As the Article V movement grows, we COS volunteers are asked ever-more questions about Article V. While the COS website has a fine Q&A about the amendment process and safeguards, I wish to delve a little deeper here in support of a successful COS convention and later state ratification debates. To the point, we will never make our goal, the return to free government, unless we are firmly grounded in America’s first principles and can explain them to others.
Our nation is searching for its soul. Few are aware of the Natural Law basis of our founding and governing system. It isn’t taught in public schools or universities and is hardly found at all in popular media. To reassert the people’s sovereign authority and duty under Article V without educating the people as to their foundation, is something of a fool’s errand.
Along the way to a COS and state ratification debates, progressive opponents will not only be vocal within state houses, the amendments convention, and state ratification chambers, they will be a nuisance outside as well. Protesters, anarchists and a compliant media will make life difficult at best for those brave enough to oppose the Left’s dream of one-world government. Armed with intellectual strength, we will counter and overwhelm their wrath.
The first principles of any system are axiomatic. Recall the first axioms of Euclidean Geometry are those which define points and lines. No subsequent theorem violates these first axioms. If it does, it isn’t Euclidean geometry. Similarly, Christianity’s prime axiom is the First Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God.” No teaching of any Church can contradict this premise and remain a Christian Church. The first principles of any system are thus not subject to legitimate challenge.
Our Declaration’s seminal passage opens with the premise, the axiom of the American Soul, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” The self-evident truths (among others) of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness invoke the long tradition of Natural Law, which holds that there is a higher law of right and wrong from which to derive man-made statutes, and against which to criticize that law at any time. It is not political will, but moral reasoning accessible to everyone, that is the basis of our political system.
Central to the Natural Law tradition of moral reasoning is what C.S. Lewis called a predicate of value. For example, where the reasoning man says, ‘Islamic ideology is problematic,’ he assigned the quality, the value of problematic to Islamic ideology. In response, the progressive assumes the man displays unthinking emotion, and calls him ‘Islamophobic’ and a hater. When students are indoctrinated from an early age that value judgements are mere feelings which should be suppressed, the stage is set for an adult incapable of moral reasoning. Such teachers intend to make a clean sweep of traditional values and start over with a new set, fuzzy social justice.
Lewis wrote, “The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.” Students starved of their sensibility make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. Aristotle thought the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. Charles de Montesquieu reasoned that the first purpose of education in republics is to inspire love of country. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful. When the age for reflective thought arrives, a pupil trained in ‘ordinate affections’ or ‘just sentiments’ will easily embrace America’s first principles. Otherwise, men will shun them.
So, in answer to the question, “What are America’s first principles?” I say they are the self-evident truths of Natural Law, True Law, or the Law of Reason. The pagan Cicero, and not the Christian John Locke wrote the best summary I’ve come across on the nature of Natural Law.
True Law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions . . . It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst punishment.
With one notable exception, the world’s major civilizations recognized Natural Law. Islam does not, yet as Cicero noted, Natural Law is still in force. It is why Islamic countries are authoritarian and typically miserable. Whether it is called Natural Law, The Way, Tao, or Rta (yes, Rta), the various forms of this doctrine of objective value reflect the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false.
Progressives reject all of it, all of Natural Law. This is not only a weakness for patriots to exploit, it is progressives’ fatal shortcoming; it is the gap in their armor of bumper-sticker shibboleths that seek to alter man’s nature and mold him into a compliant and intellectually drugged drone under authoritarian rulers. Thanks to modern education, most Americans over the past two generations were immersed and indoctrinated in the wonders of social justice. I say it is a brittle façade that’s easily kicked in. We need only consider the defeat of Felonia von Pantsuit last November to realize that despite our Howard Zinn-oriented system of indoctrination, the embers of Natural Law are still warm. Cicero was right. We need only fan them.
When confronted by a Leftist, go on offense, go right at ‘em . . . politely. The fence-sitters around you will listen in. Since the typical democrat underground Leftist is hopeless, regard this encounter as an opportunity to educate the eavesdroppers. Ask the prog if there are self-evident truths. What are his? More stuff from all for all? That concept is no different from robbery, and robbery is outside Natural Law as well as the Ten Commandments. Since it is outside Natural Law, and therefore outside the American tradition, it does not deserve, nor can it receive a logical response from within the Laws of Nature. Any attempt to fight on progressive ground is akin to theorizing a straight line as a circle; such theory is outside the realm of geometry and cannot be explained without violating the axioms of the Euclidean system.
If he rolls his eyes, ask him again for his self-evident truths. What are they? Social Justice? What is that? What are the objective values of social justice? Whatever he mumbles will offend the Natural Law on which societal happiness depends. Offense, offense, offense always!
A favorite Progressive tactic, which they regard as intellectual, and one that any parent with a toddler knows, is to continually ask, ‘why’? Why should society accept the existence of poor people? Why would anyone oppose universal healthcare? Here, they blurt out implicit theorems that cannot be theorized from the premises of Natural Law.
Ask your Leftist if he loves his country. He doesn’t; he is a citizen of world and demands that you and everyone else join him. Inform him his criticisms are illegitimate. If generation after generation of students are taught their country isn’t worth defending, it follows that it eventually won’t be defended. If that is what he wants, then he has no more business at a COS event than a Confucian at a Christian synod. Get lost. Oops. Be polite.
In my next post, we’ll look at the endpoint of Progressivism: The Abolition of Man. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States.
Lewis, C. (1944). The Abolition of Man. New York: Harper Collins.
Skousen, W. C. (1981). The 5,000 Year Leap. National Center for Constitutional Studies.