deeper understanding, that what you know actually refers to something in reality – but such sophistry relies on the notion that your words do not have a solid relation to reality.

These are the very things which familiarity with Aristotle’s Metaphysics and his discoveries in Logic, if not eliminates their usage, at least limits them and enables you to detect their being used against you… but Athens didn’t yet have the benefit of Aristotle’s ideas… we do, but began discarding them over a hundred years ago.

The unimpeded, even unrestrained usage of these techniques destroyed the First Democracy of Athens, and it is in the process of doing the same to us now, you can find plenty of ‘benign’ examples of them at work in the Business, Sales & New Age ‘success lit’ aisle of your bookstores or in late night infomercials - to say nothing of our colleges.. and campaign trails. If you want to see just how ‘benign’ they are, look at our politicians, businessmen and the state of our nation and economy, today.

What's even less humorous, is that the chief skill the rhetoricians gave to the demagogues, was how to obscure reality, how to make your purpose appear true, and inflame listeners passions in your favor, through simple associations and escalations. The puzzle pieces, words, can easily be made to form a picture and unless you learn to look for the edges, learn to see that they fit – or not – you don’t know that you don’t know.

Thucydides gives examples of these skills, humorous in Euthydemus, but ugly when demonstrated all grown up in Cleon's speech to the Athenians against the people of Mitylene. Cleon, impatient with democratic debate, insists that Athens exert it’s power because it can, he here urges that the population of Mitylene be put to death:
I proceed to show that no one state has ever injured you as much as Mitylene. I can make allowance for those who revolt because they cannot bear our empire, or who have been forced to do so by the enemy. But for those who possessed an island with fortifications; who could fear our enemies only by sea, and there had their own force of galleys to protect them; who were independent and held in the highest honour by you- to act as these have done, this is not revolt- revolt implies oppression; it is deliberate and wanton aggression; an attempt to ruin us by siding with our bitterest enemies; a worse offence than a war undertaken on their own account in the acquisition of power. The fate of those of their neighbours who had already rebelled and had been subdued was no lesson to them; their own prosperity could not dissuade them from affronting danger; but blindly confident in the future, and full of hopes beyond their power though not beyond their ambition, they declared war and made their decision to prefer might to right, their attack being determined not by provocation but by the moment which seemed propitious. The truth is that great good fortune coming suddenly and unexpectedly tends to make a people insolent; in most cases it is safer for mankind to have success in reason than out of reason; and it is easier for them, one may say, to stave off adversity than to preserve prosperity. Our mistake has been to distinguish the Mitylenians as we have done: had they been long ago treated like the rest, they never would have so far forgotten themselves, human nature being as surely made arrogant by consideration as it is awed by firmness. Let them now therefore be punished as their crime requires, and do not, while you condemn the aristocracy, absolve the people…”

To which Diodotus desperately countered,
…This is not our way; and, besides, the moment that a man is suspected of giving advice, however good, from corrupt motives, we feel such a grudge against him for the gain which after all we are not certain he will receive, that we deprive the city of its certain benefit. Plain good advice has thus come to be no less suspected than bad; and the advocate of the most monstrous measures is not more obliged to use deceit to gain the people, than the best counsellor is to lie in order to be believed. … Only consider what a blunder you would commit in doing as Cleon recommends. As things are at present, in all the cities the people is your friend, and either does not revolt with the oligarchy, or, if forced to do so, becomes at once the enemy of the insurgents; so that in the war with the hostile city you have the masses on your side. But if you butcher the people of Mitylene, who had nothing to do with the revolt, and who, as soon as they got arms, of their own motion surrendered the town, first you will commit the crime of killing your benefactors; and next you will play directly into the hands of the higher classes, who when they induce their cities to rise, will immediately have the people on their side, through your having announced in advance the same punishment for those who are guilty and for those who are not. On the contrary, even if they were guilty, you ought to seem not to notice it, in order to avoid alienating the only class still friendly to us. In short, I consider it far more useful for the preservation of our empire voluntarily to put up with injustice, than to put to death, however justly, those whom it is our interest to keep alive. As for Cleon's idea that in punishment the claims of justice and expediency can both be satisfied, facts do not confirm the possibility of such a combination.”

When Truth is not the Purpose, Power Is
Cleon had roused their bloodlust and succeeded in securing the death penalty for the city, but Diodotus’s belief that such actions were “not our way”, still rang true within the hearts of the Athenians, and it soon resurfaced in frantic second thoughts as the Athenians came to their senses, and they sent another ship, charged to travel at full speed in order to overtake the first, and counter their previous murderous orders.

They succeeded, but it was a close run affair… and a closer run race, when the Athenians ultimately lost, the ability to discern what was true from what was not, and worse, the habit of caring. Such second thoughts, such caring, such horror at behaving reprehensibly, relies heavily upon there being honest men around to say so – but the existence of such men relies upon Right, upon Truth, upon Virtue, being the highest of values - but when Might makes Right, then it is no longer ‘the Right’ for which people are willing to struggle mightily for, only might, only power, will command their efforts, and so power flows without restraint, to expect otherwise is folly.

Proof of this presented itself when a similar situation offered a repeat performance some few years later, but this time, there was no debate among the Athenians, no second thoughts, no concern for right and wrong, the passions and turmoil of war and lesser leaders eroded the old restraints; the Melian’s were told in no uncertain terms, ‘comply with us because we have the might to do as we wish, we care not for what is right’ – the Melieans refused, insisting that they were in the right – the Athenians agreed that they were, even as they put the entire male population to the sword, sold the women and children into slavery, and took their island as the simple spoils of war.

The deed was done and the Melians were no more. And arguably, neither were the Athenians.

