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The Huns And Vandals Within

21 February 2013 @ 20:45

Recently, I have had the pleasure of re-reading Russell Kirk’s opus, The Conservative Mind, drinking it in small doses of a few pages up to a dozen at a single sitting.  I’m about forty-percent of the way through it and just started the chapter Liberal Conservatives: Macaulay, Cooper, Tocqueville.

Mr. Kirk begins Section 2 with a quote from a letter Lord Macaulay wrote on 23 May 1857 to the American author Harry S. Randall, who had written the Life Of Jefferson.

The quote, as presented, reads as follows:

…I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both.

In Europe, where the population is dense, the effect of such institutions would be almost instantaneous. …Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish.

I suspect Mr. Kirk shortened the quote because his goal was merely to provide a quick taste of the man’s thinking before the author launched into a more detailed description of the Lord’s philosophy.

This is the full quote:

Dear Sir: You are surprised to learn that I have not a high opinion of Mr. JEFFERSON, and I am surprised at your surprise. I am certain that I never wrote a line, and that I never, in Parliament, in conversation, or even on the hustings — a place where it is the fashion to court the populace — uttered a word indicating an opinion that the supreme authority in a State ought to be intrusted to the majority of citizens told by the head; in other words, to the poorest and most ignorant part of society. I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both.

In Europe, where the population is dense, the effect of such institutions would be almost instantaneous. What happened lately in France is an example. In 1848 a pure Democracy was established there. During a short time there was reason to expect a general spoliation, a national bankruptcy, a new partition of the soil, a maximum of prices, a ruinous load of taxation laid on the rich for the purpose of supporting the poor in idleness. Such a system would, in twenty years, have made France as poor and barbarous as France of the Carlovingians. Happily the danger was averted; and now there is a despotism, a silent tribune, an enslaved Press. Liberty is gone; but civilization has been saved. I have not the smallest doubt that, if we had a purely Democratic Government here, the effect would be the same. Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish.

While Lord Macaulay was certainly more open to reform, he was no Radical.  He had more in common with our Classical Liberals than with the Left, which he feared, as you can see by his deep distaste for Democracy and Egalitarianism.

The full letter by Lord Macaulay may be read here and I highly recommend reading it.  While the predictions he makes did not quite come true, he most certainly understood where America was heading.  He got some of the details wrong, but he understood the demonic spirit that was rising here.

I was struck by this line above: ‘Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish’.

The latter, of course, has not happened here.  In fact, while it seemed to many that the Left In America had finally gotten over their total and absolute hatred of the U.S. Armed Forces, we have seen in recent weeks that they most certainly have not.  Obama and his Royal Court and his camp followers are determined to destroy the American Military Culture that has successfully guarded our freedom and liberties since 1775.

As for the former prediction in that sentence: Lord Macaulay got the details wrong but correctly described the spirit.  As it turns out, the poor and the rich have joined together and are plundering those who reside in-between — the productive people, those Americans who are the fiercest defenders of freedom, liberty, tradition, and Morality — and, as they go from victory to victory, our Civilization is dying a slow death.

The condition of The West right now is grave.  The patient’s odds of surviving are not good.

Democracy has come, good and hard.

We let that demonic spirit in and it is imperative that we perform an exorcism if we are to have any hope of seeing freedom and liberty live on, of just basically surviving.

A restoration of that spirit that animated men like Lord Macaulay and Edmund Burke and John Adams and George Washington is needed to solve The Present Crisis.

…Either some Caesar or Napoleon will seize the reins of government with a strong hand; or your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was in the fifth; with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals, who ravaged the Roman Empire, came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your country by your own institutions.

—Lord Macaulay

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 February 2013 @ 21:06 21:06

    That last quote by Lord McCauley is the money quote and so very prescient of him.

  2. 21 February 2013 @ 22:08 22:08

    Macauley nailed it. It’s not surprising he did not get the details because those are quite hard to get. Some things bought us time, and others softened the blows, at the time. The day of reckoning for the stupidity that started with Lincoln, and was set in concrete by Wilson and FDR, is about to arrive. It won’t be pretty.

    Lord Acton had high hopes for the US until he saw the rise of Lincoln and the war of northern aggression. The only people with high hopes for the US are smoking crack or are part of the choom gang. Those of us with less hope are on something else to drown our sorrows.

    But, hey, Makers Mark isn’t going to dilute the alcohol content, so there is that.

    • 21 February 2013 @ 23:15 23:15

      I think that one of the reasons he didn’t get the details right was because, like so many Brits, he didn’t understand The American Character.

      Regarding Maker’s Mark: God works in mysterious ways.

      • 22 February 2013 @ 08:32 08:32

        I lived in Germany for 6 years, and I think it would a very rare European that understands the American character.

  3. M. Thompson permalink
    22 February 2013 @ 00:04 00:04

    We might have to set up a Merlin project. Ensure the glories of our civilization are passed on to the next. Great books, the story of the English speaking world, and complete plans for the Supermarine Spitfire.

  4. theo9geo permalink
    22 February 2013 @ 01:05 01:05

    I’ve been reading too. Richard Pipes’ *Russia Under the Old Regime.* Finest historical work I have read, and I’ve read not a few such. Reads much like modern American political history, at least in its aspirational aspects by the boys and doyennes of a known political party, which I think, for historical accuracy, should be called The Communist Party and its leadership cadre the Politburo. But its base in analysis by geography, etymology and actual political relationships is the most enlightening I have come across. For example, Russian serfdom and Pan-American slavery are entirely different phenomena, such that comparing the former with the latter is both impossible and irresponsible. But that is only one thing of importance out of countless such. I’ll stop there.

    • thecampofthesaints permalink
      22 February 2013 @ 08:11 08:11

      The next book in the series is the best, The Russian Revolution. I’ve found myself referring to it many times since 2008. It’s a long slog, but well worth it because you come away with a magnificent understanding of how Leftist’s think and how they act.

  5. njartist49 permalink
    22 February 2013 @ 16:51 16:51

    “‘Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish’.”
    I am always struck by the inanity of statements such as this: it is as though the history of the plunder by the “aristocracy” never occurred, nor the enserfment of peasants, nor the excessive taxation of the peasants; and as though peasants and serfs were allowed either property or Liberty. No, this attitude is the attitude of those who consider themselves THE PEOPLE and the common man the Other, the dispensable, and the sacrifice for their rituals.
    People who are not part of the “aristocracy” who quote such statements must somehow think that they will or would have partaken of the aristocratic Liberty and Property: you would be lucky to be of the servant class.

  6. njartist49 permalink
    22 February 2013 @ 16:57 16:57

    The aristocracy has raped the wealth of nations just as surely has democracy. In fact, the progressives/ the elites/ our “natural aristocrats” began the long march to destroy the American republic within years of its founding.

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