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Foundations Of Liberty – E1

The united states constitution serves as a nearly perfect blueprint for liberty and freedom. However, a blueprint can only be functional if it is properly understood and actually followed with all that we see around us. And it’s time time for us to get back to the foundations of liberty.

 

Welcome to foundations of liberty, brought to you by veterans in defense of liberty. I’m Darren Chappell. I’ll be your host for the next several weeks as we go through this program in which we’re going to be studying the united states constitution together. Now, we’re going to be looking at some principles upon which the founding fathers established the constitution, and specifically, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the philosophies that they embrace as they wrote this document. The founding fathers were exceptionally well educated men, and they were gathered together on the north American continent during the end of the 18th century for the purpose of trying to formulate a new form of government, one that had never been seen before on the face of the earth. It was a grand experiment that continues to be played out in the American society today. However, in order for us to fully understand what it is that they thought of what they were doing and why they were doing it, it’s necessary for us to understand the philosophies that they, too, understood and how it is that those philosophies shaped what it is that they did. We’re going to be taking a look at that over the next three to four episodes, but then after that, we’re also going to be taking a look at some of the documents that preceded the constitution which helped establish the rule of law and how it is that the united states constitution would be established.

But it also explains to us why some of the founders didn’t want to do certain things that have been tried over and again in governments around the world and had failed. We’re also going to be taking a look at the text of the constitution itself, what the words mean, what the amendments meant at the time in which they were written. Frankly, if words don’t mean what they meant when they were originally written in 1787, ratified in 1789, the bill of rights were ratified in 1791, if those words don’t mean what they meant at the time of their writing, they don’t mean something else. They mean nothing at all because they’ve been pulled from their context. So we’re going to be taking a look at all of that. The purpose of all of this is for us not only to better understand the Constitution here in the United States, and that’s always necessary for us to study and learn more, but this particular program on SimulTV is going to be broadcast all over the world, and there are individuals who are struggling to create their own forms of government. And I’m not suggesting that the united states is the best that there is simply because I’m a citizen of the United States. But I do believe that the Founding Fathers used reason and logic and rationale to come to the conclusions that they did. And if our experiences can help you in your country to establish a government that ensures freedom and liberty for you and your citizens, well, then this program was successful. The first of the philosophers that we’re going to be taking a look at in our study together is Socrates. Frankly, we ought to begin at the beginning. Socrates is known as the father of Western philosophy. He’s the individual who’s most widely recognized as being the one who began the process of searching for the importance and the value of the individual rather than the collective. It’s the very basic premise of Western philosophy that the individual has value, has rights, that ought to be protected by government, so that that value is not infringed upon.

 

Socrates was an individual who lived during a time in Athens when it was a city state wholly dedicated to democracy. Now, democracy is a word that comes to us from the Greek language, which means a rule of the people. And it’s basically the premise that majority rules on any given subject. The people would be polled, and whatever the majority of them thought, that would become law, that would become policy. And the way in which the government would work was to fulfill the will of the majority. Now, Socrates was an individual who believed that democracy was extraordinarily destructive and dangerous because of the passions of the people. The passions of the people are formed by popular opinion. The problem is that the average person simply doesn’t have the time or the expertise to be able to understand the intricacies of societal problems and questions of how should we go, how should we act, what should we do? Should we go to war? Should we not go to war? And the passions of the people can become swelled to the point that government cannot control them. Now not control them in the sense that the people aren’t important. Again, Socrates taught of the value of the individual, including his opinion. But Socrates understood that when people who are not dedicated to the premise of understanding the role, the nature and the purpose of governance, and it’s just what they want, that that power can be abused by a majority against a minority, maybe even the minority of a single person. Now, Socrates taught against democracy. Again, at a time when Athens was a democratic city state.

