AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC

AFBetsyross1776America! Our Success-Our Future! An Oration By Rev. John P. Gulliver, D.D., Delivered At Binghampton, New York, July 4, 1876.

We celebrate to-day one hundred years of Democratic Government. We flatter ourselves, not without some show of reason, that our experiment has been, on the whole, a successful one.

See also: 
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)

It is true that in other days “the name of commonwealth has past and gone,” over many “fractions of this groaning globe.” It is true that our Republic has only attained the slight venerableness of a single century. It is true that other democracies, far more ancient have at last “deigned to own a scepter and endure a purple robe.” Still we live, and we console ourselves with the thought that our one century has been equal in actual development to many centuries of Venice or Rome.

It is true we have had our enemies, foreign and domestic, and we may have them again. But in two wars, one of them of vast proportions, we have not only gained victory, but increased strength, while in the war of 1812, we certainly lost nothing. We have now convinced the world, what our best friends in Europe have seriously doubted, that a democracy is capable of being converted, in a day, into a military despotism, as effective for all warlike purposes, as the citizen-soldiery of Germany or the soldier-tenantry of Russia. A government, however loose it may seem to the eye of a monarchist, which out of a nation of civilians, can summon more than a million of men into the field at one time, which can create a navy at call, and in so doing, can revolutionize the whole system of maritime and defensive warfare, which can originate amidst the confusion of a struggle for national existence, such improvements in firearms as to make obsolete the arsenals of the civilized world, and, in four years can terminate in complete success, a struggle whose dimensions parallel the Napoleonic wars of Europe—a democracy capable of such a military metamorphosis, is at least not to be despised as an unwieldy and ungovernable mob.

It is true that our own body politic has not been at any time in a state of perfect health. As a democracy, it has had its diseases, some hereditary and chronic and some the result of temporary indiscretions and excesses. We began our republican organization with a large infusion of the ideas of class-aristocracy from the Northern Colonies, with all the institutions and social usages of a race aristocracy at the South, and with the crude, wild doctrines of French Red Republicanism strangely mingled with both. Our history during the century has been almost exclusively the record of the throes of the Republic under the antagonism of these morbid agents. The extraordinary force of vitality which our democracy has developed in eliminating these internal tendencies to disease and dissolution, is not the least among the occasions of our solemn exultation today. Our remedies have, some of them, been constitutional and gentle; others of them, heroic and painful. But they certainly have been efficacious. We have diseases still. But just at this moment they are of the prurient, disgusting sort, mortifying and annoying enough, but only skin deep.

PrecedentSurely a nation that found means to eradicate the slow consumption of social aristocracy, to quell the fiery fever of a brigand communism, and to cut out the cancer of slavery, will contrive some method of exterminating the insect parasites that are now burrowing over our whole civil service. If the heart of the Republic is sound, we need not greatly fear for its cuticle. Only, fellow-citizens, let us be prompt in our treatment, for the disease is contagious, and it is very irritating!

Besides the ills we have or have had, there maybe latent tendencies to disease and decay, that we know not of. But we will borrow no trouble to-day. We will hope that the same constitutional vigor, and the same skill of treatment which have served us so well in the past, will, by God’s blessing, prove sufficient for our future needs. Only let us draw largely upon the sources of national nourishment—let us keep in vigorous exercise all our organic functions; let us become a manly nation, instinct in every part with the highest attributes of national life; then we may defy the inroads of disease; then the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, shall grow into a perfect state—a state which God shall honor and man shall fear. We rejoice in the health of the Nation on its hundredth birthday!

It is also true, to change our figure, that there has been not a little occasion for anxiety concerning the frame-work of our Ship of State. The model of a ship and the adjustment of its various parts to each other, the balance between its breadth of beam and its length of spars, tho ratio to be observed between steadiness and crankness, the precise point where the “clump” may blend into the “clipper,” is a great nautical problem. The blending of all our local sovereignties, from the school district and the town meeting, through the counties and the states, into one national sovereignty, while yet each retains its distinct and characteristic autonomy, I have often compared, in my own mind, to that admirable and exquisitely beautiful adjustment, which, before the prosaic age of steam, gave us the many-winged birds of the ocean—the swift eagles of commerce—skimming every sea, and nestling in every harbor. You have seen them, with their pyramid of sails, rising with geometrical exactness from main to royal, swelling in rounding lines from the foremost jib to the outmost point of the studding-sail boom, and retreating again, pear-shaped, to the stern, each holding to its full capacity the forceful breeze, all drawing in harmony, and yet each hanging by its own spar, and each under the instant control of the master on the deck. Behold, I have said, the Ship of a Republican State! What absolute independence of parts! What perfect harmony of all! What defined distinction of function! What complete unity of action! What an unrestricted individual freedom! What a steady contribution of all to the general result! and as the graceful hull, courteously bending in response to the multifarious impulse, has ploughed proudly through the waters, the exclamation has risen to my lips, “Liberty and Union; now and forever; one and inseparable!

But the actual existence of this exact balance between the National and local Governments, was not always as well established as it is to-day. At the very outset the Southern States, from the fear that the National Government would forbid a protective tariff, denied the supremacy of the National over the State Government, except during the consent of the latter.

In the later days of Calhoun, by one of the strangest transmutations ever known in politics, the same doctrine was maintained,by the same States.for the purpose of resisting a protective tariff. Throttled by the strong hand of Andrew Jackson, at that time, the monster drew back into his den, only to appear under the feeble administration of Buchanan as the champion of slavery. The doctrine that the National Government may be left at any moment, a floating hulk without canvas, rigging or rudder, the statesmanship which would launch a nation into the great ocean of human affairs, under the command of some two score of independent local governments, may now be laid away in our cabinets of moral monstrosities, as a fossil of the past. De Tocqueville, the philosopher of Democracy, prophesied forty years ago, in this wise: “It appears to me unquestionable, that if any portion of the Union seriously desired to separate itself from the other States, they would not be able, nor indeed would they attempt to prevent it, and that the present Union will last only as long as the States which compose it choose to remain members of the confederation.” That this sagacious and most friendly writer on American institutions has in this case proved to be a false prophet, is not the least among our many causes for congratulation to-day.

