Lockean Liberalism–By National Decree?

Align Left: Professor                           Center: Student                                  Right: Gadfly



  1. As a Gadfly,
  2. I prefer noumenon.
  3. And ‘tis much enhanced,
  4. In this little classroom.
  5. My co-pilot is a student,
  6. A first year independent,
  7. So science will go a long way,
  8. In sharpening his perception.
  9. And though I most like a sunset;
  10. Listening to the waves,
  11. Watching the sun plummet,
  12. O’er the Santa Monica bay…
  13. The phenomenon herein presented,
  14. ‘re a close second.
  15. I brave.
  17. This lecture is dubbed,
  18.    “Louis Hartz Liberalism.”[i]
  19. The book for today’s class was,
  20.     The Liberal Tradition in America.
  21. Louis Hartz believed that the,
  22.     American political culture does delineate,
  23.         Exclusively from Locke, you see;
  24.          ‘tis what many political scientists are following.
  25. Thus, America wholly enforces a liberal tradition.
  26. Those who attempt to evade this tradition are slated,
  27.         To be negated.
  28. No need to bite.
  29. Lockean liberalism has always [and will always],
  30.     Utterly dominate the American mind.
  31. Both political parties throughout America’s history,
  32.     Are liberal parties—regardless of times.
  33. Indeed, a full-blooded liberal is an “American democrat”
  34.      [not synonymous with Democrats],
  35. Whom vehemently believe in capitalism and liberty,
  36.     i.e. that the free individual must prove their worth,
  37.             In the free marketplace; to be free.
  38. The real American stands strongly by the constitution,
  39.     And the enforcement of contracts.
  40. To Hartz, America has only had,
  41.     A “national articulation of Locke” as a certain fact.[ii]
  42. Waves are coming in softer now.
  43. The breeze has stiffened,
  44. And opened my ears.
  45. The light is on the prowl,
  46. As the bird’s listen,
  47. I hear:
  48. Lesson 1:  Property Ownership!
  49. Of course,
  50. That’s the whole argument.
  51.  The American radical’s only American enemy is:
  52.     The richer liberal with a bigger ship.
  53. Page 75.
  54. The tempest of Shays dies down quickly,
  55.     At the sight of good times,
  56.         At the sight of a fat money-clip.
  57. You can trace within the revolutionary age itself,
  58.      Culminating in the prosperity,
  59.          Of the constitutional “reaction;”
  60.          That manic depressive mentality,
  61.            Reflecting the business cycle,
  62.             Which has always and will always characterize,
  63.               The American democratic movement through time,
  64.                 ‘tis the… “get rich trip.” Again and again,
  65.                    This is what you will find.
  66. Is that why political scientists,
  67. See electoral model predictions,
  68. To be based on the economy,
  69. These fundamentals, by chance?
  70. In America, virtually everyone,
  71.    Including the nascent industrial worker,
  72.       Has the mentality of an independent entrepreneur.
  73. Just work hard and you’ll win: a dealership, an ambassadorship,
  74.       Or perhaps a governorship!
  75. But the chasm between those Few,
  76. And the many,
  77. Is a prodigious schism.
  78. There are two national impulses felt:
  79.     The impulse toward democracy; and,
  80.         The impulse toward capitalism.
  81. The mass of people are bound to be capitalistic,
  82.    And capitalism, disseminated widely, is bound;
  83.        To be democratic.
  84. The irony is that these impulses seemed to fight hard:
  85.     A tremendous battle—sometimes knocking each other out,
  86.         When and whereas years constitute as a “count,”
  87.            There democracy, or capitalism, may be down.
  88. Page 89.
  89. The American culture is a dream:
  90.    Gain new and greater wealth—then double it,
  91.        And double-down on protecting wealth itself!
  92. My poor co-pilot does think,
  93. That he will be much better off,
  94. In about ten years!
  95. That then he’ll be able to afford,
  96. Top shelf drinks.[iii]
  97. Hamiltonian restraints was based, half consciously,
  98.    On a judgment of the future to be embraced.
  99. Fear was a part of the lust and lust a part of the fear.
  100. There was trouble when the superego,
