Thursday, August 17, 2006

Social Reform (1)

The civil rights movement of the 1960s in America didn't rally start then but more closely to 1815 with the Treaty of Ghent when the U.S. Senate and President James Madison ratified it in February. The civil rights movement began with the closure of the War of 1812. It was then that Americans were able to begin looking at the nation introspectively, and some of them saw social ills they felt required their energies to cure. No more war of Manifest Destiny but rather the creation of Heaven on Earth in our new Promised Land. America turned inward.

While European powers pursued a policy of further imperialism throughout the world, America implemented the Monroe of 1823, not always seen rightly as a civil rights declaration. America was on a politically moral course from that time, and the people were supportive of at least neutrality in the realms of European power politics so long as the imperialist powers stayed away from the people and nations of the New World. The post-war years gave Americans time to reflect and to examine the nature of life from a non-military viewpoint, though from one of moral superiority over the native Indian residents. The open and greater frontier allowed Americans to see the spread of America as a blessing to all involved. But to bring the benefits of civilization to the masses meant those doing so must be moral regarding those already blessed with American identity. America was not perfect. There were many and deep social ills in America in the 19th, and to bring America to the people, the work of reforming the already standing nation had to succeed in order to make America just for all if it were to be a valid project rather than simply internal imperialism. thus arose a civil rights movement aimed at improving the lives of the industrial workers in the cities, of bringing rights to women, of stopping the evils of slavery, of freeing children from work and of educating them to take their places in the world of literate Christians who could confront their faith without the tyranny of the priests. There was much work to do, and one thing was nearly as important as another: to stop the evils of drunkeness and to free the slaves and to improve the working conditions of those living in city slums. America took on the vocation of social reform.

To endure the drivel of today's American and Western Leftist is usually more than the average man can do without becoming disgusted when the usual cliches about slavery and poverty and other social injustices arise. It is in the nations of our triune revolution that the questions of social injustice arose in the first place, and there that they were addressed, often at the cost of blood and death on the parts of those who advocated for reform and jusitice. To this day it is in the Modern West that such questions and movements have their hearts and souls, and they seldom exist outside the West. It is we who are the Modernist revolutionaries who make questions of civil rights important and known as such to the world at large; and it is we who spend our time criticising ourselves for not doing enough to cure these social evils, not the barbarians we try to save from their own evils. We revolutionaries of Modernity are the ones who began the struggle for universal Human rights, and it is we who forced them on an unwilling world, and it is we who continue to do so to this day. And it is our own Left who criticise our successes and attempt to destroy our great progress.

We've looked at the concept of progress as a thing possible. We know that it is a rare idea in the history of Mankind. Walters writes:

"By 1814 .... a combination of theological and economic developments led many men and women to assume that the world did not have to be the way it was and that individual effort mattered. such notions are not terribly ancient; nor are they universal among human societies."

[Ronald G. Walters, American Reformers, 1815- 1860. Hill and Wang: New York; rpt. 1997, p 3.]

We have looked at the question of authority, of where it comes from and who has the authority to decide and to do. In part this idea of free men conducting their own affairs is a legacy of the Protestant Reformation, of the individual being his own source of authority in terms of reading the Bible, a task made easier thanks to Tyndale and Gutenberg, and a task brought to fruition among the masses in large part by the missionary efforts of John Wesley. When the Catholic Church held supreme authority in the Christian world men were bound to it; but with the Reformation man became to a great extent his own moral authority as he found it in the Bible and Christian exegesis. As his own authority, he might well have felt his authority extended also to others not as authoritive as he. but it was authority based on Christianity that motivated him. Ironic now to listen to the Leftists complain about the evils of Christianity as the worst of all movements in the history of Humanity. social reform is at root a Protestant and often an American movement, as Walters writes: "[some] scholars presented antebellum reform as the product of evangelical Protestantism...." (Walters: p. ix.) And aside from conspiracy theorists, most will understand that to be the true case.

