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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Trump Cultural Revolution - A Return To Individualism And A Rejection Of Collective Values

There was nothing but individualism in the early days of the Republic.  The English settlers who first came to Jamestown under the auspices of the Virginia Company of London had shipped on to make their fortunes in the New World, enticed by reports of vast fertile lands, plentiful game and natural resources, and a congenial climate.  As private contractors they had no interest in founding a colony for the Crown.  Although they knew that they had to work together to build shelter and grow crops, their intentions were purely self-interested. 

Image result for images paintings historical jamestown va

They quickly found out that life in the New World was far harsher than they ever had imagined, realized that they had few of the skills necessary to survive in the wilderness let alone to build a settlement, and they barely survived their first winter.

They did survive, however, and Jamestown became a successful and profitable colony, especially after the initial cultivation of tobacco.  The settlement grew, new settlers arrived in greater numbers from England, and before long Tidewater Virginia was one of the wealthiest regions under English rule.  The Carter family who first came to Virginia in the late 1600s soon built a dynasty, and the second generation of Carters – Robert (King) Carter - owned vast lands in the Northern Neck by 1732.

Image result for images robert king carter

King Carter had royal patronage, but was an ambitious, intelligent, and adventurous entrepreneur; but there were many like him.  He and those who followed knew how to profit from the rich bottom lands of the Tidewater, invested in indentured servants and slaves purchased from the Caribbean, and organized large, profitable tobacco plantations.

Other English migrations completed the early settlements.  Scots-Irish settled in the Charleston area, and in the early 1800s plantation owners whose tobacco lands in Virginia and North Carolina were becoming depleted began their westward expansion to the Mississippi Delta. 

Once America had won decisive victories over the French and Spanish in West Florida, that area became open for development. Private companies – the American equivalent of the Virginia Company of London – began their development of the Florida Gulf coast of the Panhandle.  These American entrepreneurs developed the ports of Mobile and Apalachicola, the river waterways from the interior, and railroads.

Image result for 19th century images mobile harbor

The Louisiana Purchase opened the West to settlement and development, and before long settlers no different than the original economic adventurers of Jamestown, had laid their claim to vast farm and ranch lands.

Government – or collective rule – came only after these initial individual enterprises.  Once the towns of Biloxi and Gulfport were laid out, plats designated, and titles of ownership established, the town government began to play role in adjudication of disputes and the provision of public services.  Government was a necessary and useful facilitator of private enterprise.

In the new western territories, the rule of law was only gradually established; and six-gun justice was the only authority.  Farmers and ranchers had to settle disputes on their own.  Although the real Wild West was nowhere near as wild and untamed as Hollywood would suggest, those Americans who chose to stake their claim on the prairie knew that defense was their responsibility and theirs alone.

There was nothing but individualism in the early days of the Republic.  The English settlers who first came to Jamestown under the auspices of the Virginia Company of London had shipped on to make their fortunes in the New World, enticed by reports of vast fertile lands, plentiful game and natural resources, and a congenial climate.  As private contractors they had no interest in founding a colony for the Crown.  Although they knew that they had to work together to build shelter and grow crops, their intentions were purely self-interested. 

Image result for images paintings historical jamestown va

They quickly found out that life in the New World was far harsher than they ever had imagined, realized that they had few of the skills necessary to survive in the wilderness let alone to build a settlement, and they barely survived their first winter.

They did survive, however, and Jamestown became a successful and profitable colony, especially after the initial cultivation of tobacco.  The settlement grew, new settlers arrived in greater numbers from England, and before long Tidewater Virginia was one of the wealthiest regions under English rule.  The Carter family who first came to Virginia in the late 1600s soon built a dynasty, and the second generation of Carters – Robert (King) Carter - owned vast lands in the Northern Neck by 1732.

Image result for images robert king carter

King Carter had royal patronage, but was an ambitious, intelligent, and adventurous entrepreneur; but there were many like him.  He and those who followed knew how to profit from the rich bottom lands of the Tidewater, invested in slaves purchased from the Caribbean, and organized large, profitable tobacco plantations.

Other English migrations completed the early settlements.  Scots-Irish settled in the Charleston area, and in the early 1800s plantation owners whose tobacco lands in Virginia and North Carolina were becoming depleted began their westward expansion to the Mississippi Delta. 

