Nov 7th, 2005 · Categories: Culture, Politics · 1 Comment

Politics: Are liberals liberal?

America was founded upon the principles of classical liberalism. A 1994 essay on the LockeSmith Institute website, “The Rise, Decline, and Reemergence of Classical Liberalism“, provides a summary of the essentials of classical liberalism. These are:

  1. an ethical emphasis on the individual as a rights-bearer prior to the existence of any state, community, or society,
  2. the support of the right of property carried to its economic conclusion, a free-market system,
  3. the desire for a limited constitutional government to protect individuals’ rights from others and from its own expansion, and
  4. the universal (global and ahistorical) applicability of these above convictions.

Liberals then …

The expression of these essentials – with their focus on indivudual freedom and rights – can be found in the Declaration of Independence (emphasis added):

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

  • that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
  • that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
  • That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
  • and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

… and “liberals” now

But the mis-named modern “liberal” (hereafter mod-lib to distinguish from the real thing) has no use for a limited government that derives its powers “from the consent of the governed”. Indeed, the goal of the mod-lib is to grow (and control) a strong central government that imposes its will on the governed and enforces an elitist vision of a pseudo-egalitarian society.

The phony equality that is the backbone of this ideal society is best illustrated by mod-libs’ attitudes toward public schools. Mod-libs treasure public schools. They reach for greater and more centralized control of both curriculum and funding of public shools. They fight every effort to assist parents who want to get their kids out of public schools and send them to private schools. They lobby and vote for ever increasing appropriations for the grand social experiments that so often overwhelm the simple goal of educating students. (The fact that some of the appropriations find their way to one of their most reliable constituencies, the teachers’ unions, is an agreeable side effect.)

Yes, mod-libs love public schools. They do all they can for them – except send their own kids there. You will find few children of Presidents, Senators, or Congressmen in Washington public schools.

In reality, the “egalitarian” vision of the mod-libs is a two-tier society, one where the wealthy elite enjoy the blessings of freedom while the vast majority endure the curse of egalitarianism. It is no surprise that two of the wealthiest men in the Senate are prototypical mod-libs – Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry – or that the largest single contributor to mod-lib causes is billionnaire George Soros. And why not? These are men who have the money to buy themselves and their familiies out of the oppressive egalitarianism they want to impose on the rest of us.

Ironically, the genuine liberals who wrote the Declaration of Independence and helped to write the Constitution thought that the greatest danger of democracy was majority tyranny. The objective – freedom – could hardly be achieved if the majority routinely trampled the rights of minorities who could not muster the votes to preserve their own freedoms.

From Thomas Jefferson’s “yeoman farmer” who would value and defend freedom, to the restraints on power exerted by James Madison’s competing interest groups, to the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the Framers sought structures that would restrain the raw power of the majority. Little did they guess that it would be the 20th century corruption of their own liberal principles that would impose the very tyranny they feared. How? By circumventing democracy altogether.

Hating democracy

Mod-libs hate democracy. They hate it because democracy allows Americans to directly influence the legislative bodies most accessible to them – state and local governments. These bodies are more directly controlled by voters, more likely to be comprised of “citizen-legislators”, and more reflective of their voters’ will. With Congress long the playground of what George Will refers to as the privileged “political class”, state and local governments are the only legislative institutions that empower ordinary people.

But mod-libs don’t like to share power. In the middle of the last century, they discovered that if they could control the federal judiciary, they could thwart the desires of the American people as expressed through state and local legislatures. Mod-lib judges simply invalidate the will of the people by declaring “unconstitutional” any legislative acts that run counter to the ruling elite’s vision. As long as the Supreme Court agrees with the decision, no reference to actual provisions of the Constitution is required and the people’s voice has been effectively silenced. Do you doubt that mod-libs deliberately circumvent the democratic process? Consider where their victories are won and their will imposed.

Disenfranchising America

Time and time again, the American people, speaking through their state legislatures, have tried to control abortion. Some states wish to outlaw it altogether; others would impose few or no restrictions. But the judicial onslaught begun with Roe v. Wade, which was decided with only passing reference to the Constistituion, has disenfranchised them.

Majorities in many states have tried to require their schools to mention that Darwinian evolution is not a universally accepted, monolithic fact but a fractured and flawed hypothesis. They want their students to know that evolutionary orthodoxy is constantly reviewed and its claims challenged, not only by creationists but by “real” scientists doing “real” science. But Edwards v. Aguillard stripped the American people of any right they thought they might have to insist on scientific honesty in their schools.

Citizens in several states and localities would like to acknowledge the influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition on their own legal system. This isn’t such a strange idea – the Framers of the Constitution created a form of government patterned on that of the Presbyterian church of the time. While the Code of Hammurabi, for example, is an interesting legal artifact, it is historical fact that the British and later the American legal systems were heavily influenced by the Ten Commandments. To simply note that fact does nothing to “establish” a religion (as prohibited by the Constitution). But state and local governments are seldom permitted to publicly mention this aspect of their own history.

This prohibition, of course, is the result of mod-lib judges who could find nothing in the Constitution’s establishment clause on which to hang their hats. They turned instead to a private letter from Thomas Jefferson who mentioned in passing something he called the “wall of separation between church and state”. Typically, upon finding a nicely turned phrase to undergird their personal view, such judges ignore the fact that, according to Jefferson, the “wall” existed to protect relgion from government, not the other way around.

One need only look to recent bitter battles over judicial nominees to see evidence of the mod-libs’ fierce defense of their anti-democratic strategy. Democrats can live with Republican legislative victories; mod-libs can accept the presence of conservatives in their midst. What they cannot tolerate is a crack in the legislative hegemony that has been seized by uncontrolled and unaccountable federal judges.

If mod-libs aren’t liberals, what are they?

There is another political system identified with a powerful, overbearing central government dominated by an elite minority – fascism. The ultimate irony is that both the mod-lib and the fascist subordinate the rights of the individual to the power of the state. The only difference is that the fascist forthrightly states that the state is more important than individual citizens, so the subordination of individual rights is properly done for the benefit of the state. The mod-lib claims that the state’s exercise of power is actually for the benefit of the individual, so the state is usurping and exercising the citizens’ rights for their own good! There are two obvious grounds for refuting this specious assertion:

  1. As we’ve seen, particularly in the case of public schools, the exercise of power by mod-libs is meant to benefit those who exercise it (though there may be collateral benefits for others).
  2. The state could exercise its power in opposition to the clearly expressed desires of the citizens only if the state were able to know better than the individual what would be best for him or her. Such is the arrogance of mod-libs that they actually believe this is the case.

In The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined a blackguard (villain) as “a man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box of berries in a market – the fine ones on top – have been opened on the wrong side. An inverted gentleman.” In like manner, we can observe that a fascist – who makes no effort to disguise his interest in power and oppression – is simply an honest mod-lib.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 7th, 2005 at 10:00 am and is filed under Culture, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Politics: Are liberals liberal?”

  1. Liberals' chief disability | The Curmudgeon's Progress Says:

    April 24th, 2019 at 10:21 am

    […] modern liberals (actually, illiberals) share a common disability: They are unable to be constrained by the wisdom of those who preceded […]

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