Three varieties of conservatism

Here are three different political ideologies that go by the name of “conservatism.”  The definitions and descriptions are taken from the first paragraph of their Wikipedia entries.  (You might want to read the rest of the entries.)  Which is better?  And how can advocates of these three possibly work together?

Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleo or paleocon when the context is clear) is a term for an anti-communist and anti-imperialist political philosophy in the United States stressing tradition, civil society and anti-federalism, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity.  Chilton Williamson, Jr. describes paleoconservatism as “the expression of rootedness: a sense of place and of history, a sense of self derived from forebears, kin, and culture—an identity that is both collective and personal.”  Paleoconservatism is not expressed as an ideology and its adherents do not necessarily subscribe to any one party line.

via Paleoconservatism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States of America, and which supports using modern American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries.[1][2][3] Consequently the term is chiefly applicable to certain Americans and their strong supporters. In economics, unlike paleoconservatives and libertarians, neoconservatives are generally comfortable with a welfare state; and, while rhetorically supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes.

via Neoconservatism

Libertarianism is advocacy for individual liberty[1] with libertarians generally sharing a distinct regard for individual freedom of thought and action, as well as a strong suspicion of coercive authority, such as that of government. However, there are also broad areas of disagreement among libertarians. Broad distinctions such as left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism have been identified. Additionally, some distinguish between minarchist and varying anarchist views (such as the libertarian socialist and anarcho-capitalist views) of libertarianism.

via Libertarian

HT:  A comment from Cincinnatus gave me the idea for this

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Porcell

    Well, before we get going on this, I should say that plain old “conservatism” itself is another category. Following Dr. Veith’s approach, the first part of the Wiki article on conservatism states:

    Conservatism (Latin: conservare, “to preserve”)[1] is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and opposes rapid change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to “the way things were.”[2][3] The first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution.[4] The term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. According to Hailsham, a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself”

  • Porcell

    Well, before we get going on this, I should say that plain old “conservatism” itself is another category. Following Dr. Veith’s approach, the first part of the Wiki article on conservatism states:

    Conservatism (Latin: conservare, “to preserve”)[1] is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and opposes rapid change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to “the way things were.”[2][3] The first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution.[4] The term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. According to Hailsham, a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself”

  • kerner

    Porcell’s comment makes an important point. “Conservativism” is a misnomer. It is only used because those who held the ideals now considered “conservative” appeared historically prior to those who now espouse views considered “progressive”, or “liberal”. These, too are misnomers.

    Conservatives (my late father at least was one such) can ometimes be heard to complain that it is they who are “liberals” in the classical sense, as many of their ideals were called “liberal” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and that current liberals have co-opted their name. They point out that the views of today’s liberals have nothing to do with “liberty” which is the root of the word “liberal”.

    And the term “progressive” is the term that movement gave to itself as part of its propaganda, implying that its agenda was part of the inevitable progress of humankind, whereas those who opposed them were “conservative” in that they were holding onto institutions and principles of the past that would inevitably fade away.

    Consequently,using the term “conservatism” to describe a set of principles invokes a poorly defined concept, which generates attempts to more clearly define it, like the ones cited by Dr. Veith.

    Personally, I wish the term “conservative” could be dropped in favor of something more acurately descriptive of what I beleive, but it is so commonly used, I don’t know how that could happen.

    I think we’re stuck with it, kind of like the term, “Lutheran”.

  • kerner

    Porcell’s comment makes an important point. “Conservativism” is a misnomer. It is only used because those who held the ideals now considered “conservative” appeared historically prior to those who now espouse views considered “progressive”, or “liberal”. These, too are misnomers.

    Conservatives (my late father at least was one such) can ometimes be heard to complain that it is they who are “liberals” in the classical sense, as many of their ideals were called “liberal” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and that current liberals have co-opted their name. They point out that the views of today’s liberals have nothing to do with “liberty” which is the root of the word “liberal”.

    And the term “progressive” is the term that movement gave to itself as part of its propaganda, implying that its agenda was part of the inevitable progress of humankind, whereas those who opposed them were “conservative” in that they were holding onto institutions and principles of the past that would inevitably fade away.

    Consequently,using the term “conservatism” to describe a set of principles invokes a poorly defined concept, which generates attempts to more clearly define it, like the ones cited by Dr. Veith.

    Personally, I wish the term “conservative” could be dropped in favor of something more acurately descriptive of what I beleive, but it is so commonly used, I don’t know how that could happen.

    I think we’re stuck with it, kind of like the term, “Lutheran”.

  • kerner

    For further study, see the first paragraph of the wikipedia artical entitled “liberalism, and then click on the links to “classical liberalism” and “social liberalism”. File me under “classical liberalism”. I’ll bet a lot of others here considered “conservative” belong in that catagory as well.

  • kerner

    For further study, see the first paragraph of the wikipedia artical entitled “liberalism, and then click on the links to “classical liberalism” and “social liberalism”. File me under “classical liberalism”. I’ll bet a lot of others here considered “conservative” belong in that catagory as well.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Call me, along with Kerner, most comfortable with the label “classical liberal,” and as one who has paleoconservative leanings (though not the full Lew Rockwell/von Mises treatment), I’m not quite sure I go with the definition of paleoconservative. More or less, paleoconservatism derives more from sound economics (pre-Keynes) than from tradition–and is really very close to classical liberalism.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Call me, along with Kerner, most comfortable with the label “classical liberal,” and as one who has paleoconservative leanings (though not the full Lew Rockwell/von Mises treatment), I’m not quite sure I go with the definition of paleoconservative. More or less, paleoconservatism derives more from sound economics (pre-Keynes) than from tradition–and is really very close to classical liberalism.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner, you’re actually incorrect: Conservatism arose chronologically after progressivism and (classical) liberalism as a reaction against the latter ideologies’s emphasis upon the individual over society and their conscious attempts to deconstruct traditional institutions in favor of new ones. Conservatism as it is currently understood was, in short, a reaction to revolution, especially the French Revolution. Ironically, conservatism in the United States (except paleoconservatism) has come to identify and be associated with those very tenets of liberalism (radical individual liberty, representative democracy, individual “rights,” etc.) that conservatism originally opposed.

    Both Veith and Porcell are correct, however, to point out the multifarious meanings of conservatism in our contemporary context.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner, you’re actually incorrect: Conservatism arose chronologically after progressivism and (classical) liberalism as a reaction against the latter ideologies’s emphasis upon the individual over society and their conscious attempts to deconstruct traditional institutions in favor of new ones. Conservatism as it is currently understood was, in short, a reaction to revolution, especially the French Revolution. Ironically, conservatism in the United States (except paleoconservatism) has come to identify and be associated with those very tenets of liberalism (radical individual liberty, representative democracy, individual “rights,” etc.) that conservatism originally opposed.

    Both Veith and Porcell are correct, however, to point out the multifarious meanings of conservatism in our contemporary context.

  • Porcell

    Likewise, I am a classical liberal with the proviso that we are free to obey or disobey the moral law, we often do the things we ought not do and don’t do what we ought.

    The trouble with modern paleo-conservativism is that, while Russel Kirk is a respectable founder, it has been taken over by extreme ideology of the Rockford Institute and its journal <iChronicles that have ventured into anti-semitism and extreme isolationism.

  • Porcell

    Likewise, I am a classical liberal with the proviso that we are free to obey or disobey the moral law, we often do the things we ought not do and don’t do what we ought.

    The trouble with modern paleo-conservativism is that, while Russel Kirk is a respectable founder, it has been taken over by extreme ideology of the Rockford Institute and its journal <iChronicles that have ventured into anti-semitism and extreme isolationism.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Really confused as to where I end up among those three. Tend to think I’ve gone neo-con, but don’t know that I agree with all that either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Really confused as to where I end up among those three. Tend to think I’ve gone neo-con, but don’t know that I agree with all that either.

  • Louis

    The terms liberal and conservative are not very usefull anymore, as others are pointing out. I think that if you are to describe your positions, one should have to qualify different terms for different aspects. For example, I tend to the following (not absolutely, hence my use of the word “tend”):

    Form of government – Constitutional Monarchist.
    Economics – ordoliberalism, with slight tendencies to distributivism.
    Foreign policy – paleoconservatism(?)
    Moralism – Traditional, but not conservative.
    Religion – I’m religious, not spiritual (within a strong Lutheran context).
    Environment – that’s a difficult one – I prefer realistic environmentalist, with agrarian preferences. For reference – Gore, Suzuki & co are not realistic.

    etc.

    Maybe others would like to take up such a “list” description? How about our gracious host?

  • Louis

    The terms liberal and conservative are not very usefull anymore, as others are pointing out. I think that if you are to describe your positions, one should have to qualify different terms for different aspects. For example, I tend to the following (not absolutely, hence my use of the word “tend”):

    Form of government – Constitutional Monarchist.
    Economics – ordoliberalism, with slight tendencies to distributivism.
    Foreign policy – paleoconservatism(?)
    Moralism – Traditional, but not conservative.
    Religion – I’m religious, not spiritual (within a strong Lutheran context).
    Environment – that’s a difficult one – I prefer realistic environmentalist, with agrarian preferences. For reference – Gore, Suzuki & co are not realistic.

    etc.

    Maybe others would like to take up such a “list” description? How about our gracious host?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yep, time for some soul searching, Bror!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yep, time for some soul searching, Bror!

  • Another Kerner

    Well folks, I was married to kerner’s father for near 50 years and he was indeed a Confessional Lutheran/Classical Liberal.
    (Born of German/Bohemian ancestry.)

    He complained that the current “liberals” weren’t “liberal” at all: they were really totalitarians lusting for power…… and that they had stolen his word.

    (That’s after we both became “recovering agnostics”, now Lutherans,when we were thirty something.)

    He also said “Christ knocked on the door, He didn’t knock it down.”

    He admired Rushdoony to the extent that he asked rightly, “Who is man’s Savior, Christ or the State?”

    I, the Confessional Lutheran/Paleocon, loved him with all my heart.
    We argued a bit those 50 years, however it was typically about “how to load the dishwasher” or whether Gone With The Wind was a better movie than Jaws.
    (Maybe how to spend the money arguments crept into the discussions now and again.)

    I was blessed to have married my one and only love.

  • Another Kerner

    Well folks, I was married to kerner’s father for near 50 years and he was indeed a Confessional Lutheran/Classical Liberal.
    (Born of German/Bohemian ancestry.)

    He complained that the current “liberals” weren’t “liberal” at all: they were really totalitarians lusting for power…… and that they had stolen his word.

    (That’s after we both became “recovering agnostics”, now Lutherans,when we were thirty something.)

    He also said “Christ knocked on the door, He didn’t knock it down.”

    He admired Rushdoony to the extent that he asked rightly, “Who is man’s Savior, Christ or the State?”

    I, the Confessional Lutheran/Paleocon, loved him with all my heart.
    We argued a bit those 50 years, however it was typically about “how to load the dishwasher” or whether Gone With The Wind was a better movie than Jaws.
    (Maybe how to spend the money arguments crept into the discussions now and again.)

    I was blessed to have married my one and only love.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    You assume I’m troubled by that. I’m really not. I agree with Neo cons in some ways, libertarians and paleos on others. And if one wanted to call me a neo con, well I can’t stop them.
    I hold my views as being the product of much soul searching and scrutiny of the world. They aren’t going to change because poeple use the term Neo Con as a pejorative.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    You assume I’m troubled by that. I’m really not. I agree with Neo cons in some ways, libertarians and paleos on others. And if one wanted to call me a neo con, well I can’t stop them.
    I hold my views as being the product of much soul searching and scrutiny of the world. They aren’t going to change because poeple use the term Neo Con as a pejorative.

  • Porcell

    Another Kerner : He complained that the current “liberals” weren’t “liberal” at all: they were really totalitarians lusting for power…… and that they had stolen his word.

    Mr. kerner was right about this, as has been richly proven by Jonah Goldberg in his recent book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

    As Tocqueville wrote, America is essentially about a difficult balance between liberty and equality along with deeply held religion,

  • Porcell

    Another Kerner : He complained that the current “liberals” weren’t “liberal” at all: they were really totalitarians lusting for power…… and that they had stolen his word.

    Mr. kerner was right about this, as has been richly proven by Jonah Goldberg in his recent book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

    As Tocqueville wrote, America is essentially about a difficult balance between liberty and equality along with deeply held religion,

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I will throw a wrench into the whole discussion. Even the word confessional has changed its meaning at least with in LCMS circles. It used to mean one who held to a confession in Lutheran circles specifically to the Lutheran Confessions. Now it means a person who holds to a political voting block who believe that all services must come from a man made synodically approved book. It has become such a sore point that even though I hold and teach that the Lutheran Confessions are the correct exposition of scripture, I hesitate to call myself confessional and all because of a political party in the LCMS. It is all the more aggravating in that for all that we agree on we have been separated by their piety concerning a man made hymnal.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I will throw a wrench into the whole discussion. Even the word confessional has changed its meaning at least with in LCMS circles. It used to mean one who held to a confession in Lutheran circles specifically to the Lutheran Confessions. Now it means a person who holds to a political voting block who believe that all services must come from a man made synodically approved book. It has become such a sore point that even though I hold and teach that the Lutheran Confessions are the correct exposition of scripture, I hesitate to call myself confessional and all because of a political party in the LCMS. It is all the more aggravating in that for all that we agree on we have been separated by their piety concerning a man made hymnal.

  • Another Kerner

    Alas…
    Here we all are … each of us writing in the English language, and still the nomenclature and/or lingo of certain groups becomes a point of discussion and sometimes disagreement or even contention.

    Words do have meanings… and we live by words and The Word.

    Dr. Luther at #13
    What shall I call myself, if not a Confessional Lutheran as one who believes them?

  • Another Kerner

    Alas…
    Here we all are … each of us writing in the English language, and still the nomenclature and/or lingo of certain groups becomes a point of discussion and sometimes disagreement or even contention.

    Words do have meanings… and we live by words and The Word.

    Dr. Luther at #13
    What shall I call myself, if not a Confessional Lutheran as one who believes them?

  • Louis

    These discussions would be any postmodernist’s delight, in that they seem to prove that semantics is a tool for power – he who commands the language, is the one holding power. I find it interesting that it is the people who are msot likely to be dogmatic about their conservatism, who most ardently seem to believe in the semantics of power. How ironic.

  • Louis

    These discussions would be any postmodernist’s delight, in that they seem to prove that semantics is a tool for power – he who commands the language, is the one holding power. I find it interesting that it is the people who are msot likely to be dogmatic about their conservatism, who most ardently seem to believe in the semantics of power. How ironic.

  • Another Kerner

    Porcell at #6

    I have subscribed to Chronicles off and on through the years, agreeing with some of what is written and disagreeing sometimes.

    Perhaps the term “anti-semitism” is a little harsh when speaking of those at The Rockford Institute, no?
    We have a personal friend associated with Chronicles….. once a decorated Officer serving in the United States Marine Corps and now Executive Vice President of the Institute.

    As you may imagine, he and I have had heated discussions on various issues, however I would never think to hurl a word like “anti-semite” in his direction.

    I have read some of Russell Kirk, and realize that Chronicles writers
    are not all in accord with the Kirk.

    However, because some writers oppose some of the political stances of present day Israel, why are they labeled with such a term, I wonder?

    We are agreed that Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is an outstanding commentary and history of militant left “progressives”. It is a must read for those interested in understanding what is happening in our country and learning how we got into this mess.

    Rose Martin’s Fabian Freeway is an earlier book which is also a good read, covering some of the same territory, tracing roots to the Fabian Socialists in England.

    Progressives are artists when it comes to changing the meanings of words….

