I make it a point to read Griff’s “Cultural Dispatches from the Alamo” as soon as I see them pop up on Liberty Island. (But “from the Alamo,” Griff? Are things that bad? Fannon has been massacred at Goliad, no one is coming, and Santa Anna’s band is striking up El Deguello every day?)

Griff repeatedly and accurately traces the roots of so-called “Progressivism” and its attendant cultural paroxysms back to Marxism, but the divergence of classical liberalism (modern American conservatism) from the left actually took place almost a century before Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto came out. It is found in the vast differences between the American shopkeepers and farmers who stood at Lexington and Concord to “fire the shot heard round the world” and the peasants who stormed the Bastille – their respective causes and their leadership.

Let’s call our average Massachusetts militiaman of that day Joe Rumkeg… Unlike his counterpart back in England, Joe owned land, and therefore has been voting and participating in public affairs his whole adult life. He is quite literate, having been raised with The King James Bible as his primer. In its pages he was told to “be fruitful and multiply,” which Joe viewed as an economic command as well as a biological one. For generations his colony had been subject to “The Old Deluder Act,” mandating public education as the foremost weapon in the fight against Satan and his lies. Joe may not be a lawyer, but as Burke noted, he and his neighbors were at least “smatterers in law.” And why not? Joe had no trouble understanding law. Ever since the Mayflower Compact in 1620 he, his neighbors, and their ancestors have made most of their own laws at a town meeting; and as for the Common Law, he’s read his Blackstone. Mostly just commonsense Ten Commandments stuff anyway.

Joe’s leaders, our founding fathers, understood the nature of human frailty and the limits of human understanding. Political power must be limited and separated. Even the most benevolent among us cannot be allowed to rule by decree; for power does corrupt like salt on iron, and even if one had omniscience at any given moment, it would be useless, since the moment keeps changing.

Having run their own affairs for over 150 years Joe and his neighbors, according to Burke, had learned to “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Thus when the crown closed their ports, revoked the charter under which they had ruled themselves, and occupied Boston again with troops, they gathered their arms and made ready….

Decades later an old militiaman was asked why he turned out on that long ago April morning: “Young man,” he said, “What we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we had always governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean that we should.”

The French peasant of 1789? He is desperate – starving, and mostly illiterate. He is not defending what he has – for he has nothing…. He intends to take from those who have. His ever-changing leaders are masters of manipulation and know no moral, religious or legal boundaries, all of which must be swept away – even the calendar itself. Man is to be made anew; not in the image of God, but in the image of whomever can hold the reigns of absolute power before being eaten by his own. Thus Rousseau’s man as a tabula rasa and his notions of “positive liberty” eventually morphed into all the evil “isms” of the 20thcentury – fascism, Nazism, communism, Marxism, and today’s current manifestation, American “progressivism.”

In his latest post, Griff honors those who raised our flag on Iwo Jima, and those who fought with them. He ended by saying they were “men who understood what duty, honor and sacrifice were about.” I would add that they understood and honored what their forefathers were about. And as Griff points out, today there are far too many in our government, and ironically in the Department of Justice, who do not.


Image sources: Guillotine and the Battle of Lexington


David Churchill Barrow is a regular Liberty Island contributor and along with his wife, MaryLu Barrow, is the author of the young adult novella Silver and Lead.