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Edited by Mary Sennholz 

Faith of Our Fathers 

Edited by 
Mary Sennholz 

The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc. 
Irvington-on-Hudson, New York 


8l«fcrayQr y/o ^-rg'tr.or sste libro. 

Faith of Our Fathers 

Copyright © 1997 by The Foundation for Economic Education 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or trans- 
mitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includ- 
ing photocopying, recording or by any information storage and 
retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, 
except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. 

The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc. 
30 South Broadway 
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533 

Publisher's Cataloging in Publication 
(Prepared by Quality Books^ Inc) 

Faith of our fathers / edited by Mary Sennholz. 
p. cm. 
Includes index. 

ISBN: 1-57246-063-6 . i A >^ i T i V* 

1. United States— History. 2. United States— Politics and 
government. 3. United States— Civilization. 4. Conduct of life. 
I. Sennholz, Mary, 1913- 

E156.F35 1997 973 


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 97-60345 

Front cover: Christ Church, as seen from South Street, Philadelphia. 
Cover design by Beth R. Bowlby 
Manufactured in the United States of America 


Table of Contents 

o> -^J-o^ 

Introduction 1 

I. The Spirit of '76 

The Founding of the American Republic 

Clarence B. Carson 7 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli 

John Wesley Young 25 

George Washington on Liberty and Order 

Clarence B. Carson 40 

John Witherspoon: "Animated Son of Liberty" 

Robert A. Peterson 52 

Education in Colonial America 

Robert A. Peterson 61 

Reasserting the Spirit of '76 

Wesley H. Hillendahl 11 

Faith of Our Fathers 

Clarence B. Carson 98 

IL A Biblical View 

Jeremiah's Job 
Gary North 

Ezekiel's Job 

Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

The Road to Jericho 
Hal Watkins 



What the Bible Says About Big Government 

James C. Patrick 136 

A Judeo-Christian Foundation 

Hans F. Sennholz 152 

III. The Rights of Man 

Freedom, MoraUty, and Education 

George C. Roche III 161 

Morals and Liberty 

R A. Harper 175 

The Idea of Equality 

Jarret B. Wollstein 198 

Justice and Freedom 

Leslie Snyder 207 

On Liberty and Liberation 

Bruce D. Porter 220 

The Case for Economic Freedom 

Benjamin A. Rogge 229 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the 
American Heritage 
Paul L. Adams 242 

IV. The Crisis of Our Age 

Moral Criticisms of the Market 

Ken S. Ewert 257 

The Psychology of Cultism 

Ben Barker 274 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die 

John K. Williams 284 


A Moral Order 

Edmund A. Opitz 304 

Freedom and Majority Rule 

Edmund A. Opitz 321 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man 

Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 338 

The Roots of " Anticapitalism" 

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 352 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of 
the Problem? 
Calvin D. Linton 365 

Index 383 


Man does not seek society for its own sake, but that he 
may benefit from the company of his fellow man. He 
yearns for comfort, protection, and productivity, which 
safeguard his life and promote his happiness. He lives and 
thrives in society, and is incapable of living alone. Man 
gives order and structure to society by way of a constitution 
or agreement in convention, custom, and tradition, thereby 
touching upon the manner in which he lives. 

A constitution comprises the fundamental principles of 
government of a country, either implicitly in its laws and 
customs, as in Great Britain, or in one or several fundamen- 
tal documents, as in the United States. Written in 1787 and 
ratified in 1789, the Constitution of the United States was 
the first written constitution which became a model for 
many subsequent constitutional documents written since 

Several of the essays collected in this anthology search 
for the opinions, doctrines, and values of the men who 
wrote the Constitution. They dwell on two particular pre- 
cepts and self-evident truths that guided the Founding 
Fathers. There was the theory of the social contract as 
developed by John Locke in the seventeenth century. It 
became the basis of the idea that government must reflect 
the will of all the people and their natural rights, which in 
turn became the ideological justification for both the Amer- 
ican and the French revolutions. 

The Founding Fathers were united in the belief that 
preservation of certain natural rights was an essential part 

2 / Mary Sennholz 

of the social contract, and that "consent of the governed" 
was fundamental to any exercise of political power. The 
Declaration of Independence enumerated the king's viola- 
tions of the rights of the colonists. It presented not only a 
justification for the revolution but also a unique statement 
of general principles and an abstract theory of government. 
Based on the belief in natural rights, the opening paragraph 
asserts the fundamental American ideal of government: 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are 
created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator 
with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, 
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these 
rights. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving 
their just powers from the consent of the governed." 

God-given natural rights were the guiding light of the 
Founding Fathers. The stirring closing paragraph of the 
Declaration of Independence was not only the formal pro- 
nouncement of independence but also a powerful appeal to 
the Creator of all rights: "We, therefore, the Representatives 
of the United States of America, in General Congress, 
Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world 
for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by 
authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly 
publish and declare, that these United Colonies are and of 
Right ought to be free and independent States." In the final 
sentence of defiance they appealed to the Almighty for His 
protection: "And for the support of this declaration, with a 
firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we 
mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and 
our Sacred Honor." 

To the Founding Fathers, the God of nature and the God 
of Scripture was the same God. Surely, there were differ- 
ences in the understanding of natural law and the interpre- 

Introduction / 3 

tation of revealed law, but the differences did not raise a 
doubt on the common bond, the Judeo-Christian faith. It 
was the spiritual and moral foundation on which America 
was built. To the Founding Fathers the world was ordered 
well. They looked upon the future of their country with 
confidence and in the knowledge that, in the end, all things 
would work together in freedom. The Reverend Frederick 
Faber later could write: 

Faith of our fathers, God's great power 

Shall win all nations unto thee 
And through the truth that comes from God 

Mankind shall then be truly free. 

Throughout the nineteenth century this optimism 
slowly gave way to alien philosophies that are highly criti- 
cal of all ramifications of freedom and that were to become 
the guidepost for most Americans. Positivism, a philosoph- 
ical doctrine that denies the validity of first principles, 
teaches that such principles are unfathomable and that the 
only knowledge is scientific knowledge. If there are no first 
principles, there can be no economic principles. In order to 
prevent confusion and chaos, man obviously needs direc- 
tion, command, and instruction by authority. This is why 
many Americans, especially those who profess to be ratio- 
nal and scientific, keep the company of central planners 
calling on legislators, regulators, judges, and policemen to 
retrieve order out of chaos. 

Other Americans unwittingly embrace the philosophy 
of materialism which explains all political, social, and eco- 
nomic phenomena as entirely dependent on matter, beyond 
which nothing needs to be explained. Modern communism 
is based on it, socialist doctrines are derived from it, and 

4 / Mary Sennholz 

political interventionism builds on it. The sociological doc- 
trine of class struggle, the economic doctrines of labor the- 
ory of value, of labor exploitation, business concentration, 
and monopolization are popular offshoots. Countless labor 
laws and regulations spring from it. 

Several essays in this anthology point at the sway of 
positivistic and materialistic doctrines as the ideological 
causes of the crisis of our age. In his essay on "The Psychol- 
ogy of Cultism," Dr. Ben Barker describes some of the 
symptoms of the crisis: "There is no prayer in the schools 
and unionized, socialist teachers insidiously program our 
youth. Mindless violence and senseless trivia beam at us 
from our television, our newspapers are full of lies and 
scantily clad females posing for underwear ads. Heroin is 
the opiate of the ghetto, alcohol of the middle class com- 
munity, and cocaine of the wealthy. Valium, which we sup- 
ply, is abused by all social classes." 

The moral precepts and the self-evident truths that 
guided our Founding Fathers may not be fashionable in our 
time, but they are as inescapable and inexorable as they 
have been throughout the ages. We are free to ignore and 
disobey them, but we cannot escape the rising price we 
must pay for defying them. 

February 1997 Mary Sennholz 


The Founding of the American Republic 
Clarence B. Carson 

Scribes are quite often merciless tyrants in dealing with 
characters out of the past, spearing them with an assort- 
ment of verbs and freezing them in predetermined cate- 
gories with their adjectives, much as a butterfly collector 
does with his helpless insects. There is no surer way to shat- 
ter the integrity of an individual or to distort a historical 
epoch ihan by the indiscriminate use of categories. No man 
of wit is likely to believe that a category comprehends him, 
even when it is well chosen. But when categories drawn 
from other times and places are imposed upon men and 
events which are foreign to them, the result can only be to 
confuse the subject under discussion. 

Some twentieth-century historians have done just this 
to American history of the late eighteenth century. They 
have called Americans of the time by names, some of which 
were unknown to them and others which they would have 
disavowed; they have categorized them as revolutionaries 
or reactionaries, democrats or aristocrats, nationalists or 
states' righters, liberals or conservatives, and other such 
categories. They have tried to thrust the events into revolu- 
tionary and "social" revolutionary categories, categories 
drawn from other revolutions and other circumstances. It is 

Dr. Carson has written and taught extensively, specializing in 
American intellectual history. This article appeared in the September 
1972 issue of The Freeman. 

8 / Clarence B. Carson 

a journalistic habit into which many historians have fallen 
to attribute an absoluteness to the views and thrusts of men 
which violates both what they intend and do. Debates, 
even great historical debates, can be quite misleading. Men 
often advance positions with more certainty than they feel, 
appear to be unalterable in their determination, yet may 
shortly yield to the other side with good humor when they 
have lost. Some historians appear to have no difficulty 
whatever in discovering men's motives, but the fact is that 
we are not privy to their motives. 

The subject to be treated below is the reforms and inno- 
vations made by Americans mostly in the decade after the 
declaring of independence. The above prelude was made 
necessary because the present writer both wishes to make 
known the fact that he is familiar with the crosscurrents of 
interpretation of these years by twentieth-century histori- 
ans and to disavow many of the categories that have been 
used. After the Americans broke from England they did 
make some changes; they did sometimes differ among 
themselves as to what the direction of change should be; 
but there is no need to question their motives or any solid 
basis for saying for certain what they were. Above all, there 
is no need to push this one into that category and that one 
into this, with the category being excessively large for the 
matter at issue and much too confining for the man over 
any period of time. More rubbish has been written about 
the class positions and interests of the men of these times 
than any other in American history, so far as I can make out. 
The present writer has neither the space nor inclination to 
spend energy upon trying to refute what has not been well 
established, in any case. 

The Founding of the American Republic / 9 
The Main Thrust of Changes 

What is established is that there were some changes 
made during these years. The main thrust of these changes 
is the freeing of the individual: freeing him from foreign 
domination, from various government compulsions, from 
class prescriptions, and for greater control of his own 
affairs. And, in conjunction with these, there was an effort 
to erect safeguards around him that would protect him in 
the exercise of his rights. The thrust to do these things was 
made along several different paths, and each of these is 
worth some attention. 

A primary aim of the Americans was independence. 
They wanted to be independent of England, of course; that 
was what the war was fought about. Many Americans had 
come to believe that they could only have the requisite con- 
trol of their affairs by separating from the mother country. 
This was achieved, of course, by terms of the Treaty of 
Paris. But Americans longed also to be independent of 
European entanglements. Time after time, during the colo- 
nial period, Americans had been drawn into wars that orig- 
inated in Europe but spread to the New World. Americans 
wanted to be free of the dynastic quarrels, the imperial 
ambitions, and the trade wars which rended Europe and 
shook much of the rest of the world. To many Americans, 
Europe was the symbol and embodiment of corruption, 
decadence, and foreclosed opportunity. To be independent 
of Europe was, in the final analysis, to be free to follow 
courses which had not yet, at any rate, proven to be so 
laden with disaster. 

Independence did not mean, nor should it be taken to 

10 / Clarence B. Carson 

connote, the rejection of either the English or European her- 
itage. Indeed, there was little irrational rejection of either 
heritage that comes to mind. Though Americans rejected 
European aristocracy they did not, for that reason, change 
names of places in this country derived from aristocrats. 

Perhaps, the most extensive thrust of this period was to 
the freeing of the individual from government compulsion. 
Libertarian sentiment had been maturing for some consid- 
erable while in America; it was fostered both by legal 
trends and religious and other intellectual development. 
Once the break from England came, Americans used the 
occasion to cut away a body of restraints no longer in 
accord with their outlook. 

Religious Liberty 

Religious liberty was widely secured within a decade or 
so of the break from England. Much of it came by way of 
the disestablishment of churches. The establishment most 
readily dispensed with was that of the Church of England. 
While the Church of England was established throughout 
the South as well as in New York, it was not very popular; 
many of its clergy remained loyal to England, and adher- 
ents of it were outnumbered by dissenters in most states. Its 
disestablishment was made even easier because it was a 
national church; membership in it was tied to loyalty to the 
king of England. The Church of England was everywhere 
speedily disestablished. But these actions were not simply 
prompted by convenience, for there was increasing belief in 
religious liberty. Several states had no established churches: 
namely. New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and 
Delaware. But they used the opportunity afforded by inde- 

The Founding of the American Republic / 11 

pendence to remove or reduce restrictions. Some of the dis- 
abilities of Roman Catholics were cut away. 

The established Congregational church was maintained 
for several decades longer in Massachusetts, Connecticut, 
cmd New Hampshire. There was, however, some liberaliza- 
tion in these states. The Massachusetts constitution of 1780 
affirmed that every man had the right to worship in his 
own way, that no church should be subordinated to any 
other, and that tax moneys could be used to support minis- 
ters other than Congregationalists. However, church atten- 
dance was required still, and ministers were supported 
from taxes.^ "New Hampshire followed in the steps of 
Massachusetts, but Connecticut held out much longer 
against what its citizens regarded as the forces of iniquity. 
They allowed dissenters to escape payment of taxes to the 
established church if they presented the clerk of the local 
church with a certificate of church attendance signed by an 
officer of the dissenter's own church."^ 

The constitutions of New Jersey, Georgia, North and 
South Carolina, Delaware, and Pennsylvania "explicitly 
provided that no man should be obliged to pay any church 
rate or attend any religious service save according to his 
own free and unhampered will."^ But Virginia made the 
greatest effort to assure religious liberty. This might have 
been a reaction to the fact that Virginia had the longest 
establishment and one of the most rigorous. Thomas Jeffer- 
son, James Madison, and George Mason were leading 
advocates of religious liberty, but they did not succeed in 
getting their ideas into law until 1786. This was done by the 
Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which proclaimed 
religious liberty a natural right. An impressive preface 
states the case: 

12 / Clarence B. Carson 

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind 
free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal 
punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, 
tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and mean- 
ness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy 
author of our religion 

The legally effective portion of the statute reads this 

That no man shall be compelled to frequent or 
support any religious worship, place, or ministry 
whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, 
molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor 
shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious 
opinions or beliefs; but that all men shall be free to 
profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion 
in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no 
wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capaci- 

This was the beginning of religious liberty in America. 

Freeing the Slaves 

The movement for freeing the slaves reached a peak in 
the 1780s which it would not soon attain again. Even before 
the break from England, the slave trade was acquiring a 
bad reputation in America, but such efforts as were made to 
restrict it were negated by the mother country. Fiske says, 
'The success of the American Revolution made it possible 
for the different states to take measures for the gradual abo- 
lition of slavery and the immediate abolition of the foreign 

The Founding of the American Republic / 13 

slave-trade."^ Nor was sentiment against slavery restricted 
to states in which there were few slaves. Some of the out- 
standing leaders from the South during this period, most of 
them slaveholders, spoke out against slavery. Henry Lau- 
rens, a leader in South Carolina, wrote in 1776: "You know 
my Dear Sir. I abhor slavery . . . — in former days there was 
no combatting the prejudices of Men supported by Interest, 
the day I hope is approaching when from principles of grat- 
itude as well [as] justice every Man will strive to be fore- 
most in shewing his readiness to comply with the Golden 

Rule "^ Thomas Jefferson argued in his Notes on the State 

of Virginia that slavery had a bad influence on the manners 
and morals of the white people as well as its devastating 
effects on the Negroes. He longed for and hoped to see the 
day when all slaves would be emancipated. He warned his 
countrymen of the impending impact on them if this were 
not done: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought se- 
cure when we have removed their only firm basis, a con- 
viction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the 
gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his 
wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country," he said, "when I 
reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. 


Some states began to act almost as soon as the opportu- 
nity arose. In 1776, Delaware prohibited the importation of 
slaves and removed all restraints on their manumission. 
Virginia stopped slave imports in 1778; Maryland adopted 
a similar measure in 1783. Both states now allowed manu- 
nussion at the behest of the owner. In 1780, Pennsylvania 
not only prohibited further importation of slaves but also 
provided that after that date all children born of slaves 
should be free. Similar enactments were made in the early 
1780s in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. 

14 / Clarence B. Carson 

In Massachusetts, the supreme court decided that on the 
basis of the constitution of 1780 slavery was aboUshed in 
that province. Even North Carolina moved to discourage 
the slave trade in 1786 by taxing heavily such slaves as were 
imported after that time. In order to protect free Negroes, 
Virginia made it a crime punishable by death for anyone 
found guilty of selling a freed Negro into slavery.^ 

How far sentiment against slavery had gone may well 
be best indicated by the Northwest Ordinance (1787), an act 
of all the states, as it were, in Congress assembled. The act 
provided: "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the pun- 
ishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly 

convicted " This article was passed, according to one of 

its proponents, without opposition.^ 

Individual Liberties 

The bills of rights drawn and adopted in the various 
states contained provisions intended to assure individual 
liberties. These bills of rights were usually drawn and 
adopted along with constitutions but were frequently sepa- 
rate documents. They were usually cast in the language of 
natural rights theory. For example. Article I of the Massa- 
chusetts Declaration of Rights states: 

All men are bom free and equal, and have cer- 
tain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; 
among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying 
and defending their lives and liberties; that of 
acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in 
fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and 

The Founding of the American Republic / 15 

Virginia was the first state to draw both a constitution 
and a bill of rights. Actually, Virginia's Bill of Rights was 
adopted June 12, 1776, while the would-be state was still a 
colony. It was the work primarily of George Mason, was cir- 
culated among the states, and became a model for such 

The Virginia Bill of Rights guaranteed trial by jury in 
both criminal and civil cases, prohibited excessive bail and 
fines, declared general warrants to be oppressive, and 
acknowledged freedom of the press. The protections of a 
person accused of a crime were spelled out: 

That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man 
hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his 
accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and 
witnesses, to call for evidence in his favour, and to a 
sf)eedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, 
without whose unanimous consent he cannot be 
found guilty; nor can he be compelled to give evi- 
dence against himself; that no man may be deprived 
of his liberty, except by the law of the land or the 
judgment of his peers. 

The only specific protection of property, other than the pro- 
vision for jury trial in civil cases, was the requirement that 
men "cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for 
publick uses, without their own consent, or that of their 
representatives so elected. . . ."^^ 

The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights of 1780, the 
work mainly of John Adams, was considerably more thor- 
ough. In regard to property, it said: "No part of the property 
of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or 
applied to public uses, without his consent, or that of the 

16 / Clarence B. Carson 

representative body of the people. . . . And whenever the 
public exigencies require that the property of any individ- 
ual should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive 
a reasonable compensation therefor."^^ Other rights were 
alluded to than those mentioned in the Virginia Bill: free- 
dom from unreasonable searches, the right to bear arms, 
the right of peaceful assembly, the prohibition of ex post 
facto laws, the prohibition of attainders by the legislature, 
as well as most of those covered in Virginia. 

Northwest Ordinance 

The Northwest Ordinance sums up, in Article II, what 
may well be considered a contemporary consensus of the 
protections of the rights of the people most needed: 

The inhabitants of the said territory shall always 
be entitled to the benefits of the writs of habeas cor- 
pus, and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate repre- 
sentation of the people in the legislature, and judicial 
proceedings according to the course of the common 
law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital 
offences, where the proof shall be evident or the pre- 
sumption great. All fines shall be moderate; and no 
cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted. No 
man shall be deprived of his liberty or property, but 
by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land; 
and should the public exigencies make it necessary, 
for the common preservation, to take any person's 
property, or to demand his particular services, full 
compensation shall be made for the same. And, in 
the just preservation of rights and property, it is 
understood and declared, that no law ought ever to 

The Founding of the American Republic / 17 

be made, or have force in the said territory, that 
shall, in any manner whatever, interfere or affect pri- 
vate contracts or engagements, bona fide, and with- 
out fraud, previously formed. ^^ 

Some recent writers have claimed that the Founders dis- 
tinguished between "human rights" and property rights in 
favor of "human rights." It should be clear from the above 
that no such distinction can be discerned, nor has the pre- 
sent writer ever seen a quotation from the original that 
could reasonably be construed to show that the Founders 
made any such distinction. 

Property was, however, freed from various feudal 
restraints during this period and made more fully the pos- 
session of the individual holding title to it. The most gen- 
eral encumbrance on property ownership was the 
quitrent — a jDeriodical payment due to king or proprietor 
on land, a payment that originated in the late Middle Ages 
as money payments displaced personal servitude. Such 
claims were speedily extinguished following the break 
from England, and land thereafter was held in "fee simple." 
Such royal prerogatives as the right of the monarch to white 
pines on private land were, of course, nullified. States abol- 
ished entail, also, a move which enhanced the authority of 
the owner to dispose of his lands. 

V\rith the Declaration of Independence, the whole edifice 
of mercantilism as imposed from England was swept away. 
One historian describes the impact of this as follows: "As a 
result of the American Revolution, freedom of enterprise, that 
is, the equal opportunity of any individual to engage in any 
economic activity he chooses in order to amass wealth, and to 
hold onto his wealth or dispose of it as he pleases, became a 
living reality in America to a greater degree than before."^^ 

18 / Clarence B. Carson 
Abolition of Classes 

Another sort of innovation may be described as anti- 
class in its character. Fixed classes are supported and main- 
tained by government where they exist. Americans of this 
period wanted to remove government support of classes 
and prevent the growth of special privileges by which 
classes are shaped. Some of the actions already described 
were, in part, anti-class measures. For example, the estab- 
lished Church of England was hierarchical and, in England 
particularly, a major support of class arrangements. Its 
disestablishment in America struck at the root of govern- 
ment support of class structures. Entailment was a means 
of perpetuating great estates, just as quitrents were devices 
for maintaining aristocracies. Other actions were taken that 
were even more pointedly aimed at removing government 
from its role as class perpetuator. 

One of these was the abolition of primogeniture. Primo- 
geniture was the rule that the estate of one who died with- 
out a will should go either whole or in larger part to the 
eldest son. States abolished this rule and adopted the prac- 
tice of dividing the estate equally among the children when 
the father died intestate. The tendency of this was for great 
estates to be broken up from time to time. 

Various sorts of provisions were made in state constitu- 
tions to prevent the growth of aristocratic privileges. For 
example, the Virginia Bill of Rights had this provision: 

That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclu- 
sive or separate emoluments or privileges from the 
community, but in consideration of publick services; 
which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices 
of magistrate, legislator or judge to be hereditary.^^ 

The Founding of the American Republic / 19 
The Massachusetts Declaration held: 

No man, nor corporation, or association of men, 
have any other title to obtain advantages, or particu- 
lar and exclusive privileges, distinct from those of 
the community, than what arises from the consider- 
ation of services rendered to the public; and this title 
being in nature neither hereditary, nor transmissible 
to children, or descendants, or relations by blood; 
the idea of a man bom a magistrate, lawgiver, or 
judge, is absurd and unnatural.^^ 

The animus against titles of nobility found expression 
sometimes. So strong was the animus against hereditary 
positions that the Society of Cincinnati, a voluntary as- 
sociation of officers who had served in the War for Inde- 
pendence, found it expedient to abandon the rule that 
membership could be inherited to allay the indignation 
against them. Frequent elections and restrictions on the 
amount of time one could serve in office were efforts to pre- 
vent the emergence of a ruling class, at least in part. 

The kind of equality sought by prohibitions against 
govemmentally fostered classes was equality before the 
law. So far as any other equality was concerned, American 
opinion of the time accepted differences in wealth and 
social station as inevitable and desirable results of differ- 
ences in ability and effort. Undoubtedly, there were those in 
that day who would have liked to have some portions of 
the wealth and estates of others — who coveted what was 
not theirs — as there are in any day, but they were either 
inarticulate or ashamed to profess their views. Some histo- 
rians have made much ado about the confiscation and sale 
of Loyalist estates during the war. This is treated as if it 

20 / Clarence B. Carson 

were a redistributionist scheme, and there is an attempt to 
give factual support to this notion by pointing out that 
large estates were sometimes broken up before they were 
offered for sale. This did sometimes happen, but it does not 
follow that it was done with any motive of equalizing hold- 
ings. Small parcels attract more bidders than large ones; 
hence, the price attained for large estates was likely to be 
increased by dividing them up. Moreover, large estates 
were sometimes formed or added to by buying several 

Limitations on Government 

There were some general changes in governments dur- 
ing this period, changes in degree from what they had been 
under British rule. The main tendency was to make the 
state governments more dependent upon the popular will 
than they had been during the colonial period. The new 
state constitutions required that all state officers either be 
chosen by the electorate or appointed by those who had. 

The main impetus behind making governments depend 
more closely on the electorate was a profound fear of gov- 
ernment. This distrust of government was most clearly 
shown in the distrust of governors and courts, those parts 
of the government that had not been popularly chosen dur- 
ing the colonial period. The colonists feared the legisla- 
tures, too, or so the limitations on them would indicate, but 
out of their colonial experience, they feared them less than 
the other branches. In point of fact, Americans relied rather 
heavily on a narrow and provincial colonial experience in 
making their first constitutions. Probably, Massachusetts 
and New York should be excepted from these strictures. 

The office of governor — or whatever the executive 

The Founding of the American Rqyuhlic / 21 

might be called, for some states abandoned briefly that 
colonial title — was stripped of much of the power and most 
of the independence enjoyed by colonial chief executives. 
Colonial governors had usually possessed an absolute veto 
over legislation. The new executives were stripped of the 
veto power in all but two of the states — Massachusetts and 
New York — , and in these the power was somewhat weak- 
ened, hi all the states but New York the legislatures or the 
constitutions governed the assembling and dispersal of the 
legislative branch. In eight of the states, the chief executive 
was elected by the legislature, and he was made, thereby, 
greatly dependent upon it. His tenure of office was usually 
quite brief. In nine states, it was only twelve months, and 
nowhere was it for a longer period than three years. To pre- 
vent the growth of personal power in the hands of the gov- 
ernor, most state constitutions limited the number of terms 
he could serve in a given period.^^ 

Courts and Legislatures 

The courts generally were made more dependent on 
legislatures than they had been formerly. The Pennsylvania 
constitution described the relationship this way: "The 
judges of the supreme court of judicature shall have fixed 
salaries, be commissioned for seven years only, though 
capable of reappointment at the end of that term, but 
removable for misbehavior at any time by the general 
assembly. . . ."^^ Even so, the principle of separation of pow- 
ers generally prevailed as between the courts and the legis- 
lature more fully than between governors and legislatures. 

The legislatures were subject to frequent elections, a 
device for making them closely dependent upon the elec- 
torate. In ten of the states the lower house was subject to 

22 / Clarence B. Carson 

annual elections; in two states their terms were only for 
six months. The members of the upper house usually had 
somewhat longer terms, but one state did not even have 
an upper house.^^ Even so, the powers of the legislatures 
were quite extensive. Thomas Jefferson complained that 
in Virginia: 

All the powers of government, legislative, execu- 
tive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. . . . 
An elective despotism was not the government we 
fought for, but one which should not only be 
founded on free principles, but in which the powers 
of government should be so divided and balanced 
among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one 
could transcend their legal limits, without being 
effectually checked and restrained by the others.^^ 

What had been generally done was this: Americans in 
establishing their state governments had sought to check 
them by the electorate rather more than by an internal bal- 
ance of powers. The people could, however, use their in- 
fluence to abet arbitrary government as well as to check it. 

There was also some extension of the franchise during 
this period. In addition, several legislatures were reappor- 
tioned to give inhabitants in the backcountry a more nearly 
proportionate voice in government. One of the trends, in 
this connection, was the movement of state capitals inland 
from the coast to make them more accessible to the back- 

Most of these were changes of degree rather than of 
kind. To call them revolutionary, as some twentieth-century 
historians have, is a distortion of what happened and a 
stretching of the meaning of revolution beyond reasonable 

The Founding of the American Republic / 23 

confines. Insofar as they were changes from what had pre- 
vailed, they were culminations of trends long afoot. Ameri- 
cans had been tending toward religious liberty in practice 
long before they established it in fundamental law. They 
had been evading, so far as they could, quitrents, primo- 
geniture, and entail. Their new governmental structures 
embodied much of what they had been contending with 
the British for. Bills of rights, bicameral legislatures, and 
weak executives, were built on the British model. The 
assault on special privilege did run contrary to recent 
British practice to some extent, but it was quite in accord 
with what Americans had been doing almost since they 
had reached the New World. If in their early enthusiasms in 
government building they did not attend to a broader expe- 
rience than their colonial one, this did not make their acts 
revolutionary, only precipitate. They were clear enough 
that they wanted to protect the individual from govern- 
ment in the enjoyment of his rights; they did not at first 
realize how much more this took than felicitously phrased 
declarations. Weak governments do not make liberty and 
property secure; that is the office of powerful governments 
internally restrained. Many Americans were to learn this 
lesson, and that rather quickly But just as their first ex- 
f>eriments were not revolutionary in character, no more 
were tlieir later alterations a counterrevolution. 

1. See Merrill Jensen, The New Nation (New York: Vintage Books, 
1950), p. 132. 

2. Ibid., p. 133. 

3. John Fiske, The Critical Period of American History (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1916), p. 78. 

4. Jack P. Greene, ed.. Colonies to Nation (New York: McGraw-Hill, 
1%7), pp. 390-391. 

24 / Clarence B. Carson 

5. Fiske, op. cit., p. 71. 

6. Greene, op. cit, p. 397. 

7. Ibid., p. 398. 

8. See Fiske, op. cit, pp. 74-75. 

9. See Robert A. Rutland, The Birth of the Bill of Rights (New York: 
Collier, 1962), p. 109. 

10. Henry S. Commager, ed.. Documents of American History, I (New 
York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962, 7th ed.), p. 107. 

11. Ihid., p. 104. 

12. Ihid., p. 108. 

13. Greene, op. cit, pp. 472-473. 

14. Dumas Malone and Basil Rauch, Empire for Liberty, I (New York: 
Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960), p. 196. 

15. Commager, op. cit., p. 103. 

16. Ihid., p. 108. 

17. See Frederick B. Tolles, ''A Re-evaluation of the Revolution as a 
Social Movement,'' George A. Billias, ed.. The American Revolution (New 
York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970, 2nd ed.), pp. 66-67. 

18. See Richard Hofstadter, et al.. The United States (Englewood 
Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1967, 2nd ed.), p. 160. 

19. Greene, op. cit., p. 343. 

20. Hofstadter, op. cit., pp. 159-160. 

21. Quoted in Nelson M. Blake, A History of American Life and 
Thought (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), p. 100. 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli 
John Wesley Young 

An abiding problem in political thought, one that has 
vexed the soul of many a philosopher and statesman, is the 
problem of how to establish and keep order in society. 
Without order, without accepted standards of civility and 
right conduct, a nation will lack peace, justice, and prosper- 
ity. Without order it will sink backward into barbarism and 
brute existence. 

The problem of order is especially complex for peoples 
who live under representative governments. Dictators can 
brandish the bayonet and the bludgeon to restrain and 
humble their subjects, but on what can republics depend? 
How can a self-governing citizenry, the repositories of 
political sovereignty in a free society, rule themselves equi- 
tably and with dignity? How can they live together in lib- 
erty without soon abusing that liberty and butchering one 
another like savages? 

The answer is that to balance the blessings of order and 
liberty, republics must depend upon the virtue of the peo- 
ple themselves. But how to plant in the breasts of the peo- 
ple those good old republican virtues — honesty, frugality, 
temperance, self-sacrifice, and vigilance against tyranny — 
without which they will descend into anarchy and ulti- 

John Wesley Young, an educator, wrote this article for the July 1977 
issue of The Freeman. 


26 / John Wesley Young 

mate despotism, the victims of an enterprising Napoleon 
or Caesar? 

There is one medium, important above all others, for 
transmitting virtue to republican populaces: religion. As 
Washington stated in his Farewell Address, "Of all the dis- 
positions and habits which lead to political prosperity, reli- 
gion and morality are indispensable supports." But that 
suggests yet another question: What should be the legal 
relation of religion to government in a republic? Broadly 
speaking, among republicans there are two schools of 
thought on the subject. 

Two Points of View 

One school, a comparatively recent development in 
political thought, contends that the best approach to reli- 
gion in republics is simply to make government leave it 
alone. To entangle church with state, it is argued, will 
surely corrupt both. The church best serves society when it 
is free from interference by civil government. 

The other school, a much older one, advocates using the 
authority of republican government to foster and maintain 
religion — that is, to "establish" it, either through outright 
legal recognition and subsidization, or through less com- 
prehensive forms of assistance, such as Sabbath laws or 
religious tests for public office. Since virtue is necessary to 
the prosperity and progress of a republic, and religion is 
necessary to virtue, we ought — or so the reasoning goes — 
to use the power of government to promote religion among 
the citizens. 

To many spokesmen for this school it does not seem to 
matter so much which religion or which form of Christianity 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 17 

is promoted as that the religion should help produce duti- 
ful and patriotic men and women. 

Consider the views of one of these spokesmen, Niccolo 
Machiavelli of Florence (1469-1527). Better known for 
having authored The Prince, a kind of handbook for intel- 
ligent tyrants, Machiavelli, in a puzzling and perverse 
way, was actually an ardent apologist for popular govern- 
ment. His study of ancient history convinced Machiavelli 
that, as he writes in his Discourses on the First Ten Books of 
Titus Livius, "the observance of divine institutions is the 
cause of the greatness of republics." Neglect such obser- 
vance, Machiavelli warns, and a republic perishes. "For 
where the fear of God is wanting, there the country will 
come to ruin, unless it be sustained by the fear of the 
prince, which may temporarily supply the want of reli- 
gion/'^ In that case, of course, a republic ceases to be a 
republic. Religion, then, is essential to republics because it 
gives them cohesion and durability. The best republicans 
are pious republicans. 

So far, so fine. But interestingly enough, Machiavelli sin- 
gles out for praise the legendary Sabine king, Numa Pom- 
pilius, who took the early Romans, "a very savage people" 
and taught them habits of obedience by using religion as a 
social cement. Indeed, Machiavelli attributes more histori- 
cal importance to Numa than to Romulus, Rome's founder; 
for Numa's invention of religious forms made possible the 
rise of Rome to republican greatness.^ 

And just how did Numa use religion as a social cement? 
Machiavelli doesn't say in great detail, but we learn from 
Plutarch, an ancient Greek historian, that Numa filled the 
imaginations of Romans "with religious terrors, professing 
that strange apparitions had been seen, and dreadful voices 

28 / John Wesley Young 

heard; thus subduing and humbling their minds by a sense 
of supernatural fears."^ 

In other words, Numa exploited the superstitions of a 
primitive people. Machiavelli himself notes approvingly 
that, throughout the period of the Republic, religious sanc- 
tions were sometimes used with great effect to inspire, dis- 
cipline and direct the Roman armies "on the eve of battle 
with that confidence which is the surest guaranty of vic- 
tory/'^ For example, during the long siege of the city of Veil 
in the fourth century B.C., when the Roman troops grew 
weary and threatened to quit the campaign, their generals 
told them that some of the sacred oracles had forecast the 
fall of the city when Lake Albano, in central Italy, should 
overflow its banks, as in fact it had recently done. Actually 
the oracles had made no such forecast; but the Roman reg- 
ulars did not know that. Their resolve to fight on revived 
and toughened, and finally they seized the city.^ 

Its Use to the State 

Observe that Machiavelli's concern is not for the truth of 
the sacred "prophecy," which he well knows was a fraud, 
but rather for its effect on the army, its utility to the Roman 
state. It spurred the soldiers' spirits, brought about the 
defeat of an enemy, and hence helped to make the world 
safe for Roman republicanism. It worked; therefore it was 

And therefore everything that tends to favor religion 
(even though it were believed to be false) should be 
received and availed of to strengthen it. . . . Such 
was, in fact, the practice observed by sagacious men 
[in antiquity]; which has given rise to the belief in 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 29 

the miracles that are celebrated in religions, however 
false they may be. For the sagacious rulers have 
given these miracles increased importance, no mat- 
ter whence or how they originated; and their author- 
ity afterwards gave them credence with the people. 
Rome had many such miracles ^ 

Machiavelli thinks that even in modem times men, how- 
ever sophisticated, can be led to believe in sham miracles 
and supernatural manifestations. As proof he points to Flo- 
rence, the cultured Italian city where, for a short time in the 
late fifteenth century, many normally staid and stolid peo- 
ple were mesmerized by the preaching of Savonarola, the 
fire-breathing Dominican reformer who claimed to have 
conversed with God.'^ 

Now the trouble with this utilitarian approach to the 
problem of order, religion and republican virtue is just 
that — its utilitarianism. Besides its utter contempt for truth- 
fulness, the spirit of it is decidedly unrepublican. For in 
picking out the Roman solution to the problem, Machiavelli 
has not picked out a peculiarly republican solution. Roman 
religion, in fact, was no different in its essential relation to 
the state from the religions of Egypt, the Mesopotamian 
kingdoms, the Seleucid Empire, or any other ancient autoc- 
racy. It, too, like the other religions, proceeded downward 
from the leaders to the masses. Often the leaders employed 
it as a propaganda tool, a device for duping the multitude. 

Machiavelli does not dwell, for instance, on the excep- 
tionally cynical use made of religion in the later Roman 
Republic, especially during the civil wars that climaxed 
with Julius Caesar's dictatorship. Religion became in great 
degree the instrument of oligarchs and demagogues. Many 
important Roman statesmen of the period — Servilius, Lep- 

30 / John Wesley Young 

idus, Pompey, Cicero, and Caesar himself, among others — 
were also priests of the state religion, and they manipulated 
that religion in order to reinforce their grip on the govern- 
ment.^ It is difficult to reconcile this sort of practice with the 
power of free choice implicit in republicanism. 

But in vain would anyone raise that objection to Machi- 
avelli. For he wants utilitarian religion — ^not quite in the 
form into which it degenerated in Rome, perhaps, but at 
any rate an established religion, a religion that is only an 
arm or extension of the state, a religion that teaches the 
martial virtues. This explains Machiavelli's personal hostil- 
ity to Christianity as he perceives it to be lived by men of 
his age. Because of its other-worldliness, he feels, Chris- 
tianity has made them too effeminate, too indifferent to 
their country's liberty, too apt "to suffer than to achieve 
great deeds."^ He doesn't care a jot whether religion edifies 
or uplifts individuals, so long as it buoys the state. 

Religion as a Social Cement 

Without doubt the Machiavellian position is an extreme 
one. And yet it is true that after Machiavelli's death, and 
well into the modem era, most republicans continued to 
treat religion, the Christian religion included, as a social 
cement more than a "sovereign balm" for the soul. They 
may have lacked Machiavelli's cynicism, they may even 
have been devout believers, but in the matter of religion's 
relation to republican government they were still Machi- 
avellians after a fashion. 

Think of any famous republican political philosopher 
prior to about 1780, and almost certainly he will have advo- 
cated in some sense the mixing of politics with formal reli- 
gion. He may, like the Genevese Rousseau or the English- 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 31 

man James Harrington, have favored toleration for most 
dissenting sects, but he could not have brought himself to 
call for complete severance of church from state.^^ He could 
not have visualized full religious liberty — an almost 
untried freedom until the eighteenth century — invigorat- 
ing a republic. To abandon men wholly to their private 
judgment in religion, his instincts would have told him, 
would kindle social chaos and destroy the state, no matter 
how well-ordered and free its purely political institutions 
might be. Remove the official religious props and any pop- 
ular government would crash down like the house of 

Not for more than two centuries after Machiavelli did 
any prominent republican sally forth to assault such ideas. 
Significantly, the definitive refutation of Machiavelli came, 
not from the continent of Europe, but from the New World, 
from the pen of James Madison, quite possibly the pro- 
foundest political thinker who ever lived. 

Spiritual Crisis in 1780s 

A bit of historical background is necessary. In the early 
1780s the thirteen newly confederated republics of America 
were faced with a spiritual crisis no less grave than the 
political crisis which had forced them, in 1776, to cut their 
connection with the British Empire. As so often happens in 
the midst of war and in its aftermath, America suffered a 
sort of moral depression. This is an often-overlooked aspect 
of our Revolutionary history, but it was much commented- 
on by contemporaries. 

Political and moral corruption were reportedly prolifer- 
ating and threatening to unfit the people for republican 
freedom. Newspapers bemoaned the evaporation of virtue 

32 / John Wesley Young 

because of "the visible declension of religion, ... the rapid 
progress of licentious manners, and open profanity."^^ Cler- 
gymen warned of impending divine judgment upon an 
impenitent people, but they were plainly not the only ones 
alarmed. "Justice & Virtue," wrote George Mason to Patrick 
Henry in May 1783, "are the vital Principles of republican 
Government; but among us, a Depravity of Manners & 
Morals prevails, to the Destruction of all Confidence 
between Man & Man."^^ Mason wondered if America's 
independence would prove a blessing or a curse. 

What would the new republican governments do, in 
these circumstances, to retrieve the disappearing virtue of 
the people? 

For a time they yielded, or seemed to yield, to the utili- 
tarian temptation. To cite the most notable example. Article 
II of the Massachusetts State Constitution, drawn up in 
1780, granted freedom of worship "in the manner and sea- 
son most agreeable to the dictates of [the citizen's] own 
conscience"; but the very next article, declaring that "the 
happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation 
of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion 
and morality," empowered the state legislature to require 
local governments and "religious societies" to provide for 
"public worship of GOD, and for the support and mainte- 
nance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and 
morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be 
made voluntarily"^^ In other words, the Massachusetts 
constitution-makers were harnessing religion — in this in- 
stance "protestant" religion — to the state. 

Virginia Considers Tax Support of Teachers 

Similarly, in 1784, a bill was introduced in the Virginia 
General Assembly calling for an annual tax assessment to 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 33 

support teachers of the Christian religion in "the general 
diffusion of Christian knowledge/' knowledge which 
would help "preserve the peace of society/'^^ With appar- 
ent impartiality the bill would have permitted each tax- 
payer to designate which Christian denomination his tax 
contribution would go to. Along with many Presbyteri- 
ans and the recently disestablished Episcopal Church, 
honest republicans like Patrick Henry, George Washing- 
ton, John Marshall, and Richard Henry Lee supported the 

Legislative opponents of the assessment, among them 
James Madison, managed to postpone for almost one year a 
final vote on the bill. Meanwhile they launched a campaign 
to work up opposition to it from the grassroots. The big gun 
in their arsenal of intellectual weapons was a pamphlet by 
Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Reli- 
gious Assessments."^^ 

In the numerous collections of American historical doc- 
uments, Madison's pamphlet does not appear nearly as 
often as Thomas Jefferson's more eloquent Statute for Reli- 
gious Freedom, but Madison's is in truth the superior 
statement on religious rights. It should be read in its 
entirety, but for our purposes we may draw out of it that 
thread of thought which refutes the Machiavellian thesis. 
Without referring directly to the Florentine, Madison 
demolishes with impeccable logic the old Machiavellian 
argument that established religion is necessary to sound 
civil government. 

To begin with, civil society, according to Madison, is not 
the highest good. Other things take precedence over it. A 
man's duty to his Creator, for example, is prior to any duty 
to society. Government, even with the force of majority 
opinion pressed behind it, must not encroach upon man's 
natural right to worship the Almighty as conscience obliges 

34 / John Wesley Young 

him. Obedience belongs first to God, the "Universal Sover- 
eign." Civil obligations come second. 

A Power to be Feared 

Notice here that Madison has stood Machiavelli on his 
head. The Florentine republican makes the stability of pop- 
ular government an end in itself, with individual rights tac- 
itly subordinated to that end. But to the Virginian any truly 
popular government will respect popular rights, especially 
the right of free worship. This conviction of Madison neces- 
sarily determines his attitude to established religion. 
Because he would protect men's rights and their power of 
free choice, he must oppose the slightest suggestion of 
enforced conformity to a particular religious system. Chris- 
tian or non-Christian, even if the state needs the underpin- 
ning of virtue that religion provides. 

After all, if the state has power to grant recognition to a 
religion, it has also the power to suppress other religions 
and religious opinions. And that is more power than can 
safely be entrusted to it, power enough to pervert the ends 
for which genuinely republican government is instituted. 

As to one of the arguments put forth by the friends of 
establishment, that it is needed to help religion — this, says 
Madison, is unhistorical nonsense. Consider the history of 
the Christian church. At what point in its development was 
Christianity at its purest and most vigorous — before or 
after Constantine? In fact it flourished in "the ages prior to 
its incorporation with Civil policy," and this in spite of 
prodigious resistance to its growth. 

On the other hand, fifteen centuries of establishment 
have very nearly emaciated Christianity in those countries 
where one or another version of it has received official 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 35 

sanction. And if enacted, the Virginia assessment bill— 
which Madison regards as in effect an establishment of reli- 
gion—would actually obstruct the progress of Christianity. 
It would make Virginia little different from those heathen 
countries that seek to shut out the light of Christian revela- 
tion, for "instead of levelling as far as possible, every obsta- 
cle to the victorious progress of truth, the Bill with an igno- 
ble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it, with a 
wall of defence, against the encroachments of error." That 
wall would frighten away potential converts to Christian- 
ity. Benefit religion? Establishment destroys it. 

Prelude to Tyranny 

Now if religion is better off without direct government 
support, then government itself need not rest on an official 
religious foundation. For if government is helped by 
healthy religion, and if religion is healthiest when unbri- 
dled by the state, then government ought for its own sake 
to leave it be. It should not, in Madison's words, "employ 
Religion as an engine of Civil policy." To do so would be 
"an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation." 

In fine, legal establishments of religion plunge a people 
into spiritual or political tyranny. "In no instance have they 
been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people." A 
just government (and to Madison "just" means republican} 
"will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the 
enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which 
protects his person and his property; by neither invading 
the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade 
those of another." 

It is important to grasp what Madison is saying here. He 
is saying that republican government does itself a favor 

36 / John Wesley Young 

when it relaxes the political control of religion in society — 
an assertion that would have shocked Machiavelli, if any- 
thing could. Government interference will destroy genuine 
religion and thereby thwart the supposed purpose for 
interfering in the first place, which is to aid religion and 
thus republican government. But relax the controls and 
religion can prosper; and, as Machiavelli himself would 
say, when religion prospers the state prospers. 

Madison's fellow Virginians sided with him in the 
debate against Machiavelli, for popular pressure brought 
on defeat of the assessment measure. But when the General 
Assembly proceeded to enact in 1786 Jefferson's bill for 
complete religious liberty, lamentations went up elsewhere, 
especially over New England. By disestablishing religion, 
declared one northern critic, the Virginia legislators have 
crushed "the most powerful seeds of that very virtue it 
must be supposed they wish to see flourish in the state they 

But had they? Years later, when a correspondent asked 
Madison about the state of religion and morals in Virginia, 
Madison replied that, contrary to some reports, religion 
had not been blown to pieces by disestablishment. The 
number of denominations had multiplied and, despite fail- 
ure of the assessment bill to pass, knowledge of the Christ- 
ian religion had increased: 

Religious instruction is now diffused throughout the 
community by preachers of every sect with almost 
equal zeal. . . . The qualifications of the preachers, 
too among the new sects where there was the great- 
est deficiency, are understood to be improving. . . . 
The civil government, though bereft of everything 
like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite 
stability and performs its functions with complete 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 37 

success; whilst the number, the industry, and the 
morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the 
people have been manifestly increased by the total 
separation of the church from the state.^^ 

A prejudiced appraisal? Possibly But such evidence as 
survives seems to support Madison. We know, for instance, 
that among Baptists in the James River settlements there 
commenced in 1785, the year of the assessment's defeat, a 
revival that lasted well into the 1790s and spread through- 
out Virginia to other dissenting sects. Even the old Angli- 
can-Episcopal Church appears to have profited in the long 
run from disestablishment.^^ 

Nor did the nation in general fail to profit from Vir- 
ginia's experience. Largely at Madison's instigation, reli- 
gious liberty became a constitutional (and republican) prin- 
ciple with passage of the First Amendment, so that 
Tocqueville, the astute French observer who visited Amer- 
ica in the 1830s, could write: 

For most people in the United States religion, too, is 
republican, for the truths of the other world are held 
subject to private judgment, just as in politics the 
care for men's temporal interests is left to the good 
sense of all. Each man is allowed to choose freely the 
path that will lead him to heaven, just as the law rec- 
ognizes each citizen's right to choose his own gov- 

Such freedom, Tocqueville believed, had animated religion 
in America, causing it to hold "quiet sway" over the coun- 
try while in Europe the progress of secular social revolution 
was sweeping away established churches in its fury. 

38 / John Wesley Young 
Unanswered Questions 

All this doesn't answer the question of what happens to 
republican virtue when religion decays of its own accord, 
when republican Christians, for instance, lose their "first 
love" and lapse into vice and folly. Nor does it answer a sec- 
ond question implied, perhaps, in the first: Does history 
turn in cycles, making the rise and decline of religion, and 
hence of republican government, inevitable? Personally 
this writer sees few things inevitable in a world where the 
great conditioning reality is man's freedom of will. But let 
the philosophers grapple with that one. 

The truth that Madison taught us, the thing which 
ought by now to be burned into our brains, is that republi- 
can government can do nothing to help religion except to 
guard jealously the freedom of religion. And, in the final 
analysis, as Madison showed, that is much. Whatever 
becomes of the American Republic in the years ahead, let us 
do our best to see that Madison's answer to Machiavelli is 
never forgotten. 

1. Machiavelli, Discourses, in The Prince and the Discourses (New 
York: Modem Library, 1940), p. 148. 

2. Ibid., pp. 145-148. 

3. Plutarch 's Lives, trans. John Dryden, rev. A. H. Clough, 5 vols. 
(Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1910), 1:137. 

4. Discourses, p. 158. 

5. Ibid., pp. 153-154. 

6. Ibid., p. 150. 

7. Ibid., pp. 148-149. 

8. See Lily Ross Taylor, Party Politics in the Age of Caesar (Berkeley 
and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1%1), pp. 76-97. 

9. Discourses, p. 285. 

10. See, e.g., Rousseau's chapter "Concerning Civil Religion" in The 
Social Contract, trans. Willmoore Kendall (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 

Madison's Answer to Machiavelli / 39 

1954), pp. 148-162. On Harrington see Perez Zagorin, A History of Polit- 
ical Thought in the English Revolution (London: Routledge and Kegan 
Paul 1954), p. 141. 

11. Charleston S.C. and American Gazette, 21 January 1779, quoted in 
Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969), p. 417. 

12. Mason to Patrick Henry, 6 May 1783, in The Papers of George 
Mason, Robert A. Rutland, ed., 3 vols. (Chapel Hill: University of North 
Carolina Press, 1970), 2:770. 

13. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, in The Popular Sources 
of Authority, ed. Oscar and Mary Handlin (Cambridge: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, Belknap Press, 1966), pp. 442-443. 

14. Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious 
Liberty in Virginia (New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), p. 129. On the reli- 
gious controversy in Virginia see John M. Mecklin, The Story of American 
Dissent (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1934), pp. 264-283. 

15. For full text see The Complete Madison, Saul K. Padover, ed. (New 
York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), pp. 299-306. 

16. [John Swanwick], Considerations on an Act of the Legislature of Vir- 
ginia, Entitled an Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom (Philadel- 
phia, 1786), p. 6, quoted in Wood, Creation of the American Republic, p. 

17. Madison to Robert Walsh, 2 March 1819, in The Writings of James 
Madison, ed. Gaillard Hunt, 9 vols. (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 
1908), 8:430-432. Spelling and punctuation updated here. 

18. See James, Documentary History, pp. 147-149; William Henry 
Foote, Sketches of Virginia, new ed. (Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press, 
1966), pp. 348, 412-429; George MacLaren Brydon, Virginia's Mother 
Church, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Church Historical Society, 1952), 

19. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, J. P. Mayer, ed.; George 
Lawrence, trans. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1969), 
p. 397. For a classic essay on separation of church and state, and how 
that principle prospered American government and religion in the 
early days of the Republic, see ibid., pp. 294-301. 

George Washington on Liberty and Order 
Clarence B. Carson 

There are truths to which the passage of time and the 
gaining of new experience add luster and vitality. So it has 
been, for me at least, with those contained in Washington's 
Farewell Address. With each new reading of it, I have been 
impressed anew with the relevance of so much that he had 
to say to our own time. Often, too, I discover some new 
theme or emphasis that I had not been aware of earlier. 
Undoubtedly, these different impressions arise in part from 
the richness of the material but also may be conditioned by 
my particular interests at a given time. At any rate, the 
theme of liberty and order stood out for me in my latest 
reading of the Farewell Address. It seemed to me that all 
the parts fitted together into a whole within the framework 
of this theme. 

Before getting into that, however, it may be of some aid 
to place the address in a much broader historical frame. 
Some observations about liberty and order more generally 
will help to set the stage for his remarks. 

Thoughtful men may differ about the desirability of lib- 
erty, but they rarely do about the necessity for order. Also, 
nations, kingdoms, and empires have differed much more 
over the extent of liberty within them than of the degree of 
order, over long periods of time anyway. They have ranged 
from the most compulsive tyrannies to ones in which 

This essay appeared in the February 1983 issue of The Freeman. 


George Washington on Liberty and Order / 41 

considerable liberty prevails. By contrast, all governments 
are to a greater or lesser extent devoted to maintaining 
order. But there are great differences of belief, persuasion, 
and practice as to how order is to be maintained and the 
proper role of government in doing so. It is the differences 
on this that largely determine the extent of liberty in a coun- 

There have been, and are, countries in which those in 
power believe that government must act to impose order in 
every nook and cranny of society. The active principle in 
this, if principle it be, is that if government does not impose 
order then disorder and chaos will prevail. Thomas 
Hobbes, English philosopher in the seventeenth century, 
expressed this view with clarity and force. He declared that 
if men were permitted to act according "to their particular 
judgments and particular appetites, they can expect 
thereby no defense, nor protection against a common 
enemy, nor against the injuries of one another." There must 
be a power over them, he said, and the way to get that 
power is "to confer all their power and strength upon one 
man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all 

their wills . . . unto one will For by this authority, given 

him by every particular man in the commonwealth, he hath 
the use of so much power and strength conferred on him, 
that by terror thereof, he is enabled to perform the wills of 
them all. . . ." 

A view similar to this of what was necessary to order 
and how it could be achieved, as well as the role of govern- 
ment in it, was widespread in Europe in the seventeenth 
century. It was an age of royal absolutism, of claims about 
the Divine right of kings, and of the assertion of govern- 
ment power to direct the lives of peoples. England had an 
established church; no others were tolerated. All were 

42 / Clarence B. Carson 

required to attend its services, contribute to its support, and 
have most of the great events of life celebrated or recorded 
in it. The church officials censored publications, licensed 
schools, and kept watch over the doings of the people. 


Economic life was circumscribed and controlled by the 
government under a system most commonly known as 
mercantilism. The government controlled exports and im- 
ports, gave subsidies, bounties, and grants to encourage 
certain undertakings, prohibited others, gave patents, char- 
ters, and other forms of monopolies to individuals and 
companies, enforced craft regulations, and maintained 
much power over the lands of the realm. Harsh penalties 
were imposed for every sort of offense from blasphemy to 
treason. Evidence abounded that government was making 
massive efforts to impose order. As for liberties, they had 
most commonly to be asserted against the grain of the pre- 
vailing system. 

So, too, in the twentieth century, the dominant view of 
those in power in many lands is that government must 
impose an all-encompassing order upon the peoples under 
its sway. At its farthest reaches, this view achieves its 
fruition in the totalitarian state, with its direct control over 
all the media of communication, every aspect of the econ- 
omy, over education, over such religion as is permitted, 
over work and over play. 

In other lands, where this bent toward state-compelled 
order has been moderated thus far — has been kept from 
going so far — it evinces itself in government intervention in 
the economy, the thrust of regulation into many realms, in 
redistribution of the wealth, in controls over education. 

George Washington on Liberty and Order / 43 

medicine, charity, and hundreds of other areas. The ideol- 
ogies supf)orting this pervasive government power differ 
in many particular respects from those that supported sev- 
enteenth-century government power, but the notion that 
government must impose an order else chaos and disorder 
will prevail is common to both. Extensive liberty can hardly 
be reconciled with such compulsive orders. 

That George Washington held a view on how to main- 
tain order and the proper role of government in sharp con- 
trast to those described above is manifest in his life and 
works. Moreover, a seismic change in outlook, both in Eng- 
land and America and over much of Europe, had taken 
place between the time when Hobbes had penned his Levia- 
than and the founding of the United States. A major aspect 
of that change was a shift from the emphasis upon a gov- 
ernment order imposed on men toward individual liberty 
2md responsibility. The shift sparked in many Americans an 
awareness of the danger of government both to liberty and 
to order. At the root of this shift was a different conception 
of the origin and nature of order. 

Belief in a Natural Order 

George Washington and his contemporaries were 
imbued with a strong belief in a natural order. Order, in 
their view, was not something that could be arbitrarily con- 
trived and imf)osed by man. The foundations of order, they 
held, are in the frame of the universe, in the laws that gov- 
ern it, in the nature of man and his faculty of reason, and in 
the principles of relationships by which constructive activi- 
ties can take place. At best, men can only act in accord with 
and imitate the order that is given. 

The belief in a natural law and natural order was not 

44 / Clarence B. Carson 

new to the eighteenth century, of course; it had been around 
since the ancient Greeks and Romans, at least. But it had 
come to the forefront in the century before the founding of 
the United States as a result both of vigorous efforts to 
revive it and of many scientific and philosophical formula- 
tions of it. 

Newton had persuasively set forth in mathematical 
terms the laws governing the course of the heavenly bod- 
ies. Thinkers were getting impressive results in their 
searches for the laws and principles governing all sorts of 
relationships. What struck so many in that age was the idea 
of proportion, balance, harmony, and order resident in the 
natural tendencies of the world about them. Most mar- 
velous of all, at least to many, this order was consonant 
with human liberty. Rather than frustrating man in the use 
of his faculties for his benefit (and for the commonweal as 
well), the natural order provided means for him to do so 
most effectively. The foundations of liberty in this belief in 
a natural order were in the natural rights doctrine. 

In his Farewell Address, Washington did not expand 
upon or elaborate on the theme of liberty. Although the 
word "liberty" occurs several times in the document, it 
plays mainly a supportive role in what he has to say. The 
attachment to liberty is assumed, a given if you will, upon 
which to hinge his arguments. Washington said as much 
himself: "Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every lig- 
ament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is neces- 
sary to fortify or confirm the attachment." But, he says, 
from first one angle then another, if you would have liberty 
you must support those things on which it depends. 

For example, in recommending a united support for the 
general government, he declared: "This Government, the 
off-spring of our own choice, . . . adopted upon full inves- 

George Washington on Liberty and Order / 45 

tigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its 
principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security 
with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its 
own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and 
support." To clinch the argument, he says that these "are 
duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true lib- 
erty." In arguing against the involvement of Americans in 
foreign intrigues, he says that by doing so "they will avoid 
the necessity of those overgrown military establishments 
which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to 
liberty. . . ." 

A Sense of Order 

The word "liberty" occurs frequently throughout the 
address, but by my fairly careful count the word "order" 
occurs only once. Even that instance is insignificant, how- 
ever, for the word is used in a phrase, as "in order to" do 
something or other. It occurs at one other point as part of 
the word "disorders," which, while more significant, is 
hardly proof of a theme. Yet a sense of order pervades the 
whole document. It is there in the cadences of the sen- 
tences, in the matching of phrase with phrase, in the bal- 
ance of one tendency against another, in the thrust toward 
discovering a common bond by piling up references to par- 
ticular interests. It is clear, if one reads between the lines, 
that there is an order for men's lives, an order for nations, 
an order for relations among nations, an order by which 
parts belong to a whole, and an order by which balance and 
harmony can be maintained. Government is not the origin 
of this order, but it is necessary to the maintenance of it, 
even as it is ever a potential threat to it. Government is 
made necessary by the bent in man to disrupt order. 

46 / Clarence B. Carson 

The two main sources of disorder to which Washington 
alludes are these. First, there are those passions in men 
which incline them to pursue their own particular and par- 
tisan designs at the expense of the well-being of others. 
Washington called it the spirit of party, but we might 
understand it better as partisanship for causes. (He had in 
mind the dangers of this to the stability of government, but 
it does no violence to his idea to apply it to individuals as 
well as groups.) "This spirit," he said, "unfortunately, is 
inseparable from our nature, having its roots in the 
strongest passions of the human mind." Among the dan- 
gers of these partisan passions, he declared, are these: "It 
serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble 
the public administration. It agitates the community with 
ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animos- 
ity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot 
and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and 
corruption. . . . Thus the policy and will of one country are 
subjected to the policy and will of another." 

The other source of disorder, to which Washington 
alludes, is "that love of power and proneness to abuse it 
which predominates in the human heart. . . ." It is this 
power hunger which makes government dangerous, for it 
prompts those who govern to overstep the bounds of their 
authority. "The spirit of encroachment," Washington 
pointed out, "tends to consolidate the powers of all the 
departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form 
of government, a real despotism." 

Advice and Counsel 

The body of the Farewell Address is devoted to advice 
and counsel about how to conduct the government so as to 

George Washington on Liberty and Order / 47 

maintain order and preserve liberty, and to warnings about 
holding in check those partisan tendencies and the bent 
toward consolidating power which endanger them. The 
following were his main points: (1) Maintain the union; (2) 
Keep the principles of the Constitution intact; (3) Preserve 
national independence; (4) Buttress policy and behavior 
with religion and morality; (5) Cherish the public credit; 
and (6) Follow peaceful policies toward all nations. These 
general principles are not nearly so revealing, however, as 
his particular recommendations and the arguments he used 
to support them. 

The main device Washington employed to support his 
advice to maintain the union was to invoke those things the 
people had in common: the name American, their struggles 
for independence, their common beliefs, and their common 
interest. He surveyed the continent, from a mountaintop as 
it were, and ticked off how north and south, east and west, 
were bound together. 

"The North," he said, "in an unrestrained intercourse 
with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common 
government, finds in the production of the latter great . . . 
resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and pre- 
cious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the 
same intercourse . . . sees its agriculture grow and com- 
merce expand. . . . The East, in a like intercourse with the 
V/est, already finds ... a valuable vent for the commodities 
which it brings from abroad or manufactures at home. The 
VJest derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth 
and comfort." This was an economic order which had its 
roots in the diversities of the regions. Washington warned 
against the rise of factions seeking to use political power for 
partisan ends that might disrupt the union and disturb the 
existing order. 

48 / Clarence B. Carson 
Preserve the Constitution 

Washington's concern for preserving the Constitution 
intact was motivated by the belief that a balance had been 
incorporated in it, a balance in which the national and state 
government checked one another, and the branches held 
one another in check. "The necessity of reciprocal checks in 
the exercise of political power," he declared, "by dividing 
and distributing it . . . has been evinced by experiments 
ancient and modern. . . ." "Liberty itself," he pointed out, 
"will find in such a government with powers properly dis- 
tributed and adjusted, its surest guardian." He warned 
against two things in particular. One was the "spirit of 
innovation upon its principles." The other was "change by 
usurpation" of power. That was not to say that the Consti- 
tution was perfect as it stood in 1796. But if something 
needed correction, it should be "by an amendment in the 
way which the Constitution designates." No man or body 
of men should assume the power to do so, "for though this 
in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the cus- 
tomary weapon by which free governments are destroyed." 

Washington hoped that the United States would follow 
an independent course in world affairs, that it would lend 
its weight toward an order in which peace would be the 
norm, but that it would not become entangled with other 
nations in the quest for power and dominance. His distrust 
of government did not end at the water's edge, for he 
believed that foreign governments would, if they could, 
use the United States for their own ends. He warned 
"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence," for "(I 
conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a 
free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and 
experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most 
baneful foes of republican government." Underlying these 

George Washington on Liberty and Order / 49 

fears was the belief that in the nature of things, in the nat- 
ural order, each nation pursues its own interests. Hence, 
"There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate 
upon real favors from nation to nation." He cautioned 
against constant preference for one nation and opposition 
to others. "It is our true policy," Washington said, "to steer 
clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign 
world. . . ." 

Religion and Morality 

The first President had some other recommendations on 
foreign policy, but before discussing them, it would be best, 
as he did, to refer to the role of religion and morality. The 
belief in a natural order, the hope that the American politi- 
cal system had been shaped in accord with it, was not suffi- 
cient, in Washington's opinion, to assure the working or 
continuation of order among men. Man is a creature of 
unruly passions, as already noted, and the necessary cor- 
rective to these is religion and morality. 

"It is substantially true," Washington commented, "that 
virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular govern- 
ment." And, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead 
to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispens- 
able supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of 
patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars 
of human happiness. ... A volume could not trace all their 
connections with private and public felicity." Moreover, 
"let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality 
can be maintained without religion." 

These remarks preceded both his advice on public credit 
and on peaceful relations with other nations. On cherishing 
the public credit, he said: "One method of preserving it is to 
use it as sparingly as possible . . ." Washington expected 

50 / Clarence B. Carson 

that there would be occasions for extraordinary expenses, 
making war came to mind, when it might be necessary for 
the government to borrow money. But he warned against 
the "accumulation of debt," declaring that the way to avoid 
this was "not only by shunning occasions of expense, but 
by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the 
debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned." That way, 
it should be possible to avoid "ungenerously throwing 
upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to 
bear." Washington thought his countrymen might be the 
more inclined to follow these policies if they would keep in 
mind "that toward the payment of debts there must be rev- 
enue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes 
can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and 
unpleasant. . . ." Not everyone may find the balanced for- 
mulations of eighteenth-century sentences pleasant, but it 
must be admitted that the logic in the above is impressive. 

At any rate, the principles discussed in the above two 
paragraphs provided the framework for his recommenda- 
tions for maintaining peaceful relations with other nations. 
To that end, Washington advised this: "Observe good faith 
and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and har- 
mony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct. 
And can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it." 
Above all, "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to for- 
eign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to 
have with them as little political connection as possible." 

