What are they really up to? Bush, governmental power and destiny

…. He is prolific as well as versatile, and writes on a number of subjects, including philosophy, religion, and the state of medical care in the California Department of Corrections. Dr. Posner has published articles in a variety of publications, including a Journal of Transcription and the Department of the Navy. He lives in Fresno with his son Aaron, a budding Mechanical Engineer. He has had actions at every level, including the Supreme Court; Moss David Posner M.D. May 28, 2006

Currently, there are two kinds of people in America today: those who are deeply disturbed and feel threatened by our government, and those who are understandably concerned but who believe the President and the country are fundamentally on the right track.

Those who are satisfied with the government and its actions believe that the government is essentially moral, and that whatever the criticisms that have been leveled at our leaders, they pale in comparison to the overriding morality and justification for the government’s actions in our name. These people are concerned with illegal immigration, abortion, gay marriages, welfare, and separation of Church and State. They are predominantly Republican, or at least conservative. They see things is simple terms, eschew conspiracies and the like, and believe in a work ethic. We could also add to this group those who are not really concerned much with politics at all, but in their apathy tend to drift in this direction. This group encompasses a shrinking number of citizens, and is now in the minority.

The second group is comprised of those who are quite disapproving of the government”s actions and its effects upon the world. This group is in the majority in these regards, and its numbers are growing still. It most certainly does include those who entertain conspiracy notions and who are in favor of legislation restricting corporate and governmental power. Their members are uniformly pessimistic about the future.

This is an eclectic group; and as a consequence, its power is fractured. It is comprised of two basic subgroups, each diametrically in opposition on just about every issue except in their evaluation of the current actions of the President and of Congress, to which they clearly object.

The first subgroup includes liberals who hold values that, in all other areas, are opposed to the pro-government group described in the first paragraph. Its members are pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage, gun control, tolerant or even approving of illegal immigration, in favor of socialized medicine, minimum wage, and of a general increase in governmental power to dispense benefits to the public. These people are now very suspicious–if not downright fearful–of the President and Congress.

The second subgroup includes conservatives and reactionaries who are anything but liberal. The only thing they share with the liberals is their mistrust of governmental power. Like the “pro-government” group as defined initially, they oppose immigration, abortion, gay marriages, welfare and gun control. They could be considered Federalists philosophically. In the extreme, their members are very prejudiced against minorities, and are known to sequester themselves in physical enclaves, armed with weapons.

In part it is the fractious nature of these groups that renders the public impotent to effect any meaningful change in circumstances. There is however a more fundamental reason: a fundamental disconnect between principle and circumstance. How does this relate to our present situation?

Most people do not have a coherent and consistent philosophical basis for their beliefs. Their political beliefs, like their personal ones, are a hodge-podge of a passive accumulation from parents, religious groups, and from the ambient and contemporary values of the family, society, and the times in which they find themselves. As a result, their positions cannot be reevaluated or justified anew, and as a result many of their beliefs can be found to conflict, one with another, with respect to their implication for the proper place of governmental power. Such conflicts can cause some people to dig their heels in and to redouble their efforts to maintain untenable positions. Others tend to give in passively to the prevailing political wind.

With such a haphazard approach to politics, and without basic principles from which their current values can be logically derived, they are reduced to accepting the views of that group or party which simultaneously espouses many if not most of their values, and at the same time rejects the fewest number of values. Thus, the disconnect.

We are one of the youngest countries in the world, and yet our Constitution is the oldest viable document of its kind. It has stood for over 225 years. This was made possible because the Founding Fathers were very well aware of the compelling necessity for a moral philosophical base in any value system, and they stated such in writing. This is undeniable to any person who has read our Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to our Constitution. Broad basic principles were stated initially; and from them the constitution was derived. Why was this necessary?

It was necessary because our founders were taking a drastically different course than that proscribed by their government–Great Britain”a course to which the settlers had initially subscribed and swore an oath. To disobey would clearly to be guilty of Rebellion and Treason. For this reason the founders—all–had a price upon their head. In order to justify this break with Great Britain to themselves and to the world, they had to show the spiritual integrity in setting down basic principles of human nature and its requirements. In so doing they were able to justify the actions to follow as not only justifiable but also as morally imperative:

“We are endowed by our Creator certain inalienable rights, chief among them being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Now this was an uncanny accomplishment. These principles–so related to each other and to circumstances–had never been made explicit previously–at least not as a specific document for secession and formation of a new country.* They were principles that were morally and factually undeniable. From these principles, and in consideration of the intolerable circumstances imposed by Britain, (chief among them, taxation without representation) our founders carefully crafted a course that was as logical and compelling as it was audacious.

