“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”—Thomas Jefferson (Notice the use of the singular “mind” and “man”…if he had meant society he would have said “minds of men” but rather this is a statement against tyranny over even a single individual…yes he was a little lax on fulfilling that depending on the complexion of the individual in question…but I’m going for a philosophical concepts here, not the fact Jefferson had personal issues.)
So uber-liberal and Christian Sharia supporter Rick “I will trample every freedom history has ever known to establish my theocracy” Santorum seem to be back in the press with a new book and vain desire to be the center of attention. Now while I comb over some of his newer garbage and lies it might be helpful to remember why Rick Santorum is literally the walking embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican party, the reason we lose elections, the reason we have driven away libertarians and moderates, and the godsend of liberals and progressive everywhere.
Putting the “Fun” back into psychotic fundamentalism
So let’s take a look at Rick Santorum’s older book, It takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good:
“It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above society. It wasn’t a freedom that gave men and women blanket permission to check in and out of society whenever they wanted. It wasn’t the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be. It wasn’t even the freedom to be left alone, with no obligations to the people we know and to the people we don’t yet know. The Constitutional Convention’s freedom, American’s traditional freedom–or the better word, as I defined it earlier, liberty–was a selfless freedom, freedom for the sake of something greater or higher than the self. For our founders, this liberty was defined and defended in the context of our Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity. Often, in fact, American liberty meant the freedom to attend to one’s duties–duties to God, to family, and to neighbors. Our founders were in the business of constructing a nation, a political community. No-Fault Freedom, a freedom from every tie and duty, provides no basis for that project: it is a principle of division and social deconstruction.” (44)
Okay this is perhaps more frightening than anything I have seen Obama say. Granted Obama’s actions are those of a petty banana republic dictator trying to create a fascist state…but he’s an idiot and doesn’t do it well. Most notably he can’t come out and defend his statist collectivist views. But here we have Rick Santorum doing that very articulately.
Let’s take this monstrous evil apart bit by bit.
It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above society.
Yes the Founding Fathers believed in none of that tripe that said individuals “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Oh wait. Notice how liberty is joined with the pursuit of Happiness. Happiness (capital H) is an Aristotelian concept that an individual has reached the completion and fulfillment of their life through the expression of personal virtue, not through the collectivist service to virtue that Santorum suggests here. A society cannot pursue Happiness, only an individual can. A society cannot have a right to life, only an individual can. But, Santorum wants you to believe that Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin who worked on the first draft put a social right in between two individual ones. And if you believe that one I have a lovely bridge to sell you. Further, pursuit of Happiness is an expansion of John Locke’s right to property (his original rights were the right to life, liberty and property and no one in their right mind ever thought Locke was talking about social rights not individual one). If, as Santorum dishonestly suggests, the Founders held society above the individual then that would mean the right to pursue Happiness as a more evolved idea of property, was only for society, which would mean that property should only be held by society and not the individual….and you wonder why I consider Santorum a filthy socialist?
And of course the Founders held the good of society above the good of the individual. Which is none of them ever broke any of the laws that were for the good society for personal gain—so long as you ignore that John Hancock made a fortune as a smuggler. And if you put the good of society ahead above the individual then you would see the need to pay off the debts incurred by a massive war fought partly to defend you from the French and not complain about the numerous taxes levied to pay off that debt…oh wait no they would rather risk “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” than pay those taxes. By the way Rick, honor is also a personal virtue.
Notice also some of their complaints
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
All of those are actions by the British Government attempting to bring about the “public good” but at the expense of personal liberties. Notice Rick, how the individual is not being sacrificed for the good of the whole by the Founding Fathers.
Notice also phrases like “To secure the public good and private rights” from Federalist 10 by Madison, which seems to place the individual on equal, not subservient, value to the public good…you know kind of like how Christ put the individual on equal footing to everyone else when he quoted Leviticus and said “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” Ignorant, and evil, collectivists like Santorum also seem to miss the second part. But I shouldn’t expect someone as zealously passionate about his religion to actually read the book they claim to follow.
It wasn’t a freedom that gave men and women blanket permission to check in and out of society whenever they wanted.
As Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington did quite often. And stop me if I’m wrong but wasn’t America founded by people who wanted to check out of society and start a new one, wasn’t this nation founded by people who wanted to check out of the society of Great Britain, wasn’t westward expansion driven by rugged individuals who wanted to check out of society and go west (which was, last time I checked part of the Founding Father’s vision).