  • Another Kerner

    Porcell at #6

    I have subscribed to Chronicles off and on through the years, agreeing with some of what is written and disagreeing sometimes.

    Perhaps the term “anti-semitism” is a little harsh when speaking of those at The Rockford Institute, no?
    We have a personal friend associated with Chronicles….. once a decorated Officer serving in the United States Marine Corps and now Executive Vice President of the Institute.

    As you may imagine, he and I have had heated discussions on various issues, however I would never think to hurl a word like “anti-semite” in his direction.

    I have read some of Russell Kirk, and realize that Chronicles writers
    are not all in accord with the Kirk.

    However, because some writers oppose some of the political stances of present day Israel, why are they labeled with such a term, I wonder?

    We are agreed that Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is an outstanding commentary and history of militant left “progressives”. It is a must read for those interested in understanding what is happening in our country and learning how we got into this mess.

    Rose Martin’s Fabian Freeway is an earlier book which is also a good read, covering some of the same territory, tracing roots to the Fabian Socialists in England.

    Progressives are artists when it comes to changing the meanings of words….

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    @Another Kerner #15

    Oh, I still refer to myself as confessional Lutheran in spite of those who would co-opt it for their legalistic piety. I am not against trying to reclaim the proper meaning of the word. Really to be honest as a person who holds to the confessions contained in the Book of Concord, I could not call myself anything else.

    @Louis #16
    Not everything about postmodern thought is wrong and not all who would call themselves as conservative condemn all things postmodern. Part of our problem at least in the LCMS, is remembering we have a piety and tradition which can speak very well to the current crop of postmoderns, and we should be taking advantage of this to reach out to postmoderns rather than sitting in our pews condemning them.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    @Another Kerner #15

    Oh, I still refer to myself as confessional Lutheran in spite of those who would co-opt it for their legalistic piety. I am not against trying to reclaim the proper meaning of the word. Really to be honest as a person who holds to the confessions contained in the Book of Concord, I could not call myself anything else.

    @Louis #16
    Not everything about postmodern thought is wrong and not all who would call themselves as conservative condemn all things postmodern. Part of our problem at least in the LCMS, is remembering we have a piety and tradition which can speak very well to the current crop of postmoderns, and we should be taking advantage of this to reach out to postmoderns rather than sitting in our pews condemning them.

  • kerner

    Louis @16:

    Oh, yeah, the irony is palpable. I don’t advocate semantics as a tool of power, mind you, but I have to acknowledge the reality of it.

    I can add another example. Calling a homosexual relationship a “marriage” is changing the meaning of a word to apply to a thing that, by its former definition at least, it could not be.

    Maybe this is simply a characteristic of communicating with a living language. But usage seems to be changing so very quickly these days.

  • kerner

    Louis @16:

    Oh, yeah, the irony is palpable. I don’t advocate semantics as a tool of power, mind you, but I have to acknowledge the reality of it.

    I can add another example. Calling a homosexual relationship a “marriage” is changing the meaning of a word to apply to a thing that, by its former definition at least, it could not be.

    Maybe this is simply a characteristic of communicating with a living language. But usage seems to be changing so very quickly these days.

  • Louis

    DRLit20C – read my post again. I’m not condemning the pomo’s, but I’m pointing out that those here who are most likely to indulge in naming-and-shaming, or guilt-by-semantic-association tactics (ie, power semantics), are also the same ones who identify themselves as “uberconservative”, which would mean that they look down on the poor pomo’s. It is after all a postmodern insight that language can be used as a tool of power. In this, apparently, some of the “conservatives” in these threads have proved them correct.

  • Louis

    DRLit20C – read my post again. I’m not condemning the pomo’s, but I’m pointing out that those here who are most likely to indulge in naming-and-shaming, or guilt-by-semantic-association tactics (ie, power semantics), are also the same ones who identify themselves as “uberconservative”, which would mean that they look down on the poor pomo’s. It is after all a postmodern insight that language can be used as a tool of power. In this, apparently, some of the “conservatives” in these threads have proved them correct.

  • Louis

    Kerner @ 18 – actually, I would say that such a use of semantics is typical of political and social radicals, from the left or the right. The Marxists are just as fond of it as the Fascists from the right.

  • Louis

    Kerner @ 18 – actually, I would say that such a use of semantics is typical of political and social radicals, from the left or the right. The Marxists are just as fond of it as the Fascists from the right.

  • Another Kerner

    Louis @20….

    “Oh my goodness”, she exclaimed !!

    The Fascists are NOT on the right.
    Fascists are totalitarians, Communists are totalitarians, Facscists and Communists are both Statists proposing absolute control.

    The exact opposite of Totalitarian government is Anarchy….that is, no government. (Actually, anarchy does not endure for long: it is often, but not always, a means to overthrow exisiting govenments, often used by Fascists and Communists to grab power).

    Nazi, translated to English is this:
    Nationalist Socialist Labor Party.

    Both Communists and Fascists are socialists and are proponents of complete power in a centralized government, tyrants actuallly.
    They are two of the same kind.

    Limited federal government with authority vested in “the people” , with rights inalienable, endowed by the Creator, is our constitutional republic….. which is to the right.

    Those “other guys” mentioned above are all on the left.

  • Another Kerner

    Louis @20….

    “Oh my goodness”, she exclaimed !!

    The Fascists are NOT on the right.
    Fascists are totalitarians, Communists are totalitarians, Facscists and Communists are both Statists proposing absolute control.

    The exact opposite of Totalitarian government is Anarchy….that is, no government. (Actually, anarchy does not endure for long: it is often, but not always, a means to overthrow exisiting govenments, often used by Fascists and Communists to grab power).

    Nazi, translated to English is this:
    Nationalist Socialist Labor Party.

    Both Communists and Fascists are socialists and are proponents of complete power in a centralized government, tyrants actuallly.
    They are two of the same kind.

    Limited federal government with authority vested in “the people” , with rights inalienable, endowed by the Creator, is our constitutional republic….. which is to the right.

    Those “other guys” mentioned above are all on the left.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    @ Louis #19
    I didn’t think you were condemning pomo’s. I don’t think postmodern thought originated the idea of language as a tool of power. That idea is far older than postmodern thought. Propagandists have long known the power of language.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    @ Louis #19
    I didn’t think you were condemning pomo’s. I don’t think postmodern thought originated the idea of language as a tool of power. That idea is far older than postmodern thought. Propagandists have long known the power of language.

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    None of those groups have much influence in modern politics. At least not in the USA.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    None of those groups have much influence in modern politics. At least not in the USA.

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • Louis

    DrLin21C @ 21 – True, but they are famous for naming it :)

  • Louis

    DrLin21C @ 21 – True, but they are famous for naming it :)

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, thanks for the hat-tip, Dr. Veith. It’s remarkable that you were able to dig through all the antagonism in those comments (sorry about that!) and find something worthwhile.

    webuliate@22: Have you literally lived under a rock for the last three decades? Until Obama took office, neoconservatives had maintained a more or less firm grip on American politics, both domestic and especially foreign, since Reagan was elected.

    You are generally correct (unfortunately!) about the national-level influence of paleoconservatives and libertarians, though.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, thanks for the hat-tip, Dr. Veith. It’s remarkable that you were able to dig through all the antagonism in those comments (sorry about that!) and find something worthwhile.

    webuliate@22: Have you literally lived under a rock for the last three decades? Until Obama took office, neoconservatives had maintained a more or less firm grip on American politics, both domestic and especially foreign, since Reagan was elected.

    You are generally correct (unfortunately!) about the national-level influence of paleoconservatives and libertarians, though.

  • Porcell

    Louis, Reducing basic religious, political, and economic views to semantics is quite mistaken. At base we are talking about real differences that are worthy of discussion. Those who with the post-modernists cynically view truth as mere power narrative close off fruitful discussion.

    A couple of millennia ago Plato/Socrates made a clear distinction between dialectical search for truth and the sophistic view that truth is relative. Essentially post modernists are sophists. When you reduce truth to power semantics you are a sophist.

  • Porcell

    Louis, Reducing basic religious, political, and economic views to semantics is quite mistaken. At base we are talking about real differences that are worthy of discussion. Those who with the post-modernists cynically view truth as mere power narrative close off fruitful discussion.

    A couple of millennia ago Plato/Socrates made a clear distinction between dialectical search for truth and the sophistic view that truth is relative. Essentially post modernists are sophists. When you reduce truth to power semantics you are a sophist.

  • Louis

    Porcell – QED: Long observation here, in direct arguments with you, as well as arguments between you and others, lead me to this point. As kerner and Cincinnatus and Todd and others have pointed out multiple times, you almost never interact with an argument in itsself. You point out some arbitrary similarity between that argument and an argument you, through creative semantics, call liberal. Then you call the argument liberal. Then you declare yourself the winner. Similarly, when defending a position, you find some kind of authority (like the JP II in our recent economics discussion). You declare whatever that authority’s position is “conservative” (thereby creating some real howlers, like in the aforementioned economics discussion). You declare yourself the winner.

    You are in effect the poster child for power semantics, whereas some of the other uberconservatives, like DonS, at least try and discuss the issues.

  • Louis

    Porcell – QED: Long observation here, in direct arguments with you, as well as arguments between you and others, lead me to this point. As kerner and Cincinnatus and Todd and others have pointed out multiple times, you almost never interact with an argument in itsself. You point out some arbitrary similarity between that argument and an argument you, through creative semantics, call liberal. Then you call the argument liberal. Then you declare yourself the winner. Similarly, when defending a position, you find some kind of authority (like the JP II in our recent economics discussion). You declare whatever that authority’s position is “conservative” (thereby creating some real howlers, like in the aforementioned economics discussion). You declare yourself the winner.

    You are in effect the poster child for power semantics, whereas some of the other uberconservatives, like DonS, at least try and discuss the issues.

  • Porcell

    Louis, the very terms “power semantics” and “uber-conservative”cut off serious discussion.

    Cut the whining and stick to the issues. On this thread until you arrived we were having a decent discussion.

  • Porcell

    Louis, the very terms “power semantics” and “uber-conservative”cut off serious discussion.

    Cut the whining and stick to the issues. On this thread until you arrived we were having a decent discussion.

  • Dan Kempin

    @ #13,

    Hear! hear!

  • Dan Kempin

    @ #13,

    Hear! hear!

  • Ken

    Louis @ 20: It takes a lot of fortitude to come on Dr. Veith’s site, of all places, and identify fascism with “the right.”

  • Ken

    Louis @ 20: It takes a lot of fortitude to come on Dr. Veith’s site, of all places, and identify fascism with “the right.”

  • Louis

    Ken – explain?

  • Louis

    Ken – explain?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bror, I just found your first post here sorta funny – I honestly couldn’t imagine you were that troubled about it :)
    Anyway, I’m curious if there is actually an answer to Veith’s question: “how can advocates of these three possibly work together?” Especially in the light of the obvious answer to the other question, “Which is better?” – Paleoconservatism. Obviously. How can paleocons work with neocons when the only interraction a neocon can seem to have with a paleocon is to basically say (if anything is said at all), “Shhh. Would you please just shut up, you (insert spurious slander here to make sure everyone knows you’re not a real ‘conservative’ or perhaps you’re even something worse)?”

    I mean I really appreciate Cincinnatus’, Kerner’s, and Louis’ work to educate neocons the other day on these matters on another thread. But is there no hope for a better working together than that?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bror, I just found your first post here sorta funny – I honestly couldn’t imagine you were that troubled about it :)
    Anyway, I’m curious if there is actually an answer to Veith’s question: “how can advocates of these three possibly work together?” Especially in the light of the obvious answer to the other question, “Which is better?” – Paleoconservatism. Obviously. How can paleocons work with neocons when the only interraction a neocon can seem to have with a paleocon is to basically say (if anything is said at all), “Shhh. Would you please just shut up, you (insert spurious slander here to make sure everyone knows you’re not a real ‘conservative’ or perhaps you’re even something worse)?”

    I mean I really appreciate Cincinnatus’, Kerner’s, and Louis’ work to educate neocons the other day on these matters on another thread. But is there no hope for a better working together than that?

  • Cincinnatus

    Ken@29: Well, fascism does belong on the “right” according to the Old-World interpretation of that spectrum, because in contrast to the “liberal” ideas of individualism or technocratic communism, fascism values the organic communal ethos, etc.

    Of course, if you interpret the spectrum in another way, as do many Americans, from extreme individual liberty (the right) to statism (the left), then fascism obviously belongs on the left.

    This just goes to show that “spectrums” are only a mildly useful tool for visualizing the relationships between political ideologies. In reality, there are rightist and leftist versions of totalitarianism (fascism vs. state communism) and rightist and leftist versions of anarchism (anarcho-syndicalism vs. anarcho-communism).

  • Cincinnatus

    Ken@29: Well, fascism does belong on the “right” according to the Old-World interpretation of that spectrum, because in contrast to the “liberal” ideas of individualism or technocratic communism, fascism values the organic communal ethos, etc.

    Of course, if you interpret the spectrum in another way, as do many Americans, from extreme individual liberty (the right) to statism (the left), then fascism obviously belongs on the left.

    This just goes to show that “spectrums” are only a mildly useful tool for visualizing the relationships between political ideologies. In reality, there are rightist and leftist versions of totalitarianism (fascism vs. state communism) and rightist and leftist versions of anarchism (anarcho-syndicalism vs. anarcho-communism).

  • Louis

    Or wait: Here is the wikipedia defintion of fascism:
    Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2][3][4] Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.[5][6] Fascism was originally founded by Italian national syndicalists in World War I who combined left-wing and right-wing political views, but it gravitated to the political right in the early 1920s.[7][8] Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right of the conventional left-right political spectrum.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.[15] They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism.[15] Viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they see pluralism as a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety.

    And the online OED definition:

    Pronunciation:/ˈfaʃɪz(ə)m, -sɪz(ə)m/noun [mass noun] an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practicesThe term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43); the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader , and a strong demagogic approach.

    Thus it is clear that fascism is an ideology of the right. This does not mean that all right-wing philosophies are fascist. Power semantics, anyone?

  • Louis

    Or wait: Here is the wikipedia defintion of fascism:
    Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2][3][4] Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.[5][6] Fascism was originally founded by Italian national syndicalists in World War I who combined left-wing and right-wing political views, but it gravitated to the political right in the early 1920s.[7][8] Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right of the conventional left-right political spectrum.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.[15] They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism.[15] Viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they see pluralism as a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety.

    And the online OED definition:

    Pronunciation:/ˈfaʃɪz(ə)m, -sɪz(ə)m/noun [mass noun] an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practicesThe term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43); the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader , and a strong demagogic approach.

    Thus it is clear that fascism is an ideology of the right. This does not mean that all right-wing philosophies are fascist. Power semantics, anyone?

  • Louis

    Bryan @31 – thanks. One gets disheartened by things like #27. But your comments gives some hope, at least ;)

  • Louis

    Bryan @31 – thanks. One gets disheartened by things like #27. But your comments gives some hope, at least ;)

  • Porcell

    Dan at 28 and Dr. Luther in 21st Century at 13, this issue of Missouri Synod views and the Lutheran Confessions is fascinating. I’ve recently been reading Carl Piepcorn’s writings. Piepkorn came to the view that the Lutheran Confessions were the heart of the faith, while some of the Missouri Synod views, especially that of inerrancy, distorted the Confessions.

    This is probably not the thread to air this issue, though I hope Dr. Veith will see fit to do so on some other thread.

  • Porcell

    Dan at 28 and Dr. Luther in 21st Century at 13, this issue of Missouri Synod views and the Lutheran Confessions is fascinating. I’ve recently been reading Carl Piepcorn’s writings. Piepkorn came to the view that the Lutheran Confessions were the heart of the faith, while some of the Missouri Synod views, especially that of inerrancy, distorted the Confessions.

