Earlier today I cited Senator Rubio's warning,
“I don't know of a civilization in the history of the world that's been able to solve its problems when half the people in a country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.”I said that what I hear and see today reminds me of the national polity of the 1850s, which ended badly.
I have before called the underlying ideology of the American Left, totalism. The label was first used by psychiatrist and historian Robert Lifton. Professor Anna Geifman explains the Totalist political world view:
No one gravitates to the Left in order to let others live their lives as they see fit. The beating heart of Totalism in all its forms is power and control over others. This is the raison d'etre of the entire American Left.... Its devotees — anarchists, Marxists, or Islamists — want to impose a new order based on an “all-or-nothing claim to truth.” They operate within distinctive parameters of a “theology of Armageddon — a final battle between good and evil” – in which the stakes are nothing less than universal salvation. As outlined in Eric Hoffer’s classic, The True Believer, such movements have mastered the art of “religiofication,” that is, converting political grievances into messianic aspirations and “practical purposes into holy causes.” [HT: American Digest]
Which makes me turn again to the 1850s and Abraham Lincoln's "house divided" speech.
On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5:00 p.m. they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. At 8:00 p.m. Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech's introduction, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," a concept familiar to Lincoln's audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).The original text is at the link above. Below is my very slight edit of part of part of it.
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half Marxist and half Jeffersonian. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of Leftist tryranny, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike common in all the states, across all the country. Have we no tendency to the latter condition? Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination— piece of machinery so to speak—compounded of the Ninth Circuit's judges overturning, for no stated reason but their own personal preferences, the power that the Constitution and longstanding public law have delegated expressly to the chief executive.In Lincoln's speech the ending of this section refers to 1857's Dred Scott decision, which buttressed slaveholding as a Constitutional right, based solely on the justices' openly-stated racist reasons. I am here referring to the quashing of President Trump's executive order temporarily halting, with some exceptions, entry into the country of anyone from seven named countries.
How bad was that decision? I could spend many paragraphs explaining why, citing legal scholars both Right conservative and liberal, but will here just point out that it was so bad that one of the other judges of the Ninth Circuit has filed for a rehearing of the case en banc.
In circulating a draft of his speech, Lincoln found his friends did not support it.
Even Lincoln's friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect.In fact, Lincoln lost reelection to the House that year and both his friends and opponents laid principal cause directly on this speech. Two years later Lincoln was elected president and later both his friends and opponents credited this same speech as a large reason why.
Of course, Lincoln was wrong in saying, "I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided." His election to the presidency directly cause both the dissolution of the Union and its division.
Nonetheless, the state of the United States in 1858 and in 2017 bear enough resemblances to make me shudder.
Update: "Society is more divided now than at any time since the Civil War" -- Doug Ross' Journal.