Familiarity with dissembling produces a lack of clarity and familiarity with the truth, even discomfort, and soon a preference to evade the issue through easy cynicism and ‘sophistication’. Plato, in The Republic, had Thrasymachus demonstrate this bluntly to Socrates, when asked to define Justice, he says simply:
“I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger.”
Quite appropriately, Plato gives Thracymachus no more words to say in the Republic – the position is a dead end, and has no place in a people concerned with self governance.

Self governance, to be of any value, has to be concerned with doing what is sensible, with fitting your life and actions to what is wise behavior, and that requires a strong concern with the Truth. Truth requires conformance to reality, and since we’ve no automatic source of knowledge, we have to rely on Reason, and that requires carefully following guidelines so that your emotions don’t sway your judgment and steer you away from what is real and true. For Reason to be able to overrule your emotions, you have to be in the habit of doing just that, and that means practicing the Aristotelian virtues – not going to try getting into them in this post, but I’ll give some of my own quick definitions just as bullet point description,
§         Prudence – judging what action is best to take within a given context of time and place
§         Justice – Ooh… not gonna give away the secret of the series… here’s a typical definition which I find completely inadequate: “proper moderation between self-interest and the rights and needs of others”
§         Temperance – Consciously controlling your actions so that they conform to the most morally appropriate expenditure of effort and materials
§         Courage – Taking the actions appropriate to uphold virtue, despite physical dangers or psychic slings and arrows

which are habituating conformance of behavior to informed reason. IOW, having as your goal and highest value, reality, truth and making your best effort to reflect it in your actions.

When reality is not a concern (such as not being particularly concerned that you can explain a favored concept or show that it has a solid basis in reality for it, from minimum wage laws on one end to glowbull warming on the other) and Truth and justice are not the primary goals, then language becomes a tool for obfuscation and passionate stirrings, whose only consistency is that the ends justify the means, and the Ends are easily cast by rhetoricians, sophists and demagogues with stylish glamour into whatever shape and form they please… in that situation, there is only one thing you can be certain of, these ends will be summed up through means that will be presented in such a way as to make them seem desirable to their listeners, and who will think no further than their promises and the actual reality will be of no more interest afterwards, than it was beforehand.

And what is good and true… will degrade more and more until the foundation crumbles and all comes crashing down and as Kipling warned us, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

Fast Forwarding: A Vision Check from another vantage Point
More than 2,000 years after Pericles, during the Founders period from two, to three, centuries ago, the history, lessons and development of our Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian Western civilization, brought us to the point of not only being able to politically surpass that of Athens (and Rome), but to being able to learn form them, and to conceive and create the finest political organization - ever, one that recognized and balanced the needs of the One with the needs of the Many, and brought Justice to it’s clearest expression - ever, among any peoples, at any time, or anywhere.

Our Founding Fathers generation (and I use ‘Founding Fathers generation’ not as restricted to those few men who were our Founding Fathers, but to the entire Anglo generation, in England and the Colonies, who raised, educated and shaped their world) was taught that Truth and Justice were of the highest values attainable by men, and in seeking to understand how to best pursue and understand them, the goal of their Education was to teach them history, literature and philosophy, for the purpose of making them better men (rather than efficient and employable men), more able to recognize what was true and conform themselves to that. As a result, they were very familiar with the rise and fall of Athens, and the rise and fall of Rome, as well as that of the later Italian city-states, and the development of their own parent country, England.

They drew lessons form them, and were not easily swayed by the honey tongued fox, come lurking back around the campfire once again.

What our Founding Father’s generation understood, and which we sooo lack a grasp of today, was the key which unlocked the wealth and technological progress which seemingly separates us, from them (a separation that is an illusion – at least on that basis). They came to the realization that by establishing a government devoted to protecting the Rights of the Individual, the One, you would at the same time reinforce and strengthen the Rights, and the needs, of the Many, and vice versa; and that the most basic, fundamental, keystone Right common to all - was Property Rights.

In Solon’s time, the best intellectual foundation for their government, was their general sense of life, but that included an attempt to combining the use of force with justice, or Pericles’s calls for courage and patriotism… but without a foundation, they were easily eroded. Our Founding Father’s generation had the benefit of two thousand years of history, and philosophy, such as Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Logic. They also had huge benefit of thinkers such as John Locke to draw from, and as a result they had a very solid understanding of what government, society and Rights, and what they relied upon. Rather than basing their ideas on “a sense of” as Solon had, they examined historical fact applied Aristotelian rules of reasoning, and knew where of they stood, and what would constitute a fall.

Here’s an example, from John Adams in his Defense of Constitutions, a very popular (in their time) examination and comparison of earlier Constitutions, here discussing the key to a successful Republic,

"This, indeed, appears to be the true and only true definition of a republic. The word res, every one knows, signified in the Roman language wealth, riches, property; the word publicus, quasi populicus, and per syncope pôplicus, signified public, common, belonging to the people; res publica, therefore, was publica res, the wealth, riches, or property of the people.*Res populi, and the original meaning of the word republic could be no other than a government in which the property of the people predominated and governed; and it had more relation to property than liberty. It signified a government, in which the property of the public, or people, and of every one of them, was secured and protected by law. This idea, indeed, implies liberty; because property cannot be secure unless the man be at liberty to acquire, use, or part with it, at his discretion, and unless he have his personal liberty of life and limb, motion and rest, for that purpose. It implies, moreover, that the property and liberty of all men, not merely of a majority, should be safe; for the people, or public, comprehends more than a majority, it comprehends all and every individual; and the property of every citizen is a part of the public property, as each citizen is a part of the public, people, or community. The property, therefore, of every man has a share in government, and is more powerful than any citizen, or party of citizens; it is governed only by the law. "[Emphasis mine]

This understanding required an understanding of those rules of reasoning and virtues. Required. The goal of Education in the Founder’s generation, was to instill love of Virtue, Law and ‘moral ambition’, seeking to become a person of respectable, principled, character, fit for liberty – to live it and to defend it. The material of their Education was the classics, particularly Homer, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch and Polybius as well as a strong focus on naturalism, botany, Newtonian Physics and political economy – as well as a heaping helping of the Bible (Harvard was established as a Divinity school!), and it instilled in them, not just through reading and memorizing (and translating from the original Greek or Latin), but by actively defending and debating the central ideas conveyed in the cannon… with other students, and with their Teacher – a Teacher who was expected to be a master of the material. These debates involved not only the material at hand, but were expected to employ and reinforce rules and techniques of logic and rhetoric, mostly as defined by Aristotle, which developed minds able and capable of comprehending fallacies in an argument – an arguments compatibility, or incompatibility with reality.

