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This is Just the Beginning About That River in Egypt

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Power or Principle?

by Christopher Chantrill
September 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm

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TEA PARTY favorite Christine O’Donnell’s victory over Washington establishment favorite Mike Castle raised an interesting question.

Do we just want political power and 51 seats in the US Senate? Or do we want to build a movement? That’s what movement guy Pat Buchanan immediately understood.

The Washington hands had been doing their political arithmetic. Mike Castle meant winning in Delaware, 51 seats in the Senate and committee chairmanships. Christine O’Donnell meant a throw of the dice.

Put me in the movement camp. It’s not going to do the conservative movement any good to get back into power without a mandate. The experience with the Bushes proved it. They took America as they found it; they didn’t try to change it.

Nothing wrong with that. A practical politician must practice the art of the possible.

But we movement conservatives want to move the zone of the possible. That means we want to do more than just hire Karl Rove to execute on a political game plan. We want to build a movement for conservative reform, for smaller government and greater freedom, and we want to persuade our moderate friends to join us. On this view it’s better to risk defeat with a Christine O’Donnell and a Sharron Angle than to play it safe with an old Washington hand like Mike Castle.

What does it take to move the zone of the possible? Many people think that will require a movement like the Great Awakening of the 1740s.

In Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform William G. McLoughlin argues that all the great reform eras in American history were preceded by a great moral revival. In his view the Great Awakening led to the American Revolution in the 1770s, and the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s birthed the anti-slavery movement and the Civil War.

In our era it is almost impossible to imagine weakening the liberal ruling class and its domination of education, culture, and the arts. How can we possibly hope to dislodge liberals from the universities, the schools, the foundations, and Hollywood?

We can take heart from the era of the Second Great Awakening. When the Awakening got started in the early 1800s the northern Federalists had collapsed and the slave-holding South was set to dominate the nation’s politics for a generation, starting with eight years of slave-owner President Jefferson, and continuing with eight years of slave-owner President Madison, and yet another eight years of slave-owner President Monroe. That’s 24 years of uninterrupted slave-owner presidents, not to mention slave-owner Senates and slave-owner Houses of Representatives. Finally the Whig Party emerged and flopped around in and out of power for 20 years. Divided on slavery, the Whig Party collapsed in the 1840s. It took the pro-slavery Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 to birth the anti-slavery Republican Party.

If we don’t want to flop around like the Whig Party we’ve got to establish a moral base from which to attack the liberal hegemony and demolish its claims to moral superiority. But where do we start?

In my view the way to go is to trump the liberal demand that we shouldn’t “legislate morality.” Liberals are right; ministers of religion shouldn’t be giving marching orders to legislators.

But the most powerful church in the United States is the Established Church of Secular Liberalism, funded by our taxes like any national established church. It has government teachers in government elementary schools teaching little children how to behave, government teachers in government high schools teaching sexual mores, and government professors in government universities inculcating the liberal world-view. What do you think all the non-competitive, positive self-esteem, celebrate diversity comes from? The liberal moral system, of course, legislated to be taught in government schools.

There is only one thing to say about all that. It is wrong.

The challenge we must hurl at our liberal friends is simple. If President Jefferson was right in his call for a wall of separation of church and state then you chaps have to give up the inside track you’ve built to teach our children your liberal religion from kindergarten through graduate school on the taxpayers’ dime.

I’ve tried this line out on the odd liberal and I have to report that they haven’t taken it well. They don’t understand what I’m talking about. Liberals have no clue that their domination of the culture amounts to an established church. Why, they reject the whole idea of “organized religion.” They think of their beliefs as the inevitable ideals of any educated rational person.

You know what? It’s up to us to teach liberals different, even if it takes 60 years, like it did in the long haul to abolish slavery.

If we are to have a free country with a separation between the moral-cultural sector and the government, then tax-funded secular liberal preachers cannot be allowed the run of our nation’s schools.

It’s an American principle: limited government, separation of powers, no legislating of ruling class morality.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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