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Universal Basic Income

CNBC, reporting on comments by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlights the first open admission that left-liberal progressives intend to utilize Coronavirus as a pretext to implement some of their most radical short-term objectives. Quoting Pelosi[1], CNBC reported, “Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so.”[2] Andrew Yang included universal basic income (UBI) as part of his 2020 presidential campaign. Yang was quoted as saying, “I’m pleased to see the White House adopt our vision of putting money directly into the hands of hard-working Americans.” Bernie Sanders, in one of his last campaign speeches before dropping out of the 2020 election proposed a scheme to pay every household $2000 monthly.

Willkie in her CNBC article parroted numbers of unemployed in the U.S. at approximately $25 million. She sailed to acknowledge that phase one of the CARES Act included a provision that added $600 per week to unemployment benefits, above and beyond what one would normally qualify for based upon prior income level. Numerous other sources have reported the impact of this fact – individuals make more money being unemployed than working[3], and some are unwilling to go back to work.[4] On the face of it, this is an absurd policy. No reasonable person can make an honest argument in support of a policy that redistributes wealth and pays people more not to work than to work unless the worldview behind the support of the policy leads the supporter to other, unspoken objectives. By any honest account, this is plunder.[5] If we accept the reasonable conclusion that paying people more to be unemployed than they made while working is absurd and the people supporting such are not deficient in mental capacity then we must also accept that something else is at play – it is a straightforward syllogism.  It is also a fact that the same people that supported the boost to unemployment pay in the CARES Act are now suggesting full-blown UBI, we begin to see the greater objective.

Universal basic income, once adopted, would be nearly impossible to rollback. It would be perhaps the most transformative public policy legislation in U.S. history. The implications of control and intrusion in everyday life and control of the economy are wider than any previous move toward centralization. UBI, if adopted, is a great step forward toward socialism. The fact that both of these programs are being slipped in amid a ‘crisis’ seems deceptive. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit…”( ESV Colossians 2:8). Socialism is a derivative of the ideology of Marxism and the deception being used to implement it is abhorrent. Public policymakers and citizens must be vigilant.


[1] See video of Pelosi's statement, https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/1254764438000984064.

[2] Willkie, C. “Pelosi says universal basic income could be ‘worthy of attention now’ as coronavirus stifles economy”, CNBC. 27 April 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/27/coronavirus-update-universal-basic-income-could-be-worthy-of-attention-pelosi-says.html.

[3] See, “Some people are earning more in unemployment benefits than they did while working, leaving little incentive to return to their jobs”, Business Insider, 21 April 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/unemployment-benefits-may-be-higher-than-wages-for-some-workers-2020-4.

[4] See, “Furloughed Workers Don’t Want To Return To Their Jobs As They’re Earning More Money With Unemployment”, Forbes, 28 April 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/04/28/furloughed-workers-dont-want-to-return-to-their-jobs-as-theyre-earning-more-money-with-unemployment/#50054cb06b76.

[5] Bastiat, Frédéric. The Law. United States: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Law/DZKE3-pV1AYC,  p. 13

Blackstone’s Influence on American Political Philosophy

The question before us, ‘how did the writings of Blackstone influence American political philosophy, and what evidence for this influence is seen in Tocqueville's observations of American political life?’ is perhaps best quantified with qualifiers such as influence ‘upon whom’, ‘for how long’, ‘to what extent’. If we accept a genealogy of ideas from Blackstone’s conception of positive law reinforcing and being built upon convention – A Burkean view – we might argue that his influence was temporary and transient at best. If on the other hand, we assume, as many now do[1], that the jurisprudence of positive law – as presently conceived in legal positivism separate from morality - is one driver of political philosophy, then the argument could be plausibly made that Blackstone indirectly influences American political philosophy today, albeit not in a manner true to Blackstone’s conception of the law. This paper presupposes that Blackstone’s intended influence, as surmised from the breadth of his writing, was limited in reach and duration while the influence of ideas of others, tenuously derived from Blackstone’s principles[2], have been and are profound. Therefore, Blackstone’s influence on American political philosophy is foundational because both those that interpret him as he intended to be read and those that read in his works a transformative power within positive law to shape culture and society, absent convention, rely upon axioms established by Blackstone.

