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Foundations Of Liberty – E3

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 back to Foundations of Liberty, brought to you by veterans in Defense of liberty. My name is Darren Chapel, and I’m the host of this program. In this series of lessons, we’re studying the United States Constitution, but specifically the principles upon which it was founded. Not only the philosophies that the Founding fathers used to instruct their own understanding, but also the documents that preceded it, as well as the intent of the wording of the Constitution, the amendments to it, and how it is that they all work together to serve as the guide of our society here in the United States of America. The purpose of this, again, is not just to teach American citizens more about their own founding, although that’s desperately needed, but also so that individuals around the world who may be trying to formulate their own governments can see why we did as we did at the founding of our nation. And then they can choose, do they want to do something similar? Do they want to stay away from that? But if you understand the principles behind it, then you can make those decisions of your own choosing. Now, today we’re going to be taking a look at three more philosophers who had an impact on the Founding Fathers and the writing of the Constitution. We’re going to be taking a look at Voltaire, jean Jacques Rousseau, and Adam Smith. So we’ll begin with Voltaire right after we come back after these messages. Voltaire was a French philosopher and writer, and he was extraordinarily brilliant individual. He lived from 1694 to 1788. So he was alive during the American Revolution. And it was just preceding the American Revolution that many of his writings came to the attention of the Founding Fathers. And they studied what he taught, and he used humor, and his writings were influential to our founders in extensive ways. He he talked about freedom of religion. Now, Voltaire himself was not a religious man. He did not believe in Christianity at all, and and he didn’t believe in really any religion. He he used his wit to attack the Catholic Church and Islam and religions of all stripes, and he used his writings to poke holes in the hypocrisy of many individuals in the clergy of all religions, showing that they taught one thing and did another. But even though he had much disdain for religion and religious dogmas, voltaire believed that it was absolutely a fundamental right that people ought to be able to believe however they like, that the individual had to make up his or her own mind about religion and which one and how committed to it they might be. And that government had no business dictating if or which religion might be imposed upon a populace. Now, again, they were in France. He lived in France. And he saw the way in which the French government under the monarchy compelled religious belief and understanding and that individuals of contrary religions, those who were not Catholic, didn’t have the same rights, didn’t have the same liberties and freedoms, didn’t have the same access to economic activity or ownership of property. And he saw this as a terrible injustice. So even though he himself was an extraordinarily irreligious individual, he believed ardently and taught strongly for the freedom of religion. And, of course, it’s a basic principle upon which the United States was founded. People don’t often consider the founding of the United States in relation to the founding of the colonies, but the colonies themselves were established based on freedom of religion. We’re all familiar, I’m sure, with the story of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower and establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But what we don’t often consider is that there were other religious groups that came after them, and they weren’t welcome in the Massachusetts Bay Colony because they were not Puritans. The Pilgrims were Puritans, and they believed that if you’re going to be a part of Massachusetts, you’ve got to be a Puritan as well. And if you weren’t, you needed to go elsewhere. So when other groups came over, when the Quakers came, they weren’t welcome at Massachusetts Bay. And so they went and established their own colony, and they followed after their leader, William Penn. And in the Dutch language, the concept that Penn’s Woods became Pennsylvania and that was a Quaker colony, there were other individuals that came along who were Catholic, and they weren’t welcome in Massachusetts or Pennsylvania. And so they created their own colony that they named Maryland, and that’s where Maryland came from. And this is repeated over and over again. Virginia was a colony always established about tobacco. Georgia was established as a penal colony so that if Florida ever invaded the United States, the colonies, they’d have to run through the convicts first. But all the other colonies were established based on freedom of religion. Not here, but go start your own colony. And so the colonies themselves were all about religious freedom for individuals carving out of the wilderness their own place to be able to express themselves. And so when the United States came together and we were creating this government, the First Amendment is the First Amendment because it was so important for us to have freedom of religion. There would be no one state monolithic religion that the entire nation would have to work and labor under. Each was allowed to have its own religion, each person to decide for themselves how it is that they would worship or if they would