Once America had won decisive victories over the French and Spanish in West Florida, that area became open for development. Private companies – the American equivalent of the Virginia Company of London – began their development of the Florida Gulf coast of the Panhandle.  These American entrepreneurs developed the ports of Mobile and Apalachicola, the river waterways from the interior, and railroads.

Image result for 19th century images mobile harbor

The Louisiana Purchase opened the West to settlement and development, and before long settlers no different than the original economic adventurers of Jamestown, had laid their claim to vast farm and ranch lands.

Government – or collective rule – came only after these initial individual enterprises.  Once the towns of Biloxi and Gulfport were laid out, plats designated, and titles of ownership established, the town government began to play role in adjudication of disputes and the provision of public services.  Government was a necessary and useful facilitator of private enterprise.

In the new western territories, the rule of law was only gradually established; and six-gun justice was the only authority.  Farmers and ranchers had to settle disputes on their own.  Although the real Wild West was nowhere near as wild and untamed as Hollywood would suggest, those Americans who chose to stake their claim on the prairie knew that defense was their responsibility and theirs alone.

Image result for images gunfight ok corral


The history of the United States from the mid-1800s until the present is one of gradual but insistent establishment of government rule.  What was intended to be an institution supportive of private enterprise became the final arbiter of economic and financial investment. Government intervention into private affairs, ostensibly to create, maintain, and promote a congenial environment for both private entrepreneurs and their employees, became the rule not the exception.

As American society became more complex with many competing interests, government expanded.  Elected officials saw the need to create a large federal bureaucracy to oversee private enterprise and social activity.  Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and Education were established to oversee the continued development of the country and to assure its well-being.  Government broke up the powerful cartels of the early 20th century and began the extension of its oversight authority over business and finance.

Image result for images bureaucracy

The rest is history.  Government has become a behemoth.  Not only do bureaucracies tend to increase, expand, and multiply like all organisms; but vested interests in propagating government are active in both Congress and the American electorate.

The American Left has long promoted the role of government as the arbiter of social values and the agent of redistributive economic policies.  Government, representing the will of the people – or so progressives contend – has the principal role in defending and promoting citizens’ rights.  Private and individual enterprise must be subordinated to government as the institution of universal collective will.

In other words, government – whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal – has the right to configure and oversee a social context for which it alone is responsible.  Over the past two decades liberals have had sway and have tried to reconfigure social interactions according to progressive principles – multiculturalism, secularism, and neo-socialist economics.  As a result the fundamental principles on which the Republic was founded have been increasingly eroded.  Freedom of Religion was never meant for its exclusion from public affairs, but only to assure that no one faith take precedence over any other. 

Jefferson never considered the possibility of restricting the free expression of religious faith and only modern secularism has proscribed it.  He never imagined that profound religious faith would ever be considered antithetical to the Republic’s purpose and mandate.  Jefferson never doubted the primacy of individual religious faith.

Image result for images thomas jefferson

The principles of the Enlightenment and Calvinism which underlay the construction of the nation were profoundly religious and individualistic.  Fundamental Protestantism encouraged the acquisition of wealth as an expression of grace.  Whatever government strictures were established were to protect and defend the individual’s right to personal religious expression.

All of which is to say that it is no wonder that there has been a resurgence of conservative populism in America today. Those 60 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump had had enough of progressive meddling, government intrusiveness, and arrogant secularism. It wasn’t so much that they objected to liberal policies per se but that they objected to the transformation of a religious, Christian, value-centered society into a secular, separatist, identity-driven, collectivist one.

Image result for images trump

The populist movement is no less than a cultural revolution, one less concerned with promoting conservative fiscal, economic, social, and international policies and more on returning the country to its fundamental moral principles.

This is what progressives do not understand.  They misinterpret the challenge to their philosophy as purely political.  Social conservatives, they say, live in a prehistoric world, and want only to turn back the clock to the Fifties and before to a world of white privilege and authority.  They do not fathom that populists are not political but social.  The metastasis of government not only represents a political takeover of individual rights but a denial of philosophical principles.  More than anything, it is an abrogation of the God-given right to personal independence.

