12 Responses

  1. Jason

    I think it’s too simple NovaSeeker to simply equate the Founders – and many other prominent Americans (e.g. Lincoln) – with the Enlightenment and nothing more (Actually the term Enlightenment itself is too simplistic, since for instance the French Enlightenment and the English Enlightenment were quite different, although there was often overlap). They were well aware of the sinfulness of man, of the need to conserve institutions and the like (Consider the constant fears the Founders had of ‘the mob’ as well as the dangers of Ceaserism). They also knew how vital it was for certain institutions – families, religion, and the like – to act as brakes and anchors in the midst of liberalism and capitalism.

    As an aside, I’m very glad that you are starting this blog, which I’m sure I will enjoy writing. I’ve long enjoyed the comments you’ve made at blogs like The Social Patholigist – it will be good to read your thoughts in a more elogonated form.

  2. Escoffier

    Glad to see that you are blogging. You’re by far my favorite commenter on many of the blogs I read and I always go out of my way to read your comments.

    I have several thoughts on this. First, like Jason, I think it’s too simple to equate the Founders with the Enlightenment. This is actually a very common meme, that has as its most visible statement George Will’s “Statecraft as Soulcraft” and also certain passages in Bloom’s Closing. Will’s book came first but he got the argument from Bloom and Bloom’s students.

    However, as Jaffa and his students have shown, the American Founders actually had three great sources for their thought: 1) early modern philosophers, above all Locke and Montesquieu; 2) classical republican thought and ancient histories (Federalist 1-14 is basically a long meditation on ancient history and republican theory); and 3) the Bible. Jefferson famously described the sources of the Declaration as being “the elementary books of public right, Aristotle, Cicero, Sidney, Locke &c.”

    Regarding #3, there is an assumption today that all the Founders were deists or agnostics. Not so. It certainly fits Jefferson, who was outspoken on that point, and probably Franklin, who was more guarded. Washington, Hamilton and Madison never said a public word against religion and said many things in favor, whatever their private beliefs may have been. Adams was devout. You can make a case that Washington was as well. And then beyond this you have a virtual tidal wave of words from virtually everyone else that was quite religious. The people were quite religious and there is a trove of founding era sermons that links the cause of the revolution to religious principles.

    Second, the Enlightenment is a second order problem. The Enlightenment is just the propaganda arm of modernity. Modernity is the real problem.

    Now, I agree that “me-too” conservatism is a spent force, and useless. The question of what to replace it with is rather hard however. My own view is some return to ancient notions of teleology, natural right and virtue. I think all these concepts were present at the founding by the way, above all natural right, but it does seem that they have been eroded in the acid bath of modernity.

    Is such a return possible in current circumstances? I think, probably not. But modernity is close to being a spent force, exhausted and riven with its own contradictions. Machiavelli describes world-views—both religions and secular—as “sects” that have a life cycle. My sense that modernity is nearing the end of its. What comes next I could not say. However a simple return is likely to be complicated by the ongoing presences of modernity’s two greatest successes, natural science and technology. Absence some kind of total collapse and calamity—which science and technology themselves make less likely—it’s hard to see them going away. And as long as they are around, they complicate (to say the least) a return to older principles of thought.

    I also think the effort to find new principles of though blew itself out with Nietzsche and Heidegger. We went as far as we could go in thought and action down that path and the results were very bad. That’s why return is, IMO, the only option.

  3. Escoffier

    Just to elaborate point #3, the Declaration makes four specific references to God: “Nature and Nature’s God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Judge of the world,” and “Divine Providence.”

    Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance, officially considered along with the Declaration one of the “organic laws” of the United States, begins with “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

    And so on.

  4. Höllenhund

    Off-topic: Cail has raised an important issue a couple of months ago that nobody in the Manosphere seems willing to discuss.



  5. deti

    great post.

  6. will

    Barbarosssaaa has a good video about the Gynocentrism of Contemporary conservatism:

  7. Escoffier

    The key to your post I think is where you point out (or quote someone else) on the rebellion against the Transcendent.

    That’s absolutely correct but let’s be clear that on modernity’s terms, that’s a feature not a bug. It’s been baked into the design from the beginning and is in fact one of the whole points and purposes of modernity.

    I’m skipping and simplifying, etc. but … I remember this SNL skit around the 1992 election, a parody of one of the debates. And this shaggy loser gets up (based on a real question from “pony tail guy”) and says, in essence, we want a government that will give us our stuff. Which of you will give us our stuff? And Phil Hartman (RIP) doing a dead-on Clinton, says “In my administration, every American will get their stuff.”

    The promise of modernity is to give you your stuff. That’s what they said they would deliver. And they have. Materially, the human race is better off by orders of magnitude today than it has ever been. Thank modernity and the early modern philosophers for that, they made it all possible and got it all rolling.

    Now, concomitant with that was to attack the transcendent, above all religion. They thought this was necessary because they thought that religion was holding the world and mankind back. The early moderns were not merely atheists, they were anti-religion. They thought it not merely false but pernicious, an obstacle to “progress” (not incidentally, a concept they invented). So, one of the reasons (really the main reason) that the West is so irreligious today is that for 500 years its leading intellectual lights have been almost all atheists hell bent on undermining and ridiculing faith. A Cardinal Newman here or there, as brilliant as he was, has not been enough to stem that tide.

    But that’s not the only reason. There’s also the “bread and circuses” aspect of modernity. Modernity (at least in its original form) essentially reduces man to his appetites and then sets about satisfying them. The physically sated man is a complacent man.

    Then you add modernity’s most successful children, science and technology, and they demystify the world to such an extent that to more and more men the whole idea of religion begins to appear ridiculous. Scientists and engineers become de facto the new gods. The provide the “miracle” that most men don’t understand but benefit from every day.

    Which is one reason why I said that, going forward, science and technology are a huge problem. If the Enlightenment is modernity’s propaganda arm or PR firm, then science and T are its frontline troops. They are not going away even as political/philosophic modernity collapses.

  8. Will S.

    Spot on. I’ve long argued that ultimately, American conservatism is a fools’ errand, because America was founded on liberal principles, and ultimately, that means a true American conservatism is impossible, because it represents a paradox – trying to conserve what ultimately was liberal from the get-go.

    But then, I’m a Canadian and a monarchist and a small-t tory, so I would say that. 🙂

  9. Alex

    If you aren’t “racist” then you aren’t conservative. Every principle conservatives value is almost exclusively found among Whites and only White society. Name me some “conservative” non-White area. You can’t.

    BTW, Ayn Rand was a racist and supported her tribe’s socialist nation called “Israel.” She sells individualism to the Goyim because her tribe is most threatened by White conservatives. All other groups the easily manipulate. You think her group controls the media by acting as individuals? No. They work together.

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