It was recognized that as long as the relationship between principle and law is harmonious there is no problem. Unfortunately, this is less than more often the case: More often than not, private and personal interests will intrude, hiding their specific intentions as nothing more than variations upon existing broad principles with which everyone agrees, and presumably necessitated by some unanticipated change in circumstances.

This was regarded as inevitable and inescapable; and each person, perennially under threat from his fellow men had to learn how to deal with other men without becoming offensive himself. Wisdom is knowledge so derived. Yet in the affairs of men and their governments, inevitable strife and conflict were seen as the normal state; and so human nature masquerading as government had to be created and at the same time restrained–if that were possible.

Whether or not human nature could be so restrained has always been a matter of legitimate debate; and the implication distinguishing Anarchy from Government may be more an article of faith than of fact.

It was the formal recognition of the inevitable and inescapable nature of such a conflict between government and people that was perhaps the Founders’ crowning achievement. They legitimized and made sacred a formal and obligatory paranoia regarding all actions of all governments, and went so far as to depict these failings as germane to human nature as such. What is crucial to bear in mind here is that it was not mankind that was under indictment. It was human nature masquerading in a Godly fashion as government. Let us now return to our current situation:

Many people regard government as either sacrosanct or as diabolic. This statement includes most of the people and groups I defined initially. The “pro-government” folks and the liberals differ not in the evaluation of the purpose of government but only in whether they believe government is achieving that purpose. Both groups see government’s function as a human benefactor, when historically it has been understood to be the exact opposite but a necessary antidote to Anarchy, as I have described.

** Neither group sees the inherent conflict between government and people that I described as the unmasked root of our current predicament. They do not see it because they do not see things in broad political philosophical and historical terms. To them, the dispute is about more benefits or less, about more privilege to interfere in our affairs so as to provide these benefits. Worst case, the current malfeasances of government are due either to unintended consequences (e.g. Rumsfeld’s “you-go-to-war-with-the-intelligence-you’ve-got” principle) or even due to the wrong-guys-in-office principle.

Neither group sees that what is occurring is a progressive statement of new principles by new Founders, who see as their Manifest Destiny to be a “Light Unto the Nations,” who met in convention in 1997 at the founding for “The Project for The New American Century,” and who put forth their Preamble in a White Paper produced in September of 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century."

They truly and deeply believe this, and that is why they appear to suffer no embarrassment when the details of individual actions are exposed, but truly and deeply believe that they are to be Instruments of His Peace. To these people, you and I are not the Loyal Opposition but are insensate impediments.

When seen in broad historic context, it is not difficult to see how this group’s founders not only truly see nothing wrong with their actions but also have an apocalyptic vision of their place in history. The only difference is the substitution of form over substance: they, being the form, and you and I being the substance. That is why Mr. Bush responds to each new revelation not with fear or defiance but with indulgent impatience. That is why they make no attempt to hide or justify their actions but regard such actions as moral and legal precisely because they have defined them as such.

They regard their corporations and their largesse not as payment but as the very environment in which they live. Our existence to them is biology run amok, as is its wont. In fact, they regard the Founding Fathers as superfluous sentimentalists, and trust as a legacy of the romantically inclined.

With these ideas in mind, it is easy to see how our Constitution is “just a Goddamned scrap of paper” and the Geneva Convention as “quaint.” In using such terms, Bush is being neither sarcastic nor derogatory; he is simply musing publicly. The Patriot Act in their eyes is just that, and is a way of removing redundant constitutional clutter.

What is truly revealing is the response of Congress and the Supreme Court, in that these institutions have shown an appalling lack of character and integrity, and in so doing, have exposed the public to the concomitant depravity of these institutions, a state which has been evolving for years, but which now is seen in bas relief. If there is any grim consolation, it is the very truth of this statement.

Our Constitution’s greatest strength is its greatest vulnerability–freedom. We cannot rely on the courts, on Congress, or on anyone but ourselves. Yet there is hope:

More and more, I see articles appearing–not in the mainstream press, which has totally abdicated its function and mission–but in weblogs, the internet’s heir to seditious publications. I see the issues–of necessity–defined and discussed in broad and incisive historical and moral terms.

In a previous article I referred to our Republic having incredible resiliency as well as vulnerability. I said:

“In his play, "The Skin of our Teeth," Thornton Wilder, through the use of a metaphor, brings the issue into sharp focus: Time and time again civilization itself has been brought to brink of destruction, and each time we have been saved, by the skin of our teeth. Once again, civilization itself has been brought to a critical pass. Only a free America can save us now. Will we win the war against the people?”

As it says in the Talmud, “From my lips to God’s ears. ——————-

*In fact, the French Revolution was based upon the Founders” notion of a Constitutional Republic

**(The “reactionary” sub-group as defined holds an implicit position more akin to formal Anarchy, and its members would be more than happy to succeed from the Union, and I am more than happy to agree with them.)

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