Blackstone begins, conducts, and ends his work with an acknowledgment of the foundation of the law, situated below the divine law, rooted in natural law and a creature of the accidents and circumstances of the people it is designed for. The ‘first and primary purpose’ of the law is to maintain and regulate absolute rights and in the case of those beneficiaries of British heritage, personal security, personal liberty, and private property.[3] Blackstone dismisses in his theory the notion of the original state of nature as having any contemporary relevance. He conceives of the circumstance of man where law forevermore requires a state necessary to enforce it and the impossibility of the destruction of law by law.[4] The foundational principles upon which law must be drawn in his view is custom or convention. He places a high value on deference to prior generations.[5] To Blackstone, the law is not reason, he is opposed to the “rage of modern improvement”[6] – the attempt to template reason onto law to achieve idealized ends. Blackstone saw the progression of the law as a slow process, over time, gradual and relying heavily upon and firstly on the decisions, customs, and conventions of the past. The view of jurisprudence held by Blackstone was best articulated by Burke as ‘a contract between the living, the dead and those yet to be born.’[7]

Numerous previous works have detailed the influence of William Blackstone on the generation of men that framed[8] the U.S. Constitution. Certainly, these men widely read Blackstone, as did many aspiring lawyers and politicians for subsequent generations. The question is not, did he influence them, the relevant question is what parts of Blackstone did they carry forward. We might, as many are apt to do, read the words of these men themselves to discern that answer. This is a wholly inadequate approach. If we begin by reading The Federalist, we would admittedly be reading a document of propaganda[9] intended to sway public opinion.[10] A work that, in more than one entry, contained examples of historical ignorance or perhaps outright deception.[11] If we are to truly understand the impact that Blackstone had on these men, we must examine their contemporary critics, what did they argue against in the proclamations in The Federalist that have proven true? We must look to the generation immediately following the framers to the political debates and to men like Calhoun that warned against the rising manifestation of ideological deficiencies previously warned about by the Antifederalists, to Tocqueville and his observations and warnings and perhaps finally to Lincoln and his war[12] that solidified and ‘corrected’ deficiencies of the Federalist ideology into the very Leviathan-like central state the Federalist promised would never arise.

Hamilton and Madison argued in The Federalist against generally held common sense notions that; only state governments could be free and republican, large countries turn to despotism and they are warlike. The opposing view observed that it is impossible to avoid these circumstances because the people must be vigilant, patriotic, and informed.[13] One can argue that every argument of those originally opposed to the Federalist position has materialized, and likely will only manifest more.[14] Their subtle references to equality over convention, natural law, subsidiarity, and the common good were a drastic departure from the prescriptions of Blackstone.

Tocqueville observed that passion for equality was compatible with both tyranny and liberty and democratic principles unchecked by morality and virtue could lead to unprecedented levels of tyranny.[15]  He saw the inevitable problems of the ‘march toward equality’, begun subtly with a few words in the Declaration of Independence, woven into the centralizing nature of the Federalist ideal of the Constitution. These notions were completed twenty-five years after Tocqueville's observation by war and a ‘second revolution’ by Lincoln. Materialism, mediocrity, domesticity (de-masculinization), and isolation were the dangers of the equalizing and centralizing plan of the Federalist. Tocqueville foresaw the tyranny of the majority that John C. Calhoun attempted to thwart[16], and that no breakthrough in education could raise the poor to the level of sufficient knowledge to rule.[17] To thwart these dangers Tocqueville saw the need for subsidiarity and morality. ‘Democratic expedients’ such as local self-government, a free and independent church as a societal institution, independent judiciary, and associations were required.[18] Finally, in agreement with Burke and Blackstone, Aquinas, and Aristotle, he saw freedom as impossible without morality.[19]

It was the Jacksonian democratic dream that Tocqueville observed in 1835, and warned of the potential dangers of. A few short years later, in 1842, it was Calhoun that warned of an ‘American political nightmare’.

As the Government approaches nearer and nearer to the one absolute and single power, the will of the greater number, its actions will become more and more disturbed and irregular; faction, corruption, and anarchy, will more and more abound; patriotism will daily decay, and affection and reverence for the Government grow weaker and weaker, until the final shock occurs, when the system will rush to ruin, and the sword take the place of the law and Constitution. [20]

It was Lincoln that completed the centralization and transformation beginning in 1861 in what George P. Fletcher observes as a second constitution after 1865. One based on “organic nationhood, equality of all persons, and popular democracy” concepts in opposition to those of our first constitution which promulgated “peoplehood as a voluntary association, individual freedom, and republicanism”.[21] These new principles align very well with the foundation and words in The Federalist, yet at a base level, they are completely detached from the whole of Blackstone’s philosophy.

