Saturday, October 05, 2013

A post-Liberal republic

Personally admirable and politically ambiguous president Teddy Roosevelt* made a historical observation that I have found very telling.

(What is even more telling is that the idea of an American president making a historical observation, at least since John Kennedy, is laughable.)

“The Roman Republic fell, not because of the ambition of Caesar or Augustus, but because it had already long ceased to be in any real sense a republic at all. When the sturdy Roman plebeian, who lived by his own labor, who voted without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows formed in war the terrible Roman legion, had been changed into an idle creature who craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who was fed by the state, and directly or indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at hand, and nothing could save it. 
The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing.”

I fear that, for all its genius, the American Constitution, having assumed rather than defined a quite specific meaning for "We, the People", is showing itself unable to withstand the ongoing corrosive effect of the Liberal project. No form of government, no matter how delineated on paper, can function apart from the people involved. Demography and culture will always precede any constitution.

As an extreme but clarifying example, imagine taking all the members of the Crips and the Bloods and all the members of the various Latino gangs and removing them to a large, newly discovered island and then giving them the US Constitution as their governing structure. Even if many of these barbarians had been "educated" in American schools, that document is founded on principles and values which they neither understand, respect or embrace. What fool would imagine it would have a ghost of a chance of being implemented? On the contrary, the outcome would be entirely predictable.

One of the flaws in the American constitution has turned out to be its (understandable) assumption that the demography and culture of the country would remain stable and could be relied upon as the background bedrock of the Union. In the Federalist Papers, John Jay wrote of Americans as

 "a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.
That has long ceased to be the case. Liberalism virtually identifies "the People" with its designated Victim Groups and their elite advocates. And in fact, the founding peoples --Northern European males of Protestant faith**, speaking English-- have become objects of derision and scorn by the New Americans, who contemptuously pathologize them as "angry White males."

Any post-American country with any chance of success would have to be resolutely, unapologetically and constitutionally anti-Liberal, or it would simply repeat the pattern. It would have to make The Seven Spokes of the Liberal Wheel --multiculturalism, feminism, redistributionism, secularism, pacifism, transnationalism and environmentalism-- near impossible within its borders.

Since most American conservatives actually share many of the basic beliefs as Liberals, especially about the unquestionable value of "equality" --differing from them mostly on priority, emphasis and implementation-- such an anti-Liberal country, if it ever comes into being, would be considered monstrous, probably "fascist", by Liberals and Conservatives alike. But then, from the viewpoint of contemporary Liberalism, the entire history of the nation prior to 1964 --hell, from the moment Columbus' foot hit dry land--was largely a fascist nightmare anyway.

On the other hand, the kind of trauma and cataclysm necessary for the United States to formally dissolve into more than one country might change the benchmarks for the meaning of "monstrous."


*I have found this quote all over the Net but no one links it to an original text, so I am suspicious of its sourcing. But regardless of who said it, the last sentence is manifestly true. UPDATE: A very kind librarian at the Teddy Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State U in ND, verified this quote for me in Dec 2013. It is genuine, and dates from a 1911 article of his in The Outlook, "Nationalism and Democracy", p 625.

**I am speaking here of ethos; clearly many of the Founding Fathers were quite un-orthodox, but the country itself was very religious, something they respected. And although there were Catholics involved in the Founding, (including signing the Declaration and the Constitution), they were a tiny minority,


Anonymous said...

Could any such country survive for a year after its founding? I can imagine a scenario similar to that after the founding of Israel, as its neighbors banded together to crush the upstart nation whose mere existence was political heresy to them. If it was not "liberated" out of existence by any some-what stable countries, it would almost be as marginalized as Israel now is. Of course, it is doubtful that any event that could so destabilize the United States would not affect other countries, so it could possibly stand a fighting chance. The mental imagery of such a country is a little intimidating: stark white marble buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright if he was a militarist, strict social conduct, a less-than-benevolent attitude towards "degenerates." Methinks you and I would not be welcome unless we made damn good cases for ourselves.


OreamnosAmericanus said...

Whether you and I would be welcome is not really important when placed against the survival of our civilization. And given the antics of "our" group, who could blame them for being skeptical?

As for the stark image you conjure, I would suggest that the society I am thinking of is --aside from its self-consciousness- not much different from American society several decades ago, which was hardly stark and sterile.

Anonymous said...

I was uncertain what imagery you had in mind. America as it was in the 40s and 50s would be an attractive era to live in: stable, prosperous, well-behaved.

I agree that my needs and wants pale in comparison to those of our civilization as a whole. But still, I would like to be able to earn my place in it if it underwent a rebirth. But how?


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