So much so was he against the premise, and so ardent were his arguments that the leaders of Athens actually tried and convicted him for corrupting the minds of the youth. The sentence of this was death, and they compelled him to drink a potion of hemlock, and he was put to death because he would not yield. Socrates, being that individual who was all about the rights of the individual had his individual rights taken from him. The right to life had that taken from him because he would not yield in the face of the majority. Now, the Founders understood this as well. The Founding Fathers had lived under a monarchy, under King George III, and they recognized that a power such as a monarchy can be abused by a single individual, and rights and liberties and freedoms can be taken from citizens. But they also understood that those same rights, liberties, and freedoms could be abused by a tyrannical majority as well. And if you look throughout the entirety of the Foundational documents, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, the Antifderalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution itself, there is one word that is conspicuously absent from this entire construct of American governance, and that word is democracy. They feared the premise of mob rule, and they wanted the people to have their liberties and their freedoms protected by a national government and state governments. And they did not want the majority in its popular uprising to squelch the rights and liberties of the minority, even the minority of the one in our modern history.

We can even see where the will of the people has gotten away from us from time to time in the United States. On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked. We saw the World Trade Center come down. Both towers. We saw our Pentagon be attacked with a plane crashing into the side of the building. We saw another plane that was crashed in the Pennsylvania field, which was on its way to Washington, DC.

Perhaps to the Capitol Building. Perhaps to the White House. We’ll never know. Thousands of American citizens simply going to work, doing their jobs, doing what they did, living their lives, had their lives snuffed out by this attack on our nation. On September 11, America changed, and everybody who’s old enough to remember that day knows how it changed. On September 12, if you’d taken a poll of the American people, it would have been nearly unanimous. We must go to war. We must attack whoever, wherever, whatever caused this, we must respond right here, right now. Frankly, we’ve been involved in war for 20 years now because it got started off by the will of the people.

Now, personally, I think we had to respond, but not because of the mob mentality. We can’t allow the passions of the people to oversway the judgment, the reason, the wisdom of proper governance. The Founders understood that, and Socrates was a big part of the reason why. The second of our Greek philosophers that we’re going to be examining today is Plato. Now, Plato lived from 427 to 347 BC, and he was actually a student of Socrates. In fact, Socrates what he taught and what he believed, none of that was written down by Socrates himself. The vast majority of what he taught was written down and preserved for us by his students, plato being chief among them. Plato was a brilliant philosopher, a brilliant thinker. He came up with many concepts that are important for us to understand in a modern society the Platonic forms, the allegory of the cave. If you’ve never studied the allegory of the cave, I’d really encourage you to look it up, and I’m understand what it is that he’s saying there. The basic premise is that we are all living in a cave of our own understanding and our own experiences. And my worldview is shaped by the experiences that I’ve had in my own little bubble of life. And your experiences differ from mine, and your experiences color and shade your worldview the same way that mine do me. And part of the reason why we don’t always agree with one another is because we simply don’t recognize the distinctions between how you think versus how I think. And Plato suggests that if we could just get out of the cave, if we could just escape our own cultural identity, our own linguistic bubble and recognize there’s a big, wide world out there with lots of ideas, lots of possibilities if we could just embrace the concept of the quest of truth then a lot of human problems would simply disappear. But Plato also wrote extensively about government, specifically what he called a mixed government. The idea being that government, rather than being in the hands of an individual, ought to be in the hands of multiple individuals, people of different backgrounds, different experiences, different talents and capacities. He believed in somebody ought to be responsible for the executive portion of government, making sure that the laws are followed. Somebody ought to be in charge of making the laws themselves, and somebody ought to be in charge of making sure that those laws are reasonable, that those laws are in agreement with whatever the foundational guide for the government is a constitution, for example.

He also talked about the different types of government. He talked about tyrannies. Now, today, the word tyranny has a completely negative connotation. We only talk about tyrants when we’re talking about evil individuals. In Plato’s time, however, the word tyrant simply meant someone in charge, a king. And he suggested that that is a reasonable form of government. You can have a society that is guided by a single king. He also suggested that there were oligarchies. An oligarchy is rule of a government with a few individuals well connected, well appointed, perhaps landowners, wealthy individuals who are successful in life and have the wisdom and experience to be able to guide the rest of society. He also talked about democracy. Democracy, of course, the rule of the people. He being a student of Socrates, he understood the dangers of that. It can work, but only for a brief period of time and only for a relatively small population.

