America: never good enough
Secretary of State who was female was immediately followed by the first Secretary of State who was black (or colored, to be more precise), who is now being followed by the first Secretary of State who is female and
black. It seems like the very definition of liberal progress to me. Yet it’s not good enough for the mainstream liberal media. One of the network news broadcasts said this evening that Condoleezza Rice “is only
the second woman to be Secretary of State.” [Italics added.] For liberals, America is always behind, always guilty, and always sneakily denying its guilt.
Once we admitted, in the 1960s, that we were a discriminatory country, there was no way we could ever again be right in our own eyes, no matter what we did.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 15, 2004 10:19 PM | Send
Except that many of us never accepted that guilt business and don’t believe we owe anyone anything. I believe a day of reckoning is coming. Cheer up, Mr. Auster.
The fact that you and I don’t believe the guilt business is besides the point. Would you say that since you and I don’t believe in liberalism, therefore liberalism is not a problem?
Sorry, I can see how the last sentence of the original post might make it sound as though these are my glum thoughts I’m describing. No. By “we,” I meant the collective, liberal “we” of America.
I believe in a just God. I know that liberalism/modernism is wrong and that it is poisoning a certain segment of our nation. This can’t go on. Those of us who believe in something outside ourselves have a hidden reservoir of strength. We sometimes forget that it’s there and get all caught up in details we can’t seem to fathom. But we’re not the ones in agony now. The left is. If we continue to fight the good fight, we’ll win. I’m not saying there won’t be pain. I’m saying we’re going to prevail. I didn’t feel this way 20 years ago. I do now.
I agree with your general point, although it’s worth noting that we WERE in at least some senses a discriminatory country. That doesn’t mean that today’s liberalism is warranted, or that the America as it existed before the 1960s deserved to be destroyed. But there is nothing, in my view, inherently wrong with having a black secretary of state. Even if blacks are on average less capable, there’s no denying that there are some capable blacks who are also very in tune with our Western society.
Powell and Rice are both above-average blacks who, whatever their faults, clearly identify with the American nation and not merely their own racial background.
But I understand your underlying point about liberalism and America’s supposed guilt, and of the move toward multiracialism-multiculturalism, and I don’t dispute it.
“Powell and Rice are both above-average blacks who, whatever their faults, clearly identify with the American nation and not merely their own racial background.”
Please consider what Condelezza Rice had to say last year:
Bob Griffin writes above, “But we’re not the ones in agony, now. The left is.”
Oh, really?? I’M in agony—facing another 4 years of Bush & Co.—and I’m hardly a leftist! But I understand your point. Just remember, Bob—there are a lot of folks on the right who did not vote for Bush who wanted him out and who just as down about it as our Comrades on the left. Don’t believe everything the major media says about how “87% of conservatives voted for Bush”. How do they know this? I’m a conservative and I voted for another party’s candidate, so they have no way of knowing how many “in the conservative base voted for Bush”! It’s all conjecture. They didn’t differentiate between Independent conservatives and GOP conservatives—the Press said “religious conservatives voted overwhelmingly for Bush”. I am not part of that fold.
“But there is nothing, in my view, inherently wrong with having a black secretary of state. “
I don’t think Mr. Auster was saying there was. He was just upset that liberals refuse to see this as progress.
Mr. Auster hits on something important here. I would augment his point another way.
It’s BECAUSE America is so generous with its minorities that we are seen as hopelessly racist.
It’s BECAUSE America has been exceptional in the privileges it has extended to women (even suffrage, catastrophically enough) that we are seen as hopelessly sexist.
It’s BECAUSE we have given rights to everyone equally that we are seen as hopelessly Fascist. (Don’t start with me yet Matt; I’m still working on this.)
It’s BECAUSE we have given out so many handouts to the indolent that we are regarded as oppressing the poor.
On and on. It’s not merely that the baseline has no fixed point and shifts with each accession to each demand, it’s the fact that our altruistic sense of fairness, and the phenonenal extent to which we’ve allowed this to define our policies, has created the very basis and opportunity for generating the relevant complaints.