In many ways today’s populists are profoundly Nietzschean.  Nietzsche said that the only validation of human existence is the expression of individual will.  What is left if government and its public lackeys completely nullify and neuter such will? 

Image result for images nietzsche

Donald Trump’s presidency is troubled if not chaotic (5.11.17) and may not last.  For all his appeal to fundamental individualism, his lack of the skills necessary to survive Washington may be his undoing.


Nevertheless, his demise will not mean the end of radical populism.  His base has been energized.  No longer will conservative Americans take progressive interventionism lying down.  The genie is out of the bottle in America as well as in Europe and Asia.

The history of the United States from the mid-1800s until the present is one of gradual but insistent establishment of government rule.  What was intended to be an institution supportive of private enterprise became the final arbiter of economic and financial investment. Government intervention into private affairs, ostensibly to create, maintain, and promote a congenial environment for both private entrepreneurs and their employees, became the rule not the exception.

As American society became more complex with many competing interests, government expanded.  Elected officials saw the need to create a large federal bureaucracy to oversee private enterprise and social activity.  Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and Education were established to oversee the continued development of the country and to assure its well-being.  Government broke up the powerful cartels of the early 20th century and began the extension of its oversight authority over business and finance.

Image result for images bureaucracy

The rest is history.  Government has become a behemoth.  Not only do bureaucracies tend to increase, expand, and multiply like all organisms; but vested interests in propagating government are active in both Congress and the American electorate.

The American Left has long promoted the role of government as the arbiter of social values and the agent of redistributive economic policies.  Government, representing the will of the people – or so progressives contend – has the principal role in defending and promoting citizens’ rights.  Private and individual enterprise must be subordinated to government as the institution of universal collective will.

In other words, government – whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal – has the right to configure and oversee a social context for which it alone is responsible.  Over the past two decades liberals have had sway and have tried to reconfigure social interactions according to progressive principles – multiculturalism, secularism, and neo-socialist economics.  As a result the fundamental principles on which the Republic was founded have been increasingly eroded.  Freedom of Religion was never meant for its exclusion from public affairs, but only to assure that no one faith take precedence over any other. 

Jefferson never considered the possibility of restricting the free expression of religious faith and only modern secularism has proscribed it.  He never imagined that profound religious faith would ever be considered antithetical to the Republic’s purpose and mandate.  Jefferson never doubted the primacy of individual religious faith.

Image result for images thomas jefferson

The principles of the Enlightenment and Calvinism which underlay the construction of the nation were profoundly religious and individualistic.  Fundamental Protestantism encouraged the acquisition of wealth as an expression of grace.  Whatever government strictures were established were to protect and defend the individual’s right to personal religious expression.

All of which is to say that it is no wonder that there has been a resurgence of conservative populism in America today. Those 60 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump had had enough of progressive meddling, government intrusiveness, and arrogant secularism. It wasn’t so much that they objected to liberal policies per se but that they objected to the transformation of a religious, Christian, value-centered society into a secular, separatist, identity-driven, collectivist one.

Image result for images trump

The populist movement is no less than a cultural revolution, one less concerned with promoting conservative fiscal, economic, social, and international policies and more on returning the country to its fundamental moral principles.

This is what progressives do not understand.  They misinterpret the challenge to their philosophy as purely political.  Social conservatives, they say, live in a prehistoric world, and want only to turn back the clock to the Fifties and before to a world of white privilege and authority.  They do not fathom that populists are not political but social.  The metastasis of government not only represents a political takeover of individual rights but a denial of philosophical principles.  More than anything, it is an abrogation of the God-given right to personal independence.

In many ways today’s populists are profoundly Nietzschean.  Nietzsche said that the only validation of human existence is the expression of individual will.  What is left if government and its public lackeys completely nullify and neuter such will? 

Image result for images nietzsche

Donald Trump’s presidency is troubled if not chaotic (5.11.17) and may not last.  For all his appeal to fundamental individualism, his lack of the skills necessary to survive Washington may be his undoing.


Nevertheless, his demise will not mean the end of radical populism.  His base has been energized.  No longer will conservative Americans take progressive interventionism lying down.  The genie is out of the bottle in America as well as in Europe and Asia.

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