What is the America that traditionalists love?

Introduction

The American Traditionalist Society is under construction, and part of its mission is to clarify the stance of American traditionalists toward contemporary America. Officially, contemporary America is anti-traditional, yet an American traditionalist ought presumably to look with approval on his homeland. The present essay works on resolving the contradiction.

What is the America that traditionalists love?

Traditional America, America as she was before roughly the 1950’s, a land that was Christian, mostly white, and conservative in its moral and social ideals, is gone. Vestiges remain, inspiring some and frightening others, but today’s officially-defined America is non-traditional.

And the new America is unjust, unhealthy, and probably headed for destruction. Our leaders have imposed a dysfunctional liberal order based on the rejection of both God and the wisdom of the ages, and they have imported tens of millions of incompatible and often hostile foreigners. To top it off, they have demanded that we regard this spiritual and ethno-cultural destruction as good. Why then should we American traditionalists love America? And what, more generally, should be our attitude toward America?

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The basic answer is that we should love America not because she is great, but because she is ours. The former America to which we belong still exists, albeit in attenuated form, and therefore America is still our nation, the land our fathers built by their blood, sweat and toil. And since we are of her, we should love her despite her sins.

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A cynic would reply that the current America is not the same nation as the land of our fathers and therefore we are no longer connected to her. Thinking this way, some conservatives are bitter and hate America for her liberalism even as they acknowledge that she is still legally their nation. They refuse to love America or regard themselves as connected to her. And their case seems at first glance to be valid. How can we respond to this challenge?

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If America is ours, if we belong to her, then we must love her regardless of whether or not she is great. Love is not the same as approval; we are not obliged to approve of all that America is and does. But if we really are connected to America then there is no doubt about our duty to love our own people. And conversely, if America is not ours, if the situation has grown so bad that we really are no longer of America, then we owe her no more than the common courtesy we owe all people made in God’s image.

So do we still belong to America? Or has she become a different nation, one to whom we do not belong?

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This question cannot be answered by airtight logic and a knock-down-drag-out argument. What we speak of here is real, but it is not known by mathematical or scientific reasoning. It is a spiritual and transcendent reality, and therefore it is known primarily by intuition rather than by syllogistic reasoning. But note that intuition—the mind’s ability to know a truth by immediately grasping it rather than by a process of logical deduction—always forms in response to what we observe. These observations are the evidence that induces intuitive knowledge under the right conditions. And logic can play the crucial role of removing false ideas and placing proper evidence before the mind, so that it can know.

Let us therefore consider the evidence for our above assertions:

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Here is the first argument. The philosophers understand that whenever something changes, part of it remains the same. Therefore even though America has changed she still has the same identity. She still is America.

This philosophical truth is clear from the way we talk: We say “It changed from an X to a Y.” First it was an X, now it is a Y. But notice that the “it” is the same. There is the same “it” throughout the change.

Or suppose you and I were talking at a table and you got up and left the room. If someone else sat down in your former seat and started talking with me, would we say that you had changed into that other person? Obviously not, because nothing remained the same during the change from you to the other person. In order for you to change into someone else, something of you must remain the same.

Now, one could argue that some of the people who make up America have left the room, and others have taken their place at the table. But America is a big table, and many descendants of the original peoples are still at that table. America did not get up and leave the room, she changed. Therefore something of America remains the same, and we are still connected to her.

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Here is the second argument. Man was not designed to be a lone wolf. He needs to be connected to his people in order to be happy. There is a sense in which he is connected to his people regardless of whether he acknowledges it, but to be happy he must acknowledge it and live in accord with this truth.

Even if it were the case that America were gone and replaced by something different, we would still have our families and our ancestors to whom we would still be connected. This connection exists regardless of whether we acknowledge it for, in the words of Laura Wood, “we cannot divorce our ancestors.” And we, along with our families and ancestors, are still Americans. Therefore we are still connected to, and owe love to, at least a part of America.

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Here is the third argument. A strong vestige of traditional America remains. The old America has not been annihilated. It has been diminished, denigrated, obscured, and corrupted, but it remains. Since the America to which we are connected remains, we are still connected to America.

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These arguments raise another important question. Can an immigrant, or the recent descendent of immigrants, belong to America? After all, his people are not people of America.

The basic answer is that anyone who chooses to identify with America can be an American, if he makes the effort. Immigrants are always capable of transferring their loyalty. Anyone who genuinely sees himself as part of the American nation and begins following our ways can belong to America.

