America abandons the ideals that made us great

Summary: This year we may have crossed the Rubicon, abandoning the ideals that built America. They will be difficult to recover.

America in motion.

Man falling into the Abyss - dreamstime_67159930
ID 67159930 © Mike_kiev | Dreamstime.

America is an idea, or an assembly of ideals. Most of our strengths comes from these intangibles. If we lose those, we are just another nation. There will be nothing restraining our greed, factionalism, and the extremism inherent in the American character. This is the real story of America’s decline (not debt nor the other usual suspects).

Since 2003, my posts have warned about this – and reported signs that we were abandoning the Founders’ vision. Here are two large examples. I believe that future historians will say that in the past few years we crossed our Rubicon – and became a New America. Unless we change, the end will be bleak.

We abandon principles that took centuries to build

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
— The great English jurist William Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769).

During the past decade the Left has embraced racism and sexism, abandoning the ideals of equality which worked so well for them for so long. Victor Hanson describes how the Kavanaugh hearings marked an ever larger change. It is well worth reading in full. Here is the bottom line from his analysis.

“The ‘process’ of memorializing Ford’s testimony involved a strange inversion of constitutional norms: The idea of a statute of limitations is ossified; hearsay is legitimate testimony; inexact and contradictory recall is proof of trauma, and therefore of validity; the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser; detail and evidence are subordinated to assumed sincerity; proof that one later relates an allegation to another is considered proof that the assault actually occurred in the manner alleged; motive is largely irrelevant; the accuser establishes the guidelines of the state’s investigation of the allegations; and the individual allegation gains credence by cosmic resonance with all other such similar allegations.

“The lesson of the hearings transcends the Kavanaugh confirmation. We were presented with two radically different and now competing versions of American jurisprudence and due process, one traditional and constitutional, one fluid and revolutionary. It will be up to Americans, ultimately, to decide by which version they wish to conduct their lives.”

This is not just Washington DC. These new ideas have spread across America. See this Economist/YouGov poll, 18 September 2018. Note the loaded language: it says “victim”, which assumes this is not a false claim (false claims are common, although their rate of incidence is unknown).

In cases of alleged sexual assault, which one do you think is more important?
Protecting the rights of the accused .. .15%.
Protecting the rights of the victim . . . . 61%.
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25%.

The result is yet another fracture in the fabric of American society, with women seeing these matters differently than do men (e.g., see this YouGov poll).

The rise of political violence

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) has led the call for mob action.

“For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend him they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store, the people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president ‘no I can’t hang with you, this is wrong this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children.” (Said on MSNBC, 23 June 2018.)

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. …If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” (Speech in LA on 23 June 2018.)

Mobs have obeyed. Mobs confronted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in Washington and blaring speakers outside his home. Mobs chanted outside the home of White House advisor Stephen Miller. A mob confronted Senator Ted Cruz in a Washington restaurant.

This comes after years of increasing violence at colleges (and elsewhere), as leftists prevent conservatives from speaking. Their success has encouraged them to take their program to a larger scale.

The future

“{T}he safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
— A sage observation by the demon Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

We can only guess at what comes next. It will be good for Waters and other extremist leaders. If conservatives do not push back, the extreme Left wins. If conservatives push back, then both sides gain support as America polarizes – and fractures.

But whatever happens, it will occur only because we tolerated the changes in America. As the Roman said, qui tacet consentire videtur – “silence means assent.” More to the point, they added ubi loqui debuit ac potuit – “when he ought to have spoken and was able to.”

From here, the decline will accelerate. Unless we act soon.

Posts about the Kavanaugh hearing

  1. The Kavanaugh hearings’ warning: the Court is so powerful that extreme measures are appropriate to take control of it.
  2. Hidden knowledge: false rape accusations by women are common.
  3. Lies are a useful and appropriate tool to use for political conflicts.
  4. The Kavanaugh hearings: lawfare used against us.
  5. The heart of the Kavanaugh hearing is our bogus confidence.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Supreme Court, about Reforming America: Steps to New Politics, and especially these…

  1. A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one.
  2. Can we love the Constitution without knowing what it says?
  3. A 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
  4. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
  5. We love the Constitution yet hate our government. The past tells us why.

Understand what we had and why we are losing it

A Machine That Would Go of Itself
Available at Amazon.

A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture.

