Skip to comments.Barry Goldwater, <I>The Conscience Of A Conservative.</I>
Posted on 09/01/2004 3:57:31 PM PDT by PsyOp
Barry Goldwater, The Conscience Of A Conservative, 1960.
*all italics appeared in the 1990 print edition from which these quotes were culled. All quote are presented in the order they appeared in the book.
"Every great movement-social; political, or religious-in its infancy, is marked by militancy. Its faithful shine with a spirit of sacrifice, a willingness to accept defeat and humiliation rather than compromise principal. Its True Believers are impatient, to the point of intolerance, with the half-hearted and the half-committed. He who is not with us is against us. That is the way we were." - Patrick J. Buchannan, forward to the 1990 edition.
The ancient and tested truths that guided our Republic through its early days will do equally well for us. The challenge to Conservatives today is quite simply to demonstrate the bearing of a proven philosophy on the problems of our own time.
I find that America is fundamentally a Conservative nation. The preponderant judgment of the American people, especially of the young people, is that the radical, or Liberal, approach has not worked and is not working. They yearn for a return to Conservative principles.
In a country where it is now generally understood and proclaimed that the people's welfare depends on individual self reliance rather than on state paternalism, Congress annually deliberates over whether the increase in government welfarism should be small or large.
In a country where it is now generally understood and proclaimed that the federal government spends too much, Congress annually deliberates over whether to raise the federal budget by a few billion dollars or by many billion.
In a country where it is now generally understood and proclaimed that individual liberty depends on decentralized government, Congress annually deliberates over whether vigorous or halting steps should be taken to bring state government into line with federal policy.
In a country where it is now generally understood and proclaimed that Communism is an enemy bound to destroy us, Congress annually deliberates over means of "co-existing" with the Soviet Union.
And so the question arises: Why have American people been unable to translate their views into appropriate political action? Why should the nation's underlying allegiance to Conservative principles have failed to produce corresponding deeds in Washington?
. I do not blame my brethren in government, all of whom work hard and conscientiously at their jobs. I blame Conservatives--ourselves--myself.
Our failure, as one Conservative writer has put it, is the failure of the Conservative demonstration. Though we Conservatives are deeply persuaded that our society is ailing, and know that Conservatism holds the key to national salvation--and feel sure the country agrees with us--we seem unable to demonstrate the practical relevance of Conservative principles to the needs of the day. We sit by impotently while Congress seeks to improvise solutions to problems that are not the real problems facing the country, while the government attempts to assuage imagined concerns and ignores the real concerns and real needs of the people.
Conservatism, we are told, is out-of-date. The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. The principles on which the Conservative political position is based have been established by a process that has nothing to do with the social, economic and political landscape that changes from decade to decade and from century to century. These principles are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation. Circumstances do change. So do the problems that are shaped by circumstances. But the principles that govern the solution of the problems do not. To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out of date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments or Aristotle's Politics are out of date. The Conservative approach is noth ing more or less than an attempt to apply the wisdom and experience and the revealed truths of the past to the problems of today.
I have been much concerned that so many people today with Conservative instincts feel compelled to apologize for them.
[Some say] Conservatism is opposed to progress. Have we forgotten that America made its greatest progress when Conservative principles were honored and preserved?
Conservatism is not an economic theory, though it has economic implications. The shoe is precisely on the other foot: it is Socialism that subordinates all other considerations to man's material wellbeing. It is Conservatism that puts material things in their proper place-that has a structured view of the human being and of human society, in which economics plays only a subsidiary role.
The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man's nature. The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic; an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man's nature and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man's spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals, on the other hand,--in the name of a concern for "human beings"--regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society. They are, moreover, in a hurry. So that their characteristic approach is to harness the society's political and economic forces into a collective effort to compel "progress." In this approach, I believe they fight against Nature.
Surely the first obligation of a political thinker is to understand the nature of man.
Man's most sacred possession is his individual soul .
Only a philosophy that takes into account the essential differences between men, and, accordingly, makes provision for developing the different potentialities of each man can claim to be in accord with Nature.
The Conservative knows that to regard man as part of an undifferentiated mass is to consign him to ultimate slavery.
[T]he Conservative has learned that the economic and spiritual aspects of man's nature are inextricably intertwined. He cannot be economically free, or even economically efficient, if he is enslaved politically; conversely, man's political freedom is illusory if he is dependent for his economic needs on the State.
Every man, for his individual good and for the good of his society, is responsible for his own development.
If the Conservative is less anxious than his Liberal brethren to increase Social Security "benefits," it is because he is more anxious than his Liberal brethren that people be free throughout their lives to spend their earnings when and as they see fit.
Throughout history, true Conservatism has been at war equally with autocrats and with "democratic" Jacobins. The true Conservative was sympathetic with the plight of the hapless peasant under the tyranny of the French monarchy. And he was equally revolted at the attempt to solve that problem by a mob tyranny that paraded under the banner of egalitarianism.
The Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order. The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order: it is impossible for one man to be free if another is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. But the Conservative also recognizes that the polical power on which order is based is a self-aggrandizing force; that its appetite grows with eating.
[F]or the American Conservative, there is no difficulty in identifying the day's overriding political challenge: it is to preserve and extend freedom.
[T]he Conservative's first concern will always be: Are we maximizing freedom?
The founding fathers had a reason for endorsing the principle of limited government; and this reason recommends defense of the constitutional scheme even to those who take their citizenship obligations lightly. The reason is simple, and it lies at the heart of the Conservative philosophy.
Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man's liberty. Government represents power in the hands of some men to control and regulate the lives of other men. And power, as Lord Acton said, corrupts men, "Absolute power," he added, "corrupts absolutely,"
State power, considered in the abstract, need not restrict freedom: but absolute state power always does. The legitimate functions of government are actually conducive to freedom. Maintaining internal order, keeping foreign foes at bay, administering justice, removing obstacles to the free interchange of goods--the exercise of these powers makes it possible for men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum freedom. But note that the very instrument by which these desirable ends are achieved can be the instrument for achieving undesirable ends--that government can, instead of extending freedom, restrict freedom. And note, secondly, that the "can" quickly becomes "will" the moment the holders of government power are left to their own devices. This is because of the corrupting influence of power, the natural tendency of men who possess some power to take unto themselves more power. The tendency leads eventually to the acquisition of all power--whether in the hands of one or many makes little difference to the freedom of those left on the outside.
[R]elease the holders of state power from any restraints other than those they wish to impose upon themselves, and you are swinging down the well-travelled road to absolutism.
The framers of the Constitution had learned the lesson. They were not only students of history, but victims of it: they knew from vivid, personal experience that freedom depends on effective restraints against the accumulation of power in a single authority. And that is what the Constitution is: a system of restraints against the natural tendency of government to expand in the direction of absolutism.
How did our national government grow from a servant with sharply limited powers into a master with virtually unlimited power? In part, we were swindled. There are occasions when we have elevated men and political parties to power that promised to restore limited government and then proceeded, after their election, to expand the activities of government. But let us be honest with ourselves. Broken promises are not the major causes of our trouble. Kept promises are. All too often we have put men in office who have suggested spending a little more on this, a little more on that, who have proposed a new welfare program, who have thought of another variety of "security." We have taken the bait, preferring to put off to another day the recapture of freedom and the restoration of our constitutional system. We have gone the way of many a democratic society that has lost its freedom by persuading itself that if "the people" rule, all is well.
Our tendency to concentrate power in the hands of a few men deeply concerns me. We can be conquered by bombs or by subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect-by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government. Our defenses against the accumulation of unlimited power in Washington are in poorer shape, I fear, than our defenses against the aggressive designs of Moscow. Like so many other nations before us, we may succumb through internal weakness rather than fall before a foreign foe . But bemoaning the evil will not drive it back, and accusing fingers will not shrink government.
Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."
[T]oday neither of our two parties maintains a meaningful commitment to the principle of States' Rights. Thus, the cornerstone of the Republic, our chief bulwark against the encroachment of individual freedom by Big Government, is fast disappearing under the piling sands of absolutism.
The Tenth Amendment is not "a general assumption," but a prohibitory rule of law. The Tenth Amendment recognizes the States' jurisdiction in certain areas. States' Rights means that the States have a right to act or not to act, as they see fit, in the areas reserved to them. The States may have duties corresponding to these rights, but the duties are owed to the people of the States, not to the federal government. Therefore, the recourse lies not with the federal government, which is not sovereign, but with the people who are, and who have full power to take disciplinary action.
The Constitution, I repeat, draws a sharp and clear line between federal jurisdiction and state jurisdiction. The federal government's failure to recognize that line has been a crushing blow to the principle of limited government.
There is a reason for [the] reservation of States' Rights. Not only does it prevent the accumulation of power in a central government that is remote from the people and relatively immune from popular restraints; it also recognizes the principle that essentially local problems are best dealt with by the people most directly concerned.
[Some] have long since seen through the spurious suggestion that federal aid comes "free." They know that the money comes out of their own pockets, and that it is returned to them minus a broker's fee taken by the federal bureaucracy. They know, too, that the power to decide how that money shall be spent is withdrawn from them and exercised by some planning board deep in the caverns of one of the federal agencies. They understand this represents a great and perhaps irreparable loss--not only in their wealth, but in their priceless liberty.
Nothing could so far advance the cause of freedom as for state officials throughout the land to assert their rightful claims to lost state power; and for the federal government to withdraw promptly and totally from every jurisdiction which the Constitution reserved to the states.
I deny that there can be a conflict between States' Rights, properly defined--and civil rights, properly defined. If States' "Rights" are so asserted as to encroach upon individual rights that are protected by valid federal laws, then the exercise of state power is a nullity. Conversely, if individual "rights" are so asserted as to infringe upon valid state power, then the assertion of those "rights" is a nullity. The rights themselves do not clash. The conflict arises from a failure to define the two categories of rights correctly, and to assert them lawfully.
Civil rights is frequently used synonymously with "human rights"--Qr with "natural rights." As often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that someone deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it--and, behold, a new "civil right" is born!
A civil right is a right that is asserted and is therefore protected by some valid law. It may be asserted by the common law, or by local or federal statutes, or by the Constitution; but unless a right is incorporated in the law, it is not a civil right and is not enforceable by the instruments of the civil law. There may be some rights--"natural," "human," or otherwise--that should also be civil rights. But if we desire to give such rights the protection of the law, our recourse is to a legislature or to the amendment procedures of the Constitution. We must not look to politicians, or sociologists--or the courts--to correct the deficiency.
[T]he federal Constitution does not require the States to maintain racially mixed schools. Despite the recent holding of the Supreme Court, I am firmly convinced--not only that integrated schools are not required--but that the Constitution does not permit any interference whatsoever by the federal government in the field of education. It may be just or wise or expedient for negro children to attend the same schools as white children, but they do not have a civil right to do so which is protected by the federal constitution, or which is enforceable by the federal government.
[I]n the famous school integration decision, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court justices expressly acknowledged that they were not being guided by the intentions of the amendment's authors. "in approaching this problem," Chief Justice Warren said "we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the amendment was adopted We must consider public education in the light of its full development and in its present place in American life throughout the nation." In effect, the Court said that what matters is not the ideas of the men who wrote the Constitution, but the Court's ideas. It was only by engrafting its own views onto the established law of the land that the Court was able to reach the decision it did.
