Skip to comments.The American Vs. French Revolutions
Posted on 06/12/2011 10:27:58 AM PDT by ChessExpert
The intellectual struggle worldwide today is now between the beliefs encapsulated in the American Revolution and those in the French. It is interests versus reason.
(Excerpt) Read more at hawaii.edu ...
Other Freepers have posted links to Rummel's work, but I did not see this one. This artlicle is a little long and abstract but it is well worth the effort. In terms of principles, it sums up just about everything you need to know about freedom vs. socialism.
The American revolution was the child of the reformation. The French revolution the child of the enlightenment. The proof is in the pudding.
Where the pursuit of equality trumps that of liberty, you end up with neither.
The historical, economic, and scientific ignorance of the American populace as a whole is stunning.
And wholly intentional (thank, NEA and DOEd). Why? Because an ignorant populace is a more easily subjugated populace.
Great tag line!
right up there w/Dr. Franklin’s quote on security & liberty...
Obviously a product of American public education.
The best of all 200th anniversary “events” came from Maggie Thatcher. Having been snubbed throughout the two-week celebration by the French, her gift to Pres. Mitterand was a magnificent “First-Edition” copy of A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Most of the British litterati lauded the French Revolution for 100 years. Maggie, however, got it right.
>The historical, economic, and scientific ignorance of the American populace as a whole is stunning.<
A result of leaving no child behind and instead making the lowest common denominator the standard.
there you go...was just discussing this topic with Mrs Cb.
America’s was a revolution based on religion and reason. The French Revolution was based on secularism and emotion.
“The historical, economic, and scientific ignorance of the American populace as a whole is stunning.”
Let me fix this for you:
“The ignorance of the American populace as a whole is stunning.”
I was driving along in my gas guzzling F-250 Superduty with the 8 foot bed yesterday. I stop at a gas station and this hippy dude comes up to me and says: That truck is so big it is “f-ing” ridiculous. I look at his and say “I use every bit of it. I wish I had purchased the F-450”. He shuts up. But he believes that he knows what I need. That is the supreme form of ignorance.
You were eliminating a whole bunch of fields that Americans are ignorant of.
Right, except that the “Enlightenment” was really the “Endarkenment”.
The Reformation, in effect, said that salvation is a retail business conducted one-on-one between the penitent and his God. It did away with the establishment provided mediator between the penitent and God. This gave birth to the notion that the individual was of inherent worth because of his direct relationship with God. His worth, if it came from God, was not the result of an endowment by the church or a grant of leave by a secular sovereign.
The Reformation also laid the groundwork for the enlightenment. The Scottish Enlightenment together with the impulse of the Protestant movement which swept America in the first part of the 18th century led directly to the American Revolution.
So the author is perfectly correct when he draws a distinction between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. It remains only to observe that the French Revolution as the author says-and, not incidentally, as Barak Obama also says-offers salvation not to the individual but as a matter of group identity. The interesting question is why did the French Revolution and its bloodthirsty spawn which murdered their way across the centuries deny that the individual is the only legitimate foundation stone upon which to build a civil society?
The answer to this question comes directly from this maxim: one's political views depend on one's view of the nature of man, whether he is inherently good or inherently evil. But at first examination it appears that the individualists of the American Revolution took the wrong conclusion from their enlightenment and from the Reformation; but so too did the collectivists of the French revolutionist seemingly act contrary to their assumption about the nature of man. One would expect the American revolutionists to believe that men is inherently good and the French revolutionists to believe that man is inherently evil, yet the contrary is the case in both instances.
What follows is a repeat of the previous reply from some years ago which is quite lengthy and the reader is warned in advance:
The Protestant view of man as expressed by Paul:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19)
Man in an unredeemed state is powerless over evil. This is a deal breaker for many non-Christians who believe that by maintaining a belief in the sovereignty of their own will they retain their personhood. The mystery of Christianity is to assert that it is precisely the opposite which is reality and that it is only through surrendering the "will," which is illusory anyway, that freedom can be attained and that through true "free will."
