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De Tocqueville on American Culture, Religious Influence, & Devotion to Equality

20 Jun

San Diego – Much has been made by modern secular progressives and liberals that Americans, including our Founding Fathers, were never all that enthralled with religion per se or with Christianity specifically.  They cite the 1st Amendment as evidence and conveniently forget both the words per se and the annunciated reasons for it.  And they especially ignore that while it mandated that the government never establish a State Religion (which they claim demonstrates their antipathy to religion in general), it also specifically protected the fee expression of religion by the citizens.  Oops…

Modern liberal spokesmouths would have you believe that any association with Judeao-Christian core values was utterly coincidental and that, as King Barrack said, we owed as much to Muslim influences as to Christian or Jewish ones for our founding principles.  That is a little hard to square with the Koran’s directions relative to Jews and Christians that the good Muslim will convert them or “smite their necks” as was done to Daniel Pearl and those who followed him into the merciful clutches of their  righteous Muslim captors.

Yet, In spite of that, the current attacks on both Jewish and Christian traditions coupled with the open acceptance of Muslim traditions does not seem even the slightest bit contradictory to the sycophants fawning before his majesty.  No one notices or finds anything unusual when the National Day of Prayer, started by President Truman and observed for decades is ignored and that at the White House the observation is cancelled because it might offend some groups.  Who, for instance?  Perhaps the 50,000 Muslims that came for THEIR national Day of prayer held on Capital Hill in 2009.  They had no reason for concern since the King had already declared that we were not a Christian Nation.  Now tell me Reverend Wright did not have an influence here…

It is hard for us, the non-readers and politically naive in 2011, to know whether that assertion about the lack of religious influence in the past was true or not. The disciples of our anointed one seem to decide truth not on facts but upon His  Sacred Words from behind the prompter.  And for the others simply too lazy to check facts, that appearance of uncertainty is precisely what liberals hope you conclude because in that vacuum of self imposed ignorance it is easy for nearly any gibberish to be sucked in to fill the void.

But, unfortunately for them, there were lots of eye witnesses who wrote prodigiously about it, not to mention the volumes written by the founders themselves because, as they noted, they knew they were creating something very different and wanted to be sure people later could understand their intent.  The founders would be astonished that modern people wishing to claim ignorance of intent or wishing the intent to be different than what is was, insist no such documentation exists.  For that to be true all libraries would need to be burned to the ground.  Based on the unwillingness of his adulating followers or the adoring press to verify the pronouncements however, they might as well be.

Surely there must be a few who did their homework and discovered the disconnect between his assertions and reality.  No problem, the answer cannot by definition be that he is wrong so it must be that the founders themselves were too close to it and too biased to assess, objectively, how early newly minted American citizens felt and therefore could not speak accurately for themselves. OK, but there is another source often overlooked or ignored and he had no actions to support or personal decision to explain.  In fact, he was not even writing FOR an American audience.

In 1835 Alexis De Tocqueville major French political thinker and historian (1805-1859) published the first edition and volume of his famous work, “Democracy in America”.  His timing was unique and fortuitous; he visited us at a crucial crossroads in American History and worked to capture the essence of American culture and values developing as, after two wars to assure our political stability and freedom from European colonialism, we transitioned into something unknown in the rest of the world, a country virtually obsessed with the concepts of equality. He was a true liberal before the term was hijacked by modern progressives.  He believed in objective observations and gave little credence to the value of power derived through some sense of elitism or anointed authority.

He noted the irony of having northern States, where old concepts of aristocracy were dead or dying and the loss of hereditary wealth and power generated an obsession with the work ethic and equality of opportunity to become the test of value, and a collection of southern States where a landed aristocracy, kept in place like the patricians of Rome and Ancient Greece by a slave-based economy, held on to those aristocratic values and ideals though he saw them as doomed to failure.

But, getting back to the main point here, he also wrote clearly about the role that religion played in the thinking of Americans and below are some quotes to that effect as he discusses the relationships between religion and the broader national culture.

“Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious. There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

“There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.

“Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851 ed.), pp. 331, 332, 335, 336-7, 337.

OK, let’s hear you spin those observations into assertions of secular deists only marginally attached to any religious values…

Also aware of the rise of socialistic philosophies in Europe he saw America as a great experimental testing ground and wrote of the “Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans” by comparing how European socialists and Americans dealt with the concept of equality in Volumes One, Part I, Chapter 3.  He not only recognized our great potential strengths, he also recognized our great potential weaknesses and the traps into which we might fall.

“But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”

“…Furthermore, when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces. But such a combination is not always in evidence.

“…“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude”.

It appears we have fallen into most of those traps.  It is one thing to espouse a personal philosophy that prefers socialism, or secular humanism flowing from Rousseau and Godwin and Marx over the philosophy flowing from Locke and Burke and Jefferson.  Those are legitimate debates to be had.  But they need to be held based on facts not on wishes, and they need to be based on a history that corresponds to reality not on a re-written version that ignores inconvenient facts.

If one believes that religion per se is inherently negative and we, as a country, should turn away from such “superstitions” that is their right.  But it is disingenuous at best and openly deceitful to try to base such an argument on a fabricated history which claims that we NEVER were a religious culture or that the religious tenets of our culture flowed from anything other than Judaeo-Christian roots.

It was De Tocqueville who coined the phrase that “In every democracy the people get the government they deserve.”  if we continue to vote based not on historical realities or on easily verifiable truths but on concepts openly opposed to our long held values then we will get what we deserve but not something that will preserve the nation as we know it.

When we as a democracy, allow all three branches of government to ignore or de facto repeal our Constitution and then allow the media to abrogate its job of finding the truth in favor of supporting its own biases, then all that is left to us is our votes.  And when those votes are primarily cast by people who believe they are entitled to feed at the government trough, and who, as De Tocqueville noted above, “… want to bring the strong down to their level,” and who prefer, “equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”  then as I have said before,  we are truly doomed.

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1 Comment

Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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One response to “De Tocqueville on American Culture, Religious Influence, & Devotion to Equality

  1. Adrien Zaspel

    April 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Hello.This post was really motivating, particularly since I was investigating for thoughts on this topic last Sunday.

     

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