How Bush has replaced natural rights with family values

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how natural-rights liberalism, the founding philosophy of America, has been changed into openness liberalism, a dichotomy that was discussed by Allan Bloom in the introduction of The Closing of the American Mind. Natural-rights liberalism posits a higher truth, founded in nature, as the common truth on which society is based. All men are endowed with certain rights, but in order to enjoy those rights, they must recognize them in others. This Lockean social contract gives a shape to society which, though it may be profoundly inadequate from a traditionalist perspective, is nevertheless capable of forming a workable and minimally decent social order. On the other hand, openness liberalism removes all higher or common standards and tells us we must simply yield to the demands and desires of others, regardless of whether they share our principles or not.

This transformation of liberalism, which was originally carried out by liberals, is now being advanced principally by George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, particularly in regard to immigration policy and the ideology of democratic universalism. I will have much more to say about it in the future. Here I just want to give one example of the rhetoric and the logic by which Bush has replaced natural rights with something that sounds like natural rights but is in fact the opposite of natural rights—namely, natural urges.

The following originally appeared in the February 2000 Middle American News:

In an interview ignored by the liberal press, as well as his GOP rivals, Bush told the editorial board of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, that “we ought to increase legal immigration.”

Bush said advocates of immigration reform represent the “xenophobic dark side of American politics,” and derided them as “folks who want to isolate America.”

He expressed sympathy for aliens who come to America to take jobs. “Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande River,” he said. “If you’re a mother and dad, and you got kids to feed, and you’re making 50 cents and you see someone in Iowa making $50, and you care about those kids, you’re coming.”

Consider the elegant symmetry of what Bush is doing here. At first glance, the “family values” that transcend the Rio Grande River don’t refer to any obligation on our part, they just refer to the fact that people will do what they’ve got to to feed their families, including crossing borders illegally. How can anyone disagree? It’s just a fact of existence. But then we realize that for Bush this natural need or natural desire is not just a morally neutral datum, but a morally formative principle of society, in the same way that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence are not just morally neutral data but morally formative principles of society. Because the Mexicans have this trans-border natural desire to come here, we have got to adjust to it, accommodate ourselves to it, open our borders to it, and we have no moral right to oppose it. The Mexicans’ natural desire to come here becomes our moral and political obligation to let them in.

Thus, instead of a core of natural rights in each person that other persons do not have the right to violate, that is, a system of negative rights, under which we have to refrain from violating the Mexicans’ rights and they have to refrain from violating ours, Bush has articulated a new dispensation in which each person, or rather each non-white Third-World person, has a core of natural drives (grouped under the irresistibly conservative-sounding rubric of “family values”) that we are obligated to accommodate.

Just as Bush turns the natural rights of man, which constitute the American polity on the basis of its membersí mutual recognition of each otherís rights, into the natural urges of other men, which require the suicidal openness of the American polity to those urges, he turns the family—one of the non-liberal, pre-liberal values that constitute society—into a super-liberal value, a sledgehammer that demolishes society.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 26, 2004 09:58 PM | Send


Bloom said “openness to closedness is what we teach”. In so doing, he reduced the openness-value to a contradiction-in-terms, at least by implication. Locke asked “to have only the law of nature for his rule”. On the natural law, aggression has no excuses of poverty or family or racial victimhood; the Mexican who steps on a landmine is just a dead invader. The wish for more pay is no excuse for aggression on the net taxpayer; and $50 a day essentially guarantees being on net public subsidy, especially for anyone with dependents. Our bad neighbors, steeped in the ‘amoral familism’, have a champion who makes excuses for crimes committed in the name of loyalty to family, but those are mafia norms.

Posted by: John S Bolton on October 26, 2004 10:45 PM

Valuing openness to that which is dedicated to closing the door behind it, is a contradiction-in-terms. Valuing openness to amoral familism while that class of ‘family values’ must be closed against the larger society, is also a contradiction-in-terms. To try to make closedness against the basis of the society into the alternative basis for that society, is also a contradiction-in-terms.

Posted by: John S Bolton on October 27, 2004 12:08 AM

I sent in my absentee vote for Bush yesterday from Europe. It was very hard for me to fully justify my ballot as Bush’s vision for the future is a series of contradictions.

President Bush has essentially engaged in the very “half measures” he asserted during the opening hours of the war would not occur, however a Kerry presidency has far to many variables and is fraught with greater danger.

The other MAJOR problem is that the President as stated above wants to do what? Increase LEGAL immigration? Is that Washington speak for smash ILLEGAL immigration and thus increase legal immigration which is minimal by comparison?

I saw a German documentary about an area in Queens NY where the US proudly boasts the greatest Babelopolis ever created by any society in history. Over 180 ethnicities are showcased for all to ponder in astonishment—-how do they all get along in this neighborhood? The answer…they don’t get along, and they don’t integrate either among themselves or into what was American society and culture.

