Don’t doubt that it’s been lost. A while back I struggled through Randy Barnett’s Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, a college-level text on that subject. Barnett thinks we can, but first he spends some time detailing how we went from, in his words, “islands of government power in a sea of liberty” to the exact opposite – sinking islands of liberty in an ever-expanding sea of government power. For Barnett, a law professor, the changes are viewed through a narrow lens – that of legislation and court decisions. He views the path back largely as a reversal of that course, but I don’t think the courts can save us.
If you’re a hardcore Three-Percenter, you may believe that the Constitution might be restored by men fighting a 300 meter Second Revolutionary War with small-arms. I’m not so sanguine about that one, but I appreciate the sentiment. If I thought it could actually work, I’d be on the front lines pulling triggers.
Current pundits think the path back might be through a “throw the bums out” sweeping change of our legislative bodies. I’m not so sanguine about that, either, as I’ll explain.
But don’t for a moment doubt that whatever the government is operating under presently, it isn’t the Constitution of the United States that each and every elected and appointed public official still swears an oath to uphold and defend, and it hasn’t been for quite some time.
Back in October of last year, I posted a short video of a portion of an interview of Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov discussing the socialist strategy of “ideological subversion” of an enemy country. That interview was taped in 1985. As Bezmenov explained, the process of “ideological subversion” was:
To change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite of their balance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country.
It’s a great brainwashing process which goes very slow, and it is divided in four basic stages. The first one being demoralization. It takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years it takes to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy.
In other words, Marxism-Leninism is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged or counterbalanced with the basic values of Americanism, America patriotism.
Recently I’ve been reading John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education. Gatto states in no uncertain terms that from his perspective something changed radically in the American public education system in 1965. It did so in all the metropolitan school systems nationwide, and later spread to the suburban and rural school systems. Bezmenov states that “at least three generations of American students” had socialism “pumped into their heads” as of 1985 – that is, a minimum of 45 years of “ideological subversion,” dating back between 1925 and 1940, and putting the first generation subject to that subversion into positions in the educational system that enabled enaction of that widespread systemic alteration by 1965, and accelerate the process further.
Here we are in 2009, a further twenty-four years on, and we have elected as President a man whose supporters see Ché Guevara as a hero, who was surrounded by active supporters of socialism, who appointed at least one advisor who is an open communist, and his history strongly suggests that the President was heavily influenced by socialists throughout his life.
Many of his generation (which is mine) were.
I’m not saying that the entire population of the country has been brainwashed by an organized, orchestrated conspiracy of the Tuesday Night Socialist Club, far from it. But the evidence strongly suggests that the undeniably attractive “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” ideology has set deep roots in the American culture since Marx first cast the seeds of his philosophy to the four winds. In fact, a 2002 Columbia Law School survey found
. . . that sixty-nine percent of respondents either thought that the United States Constitution contained Marx’s maxim, or did not know whether or not it did.
The survey result cannot be dismissed as anomalous, for it parallels the outcome of a survey conducted by the Hearst Corporation fifteen years ago.
And law professor Michael C. Dorf, who I quote from above, next asks the real question of this essay:
These results, taken together, are troubling for a constitutional democracy in which popular consent underwrites the government’s legitimacy. How can Americans be said to tacitly ratify the Constitution over time when so many of them have a deeply erroneous idea of what it contains?
What Constitution would we restore? Sixty-nine percent of the survey respondents couldn’t even tell you that it didn’t contain Marx’s maxim!
I haven’t read the book, but Orson Scott Card, in a piece he wrote five years ago, reviewed a book by Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead. In that review, he quotes this:
Jacobs sees us as being well down the road to a self-inflicted Dark Age, in which we will have thrown away many of the very things that made our civilization so dominant, so prosperous, so successful. We are not immune to the natural laws that govern the formation and dissolution of human communities: When the civilization no longer provides the benefits that lead to success, then, unsurprisingly, the civilization is likely to fail.
As she says in her introduction, “People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes literally lost?”
Dark Age Ahead gives us a series of concrete examples of exactly that process.
“Every culture,” she says, “takes pains to educate its young so that they, in their turn, can practice and transmit it completely.” Our civilization, however, is failing to do that. On the contrary, we are systematically training our young not to embrace the culture that brought us greatness.
A civilization is truly dead, she says, when “even the memory of what has been lost is lost.”
A civilization is truly dead when even the memory of what has been lost is lost.
That quote has stuck with me ever since. (And I recommend you read the rest of Card’s post as well.)
For whatever reason, we have not passed on our culture. We have systematically discarded it, forgotten it, refuted it, and in some cases reviled it. Card himself, in one of his more recent novels, described America thus:
(America) was a nation created out of nothing – nothing but a set of ideals that they never measured up to. Now and then they had great leaders, but usually nothing but political hacks, and I mean right from the start. Washington was great, but Adams was paranoid and lazy, and Jefferson was as vile a scheming politician as a nation has ever been cursed with.
America shaped itself with institutions so strong that it could survive corruption, stupidity, vanity, ambition, recklessness, and even insanity in its chief executive.
But can it survive enmity?
The Constitution is the fundamental legal document of our nation. It is the philosophy of John Locke laid down as the basic law of the land: Life, liberty, property. Protect all three against attacks from both private individuals and governments – including our own.
But socialism is based on the philosophy of Rousseau, and the two are totally incompatible. As Jonah Goldberg put it during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt back in February of last year:
Rousseau says the government is there, that our rights come from the government, that (they) come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it’s the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win.
And I’m afraid we’ve already lost that fight. There aren’t enough Lockeans left, and we awoke too late. Rousseau’s beautiful but flawed philosophy has, like the pied-piper, led our children to the pier, and the Endarkenment cometh.
And there’s your free ice cream for the day.