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American Exceptionalism Is Ending—Where?

Professor McGinnis’s fine post on the end of American exceptionalism has rudely preempted my equally fine, nearly finished essay on that very subject. Let me start where John ended and explain why it’s worse than he thinks:

I’ll be that last person to take issue with the late Marty Lipset or kindred theorists of an America that’s exceptional because it is founded on an idea (or ideology, or proposition). That said, an ideology of “limited government” is not an independent actor or variable. So what is it, or was it, that allowed the “spirit of liberty” to prevail?

The conventional riff is that America was born as a class-less society, without the relics of a feudal system. If you haven’t had feudalism, you can’t and mercifully won’t have socialism. Signed, Alexis de Tocqueville, Goethe, et al. But perhaps those path dependencies wear thin—too thin—under the demands of a modern welfare state and its transfer economy.

John McGinnis laments the rise of far-out candidates (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump), and rightly so. But the thing is, exceptionalism would be dead even if the parties’ “establishments” had, or had had, their way. Mrs. Clinton is a slightly dated retread of Germany’s one-time social-democratic chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, known as “der Genosse der Bosse,” or the industry captains’ comrade: cozy with the fat cats, and the unions. (Also kind of short on honesty and fond of “resets” with the Russians but let that slide.) On the Republican side, earnest pundits ascribe the GOP’s impending implosion to the party’s failure to give the “unprotected” (Peggy Noonan) a “hand up” (Henry Olson)—its failure to embrace a family-friendly, worker-protective “Sam’s Club” conservatism advanced in various permutations by Ross Douthat, Ramesh Ponnuru, Arthur Brooks, and Paul Ryan. It’s probably no coincidence that all of them are Catholics (as a member of the club I can say that): their social model is Konrad Adenauer’s Germany. I’m very fond of it, not least because it did in fact mop up the populist rabble and moreover, compelled the socialists to abandon their class warfare nostrums and to become a Volkspartei. But that is emphatically not a model of classical liberalism or limited government. Also, it’s no longer plausible even over there. And even in its heyday it presupposed things that are a tad un-American.

Foremost among those things is a bourgeois ethos and culture. That ethos says, inter alia, that social benefits must be earned before they can be redistributed; you can’t just rake them off the shelves (and there goes any conservatism that you could actually sell to American voters). It also says that anyone can become an accepted member by behaving responsibly—and just as easily become persona non grata, regardless of wealth. Crowing about your gold-plated whatever and serially importing wives from Eastern Europe is a good way of accomplishing that. Yet here, this combed-over clown is on the verge of respectability.

Quite likely, the social-democratic consensus everyone seems to be hankering for—as a second-best substitute for a classical liberalism that is dead and gone and a last-best alternative to incipient authoritarianism—has always been parasitic on a bourgeois class and its culture. We’ve long had a broad middle class but never one with class consciousness, just as we’ve never had socialism—and for the same reasons. It’s what allowed this country to be founded and run, not on class but on an idea of itself, and a damn good one at that. Perhaps, though, even the best ideas can come back and bite you.

Reader Discussion

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on March 09, 2016 at 11:08:41 am

Professor Greve, as an American citizen named on fifteen US patents and a collaborator of the idea: personal liberty with civic well-being (PLwCWB); and also as the lesser half in fifth-decade “androgynous pairing” with an exemplary Louisiana French-Catholic teacher, retired, I feel qualified under the rules of Alasdair MacIntyre to respond.

Passing the end of the American adaptation of British common law [perhaps marked by Congress' DOMA, 1996], adaptation which often refers to Blackstone and theism's freedom of religion, we are at the best of times: the opportunity to collaborate for a better possibility for civic morality. Neither “social” nor “democracy” offers remedy.

A Civic People of the United States slowly, gradually influences We the People of the United States to both update and personally apply the preamble the 1787 draft constitution for the USA, and collaborate for civic morality using physics-based ethics. It is not a dictatorial practice, “collaborate” being the operative word in the statement. In our meetings, a speaker explicitly states a civic concern and a possible remedy, then turns explainer of words, phrases, and sentences, then turns listener. Together, people may create a new statement that represents a possibility to improve civic morality. If so, volunteers may agree to effect the improvement. Participants don't lie, because they do not want the response to be based on a lie, just as people don't try to park their car in another vehicle's space-time.