  101.     Of the “capitalists” and “aristocrats;”
  102.        The need to be rich and the rich need to be richer;
  103.           So capitalism and democracy both grin and agree,
  104.                To fight to steer the Ship called Liberty.
  105. A liberal is the “American democrat.”
  106.     S/he believes in individual liberty,
  107.        Equality of opportunity in capitalism; and
  108.          Regards the human marketplace;
  109.          Where bootstraps are in demand,
  110.             As the marketplace to determine;
  111.                Success for the deserving (wo)man.
  112. America is the land for those,
  113. ‘re an entrepreneur and bold!
  114. All were clearly captivated,
  115. On teach’s Culture script.
  116. Lesson 2:  Framing American Liberalism.
  117. Property requires contracts.
  118. Contracts require enforcement.
  119. Many might go bankrupt.
  120.     Let’s look at American political parties…
  121.         The liberal society shapes the outcomes,
  122.            Between the Whigs and Democrats to develop.
  123.         The Whigs played to the masses dream,
  124.            Of becoming a Whig—prior to 1929; so it seems,
  125.         The Whigs used the Alger mechanism to enchant,
  126.            The American democrat:
  127.               “Work hard and make it!
  128.                   Dream big for your sake!”
  129. And don’t talk back.
  130.         But the “Americanistic” mechanism would terrify him:
  131.            If you try to rise up against liberalism—
  132.               You’ll be sorry that you did.
  133. Who is the exemplar?
  134. Oh, I guess that there are none…
  135. Other than Martin Luther King,
  136. And other patriotic daughters and sons.
  137. A Hero is missing,
  138.     From the revolutionary literature.
  139. The Americans had no need for his services.
  140.     “Your future” is the “to be determined;” Hero,
  141.         In capitalism’s opportunistic theater.
  142. Page 20-47.
  143. The capitalist Whiggery of Hamilton,
  144.    Was frightened of democracy, of Jackson;
  145.       Which was therefore able to destroy it,
  146.          Because they had no faith, in capitalism.
  147. Imagine that!
  148. The result was massive confusion in political thought.
  149. There were “Two boxers, swinging wildly” in a juggernaut.
  150. Page 90.
  151. In America, there are no aristocracies to fight!
  152.    So the Federalists and Whigs are denied,
  153.       The chance of dominating the people,
  154.          In a campaign against social divides!
  155. In America, there are no aristocracies to ally,
  156.     Thus inclusion—democracy—just takes time!
  157. There are no genuine proletarian outbursts to meet,
  158.    And the people are not frightened to seek reprieve.
  159.       Indeed, they are entrepreneurs whom hate to heed!
  160. American Whiggery, when it let go of aristocratic frustrations,
  161.     See Hamilton;
  162. And catered openly to the acquisitive dreams,
  163.     That the American democrat held deeply,
  164. Whiggery uncovered by a strategic accident,
  165.     In the historic ethos of American life for all to see:
  166.       Its bourgeois hungers, its classlessness,
  167.         And the spirit of equality.
  168. The professor is pausing,
  169.  For emphasis:
  170. Even when Taylor and Hamilton hurled charges,
  171.     Of “aristocracy” and “mob” at each other…
  172.          The liberal tradition absorbed it all—regardless.
  173. Page 206.
  174. Whiggery “discovers America” and transforms it;
  175.     Generation by generation.
  176. It is a conscious ideology of the conditions for success:
  177.    The death of toryism, the peculiar language of progressivism,
  178.         And the isolation of Marx, for instance.
  179. The Progressives (Beard, Smith, Parrington, Boudin, Myers),
  180.     Failed because;
  181.  Being children of American absolutism,
  182.     They could not get outside of it,
  183.        And so without seeing that Locke,
  184.           Was involved everywhere as the American god…
  185.     They built their analysis around a titanic struggle,
  186.         Between “conservative” and “radical,”
  187.             Which had little relevance to American politics,
  188.                   Whereas American politics are caused.
  189. Page 236.
  190. Marxists were children of Europe.
  191.   “un-American” to begin with.