Thus, it can be argued the Federalists were wrong, the very things they denied, and their opponents predicted occurred.  They were wrong because they applied only a positivist interpretation of Blackstone and ignored his reliance on foundational matters; the source of law[22], the importance of subsidiary institutions, of checks and balances, convention and ultimately of the role of morality and of institutions that engender morality.  This was an ideology based upon defective philosophy[23], ultimately it was deceit we have been warned to avoid (Colossians 2:8). Blackstone’s influence is still immense, legal positivism is derived in a perverted way from his philosophy; this, of course, does not comport with his meaning as it lacks the prudence in the spirit of the law that Montesquieu, Blackstone, Burke, and even Tocqueville would prescribe. There is little else he might recognize or approve of in our system.

@onlyBarryLClark


[1] Cotterrell, Roger. “Common Law Approaches to the Relationship between Law and Morality.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 3, no. 1, 2000, pp. 9–26. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27504116.

[2] ‘Tenuously derived principles’ here is meant to imply that if one strips from Blackstone his conception of the foundation of the law, the relationship of the civic and common law to natural, revealed and divine law and retains only his principles of the progressiveness of the law one arrives at legal positivism.

[3] Strauss, Leo, Cropsey, Joseph. History of Political Philosophy. United States: University of Chicago Press, 2012. p. 623.

[4] Ibid. pp. 626-627.

[5] Ibid. p. 629.

[6] Ibid. 630.

[7] Ibid. 697.

[8] As Burke stated, ‘the dead are not founders’ (Strauss, Cropsey., p. 697), America was certainly not ‘founded’ in 1776 nor 1789. The Constitution framed and ratified in 1789 merely formed a central government limited in powers by the sovereign states.

[9] Coenen, Dan., “A Rhetoric for Ratification: The Argument of The Federalist and its Impact on Constitutional Interpretation” Duke Law Journal, Vol. 56:469. https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1303&context=dlj. p. 472.

[10] Strauss, Cropsey., p. 659.

[11] J.R. Pole. The Federalist. Hackett Publishing, Cambridge,  2005. p. 87. See Hamilton in Number Sixteen, “I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptations the persons entrusted with the administration of the general government could ever feel to divest the states of the authorities of that description.” Such usurpations were amply observed in history prior to this statement and have been rampant in U.S. history since ratification.

[12] See previous argument, Clark, Barry, “The First War of the New Order: How Rule of Law and the Form of Government Changed in America's Second Revolution” (February 7, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2728971 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2728971.

[13] Strauss, Cropsey., p. 663.

[14] See previous argument, Clark, Barry, “From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism” (December 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3506918.

[15] Strauss, Cropsey., p. 763.

[16] Kirk Russell, “Calhoun Vindicated”, https://calhouninstitute.com/calhoun-vindicated/, Southern Partisan Magazine, Volume III, Number 1 (1983)

[17] Strauss, Cropsey., 770.

[18] Ibid. 773.

[19] Ibid. 779.

[20] Cheek, H. Lee. Calhoun and Popular Rule: The Political Theory of the Disquisition and Discourse. United States: University of Missouri Press, 2004. p. 156. Calhoun, J.C., Speech in Support of the Veto Power” 28 February, 1842.

[21] Fletcher, G P. 2003. Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy. Oxford University Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=P5VSyor50fIC.

[22] Tamanaha, Brian Z., “The Contemporary Relevance of Legal Positivism”. St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-0065; Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Vol. 32, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=960280

[23] See previous argument, Clark, Barry, “The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views” (January 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523995 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3523995

Saul Alinsky and Coronavirus

An editorial essay in The Washington Times [1] argues that much of the hyper-crisis reporting and governmental action related to COVID-19 aligns with principles laid out in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.   Chumley begins her argument by quoting one of Alinsky’s foundational presuppositions, “[a]ny revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future.”[2] She argues that “[t]his is Coronavirus Chaos, exemplified.” In support of that bold statement, she provides examples of America being in full panic mode and willing to sacrifice more civil liberties to gain more perception of security. She argues that the Constitution has effectively been suspended, to the applause of the left and right. Pastors have been arrested for conducting services, fathers handcuffed for taking their kids to the park, public protest outlawed, and individuals drug from public transportation by the police.