    This is probably not the thread to air this issue, though I hope Dr. Veith will see fit to do so on some other thread.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bryan: Good question. On the one hand, pragmatic politics in a democratic republic almost always end upon with “compromise,” unsatisfying to many but the result of what you call “working together.” On a more theoretical level, I am skeptical of the ability of any of the three conservativisms working together in any meaningful way. The Reagan coalition fractured quite spectacularly due to the incompatibility of the three. “Fusionism” (the idea that libertarianism and paleoconservatism can be “fused” on a superficial, utilitarian level) is just silly.

    Ultimately, all three are premised upon fundamentally incompatible principles. Paleoconservatism values tradition, localism, and organic communalism (that may or may not trump individual rights depending upon the context). Libertarianism obviously maintains the utter ascendancy of individual liberty uber alles–no questions, no exceptions. Neoconservatism is really no form of conservatism at all, but, as I have explained in the past, is really what’s left of a diaspora of progressives who emigrated from the Democratic Party in the postwar era (due to the departure of their party from its traditionally hawkish roots toward a peacenik opposition to our involvement in Vietnam, amongst other things): neoconservatives presuppose the truth of progressivism–the myth that the world is getting better ineluctably, and that human instruments like the state have a large role to play in this historicist improvement of the world. Thus, they value large government and believe in its ability to effect change both here and abroad (they just want it to do different things than the average Democrat; famous example: where Democrats employed the NEA to invest in avant-garde and offensive art, the Reagan administration, rather than attempting to do away with the NEA simply created the NEH to champion more traditional art; they did the same with the education department).

    In short, it’s difficult to see how any of the three could get along with one another.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bryan: Good question. On the one hand, pragmatic politics in a democratic republic almost always end upon with “compromise,” unsatisfying to many but the result of what you call “working together.” On a more theoretical level, I am skeptical of the ability of any of the three conservativisms working together in any meaningful way. The Reagan coalition fractured quite spectacularly due to the incompatibility of the three. “Fusionism” (the idea that libertarianism and paleoconservatism can be “fused” on a superficial, utilitarian level) is just silly.

    Ultimately, all three are premised upon fundamentally incompatible principles. Paleoconservatism values tradition, localism, and organic communalism (that may or may not trump individual rights depending upon the context). Libertarianism obviously maintains the utter ascendancy of individual liberty uber alles–no questions, no exceptions. Neoconservatism is really no form of conservatism at all, but, as I have explained in the past, is really what’s left of a diaspora of progressives who emigrated from the Democratic Party in the postwar era (due to the departure of their party from its traditionally hawkish roots toward a peacenik opposition to our involvement in Vietnam, amongst other things): neoconservatives presuppose the truth of progressivism–the myth that the world is getting better ineluctably, and that human instruments like the state have a large role to play in this historicist improvement of the world. Thus, they value large government and believe in its ability to effect change both here and abroad (they just want it to do different things than the average Democrat; famous example: where Democrats employed the NEA to invest in avant-garde and offensive art, the Reagan administration, rather than attempting to do away with the NEA simply created the NEH to champion more traditional art; they did the same with the education department).

    In short, it’s difficult to see how any of the three could get along with one another.

  • Ken

    Evidently not many here have read our host’s book “Modern Fascism.” He deals with the question of the reflexive identification of fascism with right-wing political philosophy fairly early on, largely borne out of Marxist academic interpretations that have become mainstream (can you say “Wikipedia”?).

  • Ken

    Evidently not many here have read our host’s book “Modern Fascism.” He deals with the question of the reflexive identification of fascism with right-wing political philosophy fairly early on, largely borne out of Marxist academic interpretations that have become mainstream (can you say “Wikipedia”?).

  • Porcell

    Bryan, … “Which is better?” – Paleoconservatism. Obviously. …

    Isn’t this a rather doctrinaire remark? Dr. Veith was looking for a discussion of the various forms of conservatism, not a pronunciamento on the virtue of paleo-conservatism.

  • Porcell

    Bryan, … “Which is better?” – Paleoconservatism. Obviously. …

    Isn’t this a rather doctrinaire remark? Dr. Veith was looking for a discussion of the various forms of conservatism, not a pronunciamento on the virtue of paleo-conservatism.

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus – your analysis seems correct. Myself, for instance, could only associate with conservatism in it’s “paleo” form, as presented here. I find the other two froms repulsive – libertarianism presupposes what I term a Pelagian Anthropology. Neocon’s is just a different form of imperialism and in my mind is a modern expression of fascism – if you look at the definitions quoted above, Neoconservatism could quite easily be described as seeking to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy. It is not as overtly authoritarian as fascism was in the 30′s, but a friend of mine, who was “investigated” by the Apartheid state in the late 60′s/early 70′s, made the observation that the control grapsed by the Blair government (a poster child for neoconservatism, despite being Labour*) was worse than that of the Vorster government in Apartheid South Africa.

    *An interesting fact is the following Political Compass plot produced during the last British election – http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010. Notice how Labour had moved further up the Authoritarian axis than the Conservatives, traditionally viewed as authoritarian.

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus – your analysis seems correct. Myself, for instance, could only associate with conservatism in it’s “paleo” form, as presented here. I find the other two froms repulsive – libertarianism presupposes what I term a Pelagian Anthropology. Neocon’s is just a different form of imperialism and in my mind is a modern expression of fascism – if you look at the definitions quoted above, Neoconservatism could quite easily be described as seeking to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy. It is not as overtly authoritarian as fascism was in the 30′s, but a friend of mine, who was “investigated” by the Apartheid state in the late 60′s/early 70′s, made the observation that the control grapsed by the Blair government (a poster child for neoconservatism, despite being Labour*) was worse than that of the Vorster government in Apartheid South Africa.

    *An interesting fact is the following Political Compass plot produced during the last British election – http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010. Notice how Labour had moved further up the Authoritarian axis than the Conservatives, traditionally viewed as authoritarian.

  • Louis

    Ken – there is also the OED.

    But my argument is that one can find fascism on both sides of the spectrum.

  • Louis

    Ken – there is also the OED.

    But my argument is that one can find fascism on both sides of the spectrum.

  • Louis

    Ken – also, having grown up in Apartheid South Africa in the 70′s and 80′s, I can attest to the fact that Fascism can certinly come from the Right.

  • Louis

    Ken – also, having grown up in Apartheid South Africa in the 70′s and 80′s, I can attest to the fact that Fascism can certinly come from the Right.

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Cincinnatus via geneveith.com

    webuliate@22: Have you literally lived under a rock for the last three decades? Until Obama took office, neoconservatives had maintained a more or less firm grip on American politics, both domestic and especially foreign, since Reagan was elected.

    Actually The neo-cons lost all power in the beginning of the 2nd Bush’s 2nd term, not just before the current president was elected. While the other two groups have never had any political influence, the neo-cons were given an oppertunity by the 2nd Bush, via folks like Wolfowitz and Cheney. The thing is that their actions turned out so badly that there is no worry we will ever have to face that dissaster again. My comment was about the today, and hopefully into the future. None of those group have any influence in politics of most developed nations, and if sanity prevails, they never will.

    For those that are interested in learning a bit more about the neo-cons. I highly recommend the 3 part BBC Series, the power of nightmares.

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 1 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter1_512kb.mp4

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 2 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter2_512kb.mp4

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 3 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter3_512kb.mp4

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Cincinnatus via geneveith.com

    webuliate@22: Have you literally lived under a rock for the last three decades? Until Obama took office, neoconservatives had maintained a more or less firm grip on American politics, both domestic and especially foreign, since Reagan was elected.

    Actually The neo-cons lost all power in the beginning of the 2nd Bush’s 2nd term, not just before the current president was elected. While the other two groups have never had any political influence, the neo-cons were given an oppertunity by the 2nd Bush, via folks like Wolfowitz and Cheney. The thing is that their actions turned out so badly that there is no worry we will ever have to face that dissaster again. My comment was about the today, and hopefully into the future. None of those group have any influence in politics of most developed nations, and if sanity prevails, they never will.

    For those that are interested in learning a bit more about the neo-cons. I highly recommend the 3 part BBC Series, the power of nightmares.

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 1 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter1_512kb.mp4

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 2 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter2_512kb.mp4

    “The Power of Nightmares – part 3 of 3″ by Adam Curtis

    http://archive.org/download/ThePowerOfNightmares/chapter3_512kb.mp4

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • DonS

    I’m jumping in late to this discussion, as we are traveling today. But, the problem is labels, both on the left and the right. Those having a more conservative point of view don’t self-identify as a “neocon”, or “paleocon” — those are media labels, and often used by the opposing side in a pejorative manner. Not so different than liberals not liking that label as applied by conservatives.

    Most people of a conservative persuasion, who have a bent to think about these things, have a free-wheeling perspective, not easily pigeon-holed. For example, I cannot neatly fit my viewpoints into any of these categories. I have a generally libertarian viewpoint at the federal level — the federal government should stick to its enumerated powers, and do them well. I don’t think we should generally stick our nose into the business of other countries, but there are times when it is appropriate to do so. In short, I like to look at the facts and circumstances of each situation and arrive at a solution, whether foreign or domestic, which is supportable constitutionally, and also financially responsible. So, what does that make me?

  • DonS

    I’m jumping in late to this discussion, as we are traveling today. But, the problem is labels, both on the left and the right. Those having a more conservative point of view don’t self-identify as a “neocon”, or “paleocon” — those are media labels, and often used by the opposing side in a pejorative manner. Not so different than liberals not liking that label as applied by conservatives.

    Most people of a conservative persuasion, who have a bent to think about these things, have a free-wheeling perspective, not easily pigeon-holed. For example, I cannot neatly fit my viewpoints into any of these categories. I have a generally libertarian viewpoint at the federal level — the federal government should stick to its enumerated powers, and do them well. I don’t think we should generally stick our nose into the business of other countries, but there are times when it is appropriate to do so. In short, I like to look at the facts and circumstances of each situation and arrive at a solution, whether foreign or domestic, which is supportable constitutionally, and also financially responsible. So, what does that make me?

  • Louis

    DonS @ 42 – just as confused as most of us :)

  • Louis

    DonS @ 42 – just as confused as most of us :)

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS: These aren’t mere labels, pejorative or otherwise, concocted by the medial (“librul” or otherwise). The terms paleoconservative, neoconservative, and libertarian are theoretically useful terms signifying distinctive sets of beliefs about the political world.

    True, the “average American” does not self-identify as any one of them, having carefully considered the meaning and implication of each term and its impact upon the real world, but that does not strip the terms of their value. There are genuine and influential paleoconservatives just as there are and have been genuine Marxists or fascists who act in politics, write books and articles, and are deeply concerned about maintaining a consistent political theory. As you say, most Americans couldn’t be snugly fit into any of these “labels” (that are more than mere “labels”), but then, the average apparatchik, much less citizen, in the USSR wasn’t terribly interested in the finer points of Das Kapital either. Just because the average American who calls himself “conservative” has never read the oeuvre of Edmund Burke doesn’t mean that the term “paleoconservative” is useless, nor even that it would serve as a rough classification of said average American conservative.

    If you want to talk about a term that is utterly devoid of meaning, let’s talk about “moderate.” Aren’t most Americans allegedly “moderates” after all?

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS: These aren’t mere labels, pejorative or otherwise, concocted by the medial (“librul” or otherwise). The terms paleoconservative, neoconservative, and libertarian are theoretically useful terms signifying distinctive sets of beliefs about the political world.

    True, the “average American” does not self-identify as any one of them, having carefully considered the meaning and implication of each term and its impact upon the real world, but that does not strip the terms of their value. There are genuine and influential paleoconservatives just as there are and have been genuine Marxists or fascists who act in politics, write books and articles, and are deeply concerned about maintaining a consistent political theory. As you say, most Americans couldn’t be snugly fit into any of these “labels” (that are more than mere “labels”), but then, the average apparatchik, much less citizen, in the USSR wasn’t terribly interested in the finer points of Das Kapital either. Just because the average American who calls himself “conservative” has never read the oeuvre of Edmund Burke doesn’t mean that the term “paleoconservative” is useless, nor even that it would serve as a rough classification of said average American conservative.

    If you want to talk about a term that is utterly devoid of meaning, let’s talk about “moderate.” Aren’t most Americans allegedly “moderates” after all?

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if there isn’t something self-defeating at the heart of all political philosophies. David Walsh, in The Growth of the Liberal Soul (a work of constructive criticism), points out how the notion of progress itself, especially moral progress, ruined liberalism – by moving liberalism beyond its roots in Christian ethics, specifically, the Golden Rule. Similarly, might the combativeness that has characterized conservatism from its beginning be the very thing (a stance, or frame of mind) that prevents conservatives from cooperating with one another and achieving common goals?

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if there isn’t something self-defeating at the heart of all political philosophies. David Walsh, in The Growth of the Liberal Soul (a work of constructive criticism), points out how the notion of progress itself, especially moral progress, ruined liberalism – by moving liberalism beyond its roots in Christian ethics, specifically, the Golden Rule. Similarly, might the combativeness that has characterized conservatism from its beginning be the very thing (a stance, or frame of mind) that prevents conservatives from cooperating with one another and achieving common goals?

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus, I think DonS has a point, insofar as common usage, especially in the popular media (ie CNN, Fox etc, not The Atlantic etc), talk radio and all that. Insofar as common parlance therefore, I agree with him – these things are no more than epithets.

    However, as a lover of language (although my frequent typo’s here suggest otherwise ;) ), and from philosophical and socio-political pov (ie, an Intelectual pov), I agree with you. The unfortunate thing is that on a blog like this, these worlds mix. Hence it is difficult to know in what context these words are used. I know that long ago I suggested that our host define the words as we use – maybe this post indicates that a Wikipedia or OED defintion (please?) of terminology should be the departure point, at least here. Unfortunately, the free, online version of the OED does not offer defintions of words like paleoconservative, ordoliberal etc. Thus my plea for people to enage in the argument offered, and not so much in semantic power battles.

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus, I think DonS has a point, insofar as common usage, especially in the popular media (ie CNN, Fox etc, not The Atlantic etc), talk radio and all that. Insofar as common parlance therefore, I agree with him – these things are no more than epithets.

    However, as a lover of language (although my frequent typo’s here suggest otherwise ;) ), and from philosophical and socio-political pov (ie, an Intelectual pov), I agree with you. The unfortunate thing is that on a blog like this, these worlds mix. Hence it is difficult to know in what context these words are used. I know that long ago I suggested that our host define the words as we use – maybe this post indicates that a Wikipedia or OED defintion (please?) of terminology should be the departure point, at least here. Unfortunately, the free, online version of the OED does not offer defintions of words like paleoconservative, ordoliberal etc. Thus my plea for people to enage in the argument offered, and not so much in semantic power battles.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, the debate between neo-and paleo-conservatives has its roots in the debate between Hamilton/Washington.Adams and Jefferson/Hamilton/Henry.

    The former understood that America needed to be a strong urban, commercial and industrial as well as agricultural nation; the latter hoped that America would remain a small communal agricultural nation. Jefferson, also, was influenced by the radical egalitarian French Revolution.

    The debate was won by Hamilton, et al, though the Jeffersonians never gave up as is evident by the present paleo-conservatives. This debate has practically become a mainstay of American politics and will probably continue. In my view the Hamilton side of the debate is realistic and the Jefferson side rather romantic, however pleasantly.

    Washington, BTW, did argue against entangling alliances, though this was mainly due to American weakness at the time. The truth is that from the time the Puritans arrived, America has asserted itself strongly on the world stage.