Any extended political connections — permanent al- 
liances, for example — could only embroil the United States 
in the conflicts among other nations. Otherwise, "Har- 
mony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended 
by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial 
policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither 
seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; con- 

George Washington on Liberty and Order / 51 

suiting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversi- 
fying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing 

nothing " That is surely the natural order for trade, and 

a plausible hope for peace to those who knew of, when they 
had not experienced, the devastating mercantile wars 
resulting from the use of force in national commerce. 

A Farewell Message of Timeless Truths on 
Liberty and Order 

George Washington reckoned that he had devoted the 
better part of forty-five years to the service of his country 
when he retired. He was an unabashed patriot, proud to be 
called an American, a sturdy friend of the union, and none 
knew better than he the struggles out of which the United 
States had been bom. He was a man of his time, as are all 
mortal men, spoke in the phraseology of times past, yet in 
his Farewell Address he touched upon and elaborated 
some timeless truths. Further experience has served only to 
confirm the validity of many of his recommendations. 

His thoughts on unity, on the love of power, on the 
impact of partisan strife, on the importance of focusing on 
our common interests, on avoiding entanglements with 
other nations, on religion and morality, on the public credit, 
and on freedom of trade have worn well when they have 
been observed, and have brought suffering by their neglect. 
The terror and tyranny of this century, the slave labor 
camps and barbed wired borders of nations with their fet- 
tered peoples prove once again that liberty depends upon 
order, and that if order is not founded upon and in accord 
with an underlying order it will tend to be nothing more 
than the will of the tyrant. 

John Witherspoon: 
Animated Son of Liberty' 

Robert A. Peterson 

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence lay on 
the table of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Two days 
earlier, Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence 
had been adopted, and now the time was at hand when 
each delegate would put pen to paper, thus committing his 
life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to a future darkened 
by clouds of war. If their bid for liberty failed, those who 
signed would be the first to be hung from a British noose. 

Sensing the urgency of the moment, John Witherspoon 
of New Jersey rose to speak: 

There is a tide in the affairs of men, a nick of time. 
We perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to con- 
sent to our own slavery. That noble instrument upon 
your table, which ensures immortality to its author, 
should be subscribed this very morning by every 
pen in this house. He that will not respond to its 
accents and strain every nerve to carry into effect its 
provisions is unworthy the name of freeman. For my 
own part, of property I have some, of reputation 
more. That reputation is staked, that property is 

Mr. Peterson is headmaster of the Pilgrim Academy Egg Harbor 
City, New Jersey This essay appeared in the December 1985 issue of The 



John Witherspoon: "Animated Son of Liberty" / 53 

pledged, on the issue of this contest; and although 
these gray hairs must soon descend into the sepul- 
chre, I would infinitely rather that they descend 
thither by the hand of the executioner than desert at 
this crisis the sacred cause of my country.^ 

Witherspoon's words gave voice to the sentiments of 
the majority of delegates, and on July 4, America declared 
her independence. 

In his philosophy of freedom, Witherspoon was one of 
the most consistent of the Founding Fathers. Leaving no 
realm of thought untouched, all knowledge was his 
province as he discussed money, political economy, philos- 
ophy, and education, all in relation to Whig principles of 
liberty. His articles and teachings on the nature of money 
foreshadowed the discoveries of the Austrian school of eco- 
nomics in the nineteenth century, and contributed to mak- 
ing the Constitution a "hard-money document" — a fact 
that has been forgotten by modern politicians. 

His Influence on Others 

Witherspoon never led an army into battle, nor did he 
run for high national office after the war. Yet his influence 
was such that in his role as President of the College of New 
Jersey (now Princeton) he helped to educate a generation of 
leaders for the new nation. His students included James 
Madison, the young Aaron Burr, Henry and Charles Lee of 
Virginia, and the poets Philip Freneau and Hugh Bracken- 
ridge. Of his former students 10 became cabinet officers, 6 
were members of the Continental Congress, 39 became 
Congressmen, and 21 sat in the Senate. His graduates 
included 12 governors, and when the General Assembly of 

54 / Robert A. Peterson 

the Presbyterian Church in America met in 1789, 52 of the 
188 delegates had studied under Witherspoon. The limited- 
government philosophy of most of these men was due in 
large measure to Witherspoon's influence.^ 

Born in Scotland in 1723, Witherspoon was reared on 
stories of the Scottish Covenanters who in years past had 
stood for both religious and political liberty. In due time he 
was sent to the grammar school at Haddington, and later 
entered Edinburgh University at the age of fourteen. 

Witherspoon received his education in Scotland at a 
time when the air was filled with the kind of thinking that 
led to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Indeed, Wither- 
spoon and Smith were contemporaries, and in 1776 both 
would strike an important blow for liberty — Witherspoon 
with the signing of the Declaration on one side of the 
Atlantic, and Smith with his publication of the Wealth of 
Nations on the other. Witherspoon spoke out for political 
liberty, while Smith took a stand against mercantilism and 
for economic liberty. Freedom is all of a piece, and the work 
of these two Scotsmen complemented and supported one 
another. Political freedom and economic freedom go hand 
in hand — you cannot have one without the other. 

Witherspoon received his M.A. in 1743, and spent the 
next two decades serving as a parish minister in the Church 
of Scotland. During this period of his life he developed a 
reputation for being the champion of the "Popular Party," 
which stood against patronage and pluralism in the Church 
of Scotland. His fame continued to grow in both Scotland 
and America, and so, when an opening occurred for the 
presidency of Princeton, Witherspoon's name was brought 
up and approved by the trustees. After careful negotiations 
and some pleading by Princeton alumnus Benjamin Rush, 

John Witherspoon: "Animated Son of Liberty'' / 55 

who was studying medicine in Edinburgh, Witherspoon 
accepted the call.^ 

Arriving in America in 1766, Witherspoon plunged into 
his new task with vigor. One of his first jobs was to get the 
college on a sound financial footing. Unlike many college 
administrators today, who go begging at the public trough, 
Witherspoon could not appeal for federal aid. Princeton 
was totally supported by tuitions and voluntary contribu- 
tions. Within two years, Witherspoon's fund-raising efforts 
(even George Washington contributed) brought Princeton 
back from the brink of bankruptcy. 

Educational Reform 

After laying a sound foundation for school finances, 
Witherspoon turned his attention to educational reform. He 
was the first to use the lecture method at Princeton. Previ- 
ously, instructors had assigned readings and then quizzed 
their students in class. He also set up a grammar school, 
authored several works on child-rearing, introduced mod- 
em languages into the college curriculum, and taught a 
course on moral philosophy. Witherspoon's activities at 
Princeton were brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of 
the War for Independence. Like most Americans, Wither- 
spoon was at first slow to embrace the cause of indepen- 
dence, hoping instead for a reconciliation of the two coun- 
tries based on the restoration of full English rights for the 
colonials — in particular, the right of their own little parlia- 
ments to tax them and make their laws, under the overall 
jurisdiction of the king. 

Witherspoon grew increasingly concerned, however, 
with the attempt of the British to install an Anglican bishop 

56 / Robert A. Peterson 

over the American colonies.^ He viewed this as the first step 
toward an ecclesiastical tyranny over the colonies, of which 
the Quebec Act was also a part (the Quebec Act extended 
French law, which meant no trial by jury, and Roman 
Catholicism into the Ohio Valley). Witherspoon understood 
that religious liberty — man's freedom to own his con- 
science — was inextricably intertwined with political and 
economic liberty: "There is not a single instance in history," 
he wrote, "in which civil liberty was lost, and religious lib- 
erty preserved entire. If, therefore, we yield up our tempo- 
ral property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into 

When hostilities broke out, and continued for about a 
year with no end in sight, Witherspoon felt that it was his 
duty to set forth the issue from the pulpit. In what is p>er- 
haps his most celebrated sermon, "The Dominion of Provi- 
dence Over the Passions of Men," Witherspoon said: 

. . . the cause in which America is now in arms, is the 
cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature. So 
far as we have hitherto proceeded, I am satisfied that 
the confederacy of the colonies has not been the 
effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep 
and general conviction that our civil and religious 
liberties, and consequently in a great measure the 
temporal and eternal happiness of us and our pos- 
terity, depended on the issue.^ 

Witherspoon went on to say that Americans would 
need "pure manners," "bravery," "economy," and "frugal- 
ity" if they wanted to win their independence. 

John Witherspoon: "Animated Son of Liberty" / 57 
Limited Government 

In his concept of political economy, Witherspoon 
believed that good government was limited government, 
wherein "faction" checked "faction" so that no person or 
group of persons could gain unlimited power. Thus, he 
believed in a system of checks and balances — a system 
that found its way into the United States Constitution 
through the influence of one of his favorite students, 
James Madison/ Ashbel Green, who would follow in 
Witherspoon's steps as a president of Princeton, said that 
the aging statesman approved of the Constitution "as 
embracing principles and carrying into effect measures, 
which he had long advocated, as essential to the preserva- 
tion of the liberties, and the promotion of the peace and 
prosperity of the country."^ 

Witherspoon put his views on civil government into 
practice when he served in Congress from 1776 to 1782. 
Always active, he served on over one hundred committees 
and preached to members of the Continental Congress on 
Sundays while in Philadelphia. The British showed that 
they realized the significance of Witherspoon's contribu- 
tion when they burned him in effigy along with George 
Washington during the occupation of New York City. 

The war left Nassau Hall in ruins, as the British particu- 
larly singled out Presbyterian institutions for destruction. 
Undaunted, Witherspoon left the Continental Congress in 
1782 to rebuild his beloved Princeton. He still found time to 
comment on the problems which confronted the new 
nation — particularly economic problems. An economist, or 
moral philosopher, of the first rank and an advocate of hard 

58 / Robert A. Peterson 

money, Witherspoon had seen firsthand the effects of the 
inflationary "Continentals." In his "Essay on Money," 
which in many ways presaged the writings of the Austrian 
school of economics, Witherspoon wrote: 

I observe that to arm such bills with the authority of 
the state, and make them legal tender in all pay- 
ments is an absurdity so great, that it is not easy to 
speak with propriety upon it ... It has been found, 
by the experience of ages, that money must have a 
standard of value, and if any prince or state debase 
the metal below the standard, it is utterly impossible 
to make it succeed. Why will you make a law to 
oblige men to take money when it is offered them? 
Are there any who refuse it when it is good? If it is 
necessary to force them, does not this system pro- 
duce a most ludicrous inversion of the nature of 

Witherspoon was also mindful of the tremendous pro- 
ductive capacity of the free society, not only in the physical 
realm but in the other fields of human action as well. In a 
textbook he wrote for his students, he concluded: "What 
then is the advantage of civil liberty? I suppose it chiefly 
consists in its tendency to put in motion all the human 
powers. Therefore it promotes industry, and in this resf)ect 
happiness — produces every latent quality, and improves 
the human mind. — Liberty is the nurse of riches, literature, 
and heroism."^^ 

Contracts Are Important 

The contract, so essential to capitalism, also loomed 
large in Witherspoon's thought: "Contracts are absolutely 

John Witherspoon: "Animated Son of Liberty" / 59 

necessary in scKial life. Every transaction almost may be 
considered as a contract, either more or less explicit/'^^ And 
in what constituted an intellectual "end run" around the 
classical economists, Witherspoon touched upon the dis- 
covery that value is essentially subjective, determined not 
by the amount of labor that goes into a product or by gov- 
ernment decree, but by individuals freely acting in the mar- 
ketplace. "Nothing has any real value unless it be of some 
use in human life, or perhaps we may say, unless it is sup- 
posed to be of use, and so becomes the object of human 
desire. . . ."^^ 

Besides writing, Witherspoon spent his last years build- 
ing up Princeton and his church. Two accidents left him 
blind the last two years of his life. His light spent, he con- 
tinued to preach and teach, relying upon the vast store of 
knowledge that he had husbanded away through years of 
diligent study. 

At the age of seventy-one, having crammed several 
careers into one lifetime, Witherspoon passed away and 
was buried in the President's Lot at Princeton. Two hun- 
dred years later, Witherspoon's great contributions in help- 
ing to lay the foundations of American freedom are still 
only darkly understood. There have been those in the past, 
however, who have recognized the magnitude of Wither- 
spoon's life and thought. John Adams, for instance, noted 
in his diary that Witherspoon was "as hearty a friend as any 
of the Natives — an animated Son of Liberty."^^ One of his 
students, Philip Freneau, wrote: 

His words still vibrate on my ear. 
His precepts, solemn and severe. 
Alarmed the vicious and the base. 
To virtue gave the loveliest face 
That humankind can wear.^^ 

60 / Robert A. Peterson 

It was through the influence of men like John Wither- 
spoon that a new nation gained a constitution that repudi- 
ated interventionism, fiat currency, and embraced the idea 
of hard money. He was a pastor, educator, statesman, econ- 
omist, and political theorist. He was, and still remains, "an 
animated Son of Liberty." 

1. John Witherspoon, quoted in Charles Augustus Briggs, Ameri- 
can Presbyterianism (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1885), p. 351. 

2. Charles G. Osgood, Lights in Nassau Hall (Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1951), pp. 12-13. 

3. Lyman H. Butterfield, John Witherspoon Comes to America 
(Princeton: Princeton University Library, 1953). 

4. Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faiths, Ideas, 
Personalities, and Politics 1689-1775 (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1962). 

5. John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon, 9 vols. (Edin- 
burgh: 1804-1805) Vol. ii, pp. 202-203. 

6. Ibid. 

7. James H. Smylie, "Madison and Withersf>oon: Theological 
Roots of American Political Thought/' Vie Princeton University Library 
Chronicle, Vol. xxii. No. 3 (Spring, 1961), MS, Presbyterian Historical 

8. Ashbel Green, quoted in Smylie, p. 130. 

9. Works, Vol. iv, p. 223. 

10. John Witherspoon, An Annotated Edition of Lectures on Moral Phi- 
losophy, Jack Scott, ed. (Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 
1982), p. 147. 

11. Lectures on Moral Philosophy, p. 168. 

12. Lectures on Moral Philosophy, p. 178. 

13. Martha Lou Stohlman, John Witherspoon: Parson, Politician, 
Patriot (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 15. 

14. Philip Freneau, quoted in Mary Weatherspoon Bowden, Philip 
Freneau (Boston: Twayne Pub., 1976), p. 17. 

Education in Colonial America 
Robert A. Peterson 

One of the main objections people have to getting gov- 
ernment out of the education business and turning it over 
to the free market is that "it simply would not get the job 
done." This type of thinking is due, in large measure, to 
what one historian called "a parochialism in time,"^ i.e., a 
limited view of an issue for lack of historical perspective. 
Having served the twelve-year sentence in government- 
controlled schools, most Americans view our present pub- 
lic school system as the measure of all things in education. 
Yet for two hundred years in American history, from the 
mid-1600s to the mid-1800s, public schools as we know 
them today were virtually nonexistent, and the educational 
needs of America were met by the free market. In these two 
centuries, America produced several generations of highly 
skilled and literate men and women who laid the founda- 
tion for a nation dedicated to the principles of freedom and 

The private system of education in which our forefa- 
thers were educated included home, school, church, volun- 
tary associations such as library companies and philosoph- 
ical societies, circulating libraries, apprenticeships, and 
private study. It was a system supported primarily by those 
who bought the services of education, and by private bene- 
factors. All was done without compulsion. Although there 

This essay appeared in the September 1983 issue of The Freeman. 


62 / Robert A. Peterson 

was a veneer of government involvement in some colonies, 
such as in Puritan Massachusetts, early American educa- 
tion was essentially based on the principle of voluntarism.^ 

Dr. Lawrence A. Cremin, distinguished scholar in the 
field of education, has said that during the colonial period 
the Bible was "the single most important cultural influence 
in the lives of Anglo-Americans."^ 

Thus, the cornerstone of early American education was 
the belief that "children are an heritage from the Lord."^ 
Parents believed that it was their responsibility to not only 
teach them how to make a living, but also how to live. As 
our forefathers searched their Bibles, they found that the 
function of government was to protect life and property.^ 
Education was not a responsibility of the civil government. 

Education Began in the Home and the Fields 

Education in early America began in the home at the 
mother's knee, and often ended in the cornfield or bam by 
the father's side. The task of teaching reading usually fell to 
the mother, and since paper was in short supply, she would 
trace the letters of the alphabet in the ashes and dust by the 
fireplace.^ The child learned the alphabet and then how to 
sound out words. Then a book was placed in the child's 
hands, usually the Bible. As many passages were familiar to 
him, having heard them at church or at family devotions, 
he would soon master the skill of reading. The Bible was 
supplemented by other good books such as Pilgrim's 
Progress by John Bunyan, The New England Primer, and Isaac 
Watts' Divine Songs. From volumes like these, our founding 
fathers and their generation learned the values that laid the 
foundation for free enterprise. In "Against Idleness and 

Education in Colonial America / 63 

Mischief/' for example, they learned individual responsi- 
bility before God in the realm of work and learning/ 

How doth the busy little bee 

Improve each shining hour. 
And gather honey all the day 

From every opening flower. 

How skillfully she builds her cell. 

How neat she spreads the wax 
And labours hard to store it well 

With the sweet food she makes. 

In works of labour, or of skill, 

I would be busy too; 
For Satan finds some mischief still 

For idle hands to do. 

In books, or work, or healthful play 

Let my first years be passed; 
That I may give for every day 

Some good account at last. 

Armed with love, common sense, and a nearby wood- 
shed, colonial mothers often achieved more than our mod- 
em-day elementary schools with their federally funded 
programs and education specialists. These colonial mothers 
used simple, time-tested methods of instruction mixed 
with plain, old-fashioned hard work. Children were not 
ruined by educational experiments developed in the ivory 
towers of academe. The introduction to a reading primer 
from the early nineteenth century testifies to the impor- 

64 / Robert A. Peterson 

tance of home instruction.^ It says: "The author cannot but 
hope that this book will enable many a mother or aunt, or 
elder brother or sister, or perhaps a beloved grandmother, 
by the family fireside, to go through in a pleasant and sure 
way with the art of preparing the child for his first school 

Home education was so common in America that most 
children knew how to read before they entered school. As 
Ralph Walker has pointed out, "Children were often taught 
to read at home before they were subjected to the rigours of 
school. In middle-class families, where the mother would 
be expected to be literate, this was considered part of her 

Without ever spending a dime of tax money, or without 
ever consulting a host of bureaucrats, psychologists, and 
specialists, children in early America learned the basic aca- 
demic skills of reading, writing, and ciphering necessary 
for getting along in society. Even in Boston, the capital city 
of the colony in which the government had the greatest 
hand, children were taught to read at home. Samuel Eliot 
Morison, in his excellent study on education in colonial 
New England, says:^^ 

Boston offers a curious problem. The grammar 
(Boston Latin) school was the only public school 
down to 1684, when a writing school was estab- 
lished; and it is probable that only children who 
already read were admitted to that. . . . they must 
have learned to read somehow, since there is no evi- 
dence of unusual illiteracy in the town. And a 
Boston bookseller's stock in 1700 includes no less 
than eleven dozen spellers and sixty-one dozen 

Education in Colonial America / 65 

The answer to this supposed problem is simple. The 
books were bought by parents, and illiteracy was absent 
because parents taught their children how to read outside 
of a formal school setting. Coupled with the vocational 
skills children learned from their parents, home education 
met the demands of the free market. For many, formal 
schooling was simply unnecessary. The fine education they 
received at home and on the farm held them in good stead 
for the rest of their lives, and was supplemented with Bible 
reading and almanacs like Franklin's Poor Richard's. 

Some of our forefathers desired more education than 
they could receive at home. Thus, grammar and secondary 
schools grew up all along the Atlantic seaboard, particu- 
larly near the centers of population, such as Boston and 
Philadelphia. In New England, many of these schools were 
started by colonial governments, but were supported and 
controlled by the local townspeople. 

In the Middle Colonies there was even less government 
intervention. In Pennsylvania, a compulsory education law 
was passed in 1683, but it was never strictly enforced.^^ 
Nevertheless, many schools were set up simply as a 
response to consumer demand. Philadelphia, which by 
1776 had become second only to London as the chief city in 
the British Empire, had a school for every need and interest. 
Quakers, Philadelphia's first inhabitants, laid the founda- 
tion for an educational system that still thrives in America. 
Because of their emphasis on learning, an illiterate Quaker 
child was a contradiction in terms. Other religious groups 
set up schools in the Middle Colonies. The Scottish Presby- 
terians, the Moravians, the Lutherans, and Anglicans all had 
their own schools. In addition to these church-related 
schools, private schoolmasters, entrepreneurs in their own 
right, established hundreds of schools. 

66 / Robert A. Peterson 

Historical records, which are by no means complete, 
reveal that over one hundred and twenty-five private 
schoolmasters advertised their services in Philadelphia 
newspapers between 1740 and 1776. Instruction was 
offered in Latin, Greek, mathematics, surveying, naviga- 
tion, accounting, bookkeeping, science, English, and con- 
temporary foreign languages.^^ Incompetent and inefficient 
teachers were soon eliminated, since they were not subsi- 
dized by the State or protected by a guild or union. Teach- 
ers who satisfied their customers by providing good ser- 
vices prospered. One schoolmaster, Andrew Porter, a 
mathematics teacher, had over one hundred students 
enrolled in 1776. The fees the students paid enabled him to 
provide for a family of seven.^^ 

In the Philadelphia Area 

Philadelphia also had many fine evening schools. In 
1767, there were at least sixteen evening schools, catering 
mostly to the needs of Philadelphia's hard-working Ger- 
man population. For the most part, the curriculum of these 
schools was confined to the teaching of English and voca- 
tions.^^ There were also schools for women, blacks, and the 
poor. Anthony Benezet, a leader in colonial educational 
thought, pioneered in the education for women and 
Negroes. The provision of education for the poor was a 
favorite Quaker philanthropy As one historian has pointed 
out, "the poor, both Quaker and non-Quaker, were allowed 
to attend without paying fees."^^ 

In the countryside around Philadelphia, German immi- 
grants maintained many of their own schools. By 1776, at 
least sixteen schools were being conducted by the Mennon- 
ites in Eastern Pennsylvania. Christopher Dock, who made 

Education in Colonial America / 67 

several notable contributions to the science of pedagogy, 
taught in one of these schools for many years. Eastern 
Pennsylvanians, as well as New Jerseyans and Marylan- 
ders, sometimes sent their children to Philadelphia to fur- 
ther their education, where there were several boarding 
schools, both for girls and boys. 

In the Southern colonies, government had, for all practi- 
cal purposes, no hand at all in education. In Virginia, edu- 
cation was considered to be no business of the State. The 
educational needs of the young in the South were taken 
care of in "old-field" schools. "Old-field" schools were 
buildings erected in abandoned fields that were too full of 
rocks or too overcultivated for farm use. It was in such a 
school that George Washington received his early educa- 
tion. The Southern Colonies' educational needs were also 
taken care of by using private tutors, or by sending their 
sons north or across the Atlantic to the mother country. 

Colonial Colleges 

A college education is something that very few of our 
forefathers wanted or needed. As a matter of fact, most of 
them were unimpressed by degrees or a university accent. 
They judged men by their character and by their experi- 
ence. Moreover, many of our founding fathers, such as 
George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ben Franklin, did 
quite well without a college education. Yet for those who so 
desired it, usually young men aspiring to enter the min- 
istry, university training was available. Unlike England, 
where the government had given Cambridge and Oxford a 
monopoly on the granting of degrees,^^ there were nine col- 
leges from which to choose. 

Although some of the colonial colleges were started by 

68 / Robert A. Peterson 

colonial governments, it would be misleading to think of 
them as statist institutions in the modem sense.^'' Once 
chartered, the colleges were neither funded nor supported 
by the state. Harvard was established with a grant from the 
Massachusetts General Court, yet voluntary contributions 
took over to keep the institution alive. John Harvard left the 
college a legacy of 800 pounds and his library of 400 books. 
"College corn," donated by the people of the Bay Colony, 
maintained the young scholars for many years.^^ Provision 
was also made for poor students, as Harvard developed 
one of the first work-study programs.^^ And when Harvard 
sought to build a new building in 1674, donations were so- 
licited from the people of Massachusetts. Despite the 
delays caused by King Philip's War, the hall was completed 
in 1677 at almost no cost to the taxpayer. ^^ 

New Jersey was the only colony that had two colleges, 
the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and Queens (Rut- 
gers). The Log College, the predecessor of Princeton, was 
founded when Nathaniel Irwin left one thousand dollars to 
William Tennant to found a seminary.^^ Queens grew out of 
a small class held by the Dutch revivalist, John Frel- 
inghuyson.^^ Despite occasional hard times, neither college 
bowed to civil government for financial assistance. As 
Frederick Rudolph has observed, "neither the college at 
Princeton nor its later rival at New Brunswick ever received 
any financial support from the state. . . ."^ Indeed, John 
Witherspoon, Princeton's sixth president, was apparently 
proud of the fact that his institution was independent of 
government control. In an advertisement addressed to the 
British settlers in the West Indies, Witherspoon wrote: "The 
College of New Jersey is altogether independent. It hath 
received no favor from Government but the charter, by the 
particular friendship of a person now deceased."^"* 

Education in Colonial America / 69 

Based on the principle of freedom, Princeton under 
Witherspoon produced some of America's most "animated 
Sons of Liberty." Many of Princeton's graduates, standing 
firmly in the Whig tradition of limited government, helped 
lay the legal and constitutional foundations for our Repub- 
lic. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, was a 
Princeton graduate. 


In addition to formal schooling in elementary and sec- 
ondary schools, colleges, and universities, early America 
had many other institutions that made it possible for peo- 
ple to either get an education or supplement their previous 
training. Conceivably, an individual who never attended 
school could receive an excellent education by using 
libraries, building and consulting his own library, and by 
joining a society for mutual improvement. In colonial 
America, all of these were possible. 

Consumer demand brought into existence a large num- 
ber of libraries. Unlike anything in the Old Country, where 
libraries were open only to scholars, churchmen, or gov- 
ernment officials, these libraries were rarely supported by 
government funds. In Europe, church libraries were sup- 
ported by tax money as well, for they were a part of an 
established church. In America, church libraries, like the 
churches themselves, were supported primarily by volun- 

The first non-private, non-church libraries in America 
were maintained by membership fees, called subscriptions 
or shares, and by gifts of books and money from private 
benefactors interested in education. The most famous of 
these libraries was Franklin and Logan's Library Company 

70 / Robert A. Peterson 

in Philadelphia, which set the pattern and provided muc±i 
of the inspiration for libraries throughout the colonies.^ 
The membership fee for these subscription libraries varied 
from twenty or thirty pounds to as little as fifteen shillings 
a year. The Association Library, a library formed by a group 
of Quaker artisans, cost twenty shillings to join.^^ 

Soon libraries became the objects of private philan- 
thropy, and it became possible for even the poorest citizens 
to borrow books. Sometimes the membership fee was com- 
pletely waived for an individual if he showed intellectual 
promise and character.^^ 

Entrepreneurs, seeing an opportunity to make a profit 
from colonial Americans' desire for self-improvement, pro- 
vided new services and innovative ways to sell or rent 
printed matter. One new business that developed was that 
of the circulating library. In 1767, Lewis Nicola established 
one of the first such businesses in the City of Brotherly 
Love. The library was open daily, and customers, by 
depositing five pounds and paying three dollars a year, 
could withdraw one book at a time. Nicola apparently 
prospered, for two years later he moved his business to 
Society Hill, enlarged his library, and reduced his prices to 
compete with other circulating libraries.^ Judging from the 
titles in these libraries,^^ colonial Americans could receive 
an excellent education completely outside of the school- 
room. For colonial Americans who believed in individual 
responsibility, self-government, and self-improvement, this 
was not an uncommon course of study. Most lawyers, for 
example, were self-educated. 

Sermons as Educational Tools 

The sermon was also an excellent educational experi- 
ence for our colonial forefathers. Sunday morning was a 

Education in Colonial America / 71 

time to hear the latest news and see old friends and neigh- 
bors. But it was also an opportunity for many to sit under a 
man of God who had spent many hours preparing for a 
two-, three-, or even four-hour sermon. Many a colonial 
pastor, such as Jonathan Edwards, spent eight to twelve 
hours daily studying, praying over, and researching his ser- 
mon. Unlike sermons on the frontier in the mid-nineteenth 
century, colonial sermons were filled with the fruits of 
years of study. They were geared not only to the emotions 
and will, but also to the intellect. 

As Daniel Boorstin has pointed out, the sermon was one 
of the chief literary forms in colonial America.^^ Realizing 
this, listeners followed sermons closely, took mental notes, 
and usually discussed the sermon with the family on Sun- 
day afternoon. Anne Hutchinson's discussions, which later 
resulted in the Antinomian Controversy, were merely typi- 
cal of thousands of discussions which took place in the 
homes of colonial America. Most discussions, however, 
were not as controversial as those which took place in the 
Hutchinson home. 

Thus, without ever attending a college or seminary, a 
churchgoer in colonial America could gain an intimate 
knowledge of Bible doctrine, church history, and classical 
literature. Questions raised by the sermon could be 
answered by the pastor or by the books in the church 
libraries that were springing up all over America. Often a 
sermon was later published and listeners could review 
what they had heard on Sunday morning. 

The first Sunday Schools also developed in this period. 
Unlike their modem-day counterparts, colonial Sunday 
Schools not only taught Bible but also the rudiments of 
reading and writing. These Sunday Schools often catered to 
the poorest members of society. 

Modem historians have discounted the importance of 

72 / Robert A. Peterson 

the colonial church as an educational institution, citing the 
low percentage of colonial Americans on surviving church 
membership rolls. What these historians fail to realize, 
however, is that unlike most churches today, colonial 
churches took membership seriously. Requirements for 
becoming a church member were much higher in those 
days, and many people attended church without officially 
joining. Other sources indicate that church attendance was 
high in the colonial period. Thus, many of our forefathers 
partook not only of the spiritual blessing of their local 
churches, but the educational blessings as well. 

Philosophical Societies 

Another educational institution that developed in colo- 
nial America was the philosophical society. One of the most 
famous of these was Franklin's Junto, where men would 
gather to read and discuss papers they had written on all 
sorts of topics and issues.^^ Another society was called The 
Literary Republic. This society opened in the bookbindery 
of George Rineholt in 1764 in Philadelphia. Here, artisans, 
tradesmen, and common laborers met to discuss logic, 
jurisprudence, religion, science, and moral philosophy 
(economics). ^^ 

Itinerant lecturers, not unlike the Greek philosophers of 
the Hellenistic period, rented halls and advertised their lec- 
tures in local papers. One such lecturer, Joseph Cun- 
ningham, offered a series of lectures on the "History and 
Laws of England" for a little over a pound.^^-^ 

By 1776, when America finally declared its indepen- 
dence, a tradition had been established and voluntarism in 
education was the rule. Our founding fathers, who had 
been educated in this tradition, did not think in terms of 

Education in Colonial America / 73 

government-controlled education. Accordingly, when the 
delegates gathered in Philadelphia to write a Constitution 
for the new nation, education was considered to be outside 
the jurisdiction of the civil government, particularly the 
national government. Madison, in his notes on the Conven- 
tion, recorded that there was some talk of giving the federal 
legislature the power to establish a national university at 
the future capital. But the proposal was easily defeated, for 
as Boorstin has pointed out, "the Founding Fathers sup- 
ported the local institutions which had sprung up all over 
the country."^ A principle had been established in America 
that was not to be deviated from until the mid-nineteenth 
century. Even as late as 1860, there were only 300 public 
schools as compared to 6,000 private academies.^^ 

A Highly Literate Populace 

The results of colonial America's free-market system of 
education were impressive indeed. Almost no tax money 
was spent on education, yet education was available to 
almost anyone who wanted it, including the poor. No gov- 
ernment subsidies were given, and inefficient institutions 
either improved or went out of business. Competition 
guaranteed that scarce educational resources would be 
allocated properly. The educational institutions that pros- 
pered produced a generation of articulate Americans who 
could grapple with the complex problems of self-govern- 
ment. The Federalist Papers, which are seldom read or under- 
stood today, even in our universities, were written for and 
read by the common man. Literacy rates were as high or 
higher than they are today^ A study conducted in 1800 by 
DuPont de Nemours revealed that only four in a thousand 
Americans were unable to read and write legibly.^^ Various 

74 / Robert A. Peterson 

accounts from colonial America support these statistics. In 
1772, Jacob Duche, the Chaplain of Congress, later turned 
Tory, wrote: 

The poorest labourer upon the shore of Delaware 
thinks himself entitled to deliver his sentiments in 
matters of religion or politics with as much freedom 
as the gentleman or scholar. . . . Such is the prevail- 
ing taste for books of every kind, that almost every 
man is a reader; and by pronouncing sentence, right 
or wrong, upon the various publications that come 
in his way, puts himself upon a level, in point of 
knowledge, with their several authors.^ 

Franklin, too, testified to the efficiency of the colonial 
educational system. According to Franklin, the North 
American libraries alone "have improved the general 
conversation of Americans, made the common tradesmen 
and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other 
countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to 
the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in 
defense of their privileges."^^ 

The experience of colonial America clearly supports 
the idea that the market, if allowed to operate freely, could 
meet the educational needs of modern-day America. In 
the nineteenth century, the Duke of Wellington remarked 
that "the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields 
of Eton and Cambridge." Today, the battle between free- 
dom and statism is being fought in America's schools. 
Those of us who believe in Constitutional government 
would do well to promote the principle of competition, 
pluralism, and government nonintervention in education. 
Years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, "The philosophy of the 

Education in Colonial America / 75 

classroom will be the philosophy of the government in the 
next generation." 

1. Bertrand Russell, quoted in: Tim Dowley, ed.. The History of 
Christianity (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Pub. Co., 1977), p. 2. 

2. Clarence B. Carson has emphasized this point in his The Ameri- 
can Tradition (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Eco- 
nomic Education, Inc., 1964). 

3. Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experi- 
ence, 1607-1789 (New York, Evanston, and London: Harper and Row, 
1970), p. 40. 

4. Psalms 127:3. 

5. Romans 13. 

6. Elizabeth McEachem Wells, Divine Songs by Isaac Watts (Fairfax, 
Va.: Thobum Press, 1975), p. ii. 

7. Ibid., p. 42. 

8. Eric Sloane, The Little Red Schoolhouse (Garden City, New York: 
Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1972), p. 3. 

9. Ralph Walker, "Old Readers," in Early American Life, October 
1980, p. 54. 

10. Samuel Eliot Morison, The Intellectual Life of New England 
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1%5), pp. 71, 72. 

11. Carson, p. 152. 

12. Louis B. Wright, The Cultural Life of the American Colonies (New 
York: Harper and Row Pub., Inc., 1957), p. 108. 

13. Ibid. 

14. Wright, p. 109. 

15. Carl and Jessica Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 36. 

16. Ibid., p. 39. 

17. Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University (New 
York: Random House, A Vintage Book, 1962), pp. 15-16. 

18. Morison, p. 39. 

19. Morison, p. 37. 

20. Morison, p. 39. 

21. Archibald Alexander, The Log College (London: Banner of Truth 
Trust, 1968; first published, 1851), pp. 14-22. 

76 / Robert A. Peterson 

22. William H. S. Demarest, A History of Rutgers College, 1766-1924 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1924), p. 45. 

23. Rudolph, p. 15. 

24. John Wither spoon, "Address to the Inhabitants of Jamaica and 
Other West-India Islands, in Behalf of the College of New Jersey," 
Essays upon Important Subjects, Vol. Ill (Edinburgh, 1805), pp. 312-318, 

25. Max Farrand, ed.. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Berke- 
ley, Cal., 1949), p. 86. 

26. Bridenbaugh, p. 87. 

27. Bridenbaugh, p. 99. 

28. Bridenbaugh, p. 91. 

29. Wright, pp. 126-133. 

30. Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: The Colonial Experience (New 
York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1958), pp. 10-14. 

31. This later became, of course, the American Philosophical 

32. Bridenbaugh, pp. 64-65. 

33. Bridenbaugh, p. 65. 

34. Boorstin, p. 183. 

35. Richard C. Wade, et ai, A History of the United States with Selected 
Readings, Vol. I (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1966, 1971), p. 398. 

36. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American 
Education (Nutley N.J.: The Craig Press, 1%3, 1979), p. 330. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Bridenbaugh, p. 99. 

39. Farrand, p. 86. 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 
Wesley H. Hillendahl 

A fresh spirit of change is in the air. It has swept into the 
Office of President a man who, as the Governor of Califor- 
nia, has shown his dedication to the principles of limited 
government. It has carried into ascendancy in the halls of 
Congress men who by their records have demonstrated 
their commitment to support constitutional principles 
which were designed to protect individual liberty. 

Let us seek the roots of that spirit. Perhaps we may find 
the key to curing what the late Dean Clarence Manion 
termed "Cancer in the Constitution."^ 

An examination of the Declaration of Independence 
will produce several important clues: "(Men) are endowed 
by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . among 
these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." "... to 
secure these rights governments are instituted . . . deriving 
their just powers from the consent of the governed." Gov- 
ernment is to be founded on principles and its powers 
organized in such form "most likely to effect safety and 

Men capable of expressing thoughts such as these had 
of necessity developed an inbred sense of self-reliance. 
They were God-fearing, Bible-reading people who were 
accustomed to taking responsibility for their own actions. 

The late Mr. Hillendahl was a banker and long-time member of 
FEE'S Board of Trustees. This essay appeared in the March 1981 issue of 
The Freeman. 


78 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

Whence would they likely receive guidance for these ideas 
of liberty? We know they invariably looked to the Bible as 
the source of inspiration and direction. So let us follow their 

James, the president of the church at Jerusalem, was elo- 
quent in translating the spirit of the Old Testament law into 
Christianity. In Chapter 1:25 he wrote: "But whoever looks 
into the perfect law of liberty and abides in it is not merely 
a hearer of the word which can be forgotten, but a doer of 
the work, and this man shall be blessed in his labor."^ In 
Chapter 2:11, James admonished those who have broken 
the commandments: "You have become a transgressor of 
the law ... so speak and act as men who are to be judged by 
the law of liberty."^ This clearly denotes that individuals 
are to be held responsible for their choices and actions. Irre- 
sponsible actions are to be judged accordingly. 

Paul wrote from Corinth encouraging the Galatians to 
maintain Christian liberty. Chapter 5:1, "Stand firm there- 
fore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and 
be not harnessed again under the yoke of servitude." In 
Romans 8:21 we find that servitude is the bondage of cor- 
ruption. Then in Galatians Chapter 5:13 and 14, "For my 
brethren you have been called to liberty, only do not use 
your liberty for an occasion to the things of the flesh, but by 
love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one 
saying that is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 
Underlying liberty is freedom of choice. We are admon- 
ished to make only responsible choices. Our actions should 
focus on service rather than on the accumulation of wealth 
as an end in itself. To live within the laws of the Command- 
ments also includes the prohibition of making laws which 
institutionalize greed, envy, lust, or coveting of property. So 
herein is the spirit of the law. 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 79 
The Purpose of Law 

As to the purpose of law, we may turn to the great Eng- 
lish judge. Sir William Blackstone, who said "The principal 
aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of 
those absolute rights which were vested in them by the 

inrunutable laws of nature The first and primary end of 

human laws is to maintain and regulate those 'absolute' 
rights of individuals."^ The Frenchman, Frederic Bastiat, in 
his pamphlet on The Law wrote: "We hold from God the gift 
which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, 
intellectual and moral life. . . . Life, faculties, production — 
in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is 
man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, 
these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, 
and are superior to it 

"Life, liberty and property do not exist because men 
have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, 
liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to 

make laws in the first place The law is the organization 

of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution 
of a common force for individual forces. And this common 
force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural 
and lawful right to do; to protect persons, liberties, and 
properties; and to maintain the right of each, and to cause 
justice to reign over us all."^ 

Constitutional Law — Power to the People 

In the United States Constitution we find a codification 
of the Biblical laws. It provided for the protection of life, lib- 
erty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. It provided for 
the freedom of choice of individuals with implied self- 

80 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

responsibility for their actions, and the protection of indi- 
viduals against those who would abridge or infringe those 
rights. A society wherein individuals are free to choose 
requires a government supported willingly by the consent 
of the governed. Individuals who choose to be free must be 
willing to support laws which protect the rights of all oth- 
ers who choose to be free. This constitutes a free and open 
society wherein each can choose to serve God and mankind 
in the ways of his own choice, free from the will of others. 

At the same time, the men who drafted the Constitution 
accepted the fact that individuals are corruptible. They are 
subject to temptation; they can be envious, and greedy; 
they may steal, or covet property. As someone has said, 
each man has his price, and it is indeed a rare individual 
who is totally incorruptible, given the opportunity to gain 
power. So their principal concern was how to develop a 
legal framework that would prevent corruptible individu- 
als or groups from acquiring power to infringe on the rights 
of other individuals. The key word is power. The division 
of power, fragmentation of power, and the checks and bal- 
ances of power extend through the entire fabric of the Con- 
stitution. A horizontal division of power was provided in 
the form of legislative, executive, and judicial separation. A 
vertical division of power appears in the form of the fed- 
eral, state, and local governments. The goal was to limit 
opportunities to concentrate powers taken from the people. 

Limiting the Government 

The Bill of Rights includes a set of specific "thou shalt 
nots" which were designed to constrain the federal govern- 
ment from infringing on specific individual rights. In sub- 
stance, the Constitution is a document which was designed 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 81 

to hold in chains the powers and authority of the federal 
government along with those who would use government 
to further their own ends. 

For such a system to survive requires a continual effort 
toward maintaining the distribution and balance of power 
at all times. During a speech in Ireland on July 10, 1790, 
John Curran warned, "The condition upon which God hath 
given liberty to man is eternal vigilance." 

The guarantees of "freedom to" — to choose, to try and 
to fail — can only be made under a government which is 
restricted from interfering with individual choices. In con- 
trast, the constitution of the Soviet Union and the United 
Nations charter are vehicles of unlimited power. Their 
goals of "freedom from" — from war, disease, want, unem- 
ployment and the like— can only be enforced by an unlim- 
ited central authority and bureaucracy. 

Being aware that neither the Constitution nor statutory 
law can ever change the nature of man, nor force him to be 
what he cannot or will not be, we may ask how successful 
were the framers of the Constitution. We live in an imper- 
fect world. It is an imperfect Constitution, and we are 
imperfect individuals. Yet for nearly two centuries with 
freedom of opportunity the people of the United States 
increased their standard of living more rapidly than did 
those of any other nation in the world. Given the choice, the 
acid test is whether one would rather live in the United 
States or somewhere else in the world. The vast influx of 
legal and illegal aliens speaks for itself. 

The Problems of Government— Man Was Made Vain 

Yet we are troubled today; inflation, unemployment, 
economic instability, housing shortages, high taxes, high 

82 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

interest rates, are but a few of our problems. How do the 
conditions underlying the problems of today compare with 
the concerns and grievances of the Founding Fathers? Let's 
look again at the Declaration of Independence. The signers 
were concerned about "relinquishing the rights of repre- 
sentation in the legislature." Today we are concerned about 
centralized government and administrative law. 

In 1776 they were concerned about being "exposed to 
dangers of invasion from without and convulsions from 
within." Increasing numbers are concerned about our 
defense posture today and the problems of internal unrest. 

They complained that "judges were dependent on the 
will (of the King) for tenure of their offices." Today's judges 
are political appointees who, to a significant extent, legis- 
late according to their ideologies rather than seek precedent 
for decisions. 

The Founders were concerned about "a multitude of 
new offices," and we are concerned about burgeoning 

They were concerned about "imposing taxes without 
our consent." Who isn't concerned today about high taxes, 
consent or otherwise? 

They were concerned about "deprived . . . benefits of 
trial by jury." Today administrative law has gone a long 
way to the same end, and has altered fundamentally the 
forms of government. 

They complained about exciting "domestic insurrec- 
tions among us." Today who is not concerned about crime 
and personal safety? The very survival of our system is 
threatened by the encroachment of a totalitarian ideology. 

Are we not faced again today with the problems of 200 
years ago? We are in fact encountering an ageless collision 
with a destructive ideology. Paul wrote in his letter to the 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 83 

Romans 8:20,21, "For man was made subject to vanity . . /' 
(Definitions of vanity include, "inflated pride of one's self/' 
or "emptiness, worthlessness." We may ponder the signifi- 
cance of this polarity of meaning.) "For man was made sub- 
ject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who gave 
him free will in the hope that he would choose rightly. 
Because man himself shall be delivered from the bondage of 
corruption into the glorious liberty of the Children of God." 

Or perhaps more clearly, man (of) himself shall be deliv- 
ered . . . Man only by his own choice of responsible 
thoughts and actions can achieve the soul growth that is 
required to achieve grace, and entrance into the Kingdom 
of God. 

But in fact, has he chosen "rightly"? In spite of the com- 
mandment "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's property," 
we have permitted laws to be passed which, taken all 
together, confiscate almost half of our neighbor's property 
via taxes in the vain concept of doing good. These vain 
thoughts manifest in a number of syndromes: 

• The "welfare" syndrome which enforces the privilege 
of the few at the expense of the rights of the individuals 
who constitute the body politic. 

• The "free lunch" syndrome which looks on dollars 
sent from Washington as free. If we don't get them, some- 
one else will. 

• The "meddling in the affairs of others" syndrome in 
which individuals feel compelled to attempt to solve the 
problems of others rather than minding their own business 
and concentrating on solving their own problems. 

• Similarly, the "let George do it" syndrome considers 
today's problems to be too complex to be solved equitably 
at the state or local level — they must be sent to Washington. 

84 / Wesley K Hillendahl 

• The "exploitation" syndrome in which the producers 
in society are held to have victimized those less stationed. 
Therefore the producers must be chained with regulations 
and their ill-gotten profits must be taxed away. 

• The "victims of society" syndrome maintains that crim- 
inals are the innocent victims of society — they cannot be held 
responsible for their crimes or misdeeds; therefore they must 
be pampered and "rehabilitated" rather than punished, 
while many live in fear that they may be the next victims. 

• Finally, the "homogenized milk" syndrome which is 
destroying all natural affinity groups and is forcing all peo- 
ple to live and work together on the basis of a "social 
adjustment" formula of equality based on race, color, creed, 
or whether one fancies dogs, cats, horses, or white rats. 

These syndromes are all manifestations of an ideology 
that is anathema to liberty. They reflect the attitude of those 
who lack faith in the ability of each individual to solve his 
or her own problems; hence, a forced redistribution of soci- 
ety is necessary to overcome maladjustments. 

The thermometer of a redistributive society is what? 
Inflation. Inflation is a measure of the maldistribution of 
wealth via government — no more, no less. The underlying 
motivating forces and the mechanics of inflation are com- 
plex and widely misunderstood. Yet no one in good con- 
science can deny the necessity to help those who are in a 
condition of misfortune. However, today much redistrib- 
uted wealth is going to those who have established vested 
positions of privilege. The consequence is that regardless of 
how legitimate a given cause may be, the total burden of 
aggregate causes on the nation has exceeded the carrying 
capacity of its productive resources to the point where 
inflation is an unavoidable condition. The problem goes far 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 85 

deeper than any transient federal administration, its roots 
extend back through decades, hiflation is the manifestation 
of vain thoughts and ideas applied cumulatively since the 
Civil War. It represents the misapplication of free will and 
an accumulation of a vast number of wrong choices. 

The Redistribution of Power 

What have been the mechanics of change wherein these 
false doctrines have gained ascendancy? 

Dr. Cornelius Cotter, Professor of Political Science at the 
University of Wisconsin, appeared before a special Senate 
committee in April, 1973.^ He remarked: "You know. Sena- 
tor Mathias, it has been said — and, 1 think wisely so — that if 
the United States ever developed into a totalitarian state we 
would not know it. We would not know that it had hap- 
pened. It would be all so gradual, the ritualism would all be 
retained as a facade to disguise what had happened. Most 
people in the United States, in official position, would con- 
tinue to do the sorts of things that they are doing now. The 
changes would have all been so subtle although so funda- 
mental that p>eople generally would be unaware." 

Senator Church res|X)nded, "That is the way it hap- 
jDened in Rome, is it not?" 

Dr. Cotter: "Indeed." 

Senator Mathias: "No Roman was more deferential than 

Dr. Cotter: "Exactly" 

Senator Church: "And kept the Senate happy, although 
the Senate had lost its power." 

So this age-old collision of ideas is producing very sub- 
tle changes in the power structure of the United States. The 
mechanism of change involves power, its balance and the 

86 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

concentration. Four simultaneous flows have been under- 
way for a century: (1) Power from the Congress to the Exec- 
utive Branch, (2) power from the Congress to the Supreme 
Court, (3) power from the states to the federal government, 
and (4) power from individuals to the government. 

Judicial Abuses 

Let's examine some of these flows of power. First, the 
Supreme Court. The Bill of Rights expressly forbids the fed- 
eral government to interfere with the fundamental personal 
liberties of individuals in this society. That's clear enough. 
As an outfall of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was 
adopted in 1868. This amendment forbids the states to 
interfere with the rights of the people. However, it had a 
devious intent, namely to give Congress control over the 
people of the South. But in 1873 the Supreme Court 
thwarted that intent in the "Slaughterhouse Cases." For 
half a century an ideal situation prevailed in which both the 
federal government and the states were constrained by the 
Constitution and its amendments from interfering with the 
liberties of the people. 

However, in more recent years a subtle but profound 
change has been effected by the Supreme Court. Dean 
Clarence Manion wrote, ". . . . For the 32 years of service 
together on the Supreme Court, Justices Black and Douglas 
have been repetitiously citing each other as authority for a 
gross and gratuitous misconstruction of the First and 14th 

"The accumulation of these malignant constitutional 
misconstructions of the first eight amendments with the 
14th has placed a cancer near the heart of our constitu- 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 87 

tional system which is proliferated with each successive 
term of the United States Supreme Court."^ Essentially, 
today the Court has legislated its jurisdiction over the 
rights of j)eople by effectively merging the Bill of Rights 
into the 14th Amendment and reversing its position in 

The specific consequences of the Black and Douglas 
decision were highlighted in an editorial which appeared 
in the San Diego Union: "The United States Supreme Court 
has returned three more decisions drastically altering the 
pattern of American life. 

"For more than 15 years now the Court has been 
steadily rewriting the laws and reinterpreting the Constitu- 
tion to suit the ideological bias or judicial whims of its 
members . . . 

"In recent days the Supreme Court has ridden over 
states' rights abolishing residency requirement for relief, 
sidestepped a ruling in a case of burning the American 
Flag, and placed further restrictions on law enforcement by 
freeing a convicted rapist because the police took his fin- 
gerprints in some legal hocus-pocus . . . 

". . . Court majorities in those 15 years have returned 
more than 30 decisions . . . have brought about basic and 
often demoralizing changes in the fields of politics, crimi- 
nal procedure, religion, race relations, subversion and com- 
munism, cmtitrust laws and obscenity. 

"The Court has told the states how they are to portion 
their legislatures, granted avowed Communists the run of 
defense plants; made a criminal's confession almost impos- 
sible to use; approved even secondary school demonstra- 
tions against the South Vietnam war; banned prayers or 
reading of the Bible in public classrooms; ruled that pass- 

88 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

ports cannot be withheld from Communists just because 
they are Communists; and held that deserters from the 
armed forces, even in wartime, cannot be stripped of citi- 
zenship. . . . 

"In the notorious Keylishian case, a majority opinion 
held that a college professor may not be dismissed for 
teaching and advocating, in college, or anywhere, the over- 
throw of our government by force and violence . . .^ The 
Court, once the ultimate in both prudence and jurispru- 
dence, is now the darling of the liberal radicals; it has done 
for them what the Congress has refused to do."^^ 

This is a most concise summary of the consequences of 
the Court's abrogation of states' rights and the jurisdiction 
of Congress. 

Courts Take Charge as Congress Forfeits Control 

At this point, the more perceptive will grasp the real 
issue which underlies the polarization of the Nation con- 
cerning the Equal Rights Amendment. Under the facade of 
women's rights, the real objective is to deliver the jurisdic- 
tion for defining the rights of all individuals into the hand 
of a Congress which has already defaulted its jurisdiction 
to the legislative whims of the Supreme Court. At the heart 
of the opposition to ERA are those who recognize its pas- 
sage would give validity to the Supreme Court's abridge- 
ment of the Bill of Rights, and encourage further intrusions 
into the private affairs of individuals. 

As a curtain over these actions, a myth has been erected 
which holds that Supreme Court decisions are the "Law of 
the Land." It presumes that once the Court takes a position 
on a case, every similar case would be adjudged that way. 
In actuality, each ruling is the "law of the case." It is possi- 

Reasserting the Spirit of '76 / 89 

ble for a court, made up of the same or different justices, to 
arrive at a different interpretation if it were to rule on a sim- 
ilar case. 

Under a second myth, the prevailing belief is that Con- 
gress has no control over the Supreme Court, hence. Con- 
gress has no way to redress the sorties of the Court into the 
legislative arena. Such an alleged lack of control is far from 
fact. Congress enacted the first Federal Judiciary Act in 
1789 and this act has been employed to apply its unques- 
tioned constitutional power over the jurisdiction of all fed- 
eral courts. 

The Congress by a wide margin recently voted to deny 
the Supreme Court the right to spend appropriated funds 
to conduct hearings into school busing cases, in effect, 
denying the court jurisdiction. 

Dean Clarence Manion of Notre Dame held that a major 
step will be taken toward rectifying the consequences of the 
Court's unconstitutional decisions when the Congress 
restricts, abolishes or controls selected types of appellate 
jurisdiction of both the Supreme Court and all other federal 
courts." A federal court system comprised mainly of judges 
and justices who are committed to upholding the original 
tenets underlying the Constitution, can do a great deal to 
curb the judicial misuses and excesses which have pre- 
vailed in recent years. 

Legislative Abuses 

For many decades the Supreme Court routinely struck 
down as unconstitutional various acts passed by Congress 
which infringed on the Bill of Rights. However, over the 
last two decades the Congress, taking its cue from the 
Black-Douglas Supreme Court decisions, has enacted a 

90 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

number of bills which have intruded ever-increasingly into 
those rights which were originally held to be out of bounds. 
These intrusions are being felt by the public in their oppor- 
tunities for employment, work environment, on the high- 
way, in the air, while shopping and banking, in schools, 
among family relations and in the home. While obviously 
accomplishing some benefits, the bulk of this legislation 
has been undertaken in response to the highly vocal, some- 
times rowdy, pressure of special-interest groups. In the 
main, these intrusions have caused vast numbers of people 
to become outraged, resentful, and rebellious. 

In its attempts to legislate social justice and equality, the 
Congress has cut to the core of the mores of the incredibly 
complex but generally balanced and tolerant American 

The wisdom of those who insisted on including the Bill 
of Rights in the Constitution is gradually seeping into the 
subconscience of all but the most hardheaded advocates of 
reform by coercion. It would be a wise Congress indeed 
that undertook to reverse or modify these unconstitutional 
intrusions which prior congresses have made over the 

Executive Abuses 

The scope of the powers of the executive branch has 
been expanded enormously, particularly in recent years. 
Authority of the office of the President has increased while 
departments, commissions, boards, and agencies have pro- 

Professor Cotter and Professor J. M. Smith determined 
that the powers entrusted by Congress to the Executive 
Branch can be grouped in four categories: (1) powers over 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 91 

fjersons, (2) powers to acquire property, (3) powers to regu- 
late property, and (4) control of communications.^^ 

Executive Orders: The President normally employs Exec- 
utive Orders to implement the efficient conduct of the daily 
routines of the office.^^ However, several presidents have 
employed Executive Orders to conduct international rela- 
tions and to effect legislation. 

For example. President Roosevelt used an Executive 
Order in 1933 to establish diplomatic relationships with the 
Communist regime in Russia at a time when it was unlikely 
that such action by Congress would have been supported 
by a consensus of the people. 

Under the pressure of time, the President has employed 
emergency orders properly in the declaration of national 
emergencies. However, one would believe that matters as 
basic as the legal framework for the conduct of government 
under such national emergencies would be given extensive 
examination by the Congress in the process of passing suit- 
able laws. Such is not the case. 

President John F. Kennedy issued a series of Executive 
Orders in 1%2 which established a comprehensive legal 
framework to deal with any national emergency as defined 
by the President or the Congress.^"* On its face, this would 
appear to have constituted an unwarranted intrusion into 
the legislative process. 

On October 11, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued 
Executive Order 11310 which continued the process by 
transferring the authority granted under the emergency or- 
ders from the Office of Emergency Planning to the Depart- 
ment of Justice. 

President Richard Nixon also gave attention to updat- 
ing the emergency orders while in office. 

Early in the 1970s Congress became sufficiently con- 

92 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

cerned about the existence of national emergencies that the 
Senate established a Special Committee on the Termination 
of the National Emergency.^^ This led in 1976 to the passage 
of the National Emergencies Act.^^ This act terminated all 
existing declared emergencies and established procedures 
and limits for the declaration of future national emergen- 

The matter took on new impetus when, on July 20, 1979, 
President Jimmy Carter issued two new Executive Orders: 

(1) E.O. 12148 Federal Emergency Management, which 
authorized a thorough overhaul of both civil and war emer- 
gency procedures and placed them under a newly created 
Federal Emergency Management Council. 

(2) E.O. 12149 Federal Regional Councils, which estab- 
lished councils for ten standard federal regions, their prin- 
cipal function being to implement federal programs. 

Taken separately or together these Executive Orders 
provide wide-ranging ramifications when analyzed from 
the point of view of the powers delegated to these Councils. 
While these structures may be thought of as logical provi- 
sions for the implementation of federal policy, increasing 
numbers of states are taking the position that Regional 
Councils constitute a major intrusion into their autonomy.^^ 

Such widespread reaction would lead one to conclude 
that a deep rift has developed in the power structure as a 
consequence of the thrust underlying these Executive 
Orders. As a consequence of these and other Executive 
Orders, a broad review by Congress of their use and abuses 
should lead to establishing guidelines which define appro- 
priate uses of Executive Orders by the Executive Branch. 

Administrative Law: The myriad of statutes, regulations, 
and codes by which the various departments and bureaus 
of government administer their operations under the 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 93 

Executive Branch constitute administrative law. In large 
part they are established to implement details of the broad 
language of the acts of Congress. These regulations are es- 
sential to the smooth and orderly functioning of govern- 

Nevertheless, the structure of departments which com- 
bines executive, legislative, and enforcement or judicial 
functions, provides a concentration of power and authority 
which lends itself to potential bureaucratic abuses. Among 
many possible examples, congressional hearings have 
revealed that the detailed statutes developed in administer- 
ing the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) went 
far beyond the intent of the act, and provided the basis for 
executive abuses and deliberate harassment, in particular 
of small business. Many are aware of instances in which the 
Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, using the 
charge of conspiracy and restraint of trade, has imposed 
fines and/or jail sentences though the accused firms and 
their officers were innocent. These firms chose to make 
payment under a plea of nolo contendere because the legal 
fees required to establish their innocence would exceed the 

Administered proi:)erly, government agencies should 
facilitate trade and commerce, and protect the various 
interests of the people. At best, administrative law can only 
regulate, prohibit, or constrain individuals or groups from 
imposing on the rights of others. However, in increasing 
numbers of cases the bureaucracy has gone far beyond its 
legitimate functions. One may find dozens of magazine 
and newspaper articles reciting wasteful or counter-pro- 
ductive bureaucratic activities, and arrogant abuses of 
power. Today the friction and costs to society of the bureau- 
cracy have reached destructive proportions. These excesses 

94 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

must be brought again under control. The implementation 
of reforms is too broad a subject to address here. A 
comprehensive report by the Heritage Foundation^^ has 
recommended a broad platform of reforms to President- 
Elect Reagan "to roll back big government." Included are 
specific recommendations concerning Executive Orders 
and administrative law. Implementation of these recom- 
mendations should go a long way in restoring a prof)er bal- 
ance of power. 

Revitalizing the American I>ream 

The foregoing are but a few examples of the restructur- 
ing of power which has been achieved during the last cen- 
tury. They have been selected to illustrate the vast depar- 
ture from the spirit in which the Constitution was written 
some 200 years ago. As a consequence, people in all walks 
of life — both the providers and the recipients of govern- 
ment aid — are hurting as they have never hurt before. The 
thermometer — inflation — shows that the waters of our eco- 
nomic and political environment are approaching the boil- 
ing point. Not one amongst us is immune to the heat. 

In the face of these adversities, a new spirit is emerging 
in the land. The new religious revival extending from 
neighborhoods to nationwide television is a new expres- 
sion of the old Spirit of '76. People are going back to basics. 
They are thinking, questioning, and organizing.^^ 

The overwhelming choice by the electorate of a new 
administration dedicated to redressing these abuses of 
power is a manifestation of the revival of the spirit. 

The retirement of many congressmen who have aided 
and abetted this misdirection of power, together with the 
election of other congressmen who affirm the original pre- 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 95 

cepts of the Constitution are further manifestations of the 

Yet this is only a beginning. We must not expect mira- 
cles from any administration, nor can any of us escape the 
painful process of readjustment. We are presently in a posi- 
tion to achieve a victory in this battle. But the foes in the 
ageless war for the minds of men are not to be easily van- 
quished. It will require years of unrelenting effort to over- 
come the damages which have been incurred by the Repub- 

We know in our hearts that cold, impersonal welfare 
will never succeed loving charity. Government can never 
provide security to replace self-reliance. No government 
can accomplish those things we must do for ourselves if our 
souls and spirits are to expand. If we are to restore the 
American dream we must never again become complacent 
and allow ourselves to be overridden by those who are in a 
vain quest for false goals. 

Let us again restore the balance between spiritual and 
material values. The institutions of church and state are 
inseparable, they are as inseparable as two ends of a rope, 
each is a manifestation of the spirit and substance of soci- 
ety.^ We may recall that the spirit of liberty was heralded 
from every pulpit during our Revolutionary War. I main- 
tain that Spirit of '76 has never really disappeared, we have 
simply allowed it to become encrusted with false doctrine. 

Paul offered words of encouragement: "Stand firm 
therefore in liberty with which Christ has made us free. Be 
not harnessed again under the yoke of servitude. ... the 
bondage of corruption." James urged us: "So speak and so 
act as men and women who are to be judged by the law of 
liberty." Let freedom-loving individuals prevail by reas- 
serting the Spirit of '76. 

96 / Wesley H. Hillendahl 

1. Clarence E. Manion, Cancer in the Constitution (Shepherdsville, 
Ky.: Victor Publishing Company, 1972). 

2. Holy Bible, trans. George M. Lamsa (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman, 
1957). This version is translated into English from the Aramaic, the lan- 
guage of Jesus and is recognized for accuracy and clarity of expression. 

3. The law of liberty within the context of Bible usage expresses 
freedom of choice with consequences. All thoughts and actions cause 
reactions for which we are to be held accountable. The law of liberty is 
the Christian counterpart of the Sanskrit term, karma. 

4. James Mussatti, The Constitution of the United States, Our Charter 
of Liberties (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1960), p. 9. 

5. Frederic Bastiat, The Law, trans. Dean Russell (Irvington-on- 
Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1950), pp. 5, 6, 7. 
(The Law was first published as a pamphlet in June 1850.) 

6. U.S. Congress, Senate, Special Committee on the Termination of 
the National Emergency, National Emergency, Part 1 Constitutional Ques- 
tions Concerning Emergency Powers, Hearings before the Special Com- 
mittee of the Senate, 93rd Cong., 1st sess., April 11, 12, 1973, p. 29. 

7. Manion, p. 33. 

8. Ibid., p. 35. 

9. As a consequence of this Supreme Court decision, by 1975 an 
estimated 2,000 campus "radical economists" who "respect the point of 
view of Mao" and who believe in "a socialism of affluence" were mem- 
bers of the Union of Radical Political Economists. (Los Angeles Times, 
December 21, 1975J. 

10. San Diego Union, April 28, 1%9. 

11. Manion, p. 27. 

12. C. P. Cotter and J. M. Smith, Pozvers of the President During Crises 
(Washington, D. C: Public Affairs Press, 1960). 

13. Executive Orders are issued by the President, reviewed by the 
Office of Legal Counsel and published in the Federal Register. They 
become law unless rescinded by Congress within a specified period of 

14. Executive Orders including numbers 10995, 10997,10998, 10999 
and 11000, 11001, 11002, 11003, 11004, 11005 and 11051 define proce- 
dures during war, attacks or other emergencies for executive control of 
communications, energy, food and farming, all modes of trans- 

Reasserting the Spirit of 76 / 97 

portation, civilian work brigades, health, education and welfare func- 
tions, housing, public storage and so on. 

15. VS. Congress, Senate, National Emergency. 

16. National Emergencies Act, U.S. Code, vol. 50, sec. 1601- 51 (1976). 

17. Extensive hearings on regional governance have been con- 
ducted by legislative committees in a score of states. The proceedings of 
these hearings appear in bulletins published by the Committee to 
Restore the Constitution, Inc., P.O. Box 986, Fort Collins, Colorado 

18. Charles Heatherly, ed.. Mandate for Leadership (Washington, 
D.C.: HeriUge Foundation, 1980). 

19. For an example of grass roots organization see "The Pro-Family 
Movement: A Special Report" in Conservative Digest 6 (May/June 1980). 

20. Into the artfully contrived rift between church and state has 
been driven the wedge of Humanism. According to the book The 
Assault on the Family, "As a religion. Humanism demands the end of all 
religions that are God-oriented, and the abolition of the profit-moti- 
vated society, so that a world Utopian state may be established which 
will dictate the distribution of the means of life for everyone." See "Our 
Last Opportunity" in Don Bell Reports, November 13, 1980. 

Faith of Our Fathers 
Clarence B. Carson 

History, it has been said, is a seamless cloth. The 
thought is apt. You cannot clip a thread within it and 
attempt to extricate it without unraveling the whole. There 
have been efforts to tell the history of the United States with 
the role of religion either excised from it or altered within it. 
One common alteration occurs in those textbooks which 
claim that the Pilgrims and Puritans came to America for 
freedom of religion. 

They did not. They came in order to be able to practice 
their religion. The difference is by no means merely a quib- 
ble. Freedom of religion, as it is now understood, is a secu- 
lar concept. It is probably even more highly valued by those 
who have no religious faith than by active believers. To be 
able to practice one's faith is only of value to him who has a 
faith to practice. It is a sacred, not a secular, value. The Puri- 
tans at the time of settlement could no more conceive of the 
desirability of freedom of religion than Treasury officials 
today can conceive of the desirability of freedom of 

My point is that books on American history often either 
secularize religious values, treat them as alien, or leave 
them out of account. Yet, without these religious founda- 
tions there could have been no United States as it was and 

This essay was published in the December 1976 issue of The Free- 


Faith of Our Fathers / 99 

is. There is no knowing American history without grasping 
its underpinnings in Judeo-Christian faith. America as it 
was and is cannot even be successfully imagined without 
the thread of faith woven into the cloth of history. 