  192.        For no American is equipped with,
  193.           Feudalism in his or her toolkit.
  194. FDR’s radicalism could consist of what he called,
  195.    “bold and persistent experimentation;”
  196.        Which of course meant nothing and,
  197.           Was compatible with “Americanism…”
  198.               …as American as Edison and Bell had solved.
  199. Finally a student broke in:
  200. But this “experimentation” violated precedence,
  201. And involved government with job creation.
  202. It manipulated pure capitalism.
  203. That is why “conservatives” today,
  204. Are reactionaries fighting for the return of:
  205. Lockean liberalism, I loudly say!
  206. For the American democrat has been betrayed!
  207. The New Deal left a lot of free enterprise standing,
  208.    And much of its state action,
  209.      From spending to trust-busting,
  210.       Was designed to fortify rather than weaken,
  211.           Free enterprise.
  212. Now I know why they call,
  213. Political science professors,
  214. Liberals.
  215. But in the face of liberalism—like,
  216. The “rugged individualism of the American farmer,”
  217. Who is now supported on all sides by the State,
  218. There could have been explosions,
  219. Had Americans confronted these liberal deviations…
  220. Pages 263-4.
  221. During the New Deal there were two irrationalisms,
  222.      Fighting in the political ring:
  223.          The explicit “Americanism” of Hoover,
  224.          And the sublimated “Americanism” of Roosevelt,
  225.                For all to see.
  226. After the fight, the New Deal is a liberal self,
  227.     That is, it transcends from sight via the youth:
  228.         A faith in property,
  229.         A belief in class unity-united at the booth,
  230.         A suspicion of too much state power for use,
  231.         A hostility to the utopian mood;
  232. All of which were blacked out by the weakness,
  233.     Of the socialist challenge in this liberal commune.
  234. This radicalization of the New Deal,
  235.    ‘though ammunition for the Hooverite to assail,
  236.       In the end transfixed Roosevelt’s very success,
  237.          For the American nation to heal.
  238. When the moral cosmology of New Dealism,
  239.     Sank beneath the surface as American Realism,
  240.        Happy pragmatism appeared as deism,
  241.           And had no time to listen to moral issues squeal,
  242.                Or for another depression due to defeatism.
  243. When the prosperity of Truman appeared in May,
  244.    The New Dealers were swallowed up in the lore;
  245.       American liberal faith and was only responsible for,
  246.           “Solving” America’s problems through hard work—
  247.                The pragmatic, privatized American way,
  248.                   Again liberalism was what restored order.
  249. Can redistribution,
  250. Really be a part of liberalism?
  252. So to conclude for those tardy,
  253.     On American political parties…
  254. No one was tardy today,
  255. But they do appear in a trance,
  256. Or perhaps they imagine,
  257. The parties as a liberal play.
  258. “But in America there was no mob:
  259.     The American democrat,
  260.       Was as liberal as the Whigs,
  261.          Who denounced him.”
  262. Page 95.
  263. Lesson 3:  The Utter Domination of Liberalism.
  264. America has only had liberalism—
  265.    A national articulation of Locke.
  266. Page 11.
  267. Just look at the Supreme Court and,
  268.    The cult of constitution worship.
  269. As it has worked in America would be,
  270.        Inconceivable without the national acceptance,
  271.            Of the Lockean creed.
  272. This Lockean Decree.
  273. All is accomplished through contract,
  274. And property!
  275. The mood of America’s absolutism:
  276.    The sober faith that its norms are self-evident.
  277. Thus, American pragmatism has always been deceptive;
  278.     Because, glacier like, it rests on miles submerged conviction,
  279.        And the conformitarian ethos refuses to pay its critics,
  280.           The compliment of an argument.
  281. Page 59.
  282. America’s neurotic terror of the majority on the face of it;
  283.     That the “rights of the minority” are sacred,
  284.          Is a prelude to one thing: binding the majority down,
  285.            By institutional restraints constitutionally legislated.
  286. Page 130.
  287. What about the Civil War?
  288. And nullification?
  289. How does liberalism play this?
  290. How about today’s battle:
  291. Civil Unions, Gay Rights,
  292. And Entrepreneurs for the labor…?
  293. Please do tattle.
  294. Calhoun moved far away from divine ordination,
  295.    With concurrent majority rules and nullification.
  296. But there are minorities inside of minorities; and,
  297.     The idea of concurrent majority quickly unravels,
  298.        Into separate individuals executing the law of nature,
  299.           For themselves. This facile nomenclature.
  300. Here are grim traditionalists denouncing,
  301.    Northern liberalism as a code of “anarchy,”
  302.         And Calhoun supplies them with a political theory,
  303.            That even Daniel Webster can denounce,
  304.              As a theory of “anarchy.”
  305. Page 162.
  306. Fitzhugh was terrified at the doctrine,
  307.      Of the “Calhoun   School.”
  308. Fitzhugh’s theory of blood and solid nationalism,
  309.     Of “organic nationality;”
  310. Avoided all the inner turmoil and,
  311.    The brink-of-destruction gyrations,
  312.       That the Calhounian position planned.
  313. Instead, ‘twas “romantic;”
  314.    Grounded in the claim to the slave,
  315.       That slavery was natural, and,
  316.          This was the truly frantic part of his play.
  317. Page 164.
  318. The larger secret of Calhoun’s intellectual madness was:
  319.     The starting with explosive premises;
  320.         Like sovereignty and conflict and force…
  321.             But that is not solid American political culture.
  322.         He drives himself somehow to avert,
  323.           The explosion that the conclusions of what,
  324.              Nullification and “concurrent majority” would endorse.
  325.          He was caught in the classic agony,
  326.             Of the brink-of-war philosophy.
  327. Calhoun wanted to stay in the union.
  328.     Fitzhugh favored disunion.
  329.        Both were disillusioned.
  330. So what was their culture?
  331. The basic dilemma the Southerners faced:
  332.    Their liberalism was so traditional that even they,
  333.       Could not get away.
  334. Garrison need not reply.
  335.    The South was doing a pretty good job,
  336.        Of replying to itself—like a boomerang;
  337.            They shot and it returned to their spot,
  338.               And blasted their ideology via The liberal,
  339.                  Firing squad.
  340. Based off page 166.
  341. So it was just about the slave?
  342. That capitalism called for democracy?
  343. That the boxers fighting in the Culture ring,
  344. Couldn’t anymore continue,
  345. Without inclusion of the Black folk to be free?
  346. That everyone knew,
  347. That Taney’s decision that Blacks were property,
  348. Was unvirtuous and wrong and confused,
  349. And mean?
  350. In order to keep democracy for the Whites,
  351.    Sourtherners had to develop a theory of separate races.
  352. Thus, a wholly liberal land set out to save,
  353.    Most vicious and anti-liberal doctrines,
  354.       Which were like cancer to their liberal faces.
  355. Kind of from page 167.
  356. Many of the poor whites who lived in the South,
  357.    Instead of feeling the disgrace for the slaves,
  358.       And fighting for their righteous release;
  359.        Put themselves in the position of a privileged peasantry,
  360.          And so actually had the audacity,
  361.             To feel that it put them on a kind of par,
  362.                With the self-proclaimed southern aristocracy!
  363. America is one middle class…
  364. The religious issue plays a two sided role:
  365.    The literal reading supported the ownership of slaves,
  366.        So Southerners began to think in terms of Hebrew patriarchy.
  367.     But biblical slavery had not been confined to the Negro,
  368.        So Fitzhugh, a fundamentalist, determined to extend feudalism,
  369.           To Whites as well as to Blacks!
  370. Instead of just accepting, the hegemony of liberalism!
  371. Fitzhugh thought that being a Hebrew patriarch,
  372.     Was a prerequisite to being a feudal lord.
  373.         What is this other than;
  374.             The “madhouse of Southern thought”?[iv]
  375. “be forlorn.”