Chumley observes that all of this, and more, have occurred in a time when we have yet to understand the real nature of Coronavirus. She observes that even a mere hint of skepticism is met in the public and private square with ostracization and ridicule. This comports well with Alinsky’s foundational presupposition, of a non-challenging attitude by defeated people, combined with later suggestiong toward the use of ridicule. Americans are not allowed to work, to produce and create a livelihood. Quoting Alinsky again she observes that this “shake[s] up the prevailing patterns of […] lives — agitate[s], create[s] disenchantment and discontent with the current values.” Chumley does not suggest that Coronavirus is not real, nor that it is necessarily a creation intended to bring about the consequences observed. She merely points out that the crisis and reaction cycle related to the event meshes well with Alinsky’s radical prescription. Her observation itself is a radical statement, bold questions and observations in a time when the discussion is so limited in the public square.

The Washington Times piece raises numerous questions that policymakers should be asking and framing during this event. Chumley raises two issues that are undeniable facts. First, the progressive left-liberals have held an objective of implementing many of the policies that have so easily entered public policy over the proceeding weeks, the adoption of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)[3] as one example. The second is perhaps subject to interpretation but hard to argue against, much of the behavior of left-liberal media outlets and politicians align with Alinsky’s Rules, it appears that progressives are taking advantage of the crisis, perhaps even exacerbating it, in order to enact policies they might never gain consensus to enact otherwise.

If we ignore the ease that governments across the land have attacked religious liberty, often to cheers of ‘Christians’, as well as numerous other assaults on civil liberties and basic common sense and address just the implications of our adoption of MMT, we find those implications to be profound. One simply cannot put the genie of universal basic income and magic money creation back in the bottle once released. The longer the lockdowns continue, the more ‘stimulus packages’ passed by the Federal Government, the nearer we approach to establishing a universal basic income scheme. Printing money to give to people not producing is contrary to historical lessons, averse to common sense and contrary to biblical teachings (Proverbs 12:24). Public policymakers across the land must take action now to react to Cornovirous in a principled, right-reasoned, common sense manner. The Governors in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennesee have recently taken the right steps in restarting their economies – others should follow.

Chumley’s interpretation of recent events and her analysis of progressive left-liberals utilization of this crisis to advance their agenda is a cautionary lesson for policymakers. Policies made in a time of uncertainty, when facts and truth are distorted and the emotions of the populace enflamed are often bad policy.

 

Chumley, C. “Coronavirus and the smell of Saul Alinsky”, The Washington Times. 18 April 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/18/coronavirus-and-smell-saul-alinsky/.

[1] One might argue, perhaps correctly so, that The Washington Times has a bias. Other news organizations that disavow the existence of their own observable bias would certainly make this claim in an effort to support an argument that the Times is not a legitimate news outlet. This is an absurd argument, in a time when the entire ‘Fourth Estate’ has abandoned neutrality and objectivity, the Times is as much a legitimate news source as any other.

[2] The Washington Times via, S Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010), https://books.google.com/books?id=VIH0UbZ8qU4C. p. XiX.

[3] See for instance, “Unlimited Money and No Liquidity: Welcome to 2020”, https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/unlimited-money-and-no-liquidity%3A-welcome-to-2020-2020-04-15.

What We Learned at Our House During the Lockdown

It seems that COVID-19 has ‘come and gone’, at least insofar as it was a threat we did not understand the nature of. We understand essentially what it is and what it is not now. We understand more about our world, ourselves and those around us also.  Here is a baker’s dozen of what we learned at my house.

  1. Bri and I really like one another. We have enjoyed our time together - never bored, always busy, doing new things, working together, and finding space.
  2. We picked the right house. When we walked into this place with the realtor a few years ago it screamed ‘practical and functional’ to me. It has proven to be true as we have been here now for a month and a half.
  3. Defining the Circle – we have gained a better understanding of the people we ought to pour our love, attention and resources into going forward. People that could not rally ‘round the cause and do the right thing in this little bump in the road are folks I cannot save.
  4. We were prepared. We strive to live within our means and to have the resources to weather a medium crisis. This has demonstrated that we did many of the right things long before this.
  5. We missed some small stuff. I have a growing list of small items that should have been in the ‘ready room’, nit-noid stuff one simply does not think about until you need it. This little exercise has helped illuminate those items. (I will at some point write a post about what one ought to have on hand for a medium crisis).
  6. A Boxer, that has not been able to see his girlfriend for a few weeks, senses that I might be more vigilant (thus he is also), and that knew from the start that cats were the ultimate spreaders of Coranavius is an interesting creature to be locked away with – never a dull moment from the minute he wakes up until he goes to sleep at night.
  7. Bri is able to work more effectively, efficiently and happily at home. She is so much happier not dealing with all the girl drama in her office. She has a nice workspace here, plenty of light, birds it is quiet and drama-free. I have found I can manage my contracts without going out nearly as much as I did before, much of that was self-induced. Working at home is great!
  8. Twitter and Facebook is such a waste. It is filled with ninnies, fools, communists, fascists and jerks it seems.
  9. Amazon is great – until it is not…see #5 above. Don’t wait next time.
  10. The sky is beautiful, the quiet is wonderful – with fewer cars and traffic running around, the birds seem more active, all the clutter of modern life so much less intrusive. It would be nice if we could just slow the world down a little bit on the regular.
  11. There is, apparently, a drug dealer a couple of streets behind us. He is out with his loud car every hour. I have added him to my high-value target list (HVT), if things get primal it is game on and a bad time for him.
  12. Some of the groups and organizations we were members of have proven useful, others not so much.
  13. There are important things and things that are not. Going forward we will redefine our circle to include just people that want to be in it. We will spend money differently, look at the world differently and perhaps pull back from some activities and groups and sustain some of the activities we have found so enjoyable.

