Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Traditionalists are Losing


There are three main reasons that traditionalists are losing the battle for the culture, the government, and losing the Great Experiment in human liberty that was America itself. By definition, traditionalists tend to be resistant to change. But things have changed around them, and if they refuse to adjust to that fact with changes of their own they (we) are finished. Specifically, there are three things which they must be willing to change in order to reverse our national slide into ruin and depravity. If these were easy changes, we would have done them already and we would not be in this mess. Alas, the World is designed to test us and shape our character by the choices we make- the easy thing and the right thing are seldom the same. I will list the changes and what to do about it below.

1) The Church in America largely refuses to emphasize the Gospel.

In the long term, without the Gospel there will be tyranny. This was the norm for humanity before the Gospel arrived, it is still the norm in places where the Gospel never took wide root, and it is reverting to the norm in societies where the influence of the Gospel has waned. We are increasingly without the Gospel, so we are increasingly under tyranny. 

Christianity has been quietly usurped by what has been termed "Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism" in our churches. Sermons have degraded into a series of tips about what you can do to have a better life. Passages of scripture are wrenched out of context to turn them into some kind of analogy about the parishioner and what sort of "to do list" will make them a better person. Somehow, the scriptures are not about God and His finished Work on the Cross anymore, they are about us and what we ought to do going forward. I am not saying there are not places for such lists, this article for example. I am just saying that when church becomes about that then, to paraphrase Jesus, it loses its saltiness and becomes fit for nothing other than what we see- being trampled underfoot by men.

Much of what poses as the Church has rejected the Gospel once delivered in favor of a neo-salvation by works. This is because much of our population prefers justification by "works" in the form of synthetic moral outrage over whatever the mass-media labels as the villain of the day. They would rather have a to-do list, so long as it is not too burdensome and changes to suit the tastes of the day, than accept they are not righteous in themselves and will never be "righteous" unless that righteousness is imputed to them via Christ. They have been programmed to look within for their moral compass. Scripture teaches "what is within" only consistently points in the right direction after it has been informed by what comes from Above.

America was not founded as a "Christian Nation", but it was founded as "A Nation of Christians".   Yet today the "Good News" that God has paid the price for our sins and offers forgiveness and justification by Faith is a "stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense" to a culture which is put off by the idea that they have done anything which needs forgiving and recoils at the thought they should have faith in anything beyond their own feelings. "Sin" and "Repentance" are not words we hear often from most pulpits yet they are necessary pre-conditions to forgiveness and the righteousness which can only come from above. 

This sickness has profound implications for society and government. Only a soul which has been set free by the knowledge that we do not have to earn our righteousness is able to consistently do what is necessary in order to have a free society- the right things for the right reasons, even when no one is looking and even when it means admitting that we have been wrong beforehand. Trying to do the right thing for religious "points" or to impress some institutional authority has a terrible track record of producing freedom and good government in the civil sphere. One trying to earn their salvation by works will be loathe to admit mistakes, for this would set them further back in their goal. One who knows their salvation is not based on their works can admit error and change course more readily, for they were never counting on their works anyway. 

Cultures immersed in the Gospel, though still far from Heaven, have the best track record of producing liberty in all of human history. This is because 1) citizens in such nations perform right works for the right reason even when no religious figure is giving them points for it, and 2) because humility and willingness to change when one sees that they have been wrong is built into the gospel and kneaded into the psyche of those who accept it, and 3) looking outside oneself to time tested guidance to determine what is right and wrong is far superior in producing productive behavior than being what the Old Testament calls "the self-confident fool" who looks only to their own feelings or the changing fads of their own day for moral direction.

What to do about it: We may not have much say about what goes on in our culture these days, but we have all the say in what type of church we support. Even if it did not matter for civil society, Christians should emphasize the Gospel for God's sake. Insist that your church stress the centrality of the Gospel. If they don't, leave them and support one which does. That Christians have stayed, for whatever reason, in "Churches" whose pulpits have forsaken the gospel is the number one reason our nation is in the condition that it is in.

2) Traditionalists have refused to seek out an over-riding philosophy of government by which they can evaluate all candidates and public policy proposals. 

Traditionalists have been reactionary. They tend to see public policy in bits and pieces. In cases where they put things together, it is often a situation where they have discovered a plan with wide-ranging implications that they are against, without developing an over-riding philosophy of what they are for. Knowing only what you are against without understanding why in a larger philosophical context is a guaranteed path to defeat.

For one thing, it means you are "always playing defense". You can't win in a situation where when something terrible is proposed you get roused and try to stop it. That is what I mean by "reactionary." If you lose, you lose. If you "win" it just means  you were back where you were before. The bad guys just wait for a chance to try it again.