But nowadays immigrants—and, in fact, residents in general of the United States—are neither encouraged nor required to identify with America.  They are instead encouraged (if they are encouraged to identify with any group) to identify with the people or religion of their ancestral home. And the presence of too many outsiders—too many people who do not see themselves as part of the nation—is always a destructive force, regardless of how virtuous the individual outsiders may be. When there are too many outsiders they naturally band together and start to see themselves as a separate group. The result is Balkanization, i.e., ethnic conflict.

To say this is not a case of white people being racist, for American whites have always been uncommonly welcoming of outsiders, especially nonwhite outsiders. It is instead basic human nature. Every nation is capable of absorbing and benefitting from a certain number of outsiders, but once this number is exceeded trouble inevitably ensues.

Therefore an immigrant can become an American, as long as he chooses to identify with his new nation and begins following our ways, and as long as there are not too many such people.

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This question of whether we American traditionalists still belong to America is crucial, for a nation is not just any group of people who live in the same place. A nation requires a people who are connected spiritually and (for the most part) by blood. It also requires a land in which they continue to live and leaders who see themselves as connected to the people and therefore have the interests of the nation in mind. A nation is a people moving through time together, in a place, under the guidance of leaders who are of the people.

But our current leaders generally do not see themselves as connected to the people of America. They generally see themselves as managers, not leaders, who are charged with maintaining a smoothly functioning society by rationally coordinating competing egos. And they generally see their most sacred task as implementing the tradition-smashing social changes demanded by liberalism. Loyalty to the people and traditions of the American nation are not part of our leaders’ job description. And rank-and-file Americans are told that they are many peoples, not one people. There is little national solidarity, either among our leaders or among ordinary Americans. This is why America is failing.

Therefore, although we love our America, we do not automatically endorse whatever is said to be American. We oppose the soul- and nation-crushing ways of our leaders, and we look for ways to renew America and to protect our traditionalist ways of life.

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So what exactly is the America to which we traditionalists are connected and which we love? Since a nation is a large thing, no precisely-defined, clear-cut answer can be given. A nation is a people, a land and a government, and to answer the question we must identify what parts of these three elements are the America to which we owe love and loyalty.

At the same time, though, we must remain formally loyal to America as she currently is. We must not be seditious, for sedition dishonors our cause and brings unnecessary suffering.

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At first glance, identifying the land to which we are connected would appear easy, for America’s borders have not changed significantly in more than one hundred fifty years. But we must acknowledge that some regions of America have become de facto foreign territory, as the local populations do not consider themselves to be Americans except in the legal sense of American citizenship which confers various benefits. Instead, they derive their primary identities from their religion or ethnicity, and they see themselves as separate from us.

If these people regarded themselves as Americans in the full sense we would have no quarrel with them. But they, not us, have chosen to separate themselves from our fellowship. And if they do not regard themselves as our fellow Americans, we are under no obligation to regard them as our brothers. We recognize that they are legally Americans (unless their legal status is aliens), and we extend to them the courtesy owed to all people made in God’s image, but we also take them at their own words when they say that they are not of us.

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And who are the people to whom we are connected?  We have spoken above of those residents who have separated themselves from us, but to whom are we connected? Certainly we are connected to those who are descended from the same ancestors as we. But America also has a tradition of immigrants becoming Americans, provided that they take up our ways and that they consciously see themselves as joining us. Therefore we may tentatively say that we are connected to any people who consider themselves Americans.

But this assertion must be qualified, for modern notions of what it takes to be an American are often wrongheaded. A currently popular view, for example, holds that being an American requires only a commitment to certain abstract principles that are said to characterize America, such as liberty, equality, and a democratic form of government. It holds that America is defined by nothing more than these principles, and not by ethnicity, custom, religion or shared history.

This view is generally held by those who call America a “propositional nation,” but this thinking is false. It is true that all nations are ordered by various propositions that articulate how their people understand reality, but the error is to define America purely by propositions. For one thing, nobody nowadays is actually required to demonstrate a commitment to liberty or representative government in order to become or remain an American citizen. In practice, anybody who arrives in America and persists in living here is regarded by our ruling classes as being American.

But even if a commitment to these principles were required, it is clear that these principles do not define the American people. American citizenship has never been treated as analogous to membership in a church or other organization defined by beliefs. It is true that joining a community entails acceptance of the ideas—the propositions—held by the people, but this is just one part of joining a community. Instead, the traditional definition of American citizenship has been that an American is anybody who was born into one of our communities, or who demonstrated a sincere desire to join such a community and therefore went through the necessary process of naturalization.

