The US Founders had a Classical Liberal Arts Education which they applied to the question of Liberty. They created a system with a limited centralized authority and an unlimited people. This led to prosperity.
I believe that the US Founders should be called "Classical Liberals."
The heart of the Classical Liberal Arts Education is Classical Logic.
I would love to talk about classical logic. But I will focus on the role of paradox. Classical logicians from Aristotle to Kronecker taught students to avoid paradoxes and absolutes.
The heart of Aristotle's work was the golden mean. He taught balanced and realized that any virtue pushed too far creates a paradox. Kronecker tried to enforce an absolute prohibition of the use of paradoxes in mathematical reasoning, which itself is paradoxical, but give the guy a break.
The idea that we should de-emphasize paradox does not mean paradox does not exist.
One can find paradoxes in many different arguments. For example, most people believe that unity is a good thing. If a leader unites one half of a society against the other, the leader has created a deeper division.
Democracy has paradoxes. If a people elect in a tyrant, they no longer have democracy.
Freedom has paradoxes. For example one might ask: "Does my freedom give me the right to own others as slaves?"
Classical Liberalism was created by applying classical logic to the question of liberty. A defining aspect of classical liberalism is a belief that one's individual liberty stops when it encroaches on the liberties of others. This avoids the paradox.
I would go as far as to say that the approach to paradox is one of the most important defining characteristics of classical liberal thought.
The US Founders were in a terrible conflict. They had inherited slavery from the English Colonial system while the conservatives of the day wanted to conserve the socio-economic system of slavery.
The crisis of slavery dramatically impeded the ability of the new found nation to truly develop a society founded on classical liberal ideals.
Anyway, I want to talk about modern logic which came about from a reactionary movement in Europe.
Despite the US Revolution, the European Monarchies were still the most powerful force on the planet and they wanted to find a way to conserve their power.
It just so happens that the Hanoverian Kings of England were from Hanover. Hanover is just North of Hesse. The reason Hessian soldiers fought with the British is because they were beholden to the same King.
The Hanoverian Kings funded the German University System. Notably the University of Gottingen was founded by King George II. The Hanoverian Kings of England charged the German Universities to come up with ways to reframe the monarchy as progressive.
Hegel was a right-wing reactionary thinker who typifies this chain of thought. Hegel realized that the arguments for liberty were logically sound. So, to win the debate, Hegel chose the radical path of denying the laws of classical logic. Hegel created a new paradox infused logic now known as "Modern Logic."
Modern Logic denies basic laws of classical logic such as the law of identity and of the excluded middle. Modern logic goes gaga with paradox. The most common paradox is the reflexive paradox. It can be expressed with the short quip: "This sentence is false."
But if this sentence is true, it must be false which means it's true, which, golly-gee-willickers is one clever sentence.
It turns out that most absolutes lead to this paradox. A claim to absolute freedom would include the freedom to enslave others.
In the classical liberal view, a primary charge of the limited government was to defend the liberty and property of the citizens. The classical liberals leaned heavily on natural law and common law in their system with a limited government and unlimited people.
Modern logic was conceived as part of a right-wing conservative effort to preserve the social structure of the monarchy and to reframe the monarchy as progressive.
The chief tool of Modern Conservative from 1800s onwards was simply to project paradoxes onto the views of the classical liberal.
Conservatives love to construct strawmen; then claim that they are made of straw.
BTW, "Projection" was a favorite topic of Sigmund Freud. It turns out that the projection of absolutes is an extremely powerful rhetorical tool. Modern thinkers have found that when they project absolutism onto their political opponents, they can introduce paradoxical thinking into the dialog while appearing themselves to be rational.
Simply by framing a strawman as an absolutist, I can make absurd arguments that appear to be rational. It is a really powerful trick.
Hegel built a monumental philosophical edifice on his paradoxical thinking. He created a Philosophy of History that claims history evolves through a series of Thesis/Antithesis conflicts that resolve in a Catharsis.
Hegelian thought (aka modern conservatism) has paradox as its foundation and conflict on the surface, and it gets ugly.
Now, I need to repeat, the key to Hegelian thought is projection. One need simply project absolutes onto the mouths' of one's opponents. Projection makes the projector look rational and the opponents fools.