Let me unpack the statement a little. “Civic” means personal connections (happily) necessary by living the same years in the same state and country and “physics” means energy, mass and space-time, from which everything emerges. “Everything” includes privacy in pursuit of personal interests as well as collaboration in providing the essential safety and security (Locke, 1690) needed for privacy. Real-harm dissidents against PLwCWB are limited by law, as always.

Understood physics does not negate the god hypothesis, but no person (including institutions) can apply god theory, beyond the idea “there may be a god in control of what’s happening,” outside privacy. We agree fully with Michel Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge, 1958, that no-real-harm pursuit of hypotheses that provide personal liberty are valid. However, we do not agree that by attacking science, a practice, Polanyi addressed physics, from which reality emerges.

Some of my phrases may not conform to MacIntyre, but then he does advocate change. But the change-collaborations here, over the last two years, focused not on attainment of the overall good or communitarianism. We propose understanding physics and benefiting from the understanding, so that over the course of a full life each newborn may discover his or her person, perhaps with happiness about the discovery rather than disappointment or early death.

We think liberal conservative thinkers in all areas of political interest are best suited to develop a better future. For example, Matthew Weinzierl’s “The Roots of Our Tax Debates,” offers a great start for collaboration on a vital topic. A civic people of the United States should involve themselves in the collaboration.

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Phil Beaver
on March 09, 2016 at 11:17:57 am

"We’ve long had a broad middle class but never one with class consciousness, just as we’ve never had socialism—and for the same reasons." -

1) Why, (if that is true) do you suppose this is?

2) While we have not had (although increasingly less so these days) a class "consciousness" such as one would find in a Downton Abbey, and it may be also true that the middle class did not perceive itself as a distinctly (limited) class, this may not be (nor have been) so for the working and lower classes.

3) Admittedly, and only with some rare exceptions (those being of " mal-educated" university graduates) have even the working classes perceived themselves as a distinct and "warring" / oppressed class in the classical sense. However, it would be unwise to fail to note that so much of what passes for political policy prescription from the lower classes is, in fact, predicated upon an envy, of deep and long standing, of those who fortune has blessed somewhat more handily than the working / poor class. And it is also fair to argue that what the political "Leaders" advance as proper policy is but a contrivance designed to meet / address or mollify the rather intense politcal / economic envy of the masses.
One need only to have been poor to understand this - no, to know it, and, perhaps, absorbed it with each little encounter with the other class(es). Not only is it absorbed, it becomes evangelical whenever / wherever the poor / lower classes congregate. (One should hear the *high* political talk at my tailgating venues).

Two things further:
1) You are correct, however; this envy ought not to be characterized as a class consciousness (at least not just yet).
2) It would appear that both parties (Romney's 47% stupidity qualifies the GOP) are hastening the hardening of this epistemology of envy and class; yet, it would be absurd to not highlight the role that the Democrat Party and its minions in the media and academia have played in fostering this attitude.

So we have before us an election in which one party advances a continuing program of envy. There is no substantive difference between the Fat Lady and the Old Socialist - it is envy.

Yet what the new Leaders have invented a twist. There must now be more "bitterness" to soil the political debate as the main and long standing envy of socioeconomic envy has not been sufficient to carry them to a resounding victory (or at least assure it in advance with sufficiently high levels of probability). Add to the mix, racial, gender, ethnic, etc. etc."inequalities" and one has the makings of an electoral coalition that may carry you on to victory (or so it is supposed).

Perhaps,we are, and always have been. of too diverse interests, origins and temperaments to have "coalesced" into class consciousness, envy notwithstanding; it would appear, however, that we, i.e., the Party of the "envy coalition" may have seized upon a slightly different take on class consciousness. Indeed, it is masterful both in enterprise and scope: it is "Equality Envy." Each and every inconvenience is now to be elevated to the level of a constitutional problem. All must be equal in all things! - be it income, gender, race, sexual preferences and lo and behold, access to bathrooms of one's choice.

Ridiculous, you say. No go back to Tocqueville and see how Americans were obsessed with notions of equality. I suspect one can trace a failry continuous line from the early 19th century understanding to the current day. We are "enjoying" the long delayed fruit of that tree of "equality."

Oddly enough it comes not as strengthening of liberty but rather as a new form of "class" - and its strictures are all the more severe than what was imposed upon Mr. and Mrs. Bates downstairs in Downton Abbey.

So maybe we do have a class consciousness after all.

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 12:13:42 pm

"However, we do not agree that by attacking science, a practice, Polanyi addressed physics, from which reality EMERGES."

