Last month we discussed a metaphorical "poker hand from Hell," reviewing a "full house" of egregious errors in addressing social goals and in understanding the causation for social phenomena. In a discussion of error in addressing societal goals, we described serious mistakes in assigning responsibility in the approach to Public School education, in the approach to Public Safety and in the administration of programs that deal with the apparent effects of poverty ("Welfare") in 20th Century America--our figurative "three of a kind." We also discussed a "pair" of errors in the comprehension of causation--the result of a compulsive denial of human differences--to complete the "Full House For Disaster." Here, we continue the figurative poker game with our "Four Of A Kind," four moral premises which, dealt in time, may yet beat the hand from Hell, and reverse a rush towards disaster.
There is no magic wand suggested; no new morality. The following have always been essential prerequisites to a healthy social order. It is only in the pursuit of the mythology of the Left, that we have lost our ancient recognition of their preeminence over the more fashionable egalitarian driven errors of the moment.
It may be lightly dismissed, these days, as a trite aphorism, a motto more appropriate as embroidered script to frame and hang in the kitchen of a rectory, than as a major statement of political philosophy. Yet George Washington knew precisely what he was doing in his Farewell Address, when he declared: "I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy." We list integrity first among our "Four Of A Kind," because without integrity--the devotion to what is true and honorable--application even of the other three prerequisites for a healthy social order must remain suspect. Trust depends upon integrity, honesty. Without it, there is no hope, no chance for a future, rationally consistent with any enduring value system. Without integrity, nothing can remain sacred, nothing certain.
Indeed, can one not trace the political breakdown in American values, directly to the loss of personal integrity among our elected officials, the mass media and the guardians of Academia, over the generations? Integrity, of course, includes the Eighth and Ninth Commandments--the interdictions of theft and bearing false witness. But it also includes honoring one's oath of office. A public official with integrity understands that acceptance of a sworn obligation to uphold the Constitution can never be reconciled with the rationalization of conduct never intended to come within the Constitutional purview of the United States. One with true integrity understands that there must always be a source for power or authority; that authority must always be exercised with a clear view of, and respect for, both its source, and the purpose for which it was entrusted.
One with integrity does not equivocate with respect to the limitations on power, nor pretend that the end justifies unauthorized means. It was no accident that the great monolithic terror States, managed by the Socialist regimes in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in the last Century, sought to totally control the sources of information, even as they readily employed the techniques of the "Big Lie," to manipulate political and social perceptions.
Integrity within the News Media means full disclosure of relevant facts. Integrity in Academia, of course, means freedom of inquiry. It also means putting all known facts that pertain to a controversial subject on the table. When that subject is the cause or alleviation of poverty, or one of its apparent effects, integrity does not deny students access to the mountains of evidence of significant differences in average aptitudes among definable groups or elements of the population, while spouting Leftist slogans about "social justice," "exploitation" and/or "racism."
Without integrity all discourse becomes meaningless; personal testimony becomes purely self-serving; all agreements unreliable. The decline in standards, whether in the significance of a Public School education, the quality of contemporary journalism or the reliability of news coverage; the inane avoidance of basic factors in the debate over critical issues, the use of silly and conceptually confusing (rather than polite but actually descriptive) euphemisms to describe virtually any embarrassing reality; all such endlessly repeated instances reflect a loss of personal integrity among a wide spectrum of Americans. Resulting trends, now long in place, cannot be reversed without a return to a former standard of personal integrity, almost unknown among today's decision makers. Still, if we could find men with the integrity of a George Washington, again willing to come forward--or even a significant number of Americans with the simple boyish honesty of the lad unafraid to proclaim the Emperor's nakedness, in the Andersen Fable--the trends could yet be reversed. The best lie ever conceived, the most outrageous rationalization, will each fall to earth before a determined truth.
[Note: What would be a sufficient number of articulate Americans, dedicated to truth, to accomplish a major turn around? Consider what 10,000 hate-driven Bolsheviks, dedicated to the biggest lie in human history, accomplished between early 1916 and November, 1917, when, grown to 40,000, they took over Russia.]
We have posted a number of essays on attacks on social cohesion and cultural continuity in America, on the denial of race and the importance of ethnicity, both in their social and psychological aspects, and on the effects of disastrous immigration policies, which flow from those attacks and that denial. Some of these will be found in direct links immediately following this essay. Others may be accessed through the Conservative Intelligence Center, linked below. Here we will only treat the subject of Identity, briefly, from the standpoint of its importance to returning America to her rightful and reasonable course.
