WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO MAKE AMERICA AMERICA AGAIN?

When I started to write this post, it occurred to me that I would not likely be the first to call to make America America again. So I wondered what others might have said.

Perhaps the most recent call came in a speech at the Republican National Convention by Scott Baio.

Did Baio  say anything wonderfully profound? Not really, at least not apparently. Yet consider these words.

But for you first-time voters, it’s important for you to know what it means to be an American. It doesn’t mean getting free stuff.  It means sacrificing. Winning. Losing. Failing. Succeeding. And sometimes doing the things you don’t want to do — including the hard work — in order to get where you want to be. And that’s what it means to be an American. (from here)

Why would Baio say this is what it means to be an American? Well, America has never been what it promised to be and yet…

In his Essays on Political Economy, Frédéric Bastiat speaks of the Unites States (or America) as a good example. Nevertheless, even in his day Bastiat (1801 – 1850) had to admit that Americans perverted the Law and used it to engage in legal plunder.

Is there any need to prove that this odious perversion of law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord,–that it even tends to social disorganisation? Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain–which is, to secure to every one his liberty and his property. Therefore, there is no country in the world where social order appears to rest upon a more solid basis. Nevertheless, even in the United States, there are two questions, and only two, which from the beginning have endangered political order. And what are these two questions? That of slavery and that of tariffs; that is, precisely the only two questions in which, contrary to the general spirit of this republic, law has taken the character of a plunderer. Slavery is a violation, sanctioned by law, of the rights of the person. Protection is a violation perpetrated by the law upon the rights of property; and certainly it is very remarkable that, in the midst of so many other debates, this double legal scourge, the sorrowful inheritance of the Old World, should be the only one which can, and perhaps will, cause the rupture of the Union. Indeed, a more astounding fact, in the heart of society, cannot be conceived than this:–That law should have become an instrument of injustice. And if this fact occasions consequences so formidable to the United States, where there is but one exception, what must it be with us in Europe, where it is a principle–a system? (from here)

As Bastiat observed, the issue of slavery endangered the political order. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, contesting for a Senate seat in Illinois, participated in a series of debates (The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858). Their debates centered on the subject of slavery, and that issue brought Lincoln to national attention. Even though Lincoln lost his bid for that Senate seat to Douglas, his nation noticed what he had said, and eventually the people elected him their president.

Much of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates focused on the meaning of a certain phrase in the Declaration of Independence.

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. (from here)

When the Founders wrote those words and put their signature on the declaration, what men did they mean to say were equal? How were those men equal? In the last debate, Lincoln offered his opinion.

“I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, or yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.

“They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all: constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, every where.” (from here)

What then is the purpose of government — the purpose of the law? Bastiat provided this definition of “law.”

What is law? What ought it to be? What is its domain? What are its limits? Where, in fact, does the prerogative of the legislator stop?

I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common force organised to prevent injustice;–in short, Law is Justice.

It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property, since they pre-exist, and his work is only to secure them from injury.

It is not true that the mission of the law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our will, our education, our sentiments, our works, our exchanges, our gifts, our enjoyments. Its mission is to prevent the rights of one from interfering with those of another, in any one of these things.

Law, because it has force for its necessary sanction, can only have as its lawful domain the domain of force, which is justice.

And as every individual has a right to have recourse to force only in cases of lawful defence, so collective force, which is only the union of individual forces, cannot be rationally used for any other end.

The law, then, is solely the organisation of individual rights, which existed before legitimate defence.

Law is justice.

So far from being able to oppress the persons of the people, or to plunder their property, even for a philanthropic end, its mission is to protect the former, and to secure to them the possession of the latter.

It must not be said, either, that it may be philanthropic, so long as it abstains from all oppression; for this is a contradiction. The law cannot avoid acting upon our persons and property; if it does not secure them, it violates them if it touches them.

The law is justice. (from here)

In addition to Scott Baio’s speech, Google turned up an old poem. Langston Hughes wrote it 1935. The poem speaks of his desire — his longing —  to participate in the American dream.

Let America be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the black man bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the black man, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The abuse and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again

 

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20 thoughts on “WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO MAKE AMERICA AMERICA AGAIN?

  1. Great leaders will possess wisdom, good sense, and provide hope for their subjects. They will have the ability to express reality and instill within their followers an exhilarating feeling that it is good to be alive for both themselves and their posterity, their tree of life. The better their leader, the greater will be the achievements of his subjects. A leader that draws out and frustrates hopes and desires will lose the morale of his followers that will result in a sickness to end their desire to bear children, their tree of life.” Hope long drawn out is a sickness of the mind, but realized desire is a tree of life. (Proverb 13:12)

    CDC on suicides 2015 in America

    http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.PDF

    Perhaps hope in America is being drawn out? You decide.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would not surprise me much. However, I doubt the management of Face book cares about Citizen Tom.

      I seriously doubt anyone has a security concern with this blog. I have not encouraged anyone to harm anyone else. At worst, Face Book has some kind of spam filtering system that some “tolerance activists” have abused. Copy and paste will probably get you around that sort of silliness.

