A February, 2006 Retrospective, What Went Wrong In America In The 20th Century

A Full House For Disaster

There is an old saying that "the Devil is in the details." Here, we suspect, the Devil was the dealer.

Three kindred errors in understanding or assigning Responsibility: Education, Public Safety & Welfare. Two kindred errors in the comprehension of Causation: Denial of nature as cause for success or failure & observed aspects of comparative group dynamics; & trivialization of human sexuality.

A Poker Hand From Hell

There have probably been no truly new ideas in the field of human group dynamics in the past thousand years. Social "innovation" consists largely in a rephrasing of past concepts to play on the egos--adequate or otherwise--of susceptible people, those who want to appear "ahead of the curve," "with it" or, at least, not "out-of-it." What the social or political philosopher does is to restate, endlessly restate, concepts that others have explored, over and over again, through the ages. But in that endless process of rehashing old ideas, there is certainly an effort to pull those old ideas together in fresh, new, presentations. And so it is with those of us who would defend the wisdom of the past without apology. We, too, seek new approaches, new assemblages of arguments and the phenomena that support those arguments, hoping ever to strike a responsive cord among readers or listeners.

Here, we analyze a metaphorical "poker hand": A Full House of the five most egregious philosophic fallacies prevalent in the America of the 20th Century. Each of these errors has been discussed many times before--indeed, each has been treated here, previously, in at least one essay, most in several. In addition, each was addressed in some fashion in our novel described above. Why, then, should you want to read further? Because in slightly changing the perspective, we strengthen the argument. In exploring different facets to each subject, it is often possible to reach people who were not receptive to an earlier presentation. Life itself involves many fluid concepts. Human perceptions have an inherent fluidity, inseparable from time and motion, in addition to other contextual aspects.

Yet, of course, what is true remains true, regardless of the angle from which it is viewed, or from whence the analysis of truth begins. What we are suggesting is simply that in approaching the truth in different ways; in recognizing the fluidity of human life and human perceptions of truth--in adopting a certain fluidity of argument--we hope to demonstrate more effectively the validity of what was and still is. In being able to demonstrate a logical consistency to a point of view, regardless of how one approaches a particular subject, one can make major strides towards a persuasive demonstration. This is a principle well understood in Trial Practice--although perhaps not so stated. It goes to the very essence of what is involved in the proper use of "Circumstantial Evidence," the only way to reconstruct events for which there were no eye witnesses.

Three Of A Kind: Fundamental Errors In Assigning Responsibility To Address A Societal Goal

Public Education & Ultimate Responsibility

The first of the "three of a kind," in our metaphorical Devil's poker hand, derives from a shifting public perception of public--tax supported--educational systems: the "Public Schools." We are not going to suggest that there should be no public involvement in educating children. There are many circumstances, which may make it virtually impossible for some parents to educate their children to a reasonable potential--or to the actual potential of the particular individuals involved. But nothing implied, in accepting a legitimate community or societal interest in the education of the children in any community, should be interpreted to alter, or to justify attempts to alter, the fundamental responsibility of a child's parents for that child's intellectual, moral and physical development. Furnishing a societal resource or facility, financed by a specific community, is one thing. Allowing that facility to assume the parental role is quite another. The one is a help; the other a perversion of Nature.

It would be difficult to imagine anything less consistent with the continuity of a political society based upon individual responsibility, than a policy that deliberately instills in the children a demonstrated dependence upon collective responsibility for their mental, moral or physical development. Moreover, as an expanded Public School role has in many communities involved instruction in actual conflict with previous social mores--paralleling one of the worst aspects of the great 20th Century totalitarian (Communist and Nazi) political societies--we may begin to understand the true level of actual, and potential, alienation from American norms. We are not, then, referring to instruction in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Our remarks go, rather, to an enormous shift in the direction of greater dependence upon a collective for all facets of youthful development; indeed, not so much in the classic academic subjects, some of which have actually been de-emphasized, but particularly in areas of "life adjustment," and in Leftwing theories of what should be "life adjustment," over the past century.

While many will blame this upon the acceptance of Leftist theories within professional educational circles, it may well be that the increased centralization of supervision for Public School education, alone, would have been sufficient to move those schools in this direction. Obviously, those who seek to "reform" American society would have seen the trend as opportunity, and sought to fully exploit it. Yet our intention, here, is not to assign blame, but to identify a problem, which, in its ultimate effect, can only serve to undermine the most basic principle of the American Republic. Allowing any "Public" School to go beyond mere instruction in basic academic subjects, to engage in teaching values outside of community norms, without even obtaining parental consent, should have set off alarms in the mind of every reflective citizen. Yet, although some did indeed protest, the tide rolled on.

