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American Order and How to Keep It

October 14, 2012

One of the first books that the Foundations of Liberty course dove into was “The Roots of American Order” by Russell Kirk.  In it, he states that our Founders didn’t just create a new form of government that they made up on the spot, but that they borrowed from all that was good in the past, reaching back to the earliest days of the Greeks and Romans, Moses, Anglo-Saxons, and more.  Kirk says early on in the book:

The “inner order” of the soul and the “outer order” of society being intimately linked, we discuss in this book both aspects of order.  Without a high degree of private moral order among the American people, the reign of law could not have prevailed in this country.  Without an orderly pattern of politics, American private character would have sunk into a ruinous egoism.

Order is the first need of the soul.  It is not possible to love what one ought to love, unless we recognize some principles of order by which to govern ourselves.

Order is the first need of the commonwealth.  It is not possible for us to live in peace with one another, unless we recognize some principle of order by which to do justice.

The good society is marked by a high degree of order, justice, and freedom.  Among these, order has primacy: for justice cannot be enforced until a tolerable civil social order is attained, nor can freedom be anything better than violence until order gives us laws.

Indeed, order necessarily precedes justice and freedom, according to Kirk.  “Roots” was a perfect way to start my education of American principles, but I’m finding that re-reading it now, after two years of study on many of the original documents, “Roots” is making more sense now than ever.

The tea party or “liberty” movement started in 2009 has evolved from a time to rally in the streets and make our voices heard.  It’s now a time to take stock of how we, as American citizens and individuals, need to embrace the principles that our country stands for.  I want my government to be leaner and to tax and spend less.  So, I’m committing myself to putting my own fiscal house in order by getting totally out of debt.  As a people, we can only survive if we have a high degree of “private moral order”  and encourage it in our families and neighbors and civic leaders.   Civility is possible only if we practice, teach and demand it.  I’m not preaching that we all need to be saints on earth…lets just start with being civil with each other no matter what “side” we are on.

As we look around the world and see the explosion of violence and hatred, senseless destruction and wholesale murder, both among governments and people, the one thing that is totally lacking is any sense of law or order.  America should never go down this road, and we, the people, must remember that we are self-governed, and as our moral compass goes, so goes our government.  Order ourselves and America will follow.


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