We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal"?
The notion of human equality was always a hard sell, because experience teaches us that we are so unequal in so many ways, and because making one's self superior is so tempting that Lincoln called it "the old serpent, you work I'll eat." But human equality made sense to our Founding generation because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.
It did not take long for their paradigm to be challenged by interest and by "science." By the 1820s, as J. C. Calhoun was reading in the best London journals that different breeds of animals and plants produce inferior or superior results, slave owners were citing the Negroes' deficiencies to argue that they should remain slaves indefinitely. Lots of others were reading Ludwig Feuerbach's rendition of Hegelian philosophy, according to which biblical injunctions reflect the fantasies of alienated human beings or, in the young Karl Marx's formulation, that ethical thought is "superstructural" to material reality. By 1853, when Sen. John Pettit of Ohio called "all men are created equal" "a self-evident lie," much of America's educated class had already absorbed the "scientific" notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force. As the 19th century ended, the educated class's religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.
Thus began the Progressive Era. When Woodrow Wilson in 1914 was asked "can't you let anything alone?" he answered with, "I let everything alone that you can show me is not itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those things alone that I see are going down-hill." Wilson spoke for the thousands of well-off Americans who patronized the spas at places like Chautauqua and Lake Mohonk. By such upper-middle-class waters, progressives who imagined themselves the world's examples and the world's reformers dreamt big dreams of establishing order, justice, and peace at home and abroad. Neither were they shy about their desire for power. Wilson was the first American statesman to argue that the Founders had done badly by depriving the U.S. government of the power to reshape American society. Nor was Wilson the last to invade a foreign country (Mexico) to "teach [them] to elect good men."
Ah, old fire-snorting John C. Calhoun. I've got a post-Civil War set of his collected writings that had belonged to a cousin of mine, away back in the family line.
It's interesting reading. On the one had he could very eloquently lay out a solid argument for "States Rights" under the Constitution, and the importance of protecting individual liberty and self-determination.
Then he ties himself in knots trying to square those ideas with the desire to keep slavery as an institution.
I was thinking of this recently as deceased professor Derrick Bell, a progenitor of "critical race theory" among academic legal scholars, has been back in the news via that Breitbart video.
His legal scholarship (and the whole dreadful "critical race theory" shtick) struck me as containing an internal contradiction similar to Calhoun's writings.
On the one hand Bell's politics presumably includes individual liberty, self-determination and independence as foundation stones.
But then he (or at least, the CRT academics) embraces a fundamentally deterministic attitude towards race. Race absolutely defines your identity, making one inescapable from the other. Further, the theory attributes fundamental attitudes and characteristics to races as inescapable and in fact undeniable.
That isn't so different from Calhoun's attitude toward race, though far as I know the CRT people aren't citing scientific sources to back up their claims.
(Then of course it veers into Marxist "false consciousness" territory where the academics get to pretend they can see into the souls of all folks, Black or White.)
The persistence of patently absurd but transparently poisonous and corrosive "theories" like CRT is just more evidence that whatever their pretensions, academics are basically cowards. All it would ever take is a few voices within Academia pointing out how feeble and malicious such arguments are, and they would not be able to take hold.