tv [untitled] CSPAN April 4, 2010 12:30pm-1:00pm EDT
reagan do not believe that culture is the ultimate consideration. there are good and bad cultures. hours has in some respects grown worse of the past decade. we are keen to change it for the better. we respect our culture conditions, not merely because they are traditional. who wants to bring bexley? but because they're good. in keeping with human nature, both in fundamental quality and useful glorious inequalities. -- who wants to bring back slavery? culture is a way of life, something common, yet distinguishing from other peoples. the achievements so grand unabland noble to show. human ne at its show
bach, shakespeare, abraham lincoln -- figures that transcend culture at the same time the glorified it. the disagreement between reagan ites and liberalism is not over the polarization of culture. each accuses the other of politicizing the culture, and each is correct. at least in its own terms. the difference consists of two different understandings. politics ought to serve as ends just a by human nature, respectful of strengths and weaknesses, the high and low in human nature. aware of the tyrannical nature possible, the fallen nature of man. conservatives are keen for politics to choose to limit itself, to acknowledge the
limits of human reason. the need for law and reverence for it. the power of habits, prejudices. therefore, the good sense that neither governments or cultures it should be changed for light and transient reasons. on the contrary, for the left, the tendency for more than a century has been to reject all notions of a fixed or unchanging human nature. it is in favor of the view of man as an open-ended being, define precisely by his openness to change and continual of deputation -- continue adaptation. free from innate purposes and limits for the liberals, man is essentially a historical being.
in this tip is dispensation, man e to lead into a better, or later, more fully developed. politics in this sense expresses culture and nothing but culture. it is understood as the record of how man has made himself over time. at first unconsciously, leader more and more consciously. so, reagan wanted to improve american politics, and thus directly in mostly indirectly to improve american culture. as political project involved rebuilding american defenses and rolling back the communist empire. freeing up the american economy and overcoming 1970's stagflation.
improving american self-, by strengthening religious liberty, and encouraging patriotism and virtue. only the last is usually referred to as his cultural agenda. i want to argue their work culture affects to all parts of his efforts. the project as a whole will both politics and culture. in the ambitious effort to rebound america, he was only partly successful. let me speak first of his success, then speak more about two areas where he did not succeed. the reagan administration but only precipitated the fall of the soviet union, but combined with the enormous american economic boom that began in 1983, the collapse of communism
discredited socialism everywhere. even after the financial down recently, the left in america and around the world has no alternative theory. at most, we have heard populist grumblings of one kind or another. calls for smarter regulation. no hints that the only socialism can save us. if anything, even liberal politicians like president obama seem to recognize that only capitalism, however heavily taxed and regulated, can possibly pay for the welfare state. the financial meltdown has not even made american politics more liberal beyond its immediate effects on the election. mr. obama was actually hoping it would trigger an fdr effect,
persuading americans to turn to bigger government for more security. but as the tea parties, gubernatorial elections here and in new jersey, and the stunning win of scott brown in massachusetts has shown, the effect has been nearly opposite. the resilience of this distrust of big government, and the free- market command of the high ground and policy debates worldwide, are testament to the seed of change that ronald reagan helped to bring about. it has little to do with culture or fell more novels, but this change is cultural. the culture of economics and economic debate has shifted dramatically. the american people gave fdr almost six years before they called a halt to his experiments. obama has had barely one year.
now let me turn to big government and the post-modern culture. the two topics on which reagan have far less lasting success. though he discredited socialism and bigger government, he did not succeed in limiting government along smaller ones. the state's proved too entrenched. assumptions dating from the new deal proved too powerful. at bottom these involved the introduction of a new kind rise into politics. in addition to the uh the liberties based on our rights one finds in the first bill of rights and declaration of independence, starting with the new deal, social and economic
rights -- entitlement rights -- became central to american politics. fdr talk about these as a second bill of rights. he implied it would not replace the first, but were needed to supplement and maybe redeem the promise. the problem is that there were contradictions and the two kinds of rights. they have emerged in politics. social and economic rights purported to make americans at least feel secure in the new-age dominated by economic insecurity and depression. fdr expected the new rights would make existing civil and political liberties the offspring of simpler times. these kind of been an everyman, as he liked to say. freedom required government to take care of persons necessities
when he could not, so that he might live comfortably and fearlessly, beyond necessity. the immediate result was fairly harmless. the first couple of floors of the modern welfare state cars. but the long-term result was worse because the reasons given to justify even the most modest welfare rights but for be on themselves. no one ever doubted that the things he talked about, the right to home, to medical care, to a job, to a vacation from your job -- no one ever doubted that these are fine things, things that might well be the object of government policy even at the national level, but the liberal alchemy that transformed these findings into rights and was powerful magic. once unleashed it proved uncontrollable.
