• Drew Maglio

In Defense of American Civilization

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Chaos has descended upon the United States of America in the year 2020. What has transpired, is the culmination of a slow societal and ideological decay that has been underway for a century or more; it seems to me the chickens of cultural decadence and moral rot—a near complete abandonment of our founding principles, have finally come home to roost. The rule of law, once a cornerstone of our republic, has been suspended—first by autocratic tyrants who used the coronavirus pandemic as grounds to dictate how the rest of us shall live—and now via civil unrest stemming from a number of police killings of American citizens. In America today, government is no longer limited and relegated to its proper role and the abuse of power is rampant—this claim needs no qualification as it is plain for all to see. Corruption is the norm as our politics have devolved into little more than faction strife and tribal warfare. For the left and the right, there is no common ground or set of principles by which we may stand together any longer.

The radically Marxist and “progressive” left aims, quite frankly, at the complete and utter transformation of American society and will utilize any means to achieve a “socialized” society administered via central planning. By “equality” and “justice,” it is meant merely that the so-called “general will” of the new majority shall dictate how the rest of us will live. By equality, the radical left means not equality under the law on which the system of American liberalism was once based in principle, but rather equality of outcome, or the equalization of that which is unequal in merit and/or circumstance. By “justice,” this new subversive faction on the left does not aim at the improvement of the individual’s soul as the principled Aristotle once held, but rather tribal vengeance: an eye for an eye, and blood for blood. Reparations, bowing to the mob, and apologizing for the sins of long dead ancestors whom we moderns never even met in real life are now the rallying cries of the new “progressive” movement.

Make no mistake: Americans who hold dear the principles of our founding must acknowledge and articulate that it was deeply wrong and sinful that the lofty principles on which our republic was founded have never been fully actualized for all of the diverse peoples that have called her home. And yet, this fact does not invalidate the pillars of American society: namely, the sovereignty of the individual, the importance of the nuclear family, strong local community, and above all an emphasis placed on local affairs over regional, national, and international ones. Instead we have become a nation of moral busybodies who no longer go about their own business in accordance with our own ends, but rather look towards others for affirmation while simultaneously rebuking others who offend the tenets which we ourselves have adopted unconsciously. In this way, vitriolic national and international political theater has come to supplant and suppress rational discourse and open statecraft.

While the radical progressive mob frequently invokes history as their witness, it fails to understand historical complexities and nuances that cloud our ability to make sense of our flawed past. I often hear it claimed that America was built on genocide and slavery, yet this is in reality a grave reduction and trivialization of the machinations of individuals, communities, and nations of the past, whose contingent agency molded our present. In the American context, America’s dark history of systemic racism is convoluted and nuanced as the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Southerners in the pre-war agrarian South did not own slaves, but rather a few disgustingly rich and unscrupulous plantation owners worked to propagate and expand slavery to further their own heinous agendas. Leftists increasingly fail to realize that the American Founders were not a monolithic and homogeneous group of racist, xenophobic, and sexist white males who sought to construct an empire at the expense of others. The reality of the matter is certain founders, notably the anti-federalist Patrick Henry, were repulsed by both slavery and imperialism. In a speech entitled “Is Liberty or Empire to Be Sought?,” Henry argued against the supplantation of the Articles of Confederation by the Constitution because—in Henry’s view—the ambiguous language and lack of explicit prohibitions within the Constitution gave the federal government far too much centralized power. Of note, these powers were later invoked to expand Westward and institutionalize slavery. Henry, himself a moralist who opposed slavery even during the 18th century and freed his own inherited slaves, was by most accounts a noble if imperfect man. Benjamin Franklin for all of his personal scruples, similarly wrote a famous treatise entitled “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America,” in which he quipped, “savages we call them, because their customs differ from ours,” before proceeding to laud praise and argue in favor of the native people’s civility and practical virtues throughout the entirety of the treatise. These are not isolated incidents, but rather mere indications of the complexity and dynamic environment during the period in which America was founded. To reduce history by asserting that all history is conflict between the haves and have-nots is a fool’s errand.

The most unfortunate thing about the current chaos now taking place is that while certain factions of the left wishes to tear down and dismantle, it has no moral objective and absolute moral framework by which to replace our allegedly irredeemably corrupt institutions. The removal of statues, for instance, symbolize the mob’s wish to systematically deconstruct an “oppressive” American system of government that was the product of centuries of religious and philosophical struggle by individual men and women who have now been reduced to mere “evil Europeans.” The most destructive aspect of this mentality is the disingenuous importance placed on absolute infallibility of character, as if any human being can attain such virtue. Moral virtue, however, is not what the left is after, but rather conformity to the current group ethic which has—and will continue to—change like the wind. Gone are the Christian, stoic, liberal, and Aristotelian moral foundations which had been absorbed, amended, and improved upon from antiquity into the Middle Ages, before culminating in the liberal democracy that has been a hallmark of modernity. For centuries to this moment, Thomann and Lockean political theory based on universal, objective, and absolute natural rights derived by virtue of one’s humanity, have provided an objective and absolute moral framework, in addition to a commonality of values that all may share in common as glue by which the tenuous and complex framework of human civilization be held together—until now.