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        1. Well, I don’t have much to do with Face Book, but lots of good people do. Thank you for taking the time to undo the “works” of those who would self-righteously silence the voices of others.

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  2. Stephen

    “Law is common force organised to prevent injustice;–in short, Law is Justice.” No. Bastiat confuses the effect of the thing with the thing itself. I am reminded of Plato just now. He is listing the product of justice rather than its essence. What this creates is legal relativism. Law being justice itself means that whatever is law is just, which is absurd.

    Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by someone who has care of the community, and promulgated. Justice is love serving God alone.

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    1. You are reminded of Plato –by Bastiat? You? Plato imagined a society ruled by philosopher kings. How are you so different? Like Plato you too would use the Law to experiment with other people’s lives.

      Does Bastiat confuse the effect of the thing with the thing itself? No. When Bastiat says the Law is Justice, we must consider how he defined that brief phrase.

      I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common force organised to prevent injustice;–in short, Law is Justice.

      The Law, then, is a tool intended for a special purpose. When is this tool used appropriately?

      Law, because it has force for its necessary sanction, can only have as its lawful domain the domain of force, which is justice.

      And as every individual has a right to have recourse to force only in cases of lawful defence, so collective force, which is only the union of individual forces, cannot be rationally used for any other end.

      The law, then, is solely the organisation of individual rights, which existed before legitimate defence.

      Law is justice.

      Unfortunately, when some see the power of the Law, they are so busy imagining what they might do with that power they set aside the problem of its ethical use.

      So far from being able to oppress the persons of the people, or to plunder their property, even for a philanthropic end, its mission is to protect the former, and to secure to them the possession of the latter.

      It must not be said, either, that it may be philanthropic, so long as it abstains from all oppression; for this is a contradiction. The law cannot avoid acting upon our persons and property; if it does not secure them, it violates them if it touches them.

      The law is justice.

      Instead of using the Law to unjustly design a perfect society, Bastiat saw the function of the Law — as required by Justice — as protecting the right of each individual to pursue their own definition of happiness, not a definition chosen by someone else.

      Bastiat’s work defined a logical conundrum for socialist schemes such as yours. Such are inherently unjust. You have pointlessly attacked his philosophy, but you cannot defend your own. You have it because you cannot.

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      1. Stephen

        “Plato imagined a society ruled by philosopher kings.” Plato was talking about justice the whole time. But I see you buy into Mark Levin’s frankly ignorant interpretation. The question of what Justice is in itself or its essence was the central question and the whole reason for the dialogue and the allegories. It wasn’t the proposed Athenian Constitution.

        Yes, Bastiat gives a synthesis of Glaucon and Thrasymachus’s positions. He synthesizes the social contract of Glaucon with the will of the stronger of Thrasymachus. Neither actually address the nature of justice but merely how it is popularly perceived. What we learn from Plato is that Justice is a sort of ordering, not the law as some force.

        Bastiat says that law is plenty of things except what it is. I say that law is an ordinance of reason i.e. a thing that orders a another according to right reason. It is not a mystical force that acts, but an existing and enduring structure or order of things according to right reason.

        Bastiat opens the door for the very tyranny he decries by equating law, specifically perceptions of the natural law and positive law, as justice per se. Such is the folly of the French.

        He is able to create such conundrums because he argues from a false premise i.e. that there is not a universal destination of goods. But then what can you expect from an atheist Freemason? Of course he denies the ethics inherent in any economy and of course he views Charity to be a personal calling with respect to personal piety rather than the universal calling to holiness based in man’s nature as man. It is necessary for him to ignore man’s destiny because if he were to take such things into account, he would find himself supporting mankind’s debasement.

        The ONLY way for Bastiat to argue the things he does it to deny what is truly human about us. He can ONLY arrive at his conclusions if he ignores man’s universal and fraternal destiny and reduces him to the sum of his material possessions. He can ONLY argue the way he does because he accepts that life, liberty, and property are ends in themselves rather than things granted for specific ends.

        It is becoming more apparent to me that you are just parroting things Mark Levin writes about, witless hack that he is. Bastiat is a liberal, plain and simple. You can make all the distinctions you like about the differences between today’s liberals and yesterday’s liberals, but they are all the same; they all stem from the same ridiculous notion that any of this stuff, namely life, liberty, and property, were for our sole benefit and benefice. No Christian could hold the proposition that any of his property is truly his without first denying to God all that he has and further denying that it was God that gave it to them. This is the great liberal falsehood i.e. that man attains anything of his own by his own artifice for his own enjoyment. This whole lie that self-interest is irrevocable and irresistible part of human nature that should be cultivated and guided toward the benefit of mankind is the worst sort of ungodliness. It is saying that success can come to anyone by being selfish and greedy. It denies man’s true nature i.e. a being of selflessness as personified by Christ.

        Bastiat repudiates the testimony of the cross like all other liberals. He endeavors to force it under the bushel basket of individualism, destroying the very essence of the Gospel charge as a universal calling, not a personal one.