Biblically Based and Christian Settlement of America 

American history cannot be imagined without the pow- 
erful evocative phrases of the King James Version of the 
Bible, or without the story of our origins in Genesis: 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the 
earth. The earth was without form, and void; and 
darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit 
of God moved upon the face of the waters. 

Genesis 1:1-2. 

Or, without the account of man's place in the creation: 

And God said. Let us make man in our image, after 
our likeness: and let them have dominion over the 
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over 
the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every 
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 

So God created man in his own image, in the 
image of God created he him; male and female cre- 
ated he them. 

Genesis 1:26-27. 

The fundamental character of all proper law is revealed 
in the Ten Commandments. Though two of them do com- 
mand appropriate affirmative action, the remainder are 
prohibitive in nature. They are brief, concise, and are read- 

100 / Clarence B. Carson 

ily understood. A United States without the Ten Com- 
mandments in its background would have been a United 
States without transcendent law upon which to build: 

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God 
in vain. 

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 

5. Honour thy father and thy mother. 

6. Thou shalt not kill. 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

8. Thou shalt not steal. 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy 

10. Thou shalt not covet. 

Excerpted and numbered from Exodus 20: 3-17. 

Most of those who settled in the New World were Chris- 
tian, nominally or devoutly as the case might be. Their atti- 
tude toward life had been winnowed through and condi- 
tioned by the Christian perspective. This meant many 
things, but one of its meanings is never to be ignored by the 
historian: That good ultimately triumphs over evil, that life 
is not necessarily tragic but that it is potentially triumphant 
when it is in accord with God's will. America without the 
assurance of this Revelation could not have been as it has 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was 
with God, and the Word was God. He was in the 
beginning with God; all things were made through 
him, and without him was not anything made that 

Faith of Our Fathers / 101 

was made. In him was life, and the life was the light 
of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the 
darkness has not overcome it. 

John 1:1-5 (RSV) 

This assurance comes through in the beautiful promises of 
the Beatitudes: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the 
kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be 

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for 
righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be 
called the sons of God. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for right- 
eousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are you when men revile you and perse- 
cute you and utter all kinds of evil against you 
falsely on my account. 

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in 
heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who 
were before you. 

Matthew 5: 3-11 (RSV) 

102 / Clarence B. Carson 
Roman Catholicism 

The Christian religion was for a thousand years of its 
history represented primarily by the Roman Catholic 
Church. Within that fold many doctrines were shaped and 
many great preachers and teachers held forth. While the 
Catholic Church was suspect to some of the Founders of the 
United States, it is nonetheless the case that the Faith of Our 
Fathers found many of its underpinnings in that faith. Here 
is a statement from the monastic ideal of the Middle Ages: 

This treasure, then, namely Christ, our God and 
Lord, who was made for us as both redeemer and 
reward. He Himself both the promiser and the prize, 
who is both the life of man and the eternity of the 
angels — this, I say, store away with diligent care in 
the recesses of your heart. On Him cast the anxiety 
of any care whatsoever. In Him delight through the 
discourse of zealous prayer. In Him refresh yourself 
by the nightly feasts of holy meditation. Let Him be 
your food, and your clothing no less. If it should 
happen that you lack anything of external conve- 
nience, do not be uncertain, do not despair of His 
true promise in which He said "Seek ye first the 
kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto 
you. . . ." 

Peter Damiani (Eleventh Century) 

Protestant Reformation 

Even more, however, is the United States inconceivable 
without the Protestant Reformation. Most of the colonies 
were settled by one or more offshoots of this movement. 

Faith of Our Fathers / 103 

The emphasis upon reason. Scripture, and decision by the 
individual — hallnnarks of the Reformation — was never 
more dramatically stated than by Martin Luther at the Diet 
of Worms in his refusal to recant: 

Since your Majesty and your lordships ask for a sim- 
ple reply, I shall give you one without horns and 
without teeth; unless I am convinced by the evi- 
dence of Scriptures or by plain reason ... I am bound 
by the Scriptures I have cited and my conscience is 
captive to the Word of God. 1 cannot and will not 
recant anything, for it is neither safe nor right to go 
against conscience. I can do no other. 

Martin Luther (Diet of Worms, 1521) 

The tendency in Protestant lands, however, was to have 
one established church. Those who did not want such an 
establishment, or wanted a different one, were often perse- 
cuted in their home lands. Some of these sought refuge in 
America. The Pilgrims were the first of such English groups 
to do so. The character of the faith of one of their leaders, 
William Bradford, comes through in this selection from his 

What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God 
and His grace? May not and ought not the children 
of these fathers rightly say: "Our fathers were Eng- 
lishmen which came over this great ocean, and were 
ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried 
unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked 
on their adversity," etc. "Let them therefore praise 
the Lord because he is good: and His mercies endure 
forever." Yea, let them which have been redeemed of 

104 / Clarence B. Carson 

the Lord, shew how He hath delivered them from 
the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in 
the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no 
city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul 
was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before 
the Lord his lovingkindness and His wonderful 
works before the sons of men. 

William Bradford, 
Of Plymouth Plantation, 

The Great Awakening 

At the outset, many of those who settled in the New 
World were divided from one another by religious differ- 
ences. The fact that most of them were Protestant served at 
first more to divide than to unite them. Over the years, doc- 
trinal antipathies moderated. Perhaps the single most 
important of the moderating influences was the Great 
Awakening. In the middle of the eighteenth century a great 
revival spread through the colonies. Though it did provoke 
some divisions within denominations, its tendency was to 
shift the emphasis from points of doctrine to the experience 
of conversion and a spiritual attitude toward life. Denomi- 
nations continued to proliferate but their differences 
became more a matter of modes of organization and tastes 
as to ritual than of dogma and doctrine. The Great Awak- 
ening provided a widely shared evangelistic base for 
Protestant Christianity. The tenor of this evangelism 
appears in this excerpt from a sermon by Jonathan 

1 invite you now to a better portion. There are better 
things provided for the sinful miserable children of 

Faith of Our Fathers / 105 

men. There is a surer comfort and more durable 
peace: comfort that you may enjoy in a state of safety 
and on a sure foundation: a peace and rest that you 
may enjoy with reason and with your eyes wide 
open; having all your sins forgiven . . . ; being taken 
into God's family and made his children; and having 
good evidence that your names were written on the 

heart of Christ before the world was made 

Jonathan Edwards 

The God of Creation 

In the great documents of the American Revolution 
there is often an explicit reliance upon natural law and an 
implicit underlying dependence on the inherited religious 
faith. The God of nature and the God revealed in Scripture 
was the same God. There were, however, differences in the 
interpretation of Scripture, differences which did not 
extend to the natural law. Hence, the appeal in the Declara- 
tion of Independence was to the God of Creation: 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes 
necessary for one people to dissolve the political 
bands which have connected them with another, and 
to assume among the Powers of the earth, the sepa- 
rate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature 
and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to 
the opinions of mankind requires that they should 
declare the causes which impel them to the separa- 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all 
men are created equal, that they are endowed by 
their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that 

106 / Clarence B. Carson 

among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of 


Declaration of Independence, 1776 

The practice of having a written constitution is Ameri- 
can in origin. It was grounded in their British heritage and 
colonial experience, but it was particularly informed by 
their Christian and Protestant religion. The Founders were 
people of the Book, the Bible, the recorded word. As Protes- 
tants mainly, they attached an unusually high importance 
to Scripture and to its careful exposition. It was, to them, 
the highest authority. The United States Constitution 
became for them, out of this tradition, the highest authority 
within the country. It was written, precise, and was to be 
carefully interpreted and observed. 

A Subtle Parallel 

One part of the Constitution has been especially revered 
over the years. It is the first ten amendments, commonly 
called the Bill of Rights. Some of its antecedents are gener- 
ally understood to be the Magna Carta and the English Bill 
of Rights. But its most profound antecedent is usually 
ignored. It is more difficult than it may at first appear to 
imagine that the First Ten Amendments have played the 
role they have without the prior position of the Ten Com- 
mandments in the Judeo-Christian religion. It is not just 
that each of them numbers ten, though they do. It is con- 
siderably more. They are similar in form. The Ten Com- 
mandments usually begin with "Thou shalt not." The first 
Ten Amendments are equally prohibitive in their lan- 
guage:"Congress shall make no law . . . , No Soldier shall 
. . . , shall not be violated . . . , Excessive bail shall not be 

Faith of Our Fathers / 107 

required . . . /' and so forth. More, the Ten Commandments 
forbid individuals to do acts that would be harmful to any- 
one. The First Ten Amendments forbid government to do 
acts arbitrarily detrimental to our life, liberty, and property. 
The Ten Commandments proceed from our Maker to us. 
The First Ten Amendments proceed from the makers of 
government to it. Can it be doubted that they draw subtle 
force from the parallel? 

The Faith of Hamilton 

The Founding Fathers were not particularly renowned 
for their piety. But the springs of religious faith often ran 
deep within them, to break forth only on extraordinary 
occasions. So it was with Alexander Hamilton. It was his 
fate to meet his death in a duel with Aaron Burr. Perhaps 
"fate" is the wrong word; he took a course which exposed 
him to such a death if Burr so chose. Hamilton believed that 
dueling was wrong and knew that it was against the law. 
Yet, when challenged he felt that he must participate. The 
last note to his wife written on the night before the duel 
contained these thoughts, among others: 

. . . The scruples of a Christian have determined me 
to expose my own life to any extent, rather than sub- 
ject myself to the guilt of taking the life of another. 
This much increases my hazards, and redoubles my 
pangs for you. But you had rather I should die inno- 
cent than live guilty. Heaven can preserve me, and I 
humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I 
charge you to remember that you are a Christian. 
God's will be done! The will of a merciful God must 
be good 

108 / Clarence B. Carson 

On the day of the duel both Hamilton and Burr raised 
their pistols to the ready position on command. Burr then 
aimed and fired directly at Hamilton. Hamilton fired into 
the air, as he had said he would do. Hamilton died from the 
wounds inflicted on him. It is difficult to imagine America 
without men devoted to principles founded upon their 

Washington's Farewell 

Nor should we imagine an America without the guid- 
ance of Washington's Farewell Address. Nor would that 
address have been the same without its references to reli- 
gious underpinnings: 

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to polit- 
ical prosperity, religion and morality are indispens- 
able supports. In vain would that man claim the trib- 
ute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these 
great pillars of human happiness — these firmest 
props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere 
politician, equally with the pious man, ought to 
respect and cherish them. A volume would not trace 
all their connections with private and public felicity. 
Let it simply be asked. Where is the security for 
property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of reli- 
gious obligation desert the oaths which are instru- 
ments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us 
with caution indulge the supposition that morality 
can be maintained without religion. Whatever may 
be conceded to the influence of refined education on 
minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience 

Faith of Our Fathers / 109 

both forbid us to expect that national morality can 
prevail in exclusion of religious principle. 

George Washington, Farewell Address 

But then, the United States of America could hardly be 
conceived without the Faith of Our Fathers. 


Jeremiah's Job 
Gary North 

Sooner or later, those who are interested in the philoso- 
phy of liberty run across Albert J. Nock's essay, "Isaiah's 
Job." Taking as an example two Old Testament prophets, 
Isaiah and Elijah, Nock makes at least two important 
points. First, until society seems to be disintegrating around 
our ears, not many people are going to listen to a critic who 
comes in the name of principled action. The masses want to 
get all the benefits of principled action, but they also want 
to continue to follow their unprincipled ways. They want 
the fruits but not the roots of morality. Therefore, they 
refuse to listen to prophets. Second, Nock pointed out, the 
prophet Elijah was convinced that he was the last of the 
faithful, or what Nock calls the Remnant. Not so, God told 
the prophet; He had kept seven thousand others from the 
rot of the day. 

Elijah had no idea that there were this many faithful 
p)eople left. He had not seen any of them. He had heard no 
reports of them. Yet here was God, telling him that they 
were out there. Thus, Nock concludes, it does no good to 
count heads. The people whose heads are available for 
counting are not the ones you ought to be interested in. 
Whether or not people listen is irrelevant; the important 
thing is that the prophet makes the message clear and 

Dr. North is president of the Institute for Christian Economics in 
Tyler, Texas. This essay apj:)eared in the March 1978 issue of The Free- 


114 / Gary North 

consistent. He is not to water down the truth for the sake of 
mass appeal. 

Nock's essay helps those of us who are used to the idea 
that we should measure our success by the number of peo- 
ple we convince. We are "scalphunters/' when we ought to 
be prophets. The prophets were not supposed to give the 
message out in order to win lots of public support. On the 
contrary, they were supposed to give the message for the 
sake of truth. They were to witness to a generation which 
would not respond to the message. The truth was therefore 
its own justification. Those who were supposed to hear, 
namely, the Remnant, would get the message, one way or 
the other. They were the people who counted. Lesson: the 
people who count can't be counted. Not by prophets, any- 

A Sad Message 

The main trouble I have with Nock's essay is that he 
excluded another very important prophet. That prophet 
was Jeremiah. He was a contemporary of Isaiah, and God 
gave him virtually the same message. He was told to go to 
the highest leaders in the land, to the average man in the 
street, and to everyone in between, and proclaim the mes- 
sage. He was to tell them that they were in violation of basic 
moral law in everything they did, and that if they did not 
turn away from their false beliefs and wicked practices, 
they would see their society totally devastated. In this 
respect, Jeremiah's task was not fundamentally different 
from Isaiah's. 

Nevertheless, there were some differences. Jeremiah 
also wrote (or dictated) a book. He was not content to 
preach an unpleasant message to skeptical and hostile peo- 

Jeremiah's Job / 115 

pie. He wanted to record the results of their unwillingness 
to listen. His thoughts are preserved in the saddest book in 
the Bible, the Book of Lamentations. Though he knew in 
advance that the masses would reject his message, he also 
knew that there would be great suffering in Israel because 
of their stiffnecked response. Furthermore, the Remnant 
would pay the same price in the short run. They, too, would 
be carried off into captivity. They, too, would lose their pos- 
sessions and die in a foreign land. They would not be pro- 
tected from disaster just because they happened to be 
decent people who were not immersed in the practices of 
their day. He wrote these words in resix)nse to the coming 
of the predicted judgment: "Mine eye runneth down with 
rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my 
people" {Lam. 3:48). He knew that their punishment was 
well deserved, yet he was also a part of them. The destruc- 
tion was so great that not a glimmer of hope appears in the 
whole book. 

What are we to conclude? That everything is hopeless? 
That no one will listen, ever, to the truth? That every society 
will eventually be ripe for judgment, and that this collapse 
will allow no one to escape? Is it useless, historically speak- 
ing, to serve in the Remnant? Are we forever to be ground 
down in the millstones of history? 

One key incident in Jeremiah's life gives us the answer. 
It appears in the 32nd chapter of Jeremiah, a much-neglected 
passage. The Babylonians (Chaldeans) have besieged 
Jerusalem. There was little doubt in anyone's mind that the 
dty would fall to the invaders. God told Jeremiah that in 
the midst of this crisis, his cousin would approach him and 
make him an offer. He would offer Jeremiah the right, as a 
relative, to buy a particular field which was in the cousin's 
side of the family. Sure enough, the cousin arrived with just 

116 / Gary North 

this offer. The cousin was "playing it smart." He was selling 
off a field that was about to fall into the hands of the enemy, 
and in exchange he would be given silver, a highly liquid, 
easily concealed, transportable form of capital — an interna- 
tional currency. Not bad for him, since all he would be giv- 
ing up would be a piece of ground that the enemy would 
probably take over anyway. 

Long-Range Planning 

What were God's instructions to Jeremiah? Buy the field. 
So Jeremiah took his silver, and witnesses, and balances 
(honest money), and they made the transaction. Then Jere- 
miah instructed Baruch, a scribe, to record the evidence. (It 
may be that Jeremiah was illiterate, as were most men of his 
day.) Baruch was told by Jeremiah to put the evidences of 
the sale into an earthen vessel for long-term storage. "For 
thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and 
fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land" 

God explained His purposes at the end of the chapter. 
Yes, the city would fall. Yes, the i:)eople would go into cap- 
tivity. Yes, their sins had brought this upon them. But this is 
not the end of the story. "Behold, I will gather them out of 
all countries, whither 1 have driven them in mine anger, 
and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them 
again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God" 
(32:37-38). It doesn't stop there, either: "Like as I have 
brought ail this great evil upon this people, so will I bring 
upon them all the good that I have promised them. And 
fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say. It is des- 

Jeremiah's Job / 117 

olate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the 
Chaldeans" (32:42-43). 

What was God's message to Jeremiah? There is hope for 
the long run for those who are faithful to His message. There will 
eventually come a day when truth will out, when law will 
reign supreme, when men will buy and sell, when contracts 
will be honored. "Men shall buy fields for money, and sub- 
scribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the 
land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in 
the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in 
the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I 
will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord" (32:44). 
In other words, business will return because the law of God 
will be understood and honored. 

God had told them that they would be in captivity for 
seventy years. It would be long enough to make certain that 
Jeremiah would not be coming back to claim his field. Yet 
there was hope nonetheless. The prophet is not to imagine 
that all good things will come in his own day. He is not to 
be a short-term optimist. He is not to conclude that his 
words will turn everything around, making him the hero of 
the hour. He is told to look at the long run, to preach in the 
short run, and to go about his normal business. Plan for the 
future. Buy and sell. Continue to speak out when times are 
opportune. Tell anyone who will listen of the coming judg- 
ment, but remind them also that all is not lost forever just 
because everything seems to be lost today. 

The Job Is to Be Honest 

The prophet's job is to be honest. He must face the laws 
of reality. If bad principles lead to bad actions, then bad 

118 / Gary North 

consequences will surely follow. These laws of reality can- 
not be underestimated. In fact, it is the prophet's task to 
reaffirm their validity by his message. He pulls no punches. 
Things are not "fairly bad" if morality is ignored or 
laughed at. Things are terrible, and people should under- 
stand this. Still, there is hope. Men can change their minds. 
The prophet knows that in "good" times, rebellious people 
usually don't change their minds. In fact, that most reluc- 
tant of prophets, Jonah, was so startled when the city of 
Nineveh repented that he pouted that the promised judg- 
ment never came, making him look like an idiot — an atti- 
tude which God reproached. But in the days of Elijah, Isa- 
iah, and Jeremiah, the pragmatists of Israel were not about 
to turn back to the moral laws which had provided their 
prosperity. It would take seven decades of captivity to 
bring them, or rather their children and grandchildren, 
back to the truth. 

Invest long-term, God told Jeremiah. Invest as if all 
were not lost. Invest as if your message, eventually, will 
bear fruit. Invest in the face of despair, when everyone is 
running scared. Invest for the benefit of your children and 
grandchildren. Invest as if everything doesn't depend on 
the prophet, since prophets, being men, are not omniscient 
or omnipotent. Invest as if moral law will one day be 
respected. Keep plugging away, even if you yourself will 
never live to see the people return to their senses and return 
to their land. Don't minimize the extent of the destruction. 
Don't rejoice at the plight of your enemies. Don't despair at 
the fact that the Remnant is caught in the whirlpool of 
destruction. Shed tears if you must, but most important, 
keep records. Plan for the future. Never give an inch. 

A prophet is no Pollyanna, no Dr. Pangloss. He faces 
reality. Reality is his calling in life. To tell people things are 

Jeremiah's Job / 119 

terrible when they think everything is fine, and to offer 
hope when they think everything is lost. To tell the truth, 
whatever the cost, and not to let short-term considerations 
blur one's vision. The Remnant is there. The Remnant will 
survive. Eventually, the Remnant will become the masses, 
since truth will out. But until that day, for which all 
prophets should rejoice, despite the fact that few will see its 
dawning, the prophet must do his best to understand real- 
ity and present it in the most effective way he knows how. 
That is Jeremiah's job. 

Ezekiel's Job 
Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

Basic distinctions often prove elusive. Whether by 
virtue of inattention, human resistance, lack of comprehen- 
sion, or some indefinable perversity of life, we human 
beings often fail to grasp and act upon the most central dif- 
ferences both of concept and deed. As a result, all manner 
of disappointing and disturbing events take place, inas- 
much as one misstep at the outset of a journey can foreor- 
dain an unexpected destination. 

Consider one such essential distinction: personal belief 
and action premised upon a set moral code versus the coer- 
cive imposition of one's moral strictures upon another, 
unwilling human being. The dissimilarity is fundamental 
and not particularly obscure; yet, the blurring and commin- 
gling of these two very different precepts (and their atten- 
dant activities) have vexed men and women across time. 

Ezekiel provides insights into this common and f)er- 
plexing situation. Of course, it is not "with it" to relate 
modern problems to some old fellow who lived long ago 
and far away; in the skeptical and intolerant climate of 
today, so lacking in the civility of open thought, it just does 
not meet the modern dictates of intellectual exclusivity to 
refer to the Bible, to Christianity, or to any traditional reli- 
gion — particularly one with established attitudes of "right" 

Mr. Foley lives in Prescott, Arizona, and practices law in Portland, 
Oregon, with Greene & Markley, PC. This essay appeared in the Sep- 
tember 1990 issue of The Freeman. 


Ezekiel'sjob / 121 

and "wrong." Yet the Book of Ezekiel lays a firm foundation 
from which all of us, no matter our religious persuasion, 
may investigate the differences between proper belief and 
prop>er respect for the beliefs of others. After all, the essence 
of the human condition remains unchanged despite the 
passage of centuries. 

Recall the backdrop of history. The Jewish people 
received the gift of insight into the very marrow of the indi- 
vidual — the ability to choose, to evaluate, and to select 
among alternatives, and in so doing to affect not only the 
actor's destiny but also the course of a lineal world history: 
"... I have set before thee this day life and good, and death 
and evil. ... I have set before you life and death, blessing 
and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy 
seed shall live. . . ."(Deut. 30:15,19) 

These ancient men and women displayed the same fea- 
tures and failings as we do. At times they made venal, 
undesirable, and unwise choices, and as a result suffered 
the inexorable consequences which flowed from their con- 
duct. As a nation, ancient Israel waxed and waned: Things 
worked out well when the people adhered to the Deca- 
logue, and bad times followed their evil exploits. God 
endowed men with freedom, even the freedom to forsake 
Him and to choose wrongly, for freedom necessarily entails 
the freedom to fail. Although the ineluctable law of cause- 
and-consequence foretold unpleasant sequels from inap- 
propriate acts, the Jews of old seemed hell-bent on the eter- 
nal folly of trying to beat the house. 

Now and then, when the Hebrew nation deviated suffi- 
ciently from the proper standard of behavior, God sent a 
prophet, a man assigned to remind His flock of the rules of 
the game and to warn them of the inevitable lunacy of try- 
ing to avoid responsibility for their wickedness. Sometimes 

122 / Ridgzvay K. Foley, Jr. 

the body politic listened; more often, the people ignored, 
joshed, or abused the prophet. 

Enter Ezekiel 

Ezekiel was one of the major prophets, a chap God 
called forth 26 centuries ago during one of those troubled 
times for Israel. Prophets were role players; they were 
given a part to play without a thought of the consequences. 
They spoke to largely hostile audiences. They faced uncom- 
fortable, and sometimes dangerous, situations. They for- 
sook popularity, credibility, status, and wealth. In return, 
they knew that somewhere, somehow, a dutiful Remnant^ 
would hear and heed the words they uttered as God's inter- 
mediary.^ Ezekiel fit right into this tapestry of history and 
role of prophet. God instructed him and he, in turn, carried 
the message to those of the multitude who chose to listen. 
And, it is that critical message recorded in Ezekiel 33:1-11 
which edifies us specifically as to the dichotomy between 
personal commitment and coerced orthodoxy. 

Ezekiel 33:1-11 imparts threefold tidings. First, God tells 
His people "I have sent thee a watchman" {Ezek. 33:7) and 
He outlines the obligations of the watchman. Second, He 
advises the Remnant of the duties laid upon those who hear 
His watchman. Third — and most saliently for our present 
purpose — He answers the ageless inquiry of the listeners, 
"How should we then live?" {Ezek. 33:10) 

How should we then live? Distinguish between the 
encompassed relativism of a humanistic "man is the mea- 
sure of all things" precept and an understanding that 
imperfect individuals will profess different beliefs. It is one 
thing to ascertain for oneself how the moral life is to be 
lived; it is quite another matter to impose that particular 

EzekieVsJob / 123 

view upon an unwilling neighbor. The Christian may think 
it great folly for each man to live according to his internal 
moral code oblivious to God's law ("ye shall be as gods/' 
Gen, 3:5), or "each individual's innate sense of truth and 
justice"; does this profession of faith necessarily or properly 
vest in the practicing Christian the right to compel all oth- 
ers to accept his creed? Or rather, doesn't the modem theo- 
crat — ^be he religious, atheistic or agnostic — confuse subjec- 
tive value with moral absolutes? 

Thus, the Remnant through Ezekiel asked God, "How 
should we then live?" and received a simple and direct 
mandate: "As I live, saith the Lord." (Ezek. 33:11) Yet, sim- 
ple declarations may cloak deeper lessons. Surely, reflective 
men and women in the sixth century before Christ, as now, 
wondered how the Lord did live. And, for the Jew of 2,600 
years ago, as for the Christian in the late twentieth century, 
the answer appears in the recorded reports of eyewitnesses 
to history.^ 

God's Answers 

God often provided sound answers to this secondary 
inquiry (How does the Lord live?) for Old Testament fol- 
lowers. For example, in the entire passage from Deuteron- 
omy abstracted heretofore, God directed His people to fol- 
low His statutes and laws (see Deut. 30:15-19), a message 
often repeated but seldom heeded. He condensed His rules 
of conduct in the Decalogue {Ex. 20:1-17), a precise sum- 
mary not dissimilar from the essential teachings of most of 
the world's great religions, and not wholly unlike the 
alleged inbred "innate moral sense" so popularly presup- 
posed in current lore to reside in all individuals. 

Somehow, the content of these simple yet exact rules of 

124 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

order either escaped most folks or suffered the serious ame- 
lioration of convenience. Hebraic law became burden- 
somely formal and uselessly coercive, smothering the 
essence in arid dust. People became baffled: How did God 
live? Was it as some neighbor declared? Or according to the 
local prophet, general, or rabbi? Couldn't these restrictive 
commandments be modified just a bit to fit a particular case 
which coincidentally happened to be of personal interest to 
the inquirer? Didn't modem times mandate more modem 
and less archaic solutions? And so the waxing and waning 
of the Old Testament travails continued unabated long after 
Ezekiel departed. 

For the Christian, a remarkable and unprecedented 
event occurred 2,000 years ago: God answered the sec- 
ondary inquiry (How does the Lord live?) in a unique and 
direct way. God became Incarnate, sending His Son in the 
form of a man, to live among witnesses, to encounter and 
suffer the range of human events and emotions and, inci- 
dentally, to show us just how the Lord does live. 

In the examination of Jesus' life, set against the back- 
drop of the Old Testament law, we see not only how the 
Lord lives but also the stark distinction between principled 
personal belief and the mandate to respect the beliefs (no 
matter how dissimilar or possibly erroneous) of others. 
Simply put, Jesus lived a life of pristine purity: He adhered 
to the essence of the Ten Commandments and eschewed 
sin and evil. He built no monuments to His reign; He 
assembled no mighty army to strike down the soldiers of 
Satan; He accepted no patronage; He granted no special 
favors; He left no estate of substance. In short, Jesus lived 
quite unlike any human being, ruler or ruled, in all of 
human history. 

Did Jesus ever force anyone to believe, to chant His 

Ezekiel'sjob / 125 

praise, to recite His creed, to follow Him? Did He ever box 
the ears of an unreceptive and hooting audience and charge 
them to "be Christians and do exactly as I say and do or I'll 
whomp you"? Did He ever ostracize or humiliate those 
who declined His offers? There is absolutely no evidence of 
such behavior. 

Peter presents the perfect counterpoint, the epitome of 
demonstrative evidence. Once Peter figures out who his 
Master is he immediately suggests building a grand temple 
{Matt. 17:4-9); he admonishes Jesus that He must avoid His 
trip to Jerusalem and His destiny on the cross {Mark 
8:31-33); and, in the garden, he slices off the ear of the ser- 
vant of the high priest {Matt. 26:51-52). In every instance, 
Peter's actions earn stem rebukes, for Peter behaves as men 
do, not as the Lord does. 

Abundant Lessons 

Layers of lessons abound in the Lord's answer to 
Ezekiel's question, and each layer offers guidance for 
believer and nonbeliever alike. 

First, Ezekiel and his counterparts must adhere to prin- 
ciple in a sea of challenge, doubt, and seduction. Absolutes 
in the form of correct choices and proper principles do 
exist; consequences flow from all choices, results that must 
be endured, events that beget future choices. Selection 
between alternatives may be made randomly, thought- 
lessly, malevolently, or may rest upon the basis of the 
actor's understanding of, and adherence to, fundamental 
principle. The principled individual is charged to live 
scrupulously, to make the right choice at each and every 
opportunity, be he Christian or Jew, atheist or agnostic; the 
distinction exists in the standard. 

126 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

When the moral individual refuses to soften this quest 
for perfection, he is often met with derision, enticement, or 
compulsion. In this regard, scant differences separate the 
doctrinaire libertarian and the overzealous Christian. There 
appears a natural human tendency to challenge the beliefs 
of others, first through shunning and scorn, last by force 
and fraud. Those most inflexible in principle seem to suffer 
the greatest assaults, possibly because the traducers implic- 
itly recognize the propriety of the upright and seek to 
wrench them down to their level. 

Disorderly man occupies an orderly sphere and setting. 
Gifted with the power to choose, flawed mankind necessar- 
ily makes poor choices on occasion, for freedom encom- 
passes the power and the right to be wrong. The Christian 
is called only to be a faithful steward, not a perfect one. Per- 
fection is our goal; it is not within our grasp. A sentry at 
Buckingham House, two-and-one-quarter centuries back, 
put it artfully: "But, Sir, if GOD was to make the world 
today, it would be crooked again tomorrow.'"* Intolerance 
of human failings — of self or others — often eclipses the 
quest for betterment; this inherent intolerance leads 
directly to the second layer of understanding and the 
dichotomy between principle and force. 

Second, then, Jesus' answer to Ezekiel's inquiry aptly 
illustrates the difference between holding and practicing a 
belief and demanding adherence by others to that ideal. 
While men are flawed, God is not; yet Jesus did not com- 
mand obedience to His banner although He knew it to be 
true. Nor should men. Indeed, since men — unlike God — do 
not inevitably know that they hold proper principles and 
exhibit correct behavior, they ought not compel others to 
accept and adopt a possibly flawed precept. 

EzekieVsJob / 127 

Ample manifestations of the impermissible blurring of 
principle and command appear upon reflection: the reli- 
gious zealot who seizes the machinery of government, 
establishes a state religion de facto or de jure, enacts blue 
laws, and orders compulsory chapel; the arid libertarian 
who, intolerant of any suggestion that others might reach 
similar results from dissimilar bases, mocks his Christian 
counterpart out of the discussion; the well-meaning sophis- 
ticate concerned about the homeless, the young, the irasci- 
ble, or the disabled, who induces the county commission to 
use tax revenues to pay for shelters and rehabilitation cen- 
ters; the illiberal liberal who concocts false testimony con- 
cerning, and selectively applies state legal sanctions 
against, disliked religious persons or groups who hear a 
different voice and dare to speak out. Sadly, the list appears 
endless: For religious and agnostic alike, the concept of 
"witness" has all too often transmuted proper belief and 
the quest for moral excellence into an evil charade replete 
with clever rationalizations, as each individual seeks to 
impose his agenda upon all others, to limit the discussion 
to prescribed topics, and to foreordain all solutions, hence 
circumscribing human action with his own finite bound- 
aries in the name of his "truth." 

Third, Ezekiel reveals the role assigned to the commit- 
ted: They are called to be watchmen {Ezek. 33:1-10). Watch- 
men perform specific tasks: They search out the truth, live 
out the truth, and speak out the truth, in order that others 
may hear and assimilate. No one expects a watchman to 
battle those about him. Watchmen cry out; they sound the 
tocsin; they raise the alarm; but Ezekiel does not suggest 
that the watchman's obligations include compelling any- 
one to believe, to profess, or to act in any discrete manner. 

128 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

Instead, God's watchmen provide knowledge and oppor- 
tunity, a palpable form of due process, to any and all who 
choose to consider the message. 

The watchman directive applies to the nonreligious 
believer by a parity of reasoning. Leonard E. Read devoted 
many of his adult years to the study and explication of the 
appropriate methodology of freedom. He repeatedly 
reminded his readers and listeners that one who truly 
espouses the freedom philosophy could not coerce others 
to adopt those premises, since to attempt to do so would 
constitute the most startling contradiction in terms. He 
admonished us that the "end preexists in the means," "the 
bloom preexists in the rose." If we improve our own self 
and live according to right precepts, others will observe 
and be drawn to the proper path by the flame of attraction. 
Leonard Read's adjurations do not differ in essence from 
God's admonition to Ezekiel and echoed in Matthew 16:5 to 
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your 
good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." 

In this fashion, the Ezekiel passage makes it manifest 
that committed individuals are duty-bound to honor their 
commitment, but they are not to coerce others to follow 
their opinions or mimic their precepts. They should seek 
the truth, follow the right, improve the self, and never stray 
from fundamental principle. In the timeless truth of the 
redoubtable F. A. Harper, "A principle can be broken, but it 
cannot be bent." Concomitantly, committed men and 
women should attract others by the light of their words and 
the propriety of their deeds, never by the exercise of com- 
pulsion, aggression, fraud, manipulation, or malevolence — 
with or without the sanction of the state. 

Further, Ezekiel offers us a fourth lesson. Those who 
hear the watchman must heed his warning or suffer the 

EzekieVsJob / 129 

ineluctable consequences. Remember, one need not accept 
or act favorably upon a warning, but God makes it clear 
that the listener disregards the sound of the tocsin at his 
own peril. Once more, this passage accords with the funda- 
mentals of freedom. Force and freedom are inimical: Free- 
dom includes the freedom to fail, to make choices that seem 
wrong to legions of observers, to act meanly or intolerantly 
or foolishly, to go against the crowd. The essence of man 
resides in his power to make meaningful choices that will 
affect not only his life but also the lives of others here and 
hereafter. Deprivation of this power of creative choice, for 
whatever reason, not only limits that man's array of selec- 
tions but also diminishes him as a person. "To enslave" is 
much too light and lax a verb to describe such oppression, 
for the person restricted is thereby lessened as a human 
being, stunted in his potential, and cut down in his moral 

God's watchman must speak out fearlessly and his lis- 
teners must act accordingly, or both will suffer inevitable 
consequences of their respective breaches of duty. But 
nowhere does the message provide that disagreeing men 
should either thwart the warning or forestall the reaction 
by destructive means. Just so the observant nonbeliever 
may deny the existence of the law of gravity, but when he 
leaps from an airplane without a parachute he pays the 
inexorable price for his sincere if incorrect intellectual 

Limiting Human Action 

What limits then restrain human action? The rules and 
order of the universe and the civil sanctions against aggres- 
sion. The nature of man and the consequential constraints 

130 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

of the world permit growth but preclude perfection. The 
civil or positive law — no less than the essential Biblical 
code — ought to deter and punish the employment of fraud 
and the initiation of aggression; after all, if Ezekiel demon- 
strates that proper belief does not include the coercive 
imposition of that belief upon an unwilling other, the lesson 
must also implicitly disparage the use of force for lesser 
purposes as well. 

Most compulsion develops facially as a quest for 
"good" and as an affray against evil. B wishes to protect A 
from his folly. B "knows" that he knows better what ought 
to be done under the circumstances by virtue of his exper- 
tise, his beliefs, or his prominence, so he substitutes his 
moral, aesthetic, political, or economic judgment for that of 
his fellows. After all, if left to their own devices and desires, 
"they will make bad choices." On the surface, B's outward 
clamor is always for good, justice, and protection. In fact, 
the Bs of the world seek glory, patronage, and power, and 
their conduct displays the most heinous intolerance and 
cant. Those who seek to "do good" by coercive means 
accomplish great evil by depriving their subjects of their 
primary human trait. These dictators great and small live as 
men do, not as God. 

Commitment to Christianity and to the free society are 
one and the same. The sole difference of note lies in the 
choices made by freely choosing individuals once all recog- 
nize the fundamental difference between commitment to 
principle and the use of compulsion to impose that princi- 
ple upon others. 

1. See, for example, Isaiah 1:9; Nehemiah 1:3. 

2. Albert Jay Nock, "Isaiah's Job," available as a reprint from The 
Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. 

EzekieVsJob / 131 

3. It is confusing and amusing to consider the reluctance of some 
individuals to credit the notable — if not inspired — eyewitness accounts 
of ancient men and women, when those same individuals voraciously 
grasp as gospel the silly and demonstrably unsupported reports of 
modem ideologues and charlatans. For further insight, consider G. K. 
Chesterton, The Ex}erlasting Man (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 
1925), and Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Mad- 
ness of Crowds (London: Richard Bentley, 1841). 

4. James Boswell, Boswell's London Journal, edited by Frederick A. 
Pottle (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), entry of December 22, 1762, p. 

The Road to Jericho 

One of the most famous stories Jesus told is the parable 
of the Good Samaritan as recorded in Luke 10:25-37. It con- 
cerns a tragic incident on the road from Jericho to 
Jerusalem, a distance of about 20 miles. Part of the road was 
very steep and rugged; some of it was quite smooth. It illus- 
trates the common road over which all of us must travel; 
sometimes it is steep and rugged, and other times it is quite 
smooth. It's every man's road. 

A number of characters appear on the Jericho road, just 
as they do on the road of life. By examining them we will be 
able to identify with some of them and perhaps learn some 

The first to demand our attention is the lone man. By 
common consent the road was open to the public, so this 
lone man had every right to be on it without fear or hin- 
drance. Each of us has a God-given right to travel the road 
of life without being hindered or molested. Even though 
we enjoy various types of companionship along the way, in 
a sense we are traveling the road of life alone. We will be 
influenced more or less by family, church, school, co- 
workers, business, government, and some predators, but 
the final decisions, for the most part, devolve on each of us 

The Reverend Mr. Watkins, editor and publisher of The Printed 
Preacher, wrote this article for the June 1978 issue of The Freeman. 


The Road to Jericho / 133 

As a lone man I have a right to expect non-threatening 
treatment from all my fellowmen. If any other man finds 
himself in a circumstance where he feels he must act 
toward me, he should do only that which helps rather than 
hinders. This, of course, is also my obligation toward him. 
A lone man (woman or child) is vulnerable to harm of var- 
ious kinds, and also to help. 

The next characters to appear in this drama of life are 
the cruel men, the robbers who recognized no God but their 
animalistic desires. They took advantage of the lone man, 
stealing his goods, his time and his well-being. The motiva- 
tion in the hearts of these men was the Satanic principle 
that "might makes right," or "what's yours is mine — if I can 
get it." Such evil men add nothing of value to the lives of 
the people they contact along the way, but they will take 
everything they can get by fair means or foul. Their own 
advantage is their only consideration. They wound, bruise, 
and rob. It may be money, reputation, or even characters — 
they don't care. 

The thieves in the parable probably ambushed the lone 
man as he came around a blind corner, but some of their 
counterparts are more sophisticated or subtle in our day. 
They might feign distress along the freeway, beg a ride to 
the next town and rob the benefactor en route. Or, they 
might put out a plea in favor of the "disadvantaged" and 
ask the government for help, but since the government has 
nothing to give, it must first steal the funds from its taxpay- 
ers. This might even involve a conspiracy between those 
desiring the aid, the group pleading their cause and the 
government agents (legislators, etc.). The whole problem 
may become difficult to sort out, trying to determine just 
who are the sincere agents and who are the thieves. But the 
apparent difficulty should not be allowed to obscure the 

134 / Hal Watkins 

problem: the lone man has been robbed; his freedom and 
his very life have been threatened. In what we like to call a 
"free society," can we shrug it off by saying that each man 
will have to hire his own army or police force? Perhaps we 
would do better to examine a system that threatens and 
crushes the individual and rewards thieves and their 

On the road of life, within the framework of a "Christ- 
ian" society, there surely must be some protection for the 
lone man from the depredations of thieves, the "minus" 
men who would live solely at the expense of others. 

On the road to Jericho there were also other men, selfish 
men who saw the plight of the abused traveler but had no 
concern for him or the problem. They were religious men 
too, but their religion — at least as they practiced it — did not 
consider the misfortunes or even the rights of their fellow 
human being. They, of course, would never steal from a 
lone traveler in the manner practiced by the bandits, but 
they didn't want to get involved. "Tough exf)erience for the 
poor devil. Should have known better than to be traveling 
alone. Hope someone moves him off the road." 

True Christianity is in the world today, but there are 
many counterfeits. Many of the alleged followers of Christ 
occasionally express concern for the plunder taking place 
along the road of life, but they don't lift a finger to expose 
or solve the problem. The New Testament writer, James, is 
quite blunt in his description of them: "To him therefore 
that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" 
(4:17). The attitude of these "zero" men is: "We were not 
robbed, so it's no concern of ours. What we have we will 

Fortunately, on the road to Jericho, there came another 
man who was not a disappointment but rather a delightful 

The Road to Jericho / 135 

surprise. He had a pure Christian philosophy: "What is 
mine is yours, and in your misfortune I will share it/' He 
gave of himself and his means. He was the compassionate, 
unselfish man. This type is also on the road of life today. 
Not only would he steal nothing from his fellows, but he 
adds much to their general welfare. 

The Good Samaritan did not wait beside the stricken 
traveler until another victim came along, beat and plunder 
him, then give the proceeds to the first victim. He was not a 
first-century Robin Hood who robbed others to help the 
poor, but he gave of his own means. He didn't run for polit- 
ical office as a cover to conduct his robbery "legally," then 
give to the poor. Jesus certainly pictured him as a concerned 
man, one who was not content to pass by on the other side 
as though nothing had hapf)ened. He saw a fellow human 
being in distress, and he visualized himself as part of the 
solution to the problem. This was a mandate from his con- 
science to DO SOMETHING. He was not a "minus" man, 
or even a "zero" man. He was a "plus" man. And Jesus 
forced his hearer to admit that the Samaritan was moti- 
vated by love. 

Within the Christian context we are not here to wound, 
crush, rob, or even to ignore. We are here to heal, lift, 
encourage and contribute of our talent and energy to the 
end that others too may, if they so desire, enjoy the same 
blessings we have. This truth has been around long enough 
to be axiomatic, and Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, 
and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). 

What the Bible Says 
About Big Government 

James C. Patrick 

Evidence is mounting that government programs fail to 
accomplish all that their advocates had promised. After 
dipping for a while, crime statistics are climbing again. 
Confidence in the institution of government has sagged. 
Some people wonder whether government has bitten off 
more than it can chew. They suspect that Henry Hazlitt 
came close to the mark when he wrote, "The more things a 
government undertakes to do, the fewer things it can do 

What do the Hebrew and Christian scriptures have to 
say on the subject of government power and functions? 
News reports about clergymen's public statements and 
actions often reveal the men of the cloth on the side of big 
government — favoring more handouts, more interven- 
tion, more regulation. Does the Bible support that posi- 
tion? Or should the clergy take a closer look at what the 
scriptures disclose? Answers to these questions could be 

First, however, just what is government? Some of the 
thinkers who helped lift Western civilization into the mod- 
em era had pondered the question deeply but it is doubtful 

Mr. Patrick, a retired banker and Chamber of Commerce executive, 
resides in Decatur, Illinois. This article is reprinted from the March 1976 
issue of The Freeman. 


What the Bible Says About Big Government / 137 

that most people ever gave it a thought, either then or now. 
A look at what students of the subject have written should 
provide an answer. 

The Essence of Big Government 

In a stark cemetery at Mansfield, Missouri, stand two 
identical gravestones side by side, separated by about six 
feet of sod. Carved in large letters in the brown granite of 
one is the name Wilder, of the other. Lane. One marks the 
graves of Almanzo James and Laura Ingalls Wilder, the sec- 
ond the grave of their daughter. Rose Wilder Lane. 
Almanzo Wilder died in 1949 at the age of ninety-two. His 
wife lived till 1957 when she was ninety. Rose was almost 
eighty-two when she died in 1968. 

A mile east of Mansfield on a pleasant hillside rests the 
modest white frame house that Almanzo Wilder built for 
Laura at the turn of the century, using building materials 
produced on the farm. Here Rose grew to womanhood and 
here in 1932 her mother began to write the "Little House" 
books that have charmed a generation of Americans with 
their picture of pioneer life in the second half of the nine- 
teenth century and have now been adapted for television. 
Drawing on a descriptive talent developed as a girl when 
she served as the eyes for her scarlet-fever-blinded sister, 
Laura wrote the series of books in longhand on tablet 
paper, using both sides of the sheet to avoid waste and 
writing with a pencil. 

Rose, too, became a writer and her best-known book. Let 
the Hurricane Roar, is in part a retelling in fiction of the pio- 
neer experiences of her mother's family. But her most influ- 
ential book is The Discovery of Freedom, published in 1943. It 
takes nothing from Rose Wilder Lane to point out that the 

138 / James C. Patrick 

book reflects viewpoints and attitudes that are evident in 
her mother's writing. 

The Discovery of Freedom was the inspiration for Henry 
Grady Weaver's The Mainspring of Human Progress, 
described by Leonard Read, President of the Foundation 
for Economic Education, as probably the best introduction 
to freedom ideas available in a single volume. Mainspring 
has multiplied the outreach and the influence of Rose 
Wilder Lane's thought. 

Today and for two generations there has been abroad in 
the land a naive faith in government as the solution to all 
problems — a belief in the ability of legislation to satisfy any 
need. Events in the last decade, when that trust reached its 
zenith in the Great Society programs, have dealt several 
stinging blows to the faith but it had become so deeply 
ingrained that it yields slowly to opposing evidence. 

Weaver and Mrs. Lane did not share the popular belief. 
Instead, they took a very different view which Rose Wilder 
Lane expressed in these words: "What they (men in gov- 
ernment) have is the use of force — command of the police 
and the army. Government, The State is always a use of 
force . . ? and "Buck" Weaver wrote, "In the last analysis, 
and stripped of all the furbelows, government is nothing 
more than a legal monopoly of the use of physical force — 
by persons upon persons."^ 

What Authorities Say 

Although most Americans today seem never to have 
thought of it, this idea was not new. Numerous other writ- 
ers, representing differing shades in the political spectrum, 
have expressed a similar view, both before and since Mrs. 
Lane and "Buck" Weaver wrote. 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 139 

"The civil law ... is the force of the commonwealth, 
engaged to protect the lives, liberties, and possessions of 
those who live according to its laws, and has power to take 
away life, liberty, or goods from him who discbeys." (John 

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is 
force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful mas- 
ter . . ." (George Washington) 

"Law is the common force organized to act as an obsta- 
cle to injustice." (Frederic Bastiat) 

"... penal sanction ... is the essence of law . . ." (John 
Stuart Mill) 

"The essential characteristic of all government, what- 
ever its form, is authority. . . . Government, in its last analy- 
sis, is organized force." (Woodrow Wilson) 

"The state belongs to the sphere of coercion. It would be 
madness to renounce coercion, particularly in the epoch of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat." (Nikolai Lenin) 

"A government may be freely chosen, but it is still not 
all of us. It is some men vested with authority over other 
men." And democracy "... is a name for a particular set of 
conditions under which the right to coerce others is ac- 
quired and held."^ (Charles Frankel) 

"The State is the party that always accompanies its pro- 
posals by coercion, and backs them by force."^ (Charles A. 

It should come as no surprise to students of the Bible 
that the scriptures analyzed the ultimate nature of govern- 
ment much earlier than any of the writers cited. Christians 
sometimes wonder what Jesus had to say about the role of 
government, and theologians normally reply that he said 
very little on the subject. The principal relevant statement 
recorded in the gospels is his response to a question as to 

140 / James C. Patrick 

whether it was proper to pay the head tax imposed by 
Rome. The tax amounted to about twenty-five cents a per- 
son and was regarded as a mark of servitude to Rome. 

In ancient times the authority of a ruler was symbolized 
by the circulation of his coinage and coins bearing the 
ruler's image were considered his property, in the final 
analysis.^ When Jesus requested that his questioners show 
him one of the coins used to pay the tax, a coin was brought 
and he asked, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 
They replied that it was Caesar's. Jesus then said, "Render 
therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God 
the things that are God's." The account is told in Matthew 22 
and in parallels in the gospel according to Mark and accord- 
ing to Luke, 

While Jesus said little about the power of government 
and what government should or should not do, two other 
New Testament writers came down solidly on the side of 
respect for the civil authorities and obedience to law. One of 
these was the Apostle Paul. Of Paul a respected New Testa- 
ment scholar wrote a few years ago, "It is evident from 
many allusions in his writings, that the thought of Rome 
had strongly affected his imagination. He associated the 
great city with all that was most august in earthly power. 
He believed that it had been divinely appointed to main- 
tain order and peace among the contending races."^ 

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul offered the follow- 
ing admonition: "Let every person be subject to the govern- 
ing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, 
and those that exist have been instituted by God." 

Pay your taxes and give respect and honor to whom 
they are due, said Paul. Conduct yourself properly and you 
will have no reason to fear an official. "But if you do wrong, 
be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain."^ 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 141 
And St. Peter wrote: 

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human insti- 
tution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or 
to governors as sent by him to punish those who do 
wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is 
God's will that by doing right you should put to 
silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free 
men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for 
evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. 
Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the 

The statements are brief because the writers were not 
primarily concerned for man's relation with the authorities 
but for his relation with God and his fellow man. But the 
statements are definite. And they provided the scriptural 
foundation for what some students have considered Martin 
Luther's exaggerated reverence for the State. Luther's atti- 
tude supplied the philosophical substructure for the 
authoritarian character German governments have dis- 
played more than once. 

"When studied with any degree of thoroughness, the 
economic problem will be found to run into the political 
problem," wrote Irving Babbitt, "the political problem 
into the philosophical problem, and the philosophical 
problem itself to be almost indissolubly bound up at last 
with the religious problem."^^ In short, what we believe or 
do not believe about man and about God determines what 
kind of society we will have and how our society will gov- 
ern itself. 

While there is support for paying taxes, obedience to 
law, and respect for civil authority in the New Testament, 

142 / James C. Patrick 

no detailed analysis of the nature of government or the 
proper functions of government is to be found there. There 
is, however, ample guidance for the individual conduct of 
government officials. They are human beings, so they will 
be fair, as all humans should be. They will deal justly with 
the people. Tax collectors will not steal because nobody 
should steal. 

Another Biblical View 

In the Old Testament, the writer of the books of / Samuel 
and // Samuel draws a definite contrast between limited 
government and the all-powerful State. The writer of the 
two books drew on earlier sources, some of which probably 
went back as far as 1000 B.C. or earlier and all of which had 
been completed by about 600 B.C.^^ For generations the 
Jewish people had been led by officials called Judges, of 
whom at least one, Deborah, was a woman. Best known of 
the judges to modem readers is Gideon, because his name 
is carried by the organization recognized for its practice of 
distributing Bibles in hotels and motels. The judges com- 
bined civil, military, and religious functions in their office. 
They led the Jewish people in battle against their enemies, 
settled questions of law, administered justice in disputes 
between individuals, and functioned as priests and 
prophets. To the enemies of Israel they often showed no 
quarter and in some of their judicial decisions they may 
have been arbitrary but their leadership of their own peo- 
ple was apparently rather mild. The writer of the book of 
Judges reports, in chapter 17 and again in his concluding 
verse. Judges 21:25, "In those days there was no king in 
Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."^^ 

Gideon did not even want to be king. After he had led 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 143 

the men of Israel successfully against their enemies, they 
asked him to rule over them but he replied, "I will not rule 
over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will 
rule over you/'^^ 

After the death of Gideon one of his sons, Abimelech, 
seized power briefly and killed all of his brothers except 
one, the youngest, Jotham, who hid himself and escaped. 
When Jotham was told what his brother had done, he 
related a parable, recorded in Judges 9, about the trees going 
forth to anoint a king over themselves. The olive tree, the 
fig tree, and the vine all declined to abandon their produc- 
tive pursuits to become king, so the trees then turned to the 
bramble and the bramble accepted. 

The Worst on Top 

In The Road to Serfdom, Professor Friedrich A. Hayek, for 
somewhat different reasons from those cited in Jotham's 
parable, reached a conclusion that resembles the parable of 
the trees and the bramble. Professor Hayek describes how 
kakistocracy arises in a chapter entitled, "Why the Worst 
Get on Top." ^^ 

Samuel was the last of the series of prophet-judges. He 
administered justice in his own city of Ramah, a few miles 
north of Jerusalem, and traveled a judicial circuit that took 
him annually to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. When senility 
approached, Samuel made his two sons judges but the 
scripture records that they lacked their father's honorable 
character and "turned aside after gain . . . took bribes and 
perverted justice."^* 

The Jewish people were still engaged in the prolonged 
effort to conquer the land they had occupied. Recurring 
wars threatened their security. Such enemies as the 

144 / James C. Patrick 

Philistines were better organized and better equipped than 
the people of Israel who retained their loose tribal structure 
and had not yet fully abandoned the nomadic life. So the 
elders of Israel came to Samuel with a request: "Behold, 
you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now 
appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations." 

The request displeased Samuel, and he prayed to the 
Lord who admonished Samuel to heed their request, "for 
they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me. . . ." 
But Samuel was directed to tell them what it would be like 
to have a king. He did so in words recorded in / Samuel 8: 

These will be the ways of the king who will reign 
over you: He will take your sons and appoint them 
to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run 
before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself 
commanders of thousands and commanders of 
fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his 
harvest, and to make his implements of war and the 
equipment of his chariots. He will take your daugh- 
ters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will 
take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive 
orchards and give them to his servants. He will take 
the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and 
give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take 
your menservants and maidservants, and the best of 
your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. 
He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall 
be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out 
because of your king, whom you have chosen for 
yourselves. . . . 

The people refused to listen to Samuel, however, and 
insisted that they wanted a king to govern them and fight 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 145 

their battles. Their wishes prevailed. They got big govern- 

The king who was selected was Saul, of the tribe of Ben- 
jamin. Many years before, when Moses explained to the 
people of Israel the law that he had delivered to them, he 
told them what kind of person to choose as king when the 
time came. His counsel is recorded in Deuteronomy 17: 

When you come to the land which the Lord your 
God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, 
and then say, "I will set a king over me, like all the 
nations that are round about me ' you may indeed 
set as king over you him whom the Lord your God 
will choose. One from among your brethren you 
shall set as king over you; you may not put a for- 
eigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he 
must not multiply horses for himself, or cause the 
people to return to Egypt in order to multiply 
horses, since the Lord has said to you, "You shall 
never return that way again." And he shall not mul- 
tiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor 
shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold. 

In a book based on his research at the Hoover Institution 
on War, Revolution and Peace of Stanford University, Alvin 
Rabushka wrote, "Governments take resources from the 
public but use them to maximize their own welfare."^^ Both 
Moses and Samuel recognized this propensity and warned 
about it. To modem taxpayers the tenth part of their grain 
and vineyards and flocks, that Samuel said the king would 
require, must appear mild indeed but in time the burden 
became onerous to the people. Samuel's prophecy that one 
day they would cry out because of their king was not real- 
ized immediately. Then, as now, persons with the vision to 

146 / James C. Patrick 

foretell the consequences of certain popular choices and 
actions could only tell what would occur as a result, not 
when it would occur. 

David and Solomon 

David succeeded Saul as king, united the people of 
Israel under his rule, defeated their enemies, pushed the 
borders of his domain south to the Gulf of Aqaba, an arm of 
the Red Sea, and by treaty with vassals extended his control 
north and eastward to the Euphrates River.^^ 

Thrusting aside an attempt of an older brother to 
become king, Solomon followed David, his father, on the 
throne. His reign was marked by lavish construction pro- 
grams and public works projects. An extensive bureaucracy 
was established to man the elaborate governmental struc- 
ture Solomon created. Twelve administrative regions were 
defined and each was to provide the taxes and other re- 
sources to support the king and his government for one 
month of each year. Solomon took as one of his wives a 
daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh and built her a luxurious 
residence. He also built a temple at Jerusalem to be the cen- 
ter of worship for the entire nation. He was described as 
having "wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and 
largeness of mind like the sand on the seashore. . . ."^^ At 
the same time, however, the scripture speaks repeatedly of 
Solomon's use of forced labor and it tells of the hundreds of 
wives and concubines that he took. History casts doubt on 
the wisdom of a ruler who burdens his people with oppres- 
sive taxation and encumbers them with the upkeep of a 
sprawling bureaucracy and a parasitic court. 

Like the Roman Catholic popes of the fifteenth and six- 

What the Bible Says About Big Gaoemment / 147 

teenth centuries, Solomon mulcted the people of the 
resources to build imposing structures and create works of 
art.^^ The popes left great paintings and sculpture, as 
Solomon left a temple that stood for four centuries, but the 
exactions of the popes brought schism to the Church and 
those of Solomon brought rebellion in the kingdom when 
his son, Rehoboam, succeeded him. 

After the death of Solomon the people who assembled 
for the coronation of Rehoboam came to the new king with 
a plea: "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore 
lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke 
upon us, and we will serve you." Rehoboam sent them 
away for three days while he consulted first with the elders 
who had advised his father and then with his youthful 
associates. In the end he rejected the counsel of the elders 
that he accede to the people's wishes. Instead he took the 
advice of his contemporaries and when the people returned 
for his answer, he told them, "My father made your yoke 
heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you 
with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." Their 
appeal rejected, the people cried out, "To your tents, 
Israel!" And the historian records in / Kings 12, "So Israel 
has been in rebellion against the house of David to this 

The scriptures say that Saul and David and Solomon 
each reigned for forty years. So one hundred twenty years 
passed, or approximately four generations, from the time 
when the people abandoned limited government until the 
time when their descendents did "cry out" because of the 
king they had chosen. By 600 B.C. or earlier the people of 
Israel had learned, however, that government is indeed 
force — a dangerous servant and a fearful master. 

148 / James C. Patrick 

The Role for Government 

If government is force, as the serious students of the 
subject have agreed, what kinds of things should govern- 
ment do? The answer is obvious: Government should do 
those things that can be properly done by the use of force. 
The question follows: What are the proper uses of force 
among responsible adults? 

Nobody has answered that question more clearly than 
the nineteenth century French statesman, Frederic Bastiat: 
"Every individual has the right to use force for lawful self- 
defense. It is for this reason that the collective force — which 
is only the organized combination of the individual 
forces — may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it 
cannot be used legitimately for any other purpose."^^ 

Government, therefore, is to be used to defend, to pro- 
tect, to prevent violence, fraud, and other predatory acts. 
Other endeavors are to be left to the initiative and the 
choices of people acting voluntarily, either jointly or as 
individuals. In short, government should do what the 
judges of Israel did. Beyond that every man should do what 
is "right in his own eyes." 

Obviously, that is not the direction Americans have 
been moving for the past two generations. Instead, as noted 
earlier, a naive faith that government can solve all problems 
has taken root and persists in spite of the repeated failures 
of government social programs. But it makes no difference 
that large numbers hold a wrong view. Right is not deter- 
mined by majority vote. As Anatole France stated, "If fifty 
million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." 
And Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland said, "A 
foolish law does not become a wise law because it is 
approved by a great many people."^^ Right, like truth, is 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 149 

usually discerned first by a minority, often in the beginning 
a minority of one. 

Everybody Is Responsible 

Everybody has a stake in preventing the unprincipled 
members of society from committing acts of violence or 
fraud upon peaceful persons, and should help pay a part of 
the cost of the police and defense mechanism necessary to 
protect people in their peaceful pursuits. Government is 
society's mechanism for protecting and defending; it prop- 
erly collects taxes to pay for these services. But when it 
takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it 
to other persons to whom it does not belong, government 
commits an act of plunder. One person who uses force or 
the threat of force to take from another what has been hon- 
estly earned or built or created, commits an immoral act 
and a crime. Two or more persons banding together do not 
acquire any moral rights that they did not have as individ- 
uals. When government provides benefits for one citizen at 
the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself 
cannot do without committing a crime, it performs an act of 

Not only is governmental plunder immoral, it reduces 
the general well-being of the people. It does so by taking 
away from some people what they have produced but are 
not permitted to use. It reduces well-being by distributing 
to other people what they have not been required to pro- 
duce. Both the producers and the receivers are thus 
deprived of incentive. And government reduces the gen- 
eral well-being by creating an unproductive administrative 
bureaucracy to do the taking away and the distributing. 
Society needs the productivity of all its able members. 

150 / James C. Patrick 

Shifted to producing goods and services that can be 
exchanged in the marketplace, the legions of bureaucrats 
could add materially to human well-being. 

How is the situation to be corrected that has been 
allowed to develop? Rose Wilder Lane points the way: 
"The great English reform movement of the 19th century 
consisted wholly in repealing laws."^ What is needed in 
the United States is to repeal laws, not to pass new ones. 
Repeal laws that vest some men with authority over other 
men. This is not to set the clock back, it is to set it right.^ 

As Samuel warned the people of Israel when they chose 
big government, various prophets have warned the people 
of America. Prophets can only tell what to expect, however, 
not when to expect it. More than a century of suffering 
passed before the people of Israel rose to throw off the yoke 
from their necks. 

1. Life and Death of the Welfare State, (La Jolla, Cal.: La Jolla Rancho 
Press, 1968), p. 52. 

2. The Discovery of Freedom (New York: Amo Press, 1972), p. 27. 

3. The Mainspring of Human Progress (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: 
Foundation for Economic Education, 1953), p. 71. 

4. Charles Frankel, The Democratic Prospect (New York: Harp>er & 
Row, 1964), p. 136 and p. 30. 

5. Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (New York: Bantam 
Books, 1971), p. 350. 

6. The Abingdon Bible Commentary (New York and Nashville, Term.: 
Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1929), p. 988. 

7. E. F. Scott, The Literature of the New Testament (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1936), p. 156. 

8. Romans 13:1-7. All scriptural quotations are from the Revised 
Standard Version of the Bible (New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 

9. ZPefer 2:13-17. 

What the Bible Says About Big Government / 151 

10. Quoted by Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (Chicago: Henry 
Regnery Company, I960), p. 482. 

11. Robert H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1941), pp. 20-22. 

12. Judges 8:23. 

13. Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: The Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1944), Chapter X. 

U.I Samuel 7:15^:5. 

15. Alvin Rabushka, A Theory of Racial Harmony (Columbia, S.C.: 
University of South Carolina Press, 1974), p. 93. 

16. E. W. Heaton, Solomon's New Men (New York: Pica Press, 1974), 
Chapter 2. 

17. /Kings 4:29. 

18. Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy (New York: Doubleday & 
Company, 1%1; Signet edition). 

19. Frederic Bastiat, The Law (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Founda- 
tion for Economic Education 1956), p. 68. 

20. Address as President of the American Bar Association, at the 
ABA annual meeting, Saratoga Springs, N.Y, September 4, 1917. 

21.Basrtat,op. ci7., p. 21. 

22. Loc, d/., p. 239. 

23. Wilhelm Roepke, A Humane Economy (Chicago: Henry Regnery 
Company, 1960), p. 88. 

A Judeo-Christian Foundation 
Hans E Sennholz 

Many voices in education and the media do not tire of 
denouncing and slandering the private-property order. 
They indict it for being heartless, merciless, cruel, inhuman, 
selfish, and exploitative, and, branding it "laissez-faire cap- 
italism," condemn it roundly and loudly. Popular college 
textbooks of economics often set the tone. They devote 
many pages of friendly discussion to the writings of Karl 
Marx and other champions of socialism, but they dismiss, 
with a few lines of utter contempt, the ideas of "laissez-faire 
capitalism" and call its defenders ugly names (e.g., Paul 
Samuelson, Economics, all editions). 

If capitalism nevertheless is alive and advancing in 
many parts of the world, the credit belongs not only to a 
few fearless defenders, but also to the visible failures and 
horrors of the command system and its economic and 
moral inadequacy Despite all the slander and abuse that 
may be heaped on private property, its order offers more 
amenities of life even to its poorer members than the com- 
mand system provides for its privileged members, and in 
contrast to the command system, it creates conditions of 
human existence that are most conducive to virtuous living 
and a moral order. 

Dr. Sennholz is the President of The Foundation for Economic Edu- 
cation. This essay is an excerpt from his booklet. Three Economic Com- 
mandments (1990). 


A Judeo-Christian Foundation / 153 

The private-property system rests on individual freedom, 
nonviolence, truthfulness, reliability, and cooperation. If every- 
one is free in his dealings with others, it is well nigh im- 
possible to cheat, shortchange, or short-weight another. If 
customers and businessmen are free to choose, they are free 
to shun fraud and deception; goods and services must be 
satisfactory and priced right or they cannot be sold. A busi- 
nessman who deceives his customers will lose them. If he 
mistreats his suppliers, they refuse to sell. If he abuses his 
workers, they will leave. It is in everyone's interest to be 
peaceful, honest, truthful, and cooperative. 

Capitalism is no anarchism which rejects all forms of 
government for being oppressive and undesirable. The 
market order does not invite the strong to prey on the 
weak, employers to exploit their workers, and businessmen 
to gouge their customers. On the contrary, it is the only sys- 
tem that allocates to each member whatever he or she con- 
tributes to the production process. It alone provides the 
means for and gives wide range to all forms of charity, 
enabling man not only to satisfy his own desires, but also to 
assist other men in theirs. Yet its critics do not tire in charg- 
ing that capitalism best serves selfish individuals ever 
searching for the greatest possible advantage. To the de- 
tractors, capitalism is synonymous with "maximizing prof- 
its," which they condemn as unrealistic and selfish. 

This charge, too, misses the mark. In voluntary 
exchange, every individual prefers to buy the desired mer- 
chandise at the lowest possible price — unless he or she 
means to engage in charitable giving. Even rabbis, priests, 
and ministers choose to pay the lowest possible price for 
the automobile of their choice — unless they decide to make 
a gift to the dealer. They generally sell their old cars at the 
highest possible price — unless they choose to make a gift to 

154 / Hans F. Sennholz 

the buyer. They seek to maximize their gains on the pur- 
chase or sale, which permits them to allocate the savings to 
the satisfaction of other needs. 

