Saturday, January 30, 2021

Recovering The Other Half Of The American Founding.

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:

Why We Must Unmask

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:

Civic Virtues as Moral Facts

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.


  1. Speaking of facts and truths inherent in our *nature*, I meant to post days ago, a quote from a gripping article by Peter Limberg, which argues that our nature is contrary to what Big Tech types claim to expect to be the upshot of their innovations:

    > McLuhan, a man ahead of his time, was no Pollyanna. He foresaw that the new media would have a *retribalizing* effect on man. “The global village,” he wrote, “absolutely ensures maximal disagreement on all points.”

    Why is this? Philosopher Byung-Chul Han has an elegant answer: *Distance*, or lack thereof. In his book In The Swarm: Digital Prospects, Han states that “distance is what makes respectare [respect] different from spectare [spectacle]. A society without respect, without the pathos of distance, paves the way for the society of *scandal*.” The internet pornifies our private lives, including our political views, leaving nothing to the imagination. When everything is laid bare, respect vanishes; our proximity exposes all of our ugliness.
    As Carr mentions in his article, this manifests in what psychologists call dissimilarity cascades (the more we *know* about someone, the less we *like* them), and environmental spoiling (proximity, with those we don’t like, spoils the environment as a whole). <

    See .

  2. As it happens, we could buttress our theoretical understanding of human nature, with data unavailable to the Framers, e.g. on just how females react, when given power in the (previously male-dominated) Workplace.

  3. Mark, thanks for this. It is a nice reminder that all of us can affect this country in ways that might yet point us in better direction.

  4. To mask or not to mask?

    Fertig predicates his argument against masks by positing a 98% survival rate. I suspect the survival rate is actually much higher than that, even when the elderly are taken into account.

    Funny thing, given the problems with defining 'cases' (with false negatives and false positives and asymptomatic carriers) and with defining 'cause of death', we don't really know what the real fatality rate is, do we?

    What we do know is that nearly everyone of our acquaintance who comes down with the covid has fairly mild symptoms and recovers fairly quickly.

    We also know that mortality statistics have not improved in many jurisdictions where masks are required, especially compared to no-mask jurisdictions. (See:

    The truth is, there is no hard evidence that masks work.

    So perhaps Fertig is right that masks are just a symbol of government overreach and virtue signaling. I know I'm inclined to believe him. Especially in our town where virtually any piece of fabric which more or less covers the nose and mouth is now accepted as a mask. But woe to anyone who appears in public without a piece of fabric covering his face!

    So, notwithstanding my doubts, I, too, wear a mask. Here's why. Every other day or so I hear of a random case of a 40 year old in 'perfect health' who's a rock climber or back country skier or triathlete who caught the covid and nearly died. There's always the assumption that this victim in perfect health didn't have any co-morbidities and that the covid, notwithstanding the statistics, is really an indiscriminate killer.

    So, why take a chance? Until the vaccine becomes available in our town (assuming I decide to take it) why not mask up, and while I'm at it, ask everyone else to, too?

    Isn't this the dilemma?

    1. "So, why take a chance? Until the vaccine becomes available in our town (assuming I decide to take it) why not mask up, and while I'm at it, ask everyone else to, too?

      Isn't this the dilemma?"
      Not really - you have a choice.

      My opinion is that you are giving your ability to decide for yourself to another authority - and then attempting to transferring your decisions by pressuring others.

      We have an immune system (that is independent of an virus or any needle) for a reason - it is to naturally defend our bodies.

      While I will not tell you what to do - please do not presume it is acceptable to make others follow your decisions.

    2. @Anonymous

      I understand your perspective. I'm also kinda tired of being told what to do, especially when I have strong doubts about its efficacy.

      But I also really don't want to be one of those healthy rock climbers who gets felled by this thing if I draw the short straw and it happens that my immune system fails.

      To me that's not a decision. Its a dilemma.

    3. @Anonymous

      "While I will not tell you what to do - please do not presume it is acceptable to make others follow your decisions."

      I should have added to my response to your response that I agree that I have no right to tell others what to do. I suppose I do have the right to try to persuade others to do what I think is right.

      I do, however, believe that public health authorities do, provided they follow applicable law and regulations, do have the right to tell me and others what to do in a public health emergency.