Regarding racial minorities, the application of the conception of American government has—in the past—been oppressive and despite this demonstrable historical reality, the English and American conception of civil government is worth preserving. This may seem to some a paradox, yet human nature itself is hypocritical and paradoxical in the sense that everywhere we set lofty standards for moral conduct and yet fall short. Slavery, a disgustingly inhumane and maniacal institution existed—and likely continues to exist—for thousands of years. Despite this grim fact, it was only in the last two centuries that the majority of the world legally abolished slavery—spurred on in no small part due to a foundational principle of Western Civilization: i.e. the dignity and sacred nature of the individual, who is endowed with certain inalienable natural rights that include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own ends, derived from our very essence as human beings. This fact does not absolve the United States in particular of institutionalized racism and discrimination in the wake of the abolition of slavery, although it must be noted the norm throughout history in our depraved and fallen world is tyranny and injustice. While the radical progressive disingenuously acts as though the liberal governments of the modern West invented the horrific injustices of imperialism, colonialism, and slavery, it must also be conceded and recognized that it was only in the West in the last 300 years that some progress has been made to eradicate these unfortunate evils from our world. In fact, much progress has been made since the founding of the United States to rectify past evils through the more complete application of the principles and institutions that were codified in 1776 and again in 1787, but are now in the cross-hairs of a nihilistic and violent faction, that uses injustice as subterfuge to cloak their real goal which is the complete transformation of American society through destruction and chaos.

Put bluntly, there is no overarching principle by which the radical Marxists that now occupy a large portion of the left can stand on as universally true in order to build the society of the future—other than the divisive Marxist notion that all history is tribal strife and therefore the enaction “justice” would be akin to the suffering of the oppressive bourgeois class at the hands of the virtuous proletariat. And yet, the new increasingly radical progressive ideology holds in contempt and disdain the very fabric, essence, and institutions that uphold liberal government and individual rights as inherently corrupted beyond redemption. Progressive society—not recognizing the fallen nature of man and our dangerous lust for power over nature and other human beings—will devolve into a mere grapple for power by which new progressive “ideals” will be implemented forcefully by the majority without the consent of the new minority.

Since the turn of the 20th century, the insatiable lust for “progress” through the expansion of human power has already manifested itself many times, wreaking havoc each time it surfaced. One particular historical atrocity perpetrated under the guise of progressive government was the maniacal Eugenics Movement, which the heirs to the progressive “tradition” were largely able to hide from the public purview by focusing instead on the achievements of “family planning” and “birth control.” I say this to illuminate that just as progressives in the past sought to eliminate from the human genome “degenerates,” “morons,” “criminals,” and those deemed “feeble minded” in order to achieve “progress,” we must similarly be skeptical of the modern radical progressive who—under the guise of racial injustice—seeks to transform the status quo which, though undoubtedly flawed and imperfect, is still based on some foundational principles that are common to all.

It should be clear by now that the radical secular progressive has no true guiding principle other than vagaries and abstractions echoing the notion that the aim and purpose of human civilization is not to safeguard the individual’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, but rather to advance “the Kingdom of Man to the performance of all things possible”—as the founder of applied science and original progressive, Francis Bacon, declared. And thus, it may be said the radical progressive has no legitimate moral foundation on which to stand but rather whim, base impulse, and transient desire. Increasingly, the progressive left sees government as the vehicle by which the collective majority may achieve its ever-changing aims and if it ceases to be perceived as useful—not merely abusive as Aquinas and Locke once argued—then civil government itself shall be destroyed and remade. In this way, the new left rebukes claims of moral authority unless it suits their current political agenda. In that case, they then step back within the framework of absolute truth from without, yet depart once more as soon as is expedient.

And so, we find ourselves at an impasse. American government is thoroughly (and perhaps irrevocably) bloated and corrupted beyond repair, yet if the mob succeeds in tearing it asunder, what little protection and buffer the individual, family, and community has left against a vindictive and vengeful progressive mob, will be eradicated. In short, a house divided cannot possibly stand against the “masters of man,” who in every age, wish to subjugate and place others under their thumb. If we are to be free and capable once again of self-governance, we must reassert and apply to the fullest extent humanly possible, our esteemed founding principles as echoed in the Second Treatise by John Locke and our own Declaration of Independence.

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