AmericanFlagAndCrossA century of rapid movement and of revolution; a century which has changed the political condition of nearly every nation on the face of the earth; a century during which we have twice met the whole power of the British Empire in arms, and once sustained the shock of assault from the combined power of slavery at home and in Europe; a century during which we have eliminated from the body politic the most insidious and dangerous diseases; a century during which we have determined questions concerning the relations and functions of our concentric cluster of independent democracies of the most radical and vital nature; a century during which our population has grown from three millions to fifty millions, our area of territory extended from one million to four millions of square miles, our manufactures advanced from twenty millions to forty-two hundred millions, our agriculture, mining and commerce increased in a ratio which sets all figures at defiance; a century which has raised us from insignificance, to a position as the fifth of the great empires of the world; a century which in educational and religions progress has more than kept pace with our material advancement, giving us a proportion of church members to the whole population four times greater than it was at the close of the Revolution, and a much larger increase in the ratio of liberally educated and well-educated persons; such a century we celebrate to-day. Who shall say that we do not well to rejoice. Who can fail to exclaim with devout and fervent gratification, What hath God wrought?

What Does The Future Promise? But we should make an unworthy use of this great occasion should we confine ourselves to a mere childish exultation over accomplished facts. A great future is extending out before us. What does this experiment prove, and how much does it promise? It is a time for study and thought. This centennial year, with its accomplished past just rolling out of view, with its present exciting and absorbing duty in the election of a chief magistrate, with an immediate future promising an unexampled reaction of prosperity, should be a year in which men should make great progress in the science of society and government.

We must not fail therefore to note and to admit freely, that our experiment has been in some respects an indecisive one. It does not prove that a Democratic form of government is necessarily and everywhere the best form. We are isolated from all the leading powers of the world by the intervention of great oceans. We entered upon an unoccupied continent. The rivalries of mankind, and their strifes have been adjusted upon other fields. While Russia, our comrade and contemporary in national growth, has been advancing upon the line of effete human civilizations, we have assailed only the forces of the wilderness. She has fought with men, we with nature. She has conquered by the sword; we by the plowshare. She has flourished by diplomacy; we by enterprise. She is a consolidated military despotism; we an extended Democratic Republic. Yet a philosophical statesmanship has often declared that we are approaching the same goal of empire and power. The comparison is full of interest and challenges our closest scrutiny. Russia, primarily the soldier, never out of uniform, her villages but military camps, her cities vast garrisons, her railroads and chausses only lines of army communication, is yet an inventing, manufacturing, agricultural and emphatically a commercial nation. America, primarily a land of peace and thrift, has been transformed in a day, into one vast battle field, and its rustic as well as its civic population have left the shop and furrow at night to appear in the morning assembled in armies of Titanic size, armed with the weapons of the Titans, while the thunder of their encounter has shaken the astonished world. Russia has exalted autocracy and punished democracy as a crime against God and man. America has proclaimed universal liberty and held the despot to be the enemy of the human race. Yet within the shell of imperial absolution, Russia holds to-day, as its inheritance from the depths of a Slavic antiquity, a communal organization which is almost a facsimile of a New England township; while America, beneath its outward freedom of thought, speech and act, covers a force of public opinion, both national and local, which few men have the courage to defy, and still fewer the strength to resist.

Under these curiously opposite conditions is the problem of the State being wrought out, for the Golden Age which is to come. From these diametrically opposite stand points, are the two most youthful nations of mankind advancing to the possession of the Earth.

freedomThe Democratic idea and the Democratic ideal. Such a comparison between two opposite civilizations serves to show us that democracy, as a form of government may or may not contain the elements of  freedom and the assurance of stability. In other words, the democratic idea, as men have conceived it and embodied it in governments, may or may not accord with the democratic ideal as it is enunciated in the royal law of Christ, and as it will one day be seen, embodied in the governments of men. Democracies may hide within themselves the seeds of despotism. Autocracies may nourish the germs of liberty. A democracy, which is administered in the interests of individuals, or of a party, or one in which the majority deprive the minority of freedom of speech and act, through the action of law or the terrorism of public opinion, is essentially despotic. There is despotism enough exercised within the Republic to-day, which if it had occurred in a monarchy would have cost a king his throne, and perhaps his life. On the other hand absolutionism may be so administered that the highest good of every subject shall be sought, and all his rights secured, according to the law. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and thy neighbor as thyself.

There is then a political democracy, and there is a moral democracy. The slow and reluctant translation of the abstract ideal into the actual idea, and its expression in governmental institutions, is of surpassing interest and importance.

The Question of the Day. It is this history which concerns us on this centennial anniversary. The inquiries which are being discussed to-day from ten thousand rostrums, and which are pressing upon the thoughts of millions of men are these and such as these.

What is democracy, as distinct alike from the mob and the despot? What is liberty, as limited by law, and contrasted with license?

What progress had been made up to the fourth of July, 1776, in translating this ideal democracy into the thoughts and institutions of men?

What did the assembly over which John Hancock presided, on that memorable morning, achieve for this great thought of the ages?

How has this imperial gem, inherited from our fathers—the Koh-i-noor of our political treasures—been cared for by us?

US flag and bible crossOur first answer to these questionings is a radical and sweeping answer.

We assert that this perfect ideal of liberty, this basal principle of a Democratic State, this Minerva embodying all temporal good for man, sprang full armed and perfect from Christianity.

In the image of God made He man, male and female created He them,” was the first announcement of this seed principle of political and social happiness. While the rights and needs of the sexes vary, as do those of all individual men and of all classes of men, the image of God gives a grandeur of dignity and consequence to every human being, be his descent, or rank, or abilities what they may. While the king inscribes upon the seal of his authority, “By the grace of God, a monarch over men,” while the magistrate, the parent, the master, the wife, the husband, and child, may each claim a special divine statute as the basis of his rights; the man, as a man, wears the very signet of Jehovah. Like the incarnate Son, he has “on his vesture and on his thigh ” a name written: A King among kings is he, a Lord among lords.

