Skip to comments.John Adams: "equal rights" is not a blank check to redistribute wealth
Posted on 07/27/2012 8:05:24 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
Our founders wrote more on the issues of modern times than people perhaps realize. The words used are simply different, sometimes being more complex or sometimes outdated. In a letter to John Taylor, John Adams wrote some things about John Jacques Rousseau and the distortions of reality that took place in the French Revolution: (in section III) (Alt. link)
That all men are born to equal rights is true. Every being has a right to his own, as clear, as moral, as sacred, as any other being has. This is as indubitable as a moral government in the universe. But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credulity of the people, as ever was practised by monks, by Druids, by Brahmins, by priests of the immortal Lama, or by the self-styled philosophers of the French revolution. For honors sake, Mr. Taylor, for truth and virtues sake, let American philosophers and politicians despise it.
Equal property and advantages through life; this is the exact opposite of what modern American progressives preach, where everything is equal in everybody's house. This is quite a stark difference between the Founding ideals of America and the corruption of progressive ideology. He goes quite far in detail, ripping into the false notions of the narrative of absolute equality:
I believe that none but Helvetius will affirm, that all children are born with equal genius.
None will pretend, that all are born of dispositions exactly alike,of equal weight; equal strength; equal length; equal delicacy of nerves; equal elasticity of muscles; equal complexions; equal figure, grace, or beauty.
I have seen, in the Hospital of Foundlings, the Enfans Trouvés, at Paris, fifty babes in one room;all under four days old; all in cradles alike; all nursed and attended alike; all dressed alike; all equally neat. I went from one end to the other of the whole row, and attentively observed all their countenances. And I never saw a greater variety, or more striking inequalities, in the streets of Paris or London. Some had every sign of grief, sorrow, and despair; others had joy and gayety in their faces. Some were sinking in the arms of death; others looked as if they might live to fourscore. Some were as ugly and others as beautiful, as children or adults ever are; these were stupid; those sensible. These were all born to equal rights, but to very different fortunes; to very different success and influence in life.
The world would not contain the books, if one should produce all the examples that reading and experience would furnish. One or two permit me to hint.
Will any man say, would Helvetius say, that all men are born equal in strength? Was Hercules no stronger than his neighbors? How many nations, for how many ages, have been governed by his strength, and by the reputation and renown of it by his posterity? If you have lately read Hume, Robertson or the Scottish Chiefs, let me ask you, if Sir William Wallace was no more than equal in strength to the average of Scotchmen? and whether Wallace could have done what he did without that extraordinary strength?
Will Helvetius or Rousseau say that all men and women are born equal in beauty? Will any philosopher say, that beauty has no influence in human society? If he does, let him read the histories of Eve, Judith, Helen, the fair Gabrielle, Diana of Poitiers, Pompadour, Du Barry, Susanna, Abigail, Lady Hamilton, Mrs. Clark, and a million others. Are not despots, monarchs, aristocrats, and democrats, equally liable to be seduced by beauty to confer favors and influence suffrages?
Certain parts of this writing threw me off, because he appears to be referring to himself in third person, but that is indeed how John Adams wrote it. Other parts he seems to be quoting himself as quoted by Mr. Taylor.
What President Adams wrote is pretty clear. These self styled "philosophers" who preach tyranny under a new disguise were perfectly transparent to him. The redistribution of wealth seeks to make everything equal in everybody's house, but there's a whole lot about humanity in which we are not born equal into, which cannot be redistributed. Only our rights are equal, everything else is up to us to make what we can of it.
In section VI, Adams writes this:
Will Mr. Taylor profess himself a downright leveller? Will he vote for a community of property? or an equal division of property? and a community of wives and women? He must introduce and establish both, before he can reduce all men to an equality of influence. It is, indeed, questionable, whether such laws would not produce greater inequalities than ever were seen in the world. These are not new projects, Mr. Taylor. They are not original inventions, or discoveries of philosophers of the eighteenth century. They were as familiar to Plato as they were to Helvetius or Condorcet. If I were a young man, I should like to write a romance, and send a hero upon his travels through such a levelling community of wives and wealth. It would be very edifying to record his observations on the opinions, principles, customs, institutions, and manners of this democratical republic and such a virtuous and happy age. But a gentleman whose mind is so active, studious, and contemplative as Mr. Taylors, must easily foresee, that some men must take care of the property of others, or it must perish with its owners; and that some men would have as many wives as Solomon, and others none at all.
At first, this may seem unclear. But Adams writing that the doctrines of levelling(an outdated term for wealth redistribution) would create an even greater inequality, is prescient. In the age we live today, we see just how damaging to society that wealth(levelling) redistribution is, and how empowering it is to tyrants and potential tyrants. Tyrannies are always unequal, even those that profess to be the most equal. We see this in all of the communist politboros of the third and first worlds. All the people are equal, but the leaders are even more equal and thus live lavish lifestyles.
Large portions of the Adams letter are devoted to the structure of government. It's a great read, if you have the time.
Income is earned, not distributed; so how could it be redistributed?
Has the growing ignorance of our culture led to this confusion of the difference between equality (innate value of the human as a creation of God) v the notion of egalitarianism?
Your observation that the idea of "redistribution" or "leveling," as it was known in the 1700's, is empowering to tyrants can be seen in the politics of 2012.
Political figures of 2012 who hold out the promise of "redistribution" of the earnings of others in order to buy votes and power for themselves are charlatans of the worst order, because they enslave and impoverish the nation.
