There is a growing amount of division in the world. Where does it all come from?
The Left sees the division coming from the Right. The Right sees the division coming from the Left.
I believe that the division comes from the process that created the Right and Left.
The Founders of the United States failed to anticipate the Left/Right split. Neither the partisan system nor the left/right split is in the Constitution or the Federalist Papers. The Founders despised the fictionalization they saw in Europe and detested Machiavelli.
The split came after our nation's founding.
The US Founders had a refined classical education based on the Trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric). They applied classical logic to the question of liberty. They saw liberty as "self-rule." The founders created a system with a high regard for the individual and with a Constitutionally limited government.
I like to call the application of classical logic to the question of liberty "Classical Liberalism."
Contrary to what Republicans claim, the American Revolution was not a "conservative revolution." The present day notion of "conservatism" did not exist. The conservatives during the Revolution supported the king (royalists). They were called Tories.
The fact that the current crop of conservatives admire want to associate their believe system with the Founders does not make the Founders "conservatives."
The US Revolution did not preserve the colonial social order. In colonial days, sovereignty flowed from the King. A person's position was often derived from their relation to the crown. The American Revolution dramatically changed the social order.
The Founders inherited slavery. They did not end slavery. This was a terrible mistake that cost our nation dearly.
After the revolution, the royalists in both the former colonies and in Europe were in a tizzy.
In the last post on Hegelian Conservativism, I emphasized the fact that the Hanoverian Kings of England were German. They were keenly involved in the German intellectual movement. This intellectual movement drew on folks from Plato, Machiavelli to Kant (1724-1804) to create a new royalist logic.
In the history of ideas, people apply the term "modern" to philosophers who followed Kant.
Kant was a silly man. He had this idea that he could create a "Copernican Revolution" in logic through a study of Pure Reason. He ends up projecting an absolutism on classical thinkers that really wasn't there.
There's a large number of paradoxes in the world. A society cannot grant people absolute freedom. Absolute freedom would imply that people had the freedom deny the freedom others. Classical liberals understood the need for a government and courts to help prevent people to defend liberty.
Anyway, after the American and French Revolution, the royalty of Europe was in a tizzy.
Royalists (Conservatives) were systematically losing arguments with the classical liberals. So, they turned, full force, to this idea of creating a new logic ... MODERN LOGIC.
I believe that much of the intractable division that we see today rose from the creation of this modern logic.
The very first practitioners of modern logic were the royalist conservatives.
Hegel did not come up with something new. He is just the prime example of the thought of the early 1800s. He studied
Yes, I know Hegel, like the Kings of England, was German. How is it possible that a German influenced ideas in England? Conservatives make loud squealing noises when I point out that Hegel was influential in the development of Modern Conservatism. It can't possibly be?!
How could German thought influence the Kings of England (who were German)?
I mean, it's not like the Kings of England were also the Kings of Hanover or something?
If the Kings of England were German, wouldn't there have been a large number of German soldiers fighting with the British in the Revolutionary War?
Anyway, in philosophy, the term "modern" refers to schools that followed Kant. Hegel drew on Kant's desire to launch a "Copernican Revolution in Logic." Hegel dug through the writings of Plato, Machiavelli, Sun Tsu, etc. Hegel was a royalist. As a reaction to the French and American Revolutions, Hegel concentrated heavily on the master/slave relation and used the paradoxes associated with freedom to claim freedom slavery and slavery freedom.
Hegel created a Modern Logic that could be called an "oppositional dialectics."
This new oppositional dialectics is a form of institutionalized conflict. Hegel presented a philosophy of history in which the world spirit progressed through an ongoing series of conflicts with nations warring on the world stage. His philosophy had paradox at the foundation of reason and conflict at the surface.
There are many other ways to play the dialectical game. Imagine a news agency presenting news as conflict with the stated goal of dominating the ratings ... that would be oppositional dialectics in action.
Hegel came up with a paradoxical definition of freedom. The Founders saw freedom as self-rule. Hegel originated an idea more along the terms of free agency in which the players on the world stage had the ability to act, but this freedom was more of a trial than something that is good unto itself.
Hegel played a clever game. The royalists were not winning the battle of ideas, so they started to redefine the terms of the debate to destroy the playing field.
A generation after Hegel saw the emergence of the Young Hegelians. The most notable of the Young Hegelians was Karl Marx. Marx called his philosophy Material Dialectics. The Young Hegelians flew with Hegel's paradoxical view of freedom. While the Hegelians were prone to promote radicalized religions, the Young Hegelians liked radicalized anti-religion.
To Recap: The US Founders had a classical education. They fought for liberty. They applied classical logic to the questions of liberty and came up with a Constitutionally limited government. I call the application of classical logic to freedom "Classical Liberal."
"Modern" refers to the philosophies that rose after Kant.
The Conservatives of the French Revolution and the early 1800s sought to preserve the social structure of the ancient regime. They were losing arguments to the classical liberals.
In the Art of War one learns that the way to win battles to choose the battle grounds. The conservatives of the 1800s were eager to develop a new MODERN LOGIC. Modern Conservatives developed a paradoxical definition of "liberalism."
The Young Hegelians ran with the paradoxical definitions of liberal. They added to it a radicalized anti-religion.
Don't you get it?
The big split between Modern Conservatism and Modern Liberalism came from an extremely corrupt process.
If you defined "freedom" as "self-rule" and applied classical logic to the question of liberty, you come up with the conversation of the US Founding Fathers.
Now, lets get to the reason why I wrote this post.
Have you ever notice that certain "Conservatives" spend more time complaining about liberals than they spend on defining their own ideas?
These conservatives hold a very paradoxical and corrupted notion about what liberalism is.
Many on the left play the same game. They spend more time defining the position of their opposition than they spend defining their own position.
Have you ever read Karl Marx? Marx spent his entire career defining "capitalism" and never defined "communism" beyond vague notions of a workers' paradise.
I contend that the conservatives who spend their lives promoting a corrupted definition of freedom are as much an enemy to freedom as are the "modern liberals" who run with and promote the paradoxical view of freedom.
The solution to the division of the day is to recognize that both Modern Conservatism and Modern Liberalism are corrupt.
The Left/Right split came from corrupt intellectual traditions of Europe. The best way to restore America would be to recognize Modern Conservatism, Modern Liberalism and the Left/Right split as a mistake and to start a new conversation about liberty based on classical logic.
I really like the term "Classical Liberal" to refer to the application of classical logic to the question of liberty, with liberty defined as self-rule. Kingdom is rule by a king. Freedom is a free people who rule over themselves.
Following this chain of thought might help us to restore the American Experiment in self-rule.