I was quoting these things over at the left-wing / neocon blog No Left Turns, but the neocon PC enforcers arrived and started deleting my comments. I don’t think that one must deplore Lincoln to be a conservative, but I do think it is wrong to make Jacobin adoration of him a litmus test, especially when one considers how unconservative Lincoln was. If anyone violates the protocols of political correctness, especially as it concerns Lincoln, then neocons will be the first to silence and censor. Here are some posts that were deleted.
All the quotes are taking from the essay “Gnosticism of Lincoln’s Political Rhetoric” by ME Bradford
The problem with all leftists-in-disguise like Jaffa is that they all trot out the same old pony: they try to dress up leftist ideas (e.g. egalitarianism) and sell them as conservative. Not only is this philosophically naive, but it is academically dishonest.
(1) I would read ME Bradford’s “Gnosticism of Lincoln’s Political Rhetoric” (http://www.mmisi.org/ma/23_01/bradford.pdf). This article does a very good job of explaining the source of Lincoln’s inspirations and success. By and large, like many successful left-wing despots, he played upon existing cultural norms, nodded to traditions, and was extremely manipulative. But if you look at his underlying ideas, he was a left-wing Jacobin through and through. He was primarily interested in power, and also shared the Enlightenment leftist view of progress, or at least gave it lip service. He thought that the government should and could improve the lot of man. Here are some nuggets from Bradford’s essay…
(2) Lincoln believed in radical alterations as being the “basis and organization of American society.” This is left-wing radicalism, not conservatism.
(3) Lincoln said that he would achieve absolute power whether it meant “emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen.” This is pure left-wing ideology.
(4) Lincoln believed in and endorsed abstractions, or at least gave them lip service, from the liberal Enlightenment. Conservatives, like Burke and De Maistre, abhorred the Enlightenment “rights talk” and thought that a real country was based in historical circumstance, a people (tribe), their ancestral traditions, and their progeny. Burke and De Maistre stressed the importance of not allegiance to left-wing ideology, but a people and its ancestral institutions.
(5) Lincoln was also successful at creating a left-wing secular religion to promote “progress” among the people. Bradford on Lincoln’s secular religion: “A successful political religion must replace Church with State, or else must absorb the former into the latter, and borrow the sanction for its sacrilege from the civitas dei.”
(6) One of Lincoln’s first political acts was the Internal Improvements Act of 1837, which was one of the most radical big-government initiatives of its time, and which put Illinois in immediate bankruptcy.
(7) Lincoln said that to be successful in politics one should “tax and tax, spend and spend.”
(8) Bradford: “We are reminded of innumerable gnostic tracts, each in its own way concerned with the transformation of reality by ‘discovery’ of what is hidden an the ‘invention,’ through that discovery, of what is new.”
(9) Bradford: “According to Lincoln…, the… transformation of the modern world by America is to be accomplished by applied science, ethical culture and government manipulation.” It is this last that shows especially Lincoln’s left-wing mindset, and how infatuated he was with the secular Enlightenment god of Reason. Lincoln said: “mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world.” Lincoln said: “Reign of Reason, all hail!”
(10) Bradford: “Lincoln goes well beyond conventional political obfuscation by the party of privilege and imposed rational reform in a traditionalist, socially conservative and closed republican regime.”
(11) Lincoln was a Jacobin through and through, and like all good Jacobins was fascinated with power and big-government imposed obedience.
(12) I don’t think Lincoln had any noble intentions. Like Bill Clinton, he would change his beliefs based upon the wind. But, regardless of his intentions, he did end up implementing big-government egalitarianism, which is the anithesis of conservatism.