This focus brought about a generation, here and in England, who were more civilized and capable than most generations prior to them, and all since. Note, this doesn’t mean they were perfect or prigs, but they aimed high and punished those instances where they fell low, and it brought about writings such as Adam’s above, of which IMHO, there is no higher political understanding of Men, of Government or of any theatre of Justice, that has ever been attained to in the history of Man than what is expressed in this.. This was solid ground to stand upon. That it is no longer widely understood, is an indication not only <I>that</I> we have fallen, but of just how far a descent we’ve travelled backwards to – a regressive journey undertaken mostly at the behest of those incessantly calling for ‘Progress!’.

Our Founding Fathers feared power seekers in arms and robes of state, they prepared for attack with rifles and cannon or government decree – but they didn’t anticipate the deadliest of enemies hiding in the gowns of the university. What the Founders didn’t anticipate, was an attack upon Education coming from those acclaimed as being educated, upon Philosophy (love of wisdom) coming from those claiming to be philosophers (but devoted to destroying wisdom). But that is where the most deadly enemy we’ve ever faced has come from, and they have undermined all we have stood upon and stood for, and the once solid ground of Western Civilization has been sliding towards the precipice for two centuries now, and picking up speed with every passing day.

This is a slide that we must put a stop to – but to do that, we must know how to. We must retake our rightful place, our rightful vantage point, but we must also acknowledge that we have indeed slid from where we were, and we must recognize and acknowledge that we cannot regain those heights simply by pointing to them – we need to recreate that climb ourselves, retrace those same conceptual steps of understanding, steps which it was the purpose of their educations to enable them to climb; we cannot just point to our destination at the top of that mountain and expect to be teleported to it from where we are now, and that is what misguided ‘Founders Worship’ seeks to do. It’s not enough to say our Founding Fathers were great and memorize their quotations, we must come to understand what those quotations meant, in order to understand what actually made them great. Even if it were possible to somehow make such a leap, we’d be so unsteady on our landing that we’d surely topple over straight away to the shoves of the first clever demagogue to come along.


The Power of Ideas, null, present and deleted
“… working in from the periphery toward the center, seek to get at the root of the whole matter in the psychology of the individual. For behind all imperialism is ultimately the imperialistic individual, just as behind all peace is ultimately the peaceful individual.
I have already made a distinction of the first importance for the study of the question of war or peace in terms of the individual, and that is the distinction between the traditional Christian conception of liberty, which implies spiritual subordination, and the Rousseauistic conception which, whether we take it in the no-state of the Second Discourse or the all-state of the Social Contract, is resolutely egalitarian. …
But on any attempt to carry out this program, the enormous irony and contradiction at the very heart of this movement becomes manifest. It leads one to break down standards in the real world in favor of purely chimerical ideals. For what actually follows the attempt to establish egalitarian liberty, we need to turn from Shelley to Shakespeare:
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite.
This last line reminds one of a remark of Jeremy Taylor that, in the absence of ethical control, "men know no good but to please a wild, indetermined, infinite appetite." The word infinite adds an essential idea. Other animals have appetite, but within certain definite bounds, whereas man is, either in good or bad sense, the infinite animal.”

There are of course sizeable differences between the constitutions of Athens and America, a wide gap between the structure of democracy which Pericles experienced, and that of the republic which John Adams described, but more important than the structures of their respective governments, there is a gap between the mental habits of these respective peoples, that we need to be aware of and able to recognize, because that gap, that absence, is what allowed Pericles’s people to morph down into Plato’s people, it enabled their Athenian Virtues to fall down into their dark Doubles. That same knowledge gap has been reintroduced to us following our Founders day, and it jeopardizes our knowledge of ourselves and of our republic – and at the tip of that gap the proregressives have inserted their ex-spurtease as a wedge, and with the sizzle of Woodruff’s doubles and the sophist’s tools, they’ve expanded it ever further.

The enlargement of the Gap is accomplished, then as now, in the same way, through the use of,
§   Arbitrary statements - by disconnecting the discussion from reality through the introduction of arbitrary conclusions and assertions,
§   Equivocation - through the use of equivocations to blend the boundaries of words actual meanings on non-essentials,
§   Ends justify the means - and all in service of Power in order to 'win' the argument - their purpose is never concerned with truth in the least, only in forcing agreement for other purposes “Whichever he answers …he will be refuted” – it’s ends justify it’s means - pure power over truth,
§   Metaphysics - all of which is floated upon the general sense that reality isn’t knowable, such as ‘who really knows? No one can know anything for certain…”, which replaces reverence for wisdom, with dependence upon ex-spurts.
The first two points rely upon Logical Reasoning to be detected and refuted, the third point requires a sound system of Ethics to be shunned, and the fourth point (which the previous three follow from) requires an intelligible cosmos we are conscious of and which Reason enables us to make manageable. The details of this are for the next post, but just to state the issue, the opening wedge of the gap that’s been removed from our common knowledge, begins with Aristotle; he was the first to provide a rational treatment of all of these points – and his was the first to come under attack in modernity, beginning with Bacon and picking up chaos and approaching maximum density with Kant. More next post.