A businessman is a man engaged in the production of 
economic goods and the rendering of economic services. 
He is the servant of consumers whose whims and wishes 
guide him in his production decisions. As they prefer to 
buy their goods in the most favorable market, so must he 
buy them at the lowest possible price. He cannot grant 
favors to suppliers at the expense of his customers; he can- 
not pay wages higher than those allowed by the buyers. If 
he does pay higher wages, he distributes his own property 
to his workers. In time, he is likely to face a bankruptcy 
judge who will dissolve his business. Surely, a businessman 
is free to spend his own income as he pleases. Motivated by 
various notions and impulses, he may buy his goods at a 
charity sale, paying higher prices, or sell his goods there for 
pennies or even give them away. His economic consider- 
ations do not differ from those of the rabbi, priest, and min- 

The private-property order is not lawless as its detrac- 
tors so loudly proclaim. On the contrary, its very existence 
depends on honesty, integrity, and peaceful coopjeration. Its 
bedrock is economic virtue. Its complete and reliable guide on 
practical questions are the Ten Commandments, especially the 
second table with ethical standards for every area of life. The sec- 
ond table is a solid foundation of all economic ease and 
comfort, and the guidepost to prosperity for all mankind. 
Even agnostics and atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, and 
Taoists, Confucianists and Shintoists who reject the first 
table governing man's relationship with God must live by 
the second table governing man's moral choices in his rela- 
tionship with others, if they set out to thrive and multiply. 

A Judeo-Christian Foundation / 155 

There is no other way, in this world of scarce resources and 
limited energy.^ 

The second table affirms the general principle of justice 
or righteousness for the organization of society. It is no 
command "to do good/' but instead an order "to restrain 
evil." It does not propose a state that would create a good or 
great society, but directs man to abstain from evil. In order 
to avoid the bad, it merely says: abstain from coercion; do 
not commit adultery; do not lie; do not steal; do not covet. 
Aside from these admonitions, you are free to pursue your 
own interests. 

The commandments call for a decent society that inter- 
acts voluntarily, a contract society rather than a coercive 
society, a peaceful society rather than a violent society. They 
do not elevate some men to be the rulers and lords over 
other men, nor do they commission some to manage the 
economic lives of others. On the contrary, the command- 
ments set out to do very little — to restrain evil. Yet they ac- 
complish so much by unleashing the creative energy of 
men fired on by their self-interest, but without harm to 
other men. 

The private-property order rests on the solid foundation 
of the ethical commandments. It relies on the state and its 
instruments of force to restrain and punish the violators. It 
does not, however, call on the state to enforce the first table 
commanding man's relationship with God. (Thou shalt 
have no other gods before me; thou shalt not make any 
graven image; thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy 
God in vain; remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.) 
Such an extension of the state would integrate or syndicate 
church and state. Government officials would reign 
supreme in the religious affairs of the people, denying re- 
ligious freedom and generating bitter religious conflict, and 

156 / Hans F. Sennholz 

church officials would labor to gain power over the state, or 
at least to exert great influence over the religious affairs of 
the state. The European experience with church and state 
affiliation throughout the centuries has been rather dis- 

The state and its instruments of force receive their sole 
justification from their use and employment against antiso- 
cial individuals who would steal, rob, and otherwise dis- 
rupt the peaceful cooperation of society. As a guardian of 
the peace, the state is a very beneficial institution that 
deserves the support of every peaceful individual. Yet its 
coercive powers must be limited to the ethical command- 
ments, the protection of which constitutes the very raison 
d'etre and the first and only duty of the state. 

Unfortunately, government never comes up to ideal 
standards. Governments the world over are enforcing some 
parts of the table while they sanction and even encourage 
the disregard of others. They may even lend their instru- 
ments of force to obvious violations of ethical laws, which 
puts every individual on the horns of a dilemma: if the poli- 
cies of the state and the ethical commandments conflict 
with each other, what is he to do? Is he to obey the state or 
obey the commandments? Most people choose to obey the 
state because it readily and brutally enforces its laws. A few 
individuals who choose to live by God's commandments 
rather than man's unethical laws pay dearly for their defi- 
ance. They face armed sheriffs and jailers who unhesitat- 
ingly punish the resisters. 

All ten commandments have a bearing on economic 
affairs;^ three constitute the visible pillars of the private- 
property order: thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou 
shalt not bear false witness. To violate any one of them is to 
do evil and do economic harm. 

A Judeo-Christian Foundation / 157 

1. R. J. Rushdcx)ny, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, N.J.: Craig 
Press, 1973); also The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and 
Councils of the Early Church (Fairfax, Va.: Thobum Press, 1968; 1978); 
Gary North, The Sinai Strategy (Tyler, Tex.: Institute for Christian Eco- 
nomics, 1986); Lord John E.E.D. Acton, Essays on Freedom and Power 
(Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1948); also A Study in Conscience and Poli- 
tics (The University of Chicago Press, 1%2); T. N. Carver, Essays in Social 
justice (Harvard University Press, 1915); Gordon H. Clark, A Christian 
View of Men and Things (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1952). 

2. The first commandment proclaims the sovereign power of God, 
who calls on man to submit to His law-order, including His eternal and 
inexorable laws of economics. The second commandment prohibits 
man from worshipping the works of man, esj:)ecially the state and its 
institutions. The third commandment exhorts man to act judiciously 
and reverently in every area of life, including his economic life. The 
fourth commandment has numerous economic implications as to pro- 
duction and distribution, sabbath legislation, regulation, and enforce- 
ment. The fifth commandment exhorts children to honor their fathers 
and mothers — spiritually and financially — so that they may prosper for 
generations to come. The seventh commandment protects the family 
and safeguards social peace and economic productivity. Cf. R. J. Rush- 
doony. The Institutes of Biblical Lau\ ibid.; also The Foundations of Social 
Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church, ibid.; Gary 
North, The Sinai Strategy, ibid. 


Freedom, Morality, and Education 
George C. Roche III 

To fully appreciate the shortcomings of our present edu- 
cational framework and face realistically the task of 
rebuilding it requires a careful and complete understand- 
ing of the concepts we value in society — a "thinking 
through" of our own first principles. What kind of educa- 
tional goals do we really desire? 

To Plato, proper education of the young consisted in 
helping them to form the correct mental habits for living by 
"the rule of right reason." But, how do we define right rea- 

An important part of education centers on the attempts 
of society to transmit its culture to the rising generation. 
What are the accomplishments of past generations? What 
have been the goals and values by which society has lived? 
What guidelines should be available to the rising genera- 
tion as it faces its own inevitable problems? 

Still, education must be far more than the mere indoctri- 
nation of the young into the methods of the past. A hall- 
mark of Western civilization is its educational focus upon 
the development of the individual's capacity to function as 
an individual, tempered by recognition of the common 
characteristics imposed upon all civilized communities by 
the unchanging aspects of human nature. In this sense, the 

Dr. Roche is president of Hillsdale College. This article appeared in 
the November 1968 issue of The Freeman. 


162 / George C. Roche III 

proper goal of education is everywhere the same: improve 
the individual as an individual, stressing the peculiar and 
unique attributes each has to develop, but also emphasiz- 
ing the development of that "higher side" shared by all 
men when true to their nature. This educational goal might 
be described as the quest for "structured freedom," free- 
dom for the individual to choose within a framework of val- 
ues, values universal to all men simply because they are 
human beings. 

A Framework of Values 

Education in this best sense requires no elaborate para- 
phernalia. It is characterized, not by elaborate classrooms 
or scientific "methods," but by an emphasis upon the conti- 
nuity and changelessness of the human condition. The 
effort to free the creative capacities of the individual, to 
allow him to become truly himself, must recognize the val- 
ues which past generations have found to be liberating, 
asking that each new generation make the most of inherited 
values while striving to enrich that heritage. True education 
is society's attempt to enunciate certain ultimate values 
upon which individuals, and hence society, may safely 
build. The behavior of children toward their parents, 
toward their responsibilities, and even toward the learning 
process itself is closely tied to such a framework of values. 

Thus, in the long run, the relationship we develop 
between teacher and pupil, the typ)e of learning we encour- 
age, the manner in which we organize our school systems, 
in short, the total meaning we give to the word "educa- 
tion," will finally be determined by our answers to certain 
key questions concerning ultimate values. 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 163 

Those who built the Western World never ques- 
tioned this continuity of our civilization nor 
attempted to pluck out the threads that run through 
its fabric. Ever since the Hebrews and Greeks made 
their great contributions to Western thought, it has 
been taken for granted that through the life of the 
mind man can transcend his physical being and 
reach new heights. Self-realization, discipline, loy- 
alty, honor, and devotion are prevailing concepts in 
the literatures, philosophies, and moral precepts 
that have shaped amd mirrored Western man for cen- 

The necessity for such an underlying value system has 
been well established in the work of such eminent social 
critics of our age as C. S. Lewis and Richard Weaver. The 
case for such an underlying system must not depend upon 
the whims of debate with the relativistic, subjectivist 
spokesmen who today dominate so much of American edu- 
cation and thought. Those who hold that certain civilized 
values are worthy of transmission to the young, that some 
standards are acceptable and others are not, are on firm 
ground in their insistence that such values and standards 
must be the core of any meaningful educational frame- 


The late C. S. Lewis, an urbane and untiring critic of the 
intellectual tendencies of the age, used the word Tao to con- 
vey the core of values and standards traditionally and uni- 
versally accepted by men, in the Platonic, Aristotelian, 

164 / George C. Roche III 

Stoic, Christian, and Oriental frameworks. The Tao assumes 
a fixed standard of principle and sentiment, an objective 
order to the universe, a higher value than a full stomach. As 
such, the Tao presupposes standards quite incompatible 
with the subjective, relativist suppositions of "modem" 
man. We are told by the relativists that the Tao must be set 
aside; the accumulated wisdom of centuries, the values of 
East as well as West, of Christian and non-Christian, the 
striving of the past to discover the higher side of man and 
man's conduct, must not stand in the path of "progress." 
Thus, the "revolt" of the "Now Generation." 

Advances in technology account in part for the denial of 
our heritage. Since scientific and technological knowledge 
tends to accumulate (i.e., be subject to empirical verification 
as correct or incorrect, with the correct then added to the 
core of previously verified knowledge), many people 
assume that man's scientific progress means he has out- 
grown his past and has now become the master of his own 
fate. Moral questions are of a different order. Wisdom, not 
science or technology, points the way for progress here. For 
an individual to be inspired by the wisdom and moral rec- 
titude of others, he must first make such wisdom his own. 
This is education in its finest sense. 

Plato's "Rule of Right Reason" 

To grasp the accumulated moral wisdom of the ages is 
to become habituated to such concerns and to their claims 
upon one's personal conduct. At that point, the rule of right 
reason, the goal which Plato set for education, becomes the 
guiding light of the individual. 

This rule of right reason could provide the frame of ref- 
erence so lacking in today's society. Many modem existen- 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 165 

tialists complain that the world is meaningless and absurd. 
It is not surprising that the world no longer has meaning 
for those who recognize none but materialistic values. The 
world of reason and freedom, the real world in which it 
matters a great deal what the individual chooses to do, is 
revealed only in the spiritual quality of man that so many 
modems deny. It is this higher spiritual quality of the indi- 
vidual, evidenced in his creative capacity to choose, which 
alone can give meaning to life and transform the world of 
the individual. This is the recognition of those higher val- 
ues that lead to Truth. Such an awareness on the part of the 
individual, such a rule of right reason, will be, in 
Berdyaev's words "... the triumph of the realm of spirit 
over that of Caesar. . . ." This triumph must be achieved 
anew by each individual as he strives for maturity . . . and 
his struggle for maturity constitutes the educative process. 

A Higher Law 

Despite our vaunted "modern breakthroughs in knowl- 
edge," it is doubtful that anyone now alive possesses more 
wisdom than a Plato, an Epictetus, a Paul, or an Augustine. 
Yet much of what passes for "education" in our time either 
denies this accumulation of past wisdom or belittles it in 
the eyes of the student. Truth, after all, is a measure of what 
is, a measure of an infinite realm within which the individ- 
ual is constantly striving to improve his powers of percep- 
tion. As the individual draws upon his heritage and applies 
self-discipline, he comes to recognize more and more of 
that truth and to understand it. The individual is thus able 
to find himself and his place in the universe, to become 
truly free, by recognizing a fixed truth, a definite right and 
wrong, not subject to change by human whim or political 

166 / George C. Roche III 

dictate. The individual can only be free when he serves a 
higher truth than political decree or unchecked appetite. 

Such a definition of freedom in consonance with a 
higher law has its roots deep in the consciousness of civi- 
lized man. 

In early Hinduism that conduct in men which can be 
called good consists in conformity to, or almost par- 
ticipation in, the Rta — that great ritual or pattern of 
nature and supemature which is revealed alike in 
the cosmic order, the moral virtues, and the ceremo- 
nial of the temple. Righteousness, correctness, order, 
the Rta, is constantly identified with satya or truth, 
correspondence to reality. As Plato said that the 
Good was "beyond existence" and Wordsworth that 
through virtue the stars were strong, so the Indian 
masters say that the gods themselves are bom of the 
Rta and obey it. 

The Chinese also sp^eak of a great thing (the 
greatest thing) called the Tao. It is the reality beyond 
all predicates, the abyss that was before the Creator 
Himself. It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the 
Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in 
which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tran- 
quilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which 
every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic 
and super-cosmic progression, conforming all activ- 
ities to that great exemplar. "In ritual," say the 
Analects, "it is harmony with Nature that is prized." 
The ancient Jews likewise praise the Law as being 

Thus, the Christian insistence that man must order his 
affairs according to a higher law is far from unique. Such a 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 167 

view has been held in common by all civilized men. Our 
own early institutions of higher learning were deeply com- 
mitted to the transmission of such a heritage. The nine col- 
leges founded in America in the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries, (Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, 
Columbia, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and William 
and Mary) were all of religious origin. Such was the early 
American view of education. 

Human Freedom and the Soul of Man 

There is a measure of truth in the Grand Inquisitor's 
assertion that many people do not wish to be free. Freedom 
can be painful, and someone like the Grand Inquisitor usu- 
ally is at hand, quite willing to take over the chore of mak- 
ing decisions for others. Those civilizations which have 
prospered, however, have been peopled by those who 
appreciated the transcendent importance of their individu- 
ality and who valued the freedom necessary for its expres- 
sion and fulfillment. "Education is not, as Bacon thought, a 
means of showing people how to get what they want; edu- 
cation is an exercise by means of which enough men, it is 
hoped, will learn to want what is worth having." 

Education is an exercise by which men will learn to 
want what is worth having. This is a recurrent idea among 
Western thinkers. Aristotle wrote that the proper aim of 
education was to make the pupil like and dislike the proper 
things. Augustine defined the proper role of education as 
that which accorded to every object in the universe the kind 
and degree of love appropriate to it. In Plato's Republic, the 
well-educated youth is described as one . . . 

who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in 
ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature. 

168 / George C. Roche III 

and with a just distaste would blame and hate the 
ugly even from his earliest years and would give 
delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul 
and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man 
of gentle heart. All this before he is of an age to rea- 
son; so that when Reason at length comes to him, 
then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands 
in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity 
he bears to her. 

What is this higher side of human nature which can be 
cultivated, this higher side of man which will learn to want 
what is worth having? According to the standards of West- 
ern civilization, it is the human soul. 

If we seek the prime root of all this, we are led to the 
acknowledgment of the full philosophical reality of 
that concept of the soul, so variegated in its connota- 
tions, which Aristotle described as the first principle 
of life in any organism and viewed as endowed with 
supramaterial intellect in man, and which Christian- 
ity revealed as the dwelling place of God and as 
made for eternal life. In the flesh and bones of man 
there exists a soul which is a spirit and which has a 
greater value than the whole physical universe. 
Dependent though we may be upon the lightest acci- 
dents of matter, the human person exists by the 
virtue of the existence of his soul, which dominates 
time and death. It is the spirit which is the root of 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 169 
Our Choices Affect Our Lives 

Some of those who espouse the idea of freedom are 
quick to declaim such terms as soul, God, or Higher Law, 
feeling that such "mysticism" denies the individual the 
capacity to freely choose since it binds him to a higher 
Authority. This is a groundless fear. In fact, the whole idea 
of a higher law and a God-given capacity for individual 
free choice only opens the door into a world in which man 
is constantly remaking the world as he modifies and 
expands his own horizons. It is precisely the fact that the 
soul of the individual derives from a higher order of nature 
that allows man to constantly remake the world and his 
own life according to his own understanding and his own 
perception. This is the source of the self-discipline which 
produces honor, integrity, courage, and the other attributes 
of civilized man. This is the source of the framework within 
which all meaningful, civilized choice takes place. 

Still, the existentialists may be right about one point. It 
is true that man finds himself encased within a body and a 
material existence which he did not choose. It is also true 
that he finds himself limited by the ideas peculiar to his 
time. Even if he chooses to fight such ideas, the very nature 
of that choice and struggle is determined by the ideas he 
finds around him. This is why man is at once the molder 
and the molded, the actor and acted upon of history. We are 
all a part of an existential situation that is, and yet is not, of 
our own making. In a very real sense of the word, we are 
shaped by generations long past, yet have a role to play in 
the shaping process for generations to come. It is this capac- 

170 / George C Roche III 

ity to choose, limited by the framework we have inherited, 
which man must come to understand and deal with if he is 
to be truly "educated." 

In principle, therefore, it does not matter whether 
one generation applauds the previous generation or 
hisses it — in either event, it carries the previous gen- 
eration within itself. If the image were not so 
baroque, we might present the generations not hori- 
zontally but vertically, one on top of the other, like 
acrobats in the circus making a human tower. Rising 
one on the shoulders of another, he who is on top 
enjoys the sensation of dominating the rest; but he 
should also note that at the same time he is the pris- 
oner of the others. This would serve to warn us that 
what has passed is not merely the past and nothing 
more, that we are not riding free in the air but stand- 
ing on its shoulders, that we are in and of the past, a 
most definite past which continues the human tra- 
jectory up to the present moment, which could have 
been very different from what it was, but which, 
once having been, is irremediable — it is our present, 
in which, whether we like it or not, we thrash about 
like shipwrecked sailors.^ 

Unless he seeks only the freedom of shipwrecked 
sailors, freedom to drown in an existential sea, the individ- 
ual desperately needs to recognize that his truly liberating 
capacity to choose is hinged upon a moral framework and 
certain civilized preconditions which at once limit and 
enhance his choice. It is this recognition that constitutes civ- 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 171 
Civilized Man 

What is it then, that civihzed man comes to value? One 
possible answer is given by Harold Gray, the creator of Lit- 
tle Orphan Annie and of the equally delightful Maw Green, 
Irish washerwoman and homey philosopher par excellence. 
In one of Gray's comic strips, he confronts Maw Green with 
a slobbering, unkempt, aggressive boob, who shouts, "I got 
rights, ain't I? I'm as good as any o' those big shots! 
Nobody's better'n me\ I say all men are bom equal! Ain't that 

Maw Green maintains her boundless good humor and 
agrees that all men are indeed bom equal, but she turns 
aside to confide to the reader, "But thank Hiven a lot of 
folks outgrow it!" 

Perhaps that civilizing task of "outgrowing it" is how 
the educative process can best help the individual. Yet in a 
time of collapsing standards, of "campus revolts," such a 
task for the educative process seems impossible of fulfill- 
ment. If so, Mario Savio and Mark Rudd may be samples of 
things to come, of tomorrow's torchbearers upon whom 
our civilization depends. 

Surely, such a prospect is frightening to most of us. If we 
are to avoid such a fate, the underlying problem must be 
faced squarely: Does a proper definition of the nature of the 
universe and the nature and role of man within the uni- 
verse presuppose the existence of a fixed standard of value, 
universally applicable to all men at all times? To accept 
such a view is to challenge directly the root assumption of 
the modem world ... a world unwilling to accept the disci- 
pline inherent in such a fixed value system, a world finding 
self-congratulation in its illusory man-made heaven on 

172 / George C. Roche III 

earth, a heaven blending equal portions of subjectivism and 

Man Must Be Free to Choose 

There have been among us those men of intellect and 
integrity who have challenged the dominant mentality of 
the age, warning that man must be free to choose and yet 
properly instructed in the making of his choice. They have 
insisted that proper values can emerge and be defined by 
the passage of time and the accumulation of human experi- 
ence. This accumulated wisdom, this framework of values, 
thus provides an enhancement of meaningful choice, not 
limiting but rather clarifying, the individual's power to 
decide. Such individual choice, plus the framework within 
which that choice takes place, is a reflection of higher val- 
ues than society itself: 

Freedom of the human personality cannot be given 
by society, and by its source and nature it cannot 
depend upon society — it belongs to man himself, as 
a spiritual being. And society, unless it makes totali- 
tarian claims, can only recognize this freedom. This 
basic truth about freedom was reflected in the doc- 
trines of natural law, of the rights of man, indepen- 
dent of the state, of freedom, not only as freedom 
within society, but freedom from society with its lim- 
itless claims on man.^ 

To a maverick like Berdyaev, freedom was the key word, 
but even he admitted that man was a spiritual being and 
that nature had her own laws demanding respect from the 
individual as he made his choices. 

Freedom, Morality, and Education / 173 

Many others in the civilized tradition of individual free- 
dom and a fixed moral framework have perceived that the 
individual must be not only free, but sufficiently educated 
in the proper values to permit intelligent choice. Albert Jay 
Nock, for instance, believed that 

. . . the Great Tradition would go on "because the 
forces of nature are on its side," and it had an invin- 
cible ally, "the self-preserving instinct of humanity." 
Men could forsake it, but come back to it they 
would. They had to, for their collective existence 
could not permanently go on without it. Whole soci- 
eties might deny it, as America had done, substitut- 
ing bread and buncombe, power and riches or expe- 
diency; "but in the end, they will find, as so many 
societies have already found, that they must return 
and seek the regenerative power of the Great Tradi- 
tion, or lapse into decay and death."'' 

Nock was not alone in his insistence upon such stan- 
dards for the education of future generations. He stood in 
the distinguished company of such men as Paul Elmer 
More, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, and Gilbert K. Chesterton, to 
name but a few of the defenders of the Great Tradition. 
These have been the civilized men of our age. 

With Canon Bernard Iddings Bell, the distinguished 
Episcopal clergyman who saw so clearly the tendency of 
our times, we might ponder our future: 

I am quite sure that the trouble with us has been that 
we have not seriously and bravely put to ourselves 
the question, "What is man?" or, if and when we 
have asked it, we have usually been content with 

174 / George C. Roche III 

answers too easy and too superficial. Most of us 
were trained to believe — and we have gone on the 
assumption ever since — that in order to be modem 
and intelligent and scholarly all that is required is to 
avoid asking "Why am I?" and immerse oneself in a 
vast detail of specialized study and in ceaseless 
activity. We have been so busy going ahead that we 
have lost any idea of where it is exactly that we are 
going or trying to go. This is, I do believe, the thing 
that has ruined the world in the last half century.^ 

We have lost our philosophic way in the educational 
community. We have often forgotten the moral necessity of 
freedom, and have usually forgotten the self-discipline 
which freedom must reflect if it is to function within the 
moral order. As parents, as human beings, as members of 
society, we must insist that our educational framework pro- 
duce neither automatons nor hellions. The individual must 
be free to choose, yet must be provided with a framework 
of values within which meaningful, civilized choice can 
take place. That two-fold lesson must lie at the heart of any 
renaissance of American education. 

1. Thomas Molnar, The Future of Education, p. 30. 

2. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, pp. 27-28. 

3. ''Science and Human Freedom/' Manas, February 28, 1968, p. 7. 

4. Jacques Maritain, Education at the Crossroads, p. 8. 

5. Jos^ Ortega y Gasset, Man and Crisis, pp. 53-54. 

6. Nicholas Berdyaev, The Realm of Spirit and The Realm of Caesar, pp. 

7. Robert M. Crunden, The Mind & Art of Albert Jay Nock, p. 134. 

8. Bernard Iddings Bell, Crisis in Education, p. 162. 

Morals and Liberty 
E A. Harper 

To many persons, the welfare state has become a symbol 
of morality and righteousness. This makes those who favor 
the welfare state appear to be the true architects of a better 
world; those who oppose it, immoral rascals who might be 
expected to rob banks or to do most anything in defiance of 
ethical conduct. But is this so? Is the banner of morality, 
when applied to the concept of the welfare state, one that is 
true or false? 

Now what is the test of morality or immorality to be 
applied to the welfare state idea? 1 should like to pose five 
fundamental ethical concepts, as postulates, by which to 
test it. They are the ethical precepts found in the true Chris- 
tian religion — true to its original foundations; and they are 
likewise found in other religious faiths, wherever and 
under whatever name these other religious concepts assist 
persons to perceive and practice the moral truths of human 

After teaching at Cornell University for several years. Dr. Harper 
(1905-1973) joined the staff of The Foundation for Economic Education 
during its inaugural year of 1946. In 1961, he founded the Institute for 
Humane Studies, Inc., now located in Fairfax, Virgiiua. This article 
appeared in the July 1971 issue of The Freeman. 


176 / F. A. Harper 
Moral Postulate No. 1 

Economics and morals are both parts of one insepara- 
ble body of truth. They must, therefore, be in harmony 
with one another. What is right morally must also be right 
economically, and vice versa. Since morals are a guide to 
betterment and to self-protection, economic policies that 
violate moral truth, will, with certainty, cause degeneration 
and self-destruction. 

This postulate may seem simple and self-evident. Yet 
many economists and others of my acquaintance, including 
one who was a most capable and admired teacher, presume 
to draw some kind of an impassable line of distinction 
between morals and economics. Such persons fail to test 
their economic concepts against their moral precepts. Some 
even scorn the moral base for testing economic concepts, as 
though it would somehow pollute their economic purity. 

An unusually capable minister recently said that only a 
short time before, for the first time, he had come to realize j 
the close connection and interharmony that exist between 
morals and economics. He had always tried to reserve one j 
compartment for his religious thought and another sepa- 
rate one for his economic thought. "Fortunately," he said, in 
essence, "my economic thinking happened to be in har- 
mony with my religious beliefs; but it frightens me now to 
realize the risk 1 was taking in ignoring the harmony that 
must exist between the two." 

This viewpoint — that there is no necessary connection j 
between morals and economics — is all too prevalent. It 
explains, I believe, why immoral economic acts are toler- 
ated, if not actively promoted, by persons of high repute 
who otherwise may be considered to be persons of high 
moral standards. 

Morals and Liberty / 177 
Moral Postulate No. 2 

There is a force in the universe which no mortal can 
alter. Neither you nor I nor any earthly potentate with all 
his laws and edicts can alter this rule of the universe, no 
matter how great one's popularity in his position of power. 
Some call this force God. Others call it Natural Law. Still 
others call it the Suj:>ematural. But no matter how one may 
wish to name it, there is a force which rules without surren- 
der to any mortal man or group of men — a force that is 
oblivious to anyone who presumes to elevate himself and 
his wishes above its rule. 

This concept is the basis for all relationships of cause 
and consequence — all science — whether it be something 
already discovered or something yet to be discovered. Its 
scope includes phenomena such as those of physics and 
chemistry; it also includes those of human conduct. The so- 
called Law of Gravity is one expression of Natural Law. Sci- 
entific discovery means the unveiling to human perception 
of something that has always existed. If it had not existed 
prior to the discovery — even though we were ignorant of 
it — it could not have been there to be discovered. That is the 
meaning of the concept of Natural Law. 

This view — there exists a Natural Law which rules over 
the affairs of human conduct — will be challenged by some 
who point out that man possesses the capacity for choice; 
that man's activity reflects a quality lacking in the chem- 
istry of a stone and in the physical principle of the lever. But 
this trait of man— this capacity for choice— does not release 
him from the rule of cause and effect, which he can neither 
veto nor alter. What the capacity for choice means, instead, 
is that he is thereby enabled, by his own choice, to act either 
wisely or unwisely — that is, in either accord or discord with 

178 / f. A. Harper 

the truths of Natural Law. But once he has made his choice, 
the inviolate rule of cause and consequence takes over with 
an iron hand of justice, and renders unto the doer either a 
prize or a penalty, as the consequence of his choice. 

It is important, at this point, to note that morality presumes 
the existence of choice. One cannot he truly moral except as there 
exists the option of being immoral, and except as he selects the 
moral rather than the immoral option. In the admirable words of 
Thomas Davidson: "That which is not free is not responsible, and 
that which is not responsible is not moral." This means that free 
choice is a prerequisite of morality. 

If I surrender my freedom of choice to a ruler — by vote 
or otherwise — I am still subject to the superior rule of Nat- 
ural Law or Moral Law. Although I am subservient to the 
ruler who orders me to violate truth, I must still pay the 
penalty for the evil or foolish acts in which I engage at his 

Under this postulate — that there is a force in the uni- 
verse which no mortal can alter — ignorance of Moral Law 
is no excuse to those who violate it, because Moral Law 
rules over the consequences of ignorance the same as over 
the consequences of wisdom. This is true whether the igno- 
rance is accompanied by good intentions or not; whether it 
is carried out under the name of some religion or the wel- 
fare state or whatnot. 

What, then, is the content of a basic moral code? What 
are the rules which, if followed, will better the condition of 

Moral Postulate No. 3 

The Golden Rule and the Decalogue, and their near 
equivalents in other great religions, provide the basic 

Morals and Liberty / 179 

moral codes for man's conduct. The Golden Rule and the 
Decalogue are basic moral guides having priority over all 
other considerations. It is these which have guided the con- 
duct of man in all progressive civilizations. With their vio- 
lation has come the downfall of individuals and civiliza- 

Some may prefer as a moral code something like: "Do as 
God would have us do/' or "Do as Jesus would have done." 
But such as these, alone, are not adequate guides to conduct 
unless they are explained further, or unless they serve as 
symbolic of a deeper specific meaning. What would God 
have us do? What would Jesus have done? Only by adding 
some guides such as the Golden Rule and the Ten Com- 
mandments can we know the answers to these questions. 

The Golden Rule — the rule of refraining from imposing 
on others what I would not have them impose on me — 
means that moral conduct for one is moral conduct for 
another; that there is not one set of moral guides for Jones 
and another for Smith; that the concept of equality under 
Moral Law is a part of morality itself. This alone is held by 
many to be an adequate moral code. But in spite of its 
importance as part of the moral code of conduct in this 
respect, the Golden Rule is not, it seems to me, sufficient 
unto itself. It is no more sufficient than the mere admoni- 
tion, "Do good," which leaves undefined what is good and 
what is evil. The murderer, who at the time of the crime felt 
justified in committing it, can quote the Golden Rule in self- 
defense: "If I had done what that so-and-so did, and had 
acted as he acted, I would consider it fair and proper for 
someone to murder me." And likewise the thief may argue 
that if he were like the one he has robbed, or if he were a 
bank harboring all those "ill-gotten gains," he would con- 
sider himself the proper object of robbery. Some claim that 

180 / K A. Harper 

justification for the welfare state, too, is to be found in the 
Golden Rule. So, in addition to the Golden Rule, further 
rules are needed as guides for moral conduct. 

The Decalogue embodies the needed guides on which 
the Golden Rule can function. But within the Ten Com- 
mandments, the two with which we shall be especially con- 
cerned herein are: (1) Thou shalt not steal. (2) Thou shalt 
not covet. 

The Decalogue serves as a guide to moral conduct 
which, if violated, brings upon the violator a commensu- 
rate penalty. There may be other guides to moral conduct 
which one might wish to add to the Golden Rule and the 
Decalogue, as supplements or substitutes. But they serve as 
the basis on which others are built. Their essence, in one 
form or another, seems to run through all great religions. 
That, I believe, is not a happenstance, because if we 
embrace them as a guide to our conduct, our conduct will 
be both morally and economically sound. 

This third postulate embodies what are judged to be the 
principles which should guide individual conduct as infalli- 
bly as the compass should guide the mariner. "Being prac- 
tical" is a common popular guide to conduct; principles are 
scorned, if not forgotten. Those who scorn principles assert 
that it is foolish to concern ourselves with them; that it is 
hopeless to expect their complete adoption by everyone. 
But does this fact make a principle worthless? Are we to 
conclude that the moral code against murder is worthless 
because of its occasional violation? Or that the compass is 
worthless because not everyone pursues to the ultimate the 
direction which it indicates? Or that the law of gravity is 
made impractical or inoperative by someone walking off a 
cliff and meeting death because of his ignorance of this 
principle? No. A principle remains a principle in spite of its 

Morals and Liberty / 181 

being ignored or violated — or even unknown. A principle, 
like a compass, gives one a better sense of direction, if he is 
wise enough to know and to follow its guidance. 

Moral Postulate No. 4 

Moral principles are not subject to compromise. The 
Golden Rule and the Decalogue, as representing moral 
principles, are precise and strict. They are not a code of con- 
venience. A principle can be broken, but it cannot be bent. 

If the Golden Rule and the Decalogue were to be 
accepted as a code of convenience, to be laid aside or mod- 
ified whenever "necessity seems to justify it" (whenever, 
that is, one desires to act in violation of them), they would 
not then be serving as moral guides. A moral guide which 
is to be followed only when one would so conduct himself 
anyhow, in its absence, has no effect on his conduct, and is 
not a guide to him at all. 

The unbending rule of a moral principle can be illus- 
trated by some simple applications. According to one Com- 
mandment, it is wholly wrong to steal all your neighbor's 
cow; it is also wholly wrong to steal half your neighbor's 
cow, not half wrong to steal half your neighbor's cow. Rob- 
bing a bank is wrong in principle, whether the thief makes 
off with a million dollars or a hundred dollars or one cent. 
A person can rob a bank of half its money, but in the sense 
of moral principle there is no way to half rob a bank; you 
either rob it or you do not rob it. 

In like manner, the law of gravity is precise and indivis- 
ible. One either acts in harmony with this law or he does 
not. There is no sense in saying that one has only half- 
observed the law of gravity if he falls off a cliff only half as 
high as another cliff off which he might have fallen. 

182 / f. A. Harper 

Moral laws are strict. They rule without flexibility. 
They know not the language of man; they are not conver- 
sant with him in the sense of compassion. They employ no 
man-made devices like the suspended sentence — 
"Guilty" or "Not guilty" is the verdict of judgment by a 
moral principle. 

As moral guides, the Golden Rule and the Decalogue 
are not evil and dangerous things, like a painkilling drug, 
to be taken in cautious moderation, if at all. Presuming 
them to be the basic guides of what is right and good for 
civilized man, one cannot overindulge in them. Good need 
not be practiced in moderation. 

Moral Postulate No. 5 

Good ends cannot be attained by evil means. As stated 
in the second postulate, there is a force controlling cause 
and consequence which no mortal can alter, in spite of any 
position of influence or power which he may hold. Cause 
and consequence are linked inseparably. 

An evil begets an evil consequence; a good, a good con- 
sequence. Good intentions cannot alter this relationship. 
Nor can ignorance of the consequence change its form. Nor 
can words. For one to say, after committing an evil act, "I'm 
sorry, I made a mistake," changes not one iota the conse- 
quence of the act; repentance, at best, can serve only to pre- 
vent repetition of the evil act, and perhaps assure the repen- 
ter a more preferred place in a Hereafter. But repentance 
alone does not bring back to life a murdered person, nor 
return the loot to the one who was robbed. Nor does it, I 
believe, fully obliterate the scars of evil on the doer himself. 

Nor does saying, "He told me to do it," change the con- 
sequence of an evil act into a good one. For an evildoer to 

Morals and Liberty / 183 

assert, "But it was the law of my government, the decree of 
my ruler," fails to dethrone God or to frustrate the rule of 
Natural Law. 

The belief that good ends are attainable through evil 
means is one of the most vicious concepts of the ages. The 
political blueprint. The Prince, written around the year 1500 
by Machiavelli, outlined this notorious doctrine. And for 
the past century it has been part and parcel of the kit of 
tools used by the Marxian communist-socialists to mislead 
people. Its use probably is as old as the conflict between 
temptation and conscience, because it affords a seemingly 
rational and pleaseint detour around the inconveniences of 
one's conscience. 

We know how power-hungry persons have gained 
political control over others by claiming that they somehow 
possess a special dispensation from God to do good 
through the exercise of means which our moral code iden- 
tifies as evil. Thus arises a multiple standard of morals. It is 
the device by which immoral persons attempt to discredit 
the Golden Rule and the Decalogue, and make them inop- 

Yet if one will stop to ponder the question just a little, he 
must surely see the unimpeachable logic of this postulate: 
Good ends cannot be attained by evil means. This is 
because the end pre-exists in the means, just as in the bio- 
logical field we know that the seed of continued likeness 
pre-exists in the parent. Likewise in the moral realm, there 
is a sinular moral reproduction wherein like begets like. 
This precludes the possibility of evil means leading to good 
ends. Good begets good; evil, evil. Immoral means cannot 
beget a good end, any more than snakes can beget roses. 

The concept of the welfare state can now be tested 
against the background of these five postulates: (1) Har- 

184 / F. A. Harper 

mony exists between moral principles and wise economic 
practices. (2) There is a universal law of cause and effect, 
even in the areas of morals and economics. (3) A basic 
moral code exists in the form of the Golden Rule and the 
Decalogue. (4) These moral guides are of an uncompromis- 
ing nature. (5) Good ends are attainable only through good 

Moral Right to Private Property 

Not all the Decalogue, as has been said, is directly rele- 
vant to the issue of the welfare state. Its program is an eco- 
nomic one, and the only parts of the moral code which are 
directly and specifically relevant are these: (1) Thou shalt 
not steal. (2) Thou shalt not covet. 

Steal what? Covet what? Private prof)erty, of course. 
What else could I steal from you, or covet of what is yours? 
I cannot steal from you or covet what you do not own as 
private property. As Dr. D. Elton Trueblood has aptly said: 
"Stealing is evil because ownership is good." Thus we find 
that the individual's right to private property is an unstated 
assumption which underlies the Decalogue. Otherwise 
these two admonitions would be empty of either purpose 
or meaning. 

The right to have and to hold private property is not to 
be confused with the recovery of stolen property. If some- 
one steals your car, it is still — by this moral right — your car 
rather than his; and for you to repossess it is merely to bring 
its presence back into harmony with its ownership. The 
same reasoning applies to the recovery of equivalent value 
if the stolen item itself is no longer returnable; and it applies 
to the recompense for damage done to one's own property 
by trespass or other willful destruction of private property. 
These means of protecting the possession of private prop- 

Morals and Liberty / 185 

erty, and its use, are part of the mechanisms used to protect 
the moral right to private property. 

Another point of possible confusion has to do with cov- 
eting the private property of another. There is nothing 
morally wrong in the admiration of something that is the 
property of another. Such admiration may be a stimulus to 
work for the means with which to buy it, or one like it. The 
moral consideration embodied in this Commandment has 
to do with thoughts and acts leading to the violation of the 
other Commandment, though still short of actual theft. 

The moral right to private property, therefore, is consis- 
tent with the moral codes of all the great religious beliefs. It 
is likely that a concept of this type was in the mind of David 
Hume, the moral philosopher, who believed that the right 
to own private property is the basis for the modern concept 
of justice in morals. 

Nor is it surprising to discover that two of history's 
leading exponents of the welfare state concept found it nec- 
essary to denounce this moral code completely. Marx said: 
"Religion is the opium of the people." And Lenin said: 
"Any religious idea, any idea of a 'good God' ... is an 
abominably nasty thing." Of course they would have to say 
these things about religious beliefs. This is because the 
moral code of these great religions, as we have seen, strikes 
at the very heart of their immoral economic scheme. Not 
only does their welfare state scheme deny the moral right to 
private property, but it also denies other underlying bases 
of the moral code, as we shall see. 

Moral Right to Work and to Have 

Stealing and coveting are condemned in the Decalogue 
as violations of the basic moral code. It follows, then, that 
the concepts of stealing and coveting presume the right to 

186 / f. A. Harper 

private property, which then automatically becomes an 
implied part of the basic moral code. But where does pri- 
vate property come from? 

Private property comes from what one has saved out of 
what he has produced, or has earned as a productive 
employee of another person. One may also, of course, 
obtain private property through gifts and inheritances; but 
in the absence of theft, precluded by this moral code, gifts 
come from those who have produced or earned what is 
given. So the right of private property, and also the right to 
have whatever one has produced or earned, underlies the 
admonitions in the Decalogue about stealing and coveting. 
Nobody has the moral right to take by force from the pro- 
ducer anything he has produced or earned, for any purpose 
whatsoever — even for a good purpose, as he thinks of it. 

If one is free to have what he has produced and earned, 
it then follows that he also has the moral right to be free to 
choose his work. He should be free to choose his work, that 
is, so long as he does not violate the moral code in doing so 
by using in his productive efforts the prof>erty of another 
person through theft or trespass. Otherwise he is free to 
work as he will, at what he will, and to change his work 
when he will. Nobody has the moral right to force him to 
work when he does not choose to do so, or to force him to 
remain idle when he wishes to work, or to force him to 
work at a certain job when he wishes to work at some other 
available job. The belief of the master that his judgment is 
superior to that of the slave or vassal, and that control is 
"for his own good," is not a moral justification for the idea 
of the welfare state. 

We are told that some misdoings occurred in a Garden 
of Eden, which signify the evil in man. And I would con- 
cede that no mortal man is totally wise and good. But it is 

Morals and Liberty / 187 

my belief that people generally, up and down the road, are 
intuitively and predominantly moral. By this I mean that if 
persons are confronted with a clear and simple decision 
involving basic morals, most of us will conduct ourselves 
morally. Most everyone, without being a learned scholar of 
moral philosophy, seems to have a sort of innate sense of 
what is right, and tends to do what is moral unless and until 
he becomes confused by circumstances which obscure the moral 
issue that is involved. 

Immorality Is News 

The content of many magazines and newspapers with 
widespread circulations would seem to contradict my 
belief that most people are moral most of the time. They 
headline impressive and unusual events on the seamy side 
of life, which might lead one to believe that these events are 
chciracteristic of everyday human affairs. It is to be noted, 
however, that their content is in sharp contrast to the local, 
hometown daily or weekly with its emphasis on the folksy 
reports of the comings and goings of friends. Why the dif- 
ference? Those with large circulations find that the com- 
mon denominator of news interest in their audience is 
events on the rare, seamy side of life; widely scattered mil- 
lions are not interested in knowing that in Centerville, Sally 
attended Susie's birthday party last Tuesday. It is the rarity 
of evil conduct that makes it impressive news for millions. 
Papers report the event of yesterday's murder, theft, or 
assault, together with the name, address, age, marital sta- 
tus, religious affiliation, and other descriptive features of 
the guilty party because these are the events of the day that 
are unusual enough to be newsworthy. What would be the 
demand for a newspaper which published all the names 

188 / f. A. Harper 

and identifications of all the persons who yesterday failed 
to murder, steal, or assault? If it were as rare for persons to 
act morally as it is now rare for them to act immorally, the 
then rare instances of moral conduct would presumably 
become the news of the day. So we may conclude that evil 
is news because it is so rare; that being moral is not news 
because it is so prevalent. 

But does not this still prove the dominance of evil in 
persons? Or, since magazines and newspapers print what 
finds a ready readership in the market, does not that prove 
the evilness of those who read of evil? I believe not. It is 
more like the millions who attend zoos, and view with fas- 
cination the monkeys and the snakes; these spectators are 
not themselves monkeys or snakes, nor do they want to be; 
they are merely expressing an interest in the unusual, with- 
out envy. Do not most of us read of a bank robbery or a fire 
without wishing to be robbers or arsonists? 

What else dominates the newspaper space, and gives us 
our dominant impressions about the quality of persons out- 
side our circle of immediate [Dersonal acquaintance? It is 
mostly about the problems of political power; about those 
who have power or are grasping for power, diluted with a 
little about those who are fighting against power. Lord 
Acton said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power 
corrupts absolutely." This dictum seems to be true, as his- 
tory has proved and is proving over and over again. So we 
can then translate it into a description of much of the news 
of the day: News is heavily loaded with items about per- 
sons who, as Lord Acton said, are either corrupt or are in 
the process of becoming more corrupt. 

If one is not careful in exposing himself to the daily 
news — if he fails to keep his balance and forgets how it con- 
trasts with all those persons who comprise his family, his 

Morals and Liberty / 189 

neighbors, his business associates, and his friends — he is 
likely to conclude falsely that people are predominantly 
immoral. This poses a serious problem for historians and 
historical novelists to the extent that their source of infor- 
mation is the news of a former day — especially if they do 
not interpret it with caution. 

To Steal or Not to Steal 

As a means of sp^ecifically verifying my impression 
about the basic, intuitive morality of persons, 1 would pose 
this test of three questions: 

1. Would you steal your neighbor's cow to provide for 
your present needs? Would you steal it for any need rea- 
sonably within your expectation or comprehension? It 
should be remembered that, instead of stealing his cow, you 
may explore with your neighbor the possible solution to 
your case of need; you might arrange to do some sort of 
work for him, or to borrow from him for later repayment, 
or perhaps even plead with him for an outright gift. 

2. Would you steal your neighbor's cow to provide for a 
known case of another neighbor's need? 

3. Would you try to induce a third party to do the steal- 
ing of the cow, to be given to this needy neighbor? And do 
you believe that you would likely succeed in inducing him 
to engage in the theft? 

I believe that the almost universal answer to all these 
questions would be: "No." Yet the facts of the case are that 
all of us are participating in theft every day. How? By sup- 
porting the actions of the collective agent which does the 
stealing as part of the welfare state program already far 
advanced in the United States. By this device, Peter is 
robbed to "benefit" Paul, with the acquiescence if not the 

190 / F. A. Harper 

active support of all of us as taxpayers and citizens. We not 
only participate in the stealing — and share in the division 
of the loot — ^but as Us victims we also meekly submit to the 

Isn't it a strange thing that if you select any three funda- 
mentally moral persons and combine them into a collective 
for the doing of good, they are liable at once to become 
three immoral persons in their collective activities? The 
moral principles with which they seem to be intuitively 
endowed are somehow lost in the confusing processes of 
the collective. None of the three would steal the cow from 
one of his fellow members as an individual, but collectively 
they all steal cows from each other. The reason is, I believe, 
that the welfare state — a confusing collective device which 
is believed by many to be moral and righteous — has been 
falsely labeled. This false label has caused the belief that the 
welfare state can do no wrong, that it cannot commit 
immoral acts, especially if those acts are approved or toler- 
ated by more than half of the people, "democratically." 

This sidetracking of moral conduct is like the belief of 
an earlier day: The king can do no wrong. In its place we 
have now substituted this belief: The majority can do no 
wrong. It is as though one were to assert that a sheep which 
has been killed by a pack of wolves is not really dead, pro- 
vided that more than half of the wolves have participated 
in the killing. All these excuses for immoral conduct are, of 
course, nonsense. They are nonsense when tested against 
the basic moral code of the five postulates. Thievery is 
thievery, whether done by one person alone or by many in 
a pack — or by one who has been selected by the members 
of the pack as their agent. 

Morals and Liberty / 191 
"Thou Shalt Not Steal, Except. . . ." 

It seems that wherever the welfare state is involved, the 
moral precept, "Thou shalt not steal," becomes altered to 
say: "Thou shalt not steal, except for what thou deemest to 
be a worthy cause, where thou thinkest that thou canst use 
the loot for a better purpose than wouldst the victim of the 

And the precept about covetousness, under the admin- 
istration of the welfare state, seems to become: "Thou shalt 
not covet, except what thou wouldst have from thy neigh- 
bor who owns it." 

Both of these alterations of the Decalogue result in com- 
plete abrogation of the two moral admonitions — theft and 
covetousness — which deal directly with economic matters. 
Not even the motto, "In God we trust," stamped by the 
government on money taken by force in violation of the 
Decalogue to pay for the various programs of the welfare 
state, can transform this immoral act into a moral one. 

Herein lies the principal moral and economic danger 
facing us in these critical times: Many of us, albeit with 
good intentions but in a hurry to do good because of the 
urgency of the occasion, have become victims of moral 
schizophrenia. While we are good and righteous persons in 
our individual conduct in our home community and in our 
basic moral code, we have become thieves and coveters in 
the collective activities of the welfare state in which we par- 
ticipate and which many of us extol. 

Typical of our times is what usually happens when 
there is a major catastrophe, destroying private property or 
injuring many persons. The news circulates, and generates 

192 / F. A. Harper 

widespread sympathy for the victims. So what is done 
about it? Through the mechanisms of the collective, the 
good intentions take the form of reaching into the other fel- 
low's pocket for the money with which to make a gift. The 
Decalogue says, in effect: "Reach into your own pocket — 
not into your neighbor's pocket — to finance your acts of 
compassion; good cannot be done with the loot that comes 
from theft." The pickpocket, in other words, is a thief even 
though he puts the proceeds in the collection box on Sun- 
day, or uses it to buy bread for the poor. Being an involun- 
tary Good Samaritan is a contradiction in terms. 

When thievery is resorted to for the means with which 
to do good, compassion is killed. Those who would do 
good with the loot then lose their capacity for self-reliance, 
the same as a thief's self-reliance atrophies rapidly when he 
subsists on food that is stolen. And those who are ref>eat- 
edly robbed of their property simultaneously lose their 
capacity for compassion. The chronic victims of robbery are 
under great temptation to join the gang and share in the 
loot. They come to feel that the voluntary way of life will no 
longer suffice for needs; that to subsist, they must rob and 
be robbed. They abhor violence, of course, but approve of 
robbing by "peaceful means." It is this peculiar immoral 
distinction which many try to draw between the welfare 
state of Russia and that of Britain: The Russian brand of 
violence, they believe, is bad; that of Britain, good. This ver- 
sion of an altered Commandment would be: "Thou shalt 
not steal, except from nonresisting victims." 

Under the welfare state, this process of theft has spread 
from its use in alleviating catastrophe, to anticipating cata- 
strophe, to conjuring up catastrophe, to the "need" for lux- 
uries for those who have them not. The acceptance of the 
practice of thus violating the Decalogue has become so 

Morals and Liberty / 193 

widespread that if the Sermon on the Mount were to appear 
in our day in the form of an address or publication, it 
would most likely be scorned as "reactionary, and not 
objective on the realistic problems of the day." Forgotten, it 
seems, by many who so much admire Christ, is the fact that 
he did not resort to theft in acquiring the means of his mate- 
rial benefactions. Nor did he advocate theft for any pur- 
pose — even for those uses most dear to his beliefs. 

Progress of Moral Decay 

Violation of the two economic Commandments — theft 
and covetousness — under the program of the welfare state, 
will spread to the other Commandments; it will destroy 
faith in, and observance of, our entire basic moral code. We 
have seen this happen in many countries. It seems to have 
been happening here. We note how immorality, as tested by 
the two economic Commandments, has been spreading in 
high places. Moral decay has already spread to such an 
extent that violations of all other parts of the Decalogue, 
and of the Golden Rule, have become accepted as common- 
place — even proper and worthy of emulation. 

And what about the effectiveness of a crime investiga- 
tion conducted under a welfare state government? We may 
question the presumed capability of such a government — 
as distinct from certain investigators who are admittedly 
moral individuals — to judge these moral issues. We may 
also question the wisdom of bothering to investigate the 
picayune amounts of private gambling, willingly engaged 
in by the participants with their own money, when untold 
billions are being taken from the people repeatedly by the 
investigating agent to finance its own immoral program. 
This is a certain loss, not even a gamble. 

194 / F. A. Harper 

Once a right to collective looting has been substituted 
for the right of each person to have whatever he has pro- 
duced, it is not at all surprising to find the official dis- 
pensers deciding that it is right for them to loot the loot — 
for a "worthy" purpose, of course. Then we have the loot 
used by the insiders to buy votes so that they may stay in 
power; we have political pork barrels and lobbying for the 
contents; we have political patronage for political loyalty — 
even for loyalty to immoral conduct; we have deep freezers 
and mink coats given to political or personal favorites, and 
bribes for the opportunity to do privileged business with 
those who hold and dispense the loot. Why not? If it is right 
to loot, it is also right to loot the loot. If the latter is wrong, 
so also is the former. 

If we are to accept Lord Acton's axiom about the cor- 
rupting effect of power — and also the reasoning of Profes- 
sor Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom, about why the 
worst get to the top in a welfare state — then corruption and 
low moral standards in high political places should not be 
surprising. But when the citizens come more and more to 
laugh and joke about it, rather than to remove the crown of 
power and dismantle the throne, a nation is well on its way 
to moral rot, reminiscent of the fall of the Roman Empire 
and others. 

Nor should we be surprised that there is some juvenile 
delinquency where adult delinquency is so rampant, and 
where the absence of any basic moral code among adults 
precludes even the possibility of their effectively teaching a 
moral code that will prevent delinquency in the young. If, 
as adults, we practice collective thievery through the wel- 
fare state, and advocate it as right and good, how can we 
question the logic of the youths who likewise form gangs 
and rob the candy store? If demonstration is the best 

Morals and Liberty / 195 

teacher, we adults must start with the practice of morality 
ourselves, rather than hiring some presumed specialist to 
study the causes of similar conduct among the youngsters; 
their conduct is the symptom, not the disease. 

Thievery and covetousness will persist and grow, and 
the basic morals of ourselves, our children, and our chil- 
dren's children will continue to deteriorate unless we 
destroy the virus of immorality that is embedded in the 
concept of the welfare state; unless we come to understand 
how the moral code of individual conduct must apply also 
to collective conduct, because the collective is composed 
solely of individuals. Moral individual conduct cannot per- 
sist in the face of collective immorality under the welfare 
state program. One side or the other of the double standard 
of morals will have to be surrendered. 

Appendix: The Welfare State Idea 

The concept of the welfare state appears in our every- 
day life in the form of a long list of labels and programs 
such as: Social Security; parity or fair prices; reasonable 
profits; the living wage; the TVA, MVA, CVA; federal aid to 
states, to education, to bankrupt corporations; and so on. 

But all these names and details of the welfare state pro- 
gram tend only to obscure its essential nature. They are 
well-sounding labels for a laudable objective — the relief of 
distressing need, prevention of starvation, and the like. But 
how best is starvation and distress to be prevented? It is 
well, too, that prices, profits, and wages be fair and equi- 
table. But what is to be the test of fairness and equity? 
Laudable objectives alone do not assure the success of any 
program; a fair appraisal of the program must include an 
analysis of the means of its attainment. The welfare state is 

196 / F. A. Harper 

a name that has been substituted as a more acceptable one 
for communism-socialism wherever, as in the United 
States, these names are in general disrepute. 

The welfare state plan, viewed in full bloom of com- 
pleteness, is one where the state prohibits the individual 
from having any right of choice in the conditions and place 
of his work; it takes ownership of the product of his labor; 
it prohibits private property. All these are done ostensibly 
to help those whose rights have been taken over by the wel- 
fare state. 

But these characteristics of controlled employment and 
confiscation of income are not those used in promotion of 
the idea of the welfare state. What are usually advertised, 
instead, are the "benefits" of the welfare state — the grants 
of food and housing and whatnot — which the state "gives" 
to the people. But all these "benefits" are merely the other 
side of the forfeited rights to choose one's own occupation 
and to keep whatever one is able to produce. In the same 
sense that the welfare state grants benefits, the slave master 
grants to his slaves certain allotments of food and other 
economic goods. In fact, slavery might be described as just 
another form of welfare state, because of its likeness in 
restrictions and "benefits." 

Yet the state, as such, produces nothing with which to 
supply these "benefits." Persons produce everything which 
the welfare state takes, before it gives some back as "bene- 
fits"; but in the process, the bureaucracy takes its cut. Only 
by thus confiscating what persons have produced can the 
welfare state "satisfy the needs of the people." So, the nec- 
essary and essential idea of the welfare state is to control 
the economic actions of the vassals of the state, to take from 
producers what they produce, and to prevent their ever 

Morals and Liberty / 197 

being able to attain economic independence from the state 
and from their fellow men through ownership of property. 
To whatever extent an individual is still allowed free- 
dom in any of these respects while living under a govern- 
ment like the present one in the United States, then to that 
extent the development of the program of the welfare state 
is as yet not fully completed. Or perhaps it is an instance of 
a temporary grant of freedom by the welfare state such as 
when a master allows his slave a day off from work to 
sj>end as he likes; but the person who is permitted some 
freedom by the welfare state is still a vassal of that state just 
as a slave is still a slave on his day off from work. 

The Idea of Equality 
Jarret B. WoUstein 

It is doubtful if any social concept in the entire history of 
man has been more fervently championed, more fiercely 
denounced, more misunderstood, more poorly defined, or 
more misrepresented than the idea of equality. 

Many Christians proclaim all men "equal in the eyes of 
God." The United States was founded on the principle of 
"equality of rights." The basis of modem Western jurispru- 
dence is "equality before the law." The rallying cry of the 
French Revolution was "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." A 
central goal of communism and socialism is "economic 
equality." The American Civil Rights Movement seeks 
"equality of opportunity." And the modem women's 
movement champions "equal rights for women" and 
"equal pay for equal work." 

While the meaning and compatibility of this multitude 
of "equalities" is far from clear, it is obvious that they do 
not all mean the same thing. Just what does equality mean? 

What Is Equality? 

For two things to be equal means for them to be identi- 
cal in some respect. Thus if two trees are both precisely six 
feet tall, they are equal in height. If two men both earn pre- 

Mr. Wollstein is a founder of the Society for Individual Liberty and 
author of Society Without Coercion. This article is reprinted from the 
April 1980 issue of The Freeman. 


The Idea of Equality / 199 

cisely $9,500 a year, they are equal in income. And if two 
people both have the same chance of winning a lottery, they 
have (in that respect) equality of opportunity. 

However, while two things may be identical with 
respect to one or a limited number of attributes, no two 
physical objects can ever be identical with respect to all 
attributes. For example, all atoms differ in position, direc- 
tion, and history. And all human beings differ with respect 
to anatomy, biochemistry, temperament, knowledge, skills, 
goals, virtue, and a thousand other characteristics. 

Here we will primarily be concerned with three types of 

1. Political equality, a major goal of both the American 
and French revolutions, has traditionally meant equality of 
individual rights and equality of liberty. Stated simply, 
political equality means that the individual's right to life, 
liberty, and property is respected and that government 
abstains from conferring any special advantage or inflicting 
any special harm upon one individual (or group) in distinc- 
tion to another. Clearly, political equality is at best only 
approximated and never exists completely. 

2. Economic equality means in essence that people have 
the same income or total wealth. 

3. Social equality generally means either (a) equality of 
social status, (b) equality of opportunity, or (c) equality of 

p treatment. Social equality is also increasingly coming to 
mean (d) equality of achievement. 

Equality and Liberty 

A little reflection will quickly demonstrate that eco- 
nomic and social equality can only be achieved at the 
expense of political equality. Because people differ in abil- 

200 / Jarret B. Wollstein 

ity, drive, intelligence, strength, and many other attributes 
it follows that, with liberty, people also will differ in 
achievement, status, income, and wealth. A talented singer 
will command a higher income than a ditchdigger. A frugal, 
hardworking man generally will accumulate more wealth 
than an indolent spendthrift. A brilliant scientist will com- 
mand more respect than a skid row bum. 

Nor are all of these differences of social and economic 
achievement the result of environment. Because people are 
individuals — genetically, biochemically, anatomically, and 
neurologically — differences in strength, intelligence, ag- 
gressiveness, and other traits will always exist. While envi- 
ronmental factors can and do exaggerate physical and men- 
tal differences between people, diversity and non-equality 
remain the natural biological order and hence are the nat- 
ural social and economic order. 

There is only one way to make all people even approxi- 
mately economically or socially equal, and that is through 
the forcible redistribution of wealth and the legal prohibi- 
tion of social distinction. 

As Dr. Robert Nozick, of the Harvard Philosophy 
Department, has pointed out in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 
economic equality requires a continuous and unending 
series of government interventions into private transac- 
tions. Even if people's incomes are made equal once, they 
will quickly become unequal if they have the liberty to 
spend their own money. For example, many more people 
will choose to pay $10 to hear Linda Ronstadt sing than will 
pay $10 to hear me sing, and Linda Ronstadt will very 
quickly become far wealthier than I am. 

Economic equality can thus only be maintained by total- 
itarian control of people's lives, and the substitution of the 

The Idea of Equality / 201 

decisions of a handful of state authorities for the free 
choices of milHons of men and women. 

Pohtical equality is fundamentally inimical to economic 
and social equality. Free men are not economically equal, 
and economically equal men are not free. Because the 
achievement of social and economic equality inherently 
requires the forcible interference with voluntary choice, I 
will subsequently refer to the doctrine that social or eco- 
nomic equality should be imposed upon a society as coer- 
cive egalitarianism. 

Equality as an Ethical Ideal 

In reality people are unequal: Americans are — on aver- 
age — far wealthier than Russians, doctors tend to earn 
more than garbage collectors, and so on. But should people 
be unequal? 

At its root, egalitarianism is an ethical doctrine. It is 
often asserted that "ethics is just a matter of opinion" and 
that "one moral system is just as good as any other." But in 
fact any ethical code can be judged by at least three criteria: 
(1) is it logical? — have the basic concepts of the doctrine 
been meaningfully defined and are the arguments for it 
valid; (2) is it realistic? — is it a doctrine which human 
beings can live by, or does it require that people act in a 
way which is fundamentally contrary to their nature; and 
(3) is it desirable? — are the consequences of adopting the 
doctrine what are claimed, or would they be something 
entirely different; and if people adopt this doctrine will it 
lead to the creation of a society in which they are happy 
and fulfilled, or will it lead to a society of hopelessness, 
repression, and despair? 

202 / ]arret B. Wollstein 

Let us now apply these criteria to the doctrine of coer- 
cive egalitarianism. 

1. Is coercive egalitarianism logical? Egalitarianism states 
that all people should be equal, but few coercive egalitari- 
ans define "equality." 

As stated previously, complete equality between people 
is an impossibility, so it can be rejected at once. But we are 
hardly better off when we speak of social or economic 
equality. Does "economic equality" mean equal income at a 
given age, for a given job, for a certain amount of work, or 
for a particular occupation? Does "equal wealth" mean 
identical possessions, possessions of identical value, or 
something entirely different? Does "social equality" mean 
equal status, equal popularity, equal opportunity, equal 
treatment, or what? All of these concepts of economic and 
social equality are distinctly different, and until they are 
defined, the doctrine of egalitarianism is illogical. 

2. Is coercive egalitarianism realistic? People are different 
and have different values. To some happiness requires 
many material possessions, to others material ix)ssessions 
are relatively unimportant. To some people intelligence is a 
great value, to others strength or beauty are far more 
important. Because people differ both in their own charac- 
teristics and in the way in which they value traits in others, 
people will naturally discriminate in favor of some i:>ersons 
and against others. 

Since variety and distinction are natural parts of the 
human condition, by demanding that people abandon such 
distinctions, coercive egalitarianism is contrary to human 

3. Is coercive egalitarianism desirable? Coercive egalitari- 
anism, the doctrine of complete social and economic equal- 
ity of human beings, logically implies a world of identical. 

The Idea of Equality / 203 

faceless, interchangeable p)eople. Such a world sounds 
much more like a nightmare than a dream, and indeed it is. 

Perhaps no nation on earth has come closer to complete 
economic and social equality than Pol Pot'c Cambodia. 
Under Pol Pot's regime entire populations were forcibly 
marched out of cities and everyone, regardless of age, sex, 
skills, or previous social status, was forced to labor with 
primitive agricultural implements on collective farms. In 
Pol Pot's Cambodia, everyone had to think, work, and 
believe the same; dissenters were killed on the spot. 

In northern Cambodia stands the remains of one of Pol 
Pof s "model villages." The houses are neat, clean, and 
completely identical. Nearby sits a mass open grave with 
hundreds of human skeletons — the pitiful remains of those 
who displayed the slightest individuality. The village and 
mass grave are a fitting symbol of the fruits of coercive 

While coercive egalitarianism masquerades as an ethi- 
cal doctrine, in fact it is the opposite. Ethics presumes that 
one can make a distinction between right and wrong for 
human beings. But coercive egalitarianism demands that 
we treat people equally, regardless of their differences, 
including differences in virtue. To demand that virtuous 
and villainous i:>eople — for example, Thomas Edison and 
Charles Manson — be treated equally, is to make ethical dis- 
tinction impossible in principle. 

In summary, coercive egalitarianism is illogical because 
it never defines precisely what "equality" consists of; it is 
uiuiealistic because it requires that we deny our values; and 
it is undesirable because it ultimately requires a society of 
human insects. 

While coercive egalitarianism fails as an ethical doc- 
trine, many contentions based upon coercive egalitarianism 

204 / Jarret B. Wollstein 

nevertheless remain emotionally compelling to many peo- 
ple. Let us now examine some of those contentions. 

Myths of Egalitarianism 

1. Social and economic inequality are a result of coercion, an 
accident of birth, or unfair advantage. Let us consider these 
contentions one at a time. 

It is certainly true that some inequality is a result of coer- 
cion in such forms as conquest, theft, confiscatory taxes or 
political power. But it is hardly true that all inequality is a 
result of coercion. A person can, after all, become wealthy 
or popular because he or she is highly talented or extremely 
inventive, and talent and invention coerce no one. 

Being born wealthy certainly constitutes an advantage, 
but hardly an insurmountable or unfair one. Sociological 
studies in the United States and Eurof>e show tremendous 
mobility between lower, middle, and upper classes, despite 
advantages and disadvantages of birth. Except for all but 
the greatest fortunes, one's parents' wealth and success are 
no guarantee of one's own wealth or success. And there is 
nothing immoral about helping out one's own children as 
much as possible. Such aid takes away nothing to which 
anyone else is entitled. 

Last, there is the argument that being bom with below- 
average intelligence, or strength, or attractiveness consti- 
tutes an "unfair disadvantage." Here egalitarianism reveals 
itself to be (in the words of Dr. Murray Rothbard) "a revolt 
against nature." We can either act rationally and rejoice in 
our diversity and make the most of the abilities we do have, 
or we can damn nature and hate everyone who is in any 
way better than we are and attempt to drag them down to 
our level. I leave it to you which is the more rational and 
humane policy. 

The Idea of Equality / 205 

2. If people would only share the world's bounty equally, there 
would be enough for everyone, and no one need starve or be seri- 
ously deprived. This contention is based upon two false 
assumptions: (a) that wealth is a natural resource, so one 
person's gain is another's loss; and (b) that if the world's 
wealth were equally redistributed it would remain con- 

Wealth in fact is a product of human productivity and 
invention. Some people are poor not because others are 
wealthy, but because the poor are insufficiently productive 
(often because of authoritarian political systems). 