It wasn’t the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be.
Which I’m sure is why Jefferson said “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” It might be easy to assume Jefferson held the attitude to all private actions that didn’t hurt anyone.
Or try this one from their contemporaries Adam Smith
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”
Selfishness is what defines human progress. But Santorum wants to think in the very plebian and uneducated way of sin and virtue. Selfishness and Selflessness. It shows that he had done little to any study of the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, nor does he know anything about his own Catholic doctrines…as study in either would lead him back to Aristotle who saw each virtue to have two vices not one (but you know when I looked up Santorum’s education, it came from the Dickenson School of Law, named after John Dickenson, a man so morally bankrupt that he is the only person who had the chance to sign both The Declaration of Independence AND The Constitution AND refused to sign both. It’s good to see Santorum is keeping up with that legacy of opposing what is right and good and true). But back to Aristotelian virtue. It is not a choice between selfish and selfless it a choice between the virtue of rational self-interest and the vices of narcissism and selflessness. Rational self-interest is where one puts ones needs, wants, and desires first but not at the expense of others, where one’s rights are on equal foot with the rights of others, and where we treat others with compassion, not just because we have the duty to them, but because it makes us feel good. Santorum confuses selfishness, caring about your own concerns, with narcissism where you care ONLY about you and damn how others are affected by your actions (one might say this is the behavior of a sociopath, but even most high-functioning sociopaths take the needs of others into consideration as a means to their ends…so it’s hard to find a lot of examples of this particular evil. Most evils in the world are caused more by short sightedness and ignorance, not by narcissism). Strangely however, Santorum’s constant grabs for power at the expense of civilization itself if he ever got power is miraculously excluded.
It wasn’t even the freedom to be left alone, with no obligations to the people we know and to the people we don’t yet know.
I think he is trying to pervert Edmund Burke’s definition of society (and by extension) as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” But a partnership is not an obligation. The partnership Burke spoke of was to not view government as a joint stock company like short sighted East India Trading Company he had to deal with (the GM of it’s time) which was designed only to make a quick buck, what he was talking about was that society and law should be made with the long term good in mind. That we should not solve our problems by heaping problems on future generations. But if it is trying to pervert Burke he forgets that Burke was probably America’s chief proponent in Britain of our argument to King George III and Parliament that said we have a God-given right to be left alone when we choose so and our only obligation to you, our parent country and society, is to “hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”
There are however no “obligations” or “duties” in this, only the basic ethics to not intentionally harm others (i.e. future generations) but we have no obligations other than the ethical injunction to not maliciously and unjustly harm others. Yes our Happiness depends on maintaining healthy friendships, but our Happiness is a duty only to ourselves. We are the ends of our own life, not the means for which society can use to achieve it’s ends.
It is the freedom to be left alone. Who the hell does this man thinks made this nation? A bunch of people who just sat in society and always worked in it or those who constantly moved west when they got tired of society. Don’t like society, move to America. Don’t like the first colonies’ society, move West. Don’t like the colonies society, cross the Appalachians. Not thrilled with the society of the new Union, cross the Mississippi. So on and so on. Don’t like the state you live in, move to another. Don’t like the way things are done, create something new.
Oh and I hate to make this observation, but I have never in my life known a person with an IQ over 110 who doesn’t long for at least some point of each day where they have the freedom to be left alone, who doesn’t want time with their own thoughts…who wouldn’t yearn for days to be left alone if not longer…what does it say about a man who not only doesn’t want that freedom, doesn’t understand it, but actually wants to outlaw it?
The Founders would have agreed with their contemporary Adam Smith that our obligation is to ourselves and to reason because through these two things naturally develop empathy and compassion…and without a rational self-interest there can be no empathy, compassion or ethical behavior. And I don’t think there was enough short sighted idiocy in all 13 colonies to make them agree with this disgrace of an American named Santorum.
The Constitutional Convention’s freedom, American’s traditional freedom–or the better word, as I defined it earlier, liberty–was a selfless freedom, freedom for the sake of something greater or higher than the self.
Yes, they were after something higher than one person: property and property rights. And the Happiness of the individual.
I don’t know how selfless it was, as it was very much for the defense of personal property and the right to shoot anyone, be they an individual or a tyrannical government, who dared think they could take your hard earned property…but it was for something greater because they knew that if you could not control your own fate through work, property and achievement there could be no Happiness.