Early progressives sought in all possible ways to de-hierarchicalize the constitution, to knock down any and all standards as ‘non-democratic’ structures, wherever possible, beginning with property requirements for voters, and ‘ending’ with destroying the federal structure of the senate, and jeopardizing the constitution itself through constitutional reforms aimed at ‘strengthening our democracy’ - but of course the intent of the Founders was not only not to create a democracy, but to ensure that one would NOT develop in the place of what they did seek to create, a Republic - “If you can keep it”.

And the proregressives knew it. They knew it then and they know it now.

People have this bizarre and uninformed impression of standards and hierarchies, mostly courtesy of our public (and private) educations, that they somehow give ‘the little people’ less voice than they’d have in that of a direct democracy, but that is not only nonsense, its lacking sense. A true hierarchy binds the top to respect the views of those established below them, and which in turn supports them in their elevated positions. Your voice, as well as others - like and unlike yours -, need to be understood and represented by your representative; he needs a reputation for representing those values common to all, in order to maintain his position. That is the virtue identified by Woodruff as Harmony or Reverence.

A democracy of ‘majority rules’, has no need whatsoever, for 49% of the population. A Hierarchy is a pyramid. A radical democracy is a pillar, and if you don’t support the top, you are flung from it. Ask Socrates.

Everything about our Republic is an affront to the democratic sensibilities of progressives. For instance, in our current electoral map, a candidate must please the views of far more than a majority of the states and their people… in a direct democracy, one would only have to please more people than their opponent – that would mean that a single issue which was for some reason appealing to city dwellers, could carry a Presidential election, the rest of the suburban and rural dwellers across the state or nation, be damned. In such a direct democracy, as progressives are still seeking (see their National Popular Vote initiative), it is only necessary that a candidate get the nod from a simple majority, meaning that 49% can safely be dismissed from consideration and concern, which requires only a moderately able demagogue to stir up the passions of the target majority, to win the day – Reason need not apply.

But voting is only the top layer, a mere result of what is at the bottom of the matter.

From the beginning, voting has been elevated to a primary ideal by the left, and the Founders did all they could to reduce it’s influence, voices for direct democracy by such as Rousseau and even an otherwise respected patriot such as Thomas Paine, were refuted, denounced and distanced. In our original constitutional plan the only representatives that were directly elected by the people, were the Representatives in the House. They were included there so that the people would have a direct voice into the workings of government, but the nation was insulated from their heated passions becoming law, by the legislative structure of the House being the entry point at the bottom, with the Senate securely above them – modifying or discarding the efforts of the House, acting as “a saucer to cool it” which gives those interests which demonstrate an actual value to all States, an equal voice with all other states based not on population or popular passions, but the quality and value of the issues; it is this which makes it possible to reasonably take into account the competing rights and interests of all of the citizens of all of the states.

After a Bill passes muster from House to Senate (and perhaps back again as needed), then it has to pass the review and approval from the President (who was not, and still IS NOT elected directly by the people), who doesn’t represent the interests of one state, but of all states. If a Bill is navigated through that path and is signed into law, it may still be struck down if it is found by the Supreme Court to be in contradiction to the Constitution. This is an intricate structure, inherently devoted to standards, for the purpose of refining feelings into principled proposals of value to all, and ensuring that our laws adhere to a smaller set of guiding principles as put forth in the Constitution.

This hierarchical structure of the constitution, and of Federalism, shows itself even further in how Senators were designed to be elected. Originally, the states legislatures would elect that states senators, so that those who best knew the needs of the state, the legislature, would select those of them who would best represent the wider interests of the entire state, while the state legislators were themselves the tie back to their local citizens who elected them by popular vote – these state legislators would very likely be known to their constituents who would have access to them, and therefore have a voice in the Nat’l government, as well as in their local government. That local level popular vote was within the early states limited to only those citizens who possessed some minimum amount of property – meaning that they had a real interest in the long term operations of the legislature, rather than just promised benefits of the moment. And of course the citizens, were educated (up until the Founders generation) along time tested principles of classical education, combined with the newer developments of Science, and guided by principles of Truth and Virtue.

This is the integrated structure which our nation and our form of government owe our freedoms to, and it is a structure which requires a populace, not to mention their representatives, to be capable of not only recognizing and respecting it, but capable of reasoning upon and within it and applying it.

Every structural layer noted in the previous paragraphs has been, or are, a target of progressive policies. Every structural layer noted in the previous paragraphs, so vital to our nation, rests upon… our Education.

That has been our point of vulnerability, our Achilles heel. We’ve always been too large and too strong to attack or intimidate – the only way to overthrow the United States of America, as Antonio Gramsci knew, is through it’s citizens knowledge and morals, and the only way to get to them, is by controlling and unifying our educations into a unified system of education, and forcing the inconvenient truths of our knowledge of the West into the proregressively widening Gap between what we once knew, and which we no longer even know of.

Education is the tangible tool at the bottom of western culture, which every form of governance – self and societal - rests upon, it is what transmits knowledge such as it is, whether null, present or absent, as formed by its dominant philosophy. Those dominant philosophies have been,

1 -At the philosophical core of the pre-Socratic times of Pericles, man lived for the glory of his city and the gods, while among your fellow citizens you should live by the law, but if you were clever enough, you could bend those laws to serve your purposes, Reason could deliver you wealth and beauty, though you were ever at risk of hubris and falling to nemesis, life should be lived with gusto and in praise of the Gods – come what may.
- The worldview transmitted through these Founders of Western Culture, was one that was knowable and manipulatable through reason, riches, beauty and pleasures were attainable, though inevitably unlasting, fate rarely having final happiness in store for you – the Gods would be too jealous.

