Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Ominous Pledge

Now comes the report that Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions has produced a video featuring dozens of celebrities shown pledging their service to Barak Obama.

In an article I recently co-authored with John Haskins we pointed out that "When despotic governments prevail… loyalty is the result of personal fealty… In effect this makes the power of government the personal property of the ruler (res privata.) But under the Constitutional form of government, government power is a public possession (res publica) belonging to the people as a whole… Loyalty to the Constitution takes the place of personal fealty as the focal point of the people's respect for law."

With this in mind, the supposedly positive and lighthearted tone of the pledging video belies the deadly serious implications of encouraging people to pledge allegiance to Obama. I believe this is one more bit of evidence that the "change" Obama means to effect is a regime change. However, contrary to the cuddly assumptions of so-called liberal rhetoric, this is not progress toward hope and unity but retrogression, back to the days of monarchic and oligarchic despotism; back to the days when some were raised to glory and others raised to serve them; back to the days when the eras of political life were marked, not by the rise and fall of parties and their numbers in the legislature, but by the rise and fall of dynasties and the family names that titled them.

A change in the focus of allegiance marks the transition from one form of government to another. For example, as the Roman Republic declined the focus of allegiance shifted from the republic, (as established by the conjoint authority of "the Senate and the People of Rome", Senatus Populus Que Romanum, or SPQR) to the name and family of an individual, Caesar. The shift did not take place all at once, but gradually as the result of political competition that escalated into civil unrest and eventually civil war. The different parties to the conflicts organized themselves around leaders- Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Marc Antony, Octavian who became Augustus Caesar), whose forces pledged loyalty to the individuals they followed in battle. The forces that prevailed in battle at any given moment dictated the terms of civic life. Though they continued formally to speak and act in the name of the Senate and the People of Rome, not the authority of the Republic, but the superiority of their armed forces determined the law.

Under the Republic, force alone did not establish Roman rule because no effective force could be brought to bear until and unless the Senate (those well-endowed but few in number) and the People (greater in numbers but otherwise inadequately endowed) worked together. Therefore, the law, in both its content and its administration, had to satisfy both, at least to the extent necessary to keep them in harness. Each of the component elements of effective power had to get its due, or at the very least believe that this was so. In this sense, justice (giving to each what is due) emerges as the prerequisite of co-operation, and therefore the basis for the law which structures and disciplines that co-operation.

But as the Roman rule expanded, success increased the size and complexity of the Roman population. No longer of one condition, the people as a whole ceased to be energetic enough to assert a common view of what was owed to them. The multitude of forces gathered round leaders like Julius Caesar (their armies) replaced the Roman multitude in the balance of justice, so that whoever owned their loyalty could supply the defect of power once supplied by the joint resolve of the Senate and the People. In order to rule, one no longer had to take account of this resolve, so long as he was sure of the resolve of those who owed their loyalty to him.

The American founders took lessons from the fate of the Roman Republic that led them to adopt an understanding of justice more truthful and comprehensive than that of ancient Rome. American justice starts from the premise that God took care of the most important distribution when he created us equal in nature and endowed with unalienable rights that reflect his will for our humanity. As I have argued elsewhere, Obama represents elite forces in America that have abandoned this understanding, turning their back on the principles of the American Declaration of Independence. Indeed, the trend toward this abandonment can be seen as far back as the New Deal, which represented a concept of political life that reflected a purely distributive idea of justice more like that of ancient Rome.

Now the velvet propaganda media of this would be dictator's celebrity claque invites us to take the next step toward the re-establishment of archaic political imperialism, to return to the Dark Ages of personal fealty and political fiefdoms. As if we are clueless enough to forget that these go hand in hand with serfdom, indentured service and slavery. In this context, Obama's stated goal of establishing a domestic security force as large as the military; and his push for compulsory national service take on a properly ominous hue. (In itself, the idea of universal service is not, in my view, objectionable. The idea of such service in the context of personal pledges to Obama raises the specter of the Nazi Party's Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth), the Soviet Union's Komsomol (Communist Youth League), and other such factors of totalitarian dictatorship.)

Perhaps because he is not a descendant of the enslaved, Obama doesn't mind the thought of returning to the ideas and approaches that comfortably accommodated serfdom and slavery. Perhaps because of his socialist views and Communist associates, he feels no discomfort at the prospect of American versions of their collectivizing machinery. I cannot but hope that there are many like myself who remember the oaths that bind us to the Constitution, and the pledge we once took in our classrooms every day, of allegiance to the American flag, and the Republic for which it stands. I fear the days are coming when we shall have to do more than chatter in order to prove true to that allegiance. But with God's help, and Christ's courage, we shall endure all things.


groovsmyth said...

Thank you for starting this blog, Dr. Keyes. We need your surgical accuracy dissecting the actions of and reactions to "the current occupant of the White House." The "product" being offered for consumption by Americans is packaged quite well. Without constant scutiny and comparison to the Declaration Principles which I believe represent the heart of Creator God, the populace could continue to be fleeced. I pray for your continued courage and the courage of all who value Truth.

DawnofAquarius said...

Thank you for a voice of reason and clarity amidst delusions, Dr. Keyes. We must be very careful to guard such liberty as we possess as citizens of a constitutional republic lest we be forced to repeat some history best left in the past. Why is it so hard to learn from our mistakes?

Anonymous said...

Talk, talk, talk.

Meanwhile, an unlawful impostor has usurped the throne, impelled by backers in the house of Is|am.

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