  376. The “affection” between slave and master,
  377.     These southerners said to their wives,
  378.        Was one of the finest things about Southern life…
  379. Not only did they agree that the slave had a soul,
  380.   But they were actually enthralled!
  381. They had saved his soul through giving him Christianity,
  382.    So when the slave’s life was run—there would be a reward!
  383. Fitzhugh’s “conservative” label that he cherished,
  384.    More than anything else in the world,
  385.        Would be taken from him by Culture’s order.
  386. It would be given to McKinley, whom Fitzhugh would have hated,
  387.    With a violent passion—one from the plucking of:
  388.        Liberalism’s sons and daughters.
  389. Page 175.
  390. So the “conservative” label does change!
  391. One thing in any case is clear:
  392.    The political thought of the civil war symbolizes,
  393.       Not the weakness of the American liberal idea,
  394.          But its strength, its vitality, and its utter dominance.
  395. The “grip of Locke” is not everyday challenged:
  396.     That a “great conservative reaction,”
  397.        Dies without impact upon the mind of a nation!
  398. Page 177.
  399. Lesson 4:  Dark Side of the Liberal Tradition.
  400. Woe the Dark Side—the danger of unanimity!
  401.      For when a foreign military,
  402.        Or ideological pressure attacks America;
  403.           The national response is a closing of the ranks—
  404.               Transforming eccentricity into sin,
  405.                  And dissent into danger of subversion!
  406. Page xi.
  407. I do not dissent!
  408. The common American ethic,
  409.    That “opinion” which frightened Tocqueville,
  410.      Became the conscious symbol.
  411. The “Americanism” that lay behind the shadow world,
  412.    Of the Middle Period would come into its own.
  413. Page 142.
  414. The basic problem of a liberal society,
  415.     Is the danger of unanimity.
  416. ‘twas the “tyranny of opinion” in society,
  417.     That Tocqueville saw unfolding naturally.
  418. But men are “born equal” in America [from Tocqueville];
  419.     Liberalism thus transformed the doctrine of Locke,
  420.        Into the traditionalist reality of Burke, so that the flock,
  421.            Knew that anyone who dared to use conservative thought,
  422.              In order to refute liberalism would discover by shock,
  423.                 That he had merely refuted himself—a laborious laughingstock.
  424. Near page 151.
  425. The liberal community is so powerful,
  426.    That it creates one crowd.
  427. This may require a “becoming” paternal government,
  428.     And its power is excessive and pitiless against dissidents,
  429.          For which we should not be proud.
  430. Page 226.
  431. Surely, the success of American policy abroad,
  432.    And the fate of American freedom at home,
  433.       Are tied up in an intricate knot.
  434.           We seem so alone. Do we not?
  435. Page 285.
  436. America’s psychic heritage of a nation “born equal,”
  437.    Is a colossal liberal absolutism.
  438. To go against it is death by atrophy,
  439.    Of the philosophic impulse.
  440. So this is a problem?
  441. The red scare was not only our domestic problem;
  442.     But our international problem to address.
  443. When a nation rises to an irrational anticommunist frenzy,
  444.     It replies with a morbid-style insanity.
  445. Indeed, the same instinct which tends to alienate it,
  446.     From Western democratic governments ‘at ‘re “socialist,”
  447.           When it closes down on dissent,
  448.             In a supposedly open government,
  449.             It inspires dubious regimes to define themselves…
  450.                As also “democratic.”
  451. The red scare mentality displays,
  452.    The American absolutism,
  453.       In its purest form, and from this horror film,
  454.           We should stray.
  455. For in 1921, the Secretary of State, Hughes,
  456.     Rejected a Soviet overture for Free Trade;
  457.        Because trade rested on production,
  458.         And that production would be impossible,
  459.            in Russia;
