When Faith Dies

Conflicting interests therefore can never be completely resolved; and minorities will yield only because the majority has come into control of the police power of the state and may, if the occasion arises, augment that power by its own military strength. Should a minority regard its own strength, whether economic or martial, as strong enough to challenge the power of the majority, it may attempt to wrest control of the state apparatus from the majority, as in the case of the fascist movement in Italy.

“Power,” said Henry Adams, “is poison”; and it is a poison which blinds the eyes of moral insight and lames the will of moral purpose. The individual or the group which organises any society, however social its intentions or pretensions, arrogates an inordinate portion of social privilege to itself.

==Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics: (Library of America #263) (Niebuhr, Reinhold)

When the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people die. That is the progression. And as the faith that gave birth to the West is dying in the West, peoples of European descent from the steppes of Russia to the coast of California have begun to die out, as the Third World treks north to claim the estate. The last decade provided corroborating if not conclusive proof that we are in the Indian summer of our civilization. 

  ==Patrick Buchanan

In the past, nations that foresaw their own demise fell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Famine, and Death. Riding point for the old quartet in today’s more civilized world is a Fifth Horseman: Loss of Faith. Today’s cultures are dying of apathy, not by the swords of their enemies.

 ==How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), David Goldman

Faith, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “Is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” Faith comes in many different forms. There is faith of the religious kind, a belief held without direct confirmable knowledge in the existence of a God, or even many Gods. Kierkegaard described the “existential leap of faith”, as the ability of an individual to hold two diametrically opposed beliefs at the same time, even if held for the briefest of time, such as the belief that a ballerina’s leap into the air is in fact defying gravity, when all reason and sound logic denies it. Ballerinas cannot fly.

The antithesis of faith is confirmed evidence and certainty. However, to the truly skeptical mind, almost all of our rational, well-reasoned “facts” are questionable, which leads to a heavy reliance on faith in order to function, to survive.  We skeptics can now even point to the possibility that one of the formerly immutable laws of Einstein’s physics, that nothing can move faster than the speed of light, might, in fact be false, which if so proven would upend all of 20th century scientific thought on the nature of the universe. Yet, we have faith that our mind’s interpretation of reality is true, that reality exists. This is the kind of faith that is the sinew of the daily functioning of all of humankind’s personal as well as cultural interactions. 

To exist, we must have faith.

We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future.== The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics (1931), Max Plank

At least with current science the future is improvable. Faith in the future, and its evolutionarily innate associated optimism, represents one of the essential cornerstones of non-religious based faith.  Faith in the honesty and integrity of those we deal with in our lives and society is called trust. Faith permeates all of our lives and the societies that are comprised of “us.” It is the quintessential essence of the human conscious mind, as it allows each of us to put one foot forward every day, as well as place a man on the moon. Human progress is but a stepchild of our individual and cultural faith. Thus, taken at any level, from the mystical faith in God’s omniscient presence, an afterlife, reincarnation, or simply oneness with the universe after our physical death, to faith in our family, our business associates, our government and those that represent us therein, faith is essential for survival.

Faith is essential to the survival of each of us as individuals and to our culture and civilization. Can any of us survive in our daily lives without relying on faith? Can a nation, culture, and civilization survive, reproducing its essential heritage and core ideological and genetic quintessence over generations without faith? What happens to a civilization when it loses faith, in its God, in its culture, in its government and in the sanctity of the laws that support it? The annihilation of faith leads to a sustained, potentially irreversible loss of cohesion, of a society’s internal dynamic, vibrancy and productive energy—in essence a fraying towards thermodynamic entropy, death.

All of Western Civilization, with America still its most dynamic representative, is heading towards this end if we do not undergo a revolution of spirit and a deep renewal of civic duties freely given and of limited governance freely accepted. We need another “Great Awakening”, a Jonathan Edwards, not of a religious but a political and cultural bent. We need a revivalist surge that restores the absolute sanctity of the rule of law in America. We need to restore Americans’ faith in limited government and the “promise of American life”. This cannot be done unless we restore the “empire of laws” out from the sucking tar pits of an empire of the elite and of the sword.

The false faith of hubris, the faith that government knows best, that what is good for a plutocracy and aristocracy of power sustained by wealth is right for America, is a narcissistic shallow faith that is only self-serving and self-destructive. It serves but a few and cannot succor the American soul. America must return to the rule of law. There can be no princes in America. But, there are. They govern us, they entertain us, control our media, and we spend untold billions idolizing many of them. Moreover, most of them are above the law. Without a new self-awareness of the essential nature of what made the “American Experiment” exceptional we are doomed to die as a civilization, a culture and as a nation.

   There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.         ==John Adams, 1772

  Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint

 ==Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 15

 In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.              ==Thomas Jefferson, 1798

The supremacy of law is not just one among many instruments of good government; it is good government itself. The converse is equally true: in the absence of the rule of law, good government cannot be said to exist.