We begin with other basic truths: Truth that a nation reflects the people of that nation. The truth in the Fifth Commandment, which requires honor and respect for one's forebears, and clearly suggests that honoring that Identity is a requirement for a people to be long in their lands. The obvious truth that a people survive through their lines of descent; that they find not only biological continuity, but cultural continuity and an ongoing sense of purpose, through such Identity--through those lines of descent.
Traditional identity, certainly, also involved family domicile; residency in communities or domains of rooted peoples--often the ancestral haunts of tribe or nation. With the contemporary fluidity in patterns of settlement and domicile--often employment related--such identification with place of origin has become severely limited. From the standpoint of social and cultural continuity, this is unfortunate. The identification with a particular locality or region was a stabilizing factor in individual development; oftentimes, a powerful aid to keeping a fixed purpose consistent with family values, over many generations. But to continue the poker metaphor, each generation must play the hand it has been dealt.
A mainstream American family, long seated in Virginia or upstate New York, proudly seeking to measure up to Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Huguenot or Dutch progenitors, who rallied to the cause of General Washington, does not become a different entity because they happened to have moved to California in the 1950s, and now find themselves in a region of that State, where they are out-numbered by recent Mexican migrants. Nor do those Mexican migrants become a different entity, because they have moved to American California. This obvious truth does not mean that there are not changes in personal identification associated with migrations.
Modern America involves many distinct lines of descent. Most of the peoples represented--certainly those who came seeking land and traditional American values--transferred their allegiance to their new homeland, and became Americans. Indeed, considering the fact that most immigrants from other parts of Europe, who followed the paths of the original settlers across the Atlantic in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, understood the cultural values of the lands they sought--thus self-selected for compatible tendencies and personalities--that transfer of allegiance often involved not sacrifice, but fulfillment. Yet even such loyal Americans are not interchangeable.
We deal with other aspects of these phenomena, under the sub-heading on "Respect." The point, here, is the importance, for most people, of a clear identification with heritage and lines of descent, both as a beacon calling one to do what one ought, and as a standard by which to measure one's performance in that pursuit. None of us sprang from a void. Each reflects a progression of generations, a passage of genes that determine our natures, an inheritance of cultural achievements which determine much of our nurture. We cannot reinvent the species, or our own subspecies; we can, of course, build on what we have inherited. We can also begin to understand moral duty by reflecting on the "blood, sweat, toil and tears," expended in that progression, from which each of us emerged.
There is, to be sure, a contrary view held by many. It is reflected in attacks on ethnicity--on the idea of significant differences between types of Mankind--so common among peoples of European origin, today. In the Nazi propaganda film, "Triumph Of The Will," it was projected as to the many sub-types of ethnic German in 1934--showing representatives of each State and region in uniform, pronouncing whence they came, yet all as part of the concept of One Nation, with one Will and one Leader. A similar choreography was used in a short advertisement on American TV by something called the "Ad Council," several years ago, in which a wide spectrum of different types (this time in very different dress, with different accents) each proclaimed, "I am an American."
While one aspect of the choreography was virtually the same, a difference between Germans placed in uniform to look similar, and what purported to be new Americans looking as dissimilar as possible, would appear obvious 'at first blush.' The "Ad Council" would doubtless be shocked to have us compare their mindset to that of Nazi Germany. Yet look a bit more closely! The intention of both sets of images was basically the same--the creation of a concept of "oneness"--a species of uniformity, not an acceptance of the actual diversity, being shown. We all know the brutal intolerance of dissent in Nazi Germany; whereas American "Liberals" claim to be apostles of "tolerance" and enlightenment. Yet offer dissent from the politically correct dogma on race or ethnicity on the typical "Liberal" dominated University campus--for a more specific example, argue that the "Old South" had a reasonable position in the "Civil Rights" debate--and you may get a first hand demonstration of the monolithic totalitarian mindset. The Nazis sought, and the "Liberals" still seek, to impose their monolithic mindset upon all inhabitants. [For more on the underlying compulsion, which drives enthusiasts to try to coerce uniformity of thought, see "Compulsion For Uniformity," below.]