The Constitution is what its authors intended it to be and said it was--not what the Supreme Court says it is. If we condone the practice of substituting our own intentions for those of the Constitution's framers, we reject, in effect, the principle of Constitutional Government: we endorse a rule of men, not of laws.
I have great respect for the Supreme Court as an institution, but I cannot believe that I display that respect by submitting abjectly to abuses of power by the Court, and by condoning its unconstitutional trespass into the legislative sphere of government. The Congress and the States, equally with the Supreme Court, are obliged to interpret and comply with the Constitution according to their own lights.
I believe that the problem of race relations, like all social and cultural problems, is best handled by the people directly concerned. Social and cultural change, however desirable, should not be effected by the engines of national power. Let us, through persuasion and education, seek to improve institutions we deem defective. But let us, in doing so, respect the orderly processes of the law. Any other course enthrones tyrants and dooms freedom.
In the case that upheld the second AAA, Wickard v. Filburn, (1942), a farmer had been fined for planting 23 acres of wheat, instead of the eleven acres the government had allotted him--notwithstanding that the "excess" wheat had been consumed on his own farm. Now how in the world, the farmer wanted to know, can it be said that the wheat I feed my own stock is in interstate commerce? That's easy, the Court said. If you had not used your own wheat for feed, you might have bought feed from someone else, and that purchase might have affected the price of wheat that was transported in interstate commerce! By this bizarre reasoning the Court made the commerce clause as wide as the world and nullified the Constitution's clear reservation to the States of jurisdiction over agriculture.
For a nation that is expressing great concern over its "economic growth," I cannot conceive of a more absurd and self-defeating policy than one which subsidizes non-production.
Graft and corruption are symptoms of the illness that besets the labor movement, not the cause of it. The cause is the enormous economic and political power now concentrated in the hands of union leaders.
All of us have heard the charge that to thus criticize the power of Big Labor is to be anti-labor and anti-union. This is an argument that serves the interest of union leaders, but it does not usually fit the facts, and it certainly does not do justice to my views. I believe that unionism, kept within its proper and natural bounds, accomplishes a positive good for the country. Unions can be an instrument for achieving economic justice for the working man. Moreover, they are an alternative to, and thus discourage State Socialism. Most important of all, they are an expression of freedom. Trade unions properly conceived, is an expression of man's inalienable right to associate with other men for the achievement of legitimate objectives.
The natural function of a trade union and the one for which it was historically conceived is to represent those employees who want collective representation in bargaining with their employers over terms of employment. But note that this function is perverted the moment a union claims the right to represent employees who do not want representation, or conducts activities that have nothing to do with terms of employment (e.g. political activities), or tries to deal with an industry as a whole instead of with individual employers.
The time has come, not to abolish unions or deprive them of deserved gains; but to redress the balance-to restore unions to their proper role in a free society.
It is one thing to say that a man should contribute to an association that is purportedly acting in his interest; it is quite another thing to say that he must do so. I believe that a man ought to join a union if it is a good union that is serving the interests of its members. I believe, moreover, that most men will give support to a union provided it is deserving of that support. There will always be some men, of course, who will try to sponge off others; but let us not express our contempt for some men by denying freedom of choice to all men.
The union leaders' further argument that right to work legislation is a "union-busting" device is simply not borne out by the facts. A recent survey disclosed that in all of the ninteen States which have enacted right-to-work laws union membership increased after the right-to-work laws were passed. It is also well to remember that the union movement throughout the world has prospered when it has been put on a voluntary basis.
One way we exercise political freedom is to vote for the candidate of our choice. Another way is to use our money to try to persuade other voters to make a similar choice--that is, to contribute to our candidate's campaign. If either of these freedoms is violated, the consequences are very grave not only for the individual voter and contributor, but for the society whose free political processes depend on a wide distribution of political power.
Union political activity is not confined, of course, to direct financial contributions. In fact, this is one of its smallest endeavors. Unions provide manpower for election day chores--for making phone calls, driving cars, manning the polls and so on. Often the union members who perform these chores are reimbursed for their time-off out of union funds. Unions also sponsor radio and television programs and distribute a huge volume of printed material designed to support the candidate of the union's choice. In short they perform all the functions of a regular party organization.
[W]hen unions spend union money to support certain political candidates] Individual union members are denied the right to decide for themselves how to spend their money. Certainly a moral issue is at stake here. Is it morally permissible to take the money of a Republican union member, for example, and spend it on behalf of a Democrat? The travesty is deeper, of course, when the money takes the form of compulsory union dues. Under union shop conditions, the only way an individual can avoid contributing to the political campaign of a candidate whom he may not approve is to give up his job.
Unions exist, presumably to confer economic advantages on their members, not to perform political services for them. Unions should therefore be forbidden to engage in any kind of political activity.
In order to achieve the widest possible distribution of political power, financial contributions to political campaigns should be made by individuals and individ uals alone. I see no reason for labor unions--or corporations--to participate in politics. Both were created for economic purposes and their activities should be restricted accordingly.
If it is wrong for a single corporation to dictate prices throughout an entire industry, it is also wrong for a single union--or, as is the actual case, a small number of union leaders--to dictate wages and terms of employment throughout an entire industry.
If a union has the power to enforce uniform conditions of employment throughout the nation its power is comparable to that of a Socialist government.
Employers are forbidden to act collusively for sound reasons. The same reasons apply to unions. Industry-wide price-fixing causes economic dislocations? So does industry-wide wage-fixing. A wage that is appropriate in one part of the country may not be in another area where economic conditions are very different.
Let us henceforth make war on all monopolies--whether corporate or union. The enemy of freedom is unrestrained power, and the champions of freedom will fight against the concentration of power wherever they find it.
Where is the politician who has not promised his constituents a fight to the death for lower taxes--and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible? There are some the shoe does not fit, but I am afraid not many. Talk of tax reduction has thus come to have a hollow ring.