Is this the nematode theory of political association?

Recall if you will that the nematode has both digestive and excretory functions at both ends of its tubular structure.

One is therefore compelled to discern which function is emergent. It is a matter of some importance especially for those possessed of an imagination of some fecundity.

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 12:18:07 pm

Reserving, if I may, to extend and amend these remarks, let us begin by considering that all this chit chat about "exceptional-ism" is looking for its sources in the wrong places.

The American social order has NOT been formed by its forms of governments. The social order formed the nature of its governments (pl. intended).

It is the *social order* that has been, and to some extent -if lessened, still is, exceptional. All else is derivative of that.

The exceptionalism of the American social order has been sourced in the fact that, unlike elsewhere in western or eastern European or Asian civilizations that social order has had no roots in family, clan, and tribal social structures. It has been simply family and individualities.

The "classes" of Europe were largely derived from the family, clan and tribe structures to which they succeeded. There was no such structure in the American social order from which "classes" would be derived. The differentiations that developed turned upon individualities.

TO BE CONTINUED

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R Richard Schweitzer
on March 09, 2016 at 12:35:05 pm

Richard:

Do continue!

Perhaps weave in North - open access etc. and relationship of "class" / tribe to open or closed.

I too see much of the above as the result of individual, but sometimes "coalescing collisions" to bastardize Oakeshott. However, at times it is possible for these coalescing collisions to form a "proto-class."
So far, we have been able to resist the *nudges* to form such a class advanced by the party mechanisms.
I wonder if we will be ever so successful?

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 13:13:40 pm

Richard:

It also strikes me that we in the USA were fortunate that we did not base our economy solely or predominantly upon agriculture as was the case in Europe. A couple of clarifications upon that remark.
1) America while initially an agricultural exporting economy soon developed an active mercantile class and later small industrial class.
2) This emerging mercantile / manufacturing class developed alongside the "agricultural economy" unlike in Europe which had a centuries long history of an agrarian hegemony prior to, and continuing, albeit somewhat diminished, through the Industrial Revolution.
3) Unlike Europe, (although some would argue that the southern agrarian societies approximated the European class structure) the merchant / industrial class did not see its way forward barred by an established agrarian class structure that limited access to capital, opportunity AND legal protection by an ever present and powerful Landed Aristocracy.
4) Additionally, land was "free" and not *enclosed*; one need only move to the next parish for opportunity as many did AND legal protections FOLLOWED. And as you say, so too did the nature of their governments which took on the characteristics of this more open and fluid association of individuals / families.

Given the above, it would be rather doubtful whether (except, perhaps, in the South (Jack Greene notwithstanding)) a rigid class structure would or could arise in America.

I am not so certain, however, that as we have invented new means for the satisfactions of both needs and grievances that this will continue to be the case.

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 15:15:51 pm

TO CONTINUE:

The factors of initial formation and continuing shaping of individual (hence resultant group) motivations in social orders structured as a family, clan and tribe have not been present in the American social order where those structures have been absent.

The American family structures, sharing commonalities (but not the delineations of clans and tribes) among them, such as religious impulse and convictions, have provided the principal environments for the formations of individual motivations, resulting in commonalities, rather than clan or tribal (or the subsequent "class" memberships) derivations, being the sources of group formations. American groupings have been (but, no longer exclusively are) based on commonalities of motivations of their members.

American exceptionalism has thus been "defined" by the exceptional differences in individual motivations and how they are formed.

Those differences have resulted in differences in the ways in which the members of the American social order came to "look upon" or regard one another. While certain "waves" of immigrations caused reactions (ultimately subsumed) there were no structural social order factors to establish and maintain "them and us" sets of social structures. Political efforts, of ever increasing scale, have been developing to create those sets - having more success where individuality (and the factors sustaining it) is in recession.

THERE MAY BE MORE.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on March 09, 2016 at 16:00:39 pm

"Political efforts, of ever increasing scale, have been developing to create those sets..."

I would add only "and of ever increasing breadth."

There is, sadly, no longer any area of human / civic interaction that may be said to be free of government intrusion; nor does there appear to be any areas remaining in which the government does not feel impelled to create and impose new rules of conduct / behavior / policy to replace those pre-existing rules / codes that had sufficed for generations.