As repeatedly observed in other essays, all of the basic institutions in our Federal Union and the constituent member States of the United States, are premised upon an individually responsible citizenry. Without reassertion of a far higher level of personal responsibility in America, there is little hope for averting a disaster which may make the fall of Rome seem a Blessing by comparison. Consider the pattern of early settlement--the clearing of a wilderness by small groups of individuals. Consider the rationale for the Revolution, the concept not of collective responsibility--so prevalent in the Old World--but of a compact between the people and the Government, with the Government being responsible, not to solve the individual's personal problems, but to secure the individual's inherent rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Each individual was supposed to be responsible for how he exercised the rights secured.
One of the most patent aspects of our reliance upon individual responsibility may be observed in our level of economic freedom--our early demonstrated dependence upon a "free market," with fewer checks on the ability of the individual to rise above the group than was the custom in most other lands. This reliance on, this respect for, the free market, is reflected in the specific provisions of the Constitution of the United States. While the powers over the individual are extremely limited, it is noteworthy that the powers granted to protect the free market, to facilitate that free market, are not so limited!
Thus while the contemporary misuse of the power to regulate Interstate Commerce, which has allowed the Federal Government to attempt to impose the pseudo morality of current office holders on the people at large, only resulted from the overreaching decisions of activist Judges, the Constitution clearly prohibits the constituent States from impairing the obligations of private contracts or from cheapening the currency used in trade. It provides for uniform weights and measures--essential to the integrity of private bargains;--for a postal network to improve individual communications; for a sound currency, to further commerce. And, until the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, it specifically prohibited any tax which could penalize individual success.
Note, also, how even what group responsibility was recognized, tended to devolve more upon the constituent States than the Federal Government. Thus the requirement for suffrage in Federal elections was never defined on a General basis, but was left to each State. The language in Article I, Section 2, could not be clearer, "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature." (A standard very far, indeed, from the "one person/one vote" criteria, which the Warren Court imposed upon elections for State Legislatures in the 1960s!)
Perhaps the clearest demonstration of the intended American dependence upon individual responsibility, even for the most essential aspects of a General need, was demonstrated in the approach of the Founding Fathers to the subject of public safety and the defense of basic institutions. While George Washington did not succeed in persuading Congress to implement the Swiss system for a male youth armed with, and well trained in the use of, military grade small arms; the general consensus--as discussed in detail in Chapter Two of the Debate Handbook--was for a well armed citizenry, seen both as our first line of defense against foes foreign or domestic, and as a restraint upon the abuse of power on the part of Government. Moreover, until rather recently, the Citizen's Arrest of a felon was as much a respected part of law enforcement as action by the Police. The contemporary discouragement of citizen action in the apprehension of criminals but reflects the overall attack upon individual responsibility, discussed in last month's essay.
Respect for others is a multi-faceted concept. It impacts virtually every conceivable aspect of human interaction, personal and business, local, community, domestic or foreign. It embraces the essence of the "Golden Rule," of the Seventh and Tenth Commandments as, of course, the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth, as well as all the social rules and protocols that govern inter-personal conduct, both formal and informal, among civilized peoples. And the extremely intelligent and thoughtful men, who gave us our independence and Constitutional Union, based much of their political philosophy on just such a concept.
Treating all peoples with respect was the very essence of traditional American Foreign Policy--what we have identified in numerous essays as the Washington/Jefferson Foreign Policy--offering fair business dealings to all peoples, treating all Mankind with respect; yet ready, in Jefferson's words, to "punish the first insult," where our citizens did not receive reciprocal respect for their rights and interest, in return. Yet, again, punishing an insult, is not the same thing as trying to tell others how to live their lives. Prior to the rise of 20th Century Internationalism, Americans did not try to impose universal suffrage on others, or remake the world according to Leftist theory.
Historically, respect for other Americans, for the diversity of Americans, was equally inherent in our Constitutional checks and balances--and in the very manner in which the Constitutional system was established. For example, while our second smallest State, Delaware, was the first to ratify, seeking the protection of a new Central Government; the smallest State, Rhode Island, almost declined ratification. No one tried to coerce her adherence. Had she not ratified, we would simply have been a Union of twelve, rather than thirteen. [And note the key wording of Article VII on the subject of that ratification: The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same. (Emphasis added.) The Constitution was between the States, not over the States.]