    The reality is that America is at present the great power in the world, though we have by and large, as Kerner remarked, used that power with restraint. We properly assisted Europe during the World and Cold Wars, just as recently we liberated Iraq. Traditional and neo-conservatives are right that we need to exercise our legitimate power in the world, though it is undoubtedly right that the paleo-conservatives provide a cautionary influence.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, the debate between neo-and paleo-conservatives has its roots in the debate between Hamilton/Washington.Adams and Jefferson/Hamilton/Henry.

    The former understood that America needed to be a strong urban, commercial and industrial as well as agricultural nation; the latter hoped that America would remain a small communal agricultural nation. Jefferson, also, was influenced by the radical egalitarian French Revolution.

    The debate was won by Hamilton, et al, though the Jeffersonians never gave up as is evident by the present paleo-conservatives. This debate has practically become a mainstay of American politics and will probably continue. In my view the Hamilton side of the debate is realistic and the Jefferson side rather romantic, however pleasantly.

    Washington, BTW, did argue against entangling alliances, though this was mainly due to American weakness at the time. The truth is that from the time the Puritans arrived, America has asserted itself strongly on the world stage.

    The reality is that America is at present the great power in the world, though we have by and large, as Kerner remarked, used that power with restraint. We properly assisted Europe during the World and Cold Wars, just as recently we liberated Iraq. Traditional and neo-conservatives are right that we need to exercise our legitimate power in the world, though it is undoubtedly right that the paleo-conservatives provide a cautionary influence.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, except for your loaded language (they understood that America “needed” to be an industrial urban nation? well, in any case, they wanted it to be so), I agree with you–except that I vehemently disagree with Hamilton and regard him as my mortal theoretical enemy.

    I would, however, be careful in the application of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to the founders. For the most part, all of the Founders were radical liberals, subscribing to the rather new notions of “individual rights” and “consent of the governed.” This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the only possible “conservatives” (in the original usage of the term) I can think of amongst the founders might be John Adams (who flirted with sumptuary laws and other regulations that would maintain an aristocratic society) and some of those in the Constitutional Convention who favored the restoration of monarchy. Some of the anti-federlists might qualify. Hamilton might qualify if you consider conservatism as a disposition that privileges the power of the centralized state. But really, they were all just different varieties of liberal or, perhaps more helpful, republican (small “r”). The terms weren’t really in use at the time. True conservatives–i.e., loyalists–abandoned the nation (and good riddance!) at the start of the Revolution. Hence America’s peculiar usage of the terms in the first place: conservatives (with the exception of paleoconservatives) are those who maintain the liberalism of the founders and liberals are those who maintain the statist progressive ideologies that arose during the nineteenth century.

    Why yes, it is a bit complicated.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, except for your loaded language (they understood that America “needed” to be an industrial urban nation? well, in any case, they wanted it to be so), I agree with you–except that I vehemently disagree with Hamilton and regard him as my mortal theoretical enemy.

    I would, however, be careful in the application of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to the founders. For the most part, all of the Founders were radical liberals, subscribing to the rather new notions of “individual rights” and “consent of the governed.” This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the only possible “conservatives” (in the original usage of the term) I can think of amongst the founders might be John Adams (who flirted with sumptuary laws and other regulations that would maintain an aristocratic society) and some of those in the Constitutional Convention who favored the restoration of monarchy. Some of the anti-federlists might qualify. Hamilton might qualify if you consider conservatism as a disposition that privileges the power of the centralized state. But really, they were all just different varieties of liberal or, perhaps more helpful, republican (small “r”). The terms weren’t really in use at the time. True conservatives–i.e., loyalists–abandoned the nation (and good riddance!) at the start of the Revolution. Hence America’s peculiar usage of the terms in the first place: conservatives (with the exception of paleoconservatives) are those who maintain the liberalism of the founders and liberals are those who maintain the statist progressive ideologies that arose during the nineteenth century.

    Why yes, it is a bit complicated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    America is definitely on the decline. Given the decline in family cohesion, there is probably no way to recover. We paved the path to our own destruction with good intentions.

    The segments of the population that have the highest illegitimacy are growing and the segments with the most stable family characteristics are shrinking. The most educated have the fewest children. The least educated have the most.

    Social cohesion is breaking down. The government openly mocks productive people and endlessly excuses the indolent and violent. We don’t even teach our youth to be proud of our accomplishments which are considerable. This isn’t going to end well.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    America is definitely on the decline. Given the decline in family cohesion, there is probably no way to recover. We paved the path to our own destruction with good intentions.

    The segments of the population that have the highest illegitimacy are growing and the segments with the most stable family characteristics are shrinking. The most educated have the fewest children. The least educated have the most.

    Social cohesion is breaking down. The government openly mocks productive people and endlessly excuses the indolent and violent. We don’t even teach our youth to be proud of our accomplishments which are considerable. This isn’t going to end well.

  • Louis

    Of course, those of us outside the US (who still speak English, at least according to prof Higgins ;) ) understand the terms liberal and conservative differently – after all, here the terms seem to be defined in terms exclusive to the American political experience. I have noticed though that Canadian understanding of these terms are somewhat Americanised, though not completely, making it just as confusing. Thus my plea, way back at #8, to break down “positions” into smaller categories. As “sack names”, it might well be that liberal and conservative have outlived all usefulness.

  • Louis

    Of course, those of us outside the US (who still speak English, at least according to prof Higgins ;) ) understand the terms liberal and conservative differently – after all, here the terms seem to be defined in terms exclusive to the American political experience. I have noticed though that Canadian understanding of these terms are somewhat Americanised, though not completely, making it just as confusing. Thus my plea, way back at #8, to break down “positions” into smaller categories. As “sack names”, it might well be that liberal and conservative have outlived all usefulness.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@46), I have access to the complete online OED through my county library system, and so would like to offer its definitions for “paleoconservative, ordoliberal etc.”:

    palaeo-conservative | paleo-conservative, adj. and n.
    A. adj. Designating or characterized by old or traditional conservative views or attitudes; of or relating to a palaeo-conservative. Opposed to NEOCONSERVATIVE adj.
    B. n. A person who advocates old or traditional forms of conservatism; an extremely right-wing conservative. Opposed to NEOCONSERVATIVE n.

    neoconservative, n. and adj.
    A. n. A proponent or supporter of neoconservatism.
    B. adj. Designating or characteristic of new or revived conservative views or attitudes.

    Bloody helpful, OED. Thanks for nothing. Could’ve worked that out from the etymology, you know.

    Those who choose to make up their own definitions for words and lambast everyone else who disagrees on the most specious of grounds may choose to focus their response to this post on the fact that said knowledge was gained from access to a public library system, which systems is inherently soci@list, and therefore liberal, and therefore bad.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Louis (@46), I have access to the complete online OED through my county library system, and so would like to offer its definitions for “paleoconservative, ordoliberal etc.”:

    palaeo-conservative | paleo-conservative, adj. and n.
    A. adj. Designating or characterized by old or traditional conservative views or attitudes; of or relating to a palaeo-conservative. Opposed to NEOCONSERVATIVE adj.
    B. n. A person who advocates old or traditional forms of conservatism; an extremely right-wing conservative. Opposed to NEOCONSERVATIVE n.

    neoconservative, n. and adj.
    A. n. A proponent or supporter of neoconservatism.
    B. adj. Designating or characteristic of new or revived conservative views or attitudes.

    Bloody helpful, OED. Thanks for nothing. Could’ve worked that out from the etymology, you know.

    Those who choose to make up their own definitions for words and lambast everyone else who disagrees on the most specious of grounds may choose to focus their response to this post on the fact that said knowledge was gained from access to a public library system, which systems is inherently soci@list, and therefore liberal, and therefore bad.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, forgot to mention that the OED is, apparently, unaware of the word “ordoliberal”. So, you know, Porcell, you still have a chance to make your definition the preferred one, as opposed to all the other people out there using it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, forgot to mention that the OED is, apparently, unaware of the word “ordoliberal”. So, you know, Porcell, you still have a chance to make your definition the preferred one, as opposed to all the other people out there using it.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, while I’m very skeptical of the possibility of the “conservatisms” working something out–after all, neoconservatism has more in common with progressivism/liberalism than anything else–some have noticed, especially at the local level, that paleoconservatism has found some common ground with the New Left. Community design is probably the most prominent of these issues: both paleoconservatives and (some) leftists are in favor of sustainable design and community planning that replicates the patterns of the more organic cities and towns of yore, as well as an emphasis on local food, etc. On both the “extreme” right and the “crunchy” left, you’ll find people interested in home schooling, composting, subsidiarity, local control, different transit and zoning models, revised agricultural practices, etc. While they often disagree on the means of achieving such patterns, and while I do not advocate an holistic alliance between the two parties, this common ground has actually proven quite fruitful in many communities, including my own.

    /cool story, bro.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, while I’m very skeptical of the possibility of the “conservatisms” working something out–after all, neoconservatism has more in common with progressivism/liberalism than anything else–some have noticed, especially at the local level, that paleoconservatism has found some common ground with the New Left. Community design is probably the most prominent of these issues: both paleoconservatives and (some) leftists are in favor of sustainable design and community planning that replicates the patterns of the more organic cities and towns of yore, as well as an emphasis on local food, etc. On both the “extreme” right and the “crunchy” left, you’ll find people interested in home schooling, composting, subsidiarity, local control, different transit and zoning models, revised agricultural practices, etc. While they often disagree on the means of achieving such patterns, and while I do not advocate an holistic alliance between the two parties, this common ground has actually proven quite fruitful in many communities, including my own.

    /cool story, bro.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, we get to the heart of our disagreement. Hamilton is my favorite of the founders. You are right to view him as your mortal theoretical enemy. I do think it is good that the Hamilton/Jefferson debate continues to be vital, as I’m well aware of the dangers of unrestrained democratic capitalism.

    Second, while men like Adams, Washington, and Hamilton were influenced by the liberalism of the Enlightenment, they, also, held by and large to orthodox Christianity that moderated this liberalism. In my view America has become a great nation due both to its commercial, technological, and industrial strength and the fact that it is among the most religious nations on earth. The biggest threat to our continued greatness is the threat of purely secular liberalism.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, we get to the heart of our disagreement. Hamilton is my favorite of the founders. You are right to view him as your mortal theoretical enemy. I do think it is good that the Hamilton/Jefferson debate continues to be vital, as I’m well aware of the dangers of unrestrained democratic capitalism.

    Second, while men like Adams, Washington, and Hamilton were influenced by the liberalism of the Enlightenment, they, also, held by and large to orthodox Christianity that moderated this liberalism. In my view America has become a great nation due both to its commercial, technological, and industrial strength and the fact that it is among the most religious nations on earth. The biggest threat to our continued greatness is the threat of purely secular liberalism.

  • Tom Hering

    “… while men like Adams, Washington, and Hamilton were influenced by the liberalism of the Enlightenment, they, also, held by and large to orthodox Christianity …” – Porcell @ 54.

    Hmm. Steven Waldman argues quite convincingly that the faith most of the Founders held to was a form of what we today call Unitarian/Universalism.

  • Tom Hering

    “… while men like Adams, Washington, and Hamilton were influenced by the liberalism of the Enlightenment, they, also, held by and large to orthodox Christianity …” – Porcell @ 54.

    Hmm. Steven Waldman argues quite convincingly that the faith most of the Founders held to was a form of what we today call Unitarian/Universalism.

  • Porcell

    Tom, the founders were influenced by the Deism of the 18th century, though, except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, they retained orthodox Christianity. All of them would be appalled by the syncretism of contemporary Unitarianism that effectively replaced the divinity of Christ with that of themselves.

  • Porcell

    Tom, the founders were influenced by the Deism of the 18th century, though, except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, they retained orthodox Christianity. All of them would be appalled by the syncretism of contemporary Unitarianism that effectively replaced the divinity of Christ with that of themselves.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@56), in addition to being completely without evidence, your comment makes the remarkable (and dubious) claim that orthodox Christianity can be “influenced by Deism”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@56), in addition to being completely without evidence, your comment makes the remarkable (and dubious) claim that orthodox Christianity can be “influenced by Deism”.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, I’d encourage you to give Waldman a read. From the NYT review:

    “Waldman wants to make two large points, rebuking by turns both sides in the contemporary culture wars. One common myth, he writes, holds that ‘the founding fathers wanted religious freedom because they were deists.’ The First Amendment, in this view, is a conjurer’s trick designed to hold the rubes’ attention while gentlemen professed polite unbelief over their after-dinner port. In fact, Waldman writes, ‘few’ of the founders ‘were true deists — people who believed that God had created the universe and then receded from action.’ Many were orthodox Christians — Waldman lists Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Witherspoon (a Presbyterian minister) and Roger Sherman. The founders whose biographies fill our best-seller lists are a more heterodox lot. John Adams, a scrappy Unitarian, scolded Catholics, Anglicans and skeptical French philosophers as each passed under his eye. Benjamin Franklin flirted with polytheism in his youth but ended believing in ‘one God, creator of the universe,’ who ‘governs the world by his providence.’ Thomas Jefferson railed against the Christian church, past and present, as corrupting the teachings of Jesus, and made his own digest of Gospel sayings he considered accurate. ‘It was the work of two or three nights only, at Washington,’ Waldman quotes him, ‘after getting thro’ the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day.’ Yet even these founders, Waldman says, ‘believed in God and that he shaped their lives and fortunes.’”

    Most of the better-known Founders had trouble with the Divinity of Jesus.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, I’d encourage you to give Waldman a read. From the NYT review:

    “Waldman wants to make two large points, rebuking by turns both sides in the contemporary culture wars. One common myth, he writes, holds that ‘the founding fathers wanted religious freedom because they were deists.’ The First Amendment, in this view, is a conjurer’s trick designed to hold the rubes’ attention while gentlemen professed polite unbelief over their after-dinner port. In fact, Waldman writes, ‘few’ of the founders ‘were true deists — people who believed that God had created the universe and then receded from action.’ Many were orthodox Christians — Waldman lists Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Witherspoon (a Presbyterian minister) and Roger Sherman. The founders whose biographies fill our best-seller lists are a more heterodox lot. John Adams, a scrappy Unitarian, scolded Catholics, Anglicans and skeptical French philosophers as each passed under his eye. Benjamin Franklin flirted with polytheism in his youth but ended believing in ‘one God, creator of the universe,’ who ‘governs the world by his providence.’ Thomas Jefferson railed against the Christian church, past and present, as corrupting the teachings of Jesus, and made his own digest of Gospel sayings he considered accurate. ‘It was the work of two or three nights only, at Washington,’ Waldman quotes him, ‘after getting thro’ the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day.’ Yet even these founders, Waldman says, ‘believed in God and that he shaped their lives and fortunes.’”

    Most of the better-known Founders had trouble with the Divinity of Jesus.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    tODD and Tom seem to have a handle on this one.

    The founders were liberals and deists. Most were not conservative or orthodox Christians.

    The OED definitions seem to match current usage. I think it is updated annually.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    tODD and Tom seem to have a handle on this one.

    The founders were liberals and deists. Most were not conservative or orthodox Christians.

    The OED definitions seem to match current usage. I think it is updated annually.

  • Tom Hering

    sg @ 59: correct. Revolutionary political ideas and revolutionary religious ideas went hand-in-hand for the better-known Founders. Many of the Loyalists were Loyalists because they were orthodox Anglicans.

  • Tom Hering

    sg @ 59: correct. Revolutionary political ideas and revolutionary religious ideas went hand-in-hand for the better-known Founders. Many of the Loyalists were Loyalists because they were orthodox Anglicans.

