by David Beilstein
Victor Davis Hansen is a gift that keeps on giving—a historical scholar of war and society. In a recent column for National Review Online, Dr Hansen—erudite as usual—lays out the pillars of societal collapse from the past into the present.
One of his paragraphs caught my attention:
One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city’s takeover by Macedon: social squabbling over slicing up a shrinking pie. Athenian speeches from that era make frequent reference to lawsuits over property and inheritance, evading taxes, and fudging eligibility for the dole. After the end of the Roman Republic, reactionary Latin literature — from the likes of Juvenal, Petronius, Suetonius, and Tacitus — pointed to “bread and circuses,” as well as excessive wealth, corruption, and top-heavy government.
Another of the good doctors paragraphs describes the rising tide intimating from both the Democratic Party and Republican Party: a political philosophy based upon preferences rather than time-honoured epistemic and philosophical paradigms. Paradigms presupposing liberalism in the classical sense.
For Gibbon and later French scholars, “Byzantine” became a pejorative description of a top-heavy Greek bureaucracy that could not tax enough vanishing producers to sustain a growing number of bureaucrats. In antiquity, inflating the currency by turning out cheap bronze coins was often the favored way to pay off public debts, while the law became fluid to address popular demands rather than to protect time-honoured justice.
Easy to describe. Harder to get a handle on.
I could be described as an Oscar-the-grouch of large proportion in my detestation of the Republican Party of late—partly based upon reflection and partly due to embracing the best of classical liberal writings and works—my concern is preserving a liberal society—one adducing freedom to the individual at all costs.
Once politics becomes a mission straying away from a conservation of individual liberty and autonomy into utopian perfectionism—the later virtues ossify and the former creates the byzantine bureaucratic trope we now reside in.
The Grand Old Party is not an alternative to statist creep if it presumes statist premises. Nor is the antipode and antidote to tyrannical “alternative” moralism, a authoritarianism moralism all its own—marinated in the sauce of cultural uniformity wafting out of the GOP.
Fundamentalism is not an alternative to fundamentalism even if the fundamentals of two systems have distinctions.
Let it be said. Statist leftism is fundamentalist. For progressive leftism seeks to be the authority to determine an individual’s self-worth and purpose.
This is, of course, not the stated philosophy of the Founding Fathers.
Compared to our generation, the Founders lacked technological advancements. But it is interesting that their wisdom in regards to humanity and its realities were far more accurate.
They knew history better than us. They knew humanities tendency to dictate life and action to others. They understand a growing government transformed from preserving societal justice into making laws based upon the preferences and ideas of a restricted ruling class.
They understood the lore of power.
And they created a government in light of these historical and empirical facts.