I'd like to recommend two articles that appeared today at American Greatness. The first article is easily summarized--a very short passage will suffice:
With a perpetual state of emergency for a virus with a 98 percent survival rate, the country is essentially a giant TSA checkpoint.
Over 80 percent of Americans covering their faces when leaving the home is a sign of submission to the one-party oligarchy that has replaced our constitutional republic. Masks are a symbol of fear, and a scared populace is more likely to obey mandates for the sake of safety. Masks are a sign that the American people will comply with a government violation of their personal liberty without proof of any personal or societal benefit. That last sentence is crucial. Throwing the masks away is not just an issue of political liberty, it needs to be done because masks don’t stop an airborne respiratory virus.
It’s flat-out wrong to agree to Team Apocalypse’s premise that “masks work” or that they are a little thing we can do with no downside. There is no evidence for such assertions.
The second article is longer and more complex. It identifies an ambiguity inherent in the American founding that has, unfortunately, worked itself out in a onesided way that is demonstrably counter to the outcome the Founding Fathers had envisioned. It also points the way forward--the way that I tried to articulate just the other day. It's the way of theory, in the original Greek sense of "seeing"--seeing the truth that will make us free citizens of a republic, rather than slaves to the ideology of rights inhering in atomistic individuals:
Recovering the other half of the American Founding.
The article is clearly written and its argument, while not simple, is relatively easy to follow. I recommend the entire article to your consideration. Here I'll offer snippets to whet your appetite:
Until a half-century ago or so, there was a moral consensus, however fraying, that informed and shaped the exercise of freedom in the Western world. ... Few would have suggested that liberty and human dignity could long flourish without a sense of moral obligation and civic spirit on the part of proud, rights-bearing individuals.
The American Founders, for example, were in no way moral relativists, let alone moral nihilists. ..., they nonetheless appealed to honor, civic virtue, and the “honorable determination” of a free people to govern themselves. Facile relativism or easygoing nihilism, where all “values” are created equal, would have appalled them.
We now live in a different moral universe, and by no means a better one.
Today, even religious believers habitually speak of morality in terms of “values,” a term derived from economics that suggests something is good because we value or choose it ... Whether people who use that language know that they have succumbed to what C. S. Lewis derided as “the poison of subjectivism” is largely beside the point. As Allan Bloom argued in The Closing of the American Mind over 30 years ago, the language of values, and the language of right and wrong, are by no means the same thing; they ultimately point in different directions. The latter partakes of confidence in the reality of moral facts, the former of thoroughgoing relativism and subjectivism.
Let us return to the ambiguity to which I referred. Political emancipation, even the self-determination of a free people, quite logically gives rise to more radical claims about human beings governing themselves without any natural, metaphysical, or moral restraints getting in their way. Today, many people—thinkers, theorists, and ordinary citizens alike—speak breathlessly about human “autonomy” or even “self-ownership”—of rights without duties, of freedom without any deference to the moral law or a natural order of things.
But Kant, for all his philosophical profundity, fatally separated morality from any ground in nature. And so latter-day Kantians—academic philosophers and law professors mainly—think respect for the dignity of human beings requires that we not only tolerate but esteem every life-style choice no matter how base, self-absorbed, self-destructive, vulgar, or ignoble. ... The old restraints, the old absolutes, are now seen as the enemy of human freedom.
Today, we still appeal to human rights, ever more expansive, ever more indiscriminate, ever more bereft of prudence—while the old idiom of natural rights, which largely presupposed natural law or the natural moral sense, can barely be heard. How else could we arrive at the conclusion that biological nature can be dismissed at will and that human beings inhabit 73, or is it 153, different genders? This is the reductio ad absurdum, the farcical concluding stage, of the view that human beings create themselves and are beholden to no standards above, or outside, the human will. This is a recipe, as we see all around us, for both moral anarchy and political self-enslavement.
Self-government and autonomy, so understood, will remain forever incompatible.
We need to make explicit a moral-political-philosophical premise presupposed but not emphasized by our great forebears: “Man is not God, independent, self-existing, and self-sufficing,” as Brownson strikingly put it. In an age where toxic relativism and toxic moralism coexist and merge, we need to theorize, to emphasize, to stress, what our forebears could still largely take for granted. In contrast to their situation, the moral capital of Western civilization can no longer be taken for granted since it is depleting by the hour.
Against the poison of subjectivism—and its ugly twin, unthinking moralistic and egalitarian rage—we must renew the Great Tradition with its reasonable confidence in self-rule and self-command. Our civic and civilizational renewal must be informed by moral facts and truths inherent in our nature and ultimately bequeathed to us by the divine source of our rights and obligations. Such is the great unspoken presupposition that gives life to the American civic tradition.
This theoretical understanding of human nature is the only way forward out of the morass we find ourselves in. We must steep ourselves in the truth of our nature and speak it to others, in season and out of season.