This is the traditional definition of the American people, and it remains valid despite having been, for all practical purposes, repudiated by our leaders. It is valid because it is the only definition of citizenship that works long-term. In the long run, if the inhabitants of a nation do not define themselves by being born into the community or having demonstrated a sincere desire to join it, the inevitable result will be the destruction of the nation by Balkanization.

Who, then, are the American people to whom we American traditionalists are connected? Those who, like us, were born into one of our American communities, or who have decided to join us in our way of life.

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And what is the American government to which we are connected? This is a difficult question, as most of our formal government has become corrupt and is working to subvert the nation even as it continues, for the most part, to uphold basic social order. And it would appear that traditionalists cannot be connected to a government that opposes them. But a corrupt government can still be legitimate, and the legitimate government of a people is a natural part of their nation. It appears, then, that since we are connected with some of the people of America, we American traditionalists are ipso facto connected with the American government even though it generally opposes us.

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The legitimacy of a government stems primarily from its having been legally elected (or otherwise instituted), and from its continuing to perform a government’s main task of upholding the social order. Our basic accusation against the American government (here meaning the totality of the federal, state, and local governments) is that, even as it generally does an adequate job of maintaining the physical order (arresting dangerous criminals, maintaining the common infrastructure, and so on), it is working hard to destroy our moral and spiritual orders. We say this because the government is increasingly instituting unjust laws such as the forced approval of homosexuality, the legalization of divorce and abortion, and forcing upon us large numbers of foreigners. A related accusation is that the government now tries to coordinate and control vastly more than it should, resulting in further social and spiritual destruction. In both ways, the American government, although it promotes some forms of social order, is overall destroying our American way of life. This would tend to make it illegitimate.

On the one hand, even an unjust American government is owed a certain amount of loyalty simply because it is ours, and a certain amount of gratitude because it does contribute to the common good. On the other hand, an unjust government can become the enemy of a properly-ordered society. How should we traditionalists respond to the situation?

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First, we must recognize that the American government is basically legitimate. In America, the traditional form of sovereignty is popular sovereignty, and we must acknowledge that most Americans approve of the general liberal framework within which American government operates. Americans frequently disagree with specific governmental actions, and they frequently disapprove of the way specific governmental processes are carried out, but most Americans approve of the overall system, in which the government sees its job as applying liberal principles of freedom, tolerance and inclusion to the operations of the nation. Combine this popular approval with the facts that governmental processes are, broadly speaking, carried out legally, and that the Government does an adequate job of maintaining basic order, and we have to conclude that American Government, despite its corruption, is basically legitimate.

Therefore we traditionalists must accept that we will not bring about the restoration of a proper social order either by supporting or opposing the American government. A proper social order, based on traditionalist principles, can only be instituted when the people come to see that it is the best order for them. We will sometimes have to oppose the government in the sense that we will have to do what is right despite its opposition, but we must not oppose the government in the sense of working to overthrow it and replace it with a radically different type of government. This type of revolution has no chance of succeeding, either in the sense of taking power or in the sense of using its power to institute a new order. Perhaps it could succeed in small local areas, but not in America as a whole.

The specific question before us here is “What part of the American government are we traditionalists connected to?” The answer is, unfortunately, ambiguous. There is a sense in which a people, even in a nation defined by popular sovereignty, has no choice about their government, either in the sense of how it operates or in the sense of whether the government represents them. If the current American government is legitimate, then we are connected to it whether we like it or not.

But the American government is large and complex. Certain parts of it are friendlier to our enterprise than others, such as local governments in more conservative districts, or the executive and legislative branches, which are responsive to the votes of the people, as opposed to the judicial and bureaucratic branches of government, which generally are not. It is natural and right for us to see ourselves as connected to the parts of government that reflect our principles.

And the word “government” has a wider meaning. Our leaders are not simply the officials who hold formal governmental office. Our leaders are also pastors, professors, public intellectuals, organizational leaders, fathers, and so on. These men form a second, informal government in the sense that they govern our affairs, and many of them are sympathetic to us, or even part of, us.

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How then can we summarize the answer to our main question? What is our relationship with the new America?

Our relationship with the America that currently exists is neither one of approval nor disapproval. We understand and love the historic ways of our people, for these ways are uniquely ours and are based, for the most part, on an accurate understanding of the God-given order that characterizes reality. These traditionalist ways oppose the false and soul-crushing lies of the current, official, American order by connecting us with God and the order that He has established.