2 -At the philosophical core of classical education was Plato, through his Socrates, who’d established timeless questions worth asking, and then Aristotle who provided guidelines and rules for logic to shape and sharpen your answers and the context to approach them within; Cicero demonstrated how to communicate your ideas and how Natural Law was a requirement of a worthy life engaged in such matters, and Aquinas helped to port their discoveries into modernity, providing them with Christianity’s enormous contribution of the inestimable value of the individual and of Reason and Virtue being vital to each individual’s soul, and John Locke identified the Rights which Individual should expect and require of their society. Weaved through and wrapped around all of that, were the Poetry of Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, the histories of Herodotus, Plutarch and Polybius and the science of Galileo, Copernicus and Newton.
- The worldview transmitted through these masters, was one in which the Cosmos was knowable through the careful use of Reason, filled with difficult and often hazardous choices, though having the potential of discovering answers, as well as the presence of beauty in a life worth living and best lived well.

3 -At the philosophical core of modern education, there was the materialist view first broached by Machiavelli, that Right and Wrong were less important than effectiveness, and whatever means used, up to and including that of getting someone to do your dirty work, and once done, carving them up and killing them as an effective tool to reshape peoples perceptions of you and enhance your power… this was just fine, even admirable, as long as a more secure and stable government were the Ends being aimed at. Bacon, impatient with the imprecise nature of moral philosophy, sought a way to quantify results, reliable and reproducible steps which would lead to more of a mathematically efficient method of thinking, which coincidentally, jibbed well with his compatriot Machiavelli’s materialistic mode. The push was on to distance ‘real’ philosophy away from more ruminative literature requiring individual judgments, and towards more calculative and reproducible methods of math and science. On top of this, Descartes injected arbitrary assumptions into rationalistic philosophy, and Rousseau painted a picture of civilization as unnatural and inhibiting and the comprehension of which was beyond the grasp of individuals, which Hume found to be a hospitable home for being skeptical about knowing anything at all, and Kant provided a framework for clinging to what you couldn’t possibly know, but should cling to anyway as long as enough other people felt like doing so too.
- The worldview transmitted through these ‘masters’, was one that was unknowable, undesirable, and useful only if it could put some benefit or bit of savory sensation and power into your hands, where beauty was replaced by fleeting lusts, which gave ground to ugliness when their urges had passed, and a life that wasn’t worth living, having emptiness and disappointment as its unavoidable end.

For the Athenians the Gaps in their knowledge that could have exposed and stopped their sophistic Pied Pipers – never had been filled– it wasn’t missed because it had never been known, it was a Null value – not even their pipers knew the tune they were piping - though because of them, their discoveries and their virtues, the Gap they fell into, was eventually able to be filled with the very knowledge they made it possible to find.

For our Founding Fathers generation, that knowledge needed to fill that Gap had been acquired, discovered and developed across two thousand years of Western history which the Athenians began and made possible; it was what made it possible for our Founders generation to assimilate that knowledge through the classics, and to surpass them in nearly every way.

For us moderns, especially from the proregressive era forward, that knowledge which has been the treasure of Western Culture, has been steadily ridiculed, reduced and discarded, until today when it has been for all intents and purposes – especially in regards to public education – deleted from the awareness of the West, and the Gap reintroduced. Reintroduced and deepened; the Athenians didn’t know any better, we do, and evade it, and darken and deepen it.

As the sophists did to Athens, our modern educationists have been doing to us, but without their honest ignorance to excuse them. Our modern ideas of education came upon us in force with Rousseau, developed further through the German influences of Kant, Hegel, Fichte and Wundt (see the quotes below), and the later pragmatic spinnings of John Dewey. These creatures reformed education into having a ‘more democratic’ focus – meaning that it moved away from ‘elitist’ ideas of Principles, Character and Virtue – which was the core purpose of those classics such as Plutarch, Cicero, etc to convey – and tilted us towards more Machiavellian and Baconian goals of teaching kids to be more efficient, to earn a living, to get what they wanted, now – which meant that less quantifiable questions such as ‘what kind of living should they pursue? And why?’ were just kicked to the side. These new educational purposes began in earnest almost with the publication of Rousseau’s ‘Emille’, which contains the bad seeds of all the horrors found in modern education – kid centered, kid directed, electives, ‘fun!’, socialization over virtue, the collective over the individual, calculation over cognition, determinism over free will, satisfying natural urges over virtuous behavior.

The arbitrary was introduced into modern philosophy through Descartes (“… if you had no body you would think…” (!)), the use of equivocations were legitimized through Rousseau’s enabling Freedom to be compatible with totalitarianism (“We must force them to be free”), Education was redirected from Virtue to materialistic determinism, and all under the justification that the ends justify the means, and the means of doing so – and removing reality from our reach and ability to prove otherwise - was rarefied as scientific dogma under Hume (“you cannot know anything about the world outside you for certain”) and embedded into modern philosophy through Kant (“I had to destroy knowledge in order to save faith”).

The means to identify, counter and overthrow all of this slop, was there in the classics, in the histories and the guidelines and rules of reasoning found in Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch and Aquinas – under the guiding star of the value of the soul and the necessity of virtue to it … but starting with Machiavelli and Bacon, those had become separated and sidelined more and more, until their absence enabled the errors of Descartes to take root, and which enabled the bat of doublespeak to be swung against Western Civilization through Rousseau, and so on, and on, and down.

America didn’t fall to Rousseau, not right off, but Europe did fall, and fall hard, but unfortunately Americans have always had a provincial sense of inferiority towards themselves in regards to Europe, its cities, its style, its Arts and other cultural attainments, and assumed that European ideas and culture must be better ones than those to be found here. Though the Founders knowledge and achievements in politics, and their basic sense of life were deeply rooted in the cultural mind of our nation, and as with the Athenians before them, a sense of life is no long term defense against the wiles of the sophists Gap, and we have from the beginning gullibly assumed that intellectuals claiming to be advancing knowledge and virtue… must be doing just that, and with it being wrapped up in the packaging of “New! Improved! Revolutionary!”, Americans began sending their children to Europe, particularly to new ‘universities’ of France and Germany with their new prestigious knick-knack – suitable for framing and adorning your office with - the “Phd.”, to show you’d successfully acquired the modern way of thinking.

