December 15, 2009

Massachusetts, 1844

In March of 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture in Boston's Amory Hall which, when published, was entitled "New England Reformers". His lecture got him into trouble with the firebrands and bomb-throwers in his audience, because although Emerson was first among them, he argued against group action, or what was then called Concert or Association, and in favor of the enlightened individual acting alone. This was heresy to those who idealized "the people" rather than "the person".

Emerson's revolutionary milieu, described in his lecture, included those who wanted to abolish marriage, those who wanted to abolish money, and those who claimed diet was the mainspring of good or bad behavior. Don't eat meat or leavened bread. Another movement sought to liberate all beasts of burden from the yoke; a lot of people wanted to eliminate mechanical transportation, including trains and wagons.

Still another, group maintained that "Even the insect world was to be defended - that had too long been neglected - and a society for the protection of ground worms, slugs and mosquitos was to be incorporated without delay". Homeopathy and socialism was popular in this circle, vocations like lawyer, minister, merchant, manufacturer, scholar were not. Emerson tells us that a man who was excommunicated from his church for abolitionist ideas, publically ex-communicated his church. This was, after all, Massachusetts.

Education and Socialism (which had established itself in three Massachusetts communities fell to Emerson's condemnation.

Education: The popular education has been taxed with a want of truth and nature. We are students of words, we are shut up in schools and colleges and recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words and do not know a thing. We cannot use our hands, or our legs, or our eyes or our arms. We do not know an edible root in the woods, we cannot tell our course by the stars. It is well if we can swim and skate. We are afraid of a horse, or a cow, of a dog, of a snake, of a spider. The Roman rule was to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing...I notice too, that the ground on which eminent public servants urge the claims of popular education is fear: "This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats"".

Socialism: " may easily be questioned whether such a [socialist] community will draw, except in its beginnings, the able and the good, whether those who have energy will not prefer their chance at superiority and power in the world to the humble certainties of the Association, whether such a retreat does not become an asylum to those who have tried and failed. I have failed and you have failed, but perhaps together we shall not fail. The candidate my party votes for is not to be trusted with a dollar but he will be honest in the Senate because we can bring public opinion to bear on him. All the men in the world cannot make a statue walk, cannot make a drop of blood or a blade of grass any more than one man can..."

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Collectivists have been trying to work their dread magic for a long time, under the cloak of "Reform". Emerson was a reformer who wanted to reform the person first, because without private virtue there is no public virtue, and no society is good unless individuals are good, and no society is free unless the individual is free.


Opus #6 said...

I have never been so sickened by socialism as I am now, when my country is so close to being grievously injured by these scoundrels.

sig94 said...

I remember being told by a retired Air Force Colonel what was taught in the National War College, "When America stops being good, America stops being strong."

As we have seen with other countries, socialism is a festering canker on the body politic. It weakens the citizenry, drains them of ambition and replaces morality with conformity.

I wonder how much longer America will be strong. I see the rottenness in the Democratic party and the weakness in the Republican party.

Velcro said...

Thank you for this remarkable history lesson. It is amazing how things haven't changed. But it is encouraging that between then and now the airheads haven't reigned supreme!

Anonymous said...

Sig, I understand the sentiment. Only thing I would add -- and I do so as a conservative who still votes Republican and thinks the Repubs are the best vehicle for us politically -- is that we don't look to them for strength.

We strengthen ourselves, fight for what we believe on all fronts ... other things will fall into place.

WomanHonorThyself said...

fabulous piece !
The more things change, the more they remain the same...ugh!

sig94 said...

Yer right DC; I should have qualified that statement with "weakness in the Republican party's leadership." Many pubbie leaders have wandered off the map into the areas where they should have known that "There Be Monsters Here."

And as you know, many of the rank n' file have refused to navigate in ideologically dangerous waters. I for one left those self same waters in my youth. Ain't going back.

Life is not a box of chocolates; most of the time we know exactly what we'll pull out of the wrapper. It's just that so many no longer care as long as their short term emotional needs are met.

Obongo's wrapper had all the markings of a turd truffle but the MSM and libs couldn't be bothered to crack it open a notch and take a sniff.

Starsplash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starsplash said...

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Sig.

sanjeet said...

I see the rottenness in the Democratic party and the weakness in the Republican party.

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