This op-ed in the New York Times, and this other from the Economist, have me worried. They both describe an increasingly common view in America that “the other” is “evil” and that government as broken beyond repair to the point that violent revolution is an option. I don’t agree with everything in the news pieces, but I am worried because I know a lot of people who are so convinced government is the cause of all the problems in their lives that they tread into the ground of hatred and violence these editorials describes. I am worried because, to a degree, I share some economic views, some social views, and even some political concerns with the “nuts” the editorials writes about.
The critical nature of virtue, both public and private, for the preservation of freedom is fundamental for conservatives and those who venerate the founders and read their writings. I would like to ask the inverse question: Is it Freedom that is essential for attaining Virtue? Continue reading “Freedom Precedes Virtue”
Well, it now seems that we are down to two main presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Interestingly, both represent the more liberal portion of their respective parties’ ideologies. The question is, who should you vote for and why?
Often conservatives (and hawkish liberals like Hillary and Biden and Lieberman) justify the need for secrecy in foreign policy. The following is a great answer to that justification from 17th century Jewish philosopher Baruch de Espinoza (better known as Spinoza).
Another quote from Tocqueville:
“For my own part, I doubt whether man can ever support at the same time complete religious independence and entire public freedom. And I am inclined to think, that if faith be wanting in him, he must serve; and if he be free, he must believe.”
What do you think about this? Does true freedom require faith in a Higher Being? Why? How does complete secularism lead to servitude? Is Tocqueville right? I think so, but I need to explore it more completely.
As we continue to be subjected to campaign speeches and government rhetoric, it is wise to listen to the words of H.L. Mencken discussing the way to get elected (and also to retain power).
Politicians,” he notes with his characteristic wit, “seldom if ever get [into public office] by merit alone, at least in democratic states. Sometimes, to be sure, it happens, but only by a kind of miracle. They are chosen normally for quite different reasons, the chief of which is simply their power to impress and enchant the intellectually underprivileged….Will any of them venture to tell the plain truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the situation of the country, foreign or domestic? Will any of them refrain from promises that he knows he can’t fulfill – that no human being could fulfill? Will any of them utter a word, however obvious, that will alarm or alienate any of the huge pack of morons who cluster at the public trough, wallowing in the pap that grows thinner and thinner, hoping against hope? Answer: may be for a few weeks at the start…. But not after the issue is fairly joined, and the struggle is on in earnest…. They will all promise every man, woman and child in the country whatever he, she or it wants. They’ll all be roving the land looking for chances to make the rich poor, to remedy the irremediable, to succor the unsuccorable, to unscramble the unscrambleable, to dephlogisticate the undephlogisticable. They will all be curing warts by saying words over them, and paying off the national debt with money no one will have to earn. When one of them demonstrates that twice two is five, another will prove that it is six, six and a half, ten, twenty, n. In brief, they will divest themselves from their character as sensible, candid and truthful men, and simply become candidates for office, bent only on collaring votes. They will all know by then, even supposing that some of them don’t know it now, that votes are collared under democracy, not by talking sense but by talking nonsense, and they will apply themselves to the job with a hearty yo-heave-ho. Most of them, before the uproar is over, will actually convince themselves. The winner will be whoever promises the most with the least probability of delivering anything.
The blog at Purim has dissolved. I will resume blogging here for the time being. Stay tuned.
I have started posting with two other bloggers (one a democratic socialist, the other a libertarian) at a political Mormon blog. They have been active at the site for over a year now and were discussing the possibility of shutting it down because of some departures of other contributors. I offered to post occasionally and have put some of my more recent stuff from here over there (plus a couple of new posts).
Please feel free to join the discussion.
This is a follow-up post to my previous one regarding Adams’ constitutional views.
So John Adams saw the necessity of a mixed government, combining and balancing the monarchical, the aristocratic, and the democratic natures within society.