such rights implied necessarily duties to provide houses, jobs, vacations, and medical care now guaranteed to everyone. but on whom did the duties fallbacks liberals never came clean on that. variously pointing to the rich, who had plenty -- all you needed to do was skim off the top and redistribute that so everyone can have his good thing, but many more often on the rich, but on the middle-class. arguing that these benefits you will pay in installments like an insurance plan, that you have worked for, and paid for all these years, and that the vast majority of people who have worked will enjoy the benefits, and have burned those benefits. could future benefits be cut or even eliminated? liberals hardly breathe a word
about such unhappy some areas. they sold the rights as though they were personal, and almost unbelievable. as well as a self-financing, nearly cost-free, if not a net gain for everyone. in fact, in tubman's are really positive rights, the offspring of legislative formulas -- entitlements are really positive right thing of the benefits must be paid for by someone. but the young, and middle-class primarily. the moral costs of these went further. virtue was the way that free people used to deal with their necessities. for example, a tech industry and frugality, and responsibility to go to work every morning to provide for your family. it took courage to handle fears that inevitably come with life,
particularly in old age. the new social and economic rights tended to undercut such virtues, too subtly encourage men and women to depend on government to take care of them. then to celebrate that dependency as true freedom. in fact, the appetite for these stream of benefits -- that is what these new rights really are -- the appetite soon prove more addictive than liberating. for them suffered too, and so far as entitlements proved anew, beguiling attraction to the new social contract. the new social contract, the new deal, called for the people to consent to government's power in exchange for the government providing them with rights.
this is the original formula for big government. we give it power, it gives us rights. the more power that we give it, the more rights grouwe received. what is not to like? imply there's nothing to fear from making government bigger because political tyranny, at least among advanced nations, is a thing of the past. in truth, these new social and economic rights were group rights. not individual rights. they were rights for organized interests. trade unions, farmers, schoolteachers, old people, sick people, blacks, and so forth. these rights encouraged citizens to think of themselves and organize themselves in to pressure groups, to identify their rights with their groups' self interest. they were the bus spethose
conspicuously not attached to any obligations. the old rights, to live, the become a pursuit of happiness, were bound up with duties. if you have a right to lie, that means the others have a duty not to take your life from me. if you have a right to property, it means others cannot steal your property from you. these new rights had no corresponding obligations. instead, they pointed to a new kind of moral anarchy and which rights are severed from duties. at best, one kind of right would check another kind. the benefits of old people would have to coexist with those of schoolteachers. the groups would fight it out.
modern liberalism was not confined simply to new kinds of rights. it also had a cultural front. let me turn to talk a little about the cultural agenda of liberalism, and the reagan agenda. beginning in the 1960's, liberalism made a crucial turn. it had agreed affect on american conceptions of morality. from virtues to values. the change in vocabulary was pregnant with mischief. this is a left-wing cultural revolution. virtue, something objective, a human excellence, as the focus
of morality is replaced by values -- values being subjective, relative. they are simply whatever you value. that depends upon you, your emotions, tastes. one of the most remarkable facts about the reception of the new term values into politics was that it was soon coopted by the right wing. the right stole the word of the left and began to talk about traditional, american values. family values. one here's today about the values voter. a second kind of social or religious conservative. it is a strange phenomenon. the term was adopted to oppose liberal relativism. but the term assam's relativism.
now gradually 1960's liberalism added to its focus on interest groups. -- the term assumes relativism. there was an interesting philosophical turned an american political thought that began at least in the 1950's, but reached its confirmation and mid-1960s and 1970's. how at the time, in the 1950's, there would talk about this as a form of existentialism. in practice that means that all values are soon to be relative. it is something that supposedly philosophy has discovered. and that underneath all of our values are truly our emotions,
preferences. so, reason can be no guide to truth. but from this they concluded that if morals are based on emotions, then emotions can be a guide to morals. this is a form of what you might call 1960's romanticism in which the key to morality became the intensity of your feelings about the subject. the intensity was then a measure of authenticity, the real you. the culture of the demonstration, whether on campuses are for better causes, it took part of this spirit. if it excited you, it must be right, good. the 1960's the slogans -- do your own thing -- put a premium
on this kind of authenticity. it also meant if it feels good, do it. because if it feels good, it is pleasing the real you. since there is nothing else there, no rational, or any other principal of morality, morality is what pleases you. there is a country music song that expresses this, as everything -- [laughter] "a cannot be wrong if it feels so right." this emphasis on liberation through self expression and the creation of lifestyles coexisted uneasily with the reathe idea tt liberalism on the the future, that progress was on its side.