But we do not simply dismiss and hate America as she is now. We recognize that vestiges of the old and life-giving order remain, that our people still live in America, and that we cannot avoid being Americans. If it is necessary, for our survival, for us to separate ourselves from parts of America, so be it. But we continue to be Americans.

39 thoughts on “What is the America that traditionalists love?

    • I have been thinking along those lines lately as well. I am a conservative Christian traditionalist and a veteran with a large homeschooling family. I loved America. Now America hates me and says “no thank you” to my ideas and my virtues. I feel like I am not welcome; excluded. I wonder if this is how non-whites felt when they were fire-hosed, or natives felt when they were manipulated. This went from a good country for people like me to a bizarre country against people like me. I am incompatible with modern society and am treated like a hostile foreigner who would perhaps belong better in Russia or Iran. The Orthosphere has recommended the movie The Last Samurai as a good traditionalist film, but in this movie the traditionalists who have nothing but total allegiance to their nation were simply told, “Eh, we don’t need you anymore. Go away, or die.”

      But to ask the question, “I wonder how the XYZ felt when they were dismissed from their homelands” is to admit that the author of this article, and the author’s supporters, have a legitimate grievance. It is the same as saying, “It was bad when it happened to the Native Americans, so it is bad if it happens to other identity groups like white Americans.”

      Well, that is unless what you are really saying is, “Turn about is fair play, pay back is a bitch, and I only pretend to have a principled stance on eradicating indigenous cultures in the name of progress, as long as I’m on the side that’s winning, anyways.”

      I’m sure you’d be the first out the door if it was nationally declared that America is being restored entirely to Native Americans. Right?

      • > “It was bad when it happened to the Native Americans, so it is bad if it happens to
        > other identity groups like white Americans.”

        hahaha, you are forgetting one of the core rules liberal thinking: ethnical-nationalism is good, just as long as it isn’t white. So it was bad when it happened to Native Americans and it is good when it happens to whites, according to liberals.

        It has nothing to do with fair play, even if we had done no conquests ever we would still be persecuted. The native americans themselves also conquered one another, so if it was about fair play everything would be even, not to mention all the conquests done by islamists, by bantus, by chinese, etc, etc, etc. It is really just a gratuitous attack on us, and the worse of all: It is fashionable and the more people do it, the more they are rewarded in the liberal world. Just wish I had a liberal here to show him how I feel about being attacked for being white…

        That’s exactly what convinces me that if it will eventually come down to 2 choices: islam or liberalism. I’d rather take islam. At least they don’t hate me for being white.

  1. Anyway, on the main topic. I’m no american, I’m brazilian, but the situation is the same: In my homeland I am officially racially discriminated by the government in public jobs and in entry exams for public universities just for being white. Blacks are given racial quotas in universities and some public jobs.

    So obviously, the rational route to follow is that I must therefore hate Brazil. Unfortunately I just can’t do it, and believe me that I tried it. It is poisonous and wounds the soul to hate your home country, turning life into an endless suffering. So I dislike Brazil, and when talking to some brazilian liberals I’ll say that I hate Brazil to stress more strongly my dislike of the liberal order that hijacked my country, which was once so great. But nevertheless inside in my heart I still love my land, despite everything.

  2. Unfortunately I just can’t do it, and believe me that I tried it. It is poisonous and wounds the soul to hate your home country, turning life into an endless suffering. So I dislike Brazil, and when talking to some brazilian liberals I’ll say that I hate Brazil to stress more strongly my dislike of the liberal order that hijacked my country, which was once so great. But nevertheless inside in my heart I still love my land, despite everything.

    I hear you, brother! This might be the best, most heart-felt thing I’ve read all year. All month, anyway. I’ve had exactly the same thoughts about Canada – although I must say I think it’s a good deal easier not to be overly attached to one’s country up here since we don’t really “do” patriotism in the first place, and the country is so regional anyway, it’s harder to care about the parts that are far away. My stop-gap solution for now has been to love my province/region come what may, and not care too much about the rest of the country.

  3. Another Brazilian here, Felipe, who has traveled much the same path you have. We must love the Brazil that could have been – and that might one day be, even if not in our lifetimes, for no defeat is eternal. Meawhile, all we can do is to endeavor to create some bubble in which to try to raise a sane and virtuous family. Of course we won’t win against the whole surrounding culture, especially since homeschooling is illegal in Brazil. But we can still try, always keeping in mind that hope is one of the theological virtues.