By Michael Kammen (the late professor of history at Cornell).

We think it is a machine that goes by itself. In fact it needs every generations support and energy to survive. From the publisher …

“Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen explores the U.S. Constitution’s place in the public consciousness and its role as a symbol in American life, from ratification in 1788 to our own time. He explains what the Constitution has meant to the American people (perceptions and misperceptions, uses and abuses, knowledge and ignorance), and shows that although there are recurrent declarations of reverence most of us neither know nor fully understand our Constitution.

“How did this gap between ideal and reality come about? To explain it, Kammen examines the complex and contradictory feelings about the Constitution that emerged during its preparation and that have been with us ever since. He begins with our confusion as to the kind of Union we created, especially with regard to how much sovereignty the states actually surrendered to the central government. This confusion is the source of the constitutional crisis that led to the Civil War and its aftermath.

“Kammen also describes and analyzes changing perceptions of the differences and similarities between the British and American constitutions; turn-of-the-century debates about states’ rights versus national authority; and disagreements about how easy or difficult it ought to be to amend the Constitution. Moving into the twentieth century, he notes the development of a ‘cult of the Constitution’ following World War I, and the conflict over policy issues that persisted despite a shared commitment to the Constitution”

 

35 thoughts on “America abandons the ideals that made us great

  1. I’ve been reading your commentary for years and find it genuinely insightful regularly. I just can’t understand how you can say with a straight face that the left’s admittedly overheated rhetoric on rape is more dangerous then the constant norm violations undertaken by “conservatives” who are holding every lever of governmental power.

    1. Observer,

      “then the constant norm violations undertaken by “conservatives””

      What are these “norm violations”?

      As I have documented at some length, conservatives are attempting to (with some success) roll back the New Deal. While I oppose that, returning the US to its 1870-1930 politics is not a norm violation. It is a continuation of the class struggle that began at the Founding.

      At the edges of bathe programs of both Left and Right are efforts to delegitimization and suppress their political foes using methods up to and including violence. Again, this is the usual in US history – although (so far at least) with less violence than usual.

      Each side sees the behavior of the Other quite clearly, but is blind to the corresponding actions on their own side. This makes us easy to manipulate. Ideal peons. Pleasant peasants.

      For details see the posts in section 8 here, describing how Left and Right have turned against us (a key aspect of Weimerica):

      https://fabiusmaximus.com/america/the-far-left-and-alt-right-racism-fascism-white-nationalism/

  2. It is not a criminal case….it is a case of character. That is why Ms. Ford spoke up. Mr. K has not and will not make the US great. This is a job interview for a job that requires honesty and appearances.

    1. Felix,

      When did America become a nation of science deniers?

      Neither you or I or anyone can determine honesty by watching testimony. A large body of research during the past three decades has proven that.

      Judging character is even more difficult. Impossible when you just have stories, unsupported by evidence.

      As for picking a high official by “appearances”, like The people who read the news to us on TV – you must know, at some level, that’s quite mad.

      What will not make America viable (forget about great, we’ve lost that) is choosing high officials by such clown shows. A people get the officials they deserve. I suggest fear at that prospect.

  3. ‘America is an idea, or an assembly of ideals’?

    Nonsense. America has always been a stereotypical, hard-nosed Roman republic, bent on conquest and spoils.

    ‘Most of our strengths comes from these intangibles’?

    Post-Iraq, what ‘strengths’ do we possess?

    If we lose those, we are just another nation’?

    We were just another rich nation and that made us feel exceptional, but it turns out we weren’t.

    Let’s learn to live with what we are before we talk about what we all want to be–a conversation that’s long overdue.

    1. Godfrey,

      What are these “conquest and spoils” we took in the past century or so?

      We did help conquer vast areas in WWII, but not only gave them back – but helped rebuild them. When did a Rome do such a thing! When did anyone do such a thing?

      The US is described as having an Empire after WW2. It’s a handy shorthand, but essentially false. The lands in it want us there – see how Europe protests at proposals that we leave. Japan pays us to stay.

      Most important, the empire is unprofitable. Which is why so many of us propose ending it.

      As for strengths, if you don’t see any, that’s sad. “There are none so blind as…”

    2. Commenting on the GR’s last sentence (“Let’s learn to live with what we are…” – a prudent idea):

      Yet, I would suggest learning fist to recognize what we are – as the Editor claimed we didn’t take any “spoils” (see e.g. neocolonialism) proving the truth may already be lost on us and therefore living with our false perception of ourselves is in contradiction of the original intent.