Christianity gave rise to " 'the Sisterhood of Reforms' ... [and] it was a rare person who engaged in only one of them." [Walters: p. xiii.] Christians did not stop at anti-slavery agitation, nor at anti-war activities. They embraced a whole suite of causes as standard within the ethos of Christianity, and "they tended to have been evangelical Protestants from New England families ... noble idealists who saw wrongdoing and tried to stop it... [or] as irresponsible fanatics or as neurotics and malcontents...." [Walters: p. xv.] Social reform was originated and lead mostly by evangelical Protestants; and the reasons for it are to do with commerce, with the availability of cash that freed the average person to pursue missionary work rather than mere subsistence and pitiful existence. "Before 1800 very few people had been able to give themselves over entirely to moral or social causes.... Only with the technological and social changes of the nineteenth century did it become possible for large numbers of Americans to make a livelihood out of agitation.... Reform was a demanding profession...." [Walters: p. 13.]

Anyone who knows the history of 19th century America and Western Europe knows it to be a time of terrible cruelty and needless suffering. It was a century in that respect no different from any other. What is different about the West in the 19th century was the rise of reform movements to improve the lot of the masses and to spread that improvement to universal mankind. Where there was injustice and harm the reformers, radicals and revolutionaries sought to make conditions better. In many instances those who performed the greatest social good in progressive terms were the so-called robber barons, those who provided wealth to the masses, if not as quickly as many would have liked, then at least solidly for the future base of the world's populations. The difference between the 19th century and all that came before it was one of the real improvement of the Human condition and the hope and right expectation of further improvements indefinitely for all Mankind regardless. There were obvious social and economic injustices, and the social reformers attempted to address and correct them. The system itself likely did more organically than any amount of social agitation could ever have done. However, the social reformers were also imbued with millenialism, with the need to create Heaven on Earth, and that as soon as possible so they could experience it themselves.

As we've seen before in the history of social workers, it was women who were bored and wasted by the social system, women who were for the first time educated generally and well, and women who were excluded from the mainstream of activities outside the home. It was often missionary-minded women who lead social reform movements.

As the 19th century began, social relations changed radically, moving men from farms to cities, from home to factory and business. Men but not women. Work continued but not as before. "[I]f she was middle-class, she no longer worked in ways that society recognised as work. Low-paid servants, schools, and fewer children reduced some traditional duties of home-making; store-bought bread, clothing, and candles took away others.... Implicitly rejecting the notion that the household was their only sphere of influence, American women from the 1810s onward participated in public life through voluntary associations of their own and by providing organisational and financial support of other, male-dominated ones" [Walters: pp. 104-106.] bored and frustrated middle class housewives turned to social activism for the sake of something satisfying to do with their lives. Often and perhaps mostly they turned to Abolitionism as the cause du jour.

" 'The investigation of the rights of the slave,' wrote the South Carolina-born abolitionist Angelina Grimke, 'has led me to a better understanding of my own.' What she came to realise was that power and domination were sexual as well as racial. In the antebellum period Grimke and thousands of other reformers created the first 'feminist' movement in the United States...." [Walters: p. 103.]

Bored middle class childless Protestant housewives began the social reform movement that today is the worst enemy of Human progress on our beautiful Earth. When we look at the so-called "nanny-state" we see its birthplace in early 19th century New England households. The "Sisterhood of Reforms" comprises a plethora of issues, ranging from anti-slavery, feminism, children's' rights, anti-poverty campaigns, and so on. We see anti-war movements, pacifism, and philobarbarism. Today we see all those and an anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, and anti-Semitism combined with environmentalism and general anti-Modernity contained within Left dhimmi fascism. It's hard to know which Left fascist aspect is worse for our Modernity as all of them combine into a hatred of freedom and individuality and the pursuit of privacy. We can see clearly the effects of Left dhimi fascism in philobarbarism, perhaps a unifying aspect of this general evil: The barbarian is infantalised, as are the majority of people regardless; his culture is prized as utopian if not now than before the rise of Modernity; man is reduced to his culture as he is stripped of his personhood and sent to the collective brotherhood of man; man is idealised and made into a parody of a man, made into a cigar-store Indian; man is 'protected' from the brutal European; Earth becomes the home of man, Gaia its Mother; the Human household is regulated by the spinster mother who doles out the scare resources of subsistence life; all must share equally according to the Great Mother who knows. And philobarbarism then grows into a thing of its own, having been created in the barren minds of the barbarian in the first place: School teacher/Mother trains the barbarian to think he is abused and harmed by the Adult culture of the modern West. Turned into a romantic child the barbarian is set up to pose as a clown in a phantasy world of middle class women and effete fools of all kinds. the barbarian, having no ideas of his own from outside his culture, no sense of general history, believes the lies and phantasies of the gnostic nanny. Were it to end there it might not be so terrible.

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