"Fair share" is just "slavery" by another name. By such semantic ruses, a government "master" buys votes in order to retain "master redistributionist" status, while the "voters" who fall for such propaganda yield up freedom for themselves and future generations.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis
Any who doubt the wisdom of Lewis might watch the video of the current President's remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. There, Obama arrogantly misappropriated Jesus's spiritual challenge to individuals for voluntary charity, claiming those words as validating and authorizing abusive use of coercive power by himself and his cronies to "take" from some in order to buy votes and accumulate more power to themselves--all in the name of "helping" the beneficiaries of such unconstitutional "takings."
Hear Samuel Adams:
"Is it now high time for the people of this country to explicitly declare whether they will be free men or slaves. It is an important question which ought to be decided. It concerns more than anything in this life. The salvation of our souls is interested in this event. For wherever tyranny is established, immorality of every kind comes in like a torrent, it is in the interest of tyrants to reduce the people to ignorance and vice. - Samuel Adams
The utopian schemes of leveling and a community of goods, are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the crown. These ideas are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government unconstitutional. - Samuel Adams
They understand it. They don’t like it.
Many of them believe that “inequalities of birth and natural endowment are undeserved” and because of this, “undeserved inequalities call for redress”.
Reason his writings were appropriate today is that human nature has never changed.
It has been a long long time since I read Plato, Aristotle and Socrates but I remember that they had the same problems in that day with the vagaries of human nature that we have today.
To wit: There are and always will be people who insist on controlling others. Liars, thieves and murders and treason still and always will exist.
It might better be called ‘enforced ignorance’. People are capable of understanding founding principles, they just haven’t been taught it for a long time.
It’s all been done by design.
To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association the guarantee to every one of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.
Franklin probably put it the clearest in terms(at the constitutional convention, no less) of a dictator, and explains it in a step by step manner:
Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partizans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharoah, get first all the peoples money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever.
Yeah, and let's face it, it takes a village idiot drunk on power with a deluded sense of self to be that change we're (not) looking for.
Very interesting. Thanks so much for posting this. I’m putting it on my quotes- wall at school, may study it with my students.
When I earn money, and it is taken through taxes, and then given to favored groups or businesses that is it being DISTRIBUTED by the government.
I earn money, they tax it, they distribute it.
In order for the money to be RE-DISTRIBUTED it would have had to have been distributed in the first place. I earned it, it wasn’t distributed to me.
“...they just havent been taught it for a long time.”
Indeed...and unfortunately, this is so true. We can thank John Dewey, the NEA...and our increasing neglect of God and our own duties as citizens (speaking in an historical sense).
The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. (Jefferson - 1774)
Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone which can establish the principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. (John Adams - 1775)
The Sacred Rights of Mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. (Alexander Hamilton)
Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first and the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers saw it, and thus, with Gods help, it will continue to be. (Dwight Eisenhower)
The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe, the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. (John F. Kennedy - 1961 Inaugural)
it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor .(George Washington)
Now the virtue which had been infused into the Constitution and was to give it the stability and duration to which it was destined, was no other than those abstract principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independencenamely, the self-evident truths of the unalienable rights of man the sovereignty of the people, always subordinate to a rule of right and wrong, and always responsible to the Supreme Ruler of the universe for the rightful exercise of that sovereign power. (John Quincy Adams, on the occasion of The Jubilee of the Constitution - 1839)
"Today, across our nation, we see consequences of decades of gross neglect and outright censorship of the Founders ideas from textbooks and from our public discourse. We have allowed counterfeit ideas to dominate the public square, and the Founders principles have been crowded out. Unwittingly, many teachers and other unknowing officials have participated in the agenda of an unelected mind-controlling elite whose tyrannical actions have robbed generations of Americans from reading or studying the ideas that made America free. Like termites, they have eroded our foundations as effectively as if they had burned the books. Yet, not once have they been willing to call it by its rightful namecensorship. Once, in America, stifling ideas about the Creator and Creator-endowed liberty was considered unthinkable. . . .
"The ideas of liberty must be passed on from generation to generation if liberty is to survive. These ideas, when they are allowed to be examined freely, will prevail, because their appeal is to reason and to the love for liberty that is deep in the human heart. John Adams warned: The people of America now have the best opportunity and the greatest trust in their hands, that Providence ever committed to so small a number if they betray their trust, their guilt will merit even greater punishment than other nations have suffered, and the indignation of Heaven.
The idea of God is the keystone of a perverted society. The true root of liberty, equality and culture is atheism. (Karl Marx)
Our thinking is enlightened in the degree in which we cease to depend upon belief in the supernatural. (John Dewey, father of progressive education and 1st President of American Humanist Society)
democracy is a human faith and movement, unencumbered by supernatural preconceptions. (John Childs, a protégé of John Dewey at Columbia)
the majority of our youth still hold the values of their parents, and if we do not alter this pattern, if we do not resocialize ourselves to accept change, our society may decay. (John Goodlad, 1971 Report to President, Schooling for the Future)
As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially a faith in the prayer-hearing God, who is assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. (Humanist Manifesto II, 1973)
the most important factor moving us toward a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is sixteen tends to lead toward elimination of religious superstition. (Paul Blanshard, The Humanist, March-April, 1976)
It [the Natl. Education Associations publication list] includes the delegitimizing of all authority save that of the state, the degradation of traditional morality and the encouragement of citizens in general and children in particular to despise the rules and customs that make their society a functional democracy. The NEA is drifting into exceedingly dangerous waters, and probably carrying more than a few teachers and pupils with it. (Chester E. Finn, Jr., Asst. Sec. Of Education & Prof. Of Education & Public Policy, Vanderbilt Univ., 1982)
Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines which conflict with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence
let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountains whose waters spring close to the blood of the Revolution. (Abraham Lincoln)
Big difference between equal rights and retribution under the guise of wealth, rather poverty redistribution.
Isn’t it interesting how all of this highlights even more the Obama Administration’s attack on freedom of religion?
Interesting. Thanks for posting
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