  460.          Since Free Trade means that all agree,
  461.            To “firm guarantees of private property,
  462.               The sanctity of contracts,
  463.                  And the rights of free labor” in society.
  464. Page 301.
  465. But today’s radical liberals,
  466. Professor,
  467. The Grover Norquist Anti-Tax Pledge signing MCs,
  468. Are good evidence of this theory.
  469. That capitalism is worth fighting for,
  470. In our democracy.
  471. Quiet, you fool.
  472. I ought to bite you.
  473. That was not the point al all!
  474. Which boxers did you see fall?!
  475. ‘tis why would real liberals shut down,
  476. Entrepreneurs from organizing to solve,
  477. Conflicts between workers in a firm,
  478. And the owners whose interest is to earn,
  479. More profits for his or her shareholders!
  480. Now George Kennan had spoken of,
  481.    “our inveterate” tendency to judge others,
  482.        By the extent to which they manage,
  483.          To mimic our patterns.
  484. Think about the Jacksonian upheaval.
  485.     Generation after generation we just,
  486.        Boast of new actors and their new dilemmas;
  487.          But it’s the same American liberal ordeal!
  488. Americans must always link,
  489.    The issue of world insight,
  490.       With what it means to be free!
  491.            Or, to be like me!
  492. Page 302.
  493. So after the boxers of capitalism,
  494.    And democracy;
  495. Stop beating each other to the pulp,
  496.     I think,
  497. These boxers will have more blind spots,
  498.     Of “Americanism” for us to experience and see.
  499. This is our gravest threat,
  500.  To domestic freedom.
  501. This is the ironic end product,
  502. Of the Second World War:
  503.     Isolationism went to go fight fascism,
  504. And never returned.
  505. We are told that we [Americans] are,
  506.    The most revolutionary.
  507. Nothing is farther from the truth;
  508.    We are all liberals—capitalists and democrats;
  509.          Nothing else is deeply rooted.
  510. There is no social revolution in America;
  511.      Never was—and liberalism will never let there be one.
  512.          And this makes us blind-sighted, and a little dumb.
  513.              I mean, every reactionary regime, we think,
  514.                 Is about to become a capitalistic democracy!
  515. Importantly, we fail to appreciate nonpolitical definitions:
  516.     Say, of “freedom.”
  517. We certainly cannot comprehend communism,
  518.     Which is a genuine ideology of social revolution.
  519. So we are like children, rejecting pluralism; and,
  520.      Simplifying different people as those against us.
  521. If only we could transcend irrational Lockeanism!
  522. If only there was a way to understand,
  523.     That the self and others go hand in hand!
  524. Page 308.
  525. By the way;
  526. Republicanism just blasted,
  527. Ten trumpets for Biblical Thought,
  528. Thinking that you wouldn’t hear it,
  529. As in love with liberalism as you are…
  530. Dark side, in reality!
  531. Lesson 5:  Born Equal and Opportunity.
  532. The status quo determines,
  533.    The categories of revolution.
  534. Page 24.
  535. Jefferson the Hero and Hamilton the Villain—
  536.    The nation never really sinned:
  537.       Only its inferior self did.
  538. Page 31.
  539. A new Jefferson arises, like a phoenix;
  540.     So instead of recapturing our past,
  541.       We have got to transcend it,
  542.           Alas.
  543. Page 32.
  544. I like the phoenix in you;
  545. But wouldn’t that mean,
  546. That liberalism itself submerged,
  547. For something else to bear fruit?
  548. Tocqueville was right: “The Americans,
  549.    Have the great advantage,
  550.      That they attained democracy,
  551.       Without the sufferings,
  552.         Of a democratic revolution and,
  553.          That they were born equal,
  554.             Instead of becoming so.”[v]
  555. Well this democracy still discriminates;
  556. Think of the poor w/out a driver’s license.
  557. Now I guess by this end,
  558. That the American culture of liberalism,
  559. Will fight to the end to defend,
  560. Private property and contracts.
  561. But if that’s the ticket to freedom,
  562. Or, to American patriotism;
  563. Then, I shall be chagrined.

[i] Hartz. 1991. The Liberal Tradition in America. Second Harvest.

[ii] Page 11.

[iii] So James Madison lost an election to a bartender, once.

[iv] Page 169.

[v] Tocqueville. 1988 [1966]. Democracy in America. Harper & Row. Page 509.


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