Calvin says that man does not even have free will to choose his own redemption and that in turn raises the question, why strive for good?
The first explores the implication of the rejection of Paul's confession. Starkly put, the Christian confession synthesized here by Paul in his own experience means that there are only two alternatives one is free because he is in submission to God or one is in bondage because he is in opposition to God, because he is playing God. The latter is in a dreadful state of self deception and self destruction.
Do you want to know why Obama is an elitist? Do you want to know why the Democrats cannot restrain from indulging themselves in the nanny state? Are you confused about why environmentalism is a religion for Democrats and why they are impervious to arguments of logic about it? Do we need to ask why the Constitution, as a Constitution, is anathema to Democrats?
All of these questions, indeed every thing that separates us from the left, is directly traceable to man's proclivity to violate the first and second Commandments.
Why should this be so? Let me have a resort to yet another reply:
GOD AND MAN IN THE SKINNER BOX
Attending college in the 60's, I was exposed to the writings of BF Skinner in a mandatory Psychology 101 class. At the time I was struck by the time and energy the department devoted to this man and his theories. Essentially, he put a chicken in a box and taught it to play baseball by rewarding it with feed. When the chicken pressed a lever on cue, or ran a base, it got a pellet. Skinner was able to train animals to a remarkable degree with this method of positive reinforcement. He also demonstrated that negative reinforcement, such as electric shocks, was not as effective as positive reinforcement in controlling animal behavior.
So far, Skinner has not done the world much harm and perhaps he has even contributed something useful if you are Siegfried and Roy. But it soon became clear that Skinner and my psych professors had ambitions grander than dog and pony shows when they required a reading of Skinner's Walden Two. Here Skinner extrapolates his findings from chickens to people and causes real mischief. Essentially, he postulates that the human animal is a TABULA RASA, neither good nor evil, which can be conditioned into good behavior. There are no evil people just poorly conditioned behavior. All that is required to have generations of well behaved human chickens is a grand enough Skinner box to positively reinforce positive behavior. Of course, it does not take a socialist to see that it would take more than a village, indeed it would take a federal burocracy, to build and maintain a big enough box.
The mischief comes in when this thinking invades the penal (whoops, I mean corrections)system or the educational establishment and so on. Praeger, in his wonderful essay, has alluded to the effects on education of this baleful presumption about the nature of man. He is absolutely right when he says:
No issue has a greater influence on determining your social and political views than whether you view human nature as basically good or not.
Let us say that you do not accept the dichotomy outlined by Paul or the injunction granted to Nicodemus by Jesus (you must be born again-as opposed to try harder to avoid evil and do good), perhaps you will consider that the liberal sees man as a TABULA RASA upon which the liberal can write his lessons or, more likely, his own legislation. If the liberal does not see men as good, he sees him at least as being teachable. The Christian does not see him as teachable. That is to say he is not in need of education but of redemption.
The political application of this view can be seen in the cry by liberals for sex education. They think that teenage kids do not know that if you insert tab a into slot B pregnancy might result. How naïve! These kids know damn well what they are flirting with. It is not a question of ignorance but of willfulness.
The corollary to this is that the liberal sees man as free of responsibility. He is not evil, rather he is simply uneducated. He has not received the proper stimulus, to put it in Skinner's terms. The mysticism of the Christian is that he sees man as responsible for his evil condition and for his inability to choose good even though the Calvinist in him says that man has no power, so long as he is unredeemed (and even then not always) to choose good over evil. This is why I say that the reality of these opposing conceptions of man is counterintuitive.
I pray you indulge me yet another post to illustrate the outworking of these convergent conceptions of man:
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings [and more recently the shooting in Arizona] it does not take a clairvoyant to predict that America is in for another round of patronizing lectures about our primitive gun laws. In condescending tones and with clucking noises The Left in Europe where I live will express their exasperation if not their indignation at our reluctance to ban the possession of firearms.
