Never End A Nation With A Proposition

I don`t write much about
political philosophy, but it seems to be unavoidable
lately. There was that almost interminable hullabaloo
over the

Leo Strauss cult
, which left me baffled about what
the sage who surpasseth understanding had actually meant
(if anything). Then the octogenarian Irving Kristol
embarrassed his allies by

spilling the beans
—albeit in an article as

beautifully-written
as always – on

neoconservatism
.

And now, in "The
Remedy
," a nifty little blog run by the Claremont
Institute out here in SoCal, the

dapper
Nicholas Antongiavanni offers

"Friendly Advice for the Folks at
VDare."

Antongiavanni is not at all
a knee-jerk immigration enthusiast. (Click

here
for his clouting of the NRO Cornerites.)
He actually says:

“…the folks at VDare
are on the right side of one of the most important
political issues of our time. They have done, and
continue to do, some great work on the immigration
debate. I freely admit to having learned a great deal
from some of them (especially

Steve Sailer
).
[link in
original].

Wow! We`re not used to
this!

However, Antongiavanni`s
point is that VDARE.COM

"would do well to drop
their smug and unthinking dismissal of America`s
Founding principles, and instead study those principles,
learn from them, and embrace them."

Antongiavanni contends
that we should support a reinterpretation of those
Founding principles. The Founding Fathers, he says,

"believed that
America`s core equality principle not only entails the
right of the people of the United States to
regulate immigration (even to the point of total
exclusion), but in some circumstances also the duty
to curb immigration."

I would certainly advise
all those interested in this kind of thinking to follow
the links in Antongiavanni`s piece. 

The Claremont folks seem
much less susceptible to the mistakes than the WSJ
crowd and the like. But, speaking personally, I find
Proposition Nation thinking both too high-minded and too
vulgarized.

For example,
Antongiavanni reveals how easily

Proposition Nation
thinkers, even when their hearts
are in the right place, spin off into the blue sky when
he writes: "But love of one`s own—however
understandable—is never a sufficient philosophical
justification for deeming something intrinsically good."

Well, so what? In the
real world, that`s how human beings feel. They
love their own even without "philosophical
justification."

Disastrously, the
Propositionist civilian intellectuals in the Pentagon
assumed that Iraqis would

dance in the streets
to celebrate our conquest of
them. After all, we`ve got the world`s best
Propositions!

In a brilliant

essay
, however, the profane and mordant commentator
who calls himself the

War Nerd
has explained why they did not:

Q: Why don`t they
love us?

A: Cause we invaded
them, DUH!

Of course, nobody can be
high-minded all the time. It`s amusing to note how some
Proposition Nation theorists themselves tend to be
obsessed with primal turf rivalries.

Nobody in Fajullah hates
anybody more than the WSJ Propositionists

hate the French
. James

Taranto
of the WSJ, for example, recently

insinuated
that 3,000 French people hadn`t really
died in the

August heat wave
—the Frogs probably just made it up
because 3,000 Americans died on 9/11!

The irony, and it`s an
instructive one, is that France has officially sported a

Proposition Nation ideology
for

200 years.
To any passing Martian, it would look
almost identical to the one advocated by Taranto and Co.

Meanwhile, Proposition
thinking becomes more vulgarized each year. The subtle
meanings of the Founders are forgotten, and more literal
and dogmatic interpretation becomes mandatory. I`m sure
the Claremont scholars would suggest more intense study.
But would they agree that a little less Proposition
Worship, and a little more skepticism, might be useful
too?

Consider the most famous
of all the Propositions: "All men are created equal."

Well, guess what, I
don`t believe it—not in the sense of empirical equality
of capabilities. But that interpretation has become
increasingly dominant, especially after the

discussion of IQ
was driven out of polite society by
the great Bell Curve brouhaha of

1994
.

What I do believe in is
the spiritual, moral, and legal equality of humans. The
Catholic apologist and genius G.K. Chesterton

wrote
in 1922:

"The


Declaration of Independence

dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God
created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were
not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.
There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about
the divine origin of man."

Jefferson and the
signers of the Declaration probably meant something
similarly sophisticated.

Unfortunately, they
didn`t quite end up saying that.

The great computer
scientist

John McCarthy
, the inventor of the LISP programming
language for artificial intelligence, once told me that
if Jefferson had asked him to debug the most famous
sentence from the Declaration of Independence, he`d add
the word "in" between "equal" and "that."  Then it would
read:

"We hold these truths
to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
in
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness."

Heresy, I realize. But
Abraham Lincoln effectively offered the same

explanation
:

"I think the authors
of that notable instrument intended to include all men,
but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all
respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in
color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social
capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in
what respects they did consider all men created
equal-equal in `certain inalienable rights, among
which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.`
"

Nevertheless, the
relentless momentum in American public life is toward
enshrining "All men are created equal" as
totalitarian dogma.

And
that`s why the Proposition Nation idea scares the hell
out of me.

If
believing propositions makes a foreigner an American,
what – in the Proposition Utopia of the near future –
does disbelieving them make me?

A
candidate for deportation?


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]