Home » Corben's Writings » What Happened to the Enlightenment?

What Happened to the Enlightenment?

We love to appeal to antiquity.  It seems like the past holds infinite knowledge about how to better the world that we live in.  Makes sense, right?  Those that have come before us are always the ones that we go to for advice on the problems that we face, whether it’s parents, grandparents, uncles, friend’s parents, etc.  They know more about life because they’ve lived it.  They know what happens and how to deal with it.  However, we do sometimes come up with questions that they can’t answer.

The tendency nowadays is to try and figure things out on our own.  We like to be “progressive” ever since the 1930s because that means that we are moving forward.  We are bettering ourselves and we don’t need someone who lived over a hundred years ago to tell us how to solve our problems.  Our problems that we are facing today are so much more advanced that the writings of people like Kant, Locke, Jefferson, Voltaire, and the like are basically defunct.  Outdated.  Useless.  Basically only valid in the setting of academia and those who would rather sit in an ivory tower than interact with the rest of the “real world”.  To those who would say that, I would say this: what makes you think that you are smarter than Immanuel Kant?  Benjamin Franklin?  Thomas Hobbes?  Have you done the reading that they have?  Have you thought about things as thoroughly as they have?  Have you actually considered that they might have gotten something right, or are you just so concerned with pushing your own agenda that you find it easier to just pretend that they weren’t there and that antiquity is completely irrelevant?

Our country used to be a lot better place than it is today.  Sure we are the wealthiest country in the world right now, but we used to stand for something better.  The Framers wrote the Constitution with the idea in mind that government and people were self-serving and that no government was inherently good.  They put limitations on what it could do.  They instituted checks and balances so that no branch of the federal government could become too powerful.  They made sure that everything that wasn’t mentioned in the document was to be left up to the STATES for interpretation and implementation.  However, times have changed.  We have “progressed”.  We have taken steps forward, sure, but toward what?  To what end?

Have we really made choices that have worked for the betterment of society, or were they simply to further an agenda?  Is the direct election of senators really a good idea?  The Founders would not have thought so, given the fact that they specifically didn’t write that part into the Constitution.

To think that some people believe that older minds are somehow more primitive and less thoughtful is ignorant, and it’s appalling.  Without those men, those people would not be able to say what they want to say.  The United States was a grand experiment the likes of which had never been seen before, and it was a country that was based on the idea that the individual was free to do what the individual pleased, as long as they didn’t infringe upon the rights of other individuals.  At the point in our history where the federal government was almost nonexistent around the time just before and then after World War I, our economy was smashing through the roof.  Things were going well (even though the Progressives might have said otherwise) and for some reason, we had to elect a communist.  FDR turned this country into what it is today, and it is a shadow of its former self.  We allowed The State to manipulate us into thinking that the best way forward was on our own with new collectivist ideas that were spreading all over the world, when, in fact, the opposite was true.  We didn’t look to the other countries that had become solely collectivist and statist at heart and see them for what they were.  We didn’t see the destruction, we only saw an opportunity for improvement upon those ideals.  The failure to see that those ideas were inherently evil and destructive to a free society is what got us in the end.  We were lied to.

If we are going to salvage what’s left of the United States and rebuild, we must return to the ideals that we were founded on.  We must re-discover what it means to truly be a free society and re-examine what we really want from the government, because whatever we get from them was taken from someone else.

CB

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