Your government(s) (State and Local municipalities included) approaches this task with all the zeal of the monomaniac. While in the normal course of things, we may look upon the monomaniacal with a certain detached bemusement, (again to borrow from Oakeshott) we do not in the normal course of things elect him / her to high office.

And if his / her one desire is to further install (instill also, perhaps) these new rules of conduct, we may expect an Exceptionalism of a quite different nature. Shall we then be tasked with the responsibility of answering the singular and most fervent prayers and hopes of this monomaniac.

The question is: "Who or what will answer the call?" A CLASS or an individual?

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 16:01:31 pm

I am in agreement with R Richard that American exceptionalism was not prescribed by adopting certain governing premises, but rather developed under the influences of innumerable factors and influences, including the Enlightenment, Reformation, Thirty Years War, a venue rich in resources and challenges, and a troublesome ocean crossing to help keep out the dabblers and faint-hearted. The survival and growth of America was not conducive to slackers, an imported dependency class, nor a Utopian view of how to deal with the novelty and uncertainty of establishing a society in such an environment.

But that's not what I want to talk about here. Rather I want to remark on Mr. Greve's seemingly off-hand note about Catholics (to set up his reference to Adenauer), and extend it to Christians in general.

There is an apparent paradox in America's overwhelmingly Christian founding culture. The theology of the New Testament is decidedly socialist. So how is it that a country with a predominantly Christian worldview has never had a serious socialist party? Remembering of course that some early colonial settlements were socialist experiments that largely failed, one notes the crucial absence of three words in the Gospels: "the government should."

It is in fact entirely consistent with the notion of Christian teaching that government force is neither necessary nor capable of sanctifying Christian virtues. So perhaps part of the reason for American exceptionalism is that the country's founders were able to appreciate the wisdom of the Gospels while avoiding the folly of treating them as a political treatise. Maybe a Christian society is better off when its individual members behave as Christians rather than demanding government programs to do it for them. Maybe socialism fails because the government is not ultimately the source of the benefits that socialism is supposed to provide.

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z9z99
on March 09, 2016 at 16:03:48 pm

The word "theology" is the only word that is supposed to be italicized. This site really needs an edit button.

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z9z99
on March 09, 2016 at 16:09:00 pm

Z:

Great post!

Has it ever struck you that the secular Left has (knowingly (quite devious, if so) or unknowingly) adopted that very folly - of taking the Gospels as a political treatise.

One does more than wonder about this when you consider the oft repeated attempts to cast Jesus Christ as a 'socialist."

Unfortunately, there is a skinny fellow with a big hat in Rome who appears to be repeating this error; should he not have learned from the mistakes of the Mainline Protestant Churches over the last six decades.

Seems like "Render unto....." was pretty sage advice, after all!!!

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 17:39:49 pm

Mon Cher Z,

If you have access, you might care to read Bastiat's short "Justice and Fraternity" pamphlet which is available in "Political Economy" (FEE-1964;1995 reprint).

One of the sins of my dotage has been to try and follow the studies (and purported studies) of the history of socialism, which has taken me back in reading (English only) only to St Simon, followed by the positivists and historicists (who have multiplied beyond comprehension

Whilst not convicted of "New Testament Theology," it has been a fascinating field of study.

From those two perspectives, I conclude that European "Socialism" has been framed in lines that attempt to conform with that theology, rather than the **theology** itself being "socialist." A stark contrast exists between how men should regard one another and how they should be "led" or "made" to deal with one another.

The similarities may lie in the beauties of the results if they do so. Christianity seems to require those results depend on WHY men do so. Socialism does not.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on March 09, 2016 at 18:03:07 pm

Perhaps it is simply the difference between virtue and compulsion, the former being voluntary while the latter is mandated.

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gabe
on March 09, 2016 at 18:24:33 pm

A BIT MORE:

To tackle the diffuse "Where?" employed by our otherwise precise scholar -

Perhaps, in this context , that could really mean "What?"; or, "Where" is the ending observed (and in what way[s]).

The "Where" may be located in the sources, the originating sources of our social order, now noted as it changes. The factor of family on the initiation of motivations and particularly on their subsequent shaping has been diminishing with urbanization, especially in metropolitan concentrations. (Read, Georg Simmel) We have not been immune.

As we have gotten further from the originating sources of the social order that produced constitutionally delineated government, the following social order developed to produce the Federal Administrative State, which must have derived from a change, if not an ending, of prior sources of the social order. The indications are strong.