As school curricula expanded outside and beyond the traditional "Three R's," Geography and History, there were both cumulative and compounding effects, all further accentuated by a new arrogance on the part of professional "educators," commensurate with the greater apparent social and intellectual dependence on their roles in delivering social education outside the family circle. This has led, in some communities, to a patronizing trivialization of family values and even continuity. Yet, again, while there are many deplorable philosophical aspects to this trend, what we emphasize, here, is that the entire thrust of these developments has been contrary to that nurturing of an individually responsible population, so essential in a land where every basic institution has been premised upon an individually responsible population.

Public Safety & Firearms:
George Washington's Wisdom & Today's Ultimate Folly

In early America, no one would have seriously questioned either the need or desirability of an armed citizenry. As discussed in Chapter 2 of our Conservative Debate Handbook (linked below), after the victory at Yorktown, George Washington repeatedly urged the Continental Congress to adopt the Swiss system: To arm and train the male youth, in every home, in the effective and responsible use of military grade firearms. The proposal was totally consistent with the concept of a political society dependent upon individual responsibility for its functionality and survival. Yet, sadly, with increased urbanization throughout the last Century, America--as a whole--turned increasingly away from her former respect for, or even acceptance of, an armed citizenry. In many States, and in most large cities, an increasingly restrictive policy was adopted; while at the same time, protocols were established that restricted even the Police in the use of deadly force to enforce the law and preserve private property rights; tilting a balance, once overwhelmingly in favor of the law-abiding and propertied families, more in sympathy with scofflaws and those outside any traditional social order.

Here, as with education, there are many issues, and some definite cross-currents. The unfortunate trends have been partially offset by the almost heroic dedication of several gun owners' organizations, which have endeavored to step into the breach to defend the citizen's right to arms, both for self-defense and for other purposes consistent with traditional political and social values. Yet, while such patriotic organizations have slowed a would-be political rush to disarm American citizens, the media continue to either ignore or to under-report--and thus completely under-emphasize--the real issues involved. However, our principal point, here as with education, goes to the effect of the anti-gun trend in undermining the concept and perception of individual responsibility. And yet, there may be that first glint at a fundamental shift--the result of the efforts of those same dedicated gun owners--in a reported drop in crime in areas where statutes have been changed to permit law-abiding citizens to again carry concealed weapons.

If the once obvious fact--that the higher the ratio of armed law-abiding citizens to the number of would-be criminals, the lower the crime rate--becomes obvious again, there will be a definite gain in the sense and level of individual responsibility within many American communities benefitting from that awakened awareness. There should also be a wider perceptual gain, as to the importance of such responsibility in general. Yet this needs to be understood in the longer time frame of historic reference. And it will take a major shift in public perceptions to undo the damage that has already been done by the creation of a fear driven sub-culture, conditioned by a popular media to the notion that a disarmed population is a safer population, and to its close cousin, the notion that there is no place for the application of deadly force in the protection of property rights. The generic issue, for our purposes in this essay, goes to the conditioning of a dependent population; one unable to act effectively in its own interest, and hence unable to sustain a political society based in its every premise upon an individually responsible citizenry.

Welfare In Jefferson's Day & Welfare Today

The third of our "three of a kind" errors, in understanding and assigning responsibility for dealing with a societal goal in Twentieth Century America, goes to the creation and building of the modern "Welfare State" during the period from 1933 on. To better comprehend the nature of the error and the gravity of the damage being done--to fully appreciate how far the present method for dealing with the apparent effects of poverty in American communities is, from being either logical or the best allocation of resources--we again quote from Thomas Jefferson's 1782, Notes On The State Of Virginia, (also cited in Chapter 1 of the Conservative Debate Handbook). Jefferson was responding to specific queries from a French correspondent, and addressed the methodology for dealing with poverty in a newly independent America:

The poor, unable to support themselves, are maintained by an assessment on the titheable persons in their parish. This assessment is levied and administered by twelve persons in each parish, called vestrymen, originally chosen by the housekeepers of the parish, but afterwards filling vacancies in their own body by their own choice. These are usually the most discreet farmers, so distributed through the parish, that every part of it may be under the immediate eye of some one of them. They are well acquainted with the details and economy of private life, and they find sufficient inducements to execute their charge well, in their philanthropy, in the approbation of their neighbors, and the distinction which that gives them.

The poor who have neither property, friends, nor strength to labor, are boarded in the houses of good farmers, to whom a stipulated sum is annually paid. To those who are able to help themselves a little, or have friends from whom they derive some succours, inadequate however to their full maintenance, supplementary aids are given, which enable them to live comfortably in their own houses, or in the houses of their friends. Vagabonds, without visible property or vocation, are placed in workhouses, where they are well clothed, fed, lodged and made to labour.

