Monday, June 17, 2019

Remembering the evils of socialism/ communism

The Cold War came to an end more than a quarter-century ago. When the winds of change started to blow in the eastern bloc, and then the Berlin Wall finally came down, many of us wondered what the future would bring.

I remember in the summer of 1990 driving through the Shenandoah River Valley of Virginia with a veteran leader of the anti-communist movement and talking about what life would be like without the Soviet menace dominating our foreign policy.

“Will we forget what they were like, and will it be easier to bring socialism to America after the Soviet Union is gone because we have forgotten?” I asked. He agreed that this would be a great danger—America might forget the horrors of socialism when it was no longer an armed doctrine threatening our very existence.

Evidence that much of America has forgotten the horrors of socialism in the 20th century seems to be emerging on college campuses and among the citizenry. While those of us who grew up during the Cold War will find it shockingly hard to believe, socialism is growing as an approved political/economic system in America.

Read my full article on re-reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Abraham Lincoln on our Internal Divisions

On this July 4th, Revisit Lincoln's Lyceum Address

This is Lincoln as a 20-something with the wisdom of the ancients and profound messages for us today!

Lincoln began by expressing gratitude to our ancestors who founded and built our nation. Demonstrating conservatism at its very best, he connected the generations of the living, dead, and yet unborn in a community of mutual obligation. It is our task, Lincoln said of the living, to protect and then pass on to posterity what we have inherited.

Where, Lincoln asked, will the threat to our inheritance and our survival as a nation come from? Will it come from an army overseas? Profoundly not, Lincoln asserted. No military force could “take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.” The great danger to the United States will come from inside America, he said. “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

What are the dangers Lincoln saw that may come to undermine the United States? He warned first of the “mobocratic spirit”—“the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of the Courts.”
When I recently discussed this text with students, many of them immediately saw parallels with today’s “social media mobs” passionately denouncing those with whom they disagree or sentencing people for perceived crimes of political incorrectness. To counter this spirit of the mob, Lincoln taught a strict dedication to the Constitution and the rule of law, going so far as to say that everyone must remember that “to violate the law, is to trample the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty.”

Second, he warned in very stark terms of the dangers of political leadership. Rather than celebrating great leaders who would come in the United States, he feared that men would arise with grand ambitions to be satisfied. Where our founders were able to satisfy their ambitions by founding the United States, he feared future leaders, having inherited America already built, would seek to gain their own fame in destruction and rebuilding. Those who scorn “to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious,” he said, belonged to “the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle.”

Read my full article here.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Yes, George Washington warned us of the politics surrounding the Mueller Report more than two centuries ago!

Read the full story here.

He warned us against permanent alliances and the need for impartial commercial relationships with foreign nations. And, as if speaking directly to the daily headlines of 2019, warned that against “the insidious wiles of foreign influence … the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Those most actively supporting the Mueller investigation might find support in that warning. But, he added a caveat that we all should pay close attention to: “But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial,” he instructed, “else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it.”

Washington predicted that foreign governments would use the political party system that might develop in the United States as a means of sowing division and gaining favor. But he also understood that there was an equally bad tendency of people to use such concerns for their own partisan agenda rather than for the good of the whole.

How prescient Washington’s Farewell Address seems to still be today, more than two centuries after it was offered to the American people. If we would return to it again on the day of his birth and meditate on his many lessons for the United States, we might end up being a better nation able to manage our journey together through the choppy waters of the 21st century.