Everybody pretty much has to have the same experience, the same cultural cave that he talked about in order for democracies to work, because otherwise you never are able to agree, you’re never able to move forward. And the laws can change when one majority takes over, and then a few weeks later, people’s passion shift and another majority takes over.

There’s no sustainability in a democracy, especially not in a large nation. What Plato suggested that they ought to be, instead of tyrants or oligarchs or democracies, he suggested that governments ought to be run by what he called philosopher kings. These are individuals who have the power and the authority to rule, but have the wisdom and the experience and the compassion to rule well and to represent the needs and the benefits of the people rather than themselves. Now, the Founding Fathers understood this as well, and that’s why we are not a democracy, but instead we are a republic. The people elect representatives from themselves, their own communities, and send them to state government or send them to Washington, DC to represent them, to make decisions on their behalf. And those individuals are responsible for making sure that when they are providing that representation, that they do so on behalf of their constituents and not their own personal gain. They’re supposed to take the time to understand the laws that they’re writing, the implications on society that they’ve put forth on everyone else to have to live by. And they’re supposed to do it out of the best of intentions for the good of the nation and of the people. Sadly, too many politicians that have forgotten all about all of that, and they’re only there for their own political career, climbing of the political ladder. They’re only worried about what’s in it for them, how they can look good on television. And they’ve completely forgotten in too many instances what being a good representative is all about. We have to get back to the pattern. We have to get back to the constitutional understanding of what a representative is. And in order for us to do that, we have to get back to what the Founders meant when they wrote what they wrote. And that’s why we look at the philosophical basis upon which they established the constitution.

We’re going to come back with one more Greek philosopher, Aristotle. We’re going to talk about him right after we come back after these messages.

The last of the Greek philosophers that we’re going to be taking a look at in this episode is Aristotle. Now, Aristotle lived from 384 to 322 BC. He actually was a student of Plato, who was, as you recall, a student of Socrates. Aristotle, however, was also the teacher of Alexander the Great. So because Alexander the Great then took the Greek empire and conquered so much of the known world at that time, he was able to take what Alexander had taught or excuse me, what Aristotle had taught him. And Alexander was able to take that into the world and spread the premise of Western philosophy, individual responsibility, individual capacity the value of the individual and the need for governments to protect the rights of the individual. Because of that, Aristotle may have had more impact on Western civilization than any other person who has ever lived. But beyond that, Aristotle also taught us how to think. In fact, he’s called the father of logic. He’s the individual who developed a system that’s most widely recognized as being a means by which ideas can be compared. And through those comparisons, truths can be discovered. It’s called Aristotelian Logic or Syllogistic Logic. It was established by Aristotle. A syllogism is simply a format where ideas or concepts can be compared. And from that comparison, truth can be derived.

Essentially set up like this you have a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. And if your major premise is true, your minor premise is true and your format is correct, then the conclusion must be true. Now, let me give you a classic example. It’s one that we’ll all see the value of immediately. But there’s a reason why it works the way that it does. So my major premise is that all dogs are mammals. My minor premise is that all German shepherds are dogs. The conclusion, therefore, is all German shepherds are mammals. Now, the major premise is true. The minor premise is true. The form is correct, therefore the conclusion must be true. It seems obvious. Obviously, German shepherds are mammals. We know that. But it’s because of how Aristotle taught us to think and reason and use logic that we can prove that it is true, that we can know it with such a certainty that we can then use that conclusion as a basis for another rational discussion. The Founding Fathers recognize the need for reason, for wisdom, for logic, for understanding. This isn’t something where a bunch of old men got together in a room and just started throwing stuff around and out popped the United States Constitution. They worked tirelessly to make sure that every word was exactly what they intended it to be. They worked extraordinarily hard to make certain that what they were setting in place would not only help them to be able to govern in the day in which they live, but that it would be sustainable for generations to come. They wanted to make certain that every facet had a rational basis in thought, not tradition, not what was convenient, not what was easy, but what made sense because of logic.