I think you are reading too much into it—it’s simply lazy reporting, an easy sentence to write.
This stuff stops when the lack of math skills of the average reporter exceeds his or her laziness— that’s why, for instance, you don’t read that Coach X is the 8th or 10th (whatever) black head coach in the NFL— once it gets beyond one hand or so, the math is too hard and that portion of the story drops off!
I wasn’t suggesting at all that Rice and Powell are not capable. That wasn’t my point at all. But both are highly objectionable—especially Rice—in using their positions to push racial preferences. Bush has also openly said, with the two of them present, “See, I’ve got diversity, because of Powell and Rice,” or:
I’ve got diversity,
I’ve got music,
I’ve got my gal,
Who could ask for anything more?
So they have all shamelessly exploited the race of Powell and Rice for their political purposes. In the case of Rice it makes me truly angry because years ago she praised the Republican party for not treating her as a black but as an individual.
On her abilities, she is competent, but nothing more than that. There is no particular spark or grasp there. I think she’s like Bush, she gets a simplistic view of things and then she just sticks with it.
I wonder if Rice will continue spending weekends with the Bushes after she becomes Secretary.
One of Jim Kalb’s comments best describes what liberalism really is: more of a tendency (bias) than an authentic ideological philosophy.
On the question of civil rights and race relations here something I’ve always been perplexed by: The fact that hundreds of thousands of white Americans sacrificed their lives in the civil war to achieve an outcome that set the slaves free just loiters as an impotent fact. The Union army’s motives were irrelevant, its outcomes that matter, but the indictatory nature of liberalism demands its adherents only have the correct motives, never mind results.
Liberals seem to believe that the desire to acheive pleasure is the causal motive for all human action, mentally balanced humans see it merely as a pleasant side effect. After years of observation it seems an easily identifiable trait, like relationship junkies they’re always crusading for that ephemeral high from their latest quest.
We’re coexisting with a peculiar generation, liberals will by instinct just keep moving the goal posts, demanding satisfaction to an unslakable tornado like appetite for “justice” (pleasure) that leaves the usual debris trail of innocent victims.
I posted a link in response to VFR poster JIM, who stated that Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were basically not tainted by their ethnicity. Ms. Rice has been quoted as giving tacit support of the idea of racial preferences in admissions criteria.
This, despite the fact that she was until last year when she made this statement, touted as the embodiment of the success of the multicultural agenda in which race neutrality, the final destination of a color-blind society, seemed to characterize her attitude about the issue.
Her frank support of a discriminatory process is the result of her being a part of the process itself. She may not have required the assistance of affirmative action quotas since she clearly is smart. But how could she reject the ideology which certainly gave her an advantage?
Which brings me to the alternative. Blacks in American society prior to the civil rights movement made every effort to stress their desire for inclusion into the majority society.
They simply wanted equal rights under law, not special privileges. As such, many of these “colored” people had high expectations for themselves as they attempted to meet the standards their critics said were unattainable for them.
Their manner of dress, language and attitude was drastically different than post 1964. One contrast illustrating this point can be the differences between Cassius Clay, AKA Mohammad Ali and Joe Frasier. Joe Frasier was blasted for being the “Uncle Tom”, a word commonly associated with Blacks like Condoleezza Rice.
Once the expectation for blacks was capped at group victimization, they abandoned the path which was elevating them as far as individual abilities and imagination could effect and the “gangsta” culture along with Ebonics quickly spread and became the highest acceptable ethnic standard.
To me multiculturalism is a failure on a whole multitude of levels and has particularly harmed and stunted those it was intended to help.
I was having a debate with a writer in Ireland. He had this minor point to make your article I presented to him:
“…Finally, thanks for the link to Lawrence Auster’s article, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=14858, which provides a great history of the Palestine/Israel area.