What I've discovered in my life is that projection of absolutism is far more common than actual claims to absolutism.
Very few people are as bold as to say that they possess absolute truth; however it is extremely common to find people who routinely project absolutism onto others.
As mentioned, absolutes tend to create paradoxes. So, projecting absolutes on others introduces paradoxical thought into the conversation moving one from a classical mode of thinking to a modern mode of thought.
Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute provides a great example of projection in an absurd parable called "The Yellow Bird and the Limits of Liberty."
This article presents an absurd parable in which an unbalanced Russian Libertarian begins killing things to liberate them. The unbalanced thinker then kills himself because Paul Mero believes that wanton slaughter of life is the defining characteristic of Libertarian thought.
Paul Mero then tries to frame the balanced belief systems of the Classical Liberals onto his particular brand of Modern Conservatism.
This is Hegelianism in action. Paul Mero systematically projects false images onto others in an attempt to frame his group as rational.
The Sutherland Institute is one of the most sickening groups I've ever run across. These clowns take money with the claim that they defend liberty then spend their days undermining liberty. They are always the first to sell out liberty in the unending grub for power.
But I would rather focus on good things.
One of the good things I love about classical liberals, like the US Founders, is that the wonderful classical liberal tradition assumes that all people are capable or rational thought, but this is a different blog post.
To recap the argument so far: The US Founders had a Liberal Arts education steeped in classical logic which they applied to the question of Liberty. Avoiding paradox is a hallmark of classical logic.
The Founders, like modern libertarians, realized that individual liberty stops at the doorstep of one's neighbor. Both the Founders and Libertarians believe that defending individual liberty is a primary function of the government. This theme exists in most of the Libertarian reading I've encountered.
I personally have never met a Libertarian who advocated absolutism or anarchy.
The idea that Classical Liberals and Libertarians are absolutists is a false image projected on them.
The idea of projecting false images on Classical Liberals is not new.
During the Revolution, Conservatives of 1776 stood shoulder to shoulder with the crown and leveled their musket fire at the US Founders.
After the revolution, conservatives were desperate to preserve the social order of the colonial system and they began firing invective at the term "liberal."
Please ask yourself these questions: Were the people who were trying to CONSERVE slavery CONSERVATIVE or liberal? Were the people trying to LIBERATE the slaves conservative or LIBERAL?
If you said that "Classical conservatives sought to liberate slaves" and "Classical liberals sought to conserve slavery;" then you might need some counseling.
The goal of the Right Wing Reactionary Thinker of the 1800s was to frame the monarchy as progressive. They also sought to project imbalanced absolutism and paradox on Liberals.
The game of turning the meaning of a word into its opposite is called "sublation." Sublation was another favorite theme of Hegel.
Of course, history did not stop with Hegel.
A group of people called "The Young Hegelians" decided to do the following. The Young Hegelians took to heart the false images projected on liberals by conservatives. They advocated a libertine lifestyle and demanded that the centralized state prove itself progressive by heaping state funded benefits onto the people.
Modern Liberalism was based on the same logic as Modern Conservatism. Keeping to Hegelian dialectics, the Right and Left would simply engage in thesis/anti-thesis arguments as the rogues in charge centralized power.
Modern Liberals hold absurd ideas like "Freedom is slavery; therefore we must seek slavery to realize our freedom."
Modern Liberals captured the term "liberal" and turned "liberalism" into a belief system that is every bit as paradoxical as modern conservatism … and then some.
Modern Liberalism reached its ultimate expression in the form of Communism. Modern Conservatism reached its ultimate expression in the form of Fascism.
Both extreme modern liberalism and extreme modern conservatism resulted in atrocity and genocide.
The Left/Right split and the dialectics behind it are pure poison.
Anyway, once again Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute demonstrates the tripe that Conservatives mistake for thinking. He projects the absurd notion that "liberals" like to go out and kill things at random for no reason. Mero then claims Conservatives are superior because they don't just go out and kill things at random.
Projecting absolutes on one's opponent is the most common form of absolutism. The person projecting the absolute is the person who is unbalanced.
Anyway, it is Friday night. I think I will go out and kill something at random for no apparent reason.