Why don't we see this their way?
Because our position on this issue comes as the inevitable syllogism of our original assumptions about government, just as the leftists' assumptions take them the other way. Our fundamental assumption about government has been best expressed in the Declaration of Independence: every man is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because God has so ordained it. Government is established among men (not over men) by men to facilitate those entitlements. Since by definition government always makes war on liberty, we see government as an enemy which must be restrained if God's ordinance is to be fulfilled. So the legitimacy of government derives from God working through men and not from government itself working against men.
If legitimate government's function is to create a space in which the individual is at liberty to protect his life and pursue his happiness, we must concede that liberty is not license less the whole arrangement come apart in anarchy. In other words, the arrangement postulates responsibility from the individual. Our assumption is that, in ordaining the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, God was wise enough to take into account the human condition which, of course, includes our imperfections.
But it is these imperfections which preoccupy the mind of the leftists and the Europeans. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is the imperfections themselves which define the natural condition of man to the leftists and to the European [and their descendents in the descendents of the French Revolution]. There is a grave danger, says the European and the American leftists, from the un-bridled natural instincts of our neighbors. These must be curbed or they will do us mischief. It is the job of government to curb them (read, "socialize") and protect us from our fellow man.
At this point the reader should naturally assume that the American mind sees men as, if not perfect, at least rational enough to be trusted. And the Europeans[French revolutionists] see man as imperfect and untrustworthy. But this is the tricky part. It is tricky because it superficially runs counter to what we seem to know about Christianity and what we seem to know about secularism. If Christianity stands for anything, it stands for the proposition that man is a sinner, he is born that way, he is destined for an eternity in hell and he deserves every minute of it. He is helpless, hopeless, hapless, and undone. So desperate is his condition that he has no hope apart from a supernatural intervention. But he himself cannot summon that intervention (depending on how Calvinistic you want to be), he cannot earn it, in fact, there is nothing he can do to get it. He can only receive it as it is given to him as an act of grace and not because he has or could do anything to earn it. Why on earth would a Christian want to turn over a lethal weapon to such creature?
The leftists and the Europeans see men as imperfect but perfectible. This is a far cry from the assessment made by the Christians who see the unredeemed to be destined for death, either an eternal damnation or destined for a death as part of rebirth and salvation. The Christian does not believe a man can be educated to virtue, he must be reborn to it. It is a supernatural intervention. All this monkey business is anathema to a leftist. [As one reads this it might be instructive to consider leftists' reaction to Sarah Palin as illustrative.]
The leftist believes that men can be educated, if not to perfection at the least to a level at which he can participate in society. That is the goal. And it is society's obligation to educate that man to that level. So there is no sinner, because there is no sin but there is ignorance which leads to estrangement from society. To a Christian estrangement from God is death but to a liberal, estrangement from the group is death because the group represents paradise. And it is from the group that the individual finds his merit, it is in the context of the group that he finds his worth. It is in acceptance by the group that he finds salvation.
So it's all gets turned upside down. The liberal who sees man as perfectible through education holds him to no responsibility for his actions blaming instead the absence of condoms or the presence of guns. The Christian conservative, who sees man as impotent in a fallen state, nevertheless accords him the dignity of citizenship because he is a child of God as well as the dignity of the the responsibility for his actions.
One philosophy places man and a horizontal matrix and the other puts him in a vertical matrix. The first sees "sin" as a failure properly to interact with the group or for the group properly to educate the individual. The second sees sin as an estrangement from God manifesting itself in his failed and destructive relationship with his peers. That is why each philosophy seeks to redress problems by taking man in a different direction.
When one walks these assumptions about the nature of man which animated the French Revolution to their ultimate political application, one ends up with the killing fields of Pol Pot, the holocaust of Adolf Hitler, the cultural revolution of Chairman Mao, or the cult of personality which elected Barack Obama.
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