On Personalism

Published by at 11:20 am under Governance

The Need to Re-brand The Alternative to Socialism

 

Countries in which the principles of classical liberalism were more or less applied, and in which the majority of citizens were thereby enabled to reach levels of personal freedom and prosperity unprecedented in all of mankind's history, have been under attack for more than a century and a half by Radical Socialists and their fellow-travelling LSD's. (LiberalSocialDemocrats) Military conflict, both directly and by proxies, was tried. Economic competition was tried. Attempts were made to exploit internal divisions of tribalism, religion and class. Nothing worked completely but the counter efforts have been costly and draining.

 

Currently, we are in the midst of three major crisis events. Terrorism poses physical and economic challenges; the fabricated carbon dioxide 'crisis', which is causing spineless 'western' governments to pander to the Global Warming/Climate Change Swindlers, is a serious threat to our overall economic health; and the banking/financial crisis, fabricated by super-zealous LSDs and 'Davos Men', is being peddled by world governments as a 'catastrophe' if trillions of dollars of new taxpayer debt is not piled on top of the existing back-breaking pile.

 

In the past, it has taken only one major crisis event to bring radical socialist totalitarian dictatorships into power. (See "On Socialism" at http://www.tapc.ca)

 

Will this daunting combination of crises be enough to bring us down? Can we resist the final fall into world wide socialist dictatorship? Will new voices emerge to trumpet the sources of personal freedom and prosperity and lead us out of danger?

 

These are the questions hanging over all our heads today.

 

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Some pundits have claimed that Canadians are deferential to governmental authority. Horseradish! As long as governments delivered service and support close to our expectations, stayed (mostly) out of sight and took less than 25% out of our pockets to pay for their goings-on, we were basically indifferent to them.

 

Canadians and their governments up to the end of the St. Laurent-quarterbacked government, explicitly and/or implicitly understood that personal freedom can only be realized, nay maximized, in a peaceful and ordered environment that works. It's pretty hard to get on with things when bullets and bombs are whizzing about one's ears. The beauty of Canada was the social contract that good government provided the peaceful and ordered environment which enabled free people to get on with their daily lives and pursue their dreams to the extent of their abilities and ambitions.

 

Good government was supposed to serve and support people, not rule them or boss them about. Government for the people, not of the people.

 

But, since the 1960's, through the Pearson-Kent, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Harper regimes, we've suffered the imposition of drastically more bureaucratic interference in our lives, a disastous Euro-Charter that bestows uneven and undeserved rights on some people living in Canada and the increase to nearly 50% of our incomes being torn from our pockets by government taxes and fees. We're not deferential – we're disgusted, disdainful and disengaged.

 

Canadians have endured fifty years of wasteful, unprincipled, irresponsible, corrupt and incompetent governance that has become isolated from the concerns of most Canadians. Our frustration comes from not having:

 

a)      alternative principles and policies to combat the socialist siren-song of  'free bread and services' entitlements.

b)      leadership capable of communicating these principles and policies in language that can stimulate the majority of Canadians to adopt them as their own.

c)      institutional processes that would enable the comprehending majority to take back their country.

 

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At this point, can we agree on five fundamental assumptions?

 

1.      That the vast majority of human beings would prefer to live in a community where the people are healthy, wealthy and wise rather than sick, poor and stupid and that only a tiny minority of psychopaths/sickheads would prefer living in either totalitarian slavery or the chaos of anarchy.

 

2.      That human beings are both preservative and progressive – desirous of maintaining the status quo, and, desirous of change for the better. Preservation and progression are

universal, polar instincts within each person. Their influence on a person's actions

      varies with time and circumstances.

 

3.      Similarly, that we each harbour the duality of a need to establish our unique identity in a crowded world, and, a need to cooperate with others for survival. Since we lived

      together in caves, we've been engaged in an ongoing process of negotiating a balance

      between private need and collective obligation, personal desire and public duty, self-

      assertion and group support. In truth, these are not conflicts – they are the two faces

      of self-interest. Our survival as a species required the merging of the one into the

      many in a growing, always-revising set of shared agreements that permitted

      optimum support for personal freedom. That is why we invented government.

 

4.      That good governance is essential to civilization. Surely every sensible person can agree that only in a peaceful and ordered environment can we have the personal freedom that enables the pursuit of a good life. Law, regulation and the institutions of good governance are essential to creating and sustaining that peaceful and ordered

      environment. The key issues are who decides what good governance is, and, who

      controls the people who occupy the positions that provide good governance.

 

5.      That two conditions describe a free people: a) they have the power to control what

      their governments do, and b) they have the power to control the authorities in their

      governments.

 

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The classic definition of socialism is: "(the) principle that individual freedom should be completely subordinated to (the) interests of (the) community." [Concise Oxford Dictionary – Fourth Edition, 1951] ("Ask what you can do for your country.")