Respect is the essence of Article IV of the Constitution, which provides for such prerequisites for amicable Federal interaction as that providing that each State will give "Full Faith and Credit," to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings in every other State; as that providing the citizens of each State, the privileges and immunities of citizens of such of their sister States, into which they may happen to travel. And such expectation of comity among citizens of the different States was not limited to areas where their institutions were particularly similar. There were already many who questioned the morality and advisability of allowing slave labor in the newly independent States. Indeed, there was an implied agreement to cut off further importation of slave labor after 1808, strongly suggested by the language of Article I, Section 9.
Yet, whatever the controversy, the last paragraph of Article IV, Section 2, specifically mandated respect for the property and contractual rights of the slave or indenture holder, providing that regardless of the laws of any State into which one legally held to Service in another State might escape, he must "be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service . . . may be due." We realize how controversial that provision may sound today. We certainly do not advocate Slavery or Indentured Servitude. But respect for others with whom one has entered into a solemn Constitutional compact certainly includes respecting their exercise of their rights in a manner of which one may not personally approve. Some of those, today, who would impose their "morality" on other people, need to consider the point, whether the subject is changing drug or medical care laws in Oregon or California, Probate Court decisions in Florida, the apportionment of State Legislatures, or the private preferences of Americans of every type, in minding their own affairs.
Respect begets respect, and no society can long remain healthy, without establishing practical, working bases, for mutual respect among adherents. Leftist forces for revolution have long understood this. Thus they seek, systematically, to alienate factions by promoting resentment and hatred wherever possible. Because of the diversity of American lines of descent, it is even more imperative that we treat one another with respect. But that respect needs to be genuine; and genuine respect starts with an understanding of the differences between groups, not in pretending that we are all exactly alike. We are not, and it is an insult to each of us, to imagine that we are. The pretense of sameness is the antithesis of genuine respect!
Finally, respect for others means respecting the right of families not to have the power of the State employed to teach their children social dogma that conflicts with their religious and moral values. As George Washington once observed, our system is founded in "private morals." Private morals are those by which the moral individual governs himself. They are not something that can be imposed by a totalitarian State. The misuse of Public Schools to teach the social values of the Left, whether the subject is religion (or rather a secular absence of it), sex, race, ethnology, or other varieties of thought based upon attempts to change traditional attitudes, is wholly inconsistent with a Society which respects all its adherents. Granted, there are some exceptions. Certainly, it is not wrong for a Public School to encourage patriotism, as an abstract value; certainly they should promote a general love of learning; a general reverence, within each child, for whatever Deity, that child acknowledges; a respect for public & private property; a recognition that we live in organized communities.
Nor can Society ignore the fact that some families embrace concepts which may endanger others; practices which may spread disease; conduct which may interfere with other people's enjoyment of their lives and property. Respect certainly does not mean that Society can tolerate a tribe of thieves or assassins living in a community. Common sense may sometimes justify the use of the Police Power of a State to impose a quarantine on individuals or conduct. Certainly, Respect requires that laws, which protect individuals in their persons and property, be enforced. No one can "dissent" from another's right to be left alone in his person or property. Respect, itself, always implies some balancing of possibly conflicting interests. We cannot possibly resolve every possible conflict in a short essay; nor do we have any desire to dictate to any community, other than our own, how they resolve those daily questions, which arise from diverse peoples living in close proximity.
Nor should anyone imagine that because a large variety of European peoples and some Asians came here, seeking to fit in to the culture of the Founding Fathers, and did in fact fit in, that it made no difference from whence they came, or who the newer settlers were. We can and should treat all peoples with respect. Yet, again, genuine respect means treating others as they are. And all peoples are not equally amenable to contributing to the unique cultural heritage--won on the battlefield of the Revolution--which is the American birthright.
Still, with all of this balanced and in focus, learning to again respect others as they actually are remains a sine qua non for the restoration of that Republic the Founders sought for their posterity.
There you have "Four of a Kind": Moral premises, which can reverse the loss of fundamental American values; stave off the loss of that unique American identity, which made so great an impact on the modern world. Is this all a purely academic exercise? Mere literary gamesmanship? We think not. What we suggest, is well within the reach of an awakened people. Our quest is to secure that awakening. The selections, below, will help in that quest.