He has however missed out a vital point. The Jews didn’t “take Palestine … from the British”. They actually bought it, in parcels, from its legal owners who were almost all absentee Turkish landlords under the Ottoman Empire. Those Turks couldn’t believe their luck in turning worthless land into hard cash.”
Posted by Tony Allwright on November 15, 2004 09:28 AM
The Jews bought Palestine? I’ve never heard that angle before, have you?
The issue in my article wasn’t the private ownership of land, which indeed Jews as individuals and groups purchased from Moslems. The issue was political sovereignty. Britain exercised sovereign power in Palestine from the Great War until 1947-48, when the State of Israel came into existence.
Your article was very specific. I used it to emphasis a point to Mr. Allwright that the Arab claim to the region was about as valid as any of a dozen or so other peoples.
My main point (not yours) being that the territorial claim used to perpetuate the conflict is secondary to Arab imperialism or jihad (In my assessment).
It would be very hard to miunderstand the point you were making in terms of a civil land-ownership issue.
Mr. Allwright may have been engaging in minutia.
Mr. LeFevre writes:
“Donít start with me yet Matt; Iím still working on this.”
Perhaps Mr. LeFevre underestimates the position of respectful deference from which I behold his views, despite our admitted material differences. :-)
Interesting points in the thread from both Mr. LeFevre and Obvious. Mr. LeFevre’s post gives examples of what America has given to liberalism; and like a demanding child, *because* America has given things to liberalism, liberalism has demanded ever *more*. Obvious brings up Jim Kalb’s occasional reference to liberalism as a _tendency_ rather than an ideology.
I’ve always quibbled a bit with Mr. Kalb’s treatment of liberalism as a _tendency_ because I don’t think the word adequately captures just how authoritative and categorical liberalism’s claims are. It is true though that liberalism never exists as a full-fledged instantiation of its principles: it can’t, because it only exists at all as something parasitic on the traditional order (or in some cases an illiberal reconstruction) through _unprincipled exceptions_. Liberalism is more than a _tendency_, yet it is not something that can exist as a stand-alone observable object.
So liberalism isn’t a static _thing_; it is more of a dynamic _process_, a process that through its internal logic eats the world with authoritative nihilistic fervor.
Please don’t post a URL in the early part of a post. Thanks.
Thank for the advice Mr. Coleman. I wonder what you would have to say about the content of the link.
“Mr. LeFevreís post gives examples of what America has given to liberalism; and like a demanding child, *because* America has given things to liberalism, liberalism has demanded ever *more*.”
In other words, the act of giving creates no gratitude but only greater demands for further giving. That’s because the act of giving is a token of the liberal assumption that America (or men or whites or businessmen or Christians or Republicans) has, because of its fundamental evil, no right to exist for itself, and that its only justification for its own existence is giving to the Other.
Here’s a quote from Atlas Shrugged that I came upon at random on opening the book a few minutes ago and which I had never read before (it’s from the huge speech near the end of the book which I’ve never read):
“If you search your code for guidance, for an answer to the question: ‘What is the good?’—the only answer you will find is “The good of others.’ The good is whatever others wish, whatever you feel they feel they wish, or whatever you feel they ought to feel. ‘The good of others’ is a magic formula that transforms anything into gold, a formula to be recited as a guarantee of moral glory and as a fumigator for any action, even the slaughter of a continent. Your standard of virtue is not an object, not an act, not a principle, but an intention. You need no proof, no reasons, no success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others—all you need to know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own. Your only definition of the good is a negation: the good is the ‘non-good for me.’” [p. 956]
That last sentence echoes a passage in The Path to National Suicide: “We prove our moral worth to ourselves and the world by demonstating compassion and eschewing any trace of national or racial discrimination. _That_ is our immigration policy, and the idea of what is good for the people of the United States plays a very small part in it.” [p. 17]
Well, I started this thread late last night, then got so sleepy I had to go to bed. When I woke up and came over to my studio this morning I find all this! :-)))
Andrew’s reflections on the decay of blacks in the sixties echoes and reinforces everything I saw in the public schools. In 1965 blacks were doing the same basic work as whites, and their conduct, dress and speech were acceptable. After 1968 the whites fled the school district and the blacks regressed with alarming rapidity. Like spoiled children they made tyrannical demands on their teachers. They accepted as their due easy work, inflated grades, the cloying pandering of guilt-ridden and harrassed teachers and the implicit assurance that they would pass despite their insults and arrogance; for one of the benefits of the 60’s revolution was the separation between conduct and the grading process.