But this man clearly doesn’t believe in Happiness…no, like a good little Kantian he only believes in duty and obligation. (Please, remember that Kant is the philosophical basis for Communism and Nazism).
For our founders, this liberty was defined and defended in the context of our Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity.
Could someone please tell me what Judeo-Christian values are?
Would that be the Enlightenment/Thomist-Aristotlian view each person was personally responsible for themselves. Perhaps the Puritan/Protestant view that salvation of self was a personal matter and that each person is saved or damned based only on their own merits as an individual. Couldn’t be the Unitarian view that Franklin and both John and Abigail Adams had that took that Protestant view of individual relationship to God even further and saw it not only as personal but private as well.
Perhaps it might be the in line with the view of the Bill of the Rights of Englishmen that more or less implied that since we can’t possibly know the mind of God we’re not going to legislate in such a way that suggests one religion is more right over another….you know one of those British things that the Founding Fathers actually wanted to continue. Shame you don’t want to continue that Rick.
Might it be that Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity that a Catholic like you should know, that of St. Thomas Aquinas, who in the Summa Theologica stated that “human law does not prohibit every vice from which virtuous men abstain, but only the more serious ones from which the majority can abstain, especially those that harm others and which must be prohibited for human society to survive such as homicide, theft and the life.” Hmm…even Thomas Aquinas seems to recognize the importance of personal property rights (and this was still before the only ethical means of economic dealing, laissez-faire capitalism, had really been codified in both law and practice)…shame a man from 1200 is centuries ahead of Rick Santorum (but frankly people in 500 BCE were centuries ahead of Santorum).
Often, in fact, American liberty meant the freedom to attend to one’s duties–duties to God, to family, and to neighbors.
No you have a duty to yourself. If we are made in God’s image then there is nothing higher we can serve than our self, our reason and intellect which makes us the equals of God if we choose to use them, our free will which according to the Christianity you claim to follow is something no other being in existence has been given. Yes, if we are being true to ourselves, our reason and our will we will be compassionate and kind to others and wish them the best and help them when we can, but because “love [them] as we love [ourselves]” not because “we love them more than we love ourselves” (I seem to not remember that little distinction in the Bible).
Duty, a fascinating word. As in duty based ethics. The ethical system of fascists and communists everywhere. Thank God the Founding Fathers were versed in logical people like Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke and Adam Smith who recognized that it was self interest that caused people to be good and the goal of society to provide the tools to become a good person if they choose to be (but never forcing a person who is not harming others to be something that they do not choose to be)—they thankfully never gave into the evils that the word duty has created other the course of history.
Sad they didn’t have the DSM-IV around yet…they could have also looked up Dependent personality disorder. (Which is pretty much the opposite of a narcissistic personality disorder, which is apparently what Santorum thinks anyone has if they have even the smallest concern for their own well-being).
Our founders were in the business of constructing a nation, a political community.
This is perhaps the only correct sentence in this quote. Of course the Founders thought of it as one joined together by mutual consent rather than forced upon people. A society of individuals joined in common cause, not a group of slaves with duties to carry out.
No-Fault Freedom, a freedom from every tie and duty, provides no basis for that project: it is a principle of division and social deconstruction.
I will not disagree that people are often at their best when they are involved in society and working to better it (there are of course numerous exceptions, which Santorum might have heard about if he ever actually read something)…but it only yields something good for everyone when it is done by choice with the goal of personal fulfillment being equal or higher than the wanting to do good for others.
The point of society is to produce the highest good and the highest good is personal individual Happiness. Granted the best society is the one that allows (not brings, because Happiness can only be achieved, never given) for the most people to reach that Happiness…but that Happiness can only be achieved in a society free of preposterous concept of duty…individuals are good by nature and choose freely to help others, they do not need moral obligations to enslave them to do so. Rick Santorum fails to realize this, and fails to realize everything that is good in this nation.
British historian Lord Acton observed, “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”
What Santorum insanely proposes here is that “Liberty is not the right to do what our reason tells us we ought, but the obligation to be enslaved to invented obligations to one man’s narrow definition of God and to everyone else in society of others. “
Which sounds like one the Founding Father’s actually supported…and which one do you think Adams, Hamilton, Washington, and Jefferson would be drawing lots as to who got to shoot Ricky for treason?
This man and his vile beliefs is everything wrong with the Republican party. It is not conservative, but it taints the banner of conservatism by claiming to be so.