Monday, February 12, 2007

Rivers of Blood

Reflecting on the French Revolution, and the disagreements between Adams and Jefferson during the 1790s, Jefferson indicates that at the heart of a disagreement was whether, in that time, the popular branch needed strengthening or whether the aristocratic and executive branch needed strengthening. Adams sided with the aristocrats, Jefferson with the popular branch. This is a conflict that has occurred throughout history.

Jefferson indicates that both are committed to free government, and that, in the end rivers of blood will flow before free government will be brought about.

Adams, in the end, says that he contemplates the rivers of blood with melancholy, impliciitly admitting he sees no other way.

This is worth thinking about. Is it really necessary that rivers of blood must flow to bring about just and free societies? Why were Adams and Jefferson unable to see another possibility? In the end, their political philosophies were both too materialistic to admit the possibility of union, republicanism, and freedom coming about any other way than by rivers of blood. They lacked a robust and prinicpled moral system. Adams at least knew that such a system was necessary, but he himself failed to articulate it.

This is all the more significant now, as the US is ready to make rivers of blood flow in the Middle East, and the most that the opponents of such activity can do is look on in melancholy.

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Blogger Tortoise(notHare) said...

Welcome back Joe; I was starting to worry about you. I'm glad to see you have not been guillotied as an ememy of the people!

I was inspired by you to re-read David McCulloch's best-selling biography of John Adams. I was surprised, delighted, and impressed to see the virtues and Faith that JA expressed often. Now I am not saying that he acted as a great moral force in his time (such as JPII has done in our time) but I was more favorably impressed by him on this reading.

Likewise I was unimpressed by TJ who struck me as hopelessly adolescent and lacking in self-discipline. For all of the various "truths" that he found to be self-evident, it seemed to me that he was lacking in integrity in the most basic way: his actions did not match his words.
Now poor sinner that I am, my actions do not match my words I cast no stones at TJ and I cannot judge him, but simply observe that he was quite lacking in the "greatness" that has been attributed to him in history.

I remember hearing an interview with David McCulloch when the book first came out. His previous book was on Lewis & Clark and he began this project as a joint biography of JA and TJ, to show how often they intersected and the times they were quite apart, all leading to the conclusion with the death of both men on July 4, 1826. But after a while, McCulloch abandoned the TJ part because he came not to like him and he said that a biographer almost always admires his subject.

As to current times, the American people generally sent an overwhelming message this past November to "The Decider" that the great majority of voters have lost confidence in him, in the policies of his Administration, in the truthfulness and candor of his Administration, and especially in his policy on Iraq.

I am very glad that someone with the integrity and personal experience of Senator Chuck Hagel is standing up to The Decider.

The most shocking fact about the whole Iraq War is that JPII very specifically declared that any such war would not be just (at a time when JPII's position was very, very unpopular and seemingly "out of touch with reality"...we all know now who it was who was and is in touch with Reality). But The Decider decided to ignore The Holy Father and also ignored his wise earthly father, the former President. That disaster would ensue from the actions and arrogrance of such a double-Icarus was 100% certain.
But God writes straight with crooked lines and we must pray that somehow we shall come to do His Will in all this.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Joe Philipowicz said...

Hi tortoise(nothare), sorry for the delay. I was spending a number of days trying to organize my thoughts and materials on Adams. I think in general, that beginning in the 1920s, when our intellectuals began to fully embrace sexual revolution, there was a concerted effort to promote Franklin and Jefferson as proto-sexual revolution democrats. That might be a bit unjust to cast them in this way, but that is the way they were cast, so as to praise them.

They would be part of the paradigm of sexual revolutionary as democratic liberator that got pushed on us in various ways from the 20s to the 90s.

In the 90s, there was an effort, mostly by conservatives, to present us with pictures of the founders. Ironicallly, these pictures were often overly critical of Jefferson and the like, and promoted Adams and then Hamilton. Ironically, these conservatives often ended up adopting similar foreign policy, economic policy, and domestic policy in an updated Hamiltonian form. I think a postitive biography of Hamilton also came out recently.

I think it is good to show the virtue of our founding fathers, all of them. And I must admit, that being caught up in the pro-Adams shift in recent years, I began this project with a pro-Adams and anti-Jefferson bias.

But, if we are able to put aside the anti-Catholicism present in both of their persons, as they both did in their public life, I am starting to reconsider the wisdom of Jefferson, and perhaps the intemperance of Adams.

Maybe I will be able to show this in the book I write, but, once we account for the weakness of Jefferson, he might have had a kind of wisdom about things that Adams lacked.

Also, in the end, both of them were revolutionaries. That, in part, is what I wanted to show yesterday. Perhaps Adams was a little more melancholy about it.

This is what I think is going to happen with the upcoming (let's pray that it does not happen) bombing of Iran. We will get pro-bombers from both the democrats and the republicans. Then, we will get the melancholic bombers from the democrats and the republicans. The pro-bombers and the melancholic bombers are likely to make up the vast majority.

Perhaps, like Adams, we should start petitioning for a national fast day, this April 25th, asking God to "withhold us from [causing] unreasonable discontent, from disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection" around the world, as we are likely to do in the upcoming months and years.

10:45 AM  

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