Monday, March 5, 2012

Was The US Founded On Enlightenment Principles?

A short phrase in the recent blogpost Ameritopia Lays Out the Logic Behind Mark Levin’s Rants by top blogger James D. Best has caught my attention:
"The thesis of Ameritopia is that the United States was founded on Enlightenment principles, and those principles made America exceptional. He believes that this exceptionalism is the basis of the American Dream and made us a beacon of liberty for the world. Unfortunately, Levin also believes those principles have been severely compromised and we have traveled a long way down the utopian path."
I don't believe this thesis to be uncontroversial. If Levin had written this at the end of the 19th century, Abraham Kuyper would probably have turned it into ground meat in his newspaper the Standard. A quick look at wikipedia gives us insight in the complexity of the background of the American revolution. Mark Levin leaves out essential elements of this revolution. For example, Jim DeMint's recent book "the great American Awakening",  the most talked-about book of the summer of 2011, refers to the role of the awakenings in Evangelical America during the 18th century and it's impact on the American revolution. Billy Hallowell notes in his blogpost Is the American Tea Party A Spiritual Movement?:
The connection between one of America’s most well-known political movements and the Christian faith is overtly made in DeMint’s words:
“(The Tea Party) is as much a spiritual awakening as a political awakening. The concern about our country…has awakened the faith of many people.”
In “The Great American Awakening,” DeMint goes as far as to tie concern over the government’s size and scope to religion. He writes:
“Big government is a religious issue. History shows in nations where there is a big government, there is a little God. When people are dependent on government, they are less dependent on God, and their spiritual fervor fades. Socialism and secularism go hand in hand, as do faith and freedom.”
 Mark Levin's regular rants against Ron Paul and his supporters might well be a strategy to avoid taking on the much stronger ideological ennemy: Jim DeMint.

A related question is Whats the relationship between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution? Three helpfull links:
Ron Paul referred to Virginia's role in America's Revolution in his speech february 28th in Springfield Virginia. The ongoing fight against NDAA in Virginia and legislation limiting free speech #HR347 that just passed the house, as explained by John Whitehead here, should be mentioned here too. The ideological battle raging inside Evangelical America, as explained by John Whitehead in this interview, is directly linked to this discussion. Some good articles, blogposts and video's on the role of Patrick Henry , also from Virginia, in this revolution:

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