To paraphrase, we may be observing the beginning of the end of some of the sources rather than the end of what those sources have produced. Nevertheless, what may follow, because changes in sources, may replace, if not end, points of exceptionalism.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on March 09, 2016 at 22:59:32 pm

If I follow this so far, McGinnis's thesis is ",,,the candle of liberty by which American exceptionalism glows may be flickering out. One principal reason is the decline of limited government." Greve responds "...an ideology of “limited government” is not an independent actor or variable." I'm not quite sure he ever identifies a differential diagnosis for the demise of exceptionalism. The best I can make out is some sort of previously dormant class consciousness. Now with the usual caveats regarding there being no single cause either for the rise or decline of American exceptionalism, this is my take:

Following McGinnis, I would suggest that if government has slipped its leash, it is because Americans have have indulged emotional desires, both grave and trivial. It is because American's are seduced by the potential of an unlimited public credit line, and the ability to use force for ephemeral emotional wants. It is one thing for the government to use force or violence to protect the lives and health of persons, to defend against the irrationality of the mob, or to defend against foreign threats. But when we allow force to be used to create the illusion of achieving abstract and impossible ends, such as "equality," or "diversity," or when we justify force to vindicate subjective feelings and ideological fads, i.e. to indulge in cheap moral preening while hiding behind rough men, then we begin to lose legitimacy in government and the exceptionalism that accompanied it. When the government forces one person to violate their conscience to vindicate a political point about contraception or gay marriage, or silences views that make someone "uncomfortable," or to bans scary-looking things simply because they look scary, or seizes the property of innocent people because their having it is "suspicious," the legitimacy of government suffers. When these types of emotional indulgences, born of affluence and ersatz morality, progress, they become decadence and exceptionalism is no more.

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z9z99
on March 09, 2016 at 23:06:19 pm

This brings to mind Emerson;s observation

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts.

It may well be the case that as we stumble toward the siren song of a Utopian social order, we lose the "originating sources."

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z9z99
on March 10, 2016 at 05:30:38 am

America's exceptionalism ended when de Tocqueville left — and the Jacksonian Revolution established a patronage relationship between the new Democratic Party and the nation's white male commoners. That relationship expanded and deepened until the New Deal, when America's white working men were formally adopted as a client underclass.

Then everything changed in 1964. The Democratic Party abandoned underclass whites in favor of African-Americans. Working whites have been casting about for a patron ever since.

Now in 2016, they are demanding that the Republican Party formally adopt them as a client underclass. And Donald Trump is their champion. If he succeeds, the existing party structures will rupture because there is no synergy between the white used-to-be-working class and any other Republican constituencies.

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Glen
on March 10, 2016 at 09:31:35 am

'@z (and many others):

So many of these discussions about the exceptional nature of the American Social Order, which begin focusing on how this social order **differs from other social orders** seem to drift into comparing our current social order (and particularly what it produced as governments) to former stages of our social order and the relationships that previously existed, but have been altered.

It is true, of course, that many of the changes in the factors shaping our social order have altered (or eliminated) some of the differences and distinctions of our social order from other social orders [evidenced often by comparisons of the administrative states they have produced and continue to develop].

Still, not all of the changes in our social order from its past structure have eliminated many crucial distinctions of ours from the others.

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RRichard Schweitzer
on March 10, 2016 at 10:35:14 am

R,

I suspect there is no single source for the development of socialism in a particular state, nor a common source for its development elsewhere. I doubt that European socialism, in its various versions, grew out of interpretations of the New Testament.

If you were to ask readers of this site what the appeal of socialism is, I suspect you would get a blind-men-and the elephant mosaic of theories dependent on each person's interests, experience and education. I can imagine economic theories for the rise of socialism, political theories, psychological ones, etc. On McGinnis's' thread nobody.really seems to advance a sociological one. One suspects that the origins of national socialism in Germany differ from those of the Israeli kibbutz, which differ from those of Scandinavian democratic socialism.

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z9z99
on March 10, 2016 at 12:08:43 pm

Z;

"Following McGinnis, I would suggest that if government has slipped its leash, it is because Americans have have indulged emotional desires, both grave and trivial. It is because American’s are seduced by the potential of an unlimited public credit line, and the ability to use force for ephemeral emotional wants."

Good point. Here is something from Oakeshott that provides a perspective on the response (actually initiative) of certain political actors to this phenomena.