        If you wish to draw inspiration from frankly satanic men, that is your business. Just don’t pretend that they advocate anything remotely akin to morality. It is a sick and twisted morality that deems man to be enslaved to his passions that indulging them is deemed good. It mock the Gospel, the witness of the martyrs, and even the very sacrifice of Christ. No thing ascribing to the cancer that is liberalism can properly apprehend true morality since liberalism is opposed to the Gospel. It is a sickness that further perverts and distorts Truth until it is unrecognizable.

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      2. Stephen

        I have defended my own and quite admirably if I am allowed to boast for a minute. You seem to be under the impression that your put downs accurately reflect my philosophy. As I have related ad nauseum, they do not and are the personal prejudices you bear against your blue liberal cousins.

        Time and time again, you present straw man after straw man, often without even realizing that I refute the very thing you accuse me of. If I had truly not defended my arguments, you might have been able to give an accurate account of what they are. In every instance, you fall into the same refrains, the same caricatures, the same rhetoric you use for anyone who disagrees with you regardless of their actual position. It is as if you see those who agree with you as agreeing completely with you and those who disagree in the slightest to be completely foreign. I have seen it happen time and time again to myself and others. In short, you don’t really seem to know how to argue.

        You take my opposition to Bastiat as some endorsement of socialism. The only place, in truth, where I have advocated socialism is in your mind. But since I disagree with you over the goodness of liberalism–it is a cancer–then I MUST be some other sort of liberal. What you don’t seem to understand is that I reject ALL liberalism, both red and blue. It is a cancer and I reject it utterly. You are not dealing with your old dichotomy. I don’t FIT in your dichotomy. You are used to debating with other liberals, people who accept the same lazy and selfish metaphysics as yourself. In other words, you seem to know only how to debate with blue liberals from a red liberal perspective. To me, who rejects both positions having rejected their common first principles and all liberalism, it is like seeing Tweedledee and Tweedledum arguing. In name alone are they different. To be perfectly honest, you are no different to me than the socialists you decry. You are both excesses on the mean, so to speak.

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        1. @Stephen

          Mere denial does not refute anything, no matter how many words you use.

          You say you are not a Socialist. Yet you in fact would use the government to redistribute the wealth. Hence, you accept the basic principle.

          From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.

          You would just use a different scheme than the Democrats and try to base it on a Catholic interpretation of the Bible.

          As this Wiki article suggests, what you propose is not a new idea. => https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_socialism

          The mere fact God commands us to love each other does not justify the use of government force to force us to “love” each other.

          Check out => https://citizentom.com/2016/09/13/the-battlefield-for-everybodys-dreams-and-everybodys-covetousness/

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        2. Stephen

          If I only gave mere denials then perhaps you would have an argument. As such, I have given persistent and consistent arguments for a philosophy that is wholly departed from your liberalism. Do you not recall my long discourses on how the central premises of liberalism, especially Classical Liberalism, were false? I will do so again. They are false. They place the determination of objective realities into a sphere they were never intended i.e. man’s. You exemplify the liberal ideal with this statement from your most recent post.

          “Instead of each of us pursuing our own definition of happiness, Socialism creates a battlefield, a bloody field of strife within we each strive to impose our own values upon each other.”

          If each person is free to define happiness, then you have no argument against state recognition of gay marriage, no argument against abortion, no argument against anything whatsoever. To place any value on anything would go against your very statement and the foundations of liberalism. You would be attempting to impose a value on something that another does not. Even now, you attempt to force a value on socialism that is contrary to another person’s. You do the EXACT thing that you decry and expect to be considered wise for saying.

          Nietzsche was right about the Enlightenment. By placing those things proper to God i.e. the legislation of the natural law in the hands of men and men alone, by rejecting the patrimony of the past, by forcing out the influence of religion, they created a philosophy based on whim. With nothing to ground them except their own theory about the natural law as the axiomatic basis for their proposals, their systems are based solely in themselves and nothing else.

          Take your favored son Bastiat. He make no argument proving any of his axioms about nature. He just states them and expects you to do the same. He argues with socialists because they are his nearest kin, arguing from the same misconceptions about nature.

          But I reject liberalism and its attempts to make man the autocrat of objective principles like happiness. Happiness is found in God. God, being an unchanging principle, cannot have any variation. Thus, whatever someone seeks that is not stemming from the Divine IS NOT HAPPINESS.

          I understand that this will rankle your liberal sensibilities. I understand that you will then accuse me of imposing my morals on others. Except that I am not so arrogant. These aren’t my principles. If I accept that there is a God who created the natural world and set its laws, then it is HIS imposition, not mine. It is by virtue of the fact of God’s immutability that happiness–found in virtue and not in the satisfaction of the passions as you liberal libertines would have it, enslaving man to himself–is an unchanging principle that all men seek and all men commonly hold as their end.

          This view is wholly incompatible with socialism since it RELIES on the liberal premise you hold i.e. that man can determine his own happiness. Man cannot determine what happiness is. He can only come to the understanding of what it is and that ultimately means accepting God.