Three Bonus Things

  1. Gardening is great!
  2. God is good, even when we do not fully understand everything.
  3. However, as I told someone recently, God will not send a man down from Paris Mountain with instructions chiseled on rocks to tell you the right thing to do. He gave us common-sense and a brain. He expects us to act.

Coronavirus may not be what the fearmongers said, not nearly as bad as all that – but the financial mess we have created, that will not go away soon. I do not want to make light of all this, we are all still surrounded by foolish people that do not live within their means, cannot bear a real crisis and would become very dangerous if things get much worse.

We all ought to take a moment to take stock of what we have learned thus far.

Coronavirus, Crisis, and ‘Opportunity’

A recent CNN piece that discusses the percentages of black Americans in three locations and the relative population size by infection rate. The article subtly hints at what some, more radical progressive public figures, have been claiming – that there is inequity caused by discrimination therefore the government must provide universal healthcare for all.  This is crisis/problem creation, straight from Saul Alinsky’s Rules.  


A recent CNN article[1] demonstrates the propensity of the left-liberal media to act as sophists[2] executing what one might argue is a direct application of Saul Alinsky’s Rules. Alinsky argued that “revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude”.[3] He also argued that the first task of revolution is to create issues or problems.[4] As the events of coronavirus drag on, we are beginning to see more news articles and discussions of how the ‘crisis’ impact favored progressive issues – this is essentially narrative building.

Yan and Holcombe in their CNN piece discuss Chicago, Louisiana, Michigan, and New Jersey comparing the total racial makeup of each area, and that to the incidence of confirmed COVID-19 infections. For example, the article states that in Chicago 70% of those infected are African-American while that population comprises 32% of the total. Quoting a representative from a group called The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law the group stated it wants to “ensure that communities of color receive equitable treatment during the crisis”.[5] This sort of piece subtly echoes what more radical progressive elements are saying, it is part of a narrative, creating the problem as Alinsky suggested. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated that “inequality is a comorbidity”[6] and that “[w]e need to drop the Medicare eligibility age to [zero] right now”.[7] The CNN article mentioned above lacked context, failed to address other potential underlying causes that might explain the numbers presented and left the reader with one presented solution, ‘the discrepancy must be related to discrimination’. It is part of a greater narrative effort.

This progressive narrative is wrong on several counts. Thomas Sowell points out that the state of healthcare in a nation is rarely an indicator of people’s health.[8] It ignores the fact that we will “always have the poor”. (Mathew 26:11 ESV) It is blind to the fact that every time governments try to eliminate all poverty, they only succeed in lowing wealth overall.  However, the CNN piece and the emerging narrative from the far progressive left is reductionist as it sees one problem, inequity based upon discrimination, and one solution, government-run universal healthcare.

