The New Clarion

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Wilson’s Heirs

July 1st, 2009 by Myrhaf · 1 Comment · Politics

Professor Rahe looks at Obama’s Tyrannical Ambition. He takes the long view, putting Obama in perspective of America’s political history. His information on Woodrow Wilson is fascinating.

Back in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson successfully ran for the presidency, he told his compatriots, “We are in the presence of a new organization of society.” Our time marks “a new social stage, a new era of human relationships, a new stagesetting for the drama of life,” and “the old political formulas do not fit the present problems: they read now like documents taken out of a forgotten age.” What Thomas Jefferson once taught is now, he insisted, quite out of date. It is “what we used to think in the old-fashioned days when life was very simple.” Above all else, he hoped to persuade his compatriots to get “beyond the Declaration of Independence.” That document “did not mention the questions of our day,” he told them. “It is of no consequence to us. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; not a theory of government, but a program of action”–once of use, outdated now.

Rahe makes the interesting observation that Wilson substitutes Hegel for the ideas of Montesquieu that inform the Declaration of Independence. Given the philosophical corruption of the progressives, it’s remarkable that America is still semi-free a century later.

One Comment so far ↓

  • Amy Nasir

    Myrhaf — this is such an excellent observation! There are some in our circle who would rather concede that this is the worst it can get right now. It isn’t — and yes, we are still somewhat free, not to mention the enormous progress individuals have made in the last one hundred years, e.g. women and african-Americans. I’ve been studying the history of philosophy lately and it really gives perspective on where we are. I say, there is still hope!