2 + 2=4!
Is 2 added to itself still equal to 4? It sometimes certainly seems to not be a true fact anymore. When I grew up and studied math it was true. It certainly is true in the grocery store when the cash register adds up my purchase. My bank still thinks that it is true especially when they are adding fees to my account. So when is it not true? Ever hear of politically correct notions or ideas? That is where this idea is trying to develop. So keep reading and let’s see if 4 still has the gall to be the answer of 2 added to itself.
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaration of American Independence “Well, that may be vicious, unjust; calamitous-but such is life in society. Somebody is always sacrificed, as a rule unjustly; there is no other way to live among men. What can one person do?”
“You can state the truth about Rearden Metal…. There is only one reason you must say it, because it is true.”(Stadler/Dagny- Atlas Shrugged)
We have all heard of dialectical materialism but even those few of us who have braved Hegelian philosophy to parse out its meaning, are left grasping at smoke to define it. We know although Marx never used the term, it was at the heart of Marxian philosophy, but are unclear on its methodology in advancing Marxian principle.
Well, let’s take a shot at explaining. One meaning for “dialectic” is a form of debate in which the conversants try to convert the position of their opponent through a pointed exchange of ideas rather than polemics or lengthy oration. It is a classic form of philosophical inquiry. “Materialism” refers to Marxian assertion that everything can be reduced to material which is the worldly form of everything which exists.
Marxists assert that all material is constantly changing, as is our perception of it. Humanity is just as much material as a tree or locomotive. All that has occurred in society as a result of this truth, they insist can be reduced to a struggle among classes. Communists to achieve “fairness” in the world assert a cohesive and consistent perspective on the validity of their view of history as being based in class conflict to hasten the day of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Their goal is to establish society on the basis of “from each according to their ability; to each according to his need.” Thus, we in the West are “exploiters of the masses” and they “lifters of the yoke of oppression” from those nations whose freedom they trampled over during the 70 years of Communist rule in the Soviet Sphere of influence.
Today in America we are experiencing our own form of dialectic. It is a debate in which we must be very careful that all participants are proceeding under the accepted truth that 2+2 =4Although our debate is not about the discarded notions of Marxism, at least one side is drawing from its philosophical approach and bending words and their nuances into a social agenda that deviates from the bedrock principles of freedom and liberty at the core of our nation. For those who would move away from those principles, 2+2 means anything they want it to.
The principles set out in the Declaration of Independence and confirmed in our Constitution are the essential basis on which this country was “invented”, and under which free enterprise and our economy have flourished. It is our Creator derived rights that have permitted each of us to pursue our life’s goals without undue interference of state authority. To survive our nation must insist that, as we debate, two plus two still equal four.
If we are not aware of the danger, we could fall prey to the loss of the pillars of our republic from fuzzy headed thinking and neglect. In the right soil, its goals can even be advanced through social elites with the power to punish and reward as they create notions of “political correctness” that are equally inhibiting. If we start using “fair,” “equal” and “progress” in ways that undermine “individual responsibility” “freedom” “free enterprise” and even “equal opportunity” and other terms at the heart of our Republic, we will have submitted to what I call “Dialectical Progressivism.”
One of my friends says, why pick on Progressives? How about the Tea Party, don’t they engage in the same thing? To which I respond that, to the extent they do, they should be called on it. Words have meaning, and they should not be portals to turn night into day. My friend then goes on to say that… “Both are eschewing the balance in which harmony reigns to engage in a debate about the two sides of the same coin.” That I can agree to, but if we aren’t careful, we are about to lose something unique and essential to the land our Founders passed to us in trust.
“How can anybody decry “Progress? Haven’t we strived for progress since the first man crawled into a cave for shelter from inclement weather?” Sure, but I decry the use of alternate forms and derivatives of the word “Progress” being applied to social engineering that serious inquiry is likely to conclude is anything but progress and will lead us into a dark place we do not wish to visit. We achieve progress individually. Anything which inhibits individual freedom to pursue one’s life purpose to satisfy one’s small part of the needs of mankind must be subject to serious question.
In the thematic quote from Atlas Shrugged at the beginning of this column, I contrast it with the clarity of the recognition in our Declaration of Independence that man is possessed of certain Creator endowed unalienable rights. Ayn Rand in her great novel has a number of exchanges where plasticity of words is used to fundamentally interfere with those rights. The exchange I picked may not be the best, but it asserts the importance of unvarnished truth as the basis for our actions. In the book, The State Science Institute has issued a press release damming Rearden metal without so much as one clear charge against it, nor one allegation that it is other than the great advance in metallurgy that it is. Dagny is desperate to complete a key section of Rearden metal rail line and needs this track. No other is available. She pleads with its leading scientist to prevent this injustice with the claim on his conscience that he must because it is “TRUE.” Two plus two must equal four!
As we pursue solutions to our national challenges going forward, progress, true progress, must rest upon Dagny’s notion that Truth must prevail. We are a free nation dependent on free speech and unfettered debate. While I reject personally the agenda that would undermine those very freedoms on which they rely to accomplish their collectivist goals, I celebrate and will defend free speech for all Americans, for without it we are all lost. We do seek progress. History confirms that it is best achieved within the framework created by our founders.
In the life of a nation, there are seasons just as there are for all of us. For us, this is a time to look deep within our national soul, to look inward for that great American heart. We must face our challenges squarely, consider them and repair our
Nation. My purpose is not to damn any particular group but to spread light. For two plus two to continue to equal four, the rights recognized in our founding documents are the prime directive from which we must proceed. I have been asked to speak recently quite a bit and face questions at each event on whether it is too late for our nation to recover. No, it is not too late. I am convinced, however, that an essential element to doing so requires rediscovery of our founding values and education of our electorate to what is at stake.
America challenged is America at its best. Much needs to be done. I have covered some of what I consider national priorities in earlier columns and will describe what more needs to be done in future columns, but if we can establish a working majority, America’s greatest days are still in front of us not behind.
Let me leave you with the ending of our National Anthem’s last stanza: “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust." And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” Believe it!... I do!
Copyright © 2010 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr., is president of the Free Enterprise Foundation. He is also a professor at The Citadel and was selected in 2005 to be their first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence and in 2009 to be their first BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership. A regular contributor to the Mercury, Prof. Freer may be reached at Robert.email@example.com. If you would like him to appear before your group or organization to speak on any of the subjects about which he writes, please contact him at The Citadel. Copies of his earlier columns may be found at The Free Enterprise Foundation
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