Talk about Progress… in the past you had to demonstrate that you not only knew stuff, but were wise… but now… just point to the “Phd.” On the wall, and you were the bee’s knees!

The Proregressive’s Govt-Gingerbread House of Hansel and Gretel
The progress of progressivism in America, in comparison to it’s lightening like sweep of Europe, was slow and difficult, to say the least. It took roughly six decades for its grey goo to saturate the very top and begin trickling down from the Ivy League and into society. It made headway into government first (naturally – politico’s always like to seem smart by aping those that are perceived to be smart), with the Morrill Tariff (1861) & National Banking Acts (1863, 1864, 1865, 1866), and worse for the future of the nation, it trickled down from the Ivy League, to the local colleges (Morrill Land-Grant College Act (1862)), and from there sped quickly throughout all levels of education, until by the 1900’s elementary, grammar and High School’s were created along the very latest progressive models and methods and depleted content.

Where once parents and parentally controlled school boards taught their children the classics, math, science and the Constitution through materials such as “Elementary Catechism on the Constitution”, the Progressives discarded as ‘old fashioned’ the ‘elitist’ classics like Plutarch which helped make the Founding Fathers generation possible, discarded proven methods of learning math in favor of pushing new ways of teaching math unsuccessfully, they transformed the most literate society on the face of the earth into one which pursued illiteracy through new progressive methods like ‘See and Say’ while discarding as ‘old fashioned’ the phonetic methods that were so successful for their parents, and swiftly discarded materials such as the “Elementary Catechism on the Constitution” which instilled not only love of country but understanding the nature and purpose of our system of governance as ‘old fashioned’, in favor of ‘civics’ textbooks, pitched as ‘old fashioned’ and elitist a wealth of Western History and literature which taught a deep understanding of men and to distrust, fear and be ever watchful of the powerful, in favor of ‘social studies’ textbooks which taught how experts could help create a better, happier, more democratic world if only they were given the power to change American society.

The sugar coated gingerbread house the Witch had prepared for Hansel and Gretel … and the oven had waiting for them, on closer inspection was found wanting by those two little tykes. Have the sugar candy lures of big government fared better in your view? Do you really think that the One Room Schoolhouse was really improved upon with Dewey’s massive industrial school campuses? Do you see the wicked witch waiting to shove you into the oven? Are you able to see, identify and expose the fallacy in the argument I just presented against them? If not, the witch has some more candy for you.

Following the Regressive Trail of bred dumbs back to Progressivism
Let’s look at a quick overview of the proregressive trail that have led us to where we are today.

Proregressivism immediately attacked property qualifications for voting on the state level,
Pressure for expansion of voting rights came from propertyless men; from territories eager to attract settlers; and from political parties seeking to broaden their base.”
and were well on their way to disappearing, by 1830.

Businesses had their structures targeted and flattened, particularly as with the banking laws,

Indeed, one of the major contributors to bank failures during the Great Depression was the National Banking Act of 1864. That law, according to monetary historian Jeff Hummel, an economist at San Jose State University, banned any branching (interstate or intrastate) by nationally chartered banks, except for a few grandfathered banks. Because banks during the Great Depression were so small, they were undiversified. So when the agriculture sector went under, in part because of the Smoot-Hawley Act that attacked free trade, many rural banks failed. Call it "too small, so we failed.
Had they been allowed to be big, many fewer would have failed. It's worth noting that in Canada, which also had a downturn in its farm sector, the banks were larger and not one failed during the Great Depression.”

, any hierarchy or national reach, was attacked. Not to get going on another subject here, but just to stir the pot for future tasting, banking has always been a target of ‘the left’, because contrary to popular opinion, Money is not the root of all evil, but is at the root of all good – not the good itself, but the most important tool a society has available to create it’s physical and social infrastructure (not going into the other side of the coin here, such as Hamilton’s National Bank, though that did bleed into the matter… but that’s a different topic).

The progressives were possessed of what the Founders called, “The leveling spirit”, they wanted to bring things down to the lowest common denominator, where everything is “voted on”, where Majority Rules who will run and what will be allowed to win - by the majority. The democracy they have in mind, is that of the “Doubles”, not one where those virtues which are critical to the structure of our republic are revered; we’ll take a look at those features that have already been targeted and done away with – much to our injury – as we proceed in this series.

Proregressivism received a mainline Injection into the educational system with the Morrill Land Act, which soon politicized the material being taught, what they were taught with, and the manner of teaching them – how do you think they were able to take us from Plutarch’s Lives and Morals to the ever diminishing content of Texas Textbooks?.

Proregressivism assaulted the constitution directly, through the 17th Amendment. They attacked through their favored technique of “New vs Old”, and through equivocating on the meaning of Liberty, they claimed that ‘direct democracy’ was actually the Founders intent but was thwarted by elites – which is in fact just the opposite – the Founders were mindful men, deeply suspicious of elites and their leveling notions - and the proregressive leaders knew this was B.S. - but they also knew that it was an effective tool for pushing the Doubles upon us. In “Democratizing the Constitution: The Failure of the Seventeenth Amendment”, C. H. Hoebeke notes that Prior to the constitutional convention,
“… the demagoguery of state governments during the Confederation period had prompted the constitutional convention in the first place. When Edmund Randolph told his fellow delegates behind closed doors that the chief purpose of their assembling was to check "the turbulence and follies of democracy," there was no dissent.20 Not every Progressive mistook his own views of constitutionalism for a slightly updated version of the founding ideal. The historian Charles Beard depicted the Constitution as a document of class preservation and denounced the intricate contraption of representative checks and balances as "a foil to democratic attack." Journalist, author and publisher William Allen White hailed the modern drift toward democracy as a beneficially "strong move away from the Constitution." Senator Jonathan Bourne of Oregon, an advocate of direct elections and a devout believer in the inerrancy of the mass electorate, stated on the Senate floor that the Constitution was unequivocally "against the spirit of democracy," and conceded that the founders had not entertained the idea, as did he and his Progressive colleagues, of implementing "Rousseauism, in the application of popular sovereignty, on a national scale." 21 But individuals of such frankness and discernment were few. Most Progressives, like most reformers in every era, including our own, remained untroubled in their belief that they were merely picking up where the founding fathers had left off, doing their part in the millennial struggle to defeat "the interests" and enthrone the people.