  • Porcell

    The subject of Deism and the founders is explicated well in a First Things article, The Deist Minimum by Avery Cardinal Dulles including:

    Because of these and other weaknesses, deism deserved to perish as it did, but it did not die without leaving a valuable legacy. Its influence on the American tradition has been enduring, beneficial and, one might say, providential. Although the Founding Fathers refrained from enshrining the particular theses of deism in official documents or public speeches, they composed these statements in such a way as to affirm the vestiges of faith that still survived in Christian deism without excluding more robust forms of Jewish and Christian faith.

    Our American republic has therefore had what, following Jean-Jacques Rousseau, we may call a civil religion. Rousseau enumerates the positive dogmas of such a religion as follows: “the existence of a mighty, intelligent, beneficent divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, and [Rousseau added] the sanctity of the social contract.” The civil religion of this country has been expressed in our national institutions and in the great pronouncements of our national heroes, most notably Abraham Lincoln.

    I’m afraid you fellows have been unduly influenced by such basically liberal flacks as Waldman. John Adams, for example, while influenced by Deism, was born an orthodox Congregationalist Christian and died one. His most astute biographer, Page Smith, wrote:

    In theology he [Adams] was bent on steering a course between skepticism and Deism on one side and Calvinist orthodoxy on the other.</i< Adams would be utterly appalled with present day Unitarianism.

  • Porcell

    The subject of Deism and the founders is explicated well in a First Things article, The Deist Minimum by Avery Cardinal Dulles including:

    Because of these and other weaknesses, deism deserved to perish as it did, but it did not die without leaving a valuable legacy. Its influence on the American tradition has been enduring, beneficial and, one might say, providential. Although the Founding Fathers refrained from enshrining the particular theses of deism in official documents or public speeches, they composed these statements in such a way as to affirm the vestiges of faith that still survived in Christian deism without excluding more robust forms of Jewish and Christian faith.

    Our American republic has therefore had what, following Jean-Jacques Rousseau, we may call a civil religion. Rousseau enumerates the positive dogmas of such a religion as follows: “the existence of a mighty, intelligent, beneficent divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, and [Rousseau added] the sanctity of the social contract.” The civil religion of this country has been expressed in our national institutions and in the great pronouncements of our national heroes, most notably Abraham Lincoln.

    I’m afraid you fellows have been unduly influenced by such basically liberal flacks as Waldman. John Adams, for example, while influenced by Deism, was born an orthodox Congregationalist Christian and died one. His most astute biographer, Page Smith, wrote:

    In theology he [Adams] was bent on steering a course between skepticism and Deism on one side and Calvinist orthodoxy on the other.</i< Adams would be utterly appalled with present day Unitarianism.

  • Ken

    The following is an extended quote from pages 26 and 27 of Dr. Veith’s “Modern Fascism,” published in 1993. I offer it only to indicate the basis for my original comment in # 29 above:

    Part of the problem in recognizing fascism is the assumption that it is conservative. [Zeev] Sternhall has observed how study of the ideology has been obscured by “the official Marxist interpretation of fascism.” Marxism defines fascism as its polar opposite. If Marxism is progressive, fascism is conservative. If Marxism is left wing, fascism is right wing. If Marxism champions the proletariat, fascism champions the bourgeoisie. If Marxism is socialist, fascism is capitalist.
    The influence of Marxist scholarship has severely distorted our understanding of fascism. Communism and fascism were rival brands of socialism. Whereas Marxist socialism is predicated on an international class struggle, fascist national socialism promoted a socialism centered in national unity. Both communists and fascists opposed the bourgeoisie. Both attacked the conservatives. Both were mass movements, which had special appeal for the intelligentsia, students, and artists, as well as workers. Both favored strong, centralized governments and rejected a free economy and the ideals of individual liberty. Fascists saw themselves as being neither of the right nor the left. They believed that they constituted a third force, synthesizing the best of both extremes. There are important differences and bitter ideological enmity between Marxism and fascism; but their opposition to each other should not disguise their kinship as revolutionary socialist ideologies.
    Nor should figures of speech such as right wing or left wing or artificial constructs such as reactionary and radical obscure a way of thinking that permeated a whole range of political and social positions. The left wing/right wing metaphor, which portrays the two revolutionary ideologies as opposite extremes, is profoundly misleading. Jaroslav Krejci has shown the inadequacy of the “unilinear imagery” of left vs. right. He points out that the metaphor comes from the seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution. Politically, those seated on the right favored an absolute monarch. Economically, they favored government monopolies and a controlled economy. Those seated on the left favored democracy, a free market economy, and personal liberty.
    Such a spatial metaphor corresponded well to the Cartesian geometry of the Enlightenment and to 18th-century political options, but it breaks down as a model for 20th-century politics. In terms of the original model, American conservatives who want less government and trust the free market would be on the left. Liberals who want more of a government-directed economy would be on the right. Liberal and conservative are themselves relative terms—depending upon what one has to conserve. The liberals of the 19th century, with their free-market economics and resistance to government control, are the conservatives of the 20th century.
    When it comes to socialist alternatives, as Krejci shows, the range of left and right becomes meaningless. Marxists states practice a controlled economy and have a strong, authoritative central government with strict controls upon their populations. They would have to sit in the right wing of the French parliament. On the other hand, Marxists are revolutionaries and thus definitely anticonservative. Fascist socialism, for all its differences with Marxism, is similar in advocating a controlled economy, a strong central government, and strict control over the populace, while being culturally and intellectually radical. Nevertheless, as Krejci says, “in spite of many affinities between them, the communists continued to be viewed as the extreme left and the Nazis as the supreme right.” As a result, those who think of themselves as being “politically correct” leftists accuse “right-wing” conservatives of being fascists, but are oblivious to fascist tendencies of their own.

  • Ken

    The following is an extended quote from pages 26 and 27 of Dr. Veith’s “Modern Fascism,” published in 1993. I offer it only to indicate the basis for my original comment in # 29 above:

    Part of the problem in recognizing fascism is the assumption that it is conservative. [Zeev] Sternhall has observed how study of the ideology has been obscured by “the official Marxist interpretation of fascism.” Marxism defines fascism as its polar opposite. If Marxism is progressive, fascism is conservative. If Marxism is left wing, fascism is right wing. If Marxism champions the proletariat, fascism champions the bourgeoisie. If Marxism is socialist, fascism is capitalist.
    The influence of Marxist scholarship has severely distorted our understanding of fascism. Communism and fascism were rival brands of socialism. Whereas Marxist socialism is predicated on an international class struggle, fascist national socialism promoted a socialism centered in national unity. Both communists and fascists opposed the bourgeoisie. Both attacked the conservatives. Both were mass movements, which had special appeal for the intelligentsia, students, and artists, as well as workers. Both favored strong, centralized governments and rejected a free economy and the ideals of individual liberty. Fascists saw themselves as being neither of the right nor the left. They believed that they constituted a third force, synthesizing the best of both extremes. There are important differences and bitter ideological enmity between Marxism and fascism; but their opposition to each other should not disguise their kinship as revolutionary socialist ideologies.
    Nor should figures of speech such as right wing or left wing or artificial constructs such as reactionary and radical obscure a way of thinking that permeated a whole range of political and social positions. The left wing/right wing metaphor, which portrays the two revolutionary ideologies as opposite extremes, is profoundly misleading. Jaroslav Krejci has shown the inadequacy of the “unilinear imagery” of left vs. right. He points out that the metaphor comes from the seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution. Politically, those seated on the right favored an absolute monarch. Economically, they favored government monopolies and a controlled economy. Those seated on the left favored democracy, a free market economy, and personal liberty.
    Such a spatial metaphor corresponded well to the Cartesian geometry of the Enlightenment and to 18th-century political options, but it breaks down as a model for 20th-century politics. In terms of the original model, American conservatives who want less government and trust the free market would be on the left. Liberals who want more of a government-directed economy would be on the right. Liberal and conservative are themselves relative terms—depending upon what one has to conserve. The liberals of the 19th century, with their free-market economics and resistance to government control, are the conservatives of the 20th century.
    When it comes to socialist alternatives, as Krejci shows, the range of left and right becomes meaningless. Marxists states practice a controlled economy and have a strong, authoritative central government with strict controls upon their populations. They would have to sit in the right wing of the French parliament. On the other hand, Marxists are revolutionaries and thus definitely anticonservative. Fascist socialism, for all its differences with Marxism, is similar in advocating a controlled economy, a strong central government, and strict control over the populace, while being culturally and intellectually radical. Nevertheless, as Krejci says, “in spite of many affinities between them, the communists continued to be viewed as the extreme left and the Nazis as the supreme right.” As a result, those who think of themselves as being “politically correct” leftists accuse “right-wing” conservatives of being fascists, but are oblivious to fascist tendencies of their own.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Issues etc. Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Glenn Beck, Mormonism, David Barton and American History

    Dr. John Warwick Montgomery of Patrick Henry College

    This guy basically makes the same points Tom Hering is making. I listened to the podcast while mowing the lawn.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Issues etc. Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Glenn Beck, Mormonism, David Barton and American History

    Dr. John Warwick Montgomery of Patrick Henry College

    This guy basically makes the same points Tom Hering is making. I listened to the podcast while mowing the lawn.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ken@66 (and “Another Kerner@wherever her comment went): As I said above @34, fascism is only on the left if you employ one version of the right/left spectrum (the one that places all versions of statism on the left). By other spectrums of older vintage, fascism is placed on the right quite appropriately.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ken@66 (and “Another Kerner@wherever her comment went): As I said above @34, fascism is only on the left if you employ one version of the right/left spectrum (the one that places all versions of statism on the left). By other spectrums of older vintage, fascism is placed on the right quite appropriately.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Both communists and fascists opposed the bourgeoisie.”

    That’s the money quote.

    The bourgeoisie. That’s us, folks; productive, law abiding, tax paying that consume very little in services.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Both communists and fascists opposed the bourgeoisie.”

    That’s the money quote.

    The bourgeoisie. That’s us, folks; productive, law abiding, tax paying that consume very little in services.

  • SAL

    The ideologies listed don’t seem particularly conservative. Paleoconservatism isn’t an ideology and it is conservative.

    Libertarianism and Neoconservatism love ideals more than concrete real life things. Abstract concepts like freedom or individuality are loved more than the local downtown or the local culture.

    My beef with the political class, the media’s cultural elites and Wall Street’s financial elites are that their activities contribute and excerbate the destruction and decay of the communities and cultures I love. The dismantling and fleecing of my community effects my life much more concretely than any ephemeral concepts like freedom or equality.

  • SAL

    The ideologies listed don’t seem particularly conservative. Paleoconservatism isn’t an ideology and it is conservative.

    Libertarianism and Neoconservatism love ideals more than concrete real life things. Abstract concepts like freedom or individuality are loved more than the local downtown or the local culture.

    My beef with the political class, the media’s cultural elites and Wall Street’s financial elites are that their activities contribute and excerbate the destruction and decay of the communities and cultures I love. The dismantling and fleecing of my community effects my life much more concretely than any ephemeral concepts like freedom or equality.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Porcell (@64), way to miss my point entirely. I’ll copy and paste it for you to read again: your comment (now @59) makes the remarkable (and dubious) claim that orthodox Christianity can be “influenced by Deism”.

    Your comment follows an unfortunate pattern in your posts here. (1) point to an authority (a Catholic one, of course, preferably by prefacing it by saying that so-and-so “explicates well” or so-and-so “well understands”) and claim that his argument trumps all other claims to the contrary here. (2) Smear those who disagree with you by calling them “liberal”. (3) Make incoherent claims that are often belied by your own arguments.

    For instance, here is one of many claims for which you provide no basis: “John Adams, for example, while influenced by Deism, was born an orthodox Congregationalist Christian and died one.” Meanwhile, here’s what your precious Catholic authority has to say on the man: “John Adams … [is] described as [a] liberal Christian strongly influenced by deism.” Neither “liberal Christianity” nor “deism” are “orthodox” Christianity in any sense, pretty much by definition.

    I mean, look at another of your own quotes, this one from Page Smith: “[Adams] was bent on steering a course between skepticism and Deism on one side and Calvinist orthodoxy on the other.” A course with “orthodoxy” (such as it was) on one side, to serve as an extreme, cannot itself be orthodox.

    Let’s revisit your claim once more: “the founders were influenced by the Deism of the 18th century, though, except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, they retained orthodox Christianity.” Now let’s look at the article that, somehow, you think backs this up. First of all, you missed Stephen Hopkins, another Declaration signer “characterized as [a] deist.” And, as I noted before, “two others, John Adams of Massachusetts and George Wythe of Virginia, are described as liberal Christians strongly influenced by deism.” What’s more, “four, including Jefferson’s friend Benjamin Rush, were liberals not inclined toward deism.” Again, “liberal” Christians are not “orthodox”. You’d think a person who slings around the word “liberal” as much as you do would get this quite easily. Once more, from your article, “Among the founders of the American republic who were not signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, James Madison, and George Mason were religious liberals leaning toward deism.”

    In short, your claim appears utterly unfounded, even according to those few authorities you’ll listen to.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Porcell (@64), way to miss my point entirely. I’ll copy and paste it for you to read again: your comment (now @59) makes the remarkable (and dubious) claim that orthodox Christianity can be “influenced by Deism”.

    Your comment follows an unfortunate pattern in your posts here. (1) point to an authority (a Catholic one, of course, preferably by prefacing it by saying that so-and-so “explicates well” or so-and-so “well understands”) and claim that his argument trumps all other claims to the contrary here. (2) Smear those who disagree with you by calling them “liberal”. (3) Make incoherent claims that are often belied by your own arguments.

    For instance, here is one of many claims for which you provide no basis: “John Adams, for example, while influenced by Deism, was born an orthodox Congregationalist Christian and died one.” Meanwhile, here’s what your precious Catholic authority has to say on the man: “John Adams … [is] described as [a] liberal Christian strongly influenced by deism.” Neither “liberal Christianity” nor “deism” are “orthodox” Christianity in any sense, pretty much by definition.

    I mean, look at another of your own quotes, this one from Page Smith: “[Adams] was bent on steering a course between skepticism and Deism on one side and Calvinist orthodoxy on the other.” A course with “orthodoxy” (such as it was) on one side, to serve as an extreme, cannot itself be orthodox.

    Let’s revisit your claim once more: “the founders were influenced by the Deism of the 18th century, though, except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, they retained orthodox Christianity.” Now let’s look at the article that, somehow, you think backs this up. First of all, you missed Stephen Hopkins, another Declaration signer “characterized as [a] deist.” And, as I noted before, “two others, John Adams of Massachusetts and George Wythe of Virginia, are described as liberal Christians strongly influenced by deism.” What’s more, “four, including Jefferson’s friend Benjamin Rush, were liberals not inclined toward deism.” Again, “liberal” Christians are not “orthodox”. You’d think a person who slings around the word “liberal” as much as you do would get this quite easily. Once more, from your article, “Among the founders of the American republic who were not signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, James Madison, and George Mason were religious liberals leaning toward deism.”

    In short, your claim appears utterly unfounded, even according to those few authorities you’ll listen to.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I said above @34, fascism is only on the left if you employ one version of the right/left spectrum (the one that places all versions of statism on the left). By other spectrums of older vintage, fascism is placed on the right quite appropriately.”

    The whole right/left argument is so pointless. It distracts from the real reason and basis for government. Who cares if an idea is left or right, liberal or conservative? What matters is whether it is a good idea. The notion that redistributing wealth to the poor/lazy/violent is somehow equitable is insane. What is fair, right or charitable about rewarding atrocious and destructive behavior? That is not biblically based nor does it come from evolutionary theory. If we had a real left in this country like we did at the founding, it wouldn’t be promoting dumping money into programs that have a 50 year track record for worsening the problems they were intended to ameliorate. We have no real left anymore. Both left and right serve the interests of the elites not of the people. We are doomed. Oh well, at least as Christians we knew that from the outset.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I said above @34, fascism is only on the left if you employ one version of the right/left spectrum (the one that places all versions of statism on the left). By other spectrums of older vintage, fascism is placed on the right quite appropriately.”