      • Thank you, Kristor. When I was writing my comment, I remembered one quote, but only now I’ve had the time to track it down. It is an excellent illustration of true patriotism. But I don’t want to derail the thread, so if Mr Roebuck feels this is too much Brazil for a conversation about America, please have it deleted.

        The author is Joaquim Nabuco (1849-1910), one of the greatest statesmen my country ever had. He was a major force in the abolition of slavery, which in Brazil was late (1888), but entirely peaceful (unlike America) and without any compensation being paid to the slaveowners (unlike the British colonies). He was Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. (1905-1910) and a good friend of America. The quote is from his memoirs, Minha Formação, which is, roughly, the Brazilian equivalent of The Education of Henry Adams. The “men” mentioned in the beginning of the quote are the Brazilian Founding Fathers:

        “To these men, truly founding men, an earthquake could subvert the institutions, but Brazil would always exist, and to her voice it would be a duty to respond, no matter [how great] the turmoil around her, and the more wounded, the more mutilated, the more exhausted [the fatherland becomes], the greater the duty not to abandon her”.

        In the original (from here):

        “Para tais homens, verdadeiramente fundadores, um terremoto poderia subverter as instituições, mas o Brasil existiria sempre, e à sua voz seria forçoso acudir, qualquer que fosse o vendaval em torno, e quanto mais ferido, mais mutilado, mais exausto, maior o dever de o não abandonar”,

  4. I personally don’t believe in the idea of simple birthright citizenship, particularly for the American-born children of aliens and foreigners, but nor for children born to American citizens. I rather believe in citizenship by birth AND choice, and of course by rigorous process of naturalization for foreigners who sincerely desire to adopt the traditional American way of life. I furthermore believe that a properly ordered society would make efforts to ensure the citizenship by birth and choice ideal. But we don’t live in a properly ordered society.

    I teach my children, therefore, that although they are legally birthright citizens who at 18 will automatically have all the rights of citizenship, including political rights (arrgh!), conferred upon them, they are nonetheless not fully American citizens in good conscience unless and until they consciously embrace their duty to defend America against invasion, and maintain her laws and institutions in purity and vigor. But since America’s laws and institutions have been almost thoroughly corrupted since the establishment long ago and subsequent cancerous spread of the liberal order, this means that if they embrace what I’ve taught them about the duty that comes with proper American citizenship/reject what the liberal order teaches to be proper citizenship (i.e. be a good, devoted liberal and defend the new order), then they must learn about, embrace, and work to restore our laws and institutions to their original purity and vigor. Meanwhile they must live virtuous lives and conduct themselves honorably and in accordance with the foregoing principles.

  5. As noted above, hope is a theological virtue, and I appreciate Allan’s hopefulness. So much traditionalist writing is shrouded in lugubrious gloom. But I do not think we should hope for any sort of return to the past, since there was no pre-liberal America. It wasn’t necessarily expressed as a formal political philosophy, but it was implicit in the choice to leave Europe, and in the everyday life of a highly mobile people inhabiting a vast and nearly empty continent. The “new man” that Crevecoeur described may have been regrettable, but he was real.

    America will be traditional when its towns are a thousand years old, not one hundred and fifty years old. It will be traditional when the history books say that the great Mexican invasion of the Southwest came “shortly after” the great Anglo invasion of the Southwest. Of course by that time the ethnic geography of America (I don’t suppose there will be a United States) will resemble Bosnia or the Caucasus region, but traditional animosity is part of tradition.

    We are living near the end of the Great Disruption known as the modern age. Those who are interested in settled communities should look ahead, far, far ahead.

    • It was the real America for most of our history. And it was a better America. That is why we love it.

      And when I said “love America,” I also meant love the America that is.

      You should read more carefully before commenting.

  6. Maybe the United States is just too young and its population too diverse (since the mass immigrations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) to have traditions that are implicit in the conduct and quality of everyday life.

    There’s something peculiarly American about yearning for a prelapsarian age of moral excellence.

    • But as I pointed out in the essay, traditionalism is based on an understanding of and participation in the order of being. This does not require an old or homogeneous society. And we also used to participate in the traditions we received from our European ancestors.

      Also, I don’t yearn for an age of moral excellence. I yearn for an age of moral adequacy. At this point, mediocrity would be an enormous improvement.

  7. a.morphous, how old are you? What is this “imaginary America” you speak of? The America we love, as Mr. Roebuck has pointed out, once existed and remnants of it still exist. We’re not imagining anything. Futhermore, and as Roebuck also pointed out in the essay above, to love something is not the same thing as endorsing everything it does. Indeed even you must realize that it can be and often is quite the opposite. I don’t correct my children when they disobey me or their mother, or otherwise conduct themselves improperly out of hatred for them; I correct them because I love them and wish to protect them from developing habits of vice. Get it?