Nearly the same method of providing for the poor prevails through all our States; and from Savannah to Portsmouth you will seldom meet a beggar. In the larger towns indeed they sometimes present themselves. They are usually foreigners, who have never obtained a settlement in any parish. I never yet saw a native American begging in the streets or highways. [Query XIV-- Laws]

Who, today, can walk even four blocks, in any major American city, without encountering a native American begging alms?! Clearly, the Federally directed system for relief funded by taxpayers does not work nearly so well as the Church directed system of Jefferson's day. And how could the lesson be much clearer?

In Jefferson's day, the system depended not upon a civil collective, but upon individual Church members, stepping up to serve as vestrymen; to act as personally motivated, personally responsible, individuals administering aid to other individuals, person by person. By the very nature of the methodology, these usually wealthy farmers applied, aid went only to those in genuine need--not those milking a morally bankrupt system, administered by bureaucrats with little, or no, personal stake in how well that system worked. Thus, the tendency was to force those who might not otherwise have been personally responsible, to become so. Those individually responsible vestrymen could insist upon levels of responsibility, upon the part of the recipients of the largesse being administered, totally at variance with anything possible under the egalitarian fantasies which drive the present system.

Today, the underlying premise has become not one of alleviating undeserved misery, but of redistributing the fruits of other people's success--the implication being the completely unsubstantiated one, that that success was somehow the result of an "unfair" advantage over society's failures. The corollaries, that an "under-privileged" class of people are both "entitled" to receive "Welfare," as their due from a taxpaying public, and to actually vote for the office holders who will define the extent of that "Welfare," suggest perhaps the most egregious aspect of all the many, which flow from our "three of a kind" errors in understanding and assigning responsibility to deal with societal goals.

A Pair: Compulsive Delusions Underlying Social Policy

Make Believe & Inter-Group Dynamics

We have challenged popular fantasies which deny significant racial, ethnic and class differences, on average, in physical or mental aptitudes--and in both types and levels of intelligence--in many essays. The subject of human differences, and their significance, is important to an understanding of many subjects involving the dynamics of achievement, culture and comparative group dynamics. To deny such differences, is to completely distort the causation for observable differences in levels of achievement, nuances of culture, and realized problems in inter-group dynamics. Such denial has also served as a "green light" for the worst order of demagoguery, as well as for various forms of sociological quackery. Indeed, such denial has been a definite factor in the first and third of the errors above, while contributing indirectly to the second.

The most damaging single aspect of the make believe world of "human equality," is that it promotes a veritable menagerie of the basest and most self-destructive human emotions--hatred, fear, resentment, guilt and envy;--while it suppresses what have always been positive human motivations in a miasma of compulsive neuroses. What is truly incredible, is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the conclusion of an equality of human potential, so dogmatically accepted. None! The argument is now, and always has been, one by exception and in mitigation of a mountain of evidence that people differ significantly in their innate individual capacities.

Now there is, of course, some fluidity in group comparisons, whether based upon race, ethnicity, social or economic class. There is, also, a wide range in potential aptitudes among the possible progeny resulting from the mating of any particular man and woman. There is almost always some "overlap" of the means or medians of each group, in any group comparison, by individuals in the other group, whether the measured aptitude is physical or mental. In a comparison of mental aptitudes, this "overlap"--or rather the reality that this "overlap" actually measures--can often explain why some individuals rise from poverty and succeed greatly, while others fall from affluence into poverty. The freer a particular society from built in impediments, the greater the ease with which such adjustments take place. But even in fairly rigid social orders--such as Feudal Europe--there is almost certain to be a gradual adjustment to the actual human abilities in play; though time frames may be greatly extended, over generations rather than years.

All of which is really beside the point here, which is the psychological damage being done by the egalitarian mantra. Consider some of the emotional cross-currents, so evident in contemporary news, politics, litigation, and talk radio--as well as in attitudes that the reader has almost certainly encountered in his or her own circle of acquaintanceship. Compulsive egalitarianism has not only fragmented our perceptions, it has succeeded in doing so in a manner psychologically harmful to virtually every definable element in our broader communities--a truly remarkable demonstration of the negative efficacy of living a lie:

1. There is an obvious effect on recognizable racial and ethnic minorities, which have not achieved success at the same level, or the perceived level, of mainstream American Whites. The Egalitarian explanation depends upon an attribution of ongoing "injustice," which can only teach resentment to those supposed to be the victims of that "injustice." (The trap, for any Conservative accepting the absurd "equality/injustice" hypothesis, is dealt with in our novel, Return Of The Gods.)