The inference is direct and clear. A man despised, is God blasphemed. A man enslaved, is the glory of God changed into a thing of wood, or stone, or into a beast, or creeping thing. A man wronged, is God insulted. To hold a man in ignorance, is the crime of not retaining God in the knowledge. “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it not to me,” is the malediction, written by an invisible hand upon all the banners of war, and over the bloodred skies of every battle-field of history. This is the answer to the question, “Whence comes wars and fightings among yon?” The Nemesis of the nations has been no other than the loving Father of all, avenging his outraged children who have cried day and night unto him. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” is the interpretation given by the Son of God himself to the dispensations of war, and agonies, and, blood, which has been to wondering philanthropists only a mystery of iniquity, from the first murder to the last battle. To the ideal humanity, to the man stamped with the divine image, God declares, “The nation and the kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea it shall be utterly wasted;” and in that word is the whole philosophy of the civil state. The state that God perpetuates and blesses is not the state that merely worships God, but it is the state that also honors the image of God in man. Devotion without humanity may be found in every idol temple and Mohammedan mosque on earth. But devotion without humanity never exalted a nation or saved a single human being. The hell of perished nations, like the hell of lost souls, is crowded with the peoples who have cried “Lord, Lord,” who have even prophesied in his name, and reared their temples like the trees of the forest, and sent up their orisons like the sons of the forest birds; but because a man was ahungered and they gave him no land, because a man thirsted and they gave him no springs of water, because man was a stranger and they made him a slave, because a man was naked and they kept back his wages by fraud, because a man was sick and they left him, as the North American savage leaves his worn out father, to perish by the roadside, because a man was in prison and they visited him only to add scorn to his sorrow, for these things, and such as these, the sentence has gone out against the nations—among them, some of the grandest and greatest, ” Depart from me, ye cursed!”

A True Democracy. What then is a true Democracy? It is the Government which honors man as man. It is the Government which protects all his God-given rights—the right to do right, as God may teach him, the right to do good, as God may give him opportunity, the right to be good, as God may give him grace, and the right to be happy, as God may bestow the means of happiness.

It is a Government which avenges all his wrongs—the wrong oft attempted of forcing him into sin; the wrong of forbidding him to do good in the name of Christ; the wrong of leading him, in self-defence, into all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor; the wrong of robbing him of his Heavenly Father’s gifts and excluding him from the Heavenly Father’s home.

It is the Government which provides for the development of all his faculties, which educates him, not merely so that he may be a money maker, a wages earner, but to be as much of a man as God-like a man as he is able and willing to become.

It is the Government which recognizes and honors all his capacities for happiness in every feasible way, making this earth beautiful for him, filling his cup with innocent pleasures, uncontaminated by vileness and sin.

It is the Government which writes on all its banners, which engraves on its seal of State, which re-enacts in the legislative hall and administers in the court of justice, the great law of human weal. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.

And “Liberty,” what is that? It is full encouragement, both by negative permission and positive aid, to do that which is God-like, and it is equally the utmost possible restraint upon whatever is degrading and evil. Any other liberty is the liberty given to a child to burn itself in the fire. It is the license which is the worst form of cruelty and slavery.

1God’s plan in history. This is the work of God in history. Toward such a democracy has all the discipline of the race been tending. De Tocqueville says, “The development of equality of conditions, is a providential fact, and it possesses all the characteristics of a Divine decree. My book (Democracy in America) he adds, has been written under the impression of a kind of religious dread, in contemplation of so irresistible a revolution. To attempt to check democracy would be to resist the will of God.

Steadily, though often slowly, has the race been led on to this grand consummation. This is the meeting of war, and conquest and revolution. The progress of democracy has in it the might of omnipotence. The gravitation of matter which directs rivers in their courses, is a feeble agent, compared with the gravitation of love, which directs all the streams of human society toward the great ocean of universal order and purity and joy.

The history of the gradual introduction of this conception of government into men’s minds and of its consolidation into actual institutions must be followed by the careful student in the quiet of private investigation.

Suffice it here to say that the first governments of which we have any knowledge, were constructed for protection and restraint. They took a defensive attitude against evil rather than a positive position in the promotion of good. This defensive and aggressive idea has followed government in the family and in the State, and very largely in the church down to our day. Its gradual elimination and the substitution of the Christian thought, that evil should be prevented rather than punished, that men need to be encouraged to be good, rather than be restrained from becoming bad, has proved to be one of the most difficult lessons which the race has had to learn.

Primitive Government. We know little of society before the flood. It was probably, however, a grand experiment of the power of mere law and authority in conflict with evil The chief impression which survived the deluge seems to have been that the wickedness of man was great on earth. The history of liberty through these decades of centuries which followed seems to be the record of a series of struggles to relax the unjust and cruel rigor with which this system of resistance to evil was pursued. In these struggles the subject was in a state of chronic rebellion against the sovereign, the plebeian against the patrician. Each dynasty and each class, as it gained power, used it for itself. Little by little humanity asserted its rights. The introduction of the Mosaic code was an immense advance which we now fail fully to appreciate. Its democratic features were in fact the chief study of the founders of this Republic in political science.

FlagsBibleThe American Republic. The institutions under which we are now living were slowly elaborated, in the devout study of the word of God, long before the separation from the mother country occurred. The Church of Christ, as founded by the Apostles, was strongly democratic, and the whole spirit of its administration tended powerfully to a revolution in civil government. Its doctrines all went to exalt the responsibility and dignity of the individual soul. Their religion gradually undermined, in the case of our fathers, their preconceived ideas of social order and civil government . When the new circumstances of their colonial condition compelled them to act on new lines. They found their convictions antagonism with their prejudices. It is said that the compact of the Mayflower seemed almost the result of an accident. The ideas of the colonists were strongly aristocratic and inclined them to put the whole power into the hands of a few. But the men of muscle saw that now they were of as much consequence as the men of brains and of culture and gentle birth. They firmly put in their claims and the leaders, considering the demand, saw that it was just. Set the spirit of the infant colonies was-strongly aristocratic. In manners this was seen much more plainly than in laws. The story of the punctilious etiquette which was observed in the court (as it was called) of Washington, the seating of the New England congregations according to social rank, and numerous quaint and almost ludicrous customs of the same sort show sufficiently the spirit of the age.