      The question is whether they have acted legally and in good faith in issuing the various orders which vex us today. There is plenty of reason to believe some of them have not.

      If you believe some of the orders which have been issued are wrong I suppose you have a number of options, including noncompliance. I won't be telling you what to do.

    4. @Cassander - appreciate (both) the added clarifications and perspective.

      My opinion, i do not believe it is healthy or productive to allow fear to censor our sense's.

      Admittedly, when one has health issues as I do - perspective may be unique.

      I believe in our community's ability to achieve "Shared Strength" and "Self Reliance" (we are not a herd, and have a healthy immune system)

      I believe our support of each other will be the key to our success, otherwise others will decide our success for us.

      Sending what is left of my positive thoughts to you... in the hope that faith in a happier healthier world will prevail over any dilemma, big or small without undue risk or fear.

      best to you


    5. There is compelling and definitive evidence that the recommended mask wearing is NOT benign, and cannot be benign.

      This is the biggest lie they have told us all. This is the lie we should attack them on, while correctly illuminating and pointing to the gross malpractice and depraved indifference to the many tragic outcomes and outright Democide their demands have wrought on a trusting public unconscionably injured by the negligence of fiat expertise withholding material facts to mislead, and callously monetizing the orchestrated deceptions to further their careers, protect their pensions and benefits and further enrich themselves by participating in the deceptive acts and practices that has harmed so very many subjected to the cruelties of terrible and indefensible policies.

  5. Bebe - picking up on a prior blog topic (covid reckoning) where you mentioned you were sending the frontlinedoctors video to your doctors for their feedback, I posted the following request; as it's a prior blog, not sure if you saw my question - I'm hoping to get more feedback if possible. Thanks in advance.

    Also wondering out loud, why aren't more conservatives out there pushing back on the vaccine push? Have they all drank the koolaid, or are they compromised, or just ignorant to these other concerns?
    Bebe - do you mind updating us on the reaction of your two doctors to that news; watching the video Mark sent and another by Dr. Simone Gold w the same frontlinedoctors group makes compelling case against the experimental drugs positioned as vaccines; but the MSM presents those as extreme views - would like to hear what real, actual drs in the field are doing.
    thanks -
    Tom from Atl.

    1. You might want to look at the Great Barrington Declaration if you’ve not done so already.

    2. And, not so much on vaccines, check out :

      > Note -- this is a *guest* post thus the "Other Voices" category; the author(s) have asked to remain unattributed....

      Many questions remain unanswered about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, and we are certainly not the only *scientists* that have them. There are likely benign convincing explanations to everything, but to date we have not seen them.
      The origin of the virus is extremely important, in helping us determine what is going to happen going forward in the pandemic, as well as to suggest what possible *therapies* could have activity.
      It is therefore critical, that we determine a precisely as we can the origin of the virus.
      We are not the only *scientists* considering this.

      We do not want in any way, to cast aspersions on individual scientists or countries. All we want to do, as we have done from the beginning, is ask questions of the data. We hope that there is international cooperation to put this issue to rest, hopefully with a benign conclusion. We also hope there is again widespread honest discussion, about the risks and the benefits of gain of function viral *research*. <

  6. So far I’ve only heard from one doctor who has had the vaccine himself and believes it to be a good idea.

    I’ve not heard from my doctor.

    1. In no way do I wish to or intend to belittle doctors. However, we all need to bear in mind that most doctors are not really scientifically qualified to pass judgment on these matters--Med School is not about churning out research scientists, per se. Fauci is a perfect example. He's no more qualified as a scientist than most GPs.

    2. And besides that, most doctors are not immune to groupthink, and are not immune to fears of being cancelled and shunned, if they have the wrong opinion.

      They also watch the same MSM as their patients, so subject to the same propaganda.

      They also know where their bread is buttered. They won't be rocking boats and making waves.


    3. However, what doctors engaged in clinical practice are able to do (and which researchers and medical scientists often cannot) is determine, over time, what therapies work best for which patients.

      When public health and other government officials restrict the ability of physicians to use their best judgment to treat individual patients, nothing good is the result.

      The hydroxychloroquine fiasco is a good example. Many doctors were discovering efficacy in treating patients with this compound, and then were prevented from administering it.

      The medical community should be outraged. I know a lot of individual docs were.