      Further, a general comment: Identity Politics is not brought upon us by the extreme left or black or non-male – it is a clear (to me) evidence how DeI works in the 21 century.

    3. JaKo,

      I can’t make heads nor tails of your comment.

      “the Editor claimed we didn’t take any “spoils” (see e.g. neocolonialism) proving the truth may already be lost on us”

      Do you have any evidence showing that the US took “spoils”? Waving big words like “neocolonialism” shows that you know leftist jargon, but means nothing.

      “it is a clear (to me) evidence how DeI works in the 21 century.”

      What is “DeI”? Less jargon, please.

    4. Neocolonialism isn’t a “leftist jargon” but it is the practice of using capitalism, globalization and cultural imperialism to influence a developing country in lieu of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony) — Wikipedia.
      I don’t want to get into accounting of “spoils” of war(s) – just one: Wernher von Braun; while some others may be thought of as returns on investments (e.g. Marshall Plan) and/or implied by the above definition…

      DeI is a common abbreviation of “Divide et Impera” as in: divide and rule or split the opposition so that it ceases to threaten your own power — Webster…

      A clarification: I do not bother with “leftists’ theories;” however, I don’t believe that, just as an example, Immanuel Wallerstein is a communist ;-) A collection of his essays can be had at:
      https://www.amazon.com/End-World-As-Know-Twenty-First/dp/0816633983

      And a last anecdote: Yes, “empire is unprofitable” – how else could we amass $21-trillion debt?

      Note to the Editor:
      Please note — I did not wish to sound rude, patronizing or dismissive (did I mention dumb?); I just, from time to time, try to point out an important (to me) omission or amplify a concept I like – in reality, I admire your website’s contribution to clarity in this murky times of propaganda irrelevant/fake/for-profit news.

    5. JaKo,

      “I don’t want to get into accounting of “spoils” of war(s)”

      That’s what I expected. Quite wise of you to move on after making an unsupportable claim.

      “Neocolonialism isn’t a ‘leftist jargon’ but …”

      Giving a definition for something unsupportable doesn’t mean it is not jargon.

  4. We’ve also completed to full transformation from a set of rule underpinning sexual moralityto a fluid and slippery concept of femal consent. This give an incredible amount of power to one group at the expense of the other.

    1. Mandy,

      Nicely said. That’s how it is supposed to operate – unequally. As they have won, many on the Left have become quite open about their sexism.

      WaPo: “Why can’t I hate men?

      During the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) that men should “shut up.”

      Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), shouted down the chairman during Grassley’s opening statement at the start of the Kavanaugh hearings. He quietly listened to the California senator’s tirade and then finished his opening statement.

      Then there are the calls for men to let women rule. It will be interesting to see how well this abandonment of equality – again normalizing sexism – works for women.

  5. JSS- Just So Stories

    In science and philosophy, a just-so story is an unverifiable narrative explanation for a cultural practice, a biological trait, or behavior of humans or other animals. Wiki

    What we see on both the Left and the Right is a replacement of hard earned practices with JSS. It is appropriate in that JSS were for children, Kipling. As America heads into senescence, it is appropriate that JSS should replace our institutions of presumed innocence and evidence based justice.

    For details see almost every comment for this post, where reversal of norms and evidence free judgments are made. These bring exactly the problems the founding fathers wanted to prevent.

    1. John,

      Nicely said. Our recourse to “just so” stories is appropriate for a people regressing from citizens to subjects.

      We like simple stories with good girls and bad white guys, and child-like moral lessons. We are becoming pleasant peasants.

    2. I think that all these, some hysterical, some apparently well rehearsed, transgressions on civil rules of yesteryear are just a veil — it is harder to identify who is profiting from the fragmentation of possible opposition — whether it is feminists vs. white men, or the issues of racism, evil of immigration or even left vs. right -ism … cui bono?

      I think (again) the real story is these are just acts of the circus, as in “panem et circenses” (bread and games), and the lack of evidence requirement may be just another proof of intent — when you have a discussion about a subject and all what the opponents use are these JSS’s, nothing is achieved and emotions flair and guess who is laughing! If, on the other hand, the evidence was strictly required, many of the narratives or official explanations of today’s many events would fall apart and the truth may have come out — what a disaster!
      May I rest my case?