"To some people government appears as a vast reservoir of power which inspires them to dream of what use might be made of it. They have favorite projects of various dimensions, which they sincerely [perhaps ?] believe is for the benefit of mankind, and to capture this source of power, if necessary to increase it, and to use it for imposing their favorite projects upon their fellows is what they understand as the adventure of governing men. They are thus disposed to recognize government as an instrument of passion; the art of politics is to inflame and direct desire...... Of course, a private enterprise *politician* [read corporate leader] of this sort would get nowhere these days unless there were people with wants so vague that they can be prompted to ask for what he has to offer, or with wants so servile that they prefer the promise of a provided abundance to the opportunity of choice and activity on their own account."

He wrote that several decades ago. Imagine what he would think today now that the political actors have at their disposal such tools as highly powerful and rather predicatble software algorithms that may enable the POLITICIAN to not only identify but SHAPE these vague wants. In House of Cards there is a campaign consultant who employs such an algorithm. This is not the usual Hollywood fantasy. All politician campaigns employ this technique. The result, the people are LED by their noses - in pursuit of unnamed and unnameable wants and desires.

Nobody's sociological explanation may have had some merit regarding homogeneity; but it is just as clear that *clever* political actors acting upon an ill-informed, non-self reflective populace may be more responsible for the distributionist urge than are other factors.

Political actors, vested with a sense of mission, or simple power seeking motives, are today possessed with the "intelligence" tools to truly sway those who SEEK to be swayed and provided for by a benevolent government.

So yes, we are weak creatures; but, to my mind, the extent of our our weakness may be attributable to a desire or motivation on the part of those, who being not so weak, seek to exercise dominion over us or over vast swaths of humanity and / or are desirous of imposing a new utopian civil association.

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gabe
on March 10, 2016 at 12:38:58 pm

Glen, you have an interesting perspective. Why isn't white Christianity involved? Are you saying the traditional middle class does not feel served by Trump, and if so, what evidence am I missing? I realize three factions of white Christianity want one of the other candidates, but it seems to me the majority white Christian faction wants Trump. Trump has handled attacks on his Christianity admirably, saying he prays in his closet, acts with virtue and therefore does not pray for virtue, practices the ceremonies because it makes him feel good, stated that it was a shame for a Christian world-leader to pretend to judge him, then announced that they had made up in a phone call. I think Trump is now playing the winning politician in a viciously competitive, media-driven culture. However, when elected he will be presidential.

Since I am probably wrong, a civic people need to be alert to call on Congress to reign in a divergent administrative state and a divergent supreme Court. This is what I work on day and night: Trying to persuade 70% of Americans that, just as a person must earn his or her living to enjoy the possible personal liberty, she or he must collaborate for civic safety and security in order to make the pursuit of personal interests possible. The combination I dub personal liberty with civic well-being (PLwCWB), and obviously, there's a lot more thought involved.

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Phil Beaver
on March 10, 2016 at 13:13:44 pm

gabe, addressing your last paragraph, the solution to this problem may be a civic people collaborating with a civic people to establish civic morality--an overall culture of safety and security within which all real-no-harm cultures may flourish. A civic people voluntarily keep their no-real-harm private pursuits private and also collaborate for civic morality using physics-based ethics to settle civic issues. Just as there is nothing but physics on which a civic people volunteer to stop at red lights, some of "we, the people," run red lights, so the monopoly on force provided by civil regulation must be used to limit their harm. "Civic" herein represents the connections people have because they live during the same years in the same geopolitics.

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Phil Beaver
on March 10, 2016 at 13:32:12 pm

Actually, concerning red lights and physics:

The only thing that matters is the physics of friction and my brake pads / rotors.

Anything else is so much "puffery."

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gabe
on March 10, 2016 at 14:43:19 pm

gabe, have phunn with that as you approach green lights or whatever color you prefer. Teeeheehee eeeeeaaaauuuu

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Phil Beaver
on March 10, 2016 at 14:57:51 pm

The most important reason for wearing a tinfoil hat is that it prevents hidden electronic signals embedded in political messages from reaching the deeper parts of the brain. The TfHtPUPM (Tinfoil Hat to Prevent Uncivil Political Messages), therefore, contributes to a more civil PLwCWB society.

Just something to think about, Phil.

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Scott Amorian
on March 10, 2016 at 15:24:58 pm

luvv'd it!!!!

Perhaps, you could provide him with a software upgrade - it could dispel some of the utopian notions that appear to be penetrating the tinfoil!

