The ideological clash in which we find ourselves is not new. The faces have changed but the song remains the same because the ideas remain the same. Since nearly the dawn of time, some have tried to jettison the past for the bright and shiny future, while others have fought to hold onto the past as our touchstone to wisdom and tradition, purchased at the cost of blood, sweat, and tears. It is a crucial tension in this country today, as it has been for generations.
In our day, this ideological struggle is increasingly played out on the social battlefield: redefinition of marriage, legalization of narcotics, abolition of the concept of “illegal” immigrants, legally-mandated financial support for abortion, normalization of sexual anarchy, government-sponsored secularization of our society, the list goes on and on. At every front, conservatives are told that we are standing in the way of “progress”. Our values are mocked as antiquated and our worldview dismissed as overly credulous, racist, bigoted, and greedy. They are pushing ever forward and straining to rid themselves and society of any vestiges of the past.
As Progressives have done for more than a century, our ideological opponents ride under the banner of “change” and “progress”, those catchy buzzwords which describe the process of abandoning tradition for the future. They were “anti-Establishment” 40 years ago. Now they are digging deeper to uproot what they view as the foundation underneath the Establishment. But what is the cost of this endless quest for progress and upheaval? G.K. Chesterton wrote about this dynamic in his time:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. . . Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea.
G.K. Chesteron, Orthodoxy
How can an ideology survive the intellectual cannibalization of its dead? It cannot, if it wants to remain democratic because tradition is intertwined with democracy. Progressives continue to cannibalize the intellectual traditions of their predecessors and in doing so, move ever closer to the fascism which they endlessly seek. Modern liberalism does not stand on the shoulders of giants, it stands on the ground floor among the dismembered limbs of the giants it most recently slew to add a bit more fuel to their bonfire of the profanities.
When Ed Schultz rants, as he recently did on his radio show, “the Founding Fathers aren’t here anymore. We are the Founding Fathers of this country now,” we see the cannibalization happening right before our eyes. To follow the trail of Ed’s statements to their logical ends, the country is currently being refounded and “we” (presumably, Ed’s listeners) are shaping it. The opinions or decisions of anyone who “isn’t here anymore” are invalid and need to be replaced. Does this sound like democracy?
Ed went on to opine, “The idea that we need to be stuck in the mud of a different generation because some dead people think that’s how we outta live 200 and some odd years later, I’m not there. I’m not there…”
Wisdom has an expiration date, in the eyes of modern liberalism. In a way, this is just Saul Alinski writ-large. Saul taught that what’s important is to forget about the identity of the Have’s and the Have Not’s, and to help the Have Not’s in their endless struggle against the Have’s. And so when the Have Not’s become the Have’s, they now become the target. Chesterton, in his (long-dead-and-hence-invalid) wisdom, spoke directly to this as well:
In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.
G.K. Chesterton, ibid
This can end in two ways. First, the Progressives could push too far too fast and leave the American people behind, as has happened in the past. They will be left with depleted clout and an agenda rightly seen as radical and detrimental. The concern here is that this outcome would require a populace which can a) discern what is detrimental to the body politic and b) be bothered to care about the well-being of anything beyond their cable package. Neither of these is certain in today’s America.
Second, the Progressive agenda could pull the American people right along with it, breaking completely with the foundations of this great country. The moral pillars of this nation could collapse completely under the redoubled attacks, literally turning good into evil and evil into good. The comforting news is that either way, our mission is clear: boldly defend the principles on which this great nation was founded. Regardless of whether America is destined for laurels or manacles, the biblical principles on which she was founded are eternal and it is there where we can make our stand, astride the great divide between tradition and relevance. Our message is steeped in tradition and has never been more relevant.
Image: http://archive.org/details/brownmenwomenors00reevuoft; author: Coulon; public domain/copyright has expired