          But you liberals desire to shut God away into the personal spheres and refuse to allow him to govern your politics. Liberalism is, at its very core, godless and satanic. It attempts to create a dualism in man that never existed, to make a religious man and a political man by forcing all religious precepts into the private life. This is why Christian Socialism and its father Classical Liberalism is antithetical to our position. The “redistribution” of wealth is not based on some idiotic notion of equality that your spiritual lieges dreamed up so that they could sleep with women and leave the babies out in the wilderness–I reference Rousseau’s ridiculous “state of nature” that denies the plain truth of the Gospel by reducing man to something he never was and never will be–or other such foolishness. It is based on the common origin of man i.e. being the creation and image of the Divine. From this basic principle, all our other principles flow.

          No man’s dignity is respected if he is kept on the dole and has no private property for himself. We base our “redistribution” on the basis that “the right of property and of ownership, which springs from nature itself, must not be touched and stands inviolate” not the doctrines of liberalism that all men should have everything in equal measure.

          Thus, any assistance given through the state is for one sole object: so that the human person can attain private property for himself. There is no leveling the playing field. There is no sustaining poverty. If this is not the object of a program, it must be altered or abolished.

          The problem you seem to have is that you cannot perceive any position that rejects the principles of liberalism that you and the socialists share. Hence, when I speak of government intervention in the limited and dispersed method based on the principles expressed, you have no choice but to call it socialist because anything outside the illness of Liberalism is seemingly beyond your ken. Thus, you approach it as if I share the same false axioms of your chosen patron saints of a backwards philosophy.

          At length you decry liberalism and extol conservatism as if the liberalism you decry and the conservatism you extol were not brothers from the same illegitimate son of Western Civilization: Liberalism. Time and again I point out that your blue liberal cousins believe in the same first principles, the same false axioms, and the same dogmatic adherence to principles contrary to reason and Christianity itself. Despite the common parentage, you insist on quarreling with your political siblings and when the rightful heirs to the patrimony of the West come along, you attempt to hurl them into your family feud.

          You cannot be so unaware of the history of philosophy to see that the Classical Liberals of the Enlightenment attempted to create an epistemology of morality apart from religious precept. Locke did it. Hobbes did it. Kant did it with gusto. All failed and all planted the seeds of our present difficulties with the cancer of their Liberalism slowly but surely debasing the very dignity of man.

          The fact that you approach Plato the way you do underscores the illegitimacy of the modern conservative patrimony to the patrimony of Western Civilization. For anyone to take the Republic to be a literal constitutional proposal ignores the literary devices of the author and the point of the whole work. Modern conservatism, by and large, follows the same ideal of their liberal brothers by addressing each text according to their own will and purpose rather than learning the lessons the text seeks to impart. Nothing about the forms, nothing about virtue, just further ammunition for the advancement of Liberalism.

          Indeed, Liberalism MUST destroy tradition and philosophical continuity. It is essential to its survival. If the ancient writers are not manipulated and coerced into being either red or blue, they must be forgotten lest their wisdom show the inherent folly of Liberalism.

          You are not dealing with a Liberal, sir. You are dealing with a Christian Democrat and a true conservative.

          Again, we are Christian Democrats, not Christian Socialists. The former culmination of the Western philosophic patrimony and the latter is an oxymoron. The difference is quite striking. Pope Leo XIII puts the difference more eloquently than I.

          “What Social Democracy is and what Christian Democracy ought to be, assuredly no one can doubt. The first, with due consideration to the greater or less intemperance of its utterance, is carried to such an excess by many as to maintain that there is really nothing existing above the natural order of things, and that the acquirement and enjoyment of corporal and external goods constitute man’s happiness. It aims at putting all government in the hands of the masses, reducing all ranks to the same level, abolishing all distinction of class, and finally introducing community of goods. Hence, the right to own private property is to be abrogated, and whatever property a man possesses, or whatever means of livelihood he has, is to be common to all.

          “As against this, Christian Democracy, by the fact that it is Christian, is built, and necessarily so, on the basic principles of divine faith, and it must provide better conditions for the masses, with the ulterior object of promoting the perfection of souls made for things eternal. Hence, for Christian Democracy, justice is sacred; it must maintain that the right of acquiring and possessing property cannot be impugned, and it must safeguard the various distinctions and degrees which are indispensable in every well-ordered commonwealth. Finally, it must endeavor to preserve in every human society the form and the character which God ever impresses on it. It is clear, therefore, that there in nothing in common between Social and Christian Democracy. They differ from each other as much as the sect of socialism differs from the profession of Christianity”

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        3. @Stephen

          I have no interest in arguing with the pope. So I will address your words, not his.

          What you advocate is Socialism, or Statism if you prefer. When we let others make their own decisions for themselves, we don’t have to approve of their decisions. On the other hand, to give the government the power to define “happiness” for each of us is to give the government absolute control over every person, every place, and every thing. That is Totalitarianism (Socialism at its most extreme) part and parcel.

          Bastiat does not use the expression, but he argues for Classical Liberalism. Why doesn’t Bastiat argue his case based upon religion? Well, what you said is not exactly true.

          Nature, or rather God, has bestowed upon every one of us the right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property, since these are the three constituent or preserving elements of life; elements, each of which is rendered complete by the others, and cannot be understood without them. For what are our faculties, but the extension of our personality? and what is property, but an extension of our faculties? (from => http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15962/15962-h/15962-h.htm#e5)

          So Bastiat does mention God. He also attacks his opponent’s gods.

