As always great commentary.
Just an added fillip. It not only involves Liberarians but a
national group think mentality and has to do with an unfortunate
inherent human nature cave man thought of militarism, chauvinsim and
the delight in blowing things up.
We quite agree that this is a far broader tendency than just with
Libertarians (or libertarians).
However, I must disagree as to the question of 'inherent nature'. My
views, as far as I understand them, are similar to Sartre's in a
denial of any inherent 'human nature'; where I might see something
approachinng 'human nature' would be in the continents discovered in
the furthermore *exploration* of the passions. 'Human nature' would
be to me what we find as we make reality of the utmost of our freedom.
And I specifically deny any inherent 'cave man' nature. The image of
the 'cave man' is a modern rendition of original sin or the Old Adam;
it is not an artefact of nature but a projection of the pscyhology of
a worldview which already puts heirarchy and paternalism at the
center of its universe. As far as I am concerned, mainline
civilization has no right to decry the 'barbarian'; by its own
rules: 'we have met the enemy, and he is us'.
I deny that the essential problem is either us or them; it is our an
their estrangement from 'us'.
There is the additional problem in the national pysche of the age-
old Puritanical religious belief expanded upon by our Founding
Fathers who were quite religious.
Well, we agree that Puritanism is a problem; I myself burn with at
unkinder remembrance of Puritanism than most. But I
think 'Puritanism' is only a particularly virulent expression of a
much deeper problem.
Otherwise, such is not my reading of American history. Jefferson was
a deist who wrote a 'slimmed down' Jefferson Bible and sought to
replace the trinity with secular reverence for Enlightenment moderns;
Paine was a proto-unitarian who wrote a scathing attack on revealed
religion. Madison was religiously tepid. Franklin was a deist.
Besides, ultimately, who cares about the 'Founding Fathers'? I care
nothing as such for predecessors from the past, nor for national
patriarchs. I listen to the American framers to the degree they
match my own wisdom and reason, no more. If I was born in France, I
would not reverence Roland or St. Joan more than they merit; I as
such do not worship Jefferson or Washington because they happen to
have written the rules for *my* residence. I would ask how good the
rules are, and I would answer: fairly well, but far from well enough.
And *your* Founding Fathers, meus amicus. I regard no Fathers of any
sort and my devotion lies elsewhere.
Besdies, what about the involvement of many American framers with
Freemasonry? I know little about the specific involvement, but I
have been reading up on Masonry, and it seems to be a continuation of
the gnostic strain syncretizing hermetic practice with Christianity
(their are also Judaic and Moslem equivalents); certainly not secular
but not exactly Christian either.
This religion thing got corrupted by Bush and Republicans that the
US is gods chosen nation and is guided by god in his/her mission to
bring god and the US to the world through a Divine Mandate. ie, see
George Bush and his various pronouncements on having a direct
cellphone link to god.
"They published your diary...,
and that's how I got to know you.
A key to a room of your own
and a mind without end.
Just a young girl,
on a kind of a telephone line through time.
And the voice on the other end sounds like a long lost friend....
"Don't you know it's all right?...
life may come, and life may go
Don't you say, 'it's all right'?...
just got a letter, to my soul.
When your whole life is on the tip of your tongue,
empty pages for the no longer young.
The apathy of time laughs in my face.
Did you hear me say...?
"'Each life has its place.'"
Sorry, I couldn't resist. Indigo Girls. Of course, reading their
title they are talking about Virginia Woolf.
Of course, this is if god takes the call and George Bush is not
talking with god but really chatting with the devil. The devil you
say?!? Sniff - sniff - sniff. Whoa - do I smell sulfur and brimstone
in the Oval Office?
If "devil" means an active force that is evil in itself, I don't
understand the term. However, if "devil" means a negation of the
human spirit and its wonders and beauties in the reverance of
authority and repression, then the trouble is much older than George
As for 'chatting with God' or 'chatting with the Devil', this is an
old problem of special revelation that goes back at least to Locke.
For me it is not a specific problem, since I don't think a revelation
would be tied to essential good or evil, but rather would return as
an abstracted concrete the passions and visualizations of a human
being already commited along a certain line. In my view we are
repsponsible for any of our own revelations, which might exist and
might tell many things but could not tell a moral essence which does
not precede human action in the first place. So the question does
not for me exist as to whether Bush is chatting with God or the
Devil; if he's chatting to anyone (which I doubt), it's more like
he's chatting to "Theoconservative", who I suppose might resemble the
Judeo-Christian God. But somehow I can't picture Him holding
something as modern as a cellphone.
More likely, W. is just talking into the earpiece.
(while his advisers feed him bobbytrapped advice from the exoteric
P.S. In the Bill of Rights the Founding Fathers stated: Congress
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; etc. What the Founding Fathers
would think of todays laws and lawsuits against religious displays
and prayers of any kind and any nature would not be fit to print.
The original Constitution authorized the establishment of state
churches and the maintenance of state level censorship; it is fact
prohibited almost no abuses of liberty by state governments.
Madison, actually, once convinced reluctantly of the usefulness of a
Bill of Rights, wanted stronger provisions, but a more consevrative
Congress wateres down his initial proposals. For instance, Madison's
original drafts for the free exercise clause read 'freedom of
conscience' to specifically extend rights to secularists; the
congress watered it downto 'freedom of religion' to restrict rghts to
those with some kind of belief.
Our current protection from censorship and religious imposition
exists only because activist courts subsequently 'incorporated' most
of the Bill of Rights via the logically dubious hook of the 14th
Amendment's 'due process' clause (though arguably the same thing
could have been done better via the priviledges and immuntiies
clause, but the Court nixed that provision to keep it from entangling
with state economic regulation in the Slaughterhouse cases.).
Similarly, a liberal interpretation of rights, including rights to
contraception, abortion, and gay sexuality, were only made possible
through a broad or 'liberating' level of abstraction, to use liberal
jurists Ronald Dworkin and Bruce Ackerman's term, in interpretation
of Constitutional rights-protecting provisions.
So, to sum up bluntly: who wants the original Constitution? I
certainly don't. I prefer a society without state-level established
churches, where states are prohibited from censorship, where all
people, atheists included, may believe and practice as they wish,
where states cannot persecuter gay people for the crime of love,
where women have control over their own bodies, and where state
governments cannot ban contraception.
I shudder to think of the kind of regime I would have grown up under
had the original Constitution been in force in Virginia.
As for public religious displays, I am against *any* kind of state
affirmation of specific creed or theological, national, or civil
religion- I believe in a religiously neutral and strictly secular
state. That said, I'm undecided about the particulars. When I was a
secularist I thought it was fairly easy to say what consituted a
religious diaplay, but I'mnot sure what to say now that as a Pagan,
most national monuments which most think of as secular have for me
extreme religious significance. The Washington Monument and the
Statue of Liberty, for instance, are religious symbols that originate
precisely in my own traditions. Of course, as a libertarian I'd like
to see both made nongovernment property, but until then I would not
want to see them 'removed'- not because I think the state should
promote *my* religion but because they are beautiful works of art (as
are, say, St. Paul's Cathedral or Notre Dame in Paris).
Sight angled to the fire's eye of eyes
Sees nothing but a blankness heated white
But she who spies the colors round it rise
Can catch a sunstar in refracted light