But all this was a matter chiefly of taste and decorum. Deep in their hearts these men loved their fellowmen. For humanity and for God, they were ready at any moment to lay down their lives. Their churches were the real morn of the State. These were formed upon the strictest model of the pattern given in the New Testament. They were local democracies of which the motto was “One is your master, and all ye are brethren.” Even churches formed upon the pattern of European usage, caught the same spirit, and became fountains of a real, if not of a nominal democracy.

It was this tendency to a sort of aristocracy, which was the conservative element in the formation of the government. This made us a constitutional Republic instead of a Greek or Polish Democracy. This was the Federalism of the early days, in which the Puritan of New England found himself in hearty sympathy with the Episcopalian of Virginia, and the Presbyterian of New York. This whole party was violently assaulted by the men, whose conception of democracy was that of a government in which every man should have equal authority, instead of one in which every man should be equally protected and cared for. The Republican party (as the ultra Democrats of that day termed themselves,) were bent simply on power for the masses. The Federalists were enlisted, with all their heart and soul, in the effort to secure order, justice, virtue and happiness for the masses.

Republican and Federalist. The contest was intense and bitter beyond any party strife of which we have any recent experience. The Republicans saw in the Federalists a reproduction of their oppressors in Europe. The Federalists saw in their opponents, the devils incarnate, who had just then closed the reign of terror in France. Both were wrong, so wrong that only this tremendous antagonism could have restrained either from making a wreck, of the new ship of state. The result was, that a substantial triumph was with the Federalists, who really created the Constitution, while the seeming victory was with the Republicans, who after the administrations of Washington and Adams gained undisputed possession of the Government. Thenceforward it became an offense akin to treason to question tho perfection of the Constitution, while it was little short of a personal insult for a politician to charge his opponent with having been a Federalist.

It was the fashion fifty years ago to speak of this Constitution as almost a miracle of human wisdom. Of late there seems to be a disposition to regard it a very common place affair. The estimate of fifty years ago is much more nearly correct. It was a miracle not only of human wisdom, but of Divine teaching. It was the fruit of centuries of the teaching and training of mankind. It was the product of no one mind or class of minds. It was the result of Providential circumstances quite as much as of human thought. It was the work of many centuries and of many men. It was the work of God as well as of men. It was the practical embodiment of the great law of love, in the civil state. It was by far the best translation the world had ever seen, or has seen as yet, the great ideal of democracy —the Utopia of Christianity—into actual institutions and practicable government.

The next great advance of democracy in this country is seen in the overthrow of the institution of slavery. If I pass by this whole history with a mere mention here, you will understand that it is because of the familiarity of the subject to the men of our day, and not because it was not a most extraordinary, a most instructive, a most important victory for the rights, both of master and slave, and for the weal and progress of mankind.

Now we stand on the mount of vision. The past extends back, reaching into the farthest depths of history, studded more and more thickly as we approach our modern era, with the monuments of victory for justice, law and freedom. It is a magnificent and an inspiring spectacle. It is well that we celebrate this anniversary of freedom, as John Adams predicted we should do, “with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires and illuminations.

patriotismThe Present Duty.
But we should be unworthy sons of heroic sires, if we did not look about us, in the surroundings of the present, and inquire if there is not something to be done, as well as something to be enjoyed.

Men and brethren, I do but follow the example of the men of a hundred years ago, when I bid you pause in the midst of your rejoicings to-day; when I ask you to consider whether an instant and a deadly peril be not concealed, like a worm in the rose, beneath the fair blossoming of this hour; when I ask you if it is not certain that, unless there be radical, sweeping, uncompromising reform in the administration of our Government, if it is not certain that we are celebrating the first and the last centennial of the American democracy. Such, fellow-citizens, is my profound conviction, and out of the abundance of my heart I speak to you to-day.

The time was, in the days of Washington and the elder Adams, and the same continued to be substantially true to the close of the administration of the younger Adams, that an officer of the Government, employed in its administration, who should actively engage in its construction, through the elections, would have been regarded as guilty of an impropriety—a misdemeanor, a dishonorable unworthy act, similar to that judge in our day who should appear as an advocate or a client in a court over which he presides. Even at so late a date as the impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson, it was charged as a crime that he had given civil appointments for the purpose of strengthening his own political position.

We look back to the otherwise creditable administration of Andrew Jackson, and find the first open and acknowledged departure from this principle. Adams had refused a re-election on terms which he regarded subsersive of the government. Jackson seems to have yielded with reluctance to a demand which the rapacity of many of his supporters forced upon him with a fury which marked a complete revolution in public feeling. To the horror of all right minded men of all parties, Mr. Marcy, of New York, on the occasion of the nomination of Martin Van Buren as minister to England, declared in his place in the Senate, the revolutionary doctrine, “We practice as we preach. To the victors belong the spoils” The horror of the opposing party and of all good citizens, gradually changed to acquiescence, and on all sides the principle was accepted as a practical necessity.

The heroic struggle with slavery, which lifted the nation to a moral elevation, of the grandest sublimity for the moment, checked this downfall in the lowest slums of knavery and peculation. But with the close of the war came a temptation and an opportunity such as never had been dreamed of, and with them an entire absence both of moral principle and of legal restraint to meet the evil.

How we stand to-day, how humiliated before our own consciences and before mankind, I need not pain you by describing. You know it all, and you feel it deeply.

Now what is to be done? What have I to do, and what have you to do?

The two great parties have so far recognized the evil and the danger, that they have both nominated men who are representatives of honesty and reform.

But neither of them has laid down any principles of reform. It is not their place to do it. Parties can represent and give voice to the principles of the people. But they cannot create them. It is for the pulpit, the press, the school, the private citizen, to solve the problem, and to hand over its execution to the politicians.

