Calling the Progressive Bluff
When they say America is obsolete, they mean they want to make it that way.
Is America possible anymore?
Writing to the popular French intellectual, Gabriel Bonnot de Mably, John Adams listed four institutions which he thought had made the colonies strong enough to win the revolutionary war. “The four Institutions intended,” explained Adams, “are, 1. the Towns. 2. The Churches. 3. The Schools. and 4. The Militia.” Guns and God, sound teaching and local government: that’s how the war was won.
Based. But depressing, too, because the four institutions Adams mentioned are also the ones most maligned in high society, the ones our ruling oligarchs do their best to confound and subvert. You could almost draw from Adams’s letter a list of the targets that our leadership class assaults with extreme prejudice.
Churches? Closed for reasons of public health. Schools? Even if they’re open, they’re certainly not teaching “Reading, Writing Arithmetick and the Rudiments of Latin and Greek,” which was the colonial curriculum. Instead the Biden Administration wants “civics education” which stresses “when racism and bigotry have meant that the country fell short”—which will turn out to mean pumping kids full of the bigoted poison that is Critical Race Theory. As for the militia, they’re doing their best to make it illegal.
But even before COVID, before the 1619 Project and its attendant riots, before the federal government declared an effective war on half of America because something something January 6... even before all that, Adams’s four institutions were in trouble. Before these chuckleheads tried to outlaw church, guns, and patriotic education, they were already doing their best to convince us that such things were simply not possible—that arguments for or against their justice or nobility or usefulness were irrelevant, because circumstances had rendered them unworkable in the modern world.
Thus you will notice that we are always presented with two reasons why we can’t have our rights: first, they’re evil, but second and perhaps more importantly, they’re impractical. “If you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons,” said Biden last Wednesday. This implies the Second Amendment isn’t so much bad as it is obsolete.
I think this form of argument is actually more essential to the progressive project—certainly it was at the heart what self-proclaimed visionaries like Woodrow Wilson believed. "Government is not a machine but a living thing,” said Wilson, “accountable to Darwin, not to Newton.” Other Progressives, like Charles Beard, were more blunt: it is long past time, Beard wrote, to give up our “superstitious reverence” for a Constitution that has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Those founders were just clinging to their Bible and their guns, after all.
I actually don’t disagree that the digital age presents some new challenges to the American way of life, and exacerbates other challenges that were already presented by our development into the premiere world power. It is beyond my scope here to speculate about how Adams’s four institutions could be updated to fit the 21st century. All I mean to point out is that we are routinely told such things are impossible, cannot be done, by people who also don’t want them to be done—by people who hate what America is.
At the very least, this seems to me like interested reasoning. The people who tell us that America as founded is just not feasible anymore, are always the same people who don’t want there to be such an America anyway. They insist that the old ways cannot be brought up to date, as if they have ever tried. But the reality is they have not tried and don’t want to. Instead they have devoted their supposedly enormous powers of reason and industry not to solving the problems that modernity poses for America’s Constitution, but to insisting that those problems cannot be solved.
Our ruling classes want to so demoralize us, so overwhelm us with the complexity of the difficulties we face, that we just take their word for it and give up on being Americans altogether. “We did our best, guys, and hey, you know what, we couldn’t make this whole Constitution thing work. What a shame, too bad—but if we can’t, do you think you can??”
Well I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough, and anyway I suspect they do protest too much. When the people who hate America strain with all their might to persuade me there’s no way to preserve her, that makes me suspect there is a way, and they’re terrified we’ll make a serious effort to find it. They talk a big game about being in charge and knowing everything. But I think they bluster like that because they’re scared. And I think what we have to do now is call their bluff.