This is, of course, not the only plank of the progressive narrative being pushed. The Post Millennial reports that “Jealous of coronavirus, radical trans activists seek attention from Buzzfeed”.[9] On its face, this is so absurd[10] as to be unbelievable, yet this is part of the debate in the public square.  This is the result of what Alasdair MacIntyre termed the victory of Nietzsche and Weber over Aristotle.[11]

Recognizing the progressive narrative and Alinsky’s tactics is one thing, counteracting them is another matter. Shaffer in Manifesto points out that principles and real revival are required.[12] However, even from what we might consider now an innocent perspective in 1981, he foresaw real change might require something more extreme.[13]

Public policy based upon the Weberism and emotivism that MacIntyre describes as the prevailing worldview[14] is flawed. It is antithetical to the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded. It is ultimately absurd because it does not comport with proven economic principles and does not align with the observations of history. If America is to traverse this crisis and those to follow with any semblance of freedom, right-reasoned government and morality we must act. The sophist, the progressive narrative weavers and the “useful idiots”[15] must be denounced or converted. Old assumptions about the value of enlightenment thinking must be reexamined.[16] The center can no longer hold. Two such opposing worldviews cannot coexist. Only poverty, tyranny, suffering and persecution can follow the complete victory of progressivism.[17]

[1] Yan, M, Holcombe, M., “Coronavirus hitting some African American communities extremely hard”, CNN, 6 April, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/health/us-coronavirus-updates-monday/index.html

[2] See Aristotle's Ethics: Writings from the Complete Works - Revised Edition. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 2014. (EE 1.6 1217 1-6), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Aristotle_s_Ethics/NGmYDwAAQBAJ. via Strauss, Leo, Cropsey, Joseph. History of Political Philosophy. United States: University of Chicago Press, 2012. p. 121. https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Political_Philosophy/E7mScxst9UoC.

[3] Alinsky, Saul D., Rules for Radicals. United States: Random House, 1972. p. xix. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Rules_for_Radicals/4LbvAQAACAAJ.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Yan, M, Holcombe, M., “Coronavirus hitting some African American communities extremely hard”.

[6] See, https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1246091210449719296.

[7] See, https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1246134686092537862.

[8] Sowell, Thomas. Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. United States, Basic Books, 2008. p. 93. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Applied_Economics/gh4JdTv-t9sC.

[9] See, “Jealous of coronavirus, radical trans activists seek attention from Buzzfeed”, https://www.thepostmillennial.com/jealous-of-coronavirus-radical-trans-activists-seek-attention-from-buzzfeed.

[10] Clark, Barry, The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views (January 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523995 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3523995.

[11] MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. p.112. https://www.google.com/books/edition/After_Virtue/00rsK2Y98gQC.

[12] Schaeffer, Francis August. A Christian Manifesto. United Kingdom: Crossway Books, 1981. p. 71. https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Christian_Manifesto/eWHBcQAACAAJ.

[13] Ibid. 130.

[14] Ibid. 121.

[15] 1959, Congressional Record, Section: Appendix, Useful Idiots: Extension of Remarks of Hon. Edward J. Derwinski of Illinois in the House of Representatives on June 30, 1959, (Reprint of editorial from June 23 edition of the Chicago Daily Calumet), Page A5653, Column 2, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (LexisNexis Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection)

[16] See, “Government for the Common Good”, https://calhouninstitute.com/government-for-the-common-good/.

[17] Clark, Barry, From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism (December 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3506918.

Coronavirus and Civil Liberties

In a recent Newsweek piece, an article typical of so many, left and right, that incorrectly view the philosophical questions related to Coronavirus. Painting the struggle as one of liberty versus safety, the freedom of the individual versus the power of the centralized state the article misses entirely the question of the implications of such a struggle. It also ignores the question of what role should other important institutions be playing and to mitigate evil, and suffering as well as encourage citizens to use freedom ethically and government to act as little as required.


 

A recent Newsweek article[i] is representative of the much of the zeitgeist of the current state of American politics, left and right. A view of Natural rights, shaped by the Lockean view, have come to dominate both sides of the political spectrum, manifesting over separate issues, but deriving from the same root. Roger Parloff’s piece approaches the issue from the left-liberal progressive position; he is concerned with voting rights and abortion. One could easily find a piece approaching gun control[ii] or religious freedom deriving from the same flawed foundation. All such appeals begin with errors found in Locke’s conception of the state of nature, an incorrect view of natural law. Essential, both right and left approach these issues from a form of Pelagianism[iii] and an extreme focus on the individual; these approaches assume man alone can consistently choose good without divine aid and that the needs and rights of the individual are equal to the importance of the community and tradition and convention. Such a view is of course theologically flawed (James 2:8) but also is contrary to our history and traditions. It is a binary view that places the law and the central government’s role at odds with the individual, it completely ignores the historical importance of other institutions -subsidiarity - and the permanent things of a culture. It is also an appeal to an originalist view, left and right, that holds certain presuppositions about the de facto versus de jure nature of our system and the rule of law, premises that history calls into question.[iv]

Parloff begins his article with an assumption, that coronavirus is an “extreme crisis” that creates a conflict between safety and liberty. In this, he demonstrates two errors. First, it is impossible to know that Coronavirus is a crisis in and of itself because we simply do not know the nature of the thing.[v] Second, his assumption that a liberty/safety conflict must exist demonstrates the fundamental flaw of the ideologies of liberal societies. He goes on to equate delaying primaries as an affront to voters rights, prisoners being denied a ‘right to life’ because they may become ill, he conflates basic triage strategies with discrimination against disabled people and finally, the curtailment of medically ending the life of babies in the womb as an afront to human rights.