Any attempt to redistribute the world's wealth by force 
would also greatly diminish the total wealth in existence 
for at least three reasons: (a) large-scale redistribution 
would disrupt the world's productive machinery, (b) con- 
fiscation of wealth would destroy the incentive to produce 
more (why bother producing if it's going to be taken from 
you anyway), and (c) the process of redistribution would 
require an enormously costly and essentially parasitic 
bureaucracy. (Not to mention losses from shooting people 
who resist, and starvation from bureaucratic inefficiency 
and mistakes.) 

The cure for poverty is more productivity, less state eco- 
nomic intervention, and an end to barriers to trade. The 
cure is not redistribution of wealth. 

3. It is better that everyone be poor than for some to have more 
than others. Better for whom? For the middle class and 
wealthy stripped of their property? For the poor robbed of 
the possibility of ever improving their lot? 

The production and accumulation of wealth is the 
benchmark of human progress. Wealth in the form of better 
communications systems, environmental control, pest con- 
trol, improved transportation, better medical care, more 
durable and attractive clothing, more comfortable housing. 

206 / Jarret B. Wollstein 

and so on, ad infinitum, improves the quality and increases 
the quantity of human life and makes possible leisure, sci- 
ence, and art. To attack wealth is to attack an essential con- 
dition for the achievement of virtually every human value 
from the fulfillment of physiological needs, to safety, to the 
pursuit of beauty and truth. 

This argument reveals the ultimate and ugly motive of 
many egalitarians: A hatred of human ability per se. By that 
hatred they betray their human heritage and would con- 
demn men to exist at the level of barbarians. 

Free and Unequal vs. Coercive Egalitarianism 

Equality of rights and equality under the law are pre- 
conditions for any just and humane society. But such polit- 
ical equality is the very antithesis of coercive egalitarian- 

Coercive egalitarianism asserts that people ought to be 
made equal hy force, and that ability and virtue should be 
ignored or punished to bring all people down to the lowest 
common denominator. 

The disabilities of others should evoke our compassion. 
But those disabilities do not justify the forced looting of the 
productive or the obliteration of liberty in the name of some 
undefined concept of equality. 

The natural order of human society is diversity, variety, 
and inequality. The fruits of that natural order are progress, 
productivity, and invention. In the final analysis, virtue and 
compassion can only flourish in a world of men and 
women free and unequal. 

Justice and Freedom 
Leslie Snyder 

The administration of a republic is supposed to be 
directed by certain fundamental principles of right and 
justice, from which there cannot, because there ought not 
to, be any deviation; and whenever any deviation 
appears, there is a kind of stepping out of the republican 
principle, and an approach toward the despotic one. 

— Thomas Paine 

Justice is the only foundation upon which a society of 
free and independent people can exist. Justice is a concrete, 
recognizable, and objective principle. It is not a matter of 

In our day and age the word justice is rarely used in 
political and economic discussions. The entire reason for 
the existence of communities, laws, governments, and 
court systems has been forgotten. But if life and property 
are to be protected and secured, which is the purpose of 
society, then justice must be the rule. To quote Paine 
again, "A republic, properly understood, is a sovereignty 
of justice." 

According to a 1931 Webster's dictionary, justice is the 

This article, which appeared in the March 1980 issue of The Free- 
man, is excerpted from Ms. Snyder's book Justice or Revolution (1979). 


208 / Leslie Snyder 

"quality of being just; impartiality." Just is "conforming to 
right; normal; equitable." A 1961 Webster's dictionary says 
justice is "The principle of rectitude and just dealings of 
men with each other — one of the cardinal virtues. Adminis- 
tration of law. . ." A 1975 edition of a Grolier Webster dic- 
tionary says justice is "Equitableness; what is rightly due; 
lawfulness. . . ." 

Since 1931 a new meaning of the word justice has been 
added, that of lawfulness, which is not only erroneous, but 
deceitful and misleading. Justice is not based on law; rather, 
law ought to be based on justice. It is only common sense, 
for men lived and worked together before laws were 
formed. Generally laws are passed to formalize what has 
preceded under common practice, what has stood the test 
of time as being just and equitable. Laws are common prac- 
tice put down in black and white for all to see and know. 

The ancient philosophers said that justice is speaking 
the truth and paying your debts, giving to each man what 
is proper to him, doing good to friends and evil to enemies. 
Therefore, there must be something more basic, more fun- 
damental than laws on which to found justice. In fact, the 
French jurist Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755) ably con- 
tended that "before laws were made, there were relations of 
possible justice. To say that there is nothing just or unjust 
but what is commanded or forbidden by positive laws, is 
the same as saying that before the describing of a circle all 
the radii were not equal." 

Minding One's Own Business 

The Greek philosophers had the simplest definition of 
justice. To Plato (c. 428-348 B.C.), in Tfie Republic, Book IV, 
justice is simply "doing one's own business, aind not being 

]ustice and Freedom / 209 

a busybody. ... A man may neither take what is another's, 

nor be deprived of what is his own This is the ultimate 

cause and condition of the existence of all" other virtues in 
the state, "and while remaining in them is also their preser- 

In Book XII of Plato's Laws, the conclusion is drawn that 
"by the relaxation of that justice which is the uniting princi- 
ple of all constitutions, every power in the state is rent 
asunder from every other." In other words, without justice 
the threads of society unravel and society disintegrates into 

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) in Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, 
gives greater perception to what justice is. It "is found 
among men who share their life with a view to self-suffi- 
ciency, men who are free. . . . Therefore ywsf/ce is essentially 
something human/' (Emphasis added.) In other words, free 
men may choose to be just or unjust. Justice, as an ethical 
term, is voluntary; "... a man acts unjustly or justly when- 
ever he does such acts voluntarily" When wrong is done 
and done voluntarily, it then becomes an act of injustice. In 
short, "All virtue is summed up in dealing justly," said 

More concretely, Aristotle claims, in Rhetoric, Book I, 
"Justice is the virtue through which everybody enjoys his 
own possessions in accordance with the law; its opposite is 
injustice, through which men enjoy the possessions of oth- 
ers in defiance of the law." There is the problem of using the 
law to legalize theft and to redistribute the property of one 
group to another group, but for the time being, we must 
assume Aristotle means the use of laws that are rightful and 
just. For when he says "justice has been acknowledged by 
us to be a social virtue, and it implies all others," he has laid 
the foundation of a just societ}^ 

210 / Leslie Snyder 

Furthermore, Aristotle maintains that "legal justice is 
the discrimination of the just and the unjust." And, "Of 
political justice part is natural, part legal — ^natural, that 
which everywhere has the same force and does not exist by 
people's thinking this or that." Natural justice must pre- 
cede law and form the basis of law thereon. 

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), in his Essays, elo- 
quently said: "The justice which in itself is natural and uni- 
versal, is otherwise and more nobly ordered, than that 
other justice, which is special, national, and constrained to 
the ends of government." He continues, "There cannot a 
worse state of things be imagined, than where wickedness 
comes to be legitimate, and assumes with the magistrate's 
permission, the cloak of virtue. . . . The extremest sort of 
injustice, according to Plato, is where that which is unjust, 
should be reputed for just." 

Hobbes on Natural Justice 

In Thomas Hobbes' (1588-1679) Leviathan, further 
ground is laid on which to base natural justice. The names 
just and unjust, says Hobbes, when they are attributed to 
men's actions, signify conformity or nonconformity to rea- 
son. Therefore, "Justice ... is a rule of reason by which we 
are forbidden to do anything destructive to our life, cind 
consequently a law of nature." 

Then Hobbes leads beautifully into the virtue of just 
actions: "That which gives to human actions the relish of 
justice is a certain nobleness or gallantness of courage, 
rarely found, by which a man scorns to be beholding for the 
contentment of his life to fraud, or breach of promise. This 

Justice and Freedom / 211 

justice of the manners is that which is meant where justice 
is called a virtue; and injustice, a vice." 

Earlier it was established that justice is the social virtue 
on which a just society is constructed. Hobbes adds to this 
not only by tying virtues to the laws of nature, but to moral 
philosophy as well. "Now the science of virtue and vice is 
moral philosophy; and therefore the true doctrine of the 
laws of nature is the true moral philosophy. . . . For moral 
philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good 
and evil in the conversation and society of mankind." 
Thus, Hobbes establishes the fact that a just society is a 
moral society. 

Saint Augustine (354-^30) in The City of God, Book XIX, 
declares "Where, therefore, there is no true justice there can 
be no right. For that which is done right is justly done, and 
what is unjustly done cannot be done by right." Hence, jus- 
tice precedes "rights." 

Joseph Joubert eloquently phrased justice as truth in 

Since practicing the virtue of justice is voluntary, man 
ought to have the courage to stand up and fight for what is 
right and against what is wrong. Cato the Younger said it 
this way: "... a man has it in his power to be just, if he have 
but the will to be so, and therefore injustice is thought the 
most dishonorable because it is least excusable." 

Another way to consider what justice is, is to compare it 
with injustice. For example, in Utilitarianism, John Stuart 
Mill (1806-1873) states that "... it is just to respect, unjust 
to violate, the legal rights of any one." Second, "... injustice 
consists in taking or withholding from any person that to 
which he has a moral right." Third, "It is universally consid- 
ered just that each person should obtain that (whether good 

212 / Leslie Snyder 

or evil) which he deserves." Fourth, "It is confessedly unjust 
to break faith with any one: to violate an engagement, 
either expressed or implied. . . ." Fifth, "It is, by universal 
admission, inconsistent with justice to be partial." 

A Moral Issue 

Mill, too, sees justice as a moral issue. He concludes: 
"Whether the injustice consists in depriving a person of a 
possession, or in breaking faith with him, or in treating him 
worse than he deserves, or worse than other people who 
have no greater claims, in each case the supposition implies 
two things — a wrong done, and some assignable person 
who is wronged. Injustice may also be done by treating a 
person better than others; but the wrong in this case is to his 
competitors, who are also assignable persons. . . . Justice 
implies something which it is not only right to do, and 
wrong not to do, but which some individual person can 
claim from us as his moral right." 

Thomas Paine's Dissertations speak about justice where 
the public good is concerned. He maintains that, "The foun- 
dation-principle of public good is justice, and wherever jus- 
tice is impartially administered, the public good is pro- 
moted; for as it is to the good of every man that no injustice 
be done to him, so likewise it is to his good that the princi- 
ple which secures him should not be violated in the person 
of another, because such a violation weakens his security, 
and leaves to chance what ought to be to him a rock to 
stand on." 

The great American constitutional lawyer of the nine- 
teenth century, Lysander Spooner, wrote a pamphlet enti- 
tled: Natural Law, or The Science of Justice, which succinctly 
summarizes what justice is: 

Justice and Freedom / 213 

The science of mine and thine — the science of jus- 
tice — is the science of all human rights; of all a man's 
rights of person and property; of all his rights to life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

It is the science which alone can tell any man 
what he can, and cannot, do; what he can, and can- 
not, have; what he can, and cannot, say, without 
infringing the rights of any other person. 

It is the science of peace; and the only science of 
peace; since it is the science which alone can tell us 
on what conditions mankind can live in peace, or 
ought to live in peace, with each other. 

These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that 
each man shall do, towards every other, all that jus- 
tice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall 
pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen 
property to its owner, and that he shall make repara- 
tion for any injury he may have done to the person 
or property of another. 

The second condition is, that each man shall 
abstain from doing to another, anything which jus- 
tice forbids him to do; as, for example, that he shall 
abstain from committing theft, robbery, arson, mur- 
der, or any other crime against the person or prop- 
erty of another. 

So long as these conditions are fulfilled men are 
at peace, and ought to remain at peace, with each 
other. But when either of these conditions is vio- 
lated, men are at war. And they must necessarily 
remain at war until justice is re-established. 

Through all time, so far as history informs us, 
wherever mankind have attempted to live in peace 
with each other, both the natural instincts, and the 

214 / Leslie Snyder 

collective wisdom of the human race, have acknowl- 
edged and prescribed, as an indispensable condi- 
tion, obedience to this one only universal obligation: 
viz., that each should live honestly towards every 

The ancient maxim makes the sum of man's legal 
duty to his fellow men to be simply this: "To live hon- 
estly, to hurt no one, to give to every one his due. ..." 

Never has such a complex subject as justice been treated 
so clearly and simply. To summarize justice thus far: Justice 
means that each must be accountable for his own actions, 
entitled to the reward of his labor, and responsible for the 
consequences of his wrongdoings. 

The love of justice should be instilled in every man, 
woman, and child — all should wish to see justice done. For 
without justice the rule of men (dictatorship), not of law, 
assumes power. Without justice, society disintegrates into 
barbarism, where courts of law are administered by favor 
and pull instead of objective law, and without objective 
laws, the individual is at the mercy of the ruling power and 
its agents. The ancient atrocities return, such as no trial by 
jury, confiscatory taxes on life and property, the purchasing 
of judges, legislators, and sheriffs; all previous forms of the 
prior administration of justice become part of the current 
machinery which administers not justice, but injustice or 

In short, all that is good rests on justice. Where there is 
no justice, there is no morality — no right or wrong — any- 
thing goes and usually does. Justice is a social virtue to be 
practiced by individuals. Justice demands that the individ- 
ual reward or recognize good and condemn evil. To prac- 

Justice and Freedom / 215 

tice justice one should know a man for what he is and treat 
him accordingly, whether he be honest, dishonest, friend, 
or thief. The good should be rewarded, the bad punished. 

The Highest Goal 

Society cannot place before it a higher or nobler goal 
than the administration of justice. Thus, here is a bit of 
advice from Conversations with Goethe, March 22, 1825: "A 
great deal may be done by severity, more by love, but most 
by clear discernment and impartial justice." 

Once the meaning of justice has been established, next 
comes the understanding of freedom and liberty, which are 
crucial because only under freedom can the individual 
achieve his highest potential and pursue his happiness. 

To speak of liberty and freedom is to speak first of nat- 
ural laws or the right of nature. Hobbes lays an excellent 
foundation of natural laws or rights. He affirms that the 
right of nature is the liberty each man has to use his own 
power for the preservation of his own life, and his own 
judgment and reason are the best means for achieving it. 

The first law of nature, according to Jean Jacques 
Rousseau (1712-1778), results from man's nature. "His first 
law is to provide for his own preservation, his first cares are 
those which he owes to himself; and, as soon as he reaches 
years of discretion, he is the sole judge of the proper means 
of preserving himself. . . ." 

Therefore, if man's first obligation is to provide for his 
own life, he must live under the proper conditions in which 
to sustain his life, namely, liberty. By liberty is understood 
the absence of external impediments, the absence of oppo- 

216 / Leslie Snyder 
Liberty Benefits All 

In The Constitution of Liberty, Nobel-Prize winner 
Friedrich A. Hayek points out that liberty is a negative con- 
cept like peace. "It becomes positive only through what we 
make of it. It does not assure us of any particular opportu- 
nities, but leaves it to us to decide what use we shall make 
of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. . . ." He 
continues, "Liberty not only means that the individual has 
both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also 
means that he must bear the consequences of his actions 
and will receive praise or blame for them. Liberty and 
responsibility are inseparable." (Emphasis added.) 

To expound further. Mill explains that one cannot take 
away another's freedom no matter how sincerely one tries 
to protect another Only by our own hands can any positive 
and lasting improvement in our lives be worked out. And 
through "the influence of these two principles all free com- 
munities have both been more exempt from social injustice 
and crime, and have attained more brilliant prosperity, than 
any others. . . ." 

Further, "... any restriction on liberty reduces the num- 
ber of things tried and so reduces the rate of progress. In 
such a society freedom of action is granted to the individ- 
ual, not because it gives him greater satisfaction but 
because if allowed to go his own way he will on the average 
serve the rest of us better than any orders we know how to 

In short, liberty is the only object which benefits all alike 
and should provoke no sincere opposition. Liberty "is not a 
means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest polit- 
ical end," says Lord Acton. It is required for security in the 
pursuit of the highest objects of private life and civil society. 

Justice and Freedom / 217 
Morality Requires Freedom 

If liberty is to live upon one's own terms and slavery is 
to live at the mercy of another's, then it follows that to live 
under one's own terms means the individual has a choice 
of actions. He can be virtuous or not; he can be moral. 
Therefore, morality requires freedom. Thus, only free men 
can be just men! 

In his The Road to Serfdom, Hayek ties liberty to morality. 
Since morals are of necessity a phenomenon of individual 
conduct, to be moral one must be free to make choices. 
Where man is forced to act by coercion, the ability to choose 
has been preempted. Only under liberty and freedom can 
man be moral. As a result, only "where we ourselves are 
responsible for our own interests . . . has our decision moral 
value. Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere 
where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and 
responsibility for the arrangement of our own life accord- 
ing to our own conscience, is the air in which alone moral 
sense grows and in which moral values are daily recreated 
in the free decision of the individual. Responsibility, not to 
a superior, but to one's conscience, the awareness of a duty 
not exacted by compulsion . . . and to bear the consequences 
of one's own decision, are the very essence of any morals 
which deserve the name." 

The facts have been established thus far that man must 
live under liberty to become as productive, as noble, and as 
just as he can, since liberty is the condition under which 
morality thrives. Also, only the individual knows what is 
best for himself. And finally liberty does not provide 
opportunities, but leaves the individual free to choose 
those actions which he thinks will best suit him and to bear 
the consequences of those actions. 

218 / Leslie Snyder 
The Price of Freedom 

There is one more thing to consider about freedom and 
liberty — the price. Tocqueville remarked, "Some abandon 
freedom thinking it dangerous, others thinking it impossi- 
ble." But there is a third reason. Some abandon freedom 
thinking it too expensive. Freedom is not free. "Those who 
expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, 
undergo the fatigues of supporting it," noted Paine. 

"Freedom is the most exacting form of civil govern- 
ment — it is, in fact, the most demanding state of all for man. 
That is because freedom demands — depends upon — self- 
discipline from both the governed and the governing. The 
foundation of freedom is self-government and the founda- 
tion of self-government is self-control," explains author 
Rus Walton, of One Nation Under God. Freedom requires 
more, however. It requires a strong and vigilant defense. 
"The greater the threat of evil, the stronger that defense 
must be. That which is right does not survive unattended; 
it, too, must have its defenders. . . ." 

Is liberty worth the effort? According to Frederic Bastiat, 
all you have to do is look at the entire world to decide. That 
is, which "countries contain the most peaceful, the most 
moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found in 
the countries where the law least interferes with private 
affairs; where government is least felt; where the individual 
has the greatest scope, and free opinion the greatest influ- 
ence; where administrative powers are fewest and sim- 
plest; where taxes are lightest and most nearly equal, and 
popular discontent the least excited and the least justifiable; 
where individuals and groups most actively assume their 
responsibilities, and, consequently, where the morals of . . . 
human beings are constantly improving; where trade. 

Justice and Freedom / 219 

assemblies, and associations are the least restricted; 
where mankind most nearly follow its own natural inclina- 
tions; ... in short, the happiest, most moral, and most 
peaceful people are those who most nearly follow this prin- 
ciple: although mankind is not perfect, still, all hope rests 
upon the free and voluntary actions of persons within the 
limits of right; law or force is to be used for nothing except 
the administration of universal justice." 

What this means to us today is that our society, so filled 
with government regulations and laws, has taken away 
many of our liberties. For example, we cannot go into some 
businesses without being licensed, taxed, and regulated. 
We are presumed guilty (of dishonesty) until proven inno- 
cent (which is impossible). Our reputations are continually 
under attack and, for the most part, stand for nothing. Hon- 
esty and integrity, once the backbone of our society, have 
been replaced by government regulations and promises. 
Under this system of injustice all of us are losing our liber- 
ties, wealth, and happiness. 

What better way to summarize the spirit of liberty and 
freedom and justice than to quote Tocqueville, who said, "I 
should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the 
time in which we live I am ready to worship it." 

On Liberty and Liberation 
Bruce D. Porter 

For at least half a century now the word liberty has been 
declining in popular usage and the word liberation has 
been advancing. Today in the United States the word lib- 
erty has all but disappeared from public discourse, while 
liberation has become a fashionable term, enthusiastically 
invoked in political oratory, in everyday conversation, and 
in respected works of scholarship. 

This is not a mere case of linguistic drift. The decline of 
liberty and the rise of liberation reveal the extent to which 
doctrinal myths and political folly have come to dominate 
our age. Americans are forgetting the meaning of liberty in 
pursuit of a phantom liberation. Over two centuries ago at 
Buckinghamshire Edmund Burke observed that, "The peo- 
ple never give up their liberties but under some delusion." 
With mad abandon contemporary Americans are jettison- 
ing many of their once-cherished freedoms and values as 
they seek an impossible form of liberation — from moral 
restraints, self-discipline, responsibility, work, necessity, 
competition, struggle, inequality, natural law, and the con- 
sequences of their own behavior. It is a senseless, tragic 
course which can lead only to subservience, dependency, 
and decadence. It is a delusion. 

An imperative prerequisite to our survival as a free 

This article appeared in the April 1980 issue of The Freeman. At the 
time he wrote it, Dr. Porter was a Research Fellow of Harvard Univer- 
sity's Center for International Affairs. 


On Liberty and Liberation / 111 

nation is that we recapture — in our hearts and minds, as 
well as in our politics — an understanding of the true nature 
of liberty. A love of liberty and a clear comprehension of the 
foundations upon which it rests will quickly dispel every 
attraction of the false ideologies of liberation. 

Liberty is a divine gift, one of the most priceless of 
God's bequests to man, and the natural, inalienable right of 
every person who enters the world. In simplest terms lib- 
erty may be defined as the freedom of the individual to 
shape his own destiny and to govern his own affairs. Of 
necessity this implies the freedom to choose one's associa- 
tions, loyalties, beliefs, opportunities, and economic rela- 
tionships, as well as the freedom to exercise control over the 
fruits of one's own labors. 

Though liberty is God-given, mortal efforts are required 
to sustain and preserve it. Human institutions do not grant 
liberty, but they often usurp it. Individuals are born free, 
but they can willfully sell, abandon, or reject that birthright. 
For these reasons, liberty is never free. When not defended, 
it will not survive; when not exercised, it will atrophy. 

Essentials of Liberty 

Liberty can only endure when certain conditions are 
met. First, there must be an absence of coercive actions 
intended to impede the free exercise of will or to rob indi- 
viduals of their labors and investments. Coercive force is 
justified only when it is imperative to the defense of liberty, 
i.e., when exerted to prevent a yet greater coercive act. 
Criminals and tyrants of every form stand ready to destroy 
human freedom, to rob the property of others, to impose 
their will upon whole societies. Their influence must be 
checked if liberty is to prosper. 

222 / Bruce D. Porter 

A second necessary condition for the survival of liberty 
is that individuals possess and are free to acquire the posi- 
tive means needed to pursue rational ends. These means 
include material resources, talent, initiative, knowledge, 
energy, discipline, and a love of progress and freedom. Lib- 
erty does not consist of undirected, impotent, and senseless 
expressions of the human will; rather, it thrives as the indi- 
vidual acquires power to act and to focus his efforts in 
meaningful directions. Liberty requires power — not power 
over others, but power to effect personal progress, to 
change one's circumstances for the better. 

Thirdly, the preservation of liberty requires that individ- 
uals manifest moral commitment and self-restraint in the 
choice and pursuit of their goals. Liberty means the absence 
of coercive restraints, but it does not mean the absence of all 
restraints. We cannot escape the consequences of our own 
behavior The unrestrained pursuit of power means 
enslavement to ambition, the unrestrained pursuit of 
wealth means enslavement to avarice, the unrestrained 
pursuit of pleasure means enslavement to passions. 

Without moral limits liberty degenerates into license 
and license turns inevitably toward destructive ends. The 
moral authority which sets limits on the scope of an indi- 
vidual's actions must flow from within him, the product of 
conscience and reason; when imposed by a higher author- 
ity, however well-intentioned, moral laws are transformed 
into instruments of coercion and domination. 

A Constitutional Structure 

Keeping these conditions in mind, it is instructive to 
inquire into the kind of social structure which will foster 
liberty. In order to insure the first condition of liberty, a con- 

On Liberty and Liberation / 223 

stitutional and legal framework must be erected and 
upheld, its principal end being to guard against all coercive 
challenges to f>ersonal liberty — whether from individuals, 
institutions, foreign armies, or from the state itself. 

The threat to liberty of the state itself should be empha- 
sized, for unless such a constitutional system is strictly self- 
limiting its administrative apparatus will grow in size and 
power until it comes to dominate the entire society accord- 
ing to its own vested interests. Consensus and consent are 
fundamental to the establishment and operation of a free 
government, but the goal sought is not so much "govern- 
ment of the people" — for this can imply that majorities 
deserve coercive power — ^as a government of laws, adminis- 
tered as impersonally and fairly as possible. 

By itself alone a constitutionally limited government 
will never suffice to insure the survival of human liberty. 
This is because government cannot bring about the second 
and third conditions of liberty discussed above — the power 
and means necessary for positive action and the moral lim- 
its within which liberty operates. Government can be an 
arbiter, but it can never be a provider. It can enforce protec- 
tive laws, but it cannot produce virtuous people or act as a 
higher moral authority. 

A cycle of futility results whenever the state attempts to 
provide the resources and human energy necessary for 
progress. Every resource a government provides to the 
individuals in a society must first be taken from those indi- 
viduals. Because the process of injecting them back into the 
society will always incur a net loss, the result over time 
will be economic stagnation, declining initiative in society 
as a whole, depletion of real resources, debasement of cur- 
rency, decline in productive capital, and the disintegration 
of social cohesiveness. The end of this cycle of futility is the 

224 / Bruce D. Porter 

dependency of the people on the government and the 
death of liberty. Liberty is certain to perish in any society 
which relies solely on government to create the conditions 
of liberty. 

No matter how carefully structured and well-defined 
are the legal rights, checks, and balances of a constitutional 
system, this cycle of futility will at some point ensue unless 
the citizens of the commonwealth possess a strong spirit of 
independence and self-reliance, and the moral sensibilities 
to recognize true liberty when they see it. When the moral 
will and independence of the majority of a p>opulation 
decline, the checks and balances of any system will erode. 
No constitutional system can long endure if its legislators 
are not devoted to higher principles, if its judiciary is cor- 
rupt, if its administrators do not place integrity above all 
other qualities. 

Moral Foundations 

The constitutional framework of liberty must rest upon 
a firm foundation: the love of independence in the hearts of 
a people, their moral commitment, and the vast human and 
material resources which they possess and independently 
control. The institutions which transmit this foundation 
from generation to generation are almost all private: fami- 
lies, churches, corporations, firms, associations, publishers, 
newspapers, and the like. (Schools can also play a key role 
if they are under the control of those who pay for them, 
rather than under the central government.) Standing inde- 
pendent from the state, these institutions are the founda- 
tions of a society's liberty. If the state encroaches upon their 
domain and subsumes their functions, liberty declines. But 
so long as a people cherish the moral and material 

On Liberty and Liberation / 225 

resources which give them the power to be independent 
and so long as the state is a strictly limited constitutional 
government of laws, liberty will prosper. 

The increasingly difficult and unfortunate circum- 
stances in which America finds itself today may be traced 
in large part to a general decline in liberty. Genuine free- 
dom continues to diminish even as large numbers of Amer- 
icans are seduced by the muddle-headed mythology of lib- 
eration, believing that it will somehow make them freer. 
Quite the opposite consequence will result, for the doctrine 
and practice of liberation constitute a direct assault on the 
conditions and structure of liberty. 

In order to discern the destructive potential underlying 
the multitude of contemporary theories and programs 
advocating liberation, it suffices simply to ask: liberation 
from what? We learn, to begin with, that we are to be liber- 
ated from "artificial" self-restraints and moral limits — from 
the third condition of liberty discussed above. 

Proponents of liberation preach that freedom is an unre- 
strained, limitless, spontaneous expression of the human 
will, ignoring the reality that meaningful progress can only 
be made when disciplined efforts are rationally directed. 
Liberty is not a bundle of whims and passions. In order to 
promote this doctrine it is necessary to attack all the tradi- 
tional and independent sources of morality: religion, family, 
private property, private schools, local control of education, 
corporate independence, and so forth. In this manner liber- 
ation seeks to undermine the very foundation of liberty. 

''Effortless Abundance" 

This is only the beginning. We are also to be liberated 
from work, want, necessity, and struggle. Thus, liberation 

226 / Bruce D. Porter 

ignores the second condition of liberty: that individuals 
must possess and acquire the positive instruments of action 
in order to be free. The assumption is that freedom — the 
power to act, choose, and progress — can somehow exist 
without effort and investment. 

In the pursuit of this chimera goal of an effortless world 
of abundance for all, the advocates of liberation seek natu- 
rally to use the coercive power of the state in order to 
extract resources from others. In this manner liberation 
becomes a predatory doctrine which can only accomplish 
its ends by dismantling the constitutional checks of limited 
government and replacing it with an all-powerful bureau- 
cracy devoted to central planning, income redistribution, 
economic dictatorship, and totalitarian control over indi- 
vidual lives. And thus perishes the first condition of lib- 
erty — the absence of coercive power. 

Liberation is a delusion which cannot lead to real free- 
dom because it is based on principles and values funda- 
mentally contradictory to true liberty. The consequences of 
the decline of liberty and the rise of liberation in America 
have never been described more eloquently than by 
William Simon: 

There has never been such freedom before in Amer- 
ica to speak freely ... to publish anything and every- 
thing, including the most scurrilous gossip; to take 
drugs and to prate to children about their alleged 
pleasures; to propagandize for bizarre sexual prac- 
tices: to watch bloody and obscene entertainment. 
Conversely, compulsion rules the world of work. 
There has never been so little freedom in America to 
plan, to save, to invest, to build, to produce, to 
invent, to hire, to fire, to resist coercive unionization. 

On Liberty and Liberation / 227 

to exchange goods and services, to risk, to profit, to 

. . . Americans are constitutionally free today to 
do almost everything that our cultural tradition has 
previously held to be immoral and obscene, while 
the police powers of the state are being invoked 
against almost every aspect of the productive 

It is not difficult to discern the logical end of this trend: 
America will be liberated of its liberty. 

Prior to the American Revolution the world was 
imbued with the notion that liberty was dangerous and 
irresponsible, that its establishment could lead only to 
anarchy, indolence, and the breakdown of society. The birth 
of the American republic and the astonishing release of 
human energy and productivity which resulted shattered 
this myth forever. America was both free and stable; it pos- 
sessed both liberty and order. 

The liberty of America became the cherished ideal of 
oppressed peoples everywhere. Liberty suddenly acquired 
a respectable name. Never thereafter was it possible for the 
enemies of freedom to attack it frontally. The most bitter 
opponents of genuine liberty came to portray their policies, 
programs, and ideologies as pathways to freedom. 

Instead of liberty, however, the favorite watchword 
became liberation. Under this banner march the tyrannies 
of our time, from Soviet Russia with its wars of national lib- 
eration to the kaleidoscope of coercive political programs in 
America which invoke the mirage of liberation. The twenti- 
eth century has been a century of liberation — of a war on 
freedom fought in the name of freedom. 

The irony of America's present course is that in the 

228 / Bruce D. Porter 

name of freedom from restraints, every source of indepen- 
dent power and morality is being undermined; in the name 
of freedom from work, want, and scarcity, the constitu- 
tional framework of liberty is being dismantled, attacked, 
and perverted past recognition. Beyond the irony stands 
the very real tragedy that in the name of freedom we are 
being led inexorably toward oppression and slavery. 

1. William Simon, A Time for Truth (New York: Berkely Press edi- 
tion, 1979), p. 251. 

The Case for Economic Freedom 
Benjamin A. Rogge 

My economic philosophy is here offered with full 
knowledge that it is not generally accepted as the right one. 
On the contrary, my brand of economics has now become 
Brand X, the one that is never selected as the whitest by the 
housewife, the one that is said to be slow acting, the one 
that contains no miracle ingredient. It loses nine times out 
of ten in the popularity polls run on Election Day, and, in 
most elections, it doesn't even present a candidate. 

I shall identify my brand of economics as that of eco- 
nomic freedom, and I shall define economic freedom as 
that set of economic arrangements that would exist in a 
society in which the government's only function would be 
to prevent one man from using force or fraud against 
another — including within this, of course, the task of 
national defense. So that there can be no misunderstanding 
here, let me say that this is pure, uncompromising laissez- 
faire economics. It is not the mixed economy; it is the 
unmixed economy. 

I readily admit that 1 do not expect to see such an econ- 
omy in my lifetime or in anyone's lifetime in the infinity of 
years ahead of us. 1 present it rather as the ideal we should 
strive for and should be disappointed in never fully 

Dr. Rogge (1920-1980) was Dean and Professor of Economics at 
Wabash College in Indiana and a long-time trustee of FEE. This essay 
appeared in the February 1981 issue of The Freeman. 


230 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

Where do we find the most powerful and persuasive 
case for economic freedom? I don't know; probably it has- 
n't been prepared as yet. Certainly it is unlikely that the 
case I present is the definitive one. However, it is the one 
that is persuasive with me, that leads me to my own deep 
commitment to the free market. I present it as grist for your 
own mill and not as the divinely inspired last word on the j 

The Moral Case 

You will note as I develop my case that I attach rela- 
tively little importance to the demonstrated efficiency of 
the free-market system in promoting economic growth, in 
raising levels of living. In fact, my central thesis is that the 
most important part of the case for economic freedom is not its 
vaunted efficiency as a system for organizing resources, not its 
dramatic success in promoting economic growth, but rather its 
consistency with certain fundamental moral principles of life 
itself \ 

I say, "the most important part of the case" for two rea- 
sons. First, the significance I attach to those moral princi- 
ples would lead me to prefer the free enterprise system 
even if it were demonstrably less efficient than alternative 
systems, even if it were to produce a slower rate of economic 
growth than systems of central direction and control. Sec- 
ond, the great mass of the people of any country is never 
really going to understand the purely economic workings 
of any economic system, be it free enterprise or socialism. 
Hence, most people are going to judge an economic system 
by its consistency with their moral principles rather than by 
its purely scientific operating characteristics. If economic 
freedom survives in the years ahead, it will be only because 

The Case for Economic Freedom / 231 

a majority of the people accept its basic morality. The suc- 
cess of the system in bringing ever higher levels of living 
will be no more persuasive in the future than it has been in 
the past. Let me illustrate. 

The doctrine of man held in general in nineteenth-cen- 
tury America argued that each man was ultimately respon- 
sible for what happened to him, for his own salvation, both 
in the here and now and in the hereafter. Thus, whether a 
man prospered or failed in economic life was each man's 
individual responsibility: each man had a right to the 
rewards for success amd, in the same sense, deserved the 
punishment that came with failure. It followed as well that 
it is explicitly immoral to use the power of government to 
take from one man to give to another, to legalize Robin 
Hood. This doctrine of man found its economic counterpart 
in the system of free enterprise and, hence, the system of 
free enterprise was accepted and respected by many who 
had no real understanding of its subtleties as a technique 
for organizing resource use. 

As this doctrine of man was replaced by one which 
made of man a helpless victim of his subconscious and his 
environment — responsible for neither his successes nor his 
failures — the free enterprise system came to be rejected by 
many who still had no real understanding of its actual 
operating characteristics. 

Basic Values Considered 

Inasmuch as my own value systems and my own 
assumptions about human beings are so important to the 
case, I want to sketch them for you. 

To begin with, the central value in my choice system is 
individual freedom. By freedom I mean exactly and only 

232 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

freedom from coercion by others. I do not mean the four 
freedoms of President Roosevelt, which are not freedoms at 
all, but only rhetorical devices to persuade people to give 
up some of their true freedom. In the Rogge system, each 
man must be free to do what is his duty as he defines it, so 
long as he does not use force against another. 

Next, I believe each man to be ultimately responsible for 
what happens to him. True, he is influenced by his heredity, 
his environment, his subconscious, and by pure chance. But 
I insist that precisely what makes man man is his ability to 
rise above these influences, to change and determine his 
own destiny. If this be true, then it follows that each of us is 
terribly and inevitably and forever responsible for every- 
thing he does. The answer to the question, "Who's to 
blame?" is always, "Mea culpa, I am." 

I believe as well that man is im{:)erfect, now and forever. 
He is imperfect in his knowledge of the ultimate purpose of 
his life, imperfect in his choice of means to serve those pur- 
poses he does select, imperfect in the integrity with which 
he deals with himself and those around him, imperfect in 
his capacity to love his fellow man. If man is imperfect, then 
all of his constructs must be imp>erfect, and the choice is 
always among degrees and kinds of imperfection. The New 
Jerusalem is never going to be realized here on earth, and 
the man who insists that it is, is always lost unto freedom. 

Moreover, man's imperfections are intensified as he 
acquires the power to coerce others; "power tends to cor- 
rupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." 

This completes the listing of my assumptions, and it 
should be clear that the list does not constitute a total phi- 
losophy of life. Most importantly, it does not define what I 
believe the free man's duty to be, or more specifically, what 
I believe my own duty to be and the source of the charge to 

The Case for Economic Freedom / 233 

me. However important these questions, I do not consider 
them relevant to the choice of an economic system. 

Here, then, are two sections of the case for economic 
freedom as I would construct it. The first section presents 
economic freedom as an ultimate end in itself and the sec- 
ond presents it as a means to the preservation of the 
noneconomic elements in total freedom. 

Individual Freedom of Choice 

The first section of the case is made in the stating of it, if 
one accepts the fundamental premise. 

Major premise: Each man should be free to take whatever 
action he wishes, so long as he does not use force or fraud 
against another. 

Minor premise: All economic behavior is "action" as 
identified above. 

Conclusion: Each man should be free to take whatever 
action he wishes in his economic behavior, so long as he 
does not use force or fraud against another. 

In other words, economic freedom is a part of total free- 
dom; if freedom is an end in itself as our society has traditionally 
asserted it to be, then economic freedom is an end in itself to be 
valued for itself alone and not just for its instrumental value in 
serving other goals. 

If this thesis is accepted, then there must always exist a 
tremendous presumption against each and every proposal 
for governmental limitation of economic freedom. What is 
wrong with a state system of compulsory social security? It 
denies to the individual his freedom, his right to choose 
what he will do with his own money resources. What is 
wrong with a govemmentally enforced minimum wage? It 
denies to the employer and the employee their individual 

234 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

freedoms, their individual rights to enter into voluntary 
relationships not involving force or fraud. What is wrong 
with a tariff or an import quota? It denies to the individual 
consumer his right to buy what he wishes, wherever he 

It is breathtaking to think what this simple approach 
would do to the apparatus of state control at all levels of 
government. Strike from the books all legislation that 
denies economic freedom to any individual, and three- 
fourths of all the activities now undertaken by government 
would be eliminated. 

I am no dreamer of empty dreams, and I do not expect 
that the day will ever come when this principle of economic 
freedom as a part of total freedom will be fully accepted 
and applied. Yet I am convinced that unless this principle is 
given some standing, unless those who examine proposals 
for new regulation of the individual by government look on 
this loss of freedom as a "cost" of the proposed legislation, 
the chances of free enterprise surviving are small indeed. 
The would-be controller can always find reasons why it 
might seem expedient to control the individual; unless 
slowed down by some general feeling that it is immoral to 
do so, he will usually have his way. 

Noneconomic Freedoms 

So much for the first section of the case. Now for the sec- 
ond. The major premise here is the same, that is, the 
premise of the rightness of freedom. Here, though, the con- 
cern is with the noneconomic elements in total freedom — 
with freedom of sp)eech, of religion, of the press, of j>ersonal 
behavior. My thesis is that these freedoms are not Ukely to 

The Case for Economic Freedom / 235 

be long preserved in a society that has denied economic 
freedom to its individual members. 

Before developing this thesis, I wish to comment briefly 
on the importance of these noneconomic freedoms. I do so 
because we who are known as conservatives have often 
given too little attention to these freedoms or have even 
played a significant role in reducing them. The modem lib- 
eral is usually inconsistent in that he defends man's 
noneconomic freedoms, but is often quite indifferent to his 
economic freedom. The modem conservative is often in- 
consistent in that he defends man's economic freedom but 
is indifferent to his noneconomic freedoms. Why are there 
so few conservatives in the struggles over censorship, over 
denials of equality before the law for people of all races, 
over blue laws, and so on? Why do we let the modern lib- 
erals dominate an organization such as the American Civil 
Liberties Union? The general purposes of this organization 
are completely consistent with, even necessary to, the truly 
free society. 

Particularly in times of stress such as these, we must 
fight against the general pressure to curb the rights of indi- 
vidual human beings, even those whose ideas and actions 
we detest. Now is the time to remember the example of 
men such as David Ricardo, the London banker and econo- 
mist of the classical free-market school in the first part of 
the last century. Bom a Jew, married to a Quaker, he 
devoted some part of his energy and his fortune to elimi- 
nating the legal discrimination against Catholics in the 
England of his day. 

It is precisely because I believe these noneconomic free- 
doms to be so important that I believe economic freedom to 
be so important. The argument here could be drawn from 

236 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

the wisdom of the Bible and the statement that "where a 
man's treasure is, there will his heart be also." Give me con- 
trol over a man's economic actions, and hence over his 
means of survival, and except for a few occasional heroes, 
I'll promise to deliver to you men who think and write and 
behave as I want them to. 

Freedom of the Press 

The case is not difficult to make for the fully controlled 
economy, the true socialistic state. Milton Friedman, in his 
book Capitalism and Freedom, takes the case of a socialist 
society that has a sincere desire to preserve the freedom of 
the press. The first problem would be that there would be 
no private capital, no private fortunes that could be used 
to subsidize an antisocialist, procapitalist press. Hence, 
the socialist state would have to do it. However, the men 
and women undertaking the task would have to be 
released from the socialist labor pool and would have to 
be assured that they would never be discriminated 
against in employment opportunities in the socialist appa- 
ratus if they were to wish to change occupations later. 
Then these procapitalist members of the socialist society 
would have to go to other functionaries of the state to 
secure the buildings, the presses, the pa|:)er, the skilled 
and unskilled workmen, and all the other components of 
a working newspaper. Then they would face the problem 
of finding distribution outlets, either creating their own (a 
frightening task) or using the same ones used by the offi- 
cial socialist propaganda organs. Finally, where would 
they find readers? How many men and women would 
risk showing up at their state-controlled jobs carrying 
copies of the Daily Capitalist? 

The Case far Economic Freedom / 237 

There are so many unlikely steps in this process that the 
assumption that true freedom of the press could be main- 
tained in a socialist society is so unrealistic as to be ludi- 

Partly Socialized 

Of course, we are not facing as yet a fully socialized 
America, but only one in which there is significant govern- 
ment intervention in a still predominantly private enter- 
prise economy. Do these interventions pose any threat to 
the noneconomic freedoms? I believe they do. 

First of all, the total of coercive devices now available to 
any administration of either party at the national level is so 
great that true freedom to work actively against the current 
administration (whatever it might be) is seriously reduced. 
For example, farmers have become captives of the govern- 
ment in such a way that they are forced into political align- 
ments that seriously reduce their ability to protest actions 
they do not approve. The new trade bill, though right in the 
principle of free trade, gives to the President enormous 
power to reward his friends and punish his critics. 

Second, the form of these interventions is such as to 
threaten seriously one of the real cornerstones of all free- 
doms — equality before the law. For example, farmers and 
trade union members are now encouraged and assisted in 
doing precisely that for which businessmen are sent to jail 
(i.e., acting collusively to manipulate prices). The blind- 
folded Goddess of Justice has been encouraged to peek and 
she now says, with the jurists of the ancient regime, "First 
tell me who you are and then Til tell you what your rights 
are." A society in which such gross inequalities before the 
law are encouraged in economic life is not likely to be one 

238 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

which preserves the principle of equality before the law 

We could go on to many specific illustrations. For 
example, the government uses its legislated monopoly to 
carry the mails as a means for imposing a censorship on 
what people send to each other in a completely voluntary 
relationship. A man and a woman who exchange obscene 
letters may not be making productive use of their time, but 
their correspondence is certainly no business of the gov- 
ernment. Or to take an example from another country 
Winston Churchill, as a critic of the Chamberlain govern- 
ment, was not permitted one minute of radio time on the 
government-owned and monopolized broadcasting sys- 
tem in the period from 1936 to the outbreak in 1939 of the 
war he was predicting. 

Each Step of Intervention Leads to Another 

Every act of intervention in the economic life of its citi- 
zens gives to a government additional power to shape and 
control the attitudes, the writings, the behavior of those citi- 
zens. Every such act is another break in the dike protecting 
the integrity of the individual as a free man or woman. 

The free market protects the integrity of the individual 
by providing him with a host of decentralized alternatives 
rather than with one centralized opportunity. As Friedman 
has reminded us, even the known communist can readily 
find employment in capitalist America. The free market is 
politics-blind, religion-blind, and, yes, race-blind. Do you 
ask about the politics or the religion of the farmer who 
grew the potatoes you buy at the store? Do you ask about 
the color of the hands that helped produce the steel you use 
in your office building? 

The Case for Economic Freedom / 239 

South Africa provides an interesting example of this. 
The South Africans, of course, provide a shocking picture of 
racial bigotry, shocking even to a country that has its own 
tragic race problems. South African law clearly separates 
the whites from the nonwhites. Orientals have traditionally 
been classed as nonwhites, but South African trade with 
Japan has become so important in the postwar period that 
the government of South Africa has declared the Japanese 
visitors to South Africa to be officially and legally "white." 
The free market is one of the really great forces making for 
tolerance and understanding among human beings. The 
controlled market gives man rein to express all those blind 
prejudices and intolerant beliefs to which he is forever sub- 

Impersonality of the Market 

To look at this another way: The free market is often said 
to be impersonal, and indeed it is. Rather than a vice, this is 
one of its great virtues. Because the relations are substan- 
tially impersonal, they are not usually marked by bitter 
personal conflict. It is precisely because the labor union 
attempts to take the employment relationship out of the 
marketplace that bitter personal conflict so often marks 
union-management relationships. The intensely personal 
relationship is one that is civilized only by love, as between 
man and wife, and within the family. But man's capacity for 
love is severely limited by his imperfect nature. Far better, 
then, to economize on love, to reserve our dependence on it 
to those relationships where even our imperfect natures are 
capable of sustained action based on love. Far better, then, 
to build our economic system on largely impersonal rela- 
tionships and on man's self-interest— a motive power with 

240 / Benjamin A. Rogge 

which he is generously supplied. One need only study the 
history of such Utopian experiments as our Indiana's Har- 
mony and New Harmony to realize that a social structure 
which ignores man's essential nature results in the dissen- 
sion, conflict, disintegration, and dissolution of Robert 
Owen's New Harmony or the absolutism of Father Rapp's 

The "vulgar calculus of the marketplace," as its critics 
have described it, is still the most humane way man has yet 
found for solving those questions of economic allocation 
and division which are ubiquitous in human society. By 
what must seem fortunate coincidence, it is also the system 
most likely to produce the affluent society, to move 
mankind above an existence in which life is mean, nasty, 
brutish, and short. But, of course, this is not just coinci- 
dence. Under economic freedom, only man's destructive 
instincts are curbed by law. All of his creative instincts are 
released and freed to work those wonders of which free 
men are capable. In the controlled society only the creativ- 
ity of the few at the top can be utilized, and much of this 
creativity must be expended in maintaining control and in 
fending off rivals. In the free society, the creativity of every 
man can be expressed — and surely by now we know that 
we cannot predict who will prove to be the most creative. 

You may be puzzled, then, that I do not rest my case for 
economic freedom on its productive achievements; on its 
buildings, its houses, its automobiles, its bathtubs, its won- 
der drugs, its television sets, its sirloin steaks and green sal- 
ads with Roquefort dressings. I neither feel within myself 
nor do I hear in the testimony of others any evidence that 
man's search for purpose, his longing for fulfillment, is in 
any significant way relieved by these accomplishments. I 
do not scorn these accomplishments nor do I worship them. 

The Case for Economic Freedom / 241 

Nor do I find in the lives of those who do worship them any 
evidence that they find ultimate peace and justification in 
their idols. 

I rest my case rather on the consistency of the free mar- 
ket with man's essential nature, on the basic morality of its 
system of rewards and punishments, on the protection it 
gives to the integrity of the individual. 

The free market cannot produce the perfect world, but it 
can create an environment in which each imperfect man 
may conduct his lifelong search for purpose in his own 
way, in which each day he may order his life according to 
his own imperfect vision of his destiny, suffering both the 
agonies of his errors and the sweet pleasure of his suc- 
cesses. This freedom is what it means to be a man; this is the 
Godhead, if you wish. 

I give you, then, the free market, the expression of man's 
economic freedom and the guarantor of all his other free- 

The Moral Premise and the 
Decline of the American Heritage 

Paul L. Adams 

Man in his very nature has need of a major premise — a 
philosophical starting point or Prime Mover, as it were, to 
give reason for his being, direction and order to his think- 
ing, and initiative and impetus to his actions. With the 
Christian, this basic assumption stems from the belief that 
God, by Divine fiat, created man as a moral, rational being 
with freedom of choice, and that exercise of will and choice 
in both the moral and physical frames of reference is an 
awesome but unavoidable fact of existence. 

Man's choice to partake of the "forbidden fruit" pro- 
vided him with the promised knowledge of good and evil, 
but along with it came an incalculable complication of his 
circumstances. Nature became a challenge to his physical 
existence. Other people constituted to him a confused com- 
plex of variant relationships that ranged from love on one 
hand to virulent hatred on the other. God faded from his 
consciousness, and with that loss went also the meaning of 
man's struggle. Man was thus lost in the only sense in 
which he could be really lost, and the need was therefore 
critical for a major premise which promulgates for man a 

The late Dr. Adams was president of Roberts Wesleyan University, 
North Chili, New York, and was a trustee of The Foundation for Eco- 
nomic Education. This article is reprinted from the March 1968 issue of 
The Freeman. 


The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 243 

supreme purpose for life, a purpose which justifies the 
physical hardship, the social conflicts, the spiritual strug- 
gle, and the disappointments with which life is filled. Only 
such a premise delivers life from the insanity it sometimes 
appears to be — struggle without hope, achievement with- 
out happiness, victory without exaltation, death without 

Man, himself, throughout the concourse of his history 
has given ample evidence of his longing and need for an 
all-embracing purpose. He knows so little that is perfect, 
yet he always looks for perfection — a seminal response 
which derives from the moral image in which he was orig- 
inally created and the perfection of the environment in 
which he found himself. Though corrupt by his own choice, 
he still yearns for the ideal, like some earthling wandering 
in a cosmic wasteland dreaming of the green hills of earth. 
Basically, he seeks a society which will fulfill his demands 
on nature, ameliorate his relationship with his fellow man, 
and provide the ultimate reason for existence. In the search, 
man's thinking has led him, inevitably, into metaphysical 
and ontological problems, to a consideration of the first 
principles of all existence. 

It would be presumptuous, indeed, for me to attempt a 
definitive statement of the major premise with its detailed 
ramifications, and presumption is, among college profes- 
sors, a sin of great magnitude. Perhaps, however, one might 
conclude that within such a premise are these parts: Man is 
a spiritual being, created by God and endowed with the 
freedom and responsibility of moral choice; his purpose in 
living is to glorify God by exercising his reason toward 
those ends that his highest moral nature urges, and his task 
is to refine his intelligence, develop his creativity, discipline 
his conscience, and clothe himself in robes of righteousness. 

244 / Paul L Adams 

The Moral Premise — Like a Golden Thread 

Man has never been without some first principle, some 
major premise, sometimes consciously, more frequently 
unconsciously, held up before him. It runs in some form 
like golden thread through man's history, and it may be 
noted in various efforts and forms that mark man's societal 
action. The Israelites had in Jehovah God the source of law 
in the observance of which was life. The Greeks promul- 
gated Natural Law as an absolute reference point for man's 
excursions into lawmaking. The Romans embraced Sto- 
icism and with it the Natural Law concept which, in the 
Western world, yielded place to the Divine law of Chris- 
tianity. This is clearly seen in the Gelasian theory which 
placed absolute value on the sword of spiritual power. 

All of these systems with their varied premises failed to 
produce the ideal society. The Hebrew system ended, 
oppressed by evil and corrupt kings. The Greek system, 
even in the Golden Age of Pericles, was marked by corrup- 
tion, vice, weakness, and personal lust for power. The 
Roman could observe the cruelty and injustice of his state, 
and he suffered from tyrants who plundered the poor to 
lavish wealth on the idle, sensual, and effete nobility. The 
slight amelioration that feudalism supplied was due chiefly 
to the fact that there was less economic distance between 
master and serf — for goods were fewer, even in this pater- 
nalistic social order, and pillaged more frequently by inces- 
sant warring. Certainly, there was little understanding of 
nature, no mastery of production, and a very low level of 
social justice. Seemingly, man was destined to a perpetual 
slavery only thinly disguised in an embracing paternalism 
that left him without hope. 

Christian Europe was not without hoi:>e, however, for 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 245 

the sixteenth century saw a rebirth of the idea that man was 
free, must be free. Dramatically stated first in theological 
terms, the fuller implications in nontheological terms were 
soon asserted, and Europe began a long and costly march 
toward freedom. Costly, for human liberty has never been 
secured or maintained without sacrifice, and it was our 
own Jefferson who said, "Every so often the tree of liberty 
must be watered by the blood of patriots — and of tyrants." 

The American Foundation 

With all of the foregoing in mind, it can be assumed that 
those who raised a new nation on this continent had a 
wealth of history on which to draw. The responses of our 
forefathers were partly the product of a vicarious intellec- 
tual empiricism and partly the intuitive conclusions of lib- 
erty-loving men playing it by ear. What these men gave to 
America and the world was the moral premise embedded 
in a philosophy of moral absolutes. It was shaped and nur- 
tured in the minds and hearts of people who recognized in 
it the last, best hope of man. These forebears of ours were of 
the breed of men who count not their own lives dear unto 
themselves; they were prepared to die for America and for 
freedom. Need I remind you that it was a young man not 
yet twenty-two who said in a last magnificent moment of 
life, "I only regret that I have but one life to give to my 

These great men espoused a moral absolute which 
accepted God as creator, as ultimate Truth, and they 
believed man to be a moral creature, responsible to God, 
and capable of discharging that responsibility only through 
freedom of choice. It logically follows, then, that freedom is 
more than just another attribute. It is so essential that life 

246 / Paul L.Adams 

without it loses significance. These Founding Fathers saw 
in freedom and liberty the only perfection a human society 
can know, for in freedom's house the individual can shape 
his own perfections and follow his noblest aspirations. The 
exercise of freedom, then, is for man the perfecting of his 
humanity — ^not that the exercise will ever be perfect, but 
the continuing exercise represents a constant affirmation of 
the eternal principle that man can find himself only in God. 

Limited Government 

These men of great vision clearly understood that the 
only real threat to liberty and freedom is government, for 
men assign a sanctity to government not accorded to indi- 
viduals and groups. But government is a faceless thing and 
can hide the predators who lurk behind its facade and exer- 
cise its function; and governments assume, quite naturally 
it seems, government's right to a monopoly of physical 
force. Fearing government, and the natural tendency of 
power to beget power, these men established a constitution 
which attempted to assure man's freedom by limiting the 
sphere of government to a workable minimum. The clear 
intent was to magnify the responsibility of the individual 
and subordinate government to its primary function of 
serving freedom's cause. 

Even among its most ardent devotees, there was never 
any suggestion that this Constitution was a panacea for all 
the social ills to which man is heir. There was no guarantee 
of identical status for individuals or groups. There was no 
promise of material rewards. There was only the implicit 
assumption that freedom and liberty were their own 
rewards and worth any sacrifice. The Constitution 
promised only the system itself, but under it liberty and 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 247 

freedom were to be nurtured. It was Benjamin Franklin 
who saw the only flaw, and he stated it in simple terms 
when he suggested that perhaps the people might not keep 
what they had acquired. It was George Washington who 
stated in eloquent prose that liberty is guaranteed only by 
the eternal vigilance of those who share its vision. 

These architects of nation were men of great faith — faith 
in the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things 
not seen — faith in their vision of a vast land and great peo- 
ple — faith in the triumph of truth over error, of justice over 
injustice, of right over tyranny, of knowledge over igno- 
rance, of reason over prejudice, and the ultimate triumph of 
eternal values over the temporal. Faith in such a vision 
together with comnnitment to the program for its fulfill- 
ment constituted in their thinking an irresistible force that 
would shake the world — and it did. In addition, it gave rise 
to a compelling spirit of national mission. 

Eternal Vigilance 

It is a truism that tragedy lurks close to the surface of all 
enterprises of great pith and moment. George Bernard 
Shaw suggested that there are two great tragedies in life. 
One is to not get your heart's desire; the other is to get it. 
The observation is so applicable to the American scene that 
it arouses almost a response of sharp physical pain. Amer- 
ica had her great dream, her grand design. History pro- 
vided her with the opportunity to realize it. So she avoided 
the first of the tragedies that Mr. Shaw suggested. The alter- 
nate tragedy was left to be realized, for tragedy must follow 
the failure to understand the tremendous demand such a 
society places on the individual. It calls for enormous self- 
discipline in behalf of freedom's preeminent claim; it 

248 / Paul L.Adams 

requires a conscious articulate sensitivity to freedom's cli- 
mate; and it mandates a firm dedication to freedom's meth- 
ods and goals along with a determination to live with the 

It is not debatable that we have had an imperfect and 
uneven performance in this regard. The student of Ameri- 
can history recalls the demarche of the Federalist party into 
unconstitutionalism to retain power. It can hardly go unno- 
ticed that there were those who were blind to the implica- 
tions of education for a substantial segment of our society, 
including women. Even more compelling shortly after the 
centennial year of Appomattox Court House is the thought 
that there were those who insisted on the immediate attain- 
ment of their ends and refused to recognize longer that the 
Constitution provided a certain, if slow, mechanic for 
resolving great inequities and injustice. This impatience 
sent men to graves like beds and finally resulted in the 
slaughter of more Americans than World War I and World 
War II combined. 

Unhappy though these examples be, we note with satis- 
faction that the Federalist returned to make the great right 
decision in 1800, and that educational opportunity has 
approached universality in this nation. We could even say 
that although the larger lessons of the so-called irrepressible 
conflict were lost on us, we have at times demonstrated our 
belief that the nature of our system cannot be defined in 
terms of any appeal to the doctrine that might and right are 

With liberty and freedom identified in the Constitution 
and accepted as the norm for human action, we demon- 
strated a vitality and creativity that produced achievement 
which first caught the attention of the world and then beck- 
oned her disinherited millions to the "lifted lamp beside 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 249 

the golden door." We enlarged individual opportunity, 
secured religious toleration, and established the basis for 
political diversity and cultural pluralism. We educated the 
masses, refurbished the concept of individual justice and 
charity, and we took over leadership of the revolution in 
communication, transportation, and production. Our free 
market led the world in the production and distribution of 
goods for the benefit of all classes. Somewhere along the 
line, too, we began to develop a distinct literature of merit 
and other artistic forms. Finally, and without great fanfare, 
we assumed world leadership in moral idealism as a nat- 
ural concomitant of our commitment to principles based in 
the eternal verity of the moral law. 

Obstacles to Be Overcome 

Such have been the fruits of the American system, and 
such a nation or system, meeting as it did man's age-old 
search for an ideal society, should fear no challenge. Nature 
had been transformed into an ally; a beginning had been 
made toward a solution of the omnipresent problem of 
human relationships; and man's right and need to know 
and experience God had been left unrestricted. We who 
received such a heritage should fear no challenge, yet we 
are alarmed by a challenge of so great a magnitude that we 
seem unable to plot its dimensions. Wisdom and intelli- 
gence, however, as well as the instinct for survival dictate 
that the problem must be stated, understood, and attacked. 

There are those, undoubtedly, whose disquiet is solely 
in terms of the problem posed by nuclear physics. These 
people might think beyond it, but the possibility of a 
nuclear war produces in them a trauma that makes further 
rational thought on their part impossible. Those of whom 

250 / Paul L.Adams 

this is descriptive tend to view the great ultimate catastro- 
phe as physical death, forgetting that the great moral 
premise assigns little significance to the fact of mere physi- 
cal existence. They would establish a new commandment 
which may be simply stated, "And now abideth the mind, 
the spirit, the body, these three, but the greatest of these is 
the body/' It is not to be expected that those who hold such 
a belief could or would give rise to any inspired resolution, 
for that which they treasure most is most easily subject to 
threats and force. 

Then there are those who react to the problem in mate- 
rialistic terms. These have altered the supreme moral prin- 
ciple to read, "Man shall live by bread alone." The member 
of this group is quite likely to attach himself to any of the 
several simplifications which this group has institutional- 
ized in policy: the answer to any domestic problem is gov- 
ernmental spending to raise everyone's material standard 
of living; neutralists such as Tito will be won to our side if 
our gifts are large and continuous; the communist will 
soften his attitude toward the United States and the non- 
communist world if we allow them the trade advantages of 
our productive system. 

Again, there is a class we could call passivists, and, like 
some of their medieval forebears who went into monastic 
seclusion, they seek to escape the world of decision and 
action. A tendency of the members of this class is to rely on 
discussion, fruitless though it may be, and on a complete 
negation of decisive action. Discussion becomes for them 
not a means but an end, and failure is not failure, for non- 
productive discussion guarantees the need of still further 
discussion. No international conference is a failure, in this 
light, as long as it ends without definitive commitment. 
There is some truth in the assertion that protracted dis- 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 251 

cussion on a point at issue often results in a blurring of the 
thought of both parties, but it logically follows that in such 
a situation, the party with commitment to a principle and a 
concomitant course of action stands in the least danger. 

Detoured by Relativism 

None of those in the classes just mentioned sees the 
challenge to the American heritage in its true dimensions, 
and obviously they have little understanding of the re- 
sources necessary to meet the challenge. The basic problem 
is the failure of Americans to dedicate and rededicate them- 
selves to the great moral premise— freedom under God. As 
dedication to that premise built the American heritage, 
decline from it has given rise to the problems that appear in 
the guise of insecurity — the fear of physical extinction, the 
compensation of materialism, and indecision. 

The decline was initiated by the introduction of a phi- 
losophy of relativism with its inherent negation of moral 
absolutes. This philosophy relieves man of all respon- 
sibility; it erodes his moral standards, for morals, it says, 
are a product of man's own thinking and are therefore sub- 
ject to change. Further, it has no fixed reference point; 
rather it has a multitude of reference points, discoverable 
only by a process of expediency which itself becomes the 
criterion for judgment. Such thought canonizes Niccolo 
Machiavelli, who baldly and boldly asserted that the end 
justifies the means. In such a philosophy, man is not free; he 
is rather a pawn of history, and he has significance only as 
he participates in great mass movements. In action, the phi- 
losophy is expressed in positivism which denies any super- 
natural standard and acclaims any law as valid if there is 
sufficient force in the lawgiver to enforce it. Such a philoso- 

252 / Paul L.Adams 

phy does not produce Nathan Hales. It is more apt to pro- 
duce those who seek the undisciplined refuge of mass 
anonymity and mass conformity. The end of such a system 
is pictured in Orwell's 1984, in which he describes a society 
where Big Brother decides what is truth for the unresisting 
masses. Orwell doesn't say it, but the tragedy is that under 
such a system, life doesn't really matter. 

Improper Methods 

The increasing acceptance of such a philosophy has 
spawned an incredible number of value standards and 
courses of action not consistent with our original premise 
and the institutionalizing of liberty. Time forbids a discus- 
sion of them, but some of the more dangerous may be 
listed. There are those who change or pervert the Constitu- 
tion to gain the ends they desire, and the ends are presented 
as good ends to justify the action. It was for good reasons 
that the Gracchi started the process of violating the Roman 
constitution. The end of the process was the destruction of 
liberty in Rome, for each succeeding constitutional vio- 
lation takes less explanation and less and less justification. 
Eventually the constitutional image is lost, and the term 
itself becomes a shibboleth. 

Then, there are those who forget that material wealth is 
a happy by-product of our pursuit of a morally legitimate 
goal, and they relentlessly pursue the materialistic largess 
of nature as an end in itself. It is again the old story of sell- 
ing the birthright for a mess of pottage. The goal of this 
philosophy is ever greater materialism with less and less 
effort. This idea seems to offer a built-in contradiction, but 
still the belief persists that we have invented a slot machine 
which pays off for everybody. 

The Moral Premise and the Decline of the American Heritage / 253 

Again, there are those who pervert the definition of 
freedom to mean an absence of fear, of individual responsi- 
bility, of self-discipline, and they include within its context 
the strong presumption of egalitarian doctrines. These find 
the answer to all of our problems in the increase of central, 
bureaucratic government. Washington is their Mecca. They 
do not, perhaps, make a pilgrimage to Washington, but 
well they might, for not only is their money there, it is fast 
becoming a repository of the American soul. In interna- 
tional relations, these people have a naive faith in the 
United Nations, assign to it a supernatural aura, and claim 
for it a practical success not demonstrable in logic or actu- 

A Time for Rededication 

Finally, there are those who are totally oblivious to the 
fact that the American forefathers, like the early Christians, 
were men whose vision and faith were such that they 
intended to turn the world upside down — and did so. We 
have lived in the golden heritage of their dedication to a 
great moral principle and the abundant life it provided. 
That we have grown insensitive to such a principle 
presages failure where they succeeded. We cannot escape 
the fact that the virility of communism stems from the fact 
that the communist is committed totally to the belief that it 
is necessary to change the world — and as an individual he 
is prepared to give himself to realize such an end. We can- 
not change the form or substance of the communist move- 
ment or threat. We can, however, reclaim, revive, and 
renew the American heritage as the eternal answer to those 
who would, under any guise, enslave the free spirit of man. 

The innumerable paths of history are thick with the dust 

254 / Paul L Adams 

of decayed nations that knew the passing radiance of a glo- 
rious moment. Khrushchev and communism promised to 
bury the American heritage because it no longer serves his- 
tory's purposes. For me, I fear no physiced threat com- 
munism can offer. I do fear the retreat from our heritage. I 
do not fear Khrushchev's judgment. I fear the inexorable 
judgment of God's law which has ordained man's freedom. 
Should this nation so blessed by God forget His ordinance, 
then we have no valid claim to existence. We will have 
failed those who lived and died that we might be free as 
well as the serf of the future who will not long remember 
our moment of history. As Americans we can, as one has 
said, "spend ourselves into immortality" in freedom's bat- 
tle or we can make our way carelessly to nameless graves 
and be part of the dust of history's passing parade. 