          The basis of Bastiat’s argument is justice. An explanation of what is just and what is unjust doesn’t require a bunch of Biblical citations. We innately know the difference. It is Socialism, Statism, or thievery that requires lots of emotion loaded sophistry to aid self-deception.

          What sort of self-deception?

          I understand that this will rankle your liberal sensibilities. I understand that you will then accuse me of imposing my morals on others. Except that I am not so arrogant. These aren’t my principles. If I accept that there is a God who created the natural world and set its laws, then it is HIS imposition, not mine.

          If God needed you to impose what you think are His values upon everyone else, would He be God?

          How does God impose His laws? Well, if you have a fear of falling, I expect you know about the Law of Gravity. That’s why we use stairs or elevators to move between the floors of a tall building.

          When we break God’s laws, God punishes with the consequences. For example, laziness is rewarded with hunger, a lack of clothing, and the absence of shelter. So what do those who don’t want to work do? They steal from others, or they enslave others. Those who think themselves truly clever use the government to steal for them. Whether they steal on their own or use the government, thieves live by the sword. Thus, thievery just brings on another set of consequences.

          Does putting “Christian” in front of Socialism make it right to use the government to steal? You know it does not. So you say your philosophy is different, but all you have done is put lipstick on a pig.

          When Moses ruled the Hebrews in God’s name, God left no doubt who was calling the shots. Moses was a wonderful fellow, but he was just a servant. He did as God bid him to do, or he got in trouble.

          Because God has already demonstrated to us quite well that it does not work, the time has passed when men ruled in His name. Because God repeated the experiment many times, the Bible provides multiple records of the lesson. The Law does not save. On our own we cannot obey the Law.

          So what does save? We are saved through faith in the Savior, not the Law. With His life, death and resurrection, Jesus left us an example of voluntary obedience. If we love Jesus, we will obey His commands. If we do not love Jesus, then we do not have saving faith.

          Did Jesus leave us with any authority to define happiness for each other? No. Jesus did not leave us a political system of any sort, not even one based upon subsidiarity and solidarity.

          Jesus commanded us to spread HIS Gospel and make disciples. He told us to love each other. He did not tell us to boss each other around in HIS name. Love must be given voluntarily or it is not love.

          Consider how angry you are with me. You make me out to be godless and Satanic. You sound more like a radical Muslim than a Christian, but that’s where the logic of your Christian Socialism leads.

          Does your “Christian” theocracy give you the “right” to impose your values upon others? You have said it does. After all, someone has to tell us what sort of happiness it is that God approves. So I ask. Where in the Bible does our Lord gave us any such authority? Who decides what principles are God’s principles?

          On the other hand, the Bible tells Christians not to judge each other.

          Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

          4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

          Jesus is the way, not any form of government. Instead of Christian Socialism, which requires us to abuse the rights of our neighbors, our job is to set the best example we can of Christian love. Our job is to help others learn about Christ.

          Government is not the church. It is our creation. It is the church that is the body of Christ.

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        4. Stephen

          “I have no interest in arguing with the pope. So I will address your words, not his.” Seeing as I am using the Pope as you use Bastiat i.e. the philosophical basis for my opinion, then ignoring him is essentially ignoring my actual position…again.

          “What you advocate is Socialism, or Statism if you prefer.” And here we have the fruit of your seemingly willful disregard of my philosophical first principles as expressed by Leo. You, again, paint me into the corner that you can actually argue against with the talking points you got from a Mark Levin book.

          “When we break God’s laws, God punishes with the consequences.” This is hilariously contrary to the Gospel. What sin did Bartimaeus commit to be born blind? If laziness or sloth as it is defined in Scripture truly leads to hunger, then you have implicitly repudiated Bastiat’s contention that the idle man living off interest is justified. If lack of work truly should result in hunger, then a massive injustice has been wrought by those who live on interest and do not work. They are essentially cheating what you call God’s punishment

          “On the other hand, to give the government the power to define “happiness” for each of us is to give the government absolute control over every person, every place, and every thing.” If you had actually given my position any due consideration, you would have noticed the bit where I stated that happiness is an objective principle beyond the power of any man or man-made entity to define. You say that man can define happiness for himself. You say that socialists want the state to define happiness. I say that happiness is something outside of man that all men must come to know, not come to define. What you suggest is some hippie “find your own path” philosophy that is the pipe dream of arrogant boomers. I will reiterate just so I am perfectly clear. NO MAN can define happiness. Happiness is already defined. That is what an objective principle IS. It is something that has a definition outside the defining powers of man.