It never stopped. Once on the slippery slope there was no gift good enough for them and no level of incompetence or misconduct so low that it could not be reached. A complete catastrophe.
Regarding the “fracas” at the awards ceremony - I saw this sort of thing every day. They are NOT HELD ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. God forbid that a “negative” incident should rain on the parade. We were always told that such and such “negative” incident was not an indication of the student body as a whole. We were constantly indoctrinated into “hearing no evil, etc…”
In 1969 I went with the seniors on their class trip to D.C. The school was in racial turmoil. Kids demanded and received the right to drink alcohol!!! We were on a boat on the Potomac - suddenly everyone was running to the side. A tipsy black student had vowed to show off his swimming skills to “Whitey”. He jumped overboard and it was a while before they found his body which had gotten caught in the undertow. It was decided to GO ON WITH THE TRIP! The decision was made by the kids. No adult had the guts to say no to them. After all, we must not let a negative incident ruin the class trip.
If Myriam were to state in one or two sentences what was the key change in the Sixties that allowed all these other changes to occur, what would it be?
Damn, Myriam! Where did you teach? Hell High?
Here’s what I meant by my question to Myriam. She described the following phenomena:
Whites fled; blacks, who had had acceptable standards of conduct, rapidly regressed. They made tyrannical demands. They knew nothing would be expected of them by way of work or behavior. They expected teachers to defer to them, would not criticize them, and would not hold them accountable for their insulting and rule breaking behavior.
So, my question is: what was the key change in the thought of whites and blacks that brought all these things about?
The problem with Rice is that’s she’s a yes-man. The same as Gonzalez. If reports are to be trusted Doug Feith will take over for Ridge. This is the guy Gen. Tommy Franks characterized as “The stupidest, f***ing man on earth.”
In short, this president is rewarding failure and apple-polishing, and he’s removing anyone who shows even the slightest scintilla of independence.
If y’all want to celebrate this as “progress,” by all means, go ahead. Just don’t be shocked when others refuse to drink that Kool-Aid.
That’s easy. We underwent a soulsearching public demonstration of white guilt (magnified by using the South as a whipping boy), then passed legislation which basically gave blacks carte blanche to pursue whatever paths would lead to “restitution”…as defined by them. This led to efforts to instill “black pride” (remember that?), which disintegrated into fulminations against the host society. After all, hadn’t that society just admitted its guilt by passing legislation finally granting equal rights to blacks? “Here, downtrodden black person. Here are the keys to my house. Take what you need, my dear fellow.” They did.
“The more America does to overcome its ‘racism,’ the more ‘racist’ America appears. The reason for this is built into the dynamics of human nature. Very simply, the more equal blacks become with whites, the more unbearable and unjust seem the remaining differences. Thus what started as a demand for basic civil rights mutated into a demand to overturn the whole society, along with its traditions and norms, its standards and laws, its history and heroes…” — Lawrence Auster
Yes, I’ve addressed the question before of how the civil rights revolution did not stop at the correction of discrete injustices, but became an irresistible attack on the entire society and its standards. See the below link. But I was trying to find out what Myriam thought about this as someone who had lived through this revolution, up close and personal.
The answer as I see it is not pleasant to behold.
The poster named “stovepipe” just made a disgusting racial comment about Condoleezza Rice that has got him banned from this site. I had been thinking of banning him after an earlier comment, but didn’t want to seem unfair. But, as I’ve said before, when a commenter makes certain kinds of offensive comments, that is almost always a sign of worse things to come.