 With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful  –Glenn Greenwald

There is a long, winding, pathway of descent from the founding of this nation and the fealty of its Jeffersonian “natural aristocracy of merit” towards the once unassailable position of the rule of law as the bedrock of our democratic experiment. No government of mortals could ever be pure in its goal of attaining a completely blind and unbiased system of justice. However, despite historically significant deviations from this goal, particularly those enhanced by historical perspectives perverted by current mores, for nearly 100 years this objective was always the core of the American spirit of democracy and fair play. However, a little over 200 years prior to the intellectual tsunami that hit the country following the emotional, religious and deeply philosophically soul wrenching period of the American Civil War, was no less a turbulence,  Europe’s Thirty Years War, which radically changed the intellectual direction of Europe and England.

After thall pigse Civil War in America a similar tectonic shift occurred. America’s entire intellectual edifice shifted away from the Humanist and Enlightenment principles of the founders and its Calvinist religious embrace and view of God. The cohesive, unifying national philosophies and bonds of customs that imbued pre-Civil War America with a unique reverence for the egalitarian concept that every American, rich or poor, farmer or financier, would be treated in the same manner by the laws of the land, that justice was indeed blind, began to fray.

All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others

Following the extraordinary bloodshed of a war that was also indiscriminate of social rank, America gave way to a more skeptical, fragmented outlook that relied on impersonal networks of obligation and authority. The Federal government that had exercised broad, and as of yet unattained and plainly unconstitutional powers in defense of the Union, became a magnet for career politicians, permanent and expanding bureaucracies and a rising military arrogance. This would eventually lead to America’s imperial ideology of Manifest Destiny taking on a global, internationalist character. It was not a coincidence that American political leadership also began to change, from the model of a Jeffersonian “aristocracy of merit” to one of an aristocracy of privilege, money, inheritance and power. Thomas Jefferson held that it was essential that in America “the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.” These shifts in power, some subtle, many not so, and the changing dynamics of the American people as the country rapidly industrialized were accelerated by a significant alteration in the origins of the increased flow of immigrants to its shores. Americans’ relationship to government, particularly at the federal level, changed permanently.

The American project was not about maximizing national wealth nor international dominance. The American project—a phrase you will see again in the chapters to come—consists of the continuing effort, begun with the founding, to demonstrate that human beings can be left free as individuals and families to live their lives as they see fit, coming together voluntarily to solve their joint problems. The polity based on that idea led to a civic culture that was seen as exceptional by all the world. That culture was so widely shared among Americans that it amounted to a civil religion. To be an American was to be different from other nationalities, in ways that Americans treasured. That culture is unraveling.”                                                    

==Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles Murray

John Adams, in his 1776 Thoughts on Government, put the rule of law at the top of his list of core principles for a free and legitimate government: The very definition of a republic is ‘an empire of laws and not of men.’ …Good government is an empire of laws.” In America, there were to be no Kings with arbitrary power over their countrymen, there were to be no notable financial or government elites above the law. The law must be applied to all equally, particularly when delivering punishment for its breach. Can anyone in America possibly believe that this is the case today? The now overtly unbalanced nature of the American justice system is far more dangerous and corrosive to this nation than our economic malaise, as the prior is cause, the latter effect.

The two-tiered system of justice that exists in American today is far more important and potentially ruinous than unbalanced incomes or the pervasive, entrenched influence of the military-security state within a state. It is in fact the first cause from which all of these more visible threats to our national well-being and American soul are derived. It is not the income earned from hard work and creative genius that should be an issue, no matter how distorted as it relates to the average worker’s income. It is the incomes sourced from the influence of capital, corrupting and feeding off of  a political and bureaucratic system originally and specifically designed to protect the people from the greedy, gaping maw of not only the financiers of the “crony capitalist state”, but from the political and bureaucratic class that polices it.

The new American elite are not the old moneyed, blue-blooded aristocracy with Long Island lockjaw, nor even the “establishment” professionals in white shirts and dark ties of the early post-WWll era, with an occasional old wealth member or two in the mix for good measure. They are the men of unencumbered influence, new wealth and political power. They are comprised of only a few thousand Americans at most, but where the true inner circle of power may be limited to far less than a thousand or so. As Charles Murray has recently written, “the term new upper class, I am not referring to all of them, but to a small subset: the people who run the nation’s economic, political, and cultural institutions. In practice, this means a fuzzy set in which individuals may or may not be in the upper class, depending on how broadly you want to set the operational definition. The Narrow Elite At the top are those who have risen to positions that directly affect the nation’s culture, economy, and politics. Some of them wield political power, others wield economic power, and still others wield the power of the media. I will call this subset the narrow elite.” It is with the domination of power in both public and private spheres of this new class that the total bifurcation of American Justice has been completed.

As previously stated, there was never a completely pure, unbiased system of justice in America, even when the founding intellects still held the reins of power. For any government and judiciary made up of men (and women) will succumb from time to time to the sins and biases of humanity. Recall the arrogance of Andrew Jackson and his flouting of the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the decision of Chief Justice Marshall that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, which led to the cruelty of the “Trail of Tears”. Alternatively, also recall the clearly unconstitutional actions of the Justice Department during the “Red Scare” in the early 20th century or the forced internment of Japanese-American citizens following Pearl Harbor. However, the real orgy of the debasement of our system of justice began in earnest with the pardon of Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford, putting one man above the law, a law that had already been exercised to impose prison sentences for several of his administration’s key players.