 

The people who are opposed to the socialist principle and all its consequences have handicapped themselves by allowing socialists to define the agenda and the terms of the struggle.  Socialists have even been allowed to define the alternative to "socialism"!

 

Most often, "capitalism" is said to be the opposite of "socialism". But capitalism is merely one of three ways to describe how human beings do business. (Barter and mercantilism are the other two.)

 

The term "capitalism" was coined by Karl Marx who intended this branding to help in his crusade to destroy private property and market enterprise, and to promote socialism.

 

By the early 1960's, that part of the LSD establishment responsible for language had managed to get the definition of socialism changed to some variation of, "a system where the means of production, distribution and exchange (i.e., business) is owned and controlled by the community as a whole." (i.e., the state).

 

But human affairs embrace much more than business and socialism is not just about business. Socialism is a fundamental worldview affecting all aspects of the human condition, and can only be countered and defeated by a worldview of equal scope.

 

Adolf Hitler, the evil genius of National Socialism, understood. In a public speech in Munich on July 22, 1922, he said, "Whoever is prepared to make the national cause his own to such an extent that he knows no higher ideal than the welfare of his nation: …  that man is a socialist."

 

The core meaning of socialism is that the community is the basic value in human affairs. The individual person is nothing – only the community's welfare matters.

 

Problem is, communities aren't living beings. They don't have a body, mind and soul. You can't take a community out for a beer and talk things over. Communities of any size, be they a club, an association, a church, or a nation, always 'act' according to the wishes of the people who control them.

 

Throughout history, whether they shot their way to the top or got there by inheritance, election, or appointment, it has been the power elites/establishments/oligarchs in the positions of authority who have decided the interests of their communities and thereby controlled the people in them.

 

Oligarchic establishments have consisted of an autocrat, an aristocracy, a bureaucracy and a theocracy bound together by their need to survive as a minority among the majority – the people of their communities. For millenia they survived by claiming they ruled by 'the will of the gods'. They shifted to 'the will of the people' when too many revolutions broke out. Always they believed the socialist worldview justified their existence and that they alone knew what was best for their communities.

 

Totalitarian dictatorships can exist only where and when the socialist worldview prevails, and, socialism automatically breeds dictatorship.

 

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"Personalism" is the opposite of "socialism". The core meaning of personalism is that the individual is the basic value in human affairs. The personalist worldview is the necessary precondition for personal and political freedom. If personalism prevailed, the individuals in a community would determine the terms and conditions of their own good governance. It's called democracy ‑ government controlled by the people. Mankind's age long hunger has been for democratic governance operating on the personalist worldview.

 

It might be useful to think of personalism as the third phase in mankind's struggle toward personal and political freedom. The term "Personalism" wasn't used to describe a school of thought or worldview until the 20th century, However its roots extend back 3000 years.

 

For most of those years, personalist thinkers have been identified as 'humanists'.

 

The Lokayata system formed a part of the Vedantic school of thought about 1000 BCE. It held that only those things that could be sensed by human beings were real, in contrast to the hypotheses about gods that were universally peddled at the time.

 

From the seventh to the fourth centuries BCE in Asia, thinkers such as Lao Tze, Confucius and Buddha were teaching the alternative that goodness consisted of human actions and values rather than supernatural mysticism

 

From the seventh to the fourth centuries BCE in Greece, thinkers such as Anaxagora, Pericles, Democritus and Aristotle were teaching that human beings could understand their world without recourse to supernatural mysticism. Their thinking influenced the development of democracy, freedom of thought and the exposure of superstition.

 

Jesus Christ taught that god was within each and every one of us and that all we had to do was love one another to achieve heaven on earth.

 

During the Dark and Middle Ages, the oligarchies of western Europe just about succeeded in snuffing out the light of humanism, but, from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries,, thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus and Petrarch resurrected the classical Greek thinkers, challenged the orthodoxies of the Catholic church and the Divine Right of Kings, and helped usher in the Renaissance.

 

Humanism was greatly strengthened in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by thinkers like Newton, Locke and Hume who helped usher in the Enlightenment.

 

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, men like Jefferson, Smith and Mill helped crystallize the principles of classical liberalism that brought so much personal freedom and prosperity to that part of the human race race that embraced them and the twentieth century witnessed the valiant rearguard action of Von Mises, Hayek and Friedman who attempted to stem the red tide of socialism

 

The core of classical liberalism was that the welfare of the individual person was the basic purpose of governance. Its underlying principles included limited government, low taxes, personal responsibility, rational self-interest, property rights, natural rights, civil liberties, individual freedom, equality under the law, market enterprise, free trade domestically and internationally, service and support for individual enterprise, help for those in need and freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. Its primary thrust was to equip and enable free people to get on with their daily lives and pursue their dreams and goals to the extent of their abilities and ambitions thereby enriching the entire community.