The conflict between liberty and security is a problem only insofar as the Western liberal democracies have abandoned the partnerships for the common-good Aristotle wrote about in the opening to Politics.[vi] This, compounded with the abandonment of subsidiarity, of institutions that ought to have co-equal roles with the central government in the nurturing and maintenance of culture and people, has led to the conflict Parloff and so many others see.[vii]

Looking to history, the problems that Parloff highlights would be considered absurd. The individual is a member of a community, that is his natural state.[viii] His community is in partnership with others for the common good. John C. Calhoun warned repeatedly that a strong central government without subsidiarity would invariably lead to these sorts of conflicts.[ix] Thus we find ourselves faced with an event we cannot define, partially because we listen to sophists, in a crisis we do not understand, leaving us to discuss balancing liberty with security while applying no philosophic principles other than flawed concepts of man and nature – individuality and fear.[x]

Parloff is not alone in his mistakes and errors, the central theme of all such pieces is their failure to understand that liberalism, progressivism, and individualism is bound to end in authoritarianism and tyranny.[xi] He has framed the wrong question and has failed to ask what role other institutions should play in an event like this to ensure common-good[xii] and morality and virtue at the local level. Instead, he assumes that the individual and the central government are the only actors, an assumption that if true, will invariably lead to the individual losing.

[i] See, Parloff, Roger., “The Coronavirus Crisis Threatens 2020 Voting Rights, Abortion, Other Civil Liberties, Watchdogs Say”, Newsweek, Monday, April 06, 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/coronavirus-crisis-threatens-2020-voting-rights-abortion-other-civil-liberties-watchdogs-say-1496304

[ii] See as one example, Fernadez, Stacey,. “Texas gun stores are essential businesses, may stay open during the pandemic, attorney general says”, The Texas Tribune, March 27, 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/27/texas-ag-says-gun-stories-are-essential-businesses-during-coronavirus/

[iii] See, “The Pelagian Controversy”, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/pelagian-controversy/

[iv] See, McDonald, Forrest., “Was the Fourteenth Amendment Constitutionally Adopted?”,  The Annotated Secessionist Papers, Second Edition, Abbeville: The Calhoun Institute, 2018, https://books.google.com/books?id=-jVhDwAAQBAJ. pp. 41-60. Dr. McDonald presents an argument that the 14th Amendment was not ratified in accordance with law or convention. This one amendment is the foundation of much left-liberal, progressive and libertarian-conservative ideology yet, it does not comport with de jure law.

[v] It is impossible, simply because the data related to COVID19 is all over the map and ‘experts’ have been wrong at each step to know what the true nature of this virus is and the implications of that. Marcus Aurelius warned in Mediations, Book X, “Focus on what nature demands, as if you were governed by that alone. Then do that, and accept it, unless your nature as a living being would be degraded by it. Then focus on what that nature demands, and accept that too—unless your nature as a rational being would be degraded by it.” The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. United Kingdom, Routledge, 1894. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Meditations_of_Marcus_Aurelius/5qcAEZZibB0C.

[vi] Strauss, Leo, Cropsey, Joseph. History of Political Philosophy. United States, University of Chicago Press, 2012. p. 134. https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Political_Philosophy/E7mScxst9UoC.

[vii] Organized religion, State and local government, business and trade organizations, fraternal and community based organizations – all have had a traditional and historic role in both protecting and nurturing communities and people locally but in allowing people, through voluntary organization to take care of themselves. Liberalism in the west has replaces all f this with Government and the individual.

[viii] Strauss, Leo, Cropsey, Joseph. History of Political Philosophy. p. 121.

[ix] Cheek, H. Lee. Calhoun and Popular Rule: The Political Theory of the Disquisition and Discourse. United States: University of Missouri Press, 2004. p. 156. https://amzn.to/2w3agBE

[x] See previous argument, “How Locke and Hobbes Were Wrong: State of Nature”, http://barryclark.info/how-locke-and-hobbes-were-wrong-state-of-nature/.

