Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

I Despise Unrealistic, Nostalgic Romanticisation of the Past

October 22, 2009

So, since this guy was smart enough to turn off comments from people who might disagree with his wistful but not particularly factual diatribe about American history, I’m going to make this post a comment in response to it.

I see one person waxing nostalgic about their youth, creatively equating their actions with those of a select few a couple hundred years ago, and acting like this form of behavior is one that was somehow thriving and is now dying.

This article reads like one of a million articles discussing the Moral Decay Of The Youth During This Generation – and it’s not even good with the details.

Americans weren’t fighting for individual freedom – they were fighting for the ability to represent themselves in government. That’s what “Taxation without representation” was about, our original demand of England was for us to receive representation in Parliament as citizens of England, so we could have a say in our government. Not “My” government – “Our” government. Not individual freedom, but our self-determination as a people. Yes, there’s a difference. Yes, it’s important.

Nor was our government forged from ‘understanding of human nature’ any more than it is today (and what understanding we had then, wasn’t as good as what we have now anyway). Our government was created, in fact, from countless minor compromises and ideological conflicts of every type, some with unspoken underlying issues associated with them, and all of this parallel to some individuals seeking their own personal profit and using the events of the times as a vehicle to obtain it. Meanwhile, the people got preached at by the aristocracy controlling the flow of information, mostly following their lead, and being smacked down when they deviated – the proportion may be different, but the parts of our government are all the same today.

Furthermore, ‘our founders’ were not remotely some holistic monolith of thought and beliefs fundamentally distinct from what exists today. In fact, they almost immediately polarized into two camps, one of which advocated strong centralized government (the Federalists, who were vaguely similar to liberals today), and the other of which advocated weaker decentralized government (the Democratic-Republicans, which we could compare to conservatives today). Some didn’t like slavery, and others thought the Bible advocated it.

Finally, the founders were not all religious, just like they didn’t all believe the same ‘holistic’ junk. Thomas Jefferson even wrote an entire gospel which explicitly excluded all miracles, bucking the fundaments of even the modern Christian faith and effectively creating a philosophical, rather than theistic, Christian text.

Our nation’s founders were people, just like us. They bickered and argued and got into physical fights with each other, and some of them sure as hell did profiteer from the War of Independence (most notably, through smuggling). One wanted the Turkey to be our national bird. One was so incredibly popular, he was literally asked to be our King (Washington, if you’re curious).

When people romanticize these people and try to wax philosophical about how much better “things were back then”, they’re ignoring the reality of those times, and more importantly, they’re ignoring the reality of the present. America is little different in its’ fundament than it was two hundred years ago, with one big exception: Businesses are more powerful than the government is now, so they run the government. There are two ways to fix it, and one involves making the government really powerful, and the other involves destroying some businesses.

Most importantly, even back during the Enlightenment, ignorant blowhards were complaining about how social progress was Destroying All That Was Good. They, most of all, have not changed.