Government does not have an unlimited claim on the earnings of individuals. One of the foremost precepts of the natural law is man's right to the possession and the use of his property. And a man's earnings are his property as much as his land and the house in which he lives. Indeed, in the industrial age, earnings are probably the most prevalent form of property.
This attack on property rights is actually an attack on freedom. It is another instance of the modern failure to take into account the whole man. How can a man be truly free if he is denied the means to exercise freedom? How can he be free if the fruits of his labor are not his to dispose of, but are treated, instead, as part of a common pool of public wealth? Property and freedom are inseparable: to the extent government takes the one in the form of taxes, it intrudes on the other.
The size of the government's rightful claim--that is, the total amount it may take in taxes--will be determined by how we define the "legitimate functions of government." With regard to the federal government, the
[G]overnment has a right to claim an equal percentage of each man's wealth, and no more.
I do not believe in punishing success.
The graduated tax is a confiscatory tax. Its effect, and to a large extent its aim, is to bring down all men to a common level. Many of the leading proponents of the graduated tax frankly admit that their purpose is to redistribute the nation's wealth. Their aim is an egalitarian society--an objective that does violence both to the charter of the Republic and the laws of Nature. We are all equal in the eyes of God but we are equal in no other respect. Artificial devices for enforcing equality among unequal men must be rejected if we would restore that charter and honor those laws.
The root evil is that the government is engaged in activities in which it has no legitimate business. As long as the federal government acknowledges responsibility in a given social or economic field, its spending in that field cannot be substantially reduced. As long as the federal government acknowledges responsibilty for education, for example, the amount of federal aid is bound to increase, at the very least, in direct proportion to the cost of supporting the nation's schools. The only way to curtail spending substantially, is to eliminate the programs on which excess spending is consumed.
And let us, by all means, remember the nation's interest in reducing taxes and spending. The need for "economic growth" that we hear so much about these days will be achieved, not by the government harnessing the nation's economic forces, but by emancipating them. By reducing taxes and spending we will not only return to the individual the means with which he can assert his freedom and dignity, but also guarantee to the nation the economic strength that will always be its ultimate defense against foreign foes.
The currently favored instrument of collectivization is the Welfare State. The collectivists have not abandoned their ultimate goal--to subordinate the individual to the State--but their strategy has changed. They have learned that Socialism can be achieved through Welfarism quite as well as through Nationalization. They understand that private property can be confiscated as effectively by taxation as by expropriating it. They understand that the individual can be put at the mercy of the State--not only by making the State his employer--but by divesting him of the means to provide for his personal needs and by giving the State the responsibility of caring for those needs from cradle to grave.
Nationalization ran into popular opposition, but the collectivists feel sure the Welfare State can be erected by the simple expedient of buying votes with promises of "free" federal benefits--"free" housing, "free" school aid, "free" hospitalization, "free" retirement pay and so on The correctness of this estimate can be seen from the portion of the federal budget that is now allocated to welfare, an amount second only to the cost of national defense.
Socialism-through-Welfarism poses a far greater danger to freedom than Socialism-through-Nationalization precisely because it is more difficult to combat. The evils of Nationalization are self-evident and immediate. Those of Welfarism are veiled and tend to be postponed.
The effect of Welfarism on freedom will be felt later on-after its beneficiaries have become its victims, after dependence on government has turned into bondage and it is too late to unlock the jail.
The long range political consequences of Welfarism are plain enough: as we have seen, the State that is able to deal with its citizens as wards and dependents has gathered unto itself unlimited political and economic power and is thus able to rule as absolutely as any oriental despot.
A man may not immediately, or ever, comprehend the harm thus done to his character. Indeed, this is one of the great evils of Welfarism--that it transforms the individual from a dignified, industrious, self-reliant spiritual being into a dependent animal creature without his knowing it. There is no avoiding this damage to character under the Welfare State. Welfare programs cannot help but promote the idea that the government owes the benefits it confers on the individual.
[P]ress upon the men who conduct our affairs this one truth: that the material and spiritual sides of man are intertwined; that it is impossible for the State to assume responsibility for one without intruding on the essential nature of the other; that if we take from a man the personal responsibility for caring for his material needs, we take from him also the will and the opportunity to be free.
My view is that if State X possesses the wealth to educate its children adequately, but has failed to utilize its wealth for that purpose, it is up to the people of State X to take remedial action through their local and state governments. The federal government has neither the right nor the duty to intervene.
[Another] objection to federal aid is that it promotes the idea that federal school money is "free" money, and thus gives the people a distorted picture of the cost of education.
The truth, of course, is that the federal government has no funds except those it extracts from the taxpayers who reside in the various States. The money that the federal government pays to State X for education has been taken from the citizens of State X in federal taxes and comes back to them, minus the Washington brokerage fee. The less wealthy States, to be sure, receive slightly more than they give, just as the more wealthy states receive somewhat less. But the differences are negligible. For the most part, federal aid simply substitutes the tax-collecting facilities of the federal government for those of local governments.
[F]ederal aid to education inevitably means federal control of education. For many years, advocates of federal aid denied that aid implies control, but in the light of the National Defense Education Act of 1958 they cannot very well maintain their position. Federal aid under the act is conditioned upon compliance by the States and local educational institutions with various standards and specifications laid down by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. There are no less than twelve direct controls of this kind in the act.
Nobody should be surprised that [federal] aid has led to controls. It could, and should not be otherwise. Congress cannot be expected to appropriate the people's money and make no provision for how it will be spent. Congress would be shirking its responsibilities to the taxpayer if it distributed his money willy-nilly, without regard to its use . Congress will always feel impelled to establish conditions under which people's money is to be spent, and while some controls may be wise we are not guaranteed against unwise controls any more than we are guaranteed against unwise Congressmen. The mistake is not the controls but appropriating the money that requires controls.