 

Classical liberalism competed with socialism for the hearts and minds of the same client class for more than a century until the 1960's when the Pearson-Kent and Kennedy regimes triumphed in Canada and the USA respectively, and the LSD's took control of the agenda, media and education. .

 

Liberalism is dead because Liberal Parties finally caved in to socialism in their lust for power. Libertarians are trying to say they are the new champions of liberal principles, but their distaste for government renders them uncredible. And the attempt by conservatives to become the champions of liberal principles is a bit like the wolf trying to pass as little red riding hood's grandmother by dressing in her nightgown.

 

In the few remaining countries in which more than one political party is still allowed to contend for the votes which will give it the power to control the country's governance, all parties compete, not on the basis of sovereign, alternative principles and policies, but on the basis of which one can promise to deliver the biggest basket of entitlements. 'Libs and Tories – same old stories!'

 

It is for consideration whether, in order for liberal principles to regain dominance and save civilization by defeating socialism, they should be re-branded as personalism.

 

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There are many definitions of Personalism. Here are a few:

 

"Any philosophical system based on the assumption that the human person is the fundamental value." [Webster's dictionary – New Lexicon Edition, 1987]

 

"Any of various systems of thought which maintain the primacy of the person on the basis that reality has meaning only through the conscious minds of people."

[Canadian Oxford Dictionary – 1998 Edition]

 

"Personalism is the school of thought that consists of three main principles, and which can broadly be qualified as a species of Humanism:

d)     Only persons are real (in the ontological sense),

e)      Only persons have value, and

f)       Only persons have free will. [Wikipedia]

 

"Since reason is a faculty of the individual person, not the collective, the individual person is the basic human value." [Author]

 

"Any doctrine or movement which emphasizes the rights and centrality of the individual human being in his or her social, political, intellectual, etc. milieu. [Webster's New World College Dictionary – 2005]

 

"A personalist civilization is one whose structure and spirit are directed towards the development as persons of all the individuals constituting it. They have as their ultimate end to enable every individual to live as a person, that is, to exercise a maximum of initiative, responsibility and spiritual life." [Emmanuel Mounier]

 

"To Personalism, personality is the supreme value. Society should then be so organized as to present every person the best possible opportunity for self-development – physically, mentally and spiritually – since the person is the supreme essence of democracy and hostile to totalitarianism of every sort." ["Personalism', 1943, by Ralph Tyler Flewelling.]

 

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It might be useful to highlight some of the main differences between Personalism and Socialism.

 

Personalism: Good people will produce a good group.

Socialism: A good group will produce good people.

 

Personalism: People are defined by their character – their own words and deeds.

Socialism: The group defines the character of the people in it.

 

Personalism: Concern for a person's welfare.

Socialism: Concern for a group's welfare.

 

Personalism: A person's rights, privileges and responsibilities are based on their membership in the human race.

Socialism: A person's rights, privileges and responsibilities are based on their membership in a group.

 

Personalism: Government by the people for the people.

Socialism: Government of the people for the people.

 

Personalism: Law serves the people.

Socialism: Law serves the group.

 

Personalism: Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself.

Socialism: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

 

Personalism: Group interests are determined by the members of the group.

Socialism: Group interests are determined by the group's governors.

 

Personalism: People-up cooperation.

Socialism: Top-down compulsion.

 

Personalism: People tell governors what to do.

Socialism: Governors tell people what to do.

 

Personalism: A position of authority bestows the obligation to serve.

Socialism: A position of authority bestows the right to rule.

 

Personalism: Governments exist to serve their citizens.

Socialism: Citizens exist to serve their governments.

 

Personalism: Favours the passion of the majority to govern themselves.

Socialism: Favours the passion of the few to rule the majority.

 

Personalism: People-up democracy.

Socialism: Top-down oligarchy.

 

Personalism: The people are the country.

Socialism: The government is the country.

 

Personalism: Peace and order by compliance, values, custom, responsibility, lawfulness and informed support.

Socialism: Peace and order by compulsion, edict, charter, rules, force and resigned submission.

 

Personalism: Reason and freedom.

Socialism: Faith and slavery.

 

Personalism: Congregational.

Socialism: Episcopal.

 

Personalism: 'City hall is mine!"

Socialism: "You can't fight city hall!"

 

Contemporary personalist thinkers such as Emmanuel Mournier and Borden Bowne have influenced such as Pope John Paul II and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and such disparate political party leaders as Helmut Kohl and Pierre Trudeau.

 

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For a preliminary draft of Principles and Policies which could serve to stimulate the formation of a successful political movement based on a personalist worldview see http://www.tapc.ca

 

For a more detailed proposal for structures, roles, financing and taxation in a government guided by a personalist worldview see "Personalism v. Socialism" by C.W. Conn published by http://www.authorhouse.com 

 

 

Charles W. Conn. Hastings, ON. February, 2010.