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Jefferson and Hamilton


From National Review, Hamilton and Jefferson: The Deserving and the Deserter, a fascinating comparison and myth busting comparison between Jefferson adn Hamilton by M.D. Aeschliman

“The Constitution did more than just tolerate slavery,” Chernow writes, “it actively rewarded it.” The completely racialist and undemocratic Electoral College bias in favor of the South “inflated southern power against the north and disfigured the democracy so proudly proclaimed by the Jeffersonians. Slaveholding presidents from the south occupied the presidency for approximately fifty of the seventy-two years following Washington’s first inauguration.” And liberal-democratic historians until recently have been kind to these “democrats.” Chernow concludes: “Many of these slaveholding populists were celebrated by posterity as tribunes of the common people. Meanwhile, the self-made Hamilton, a fervent abolitionist and a staunch believer in meritocracy, was villainized in American history textbooks as an apologist for privilege and wealth.”

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Rights and Privileges

from Wall Street Journal, Notable and Quotable: John Quincy Adams

But there is one principle which pervades all the institutions of this country, and which must always operate as an obstacle to the granting of favors to new comers. This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights. Privileges are granted by European sovereigns to particular classes of individuals, for purposes of general policy; but the general impression here is that privileges granted to one denomination of people, can very seldom be discriminated from erosions of the rights of others.

Emigrants from Germany, therefore, or from elsewhere, coming here, are not to expect favors from the governments. They are to expect, if they choose to become citizens, equal rights with those of the natives of the country. They are to expect, if affluent, to possess the means of making their property productive, with moderation, and with safety;—if indigent, but industrious, honest and frugal, the means of obtaining easy and comfortable subsistence for themselves and their families. . . .

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A Program for Every Problem


from George Will in The Washington Post, The danger of a government with unlimited power

Lack of “a limiting principle” is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book “Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.” The Founders, he writes, believed that free government’s purpose, and the threats to it, are found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are “sown in the nature of man.” Government’s limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

Wilsonian progressives believe that History is a proper noun, an autonomous thing. It, rather than nature, defines government’s ever-evolving and unlimited purposes. Government exists to dispense an ever-expanding menu of rights — entitlements that serve an open-ended understanding of material and even spiritual well-being.

The name “progressivism” implies criticism of the Founding, which we leave behind as we make progress. And the name is tautological: History is progressive because progress is defined as whatever History produces. History guarantees what the Supreme Court has called “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”

The cheerful assumption is that “evolving” must mean “improving.” Progressivism’s promise is a program for every problem, and progressivism’s premise is that every unfulfilled desire is a problem.

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Similarities Between Nazis and Commies


From The Telegraph, Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism by Daniel Hannan

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.

Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.

Jonah Goldberg has chronicled the phenomenon at length in his magnum opus, Liberal Fascism. Lots of people take offence at his title, evidently without reading the book since, in the first few pages, Jonah reveals that the phrase is not his own. He is quoting that impeccable progressive H.G. Wells who, in 1932, told the Young Liberals that they must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis”.

In those days, most prominent Leftists intellectuals, including Wells, Jack London, Havelock Ellis and the Webbs, tended to favour eugenics, convinced that only religious hang-ups were holding back the development of a healthier species. The unapologetic way in which they spelt out the consequences have, like Hitler’s actual words, been largely edited from our discourse. Here, for example, is George Bernard Shaw in 1933:

Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilization and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.

Eugenics, of course, topples easily into racism. Engels himself wrote of the “racial trash” – the groups who would necessarily be supplanted as scientific socialism came into its own. Season this outlook with a sprinkling of anti-capitalism and you often got Leftist anti-Semitism – something else we have edited from our memory, but which once went without saying. “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Hitler had asked his party members in 1920.

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Paranoid Explanations of Human Behavior


A few excerpts from Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, The World from the Twenties to the Nineties:

“History shows us the truly amazing extent to which intelligent, well-informed and resolute men, in the pursuit of economy or in altruistic passion for disarmament, will delude themselves about realities.” 

“Like Lenin and still more like Stalin, he (Hitler) was an outstanding practitioner of the century’s most radical vice: social engineering- the notion that human beings can be shoveled around like concrete.”

“Christianity was content with a solitary hate-figure to explain evil: Satin. But modern secular religion faiths needed human devils, and whole categories of them. The enemy, to be plausible, had to be an entire class or race. Marx’s invention of the ‘bourgeoisie’ was the most comprehensive of these hate-theories and it continued to provide a foundation for all paranoid revolutionary movements… Lenin used the slogan that ‘Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools’.  Lenin was saying that it was the entire bourgeoisie, not just Jewry, which was to blame for the ills of mankind. And it is significant that all Marxist regimes, based as they are on paranoid explanations of human behavior, degenerate sooner or later into anti-Semitism.  The new anti-Semitism, in short, was part of the sinister drift away from the apportionment of individual responsibility toward the notion of collective guilt- the revival, in modern guise, of one of the most primitive and barbarous, even bestial, of instincts.”

“Neitzsche, always on the lookout for secular, pseudo-rational substitutes for genuine religious impulse,  …denounced these latest speculators in idealism, the anti-Semites.. who endeavor to stir up all the bovine elements of the nations by a misuse of that cheapest of propaganda tricks, a moral attitude.”