I have not denied that many of our children are being inadequately educated, or that the problem is nation-wide. I have only denied that it is the kind of problem that requires a solution at the national level. To the extent the problem is quantitative--to the extent we have too few classrooms and pay some of our teachers too little money--the shortages can be taken care of by the localities concerned. But more: to the extent the problem is qualitative--which in my opinion it mainly is--it is manifestly one that lends itself to correction at the local level. There is no place where deficiencies in the content of an educational system can be better understood than locally where a community has the opportunity to view and judge the product of its own school system.
In the main, the trouble with American education is that we have put into practice the educational philosophy expounded by John Dewey and his disciples. In varying degrees we have adopted what has been called "progressive education."
Subscribing to the egalitarian notion that every child must have the same education, we have neglected to provide an educational system which will tax the talents and stir the ambitions of our best students and which will thus insure us the kind of leaders we will need in the future.
In our desire to make sure that our children learn to "adjust" to their environment, we have given them insufficient opportunity to acquire the knowledge that will enable them to master their environment.
In our attempt to make education "fun," we have neglected the academic disciplines that develop sound minds and are conducive to sound characters.
Responding to the Deweyite attack on methods of teaching, we have encouraged the teaching profession to be more concerned with how a subject is taught than with what is taught. Most important of all: in our anxiety to "improve" the world and insure "progress" we have permitted our schools to become laboratories for social and economic change according to the predilections of the professional educators. We have forgotten that the proper function of the school is to transmit the cultural heritage of one generation to the next generation, and to so train the minds of the new generation as to make them capable of absorbing ancient learning and applying it to the problem of its own day.
[W]e have forgotten for whom education is intended. The function of our schools is not to educate, or elevate, society; but rather to educate individuals and to equip them with the knowledge that will enable them to take care of society's needs. We have forgotten that a society progresses only to the extent that it produces leaders that are capable of guiding and inspiring progress.
We should look upon our schools--not as a place to train the "whole character" of the child--a responsibility that properly belongs to his family and church--but to train his mind.
Our country's past progress has been the result, not of the mass mind applying average intelligence to the problems of the day, but of the brilliance and dedication of wise individuals who applied their wisdom to advance the freedom and the material well-being of all of our people. And so if we would improve education in America--and advance the fortunes of freedom--we will not rush to the federal treasury with requests for money. We will focus attention on our local community, and make sure that our schools, private and public are performing the job the Nation has the right to expect of them.
American freedom has always depended, to an extent, on what is happening beyond our shores. Even in Ben Franklin's day, Americans had to reckon with foreign threats. Our forebearers knew that "keeping a Republic" meant, above all, keeping it safe from foreign transgressors; they knew that a people cannot live and work freely, and develop national institutions conducive to freedom, except in peace and with independence. In those early days the threat to peace and independence was very real. We were a fledgling-nation and the slightest misstep--or faint hearts--would have laid us open to the ravages of predatory European powers. It was only because wise and courageous men understood that defense of freedom required risks and sacrifice, as well as their belief in it, that we survived the crisis of national infancy.
[W]e have come full circle and our national existence is once again threatened as it was in the early days of the Republic. Though we are still strong physically, we are in clear and imminent danger of being overwhelmed by alien forces. We are confronted by a revolutionary world movement that possesses not only the will to dominate absolutely every square mile of the globe, but increasingly the capacity to do so: a military power that rivals our own, political warfare and propaganda skills that are superior to ours, an international fifth column that operates conspiratorially in the heart of our defenses, an ideology that imbues its adherents with a sense of historical mission; and all of these resources controlled by a ruthless despotism that brooks no deviation from the revolutionary course.
I hesitate to restate the obvious--to say again what has been said so many times before by so many others: that the Communists' aim is to conquer the world. I repeat it because it is the beginning and the end of our knowledge about the conflict between East and West. I repeat it because I fear that however often we have given lip-service to this central political fact of our time, very few of us have believed it. If we had, our entire approach to foreign policy over the past fourteen years would have been radically different, and the course of world events radically changed.
If an enemy power is bent on conquering you, and proposes to turn all of his resources to that end, he is at war with you; and you--unless you contemplate surrender--are at war with him. Moreover--unless you contemplate treason--your objective, like his, will be victory. Not "peace," but victory.
Our avowed national objective is "peace." We have, with great sincerity, "waged" peace, while the Communists wage war. We have sought "settlements," while the Communists seek victories. We have tried to pacify the world. The Communists mean to own it. Here is why the contest has been an unequal one, and why, essentially, we are losing it.
Peace, to be sure, is a proper goal for American policy--as long as it is understood that peace is not all we seek. For we do not want the peace of surrender. We want a peace in which freedom and justice will prevail, and that--given the nature of Communism--is a peace in which Soviet power will no longer be in a position to threaten us and the rest of the world. A tolerable peace, in other words, must follow victory over communism.
If possible, overt hostilities should always be avoided; especially is this so when a shooting war may cause the death of many millions of people, including our own. But we cannot, for that reason, make the avoidance of a shooting war our chief objective. If we do that--if we tell ourselves that it is more important to avoid shooting than to keep our freedom--we are committed to a course that has only one terminal point: surrender. We cannot, by proclamation, make war "unthinkable." For it is not unthinkable to the Communists.
The rallying cry of an appeasement organization, portrayed in a recent novel on American politics, was "1 would rather crawl on my knees to Moscow than die under an Atom bomb." This sentiment, of course, repudiates everything that is courageous and honorable and dignified in the human being. We must-as the first step toward saving American freedom--affirm the contrary view and make it the cornerstone of our foreign policy: that we would rather die than lose our freedom.
