Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
September 13, 2011
Most people do not relate politics to philosophy, but that is exactly what they should be doing if they care to know the roots of the fruit growing from the trees of society and government. If they did, more could be done to communicate effectively to both citizen and politician. History tends to prove that public awareness regarding political philosophy grows out of mere circumstances which force basic reaction instead of intellectual response. Fortunately, it appears the United States is due for an awakening of freedom as the philosophy leading us down the road of slavery is at a natural end. But to hasten its end, this series of articles is written to educate the political student and concerned citizen about the origins of philosophy used to get the United States to where it is today.
You have likely heard the American Declaration of Independence described as an expression of new concepts relating to man, politics, and government. Some have gone so far as to describe it as “God-inspired.” Historically, this description is not true. The Declaration of Independence was a reflection of ideas presented by philosophers of the Enlightenment Period (approx. 1630-1800) and in particular, John Locke (1632-1704). Some of the verbiage used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was all but direct quotes from John Locke’s An Essay Concerning The True Original Extend and End of Civil Government. Some have even accused Thomas Jefferson of plagiarism given its similarities. Their comparisons in the endnote below prove this.
The foundational concepts the American Colonies used to secede from Great Britain were not new. They were specific ideologies expressed and expounded by philosophers for at least 150 years. Ironically, a 150 year period of development of ideology which created the renowned “freest nation on earth” suffocated just after the birth of the United States. No sooner had Enlightenment philosophy created the United States of America in 1776, a new philosophy had infiltrated and eventually revolutionized the politics of the United States. It destroyed the foundational concepts of the “State.” This new philosophy began by a person known as “the Aristotle of the Modern Age”:
Georg Wilheim Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831).
Hegel and his like attempted to prove through the science of philosophy that the STATE was the only way through which subjective freedom is realized. Instead of the State existing for the people, the people existed for the State. Hegel used the word “freedom” often in his work and uplifted its importance. That sounds nice—until you realize his definition of “freedom” meant something entirely different than it did to Enlightenment philosophers and the United States’ founding generation. Likewise, when politicians today use words such as “freedom,” “liberty,” “equality,” etc., their use of these words have a fundamental difference from those who sowed the seeds of liberty from 1630 to 1787.
For those who do not know, Hegel’s work was Karl Marx’ text book. Marx studied Hegel intently and used his philosophy as a basis and justification for his political works on communism. Adolf Hitler likewise used many of Hegel’s ideologies to justify his reign in Germany and the extermination of the Jews who threatened his goals of a strong nation of patriotic Germans.
Before you discount the significance of Hegel’s philosophical work on our own nation’s political philosophy, consider: it is a fact that the public education system in American has been shaped and determined by those who purposely incorporated Hegelian philosophy. In particular, an ardent student and follower of Hegel was William Torrey Harris, who literally changed the landscape of education in the United States. In 1889, Harris was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Education, a position he held until 1906. Since Hegel’s Philosophy of Right was published, “top educators” have incorporated his principles into all of American public education, including the highest learning institutions. It has been deeply woven into the fabric of U.S. society and government ever since.
When one compares and contrasts the ideology of the Enlightenment Period with Hegel’s work, the why’s and how’s of societal, political, and constitutional development become very plain to see. We continually hear the questions from concerned Americans, “how do we take our country back?” and the like. I say, look no further than the comparison of philosophies adopted by the United States higher political and educational institutions during its existence. From 1787 to mid-1800, the Enlightenment philosophy prevailed. From late 1800s to today, the Hegelian prevails.
If you are serious about “getting our country back” to the values that made the United States what it was—the principles which formed the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and United States Constitution—you must start with the higher thoughts of cognition: philosophy.
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In the forthcoming parts of this article, we will compare and contrast the concepts advanced by Hegel with Enlightenment philosophy. At the conclusion of the article series, we should have an understanding of how to approach politicians and require them to answer these vital questions of philosophy. Whether they realize it or not, they likely fall into one or the other. They should be held accountable to which philosophy their actions and beliefs adhere. And the people are the ones to highlight and expose this. For part two click below.
Click here for part -----> 2,
We will explore the following topics:
Individual Freedom and State Supremacy
B. Formation and Purpose of the State
C. Interpreting and Applying the Constitution
D. Republicanism and Democracy
E. The People’s Right of Revolution
1. A) John Locke: “Man [are] born…with a title to perfect freedom and uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of Nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power…to preserve his property—that is, his life, liberty, and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men”.
Declaration of Independence: “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.”
B) John Locke: “The commonwealth [is] a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests. Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like.”
Declaration of Independence: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
C) John Locke: “When [he who has the supreme executive power neglects and abandons his charge to contrary to the consent and interest of the people], the people are at liberty to provide for themselves by erecting new legislative differing from the other by the change of persons, of form, or both, as they shall find it most for their safety and good.”
Declaration of Independence: “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
D) John Locke: “I answer, such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be borne by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going, it is not to be wondered that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the end for which government was at first erected.”
of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments
long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses
and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design
to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their
duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their
2. See, William Torrey Harris and the Hegelian Philosophy of Education.
© 2011 Timothy N. Baldwin, JD - All Rights Reserved
Timothy Baldwin is an attorney licensed to practice law in Montana (and Florida) and focuses on constitutional issues. Baldwin graduated from the University of West Florida in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English and Political Science. In 2004, Baldwin graduated from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, AL with a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree. From there, Baldwin became an Assistant State Attorney in Florida. For 2 1/2 years, Baldwin prosecuted criminal actions and tried nearly 60 jury trials. In 2006, Baldwin started his private law practice and has maintained it since.
Baldwin is a published author, public speaker and student of political philosophy. Baldwin is the author of Freedom For A Change, Romans 13-The True Meaning of Submission, and Political Discussions for People of States–all of which are available for purchase through Liberty Defense League. Baldwin has also authored hundreds of political science articles relative to liberty in the United States of America. Baldwin has been the guest of scores of radio shows and public events and continues to exposit principles which the people in America will need to determine its direction for the future.
Web site: LibertyDefenseLeague