The Coming Second American Civil War (6 of 14)

For a full version of this study go to Shapinghowwethink.com, click on “University”, then click on “History”, then click on “Political History” and finally click on “The Coming Second American Civil War”. Or just click HERE.

6

2018

Given the sorry state of education today, especially in history, I’m not sure many are familiar with the Cold War when it’s spoken about. Those of us who lived through it have a clear knowledge of it because we experienced it up close and personal. I bring it up because for even longer there has been an internal cold war going on inside America, a cold war that began as a political clash between two political world views, and tangentially between differing cultural views. In case you’re not sure what that cold war was between the USSR and the USA, let me give you this short definition found on Google:

Cold War: this term is used to describe the relationship between America and the Soviet Union 1945 to 1980. Neither side ever fought the other – the consequences would be too appalling – but they did ‘fight’ for their beliefs using client states who fought for their beliefs on their behalf e.g.  South Vietnam was anticommunist and was supplied by America during the war while North Vietnam was pro-Communist and fought the south (and the Americans) using weapons from communist Russia or communist China. In Afghanistan, the Americans supplied the rebel Afghans after the Soviet Union invaded in 1979 while they never physically involved themselves thus avoiding a direct clash with the Soviet Union.

It was everything short of a physical fight between two cultures and two diametrically opposed world paradigms that came dangerously close to a hot war during the Cuban missile crisis. I’m not going to discuss this “cold war” (you can look it up if you are interested) but it’s a good example of the new Cold War we’ve internally been fighting and just as real. And we’re at the precipice of a hot war. Not something happening back when but right now.

The me in 2018 must go through the same examinations, asking the same kinds of questions the me in 1776 and 1861 had to ask and had to find an honest side to be part of because at no time have I ever been one of that one-third that doesn’t care. I care and have to decide for myself where truth lies.

A Truth I learned in my early adult years was that every generation has to for itself question with BOLDNESS the truths it has adopted from generations before us. The idea is not to reinvent the wheel but to make personal your truths so that they are your truths, not someone else’s. In this case they become more clear, more understandable, less contradictory with other so-called truths, and easier to defend. You can’t honestly defend what you don’t personally know. I understand, it feels like a too daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be, and you don’t have to be academically trained to do this.

Placing bumper stickers on the rear of your car is popular, statements of something you believe in you want the driver following you to understand and appreciate. In the early sixties came this popular bumper sticker: Question Authority. It became the cry of the counter-culture founded in San Francisco known as the Hippie Movement. This particular mantra came from the drug-filled mind of Timothy Leary advocating the use of LSD. Some have wanted to attribute this bit of wisdom to the Greek philosopher Socrates. Sorry, it’s really a political statement, not a philosophical one, and where he might have challenged authority it was always in the broader context of knowledge, all knowledge.

And here is where we get into trouble when we make this our statement on life: Question Authority. Leary was no philosopher. All he wanted to do was smoke dope, pop pills, shoot up, and drop out of society. And this is the man from whom we supposedly get our wisdom!

This is clearly NOT Jefferson’s thought when he wrote Question with Boldness. Of the three mentioned two were clearly philosophers. Of these two Socrates was what we would call an “ontologist,” broader thinking, and Jefferson a political philosopher. The third man was just a druggie. I ask you, which one doesn’t fit as a real thinker?

Now both Socrates and Jefferson would write the bumper sticker this way: Question Everything. Question authority is nothing more than a rebellion against authority, but question everything is not a rebellion, it’s an honest search for meaning that we can understand and relate to. You never saw a bumper sticker that said “Question Everything”. It would have served us better if we had.

To earn my BA in Philosophy I had to write a senior term paper and I did a 75-page study on the Continental Rationalists; Spinoza, Leibniz, and Descartes. My two favorites were Leibniz and Descartes. Descartes was well known outside philosophy for promoting the idea of “I doubt in order to know.” Actually those who didn’t know anything about Descartes charged him with the single word, “Doubt.” When we hear the word doubt in English we immediately define it “as a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction,” using synonyms like “uncertainty, indecision, suspicion, or confusion.” Christians are particularly outraged by the term doubt as though it signals a disbelief in God bringing into question your faith. Having accepted God from that moment on you are to doubt nothing for doubt is a sin. Rather you are to follow St. Augustine’s words, “I believe in order to know.” Anything short of that is anathema. Our idea of Descartes’ “doubt” comes from those who have never read Descartes and are repeating their idea of his doubt from others who also have never read Descartes and pretend to know him. If they actually knew anything about him they would know he wrote an essay titled, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, where disbelief is not where you end up but doubt is a way of asking questions to find better answers.

Descartes’s doubt is more akin to Jefferson’s question with boldness.

Before Barak Obama was elected President of the United States he said this: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” It was not referencing he being the first Black American to become President. The fundamental transformation was his expectation of bringing the unspoken cold war to an end in favor of a new and fundamentally different political, cultural, value paradigm, a new progressive era. Gone would be the values of what brought our ancestors to the New World, what shaped us as Americans, what formed us as a new nation, what made us the greatest nation in history.

What Obama didn’t understand, and neither did I until recently, when he unleashed the dogs of radicalism they would push the transformation into extremes transforming progressivism into a post-modernism that would take everything down.

Movements are like tsunamis. They sweep in from the ocean destroying the landscape and we rebuild out of what was left us. Then everything goes on in this new way until a new tsunami comes and we go through it all over. It has become the natural pattern of life. We originally came in on the crest of a democratic republicanism and a free-market capitalist economy; then came the tsunami (although we didn’t recognize it as a tsunami because it was somewhat gentle) of progressivism; then the next tsunami hit, now with force and progressivism is being swept away by a post-modernism.