Mr. Auster -
I just found your question. I would answer it in two words - repressed racism. The liberals hated the blacks for not living up to their unreasonably high expectations. Their egos would not allow them to admit this, so the racism was repressed into the subconsious and re-emerged on the surface in the form of “love”.
Very interesting answer. But why did this repressed-racism-manifesting-as-liberal-“love” only happen in the last ’60s, and not at some other time? What was the change in attitudes or thinking that made this possible?
Let me answer my own question. The ’60s, with the Civil Rights movement, gave rise to a whole new set of racial expectations. Discrimination was being removed, blacks were being “liberated,” whites were admitting their historic unfairness to blacks, and unprecedented efforts were being made to raise blacks’ condition—all on the basis of the assumption that blacks had the same abilities and talents as whites and that it was only discrimination that had held blacks down. So, when white liberals such as Myriam’s colleagues saw that blacks under this new dispensation were not living up to the new expecations, their whole liberal belief system was thrown into doubt. Rather than admit that the blacks were not substantively the same as whites and were not ready to live up to the common standards of society, the liberals declared that the common standards were part of the structure of discrimination that had held the blacks down.
The process had two stages. In the first, “liberal” stage, the idea was to remove invidious discrimination, so that blacks could be judged by the same general standards that whites were judged by. In the second, “leftist,” stage, after it had become apparent that the blacks were not succeeding by those standards, the standards themselves were portrayed as part of the system of invidious racial discrimination and were also thrown out. Jim Crow, academic achievement, decent dress and speech—it was all the same racism.
This complements the analysis in my article linked above, “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act made group rights inevitable.” Once white society had said that it was historically guilty of putting down blacks, it wasn’t just discriminatory practices that got thrown out; it was _any_ aspect of white society under which blacks performed less well than whites.
Mr. Auster -
Absolutely correct. This is also the secret to inflated grades. When it became apparent, for example, that they could not comprehend Melville’s “Billy Budd”, then instead of questioning the students’ ability, they decided that something must be wrong with Melville. A collective decision was reached that the works, the work habits and the grading standards of the past were indeed passť, irrelevant and “Eurocentric”.
In short, if the kids didn’t “like” it (because it was difficult) it must be bad. If the kids liked it , it must be good. Thus, all at once students of low intelligence began receiving bushels of A’s, and tons of scholarships. Then everything down below in the public schools spewed over into the colleges, which, as we know, are today bastions of left-wingism.
BTW - it is a million times more exhausting to teach watered down material to a full class of slow kids than it is to teach properly to a class that has some slow kids in it. The slower ones may get a low grade but they learn something, and they can see at least that they have competition.
Myriam, you are heroic. We need teachers like you.
Thank you, but I think I was masochistic to stay 30 years. Most teachers I knew worked very hard, but they could not admit the futility of what they were doing. This created a huge divide between me and my collegues.
It was not officially called Hell High. It was a large comprehensive high school in a big city and very typical of what happened in other similar schools all over the East coast. At one time it had a superb reputation and proud graduates; then suddenly it was the pits.
This is my last post on this topic. I have to go. I’m sure we’ll have more to say about these problems later.
Mr. Auster’s very perceptive analysis of the stages of liberal reaction to the failure of their grand designs reminds me of one of the latest explanations of why certain minorities don’t do too well in a traditional school curriculum.
It is not entirely because the standards are part of the racist structure of society, but because academics failed to recognize that there are many different types of human intelligence. Thus, while some students could easily understand the symbolism in Billy Budd (linguistic intelligence) and some students could easily master trigonometry (mathematical intelligence), other students could easily master a tap dance (kinesthetic intelligence), etc. etc. Altogether, Howard Gardner, the Harvard academic who put forward the “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” has identified 8 different and equal “intelligences.”
Dr. Gardner’s theory has given rise to something called “learning styles.” Now, every teacher must so order his’r class to accomodate students with different “intelligences.”
