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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

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Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Classical Liberalism and Western History

From the Greeks to the Jews and Christians, the roots run deep

by StFerdIII

Classical Liberalism is certainly a different beast than the immoral, relative and largely hypocritical small l ‘liberalism’ that dominates current politics in the modern welfare state. Big L classical Liberalism is the greatest theory yet devised to ensure human freedom, wealth, prosperity and increasing knowledge. Yet sadly the doctrine is abused, ridiculed, ignored or corrupted. As governments continue to expand their power, and individual freedom and natural rights diminish, the real ethos of big L Liberalism fades further into the classical past.

Classical Liberalism [CL] of the kind that a Churchill, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith or Ronald Reagan would defend is a collection of four primary and intellectually momentous propositions. First, CL is an ethical emphasis on the individual premised on a natural law concept that the individual is free, worthy and is not naturally subordinate to any state, community, or society. There is thus a moral constraint embedded in the state-individual contract that cannot be abused. Second, CL maintains that a free society cannot exist without the right of private property ownership and free, unencumbered trade and production. Third, CL desires a limited constitutional parliamentary government to protect individuals' rights from social anarchy or state managed theft and to give populaces a voice in government. Fourth, CL declares that there is a universal and independent applicability of these above convictions that covers all individuals in all societies and that society must be a rational and not a mystical organization. CL rejects all philosophical materialism or irrational philosophies focused on divine will or the grace of Allah in determining the worth or ‘salvation’ of a person. In the world of CL salvation comes from creativity, work, enterprise, virtues and morality.

Classical Liberalism has been millennia in formation. It is extremely important to understand that CL ideas are systemic, not imposed. The ‘system’ of experimentation, through the countless experiences of hundreds of millions of humans over millennia gives CL a ‘conservative’ bias. Classical Liberalism rightly rejects the arrogance of appointed elitists who decide that society must be recreated in this or that fashion. Such an outlook leads inexorably to authoritarianism which manifests itself in many forms. CL is the only philosophy in history to devise a comprehensive political-economy opposed to gang-rule, socialism and fascism.

The roots of CL run deep. The so-called ‘ancients’ our forbears of recent history who lived a mere 2000-3000 years ago in Greece and Imperial Rome certainly had societies and rights, at least in some limited manner, based upon trade, innovation, accountability and individuality. Private property, trade, voting rights for land-owning adult males [in Greece] and limited republicanism [Rome], along with defined objective laws that ignored class, race, and wealth; created energetic, advanced societies. From architecture and the arts, to morality, science, math and biology, the Greeks and Romans in their relatively free and dynamic societies prospered. This dynamism fostered not only dramatic innovations in society, public works, and trade but also of course in war, allowing for instance a small band of Greeks to conquer the millions that inhabited the Persian empire, or the Romans to control most of the known civilized world.

The Greeks and Romans were not alone however in their innovations which would in part lead to Classical Liberalism. The Jews were certainly essential in the creation of the modern Western world. Jewish communities invented and implemented not only monotheism but the idea of private property rights with ‘thou shall not steal’ being a 3000 year-old Jewish law. Private property and natural rights and ownership was a political fact which was a logical outcome of the Jewish moral belief in individual worth, salvation through work and the accumulation of money and profit, based around a community ethos of aid to those in need. These important tenets would later in the Renaissance and Enlightenment period of European history be fused with the classical wisdom and innovations of the Greeks and Romans.

The development of Classical Liberal thought by the Greeks, Romans, and Jews was furthered by Christians in some important respects. Christianity offered a religion far less collectivist than the pagan pantheons of Greece or Rome or even that which is seen in Hebraic law. As Christians debated and mused over the perfectibility of man, self-cultivation and self improvement gained credence. Individuality, spiritual debate, economic reward, and innovation were important aspects of periods of Church history. Though many view the history of the Christian Church and especially the Catholic Church as one of ‘darkness’ and suppression, it should be remembered that the dark days of feudal oppression by the Church, were also matched by enlightened periods of great advances.

During the medieval period for example many Church scholars broadened the study of the ancient classics to include economics and political science improving knowledge especially of commerce, political-economic affairs and state-citizen relations. In Spain the ‘school of Salamanca’ synthesized Greek, Islamic, and Patristic thought to produce a theory of market prices which anticipated later Scottish Enlightenment arguments. Throughout Europe during the medieval period Catholic dioceses were instrumental in funding economic development, farming, the creation of industry and of course scholarly texts and new theorems. After the Protestant Reformation the idea of individuality, work ethic and market capitalism gained momentum and aided in the transformation of men’s minds and of society. Such an ideal was premised on England’s Magna Carta accord of 1215 and the limitation of power by the rulers over the ruled and the respect for the inalienable rights of every citizen.

Modern Classical Liberalism in some ways grew out of the Church. During the Protestant-Catholic conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries there came to light a vision of a constitutionally limited state with equality under the law. Building upon the ideas of the Christians, Jews, Greeks and Romans the modern conception of a limited state shackled by natural law, in a ‘contract’ with its citizens took form and became the basis for the rise and future of England. By the time of the English Civil War a group called the Levellers produced ‘Agreements of the People’ calling for a written constitution derived from a compact of the people. This agreement was an aggressive defense of private property, private wealth accumulation and the limiting of state power to seize or steal personal assets.

Classical Liberalism was thus readied in part by the long history of Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christianity to evolve into its next phase epitomised by the rational revolution of the Scottish Enlightenment.

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