We had pledged ourselves to support the Iraqi against overt Soviet aggression--not only under the Baghdad Pact of which Iraq was the cornerstone, but also under the Eisenhower Doctrine. Iraq fell victim to a pro-Communist [Baa'th party] coup without an American or Russian shot being fired. Cuba is another example. If the Red Army had landed in Havana, we would have come to Cuba's aid. Castro's forces, however, were native Cubans; as a result, a pro-Communist regime has become entrenched on our very doorstep through the technique of internal subversion. And so it will always be with an enemy that lays even more emphasis on political warfare than on military warfare. So it will be until we learn to meet the enemy on his own grounds.
In a nuclear stalemate, where neither side is prepared to go "all out" over local issues, the side with the superior conventional forces has an obvious advantage.
No nation at war, employing an exclusively defensive strategy, can hope to survive for long. Like the boxer who refuses to throw a punch, the defense-bound nation will be cut down sooner or later. As long as every encounter with the enemy is fought on his initiative, on grounds of his choosing and with weapons of his choosing, we shall keep on losing the Cold War.
The American government does not have the' right, much less the obligation, to try to promote the economic and social welfare of foreign peoples. Of course, all of us are interested in combating poverty and disease wherever it exists. But the Constitution does not empower our government to undertake that job in foreign countries, no matter how worthwhile it might be. Therefore, except as it can be shown to promote America's national interests, the Foreign Aid program is unconstitutional.
Increasingly, our foreign aid goes not to our friends, but to professed neutrals--and even to professed enemies. We furnish this aid under the theory that we can buy the allegiance of foreign peoples--or at least discourage them from "going Communist"--by making them economically prosperous. This has been called the "stomach theory of Communism," and it implies that a man's politics are determined by the amount of food in his belly.
A man's politics are, primarily, the product of his mind. Material wealth can help him further his political goals, but it will not change them. The fact that some poor, illiterate people have "gone Communist" does not prove that poverty caused them to do so any more than the fact that Alfred K. and Martha D. Stern are Communists proves that great wealth and a good education make people go Communist. Let us remember that Communism is a political movement, and that its weapons are primarily political. The movement's effectiveness depends on small cadres of political activists, and these cadres are, typically, composed of literate and well-fed people. We are not going to change the minds of such political activists, or impede their agitation of the masses by a "war on poverty," however worthy such an effort might be on humanitarian grounds.
We Americans believe--and we can cite one hundred and fifty years of experience to support the belief--that the way to build a strong economy is to encourage the free play of economic forces: free capital, free labor, a free market.
Our present policy of government-to-government aid strengthens Socialism in those countries [that receive it] . For this reason alone, we should eliminate all government-to-government capital assistance and encourage the substitution of American private investment.
Our present Foreign Aid program, in sum, is not only ill-administered, but ill-conceived. It has not, in the majority of cases, made the free world stronger; it has made America weaker; and it has created in minds the world over an image of a nation that puts prime reliance, not on spiritual and human values, but on the material things that are the stock-in-trade of Communist propaganda. To this extent we have adopted Communist doctrine.
Communists do not look upon negotiations, as we do, as an effort to reach an agreement. For them, negotiations are simply an instrument of political warfare. For them, a summit meeting is another battle in the struggle for the world. A diplomatic conference, in Communist language, is a "propaganda forum from which to speak to the masses over the heads of their leaders."
[W]hen the Soviets challenged our rights in West Berlin, we handed them a victory by the mere act of sitting down at the conference table. By agreeing to negotiate on that subject, we agreed that our rights in Berlin were "negotiable"--something they never were before. Thus we acknowledged, in effect, the inadequacy of our position, and the world now expects us to adjust it as proof of our good faith. Our answer to Khrushchev's ultimatum should have been that the status of West Berlin concerns only West Berliners and the occupying powers, and is therefore not a matter that we are prepared to discuss with the Soviet Union. That would have been the end of the Berlin "crisis."
The Berlin situation illustrates another reason why the West is at an inherent disadvantage in negotiating with the Communists. The central strategic fact of the Cold War, as it is presently fought, is that the Communists are on the offensive and we are on the defensive. The Soviet Union is always moving ahead, always trying to get something from the free world; the West endeavors, at best, to hold what it has. Therefore, the focal point of negotiations is invariably somewhere in the non-Communist world. Every conference between East and West deals with some territory or right belonging to the free-world which the Communists covet. Conversely, since the free world does not seek the liberation of Communist territory, the possibility of Communist concessions never arises.
We keep our word. The long and perfidious Communist record of breaking agreements and treaties proves that the Soviet Union will not keep any agreement that is not to its advantage to keep. It follows that the only agreement worth making with the Soviets is one that will be self-enforceable--which means one that is in the Kremlin's interest to keep. But if that is the case, why bother to "negotiate" about it? If an action is in the interest of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin will go ahead and perform it without feeling any need to make it the subject of a formal treaty.
The next time we are urged to rush to the conference table in order to "relax world tensions," let our reaction be determined by this simple fact: the only "tensions" that exist between East and West have been created, and deliberately so, by the Communists. They can therefore be "relaxed" by the Kremlin's unilateral act. The moment we decide to relax tensions by a "negotiated compromise" we have decided to yield something of value to the West.
What about the Russian people? We are repeatedly told that the Russian man-on-the-street is woefully ignorant of the American way, and that our trade exhibition in Moscow, for example, contributed vastly to his knowledge and thus to his appreciation of America. Assume this is true. Is it relevant? As long as the Russian people do not control their government, it makes little difference whether they think well of us or ill. It is high time that our leaders stopped treating the Russian people and the Soviet government as one and the same thing.
