Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Very Best Form of Socialism


The left has been waging a decades-long smear campaign against conservatives, painting them as bigots who have been on the wrong side of history on every issue, including America’s greatest sin – slavery. Vice President Joe Biden even went as far as to suggest during the 2012 election that a Republican victory wouldre-enslave African-Americans.

Leftist academics and historians have gone to great lengths to bury and distort the names and legacies of the men who defended the ugliest of American institutions; men whose philosophy on government, rights, and liberty, as it turns out, is uncomfortably close to their own. A modified but nonetheless similar tendency to subjugate continues to run through liberal policies today, replacing slavery with a cradle-to-grave entitlement system that trades liberty for material security, and the plantation master for government itself.
Ann Coulter, Kevin D. Williamson, Sean Trende, and others have pushed back on the idea that the modern Republican Party is primarily built on racism. However, a further examination of what makes the modern parties, and more importantly, the modern philosophies of conservatism and progressivism, is essential. Little attention has been paid to the thinkers who made Democrats the party of slavery in the lead-up to the Civil War, and their influence on modern liberal ideas.
Conservatives and liberals alike may be surprised to find that in reality John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina antebellum statesman and political theorist, and his pro-slavery allies, stand firmly as the intellectual forebears of the political philosophy of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and the modern left. Calhoun and the antebellum thinkers behind the positive defense of slavery in the nineteenth century represent the first major criticism of American founding principles – principles the American conservative movement seeks to preserve – as well as the intellectual seed for the later Progressive movement and what is considered modern-day liberalism.
The ideas Calhoun and others in his school introduced in the defense of slavery contrast sharply with those of the Founding Fathers and certainly modern free-market economics. Specifically, three of the core ideas Calhoun’s pro-slavery school embraced continue to resonate on the left.
First, the slavery defenders challenged the Founder’s emphasis on the Lockean social contract, arguing that government – and natural rights – grow organically out of community.
Second, the antebellum pro-slavery school repudiated the Founders’ view of slavery as a necessary but fading evil, and instead defended the system as a “positive good,” both for slave holders and for the slaves themselves. The benevolence of the slavery system was juxtaposed against an uncaring capitalism.
Lastly, slavery’s defenders rejected the principle of equality in the Declaration of Independence and argued instead for a society based on a principle of human inequality, resting their controversial beliefs on new “scientific” ideas about both human nature and the organization of government.
Each of these principles is echoed in the policy and philosophy of the modern left.

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