[xi] See previous argument, “From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism”, http://barryclark.info/from-radical-progressivism-to-authoritarianism/ or Clark, Barry, From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism (December 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3506918

[xii] See previous argument, “Government for the Common Good”, https://calhouninstitute.com/government-for-the-common-good/

The Role of Religion, Morality, and Worldview in Public Policy

Everyone has a worldview. Many hold to a ‘religion’ even if it is not theistic and almost all individuals in society adhere to some form of morality. Thus, religion, morality and worldview always shape public policy.  The central question then becomes, particularly in a pluralistic representative republic, what role does the traditional and conventional views on morality and worldview play on public policy and should these views be considered salutary and preferred.  

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It is inarguable that everyone holds a worldview. Religious views, theistic and non-theistic, are ubiquitous. Everyone among us, even the most immoral and those whose morality is based upon nothing more than self-interest, have a moral view. Therefore, religion, worldview, and morality are the key inputs to public policy development because these views and their variations fundamentally shape the entirety of how one views the world. Necessarily, the central question before us centers on the role that traditional and conventional views play in public policy creation.

Science, or empiricism, requires ‘religious’ faith to account for something arising from nothing.[i] Big History, an academic and ideological movement that attempts to paint a thematic metanarrative from creation to consciousness, is an organized attempt to synthesize this ‘faith’ into a counter-narrative to traditional religious stories. [ii] Modernism shapes views of morality and religion toward progressivism and Monotheistic Therapeutic Deism.[iii] Postmodernism denies metanarratives entirely and defines truth as being subjective.[iv] All three of these worldviews require faith, adhere to elements of dogma and in some cases have features of doctrine, they influence their adherents' views of public policy as much as a Christian, Muslim or Jewish view.

What value should these newer worldviews hold relative to the traditional and conventional positions of a people of a nation? What role does, or should, the permanent things of a people play in shaping policy? Christians understand that man is fallen and all ideas, idealism, and constructs of man are imperfect. (Romans 5:12) Russell Kirk argued that permeant things are “those elements in the human condition that give us our nature, without which we are as the beasts that perish.” [v] One could argue that Christianity is a permanent thing of American culture.[vi] If we accept the arguments of Edmund Burke, as paraphrased by Kirk, we must take into account the history, the moral order, the resources, and prospects in all that government is and does.[vii] History, tradition, and convention are, therefore, important. America’s four-hundred plus year history is replete with significant examples of Christian influence. Our traditions and conventions deriving from our British heritage of culture, language and law is a Christian heritage. Therefore, not only is it important for a Christian worldview to have input into the creation of public policy, it is arguable that such a position should be privileged if we want a culture and a government for the common-good that aligns with tradition and convention.[viii]

@onlyBarryLClark

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[i] See previous argument that “Nothing comes from nothing’, http://barryclark.info/first-principles-axioms-and-syllogisms/

[ii] See, Behmand, Mojgan., "Big History and the Goals of Liberal Education." In Teaching Big History, edited by Behmand Mojgan, Simon Richard B., and Burke Thomas, 21-26. University of California Press, 2015. Accessed April 4, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt9qh2dw.8. And “Gates’ Big History Project Closes Young Minds to God”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/08/big-history-project-closed-to-god.html

[iii] Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. United States: Fordham University Press, 2009. p. 9.

[iv] David W. Scott, Lecture on postmodernity, THiC, Boston University, May 3, 2011. http://blogs.bu.edu/dscott/files/2011/05/Lecture-on-postmodernity-David-Wm-Scott.pdf

[v] Kirk, R. 1969. Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormality in Literature and Politics. Arlington House. https://books.google.com/books?id=xLCBAAAAMAAJ . And “The Permanent Things”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/02/russell-kirk-the-permanent-things.html

[vi] See previous argument, Clark, Barry., The Philosophy of Commonsense: A Cultural War Primer, Abbeville: The Calhoun Institute, 2019, https://books.google.com/books?id=CK6-DwAAQBAJ. As well as, DeMar, Gary. America's Christian Heritage. United States: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.

[vii] Kirk, Russell. Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered. United States: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ORD), 2014. And “Edmund Burke and the Constitution”, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2012/05/russell-kirk-edmund-burke-and-constitution.html

[viii] See previous argument, “Government for the Common Good”, https://calhouninstitute.com/government-for-the-common-good/