The exchange program, in Soviet eyes, is simply another operation in Communist political warfare. The people the Kremlin sends over here are, to a man, trained agents of Soviet policy. Some of them are spies, seeking information; all of them are trusted carriers of Communist propaganda. Their mission is not cultural, but political. Their aim is not to inform, but to mislead. Their assignment is not to convey a true image of the Soviet Union, but a false image. The Kremlin's hope is that they will persuade the American people to forget the ugly aspects of Soviet life, and the danger that the Soviet system poses to American freedom.
The Kremlin knows that our willingness to make sacrifices to halt Communist expansion varies in direct ratio as we are hostile to Communism. They know that if Americans regard the Soviet Union as a dangerous, implacable enemy, Communism will not be able to conquer the world. The Communists' purpose, then, is to show that Khrushchev does not have horns,--that he is fundamentally a nice fellow; that the Soviet people are--"ordinary people" just like ourselves; that Communism is just another political system.
If our objective is to win the Cold War, we will start now by denying our moral support to the very regimes we mean to defeat.
Students of history have always recognized that armament races are a symptom of international friction-not a cause of it. Peace has never been achieved, and it will not in our time, by rival nations suddenly deciding to turn their swords into plowshares. No nation in its right mind will give up the means of defending itself without first making sure that hostile powers are no longer in a position to threaten it.
[Because] of the West's weakness in conventional weapons, it might make sense for the Communists to seek disarmament in the nuclear field; if all nuclear weapons suddenly ceased to exist, much of the world would immediately be laid open to conquest by the masses of Russian and Chinese manpower.
To the impending physical parity in nuclear weapons must be added a psychological factor assiduously cultivated by Communist propaganda. The horrors of all-out warfare are said to be so great that no nation would consider resorting to nuclear weapons unless under direct attack by those same weapons. Now the moment our leaders really accept this, strategic nuclear weapons will be neutralized and Communist armies will be able to launch limited wars without fear of retaliation by our Strategic Air Command. I fear they are coming to accept it, and thus that a military and psychological situation is fast developing in which aggressive Communist forces will be free to maneuver under the umbrella of nuclear terror.
If our objective is victory over Communism, we must achieve superiority in all of the weapons--military, as well as political and economic--that may be useful in reaching that goal. Such a program costs money, but so long as the money is spent wisely and efficiently, I would spend it. I am not in favor of "economizing" on the nation's safety. As a Conservative, I deplore the huge tax levy that is needed to finance the world's number-one military establishment. But even more do I deplore the prospect of a foreign conquest, which the absence of that establishment would quickly accomplish.
Is the perpetuation of an international debating forum, for its own sake, the primary objective of American policy? If so, there is much to be said for our past record of subordinating our national interest to that of the United Nations. If, on the other hand, our primary objective is victory over Communism, we will, as a matter of course, view such organizations as the UN as a possible means to that end. Once the question is asked--Does America's participation in the United Nations help or hinder her struggle against world Communism?--it becomes clear that our present commitment to the UN deserves re-examination.
We should not be surprised that many of the policies that emerge from the deliberations of the United Nations are not policies that are in the best interest of the United States. United Nations policy is, necessarily, the product of many different views--some of them friendly, some of them indifferent to our interests, some of them mortally hostile. And the result is that our national interests usually suffer when we subordinate our own policy to the UN's. In nearly every case in which we have called upon the United Nations to do our thinking for us, and to make our policy for us--whether during the Korean War, or in the Suez crisis, or following the revolution in Iraq--we have been a less effective foe of Communism than we otherwise might have been.
Unlike America, the Communists do not respect the UN and do not permit their policies to be affected by it. If the "opinion of mankind," as reflected by a UN resolution, goes against them, they--in effect--tell mankind to go fly a kite. Not so with us; we would rather be approved than succeed, and so are likely to adjust our own views to conform with a United Nations majority. This is not the way to win the Cold War. I repeat: Communism will not be beaten by a policy that is the common denominator of the foreign policies of 80-odd nations, some of which are our enemies, nearly all of which are less determined than we to save the world from Communist domination. Let us, then, have done with submitting major policy decisions to a forum where the opinions of the Sultan of Yeman count equally with ours; where the vote of the United States can be cancelled out by the likes of "Byelorussia."
[T]he United Nations provides a unique forum for Communist propaganda. We too, of course, can voice our views at the UN; but the Communists' special advantage is that their lies and misrepresentations are elevated to the level of serious international debate. By recognizing the right of Communist regimes to participate in the UN as equals, and by officially acknowledging them as "peace-loving," we grant Communist propaganda a presumption of reasonableness and plausibility it otherwise would not have.
Second, the UN places an unwarranted financial burden on the American taxpayer. The Marxist formula, "from each according to his ability. . ."--under which contributions to the UN and its specialized agencies are determined--does not tally with the American concept of justice. The United States is currently defraying roughly a third of all United Nations expenses. That assessment should be drastically reduced. The UN should not operate as a charity. Assessments should take into account the benefits received by the contributor-nation.
[I]t is the height of folly to try to bribe Communist governments into becoming our friends.
We must realize that the captive peoples are our friends and potential allies-not their rulers. A truly offensive-minded strategy would recognize that the captive peoples are our strongest weapon in the war against Communism, and would encourage them to overthrow their captors. A policy of strengthening their captors can only postpone that upheaval within the Communist Empire that is our best hope of defeating Communism without resorting to nuclear war.
In addition to keeping the free world free, we must try to make the Communist world free. To these ends, we must always try to engage the enemy at times and places, and with weapons, of our own choosing.
We must strive to achieve and maintain military superiority. Mere parity will not do. Since we can never match the Communists in manpower, our equipment and weapons must more than offset his advantage in numbers. We must also develop a limited war capacity. For this latter purpose, we should make every effort to achieve decisive superiority in small, clean nuclear weapons.
