Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Professor Louis M. Seidman is channeling Herbert Croly

CBS News and Professor Louis Michael Seidman have a lot of people in a panic. Rightfully so, because it's typical in our society to regard college professors as disinterested observers.

College professors are not disinterested observers.

While plenty of people are in a panic over the open attacks on the constitution, one question I have not heard anybody ask or even begin to take a look into, is where does this come from?

Whether he knows it or not, Professor Seidman is speaking almost verbatim from one of the most important early 20th century progressives: Herbert Croly. Croly was profoundly influential with President Roosevelt, and was co-founder of the magazine New Republic. So Croly's vision is still very real and with us today.

Here's a portion of what Prof. Seidman stated: (Video/transcript)

This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today.

Notice the sophistry injected into the phrasing he's using. It's true that Americans wouldn't want the French or the UN to rule over us, but then he equates that with the Founding Fathers. In his mind, he does see the Founders as ruling over us as dictators from a distant and irrelevant time period.

What I heard was this: "The Monarchy of the Word". I wrote this blog posting over a year and a half ago, and I'll briefly cover Croly's words here for comparison. In Herbert Croly's book "Progressive Democracy", on pages 44 and 76.

The Law in the shape of the Federal Constitution really came to be a monarchy of the Word. It had been imposed upon the popular will, which was the only power capable of disputing its authority; and its friends came more and more to assume that the imposition was wise and beneficent.

Herbert Croly, just like Professor Seidman, view the constitution as a paper dictator - imposing it's will upon people who don't want it.(and by extension, the Founders who wrote it) In addition to the quote I listed above, Professor Seidman made these comments:

But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago.
Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one's commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.
If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.

These are all right out of Herbert Croly: (Page 76)

They became, consequently, its appointed defenders. By the force of their reiterated panegyrics they did much to surround the monarchy of the Law with a more radiant halo of sanctity, which under the circumstances may have had its uses; but they certainly carried their worship of the Word too far.

I really hope that over time I've inspired a few people to pick up some of these old books and read them because yes,they are relevant and yes, the answers are here. The truely scary part is that the progressives have a 100 year head start on us. If I could impress just one thing upon my readers it's this: We can make up time by reading these old texts and realizing who it is we're up against. The progressives rarely if ever talk about their own history in detailed ways. We can use that to our advantage.


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