    • Old enough.

      Mr. Roebuck apparently believes that before the 1950s America was some stable, well-governed paradise with the right sort of white men in charge. A cursory knowledge of history that is not overly nostalgic would tell you that that postwar stability was a very temporary affair, and the prior history of the US included such dislocations as two world wars, depressions that threatened political stability, massive waves of immigration, a brutal civil war, military annexation of foreign territory, and extermination of the native population.

      You can make what you will of this — good, bad, or simply the inevitable process of history working itself out. But you can’t pretend that the US was some kind of shining city on a hill. until the hippies came along and wrecked it.

      • There were actually more major wars that completely threatened the fragile stability of the United States as a political unit before the Civil War came along. What the political leadership did in America decade after decade was buy off some groups of ethnic whites while using the left-liberal idea of a generic (American in this case) identity to force consensus for their special-interest group squabbles.

        Before the 1950s America was a bunch of regional enclaves with strong identities that were not American, which in some cases achieved a sort of deep traditionalism in spite of their novelty. After World War 2, the amplified consensus-forcing TV permitted pushed a lot of false narratives to the fore that now get passed around as canards.

        This post is fascinating because it’s such a left-liberal conception of America.

      • This post is … a left-liberal conception of America.

        The left-liberal conception of America is of ever-expanding civil rights as the progressive realization of the American Dream. In this view, we become more authentically American as we battle discrimination and increase diversity.

        My post contrasts this with an understanding of the order of being: a permanent order that varies somewhat in its concrete instantiation in each nation but which does not require the destructive force of left-liberal modernism in order for it to be embodied. This post does not give a left-liberal conception of America

      • Is there anything then to be cherished? Is any nation acceptable to a.morphous? And I thought Calvinists were dreary! You’re a big fan of Total Depravity, I see. Is there any model which you would propose we consider? Can we mix and match- use what worked and learn from our past mistakes, or must we forge something entirely new for you? Perhaps the final solution only lies in your utopian omnipotent egotistical little head? What must I do to wrench it out, I wonder? Or perhaps you just ape some commie(s) you came across in college? Please share. Doesn’t it get boring just tearing, tearing, tearing us down? Don’t you ever feel like teaching, building, converting, testing, competing? Or are we safe to read between your one-liners that everything you know and espouse is the stereotypical leftist agenda; social engineering & materialist technocracy, carving ourselves from the rock, captains of our own ships?

      • Earl: not sure how you infer that I am in favor of Total Depravity (is the capitalization significant, that is, is this some special thing rather than just generalized total depravity) from the fact that I am skeptical of a particular fairy tale. Oh, OK, I guess you mean this. I am not sure what it means to be a “big fan” of it though, or why you think I would be one just because I try to have a realistic picture of American history.

        You seem to be implying that America in 1950 was somehow sinless, or at least a lot closer to that state then we are today. I’m no theologian, but that smacks of heresy to me, and error. I am fairly confident that despite your Leave it to Beaver image, there was quite as much sinning going on back then as there is today.

      • Please do not liken a.morphous’ rants to the theological masterwork of Calvin, and please do not denigrate Total Depravity, lest a Calvinist rip apart the heresies of your faith, whatever it may be.

        Just for clarification, Total Depravity is the doctrine that we have all been irrevocably warped by sin, and that only through the saving grace of Jesus and the action of the Holy Spirit can we even approach God. It also means that we can do nothing without it being tainted by sin. What human institution is perfect? None at all; QED.

        We can see that Total Depravity is exactly what the Bible teaches from such verses as Romans 3:10-12, which references Psalm 14:1-3, as well as Isaiah 53:6, Micah 7:2-4, Romans 11:32, Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8,10, and so on. A more complete list can be found here.

        Having said all that, a.morphous paints an overly dark picture of pre-1950s America, ignoring its many strengths and beauties. Amongst its other achievements, we can count no school shootings, almost non-existent terrorism, stable families, a well-ordered society that still allowed the exceptional a place to bloom, and a culture that promoted virtues and denigrated sin, not to mention a country so safe that an unescorted woman could travel from one end to another without danger of molestation (or so claimed de Tocqueville).

        We have much to learn from our ancestors. The only thing we do better than they is technology.

      • a.morphous posted whilst I was composing; my response above is to Earl.

        Now to Mr. Morphous.