What, then, is the solution of this perplexing problem? I hesitate not for an answer. Go back to the ancient traditions of the Republic! Make it a disgrace, and as far as possible a legal misdemeanor, for any officer engaged in administering the Government to interfere with an election. Forbid the legislative and judicial departments to have any voice whatever in the appointment of an officer of the Executive Department, except in a few cases of confirmation by the Senate, acting in its executive capacity.

Make it a high crime and misdemeanor for any executive officer to remove a subordinate, except for cause. Let a man’s politics have nothing to do with the giving or retaining of office. Make it a State’s prison offense for a legislator to engage in any legislation in which his own interests are directly or indirectly concerned.

9781587366543The time is propitious for such a reform. The people are ripe for it. All the indications are that within ten years they will have it. For this let us all labor, Republicans and Democrats alike. We are just entering on a Presidential canvass, under candidates against whom not a word of reproach can be breathed. Let us thank God for so much to-day. It is likely to be a respectable canvass, in which foul-mouthed abuse will be little used.

Let this Centennial year be distinguished for a victory over the most dangerous, but most contemptible foe that ever menaced the Republic. Let the watchword of the next three months be—Honesty! Truth! Patriotism! Down with party machines and machinists! Up with the reign of purity, honor and integrity!

Thus shall the victory of this one hundredth year be worthy of the companionship of the victories, of the birthday of the Republic.

Thus shall the men of this generation stand proudly by the side of the men of 1776 and the men of 1865.

Thus shall the Republic, established by the wisdom and sacrifices of the one, and saved by the heroism and blood of the other, be handed down to our children, to be incorporated with the great empire of liberty and love, which is at last to fill the whole earth.

The Failure of Marxism and Socialism

The Failure of Marxism: by John Dos Passos

Just a few notes from Classical Liberalism blog

When we hear about fascism, naturally many first start to think about nationalism, militarism and antisemitism of Hitler’s National Socialist Germany or perhaps similar things about Italy’s Fascist Mussolini. Once you peel the top layers back, one will see that fascism is socialism in disguise.

Keynes’ most important book, The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, was first published in 1936 and was immediately hailed by Socialists everywhere. It is important to stress that Mrs. Joan Robinson, an internationally recognized Marxist, was one of the main economic experts who collaborated with Keynes on his project. Another leading Socialist economic expert, R. F. Kahn, contributed so much that “his share in the historic achievement cannot have fallen very far short of co-authorship.”

Mrs. Joan Robinson was highly regarded by Keynes, who in The General Theory generously praises her for her contribution to his work. It is therefore important to note carefully Mrs. Robinson’s statement that the differences between Marx and Keynes are only verbal. Writing in the Communist journal, Science and Society, winter, 1947, p. 61, Mrs. Robinson said:  “‘The time, therefore, seems ripe to bridge the verbal gulf.” The only real difference between the Marxians and the Fabians is one of degree and tactics.

As an economic system, fascism is SOCIALISM with a capitalist veneer. In its day fascism was seen as the happy medium between liberal (Free market) capitalism and revolutionary MARXISM. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.

Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. ENTREPRENEURSHIP was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions. 

Source: Concise Encyclopedia of Economics-Fascism
 Here we can see that fascism gives the illusion that “private property” exists so long as it is used for the “greater good”, “national good”, “public good”, and so on.

Communism and socialism are more honest about what they claim to be: they admit that no one has a private life any longer, and that all goods, services, and human beings are the property of the state. One may argue, as I do, that this is evil, but it is also honest.

Fascism, however, is both dishonest and evil. The fascists claim that there is such a thing as private property, with all the responsibilities of ownership, and the facade of ownership — yet, the state controls the “owner’s” every decision on penalty of fine or imprisonment (or both).

In the ultimate analysis, there is no real difference between any of these systems. The divergences in specifics of ideology are debatable in academia but not to the regular individual being oppressed by the State. All hold human beings as right-less. Individuals cannot act freely provided that they respect the rights of others; they can only act with permission from the state.

John Dos Passos

John Dos Passos1896-1970

Both socialism and communism, as they actually work out, betray the hopes for the better life that they once inspired.

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” – Thomas Sowell

Socialist Utopia2

Picture: Beguiled by Utopian visions, many wishful thinkers refuse to recognize the facts of socialism as it has worked out in practice. This drawing by Abner Dean, shows bewildered men and women, including two who are gagged and so can ask questions only with their eyes, watching a self-deluded, “wooly-headed” artist happily at work.

Not long ago I found myself talking to a pleasant and well-informed woman reporter in a newspaper office in a prosperous city in the Middle western corn belt. Although the region is usually chalked up as “black Republican” in politics, the paper she worked for wore a “liberal” complexion. I was trying to explain to her that socialism as I had seen it working last summer in Great Britain was not necessarily a force for progress. “But I thought you were a liberal,” she kept saying almost tearfully, “and now you have turned reactionary.” “The socialists are the conservatives now,” I told her, “and the communists are the real reactionaries.” But she remained unconvinced. The reason our conversation was so fruitless was that she decided that certain words like “liberal,” “labor” and “rationing” had a virtuous connotation and there was no way of getting her to look directly at the events that lay behind the words.

It was just this sort of wall of incomprehension you used to meet years ago when you argued the right of working people to form unions and to strike for improved working condition, or tried to explain that we ought to show a sympathetic interest in the social experiments that were going on in the Soviet Union. Then it was the capitalist slogans that were holding the fort; but during the past 20 years a new set of words has gradually become charged with a virtuous aura in the public mind. Now public ownership, planned economy, controls and socialized, have become words heavy with virtue, while profits, free enterprise, investment and even dividends have taken on an evil context that needs to be explained away.

Socialist Utopia

Picture: Work reproducing on canvas the scene which is spread before him. Where there is starvation he smugly paints a land flowing with milk and honey, where there is ugliness he is charmed by beauty, where there is slavery he finds a life of gracious ease, where there is graceless, violent death he sees only a graceful swan placidly swimming in its pond.