2. There is a less blatant, but still present, resentment, being promoted among the less successful Whites--although the attribution will not be to "White Racism," but to unfair class advantage--similar to that which has bedeviled Europe for generations. This may lead some into voting for Leftist politicians, yet may be somewhat offset, because those same Leftist politicians are often seen as spokesmen for competing minority interests. While such psychological cross-currents may neutralize some of the political damage, they hardly offset the mental trauma, or the potential for unreasoned and self-defeating conduct.

3. The effects on the middle and upper classes are equally deleterious--indeed, in the long run, far more egregious in their effect upon American culture and potential survival. We address, here, only the more obvious:

a. Affluent class members, who accept the prevailing cant, are often so guilt ridden, they become virtually unable to defend American tradition. While they may or may not affiliate with Leftwing causes, or support Left leaning political candidates, their apologetic attitude can only fuel the fires of discontent. Indeed, the more they seek to appease, the more they encourage demagogues who seek to exploit those who have been noticeably less successful.

b. Others, while not so guilt ridden, may still feel a need to appease the agitation by voicing "politically correct" thoughts. This can rapidly devolve into a somewhat delusional existence (including the deliberate pursuit of "diversity" for its own sake, in associations or business); a sort of compulsion driven acceptance of the "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome.

c. Yet others, while neither guilt ridden nor "politically correct," are simply afraid to open their mouths; and sit mute while the nightly television administers the same egalitarian brainwashing to the adult, as the NEA run schools administer to his or her children--admittedly in a slightly different form.

d. While Middle Class Americans may experience many of the same reactions, there are interesting nuances. Americans of older stock--those who should be the veritable backbone of American continuity--are more apt to accept some "guilt"; partly over a contrived revival of Slavery issues, and partly in response to an open hostility to what has been disparaged as "WASP" culture--or some variant--on many College campuses. Since few of this generation have sufficient knowledge of history to realize how ridiculous this is, there is no easy antidote.

e. The prosperous American, whose forebears arrived more recently, is far less likely to accept attributions of "guilt" for material success. He may react to the present dispensation with the inverse of the minority reaction in Paragraph 1. As his children face a perceived hurdle, both as to academic admission and the job market, thanks to "Affirmative Action intended to favor minorities, he may experience an anger leading even to actual hatred--not for the crack-brained theorists behind the folly, but for those thought to be benefitting unfairly from their programs.

f. Since most affluent citizens, in traditional American communities, are likely to have obtained a social position where they may be sensitive to being vilified as "bigots," "racists" or what have you, there is a growing reluctance among rooted Americans to honor their lines of descent, even though clearly enjoined by the Fifth Commandment, and necessary for the cultural continuity of any people.

Again, no one can possibly benefit from this lunacy in either the long or short run. No one benefits from a substitution of hatred, fear, resentment, guilt and envy, for a simple understanding of the fact that no two of us are alike--no two of us achieve at the same level;--that we must each seek to understand what works best for each of us in the pursuit of realistic and attainable goals. Meanwhile, the destructive effects on the social order, as a whole, clearly approach the catastrophic. Such confused and conflicting mindsets were behind the radical change in immigration policy from 1965; behind the general denial of human differences--the implicit denial of what makes each of us unique;--both of which contribute to a loss of the positive motivation once derived from pride in ancestry: A determination to measure up to family values and tradition; a sense of purpose formed, not in fantasy or vagaries of the imagination, but from a genuine incentive found in clear images of what forebears have achieved and upheld.

While some have rationalized the pretense of an interchangeability of human types as a means to reduce or eliminate human conflict, that daydream involves a gross misreading of causation. Leftist theorists may see a "benefit" in the contrived shift in immigration after 1965, by altering the ethnicity of America to more closely resemble an amalgam of mankind: Thus a population far less likely to resist submergence in the long held Leftist dream of a "New World Order." We suspect that petty jealousies among those on the Left will yet prevent their final triumph, or any such submergence. But their "achievement," a degeneration of America into an inter-racial polyglot chaos, will limit, not enhance, our ability to deal with the still present conflicts in human inter-action. One need look no further than the total failure of a sixty year assault on racial identification, to reduce racial tension in America, for obvious example. Indeed, one need not even look to tension between races, to see what actually happens, when you sabotage a people's identification with their racial or ethnic lines of descent.