Moral Criticisms of the Market 
Ken S. Ewert 

According to an author writing in a recent issue of The 
Nation magazine, "The religious Left is the only Left we've 
got." An overstatement? Perhaps. However, it points to an 
interesting fact, namely that while the opposition to free 
markets and less government control has declined in recent 
years among the "secular left," the political-economic 
views of the "Christian left" seem to remain stubbornly 

Why is this so? Why are the secular critics of the market 
mellowing while the Christian critics are not? 

Perhaps one major reason is the different criteria by 
which these two ideological allies measure economic sys- 
tems. The secular left, after more than half a century of 
failed experiments in anti-free-market policies, has 
begrudgingly softened its hostility towards the market for 
predominantly pragmatic reasons. Within their camp the 
attitude seems to be that since it hasn't worked, let's get on 
with finding something that will. While this may be less 
than a heartfelt conversion to a philosophy of economic 
freedom, at least (for many) this recognition has meant tak- 
ing a more sympathetic view of free markets. 

However, within the Christian camp the leftist intellec- 

Mr. Ewert is the editor of U-Turn, a quarterly publication address- 
ing theological, political, economic, and social issues from a biblical 
perspective. This essay appeared in the March 1989 issue of The Free- 



258 / Ken S. Ezvert 

tuals seem to be much less influenced by the demonstrated 
failure of state-directed economic policies. They remain 
unimpressed with arguments pointing out the efficiency 
and productivity of the free market, or statistics and exam- 
ples showing the non-workability of traditional interven- 
tionist economic policies. Why? One likely reason is that 
the criteria by which these thinkers choose to measure cap- 
italism are fundamentally moral in nature, so much so that 
socialism, despite its obvious shortcomings, is still pre- 
ferred because of its perceived moral superiority. In their 
eyes, the justness and morality of an economic system are 
vastly more important than its efficiency. 

If indeed the Christian critics of the market are insisting 
that an economic system must be ultimately judged by 
moral standards, we should agree and applaud them for 
their principled position. They are asking a crucially im- 
portant question: is the free market a moral economic sys- 

Unfortunately, these thinkers have answered the ques- 
tion with a resounding "No!" They have examined the free 
market and found it morally wanting. Some of the most 
common reasons given for this indictment are that the mar- 
ket is based on an ethic of selfishness and it fosters materi- 
alism; it atomizes and dehumanizes society by placing too 
much emphasis on the individual; and it gives rise to tyran- 
nical economic powers which subsequently are used to 
oppress the weaker and more defenseless members of soci- 

If these accusations are correct, the market is justly con- 
demned. But have these critics correctly judged the moral- 
ity of the free market? Let's re-examine their charges. 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 259 
I. Selfishness 

The market, it is suggested, is based on and encourages 
an ethic of selfishness. According to critics of the market, 
mere survival in this competitive economic system requires 
that we each "look after Number One." Individuals are 
encouraged to focus on the profit motive to the exclusion of 
higher goals and as a result selfishness becomes almost a 
virtue. And this, it is noted, is in stark contrast with the self- 
sacrificial love taught by the Scriptures. Instead of reward- 
ing love, compassion, and kindness towards others, the free 
market seems to reward self-orientation and self-indul- 
gence. Instead of encouraging us to be concerned about our 
neighbor, the free market seems to encourage us to be con- 
cerned about ourselves. Individuals who might otherwise 
be benevolent, according to this view, are corrupted by the 
demands of an economic system that forces them to put 
themselves first. In the thinking of these critics, the market 
is the logical precursor to the "me generation." 

However, this charge is superficial and misleading in 
several respects. It is important to remember that while the 
free market does allow "self-directed" economic actions, it 
does not require "selfish" economic actions. There is an 
important distinction here. It should be obvious that all 
human action is self-directed. Each of us has been created 
with a mind, allowing us to set priorities and goals, and a 
will, which enables us to take steps to realize these goals. 
This is equally true for those who live in a market economy 
and those who live under a politically directed economy 
The difference between the two systems is not between self- 
directed action versus non-self-directed action, but rather 

260 / KenS. Ewert 

between a peaceful pursuit of goals (through voluntary 
exchange in a free economy) versus a coercive pursuit of 
goals (through wealth transferred via the state in a 
"planned" economy). In other words, the only question is 
how will self-directed action manifest itself: will it take 
place through mutually beneficial economic exchanges, or 
through predatory political actions? 

Clearly the free market cannot be singled out and con- 
demned for allowing self-directed actions to take place, 
since self-directed actions are an inescapable part of human 
life. But can it be condemned for giving rise to selfishness? 
In other words, does the free market engender an attitude 
of selfishness in individuals? If we define selfishness as a 
devotion to one's own advantage or welfare without regard 
for the welfare of others, it is incontestable that selfishness 
does exist in the free economy; many individuals act with 
only themselves ultimately in mind. And it is true, that 
according to the clear teaching of Scripture, selfishness is 

But we must bear in mind that although selfishness 
does exist in the free market, it also exists under other eco- 
nomic systems. Is the Soviet factory manager less selfish 
than the American capitalist? Is greed any less prevalent in 
the politically directed system which operates via perpet- 
ual bribes, theft from state enterprises, and political 
purges? There is no reason to think so. The reason for this is 
clear: selfishness is not an environmentally induced condi- 
tion, i.e., a moral disease caused by the economic system, 
but rather a result of man's fallen nature. It is out of the 
heart, as Christ said, that a man is defiled. Moral failure is 
not spawned by the environment. 

It is clear that not all self-directed action is necessarily 
selfish action. For example, when I enter the marketplace in 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 261 

order to earn wealth to feed, clothe, house, and provide 
education or medical care for my children, I am not acting 
selfishly. Likewise, if you or I want to extend charity to a 
needy neighbor or friend, we must first take "self -directed" 
action to create the wealth necessary to do so. Such action is 
hardly selfish. 

The point is this: the free market allows individuals to 
peacefully pursue their chosen goals and priorities, but it 
doesn't dictate or determine those priorities. It does not 
force an individual to focus on his own needs and desires, 
but leaves him or her at liberty to be self-centered or benev- 
olent. My ultimate goal may be self-indulgence, or I may 
make a high priority of looking after others — the choice is 
mine. As to which I should do, the market is silent. As an 
economic system, the market simply does not speak in 
favor of selfish or unselfish priorities. 

However, the free market, while not touching the heart 
of a man or eliminating selfishness, does in fact restrain 
selfishness. It channels self-centered desires into actions 
that are beneficial to others. This is so because in order to 
"get ahead" in the free economy, we must first please other 
people by producing something which is of use and value 
to them. In other words, the market disciplines each of us to 
look outwards and serve others. Only by doing so can we 
persuade them to give us what we want in exchange. 

We will return to this theme later, but for now the point 
is that in a very practical sense, the workings of the market 
persuade even the most self-indulgent among us to serve 
others and to be concerned about the needs and wants of 
his neighbor. True, the motivation for doing so is not neces- 
sarily pure or unselfish, but as the Bible so clearly teaches, 
it is only God who can change the hearts of men. 

Furthermore, the free market, because of the incredible 

262 / Ken S. Ewert 

wealth it allows to be created, makes living beyond our- 
selves practicable. In order to show tangible love toward 
our neighbor (minister to his or her physical needs) we 
must first have the wealth to do so. 

We sometimes need to be reminded that wealth is not 
the natural state of affairs. Throughout most of history the 
majority of people lived under some sort of centrally con- 
trolled economic system and were forced to devote most of 
their energies to mere survival. Often all but the wealthiest 
individuals lacked the economic means to look much 
beyond themselves and to aid others who were in need. 

But the productivity spawned by economic freedom has 
radically changed this. In a free market, we are not only 
able to choose unselfish values amd priorities, but we are 
also able to create the wealth necessary to fulfill them prac- 

II. Materialism 

Another moral indictment of the market, closely 
related to the charge of selfishness, is the belief that the 
market fosters materialism. The example most often used 
to demonstrate the market's guilt in this area is the per- 
ceived evil effect of advertising. It is contended that 
advertising creates a sort of "lust" in the hearts of con- 
sumers by persuading them that mere material posses- 
sions will bring joy and fulfillment. In this sense, the mar- 
ket is condemned for creating a spirit of materialism and 
fostering an ethic of acquisitiveness. The market in gen- 
eral, and advertising specifically, is a persistent temptress 
encouraging each of us to concentrate on the lowest level 
of life, mere material goods. 

This charge can be answered in much the same manner 
as the charge of selfishness. Just as allowing free exchange 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 263 

doesn't require selfishness, neither does it require material- 
ism. It is true that when people are economically free, mate- 
rialism is possible, and certainly there are materialistic peo- 
ple in market economies. But this hardly warrants a 
condemnation of the market. Materialism, like selfishness, 
can and will occur under any economic system. It is obvi- 
ous that a desire for material goods is far from being unique 
to capitalism. Witness, for example, the response of shop- 
pers as a store puts out a new rack of genuine cotton shirts 
in Moscow or a shipment of fresh meat arrives in a Krakow 

Although the role of advertising has been much 
maligned, it in fact provides a vital service to consumers. 
Advertising conveys information. It tells consumers what 
products are available, how these products can meet their 
needs, cmd what imjxjrtant differences exist among com- 
peting products. The fact that this is a valuable function 
becomes apparent if you imagine trying to buy a used car in 
a world without advertising. Either your choice of cars 
would be severely limited (to those cars you happen to 
stumble upon, i.e., gain knowledge of) or you would have 
to pay more (in the form of time and resources used in seek- 
ing out and comparing cars). In either case, without the 
"free" knowledge provided by advertising, you would be 
much worse off. 

But the economic role of advertising aside, does adver- 
tising actually "create" a desire for goods? If it does, why 
do businesses in market-oriented economies spend billions 
of dollars each year on consumer research to find out what 
customers want? Why do some advertised products not sell 
(for example, the Edsel) or cease to sell well (for example, 
the hula hoop)? In the market economy consumers are the 
ultimate sovereigns of production. Their wants and pri- 
orities dictate what is produced; what is produced doesn't 

264 / Ken S. Ewert 

determine their wants and priorities. Many bankrupt busi- 
nessmen, left with unsalable (at a profitable price) products 
wistfully wish that the reverse were true. 

Moreover, the Bible consistently rejects any attempt by 
man to ascribe his sinful tendencies to his environment. If I 
am filled with avarice when I see an advertisement for a 
new Mercedes, I cannot place the blame on the advertise- 
ment. Rather I must recognize that I am responsible for my 
thoughts and desires, and that the problem lies within 
myself. After all, I could feel equally acquisitive if I just saw 
the Mercedes on the street rather than in an advertisement. 
Is it wrong for the owner of the Mercedes to incite my 
desires by driving his car where I might see it? Hardly. 

Just as God did not allow Adam to blame Satan (the 
advertiser — and a blatantly false advertiser at that) or the 
fruit (the appealing material good) for his sin in the Garden, 
we cannot lay the blame for materialism on the free market 
or on advertising. The materialist's problem is the sin 
within his heart, not his environment. 

If we follow the environmental explanation of material- j 
ism to its logical conclusion, the only solution would 
appear to be doing away with all wealth (i.e., eliminate all 
possible temptation). If this were the appropriate solution 
to the moral problem of materialism, perhaps the moral 
high ground must be conceded to the state-run economies 
of the world after all. They have been overwhelmingly suc- 
cessful at destroying wealth and wealth-creating capital! 

III. Impersonalism and Individualism 

Another common criticism of the market economy is its 
supposed impersonal nature and what some have called 
"individualistic anarchy." According to many Christian 
critics, the market encourages self-centered behavior and 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 265 

discourages relational ties in society. The non-personal 
market allocation of goods and services is seen to be anti- 
thetical to the seemingly higher and more noble goal of a 
loving and interdependent community. Because of the eco- 
nomic independence that the market affords, the individual 
is cut off from meaningful relationships with his fellow 
human beings and divorced from any purpose beyond his 
own interests. In short, the free market is accused of breed- 
ing a pathetic and inhumane isolation. 

But does the market encourage impersonal behavior? 
Certainly not. It is important to understand that the pres- 
ence of economic freedom does not require that all transac- 
tions and relationships take place on an impersonal level. 
For example, many people have good friendships with 
their customers, suppliers, employees, or employers. While 
these relationships are economic, they are not merely eco- 
nomic and they are not impersonal. 

Furthermore, while the market leaves us free to deal 
with other people solely on the basis of economic motives, 
we are not required nor even necessarily encouraged to do 
so. We are completely free to deal on a non-economic basis. 
Suppose that I am in the business of selling food, and I find 
that someone is so poor that he has nothing to trade for the 
food that I am offering for sale. In the free market I am com- 
pletely free to act apart from economic motives and make a 
charitable gift of the food. I have in no way lost my ability 
to act in a personal and non-economic way. 

Community Relationships 

So the market is not an inherently impersonal economic 
system. Nor is it hostile to the formation of community 

An excellent example of a community which exists 

266 / Ken S. Ewert 

within the market system is the family. Obviously I deal 
with my wife and children in a non-market manner. I give 
them food, shelter, clothing, and so on, and I certainly don't 
expect any economic gain in return. I do so joyfully, because 
I love my family and I value my relationship with them far 
above the economic benefits I forgo. Another example is the 
church. I have a non-economic and very personal rela- 
tionship with people in my church. And there are countless 
teams, clubs, organizations, and associations which I can 
join, if I choose. If I want, I can even become part of a com- 
mune. The market economy doesn't stand in the way of, or 
discourage, any of these expressions of community. 

But now we come to the heart of this objection against 
the market: what if people will not voluntarily choose to 
relate to each other in personal or community-tyi:)e rela- 
tionships? What if they choose not to look beyond their 
own interests and work for some purpose larger than them- 
selves? The answer to this is the rather obvious question: 
Who should decide what is the appropriate degree of rela- 
tionship and community? 

True community, I submit, is something which must be 
consensual, meaning it must be voluntarily established. 
Think of a marriage or a church. If f)eople do not choose to 
enter into these relationships when they are free to do so, 
we may judge their action to be a mistake, but by what 
standard can we try to coerce them into such relationships? 
Even if there were some objective standard of "optimum 
community," it is not at all clear that we would create it by 
robbing people of their economic freedom. There is no rea- 
son to believe that individuals living under a system of eco- 
nomic "planning" are less isolated or have more commu- 
nity by virtue of their system. The fact that individuals are 
forced into a collective group hardly means that a loving 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 267 

and caring community will result. Love and care are things 
which cannot be coercively extracted, but must be freely 

Moreover, the free market actually encourages the for- 
mation and maintenance of the most basic human commu- 
nity — the family. As the Utopian socialists of past cen- 
turies — including Marx and Engels — recognized, there is a 
vital connection between private property and the integrity 
of the family. Destroy the one, they reasoned, and the other 
will soon disintegrate. 

Their motives were suspect but their analysis was cor- 
rect. When the state fails to protect private property and 
instead takes over the functions traditionally provided by 
the family (such as education, day care, health care, sick- 
ness and old-age support), the family unit is inevitably 
weakened. Family bonds are undermined as the economic 
resources which formerly allowed the family to "care for its 
own" are transferred to the state. There is little doubt that 
the disintegration of the family in our country is in large 
part due to state intervention. Instead of turning toward 
and receiving personal care from within the family, indi- 
viduals have been encouraged to turn toward the imper- 
sonal state. The result has been the disintegration of family 
bonds. It is state economic intervention — not the free-mar- 
ket system — which is inherently impersonal and antitheti- 
cal to true human community. 

rv. Economic Power 

The objection to the market on the grounds of imper- 
sonalism is based on the same fallacy as were the previ- 
ously discussed charges of selfishness and materialism. 
Each of these claims indicts the market for ills which in fact 

268 / Ken S. Ewert 

are common to all mankind — faults that would exist under 
any economic system. Impersonalism, selfishness, and 
materialism are the consequence of the fall of man, not the 
fruit of an economic system which allows freedom. If these 
sinful tendencies are an inescapable reality, the question 
that must be asked is: "What economic system best 
restrains sin?" 

This brings us to a fourth moral objection to the market 
which is often espoused by the Christians of the left: that 
the market, which is often pictured as a "dog-eat-dog" or 
"survival of the fittest" system, leaves men free to oppress 
each other. It allows the economically powerful to arbitrar- 
ily oppress the economically weak, the wealthy to tread 
upon and exploit the poor. According to this view, wealth is 
power, and those with wealth will not necessarily use their 
power wisely and justly. Because the nature of man is what 
it is, this "economic power" must be checked by the state 
and restrained for the public good. 

But does the market in fact allow individuals to exploit 
others? To begin with, there is a great deal of misunder- 
standing about this thing called "economic power." The 
term is in fact somewhat of a misnomer. When we speak of 
power, we normally refer to the ability to force or coerce 
something or someone to do what we desire. The motor in 
your car has the power to move the car down the road; this 
is mechanical power. The police officer has the power to ar- 
rest and jail a lawbreaker; this is civil power. But what of 
economic power? If 1 possess a great deal of wealth, what 
unique ability does this wealth confer? 

In reality what the critics of the market call economic 
power is only the ability to please others, and thus "eco- 
nomic power" is not power in the true sense of the word. 
Regardless of a person's wealth, in the free market he can 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 269 

get what he wants only by pleasing another person through 
offering to exchange something which the other deems 
more valuable. Wealth (assuming it is not used to buy polit- 
ical power) doesn't bestow the ability to apply force to or 
dominate another individual. 

Take for example the employer of labor, an individual 
who is often considered to be the embodiment of economic 
power and an exploiter of those less powerful than himself. 
It is often forgotten that an employer can get what he 
wants— employees for his business — only by offering 
something which pleases them, namely a wage which they 
consider better than not working, or better than working 
for someone else. He has no power to force them to come 
and work for him, but only the power to offer them a better 

What ensures that he will want to make them a pleasing 
offer? The fact that doing so is the only way to get what he 
is interested in, namely their labor, provides a very strong 
incentive. But suppose the prospective employee is in very 
desperate straits and almost any wage, even one which 
seems pitifully low, will please him enough to work for the 
employer. In this situation, it seems as if the employer can 
get away with paying "slave wages" and exploiting the 
economically weaker employee. 

This scenario, however, ignores the effects of the com- 
petition among employers for employees. In the market 
economy, employers are in constant competition with other 
employers for the services of employees. They are "disci- 
plined" by this competition to offer top wages to attract 
workers. Because of competition, wages are "bid up" to the 
level at which the last employee hired will be paid a wage 
which is very nearly equivalent to the value of what he pro- 
duces. As long as wages are less than this level, it pays an 

270 / Ken S. Ewert 

employer to hire another employee, since doing so will add 
to his profits. Economists call this the marginal productiv- 
ity theory of wages. 

But what if there were no competing employers? For 
example, what about a "one-company town"? Without 
competition, wouldn't the employer be able to exploit the 
employees and pay "unfair" wages? 

First of all, it is important to remember that in the free 
market, an economic exchange occurs only because the two 
trading parties believe that they will be better off after the 
exchange. In other words, all exchanges are "positive sum" 
in that both parties benefit. Thus if an employee in this one- 
company town is willing to work for low wages, it is only 
because he or she places a higher value on remaining in the 
town and working for a lower wage than moving to 
another place and finding a higher paying job. The 
"power" that the employer wields is still only the ability to 
offer a superior alternative to the employee. In choosing to 
remain and work for a lower wage, the employee is likely 
considering other costs such as those of relocating, finding 
another job, and retraining, as well as non-monetary costs, 
such as the sacrifice of local friendships or the sacrifice of 
leaving a beautiful and pleasant town. 

Moreover, this situation cannot last for long. If the 
employer can pay wages that are significantly lower than 
elsewhere, he will reap above-average profits and this in 
turn will attract other employers to move in and take ad- 
vantage of the "cheap labor." In so doing, these new 
employers become competitors for employees. They must 
offer higher wages in order to persuade employees to come 
and work for them, and as a result wages eventually will be 
bid up to the level prevailing elsewhere. 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 271 
Economic Ability to Please 

What is true for the employer in relation to the 
employee is true for all economic relationships in the free 
market. Each individual, though he may be a tyrant at 
heart, can succeed only by first benefiting others — ^by pro- 
viding them with an economic service. Regardless of the 
amount of wealth he possesses, he is never freed from this 
requirement. Economic "power" is only the economic abil- 
ity to please, and as such it is not something to be feared. 
Far from allowing men to oppress each other, the free mar- 
ket takes this sinful drive for power and channels it into 
tangible service for others. 

It is also important to consider that the only alternative 
to the free market is the political direction of economic 
exchanges. As the Public Choice theorists have so convinc- 
ingly pointed out in recent years, there is no good reason to 
suppose that people become less self-interested when they 
enter the political sphere. In other words, to paraphrase 
Paul Craig Roberts, there is not necessarily a "Saul to Paul 
conversion" when an individual enters government. If he 
was power-hungry while he was a private-market partici- 
pant, he likely will be power-hungry after he becomes a 
"public servant." 

But there is an important difference. In contrast with 
economic power, political power is truly something to be 
feared because of its coercive aspect. The power-seeking 
individual in government has power in the true sense of the 
word. While in the market he has to please those he deals 
with in order to be economically successful, the same is not 
true, or is true to a far lesser degree, in the political sphere. 
In the political sphere he can actually abuse one group of 

272 / Ken S. Ewert 

people but still succeed by gaining the favor of other 
groups of people. 

A classic example is a tariff. This economic intervention 
benefits a small group of producers (and those who work 
for or sell to the producers) at the expense of consumers 
who have to pay higher prices for the good in question. The 
politician gains in power (and perhaps wealth) because of 
the significant support he can receive from the small but 
well-organized group of producers. Other examples of the 
use of political power that clearly benefit some individuals 
at the expense of others are government bail-outs, subsi- 
dies, price supports, and licensing monopolies. The fact 
that these types of legislation continue despite the fact that 
they harm people (usually the least wealthy and most 
poorly organized) demonstrates the tendency of mankind 
to abuse political power. 

In fact, virtually every state intervention into the econ- 
omy is for the purpose of benefiting one party at the 
expense of another. In each of the cases mentioned above, 
some are exploited by others via the medium of the state. 
Therefore, if we are concerned about the powerful oppress- 
ing the weak, we should focus our attention on the abuse of 
political power. It, and not the so-called "economic power" 
of individuals acting within the free market, is the true 
source of tyranny and oppression. Our concern for the 
downtrodden should not lead us to denigrate economic 
freedom but rather to restrain the sphere of civil authority. 

V. Conclusion 

The free market is innocent of the charges leveled at it 
by its Christian critics. Its alleged moral shortcomings turn 
out to be things which are common to mankind under both 

Moral Criticisms of the Market / 273 

free and command economic systems. While it is true that 
the free market restrains human sin, it makes no pretense of 
purging people of their selfishness, materialism, individu- 
alism, and drive for power. And this, perhaps, is the true sin 
in the eyes of the market's critics. 

The market is explicitly non-utopian. It doesn't promise 
to recreate man in a new and more perfect state, but rather 
it acknowledges the moral reality of man and works to 
restrain the outward manifestations of sin. In this sense the 
free market is in complete accord with Biblical teachings. 
According to Scripture, man cannot be morally changed 
through any human system, be it religious, political, or eco- 
nomic, but moral regeneration comes solely through the 
grace of God. 

If the Christian critics of the market expect an economic 
system to change the moral character of people, they are 
sadly mistaken. Such a task is clearly beyond the ability of 
any human institution or authority. We must be content to 
restrain the outward expression of sin, and this is some- 
thing which the free market does admirably. 

The Psychology of Cultism 
Ben Barker 

Cults are not a new phenomenon: they may be as old as 
man — or even animal herds. Cults may form around an 
individual, an object, an animal, or a concept. Invariably, 
the members of the cult ascribe magical powers to their 
object of worship — powers to manipulate the environment 
to protect the cult members against evil spirits, the devil, 
natural disasters, bankruptcy, illness, or whatever. 

The core concept in cultism is a followership dependent 
upon someone or something outside itself to assist it in cop- 
ing with a threatening external environment. The more 
inadequate and inferior the follower feels himself to be, the 
more magical and mystical the omnipotence projected onto 
the leader. However, it is a mistake to focus on the leader or 
object of veneration. The leader is usually merely a 
resourceful individual perceptive enough to recognize the 
varied types of helplessness in those about him who offers 
to take away those feelings. That his offer is frequently 
overstated and illusory is beside the point. The point is that 
the followers willingly take the bait — hook, line, and sinker. 

Many were shocked by the submissive, dependent, 
compliant followers of Charles Manson who carved x's in 
their foreheads and chanted on the Los Angeles County 

Ben Barker, M.D., a physician specializing in psychiatry and emer- 
gency medicine, originally presented these ideas in a speech for med- 
ical staff personnel. It was published in the April 1980 issue of The Free- 


The Psychology of CulHsm / 275 

Courthouse steps. They were even more shocked to learn 
that some men and women had brutally annihilated other 
human beings on Manson's satanic command. Then there 
were the ill-fated followers of Jim Jones whose beliefs led 
them to a rotting death in the steamy jungles of Guyana. 
Numerous other examples could be cited. Where do they 
all come from? We shake our heads and wonder, while 
physicians and other societal leaders continue to reinforce 
exactly the type of behavior that will produce more cultists. 

The Roots of Dependency 

What are the roots of dependency in human behavior? 
The answer should be obvious. Each of us began life as a 
totally dependent parasite encased in a constant-tempera- 
ture liquid environment with our nutritional needs satis- 
fied effortlessly. 

Through some miracle, the maternal host does not set 
up an appropriate foreign body rejection reaction and the 
fetus enjoys this total dependency state for some 40-odd 
weeks before expulsion.^ 

It is presumptuous to assume that this experience pre- 
cedes awareness. Single-cell living forms demonstrate 
avoidance behavior to noxious stimuli. Are they aware? If 
they are, then is it not reasonable to suppose the fetus to be 
at least as aware? For me, though, the strongest evidence 
that the intrauterine life is experienced as pleasurable is the 
sustained effort adults make to recreate a similar experi- 
ence through environmental manipulation. "To be waited 
on hand and foot" by spouse, servant, child, and others has 
long been associated with "all the things money can buy." 

Once expelled from the uterus, the infant must struggle 
to meet some of his own needs. The struggle is multifac- 

276 / Ben Barker 

eted, beginning with an immature autonomic nervous sys- 
tem which must stabilize his internal environment in the 
face of a shifting external environment. Mother assists in 
this process by attempting through appropriate nurturing 
techniques to minimize the fluctuations of heat, cold, air 
circulation, and the like upon the infant. He remains 
extremely dependent upon her even though the biological 
umbilical cord has been ruptured. A more profound attach- 
ment persists which defies logical analysis. 

In a slow, incomprehensible, years-long process, mother 
gradually weans the infant from his dependence on her. 
One of her tools is to promote his interaction with other 
adults, siblings, and peers. Obviously, no two parents 
accomplish this task in exactly the same way nor do any 
two individuals react identically to the same stimulus. 
However, there are cultural similarities in the process which 
conspire to create more than surface similarities in the same 
generation of offspring. 

Herein rests the central point of my thesis: the cultural 
factors which have produced so many dependent, submis- 
sive followers among our youth are also behind the decline 
and fall of the United States as a force of geopolitical signif- 
icance. Excessive dependency is endemic in our society and 
those who are in positions of power and prestige — includ- 
ing many in my profession — encourage and perpetuate this 

An Age of Specialization 

We live in an age of specialization so extreme that most 
of us are truly helpless outside our specialties. Our "sys- 
tem" thus has become an incredibly complex web of inter- 
acting specialties which provides great comfort when all is 

The Psychology of Cultism / 277 

going well but reduces us to extreme helplessness in times 
of crisis. Examples abound: Supermarkets are very conve- 
nient unless trucks stop delivering. Automobiles are a nice 
way to get around unless there is no gasoline. Washing 
machines are dandy unless yours breaks down and the 
repairman has a two-week waiting list. 

The trade-off in our age of technological marvels is this: 
We gain convenience and security but may sacrifice self- 
reliance smd independence. For example, antibiotics are 
available over the counter in many countries and individu- 
als are free to take the responsibility for the management of 
their own illnesses. But here in the United States, we do not 
have that freedom. In fact, patients here have been so pro- 
grammed to depend upon physicians that we must take 
responsibility for all their bumps, bruises, and sniffles — 
hardly leaving us with adequate time to care for those who 
truly require our skilled services. 

Our cult of dependency medicine has been so successful 
that disenchanted followers are literally suing us out of 
business. They are impatient and demanding that all dis- 
eases be cured — and cured now! In turning over the 
responsibility for their health to us, they gave us an illusory 
omnipotence. Our fallibility crushes this illusion and their 
response is vindictive anger. Discredited cult leaders are 
adjudged harshly by their disappointed followers. 

The Drug Cult 

Perhaps the largest cult of all that our profession has 
had a hand in is the drug cult. By that, I don t mean the 
"Superfly" white El Dorado Cadillac jockey who drives his 
exotic automobile through Harlem or Watts nor do I refer to 
the Mafia Godfather, the French Connection mystery men. 

278 / Ben Barker 

or the Colombian cocaine millionaires. I'm talking about 
the "drugstore cult" — the widespread dependence of 
American citizens on the soothing syrups and pills avail- 
able on the shelves of drugstores, supermarkets, news- 
stands, and elsewhere. It is the cult that has pushed Valium 
into the number one all-time best-seller spot. 

Our undergraduate, professional, and postgraduate 
medical education is drug-oriented and drug-saturated, 
hence our primary weapon against illness is, of course, 
pharmacological. Was it not fitting and symbolic that so 
many at Jonestown were put out of their misery by an injec- 
tion from a doctor? They trusted him to do the right thing. 

Not only medicine but many other careers and skills 
have enthroned science and the scientific technique. Our 
educational systems perpetuate the myths of science ad 
nauseam. How much of the science and math shoved down 
your throats in high school, college, and medical school 
were really useful to you either in specialty training or in 
practice? Admit that much of your schooling is pure ritual 
and you will see that "education" itself has become a cult. 
College graduates enter the real world with magical expec- 
tations, waving their hard-earned degrees in the wind. 
When their skills are not snapped up, they are disillusioned 
and angry. 

Schooling as Religion 

In attempting to achieve power over the environment, 
students have literally endowed the schooling process with 
the status of religious veneration and plugged themselves 
into it. The teachers and professors are the high priests and 
the process is supposed to mystically and mysteriously 
protect the follower from risk or harm if the prescribed rit- 

The Psychology of Cultism / 279 

uals are followed. Believe it or not, many who educate 
themselves into overcrowded fields simply return to school 
for another degree. Others of the educated cultists simply 
change cults. 

Basically, then, we see that the psychology of cultism is 
simply the persistence of the parent/ child relationship 
beyond an appropriate time. Followers or members feel 
helpless or overwhelmed by an environment they perceive 
as threatening and respond to this feeling by embracing a 
concept or leader to whom they ascribe magical power. 

This is a sign of excessive dependency; and excessive 
dependency in a society can come either from inadequate 
parental directing toward self-reliance, individual rejection 
of such directing, or programming from external sources 
which directs towards dependency. Additionally, the envi- 
ronment may become truly so threatening that dependency 
upon an authority or higher power source may be appro- 
priate, in war, say, or in specific subcultures as depicted in 
the film, "The Godfather." Modern technology also shares 
the guilt, for it has contrived to capture a formerly active 
and mobile social order and transformed it into a sedentary 
spectator society. 

The principal villain in this transformation process is 
television. By and large, it is a dehumanization process 
which tends to dull the senses and produce emotional zom- 
bies who respond primarily to subliminal and repetitive 
advertisement slogans. What then occurs is much akin to 
disuse atrophy: the spirit within dwindles like melting wax 
and the mind dulls. The products of this process suffer 
endemic obesity and emotional indifference to their actual 

What Jim Jones and his ilk have offered to these unfor- 
tunates is an antidote to the poisonous, dehumanizing 

280 / Ben Barker 

processes induced by the age of technology. Few who leap 
for the bait really care that the antidote itself is toxic, for 
what they have been experiencing is a living death and any 
escape hatch is acceptable, even if it leads into an endless 
maze. The visible result is the phenomena of cults so alive 
in the land today. 

In a society of people programmed almost from birth to 
foUow-the-leader, it is inevitable that some will fall into the 
clutches of mad leaders. That is but one of the many conse- 
quences of the loss of self-reliance and of independent 
judgment in American citizens. Before joining in an emo- 
tional condemnation of "cults," perhaps it would be best to 
understand that a cult is but a system of worship or ritual. 
It is a system of belief gone pathological, to be distin- 
guished from religious beliefs which inculcate indepen- 

Freedom of Worship 

The freedom to worship God after your own manner of 
belief is as valuable to the spirit of independence as is free- 
dom of speech. These freedoms, guaranteed by the First 
Amendment to the Constitution, are about all we have left 
of the dream of the Founding Fathers and should not be 
carelessly dismissed. 

Genuine religious beliefs have the special quality of sat- 
isfying intellectual and emotional needs simultaneously. 
They account for unequal life fates, promise release from 
illness and suffering, and offer hope for a better life. They 
are, indeed, a special, poorly understood, potentially adap- 
tive set of ego defense mechanisms. Do we psychiatrists 
have a socially sanctioned right to intervene in religious 

The Psychology of Cultism / 281 

beliefs, particularly when we know so little about the influ- 
ence of religion on psychopathology? 

If we deprive someone of his religion, what substitute 
do we have for him? And ought we to impose such a sub- 
stitute? Physicians for years have ignored nutrition, exer- 
cise, and relaxation as techniques for combating or prevent- 
ing illnesses. Indeed, we have ignored preventive medicine 
itself. We are, for the most part, disease-oriented high 
priests in a cult of science and technology which is leading 
us all into a fate which appears particularly unattractive. 
Chronic stress-related diseases plague both us and our 
patients (hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, colitis, ulcers, 
asthma, and so forth), yet we persist in disregarding the 
spiritual element in man and rely solely upon chemical 
potions and invasive techniques to combat diseases. 

Perhaps God does exist. Perhaps He was around before 
Plato and Aristotle. Perhaps He spoke to Moses and Paul 
and many others. Perhaps His Holy Spirit is within each 
human being and resists the sadness of a mechanized, 
depersonalized, technological social order. Media manipu- 
lators who sensationalize the fates of unfortunate cultists 
cannot destroy the source of all life which beats within each 
of our breasts and breathes freely of the air that His plants 

The psychology of cultism is but one indication of an 
intrinsic desire in each of us to offer veneration to the Cre- 
ator. This process becomes pathological only if the surro- 
gate leader is mad, as with Jim Jones, or when the path fol- 
lowed leads into a blind maze, as with scientific technology 
Almost every day another "accepted" scientific fact is dis- 
credited in yet another laboratory experiment. It appears, 
then, that science offers no final solutions or ultimate 

282 / Ben Barker 

explanations. Is our own worship of the microscope and 
the wonders of microbiology, neurochemistry, and physiol- 
ogy as misplaced as the blind faith that Jones's followers 
had in him? 

Blind Departures from Basic Principles of Freedom 

This nation was founded upon principles taken from 
the Judeo-Christian ethic and as long as these prevailed, we 
grew and prospered. Now, there is no prayer in the schools 
and unionized, socialist teachers insidiously program our 
youth. Mindless violence and senseless trivia beam at us 
from the television, our newspapers are full of lies and 
scantily clad females posing for underwear ads. Heroin is 
the opiate of the ghetto, alcohol of the middle-class com- 
munity, and cocaine of the wealthy. Valium, which we sup- 
ply, is abused by all social classes. 

We correctly perceive the sea as a dangerous, hostile 
environment for man and few would attempt to navigate it 
for any significant distance without the benefits of a buoy- 
ant and protective superstructure. What many fail to realize 
is that man's journey on dry land is at least as hazardous. In 
neglecting the spiritual asf>ects of our own existences, and 
of our patients' as well, we are up a creek without either 
boat or paddles. 

Cults, worthless dollars, gasoline shortages, and depen- 
dent patients are the long-term consequences of too many 
of us learning to rely on Big Brother. The processed foods 
we eat and drink are as suspect as the poisoned potion was 
in Guyana — it simply takes longer for them to kill us. 

Erich Fromm tells us that all human beings are religious 
in one way or another, religion being "any system of 
thought and action which . . . gives the individual the frame 

The Psychology of Cultism / 283 

of orientation and object of devotion he needs/'^ The psy- 
chology of cultism is all around us, as men elect to place 
their faith and trust in other men, their machines or their 
technological products. 

As long as we pass on shallow values to our youth and 
let them see us worshipping at the altar of science, or the 
government, or the dollar, or gold — they will do likewise. 

As long as we promote dependency in our patients, we 
are reinforcing the psychology of cultism. The white coat 
and the stethoscope are counterproductive when used as 
talismans in a cult of science. We should learn and teach 
self-reliance and preventive medicine principles, for when 
these attitudes and values are mixed with genuine faith in 
the Creator, we may return to being a nation of healthy and 
sane individuals rather than a society of drugged, depen- 
dent sheep and we may finally reverse the decline of the 
United States as a force of geopolitical significance. 

1. Cf. S. Ferenczi, "Stages in the Development of the Sense of Real- 
ity/' Outline of Psychoanalysis, by J. S. Van Tesslar, p. 112. 

2. Ashok Rao, M. D., and Jennifer A. Katze, M. D., "The Role of Reli- 
gious Belief in a Depressed Patient's Illness," Psychiatric Opinion, June 
1979, pp. 39-43. 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die 
John K. Williams 

Saint Augustine once lamented that he knew precisely 
what he meant by the word "time" until asked to state what 
he meant. I sympathize with the saint. I know full well 
what I mean by the noun "civilization," but pinning down 
the word is a singularly frustrating exercise. Webster's New 
World Dictionary of the American Language — a work some- 
what inordinately given to using the term et cetera — tells me 
that "civilization" is related to "social organization of a 
high order, marked by the development and use of a writ- 
ten language and by advances in the arts and sciences, gov- 
ernment, etc." and thus indicates "the total culture of a par- 
ticular people, nation, period, etc." and "countries and 
peoples considered to have reached a high stage of social 
and cultural development." This helps — particularly the 
reference to the "development and use of a written lan- 
guage" and "advances in the arts and sciences, govern- 
ment, etc." — but 1 am still dissatisfied: 1 know not a few 
men and women deeply involved in government, and not 
completely ignorant of the arts and sciences, whom 1 hesi- 
tate to describe as "civilized." It is, as the King of Siam re- 
marked to Anna, "a puzzlement." 

The Reverend Dr. John K. Williams, popular author, lecturer, and 
philosopher, served FEE as a resident scholar. He continues to carry the 
banner for liberty in his native Australia. This essay appeared in the 
September 1985 edition of TJie Freeman. 


The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 285 

Non-dictionary definitions of and comments about 
"civilization" and the "civilizing process" compound con- 
fusion. Martin Crombie asserts that "the alchemy of civi- 
lization transforms vicious animals ruled by instinct into 
human beings governed by reason," but Eric Berne tells us 
that "we are bom princes and the civilizing process turns 
us into frogs." Jose Ortega y Gasset insists that "civilization 
is nothing else but the attempt to reduce force to being the 
last resort/' but Will Rogers wryly observes that no one can 
"say that civilization doesn't advance, for in every war they 
kill you in a new way." On the one hand, Winston Churchill 
affirms that "to fight for the preservation of civilization is to 
fight for the survival of the human race," but on the other 
hand Ralph Waldo Emerson insists that "the end of the 
human race will be that it will eventually die of civiliza- 
tion." When these conflicting utterances are blended, and 
are spiced by the suggestion of Calvin Coolidge that "civi- 
lization and profits go hand in hand" and the observation 
of Alan Coult that "the flush toilet is the basis of Western 
civilization," the search for a definition of civilization 
begins to look like an exercise in futility. 

Civilizations Die But a Continuity Remains 

For all this, while no one of us may be able precisely to 
say what he or she means by "civilization," all of us under- 
stand, even if we do not agree with, the assertion that civi- 
lizations seem to die. Civilization itself may continue, and 
much that past civilizations have achieved may be 
absorbed by new civilizations and thus conserved, but par- 
ticular civilizations, like individual men and women, are 
seemingly destined to be bom, to grow, to flourish, to fade, 
and to die. 

286 / John K. Williams 

While it is easy to concede that such a process has char- 
acterized civilizations of yesteryear, it is not so easy to 
believe that this is also true of our own civilization. And 
yet, the cosmos of which we are a part, and thus human his- 
tory itself, are vital and dynamic, not lifeless and static. 
Change is thus inevitable. Since change is of the very 
essence of reality, no particular state of affairs, and hence no 
particular form of civilization, are forever. And that is not 
terrible: rather, it is ground for hope. Tomorrow is not pre- 
destined to be a rerun of today. A world more prosperous, 
more peaceful, more committed to liberty than is our 
world, is a real and exciting possibility. 

I have been unable, alas, to identify the reference, but an 
observation I noted in a desk calendar and wrote down 
says it all. "Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream 
is sometimes filled with blood from f>eople killing, stealing, 
shouting, and doing things historians usually record, while 
on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, 
raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle 
statues. The story of civilization is the story of what hap- 
pened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they 
ignore the banks for the river." The words are those of Will 
and Ariel Durant, but where in their writings they are 
found I do not know. 

What happens on the banks is marked by continuity. 
One generation inherits and builds upon what previous 
generations have achieved. In this sense, the insights and 
discoveries of particular civilizations last. And in this sense, 
what is great and glorious about our civilization can last. 
Hence my willingness to affirm that "the American Way" 
can last and will last. In so speaking I am not, incidentally, 
seeking to flatter you. The "American Way" has a long his- 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 287 

tory. Insights and ideals for which innumerable people over 
millennia fought and died came, perhaps by an accident of 
history, the defining characteristics of "the American Way" 
Your nation, after all, is unique in that it was "conceived in 

What can last and what, 1 believe, will last, are the prin- 
ciples so many for so long sought to establish, and which in 
this new nation "became flesh." What can and will last is, 
so to speak, the ringing affirmation that "all men are cre- 
ated equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with cer- 
tain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, 
and the pursuit of Happiness." 

While we cannot pretend that our civilization as it is 
shall endure until the end of human history, the way to pre- 
serve and pass on to those who follow us what is magnifi- 
cent and awesome about the American Way is to defend all 
that is excellent in our civilization as it is. Being human — 
being material creatures living in a spatio-temporal, physi- 
cal world — we cannot defend an abstraction called "civi- 
lization itself." Just as the only way to serve an abstraction 
called "humanity" is to serve particular flesh-and-blood 
human beings, so the only way to further the cause of civ- 
ilization as such is to cherish and conserve a particular civ- 

We serve civilization as such, and can only serve civi- 
lization as such, by serving the best in our own civilization. 
And one way to do this is to ask what it is that we can do to 
combat the forces that weaken, that undermine, that erode 
a particular civilization. Hence the title of my address and 
the question I wish to explore: What is the disease from which 
civilizations die? 

288 / John K. Williams 

In using the word "disease" I am borrowing a meta- 
phor, an image used some two-and-a-half millennia ago by 
a Greek historian named Thucydides. 

Thucydides loved the city-state of Athens. His devotion 
was not to the buildings and environment one could point 
to, but to a way of life which Athens in the fifth century B.C. 
embodied. In words Thucydides ascribes to a great Athen- 
ian leader named Pericles, that way of life is thus described: 

Our constitution is called a democracy because 
power is in the hands not of a minority but of the 
entire people. When it is a question of settling pri- 
vate disputes, everyone is equal before the law. . . . 
And, just as our political life is free and open, so is 
our day-to-day life in relation to each other. We do 
not get into a state with our next-door neighbor if he 
enjoys himself in his own way, nor do we give him 
the kind of black looks which, though they do no 
real harm, still do hurt people's feelings. We are free 
and tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs 
we keep to the law. This is because [the law] com- 
mands our deep respect . . . especially . . . those 
unwritten laws which it is an acknowledged shame 
to break. It seems just as natural to us to enjoy for- 
eign goods as our own local products . . . and our 
city is open to the world. . . . We regard wealth as 
something to be properly used, rather than some- 
thing to boast about, and as for poverty, no one need 
be ashamed to admit it. The real shame is not in 
being poor, but in not taking practical measures to 
escape from poverty. Here each individual is inter- 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 289 

ested not only in his own affairs, but in the affairs of 
[Athens] as well.^ 

Now it must be confessed that this description of the 
Athenian way is not a httle idealized. The institution of 
slavery was a reality in Athens, just as it was in all Greek 
city-states of the fifth century B.C. Again, power in Athens 
could be said to be "in the hands ... of the entire people," if 
and only if women did not count as people. Yet for all this, 
Thucydides' description accurately captures something of 
what was so magnificent about his beloved Athens, a civi- 
lization that gave birth to thinkers, writers, and artists 
whose insights and works still live, having become part of 
"civilization itself." Yet the civilization that was Athens did 
not live. It died. 

Early in the work from which I have quoted, Thucy- 
dides describes a mysterious plague which swept through 
Athens, elaborating in detail the symptoms those suffering 
from the disease displayed. At one level this section of his 
history is simply history, a painstaking record of a signifi- 
cant event which most certainly did occur. Yet more than a 
simple description of what happened is intended. Thucy- 
dides uses this description as a controlling symbol for his 
entire work. Athenian civilization itself suffered, he asserts, 
from a "disease," a disease characterized by particular 
symptoms. This disease, which in the case of Athens 
proved fatal, is the disease all men and women of good will 
must fear. For it is the disease from which civilizations die. 

Human Beings and Human Nature 

Thucydides frequently uses the phrase, "human nature 
being what it is" and similar phrases. By so speaking, he is 

290 / John K. Williams 

indicating at least two realities, two constants about men 
and women. First, human beings are rational. Men and 
women are capable of thought. They can formulate goals 
and rationally seek out ways to realize these goals. They 
can recall, consider, and learn from the past and thereby 
plan for the future. They can envisage not simply an imme- 
diate and given present, but a distant and possible future. 
Human nature is rational. 

Now rationality dictates, insists Thucydides, the rule of 
law. Long-term objectives can be realized by an individual 
if and only if he or she can count upon other people behav- 
ing in an essentially predictable way. By this is meant not 
that the individual cannot or should not be spontaneous 
and creative, and thus unpredictable, but that some rules and 
conventions governing the way people relate to each other must 
exist and must be respected. Rule by a tyrant's whim or a 
mob's caprice is undesirable, apart from anything else, pre- 
cisely because such rule is erratic and unpredictable, pre- 
cluding cooperative, long-term endeavors. What is permit- 
ted today might be forbidden tomorrow; undertakings 
made in the present might not be fulfilled in the future. 
Social coordination and cooperation demands, insists 
Thucydides, the rule of law. And as rational beings, men 
and women can perceive that this is so. 

The Rules of Law 

Like many of his contemporaries, Thucydides divides 
"laws" broadly defined into four groups or sets. First, and 
perhaps weakest, are the rules signified by the word man- 
ners. People breaking these rules tend to be regarded as 
somewhat uncivilized and uncouth, but that is all. Ill-man- 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 291 

nered people may not be invited to dinner parties, but they 
are not perceived as "bad'' people. 

Then come the rules signified by the word morals. These 
rules are significantly stronger than the rules we call "man- 
ners." People breaking these rules are perceived not simply 
as irksome, antisocial irritants but as evil people. 

Third come the rules making up the written laws of a 
community. These rules, stronger than both manners and 
morals, are the rules which, if broken, incur a penalty 
imposed by a court. While some "immoral" actions may 
also be "illegal" actions, not all are. Thus the sexual license 
so uproariously depicted in the plays of the Athenian 
comedian, Aristophanes, while certainly not illegal, was no 
less certainly regarded as immoral. The sphere of morality, 
and the sphere of legality, were not perceived by the Greeks 
as identical. 

Manners. Morals. The written laws. And a fourth set of 
rules: the "unwritten laws which it is an acknowledged shame to 
break. " These laws were perceived as so basic, so fundamen- 
tal, so important, that they did not need to be written down. 
For the Greeks, these laws were two: honor the dead, and 
honor the gods, including the gods of others. In a sense, 
these two laws reduce to a single imperative: respect other 
people as people, possessing a worth in and of themselves, 
and resj)ect the values other people hold, even if those val- 
I ues are other than one's own. In more contemporary lan- 
guage, we might define the "unwritten laws" as what some 
philosophers call reciprocal respect for autonomy, a respect for 
the personhood of other people and their capacity to for- 
mulate and strive to realize their own peaceful, noncoercive 
visions of the "good life." The "unwritten laws." 

Rationality, then, dictates obedience to these laws. It is 

292 / John K. Williams 

in one's own interest that one is part of a community where 
certain expectations can be held and long-term goals can be 
pursued. To be sure, one cannot, given these rules, do 
exactly what one might wish at a given moment, but nei- 
ther can anyone else. There is thus an incalculably valuable 
payoff, a payoff more than compensating for the irksome 
restraint of not always being able to behave with impunity. 
So affirms reason. So asserts the rationality that is part of 
human nature. 

Alongside rationality is found a second characteristic of 
"human nature": a drive to seek immediate, here-and-now plea- 
sure. Men and women resent whatever curbs their freedom 
to seek such pleasure. Regardless of the dictates of sweet 
reason, they chafe at the bit. Thus if a person can acquire 
the power to defy the rules social cooperation and coordi- 
nation demand, that person will defy them. If a person can 
acquire the power to defy the rules and get away with it, 
that person will, asserts Thucydides, tend to do precisely 

The first rules to go are usually manners. Then morals 
bite the dust. Then the written laws are defied. Finally, the 
"unwritten laws" are forgotten. Resentment and envy are 
fostered, the powerless detesting the powerful. Factions 
proliferate. Barbarism reigns. 

A Tyrant Is Born 

And then, asserts Thucydides, comes the end, in one of 
two forms. A social order without coordination is power- 
less to defend itself against the disciplined onslaughts of an 
external power. Or — and more frequently — a people sink- 
ing into the chaos of barbarism panic. They cry out for 
someone — anyone — who will restore some semblance of 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 293 

cohesion and order. And invariably that someone emerges. 
He promises to give the people what, in desperation, they 
are grasping for. He promises to restore social order and the 
rule of law. But at a price. In exchange, men and women 
must surrender their liberty. In this way, the tyrant is born. 

Thucydides describes in great detail the symptoms 
observable as this disease — the disease from which civiliza- 
tions die — inexorably works its way toward its terrible end, 
progressively eroding the structures and practices that are, 
so to speak, the central nervous system of a civilized com- 
munity. I quote him at some length. 

"Revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places 
where the revolutions occurred late, the knowledge of what 
had happened previously in other places caused still new 
extravagances ... in the methods of seizing power and . . . 
unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of 
events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. 
What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggres- 
sion was now regarded as the courage one would expect to 
find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was 
merely another way of saying that one was a coward. . . . 
Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man . . . ; [any- 
one] who held violent opinions could always be trusted; 
anyone who objected to [such opinions] became a suspect. 
. . . Family relations were a weaker tie than party member- 
ship, since party members were . . . ready to go to any 
extreme for any reason whatever. These parties were not 
formed to enjoy the benefits of the established laws, but 
simply to acquire power. ..." 

Continues Thucydides: "Love of power . . . was the 
cause of all these evils. . . . Leaders of parties in the cities 
had programs which appeared admirable — on the one side 
equality for the masses, on the other side safe and sound 

294 / John K. Williams 

government by an aristocracy. Yet by professing to serve 
the public interest, party leaders and members in truth 
sought to win . . . prizes for themselves. . . . [With] the con- 
ventions of civilized life thrown into confusion, human 
nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, 
showed itself in its true colors . . . , repealing general laws of 
humanity which . . . give a hope of salvation to all."^ 

Thus the symptoms. Then the end. Whether externally 
imposed or internally generated, tyranny and despotism 
triumph. Liberty dies, and with it a civilization. The joy- 
ous songs of a free and civilized people are silenced. The 
disease from which civilizations die has worked its way to 
its end. 

Here endeth a brief and sketchy lesson from a volume 
penned by a genius whose name is never heard by many 
students. They prefer, you see, "relevant" books and con- 
temporary names. And those of us who should know better 
capitulate, fearful of incurring our children's wrath. We 
proffer amusing mini-courses about ephemeral interests 
instead — then wonder why it is our young know little 
about the heritage that is rightly theirs. 

Moral Decline 

As a preacher, I might be expected to point to the break- 
down in Western societies of moral rules. Clearly, all is not 
well. In his monumental volume. Modem Times: The World 
from the Twenties to the Eighties,^ Paul Johnson documents 
the rise in the West of moral relativism and moral subjec- 
tivism. More and more, moral rules are perceived either as 
arbitrary prescriptions and proscriptions relative to a par- 
ticular society, having no rootage or grounding in the 
nature of things, or as expressions of personal taste, a dif- 


The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 295 

ference over the merits of cruelty for its own sake being 
akin to a difference over the merits of a particular flavor of 
ice cream. 

Yet in spite of this, I suggest that anyone tempted to 
assert that our civilization has sunk to hitherto depths of 
moral depravity, read some history. The eighteenth-century 
writer, Tobias Smollett — author of that ever-delightful 
work. The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker— describes the 
highways of his day as being "infested with violence and 
assassination" and the cities of his age as "teem(ing) with 
the brutal votaries of intemperance and lewdness." London 
in 1839 boasted 933 brothels and 844 houses of ill-fame to 
serve a population of some two million people. Hooligan- 
ism is no more rampant in New York City today than it was 
in nineteenth-century London, where gangs such as the 
"Bucks" and "Corinthians" perfected traditions of sheer 
terrorism elaborated by their eighteenth-century predeces- 
sors, the notorious "Mohocks." Consider this description of 
the Mohocks: "Nobody who was alone was safe from their 
cowardly assaults. They attacked at random any unarmed 
person who was out after dark. They assaulted unprotected 
women; they drove their swords through sedan-chairs; 
they pulled people from coaches, slit their noses with 
razors, stabbed them with knives, ripped the coach to 
pieces, and then . . . killed."^ 

The barbaric behavior of English soccer fans which 
recently shocked a disbelieving world has its parallels in 
the eighteenth century, the major difference being not the 
mindlessness of the behavior but the fact that, today, we at 
least are shocked. 

The situation is complex. There is something depraved 
about an age witnessing self-styled world leaders applaud- 
ing a speech delivered by Idi Amin on October 1, 1975, at 

296 / John K. Williams 

that cabal of tyrannies laughingly described as the United 
Nations. There is something profoundly disturbing about a 
generation of adults that seemingly has lost its moral nerve, 
leaving the young to improvise their manners and morals 
as best they can. Yet to assert that we are experiencing an 
unprecedented moral decline is to go beyond the evidence. 
Suffice to suggest that, if we take seriously Thucydides' 
claim that a disregard of the rules we call manners and 
morals is indeed symptomatic of the disease from which 
civilizations die, we cannot be complacent with impunity. 

The Rule of Law 

What is beyond dispute is that we today have largely 
departed from the rule of law. "When it is a question of set- 
tling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law, " asserts 
Thucydides. Citizens of Western nations not so long ago 
could echo this assertion. Today they cannot. 

The Founding Fathers of this nation meant by "equal- 
ity" precisely what Greeks such as Thucydides meant by 
the term isonomia — namely, equality before the law. There are 
to be no special laws for special classes or castes or elites, 
laws privileging some but disadvantaging others. Indeed 
rules which do single out particular individuals or particu- 
lar sets of individuals were not, for the Greeks, properly 
called laws at all, but "edicts" or "decrees." Even when 
such rules are backed by the majority, they remain other 
than laws proper, "the decrees of the demos — the people — 
correspond(ing)," as Aristotle puts it, "to the edicts of the 

This truth was clearly and unambiguously perceived by 
those who in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
defended the political philosophy of classical — classical — 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 297 

liberalism, and was no less clearly perceived by your 
Founding Fathers. They established a republic, not an unre- 
stricted democracy; they advocated not the absolute rule of 
any majority but the constitutionally defended liberties of 
minorities, even minorities of one; they defended not rule 
by any principles securing majority approval, but by prin- 
ciples of conduct equally applicable to all. Justice was por- 
trayed as a blindfolded figure. She did not see who stood 
before her. That did not matter, for whoever you were — 
rich or poor; Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or "Infidel"; edu- 
cated or unlettered — your "rights" were the same. 

This understanding of the "rule of law" is utterly vital 
for a free and civilized community. Rules which single out 
special classes, castes, or elites breed the factionalism and 
scheming Thucydides laments, foster the envy Thucydides 
deplores, and precipitate the civil strife and dissension 
Thucydides fears. No matter what impressively high- 
minded terms are appealed to as justification for any depar- 
ture from the rule of law properly understood — "social jus- 
tice" or whatever — the outcome remains the same. And 
that outcome is disaster for a free and civilized society. 

And let us not delude ourselves. In recent decades West- 
ern civilization has witnessed a departure from the rule of 
law, classically defined. Justice is no longer blindfolded, 
supremely indifferent as to who it is standing accused 
before her. She peeks! "Tell me who you are," she asserts, 
"and then I shall tell you your rights." The notion that all 
enjoy absolutely equal "rights"— essentially the "right" to 
formulate and strive to realize any vision of the "good life," 
given only that such striving and such visions are peaceful, 
and that all are to be protected by government from vio- 
lence, theft, and fraud— has been unspeakably attenuated. 
"Equality of rights" and "equality before the law" have sue- 

298 / John K. Williams 

cumbed to a different vision of "equality" — an egalitarian 
sameness secured by edicts and decrees which advantage 
some but disadvantage others. 

The very nature of government thus changes. No longer 
is government given the vital but limited task of enforcing 
a single set of rules, protecting all from actual or threatened 
violence, theft, and fraud, and thereby ensuring that all are 
equally free to formulate and strive to realize their own 
visions — their diverse but noncoercive visions — of the "good 
life." Rather, government becomes the means whereby one 
group of people seeks favors and advantages at the expense 
of rival groupings of people. A massive redistributive appa- 
ratus proliferates zero-sum games whereby some gain and 
others lose. Factionalism is encouraged, envy is increased, 
and government becomes not the protector of all but what 
Frederic Bastiat, the great French classical liberal thinker, 
called "the fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live 
at the expense of everyone else."^ And according to Thucy- 
dides, this eroding of the rule of law signifies the presence 
of the disease from which civilizations die. 

The Family 

I make no apologies for drawing your attention to 
Thucydides' specific reference to the weakening of family ties 
as a further symptom of the disease from which civiliza- 
tions die. Indeed I would urge you to read a singularly 
scholarly volume penned by the courageous Russian dissi- 
dent, Igor Shafarevich, entitled The Socialist Phenomenon,^ 
While a mathematician by training — indeed until recently 
Shafarevich was a professor of mathematics at Moscow 
University — he displays in this volume an utterly awesome 
historical knowledge, and he uses that knowledge to docu- 
ment with compelling thoroughness the hatred statists and 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 299 

collectivists invariably have had for the family unit. It 
would seem to be the case that opposition to individual lib- 
erty inevitably leads to opposition to the family. 

Because I am committed to the rule of law, I cannot and 
do not advocate laws specifying the family unit and delib- 
erately seeking to foster and favor the family unit. I must, in 
the name of the rule of law, oppose all rules the objective of 
which is the realization of some particular vision of the 
"good life" — save, of course, visions involving the actual or 
threatened coercion of people not sharing those visions. 

What I oppose in the name of the rule of law is the per- 
haps unintentional weakening of the traditional family by 
welfare schemes which in practice encourage a breakdown 
of the family unit. It would be impertinent for me to refer to 
the situation in your nation. But I can refer you to Charles 
Murray's devastating critique of American social welfare 
policy. Losing Ground/ 

All I ask is that governments mind their own business 
and get out of the way as individuals organize their social 
relationships. The traditional family is, in my judgment, so 
grounded in biological and emotional reality that it can look 
after itself. The only further suggestion I make is that indi- 
viduals caring about strengthening the traditional family, 
involve themselves in voluntary organizations assisting fam- 
ilies in trouble — financial assistance, counseling, and so on. 

Be that as it may, the undermining of the family is, as 
Thucydides perceived so long ago, a symptom of the dis- 
ease from which civilizations die. 

Individual Integrity 

Finally, according to Thucydides, the disease from 
which civilizations die afflicts the "best" members of a soci- 
ety, not simply the "worst." Given immoral social institu- 

300 / John K. Williams 

tions, the "best" are tempted to compromise their princi- 
ples. By so yielding, however, those who should know bet- 
ter become infected cells carrying the disease, rather than 
healthy antibodies fighting the invader. 
Some lines of George Meredith say it all: 

In tragic life, God wot. 

No villain need be. Passions spin the plot: 

We are betrayed by what is false within. 

I know the alibis, being extremely gifted in the less than 
noble art of rationalization. I am robbed, say, by a pick- 
pocket. At some future date, I acquire some clout over the 
pickpocket. Is it not proper that I retrieve all or some of 
what rightly is mine? Similarly, is it not right that I join in 
the scramble to the government trough, retrieving what has 
been taken from me, at least in part? But the analogy is 
flawed. We are not retrieving from the pickpocket what is 
ours; we are rather sending him out to pick other pockets — 
including those of our children and our children's chil- 
dren — and sharing in the loot. We are partners in crime, not 
victims enjoying a measure of restitution. 

I am not referring to forms of involvement in a less than 
ideal system that cannot be avoided. In my nation, the only 
way I can opt out of a socialized medical system is to seek 
out some ex-doctor, struck off the lists, and negotiate an 
undisclosed cash payment; and frankly I'm not prepared to 
entrust my physical well-being to some probably incompe- 
tent rogue. I go to the ballet, even though I know that 
money coercively extracted from football fans and movie 
buffs (for the most part less affluent than am I), is subsidiz- 
ing my extravagant tastes. Total disengagement with a less 
than ideal system is acquired only by opting out, and, with 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 301 

like-minded souls, seeking a deserted island on which to 
set up a Utopia— but such islands are few and the pioneer- 
ing spirit is not, alas, mine. 

I am, however, referring to an involvement we could 
avoid if we were willing to pay the price. Many of those who 
state that they value liberty, and a politico-economic system 
informed by liberty, tolerate in themselves a measure of 
involvement with statist structures that is not necessary, 
and which makes their professed values ring hollow. In this 
sense we are, in Meredith's words, betrayed by "what is 
false within," becoming carriers of the disease from which 
civilizations die. 


No person with eyes to see, and certainly no person 
with eyes alert to the symptoms detailed by Thucydides of 
the disease from which civilizations die, can entertain the 
fantasy that all is well with our civilization. Yet 1 am utterly 
convinced that our situation is far from hopeless, and that 
the "disease" can be curbed and conquered. 

I believe the American inheritance is the greatest inheri- 
tance ever given to any nation: "A new nation, conceived in 
liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are cre- 
ated equal." In this land the dream of the ages was earthed, 
and became the very foundation upon which a people 
began to build. The revolution that gave you birth was 
unique. Other revolutions ended in terror or Napoleonic 
empire. Your revolution challenged at its beginning, and 
has challenged ever since, all dominations and tyrannies, 
all prejudices and bigotries, all predatory institutions 
enslaving and debasing the free spirit of humanity. Your 
revolution enshrined and still enshrines the cry that people 

302 / John K. Williams 

are not chattels, not pawns on a planner's chessboard, not 
divided by "nature" into lords and serfs. It is therefore sac- 
rilege to enslave them, infamous to engineer them, criminal 
to degrade them and seek to smother the liberty that bums 
in their being. 

And that is your strength. For the liberty upon which 
this nation was and is built is not merely a value created by 
or equal to a taste some of us happen to have acquired. It is 
grounded in the very nature of human reality. In the absence 
of private property rights, the absence of changing relative 
money prices in a market economy — in the absence, to put it 
bluntly, of economic and individual liberty — a community 
literally cannot use what it has to acquire what it wants, and 
the hungry will not be fed, the naked will not be clothed, the 
destitute will not be sheltered. 

More, there is in the human spirit a yearning that can 
never utterly be silenced, a yearning for freedom to formu- 
late one's own vision of the "good life" and seek to realize 
that vision. I know that there is another voice and another 
yearning — a voice that whispers fearfully of the risks and 
responsibilities freedom involves, and a yearning to be car- 
ried through life. Yet the voice that says, "Stand on thy feet, 
take up thy bed and walk," has the last word, for it is 
stronger than the voice which, in the name of an illusory 
security, lures us toward the collective grave of statism. 

You and I are on the side of life. Yes, we must act as 
though everything depended upon the labors of our hands, 
the intensity of our thinking, the devotion of our hearts. Yet 
if liberty is written into the very structure of our individual 
and social being, victory in the end is sure. If only we stop 
compromising; if only we as educationalists and adults do 
what A. N. Whitehead said we must do, and expose our 
children to the "habitual vision of greatness" by telling 

The Disease from Which Civilizations Die / 303 

them the story of humanity's struggle toward freedom; if 
only we stop apologizing or indulging in neurotic guilt, and 
stand tall at mention of the "American Way" as I have 
defined and as your forefathers defined it and not as foolish 
rabble-rousers define it. If only we do this the victory shall 
be ours. Of course there will be setbacks. Of course there 
will be disappointments. Since when has the long, slow 
journey from the slavery of Egypt to the promised land of 
freedom been other than through a wilderness? Yet that 
"wilderness and the solitary place shall be made glad, and 
the desert shall rejoice; it shall blossom abundantly and 
rejoice even with joy and singing." 

1. ThucydideS/ The Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner (Har- 
mondsworth: Penguin Books, 1954), pp. 145-146. 

2. Ibid., pp. 242-245. 

3. Paul Johnsoa Modem Times: The World from the Twenties to the 
Eighties (New York; Harper and Row, 1983). 

4. Cited by J. Hemming, Individual Morality (London: Nelson, 1969), 
p. 6. 

5. Frederic Bastiat, "The State," trans. S. Cain, in Selected Essays on 
Political Economy, George B. de Huszar, ed. (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: 
Foundation for Economic Education, 1968), p. 144. 

6. Igor R. Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon (New York: Harper 
and Row, 1980). 

7. Charles Murray, Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 
(New York: Basic Books, 1984). 

A Moral Order 
Edmund A. Opitz 

The Pilgrims and Puritans who settled along the north- 
east coast of this country during the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries had sailed across the rugged Atlantic seek- 
ing a piece of land where they might put their deepest 
religious convictions into practice. They were called Dis- 
senters or Separatists; they were estranged from the doc- 
trines and practices of the government church of the nation 
from which they fled. For their faith they had suffered 
various hardships and some persecution. Alexis de 
Tocqueville, writing of the men and women who estab- 
lished Plymouth Colony observed: "... it was a purely 
intellectual craving that exiled them from the comforts of 
their former homes; and in facing the inevitable sufferings 
of exile their object was the triumph of an idea." That idea 
was conveyed by a motto that Thomas Jefferson used on his 
personal seal: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." 