        First of all, this is a specifically Christian site. You are not welcome to denigrate our beliefs here. Behave yourself or find yourself edited, deleted, or banned.

        Next, there was most assuredly not “as much sinning going on back then as there is today.” This is the standard relativist approach to the past that is designed to make our ancestors look every bit as bad as we do. Yes, there have always been criminals and sinners, and yes, there have always been those who have given in to temptation. The difference is that until about five minutes ago, it was understood that it was wrong to give in to those sinful desires, that doing so made us thralls to those vices. Society made it easier to resist by holding up the good as an ideal, by warning against various harmful practices, and by disapproval of those who indulged in anti-social behavior. Now we have a society which actively celebrates sin, perversion, and degeneracy, and denigrates moral rectitude.

        Our ancestors were not saints, but their behavior, and society, was far more saintly than ours.

      • You are not welcome to denigrate our beliefs here. Behave yourself or find yourself edited, deleted, or banned.

        Really I have no idea what I said that was denigrating or offensive.

        Next, there was most assuredly not “as much sinning going on back then as there is today.” This is the standard relativist approach to the past that is designed to make our ancestors look every bit as bad as we do.

        Sinning is part of human nature (maybe I do believe in Total Depravity). It’s unlikely human nature changed radically in a few decades. I’m actually a bit surprised that people here, who I thought believed that the world had started going to hell sometime around the Protestant Reformation, would have such a short time horizon for their Golden Age.

      • I do not speak of a Golden Age. I speak of an Adequate Age, meaning not that all people were morally adequate, but rather that the authorities were not busy trying to enforce immorality and to dissolve the nation.

        Widespread immorality and threats to the nation are one thing. But it is entirely different to have, as we do now, our leaders actively and openly promoting immorality and the dissolution of the nation and demanding that we approve if it.

      • Where has anyone argued that human nature has changed in the last few decades, Mr. Morphous? Ans.: we haven’t. What has changed, radically changed, is that our society has determined to indulge radical freedom – freedom without restraint – with reckless abandon. We’re saying that unrestrained freedom is bad and dangerous to liberty and the health of the nation; that the old America recognized this and thus erected barriers to prevent the people and their rulers from over-indulging in sin; that those barriers have mostly been torn down, and that the society we’re relegated to living in is much worse as a result.

      • WM,
        Calm down WM Lewis, I am a Calvinist. My point is that a.morphous is almost religious in his belief about the human condition. In fact, he is purely religious. He is just unwilling to share with us the name of his religion because he is afraid to have it pitted against ours. He would rather chirp away, from the bench, like a coward.

        a.morphous,
        I am the product of your religion (and all I have to go on is my unchallenged assumptions about your religion). I am the child of an impoverished single teen feminist mother who was a minority in South Chicago in the year that had the highest number of abortions since R v. W. No thanks to you, by some miracle, I was not aborted. My mother was raised Catholic, thank God. I was raised amidst gang violence and murder as a minority (appearing too white in a majority black and hispanic area) and eventually moved to Oregon to raise my family. I have also been to Idaho and particularly Boise and have seen the difference between your utopian fantasies and my “Leave It To Beaver” “fairy tales”. And sir, I consider the long life and health of my children contingent on destroying your pathetic religion and instituting The Beave’ wherever people will have it.

        (Ironically, I watched an episode of that show recently and concluded that it was too irreverent for my kids. The Beave’ fled from discipline by hiding in a tree from his parents, refusing to come down, because “you’ll hit me.” What kind of show is that?!)

      • Earl,

        My apologies, and thank you for the clarification. I just find it odd when people claim Calvinists are “dreary,” as I have yet to meet one who fits that description.

        a.morphous,

        You don’t think that calling a particular denomination a “fairy tale” is derogatory or offensive? What an interesting mental universe you inhabit!

      • That’s possible, Earl. I wonder if Mr. Morphous will deign to clarify himself on this.

        While I am not old enough to remember the 1950s, I am old enough to remember enough vestiges of the America that was to know that it was no fairy tale. I also have heard what it was like from my elders, and movies & TV shows are surprisingly truthful documentaries, even when their stories are entirely fictional.

        I wonder why Mr. Morphous thinks there’s a problem with white men ruling an overwhelmingly white majority country that was founded by their white ancestors. I imagine that like most leftists, he has no problem with Japanese rule of Japan, or Egyptian rule of Egypt, or… you get my point, I think.

      • I think he meant that the America we miss never was; it is a fairy tale.

        Yes, I should think that was obvious.