    The whole right/left argument is so pointless. It distracts from the real reason and basis for government. Who cares if an idea is left or right, liberal or conservative? What matters is whether it is a good idea. The notion that redistributing wealth to the poor/lazy/violent is somehow equitable is insane. What is fair, right or charitable about rewarding atrocious and destructive behavior? That is not biblically based nor does it come from evolutionary theory. If we had a real left in this country like we did at the founding, it wouldn’t be promoting dumping money into programs that have a 50 year track record for worsening the problems they were intended to ameliorate. We have no real left anymore. Both left and right serve the interests of the elites not of the people. We are doomed. Oh well, at least as Christians we knew that from the outset.

  • Cincinnatus

    Good point, sg, though I stop short of concluding that we are “doomed.” I’m not inclined to give up hope in an equitable and just community yet–else what am I here for?

  • Cincinnatus

    Good point, sg, though I stop short of concluding that we are “doomed.” I’m not inclined to give up hope in an equitable and just community yet–else what am I here for?

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    I am looking for names and contact info of any Calvinist/Lutheran/Reform academics that have made any major advances/contribution of any of the top ten academic journals in the last 3 years.

    If anyone know of any could you please pass their names and contact into along to me at webulite@gmail.com

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    I am looking for names and contact info of any Calvinist/Lutheran/Reform academics that have made any major advances/contribution of any of the top ten academic journals in the last 3 years.

    If anyone know of any could you please pass their names and contact into along to me at webulite@gmail.com

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • Louis

    Webulite – what is a Top Ten Journal? In my world, it would be Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Journal of Volcanology & Geothermal Research, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Lithos….

    And no author lists their personal belief system when publishing, and neither is it relevant. You are missing your target here, you might like to troll some Reconstructionist / postmillenialist Reformed website…

  • Louis

    Webulite – what is a Top Ten Journal? In my world, it would be Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Journal of Volcanology & Geothermal Research, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Lithos….

    And no author lists their personal belief system when publishing, and neither is it relevant. You are missing your target here, you might like to troll some Reconstructionist / postmillenialist Reformed website…

  • Louis

    BTW, most of us could be just as much proletariat as bourgeoisie, the terms are irrelevant in an oligarchy.

  • Louis

    BTW, most of us could be just as much proletariat as bourgeoisie, the terms are irrelevant in an oligarchy.

  • kerner

    Louis @ 75:

    What oligarchy?

  • kerner

    Louis @ 75:

    What oligarchy?

  • Louis

    Kerner, much to the dismay of some ;) , I’m going to quote from….Wikipedia!

    An oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía[1]) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words “ὀλίγος” (olígos), “a few”[2] and the verb “ἄρχω” (archo), “to rule, to govern, to command”.[3] Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.

    and

    Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.

    and

    Robert Michels believed that any political system eventually evolves into an oligarchy. He called this the iron law of oligarchy. According to this school of thought, modern democracies should be considered as oligarchies. In these systems, actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an acceptable and respectable political position, and politicians’ careers depend heavily on unelected economic and media elites.

    Hmmm – sound familiar?

  • Louis

    Kerner, much to the dismay of some ;) , I’m going to quote from….Wikipedia!

    An oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía[1]) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words “ὀλίγος” (olígos), “a few”[2] and the verb “ἄρχω” (archo), “to rule, to govern, to command”.[3] Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.

    and

    Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.

    and

    Robert Michels believed that any political system eventually evolves into an oligarchy. He called this the iron law of oligarchy. According to this school of thought, modern democracies should be considered as oligarchies. In these systems, actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an acceptable and respectable political position, and politicians’ careers depend heavily on unelected economic and media elites.

    Hmmm – sound familiar?

  • Another Kerner

    sg @71

    I care, because the totalitarians in our midst have used the term “fascist” as a weapon against those who would resist the “statism” which currently confronts us.

    Such language is used to taint and smear individuals or groups of individuals who would stand against totalitarianism in its many forms.

    Sometimes wrongly assigning a nasty, disgusting name to another’s ideas is enough to silence some folks.

    Twisting the meanings of words is an art.

    I don’t think the republic is doomed, at least not quite yet.

    What does matter?

    It matters that the LORD tells us to “resist evil”
    wherever we find it.

  • Another Kerner

    sg @71

    I care, because the totalitarians in our midst have used the term “fascist” as a weapon against those who would resist the “statism” which currently confronts us.

    Such language is used to taint and smear individuals or groups of individuals who would stand against totalitarianism in its many forms.

    Sometimes wrongly assigning a nasty, disgusting name to another’s ideas is enough to silence some folks.

    Twisting the meanings of words is an art.

    I don’t think the republic is doomed, at least not quite yet.

    What does matter?

    It matters that the LORD tells us to “resist evil”
    wherever we find it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Another,

    A fair point.

    Although we are really making similar points decrying the misuse of labels to shut down honest discussion and scuttle truly civic minded governance in favor of the economic interests of the connected.

    You’re right, of course, about resisting evil. We can and must.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Another,

    A fair point.

    Although we are really making similar points decrying the misuse of labels to shut down honest discussion and scuttle truly civic minded governance in favor of the economic interests of the connected.

    You’re right, of course, about resisting evil. We can and must.

  • Another Kerner

    Amen, sg.

    And the ending of it all is in the hand of Almighty God.

  • Another Kerner

    Amen, sg.

    And the ending of it all is in the hand of Almighty God.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    webulite,

    Francis Collins, who lead the team that sequenced the human genome is a protestant and now head of the NIH.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09070906.html

    That is just off the top of my head.

    If you will read some science blogs, they chat now and then about who is religious etc. One quick source for many all together is
    http://scienceblogs.com

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    webulite,

    Francis Collins, who lead the team that sequenced the human genome is a protestant and now head of the NIH.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09070906.html

    That is just off the top of my head.

    If you will read some science blogs, they chat now and then about who is religious etc. One quick source for many all together is
    http://scienceblogs.com

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    webulite

    One of my favorite science bloggers is Matt Springer. Just a lowly grad student, but I seem to recall he mentioned publishing something recently. He might not have said where. I think he is Christian.
    Lovely post on light:
    http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/08/maxwells_equations_light.php

    Not sure why you think Christians aren’t well represented in science. Last time I looked at a World Values Survey, there were plenty of religious folks in science.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    webulite

    One of my favorite science bloggers is Matt Springer. Just a lowly grad student, but I seem to recall he mentioned publishing something recently. He might not have said where. I think he is Christian.
    Lovely post on light:
    http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/08/maxwells_equations_light.php

    Not sure why you think Christians aren’t well represented in science. Last time I looked at a World Values Survey, there were plenty of religious folks in science.

  • kerner

    Louis@77:

    I know what an oligarchy is. I don’t know that I live in one…yet. While I do see forces at work that seem to be directed at turning my country into an oligarchy, I still believe that my country is big enough, diverse enough, and just plain ornery enough to be still frustrating those forces. I also believe those forces are disunified enough to further contribute to their own frustration.

  • kerner

    Louis@77:

    I know what an oligarchy is. I don’t know that I live in one…yet. While I do see forces at work that seem to be directed at turning my country into an oligarchy, I still believe that my country is big enough, diverse enough, and just plain ornery enough to be still frustrating those forces. I also believe those forces are disunified enough to further contribute to their own frustration.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’ll stand by my basic point that America, despite the quickly passing Deism and rhetoric of contemporary liberals, was settled and founded by seriously religious Christian people.

    Samuel Huntington, a Protestant, in his last book Who Are We? in a section “A Religious People” writes:

    Americans have been an extremely religious and overwhelmingly Christian people throughout their history. The seventeenth century… founded their communities in America in large art for religious reasons.. Eighteenth-century and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their covenant with God and was a war between “God’s Elect” and the British Antichrist.Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or non-believers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    Despite your huffing and puffing about Catholic authority, you haven’t come close to refuting Avery Cardinal Dulles’s theme in his essay The Deist Minimum

    As to Adams, during his life, though influenced by the passing fancy of Deism, he retained a substantially orthodox Christian stance

    A couple of Adams quotes:

    We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. –October 11, 1798

    I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen. December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

  • Porcell

    Todd, I’ll stand by my basic point that America, despite the quickly passing Deism and rhetoric of contemporary liberals, was settled and founded by seriously religious Christian people.

    Samuel Huntington, a Protestant, in his last book Who Are We? in a section “A Religious People” writes:

    Americans have been an extremely religious and overwhelmingly Christian people throughout their history. The seventeenth century… founded their communities in America in large art for religious reasons.. Eighteenth-century and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their covenant with God and was a war between “God’s Elect” and the British Antichrist.Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or non-believers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    Despite your huffing and puffing about Catholic authority, you haven’t come close to refuting Avery Cardinal Dulles’s theme in his essay The Deist Minimum

    As to Adams, during his life, though influenced by the passing fancy of Deism, he retained a substantially orthodox Christian stance

    A couple of Adams quotes:

    We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. –October 11, 1798

    I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen. December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

  • Joe

    The debate over the religion of the founders is a waste of time. You can find among the men who played a role in the founding everything from ordained ministers to straight out rationalists. The founders were not all members of the same churches or did they on all points of philosophy. This is at the heart of why we ended up with the gov’t structures we did. They are purposefully designed to ensure that we do not allow one faction (that is the word they used repeatedly) be it a religious factions or a political faction to gain to much power.

    To extrapolate out a single religious veiw for a group of men – many of who did not like or trust each other – is silly and impossible.

  • Joe

    The debate over the religion of the founders is a waste of time. You can find among the men who played a role in the founding everything from ordained ministers to straight out rationalists. The founders were not all members of the same churches or did they on all points of philosophy. This is at the heart of why we ended up with the gov’t structures we did. They are purposefully designed to ensure that we do not allow one faction (that is the word they used repeatedly) be it a religious factions or a political faction to gain to much power.

    To extrapolate out a single religious veiw for a group of men – many of who did not like or trust each other – is silly and impossible.

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Dear sg @ geneveith.com

    One of my favorite science bloggers is Matt Springer. Just a lowly grad student, but I seem to recall he mentioned publishing something recently. He might not have said where. I think he is Christian.

    I am sorry, I was looking for academic Calvinists/Luthern/reformed academics that had made contributions to the field of NT studies. Not in all fields in general. Sorry if I was not more clear on that.

    If anyone know of any I would appreciate let me know of them, and their contact into to webulite@gmail.com

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • http://webulite.com webulite

    Dear sg @ geneveith.com

    One of my favorite science bloggers is Matt Springer. Just a lowly grad student, but I seem to recall he mentioned publishing something recently. He might not have said where. I think he is Christian.

    I am sorry, I was looking for academic Calvinists/Luthern/reformed academics that had made contributions to the field of NT studies. Not in all fields in general. Sorry if I was not more clear on that.

    If anyone know of any I would appreciate let me know of them, and their contact into to webulite@gmail.com

    Cheers! webulite.com

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell @ 84, I’m not sure how either of those Adams quotes show how he held a “substantially orthodox Christian stance.” He doesn’t speak about the Person and work of Jesus Christ in them.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell @ 84, I’m not sure how either of those Adams quotes show how he held a “substantially orthodox Christian stance.” He doesn’t speak about the Person and work of Jesus Christ in them.

  • Cincinnatus

    As Joe mentioned, a debate about which of the Founders were “orthodox” Christians isn’t a fruitful one. Aside from the fact that many of them weren’t, none of the most influential Founders were interested in applying “orthodox” Christianity to the design of their polity. The American government as explicated in the Constitution is a direct product of the Enlightenment. This is not necessarily to claim that it is a bad thing (though I am not a fan of the Enlightenment).

    On the other hand, much about both the Enlightenment and the American experiment were derivatives of Christian principles: the basic equality of all under God, the individual dignity of each, religious “toleration,” etc. Further, in their private lives, some of the Founders were Christians of the orthodox sort. Beyond a very general application of extrapolated Christian principles in their ideas (which, considering the times, was somewhat inevitable), I don’t really know what you hope to prove by demonstrating the faith (or lack thereof) of various founders.

  • Cincinnatus

    As Joe mentioned, a debate about which of the Founders were “orthodox” Christians isn’t a fruitful one. Aside from the fact that many of them weren’t, none of the most influential Founders were interested in applying “orthodox” Christianity to the design of their polity. The American government as explicated in the Constitution is a direct product of the Enlightenment. This is not necessarily to claim that it is a bad thing (though I am not a fan of the Enlightenment).

    On the other hand, much about both the Enlightenment and the American experiment were derivatives of Christian principles: the basic equality of all under God, the individual dignity of each, religious “toleration,” etc. Further, in their private lives, some of the Founders were Christians of the orthodox sort. Beyond a very general application of extrapolated Christian principles in their ideas (which, considering the times, was somewhat inevitable), I don’t really know what you hope to prove by demonstrating the faith (or lack thereof) of various founders.

  • Cincinnatus

    webulite: Stop trolling. Why are you asking for the names of Protestant New Testament scholars in a thread about political conservatism? You might as well be asking what we had for breakfast last week.

    /If you must know, Protestant theologians and philosophers literally owned Germany philosophy in the twentieth century. If you’re looking at the “last three years”–for whatever reason–N. T. Wright is a self-professed Calvinist/reformed scholar who has been very influential. There are others.

  • Cincinnatus

    webulite: Stop trolling. Why are you asking for the names of Protestant New Testament scholars in a thread about political conservatism? You might as well be asking what we had for breakfast last week.

    /If you must know, Protestant theologians and philosophers literally owned Germany philosophy in the twentieth century. If you’re looking at the “last three years”–for whatever reason–N. T. Wright is a self-professed Calvinist/reformed scholar who has been very influential. There are others.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus @89
    Thanks.
    Webulite, here’s an idea, read the last three years of the academic journals you consider to be the top 10 and google the contributors.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus @89
    Thanks.
    Webulite, here’s an idea, read the last three years of the academic journals you consider to be the top 10 and google the contributors.

  • Cincinnatus

    It’s really not that difficult, webulite: try this.

  • Cincinnatus

    It’s really not that difficult, webulite: try this.

  • Tom Hering

    “… I don’t really know what you hope to prove by demonstrating the faith (or lack thereof) of various founders.” – Cincinnatus @ 88.

    If you’re addressing me, then nothing – as far as the main topic of this thread is concerned. But the subject was brought up in this thread, and it’s interesting to discuss.

  • Tom Hering

    “… I don’t really know what you hope to prove by demonstrating the faith (or lack thereof) of various founders.” – Cincinnatus @ 88.

    If you’re addressing me, then nothing – as far as the main topic of this thread is concerned. But the subject was brought up in this thread, and it’s interesting to discuss.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@92: I was addressing myself primarily to Porcell, who seems to be seeking some sort of victory by “demonstrating” that many of the founders were “substantially orthodox.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@92: I was addressing myself primarily to Porcell, who seems to be seeking some sort of victory by “demonstrating” that many of the founders were “substantially orthodox.”

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 93: Oh. I thought I wasn’t feeling particularly touchy this morning, but I must have been wrong. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 93: Oh. I thought I wasn’t feeling particularly touchy this morning, but I must have been wrong. :-)

  • DonS

    LOL, this discussion entirely validates my prior comment @ 43. These types of labels are a useful shorthand for academics studying political theory, and for identifying factions in an article about politics. I call myself a “conservative” as a shorthand. But it’s really about ideas, and each one of us have a different take on those, in different realms (domestic, foreign policy, etc.). So, for the most part, labels are used pejoratively by the opposition to avoid engaging individusals and their ideas. We do it on both sides, and it is much of the reason our politics have become so poisonous.