From then on, Lady Justice put on feather gloves for dealing with the elite class and iron gloves for the rest of the population. The pardons and lack of prison sentences for the Reagan administration’s covert Iranian arms-for-cash funding of the CIA trained Contra torturers’ and terrorists in Nicaragua, even after the president personally signed a law making such actions illegal only a few years prior, expanded further the erosion of law as the essential restraint on power. Blatant lying became a badge of honor amongst the untouchables in Washington, subsequently becoming such an art that the lie now creates its own reality and is accepted by a supplicant media and comatose population without so much as a whimper of true dissent.

The almost surreal, unconcealed disregard for our domestic laws, as well as the many international laws and treaties that this country agreed to abide by, leaped exponentially under the dark shadows of the 9/11 War on Terror. Yet the now openly displayed bifurcation of American justice plays to only muted outrage. It is astounding, it is frightening, and it is inherently unstable.

Access to this special club is severely limited, as Naomi Wolf has eloquently portrayed in her recent book, Give Me Liberty. In fact, the tale of her distressful search to access the entry points of party supported electoral politics makes the point very clear; the unwashed gain no entry there. Ms. Wolf writes, “What I had grown up believing was real, true, and meaningful was in many ways a stage set with rats scurrying behind the scrim. A maze had been constructed that had a nicely designed logo and attractive lettering that read DEMOCRACY over the entrance; once inside, the maze pointed citizens down various paths with various pretty arrows. But in reality, it had few real pathways, and none to the true power center.”

Entry to the American political stage is restricted to those who are part of the elite by birthright, having graduated from one of the chosen colleges, or maneuvered themselves into the senior managements of the financial and corporate oligarchy and truly find that they are invited onto the pathway that leads to political power. A very few  seem to be selected, financially backed and maneuvered into positions of power, though they appear to be of a totally different timber. From Wall Street, industrial-military America, the media, and, with rare exceptions Silicon Valley, the elite breed have chosen to exercise their political power to manipulate the spoils of empire to their personal or corporate benefit. This process does not have to be driven by cognizant intent, though much of it very likely is, as it is a direct result of socioeconomic evolution, which for all complex cultures and civilizations is a Gestalt of society’s collective “mind”. It is greater than its individual parts. Conspiracies do exist. However, the unwritten rules protecting and guiding those that wield socioeconomic and political power in America today constantly probe their own limits. It is a seemingly unstoppable process, except when imprisoned by the rule of law. “At the top are those who have risen to jobs that directly affect the nation’s culture, economy, and politics. Some of them wield political power, others wield economic power, and still others wield the power of the media. I will call this subset the narrow elite.

==(Charles Murray)

The old soft class system in America, reflecting a sense of the acceptance of certain behavioral traits and lifestyles adhered to, has been dying for many generations now. It has been replaced by an increasingly hard class system, based less and less on a fluid meritocracy of wealth and social contribution and more on raw economic and political power, and with a far greater willingness to publicly flaunt both. 

Outside of a few periods of excess, such as in the Gilded Age of the New York 400 and Newport Mansions, American moneyed aristocracy tended to veer towards disdain for overtly conspicuous consumption, for to define oneself in such a manner exposed the less economically fortunate among them. Of course, there are still pockets of the old guard in the private clubs of New York and along the rocky coves of Bar Harbor and Newport, but they are a dwindling breed. There once was a certain sense of Noblesse Oblige amongst the upper class in America, politics was a passion, less than an avocation. Though peppered with dilettantes and indolent ne’er-do-wells, faith and trust in hard work, God, country and the American spirit were ubiquitous. But always, always lurked the siren song of money, power and their handmaiden, corruption. Moneyed corruption and the thirst for economic and political power have existed from the founding of this nation and in all nations, they always will, but now they have become unbridled from all shackles, even from the rebuke of the citizenry who have been coddled and brainwashed into a state of total somnolent docility.    

The new elite are different, but have been an unfolding tapestry over the past 100 years. The older bonds of custom, faith, culture, ethical and moral purpose have dissipated.The future has become nothing more than the possibilities of the now. Conspicuous consumption has become a relativist term, now more than ever, and the attainment of wealth, power and international prestige are overtly pursued as the highest of attainments, and supported by a moral relativism that justifies almost any means to achieve such goals, in business or in the political arena. The arrogance derived of the combination of both wealth and power, increasingly supported by immunity from the rule of law, has hardened and distanced the ruling elite from the realities of the rest of America.

The media keeps the masses sated and content, spewing forth a continuous stream of propaganda. The centralized educational system produces functioning illiterates with little to no knowledge or interest in civics and American history. A legally immune, protected class with an increasingly distorted perspective, secular and condescending to the religious, as well as any American that places individual rights, once considered inalienable, above the “rights” of the collective. Democracy in America is an illusion.

“Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda. Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.”          

==Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”

  – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

We denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

 ==On Duties: The Extremes of Good and Evil, Marcus Tullius Cicero, 44 BCE

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