Donald Trump and the Führerprinzip

A strong leader will rise up to solve all of our problems by sheer force of his will.  We easily succumb to that kind of promise in businesses and even in churches.  And even in national governments.  This trust in an all-powerful leader is called Führerprinzip.  Yes, it was refined in Nazi Germany, but it has manifested itself ever since in popular movements that hand over power to a dictator.  But also in kinder and gentler forms of authoritarians and in a particular kind of political superstition that puts the person of the leader over any particular policies, ideologies, Constitutional processes, or limits on government.

The leader that people are looking to today is Donald Trump.  Is he that kind of leader?  Jeffrey Tucker is arguing that “Trumpism” is a revival of fascism.  Not the insult that the left freely throws around, but an actual return of the political and economic ideology that was rampant in the 1930s, not just in Germany,  Italy, and Spain but with advocates in virtually every European nation.  (I’ve written about what those fascists believed.  There is more to it than Mr. Tucker gives here, but it’s true that fascism is not just a shorthand term for evil, but an actual thing, which did not disappear with the end of World War II.)

Another article applies the Führerprinzip in another, though related way, arguing that Donald Trump is America’s Vladimir Putin (who has also been described as a Russian fascist).  See excerpts from the Fascism and Putin arguments after the jump.  Do you think Trump rises to the level of that kind of leader?  Those of you who like Trump, how would you defend him from these charges? [Read more...]

Kierkegaard on Luther

We keep hearing that today’s church needs to change; that is to say, it needs reformation.  What will it take to reform the church?  The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, credited or blamed for inventing existentialism, took up this same question.  First of all, he said, we need a reformer.  And the reformer needs to be like Martin Luther.

It’s fascinating–and perhaps an entry into the mindset of today’s existentialists–to see what Kierkegaard saw in Luther.  Read that after the jump, and click the link to see what he had to say about reform and false reform in the church. [Read more...]

“The lie kills nations”

Hermann Sasse was contending with Nazi Germany, but his words about how “the lie” kills nations–presenting cultural dissolution “as a glorious ascent,” in which “decline is viewed as an advance”–have an unsettling resonance for today. [Read more...]

The right to dignity

To find a right to abortion in the Constitution, the Supreme Court justices in Roe v. Wade construed from the text a “right to privacy.”  To find a right to gay marriage in the Constitution, Justice Kennedy, with the concurrence of the majority, has construed a “right to dignity.”

Law professor Jonathan Turley, who supports gay marriage, said that the judges could very well have ruled to that effect by invoking the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, as lower courts have done.  But instead it invokes the section on “due process” and asserts this new right to “dignity.”  Prof. Turley, who shows how Justice Kennedy has been building up to this notion in a number of his other rulings, is worried about this new legal doctrine, saying that it opens up all kinds of legal and civil liberty cans of worms. [Read more...]

The Declaration of Independence and natural law

Legal scholar Randy Barnett offer a fascinating section by section reading of the Declaration of Independence, which he says succinctly states the political theory of the American founding.  He summarizes it this way:

  • The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.
  • The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.
  • Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.
  • At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.

But I’d like to draw your attention to his exposition of the first paragraph and his explanation of “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”  In quoting a clergyman of the time, he gives a helpful explanation of what we mean by that much-misunderstood concept of “natural law,” as well as showing how that was a fundamental assumption of the American founders. [Read more...]

Liberals vs. Leftists on political correctness

Both liberals and leftists share the goal of social and economic equality and other progressive ideals.  But liberals believe those can be attained in terms of the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, human rights, and democracy.  On the other hand, Leftists (think Soviet Union, Maoists, other Communists, etc.) believe that liberty, human rights, and democracy must be restricted in order to attain those goals.

That’s one takeaway from a fascinating study of “political correctness” by William Voegeli in The Claremont Review of Books, who begins by discussing an article on “How the Language Police Are Perverting Liberalism.”

Notice how those who want to punish opponents of gay marriage, restrict religious liberty, not allow certain opinions to be argued, and in other ways emulating the tactics of the Soviet Union, are leftists.  Which covers quite a few people today who present themselves as liberals.

Read Voegeli’s article excerpted and linked after the jump.

[Read more...]


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