          “The basis of Bastiat’s argument is justice.” And as I said before, he does not treat with justice qua justice but the affectation of justice i.e. law. Furthermore, Bastiat’s reduction of justice to be the defense of liberty and property is decidedly insular and contrary to the very nature of justice. Justice is, necessarily, relational. Bastiat makes it personal. Justice is always concerned with how one relates to another. Bastiat set it as some protective circle that wards off the various demons he despises. Whereas the Gospel plainly shows Justice to be a virtue to be practiced, Bastiat merely says it is leaving people alone. If Bastiat were to stand up among the congregation of the gods–I refer to Psalm 82–he would likely praise them for their inaction rather than their lack of justice. Indeed, he would likely extol Sodom for their lack of interference into the lives of its citizens instead of listing their multiple sins. If justice is law and law is force as you have quoted him saying, then the Melian dialogue proves true. Since we are free to define, according to odious liberal principles, such things as justice and happiness for ourselves, what is to prevent us to redefine property? Ah, no you will say, property is plainly defined in some axiom I can’t prove. And there is the difference between us. I contend that the metaphysical principles that govern all things are fixed and definite while material concerns are in flux while you contend that such metaphysical realities are subject to the definitions of man but the material realities are firmly established doctrines that one must accept on face value. In other words, your philosophies are based on crass materialism which is the necessary consequence of making man into a god as you have done.

          “It is Socialism, Statism, or thievery that requires lots of emotion loaded sophistry to aid self-deception.” And how much did I use to tear down the lies of liberalism? Surely it was not when I showed that liberalism considers no god to be real except man. Surely it was not when I showed that all liberalism is inherently and irrevocably selfish and contrary to the Gospel. Surely it was not when I proved that liberalism is naturally atheistic and even anti-theist in terms of political philosophy.

          “Does putting “Christian” in front of Socialism make it right to use the government to steal? You know it does not. So you say your philosophy is different, but all you have done is put lipstick on a pig.” Seeing as we are Christian Democrats and not Christian Socialist as I already said at length and gave significant difference between the two, this is a pointless accusation. Your failure to see the massive differences likely stem from your ignoring our first principles as expressed by Leo and instead still regard us a liberal like yourself.

          “We are saved through faith in the Savior, not the Law. With His life, death and resurrection, Jesus left us an example of voluntary obedience. If we love Jesus, we will obey His commands. If we do not love Jesus, then we do not have saving faith.” Seeing as this is the basis of our political philosophy, I really have a hard time believing you are actually reading what I write.

          “No. Jesus did not leave us a political system of any sort, not even one based upon subsidiarity and solidarity.
          Jesus commanded us to spread HIS Gospel and make disciples. He told us to love each other. He did not tell us to boss each other around in HIS name. Love must be given voluntarily or it is not love.” Well he did actually. Since politics is merely the relations between people living in a common area and living according to a common law for the common good of the community, Christ absolutely gave a political system. To say otherwise is to believe that the Gospel message is supposed to be under the bushel baskets that men like Bastiat and Locke put it. There is not a limit to where the Gospel is supposed to be applied and that include government.

          “Consider how angry you are with me. You make me out to be godless and Satanic. You sound more like a radical Muslim than a Christian, but that’s where the logic of your Christian Socialism leads.” Angry? No. Incredulous as to how you could continue to gloss over every point I make and draw the same conclusion that somehow someone who rejects every first principle required for a socialist to accept can then be a socialist. I make you out to be nothing. I do, however, will pull no punches as to what liberalism is. It is a departure from the patrimony of Western philosophy and, in its very essence and first principles, opposed to God and his Divine and Natural laws. He wrote those laws on our hearts and gave Christ as an example unto them. If we are to accept the premises of liberalism, then whatever God wrote is up to us to define and Christ sacrifice means nothing except what we believe it to be. If this is not atheism then I can find no better example. It is the worst sort of atheism because it pretends to believe in God, but only in a God of their own making. This is liberalism in all its satanic glory. It is the ultimate non servum because it not only says that God will not be served, but that God will serve man and his philosophies.

          “Does your “Christian” theocracy give you the “right” to impose your values upon others? You have said it does. After all, someone has to tell us what sort of happiness it is that God approves.” So basing one’s political beliefs on rational principles illuminated by the light of Faith is somehow a theocracy? How like the atheists you sound who desire the removal of God from every public edifice. Only the edifice that liberalism seeks to erase God from is all political activity, creating a false dichotomy between man in church and man in government. Man is man no matter where he is and is bound by the Divine and Natural laws wherever he is and in whatever capacity.

          “Where in the Bible does our Lord gave us any such authority? Who decides what principles are God’s principles?” If you are really going to make that argument, then you have given into the arguments against Christian opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and a plethora of other evils. If we cannot determine what the Divine and Natural laws are and affect them in our lives, then issuing them was pointless.

          https://aspva.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/seeking-solidarity-against-the-liberal-critics/

          https://aspva.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/seeking-solidarity-against-the-liberal-critics/

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        5. @Stephen

          Actually, you are not quoting the Pope the way I am quoting Bastiat. I am not quoting Bastiat out of context. I am not quoting a former leader of one of the world’s great churches daring others to disagree. I am just quoting the thoughtful, well-considered words of a good man and saying two things: (1) I agree with him, and (2) what he wrote in 1850 is still true today.

          Does God punish sin? Is all suffering due to sin? Those are two distinctly different questions. When we speak of the man who was born blind and healed by Jesus, we speak of a man who suffered, but he did not suffer from blindness because of his sins or his parents’ sins. He suffered for Adam’s and Eve’s sin.

