Sunday, May 9, 2010

The End of Truth

"The only point that needs to be stressed is that neither propaganda in itself nor the techniques employed are particular to totalitarianism" -- F.A. Hayek

It has been my observation that those who tend to attach the most importance to the ideas of our nation's founding are also those who take the most outrageous licence in interpreting those same ideas. Take for instance the idea of Liberty. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen lays out the republican notion of liberty. Not the liberties one may take upon one's fellows, but rather their constraint:

"Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights."

The Author of our Declaration of Independence--Thomas Jefferson--echoes the same sentiment:

"Being myself a warm zealot for the attainment & enjoiment by all mankind of as much liberty as each may exercise without injury to the equal liberty of his fellow citizens, I have lamented that in France the endeavors to obtain this should have been attended with effusion of so much blood"

The Father of our Constitution--James Madison--echoes similar sentiments while defining of property:

"In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage"

These values derived from the theory of Social Compact which were echoed in the texts of the 1776 state constitutions of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and were stated most eloquently in the 1780 Constitution of Massachusettes:

"Government is instituted for the common good, for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men"

And yet, so many of those individuals who claim allegiance to original intent are the very individuals who claim that government IS instituted for the exclusive privelege of one class at the expense of the rest. They may candy-coat it as being "jobs-creation" or some other thin guise implying that it is for the good of the people that they lavish bounties upon their oppressors.

Worse yet, these same eagerly engage in intrigues and wars that not only invade the soveriegnty of other nations, but saddle our population with ominous debts. It is no small wonder that Jefferson said of such in an 1816 letter to George Logan:

"It is a great consolation to me that our government, as it cherishes most it’s duties to its own citizens, so is it the most exact in it’s moral conduct towards other nations. I do not believe that in the four administrations which have taken place, there has been a single instance of departure from good faith towards other nations. We may sometimes have mistaken our rights, or made an erroneous estimate of the actions of others, but no voluntary wrong can be imputed to us. In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phaenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of it’s government and the probity of it’s citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue & interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of it’s people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Oh, if only those who wish to perpetuate the errors still present during our founding, could instead embrace its revolutionary aspirations toward human progress

1 comment:

  1. Propoganda, a relatively modern refinement and study of human nature is alive and well not only as advertising(in which I labored almost 50 years), but in the fuzzy delusions of the modern reactionaries like the "Don't Tread on Me " people. But, the problem is in the far more powerful lobbying of the large corporations and wealthy interest groups. They are the real experts and can back their blandishments and real aims with cash.
    Their motto also is "Don't Tread on Me"...and they mean it! The early Fathers and political philosophers seem to have been equally unable to come up with a solution as we.




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"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestible unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." -- Constitution of Massachusettes (1780)