worship at all. And Voltaire was a tremendous influence on the Founders in this way. Furthermore, Voltaire also wrote about the right to a fair trial. It seems like that’s an obvious concept. Surely governments of liberty and freedom would want people to have a fair trial. But history is full of individuals going all the way back to our study in the very beginning of our series of lessons on Socrates, who was put to death for standing up against the principles of democracy, saying that it was a detriment to society, and they put him to death. The right to a fair trial is a relatively new concept, that the monarch can’t just kill you, that the oligarchy can’t just throw you in prison. It’s a relatively new concept. And then in the United States, it was enshrined from the very beginning, almost. We guarantee that you will have a fair trial in our Bill of Rights. Those principles are set forth. You’re not going to be compelled to testify against yourself according to the Fifth Amendment. You’re not going to be subject to illegal searches and seizures according to the Fourth Amendment. You’re guaranteed a trial by jury according to the 7th Amendment. These principles are set forth because in part of Voltaire’s writings concerning the rights to a fair trial. And so it’s because of Voltaire, this French philosopher, and his writings and his critiques, that a significant amount of our governmental establishment was set forth as it was, and we continue to benefit from those rights and privileges to this very day. We’re going to come back right after these messages and continue with our study. We hope you come back and join us then. The next of our philosophers that we’re going to be taking a look at is an individual by the name of Jean Jacques Russeau, a French philosopher as well. He lived from 1712 to 1778. Russeau was most well known for his social contract theory. Now, he’s not the only one who wrote about the social contract, but he is distinct in that he wrote that man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. The idea being that people individually are not allowed to express themselves individually in most societies, that we’re born free with all of this potential that we have, all of this capacity that our minds and our bodies and our desires would allow us to achieve. But because of the constraints of governance, because of the constraints of society, we’re not allowed to express ourselves the way that we ought to be. And he suggests that this social contract theory is why we are so constrained. So let me ask you a question. This is true almost anywhere in the world. So it doesn’t matter where you’re watching this if this isn’t exactly the way it is in your country. It’s close enough that you understand the principle, I’m sure. When you’re driving your car and you see the stop light ahead of you in traffic, and when the light goes from green, which means go, and yellow, which means caution or hit the gas, green means go. Yellow means caution, and red means stop. And when we see the lights change from green to yellow to red, we stop. We stop our cars. As an instructor in political science at the Missouri State University, I used to ask my students, why do you stop when you see the light turn red? And I would hear things like, whoa, I don’t want to break the law. I’m concerned about cross traffic and potentially having an accident. It’s expected of me, and I would deny that. I’d say, no, that’s not the reason any of you do that. Nobody is there driving down the road and sees the light turn red. Nobody steps on the brake because they thought through any of those things. Those are all legitimate reasons to stop. And it’s certainly true that those are why we might want to follow the law, but that’s not why we do it at the moment. We stop when the light turns red because we are conditioned to do so. That’s what we know. That’s what we feel. That’s how we understand the principles of traffic. The light turns red, you stop. You don’t do it because of a reason other than that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s a restriction of my liberty to drive my car as fast as I want to in whatever direction I want to. I mean, it’s my property. It’s my life. It’s my goal. It’s my job that I’m on my way to work. It’s my source of entertainment. I’m on my way to enjoy. Who are you people all around me to stop me from doing what I want to do? I curtail my liberties so that I can live in a society of other people who also curtail their liberties only so that we can live together in relative peace and tranquility. My liberty to swing my fist through the air ends at the end of your nose. I can do whatever I want as long as I’m not imposing myself on your rights, on your liberties. That’s social contract theory that if everybody only looks out for what’s best for themselves, we can never get along. It’s only when we come together and say, okay, I like doing this, but I won’t do that if that means we can all live together peacefully. And that’s because there’s protection in larger numbers. If we all lived individually off in the woods, we’re at risk from wildlife that might attack. We’re at risk from disease and not having access to medical care. We’re at risk of vandals or thieves or murderous intent. It’s only when we come together as a society that we’re able to be relatively safe from those threats. But we can only come together as a society if we all mutually agree, as if we signed a contract together, if we all mutually agree that my liberties are not so important as to impose upon your rights. And this social contract theory postulates that that’s what societies have done. We’ve limited ourselves so that we can live together. Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains. Now, Russeau was an extraordinarily smart individual. There’s no doubt. He was also an extraordinarily immoral individual. He had several mistresses. He had children out of wedlock. He didn’t care about any of them. He let his children go to the orphanage. He let his mistresses die of disease, and he just completely ignored them all. And he was a selfish, self centered individual who did not care about society, but he did care about being right about society. One area that he was extraordinarily misguided on was his principle that he called the general will. He suggested that the general will was the agreed upon idea of the people. Now, this is essentially democracy, that if all the people were gathered and you had 50% of the people plus one, so a simple majority, if they all saw things one way, then that way must be right, because the majority of the people couldn’t all get it wrong, he taught, the majority could never be right. The majority must always be right. And if the numbers shift a little bit, and now this side is the majority. Now, they’re right. They were wrong yesterday, but they’re right today because they’re the majority. And this principle of the general will, he argued, should be the governing standard. Whatever the general will sought, that’s what it ought to have. Now, again, Russeau was French, and he taught this in France. And therein lies the distinction between the American revolution and the French revolution and the outcomes that they brought about the American revolution. We had tremendous violence when we were overthrowing Great Britain. We had individuals that did not agree with one another, even within our own country. We had colonies that disagreed. We had later states that disagreed. It took us years to hammer out a constitution. The revolution occurred beginning in 1776. It’s not till 1787 that we actually have the United States constitution written. Not until 1789 that it was ratified, and not until 1791 that the Bill of rights, the first ten amendments, were ratified. It took years for us to come together in agreement, but we did because of a republican viewpoint that we ought to be a constitutional republic. France, on the other hand, they almost agreed immediately on what ought to be done, and they had the reign of terror, and they were using the guillotine to take the heads off of not just the monarchs, but all of the upper crust, all of the upper echelon, and people that they just didn’t like. And there were a lot of people who were killed innocently in the process. But more than that, they established themselves as a democracy, as a majority will state, and it continues to be that way, and everybody’s considered a monolith in France today, as I record this, it’s a school day, and all third graders in France are learning exactly the same thing. And it’s decided by the government, by the central government. They dictate to the people. This is how you’re going to be because the majority wants it to be. So that’s not how it is in the United States, because we recognize the importance, the value of the individual, and a minority of one still has rights. And that’s not true in the general will. And Russeau simply got that part wrong. Even so, he was instructive to the Founding Fathers. They saw what he said concerning social contract theory. They saw what he said concerning the general will. They embrace the one, they rejected the other because they understood the principles upon which he was teaching. We’ll be right back after these messages and look to see you then. Finally today, we’re going to be taking a look at Adam Smith. Now, Adam Smith was alive from 1726 to 1790 and he’s referred to as the father of economics or the father of capitalism. Now, capitalism gets a lot of bad press these days. We talk about capitalism versus socialism and we talk about capitalism being the economic principles of greed, the haves versus the have nots. And that’s probably a different lecture, different discussion that we can have. But let me just say this before we move on to the political aspects of this. There is not another economic system in the history of the world that has brought as much good to the individual people of any society as capitalism has. Think about this for a second. Yes, there are winners and losers. Yes, there are people who simply fail to prosper economically under a capitalistic system. Yes, there is great disparity in wealth. I don’t deny that. But look at what the benefit has been. All of the successes of industry, all of the inventions that have made our lives so much easier. Consider the medical breakthroughs, the drugs that are available to save people’s lives, the equipment, the surgeries, the skills, the training just in the medical field. And how many people have had their lives prolonged and made better in the process. How many children didn’t have to die in infant mortality rates? How many older people get to live out their lives in relative comfort because of advances in the medical world. And those are only made possible because of capitalistic investment. Consider all of the jobs that are created by capitalism. Consider all of the inventions that make our lives better. The fact that man has walked on the moon is a direct result of capitalism. I’m not suggesting that all capitalists are good people. That’s certainly not the case. There are people who are greedy, who try to harm others, economically and otherwise. There are people who have taken advantage of groups, of