Aristotle was a tremendous impact on them. Furthermore, he also wrote about governments. He wrote about specifically the evolution of governmental forms. He said that the basic state, the concept of human beings living together, that the basic state when there is no law is anarchy. The absence of law. Anarchy breeds violence, breeds distrust. It’s every man for himself. And if you’re large enough and mean enough, you can take whatever you want. But out of that condition of anarchy aristotle suggested that there would always arise a strong man of good intent who would protect his family, protect his neighbors and his friends and his village, and that this strong man would be relied upon to be the defender against the villainy of anarchy.

Over a period of time, this individual would be recognized as their leader, their king, someone who could provide and protect them, provide for and protect them, I should say, and would lead them and guide them in the right way. And they would support him because of that provision and that protection. And that’s not a bad system of government. Aristotle said. However, all kings are human. They make mistakes. They have their own character flaws. And although a specific king may be very righteous and very good, what about his son? What about his grandson or some other monarch descending from him through his familial line? Eventually you’re going to run into that individual who has all of the power and authority of a king, but not the character to do it for the will of the people, for the good will of the people. And so, after a period of time, the people would rise up against the power, the ultimate power, of a monarch. And Aristotle suggested that they would create an oligarchy, which simply means the rule of the few. And again, these would be nobles, lords, landowners, well educated individuals, scientists, doctors, who would be recognized by the people to have the power along with the king to govern. The problem with oligarchies is those are people, too, and they have the same failings and frailties as a monarch might. And over a period of time, they would become corrupt. And eventually, Aristotle said, the people would rise up, they wouldn’t tolerate it anymore, and they’d want to take power back for themselves and create a democracy. But again, Aristotle was a student of Plato, who was a student of Socrates, and he also knew that democracies were not long lived. They could not sustain themselves over a period of time, and certainly not for a large nation. And he said eventually the people would want more than they could provide for themselves, and they would steal from one another money and power and possessions, and they would use the power of the majority to impose a tyrannical control over the minority. Eventually, the democracy would fall apart, and Aristotle said that would land you right back into anarchy. Aristotle said that this evolution, this cyclical system of anarchy and monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, back to anarchy, he said that had happened throughout history over and again. And the Founding Fathers understood that, and they wanted to put a stop to it. So although they were throwing off the democracy of King George III, there was no interest whatsoever, certainly not of George Washington, to become King George I of the United States. They also were afraid of the mob rule mentality of democracy. And so they came up with the premise of a constitutional republic, the United States. This grand experiment of being a Republic, the power resides in the people, but it is expressed in their elected representatives who go and labor on their behalf. We live according to the laws of the land because we submit to the laws of the land, but we demand that the laws of the land be reasonable, rational, they make sense, they’re logically imposed, and we can understand them. This concept of the Republic is extraordinarily important to understand because it breaks that evolutionary cycle of how governments and people have lived for millennia. The Founding Fathers put a stop to it, and that’s what it takes to be able to live together in a society of relative peace. We have our bumps and bruises and our mistakes like everybody else, but our government allows us to correct it. Our government allows us, if we’ll simply follow the document that’s given to us, to live in peace and prosperity with liberty and freedom, our rights being protected by the Constitution, those rights that have been endowed upon us by our Creator. It’s because of what the Founders did that made all the difference. We’ll be right back to finish up. Right after these messages,

we’ve studied Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and seen how it is that the Founding Fathers took those philosophies, those Western philosophies, western civilization philosophies, and implemented them in the writing of the Constitution. There are more to come. We’re going to be taking a look at some philosophers of other eras that were just as important to the Founding Fathers and how it is that they brought it back to create the United States of America. We do this so that, as I said before, we can understand the whys. If we understand the whys, then we’ll understand what was done and how we need to implement it

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