    And someone above was correct — “moderate” is a joke, and the most misused label of all.

  • DonS

    LOL, this discussion entirely validates my prior comment @ 43. These types of labels are a useful shorthand for academics studying political theory, and for identifying factions in an article about politics. I call myself a “conservative” as a shorthand. But it’s really about ideas, and each one of us have a different take on those, in different realms (domestic, foreign policy, etc.). So, for the most part, labels are used pejoratively by the opposition to avoid engaging individusals and their ideas. We do it on both sides, and it is much of the reason our politics have become so poisonous.

    And someone above was correct — “moderate” is a joke, and the most misused label of all.

  • Tom Hering

    “… it is much of the reason our politics have become so poisonous.” – DonS @ 95.

    Yes, if only we could return to the powdered-wig decorum of the early Republic, when political arguments were settled by striking one another, or by anonymously publishing slanders in the newspapers. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “… it is much of the reason our politics have become so poisonous.” – DonS @ 95.

    Yes, if only we could return to the powdered-wig decorum of the early Republic, when political arguments were settled by striking one another, or by anonymously publishing slanders in the newspapers. :-)

  • Louis

    DonS @ 95 – maybe we should call it “My way” and the “Wrong way” :) .

    And now, the end is here
    But I’ll keep my heavy burden,
    My friend, I’ll say it clear,
    I’ll state my belief, of which I’m certain,
    I’ve rejected every other pull
    I’ve stood my ground, and again I’ll say
    I’m right, you all need to admit, mine’s the right way!

  • Louis

    DonS @ 95 – maybe we should call it “My way” and the “Wrong way” :) .

    And now, the end is here
    But I’ll keep my heavy burden,
    My friend, I’ll say it clear,
    I’ll state my belief, of which I’m certain,
    I’ve rejected every other pull
    I’ve stood my ground, and again I’ll say
    I’m right, you all need to admit, mine’s the right way!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@84), it would seem that you no more understand what “orthodox” Christianity is than you grasp the ideas behind ordoliberalism. “Orthodox” is just another of the many words you (ab)use to signify your own simplistic, and fallacious, dichotomy of things you agree or disagree with (cf. “liberal”, “serious”), regardless of consistency or the actual denotations of said words.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@84), it would seem that you no more understand what “orthodox” Christianity is than you grasp the ideas behind ordoliberalism. “Orthodox” is just another of the many words you (ab)use to signify your own simplistic, and fallacious, dichotomy of things you agree or disagree with (cf. “liberal”, “serious”), regardless of consistency or the actual denotations of said words.

  • Porcell

    Todd, “orthodox” is a perfectly legitimate English word that applied to religion means conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved. John Adams is someone I’ve read a lot about over the years; he in fact had a complex blend of orthodox Christianity and what turned out to be the passing fancy of deism.

    One grows weary of your incessant ad hominem attacks. I made some points using Dulles and Huntington as backup; The theme was that the founders of the country were for the most part serious, orthodox Christians; instead of disproving this you parrot Louis with a juvenile ad hominem attack.

  • Porcell

    Todd, “orthodox” is a perfectly legitimate English word that applied to religion means conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved. John Adams is someone I’ve read a lot about over the years; he in fact had a complex blend of orthodox Christianity and what turned out to be the passing fancy of deism.

    One grows weary of your incessant ad hominem attacks. I made some points using Dulles and Huntington as backup; The theme was that the founders of the country were for the most part serious, orthodox Christians; instead of disproving this you parrot Louis with a juvenile ad hominem attack.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@99), there are so many ways to say this, but a “blend of orthodox Christianity” with anything else is not, and cannot, itself be “orthodox”.

    You yourself admit that Adams, et al., “blended” Christianity with falsehood. You link to articles saying the same thing. What is baffling is that, in spite of all that, you maintain that such blending results in orthodoxy. Which, again, leads me to conclude that you don’t understand what orthodoxy is. It is, it would seem, just a word you use to separate good from bad, in your opinion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@99), there are so many ways to say this, but a “blend of orthodox Christianity” with anything else is not, and cannot, itself be “orthodox”.

    You yourself admit that Adams, et al., “blended” Christianity with falsehood. You link to articles saying the same thing. What is baffling is that, in spite of all that, you maintain that such blending results in orthodoxy. Which, again, leads me to conclude that you don’t understand what orthodoxy is. It is, it would seem, just a word you use to separate good from bad, in your opinion.

  • Louis

    I promised myself I won’t do this, but….

    Todd is absolutely right. There is no such thing as blending orthodoxy with….. – as soon as you do that, it becomes heterodox. But more so, what I find intriguing is the immense effort to make orthodox Christians out of folk who obviously weren’t. The point is, as a early national and political leader, was he a wise and honest man? Was he a good leader? Or did he….. I’ll cheerfully admit that a man could be – let’s pick something not currently contentious – a Zoroastrian and a good political leader. I know the saying is apocryphal, but there is a lot of truth in “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian”.

    What these efforts tell me is that there is something else going on here, namely the establishment and perpetuation of a Founding Mythology, which closely ties in with what some call “American Exceptionalism”. As I have written before, I myself am particularly sensitive to such mythologies, as I grew up under the grip of such a mythology. I have recently come across a very similar mythology – but this one was of very recent origin, and Russian! Similarly, I have come across tribal mythologies of the same kind. some of these have led to extensive bloodshed.

    All nations/cultures/tribes have skeletons in their cupboards, some have been empires, some are empires (soft or hard), some will be empires. We should be mature enough to accept that.

    Any political philosophy that weds itself to a mythology like that is bound to fall into grievous traps.

  • Louis

    I promised myself I won’t do this, but….

    Todd is absolutely right. There is no such thing as blending orthodoxy with….. – as soon as you do that, it becomes heterodox. But more so, what I find intriguing is the immense effort to make orthodox Christians out of folk who obviously weren’t. The point is, as a early national and political leader, was he a wise and honest man? Was he a good leader? Or did he….. I’ll cheerfully admit that a man could be – let’s pick something not currently contentious – a Zoroastrian and a good political leader. I know the saying is apocryphal, but there is a lot of truth in “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian”.

    What these efforts tell me is that there is something else going on here, namely the establishment and perpetuation of a Founding Mythology, which closely ties in with what some call “American Exceptionalism”. As I have written before, I myself am particularly sensitive to such mythologies, as I grew up under the grip of such a mythology. I have recently come across a very similar mythology – but this one was of very recent origin, and Russian! Similarly, I have come across tribal mythologies of the same kind. some of these have led to extensive bloodshed.

    All nations/cultures/tribes have skeletons in their cupboards, some have been empires, some are empires (soft or hard), some will be empires. We should be mature enough to accept that.

    Any political philosophy that weds itself to a mythology like that is bound to fall into grievous traps.

  • Joe

    The reason so many try so hard to perpetuate the idea that the founders were all firmly Christian is because it gives a historical justification for the culture wars that have occupied the efforts of so many modern American Christians. It allows them to argue that this culture war is in keeping with the revolution, its a natural outgrowth and we need to fight it to save this expressly Christian nation that our founders gave to us. And it gives justification for using the gov’t to win the war – instead of using the Law and Gospel to point out sin and offer forgiveness.

  • Joe

    The reason so many try so hard to perpetuate the idea that the founders were all firmly Christian is because it gives a historical justification for the culture wars that have occupied the efforts of so many modern American Christians. It allows them to argue that this culture war is in keeping with the revolution, its a natural outgrowth and we need to fight it to save this expressly Christian nation that our founders gave to us. And it gives justification for using the gov’t to win the war – instead of using the Law and Gospel to point out sin and offer forgiveness.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    The subtitle of the book Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher is “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party).” When I saw this book, I said, “That’s me!” so I guess I’m a paleoconservative. Here are a few items from “A Cruchy-Con Manifesto” at the beginning of the book:

    — We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
    — Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
    — Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
    — A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
    — Beauty is more important than efficiency.

    Much of modern American conservatism completely misses the mark on these foundational values.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    The subtitle of the book Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher is “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party).” When I saw this book, I said, “That’s me!” so I guess I’m a paleoconservative. Here are a few items from “A Cruchy-Con Manifesto” at the beginning of the book:

    — We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
    — Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
    — Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
    — A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
    — Beauty is more important than efficiency.

    Much of modern American conservatism completely misses the mark on these foundational values.

  • Porcell

    Todd: You yourself admit that Adams, et al., “blended” Christianity with falsehood.

    Deism, as Dulles explained had both theological and philosophical faults. He mentions that even Jefferson, who was far more religiously liberal than Adams, came to see some of its faults. Adams, who did have some reasonable objection to strict Calvinism, was intrigued with deism, though he was not won over by it.

    Adams, like most thoughtful Christians, was a man influenced by the supposed new excellent thought of his time, though he was sensible enough not to be overwhelmed by it. He came from a strict Calvinistic background, some of which he repudiated, though he was baptisesd, confirmed, and died as a member of the Congregational, not the Unitarian, church.

    The reason that I care about this issue is that hard-edged contemporary
    secularists including Jon Rowe argue that most of the founders were skeptical deists. On the contrary, I agree with the scholar Samuel Huntington that the Eighteenth-century and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their covenant with God and was a war between “God’s Elect” and the British Antichrist. Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or non-believers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    Louis, America, given its history, has some reason to regard itself as exceptional. Lincoln seriously remarked that America is an “almost chosen” nation. One can regard America as exceptional without being crassly chauvinistic.

  • Porcell

    Todd: You yourself admit that Adams, et al., “blended” Christianity with falsehood.

    Deism, as Dulles explained had both theological and philosophical faults. He mentions that even Jefferson, who was far more religiously liberal than Adams, came to see some of its faults. Adams, who did have some reasonable objection to strict Calvinism, was intrigued with deism, though he was not won over by it.

    Adams, like most thoughtful Christians, was a man influenced by the supposed new excellent thought of his time, though he was sensible enough not to be overwhelmed by it. He came from a strict Calvinistic background, some of which he repudiated, though he was baptisesd, confirmed, and died as a member of the Congregational, not the Unitarian, church.

    The reason that I care about this issue is that hard-edged contemporary
    secularists including Jon Rowe argue that most of the founders were skeptical deists. On the contrary, I agree with the scholar Samuel Huntington that the Eighteenth-century and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their covenant with God and was a war between “God’s Elect” and the British Antichrist. Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or non-believers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    Louis, America, given its history, has some reason to regard itself as exceptional. Lincoln seriously remarked that America is an “almost chosen” nation. One can regard America as exceptional without being crassly chauvinistic.

  • Louis

    Porcell, that is ALMOST TO THE WORD what Eugene Tereblanche (Afriknaer neonazi) said about Afrikaner history. It is also very similar to the Imperialistic rhetoric of scoundrels like CJ Rhodes. You can find that same rhetoric amongst radical Hellenists (Orthodox is Hellinism, and Hellinism is Orthodoxy).

    Politicians have loved using religious language to forward their own agenda’s. As Christians, we are members of His Church first and foremost. I would argue that after Church comes family, clan, tribe, and maybe, nation. Remember, the Nation State is a relatively modern invention.

    God chose a nation only once. After the Resurrection, that nation is the Church. God used individuals for His purposes – read what Isaiah writes about Cyrus, for instance. Yet Cyrus was most likely some sort of Zoroasterian, and not long after him Persia was defeated by the Macedonian newcomer.

    We can enjoy God’s blessings. But they are unearned, either by deed, or by familial / clan / tribal / national identity.

  • Louis

    Porcell, that is ALMOST TO THE WORD what Eugene Tereblanche (Afriknaer neonazi) said about Afrikaner history. It is also very similar to the Imperialistic rhetoric of scoundrels like CJ Rhodes. You can find that same rhetoric amongst radical Hellenists (Orthodox is Hellinism, and Hellinism is Orthodoxy).

    Politicians have loved using religious language to forward their own agenda’s. As Christians, we are members of His Church first and foremost. I would argue that after Church comes family, clan, tribe, and maybe, nation. Remember, the Nation State is a relatively modern invention.

    God chose a nation only once. After the Resurrection, that nation is the Church. God used individuals for His purposes – read what Isaiah writes about Cyrus, for instance. Yet Cyrus was most likely some sort of Zoroasterian, and not long after him Persia was defeated by the Macedonian newcomer.

    We can enjoy God’s blessings. But they are unearned, either by deed, or by familial / clan / tribal / national identity.

  • kerner

    I didn’t want to get into this myself, but I think some of you are misunderstanding what Porcell is saying about John Adams. If I understand Porcell, he is looking at John Adams’ life as a whole, and observing that Adams seemed to be at certain times influenced by the deist opinions of his era, but that he predominantly throughout his life, and ultimately, came down on the side of “orthodox” Christianity. By “orthodox”, Porcell means doctrinally within the definition of Christianity, as opposed to a cult like Unitarianism. This is a broader usage of the term orthodox than I would use, but I don’t think it is so overbroad that we should be arguing about it.

    Also, I often agree that resorting to quoted authority (i.e. so and so says X = Y, therefore if you say X, you must be one of those pesky Y people) is not a good argument. But quoting John Adams directly, and quoting his biographers, is a legitimate way of trying to prove what Adams ultimately believed, and show how Adams arrived at his conclusions.

    Having said all that, Porcell, what are you trying to prove? Let’s assume as you say that many of the founders believed by some to be deists were only flirting with deist ideas and ultimately were Christian believers. I tend to agree with what Joe @102 says about the reason many people are so keen to characterize the founders as Christians. Is that why it is important to you?

  • kerner

    I didn’t want to get into this myself, but I think some of you are misunderstanding what Porcell is saying about John Adams. If I understand Porcell, he is looking at John Adams’ life as a whole, and observing that Adams seemed to be at certain times influenced by the deist opinions of his era, but that he predominantly throughout his life, and ultimately, came down on the side of “orthodox” Christianity. By “orthodox”, Porcell means doctrinally within the definition of Christianity, as opposed to a cult like Unitarianism. This is a broader usage of the term orthodox than I would use, but I don’t think it is so overbroad that we should be arguing about it.

    Also, I often agree that resorting to quoted authority (i.e. so and so says X = Y, therefore if you say X, you must be one of those pesky Y people) is not a good argument. But quoting John Adams directly, and quoting his biographers, is a legitimate way of trying to prove what Adams ultimately believed, and show how Adams arrived at his conclusions.

    Having said all that, Porcell, what are you trying to prove? Let’s assume as you say that many of the founders believed by some to be deists were only flirting with deist ideas and ultimately were Christian believers. I tend to agree with what Joe @102 says about the reason many people are so keen to characterize the founders as Christians. Is that why it is important to you?

  • Porcell

    Kerner, I simply made the point to Cincinnatus at 57 that, while I admired Hamilton and other founders who favored urban commerce and industry as opposed to Jefferson’s agriculture and small community, I, also, think it crucial that the founders advocated serious Christianity that tempered excessive practice of commerce and industry.

    Tom and Todd then came in and questioned my assumption about the Christianity of the founders that unfortunately had the effect of sidetracking the thread.

  • Porcell

    Kerner, I simply made the point to Cincinnatus at 57 that, while I admired Hamilton and other founders who favored urban commerce and industry as opposed to Jefferson’s agriculture and small community, I, also, think it crucial that the founders advocated serious Christianity that tempered excessive practice of commerce and industry.

    Tom and Todd then came in and questioned my assumption about the Christianity of the founders that unfortunately had the effect of sidetracking the thread.

  • Joe

    Porcell – to be fair, your summation of your position is a lot less strident than what you actually sad. Had you said only what you claim at 107 noting would have been “sidetracked” as it were.