  6. Speaking of abandoning our ideals …

    News from our centers of learning. Christine fair is Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service (bio here). Also see her website.

    Christine Fair hate speech tweet

    I reported this to Twitter. Their reply:

    “We have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behavior.”

    That’s logical. From Twitter’s “report a tweet” page: a tweet is bad if …

    “It directs hate against a protected category (e.g., race, religion, gender, orientation, disability).”

    So 80% of America is in a protected category, and the other 20% are fair game as targets for hate speech. “Social Justice” indeed.

    This is not going to end well for America. The longer will tolerate this revolution, the worse the ending.

    1. Who’s to Blame for a Generation of Angry White Men?” by Stacey Patton in Dame Magazine.

      At least this author includes white women. Helps bring the hatred and prejudice into focus, IMO.

      Evidence from the article: “Given the hard evidence of this national threat, it is past time to look at triggers in the socialization of white boys, including the most mediocre who are led to expect a dominant position in society and an automatic path to success, with no ability to accommodate or adapt when that dominant position is undermined. But our corporate media refuses to talk about the white family as the real root of the problem each time some white male who is mad at the world snaps. We saw this most recently with the coverage of a home-schooled Christian, unemployed college dropout serial-bomber who terrorized a whole city for weeks and left two people dead and four other victims wounded.”

      Larry, didn’t you say a revolution always starts to eat itself?

    2. John,

      I love these articles with intellectuals making stuff up. Almost every sentence in that is just made up. Such as this from the article.

      “There is nothing more dangerous in the United States than a white male who has expected to succeed and finds himself falling behind. Or a white male who has power and feels his prerogatives are being challenged from every direction by women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and their capitalist overlords.”

      One day living in a Black ghetto would provide a valuable education to her. Or ten minutes reading the FBI annual crime reports.

      “didn’t you say a revolution always starts to eat itself?”

      I don’t understand. The Left has been pumping out this kind of nonsense for six decades. Middle class whites are the source of all our problems, suburbia is evil, etc, etc. They are useful idiots, loyal servants of the 1% (who are the beneficiaries of the factionalism created by the Left).

    3. The author quoted another who was holding white mothers as part of the problem without evidence of course,”“It needs to be stated that this is not a problem with white masculinity, because white women have historically been just as violent as white men. They have organized and participated in lynchings, rape, and organized terrorism against immigrant and Black populations throughout the 20th century,” Curry says.”

      I assumed white women were still protected…maybe not.

    4. John,

      Leftists have an evolving hierarchy. White women (heterosexual) and Black men (heterosexual) have fallen several rungs in status. I wonder how they’ll react when they eventually realize it.

    5. Castration fantasies are an underreported yet integral part of the feminist utopia.

      Her tweet is so over the top it could be interpreted as parody.

    6. Mandy,

      “Her tweet is so over the top it could be interpreted as parody.”

      I agree. But it is taken seriously by her thousands of her fans. She is representative of what appears to be a large and growing segment of the feminist movement.

      “Castration fantasies are an underreported yet integral part of the feminist utopia.”

      As are rape fantasies. I don’t know what that means, but I suspect it is important. These are (I believe) the most cited papers on the subject. Of the papers I’ve seen on the subject, the first is my favorite. The conclusion is a fancy way of saying “we don’t know, so name a lot of things we want to blame.”

      Women’s erotic rape fantasies: an evaluation of theory and research” by JW Critelli and JM Bivona JM in the Journal of Sex Research, Jan-March 2008.

      “This article is the first systematic review of the research literature on women’s rape fantasies. Current research indicates that between 31% and 57% of women have fantasies in which they are forced into sex against their will, and for 9% to 17% of women these are a frequent or favorite fantasy experience. Erotic rape fantasies are paradoxical: they do not appear to make sense. Why would a person have an erotic and pleasurable fantasy about an event that, in real life, would be abhorrent and traumatic? In this article, the major theories of women’s rape fantasies are evaluated both rationally and empirically. These theories explain rape fantasies in terms of masochism, sexual blame avoidance, openness to sexuality, sexual desirability, male rape culture, biological predisposition to surrender, sympathetic physiological activation, and adversary transformation. This article evaluates theory and research, makes provisional judgments as to which theories appear to be most viable, and begins the task of theoretical integration to arrive at a more complete and internally consistent explanation for why many women engage in erotic rape fantasies. Methodological critiques and programs for future research are presented throughout.”

