Monday, May 29, 2006

Sacrifice of the Soldier

As the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001, the event united Americans in ways never before seen by the non-World War II generations. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 also shattered the natural divisions within the United States. In the aftermath of both conflicts, all that mattered was that Americans, not simply human beings, were killed. Patriotism, the flame that ignites a political community, is seen time and time again during national crisis and tragedy. But what is mandatory to a political community is trust, which allows the motto e pluribus unum to have meaning. Trust must be the foundation of any society that wishes to form a government based on consent of the ruled. Peaceful transition of power, which is the cornerstone of Western representative democracies, is completely dependent on the trust the minority has in the majority of the same community.

In the book A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War, Harry V. Jaffa details how it is possible to have an American political community. The Founding Fathers understood that within a free society, the risk of an overbearing majority will always be apparent. But trust, which politically means that the ruled believe the ruling will adhere to the laws that protect all including those absent from power, always falls at the feet of the minority who must choose to accept their own political weakness. Therefore, the standard cannot simply be sentiment or sympathy. It must be rooted in the ideas perfectly expressed by Thomas Jefferson as “the laws of nature and nature’s God”. From the natural right doctrine, the American political community is cemented in the idea of equal rights in the law, i.e., the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln understood this best as he attempted to appeal to the South’s mind after his ascension to the presidency. In this instance, he would fail practically but theoretically succeed. Relying on both the Founders and Abraham Lincoln, it can be affirmed that the social compact, understood through natural law and imperfectly realized in the Constitution, underlies all that allows for an American political community.

Trust, without a doubt, is the prerequisite for any political community to take form. The American political community is based upon the principle of popular government, which resonates from the ground up through universal voting rights. However, during the American Revolution, it was a difficult proposition to explain and implement. It was incumbent on the Founding Fathers and the American people to first create a semblance of trust within the nation. Practically, Tories, which were Colonists loyal to the British Crown, were victims of “mob violence” and driven from the colonies. But this merely eliminates declared enemies of the Revolution. The question of trust is still left unanswered. Therefore, it is necessary to draw from “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Summary View of the Rights of British America where he explains the natural right doctrine as it applies to those in America. Unlike the views expressed by some such as Russell Kirk, Jefferson’s argument against the British government’s abuses of the Colonies is not pointing to “the rights of Englishmen.” Jefferson is in truth arguing that British Americans possessed rights that pertain to all men, equally and always. Jefferson first argues that nature had endowed all British Americans, as their Saxon ancestors did before them, with the right “of departing from the country” where they were born. But, as Jaffa points out, rational decisions are made as to where one will later be located. And this migration was ultimately guided by the objective of “promoting public happiness.” If civic happiness is the goal of one’s location, which was guided by rational choice given by nature, then it is necessary to have government based on the conditions that protect the natural rights of man.

“[W]hen… it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands…” is the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, also written by Thomas Jefferson. The great uniting document of America explicitly outlines the rights of all men. These rights derive from “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” which could more readily be expressed as natural law. According to Jefferson, writing for all Americans, “[A]ll men are created equal… and endowed… with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The idea of equality, which flows from the natural right doctrine, is penned here to show that men are born free and therefore own themselves. If one is born free, one therefore consents to be ruled, since all are in sole possession of themselves from birth. In the Summary View, Jefferson notes that the king is “the chief officer of the people” and is part of the government which is “erected for [the people’s] use.” Jefferson assumes that all power and authority first begins among the people who compose society. Then government only has certain “definite power” that are used to the people, thereby working for the people’s “happiness.”

Government derives from the consent of the people, and the government’s objective is to defend the “life, liberty, and… pursuit of happiness” of the people, and if government becomes “destructive of these ends,” it is necessary and a “right” of those who are ruled to change the government. Rule is not an immediately natural existence. Through society, men gather into a political community. But it is only through the consent of the people, may government be proper. Jefferson would see the right of revolution being succeeded by the “right of free election” with his election in 1800. And the right of revolution is the base of which all the right of the people derive. To summarize, all men are equal because of “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Since this is so, government is only legitimate if it is created through consent. The right of revolution is the guardian of these rights. Only through this understanding can a social compact, i.e., the Constitution, be successfully implemented.

The American government is one that resonates from the people, or society. In debating the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton asks the readers of The Federalist if they would accept such a proposition: Americans must decide “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” The operative word is “choice,” meaning the people of America are to decide their fate, much as Jefferson recalled the migration of the Saxons and later the Pilgrims and other British Americans. The Constitution is the social compact of the American people. But the election of 1800 is the culmination of the social compact which allows for power to derive from the people. Only then the will of society can be seen in government.

Thomas Jefferson, who defeated John Adams in the election of 1800, fulfilled the idea of the social compact. Jaffa compares the election of 1800 with the election of 1861 in that the winner had to persuade the public, both majority and minority, that the loser of the election was not the loser of “a war.” Jefferson says in his inaugural, “We are all republicans-we are all federalists.” This statement alone hammers out what it means to have a social compact. The “federalists,” represented by John Adams, had become the minority of America. But they, being part of the American political community, were in a sense, republicans. This appears to be improbable on the one hand, but Jaffa explains how this can be possible. Drawing from Aristotle’s definition of friendship, justice is an inherent quality of friendship. American citizens can be seen as friends of a community. Lincoln would also appeal to friendship in his first inaugural address, attempting to stop Southern succession.

James Madison, who wrote the Virginia Resolutions attacking the Alien and Sedition Act, argued that the social compact is understood through the Constitution. Here, the states were used as a vehicle to defend individual liberty, but the states were not used in a manner to defend a “state’s right” as such. It is of interest to note that Madison used the state of Virginia to uphold the social compact, e.g., individual liberty, but discourse in pursuant of ballots, not bullets, were used for political change. Lincoln, writing to Congress, states that, “[B]allots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets….” This is to say that clearly, the social compact was set concretely prior to 1860 and succession is not permitted. Madison, in an essay entitled Sovereignty, states that the will of the majority must be seen as the will of the entire society. The social compact was unanimous, as any political community must be prior to its formation. After formation, the great balance of majority and minority rights begin to fester. But, as stated above, the right of revolution defends all who are bound by the social compact and the natural rights that were present before and during.

The social compact, which binds together a political community, is realized through the Constitution. However only through the natural law embodied perfectly in the Declaration of Independence can there be a social compact to be entered in. The natural law doctrine comes before the social compact, but the natural rights of man are defended by the right of revolution on which America was founded on. Both the Founders and Lincoln understood the importance of the social compact and its affirmation through majority rule. However, trust is the linchpin of the American political community. It was this breakdown of trust that allowed the American Civil War and the crisis that almost destroyed a nation. Soldiers, however, saved the nation through their individual sacrifices. What civilians do to a political community is unfair to the soldiers who have payed the ultimate price. It is why Lincoln will dedicate America in the Gettyburg Address to the fallen Union soldiers who "gave the last full measure of devotion."

References (e-mail for exact page numbers):

Jaffa, Harry V. A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000.

Peterson, Merrill D. The Portable Jefferson. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.

Rossiter, Clinton. The Federalist Papers. New York: A Signet Classic, 1961.
Strauss, Leo and Joseph Cropsey.


Anonymous Enlightenment said...

Speaking of the Twin Towers falling...

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

11:59 PM  

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