        I don’t think I’m going to pursue this argument. Feel free to believe what you like, but nostalgia or the belief in a lost golden age is a very common mental affliction, as is the locating the lost golden age at the same time the speaker was an innocent child.

        I wonder why Mr. Morphous thinks there’s a problem with white men ruling an overwhelmingly white majority country that was founded by their white ancestors. I imagine that like most leftists, he has no problem with Japanese rule of Japan, or Egyptian rule of Egypt, or… you get my point, I think.

        Yes, and I have no problem with American rule of America, which is hardly the same thing as white rule.

        More broadly: political power belongs to those that have it or can seize it. There’s nothing more pathetic than some low-rent white guys bitching about how they deserve to be in charge because of their skin color. The country is, in fact, overwhelmingly run by white men — just not you.

      • If it was misunderstood, it was not obvious.

        Also, it is clear to us that America was, in many ways, a better place to live fifty years ago than it is now. This is not a “fairy tale”; it is something that is still in living memory, and can be confirmed by statistics on crime, drug abuse, bastardy, and other social dysfunction. If anyone is twisting reality to fit their own narrative, surely it is the left and not the right; the notion that pre-Cultural Revolution America was an oppressive hell-hole for non-whites, women, and those who chose an “alternative lifestyle” is the biggest fairy tale around.

        Yes, America is largely run by white men, but not for most white men’s benefit. Try doing an on-line search for “black run America.”

      • I wish I was clearer about Idaho and Oregon, because it entirely ruins the argument that we are chasing a fairy tale. The dream of the 50s is alive in Idaho, so to speak. It is not a fairy tale, it is a well established fact on http://www.citydata.com. Look up Boisie. Visit Boise. Witness the near zero crime rates in a major metropolitan area in a state notorious for lacking government influence and strong right wing influence.

      • > Look up Boisie. Visit Boise. Witness the near zero crime rates
        > in a major metropolitan area in a state notorious for lacking
        > government influence and strong right wing influence

        hahaha, don’t say this too loud! Probably the left forgot about Idaho. If there was a campaign like “Bring back America like it is in Boise” which would bring up the left’s attention to the city, I’m pretty sure that Obama would move in 100k Somali in Boise to straighten things up, and make sure the city has a good amount of “diversity”, including murders, rapes and even some suicide bombers.

    • nostalgia or the belief in a lost golden age is a very common mental affliction

      And an obviously correct opinion to have, unless you were to say there hasn’t been any change at all throughout recorded history.

      If things change, then we can accept that, sometimes, things deteriorate, and nostalgia for what was lost is not only entirely reasonable but is the normal response.

      “What about when things have been improving?”, you ask. Nostalgia remains the normal state, for two reasons.

      First, because of differing time frames for the judgment, The eighth century AD was objectively better in terms of wealth and stability than the sixth century throughout Western Europe, but an eighth-century educated Western European would not be thinking that things were getting better; he’d be thinking of how much things had fallen since the days of the Roman Empire. His nostalgia would be justified.

      Second, because no improvement (and no decadence) occurs throughout all aspects of society simultaneously. You might say that a first-century AD Roman patriot should be glad that Roman civilization controlled a much larger area in the past, while the same Roman patriot might have a very different standard, and deplore the corruption and decadence of the aristocracy and people of his country. Besides, when such a man felt nostalgia for the great days of the Roman Republic, he wasn’t actually missing the imminent threat of defeat by Hannibal’s forces. Nostalgia is inevitably selective.

      To sum up: nostalgia is not only not a “mental affliction”, it is the normal and expected result of any sane study of history.

  8. Well, look at the history of ancient Israel in the Old Testament: very tumultuous, no ‘golden age,’ but rather a constant struggle. Someone could have said something quite similar to the prophets who yearned for restoration of Israel: “what Israel? What better days? Look at your own scriptures, they’re full of endless cases of moral backsliding, idolatry, corruption, civil war, anarchy and more. The OT is a long tale of constant sinning, repentance (or not), and struggle to clarify their God given mission as a nation.

    There doesn’t have to have ever been one long, extended, near-perfect ‘golden age’ in order for there to be some sort of national ideal to strive for and some sort of divinely ordained national mission that we strive to understand (even if we can never really know exactly what it is). We can look towards the past, good times and bad, sinful and righteous, for inspiration and edification of what our nation means to.

  9. Pingback: The Thinking Housewife › Is It Possible to Love America?

  10. Pingback: The Thinking Housewife › A Veteran Who No Longer Loves His Country

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