      The nature of women’s rape fantasies: an analysis of prevalence, frequency, and contents” by J. Bivona and J. Critelli J. in the Journal of Sex Research, Jan-Feb 2009.

      “This study evaluated the rape fantasies of female undergraduates (N = 355) using a fantasy checklist that reflected the legal definition of rape and a sexual fantasy log that included systematic prompts and self-ratings. Results indicated that 62% of women have had a rape fantasy, which is somewhat higher than previous estimates. For women who have had rape fantasies, the median frequency of these fantasies was about 4 times per year, with 14% of participants reporting that they had rape fantasies at least once a week. In contrast to previous research, which suggested that rape fantasies were either entirely aversive or entirely erotic, rape fantasies were found to exist on an erotic-aversive continuum, with 9% completely aversive, 45% completely erotic, and 46% both erotic and aversive.”

  7. Superb analysis, Larry. What’s happening today is reminiscent of what happened in the old Soviet Union during and after the Stalinist years, as well as at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution (and again today with their use of social media to award privileges to citizens based on good behaviour as defined by the Chinese government).

    Not that many of those using these tactics are aware of this, or know much about this history – while those that do remember probably see the Soviet and Chinese experience as something to be emulated, not avoided. They will almost certainly be consumed by what they have unleashed (again recalling Chinese and Soviet history). Unfortunately, a lot of innocents will suffer before then.

    Winston Churchill once lamented “Mankind! Unteachable from cradle to grave!” It’s bitterly ironic that the American experiment may well be ending thanks to those in our educational system who have forsaken their responsibility to teach about the strengths and weaknesses of the American experiment, and why it is well worth continuing despite its flaws – instead of succumbing to wishful thinking and Just So Stories, as one of the commenters so aptly stated.

    1. Paul,

      That’s a powerful analogy, one that I hadn’t seen.

      It also reminds me of Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, where the rulers keep the people focused on internal and external enemies.

  8. Thanks Larry for your insightful comments, l have been reading this site for a few years now from distant Australia and your articles have challenged me to read about the history of the Roman Republic. Coverage of USA politics from Australia in the media is shallow and sometimes ignorant, so l read blogs like yours from the USA to obtain a rounded informed view.

    I am in my 60s and longed for my country to become a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy, alas l fear l will never live to see it, a two question referendum held on this issue in Oz was defeated in the 1999! Sigh!

    I am reading a book titled “The Storm before the Storm, The beginning of the end of the Roman Republic” by Mike Duncan.

    Chapter One starts at 146BC with the quote from Cato the Elder; “Thieves of private property pass their lives in chains; thieves of public propertyin riches and luxury”

    Ha! what a familiar sound that bell rings today!

    1. Dawood,

      You don’t want an income tax? How would we finance a modern State? Who does it without an income tax?

      Central Banks have been a useful tool since the Bank of England was founded in 1694. America’s 19th century would have been less of a horror show, with frequent depressions, if Jackson hadn’t torn down the National Bank (sparking our first major depression).

      By August 1964, Johnson and DoD had already pretty much decided — and laid the plans for — a major escalation in Vietnam. Most historians I’ve seen believe they would have found a way to do so. The ease with which Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf resolution shows that their was little opposition to ramping up the war.

    2. There was quite a bit of opposition to our involvement in Vietnam but, like today, there were many cowards in Congress who didn’t want to seem unpatriotic or soft on communism. So, they voted for the act which has allowed every “intervention” since.

      Precedent…

      The income tax allowed for the centralization of power at the Fed. It destroyed the States. Pop election of Senators did the same thing.

      Funny…after the Fed, there was a major depression and there have been huge recessions and panics.

      Central Banks are a useful tool…for the State to accrue power and/or for Elites to accrue power.

      They’re not a useful tool for a Nation that is supposed to be of, by and for the People. Jackson was correct on that account.

      Biddle used the bank to accrue power and dispense favors. Jackson had him pegged.

    3. Darwood,

      Please, no more of the far right’s faux economics. I’ve spent too many hours explaining this material, and its always a waste of time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.