These early settlers were not peasants or serfs; they 
were clergymen and teachers, farmers and men of business. 
Many had degrees from Cambridge University. The late 
Samuel Eliot Morison, a Harvard professor specializing in 
early Massachusetts history, declared that there was a 

The Reverend Mr. Opitz served on the senior staff of The Founda- 
tion for Economic Education for 37 years. This essay apj:>eared as a 
Foreword to a 1996 FEE publication, A Moral Basis for Liberty, by Robert 
A. Sirico. 


A Moral Order / 305 

higher percentage of Ph.D/s in the Puritan population in 
the 1640s than in any time since, in this country! 

The "idea" referred to by Tocqueville had been spread- 
ing in England even before the Reformation; it bears 
directly upon the English people having, for the first time, 
the Bible in their own tongue. The idea of a new common- 
wealth, fired by reading in the Old Testament of "the 
people of the covenant," launched in America what 
Tocqueville described as "a democracy more perfect than 
antiquity had dared dream of." John Cotton, who has been 
rightly called the patriarch of New England, served as min- 
ister of The First Church of Boston from 1633 until his death 
in 1653. Cotton Mather wrote that John Cotton "pro- 
pounded to them an endeavor after a theocracy, as near as 
might be, to that which was the glory of Israel, the 'peculiar 
people/ " 

The Puritan regime, taken by itself, might seem to us a 
pretty rigorous affair. But these people were in what might 
be termed a fortress-under-siege situation. The first order 
of business was survival under conditions more primitive 
than they had experienced in England. Most survived, 
more people arrived from abroad. They had an educated 
ministry in every town; they were readers; they had regular 
news sheets and engaged in vigorous pamphleteering. All 
towns had a large measure of self-government; they 
learned about self-government by practicing it in local 
town meetings. And there were, in the pulpits of the time, 
vigorous and articulate spokesmen for liberty. Here, for 
instance, is Reverend Daniel Shute of the Second Parish in 
Hingham, in 1759: "Life, Liberty, and Property are the gifts 
of the Creator." And again: "Mankind has no right volun- 
tarily to give up to others those natural privileges, essential 
to their happiness, with which they are invested by the 

306 / Edmund A. Opitz 

Lord of all; for the improvement of these they are account- 
able to Him." (I had the privilege of serving in Dr. Shute's 
pulpit two centuries later.) 

The difficulties and dangers of travel in early New Eng- 
land forced each village to generate its own resources. The 
colonists hunted and fished, grew their own food, and 
traded with the Indians. Early on the Pilgrims practiced 
communal farming, putting all crops into a common ware- 
house from which all shared. But if every member of a com- 
munity gets an equal share from unequal productivity it is 
inevitable that production will slow down. This happened 
in Plymouth, and the rules were changed. Under the new 
order each family worked its own plot of land and worked 
harder knowing that what they produced belonged to 
them, and would not be turned over to nonproducers or 
inefficient workers. As a result the general level of pros- 
perity rose. 

The local churches in New England shared the same 
creed and were perforce independent of one another; there 
was no ecclesiastical body to supervise them. A small group 
of ministers met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1648 and 
drew up a document that came to be labeled The Cam- 
bridge Platform, affirming that the exigencies of the New 
England situation at the time dictated that each local 
church must take charge of its own affairs. This polity was 
called "congregational," and the churches which practiced 
it were Congregational Churches. This denomination 
played an important role in American history, not only in 
New England but in other parts of the continent as the West 
was settled. 

The early settlers on these shores, whom we've dis- 
cussed briefly, did not improvise or invent the ideas they 
brought with them. These people were the heirs of sixteen 

A Moral Order / 307 

centuries of cultural, intellectual, and spiritual develop- 
ment of one of the world's great civilizations: the culture 
called European Civilization, or Christendom. There are 
several other great civilizations, of course, and it is not to 
disparage them to say that we are the heirs of Western Civ- 
ilization, which is in some ways unique. It is, in the first 
place, our civilization, and American Civilization was 
launched from it as a base. 

By the fourth quarter of the eighteenth century there 
were thirteen colonies. The population was approximately 
3,000,000. They were a literate people, knowledgeable in 
history and apt to quote from Cicero and other Romans; not 
fond of Plato with his Utopia and its "guardians." They 
were industrious: farmers, merchants, craftsmen, teachers, 
writers. Paraphrasing Sir Francis Bacon, they acted on the 
premise that we work for two reasons: for the glory of God, 
and for the improvement of Man's estate. A job was a call- 
ing. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations came out in two vol- 
umes in 1776 and hundreds of copies were sold in the 
colonies. And no wonder; Smith gave his readers a ratio- 
nale for what they were already doing. And he was a free 
trader, which the British were not; the British interfered 
with trade and treated the colonists as if their main purpose 
was to give King George some extra income. 

The nations of Europe had national churches operating 
under government funding and control. The colonists had 
been working toward the idea that churches should be free 
and independent, and eventually— with the Constitution— 
the idea became fact. Their way of life demonstrated that 
the town did not need a government to tell the people what 
to do; the Bible told them what to do, and what not to do. 
The Commandments forbade murder, theft, false witness, 
adultery: The Law is needed to deter those who might wan- 

308 / Edmund A. Opitz 

tonly kill a human being, and to punish the culprit who has 
taken another's life. Private property is a sacred trust; the 
thief who steals what belongs to another, or the arsonist 
who bums his home, deserves punishment. False witness 
may be slander or libel; more importantly it is breach of 
contract, which is to go back on one's word. "Life, Liberty, 
and Property" was the popular slogan. 

These rules and others come to us in our Bible as the Ten 
Commandments. And they are also graven into the very 
nature of things in terms of the way this universe works; 
general obedience to these Commandments is necessary if 
we are to have a society, and some society is our natural 
environment. Only within some society is the full potential 
of our nature realized. 

Imagine a town with a population of 10,000. Two of its 
inhabitants are dimwitted and spaced out from time to 
time. They find life pretty dull. They watch lurid videos 
and read weird magazines and decide to become satanists, 
just the two of them. The town soon learns that it has a cou- 
ple of "serial killers" in its midst. The town panics after 
three bodies are found on three successive days. The police 
are pressured to get tough; gun shops are sold out; houses 
are double-bolted, alarm systems installed; armed vigilante 
groups form spontaneously. Suspicions are rife. The town 
has ceased being a civic organization and turns into an 
armed camp — all because a tiny fraction of one percent of 
its population has turned to murder. We have here a cause- 
and-effect sequence as convincing as a lab test: this uni- 
verse has a moral order as an integral part of its natural 
order, simply awaiting discovery by wise men and seers, 
and its practice by the rest of us. 

The moral order is the Natural Law, an important con- 
cept rooted in Greek and Roman thought, and part of the 

A Moral Order / 309 

intellectual equipment of European thinkers until recent 
times. It was a central element in the legal philosophy of 
our Founding Fathers. It was also referred to as the Higher 
Law, and as such is part of the title of Edwin Corwin's 
important little book of some sixty years ago. The ''Higher 
Law" Background of American Constitutional Theory. Positive 
Law, in contrast to the Natural Law, is the kind of law 
enacted by legislators, or decreed by commissions. The 
Natural Law is discovered; a positive law is good law if it 
accords with the Natural Law; bad law if it runs counter to 
the Natural Law. 

The Founding Fathers appealed to Natural Law argu- 
ment in their attacks on restrictive legislation that impaired 
their rightful liberties. Jefferson declared that God had 
made the mind of man free, implying that any interference 
with men's peaceable actions, or any subordination of one 
man to another is bad law; it violates the fundamental 
intent of Nature and Nature's God. 

Thus they conceived the idea of a separation of powers 
in government — Executive, Legislative, and Judicial — plus 
a retention of certain prerogatives in the several states. This 
was the purpose of the remarkable group of men who met 
to forge an instrumentality of government in conformity 
with the Natural Law, based on the widely held conviction 
that God is the Author of Liberty. In short, our political lib- 
erties were not born in a vacuum; they emerged among a 
people who believed in their unique destiny under God — 
the God whose nature, works, and demands they gleaned 
from the Old and New Testaments. The eighteenth-century 
New England clergymen were learned men and often 
spoke along these lines. Many sermons made their way into 
print and Liberty Press has favored us with a mammoth 
one-volume collection of them. Such messages contributed 

310 / Edmund A. Opitz 

much to the mental climate of the time, which Jefferson and 
his committee drew upon to compose the immortal words 
that give our Declaration of Independence its enduring 

The Declaration is the first of the documents upon 
which this nation was founded, the others being the Arti- 
cles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest 

Let's examine the opening words of the Declaration: 
''We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . ." The Declara- 
tion did not say that "these truths are self-evident," or that 
all men hold them to be such. This is not true. Were it possi- 
ble for us to cross-examine the "We" who offered the Dec- 
laration, they might explain that "We" are speaking, first, 
for those of us here gathered; and second, for the generality 
of our fellows whom we judge to share our view as deter- 
mined by the clergy they admire, the pamphlets they write 
and circulate, the Committees of Correspondence, and the 
documents emanating from the legislators of the thirteen 
colonies. "We" are the end result of long exposure to the 
Bible, which teaches us that we are created beings and not 
the accidental end result of a chance encounter of atoms; 
and that we belong on this planet, earth, which was created 
to teach us what we need to know in order to grow, train 
our characters, and become the mature men and women we 
have it in us to be. God has given us reason and free will, 
which we often misuse so as to cause a breach between God 
and ourselves, and for our sins Christ died on the cross — 
not just for some of us but for all of us. It is in this sense that 
"all men are created equal," male and female, master and 
bondsman. They are unequal and different in other 
respects, as common observation convinces us. Richard 
Rumbold, convicted in England because of his beliefs. 

A Moral Order / 311 

ascended the scaffold in 1685 and uttered these immortal 
words: "none comes into the world with a saddle on his 
back; neither does one come booted and spurred to ride 
him." Jefferson quoted these words in one of his letters; it's 
a fair surmise that they had an effect on his own thinking 
and writing. 

A group of extraordinary men assembled in Philadel- 
phia and gave us a Constitution. In 1789, after much 
debate, it was accepted by the required number of states 
and the United States of America took its place among the 
nations of the world. 

While the Constitution was being debated and argued 
out, 1787-1789, three very able public men who were also 
philosophers — ^James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander 
Hamilton — presented the case for adoption in the public 
press, 85 essays in all. The essays were gathered in book 
form as The Federalist (or sometimes The Federalist Papers), 
which has long assumed its place as a major work of politi- 
cal philosophy, certainly the finest exposition of the nature 
and requirements of a republican form of government. It is 
an indispensable treatise and rationale for the governmen- 
tal structures essential to equal freedom in a civilized social 
order, as envisioned by the men we refer to as the Founding 
Fathers. My suspicion is that in today's colleges few politi- 
cal science majors are exposed to it. 

The Declaration opens with a theological statement, 
asserting that our rights are Creator-endowed. This plants 
the idea of a political order rooted in the Transcendent, 
designed to maximize individual liberty in society, and 
incorporating the great "Thou Shalt Nots" of the Ten Com- 
mandments. The citizens were already earning their daily 
bread by working along free-market economy lines even 
before they discovered The Wealth of Nations. Thus our 

312 / Edmund A. Opitz 

threefold society: religious-moral; legal-political; and eco- 
nomic-commercial. These three sectors interact and mutu- 
ally implicate one another, supporting one another as well. 

People tend to act out their beliefs, and our characters 
are shaped by our deepest and most firmly held convic- 
tions. As we believe, so will we become; and as we are so 
will our societies be. The religious, moral, and political con- 
victions of our late eighteenth-century forebears were not 
improvised on the spot; they were supported by eighteen 
centuries of Western experience in religious, ethical, and 
political matters. History has its ups and downs, its gigan- 
tic swings, and some historians find major changes about 
every five hundred years from the beginning of the Christ- 
ian era. The modem age might find its pivotal point at the 
time of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter Refor- 
mation. Christendom was sharply divided; minor sects 
proliferated. It was a time of exploration; the West came to 
realize that there were other civilizations, far more ancient 
than Christendom, with religions of their own, including 
sacred scriptures. A few Western philosophers began to 
realize that there is no reason why the God they believed in, 
the God of the Bible, should limit his attention to one nar- 
row part of the world, and a relative newcomer at that, on 
the world scene. Well, we do have something to learn from 
Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as from Taoism 
and Confucianism. And they have a lot to learn from us. 
But that's another story. 

Most of us do not create the ideas and assumptions 
which guide our everyday actions; we borrow from 
thinkers of the past whose names we may not know. Joseph 
Wood Krutch taught at Columbia University and was a 
well-known drama critic with the mind of a philosopher. 
Here's his thumbnail description of how the modem mind 

A Moral Order / 313 

was formed, the assumptions we habitually act upon: ''The 
fundamental answers which we have on the whole made, 
and which we continue to accept, were first given in the 
seventeenth century by Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, 
and Rene Descartes, and were later elaborated by Marx and 
the Darwinians." He lists these items in chronological 

1. The most important task to which the human 
mind may devote itself is the "control of nature" 
through technology. Knowledge is power. (Bacon, 

2. Man may be completely understood if he is 
considered to be an animal, making predictable reac- 
tions to that desire for pleasure and power to which 
all his other desires may, by analysis, be reduced. 
(Hobbes, 1588-1679) 

3. All animals, man excepted, are pure machines. 
(Descartes, 1596-1650) 

4. Man, Descartes notwithstanding, is also an 
animal and therefore also a machine. (Darwin, 

5. The human condition is not determined by 
philosophy, religion, or moral ideas because all of 
these are actually only by-products of social and 
technological developments which take place inde- 
pendent of man's will and uninfluenced by the "ide- 
ologies" they generate. (Marx, 1818-1883) 

These observations are tendentious, of course. But there 
does seem to be a warped streak in the philosophies of the 
past four or five centuries as they wander away from com- 
mon sense. An observation from University of Glasgow 

314 / Edmund A. Opitz 

professor C. A. Campbell seems pertinent: "As history i 
amply testifies, it is from powerful, original and ingenious 
thinkers that the queerest aberrations of philosophic theory 
often emanate. Indeed it may be said to require a thinker 
exceptionally endowed in these respects if the more para- 
doxical type of theory is to be expounded in a way which 
will make it seem tenable even to its authors — let alone to 
the general public." 

Some modem philosophers seem to have given up on 
man, and even distrust their own reason. Here is the bril- 
liant Bertrand Russell, for example, from his celebrated i 
essay entitled Free Man's Worship. "Man," he writes, "is the 
product of causes which had no prevision of the end they 
were achieving; his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, 
his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental 
collocations of atoms." Russell has just stated one of his 
beliefs which, on his own showing, is the result of an acci- 
dental coming together of some atoms, to which the cate- 
gories true and false do not apply. He continues: "Brief and 
powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, 
sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, 
reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its 
relentless way." Matter is simply inert, until the mind of 
some human decides to use it to further some human pur- 
pose. Omnipotent, indeed! To Russell's credit he does 
admit that "good" is real and so is "evil." Obviously we 
cannot be blind to that which is not there! 

Russell has done brilliant work in mathematics, and 
also in the philosophy of science. But if Man is in such a 
sorry state as Russell thinks, then ordinary humans need a 
keeper. Enter the humanitarian with a guillotine! Actually, 
the record shows that human beings play a variety of roles, 
both good and evil. We know the horrors of twentieth-cen- 

A Moral Order / 315 

tury totalitarianism and collectivism, but also the glories of 
Periclean Athens, Florence at its peak, Elizabethan Eng- 
land, the late eighteenth-century colonists who laid down 
the political structures of a free society. Nearly every person 
has untapped skills and strengths, drawn upon only when 
urgently needed. We needed them in the 1780s and 1790s, 
and they gave us the legal framework for a market econ- 
omy. The market operated here more freely than ever 
before — or since. There were government interventions all 
the way along, of course, increasing after the Civil War. But 
even then the market was so open and free that, of the 
thirty million immigrants who came to these shores during 
the last three decades of the nineteenth century, nearly 
every one got a job. Looking back we would be shocked by 
some of the working conditions; but the workers compared 
their present employment to the much worse situations 
back in the old country. Here, at least, they could work their 
way up the ladder and they were confident that their chil- 
dren would fare better than they. 

In aristocratic England rural poverty did not attract 
much attention, but when these poor folk flocked into the 
cities, poverty became a concern of many well-intentioned 
folk. We know something of the slum scene in mid-eigh- 
teenth-century London as depicted in William Hogarth's 
drawings. Things were not much better a hundred and fifty 
years later, according to Jack London, who spent some time 
exploring slum life in London and wrote up his findings in 
his People of the Abyss. There's something of a novelist's 
embellishments in the book but there's no doubt that many 
men, women, and children lived miserably What is the 
cause of poverty, and the remedy? 

A poor society is one saddled with low productivity 
and low productivity means a low ratio of capital to labor. 

316 / Edmund A. Opitz 

i.e., few tools and little machinery. Poverty has been the fate 
of most people who've ever lived on this globe. We began 
to move in the direction of prosperity when people in our | 
section of the planet began to till their own plots of land 
and then enjoy the full fruits of their labor. Human ingenu- 
ity was turned loose, resulting in more and better tools pro- 
vided by increasingly skilled workers in various crafts. The 
concept of private property was redefined and people 
began to trade more freely. 

A few men had speculated about economics before 
Adam Smith, but he made of it a new science, inspiring 
scholars for the next two centuries. We now know how to 
create the conditions for optimum economic well-being. It 
is now possible to have a free and prosperous common- 
wealth. First, operate within the political order envisioned 
by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; 
this gives us the Rule of Law — one law for all persons alike 
because we are one in our essential humanness. Secondly, 
put into practice the truths of economics gleaned from the 
classic treatises from Adam Smith to Ludwig von Mises, 
and other scholars of today. Third, there is the moral factor. 
We have in our time suffered from loss of touch with the 
transcendent aspect of human experience, although we are 
intimately involved with it, in the case of our own minds. 
The mind transcends the body, but they interact with one 
another. The mind-body problem is as ancient as philoso- 
phy. We know that they interact although how they interact 
is something of a puzzle. The body is an object in space and 
time, compounded of the common chemicals found in the 
earth's crust. The body can be weighed and measured; it 
can be looked at and touched. But the mind has no such 
characteristics. It is immaterial but it can affect the material 

A Moral Order / 317 

body, guide its actions, generate certain illnesses, or 
enhance its wellness. 

Your mind transcends your body, and yet is also acting 
in it and with it. Analogously, it might be suggested that 
God, conceived as Spirit, transcends this universe and yet is 
immanent within it. This is a mystery, of course, but hardly 
more of a mystery than how your mind interacts with your 
body. From this perspective the idea of the Natural Law or 
the moral order as a real part of this mysterious universe 
falls into place. 

But a new religion emerged in the West during the nine- 
teenth century to challenge Christianity: socialism. This is a 
pseudo-religion, really, but during the first several decades 
of the nineteenth century it aroused a moral fervor compa- 
rable to that of the early Christians. In 1848 a movement 
was launched by two Church of England clergymen, 
Charles Kingsley and F. D. Maurice, called Christian social- 
ism. Their aim was to vindicate for "the Kingdom of 
Christ" its "true authority over the realms of industry and 
trade," and "for socialism its true character as the great 
Christian revolution of the 19th century." 

The year 1848 also saw publication of The Communist 
Manifesto, which referred to its socialist rival in derisive 
terms: "Christian Socialism is but the holy water with 
which the priest consecrates the heartburnings of the aris- 

The movement spread in England, and into the United 
States where its common name was the Social Gospel. A 
popular slogan was: "Christianity is the religion of which 
Socialism is the practice." Well-known theologians con- 
tended that, "To be a Christian and not a Socialist, is to be 
guilty of heresy!" 

318 / Edmund A. Opitz 

Socialists of all stripes have, from the beginning, spoken 
as if they had a monopoly of all the virtues; only socialists 
strive for justice in society, peace between nations, and help 
for the poor. As a matter of fact, all men and women of 
good will want to see other people better off; better fed, 
clothed, and housed; better educated; healthier and benefit- 
ing from skilled medical care; peace among the nations and 
just relations within the nation. 

Socialists would endorse these goals, to which they 
would add a Utopian vision. But the means the socialist 
employs is at odds with his goals. The socialist would 
structure his society along the lines of a chain of command 
all the way to the masses at the bottom. The operational 
imperatives of a socialistic society cancels out the socialist 
dream. No society organized socialistically has been able to 
provide sufficient goods and services to raise its masses 
above the poverty level; and the citizenry are not free men 
and women. For a century and a half it was a religion that 
dominated the lives of millions; it is now revealed as a "reli- 
gion" whose god has failed. The failure of this false deity 
offers us a clue: turn in the opposite direction to find the 
true God and His moral order. 

Not all proponents of the free-market economy, private 
property order are theists, and they do have a concern for 
an ethic compatible with capitalism, referring to "enlight- 
ened self-interest" as the guide to right conduct. This is not 
a sound theory, in my view, nor is it an accurate reading of 
the ethic appropriate to a capitalist economy. 

Enlightened self-interest as a moral principle has its 
advocates, but it exhibits some logical difficulties. The term 
has no referent, or else it has as many referents as there are 
selves. And each self's interest may differ from day to day. 
Continuity is lacking because no enduring principle can be 

A Moral Order / 319 

deduced from any multiple of private inclinations. Further- 
more, if a person is urged to pursue his own interest he can- 
not be denied the right to decide what that interest is. For, if 
A is allowed to decide for B what B's self-interest is then B 
will be acting out A's interest and not his own! There's no 
norm or standard transcending both A and B by which we 
might be able to determine who might be right and who 

So, "Do your own thing" is the rule, and the weak doing 
their thing are at the mercy of the strong doing theirs. The 
clever and unscrupulous doing their thing have the rest of 
us at a disadvantage. If every individual merely pursues 
his own interest or pursues his private advantage, it is 
impossible from this starting point to arrive at any sort of a 
general rule, or principle or ethical norm. Mr. B might call 
something a norm or principle, but only because his self- 
interest dictates that he do so. And if there are no moral 
rules, why should Mr. B., having been told to pursue self- 
interest, refrain from fraud or theft or aggression when his 
self-interested calculation of costs and benefits determines 
that the benefits accruing to him outweigh the costs. When 
all is said and done, there is no substitute for the time- 
tested code built into the nature of things, whose mandates 
form the necessary foundation of a good society: Don't 
murder; Don't steal; Don't assault; Keep your word; Fulfill 
your contracts. 

Furthermore, the self-interest ethic does not represent 
an accurate rendering of the capitalist ethos, although most 
defenders of capitalism have adopted it. In the market 
economy the consumer's needs, wants, and desires are sov- 
ereign; entrepreneurs wishing to maximize profits obedi- 
ently accept the dictates of the market. No one is forced to 
become an entrepreneur, but if he does assume that role he 

320 / Edmund A. Opitz 

must subordinate his own desires to the demands of his 

Let Ludwig von Mises show just how much self-abne- 
gation the entrepreneur must practice. "In the market soci- 
ety," he writes, "the proprietors of capital and land can 
enjoy their property only by employing it for the satisfac- 
tion of other people's wants. They must serve the con- 
sumers in order to have any advantage from what is their 
own. The very fact that they own means of production 
forces them to submit to the wishes of the public. Owner- 
ship is an asset only for those who know how to employ it 
in the best possible way for the benefit of the consumers. It 
is a social function" (Human Action, p. 684). 

Mises also said: "For in an unhampered market society 
the consumers daily decide anew who should own and 
how much he should own. The consumers allot control of 
the means of production to those who know how to use 
them best for the satisfaction of the most urgent wants of 

the consumers. . . . [The owners] are mandataries of the 

consumers, bound by the operation of the market to serve 
the consumers best" (p. 683). 

Such is the free-market extension of the Good Samaritan 
Ethic; to which one can only say Amen! 

Freedom and Majority Rule 
Edmund A. Opitz 

The publisher of the London Times came to this country 
a few years after the First World War. A banquet in his 
honor was held in New York City, and at the appropriate 
time Lord Northcliffe rose to his feet to propose a toast. Pro- 
hibition was in effect, you will recall, and the beverage cus- 
tomarily drunk by Northcliffe in his homeland was not 
available here. So Northcliffe raised his glass of water and 
said: "Here's to America, where you do as you please. And 
if you don't, they make you!" 

Here, in this land of the free, "we" as voters had 
amended the Constitution to punish conduct which 
"we" — as consumers — had been enjoying. If you point out 
that the Eighteenth Amendment had been inserted into the 
Constitution by majority vote, and that therefore "we" had 
done it to "ourselves," you need to be reminded that the 
"we" who did it were not the same people as the "our- 
selves" to whom it was done! 

The Eighteenth Amendment was annulled in 1933. 
Shortly thereafter another prohibition law was passed, this 
one a prohibition against owning gold. Under the earlier 
dispensation you could walk down the street with a pock- 
etful of gold coins without breaking the law; but if you 
were caught carrying a bottle of whiskey you might be 
arrested. Then the rules were changed, and you could carry 

This essay appeared in the January 1977 issue of The Freeman. 


322 / Edmund A. Opitz 

all the whiskey you wanted, but if you had any gold in your 
pocket you could be thrown in jail! 

Our scientists are exploring outer space looking for 
intelligent life on other planets. I hope they find some, 
because there's none to spare on planet earth! With how lit- 
tle wisdom do we organize our lives, especially in the areas 
of government and the economy! 

The fundamental issue in political philosophy is the 
limitation of governmental power; it is to determine the 
role of law, the functions appropriate to the political agency. 
The basic question may be phrased in a variety of ways: 
What things belong in the public domain? What things are 
private? What tasks should be assigned to Washington or 
some lesser governmental agency, and in what sectors of 
life should people be free to pursue their own goals? When 
should legal coercion be used to force a person to do some- 
thing against his will? In view of government's nature, 
what is its competence? What are the criteria which enable 
us to distinguish a just law from an unjust law? 

These are questions we cannot avoid. It is true that we 
don't have to debate them, or even think about them; but 
we cannot help acting on them. Some theory about govern- 
ment is the hidden premise of all political action, and we'll 
improve our action only as we refine our theory. 

What Functions Are Appropriate? 

In the light of government's nature, what functions may 
we appropriately assign to it? This is the question, and 
there are two ways to approach it. The approach favored 
today is to count noses — find out what a majority of the 
people want from government, and then elect politicians 
who will give it to them! And believe me, they've been giv- 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 323 

ing it to us! The party that wins an election is "swept into 
office on a ground swell of public opinion/' as popular 
mythology has it; and of course the winners have "a man- 
date from the people." That's spelled Peepul 

I do not accept this approach to political philosophy, 
and will offer some reasons for rejecting it. Neither did our 
forebears accept this approach. Every political thinker in 
the West from Plato down to modem times has taken a dif- 
ferent tack. Now the mere fact that something is enshrined 
by tradition is no reason for accepting it; we accept some- 
thing because we believe it to be true. But anything which 
is both tried and true has a lot going for it. Let me try to 
sketch briefly the way our forebears went about the intel- 
lectual and moral problem of trying to figure out what gov- 
ernment should do, and how we determine whether or not 
a law is just. 

The backbone of any legal system is a set of prohibi- 
tions. The law forbids certain actions and punishes those 
who do them anyway. The solid core of any legal system 
therefore, is the moral code, which, in our culture is con- 
veyed to us by the Mosaic Law. The Sixth Commandment 
of The Decalogue says: "Thou shalt not commit murder" 
and this moral imperative is built into every statute which 
prescribes punishment for homicide. The Eighth Com- 
mandment forbids stealing, and this moral norm gives rise 
to laws punishing theft. 

There is a moral law against murder because each 
human life is precious; and there is a moral law against 
theft because rightful property is an extension of the per- 
son. "A possession," Aristotle writes, "is an instrument for 
maintaining life." Deprive a person of the right to own 
property and he becomes something less than a person; he 
becomes someone else's man. A man to whom we deny the 

324 / Edmund A. Opitz 

rights of ownership must be owned by someone else; he 
becomes another man's creature — a slave. The master-slave 
relation is a violation of the rightful order of things, that is, 
a violation of individual liberty and voluntary association. 

The Gift of Life 

Each human being has the gift of life and is charged 
with the responsibility of bringing his life to completion. 
He is also a steward of the earth's scarce resources, which 
he must use wisely and economically. Man is a responsible 
being, but no person can be held responsible for the way he 
lives his life and conserves his property unless he is free. 
Liberty, therefore, is a necessary corollary to life and prop- 
erty. Our forebears regarded life, liberty, and property as 
natural rights, and the importance of these basic rights was 
stressed again and again in the oratory, the preaching, and 
the writings of the eighteenth century. "Life, Liberty and 
Property are the gifts of the Creator," declared the Rev- 
erend Daniel Shute in 1767 from the pulpit which I occu- 
pied some 200 years later. Life, liberty, and property are the 
ideas of more than antiquarian interest; they are potent 
ideas because they transcribe into words an important 
aspect of the way things are. 

Our ancestors intended to ground their legal and moral 
codes on the nature of things, just as students of the natural 
sciences intend their laws to be a transcription of the way 
things behave. For example: physical bodies throughout 
the universe attract each other, increasing with the mass of 
the attracting body and diminishing with the square of the 
distance. Sir Isaac Newton made some observations along 
these lines and gave us the law of gravity. How come grav- 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 325 

itational attraction varies as the inverse-square of the dis- 
tance, and not as the inverse-cube? One is as thinkable as 
the other, but it just happens that the universe is prejudiced 
in favor of the inverse-square in this instance; just as the 
universe is prejudiced against murder, has a strong bias in 
favor of property, and wills men to be free. 

Immanuel Kant echoed an ancient sentiment when he 
declared that two things filled him with awe: the starry 
heavens without, and the moral law within. The precision 
and order in nature manifest the Author of nature. The Cre- 
ator is also the Author of our being and requires certain 
duties of us, his creatures. There is, thus, an outer reality 
joined to the reality within, and this twofold reality has an 
intelligible pattern, a coherent structure. 

This dual arrangement is not made by human hands; 
it's unchangeable, it's not affected by our wishes, and it 
can't be tampered with. It can, however, be misinter- 
preted, and it can be disobeyed. We consult certain por- 
tions of this pattern and draw up blueprints for building a 
bridge. If we misinterpret, the bridge collapses. And a 
society disintegrates if its members disobey the configura- 
tion laid down in the nature of things for our guidance. 
This configuration is the moral order, as interpreted by 
reason and tradition. 

We're in fairly deep water here, and this is as far into 
theology as I shall venture. The point, simply put, is that 
our forebears, when they wanted to get some clues for the 
regulating of their private and public lives, sought for 
answers in a reality beyond society. They believed in a 
sacred order which transcends the world, an order of cre- 
ation, and believed that our duties within society reflect the 
mandates of this divine order. 

326 / Edmund A. Opitz 
Take a Poll 

This view of one's duty is quite in contrast to the 
method currently popular for detennining what we should 
do; which is to conduct an opinion poll. Find out what the 
crowd wants, and then say "Me too!" This is what the 
advice of certain political scientists boils down to. Here is 
Professor James MacGregor Bums, a certified liberal and 
the author of several highly touted books, such as The Dead- 
lock of Democracy and a biography of John F. Kennedy. Lib- 
erals play what Bums calls "the numbers game." "As a lib- 
eral I believe in majority rule," he writes. "I believe that the 
great decisions should be made by numbers." In other 
words, don't think; count! "What does a majority have a 
right to do?" he asks. And he answers his own question. "A 
majority has the right to do anything in the economic and 
social arena that is relevant to our national problems and 
national purposes." And then, realizing the enormity of 
what he has just said, he backs off: "... except to change the 
basic rules of the game." 

Bums' final disclaimer sounds much like cin after- 
thought, for some of his liberal cohorts support the idea of 
unqualified majority rule. The late Herman Finer, in his 
anti-Hayek book entitled Road to Reaction, declares "For in a 
democracy, right is what the majority makes it to be" 
(p. 60). What we have here is an updating of the ancient 
"might makes right" doctrine. The majority does have 
more muscle than the minority, it has the power to carry out 
its will, and thus it is entitled to have its own way. If right is 
whatever the majority says it is, then whatever the majority 
does is O.K., by definition. Farewell, then, to individual 
rights, and farewell to the rights of the minorities; the 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 327 

majority is the group that has made it to the top, and the 
name of the game is winner take all. 

The dictionary definition of a majority is 50 percent plus 
1. But if you were to draw up an equation to diagram mod- 
em majoritarianism it would read: 

50 percent + 1 = 100 percent; 
50 percent - 1 = ZERO! 

Amusing confirmation comes from a professor at Rut- 
gers University, writing a letter to the Times. Several years 
ago considerable criticism was generated by the appoint- 
ment of a certain man to a position in the national govern- 
ment. Such criticism is unwarranted, writes our political 
scientist, because the critics comprise "a public which, by 
virtue of having lost the last election, has no business 
approving or disapproving appointments by those who 
won." This is a modem version of the old adage, "To the 
victor belong the spoils." This Rutgers professor goes on to 
say, "Contrary to President Lincoln's famous but mislead- 
ing phrase, ours is not a government by the people, but 
government by government." So there! 

The Nature of Government 

What functions may we appropriately assign to the 
political agency? What should government do? Today's 
answer is that government should do whatever a majority 
wants a government to do; find out what the Peepul want 
from government, and then give it to them. The older and 
tmer answer is based upon the belief that the rules for liv- 
ing together in society may be discovered if we think hard 

328 / Edmund A. Opitz 

and clearly about the matter, and the corollary that we can 
conform our lives to these rules if we resolve to do so. But I 
have said nothing so far about the nature or essence of gov- 

Americans are justly proud of our nation, but this pride 
sometimes blinds us to reality. How often have you heard 
someone declare, "In America, 'We' are the government." 
This assertion is demonstrably untrue; "We" are the society, 
all 215 million of us; but society and government are not at 
all the same entity. Society is all-of-us, whereas government 
is only some-of-us. The some-of-us who comprise govern- 
ment would begin with the president, vice president, and 
cabinet; it would include Congress and the bureaucracy; it 
would descend through governors, mayors and lesser offi- 
cials, down to sheriffs and the cop on the beat. 

A Unique Institution 

Government is unique among the institutions of society, 
in that society has bestowed upon this one agency exclusive 
legal control over the weaponry, from clubs to hydrogen 
bombs. Governments do use persuasion, and they do rely 
on authority, legitimacy, and tradition — but so do other 
institutions like the church and the school. But only one 
agency has the power to tax, the authority to operate the 
system of courts and jails, and a warrant for mobilizing the 
machinery for making war; that is government, the power 
structure. Governmental action is what it is, no matter what 
sanction might be offered to justify what it does. Govern- 
ment always acts with power; in the last resort government 
uses force to back up its decrees. 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 329 
Society^s Power Structure 

When I remind you that the government of a society is 
that society's power structure, I am not offering you a novel 
theory, nor a fanciful political notion of my own. It is a tru- 
ism that government is society's legal agency of compul- 
sion. Virtually every statesman and every political scien- 
tist — whether Left or Right — takes this for granted and 
does his theorizing from this as a base. "Government is not 
reason, it is not eloquence;" wrote George Washington, "it 
is force." Bertrand Russell, in a 1916 book, said, "The 
essence of the State is that it is the repository of the collec- 
tive force of its citizens." Ten years later, the Columbia Uni- 
versity professor, R. M. Maclver spoke of the state as "the 
authority which alone has compulsive power." The English 
writer, Alfred Cobban, says that "the essence of the state, 
and of all political organizations, is power." 

But why labor the obvious except for the fact that so 
many of our contemporaries — those who say "we are the 
government" — overlook it? What we are talking about is 
the power of man over man; government is the legal autho- 
rization which permits some men to use force on others. 
When we advocate a law to accomplish a certain goal, we 
advertise our inability to persuade people to act in the man- 
ner we recommend; so we're going to force them to con- 
form! As Sargent Shriver once put it, "In a democracy you 
don't compel people to do something unless you are sure 
they won't do it." 

In the liberal mythology of this century, government is 
all things to all men. Liberals think that government 
assumes whatever characteristics people wish upon it— 

330 / Edmund A. Opitz 

like Proteus in Greek mythology who took on one shape 
after another, depending on the circumstances. But govern- 
ment is not an all-purpose tool; it has a specific nature, and 
its nature determines what government can accomplish. 
When properly limited, government serves a social end no 
other agency can achieve; its use of force is constructive. 
The alternatives here are law and tyranny — as the Greeks 
put it. This is how the playwright Aeschylus, saw it in The 
Eumenides: "Let no man live uncurbed by law, nor curbed 
by tyranny." 

The Moral Code 

If government is to serve a moral end it must not violate 
the moral code. The moral code tells us that human life is 
sacred, that liberty is precious, and that ownership of pro- 
perty is good. And by the same token, this moral code sup- 
plies a definition of criminal action; murder is a crime, theft 
is a crime, and it is criminal to abridge any f)erson's lawful 
freedom. It becomes a function of the law, then, in harmony 
with the moral code, to use force against criminal actions in 
order that peaceful citizens may go about their business. 
The use of legal force against criminals for the protection of 
the innocent is the earmark of a prop)erly limited govern- 

This is an utterly different kind of procedure than the 
use of government force on peaceful citizens — whatever 
the excuse or rationalization. People should not be forced 
into conformity with any social blueprint; their private 
plans should not be overridden in the interests of some 
national plan or social goal. Government — the public 
power — should not be used for private advantage; it 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 331 

should not be used to protect people from themselves. 

Well, what should the law do to peaceful, mnocent citi- 
zens? It should let them alone! When government lets John 
Doe alone, and punishes anyone who refuses to let him 
alone, then John Doe is a free man. 

In this country we have a republican form of govern- 
ment. The word "republic" is from the Latin words, res and 
publica, meaning the things or affairs which are common to 
all of us, the affairs which are in the public domain, in sharp 
contrast to matters which are private. Government, then, is 
"the public thing," and this strong emphasis on public 
serves to delimit and set boundaries to governmental 
power, in the interest of preserving the integrity of the pri- 
vate domain. 

What's in a name?, you might be thinking. Well, in this 
case, in the case of republic, a lot. The word "republic" 
encapsulates a political philosophy; it connotes the philos- 
ophy of government which would limit government to 
the defense of life, liberty, and property in order to serve 
the ends of justice. There's no such connotation in the 
word "monarchy," for example; or in aristocracy or oli- 

A monarch is the sole, supreme ruler of a country, and 
there is theoretically no area in the life of his citizens over 
which he may not hold sway. The king owns the country 
and his people belong to him. Monarchical practice pretty 
well coincided with theory in what is called "Oriental 
Despotism," but in Christendom the power of the kings 
was limited by the nobility on the one hand, and the 
Emperor on the other; and all secular rulers had to take 
account of the power of the Papacy. Power was played off 
against power, to the advantage of the populace. 

332 / Edmund A. Opitz 
Individual Liberty 

The most important social value in Western civilization 
is individual liberty. The human person is looked upon as 
God's creature, gifted with free will which endows him with 
the capacity to choose what he will make of his life. Our 
inner, spiritual freedom must be matched by an outer and 
social liberty if man is to fulfill his duty toward his Maker. 
Creatures of the state cannot achieve their destiny as human 
beings; therefore, government must be limited to securing 
and preserving freedom of personal action, within the rules 
for maximizing liberty and opportunity for everyone. 

Unless we are persuaded of the importance of freedom 
to the individual, it is obvious that we will not structure 
government around him to protect his private domain and 
secure his rights. The idea of individual liberty is old, but it 
was given a tremendous boost in the sixteenth century by 
the Reformation and the Renaissance. 

The earliest manifestation of this renewed idea of lib- 
erty was in the area of religion, issuing in the conviction 
that a person should be allowed to worship God in his own 
way This religious ferment in England gave us Puritanism, 
and early in the seventeenth century Puritanism projected a 
political movement whose members were contemptuously 
called Whiggamores — later shortened to Whigs — a word 
roughly equivalent to "cattle thieves." The king's men were 
called Tories — "highway robbers." The Whigs worked for 
individual liberty and progress; the Tories defended the old 
order of the king, the landed aristocracy, and the estab- 
lished church. 

One of the great writers and thinkers in the Puritan and 
Whig tradition was John Milton, who wrote his celebrated 
plea for the abolition of Parliamentary censorship of printed 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 333 

material in 1644, Areopagitica. Many skirmishes had to be 
fought before freedom of the press was finally accepted as 
one of the earmarks of a free society. Free speech is a corol- 
lary of press freedom, and I remind you of the statement 
attributed to Voltaire: "\ disagree with everything you say, 
but I will defend with my life your right to say it/' 

Adam Smith extended freedom to the economic order, 
with The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776 and warmly 
received in the thirteen colonies. Our population numbered 
about 3 million at this time; roughly one-third of these were 
Loyalists, that is, Tory in outlook, and besides, there was a 
war on. Despite these circumstances 2,500 sets of The Wealth 
of Nations were sold in the colonies within five years of its 
publication. The colonists had been practicing economic 
liberty for a long time, simply because their governments 
were too busy with other things to interfere — or too ineffi- 
cient — and Adam Smith gave them a rationale. 

The Bill of Rights 

Ten amendments to the Constitution were adopted in 
1791. Article the First reads: "Congress shall make no law 
respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the 
free exercise thereof . . ." The separation of church and state 
enunciated here was a momentous first step in world his- 
tory. Religious liberty, freedom of the press, free speech and 
the free economy are four departments of the same liberat- 
ing trend — the Whig movement. 

The men we refer to as the Founding Fathers would 
have called themselves Whigs. Edmund Burke was the 
chief spokesman for a group in Parliament known as The 
Rockingham Whigs. In 1832 the Whig Party in England 
changed its name to one which more aptly described its 

334 / Edmund A. Opitz 

emphasis on liberty. It became the Liberal Party, standing 
for free trade, religious liberty, the abolition of slavery, 
extension of the franchise, and other refonns. 

Classical Liberalism is not to be confused with the thing 
called "liberalism" in our time! Today's "liberalism" is the 
exact opposite of historical Liberalism — ^which came out of 
the eighteenth-century Whiggism — which came out of the 
seventeenth-century Puritanism. The labels are the same; 
the realities are utterly different. Present-day liberals have 
trouble with ideas, as ideas, so they try to dispose of 
uncomfortable thoughts by pigeonholing them in a time 
slot. The ideas of individual liberty, inherent rights, limited 
government and the free economy are, they say, eighteenth- 
century ideas. What a dumb comment! The proper test of 
an idea is not the test of time but the test of truth! 

You may be wondering why I have not yet used the 
word "democracy," although I've spoken of monarchy, oli- 
garchy, and liberalism. Well, I'll tell you. Our discussion has 
focused on the nature of government, and we have discov- 
ered that the essence of government is power, legal force. 
Once this truth sinks in we take the next step, which is to 
figure out what functions may appropriately be assigned to 
the one social agency authorized to use force. This brings us 
back to the moral code and the primary values of life, lib- 
erty, and property. It is the function of the law to protect the 
life, liberty, and property of all p>ersons alike in order that 
the human person may achieve his proper destiny. 

Voting Is Appropriate for Choosing Officeholders 

There's another question to resolve, tied in with the 
basic one, but much less important: How do you choose 
personnel for public office? After you have employed the 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 335 

relevant intellectual and moral criteria and confined public 
things to the public sector, leaving the major concerns of life 
in the private sector . . . once you've done this there's still 
the matter of choosing people for office. 

One method is choice by bloodline. If your father is 
king, and if you are the eldest son, why you'll be king when 
the old man dies. Limited monarchy still has its advocates, 
and kingship will work if a people embrace the monarchi- 
cal ideology. Monarchy hasn't always worked smoothly, 
however, else what would Shakespeare have done for his 
plays? Sometimes your mother's lover will bump off the 
old man, or your kid brother might try to poison you. 

There's a better way to choose personnel for public 
office; let the people vote. Confine government within the 
limits dictated by reason and morals, lay down appropriate 
requirements, and then let voters go to the polls. The candi- 
date who gets the majority of votes gets the job. This is 
democracy, and this is the right place for majority action. As 
Pericles put it 2,500 years ago, democracy is where the 
many participate in rule. 

Voting is little more than a popularity contest, and the 
most popular man is not necessarily the best man, just as 
the most popular idea is not always the soundest idea. It is 
obvious, then, that balloting — or counting noses or taking a 
sampling of public opinion — is not the way to get at the 
fundamental question of the proper role of government 
within a society. We have to think hard about this one, 
which means we have to assemble the evidence; weigh, sift, 
and criticize it; compare notes with colleagues, and so on. 
In other words, this is an educational endeavor, a matter for 
the classroom, the study, the podium, the pulpit, the forum, 
the press. To count noses at this point is a cop-out; there's 
no place here for a Gallup Poll. 

336 / Edmund A. Opitz 

To summarize: The fundamental question has to do 
with the scope and functions of the political agency, and 
only hard thinking — education in the broad sense — can 
resolve this question. The lesser question has to do with the 
choice of personnel; and majority action — democratic deci- 
sion — is the way to deal with it. But if we approach the first 
question with the mechanics appropriate to the second, we 
have confused the categories and we're in for trouble. 

"Democratic Despotism" 

We began to confuse the categories more than 140 years 
ago, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed. His book Democracy 
in America, warned us about the emergence here of what he 
called "democratic despotism," which would "degrade 
men without tormenting them." We were warned again in 
1859 by a professor at Columbia University, Francis Lieber, 
in his book On Civil Liberty and Self-Government: "Woe to the 
country in which political hypocrisy first calls the people 
almighty, then teaches that the voice of the people is divine, 
then pretends to take a mere clamor for the true voice of the 
people, and lastly gets up the desired clamor." Getting up 
the desired clamor is what we call "social engineering," or 
"the engineering of consent." 

What is called "a majority" in contemporary politics is 
almost invariably a numerical minority, whipped up by an 
even smaller minority of determined and sometimes 
unscrupulous men. There's not a single plank in the plat- 
form of the welfare state that was put there because of a 
genuine demand by a genuine majority. A welfarist govern- 
ment is always up for grabs, and various factions, pressure 
groups, special interests, causes, ideologies seize the levers 

Freedom and Majority Rule / 337 

of government in order to impose their programs on the 
rest of the nation. 

Let's assume that we don't like what's going on today in 
this and other countries; we don't like it because people are 
being violated, as well as principles. We know the govern- 
ment is off the track, and we want to get it back on; but we 
know in our bones that Edmund Burke was right when he 
said, "There never was, for any long time ... a mean, slug- 
gish, careless people that ever had a good government of 
any form." Politics, in other words, reflects the character of 
a people, and you cannot improve the tone of politics 
except as you elevate the character of a significant number 
of persons. The improvement of character is the hard task 
of religion, ethics, art, and education. When we do our 
work properly in these areas, our public life will automati- 
cally respond. 

Large numbers are not required. A small number of men 
and women whose convictions are sound and clearly 
thought out, who can present their philosophy persua- 
sively, and who manifest their ideas by the quality of their 
lives, can inspire the multitude whose ideas are too vague 
to generate convictions of any sort. A little leaven raises the 
entire lump of dough; a tiny flame starts a mighty confla- 
gration; a small rudder turns a huge ship. And a handful of 
people possessed of ideas and a dream can change a 
nation — especially when that nation is searching for new 
answers and a new direction. 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man 
Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

Of all the cliches denigrating liberty, the most perni- 
cious consists of the comment, designed in any of its vary- 
ing forms to terminate the conversation entirely, that "your 
ideals and ideas may be laudable, but you can't talk liberty 
to a man with an empty belly or whose children want for j 
food and clothing." This essay proposes to investigate the 
validity of that response. 

Freedom consists of the absence of organized, coercive 
restraint against individual human action.^ It is indivisible 
in two respects: (1) restraint in one aspect of life affects cre- 
ative action in other categories; (2) restraint of one member 
of society adversely affects all other men. 

Consider the first postulate. One cannot enjoy meaning- 
ful liberty of association or freedom of speech while suffer- | 
ing under economic or political bondage. Freedom of 
speech or press offers an illusory value if the potential 
speaker or writer cannot purchase air time on radio or tele- 
vision, or a soap box, or newsprint from the govemmen- j 
tally controlled factory, or a sound truck, either because of ^ 
restrictive regulatory laws preventing free entry into the 
market, or by virtue of discriminatory norms against pro- \ 

This essay appeared in the December 1976 issue of The Freeman. 


You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 339 

ducers by means of economic controls, or because of 
debasement by means of state monopoly of the medium of 
exchange. The right to vote means little if the government 
apparatus counts results for but a single candidate, or if the 
state limits the access to the polling booth or ballot box by 
enactment and enforcement of civil and criminal penalties. 
Recur to the second proposition. Simply put, my freedom 
depends on yours. Deprivation of the rights of the slave 
affects the master in several discrete ways. 

• First, the predator must expend a portion of his cre- 
ative energy in the destructive pursuit of constraining his 
fief. Absent coercion, he could devote his entire energy 
resources to creative endeavors. Wars provide an apt exam- 
ple of squandered creativity: Witness the millions of barrels 
of oil (which could have heated homes and propelled auto- 
mobiles) wasted in recent violence. 

• Second, looters lose the chance to thrive upon the cre- 
ated value which the slave, if free, would produce and 
trade for other goods, services, and ideas. The material 
well-being of any society depends upon the aggregate of 
creative output from each member, the proficiency of each 
individual producer, and the velocity of exchange (a factor 
of the voluntary channels of communication). Slaves pro- 
duce only the amount necessary to maintain life in a barely 
acceptable station and to avoid or reduce pain. 

• Third, masters lose qualitatively, since the quality of 
output diminishes with the introduction of compulsion. A 
coercive society enjoys fewer goods, begrudging services 
and less exciting ideas and culture than a free society. 

• Fourth, and perhaps most saliently, a slave state loses 
moral force as well as material largess, a subject discussed 

We may define liberty, then, in Leonard Read's felici- 

340 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

tous phrase, as the absence of man-concocted restraints 
upon creative human action.^ At the ideal, each man should 
be entitled to manage his own life and to seek his own des- 
tiny as he sees fit, so long as he observes the equal and rec- 
iprocal freedom deserved by every other man. Such a con- 
cept limits the role of the state — the official restraining force 
imposed upon society — to prevention of aggression and 
coercive settlement of disputes by rules of common justice. 

The Morality of Theft 

Observation of the passing scene reveals many 
instances of looting and theft. One unschooled in the phi- 
losophy of freedom might immediately conclude that such 
a statement refers to the rapid increase in violent or deceit- 
ful crimes such as forgery, robbery, burglary, obtaining 
money by false pretenses, and shoplifting penalized by the 
several state or national governments. In fact, I refer to the 
unpenalized, officially sanctioned, state-favored instances 
of theft which appear in guises too numerous to mention. 
Every occasion when the state takes property from an 
unwilling donor and gives it to some other individual 
affords an example of legalized plunder. Food stamps, sub- 
sidies to Perm Central and Lockheed Aircraft, social secu- 
rity, inflation, mandatory automobile insurance, civil tort 
rules which "diffuse" risks by imposing liability without 
fault — the list is truly endless, limited only by the ingenuity 
of men abusing power conferred upon them by the political 
system. Appellations of "transfer payments," "negative 
income taxation," "redistributive liability," and the like 
cannot cloak the true nature of the act: Theft. 

Why decry the concept of theft, if performed by the 
pure of heart for a commendable purpose? After all, most 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 341 

proponents of these many and varied legislative or judicial 
enactments seek grand and deserving goals of preventing 
hunger, illness, and alienation or providing "necessary" 
goods and services. Few of them, despite their arrogance 
and predilection to power, really exemplify consummate 

The answer to the moral question lies in contemplation 
of ends and means. Few men of virtue and good will dis- 
pute the ideal of dispelling poverty, illness, and loneliness, 
or of providing everyone with food for thought and body. 
Most observers agree upon goals — they diverge upon the 
means to the end. Those imbued with the freedom philoso- 
phy recognize that the end pre-exists in the means,^ that 
filthy means will defile innocent and praiseworthy ends. 

Theft deserves disdain because it conflicts with funda- 
mental morality, with the right to life, and with the precept 
of justice. A seminal moral rule commands treatment of 
individual human beings as ends, not as means — as per- 
sons of worth, not as objects to be molded. The thief treats 
the victim as a means to his own ends. The legally protected 
thief performs a greater iniquity, for he refuses to acknowl- 
edge the moral opprobrium necessarily attached to his 
crime; he treats the victim as unworthy to manage his own 

Again, theft contradicts the concept of a human being's 
right to live his life in accordance with the dictates of his 
conscience. Property consists of the value which man cre- 
ates by the application of his being and his talents to nat- 
ural resources; it can only be viewed rationally as an exten- 
sion of a life. One lives by creating; one dies by stagnating. 
Thus, deprivation of property amounts to a partial taking 
of human life. Moreover, the act of thievery devastates the 
fundamental precept of justice: Respect for free individual 

342 / Ridgway K. Foley, ]r. 

choice.^ Approval of the power to forcibly or deceitfully 
deprive another of a part of his life necessarily contradicts a 
respect for the human right to choose between alternatives. 

In essence, comprehension of the moral questions asso- 
ciated with theft devolves to an inquiry: Why doesn't might 
make right? Theft, after all, can only be accomplished by 
the application of stealth and trickery or by employment of 
personal or political force. The fact and the scale of legally 
sanctioned plunder renders this inquiry no mere philoso- 
pher's debating point. It is all too real and affects each of us 
in striking and personal fashion. 

Immanuel Kant^ provided some insight into the moral 
question of whether "might makes right" when he sug- 
gested the "silver rule" as a measuring rod: Individuals 
should shun actions which they would not will as universal 
rules of conduct. Few rational beings would voluntarily 
choose to live in a world governed by force, without moral 
constraint of any kind. Chaos necessarily reigns; personal 
planning becomes impossible; life terminates early and 
after an unpleasant duration. Such conditions would fore- 
stall even rudimentary exchange or growth of capital, rele- 
gating mankind to the cave and the forests from which it so 
recently and hesitatingly emerged. Merely imagining a 
world where theft, or rape, or murder occurred on a daily 
basis without official reprisal registers shock on the minds 
of most human beings. Such conduct would invite retalia- 
tion in the form of blood feuds, vigilante justice or civil war. 

One could refute the contention that "might makes 
right" on three bases,^ any one of which would serve as suf- 
ficient justification for a contrary rule. 

• First, experience dispels any necessary correlation 
between force and propriety. Recorded history imparts 
example after example of the use of violence to accomplish 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 343 

improper goals — propriety measured by the subjective val- 
ues of those deprived of life/liberty, or property. The neigh- 
borhood bully may be stronger than you, but that doesn't 
mean he possesses any greater native intelligence, charm, 
wit, cultural accomplishments or other attributes more or 
less universally desirable. Indeed, the contrary is more 
often true: The bully, be he individual, corporate, or 
national in scope, often possesses a low, mean, and not par- 
ticularly endearing character. 

• Second, a related pragmatic reason flows from the 
Kantian silver rule: Force and power tend to breed more 
aggression, and man cannot exist as well (or at all) spiritu- 
ally or materially in a chaotic world regularly visited by 
coercion. Might-makes-right just plain fails to work as well 
as the alternative. A better material and spiritual life with 
happier men and more abundant goods and services flows 
from cooperation, not coercion. 

• Third, common morality, denoted as natural law, the 
theory of natural rights, Christianity, rationality, or some 
other similar phrase suggests that men should not treat 
other men inhumanely. All three reasons interrelate, but the 
third or moral concept differs from its siblings in one 
important respect: It constitutes an appeal to faith rather 
than provable, empirical fact. However, this feature does 
not deprive the tenet of validity. History manifests a grow- 
ing recognition that each individual human being pos- 
sesses inalienable natural rights merely because of his 
humanity, and that no other individual should trespass 
upon such rights in the absence of prior personal aggres- 
sion. If this precept be relegated to the status of a mere 
value judgment, it certainly has gained ascendency in 
recent years although it still falls far short of universal 
acceptance. Since theft of private property involves the 

344 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

deprivation of an extension of one's life — our essential 
humanity derives in part from the value we create — theft 
violates the principle of common morality or natural rights. 
Therefore, one can say with the confidence undergirded 
by logic and natural law that theft in general constitutes an 
immoral act because might does not make right and power 
tends to deprive men of a portion of their life. It remains to 
consider whether theft can ever be justified under any cir- 
cumstances. The admonition, "you can't sell freedom to a 
starving man," possesses two root assumptions denying 
the universality of the normative rule that theft constitutes 
immorality. If freedom varies, directly or inversely, with the 
visceral satisfactions of the human being, it follows that 
(1) hungry people need not abide by rules of common 
morality while productive people must follow such rules 
and, (2) freedom cannot provide the precondition neces- 
sary to prevent want and poverty. Neither assumption can 
withstand rigorous analysis. 

The Universality of Moral Conduct 

No accepted ethical or religious code exempts starving 
men from adherence to established or accepted standards 
except if that code be based upon the doctrine of might- 
makes-right. The Marxian tenet "from each according to his 
ability, to each according to his need" presupposes a social 
agency which will forcibly compel transfer from "produc- 
ers" to "needy," as well as perform the concomitant func- 
tion of determining "ability" and "requirement." Every 
other system dependent upon transfer payments or social 
redistribution of income relies upon force. Only these sys- 
tems justify the use of violence by hungry, ill-clothed, or 
other "needy" folk in order to satisfy their wants. Contrast 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 345 

the known axiological precepts handed down through his- 
tory: Do the Judeo-Christian heritage, the Islamic tradition, 
Hindu teachings, or the Hke differentiate between produc- 
ers and consumers insofar as their normative conduct is 
concerned? Merely to state the question elicits a negative 

One should not confuse the assertion that the poor as 
well as the producer should obey the same rules with the 
question of whether the creator of goods, services, and 
ideas should share his abundance with others less fortunate 
on an individual and voluntary basis. The two concepts, 
while related, state two entirely different principles: (1) all 
men regardless of status should respect the lives, liberties, 
properties, choices, and subjective values of all other indi- 
viduals who do not commit aggression; (2) one blessed 
with a surfeit of material or spiritual goods should share 
with less fortunate individuals on a mutually satisfying 
voluntary basis. A violation of the first axiom deserves 
human reprisal to revenge the breach, protect others simi- 
larly situated, and deter like conduct. No human sanction 
should attend a violation of the second axiom because no 
human being possesses the right, the insight, or the ability 
to enforce their ethical norm since the norm itself depends 
upon subjective views of the Eternal Truth of the Universe. 

Unjustifiable Intervention 

In essence, the suggestion that hungry men cannot 
appreciate liberty results from a confusion of these two sep- 
arate postulates. Similarly most justification of government 
intervention into private lives stems from a perversion of 
these two distinct rules, each touching a specific aspect of 
human action. The canard that an ill-fed individual cannot 

346 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

comprehend freedom springs from a belief that it is proper 
to invade or destroy the human rights of others in order to 
secure a "good" end, such as the prevention of poverty or 
ill health. 

In simple words, one should not destroy another's right 
to choose except where that actor would not willingly select 
the course of action which would lead to sharing with oth- 
ers whom the party possessing power perceives as appro- 
priate beneficiaries. This commingling of the two moral 
precepts renders each of them nugatory. The first axiom 
suffers because the exception guts the entire meaning. The 
second axiom falls because voluntarism becomes coercion 
and thus obviates the entire concept. A sense of wrongdo- 
ing clouds the whole transaction, leaving producer-victim, 
the transferring power, and poor recipient-beneficiary each 
with a pervasive recognition of evil inherent in their affair 
which does not accord with moral law. 

In like manner, the belief that moral rules need not be 
universally applied partakes of the corruption of the two 
separate axioms: You can't sell freedom to a starving man 
because he is first justified in invading the rights of others 
in order to satisfy his wants because they ethically should 
assist him. 

Several reasons, each sufficient alone, support the 
proposition that moral conduct applies universally. 

• First, separate treatment betrays the egalitarian ideal, 
the subject of so much current prattle. Yet it is in this precise 
context that equality deserves meaning, for true juristic 
equality means equality before the law — equal rights, equal 

• Second, relative morality, on whatever basis, necessar- 
ily results in disillusionment, bitterness, hatred, envy, and 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 347 

Other unlovely human attributes: In short, such a 
dichotomy will bring the sinister side of human nature to 
the fore. The taker will take even when the justification dis- 
appears, coming to believe that taking constitutes a per- 
sonal right; the victim will resent this invasion of his life 
and fight back in many and myriad ways including the use 
of force and cunning, the production of shoddy goods, or a 
transfer to the taker class. Power and violence naturally 
tend to breed similar offspring. 

• Third, definition of terms renders application of the 
distinction impractical if not impossible. Who shall define 
"production" cmd "need" (or who "starves"), and how 
shall these terms be defined? Starvation and need vary by 
the minute; they represent highly subjective decisions, for 
almost every individual "needs" something he does not 
possess, given a world full of insatiable subjective wants 
and blessed with limited resources. Acceptance of a dual 
standard dependent upon hunger pangs would reduce 
morality to an ephemeral and transitory discipline subject 
to endless debate and a chaotic result: Victims who hon- 
estly believe that they fall within the taker class will take 
umbrage; they may even fight back, leading to unending 

Thus, common sense makes manifest that moral rules 
must apply in an evenhanded manner. Starving men pos- 
sess no right to invade the persons or property of others, 
nor are they justified or exempt from ethical rules preclud- 
ing such action. Freedom attaches equally to all men: It 
includes the freedom to fail as well as succeed. Life's losers 
cannot vent their spleen on those who are more successful, 
and thereby receive moral approval. 

348 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 
Freedom Dispels Want 

One who claims that "you can't sell freedom to a starv- 
ing man" really means "freedom is all right in its place, but 
these people are starving and they will receive sustenance 
only if I coerce you into giving them food." This proposi- 
tion fails on two counts. 

• First, the near-universal acceptance of the second 
axiom (the obligation to share) and mankind's natural 
empathy for fellow human beings in trouble virtually 
guarantees that no one shall starve in a free society. 
Strangely enough, the acceptance of the second axiom and 
man's sympathetic response become heightened the more 
open society becomes; statism and compulsion cultivate 
ugliness, alienation, and a lack of camaraderie. The guaran- 
tee against starvation does not insure against want of mate- 
rial things; mankind will always experience unfulfilled 
desires, given his nature of a being possessing insatiable 
wants in a world of limited resources. 

• Second, the statement seems to contend that a free 
society cannot produce and distribute those goods, ser- 
vices, and ideas required to alleviate starvation. The con- 
verse is true. A free market, operating without restraints 
upon human creative output, produces a greater abun- 
dance of material value than any other method known to 
mankind because the free market or voluntary exchange 
system accords with the basic nature of man. The market 
reflects the competing subjective values of each member of 
society and thus more nearly approximates the sum of all 
those desires. 

This assertion of the material productiveness of the 
market does not rest merely upon unproved theory; it gains 
support from empirical and historical fact. The freer the 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a Starving Man / 349 

culture, the better clothed, fed, and housed its citizens. The 
rapid improvements in the standard of living of all Ameri- 
cans during the nation's first century derived from the rela- 
tive freedom of the citizenry. Compare the average life span 
in medieval England (5 years) v^^ith that of the present-day 
United States (70 years) and one immediately perceives 
that we heard relatively little about the "starving man" in 
history because he died so young. Few of the wealthy in 
merrie olde England lived as well as the average high 
school dropout today. 

Stripped to its essence, the cliche "you can't sell free- 
dom to a starving man" exemplifies a brazen demand by 
the one uttering the response that he be accorded the power 
to impose his will upon unwilling human beings — all in the 
good name of the elimination of poverty. Logic, common 
sense, empirical fact, and history demonstrate that just the 
contrary effect will take place, that coercion results in fewer 
individuals enjoying fewer goals which they subjectively 

The Curse of Gradualism 

One can interpret the phrase under discussion in yet 
another manner. It could mean that a hungry man will not 
listen to, or understand, the esoteric discussion of liberty 
and will voluntarily choose an aggressive society to allevi- 
ate his suffering. Thus, runs the argument, someone in 
power must appease the voracious masses before educat- 
ing them to the virtues of liberty. 

Insofar as the question depicts a communication prob- 
lem, believers in liberty must hone their tools of expression 
to fit every need. Relative freedom helped restore conflict- 
ravaged West Germany after the Second World War; the 

350 / Ridgway K. Foley, Jr. 

Germans, hungry as they were, accepted the ideas and 
responsibilities of freedom from Mr. Erhard. The concept of 
freedom and its relation to prosperity bear retelling because 
all of us need constant reminders, but conveyance of the 
idea to everyone, hungry or not, does not present difficult, 
let alone insolvable, problems. 

Insofar as the inquiry poses a question of consistency, 
libertarians must remain steadfast against the importun- 
ings of gradualism which would betray the ideal by impos- 
ing coercive tactics as a means of filling stomachs "tem- 
porarily"^ The "temporary" in this situation tends to 
become ingrained and immutable, misleading the unknow- 
ing into the assumption that coercion (1) has always been 
there and (2) is necessary to accomplish the end. The result: 
an inefficient and uneconomic United States Postal Service 
which has never been able to compete with private enter- 
prise save for its monopolistic protections, which con- 
stantly raises rates and reduces the quality of service, and 
which has incurred budget deficits almost every year for 
the past two centuries. It requires little imagination to 
appreciate the results if "feeding starving men" were left to 
the tender mercies of compulsive bureaucracy: The nation 
would perish within five years! 

1. For a detailed discussion see Ridgway K. Foley, Jr., "Individual 
Liberty and the Rule of Law/' The Freeman, June 1971, pp. 357-358; and 
Ridgway K. Foley, Jr., ''A Rationale For Liberty," The Freeman, April 
1973, pp. 222-229. 

2. Leonard E. Read, "Justice versus Social Justice," in Who's Listen- 
ing? (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Economic Educa- 
tion, Inc., 1973), p. 93 et seq. 

3. See Leonard E. Read, "The Bloom Pre-Exists in the Seed," in Let 
Freedom Reign (Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y.: The Foundation for Eco- 
nomic Education, Inc., 1%9), pp. 78-86. 

You Can't Sell Freedom to a starving Man / 351 

4. Ridgway K. Foley, Jr., "In Quest of Justice/' The Freeman, May 
1974, pp. 301-310. 

5. Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals 
(New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1949), p. 21. 

6. Obviously, this essay does not purport to deal with the questions 
of why might does not make right or with the nature and scope of an 
alternative postulate for mcinkind in great detail. Such an undertaking 
requires more extensive development than is requisite for the topic 
under discussion. 

