(A second article looking at liberal fascism)
This article continues the discussion of the undoing of the Constitution and the simultaneous rise of liberal fascism in the United States, but takes a slight detour to focus on some of the earlier philosophical and science-based underpinnings of the movement away from Constitutional governance.
This is not an insignificant ‘detour’, as currently the ‘scientific discoveries’ about ‘global climate change’, and the ‘remedies’ proposed require a wholesale abandonment of the Constitution, almost 100 years after Woodrow Wilson first openly called for it. [note: click the image for more info]
Here are some important dates and people that frame this discussion, and linked references for your further examination:
- 1794, 1799: Erasmus Darwin, “Zoonomia: The Laws of Organic Life“
- 1804-1806: Lewis and Clark Expedition
- 1830-1898: John Wesley Powell Expedition and related surveys
- 1847: Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
- 1859: Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species
- 1898-1905: Gifford Pinchot, scientific forest management
- 1880-1890: Nietzsche
Combined, these expeditions, research, and publications gave rise to the view of society as an ‘organic living body’, where the individual is indistinguishable from the whole, and whose governing laws must evolve on a steady course that can only be managed by government using ‘scientific’ methods…or ‘political science’.
Woodrow Wilson, a professor of political science, was the first Ph.D. to run for and be elected President, promising an approach of efficient, ‘scientific management’ of government, based on the principles of societal evolution, or what is now termed ‘social Darwinism’.
Here by Chance, not Design
As early as the mid-1700’s, and certainly during the time of the drafting of the Constitution, there was emerging a theory by Pierre de Maupertuis (1698-1759) that proposed humans were a chance occurrence-
“Chance one might say, turned out a vast number of individuals; a small proportion of these were organized in such a manner that the animals organs could satisfy their needs. A much greater number showed neither adaptation nor order; These last have all perished — thus the species which we see today are but a small part of all those that a blind destiny has produced.”
Mauptertuis was an atheist who used evolutionary speculation, ‘blind destiny’, and ‘chance’ to refute the existence of God or purposeful design of nature. At the same time, Emich Vattel was writing about ‘natural law’, and the Law of Nations, which seems diametrically opposed to this view.
Erasmus Darwin wrote numerous volumes on scientific studies, many of them in poetry, and thought about
the chance evolution of all life by a purely materialistic mechanism involving adaptation through natural selection…
Darwin’s work was then applied by politicians to social systems, governments, and to the U.S. Constitution. Very quickly, the ‘notion of the state (government)‘ was considered an “organic principle”, informed
…by the general will of society and by the particular facts, circumstances, and history of a people. Subject to no fixed limits, eschewing belief in objective justice, the state follows a path of incessant growth and flexibility, limited only by the ever-changing needs of society. As dictated by the laws of progress and evolution, the state moves society along an inevitable ascent. By application of “scientific” expertise and rationalizing administration, government directs this growth.
Expressly left behind is Madisonian constitutionalism and its notions of natural rights, limited government, the rule of law, prevention of faction, and vigilance against the possibility of overly centralized and unaccountable government.
The origin of the ‘living constitution’ –by which the constitution means what ever the ruling elites say it means at the time, had its roots in Darwin. It is the ‘progressive’ component of American jurisprudence seeking to shed the Constitution’s limits on government. The application of Darwin to the change of the constitution began in earnest with Woodrow Wilson.
The Expeditions and Scientific Forest Management
Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory led to the expedition of Lewis and Clark from 1804-1806, traveling upward through the Missouri River lowlands, through Montana, and then eventually to the Pacific Northwest where the (now) Columbia River enters into the ocean.
The volume and quality of scientific information collected and observed by Lewis and Clark increased the stature of science considerably, as did the journey of John Wesley Powell in 1830. “Science” was able to ‘provide an explanation for’ the geology of the Grand Canyon, land use; the biology of many new plant and animal species; forests and forest health that challenged man’s individuality, a divine creator, and a purposeful design. Rather than the “Great Flood” occurring over days or months, geologists began to change that time scale by millions of years.
The inventory and acquisition of lands with great forest reserves ushered in a period of ‘scientific forest management’, and more importantly that large natural resource assets like forests would be allowed to evolve based on a scientific prescription for that evolution. That management could only be done by the federal government for the ‘benefit of society at large’.
In 1847 Karl Marx published “The Communist Manifesto”. In light of the development of the Darwin ideas, the notion of the state as an organic entity that could be managed, it is not surprising that Marx analyzed ‘society’ as would a scientist picking apart a diverse pile of objects. The forces and actions among factions of this living organic entity were to be managed by an elite, and its overall direction determined by this elite for the benefit of the society as a whole…the individual being only part of the collective.
Many philosophers at this time seriously critiqued the overall development of science as the new God, including Nietzsche:
“it is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world explanation; but insofar as it is based on belief in the senses, it is regarded as more”.
The Dawn of the 20th Century
The pace of scientific developments, and the use of Darwin’s evolutionary theory to begin to increase the power of the state (national government) at the expense of the people, was, according to Bradley Watson’s Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence
…akin to an intellectual tsunami that shaped, developed, and still informs, albeit in evolved modalities, the dominant understanding of the American constitutional order (or lack thereof) held by the judicial, academic, and political classes.
Watson marshals the speeches and writings of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and the jurisprudence of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., among others, as evidence for his claim of the pervasive influence of social Darwinism in the intellectual cocktail that is progressivism. As Wilson demonstrates, the progressives sought to move the energy of government from the democratic branches to the bureaucracy. Insulated from politics and popular opinion, federal bureaucrats would engage in the scientific administration of government — the overriding ethos of progressivism.
“Wilson believed that the state was a natural, organic, and spiritual expression of the people themselves”, according to Jonah Goldberg, “and that Government falls under…the [Darwinian] theory of organic life”. Thus the ever-expanding power of the state was considered a natural part of the evolutionary process.
The Ph.D. political ‘scientist’ Wilson reflected the sentiment of many progressives of the day, actively attacking the very notion of natural and individual rights. Goldberg:
Wilson argued in the spirit of Darwin, what historical basis was there to believe in individual rights? “No doubt, Wilson wrote in The State, “a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle”
The truth is, Wilson viewed the rights in the constitution as ‘abstract rights’ that were difficult to execute. This is where the progressives demand that the individual sacrifice his individual rights to the rights of the many, seeing his existence only in relation to the many. That existence, and its natural evolution is to be scientifically managed and guided by the government.
This is the classic “statolatry”, or ‘state worship’ view of politics. The term “Statist” would apply today.
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