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gabe
on March 10, 2016 at 16:11:57 pm

I know I was being kind of tough on the guy. He needs professional help. Literally.

There is some great commentary here from yourself and some of the other guys I would have like to have participated in. But having Mr PLwCWB inject his proselytizing into the conversion just kills intelligent (and civil) conversation. I find it very aggravating having the guy acting out his mental state here.

I wonder if we could direct him to a different forum where folks are more receptive to his message.

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Scott Amorian
on March 10, 2016 at 16:42:41 pm

I'll check and see if Ancient Aliens has a website. He would fit right in with those Ancient Astronaut Theorists - after all, it must be physics based.

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gabe
on March 10, 2016 at 17:05:15 pm

PLwCWB pertains to neither "civil" nor "social" endeavors beyond a voluntary practice to establish safety and security in ineluctable connections due to the fact of living during the same years in the same country, state, city, street and other geopolitical situations. The influence of a civic people, could effect an overall culture of civil regulation and no-real-harm societies that flourish. Some people prefer conflict, so the goal is 70% of inhabitants joining a civic people.

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Phil Beaver
on March 10, 2016 at 19:22:04 pm

Phil:

here is a website that may interest you - perhaps an opportunity for some recruits.

https://www.facebook.com/ancientaliens/photos/pb.100140296694563.-2207520000.1457655594./910496505658934/?type=3&theater

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gabe
on March 10, 2016 at 20:27:52 pm

thanks, gabe--your usual nothing.

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Phil Beaver
on March 10, 2016 at 22:14:09 pm

Interesting point. One may imagine that entropy affects social structures as much as it does physical systems and that practicality drives history in the direction of homogeneity, even though ideology may aspire otherwise.This may be especially so in those social structures that attempt to preserve liberty, because unconstrained liberty is antithetical to social order, and rigid social orders are unfriendly to liberty..

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z9z99
on March 10, 2016 at 22:44:43 pm

There is some great commentary here from yourself and some of the other guys I would have like to have participated in.

By all means, your thoughts are not only welcomed but sought after. May I throw you (or anyone inclined to answer) a challenge?

When we talk about changing social structures and losing exceptionalism and the pros and cons of European vs American, etc., etc. we tend to overlook the fact that some social structures lacked so much robustness that the civilizations of which they were a part vanished (e.g. the Lacedaemons, the Anasazi, and for all practical purposes, the Mongols). Do you have any theories as to traits that not only make existing social structures non-durable, but which cause entire societies to simply fade away? I ask because I thought of the comments of the old Italian man in "Catch 22":

You put so much stock in winning wars. The real trick lies in losing wars, in knowing which wars can be lost. Italy has been losing wars for centuries, and just see how spendidly we've done nonetheless.

And of course the quote about Italy, Switzerland and cuckoo clocks from "The Third Man." Why is Rome the Eternal City and Karakorum a ruin, and Detroit...Detroit?

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z9z99
on March 10, 2016 at 23:57:45 pm

Phil,

I think that your goal of 70% of people joining a civic people is overly optimistic. It may be that PLwCWB is the best idea mankind has come up with since LCwPHYMGC (Lucky Charms with pink hearts, yellow moons and green clovers), but this alone is insufficient to engage people in a civic project of such scope.

Observation tells me that about 60% or so of people see their civic role primarily as getting right with R Richard Schweitzer, i.e. observing obligations. They want to get on with their lives and have no interest in political matters, beyond voting once in a while, as long as they are left reasonably well alone. Another 20% or so will actively conspire to thwart civic well-being. This is just a natural consequence of socializing instincts and behaviors, and is an extension of the theories of Karen Horney, which I will expand upon sometime if there is an appropriate and relevant post to which to respond. A good portion of the remainder will seek to turn whatever collaborations there are to their own advantage and extol civic well being purely for cosmetic reasons. Others will oppose you because they are naturally suspicious of any authority that they do not control.

PLwCWB may be a good idea; it may psychotic nuttiness, but getting 70% of people to buy in seems like a long shot in the best of circumstances. I could be wrong.

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z9z99
on March 11, 2016 at 06:36:09 am

z9z99, if one assumes collectively that “social structure” is safety and security in human connections; personal liberty is psychological maturity-- private freedom from both internal and external constraints; and uncertainty is the measure of risk to private life, there may emerge a psychological analog to thermodynamic entropy or more directly Shannon uncertainty.