7. Leonard E. Read, "Right Now!", Notes from FEE (Irvington-on- 
Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., May 
1975), discusses the problems inherent in gradualism. 

The Roots of " Anticapitalism'' 
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

In many minds, "capitalism" has come to be a bad 
word, nor does "free enterprise" sound much better. I 
remember seeing posters in Russia in the early 1930s 
depicting capitalists as Frankenstein monsters, as men with 
yellow-green faces, crocodile teeth, dressed in cutaways 
and adorned by top hats. What is the reason for this wide- 
spread hatred for capitalists and capitalism despite the 
overwhelming evidence that the system has truly "deliv- 
ered the goods"? In its mature stage it indeed is providing, 
not just for a select few but for the masses, a standard of liv- 
ing cordially envied by those bound under other politico- 
economic arrangements. There are historic, psychological, 
and moral reasons for this state of affairs. Once we recog- 
nize them, we might come to better understanding the 
largely irrational resentment and desire to kill the goose 
that lays the golden eggs. 

In Europe there still survives a considerable conservative 
opposition against capitalism. The leaders of conservative 
thought and action, more often than not, came from the 
nobility which believed in an agrarian-patriarchal order. 
They thought workers should be treated by manufacturers 
as noblemen treated their agricultural employees and 
household servants, providing them with total security for 

Dr. Kuehnelt-Leddihn is a philosopher, linguist, world traveler, 
and lecturer whose home is in Austria. This essay apf>eared in the 
November 1972 issue of The Freeman. 


The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 353 

their old age, care in the case of illness, and so forth. They 
also disliked the new business leaders who emerged from 
the middle classes: the grand bourgeois was their social com- 
petitor, the banker their disagreeable creditor, not their 
friend. The big cities with their smoking chimneys were 
viewed as calamities and destroyers of the good old life. 

We know that Marx and Engels in the Communist Mani- 
festo furiously attacked the aristocratic social movement as 
a potential threat to their own program. Actually, most of 
the leading minds of Christian anticapitalist thought 
(equally opposed to socialism) were aristocrats: Villeneuve- 
Bargemont, de Mun, Liechtenstein, Vogelsang, Ketteler. 

Bias Against Capitalism Not of Worker Origin 

Armin Mohler, the brilliant Swiss-German neo-conserv- 
ative, has recently explained that one of the weakest points 
of contemporary conservative thought, still wrapped in the 
threads of its own obsolete agrarian romanticism, is its hos- 
tility against modem technology. How right he is! The 
exception might have been Italy with its tradition of urban 
nobility and of patricians who, even before the Reforma- 
tion, engaged in trade and manufacture. Capitalism, 
indeed, is of North-Italian origin. It was a Franciscan, Fra 
Luigi di Pacioli, who invented double-entry bookkeeping. 
Calvinism gave a new impetus to capitalism but did not 
invent it. (Aristocratic entrepreneurs in Italy? Count Mar- 
zotto with his highly diversified business empire of textile 
plants, paper mills, hotel chains, and fisheries is a typical 
example. His labor relations are of a patriarchal nature 
involving substantial fringe benefits which also character- 
ize Japanese business practice.) 

The real animosity against free enterprise did not origi- 

354 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

nate with the laborers. Bear in mind that in the early nine- 
teenth century the working class was miserably paid, and 
this for two reasons: (1) the income from manufacturing was 
quite limited (true mass production came later) and (2) the 
lion's share of the profits went into reinvestments while the 
typical manufacturers lived rather modestly It is this ascetic 
policy of early European capitalism which made possible 
the phenomenal rise of working class standards. Seeing that 
the manufacturers did not live a life of splendor (as did the 
big landowners) the workers at first viewed their lot with 
surprising equanimity. The Socialist impetus came from 
middle class intellectuals, eccentric industrialists (like 
Robert Owen and Engels) and impoverished noblemen 
with a feeling of resentment against the existing order. 

As one can imagine, the artificially created ire then was 
turned first against the manufacturer who, after all, is noth- 
ing but some sort of broker between the worker and the 
public. He enables the worker to transform his work into 
goods. In this process he incurs various expenses, such as 
for tools, and a part of the costs of marketing. He hopes to 
make a profit from these transactions in order to render his 
efforts worthwhile. Curiously enough, his responsibility 
toward the enterprise is of far greater scope than that of 
many workers. No wonder that the interest, once centered 
on accidents in the factories, is shifting more and more to 
the manager diseases. The entrepreneur sacrifices not only 
his "nerves" but also his peace of mind. If he fails, he fails 
not himself alone; the bread of dozens, of hundreds, of 
thousands of families hangs in the balance. The situation is 
not very different in a stock company. There, the stockhold- 
ers sometimes make profits in the form of dividends — and 
sometimes they do not. The worker always expects to be 
paid. The bigger risks are thus at the top, not at the bottom. 

The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 355 

Yet, how well the worker is paid depends on several fac- 
tors, the first of which is the readiness of consumers to pay 
for the finished goods a price high enough to warrant high 
wages. Here we come to the brokerage side of the capitalist. 
Secondly, there is the decision of the entrepreneur (some- 
times the stockholders) how much of the gross profits will 
be distributed (as dividends, bonuses, and the like) and 
how much should be reinvested or laid aside. It is evident 
that the enterprise, being competitive, has to "look ahead" 
in a far more concrete way than does the often improvident 
worker. The business usually must be planned years ahead. 
It not only has to adopt the best means of production 
(which means the purchase of new expensive machinery), 
but also needs financial assets as reserves. Finally, the 
wages have to be in a sound relationship to the marketing 
possibilities, and also to the quality of the work done, the 
sense of duty of the workers and employees. Virtue enters 
the picture. Even the net profits paid out are not necessarily 
a "loss" to the workers, because a profitable enterprise 
attracts investors; what is good for the enterprise obviously 
is good for its workers. 

There is a commonality of interests which can be 
gravely upset by either side. Needless to say, the most com- 
mon way to upset the applecart is through excessive wage 
demands which, if yielded to, tend to eliminate the profits 
and to make the merchandise unmarketable. Politically 
organized workers also may pressure governments into 
inflationary policies. Strikes cancel production for a given 
period and mean economic loss. The inability to sell due to 
excessive wages and prices or to protracted strikes can 
bankrupt the economy. 

This mutual relationship between costs of production 
and purchasing power is frequently overlooked— espe- 

356 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

dally in the so-called "developing nations." The insistence 
on "a living wage," often by well-meaning Christian critics, 
in many cases cannot be met without pricing the products 
out of the market. Such critics forget that workers might 
prefer to work at a low wage rather than not to work at all. 

Saving Begins at Home 

One thing is certain: nascent industrial economies have to 
start on an ascetic, a Spartan level. This is true of all 
economies, free or socialistic. The apologists of the USSR 
can well use this argument in the defense of Soviet 
economies in their initial stage, but only up to a point: the 
introduction of socialism in Russia effected immediately a 
tremendous decline of working-class, peasant-class, and 
middle-class living standards which, compared with 1916 
levels, have improved only in spots. Large sectors still are 
worse off than before the Revolution. A microscopic minor- 
ity, however, lives very well indeed.^ In the meantime, free 
economies have made such enormous strides that the gap 
between Russia and the West is greater than in 1916. There 
are two reasons for this state of affairs. First, the Eastern 
Bloc with the exception of Soviet-occupied Germany, 
Latvia, and Estonia, completely lacks the famous "Protest- 
ant Work Ethic." Secondly, free enterprise is basically more 
productive than state capitalism because of: (a) the snow- 
balling of millions of individual ambitions into a huge 
avalanche, (b) the element of competition based on free 
consumer choice which improves quality and efficiency, 
(c) the strictly nonpolitical management based on efficiency 
and responsibility. 

So, whence comes the wave of hatred directed against 

The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 357 

free enterprise? Dissatisfied intellectuals designing Utopias 
and decadent noblemen do not account entirely for the 
phenomenon. Though nascent capitalism has not yet "de- 
livered the goods" (children can only show promise, no 
more) mature capitalism has proved that it can provide. 
Empirically speaking, capitalism has justified itself in com- 
parison with socialism (for the existence of which we have 
to be grateful in this one respect). 

The assaults against free enterprise are launched with 
the help of theories and of sentiments, sometimes working 
hand in hand. Frequently these attacks are made indirectly, 
for instance, by criticizing technology. This critique might 
be genuine, but often serves as a detour. Much of the cur- 
rent antipollution campaign is subconsciously directed at 
capitalism via technology. (This particular problem is less 
acute in the Socialist World only because it is less industri- 
alized; it is nevertheless amusing to see the Left embracing 
all the idle dreams of the old conservative agrarian roman- 
ticism.) However, if we examine closely the attack against 
free enterprise, we find the following elements: 

•1. The charge that business cycles are the consequence 
of freedom rather than political intervention, though proof 
to the contrary is well established. 

•2. The attack against the man-consuming, soul-killing, 
slave-driving forms of modern production. In this domain, 
however, the main culprit is the machine rather than the 
human factor. Technology per se is strictly disciplinarian. In 
this respect, socialism or communism would not bring the 
slightest alleviation. On the contrary! Let us remember the 
ideal of the Stakhanovite, the absence in socialist countries 
of genuine labor unions, the limitless means the totalitarian 
state has for coercion, regulations, and controls. We must 

358 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

bear in mind that the free world also has a competitive 
labor market. Man can choose the place and conditions of 
his work. 

•3. The critique of "monopoly capitalism," shared in a 
milder way by the "Neo-Liberal" school, is opposed to all 
forms of bigness. Still, in the free world we find that most 
countries have legislation against monopolies in order to 
keep competition alive, to give the consumer a real choice. 
Any criticism of monopolies by a socialist is hypocritical, 
because socialism means total monopoly, the state being 
the only entrepreneur. 

Deeper Resentments 

Yet these attacks are frequently only rationalizations of 
much deeper resentments. At the very roots of anticapital- 
ism we have the theological problem of man's rebellion 
against Original Sin or, to put it in secular terms, his vain 
protest against the human condition. By this we mean the 
curse to which we are subject, the necessity to work by the 
sweat of our brow. The worker is in harness, but so is the 
manager and so is everybody else. For this uninspiring, 
sometimes unpleasant state of affairs, the average man will 
stick the guilt on somebody; capitalism serves as the conve- 
nient scapegoat. Of course, work could be greatly reduced 
if one were willing to accept a much lower living stan- 
dard — which few people want to do. Without the opportu- 
nities free enterprise provides for highly profitable work, 
the living standards would go down to early medieval lev- 
els. Still, the resentment against this order is directed not so 
much against an abstraction — such is human nature — as 
against persons. Thus, the culprit is taken to be the "Estab- 
lishment" — of the "capitalists." 

The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 359 

This gives us a hint as to the nature of the anticapitalism 
which has more and more surfaced since the French Revo- 
lution and the decline of Christianity: envy. Ever since 1789, 
the secret of political success has been the mobilization of 
majorities against unpopular minorities endowed with cer- 
tain "privileges"— particularly financial privileges. Thus, 
in the nineteenth century, the "capitalist" appeared to be 
the man who enjoyed considerable wealth though he 
apparently "did not work" and derived a vast income from 
the toil of the workers "who have to slave for him." Apart 
from the incontrovertible fact that they mostly "slave for 
themselves," there is some truth to this. 

The Entrepreneurial Role 

Almost every worker will usually contribute in a 
minor way to the income of the entrepreneur or of the 
stockholders. This is perfectly natural because a broker 
must always be paid; and an entrepreneur, as we have 
said before, is actually a broker between the worker and 
the consumer by providing the former with the necessary 
tools and guidance in production. (The merchant is a sub- 
broker between the manufacturer and the public.) It is 
also natural to pay for borrowed tools for the simple rea- 
son that their value is diminished by use. (Thus the travel- 
ing salesman will have to pay for a rented car, the com- 
mercial photographer for a rented camera, and so forth.) 
Beyond this, the entrepreneur (who is, as we have seen, a 
broker as well as a lender) takes the risk of failure and 
bankruptcy. This situation also may be encountered in the 
USSR where anyone can get an "unearned income" for 
money he puts into a savings bank or where he can buy a 
lottery ticket. The purchase of such a ticket is based on an 

360 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

expectation (i.e., to make a profit) but also entails a risk 
(i.e., not to win anything). 

Risk characterizes all of human existence: to make an 
effort without exactly foreseeing its success. Thus, a writer 
starting a novel or a painter putting the first lines on his 
canvas is not sure whether he can transform his vision into 
reality. He might fail. Often he does. The farmer with his 
crop is in the same boat. But the typical worker entering the 
factory can be certain that he will be paid at week's end. It 
should be noted here that in Austria and Germany, for 
instance, the industrial laborer works an average of 43 
hours a week (the 40-hour week is in the offing), while the 
self-employed put in an average of 62.5 hours a week. In 
other words, the rule within our mature economy is this: 
the "higher up," the greater the work effort — and the 
higher, too, the work ethics; the slack employee cheats the 
employer but the slack employer only cheats himself. 

Facts and Fiction 

The trouble, as Goetz Briefs once pointed out, is that the 
current notions about the profits of the capitalists are 
totally out of touch with reality.^ The reason for these 
wrong ideas is partly mathematical! Let us look at some 
statistics. Too many people think that a radical redistribu- 
tion of profits would truly benefit "the little man." But 
what do the figures tell us? According to the Economic 
Almanac, 1962, published by the National Industrial Con- 
ference Board (page 115), of the national income in the 
United States, the compensation of employees amounted 
to 71 percent; the self-employed earned 11.9 percent, the 
farmers 3.1 percent. Corporation profits before taxes were 
9.7 percent of the total national income (after taxes only 4.9 

The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 361 

percent) and dividends paid out were 3.4 percent. Interest 
paid to creditors amounted to 4.7 percent of the national 
income. Yet, were the recipients of these dividends and in- 
terest payments all "capitalists"? How many workers, 
retired farmers, widows, benevolent associations, and 
educational institutions were among them? Would this 
sum, evenly divided among all Americans, materially 
improve their lot? Of course not. 

In other parts of the world the situation is not much dif- 
ferent. According to earlier statistics (1958), if all German 
incomes were to be reduced to a maximum of 1,000 Marks 
(then $250.00) a month and every citizen given an even 
share of the surplus, this share would have amounted to 4 
cents a day. A similar calculation, expropriating all Aus- 
trian monthly incomes of 1000 dollars or more, would in 
1960 have given each Austrian citizen an additional IVa. 
cents a day! 

But, let us return to corporate profits. The 13 largest Ital- 
ian companies composed in 1965 a full-page advertisement 
which they tried to place in the leading dailies of the Penin- 
sula. This statement told at a glance what the dividends 
had been in 1963, what they were over a 10-year period, 
what salaries and wages were paid, how much industry 
contributed to social security and old-age pensions. The 
relationship between the dividends and labor cost was 
roughly 1 to 12. The companies added that the estimated 
number of shareholders (obviously from many walks of 
life) was over half a million — double the number of the 
employees. Interestingly and significantly enough, two of 
the dailies refused to carry the paid advertisement: one was 
the Communist Unita, the other the Papal Osservatore 
Romano whose excuse was that it was published in Vatican 
City, which means outside of the Italian State. 

362 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 
Rooted in Envy 

To the advocate of equality, the fact that certain individ- 
uals live much better than others seems to be "unbearable." 
The internal revenue policies which try to "soak the rich" 
often have their roots in man's envy. It seems useless to 
demonstrate that a redistribution of wealth would be of no 
advantage to the many or that an oppressive tax policy 
directed against the well-to-do is self-defeating for a coun- 
try's economy. One usually will get the reply that in a 
democracy a fiscal policy which might be economically 
sound could be politically unacceptable — and vice versa. 
Pointing out that the spending of wealthy persons is good 
for the nation as a whole may bring the snap reaction that 
''nobody should have that much money." Yet, people who 
earn huge sums usually have taken extraordinary risks or 
are performing extraordinary services. Some of them are 
inventors. Let us assume that somebody invents an effec- 
tive drug against cancer and thereby earns a hundred mil- 
lion dollars. (Certainly, those who suffer from cancer would 
not begrudge him his wealth.) Unless he buries this sum in 
his garden, he would help by lending to others (through 
banks, for instance) and by purchasing liberally from oth- 
ers. The only reason to object to his wealth would be sheer 
envy. (I would add here that had it not been for the liberal- 
ity of monarchs, popes, bishops, aristocrats, and patricians 
it would not be worthwhile for an American to pay a nickel 
to see Europe. The landscape is more grandiose in the New 

Still, it is significant that one of the few outstanding 
Christian sociologists in Europe, Father Oswald von Nell- 
Breuning, SJ, not noted for conservative leanings, has 
recently (Zur Debatte, Munich, February 1972) taken a firm 

The Roots of "Anticapitalism" / 363 

Stand against the myths of the beneficent effects of the 
redistribution of wealth. As one of the architects of the 
Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno he emphasized that Pius XI 
was thoroughly cognizant with this incontrovertible fact 
but that, in the meantime, this knowledge has been nearly 
lost and that therefore demagogical ideas have largely 
invaded Catholic sociological and economic thinking. 
Especially in the domain of "Third World" economic prob- 
lems, the learned Jesuit hinted, the hue and cry for "distrib- 
utive justice" has done a great deal of mischief. 

It has become fashionable to attack free enterprise on 
moral grounds. There are people among us, many of them 
well-meaning, idealistic Christians, who freely admit that 
"capitalism delivers the goods," that it is far more efficient 
than socialism, but that it is ethically on a lower plane. It is 
denounced as egotistic and materialistic. Of course, life on 
earth is a vale of tears and no system, political, social, or 
economic, can claim perfection. Yet, the means of produc- 
tion can only be owned privately, or by the state. State own- 
ership of all means of production certainly is not conducive 
to liberty. It is totalitarianism. It involves state control of all 
media of expression. (In Nazi Germany private ownership 
existed de jure, but certainly not de facto.) The remark of 
Roepke is only too true, that in a free enterprise system the 
supreme sanction comes from the bailiff, but in a totalitar- 
ian tyranny from the hangman. 

The Christian insistence on freedom— the monastic 
vows are voluntary sacrifices of a select few— derives from 
the Christian concept that man must be free in order to act 
morally (A sleeping, a chained and clubbed, a drugged per- 
son can neither be sinful nor virtuous.) Yet, the free world, 
which is practically synonymous with the world of free 
enterprise, alone provides a climate, a way of life compati- 

364 / Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn 

ble with the dignity of man who makes free decisions, en- 
joys privileges, assumes responsibilities, and develops his 
talents as he sees fit. He is truly the steward of his family. 
He can buy, sell, save, invest, gamble, plan the future, build, 
retrench, acquire capital, make donations, take risks. In 
other words, he can be the master of his economic fate and 
act as a man instead of a sheep in a herd under a shepherd 
and his dogs. No doubt, free enterprise is a harsh system; it 
demands real men. But socialism, which appeals to envious 
people craving for security and afraid to decide for them- 
selves, impairs human dignity and crushes man utterly. 

1. See ''Free Enterprise and the Russians/' The Freeman, August 
1972, pp. 461-470. 

2. Das Gewerkschaftsproblem gestem und heute (Frankfurt am Main: 
Knapp, 1955), p. 98. 

Higher Education: The Solution 
or Part of the Problem? 

Calvin D. Linton 

My title may strike you as odd, whimsical, even wrong- 
headed. Surely education is a "good thing." It is by its very 
nature beneficial, not harmful; Promethean, not Mephis- 
tophelean; our savior, not our destroyer. The more of it the 

But every one of these popular beliefs is doubtful. It all 
depends on what kind of education we are talking about, 
and what kind of people receive the education. 

Let me say at once, therefore, that I am speaking of that 
kind of education which is secular, largely technological, 
and chiefly aimed at teaching people how to do things. This 
is, I believe, the public image. Every member of a liberal 
arts college has at one time or another confronted bewil- 
dered or irate parents who demand to know what, after an 
expensive liberal arts education, their newly furnished off- 
spring are trained to do — what kind of a job can they get? It 
is difficult to convince them that the purpose of a liberal 
education is to develop mental powers, to sensitize one's 
response to beauty and goodness, to expand and lengthen 
one's outlook, to teach civilized emotions, and the rest. (It is 

Calvin D. Linton is Professor Emeritus of English Literature and 
Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences of George Washing- 
ton University, Washington, D.C. This article appeared in the June 1968 
issue of The Freeman. 


366 / Calvin D. Linton 

particularly difficult because, in all conscience, these jobs 
have often not been done by the liberal arts college. But that 
is another story.) 

The menace of modem education is quite easy to define: 
Never have so many people, groups, and nations been able, 
because of education, to do so many things — and we are all 
afraid that they will now start doing them! To narrow it a 
bit: The menace is that of incalculable power (the product 
of knowledge) in the hands of bad or foolish men. The ago- 
nizing question now is not whether we can possibly learn 
how to do this or that, but which of the things we have the 
tools to do we should, by an act of will, choose to do. The 
question, in short, is one of conduct, not of knowledge. 
With this, education, to its own peril, has little to do. 

And yet it is the most anciently recognized of problems. 
Adam faced it, and chose wrong. His problem, like ours, 
was not knowing how but knowing what. And the corrective 
was early stated: "Thou shalt do that which is right and 
good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee 
. . . {Deut. 6:18). With the spirit of this commandment, mod- 
em education has even less to do. Education's answer to 
man's problems is more education — as if Hitler would have 
been made a better man if he had taken a degree or two 
from some good university. 

I submit that modem education presents increasingly 
the fearful aspects of Frankenstein's monster because of the 
prevalence of five fallacies or myths. 

1. The Myth of Automatic Human Progress 

The general tendency of ancient thought was that man 
had fallen from high estate, whether from some Golden 
Age or from the bliss of Eden. Not until the eighteenth cen- 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 367 

tury and the rise of that strangely irrational epoch called 
the Age of Reason were doctrines of inevitable human 
progress widely disseminated. Partly, this was the result of 
a sort of provincial complacency, and partly ignorance of 
history. How easily in eighteenth-century writing flow the 
condescending remarks about the barbarism of the ancient 
world, the primitive grotesqueness of gothic cathedrals, the 
ignorance and ineptitude of Shakespeare! 

But it remained for the nineteenth century and the rise 
of theories of evolution for the views to become the dogma 
that all environments tend inevitably toward perfection. 
Why this is so was never clearly stated. There simply is 
faith that the universe is so constituted. "Chance" will see 
to it. But chance is simply a nonterm, identifying the absence 
of reason, purpose, intention, and will; it is odd that reason 
should put its faith in that which is, by definition, nonrea- 

Reasonably or not, however, the cult of inevitable 
progress has, in education, placed improper emphasis on 
novelty, change for its own sake, the gimmick. True, in the 
world of technology the view that the latest is the best is 
usually sound — we properly prefer the up-to-date type- 
writer, automobile, washing machine. But technology 
advances automatically, so long as we do not forget the 
practical lessons of past experimenters. Every engineer 
begins at the point where the last one left off. Advancement 
is due not to any improvement in the human brain, but to 
the mere accumulation of experience. The ancient brains 
that measured the diameter of the earth, that worked out 
the basic principles of force, leverage, hydraulics, and con- 
struction, were almost undoubtedly greater brains than our 
age possesses. But the modem technologist stands at the 
topmost height of achievement of all previous craftsmen. 

368 / Calvin D. Linton 

He may himself be a dwarf, but he can see farther than they, 
for he sits on their shoulders. 

Not so in the area of human conduct. Here it is not tech- 
nology but wisdom that governs. No man becomes virtu- 
ous because of the virtue of another. He may be inspired by 
the wisdom and virtue of others, but he must make that 
wisdom his own possession. He cannot start out as wise as 
they simply because they have recorded their wisdom. 
Every human being, as a moral creature, begins from 
scratch. Not the novel but the true controls here. 

Julian Huxley once observed that evolution seemingly 
has not worked in recorded history. Even within the view 
of evolutionary progress, therefore, there is no ground for 
believing that the wisdom residing in the most ancient 
minds was not as great as that held by the latest recipient of 
a Ph.D. Indeed, in all honesty, most of us would agree that 
there probably is not alive this day any human being whose 
wisdom can match that of a Moses, a Job, a Paul, a Marcus 
Aurelius, an Aristotle, a John — make the list as long as you 

And it is precisely this storehouse of ancient wisdom 
that the Cult of the New denies to the student. How they 
flock to the latest course presenting results of "an unstruc- 
tured learning experience bearing upon upward mobility 
desires in terms of motivational elements in adjustment to a 
work situation" — but how few choose a course in the ethi- 
cal teachings of Jesus. 

And yet, as we have seen, it is precisely in the matter of 
choosing wisely what we should do, not in mastering 
more tools of power, that our future security — if any — 
consists. Bertrand Russell has written: "If human life is to 
continue in spite of science, mankind will have to learn a 
discipline of the passions which, in the past, has not been 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 369 

necessary. . . ." In other words, the upward curve of virtue 
must parallel that of knowledge. 

Professor Ginsberg of the University of London in his 
book The Idea of Progress, correctly states that progress can- 
not be defined in terms independent of ethics. One can 
scarcely call it progress if a murderous maniac is progres- 
sively handed a stick, a club, a sword, a pistol, a cannon, 
and finally an H-bomb. 

Education must deal with that which has never changed: 
the human heart, its passions, and ideals. There are the well- 
springs of human well-being or human catastrophe. In an 
address to the Royal Society, Laurence Oliphant, Aus- 
tralia's top atomic scientist, declared: "I can find no evi- 
dence whatever that the morality of mankind has improved 
over the 5,000 years or so of recorded history." 

II. The Myth of the Natural Goodness of Man 

This is a delicate subject. One sometimes feels that this 
dogma is simply a corrective to the reverse obnoxious doc- 
trines of extreme puritanism (the sort seen in medieval 
asceticism and seventeenth-century extremism) that every 
impulse of man is totally and inherently evil. (In passing, 
some even conceive this to be the Presbyterian doctrine of 
total depravity. Actually, of course, the view declares that 
the total man was touched by sin, that no part of his being 
remained unaffected. It does not attribute total evil to every 

But the cult of sensibility, as the eighteenth century 
termed it, is not a corrective; it is an extreme, untenable, 
and unreasonable dogma that shows up in modern educa- 
tion all the way from first grade to graduate school. 

Simply, it may be called the philosophy of "doing what 

370 / Calvin D. Linton 

comes naturally." At the intellectual level, for example, it is 
held that there is some magic value in the uninhibited and 
uninformed opinion if freely expressed. And so discussion 
groups are held in the grade schools and the high schools 
on such subjects as "What do you think about the atom 
bomb?" or "teenage morality" or "banning Lady Chatterley's 
Lover" or "implementing freedom among underprivileged 
nations" or what not. The poor little dears have scarcely a 
fact to use as ballast. But no matter. The cult of sensibility 
believes that continuing, free, uninhibited discussion will 
ultimately release the inherent goodness of natural instincts 
and impulses. The fad for "brainstorming" has passed, but 
not the philosophy behind it. 

Now, of course, we must encourage discussion. The 
young need to be encouraged to think and to speak — the 
former, anyway But the deadly assumption underlying this 
sort of thing is that goodness is not a difficult matter of 
study, discipline, learning, mastery of tough masses of fact, 
but just a kind of game. It's fun to do what comes naturally. 
(On reading about the uninhibited conduct of certain grade 
school classes, with free discussion, finger painting, group 
games, or whatever the youngsters want to do, an older 
man said: "That's not a new feature of education. They had 
that when I was a boy. They called it 'recess.'" 

Ultimately, this view of ethics believes that there is no 
objective standard of morality or ethics. If there were, then 
what one wanted to do would be either right or wrong 
according to whether it reflected or violated the absolute 
standard. Rather, it is the view of the cult that society deter- 
mines morality. The vote of the majority determines the eth- 
ical value. To refer to Bertrand Russell again, one remem- 
bers his assertion that there is no rational basis for 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 371 

determining ethics. Man, as the random product of an eter- 
nal flux of atoms, feels certain things— chiefly, that he 
exists; or rather, he experiences an experience he arbitrar- 
ily names "existence." Thus, what are "ethical standards" 
to one may be unacceptable to another. There is no objec- 
tive basis for deciding between them. One can only hope, 
therefore, that he lives in a society in which the majority of 
the people happen to like the same ethical standards one 
does oneself. 

The idea that man is basically good and infinitely capa- 
ble of self-improvement has ramifications in every area of 
modem life. It is ardently preached by Freudian psycholo- 
gists, to whom restraint of any natural desire is bad; by 
dreamy-eyed social and political theorists who believe that 
"freedom" is the sovereign remedy for the ills of every 
primitive tribe and nation; by aesthetic theorists who teach 
that art is an unplanned eruption occurring when the 
"artist's biography makes contact with the medium of the 
art"; and by educationists who teach that what Johnny 
wants to do is what he must be permitted to do. No concept 
is more widespread, more taken for granted by millions 
who have never troubled really to think about it. 

It is important to realize that members of the cult of nat- 
ural goodness believe primarily in the goodness of the non- 
rational faculties — instinct, emotion, impulse, subrational 
urges. They are not so strong on the natural goodness of the 
intellect. (The high priest of the cult is D. H. Lawrence.) 

There is, consequently, a prevalence of anti-intellectual- 
ism in educational circles that manifests itself in a mar- 
velous jargon largely incomprehensible to the rational 
intelligence. Jacques Barzun gives a fine analysis of this 
malady in The House of Intellect 

372 / Calvin D. Linton 

III. The Myth of Egalitarianism 

This is an even more delicate subject. To seem to ques- 
tion the equality of men is to raise questions about one's 
attitude toward home and mother and the American way 
of life. Actually, of course, the situation is not hopelessly 
complicated. It is simply a matter of identifying those areas 
in which all men are equal and those in which they are not. 

To the Christian, every soul is equal before God. All have 
sinned and come short of the glory of God; all need grace; 
none is good before God. None can claim social status, 
investments, political office, or ecclesiastical affiliation to 
separate him from his absolute equality with all other 
human souls. 

To the believer in the Western tradition of rule by law, 
every man is also equal before the law. The protection of the 
law, the responsibility for obeying the law, and the duty of 
understanding the law are equal in distribution and force, 
without regard to any circumstances save legal age. 

But to declare that all men are equally gifted, equal in 
force of character, equal in abilities and talents, equally 
deserving of a share of the world's goods, equally deserv- 
ing of esteem, respect, and admiration, equally deserving 
of rewards, equal in cultural heritage and contribution — 
this is irrational nonsense. 

No concept has had a deadlier effect upon modem edu- 
cation than this. It has hindered the identification and 
encouragement of the exceptionally gifted; it has lowered 
educational standards to a point where no one, no matter 
how dull, can fail to hurdle them; it has confused the right 
of every man to seek an education with the fallacious belief 
that every man has a right to receive a degree. It has stifled 
initiative by refusing to grant exceptional reward to ex- 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 373 

ceptional effort. It has encouraged mediocrity by withhold- 
ing the penalty of mediocrity. 

An illustration: A university with which I am very 
familiar undertook a program to encourage better English 
in the high schools of the city. The basic idea was competi- 
tion — the best writers, the most skilled in grammar, the 
clearest thinkers would be singled out through public con- 
tests for reward. 

The professional secondary school counselors were hor- 
rified. This clearly amounted to ''discrimination" — it dis- 
criminated between the able and the unable student! In the 
modem doctrine this is the deadly sin. In sum, the univer- 
sity was permitted to put into effect only a watered-down 
plan that carefully provided rewards for everyone. Need- 
less to say the program was of only modest effectiveness. 
Needless to say, too, that high school graduates come to us 
scarcely sure whether writing is the white or the black part 
of a page. 

I was recently told by a professional educator colleague 
that the terrible alternative to belief in complete equality in 
all dimensions is the inculcation of an inferiority complex. 
From that, he told me, come resentment, insecurity, antago- 
nism, maladjustment, psychoses of various kinds, rebel- 
lion — in short, a wrecked society. 

This, too, is nonsense. The thing works both ways. 
Almost everyone has some talent or ability that could be 
developed beyond the average level. If he properly receives 
acknowledgment for this superiority, he will be willing to 
grant superiority in other fields to other people. Is this not 
inherent in life itself? Do we feel resentful or guilty because 
we have not the mental equipment of a Pascal or an Ein- 
stein? Physically inferior because we cannot bat home runs 
like Mickey Mantle? Artistically inferior because we cannot 

374 / Calvin D. Linton 

play the piano like Rubinstein or Richter? On the contrary, 
one of the keenest pleasures of life is to be in the presence of 
a superior person — and to be very still. 

That sort of pride which cannot, without infinite 
anguish, acknowledge the superiority of any other living 
being is quite literally Satanic. From it flowed all our woes. 

IV. The Cult of Scientism 

Again, careful qualification is needed. No one can, in 
the first place, be other than grateful for the marvelous 
strides science has made in increasing human comfort, con- 
trolling disease, providing relief from soul-killing labor. 
Nor, in the second place, can anyone doubt the validity and 
effectiveness of the scientific method — in its proper place. 
What I refer to is the religion of scientism, complete with 
dogma, faith, ethical system, and ritual. 

"Science" is a wonderful word. It means "knowledge." 
Thus the old term for what we today call "science" was 
"natural philosophy." The study of nature — physical; per- 
ceived by the senses; capable of instrumentation. Indeed, 
modern science may be called the application of instru- 
ments to matter for the purpose of gaining understanding 
of material forces and thus of gaining control over them for 
our own purposes. 

The cultic aspect arises when (1) science is viewed not as 
one way man has of knowing things (and a sharply limited 
one) but as the way that embraces everything man can, at 
least respectably, come to know; and (2) when the teachings 
of its priests are accepted without question by a faithful 

These cultic aspects are perhaps most perceptible in the 
development of "mysteries" of the faith, open only to the 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 375 

initiated, not to be comprehended by nonscientists. Writes 
the great Norbert Wiener: "The present age of specializa- 
tion has gone an unbelievable distance. Not only are we 
developing physicists who know no chemistry, physiolo- 
gists who know no biology, but we are beginning to get the 
physicist who does not know physics." As a consequence, 
the mysteries known only to the specialists are accepted 
without question by those without the necessary knowl- 
edge to judge for themselves. 

Anthony Standen, distinguished British chemist who is 
editor of a huge encyclopedia of chemistry, writes: "What 
with scientists who are so deep in science that they cannot 
see it, and nonscientists who are too overawed to express 
an opinion, hardly anyone is able to recognize science for 
what it is, the great Sacred Cow of our time" (Science Is a 
Sacred Cow, Dutton, 1950). 

"Is the universe," he continues, "to be thought of in 
terms of electrons and protons? Or ... in terms of Good and 
Evil? Merely to ask the question is to realize at least one 
very important limitation of [science]." 

The biologists, he says, try to define "life," with ludi- 
crous results. "They define stimulus and response in terms 
of one another. No biologist can define a species. And as for 
a genus — all attempts come to this: 'A genus is a grouping 
of species that some recognized taxonomic specialist has 
called a genus ' " 

The scientist, says Standen, has substituted is for ought. 
"That is why," he concludes, "we must never allow our- 
selves to be ruled by scientists. They must be our servants, 
not our masters." 

The cult has many imitators, all of them injurious to true 
education. The ritual words of the worship services have 
been adopted by areas of knowledge where no physical 

376 / Calvin D. Linton 

instrumentation is possible: psychology, sociology, aesthet- 
ics, morality. When the modem psychologist asks, "What 
motivational elements predominated in this behavioral 
manifestation?" he is still simply asking, "Why did he do 
it?" And the real answer lies far beyond the reach of the 
cleverest electronic computer or microscope. 

In general, the attitude fostered in modem education 
toward science is unthinking worship. As a consequence, as 
Martin Gardner states in his recent book Fads and Fallacies in 
the Name of Science, "The national level of credulity is almost 
unbelievably high." 

The menace of this scientific gullibility obviously goes 
far beyond the classroom. It is the malady of our age, and 
one of which we may perish. But my immediate point is 
simply that an environment of anti-intellectual materialism 
has seriously hampered the development of students' 
awareness of the moral and spiritual stature of man, by 
which alone he stands erect. 

Most paradoxical is the cult's dogma that there is no 
room for faith in any true search for truth. The notion is pal- 
pably false. Let me quote Warren Weaver, vice-president for 
the natural and medical sciences of the Rockefeller Founda- 
tion: "I believe that faith plays an essential role in science 
just as it clearly does in religion." He goes on to list six basic 
faiths of the scientist, including the faith that nature is 
orderly, that the order of nature is discoverable to man, that 
logic is to be trusted as a mental tool, that quantitative 
probability statements reflect something true about nature, 
and so on ("A Scientist Ponders Faith," Saturday Review, 
January 3, 1959). In sum, he says: "Where the scientist has 
faith that nature is orderly, the religionist has faith that God 
is good. Where the scientist believes that the order of nature 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 377 

is discoverable to man, the religionist believes that the 
moral nature of the universe is discoverable to man." 

Dr. Weaver rejects the well-known aphorism of Sir 
Richard Gregory: 

My grandfather preached the Gospel of Christ, 
My father preached the Gospel of Socialism, 
I preach the Gospel of Science. 

But many others accept it with fervor. "God has ceased 
to be a useful hypothesis," writes Julian Huxley. The prob- 
lem of the nineteenth century, says another, was the death 
of God; that of the twentieth, the death of man. 

Any humanist who speaks in these terms must be 
extremely careful, lest he fall into mere carping, deeply 
tinged by envy of the prominence and prosperity of sci- 
ence. Nothing could be more foolish — or more ungrateful. 
The lament over the low estate of the humanities in the 
public mind would be more touching if those responsible 
for the preservation and dissemination of humanistic stud- 
ies had something of positive value to say, if they had a 
Path, a Way of Truth to declare. 

V. The Cult of Biologism 

I admit that this is a poor term, and perhaps the topic 
itself were better considered a subheading of the previous 
one. Essentially, this cult is an outgrowth of materialism, 
the faith that man is only biology, that he not only has 
glands but is glands. 

As a consequence, whole segments of educational the- 
ory consider man precisely as a physicist considers an 

378 / Calvin D. Linton 

atom — one purely objective item among others of its kind, 
clothed with identity only as it is part of a group, the prop- 
erties and motions of which are to be determined statisti- 
cally, in terms of average behavior. (Years ago, Irving Lang- 
muir, speaking of the "burden of irrationality" in science, 
pointed out that the laws, say, of the expansion of gases tell 
us how a mass of molecules behave under certain condi- 
tions of heat and pressure, but that no one can predict how 
a single one of the molecules will behave.) 

To treat man merely as a capacity for response to stim- 
uli, as totally the product of the forces that impinge upon 
him, without will or conscience, is to divest him of person- 
ality, individuality, and dignity. But the whole science of 
human engineering is based, more or less, on this concept. 
The only variation is the difference of opinion among the 
practitioners as to whether there remains in man some 
slight indeterminate center of being, inviolate to stimulus 
or statistical confinement, or whether he is totally suscepti- 
ble to manipulation. 

Among the many ramifications of this cult let me men- 
tion only two. First, the dogma that all human actions are 
social in their implications, to be judged purely by their 
effect on society. And, second, the dogma that emotions, 
feelings, are not essentially moral in their nature, nor the 
product of individual, unique, and sovereign personality, 
but are merely the conditioned reflexes of quivering biology. 

The first, the social dogma, conceives of the individual 
as the physician thinks of the cells of the body — part of an 
organic whole, subject totally to the welfare of the organic 
unit (the state, in the social and political parallel), smd to be 
excised through surgery if a cell rebels. 

It is within this belief that a nationally prominent psy- 
chologist has defined education as "the engraving of desir- 

Higher Education: The SoluHon or Part of the Problem? / 379 

able behavior patterns." Through conditioning, teaching 
machines, Pavlovian devices of various kinds, the individ- 
ual is created in the desired image. Undesirable behavior 
patterns are to be eradicated by a form of brainwashing and 
a new engraving superimposed. Dismissed as utterly out- 
moded is the view of each human being as a living soul, 
created in the image of God, with primary responsibilities 
as an individual to the God of his creation. 

And who is to determine what kind of behavior pattern 
is "desirable"? That's the hitch. The persons who most 
ardently would like to impose their own behavior patterns 
on me are the very ones whose patterns I would least like to 
have engraved. 

At worst this view of human existence is both irrational 
and evil. It is irrational because it must believe that those 
who impose the patterns of desirable behavior must be as 
totally the product of external influence, as completely a 
consciousness-produced-by-environment, as those who are 
to be manipulated. It is evil because it denies human dig- 
nity and reduces the individual to a cipher. 

The second menacing product of the cult of biologism is 
the belief that emotions and feelings are as purely biologi- 
cal as the purely physiological activities of man. In other 
words this view denies that the quality of a person's feel- 
ings is a measure of his moral stature, of his culture, of his 
civilization. It denies that the teaching of right feelings is a 
vital part of true educahon. 

The "natural" emotions of a child are pretty fearful, 
until they have been civilized, associated with moral val- 
ues, enriched with culture. Most notably, the child— and 
the savage— is instinctively delighted by cruelty. A child 
will pull the wings off a fly A recent account of life among 
certain savage South American Indians describes the plea- 

380 / Calvin D. Linton 

sure of the community at the antics of chickens plucked 
alive, with perhaps a leg or wing pulled off for good mea- 

This may be the "natural" feeling of sin, and it may be 
an instinctive expression of the savage as biology. But it is 
the work of civilization, of culture, and above all of religion, 
to eradicate it. "Natural" man must learn the right emo- 
tions — what to laugh at, what to smile at, what to frown at. 

Show me what makes a man laugh, what makes him 
weep, and I know the man. It is ultimately a matter of 
morality, not biology. Education divorced from moral val- 
ues cannot teach right feeling. 

The deepest and most significant emotion of all, the one 
this world most desperately needs to be taught, is compas- 
sion — the emotion most readily associated with the love of 
God for sinful man. "The tender mercies of the heathen are 
cruel," says the Bible. Commandments that we deal gently, 
forgivingly, tenderly with each other are "unnatural" in 
biology. They are natural only to the regenerated spirit. 

Now, this is a broad indictment. I do not pretend that I 
have said anything new, or that these problems are peculiar 
to education. They are maladies of our age. They break into 
dozens of major subheadings, scores of topics, hundreds of 
subject headings, thousands of instances. 

True Education 

But the correction is magnificently simple: True educa- 
tion, as Milton said three centuries ago, is to releam to 
know God aright. Education divorced from God is capable 
of infinite and endless complexities and confusions. He 
alone is the motionless Center that gives meaning to all 

Higher Education: The Solution or Part of the Problem? / 381 

motion. What he is, not what man is, determines what 
should be and shall be. 

Let me end with a quotation from that rough-mannered 
philosopher, Carlyle (Sartor Resartus, Chapter IX): 

"Cease, my much respected Herr von Voltaire," thus 
apostrophizes the Professor: "shut thy sweet voice; 
for the task appointed thee seems finished. Suffi- 
ciently hast thou demonstrated this proposition, 
considerable or otherwise: That the Mythus of the 
Christian Religion looks not in the eighteenth cen- 
tury as it did in the eighth. Alas, were thy six-and- 
thirty quartos, and the six-and-thirty thousand other 
quartos and folios, all flying sheets or reams, printed 
before and since on the same subject, all needed to 
convince us of so little! But what next? Wilt thou 
help us to embody the divine Spirit of that Religion 
in a new Mythus, in a new vehicle and vesture, that 
our Souls, otherwise too like perishing, may live? 
What! thou hast no faculty in that kind? Only a torch 
for burning, no hammer for building? Take our 
thanks, then, and — thyself away." 

Somewhat modified, these words might be addressed 
to the kind of dangerous education I have been describing. 


Abundance, 225-226, 345 

Academies, 73 

Acton, John E. E. D. (Lord Acton), 

188, 194, 216 
Adams, John, 15, 59 
Adams, Paul L., 242-254 
Administrative law, 82, 92-94 
Advertising, 262-264 
American heritage, decline of, 

American Revolution, 12, 17, 105, 

Anarchism, 153 
Anglican church, 55-56, 65 
Anticapitalism, 352-364 
Aristotle, 167-168, 209-210, 281, 

2%, 323 
Atheists, 154 
Athens, 288-289, 315 

Bacon, Francis, 167, 307, 313 

Barker, Ben, 4, 274-283 

Bastiat, Frederic, 79, 139, 148, 218, 

Bible, 62, 78, 99, 106, 115, 120, 

136-151, 236, 261, 264, 305, 307, 

310, 312, 380 
Biblical laws, 79 

Bill of Rights, 80, 86-90, 106, 333 
Bill of Rights (English), 106 
Bill of Rights (Virginia), 15, 18 
Biologism, 377-380 

Blackstone, Sir William, 79 
Boston, 64-65, 305 
Brackenridge, Hugh, 53 
Bradford, William, 103-104 
Buddhists, 154 
Bunyan, John, 62 
Burke, Edmund, 220, 333, 337 
Burr, Aaron, 53, 107-108 
Businessmen, 153-154, 237, 

Caesar, Julius, 29-30 

California, 77 

Cambodia, 203 

Cambridge (England), 67, 74, 304 

Cambridge (Mass.), 306 

Capitalism, 58, 152-153, 236, 258, 
263, 318-319, 352-354, 356-358, 

Carson, Clarence B., 7-24, 40-51, 

Charity, 43, 95, 153-154, 249, 261 

Children, 13, 18-19, 83, 103-105, 
118, 162, 195, 204, 226, 261, 266, 
286, 294, 300, 302, 315, 338, 357 

Chinese, 166 

Christian socialism, 317 

Christianity, 26, 30, 33-36, 1%, 
99-100, 102, 104, 106-107, 113, 
120, 123-127, 130, 134-135, 139, 
164, 166, 168, 198, 242, 244, 253, 
257-258, 264, 268, 272-273, 312, 


384 / Index 

317, 343, 353, 356, 359, 362-363, 

372, 381 
Church of England, 10, 18, 317 
Churchill, Winston, 238, 285 
Civil Rights movement, 198 
Civil War, 85-86, 315, 342 
Civilization, 136, 161, 163, 168, 

170-171, 284-303, 307, 332, 

Classes, 4, 18-19, 204, 249, 251, 

282, 296-297, 353, 370 
Colleges, 67-69, 167, 311 
Colonial America, education in, 

Colonists, 2, 20, 306-307, 315, 333 
Columbia University, 312, 329, 

Communists, 87-88 
Community, 4, 18-19, 36, 46, 174, 

191, 265-267, 282, 291-293, 297, 

302, 306, 380 
Competition, 73-74, 220, 269-270, 

356, 358, 373 
Compromise, 181, 300 
Confucianists, 154 
Congregational churches, 306 
Connecticut, 11, 13 
Constitution, 1, 11, 14-15, 21, 32, 

47-48, 53, 57, 60, 69, 73, 77, 

79-81, 86-^7, 89-90, 94-95, 106, 

216, 246, 248, 252, 280, 288, 307, 

310-311, 316, 321 
Constitutional Law, 79 
Continental currency, 58 
Contracts, 17, 58, 117 
Cotton, John, 305 
Courts, 20-21, 88-^9, 108, 214, 


Cults, cultism, 4, 274-283, 
367-371, 374-379 

Dartmouth, 167 

Declaration of Independence, 2, 

17, 52, 77, 82, 105-106, 310, 316 
Delaware, 11, 13, 74 
Dependency, 220, 224, 275-277, 

Despotism, 22, 26, 46, 331, 336 
Drugs, 226, 240 

Edison, Thomas, 203 
EducaHon, 42, 53, 61-76, 108, 138, 

152, 161-174, 195, 225, 242, 248, 

261, 267, 278, 304, 336-337, 

Egalitarianism, 201-204, 206, 372 
Eighteenth Amendment, 321 
Elijah, 113, 118 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 285 
England, 8-10, 12, 17-18, 36, 41, 

43, 62, 64-65, 67, 235, 30S-306, 

309-310, 315, 317, 332-333, 349 
Entrepreneur, 319-320, 354-355, 

Envy 78, 188, 292, 297-298, 346, 

359, 362, 377 
Hpictetus, 165 
Episcopal Church, 33 
Equal Rights Amendment, 88 
Equality, 19, 84, 90, 179, 198-206, 

235, 237-238, 293, 2%, 298, 346, 

362, 372-373 
Ethics, 201, 203, 209, 337, 360, 

Europe, 9, 31, 37, 41, 43, 69, 204, 

244-245, 307, 352, 362 

Index I 385 

Ewert, Ken S., 257-273 
Executive Orders, 91-92 
Exploitation, 4, 84 
Ezekiel, 120-131 

Faith, 3, 50, 84, 98-109, 123, 138, 
148, 193, 212, 247, 253, 282-283, 
304, 343, 367, 374, 376-377 

Family, 62, 64, 66, 71, 90, 105, 115, 
132, 137, 188, 225, 239, 266-267, 
293, 298-299, 306, 364 

Federalist Papers, 73, 311 

Foley, Ridgway K., Jr., 120-131, 

Founding Fathers, 1-4, 53, 62, 67, 
72-73, 82, 98-109, 246, 280, 
296-297, 309, 311 

Franklin, Benjamin, 65, 67, 69, 72, 
74, 247 

Freedom, 3, 11, 16-17, 31-33, 37, 
51, 53-54, 56, 59, 61, 69, 74, 
78-79, 81, 98, 121, 126, 128-129, 
134, 137-138, 141, 153, 155, 
161-174, 178, 197, 207-219, 
225-228, 229-241, 242-243, 
245-248, 251, 253-254, 257, 262, 
265-266, 268, 272, 277, 280, 282, 
292, 302-303, 311, 321-337, 
338-351, 357, 363, 370-371 

Freneau, Philip, 53, 59 

Fromm, Erich, 282 

Garden of Eden, 186 

Georgia, 11 

Germany, 349, 350, 356, 360, 363 

God, 2-3, 12-13, 27, 29, 32, 34, 63, 
71, 79^1, 83, 99-103, 105, 107, 
113-118, 121-124, 126, 128-130, 

133, 140-141, 145, 154-156, 
168-169, 177, 179, 183, 185, 191, 
198, 211, 218, 221, 242-246, 249, 
251, 254, 261, 264, 273, 280-281, 
300, 304, 307, 309-310, 312, 
317-318, 332, 372, 376-377, 

Gold, 145, 283, 321-322 

Golden Rule, 13, 178-184, 193 

Good Samaritan, 132, 135, 192, 

Government, 1-2, 9-10, 18-20, 22, 
26-27, 30-37, 41^3, 45-50, 57, 
59, 61-62, 64-65, 67-69, 73-75, 
77, 80-82, 84, 86, 88, 91-95, 107, 
127, 132-133, 136-151, 153, 
155-156, 183, 191, 193, 197, 
199-200, 210, 218-219, 223-226, 
229, 231, 234, 237-239, 246, 253, 
257, 271-272, 283-284, 294, 
297-298, 307, 309, 311, 315, 
322-323, 327-332, 334-337, 339, 

Gradualism, 349-350 

Grand Inquisitor, 167 

Great Awakening, 104 

Greeks, 44, 163, 244, 291, 296, 330 

Hamilton, Alexander, 107-108, 

Harper, F. A., 128, 175-197 
Harvard University, 220 
Hayek, Friedrich A., 143, 194, 

Hebraic law, 124 
Henry, Patrick, 32-33, 67 
Hillendahl, Wesley H., 77-97 
Hinduism, 154, 166, 312 

386 / Index 

Hobbes, Thomas, 41, 43, 210-211, 

215, 313 
Honesty, 25, 154, 219, 368 
Hoover Institution, 145 
Huxley, Julian, 368, 377 

Immorality, 175, 187, 193, 195, 344 
Impersonalism, 264, 267-268 
Independence, 2, 8-9, 17, 19, 21, 
32, 47, 52-53, 55-56, 72, 77, 82, 
105-106, 197, 224-225, 265, 277, 
280, 310, 316 
Individualism, 264, 273 

Jefferson, Thomas, 11, 22, 33, 304 

Jeremiah, 113-119 

Jericho, 132-135 

Jesus, 124-126, 132, 135, 139-140, 
179, 368 

Jewish people, 142-143 

Johnson, Lyndon B., 91 

Johnson, Paul, 294 

Judeo-Christian faith, 3, 99, 

Judicial abuses, 86 

Justice, 13, 15, 25, 32, 50, 56, 79, 
90-91, 93, 108, 123, 130, 139, 
142-143, 155, 178, 185, 207-219, 
237, 244, 249, 297, 318, 331, 
340-342, 363 

Justice Department, 93 

Kant, Immanuel, 325 
Kennedy, John R, 91, 326 
King Philip's War, 68 
Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Erik von, 

Lane, Rose Wilder, 137-138, 150 

Laurens, Henry, 13 

Lee, Charles, 53 

Lee, Richard Henry, 33, 52 

Legislatures, 20-22, 87 

Lewis, C. S., 163, 173 

Liberalism, 297, 334 

Liberty, 2, 10-12, 15-16, 23^25, 
30-31, 36-37, 40-51, 52-61, 69, 
77-79, 81, 83-^, 95, 106-107, 
113, 139, 175-197, 198-200, 206, 
213, 215-228, 245-248, 252, 261, 
284, 286-287, 294, 299, 301-302, 
304-305, 308-309, 311, 324, 
330-334, 336, 338, 343, 345, 349, 

Libraries, 61, 69-71, 74 

Lincoln, Abraham, 74, 327 

Linton, Calvin D., 365-381 

Loyalists, 333 

Luther, Martin, 103, 141 

Lutherans, 65 

Machiavelli, Niccold, 27-31, 

33-34, 36, 38, 183, 251 
Madison, James, 11, 25-39, 53, 57, 

69, 73, 311 
Magna Carta, 106 
Manion, Clarence, 77, 86, 89 
Manson, Charles, 203, 274 
Market, 61, 65, 74, 153-154, 188, 

238-239, 241, 249, 257-273, 302, 

315, 319-320, 348, 356, 358 
Marshall, John, 33 
Marx, Karl, 152, 185, 267, 313, 353 
Maryland, 13 
Mason, George, 15, 32 
Massachusetts, 11, 14-15, 19-21, 

32, 68, 306 

Index I 387 

Materialism, 3, 251-252, 258, 
262-264, 267-268, 273, 376-377 

Mather, Cotton, 305 

Media, 42, 152, 281, 363 

Mennonites, 66 

Merccintilism, 17, 42 

Mill, John Stuart, 139, 211-212, 

Milton, John, 332, 380 

Mises, Ludwig von, 316, 320 

Montesquieu, Charles de, 208 

Moral conduct, 179-180, 188, 190, 

Moral order, 304-320 

Moral postulates, 175-184 

Morality, 26, 32, 37, 47, 49-51, 
108-109, 113, 118, 161-174, 175, 
178-179, 189, 195, 214, 217, 225, 
228, 231, 241, 258, 291, 340-341, 
343^44, 346-347, 369-370, 376, 

Morals, 13, 32, 36, 175-197, 
217-218, 251, 291-292, 2%, 335 

Moravians, 65 

Morison, Samuel Eliot, 64, 304 

Moses, 145, 281, 368 

Murray, Charles, 299 

National emergencies, 91-92 
Natural Law, 43, 105, 172, 

177-178, 183, 212, 220, 244, 

308-309, 317, 343-344 
Natural order, 43-44, 49, 206, 308 
New England, 36, 62, 64-65, 

New Hampshire, 11, 13 
New Jersey, 10-11, 52-53, 68 
New Testament, 134, 140-141 

New York, 10, 20-21, 57, 242, 295, 

Nixon, Richard, 91 
Nock, Albert Jay, 113-114, 173 
North, Gary, 113-119 
Northwest Ordinance, 14, 16, 

Nozick, Robert, 200 
Numa, 27-28 

Occupational Safety and Health 
Act, 93 

Old Testament, 113, 123-124, 142, 

Opitz, Edmund A., 304-320, 

Order, 1, 3, 14, 17, 25, 29-30, 32, 
40-51, 91, 98, 114, 124, 127, 129, 
140, 145, 152-157, 164, 166, 169, 
174, 200, 206, 217, 225-227, 242, 
244, 261-262, 270-271, 279, 281, 
284, 292-293, 304-311, 313, 
315-320, 324-325, 330-334, 337, 
344, 346, 352, 354, 358, 376 

Ortega y Gasset, Jose, 285 

Owen, Robert, 240, 354 

Paine, Thomas, 207, 212, 218 
Patrick, James C, 136-151 
Pennsylvania, 10, 13, 21, 65-66, 

Pericles, 244, 288, 335 
Peterson, Robert A., 52-60, 61-76 
Philadelphia, 52, "ol, 65-66, 70, 73, 

Philanthropy, 70 
Philosophical societies, 61, 72 
Pilgrims, 98, 103, 304, 306 

388 / Index 

Plato, 161, 164-167, 208-210, 281, 
307, 323 

Plunder, 134-135, 149, 340, 342 

Plutarch, 27 

Plymouth Colony, 304 

Pol Pot, 203 

Porter, Bruce D., 220-228 

Power, 2-3, 21, 26, 30, 34, 41^3, 
46-i8, 51, 57, 73, 79-81, 85-«6, 
89, 92-94, 126, 129-130, 136, 
139-140, 143, 156, 172-173, 177, 
182, 188, 194, 204, 209, 211, 
214-215, 222-223, 225-226, 228, 
231-232, 237-239, 244, 246, 248, 
267-273, 276, 278-279, 288-289, 
292-293, 313, 322, 326, 328-331, 
334, 340-344, 346-347, 349, 366, 

Presbyterians, 33, 54, 57, 65, 369 

Press, 15, 234, 236-237, 268, 309, 
311, 333, 335, 338 

Primogeniture, 18, 23 

Princeton University, 53-55, 57, 
59, 68-69, 167 

Prophet, 113-114, 117-119, 
121-122, 124 

Psychology, 4, 274-283, 376 

Public choice, 271 

Puritans, 98, 304 

Reformation, 102-103, 305, 312, 

332, 353 
Relativism, 122, 172, 251, 294 
Religion, 12, 25-39, 42, 47, 49-51, 

72, 87, 98, 102, 106, 108, 134, 

175, 178, 185, 225, 234, 238, 278, 

281-282, 313, 317-318, 332-333, 

337, 374, 376, 380-381 
Religious liberty, 10-12, 23, 31, 

36-37, 56, 333-334 
Remnant, 113-115, 118-119, 

Renaissance, 174, 312, 332 
Resentment, 56, 292, 354, 358, 373 
Rhode Island, 10, 13 
Ricardo, David, 235 
Roberts, Paul Craig, 271 
Roche, George C, III, 161-174 
Rogers, Will, 285 
Rogge, Benjamin A., 229-241 
Roman Catholicism, 11, 56, 102, 

235, 297, 363 
Romans, 27, 44, 140, 244, 307 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 91, 232 
Rothbard, Murray, 204 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 215 
Russell, Bertrand, 314, 329, 368, 

Rutgers University, 327 

Quakers, 65 
Quitrent, 17 

Rabushka, Alvin, 145 
Read, Leonard E., 128 
Rededication, 253 
Redistribution, 84-85, 200, 205, 
226, 344, 360, 362-363 

Saint Augustine, 211, 284 
Samuelson, Paul A., 152 
Savonarola, 29 
Schooling, 65, 69, 278 
Scientism, 374 
Scotland, 54 

Selfishness, 258-263, 273 
Senate, 53, 85, 92 

Index I 389 

Sennholz, Hans R, 152-157 

Sennholz, Mary, 1-4 

Sermons, 70-71 

Shaw, George Bernard, 247 

Shintoists, 154 

Simon, William, 226 

Slaves, 12-14, 144, 196, 339 

Smith, Adam, 54, 307, 316, 333 

Snyder, Leslie, 207-219 

Social Gospel, 317 

Solomon, 146-147 

South Africa, 239 

Soviet Union, 81 

Specialization, 276, 375 

Spooner, Lysander, 212 

Subjectivism, 172, 294 

Sunday Schools, 71 

Supreme Court, 14, 21, 86^9, 148 

Taoists, 154 

Teachers, 4, 32-33, 66, 102, 278, 

282, 304, 307 
Technology, 164, 279-281, 313, 

353, 357, 367-368 
Ten Commandments, 99-100, 

106-107, 124, 156, 179-180, 308, 

Theft, 13S-134, 185-187, 189, 

191-193, 204, 209, 213, 260, 

297-298, 307, 319, 323, 330, 332, 

Thucydides, 288-290, 292-293, 

296-299, 301 
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 37, 

218-219, 304-305, 336 
Treaty of Paris, 9 
Tyranny, 25, 35, 51, 214, 247, 272, 

294, 330, 363 

United Nations, 81, 253, 296 

Vigilance, 25, 81, 247 

Virginia, 11, 13-15, 22, 25-39, 53, 

Virginia Statute of Religious Free- 
dom, 11 

Voluntarism, 62, 69, 346 

Walton, Rus, 218 
Washington, George, 26, 33, 

40-51, 55, 57, 67, 108-109, 139, 

247, 329, 365 
Washington's Farewell Address, 

40, 108-109 
Watkins, Hal, 132-135 
Watts, Isaac, 62 
Weaver, Henry Grady, 138 
Weaver, Warren, 376 
Welfare, 83, 95, 135, 145, 175, 178, 

180, 183-186, 189-197, 260, 299, 

336, 378 
Welfare state, 175, 178, 180, 

183-186, 189-197, 336 
Whig principles, 53 
Whigs, 332-333 
Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 137-138 
William and Mary, College of, 167 
Williams, John K., 284-303 
Witherspoon, John , 52-60, 68- 

Wollstein, Jarret B., 198-206 
Worship, 11-12, 32-34, 219, 

240-241, 274, 280, 282, 314, 332, 


Yale University, 167 
Young, John Wesley, 25-39 

Suggestions for Further Study 

The following books from FEE are recommended to readers who wish 
to explore in greater depth the moral case for a free society: 

Frederic Bastiat 

The Law 

A powerful summary of Bastiat' s critique of socialism. 

76 pages 

Ezra Taft Benson 

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What government should and should not do. 
32 pages 

Robert James Bidinotto, ed. 

Criminal Justice? The Legal System vs. Individual Responsibility 

A thorough review of the crime epidemic in the United States. 

320 pages 

Clarence B. Carson 

A Basic History of the United States 

A fresh, comprehensive narrative in five volumes of 200 to 350 pages 


Burton W. Folsom, Jr., ed. 

The Spirit of Freedom: Essays in American History 

An anthology of essays and articles on the freedom movement 
throughout American history. 
212 pages 

Henry Hazlitt 
The Conquest of Poverty 

Capitalist production, not government programs, has been the real con- 
queror of poverty. 
240 pages 

The Foundations of Morality 

The author presents a consistent moral philosophy based on the princi- 
ples required for voluntary social interaction. 
388 pages 

Mark W. Hendrickson, ed. 

The Morality of Capitalism 

A superb collection of essays on the moral foundation of the private 

property order. 

212 pages 

TiboT R. Machan 

The Virtue of Liberty 

A powerful analysis of the connection between liberty and virtue. 

176 pages 

John Stuart Mill 
On Liberty 

Mill's observations made in 1859 are relevant to every age. 
129 pages 

Ludwig von Mises 

The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality 

A discussion of popular psychological arguments against capitalism. 

114 pages 

Human Action 

Mises' magnum opus: a broadly philosophical work which is indis- 
p>ensable for scholars and students. 
907 pages 

J. Wilson Mixon, Jr., ed. 

Private Means, Public Ends: Voluntarism vs. Coercion 

A thought-provoking study of the virtues of private initiative and the 

failure of public administration. 

251 pages 

Edmund A. Opitz 

Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies 

A profound discussion of the relationship of biblical religion to free- 
market economics. 
328 pages 

Religion: Foundation of the Free Society 

An anthology of Reverend Opitz's eloquent essays and articles. 

272 pages 

Leonard E. Read 
Anything That's Peaceful 

A philosophical discussion of individual freedom and social coopera- 
243 pages 

Government: An Ideal Concept 

To Read, government was neither a manager of economic activity nor 

an almoner of gifts to the people, but a necessary instrument of social 


149 pages 

Hans F. Sennholz 

Debts and Deficits 

A devastating critique of our propensity to live beyond our means. 

1 79 pages 

Robert A. Sirico 

A Moral Basis for Liberty 

A brilliant essay on first principles. 

68 pages 

For current price information, or to request FEE's latest catalogue of 
more than 400 books on economics and social thought, write or phone: 

The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc. 
30 South Broadway 
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533 
(914) 591-7230; fax (914) 591-8910; 


About the Publisher 

The Foundation for Econonnic Education, Inc., was established in 
1946 by Leonard E. Read to study and advance the moral and intellec- 
tual rationale for a free society. 

The Foundation publishes The Freeman, an award-winning monthly 
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If You Liked This Book, You'll Like The Freeman 

The Freeman is the source of most of the chapters in this book. Since 
1956, it has been published monthly by The Foundation for Economic 
Education (FEE). 

The Freeman offers serious readers a unique source of free-market 
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Why should you read The Freeman? Because the world is still in the 
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fmth of ©ur father i 

Edited by Mary Sennholz 




God-given natural rights were the guiding light of the Founding Fathers. 
The stirring closing paragraph of the Declaration of Independence was 
not only the formal pronouncement of independence, but also a 
powerful appeal to the Creator of all rights: "We, therefore, the Representativ es 
of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to 
the Supreme Judge of the worid'for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the 
Name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish 
and declare, that these United Colonies are and of Right ought to be free and 
independent States." In the final sentence of defiance they appealed to the 
Almighty for His Protection: "And for the support of this declaration, with a 
firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to 
each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor." 

The moral precepts and the self-evident truths that guided our Founding 
Fathers may not be fashionable in our time, but they are as inescapable and 
inexorable as they have been throughout the ages. We are free to ignore and 
disobey them, but we cannot escape the rising price we must pay for defying them. 

"The serious reader will find Faith of Our Fathers revealing and exciting. It 
tells the story^ of the formation of the United States of America, how it became a 
great nation, a happy and prosperous commonwealth, and how we may 
preserve the great blessings of liberty. The greatness of America was built on 
the central religious convictions of its founders who assured their descendants 
the protection of their God-given natural rights. Here are some of the very best 
essays and articles from a journal that for nearly fifty years has brought us 
'Ideas on Liberty^ 'from some of the country s deepest thinkers." 

— The Reverend Dr. Norman S. Ream 
Pastor Emeritus 
The First Congregational Church, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin 

Published by 

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30 South Broadway 
Irvington-on-Hudson, N^' 10533 
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ISBN 1-57246-063-6