Yes, I’ve heard this one from some of my liberal “friends”. So you can only tapdance? No problem. Our government will find you a job to match your skill level and pay you just as well as those people with math skills.
“The fact that hundreds of thousands of white Americans sacrificed their lives in the civil war to achieve an outcome that set the slaves free just loiters as an impotent fact.”
I agree completely, obvious. Whenever I do hear the now-battered argument for Reparations, I always bring up the fact that 360,000 Union men, the vast majority of which were Anglo-Saxon, laid down their lives, and by their valor the slaves were freed. Then I ask them to really think about who owes who.
This bias also speaks to the discrepency between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The Nazis are seen as the perfect embodiment of evil: white racists with specific hatreds toward specific races, possibly the most sacred cow of the Left. The Swastika, once used as a symbol of the ancient Samnites and Etruscans, is reviled as an evil thing. But now take Stalinist Russia, which was actually responsible for more deaths overall and the most brutal police state in history. But the hammer and sickle is not reviled; indeed it is even displayed with pride in places. Go to your local university to see how many Stalinist sympathizers you find among the staff and student body. Now see how many Nazi sympathizers you have. Of course the outcome will be absurdly lopsided.
So there it is: The Soviet Union was less evil because it didn’t openly target racial groups (no matter the number of slaughtered), but Nazi Germany was more evil because it did. Like my grandfather used to say “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The radical left goes further down that road with each passing day.
van Wijk said:
“The radical left goes further down that road with each passing day.”
Unfortunately, the Republican elite, a la Shrub, does the same. Stop Shrub and his crew and then we can start to reverse this mess.
Matt: A very deft reply. And thank you. :-) I blame myself for not having appended a “;-)” afterwards to make clear that my statement was meant tongue-in-cheek. Of course, the sentiment you express is quite mutual.
I have been doing a lot of thinking on the question of equal rights based on the writings of William Flax in his Conservative Debate Handbook, and particularly his chart here:
This chart led me to rethink your previous statements on the Nazis as Leftists. I have come to agree more with your position.
Following up on Mr. Wijk’s statement, I call attention to a chapter in Mr. Flax’s Handbook which shows that Hitler’s view on race were not of Mendelian sort—certainly not of the kind that racialists embrace. They were Lamarckian, only a few shades separate from Lysenko’s:
This was noted with great authority by the great Col Gayre of Gayre, founder of Mankind Quarterly.
Mr. Wijk noted the disparity of mass murder between Hitler and Stalin. This is a good point, in that even if we concede similarities in Hitler’s racial views (which I do not) no one would question that Stalin was for strategic purposes on the environmentalist side.
For those not familiar: The Soviet Union once boasted of the finest genetics research organization in the world, the Medico-Genetical Research Institute. Stalin waited until the results of a study came in involving twins separated at birth to determine the primacy of heredity or environment. Of course the results favored heredity.
One Oxford professor who used to have regular contact with members of the Institute wondered why he suddenly stopped hearing from them. The answer is they were either liquidated, sent to Siberia or disappeared into who knows where. The Soviet press announced that the president of the Institute “publicly confessed his ideological error and was shot.”
Stalin then set up T. Lysenko to represent the party line on the subject. (For what its worth, in 1951 even the ADL acknowledged all this.)
So if Hitler represented genetics, and Communism represents environment, it should at least be pointed out that the latter was responsible for over 10 times as many deaths!
But in fact there’s not much difference between them. Both Hitler’s and Lysenko’s views were largely Lamarckian, as necessary to support a Leftist ideology, only in different guises and for slightly differing manifestations of similar goals.
That is an excellent point by the ever-formidable Mr. LeFevre: that Nazi racism was not really any sort of ethnic loyalty at all. The Nazis believed in manipulating race in order to breed the free and equal new man, as a rationalist technological way of bringing about the liberal utopia. This Lamarckian racism has nothing to do with traditional ethnic loyalties among traditionalist conservatives; although ironically the Left has succesfully equated the two in the modern mind.
It is a point well worth bringing up in future discussions over whether that Naziism is a form of radical liberalism/leftism.