During the hour documentary, Lawrence Asterís words came to mind while I developed a headache from the constant assortment of Indian, Hispanic, Caribbean, Islamic, etc., music constantly blaring in the streets during any interview, either by a passing car, or a from a store front. Perhaps the loud music and cheap wares being sold in bins on the street are fine letís say for a Caribbean society, but for the United States of America, this is a step closer to third worldism.

My German friend who constantly argues with me over the virtues of the holy grail of PC, multiculturism said after this documentary that it was unbelievable that not one person in this hour long interview spoke one word of understandable English and question the future of America in light of what seem as alien a hodge podge culture as one could imagine.

The true face of America as shown in Queens NY, is copied in virtually every American city from California to Chicago to New York to Miami, the same trend continues with no resistance whatsoever, my German friend said that this could not occur nor would be tolerated in Germany. Which called to mind the growing and undeniable entity known as “Eurabia”.

An important point with German immigration is that at least in the large Turkish areas of the slowly Islamifying Bavarian city of Munich, the Turks can speak German and they do not yet engage en masse, in the sort of lifestyle reminiscent of the hip hop multicultural Mecca and costume party America is fast becoming. That however does not diminish the fact that there is an agenda afoot for Islamists to conquer their host countries through sheer force of numbers.

How can America survive when it is clear serious and insurmountable social issues will be the final destination of both America and Europeís insane fascination with “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism”?

Immigration to what is left of the West must be controlled, managed or stopped completely. Someday, future generations of people in countries that resisted the immigrant invasion and colonization, will be reminded not to ever surrender their culture and heritage in the false belief that multiculturism (cultural displacement) can mark anything less than the suicide of a nation and a destroyer of worlds, they will just have to point to the ruins of the United States of America, renamed the United Nations of America to prove their point.

Posted by: andrew2 on October 27, 2004 5:29 AM

I think andrew2 sees things as they are, and that his German friend should be more wary of what is happening to Germany and all of Europe. I do not understand how andrew2 could then give his vote to President Bush, who champions everything andrew2 rightly fears (including - of special interest to Germany, where I guess andrew2 lives - infitrating the Middle East into Europe via admitting Turkey to the EU). I think the Old Testament makes it clear enough that God did not view Babel as a blessing.

Bush’s peculiar “family values” rap about Mexicans (which he has never renounced and effectively repeated in his last debate with Senator Kerry) shows what a post-modern liberal he truly is. Perhaps unthinkingly, he is obsessed with the “Other.” In his world view, non-white indigent foreigners are morally superior to his own countrymen (the white ones, anyway). It is a measure of liberalism’s triumph that this Republican descendant of early colonial settlers, as American a man as it is possible to be, actually believes that. It is a measure of Bush’s moral turpitude that he happily betrays his oath of office to prefer illegal aliens over Americans.

I used to say that Bush was almost as much an enemy of our civilization as Kerry. Now I think it is more accurate to say that Bush and Kerry are the same enemy. Conservatives should reject both, as loudly as possible. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on October 27, 2004 8:57 AM

I have to laugh because it hurts so much. Way back in 1980 I almost had a fit when Reagan chose Bush the Elder for his running mate. I think traditional conservatives everywhere let out a collective groan at the time. We’re still groaning. Don’t vote for Shrub. I know many of you feel obligated to vote, but if you hold strong traditionalist conservative views, you’d be better off not voting. Liberalism is about to go off a cliff. As distateful as it is to admit, the leadership of the Republican party is more comfortable with social liberalism than with us. Let them go down in flames with their soulmates. Some might caution that heading into chaos is risky, but I tell you all that the chaos is already here. Better to take our chances in a free-for-all.

Posted by: Bob Griffin on October 27, 2004 9:59 AM

Mr. Griffin identifies one of the Two Great Mistakes of Ronald Reagan. The other (as Reagan himself admitted) was signing the 1986 amnesty. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on October 27, 2004 11:22 AM

Mr. Sutherland

I agree with your opinion on voting for President Bush. I waited so long to cast my ballot because I could not reconcile Bush’s views on immigration with my own.

Had John Kerry proposed in absolute terms he would launch a massive rescue effort to halt immigration and try to reverse its terrible damage, I still would not have voted for him because he simply cannot be trusted period.

I am holding out the hope that Bush is planning as a second phase in his increasingly faltering “War on terror” actually declaring a state of national urgency with regard to at least controlling the boarders.

I however hold no optimism for the cultural continuity of America, it is clear that our nation has committed suicide and will cease to resemble the America we know well within our life times.

