You can get away with anything as long as you say you’re doing it for somebody else. -- Robert Gore
It’s always gratifying to be agreed with, even if the substance is something...disagreeable.
I’ve been screaming – figuratively, of course – about power being the highest – indeed, the only – priority of politicians and aspirants for so long that I can no longer remember when I started. It’s baffled me that something so obvious should have confounded so many for so long. But then, George Washington baffled his contemporaries by refusing the crown of America, and again by declining to accept a third term as president.
For a while, back then, it seemed to many as if the new Republic had succeeded in creating something new twice over: first, a government founded on popular sovereignty and delegated authority; second, a political class that genuinely agreed on the pernicious nature of power and did not want it for its own sake. But as we Christians have been saying for quite some time, God is not mocked: the dynamic of power would eventually overwhelm the truly public-spirited among the Founders. All it takes is time...and the ascension of the Roosevelts and Woodrow Wilson proved that time enough had passed for the dynamic to triumph.
What brings this to my mind today? So glad you asked:
- The same people who told us 30 years ago that “marriage is just a stupid piece of paper” now insist that it’s a “human right.” -- Kathy Shaidle
- The Battle of Mount Soledad -- Mark Pulliam
- It's always a mistake to expect first principles from the left. In Turkey President Erdogan famously explained that democracy is a train you ride until the stop you want to get to - and then you get off. That's how the left feels about "rights". There are no principles, only accretions of power. -- Mark Steyn
- No cookie will ever satisfy [social-justice warriors]. Our politics will only get uglier, as those who resist this agenda realize that compromise is just another word for appeasement. – Jonah Goldberg
- 90% of the left's attempts at social control are simply attempts to outlaw behaviors they perceived as favored or engaged in by 'traditional" "conservative" "old-school" "white" etc. people. -- Zombie
- The left does not care about social justice. It cares about power. That is why no truce is possible with the left. Not on social issues. Not on any issues. -- Daniel Greenfield
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for these blinding flashes of the obvious. And on we go.
In his book For A New Liberty, the late Murray Rothbard noted that regardless of what it seizes upon as a “problem” to be “solved,” the Left always proposes the same solution: more government with more power over more areas of human life. Regardless of whether the “solution” involves banning, regulating, taxing, or otherwise decreeing, the ultimate effect is the expansion of the State and its powers, such that what’s done, if it’s allowed, is done by permission. I wasn’t the first to say it – the origin is probably classical – but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when the “problems” are infinitely variable but the “solution” is constant, the proponent wants the solution and nothing else.
The recent foofaurauw over same-sex marriage, an idea so fatuous that only toddlers and idiots could possibly find an argument for it, provides an example. Kathy Shaidle’s observation above is the key. The point was never “marriage equality;” it’s always been the arrogation of power over marriage by the federal government. Compelling us to accept “married couples” of the same sex, who cannot produce children and routinely violate their “vows of fidelity” in the name of “polyamory,” will of course bring about the destruction of this oldest and most vital of all human institutions – which proves that “marriage equality” is totally beside the point.
Why would power-mongers want to destroy marriage? It’s simple: the marital bond is private, even more so than the family. It’s massively resistant to intrusions by the State. It’s stood off all attempts to insert law or regulation into it. It’s even survived heavy tax penalties. But it cannot survive being reduced to a laughingstock by federal decree...and thus another bastion of wholly private life will fall.
Learning to look beyond the present, and beyond the nearest-term consequences as well, is the key to developing a true habit of critical thought.
True marriage is intimately linked to the Judeo-Christian moral-ethical tradition, which is itself founded on Natural Law. Christianity in particular is under the power-mongers’ crosshairs, for it constitutes a bastion against arbitrary assertions of authority:
All genuine progress results from finding new facts. No law can be passed to make an acre yield 300 bushels. God has already established the laws. It is for us to discover them, and to learn the facts by which we can obey them. – Wheeler McMillen
I asked one of the members of Parliament whether a majority of the House could legitimize murder. He said no. I asked him whether it could sanctify robbery. He thought not. But I could not make him see that if murder and robbery are intrinsically wrong, and not to be made right by the decisions of statesmen, then similarly all actions must be either right or wrong, apart from the authority of the law; and that if the right and wrong the law are not in harmony with this intrinsic right and wrong, the law itself is criminal. – Herbert Spencer
Thus, it’s entirely consistent for the power-mongers to assail those religions, not out of their pretended concern for the tender feelings of atheists, but because alternate sources of moral and ethical guidance are anathema to their aims. Christianity has long been the staunchest of all barriers to the totalitarian program, which is why the great totalitarians have all hated and attempted to destroy it. Even during the era of Throne and Altar, when Church and State were supposedly allied, the Church acted as a brake upon the ambitions of the State and its rulers. The key was and is Christianity’s assertion of the Natural Law: i.e., the laws God has written directly into the natures of His creatures, especially Mankind.
Natural Law is the First Principle, from which all other reliable principles must derive. It cannot be repealed, amended, or abridged. It simply is. It is self-enforcing, though the penalty for a violation may take years to become visible. Nothing we can imagine could pain a power-luster quite as gravely.
Natural Law acts itself out most visibly under freedom. Consider the animals of the wild; observe how their natures manifest themselves in every action, at every moment. Thus also with Man: when we are free, we do that which conduces to human flourishing, and to the sort of society best for that purpose. Yes, there are criminals and deviants – free will is like that – but free societies have always succeeded at making them suffer for their sins. Only when the State intrudes, opposing the Natural Law with legislation, do we suffer for sins other than our own.
I called this piece the “Told-You-So Edition” because at long last significant commentators and analysts with audiences larger than mine are beginning to get the point, and to say it where others can hear. Perhaps the message isn’t too late. Perhaps it will spread swiftly enough, and resonate with enough Americans, that we can halt our pell-mell rush toward destruction. There can be no certainty; there is only hope.
But I’ve said that before too, haven’t I?