Proregressive’s today, through their favored charges of ‘corruption’, ‘new ideas’ and ‘popular vote’, are seeking to finish off the destruction of our Federalist government, our Constitutional Republic, which they began with the 17th amendment, in their rush to level our structure with direct democracy, seeking to do away with electoral votes altogether via National Popular Vote – Demagogues eagerly await.

The whole purpose of these hierarchical structures in the Constitution itself, in the manner in which Legislators were selected, in how citizens may participate in government and in how citizens would be educated, was to ensure that dispassionate, principled reason would be more likely to prevail in society and in forming legislation, rather than the hot headed passions of the popular opinion of the moment – the purpose was to promote Self Governance which would lead to good National Governance.

Back to the Few-Churl
The proregressives have justified their attacks on the structure of our government, in large part on the basis of their claims of promoting ‘modern scientific progress’ (this, btw, during a period when the light bulb had only just been imagined), which they asserted gave them the smarts to declare that those ol’ Founders notions about human nature were passe’… because those old dead white guys ‘hadn’t known the first thing’ about their ‘modern technological society’,

As Congressman Bryan put it, "What with our daily newspapers and our telegraph facilities we need not delegate our powers." In short, the advocates of direct Senate elections generally believed that whatever rationale the founders might have had for elections by state legislatures, "today, under present conditions, those statesmen and patriots would undoubtedly be of another opinion."

As befits their chosen name, ‘Progressive’, they sell everything as being “New!”… but umm… I’d like to mention, that in comparison to us, THEY, the proregressives, with the high-tech telegraph facilities era of their formative ideas, were far closer to the Founders in time and technological no-how, than they are to US today… Sooo… by their reasoning, doesn’t that mean that we can dismiss the ‘living constitution’ notion because it was proposed by technologically primitive people like Woodrow Wilson and Oliver Wendell Holmes who had no inkling of what life would be like in our modern e-Informational society?

Hmmm?

But of course the Founders didn’t design the Constitution on any pose of ‘modernism’ (which merely the passage of a few decades would easily doom to snide laughter), or to some pretended technological basis – they did after all have Franklin’s electrical kite - but upon what they knew of human nature. The structure of the Senate was an essential support of Federalism, a political innovation derived from acute observations of human nature down through thousands of years of history; it was key to the States retaining sovereignty and national influence as well as a Check on the balance of power between the national govt, and the states, and it was also a key to keeping the national govt one of limited and defined powers, and answerable to the public.

With all of that in mind, the Senate was designed to be a deliberative body able to cool the heat of the more direct public passions, which it was the purpose of the House to reflect, and to do all that, they understood that it would have to be several times removed from the passions and direct influence of popular opinion – change that, and you’d destroy not only the purpose of the Senate, but the structure of Federalism and the Constitution.

Proregressive proponents of the 17th amendment claimed it to be newer and better and that it would solve campaign finance corruption and giving ‘the people’ a more direct voice in government. It lessened the influence of the states on the national government – senators no longer being answerable to those needs of the states as known to the state legislators, made it necessary for them to pander after current public opinion, and flattened their influence from possibly influencing one of the handful of legislators a senator had to answer to, to being only voice among millions of people in the state. The Senators now, instead of having to win the support of those legislators in the state capital, now had to wage, and fund, huge, expensive, statewide elections, and to win any attention and support, they had to appeal to issues that had great perceptual appeal to voters. Actual interests of the state, and of state legislators, were no longer of any significance, only popular impressions of issues, which more than likely were unfounded or counter productive.

The 17th amendment destroyed the structure and purpose of the senate, as the proregressive leaders knew it would, turning them into glad handing politicians with their eye on the polls – the house representatives with longer terms.

They knew that the structured system would be leveled down to the lowest common denominator – hearsay.

Why? Because. They. Have. No. Choice. Their philosophy is structured upon the Arbitrary, upon Equivocations, and upon a separation from reality, which puts it, in opposition to, structure in every form, in opposition to truth, and in opposition to all things good, beautiful and true.

Unavoidably so.

Tale of the Tape
If anybody has any serious questions over whether the progressive left favors the collective, over the individual – read: State over Citizen, of powerful ends over what is Right and True, I’ll leave you with a few more of their thoughts, in their own words, such as this from John Dewey, who more than anyone since Rousseau, has formed the direction and content of modern ‘education’ – it’s ends and means,

The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.
– John Dewey, American educator
Teaching school children to read was a "perversion" and high literacy rate bred "the sustaining force behind individualism."
John Dewey, Educational Psychologist

The school curriculum should "…be designed to bend the student to the realities of society, especially by way of vocational education… the curriculum should be designed to promote mental health as an instrument for social progress and a means of altering culture…"
Report: Action for Mental Health, 1961


I remind you, that individuals, in order to connect with reality, to make choices, to establish lives in pursuit of happiness, rely upon their own choices. You’ll recall that at the beginning of this, I noted that Athens freed its citizens for the first time in history to discover the world, to break the dead hand of trickle down thought, in order to free the wealth and productivity of individual thought and action – inaugurating the first information era. The Progressive left is dead set against that, and vociferously opposed to the very root of it, Free Will, and has been from its very beginning, it is the everlasting societal virus devoted not only to stopping the flow of information, but its disintegration. I’ve noted Rousseau in previous posts, here’s how his ideas in action, took form – and have formed progressive ideas of ‘education’ in your kids, and in you, and in your parents, and very likely in your grand parents:

"Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished ... The social psychologist of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at: first, that influences of the home are 'obstructive' and verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective ... It is for the future scientist to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen."
Bertrand Russell quoting Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the head of philosophy & psychology who influenced Hegel and others – Prussian University in Berlin, 1810

"Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know – it means teaching them to behave as they do not behave." 
National Institute of Mental Health
(NIMH) sponsored report: The Role of Schools in Mental Health

"Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday school, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teachings?"
Charles F. Potter, Humanist
"The State is the absolute reality and the individual himself has objective existence, truth and morality only in his capacity as a member of the State."
Hegel (who influenced Karl Marx)
"To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism and religious dogmas...
Dr. G. Brock Chisholm, psychiatrist and co-founder of the World Federation of Mental Health
"One of the least understood strategies of the world revolution now moving rapidly toward its goal is the use of mind control as a major means of obtaining the consent of the people who will be subjects of the New World Order."
K.M. Heaton, The National Educator
"…through schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government – one that will embrace all of the collective activities of men; one that will postulate the need for scientific control and operation of economic activities in the interests of all people."
Harold Rugg, student of psychology and a disciple of John Dewey

I Don’t Believe in Conspiracies
Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
Manifesto of the Communist Party - 1848 by Marx & Engels(brought to you by the fine folks at School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts at the Australian National University, Marxism Page )

"There is no dictatorship in Louisiana.  There is perfect democracy there, and when you have a perfect democracy it is pretty hard to tell it from a dictatorship."

The left is now, and always has been, intent on returning us to a period of pure democracy, or their interpretation of it anyway, leapfrogging us backwards and passing over thousands of years of the West’s hard learned lessons in developing liberty and government devoted to protect it; lessons of securing and upholding Rights, creating a separation of powers balanced against each other through the ambitions of those in power, establishing a nation of Laws rather than the whims of men, etc; the left seeks to drop these and others in a mad rush to advance us towards the rear – typical of proregressives.

But as I’ve said before, I Don’t Believe in Conspiracies, conspiracies are for foolish small time thugs, for the deluded and for leftist economists unable to understand the Free Market, and for those looking for easy excuses for the troubles that confront them; I for one am not interested in either option. The truth is that Philosophy eliminates the need for coordinated conspiracies, when people have the same ideals, aspirations and fears, their independent and free actions will serve to create the appearance of coordination – just as the invisible hand of the market creates wealth without any coordinated plan.

Which prompts some interesting notions about Good and Evil… and just what might be the God of these Gaps… but that too is for another series of posts.

A people who are ‘educated’ to believe themselves superior to others, who believe there are no real connections between reality and their actions, that people don’t really have free will but are shaped by external events and their environment, almost… almost… have no choice but to scoff at “Truth” and to eschew Principles for pragmatic actions, to use Force to arrange things so that people can be ‘forced to be free’, and feel driven and justified by the Ends Justify their Means. When those people reach a sizable portion of that citizenry, and/or a sizable portion of those in positions of influence and power, then you can rest assured that Power will be elevated over Virtue.

Because the Progressives believe what they believe, they are doing what they are doing - they naturally seek to level the structures of conceptual hierarchies down to the lowest perceptual instances and actions possible, in whatever field they find them – politics, literature, science or art. Proregressivism is doing, intentionally seeking, to take our system of governance – self governance and political governance - back to a beginning impoverished of all actual improvements (look up “Earth First”), lacking centuries of protections, no secured rights, having no value or protections for the individual against the collective, and their cumulative effect will be to restore the ligaments of Tyranny, and to put us back in the labyrinth, fresh offerings to the Minotaur, because they believe that that is the ‘best’ thing to do – because it’s the best that Power can do.

The Athenians errors made at the beginnings of the West, were innocently made – they had as yet no integrated systems of thought to alert them, didn’t yet know how to devise them or verify their own thoughts - , and as such their errors are understandable and no excuse need be made for them – they didn’t know better… but they were seeking to.

For the Athenians the place where the knowledge should have been – never had been– it wasn’t missed because it had never been known, it was a Null value. For our Founding Fathers generation, the necessary knowledge had been discovered and developed over two thousand years. For us, from the proregressive era forward, that knowledge has been steadily reduced until today when it has been for all intents and purposes – in regards to public education – deleted.

To intentionally delete such valuable knowledge from society, to intentionally revert to a beginning impoverished of any actual improvements, lacking the protections learned only through later experience, having no secured rights, having no inherent value for the individual... to knowingly pursue that more barbarous ideal as an aspiration... this is monstrous – our proregressives Should know better, for the knowledge is easily found.

To throw us to the Minotaur of governmental bureaucracy is simply monstrous. They are recreating the labyrinth and reestablishing the Minotaur within it. We, those of the Tea Parties, must be like new Theseuses, and hold tight to the golden thread of our constitutional republic, so that after we put an end to their plans, after we have hunted down and unmade their monstrosity, their Minotaur in the labyrinth of Washington D.C., we need to be able to find our way back out again – and be doubly careful not to let ourselves be, like Ariadne, romanced into giving our aid, and then abandoned.

But… without the systems of reasoning we owe to the likes of Aristotle and Cicero and the Founders… we have no sword to slay the Minotaur, or golden thread to lead us back out again… and, frankly, no Ariadne either… Ladies and Gents, we’ve got to become the heroes that we’ve been waiting for.

Next up: Aristotle and the way West.


















2 comments:

Sal said...

Oh, for Pete's sake.
I got my eyes LASIK'ed a week or so ago and you had to write THIS.
Just wow.

Van said...

Sorry about that Sal... but I feel you're pain... after all I had to deal with it when it still had 15+ more pages!

;-)