when liberalism stopped looking so inevitable, when voters elected richard nixon, when george wallace got more votes -- beloved felt, experienced -- though left felt a crisis of confidence. they retreated to the academy, hollywood, to foundations, to ngo's, to courts and bureaucracies, the unelected parts of government. one remarkable thing from the time of the 1960's to the present is it has been pushed much more by an elected officials than by elected ones. from billing 1960's decisions on school prayer and obscenity to the 1970's abortion cases, to the 1980's and 1990's actions on
affirmative action and voting rights, the most controversial parts have not come from legislation, but from bushes by the courts and bureaucrats administering regulations. in response, ronald reagan called for constitutional amendments on different things. the philosophy of original intent was something that meese helped with. he adopted moral combat pilot because he had to worry about the soviet union, getting the budget under control, and partly because of internal weaknesses in his coalition. libertarians were less willing to go along with this than traditional conservatives were. let me conclude by saying that this form of post-modernism,
this form of the existential and clients on our political concepts continues today. you can still see it on your tv 's and in movies, and in the political assumptions and rhetoric thing as someone as otherwise decent as president obama. you can see some touches of post-modernism and him. you might expect this from and who is a top of the 1960's who spent 10 years teaching constitutional law and a modern academy. post-modernism insists there is no truth out there by which men can buy their thoughts and actions. they i admit there is no objective support for liberalism
itself. it is nothing but relativism to which reference has been added to pull them back from the nihilistic abyss. one expert called this the aversion to cruelty. so, a fully self-conscious liberal would be someone who recognizes pfft the values, but is moved. obama calls the same quality empathy. our president is not a thorough going post-modern is, but neither is he merely an old- fashioned, a progressive liberal. the typical move and one finds: fines also in obama's writings. the truth from truce to narrative.
-- one finds also in obama's writing. we can free to me by telling each other stories, constructing our own narratives. the more introspective, the better. president obama often speaks this language, as his autobiography reveals. he has now written two. that is pretty good for a man of his age. [laughter] more importantly, obama uses these concepts in speeches and political statements. this is from his second autobiography, the audacity of hope." "implicit in the constitution structure, was a rejection of absolute truth. the infallibility of any idea or geology or ism, any tyrannical
consistency that might block the tool generations into a single, unalterable course, or dry both majorities and minorities into the cruelties -- of the inquisition, the gulag, or jihad. " let me simplify -- implicit in the constitution is that there are no absolute truths. if you had absolute truth, you would persecuted. he would become a fanatic of ajihad, gulag, whatever. now it was certainly a good thing that america escaped religious fanaticism and political tierney, but no previous president ever credited this achievement to the founders' rejection of absolute truth, views known as truth.
[laughter] would becomes of the self- evident truth that abraham lincoln celebrated and risk all to preserve? that much in the picking jr. invoked so dramatically from the lincoln memorial? let's just say that obama is wrangling with this question promises to be instructive. the future of american culture will depend on whether we get beyond the post-modernism, beyond the assumption that all values are relative. if we do, that really would be the second american revolution. in reagan's farewell address, not as well-known as it should be, he admitted by implication that he had not succeeded in bringing about a second american revolution. he admitted modestly that perhaps he had affected with other people called "a reagan."
but that fell short of the second american revolution. he concluded in the address by recommending to americans that they study history and the political principles of their own land. why did he make this recommendation? it is the only way to prepare the path for a second american revolution. thank you. [applause] >> did the ken myers peak too early in life? some might think so, after all he did his first radio interview at the age of 19 while working
on his college radio station. his first guest, none other than the man in black, and johnny cash. although ken sometimes wondered if he peaked too early, he claims that sociologists psychologists, historians, and even economists can be more interesting and country music singers, despite the fact they sometimes struggle to be understandable and insightful. ken's , and a studio are on 11 acres east of the blue ridge mountains. that is where his dog, four- wheeled drive pickup truck and chainsaw are as important to him as his copy of richard weaver's
book. professionally, his president and executive producer of an organization committed to producing creative body of resources that engage christians concerning cultural issues. he contributes to several publications including the wilson quarterly, the siple ship the journal, christianity today, first things, and touchdown. he has also written a book, "all god's children" and "blue suede shoes" which discussantdiscusses christians and popular culture. he has worked at national public radio, editor of this world. he also served on the radio and tv panel for the national endowment for the arts.