people, of organizations, of countries. And I’m not defending that. I’m not defending crony capitalism where we’re only going to keep it for our friends and in our own inner circles. I’m not defending that. Either. But the principles upon which our country, the United States has been established is that every person ought to be able to use their own talent, their own effort, their own minds and the property that they own to better their lives. You can only do that in a broad scale way through capitalistic endeavors. Socialism simply does not work in a society built upon freedom and liberty. You can have a socialistic society and everybody’s the same and I understand the allure of that. But here’s what you’re not. You’re not free. You’re not at liberty to better yourself. And many countries have tried it and for whatever reasons it’s never seen to succeed long term. But capitalism in a society that’s built on liberty and freedom it works and it works every time it’s tried if we just stay true to the principles. Now Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, he wrote about The Invisible Hand and he suggested not that God was in control although there are some who believe that he does control this, that or the other in an economic and political sense. And frankly I don’t know. I believe in the providence of God but I’m not sure which is which. Sometimes that’s just the way it happens and we won’t know until this life is over and by then I suspect we won’t care one way or the other. But the reality of it is that Adam Smith wrote about The Invisible Hand and he was talking about the free market principles. You have too much of one product. Well the only way you can get rid of them is to lower the price. You don’t have enough of this product over here and the demand is high. Well you sell it at a higher price not because you’re price gouging but because clearly this product you need more of it. So you sell that product for enough money not only to retain your profits but to then invest to create more of those. You want to be able to fulfill the desires of the consumer public and if the consumers want this or that or not this but that then it’s up to the capitalists to look for ways to fulfill those needs. And it’s this principle of a free market society that Smith wrote acted as an invisible hand guiding the way in which we all work together. He said government should stay out of this. They should be a promoter of a laze fair economic system. And that means hands off, leave it alone, let the free market work. And of course the founding fathers they took this all to heart and they did their very best to make sure that the United States government allowed people to use their property as they saw fit. That’s the way we were established because it is supposed to be a land of liberty. So there we have it. We’ve looked at nine different philosophers over the last three episodes. Today we took a look at Voltaire, Russeau and Adam Smith. But before that, we looked at Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Cicero. Thomas Hans. John Locke. And if you missed any of those episodes, I want to encourage you to try to find those and watch them so that you get the full context of what it is that we’re talking about. As I said in the beginning of this series of lessons, the Founding Fathers were extraordinarily well educated. And what they were educated in were the classics, the philosophers of the ancient days, the philosophers of the Renaissance, the philosophers of the modern time in which they lived. And they took all of those great thinkers and they selected which parts were particularly important for a society to be able to exist and to prosper. And they took all of those portions and they combined them like ingredients and a recipe to create this new masterpiece. It still takes tweaks here and there. There’s things that we change from time to time because society has matured to a point where the Founding Fathers never considered the Internet. So we need to make some changes and some tweaks from time to time. But the basic principle of liberty, freedom, rights guaranteed and enshrined in the Constitution not given to us by the Constitution. They’re given to us by our God natural law. But they’re enshrined in the Constitution so that the government cannot violate those rights, not without violating the Constitution itself. And they did this so that the people of the United States could live together in that peace and prosperity, harmony to the best of our abilities, but most importantly, to be able to pass that same condition down to our children, to be able to let them know this is still a land of opportunity. If you want, you can use your talent, your time, your treasure to achieve anything you want in this country. Not because Americans are better than everyone else. That’s not the way it is, and we don’t believe that. But our system of government our system of government was established on purpose. It’s not an accident to promote as much liberty as it possibly can so that we, if we have the gumption, can exercise those liberties to better ourselves, to better our family’s futures, and to better our nation together again. This is Darren Chapman Apple being here for vital veterans and defense of liberty. If you have the opportunity, go check it out@vidalamerica.org, VIDL America.org and take a look at veterans and defense of liberty. We are bringing to you this program foundations in Liberty, and we’re very, very thankful for your presence with us today. We hope to see you in our next episode. God bless.
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