          What about us? Do we suffer for our sins? Do our children suffer for our sins? Well, consider the answer to this question. What would it be like to live a life filled with hatred instead of love? Can you imagine living in a society where the Ten Commandments are mocked and broken with enthusiasm? There are such places, and any sensible, good soul seeks escape. That is because sin is self destructive and destructive to the people around the sinner. So it is that when we sin, we make a little Hell for ourselves.

          Nevertheless, because you do not understand economics, you condemn interest, and you would put the government in the business of stealing. When you are obviously well educated, what is your excuse for being so ignorant of economics? If you have any excuse, it is our government. That government never bothered to teach you.

          Read the work by Bastiat that I have quoted. He explains the purpose of money and the role of interest in our economy. Neither money nor interest are unjust. These are just tools, and like any other tool money and interest can be abused. Even a plowshare can be beaten into a sword, and that sword can be used to defend the peace or plunder.

          So it is a interest can abused by loan sharks, and governments can create money by fiat and then manipulate the currency.

          What about happiness? Is it already defined? By God? Yes, but you ain’t God, and neither am I. We each have our own right and obligation to decide for ourselves how our Lord wants us to live.

          Is justice relational? Bastiat never said it wasn’t. He just did not propose to set himself up as God. That is the basic difference between the Classical Liberal and the Statist or Socialist. Bastiat argues for a definition of justice that involves respecting each others God-given rights. What the Statist or the Socialist demands is a government that gives us our rights. What the Socialist or Statist refuses to understand is that when we demand our “rights” from the government, that government will eventually become tyrannical and enslave us.

          Consider. What is really the sum total of your argument? If I don’t want a government that runs our lives and insists that we all behave like Christians, then I must be an Atheist? Even though you do not claim to be one, there are actually plenty of Liberal Democrats who make the same sort of argument.

          Let’s settle on refuting what you said at the end.

          If you are really going to make that argument, then you have given into the arguments against Christian opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and a plethora of other evils. If we cannot determine what the Divine and Natural laws are and affect them in our lives, then issuing them was pointless.

          How does the Classical Liberal deal with the problem of “gay marriage”? Since the word “gay” actually has nothing to do with homosexuality, I prefer to use the expression “same-sex marriage”. How can two people of the same sex be married? Well, for reasons that should be obvious, the tradition definition of marriage renders “same-sex marriage” an oxymoron. That’s why homosexual activists argue that “same-sex marriage” is a right. They know that changing the definition of marriage would force people to examine just exactly what marriage involves, two people of the opposite sex joining together to have and raise children.

          The key is children. Government does not have an interest in condoning fornication, but it does have an interest in protecting the rights of children. Hence, the government has an interest in supporting traditional marriage as an institution.

          What about abortion? The issue here is whether or not killing a baby in the womb kills a human being. If a baby in the womb is human, killing that baby is murder? How do we decide whether the baby is human? That depends largely upon our individual religious beliefs, and, quite frankly, I would rather not have government officials telling me what I must believe, but that is what you are trying to justify.

          If the majority thinks abortion looks too much like murder, that majority will try to protect the rights of the unborn. However, when government dictates religious belief through the school system, what will the majority believe?

          What about that plethora of other evils? We have choice between a society that depends upon the morality of the people and a society that depends upon the morality of its leaders. When people behave morally — when they take responsibility for the proper instruction of their own children — they actually do not need very much government. That people takes it upon themselves to do what must be done and can be done through individual initiative and through their private associations. On the other hand, when a society depends upon the morality of its leaders, people wait to be told what they must do, and like dogs they expect a reward.

          That later sort of society doesn’t work very well, but some “leaders” seem to enjoy such power over “dogs”. So it is that this sort of leader is content when the people behave like dogs.

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        6. Stephen

          “Actually, you are not quoting the Pope the way I am quoting Bastiat. I am not quoting Bastiat out of context. ” Would you care to elaborate on that point? You have implicitly stated that I do not know my own religion despite having studied it extensively. Also, Bastiat was wrong then and he is wrong now. The reason I am quoting Leo specifically is because Leo specifically condemned Bastiat’s theories in Rerum Novarum. Liberalism and the capitalism it proposes is, according to Leo, antithetical to the Gospel as much as Socialism is.

          “Does God punish sin?” He does but whether or not societal hunger is caused directly by divine retribution is something beyond our ken.

          “Nevertheless, because you do not understand economics, you condemn interest, and you would put the government in the business of stealing.” Actually, I DO understand interest. I understand A LOT of interest. I have paid more than my fair share. There is a reason Christ said the following: “”And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” From a theological standpoint, usury–or interest as you call it–is wrong because it contradicts the virtue of Charity. Yes, lending and usury prohibit the practice of Charity which you will admit is good for men to practice. Since justice is the giving to each according to his right and every man has the right to virtue and not vice, then the government must, in the interests of justice, protect the virtue of Charity to the detriment of the vice of usury. Furthermore, usury attempts to profit off of nothing. Money, as I said before, is the vehicle of exchange; it is not property. It is different when you lend a man your cloak than it is to lend him money. The former is property; the latter is not. Even Bastiat agrees that money is the vehicle of exchange. He errs in believing that something that has no real value besides societal agreement should reap benefits. It is reaping where you do not sow. Yes, that passage wasn’t an endorsement of usury. In the end, usury is theft because it is double charging i.e. it collects money for the thing and the use of the thing. If someone were to charge you for a bottle of wine and then for the drinking of that wine, you would call him a cheat. Usury charges for the money itself and then the spending of that money.