It is my opinion that the equivalence drawn by the common man between traditional monarchy and tyranny is one of the largest barriers to repentance from liberalism. Repentance from liberalism really becomes possible once someone internalizes the fact that the nazis were (and many modern tyrants are) liberals (albiet of a radical sort), and that earlier societies much maligned by liberalism were not the terrors they are made out to be.
I am not any particular sort of monarchist. I think all manner of political structures, including limited sorts of monarchy, can work well when operating on the right sort of culture and political philosophy. But democratic triumphalism even of the understated Churchillian kind is in my view unwarranted. Democracy may well be the best of all possible political structurings, except for all the others.
I expect there will continue to be disagreement among traditionalists about whether Marx and Hitler were legitimate heirs of Jeffersonian/Lockean liberalism, more or less consistently working out its premeses in their particular circumstances. No traditionalist likes to disavow what seems to be an important part of his heritage, and that resistance is a very good thing. For myself though I am quite unable to see communism and naziism as bizarre aberrations rather than a natural working-out over time. No doubt that portends future profitable clashes, in good faith and with good humor, with my VFR friend Mr. LeFevre.
Thanks again to Matt for his follow-up.
On the question of monarchical v. republican forms of government (forget “democracy”) I must make a rare recommendation that I hope Matt will consider. I recently read a phenomenal book by John Taylor of Caroline written in 1832 entitled “New Views of the Constitution.”
It is styled “New Views” because the Congress had only a few years before voted to cancel the oath of secrecy and publish the Journal of the Federal Convention. And even more recently had the secret notes of Judge Yates and Luther Martin been published. Before then, the Federalist had enjoyed an almost exclusive monopoly as a resource for ascertaining the intent of the Convention in framing the Constitution.
What Col. Taylor subsequently expounds is like nothing I have ever encountered, and my views on the Constitution—and of government generally—are forever affected. Col. Taylor reviews the proceedings of the Convention when 2 centralizing parties predominated, sometimes wrangling with each other and at other times working in collusion as the faction supporting a genuinely federal republican system slowly began to prevail. (It should be noted that Madison’s records hadn’t yet been made available, but they would only provide details to the general course of events. Col. Taylor notes that the Yates/Martin records agree in precise detail with the Journal.)
Col. Taylor then ruthlessly deconstructs the Federalist, noting hopeless contradictions of Messrs. Hamilton and Madison within their own statements and between each other’s. One can never regard the 2 distinguished gentlemen the same as before. Col. Taylor expounds the proposal that each had advanced in the Convention, both of which had been soundly defeated, and then shows how each through clever turns of phrase and argument attempted to construe the final document through the lens of the failed proposals each had advanced. It is an incredible spectacle!
And Col. Taylor also expounds on the British monarchical system, with cogent comparisons of that system and the one intended in ours—and in those who still sought to effect a centralizing scheme. (That effort has finally been put into effect by the Left.) These expositions are very relevant to questions that Matt has discussed forcefully at VFR in the past.
Finally, Col. Taylor makes the strongest case against judicial activism I have ever read, more relevant today than when written. And his prophetic anticipations that found fulfillment in the War Between the States are equally remarkable.
Jon Roland has transcribed the book at constitution.org: http://www.constitution.org/jt/jtnvc.htm but it’s a hard read on a computer screen. Fortunately, Regnery has put it back in print; a hard copy is indispensable.
Col. Taylor’s writing style is notoriously abstruse. Indeed, John Randolph of Roanoke complained that he needed a translator for his books. I would have had great difficulty grasping it before I joined the VFR family. Matt would have NO difficulty at all—if anything, it’s penned in his native tongue. ;-)
Of course, I look forward with great interest to discussing these topics further, with the admission that they are still new in my repertoire. But a tree grows slowly. :-)
Many thanks! I’ve ordered myself a copy, I look forward to reading it.
Matt, I look forward to your commentary on this in a future thread, with great interest! :-)