Another consequence of failing to adopt an over-all philosophy of government to which you can compare all proposed policies is that traditionalists fail to recognize changes which set them up for defeat later. They don't notice when something is done which shifts the battlefield so that conditions will be against them when the actual battle is fought. Because of this, by the time they react and the battle takes place, it is already lost. 

This is connected to yet another consequence of a refusal to adopt an overall philosophy of government to which one can compare any proposal is that traditionalists are much more easily fooled by politicians who exploit them for support but betray them when its crunch time. This is easy to do to people who only have a few hot button issues: "if you are pro-life and pro-gun and say you support traditional marriage then I support you." 

It is all too easy for a politician to mimic the right answer on those few issues while voting against your interests on every other issue and even doing subtle things which will lead to defeat on your pet issues down the line. They will refuse to take a stand against judges who will "bench legislate" those issues so they don't have to, they will support structural changes in education and corporate law so that the cultural field of battle is shifted further away from you years down the road, and when the time for the battle comes they will offer weaker and less eloquent support than you assumed they would when your side goes crashing down to defeat. 

The truth is, they always voted against your interests except for the three issues you were watching, because they were never with you. And when its crunch time, they will do the minimum possible to retain credibility as your side goes down to defeat, or if necessary even change their position. 

What to do about it: Connect the dots. Adopt a comprehensive philosophy of government. At the very least adopt a connected set of principles to which you can compare all policy proposals and the record of anyone who is nominated for a position of authority. Naturally, as someone who has written two books about philosophy of government, I hope that you choose a philosophy which is similar to that which I hold. "Localism, A Philosophy of Government" and "Localism Defended" are those two books by the way. But even if you choose some other comprehensive philosophy of government, choose something. One further note: This retreat from connected thought in government philosophy is paralleled by what has happened in theology which has contributed to the church going off the rails.

3) Traditionalists have out-sourced the job of protecting our liberties and looking out for our interests to one of two private political clubs run by people in D.C. who don't know us and are funded by global, not even American, corporations and interests.

The two party system is not in the Constitution. Quite the opposite. George Washington and other founding fathers warned us against the dangers of parties. I have often made the case that not only is it not working for us, but that in the long run it cannot work for us. The intent of the Founders to set up a government of checks and balances is necessarily undermined by a unitary party system- that is, a party system in which the same institution puts forth candidates for both the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch.....for both the State Governments and the Central Government. 

Large institutions are subject to "capture", that is, being co-opted by an agenda which is at odds with the agenda for which the institution was ostensibly created to advance. Indeed once an institution gets big enough to be supported by a large bureaucracy that bureaucracy will put its own well-being ahead of whatever interests the institution was originally designed to advance. Therefore there is an inherent struggle between the will of the individuals who form a collective entity for some purpose and the will of the "conglomerate being" that is the bureaucracy which runs that collective entity. National political parties are not exempt from this tendency, and may be among the most susceptible to it.

As a rule the larger collective that one must join in order to have a say in things, the more diluted that voice will be. With institutions as large as a national party, the "conglomerate being" can become larger than the individuals which make it up. Our national party system forces us all to be operational collectivists, even if we are joining a party to express our opposition to collectivism! 

We have invested 100% of whatever political capital we have in supporting a national party hoping they would take care of us. They have not taken care of us, they have taken care of themselves by looting our children while either doing nothing to stop or even helping those who are despoiling our culture by taking the laws of the state further and further from the moral order of heaven. 

Thomas Jefferson said "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."  We have either bought into the con-job that Jefferson was wrong, that we can trust strangers in DC to perform our due diligence. 

What to do about it: You start locally and don't entrust a large institution with the job of defending your liberty. If you are only choosing among the candidates which they select for you, you have no choice at all. Get some of your friends together and pick an office where you think the incumbent is doing a poor job, then recruit some respected person to run against them as an Independent. Don't pick a state-wide office, but start with the state legislature or a County Office. Independents are starting to win a few places now, and with a little help it could turn into an avalanche.

If people in other places do the same, a spontaneous network that can't be bought our or captured because it is not a hierarchy will emerge.  The existing parties will either lose it it as the network gets better and  better or the parties will start listening to the people again to keep from losing. It will probably be a combination of both. If you live in my home state, Neighbors of Arkansas supports this model and has information about how to get on the ballot as an independent. Or start something like it where you live.

The one thing you should not do is go join one of the existing parties and get stuck serving chicken dinners at their fund raisers for ten years while other people pick their candidates. They have well-thought out ways to divert the energy of citizens who decide they need to get involved. It is all about candidate selection, and the people that run those parties now will be in your way every step of the process.


For your children's sake and mine, I wish blessings on your journey back to your heritage and birthright as an American - the right to govern ourselves.

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