          Now this is not to say one cannot invest, but those sharing in the profit should share in the risk. Do you recall when the big banks failed, the public bailed them out, and the heads of those banks continued to make money off of the tax payers while the economy languished? They were supported by the tax payer and usury. Not only did they get the legal plunder–in this case I would agree with Bastiat–but they also continued their theft through interest. They gave out loans where they did not share the risk in lending and still do to this day.

          Pope Benedict XIV said, “One cannot condone the sin of usury by arguing that the gain is not great or excessive, but rather moderate or small; neither can it be condoned by arguing that the borrower is rich; nor even by arguing that the money borrowed is not left idle, but is spent usefully, either to increase one’s fortune, to purchase new estates, or to engage in business transactions. The law governing loans consists necessarily in the equality of what is given and returned; once the equality has been established, whoever demands more than that violates the terms of the loan. Therefore if one receives interest, he must make restitution according to the commutative bond of justice; its function in human contracts is to assure equality for each one. This law is to be observed in a holy manner. If not observed exactly, reparation must be made.”

          In short, no argument, not even Bastiat’s, stands up to the prescriptions of the Natural and Divine laws. Since all rational people deem these laws higher and demanding of more faithful adherence, I cannot support usury. I have read Bastiat’s “On Capital and Interest” in full. It STILL is contrary to the demands of Divine and Natural justice.

          “Yes, but you ain’t God, and neither am I. We each have our own right and obligation to decide for ourselves how our Lord wants us to live.” If happiness is an objective principle, then the happiness of all men, though differing in specifics, are all of the same kind i.e. virtue. Therefore, if a state is to protect the right of all to happiness, the state must protect virtue. Furthermore, since it would be irrational for God to create happiness and leave it unknowable to mankind, the man of practical wisdom should be able to–and has been able to for millennia until liberals came around and started doubting everything–determine what happiness is per se. Thus, since we can know happiness in itself, we can enact laws and direct society towards it.

          “Bastiat argues for a definition of justice that involves respecting each others God-given rights.” Not entirely true, Each man has the natural right to the fruits of the earth. This is implicit from Genesis. It is the whole reason we have the right to private property that we do. Thus, if a man labors and lacks the fruits of the earth, then there is some injustice, be it from natural or moral evil. Thus, if the state has no interest in justice, as Bastiat says, save to ensure that no one is messing with another’s property, then he necessarily leaves off the justice due to the poor.

          And that is really what we are about. As I have said before, if a community can create the necessary systems to care for the poor, the government need not get involved. Again, we are a party of principles, not policy. We do not set out to dictate how people are to satisfy the demands of justice, only that justice be satisfied.

          ” If I don’t want a government that runs our lives and insists that we all behave like Christians, then I must be an Atheist? Even though you do not claim to be one, there are actually plenty of Liberal Democrats who make the same sort of argument.” Take this and consider what you say later about the morality of leaders.

          “Well, for reasons that should be obvious, the tradition definition of marriage renders “same-sex marriage” an oxymoron.” But then you run into a problem which is the central problem of liberalism. Since happiness, as you said, is for the individual to determine and the happiness of a gay man is to be married to another gay man, then what right have you to impose that traditional value on them? According to what you said before, none. If liberals can change the definition of liberty to be the freedom to practice virtue into the freedom to do as you like without hurting anyone, then changing the definition of marriage is a paltry thing indeed.

          ” Government does not have an interest in condoning fornication, but it does have an interest in protecting the rights of children. Hence, the government has an interest in supporting traditional marriage as an institution.” That is true and I agree but it contradicts what you have said about the government having no right to infringe upon another’s happiness. If a gay couple desires to be married and does not intend to adopt, what harm have they done you? None.

          “That depends largely upon our individual religious beliefs…” Actually it has more to do with the scientific facts of the thing. But leave it to Liberalism to find a way to ignore scientific facts and regulate the humanity of the unborn to religious opinion. The majority are too often wrong, but in this case the majority is right. 80% of Americans do not support abortion but 60% of Americans see it as an unfortunate choice to stave off poverty. If we had a society that restored dignity to the poor, I doubt we would have an issue establishing a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn.

          “We have choice between a society that depends upon the morality of the people and a society that depends upon the morality of its leaders.” Since we live in a representative republic, that is a false dichotomy.

          Yet, under the liberal schema, each person determines what is moral to himself. Rather than be ruled by millions of conflicting moral tyrants, I would prefer one moral tyrant that is consistently moral. Plus, there would be only one mind to persuade to be good rather than millions. In short, neither option in your dichotomy are descent.

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