Outline of Mid-Term Answers
1. (a) The malady of liberal democracies is their devitalization, their inability to make hard, critical decisions, such as in war and peace and national finance.
(b) The historical cause was the hyperbolic wartime losses of WWI and the loss of faith in, or loss of legitimacy of, the wartime governments. The governed masses demanded more influence in government decision–making and the governors gave in. Constitutionally, the malady was caused by the derangement of the two natural powers of governments—(1) the power of the governors to govern and to lead and (2) the power of the governed to consent to or reject the policies and actions of the governors and leaders.
(c) As a result of the derangement, elected officials are more concerned with currying favor with the voters for re-election than with their professional obligation to govern according to the public interest; elected officials are more concerned with pleasing the “people” as the “electorate” than with doing what is best for the “people” as corporate nation.
Because the people as the voters or the mass of the governed will usually choose the policies that are easiest on themselves rather than what is best in the long run for the nation (the public interest), the devitalized governments find it increasingly difficult to make the best decisions regarding critical issues such as war and peace and national solvency.
2. (a) Communists, Nazis, and other Jacobins following the formula of “a nihilistic revolution will lead to a utopia”
(b) Man is naturally, essentially good and without sin; there for a perfectly good life is possible. Evil comes from one’s cultural environment, one’s traditions, one’s conditioning, one’s cultural institutions, that suppresses man’s natural goodness and establishes a false character in men.
(c) Modern education no longer trains children in the traditions and culture necessary to support our liberal democratic way of life. Modern education simply trains people in skills that individuals need to succeed in our society without understanding why are society exists as it is.
3. (a) The public philosophy—called the “natural law” and the “traditions of civility”— is the set of ideas and principles that provide the rationale for the institutions of liberal democracy: e.g., representative government, freedom of speech, private property, human nature.
The core idea is that there are universal principles of human life, moral and political, that are true and that can be discovered through the exercise of reason. They are ‘the laws of a rational order of human society.’ These principles are eternal; they have not become obsolete but have been lost by being covered up by other ideas and by not being instilled in us by our schools and by public discussion. They need to be reworked to fit new circumstances.
(b) Without an understanding and a broad acceptance of the public philosophy, the institutions that make up liberal democracies cannot be maintained and the liberal democracies will collapse
(c) One problem is the inability of modern man to believe in abstract ideas, in truths, whether imponderable or intellectually discoverable. Another problem is the failure of the schools to teach the public philosophy and the teaching instead of the opposing Jacobin philosophy. A third is the apparent obsolescence, and the resulting lack of attraction, of the principles that are constantly in need of reworking to fit new circumstances.