  • Joe

    Porcell – to be fair, your summation of your position is a lot less strident than what you actually sad. Had you said only what you claim at 107 noting would have been “sidetracked” as it were.

  • Tom Hering

    Were any of the main Founders Deists? They all prayed, and encouraged others to pray, for the new nation – believing God would intervene in answer to those prayers. No full-blown Deist ever believed such a thing was possible.

    So, if they weren’t strictly Deists (but sometimes entertained some Deist notions), and they weren’t strictly orthodox Christians (the Divinity of Christ being problematical for some of them), what were they? I’m pretty sure this has to be answered in a different way for each Founder.

    What we can say with certainty is that none of our founding documents are Christian. “Nature’s God” is a Deist concept, and none of the documents so much as mention Christ (as John Warwick Montgomery pointed out in the “Issues Etc” broadcast that sg @ 66 listened to). No Christ = no Christianity, so no “Christian nation.”

  • Tom Hering

    Were any of the main Founders Deists? They all prayed, and encouraged others to pray, for the new nation – believing God would intervene in answer to those prayers. No full-blown Deist ever believed such a thing was possible.

    So, if they weren’t strictly Deists (but sometimes entertained some Deist notions), and they weren’t strictly orthodox Christians (the Divinity of Christ being problematical for some of them), what were they? I’m pretty sure this has to be answered in a different way for each Founder.

    What we can say with certainty is that none of our founding documents are Christian. “Nature’s God” is a Deist concept, and none of the documents so much as mention Christ (as John Warwick Montgomery pointed out in the “Issues Etc” broadcast that sg @ 66 listened to). No Christ = no Christianity, so no “Christian nation.”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Porcell said, “…the founders advocated serious Christianity that tempered excessive practice of commerce and industry.” And I pretty much agree with that, though I’m not sure how strong of an advocacy it was – but a general moralistic “Christianity” (yet I completely agree with Montgomery cited in 109) defined a bit too broadly even then, just was (part of the cultural air the founders breathed). Getting back to Veith’s post, now the founders equivalents today, our political elite for the most part advocate a candy coated meaningless Christianity only insofar as people of “faith” (whatever that means) will keep them in office, while ignoring pretty much all of Christianity’s true tenets (i.e., the person and work of Christ). That is at least part of the reason why free market conservatism is so easily abused and itself abusive of those who understand the need for actual government (conserving actual and reasonable limitations) for good order and the protection of society (especially the poor).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Porcell said, “…the founders advocated serious Christianity that tempered excessive practice of commerce and industry.” And I pretty much agree with that, though I’m not sure how strong of an advocacy it was – but a general moralistic “Christianity” (yet I completely agree with Montgomery cited in 109) defined a bit too broadly even then, just was (part of the cultural air the founders breathed). Getting back to Veith’s post, now the founders equivalents today, our political elite for the most part advocate a candy coated meaningless Christianity only insofar as people of “faith” (whatever that means) will keep them in office, while ignoring pretty much all of Christianity’s true tenets (i.e., the person and work of Christ). That is at least part of the reason why free market conservatism is so easily abused and itself abusive of those who understand the need for actual government (conserving actual and reasonable limitations) for good order and the protection of society (especially the poor).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s hard not to see your argument, Porcell, (such as it is) as another one of your dichotomies in which “hard-edged contemporary secularists including Jon Rowe argue that most of the founders were skeptical deists,” and therefore you must oppose them (“with main force” or some-such bravado — they are, after all, “secularists” = “liberals” = bad) and gainsay them with statements like “the founders … except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, … retained orthodox Christianity” (@59) that, by the end, even you weren’t defending (your last use of “orthodox” was @99, the term having been downgraded merely to “serious”, whatever that means, by @107). Along the way, you even managed to pull in Kerner with your post-modern logic that words mean what you mean them to mean, with his arguing (@106) that “By ‘orthodox’, Porcell means doctrinally within the definition of Christianity, as opposed to a cult like Unitarianism.” Which is wishy-washiness of a surprising degree, coming from Kerner. A ridiculous amount of heterodoxy could be squeezed into that definition, as long as it isn’t, you know, Unitarian heterodoxy. Why is the “liberal” guy here the main one who seems to think that words actually mean something?

    Anyhow, it’s admittedly all a distraction, but in a discussion over 100 comments long, that happens. As to the religious nature of our founding fathers, I think Tom (@109) and Bryan (@110) answer that well enough.

    Still, I cannot help but comment on your quotes from Huntington (@104):

    Eighteenth-century Americans and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their “covenant with God” and was a war between “God’s elect” and the British “Antichrist.” Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or nonbelievers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    While this can be laid out as merely factual — these people believed these things at this time — you appear to actually concur with the actual ideas being presented here. Whether you do or not, this line of thinking still exists among many Americans today (particularly, I’ve noted, among Baptists and the like, but maybe that’s just who I hear from). And it is garbage. Obviously, there’s no Biblical basis for believing that America is some sort of Israel Mark II.

    You can complain all you want about the dangers of secular liberalism, but this abuse of Biblical ideas, twisting them until they fit the desired nationalist and political aims of those wielding them, is at least as bad for our country, and certainly worse for Christianity, because a lot of people actually fall for this nonsense — which is to say, away from Christ.

    Indeed, what better way to justify your rebellion than by claiming you have a magical “covenant with God”? Or that your side is “God’s elect” and your political opponents the “Antichrist”. Criminy. What garbage.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s hard not to see your argument, Porcell, (such as it is) as another one of your dichotomies in which “hard-edged contemporary secularists including Jon Rowe argue that most of the founders were skeptical deists,” and therefore you must oppose them (“with main force” or some-such bravado — they are, after all, “secularists” = “liberals” = bad) and gainsay them with statements like “the founders … except possibly for Franklin and Jefferson, … retained orthodox Christianity” (@59) that, by the end, even you weren’t defending (your last use of “orthodox” was @99, the term having been downgraded merely to “serious”, whatever that means, by @107). Along the way, you even managed to pull in Kerner with your post-modern logic that words mean what you mean them to mean, with his arguing (@106) that “By ‘orthodox’, Porcell means doctrinally within the definition of Christianity, as opposed to a cult like Unitarianism.” Which is wishy-washiness of a surprising degree, coming from Kerner. A ridiculous amount of heterodoxy could be squeezed into that definition, as long as it isn’t, you know, Unitarian heterodoxy. Why is the “liberal” guy here the main one who seems to think that words actually mean something?

    Anyhow, it’s admittedly all a distraction, but in a discussion over 100 comments long, that happens. As to the religious nature of our founding fathers, I think Tom (@109) and Bryan (@110) answer that well enough.

    Still, I cannot help but comment on your quotes from Huntington (@104):

    Eighteenth-century Americans and their leaders saw their Revolution in religious and largely biblical terms. … The Revolution reflected their “covenant with God” and was a war between “God’s elect” and the British “Antichrist.” Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or nonbelievers felt it necessary to invoke religion to justify the Revolution.

    While this can be laid out as merely factual — these people believed these things at this time — you appear to actually concur with the actual ideas being presented here. Whether you do or not, this line of thinking still exists among many Americans today (particularly, I’ve noted, among Baptists and the like, but maybe that’s just who I hear from). And it is garbage. Obviously, there’s no Biblical basis for believing that America is some sort of Israel Mark II.

    You can complain all you want about the dangers of secular liberalism, but this abuse of Biblical ideas, twisting them until they fit the desired nationalist and political aims of those wielding them, is at least as bad for our country, and certainly worse for Christianity, because a lot of people actually fall for this nonsense — which is to say, away from Christ.

    Indeed, what better way to justify your rebellion than by claiming you have a magical “covenant with God”? Or that your side is “God’s elect” and your political opponents the “Antichrist”. Criminy. What garbage.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I don’t subscribe to the eighteenth-centry Christian views and attitude that Huntington refers to in that quote. For that matter neither does Huntington. He described those extreme views to disprove the often held views of contemporary liberals that the founders were mainly skeptical of the Judeo-Cghristian religion.

    Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations counsels the West to try to be irenic as well as firm when dealing with non-Western civilizations in order to avoid war with them, a view with which I agree.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I don’t subscribe to the eighteenth-centry Christian views and attitude that Huntington refers to in that quote. For that matter neither does Huntington. He described those extreme views to disprove the often held views of contemporary liberals that the founders were mainly skeptical of the Judeo-Cghristian religion.

    Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations counsels the West to try to be irenic as well as firm when dealing with non-Western civilizations in order to avoid war with them, a view with which I agree.

  • kerner

    tODD @111:

    OK, so I’m wishy-washy. I just thought that fighting over Porcell’s use of the word “orthodox” was a distraction.

    Besides, I think that “orthodox” is one of those words (like “conservative”, “liberal”, catholic” even “Lutheran”) that has been claimed by so many groups to mean so many different things that it has to be understood in context.

    Check out these:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy

    In the first, you will find many uses of “orthodox” refering to religion, only one of which (lutheran orthodoxy) is close to the way you were using it.

    In the second (under the subheading “Christianity”, 2nd last paragraph) it says that “unorthodox” can be used to refer to : “…Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, and some of the more radical forms of liberal theology.”

    While I agree with your (and Louis’) point that:

    orthodox + (anything not orthodox) = hetrodox

    Porcell’s use of the term was within one of many accepted usages. Fighting over that was a distraction.

  • kerner

    tODD @111:

    OK, so I’m wishy-washy. I just thought that fighting over Porcell’s use of the word “orthodox” was a distraction.

    Besides, I think that “orthodox” is one of those words (like “conservative”, “liberal”, catholic” even “Lutheran”) that has been claimed by so many groups to mean so many different things that it has to be understood in context.

    Check out these:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy

    In the first, you will find many uses of “orthodox” refering to religion, only one of which (lutheran orthodoxy) is close to the way you were using it.

    In the second (under the subheading “Christianity”, 2nd last paragraph) it says that “unorthodox” can be used to refer to : “…Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, and some of the more radical forms of liberal theology.”

    While I agree with your (and Louis’) point that:

    orthodox + (anything not orthodox) = hetrodox

    Porcell’s use of the term was within one of many accepted usages. Fighting over that was a distraction.

  • kerner

    “Why is the ‘liberal’ guy here the main one who seems to think that words actually mean something?”, tODD@ 111

    Because you’re not really liberal, whatever that means. ;)

  • kerner

    “Why is the ‘liberal’ guy here the main one who seems to think that words actually mean something?”, tODD@ 111

    Because you’re not really liberal, whatever that means. ;)

  • Tom Hering

    A liberal is someone who believes we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. A liberal corrupted by power is someone who believes he knows better than others what is good for them.

  • Tom Hering

    A liberal is someone who believes we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. A liberal corrupted by power is someone who believes he knows better than others what is good for them.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Cinncinatus,

    “Good point, sg, though I stop short of concluding that we are “doomed.” I’m not inclined to give up hope in an equitable and just community yet–else what am I here for?”

    Sure, I can hope, too, all the while acknowledging there isn’t a rational basis for such hope.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Cinncinatus,

    “Good point, sg, though I stop short of concluding that we are “doomed.” I’m not inclined to give up hope in an equitable and just community yet–else what am I here for?”

    Sure, I can hope, too, all the while acknowledging there isn’t a rational basis for such hope.

  • kerner

    Sure there is, sg. Things change. People die. New ones take their place. And God answers the prayers of the faithful.

    I was a teenager in the late 60′s early 70′s. I saw JFK, MLK, and RFK shot dead. George Wallace and Ronald Reagan shot, but not killed. Gerald Ford shot at, but missed. I saw left wing terrorists shut down colleges and blow up buildings (killing a person at the University of Wisconsin). I saw the national guard called up to patrol the streets of my home town to put down race riots. I saw Richard Nixon (a REPUBLICAN!!!!) impose wage and price controls by government fiat (and we claim that Obama is a fascist; he’s an amateur compared to Nixon). I saw home mortgage interest rates at 17% and double digit inflation. Back then my parents thought the world was coming to an end.

    But then I saw things I never thought I’d see. I saw the republicans gain the majority in the House of Representatives. I saw the Berlin Wall fall and the evil Communist empire collapse. I saw things actually get to a point at which people were complaining that Christians were having too much influence over American politics (trust me, during the 70′s, THAT wasn’t a problem). I saw the internet and talk radio and Fox News break the information monopoly formerly held by the mainstream media. There are so many things we can find out about now a days that would never, NEVER, have seen the light of day when the MSM had its death grip on the news.

    I’ve even seen the Supreme Court uphold the 2nd Amendment.

    No rational cause for hope? Why rational causes for hope are jumping out at you from behind every bush.

  • kerner

    Sure there is, sg. Things change. People die. New ones take their place. And God answers the prayers of the faithful.

    I was a teenager in the late 60′s early 70′s. I saw JFK, MLK, and RFK shot dead. George Wallace and Ronald Reagan shot, but not killed. Gerald Ford shot at, but missed. I saw left wing terrorists shut down colleges and blow up buildings (killing a person at the University of Wisconsin). I saw the national guard called up to patrol the streets of my home town to put down race riots. I saw Richard Nixon (a REPUBLICAN!!!!) impose wage and price controls by government fiat (and we claim that Obama is a fascist; he’s an amateur compared to Nixon). I saw home mortgage interest rates at 17% and double digit inflation. Back then my parents thought the world was coming to an end.

    But then I saw things I never thought I’d see. I saw the republicans gain the majority in the House of Representatives. I saw the Berlin Wall fall and the evil Communist empire collapse. I saw things actually get to a point at which people were complaining that Christians were having too much influence over American politics (trust me, during the 70′s, THAT wasn’t a problem). I saw the internet and talk radio and Fox News break the information monopoly formerly held by the mainstream media. There are so many things we can find out about now a days that would never, NEVER, have seen the light of day when the MSM had its death grip on the news.

    I’ve even seen the Supreme Court uphold the 2nd Amendment.

    No rational cause for hope? Why rational causes for hope are jumping out at you from behind every bush.

  • Another Kerner

    Kerner is right….. although his father was more optimistic than his mother was in the 60s and 70s.

    His mother was going through her “guns and groceries” phase, a syndrome which surfaces periodically in some “conservative” circles and still strikes some members of his family even now.

    (We begin to stock the cellar with food, canned goods, bottled water, books, Bibles, ammunition, firewood, oil lamps, flashlights, batteries and beer. And we have at least two German Shepherd Dogs in the house at all times.)

    However, kerner’s outlook is worthy: Almighty God hears the prayers of His people and their job is to fight the good fight, proclaiming the Gospel to all who will hear, contending for “the faith once delivered unto the saints”.

    The United States Marines in our family (there are five, one in Glory and four still with us) have loved the words of Psalm 144:1-2

    “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight: my goodness and my fortress; my hightower and my deliverer; my shield and He in whom I trust;”

  • Another Kerner

    Kerner is right….. although his father was more optimistic than his mother was in the 60s and 70s.

    His mother was going through her “guns and groceries” phase, a syndrome which surfaces periodically in some “conservative” circles and still strikes some members of his family even now.

    (We begin to stock the cellar with food, canned goods, bottled water, books, Bibles, ammunition, firewood, oil lamps, flashlights, batteries and beer. And we have at least two German Shepherd Dogs in the house at all times.)

    However, kerner’s outlook is worthy: Almighty God hears the prayers of His people and their job is to fight the good fight, proclaiming the Gospel to all who will hear, contending for “the faith once delivered unto the saints”.

    The United States Marines in our family (there are five, one in Glory and four still with us) have loved the words of Psalm 144:1-2

    “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight: my goodness and my fortress; my hightower and my deliverer; my shield and He in whom I trust;”

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