Stripped of a positive identification with one's own, against a background of egalitarian rhetoric, the observed losses have not been to violent or anti-social tendencies, but to the inhibitions which engender constructive behavior. One can see this in the increased drug addiction among all races; in the breakdown of the family; in the gang wars over turf, even between members of the same race in adjacent neighborhoods, in many of the inner cities of America. Yet to understand the full picture, to put it into an historic context, we believe that the present combination of guilt on the part of much of the traditional leadership, fear of truth on the part of the middle-classes and resentment on the part of the under-classes, among the citizens of a great power, to be unparalleled in human experience. While Rome may well have perished because the original Roman stock failed to reproduce, what remained through the generations, still honored Roman culture. What hope can there be for any "Nation," which condemns its own ethnicity, or apologizes for its origins?

Boys & Girls Are Not The Same

If future generations, around the world, are even permitted to study history--particularly social history--it is doubtful that any phenomenon will seem stranger than the compulsion to deny the importance of sex roles and sexuality, so prevalent in the West today. "Flat-Earthism" and Geocentrism could at least have seemed reasonable, based upon the observations of peoples before the invention of telescopes adequate to refute any possibility of the underlying notions. But what can be said to justify the reasoning of those who would embrace the dogma of sexual equality, in the sense of a disparagement of traditional sex roles, or the pretense that sex is not a proper determinant for normal human personality or behavior? Much of what we have written under "Make Believe & Inter-Group Dynamics," applies equally here. Yet the denial of important aspects of sexuality flies in the face, not only of all human experience, but of the most basic tendencies common to the whole Class of Mammalia.

As socially destructive as is the pretense of equality in inter-group dynamics--by undermining positive human motivation--the deliberate trivialization of sex roles, in pursuit of similar egalitarian dogma, has been even more destructive. While, often, there are multiple possible identifications from one's lines of descent--flowing from either parent, and involving, racial, ethnic, tribal and/or class concepts--each with a potential positive influence by motivating one to try to measure up to an historic standard; in matters of normal sexuality, there is only one life directing "either/or." Even before puberty, that "either/or" determines goals and images to strive for. Trash the significance of that determination, and you abort the instinctive aspiration to excel in what, for most of humanity, will be the most important role they will ever know.

As observed in other forms, in other essays: In any community, there will be only a handful of people in any generation, likely to accomplish more--with truly long term effect--with their brains than with their sexuality. One's contributions to a gene pool--or one's failure to contribute to a gene pool--may influence the future of one's community or nation. One's nine to five job will not, not in one-one thousandth part of one percent of realistic scenarios, have so great an impact, even within the thirty years immediately after one's death, as the production or failure to produce ongoing lines of descent--without even considering the effect, down through the generations, of such lines. Even among those with great material success, any projection must be made with an understanding that a generation is long enough to dissipate the fruits of that success, if the talents are not passed on, as it is long enough to achieve greatly in one's own right, if the talents are.

Many factors have contributed to the dramatic fall in upper and middle-class birthrates over the past two generations. Yet, surely, none is more obvious than the Egalitarian (both Feminist and general) downgrading of traditional sex roles. If the measure of a good woman is, to a major extent, the bearing and nourishing of her young, in a safe and socially acceptable mode, there is not only a greater impetus to marriage and motherhood; but the values that lead to marriage and motherhood are passed down from mother to child, in a way that has positive impact on both sexes. It encourages the highest standard in each sex, as it sets an example, which demonstrates that joy and fulfillment come from leading the sort of lives that many other species embrace instinctively.

Conversely, if you take away the instinctive identification with traditional sex-roles, you deny youth much of the adventure in constructive, forward--generation spanning--pursuits, as well as much of the true adventure once found in the romantic quest. With the acceptance of egalitarian values, there has been a great reduction in traditional challenges to sexual fulfillment, requirements of social mores that added greatly to the very concept of romantic love--in the willingness to undertake permanent commitment--in the perception of joy in serving those one loves. It is no accident that the prevalence of drug abuse, the breakdown of marriage, and a demoralizing sense of living for the moment, have followed that acceptance. And there is nothing in the picture that offers much hope for the future, unless there is a return to a recognition of that which gives a species a sense of purpose, that which is essential to any future.

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Whither American Conservatism?

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Obama Or America--Irreconcilable Differences

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Losing America's Multi-Generational Purpose

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Social Reform: Confusion & "Unintended Consequences?"

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"Diversity" In Context: Reality vs. Leftist Fantasy

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Conflicting Premises For A Social Order

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Pseudo Pragmatism--Political Folly, Foreign & Domestic

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"Occupy Wall Street": Fruits Of Corrupt Education

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Reality--Paths To Success & One To Failure

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Socialist Policy Effects On Specific Groups

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Debt Default In America

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Egalitarian Collectivism Sabotages Human Potential

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Gold & Money In America

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