The public mind in America that 20 years ago dismissed unheard anything that smacked of a socialistic notion is now receptive to socialistic notions. Partly this comes from a reasoned change of attitude brought about by the success of some of the socialistic measures of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, but partly it comes from the unthinking acceptance of the vocabulary of “liberal” propaganda that spread out in ripples from New Deal Washington, becoming vaguer and more confused and more destructive of clear thinking as the ideas that engendered it lost their vitality at the source. It is in this confused region of the popular mind that the communists have been able to carry on their most successful propaganda operations. Thus it comes to pass that the “liberals” who think a man is defeated in argument when they call him a “reactionary” show very little curiosity about the actual functioning of socialistic-going concerns that have come into being in the last 20 years. The “liberal” vocabulary that had some meaning in the 1920’s has now become a definite hindrance to understanding events in the world of the ‘40s.

Exactly 100 years have passed since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels issued the Communist Manifesto, which became the first document in the formulation of modern socialism. Nineteen years later the bible of Marxism, Dos Kapital, was published, giving immense documentation to Marx’s theories that the collapse of capitalism was imminent; that it would inevitably be followed by a socialist utopia.

In the 1920’s there were a number of us in the U.S. who were convinced that this doctrine was valid. Those of us who were willing to be called socialists had some definite things in mind we thought would be achieved if ownership of industry were taken out of the hands of the finance capitalists and vested in the community.

We thought public service could be substituted for money profit as the driving motive of human behavior. We thought that with the ascendancy of an anti-militarist working class throughout the world war, and the threat of war would be replaced by peaceful cooperation in the international affairs. Of course it must be admitted that we were caught by the illusory belief that revolution would instill utopia. We were carried away by the blind enthusiasm for a new dispensation at hand that was sweeping the masses of the Western World. The revolutions have happened and regimes and empires have crashed in the mud, but the old problem of how to control man’s domination by man remains unsolved.

Enough socialized systems and institutions have been going concerns over a long enough period of time for us at least to begin to get some idea of how they are working out. It’s a most curious comment on the blindness induced by dogmatically held beliefs that in all the avalanches of print for and against socialism and free enterprise there’s so little comparative examination of capitalist and socialist organizations; there’s so little effort to try to discover how they work out for the men and women directly involved.

First let me give an example of a socialized institution that seems to me to have been a success. Rural electrification was one of the New Deal’s pet projects. It encouraged the establishment of local committees that gave a much needed impetus to local self-government in a very important field. Not only did it furnish increased electric service all over the country but by its brisk competition it shook the private companies out of their lethargy, so they greatly increased their service too.

At the other end of the scale in the experience of the average American come the Army and the Navy. We are not accustomed to thinking of the Army and the Navy as socialized institutions but that is exactly what they are. We all admit that in the time of ruin and rapine in which we live we can’t do without these vast engines for waste and destruction, but I’ve yet to meet a veteran of wither of these services who thinks that the Army way or the Navy way or even the Air Force way is the best way of running human affairs. About the best face we can put on our military establishment is to say that in spite of its cumbrous bungling it so far has managed to defeat our enemies in battle, and that up to now our civilian setup for production has been so monstrously efficient that we’ve been able to afford the waste of materials and the frustration of individual effort that the military system implies.

As citizens of a self-governing community it is our first duty continually to be asking ourselves what it is we want from our institutions.

At home in America we have seen enough of the working of socialized enterprises, successful and unsuccessful, to begin to understand the basic problem. We must realize that from the point of view of the well-being of men and women the contradiction is not between “capitalism” and “socialism” but between the sort of organization that stimulates growth and the sort that fastens on society the dead hand of bureaucratic routine or the suckers of sterile vested interests. We should by now have learned that the road must be kept open for experiment. We should have begun to learn that no society is stronger than its weakest members. By our habit of government we are committed to trying to keep a rough balance between the demands of different sections of the population. We haven’t solved the problem of defending every man’s freedom against domination by other men, but we have made a little bit of a beginning.

The museum of socialist failures

The rest of the world is becoming a museum of socialist failures. Our first problem now is to understand clearly the needs of our society and its relationship to the shaky socialized regimes of Europe and to the regime of the law of the club that centers in the Soviet Union. To do this we must free our minds of the stale and rotting verbiage left over from the noble aspirations of oldtime socialist theory.

Parents of British Socialism

It was failure to see the world clearly on the part of Franklin Roosevelt and his advisers that deprived us of the fruits of our wartime victory to the point that the things Americans hold most dear are in greater peril today than on the dreadful afternoon of Pearl Harbor. The responsibility for this loss of the peace lies not only in  the small group of political leaders in Washington but the whole body of thinking Americans whose thinking had just not caught up with the times.

The basic reason for this national failure was that as a nation we had forgotten that our sort of self-governing community can survive only in a world where new avenues for men’s ingenuity and enterprise are constantly opening up and where the areas of individual liberty are expanding. We had forgotten that liberty, like peace, is indivisible. We had forgotten that the only sensible foreign policy for the U.S. was to encourage liberty and oppose oppression.

While not forgetting our own shortcomings, if we are to catch up with the times and to see clearly the hideous world of growing servitude—a world of slavery like chattel slavery in the old South and the slavery of ancient times—which we have helped produce, we must understand the workings of the enemies of liberty and peace. The chief of these, in power and efficacy, is the government of the Soviet Union.

Wilson and Lenin

When the communist revolution exploded in Russia in the fall of 1917 the first World War had settled down to a stalemate along the trenches in northern France. The stubborn resistance the French were putting up to the equally stubborn German invasion was bleeding Europe to death. Among the rank and file of all the armies the feeling of mutiny against the senselessness of the butchery was rising to desperation. At that time two separate flares of hope appeared on the eastern and western horizons. In Washington Woodrow Wilson announced his Fourteen Points and in Petrograd Lenin and Trotsky fired the hungry and disorganized Russian mobs with the belief that communism would bring them peace, land and food. No one who was in Europe in 1917 and 18 can ever forget the surge of crazy confidence in the future that swept the Continent when Armistice Day came and the fighting stopped.

The people’s trust in the American way faded as Wilson let himself be trapped into the stale committee rooms of the old men or councils. To many of us at the time these soviets  seemed to be a new organ for self-government. For a moment it looked as if the working class under the Marxist leadership would succeed in renovating Europe.