We must make America economically strong. We have already seen why economic energy must be released from government strangulation if individual freedom is to survive. Economic emancipation is equally imperative if the nation is to survive. America's maximum economic power will be forged, not under bureaucratic direction, but in freedom.
In all of our dealings with foreign nations, we must behave like a great power. Our national posture must reflect strength and confidence and purpose, as well as good will. We need not be bellicose, but neither should we encourage others to believe that American rights can be violated with impunity. We must protect American nationals and American property and American honor--everywhere. We may not make foreign peoples love us--no nation has ever succeeded in that--but we can make them respect us. And respect is the stuff of which enduring friendships and firm alliances are made.
We should adopt a discriminating foreign aid policy. American aid should be furnished only to friendly, anti-Communist nations that are willing to join with us in the struggle for freedom. Moreover, our aid should take the form of loans or technical assistance, not gifts. And we should insist, moreover, that such nations contribute their fair share to the common cause.
We should declare the world Communist movement an outlaw in the community of civilized nations. Accordingly, we should withdraw diplomatic recognition from all Communist governments including that of the Soviet Union, thereby serving notice on the world that we regard such governments as neither legitimate nor permanent.
We should encourage the captive peoples to revolt against their Communist rulers. This policy must be pursued with caution and prudence, as well as courage. For while our enslaved friends must be told we are anxious to help them, we should discourage premature uprisings that have no chance of success. The freedom fighters must understand that the time and place and method of such uprisings will be dictated by the needs of an overall world strategy. To this end we should establish close liaison with under-ground leaders behind the Iron Curtain, furnishing them with printing presses, radios, weapons, instructors: the paraphenalia of a full-fledged Resistance.
We should encourage friendly peoples that have the means and desire to do so to undertake offensive operations for the recovery of their homelands. For example, should a revolt occur inside Red China, we should encourage and support guerrilla operations on the mainland by the Free Chinese. Should the situation develop favorably, we should encourage the South Koreans and the South Vietnamese to join Free Chinese forces in a combined effort to liberate the enslaved peoples of Asia.
We must--ourselves--be prepared to undertake military operations against vulnerable Communist regimes. Assume we have developed nuclear weapons that can be used in land warfare, and that we have equipped our European divisions accordingly. Assume also a major uprising in Eastern Europe, such as occurred in Budapest in 1956. In such a situation, we ought to present the Kremlin with an ultimatum forbidding Soviet intervention, and be prepared, if the ultimatum is rejected, to move a highly mobile task force equipped with appropriate nuclear weapons to the scene of the revolt. Our objective would be to confront the Soviet Union with superior force in the immediate vicinity of the uprising and to compel a Soviet withdrawal. An actual clash between American and Soviet allies would be unlikely; the mere threat of American action, coupled with the Kremlin's knowledge that the fighting would occur amid a hostile population and could easily spread to other areas, would probably result in Soviet acceptance of the ultimatum. The Kremlin would also be put on notice, of course, that resort to long-range bombers and missiles would prompt automatic retaliation in kind. On this level, we would invite the Communist leaders to choose between total destruction of the Soviet Union, and accepting a local defeat. Had we the will and the means for it in 1956, such a policy would have saved the Hungarian Revolution.
[An aggressive foreign policy] is hard counsel. But it is hard, I think, not for what it says, but for saying it openly. Such a policy involves the risk of war? Of course; but any policy, short of surrender, does that. Any policy that successfully frustrates the Communists' aim of world domination runs the risk that the Kremlin will choose to lose in a kamikaze-finish. It is hard counsel because it frankly acknowledges that war may be the price of freedom, and thus intrudes on our national complacency. But is it really so hard when it goes on to search for the most likely means of safeguarding both our lives and our freedom? Is it so hard when we think of the risks that were taken to create our country?--risks on which our ancestors openly and proudly staked their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." Will we do less to save our country?
The future, as I see it, will unfold along one of two paths. Either the Communists will retain the offensive; will lay down one challenge after another; will invite us in local crisis after local crisis to choose between all-out war and limited retreat; and will force us, ultimately, to surrender or accept war under the most disadvantageous circumstances. Or we will summon the will and the means for taking the initiative, and wage a war of attrition against them--and hope, thereby, to bring about the internal disintegration of the Communist empire. One course runs the risk of war, and leads, in any case, to probable defeat. The other runs the risk of war, and holds forth the promise of victory. For Americans who cherish their lives, but their freedom more, the choice cannot be difficult.
Does anyone remember that Goldwater drifted to the left toward the end of his life? I believe he suffered from Alzheimers and/or strokes.
But for an ad with a daisy being plucked and a mushroom cloud appearing.. what might have been.
Good post.. Thanks.
"Barry Goldwater, in your heart you know he's right".
I wouldn't say that he drifted left. He did soften a few of his stances. At least as far as I know.
Goldwater wrote that scenario 30 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He was precient about many things. Going through this book was almost like reading a Nostradamus retrospective.
As his condition worsened, his gold digging 2nd. wife began to issue HER opinions in Goldwater's name.
Very cool! Yours?
Thank you my good man!
The ghost of Barry Goldwater? I hope I'm not violating any copy rights here.
Yes Sir. Got it when he called me about joining the right wing conspiracy to regain control of the government and roll back civil rights- about, oh, forty years ago. So far, everything is going as planned except that civil rights thing.
How dare you post such heresy! You must be voting for Kerry and the terrorists.
"Extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice"
I have a sign in the back window of my car that says "Support Terrorism! Elect Kerry!" It gets a lot of double-takes.
It is, isn't it! I held onto one of my other copies of "COAC" as I watched the Berlin Wall come down on TV, and tears of joy and exoneration coming down on my shirt.
God bless you Barry, you saw the future and pointed the way for Ronald Reagan to go the distance.