I believe the left has won and there is simply no president, senator or public figure alive that can muster the support necessary to reverse Americaís clear descent into third worldism and social chaos exponentially beyond what the Kerner Commission in 1968 could ever have imagined.

Posted by: andrew2 on October 27, 2004 11:27 AM

There is an impending crisis on the horizon. Euro-statism, that particular form of impostional governance the the Founding Fathers were wary of built in a correction mechanism into the constitution.

Fast forward to the present, immigration policy and its collary; terrorism. The singular issue that threatens the spirit and intent of the constitution’s implied contract between citizens and the state, liberty and pursuit of happiness primarily for the American citizens - not immigrants. The pernicious ideology of the elite that is disolving America’s historic culture will soon face its apocalypse as Lawrence previously articulated.

It will come in the following manner: any subsequent islamic terrorism will put the state in what can be described as an absurdity for the ages when citizens seek to protect themselves from the muslims and quarantine their communities who are harbouring enemy aliens. Just ask yourself this question, if the Michigan national guard has to surround the large muslim enclaves in Flint and Dearborn, what direction will the tank barrels be facing?

At that juncture, it will be painfully obvious that the current form of government has failed, reforming and re-establishing a new republic won’t be a parlour debate but a real necessity.

Posted by: obvious on October 27, 2004 11:30 AM

A vote for Bush simply means slightly postponing some of the disasters we will get with Kerry, while ensuring that the opposition to those disasters will be disastrously weakened. Does anyone believe that a second Bush Administration will be successful, even in its own limited, Rovian terms? After four more years of Bush’s incompetence (let alone his weakening of conservatism) we will get a Democratic President anyway….

Posted by: Alan Levine on October 27, 2004 11:53 AM

Mr. Auster and others have pointed out what obvious alludes to, but it never hurts to say it again. The United States has never been a come-one, come-all “Proposition Nation,” as overt and covert (neocon) liberals would have it. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution says that document is ordained and established, inter alia, to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Posterity is generally understood to mean one’s descendants, one’s own flesh and blood. Revolutionary Americans were fighting for the independence of their (by 1776 well-established) colonies so that they could govern them as they wished, with no interest in throwing them open to all the world. Whatever morass America has become, the states were never intended by the nation’s founders to unite to form an immigration nation. Beneficial immigration was at times tolerated, at times welcomed, but not until 1965 and after did it become the policy of our government to encourage immigration even at the risk of displacing America’s culture and destroying the country. Those likely results leave both Bush and Kerry untroubled - we need no more evidence of it than their responses to the one immigration question that somehow snuck into their three (four, if we include the VP show) debates.

If the Michigan Guard winds up surrounding Michigan’s Moslem enclaves, their weapons will be trained outward, facing any Americans who might have the temerity to question the Moslem presence here.

A second Bush II administration is very unlikely to be a success in Rovean terms, but might be a success in Bushian terms. Bush really does love all those Mexicans more than he loves us, and if he can amnesty all the ones already here, and smooth the way for millions more, he will consider himself a triumphant and humanitarian “compassionate conservative” (liberal, that is). It might even get him a Nobel Prize. How, other than on taxes, would Kerry really be worse? Vote for neither. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on October 27, 2004 12:36 PM

I have already voted for Peroutka, as we can cast an early absentee ballot in Tennessee. Regarding GWB’s love for immigrants above Americans, I remember reading a statement he made not long after 9-11. It was in referring to whether too much immigration might lead to things like 9-11.

In his characteristic babbling mode, GWB said something like, “We want people to come here. We want more and more people to come here.” I didn’t save this. I was too disgusted, but Bush said this. By the way, has Vicente Fox endorsed him for re-election? This was said to be Bush’s fondest wish a few years ago. Imagine an American President lusting (and desperate) for the support of the Mexican Presidente.

Posted by: David on October 27, 2004 2:31 PM

The main difference between Bush and Kerry is that Bush wants Vicente Fox’s endorsement and Kerry wants the support of Jacques Chirac.

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 27, 2004 3:53 PM

If this is representative of “real” conservativism then what’s the point when you’ve already admitted defeat? How can a president so liberal gain the hysterical ire of real modern American liberals? Is the country that far left? And what of the strategy to accomplish the task of limiting or elimimating immigration? Does the inevitable defeat negate a need for a strategy?

How about a major Hispanic protest against greedy corporation that demand a supply of cheap labor and keep these immigrants from assimilating into the middle class?

What of a massive “white flight” from Western Europe as the Muslim’s imperial conquest continues?

If Roe vs. Wade is overturned and state legislatures decide abortion law, what effect will an increase in native birth-rates have?

There is great potential for change and reversal that lie far outside any one man. Why is the tone of immigration reformers the tone of the defeatists? If the fight is lost why all the complaining?

Posted by: thordaddy on October 29, 2004 3:26 AM
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