It was not to be so easy. The old vested interests of Europe banded together for their own protection; by backing the reactionaries in the Russian civil war they ruined the hopes of free development for the new social system. The Communist party hardened fast into a military caste. The soviets and trade unions in the Soviet Union, instead of developing into organs of self-government, developed into machines run by tightly organized and fanatically dogmatic Marxist minority for the domination and exploitation of the masses. Lenin threw overboard the humanitarian baggage of Western socialism, and act symbolized in the transfer of the capital from European Petrograd to Asiatic Moscow. The civil war became a struggle for order, any kind of order. The only order the Russians knew was despotism. From the czarist autocracy the Communist government inherited the secret police. Individual liberty had hardly a breathing spell before it was stamped out again, first in the unorganized mass of people and then, as Stalin struggled for power against Trotsky, within the communist minority itself.

By the early ‘30s the social organization of the Soviet Union resembled much more the slave-run military autocracy of the Ottoman Turks than it did any of the European blueprints for a socialist utopia. This reaction to methods of government that had gradually been losing favor among civilized men for 500 years was accompanied by the building up of one of the most extraordinary propaganda facades in history. A constitution was promulgated on the Western model. The entire vocabulary of Western self-government was borrowed and applied to the machinery of despotism.

Utopia—with secret police

By killing off the old European trained Communists and exiling Trotsky, Stalin cleared out of the old Kremlin the last traces of Western humanitarianism. The organization of a free self-governing socialist community, which had been the first aim of the Russian revolutionists, was pushed forward in the future, when the millennium should come. Through the pull of this millennial dream Stalin’s regime managed to retain its grip over the aspirations of a large part of European working class. The Communist party, appealing through this basic utopian dogma to the emotions of confused and tortured people, backed and kept in line by the ruthless and skillfully exercised authority of the secret police, managed to create one of the most efficient machines for dominating and exploiting of mankind the world has ever seen.

It seems likely, from what we hear faintly through the screen of lies that hems in the Soviet Union, that there the illusions have lost their power in the face of the regime’s failure to produce even the rudiments of decent living for its subjects, and that the Kremlin now rules a depraved and exhausted people by brute force. Outside the Soviet Union, however, the utopian illusions of Communism still dominate many men’s hopes and dreams. Even some Americans opposed to the communists still talk as if it were an excess of progressiveness and idealism that caused Russian socialism to fail. We find Frenchmen and Americans and Canadians, in all other respects apparently capable of sane and normal thinking, who are willing to turn their backs on the traditions they were brought up in and to give their allegiance to the Kremlin, even to the point of committing treason. The success of the aggressions by the Soviet state in the last few years rests in great part on the Kremlin’s command over the adherents and sympathizers in the outside world. Largely because the rest of the world has not understood it the Russian socialized state has been allowed to develop into a military force for pillage and conquest. Still the faith of many of our “liberals” in the Kremlin’s idealistic aims has not faltered.

Those of us who believed in socialism in the ‘20s hoped it would promote self-government, expand individual liberty and make for a wider distribution of the good things of life. It is obvious even to Mr. Henry Wallace that the Soviet Union is not the place to look for these things. Not even the American communists really claim any of these achievements; what they say among themselves is that present miseries will be atoned for by the regime of justice and bliss that will be established once communism has completed its conquest of the world.

The Russians are barbarians, the Western socialists will tell you; in England it will be different.

Father of American Socialism

How different is it? If you go around Great Britain asking questions of as many different kinds of people as possible, as I did last summer, you sense that in its ultimate implications British socialism is turning out to be not so very different from the Russian brand. Of course there’s not the gory police terror of Stalin nor the Hitlerian pomp and parade through which the Kremlin daily expresses its power over the bodies and minds of men. There’s not the proselytizing enthusiasm of a quasi-religious dogma that accompanies the agents and armies of expanding Russia. There’s not the daily and visible and universal servitude; but neither has the socialism brought any broadening of personal liberty. On the contrary: personal liberty in Great Britain has been contracted.

The very humane and well-intentioned people who are running the Labor government are the first to deplore the losses of liberty you bring to their attention. They reassure you with pious hopes that the “direction of labor” measure, which limits the individual’s right to work where or when he likes, will be only a passing phase. Listening to the pious hopes, I couldn’t help remembering similar reassurances from equally humane and well-intentioned Russian communists who used to tell me, in the early days, that military communism was a passing phase which would disappear as soon as reactionary opposition was crushed. Thirty years have gone by, and military communism marches on to fresh massacres. A man has a right to ask the British Labor party whether 30 years from now direction of labor won’t be the cornerstone of a new system of exploitation of the productive workers by a new ruling class.

If there is one thing that mankind should have learned from the agonies of the last four decades it is that it’s never safe to do evil that good may come of it. The good gets lost and the evil goes on.

Distribution of poverty

Of course we must admit that the present situation of the people of Great Britain would be difficult enough if a choir of archangels, superhuman in brains and in self-abnegation, had assumed the government. The island’s economy was built up as the processing and financing center of an empire, which has irrevocably gone. The class that had ruled that economy through control of government, ownership of the land and domination of centralized finance and industry had become overweening rich and powerful. In their wealth and self-satisfaction the owners of Britain neglected to keep their industries tooled up to date or to protect the standard of living of their working people or to conserve their natural resources. When the Labor government came in after the war it inherited a concern that had long been bankrupt.

Government control of virtually the entire economy had already been instituted during the war. About all the Labor government has done is to amplify the wartime apparatus of bureaucratic management. The living standards of the working people who were Labor’s chief constituents had improved during the war, and the Labor government has continued that improvement, particularly for the lowest-paid third. Because there isn’t enough to go around anyway, this has been done at the expense of the middle class, traditionally the nursery of British brains and initiative. Virtually everybody has been reduced by high taxes and high prices to the same bare level of subsistence. Incentive for effort and innovation has tended to disappear. A man is better off if he soldiers along in the shop and spends his Saturdays betting on the races than if he works himself sick trying to rise in the world. The more his income rises the more taxation will take his earnings away from him and the more he’ll feel the dead weight of the bureaucratic tangle hampering his every move.