The psychological uncertainty or entropy analog works for both the individual and for humankind.

In the past, the USA has been exceptional in offering safety and security for the favored class—those with either earned or inherited assets protected by opinion-based law. Christianity was the ideology that empowered regimes to control the majority. Many persons overcame the repressions built into the system, yet the system has not yet corrected its flaws.

After 225 years practice, we may be seeing the evidence that, quoting your March 9, 4:01 response to Richard, “Maybe a Christian society is better off when its individual members behave as Christians rather than demanding government programs to do it for them.” If so, the USA needs to be a more reliable basis for empowering safety and security.

Quoting your March 9, 10:59 post, addressing both McGinnis’s and Greve’s posts, “Americans have indulged emotional desires, both grave and trivial.” Perhaps psychological maturity requires humility. Whether it be Christian practice, other religious practice, or merely constant attention to safety and security, humility seems essential to social structure.

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Phil Beaver
on March 11, 2016 at 06:39:04 am

Sorry: " If so, the USA needs to be a more reliable basis for empowering safety and security, should read, "If so, the USA needs a more reliable basis for empowering safety and security."

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Phil Beaver
on March 11, 2016 at 10:30:20 am

z9z99, you are correct. getting 70 % on board is not easy. Even the forty who are acknowledged as contributors to the theory are not "on board" for civic activism. Of the 150 to whom I send the monthly activity emails, only 50% open it. I am at 150 because I am waiting for more confidence in the theory before trying to reach out further. However, the blog is read world-wide.

Something so unheard of and unpopular, because it requires deliberate collaboration instead of the customary emotional confrontation, may rise to widespread interest due to collaboration for safety and security. After two years' direct work on it, I have the impression we had to come to the present state of chaos in order for a theory of collaboration by a civic people to emerge.

People have always been too busy trying to survive the Overstreet Transition (H. A. Overstreet, The Mature Mind, 1949), the progression might be personal autonomy age 10, cooperative autonomy age 16, [the body completes building the parts of the brain needed to accumulate wisdom, age 25 male, 23 female], entering authentic adulthood perhaps age 30, and psychological maturity perhaps age 65, if ever. An individual's challenge to understand humankind's progress is increasingly daunting. Many persons die young or stay psychologically young through retirement: That was Overstreet's point, and his work morphed to "adult education."

However, collaboration, as we explain on our website (see the "theory" post at 07/12/2015), does not require political activism as much as humility in personal choices--recognition of private need for civic safety and security and the consequential personal civic-responsibilities: they empower confident pursuit of private interests, unless statistical insecurity, like unwanted pregnancy or STD or violence whether external or internal, takes hold.

The 70% target has historical precedence in that 70% of delegates to Philadelphia signed the draft constitution for the USA, leaving 30% dissidents who had grounded arguments; 70% of the cumulative delegates to the ratifying states' constitutions voted to ratify, comprising the 70% of states needed to form the USA. Also, we observe that 70% cannot impose its will on We the People of the United States, so it is better to try to influence by example.

Thinking about your post that I am addressing, rather than "personal," private liberty with civic well-being seems compatibly represented by PLwCWB. I would like to consider your alternative to either phrase, regardless of the acronym.

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Phil Beaver
on April 08, 2016 at 16:47:49 pm

In a post above, I improved "personal liberty with civic well-being" to ""private liberty with civic well-being," the now obsolete PLwCWB.

In preparing to witness as taxpayer in a Louisiana state-senate committee hearing, I revised the phrase to "personal liberty with civic morality" (PLwCM).

The complete, prepared speech is posted on our website. Interestingly, I used "physics" to state what factional Christianity rebuked when it exacerbated the African slave trade; I allowed the elements of slavery to define physics.

It is an interesting development that will occur frequently, since physics is humankind's bedrock for civic morality that overcomes the opinion-based ethics that Great Britain established. England was the colonizer in control when colonial British subjects decided their homeland subjects had plans to dominate, even enslave them and declared independence, leaving themselves responsible fo the slaves when France helped them win independence.

No forum is as positioned as this one to to improve on the phrase and acronym. No other forum is as qualified to take advantage of a one-time, global recognition that physics is the force that connects humble human beings. Fleeting as the initial opportunity may be, there will be ample opportunity for applications and practice.

We are already plotting an adjustment to free-market capitalism that would put to rest any modern hopes for Marxism and other living ambitions for the USA. Join the inspiring work.

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Phil Beaver

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