Hundreds of articles and blog posts since the COS movement emerged a few years ago deal with the impossibility of reform from those who profit so well from DC corruption. Other posts, like those scattered about this ArticleVBlog, examined the historic foundations of free government from the 17th century English philosophers down to our Revolution and Constitution.
When taken together, all the events and ideas which shaped the American psyche since publication of the King James Bible in 1611 may be grouped together by the term, ‘Tradition’. Today, I appeal to that which gets little attention, but is so necessary to our survival – the American Tradition. The spark for this squib is F.A. Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit (1988). Tradition, as related by Hayek, resides between instinct and reason. Instinct and reason are distinct from tradition. No amount of reason can produce tradition.
Why is tradition so important? Tradition, customs, and norms of behavior called morals enable and are necessary to the continued existence of the civil society. Unlike totalitarian regimes, republics rest on the common, shared attitudes of the people toward that personal sphere of movement unhindered by anyone else, which we call liberty.
Tradition isn’t genetically passed on to us. We weren’t born with it. Neither can reason alone create tradition. Traditions are the societal, shared notions of right and wrong, of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. These unwritten laws are mostly the ‘thou shalt nots’ which tame the primitive instincts in everyone. If citizens, families, and their organic associations outside of government comprise society, civil society is one in which tradition guides and directs their peaceful and productive lives. An American Tradition left unmolested by the Left, particularly the Supreme Court, limits violence and assaults on our persons and freedom far more effectively than statutory laws.Civil society is orderly because the rules of human conduct, such as those dealing with property, honesty, contract, exchange, trade, competition, gain and privacy are observed, not in fear of police arrest for violation, but because tradition commands obedience. The source for these evolved norms are time-out-of-mind. They are neither instinctive nor derived from reason.1
Even though the individual depends on these constraints for his life, he usually doesn’t understand how they function or how they benefit him. He desires so much of what he sees, but is not permitted to grasp. Disliking these constraints so much, we can hardly be said to have selected them; rather, these constraints selected us; they enabled us to survive. 2
The American Tradition and its resulting extended order did not arise all at once; these rules of civil and personal conduct did not spread because men understood them, but simply because they enabled us to prosper more successfully than other cultures.3 Learning how to behave is more the source than the result of insight, reason, and understanding. Man must be taught to be wise, rational and good. He wasn’t born that way. Intellect did not create our morals, but rather human interactions governed by our morals make possible the growth of reason and those capabilities associated with it.4 Is it any wonder the majority of prison inmates grew up in fatherless homes?
In the final chapter, an agnostic Hayek relates why religion is the guardian of tradition. Custom and tradition are more likely to guide society when supported by religious beliefs, the main function of which is to restrain our animal impulses. Acceptance of supernatural beings that could punish transgressions led to observance of the restraints. The belief in some religions that ancestors watched over and would judge the actions of the living is a powerful inducement to follow traditional and religious norms. 5
We owe it partly to mystical and religious beliefs, (particularly to Christianity) that beneficial traditions have been preserved and transmitted at least long enough to enable those groups following them to grow, and to have the opportunity to spread by natural selection. This means that, like it or not we owe the persistence of certain practices and the civilization that resulted from them, in part to support from beliefs which are not verifiable, testable, or the result of rational argumentation.
Regardless of one’s views, even agnostics and atheists should recognize the harm done by the loss of nonfactual beliefs. This loss has deprived mankind of a powerful support in the long development of the extended order. The religious view that morals were determined by processes incomprehensible to many of us is truer than the rationalist delusion that man, by exercising his intelligence, invented morals that gave him the power to achieve more than he could ever foresee. 6
Learning societal norms begins with the family. In their demented way, Islamic families do just that. While despotic rulers in Islamic societies crush liberty, they leave families to patriarchal absolutism. From their religion and customs, fathers are tyrants and may kill their children without fear of civil penalty. It is why muslims are typically far more attached to their traditions than we Americans are to ours. The American Tradition recognizes the distinction between religion and state; Islam doesn’t. The Islamic culture renders its adherents incapable of absorbing the American Tradition. Islam and the American Tradition are mutually exclusive.
While the goals of a COS are to reduce the size and scope of government, the essence of the state-driven amendment process is restoration of the American tradition, in which self-evident truths are made real once again through re-federalization of our national government. Restoration of the American Tradition, the real exercise of unalienable rights, supported along the way by Christianity, are only possible when the states return to the senate, AND have appellate review of supreme court decisions. (See Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments.)
Conversely, without a COS, what remains of the American Tradition, and with it, the republic, are doomed to destruction by two enemies. First is the spread of the Islamic Tradition, Sharia. Sharia has no place in the West, not just because it is brutal, degenerate, and disgusting; if allowed to expand, it will displace and overwhelm free government Traditions everywhere.
Second, home-grown enemies also threaten the American Tradition. Last week I called out Obama’s Army, Organizing for America (OFA). They exist to reverse the American Revolution, to overturn the American Tradition. OFA believes they can supplant the American Tradition with the conclusions of Leftist ‘reason’: social justice.
Listen to the shudder you feel when singing the Star Spangled Banner or standing at attention when Boy Scouts parade the colors. It is the American Tradition calling out for salvation. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Restore the American Tradition. Join Convention of States.
1. Hayek, F. (1988). The Fatal Conceit – The Errors of Socialism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 12.
2. Ibid., 14.
3. Ibid., 16.
4. Ibid., 21.
5. Ibid., 135-136.
6. Ibid., 137.