Bernard Baruch’s remark that socialism might not succeed in distributing wealth, but would certainly distribute poverty, has never been better exemplified. Up to now socialism in Great Britain has accomplished very little more than to freeze the bankrupt capitalist economy at its point of collapse. Its bureaucratic machinery, operating along the lines of the machinery of bankrupt capitalism, has not been able to stimulate the sort of revolutionary initiative thoroughgoing reorganization of the economy that might give the British people a chance to escape from their dilemma. Socialism has acted as a brake instead of as a stimulus to enterprise.

Man does not live by bread alone, the socialists will tell you. The answer is that as strong as the urge to eat, is the urge to exercise power over other men. In the past British institutions have done a moderately good job in curbing this deadliest of insticts. But in spite of political democracy British capitalism too often gave too much power to people whose only social gift was the knack of accumulating money. Now British socialism gives too much power to people whose only knack is getting themselves elected to offices in trade unions. At the same time the liberty movement and the freedom of action that allowed people to escape from under the heel of the capitalist have been seriously weakened.

The wrong leaders

England has a new ruling class. Added to such remnants of the old ruling class as have remained in office through holding administrative jobs in government, industry and the civil service, is an infusion of new blood from the trade-union leadership, leavened by an occasional intellectual who has talked or written his way into office. Now, the main training of trade-union officials is in hamstringing production for the purpose of wringing concessions from the owners for the workers. Neither idealistic intellectuals nor civil service employees have any training in industrial production. The result is that at the very moment when the British people need to throw all their energy into discovering new ways of production and training from doing anything effective to stimulate production. In recent months there has developed a tendency to give technicians an increasingly bigger share in policy-making, but on the whole Britain’s new ruling class tends to be so blinded by the utopian glamour of the word “socialism” that it has found it difficult to envisage the problem which confronts the nation.

Well if the government can’t help them, why can’t they help themselves? The British people, in my opinion, represent in themselves at this moment just about the highest development of Western civilized man. In the middle and upper classes you find a higher level of education than we have reached in America. The level of individual skill and craftsmanship in most trades is higher than ours. In the professionally trained part of the population, though there may be some flagging of creative spirit, there’s still a great reservoir of first-rate brains. The British people proved themselves to be still a great people by the dignity and discipline with which they fought off the German air attacks during the war. This great highly trained, highly disciplined and civilized nation is in danger of dying of inanition because in all the elaborate structure of the state there are so few cracks left where individual initiative can take hold.

The British will tell you that they are “quite free, quite.” But we don’t need to believe them. When a man can’t change his job without permission from someone sitting at an office desk, when he can’t perform any of the normal operations of buying and selling necessary to carrying on a business without a complicated correspondence to secure licenses from the Board of Trade, when he can’t appeal to the courts from administrative decisions, when he can be sentenced to jail for refusing to work in the mines, he’s no longer a free agent. The Briton still has his secret ballot in parliamentary and municipal elections. He’s free because he can vote, he’ll tell you. Unfortunately the record of history tends to prove that it’s very doubtful whether the vote alone, without economic and personal liberty of action, has ever protected any people against the exercise of arbitrary power.

A sinister footnote to the loss of concern for individual liberty that seems inevitably to follow the socialization of enterprise appears in the growing toleration of new forms of slavery. We are growing used to the stories of the vast slave camps in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries, but it comes somewhat as a shock to find the humane British tolerating the use of gangs of German prisoners to do agricultural labor. In all my conversation with farmers in England last summer I found only one man who disapproved of the practice. The farmers paid the prisoners nothing more than pocket money. The farmers found that they got more work out of prisoners if they fed them a hot meal in the middle of the day, but they didn’t seem to feel that the working of prisoners of war in this way constituted a backsliding in civilization; most of them regretted that the prisoners would soon be sent home. The wages of agricultural workers in England have been much improved in recent years and the socialists take justifiable pride in this achievement. The question they didn’t ask themselves when they tolerated the enslavement of the defeated Germans was how long a highly paid plowman or tractor operator would be able to compete with slave labor.

This brings us squarely up against the dilemma of our time. Under the cover of the dazzle of socialist illusions, and just at the moment when our technology is opening up the certainty of really widespread well-being in material things, the masses of mankind are being plunged back into a regime of misery and servitude such as has not existed in the West since the days of serfdom. We can’t  go on forever blaming on war damage a situation that results from the fact that socialized economics, instead of opening up new aspects of self-government and broader reaches of liberty for the individual, have backslid with dizzy speed into aboriginal oppressions. In the Soviet Union, failure to solve the problems of production at home has thrown Russian communism into a dangerous habit of aggression upon the rest of the world. As for Great Britain, we can hope they will find a way to combine socialism with liberty, or at least that the failure of socialized economy to provide its people with a decent life at home will produce a new explosion of British migration and colonization that will transmit to the future world of the West the valuable heritages from English culture. In America what we don’t want to forget is that we won’t have any Western world fit for a free man to live in unless we keep the avenues open for freedom and growth of individual man in the constantly proliferating hierarchical structure of modern industry.

Enemy of Socialism

Socialism is not the answer, we’ve got to do better than that.

This article was published in  magazine Jan 19, 1948. With Barack Obama and the modern democrat party we see history repeating itself, why do we want to establish in America which has been the greatest engine for the promotion of man and his ambitions with a failed concept that has been tried again and again with the same history of utter failure. You can see the results of socialism more pronounced now than at any other time in history, you need only to look at what is happening in Greece, France, Spain, etc.  It is apparent throughout the world socialism, marxism, communism, fascism, leninism, etc., are truly the “failed policies of the past.” All the democrats ever put forth are the “failed policies of the past” or while they do not offer solutions themselves, they simply demonize republican solutions, then blame the republicans for being obstructionists. Ridiculous!

See also:

The Marxist Roots of Black Liberation Theology, The Doctrine of Victimolgy

Victimology 101