Texas Liberal

All People Matter

A Strain Of Nihilism In My Belief In Democracy

In Revolutionary Characters–What Made The Founders Different, author Gordon Wood says the following about Thomas Jefferson—

Jefferson’s faith in the natural sociability of people…lay behind his belief in minimal government….Jefferson would have fully understood the Western world’s recent interest in devolution and localist democracy….For Jefferson, there could be no power independent of the people, in whom he had absolute faith.

I find myself tending more in a belief in democracy for its own sake. People must have a say in how they are governed. I don’t know to what extent the root of my belief in democracy is faith in the people. I don’t find I need that faith to believe in democracy.   

There is a strain of nihilism my view. The people must govern whatever the outcome. Safeguards must exist for the protection of minority groups in society. But in the end, if a society as a whole pursues policies that lead the end of that society, so be it.

People are born to be free. What they do what that freedom is another question.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Books, History | , , , , | 3 Comments

John Adams’ View Of What Makes A Gentleperson

I’ve been reading Revolutionary Characters—What Made The Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood. Here is a brief review of this book.

In this book I read about what John Adams said makes a “gentleman”—

“By gentleman, are not meant rich or the poor, the high-born or the low-born, the industrious or the idle: but all those who have received…an ordinary degree of erudition in liberal arts and sciences. Whether by birth they be descended from magistrates and officers of government, or from husbandman, merchants, mechanics, or laborers; or whether they be rich or poor. 

I like this idea by President Adams very much. All that’s needed is to update what he said to include women.

Gentlewoman.

Gentleperson.

President Adams suggests, correctly, that learning is the path to distinction and societal honor. 

Without forgetting that some face disadvantages in life that get in the way of learning, knowledge is accessible in our society at low cost. There is a lot to learn online, books are often cheap, and the library is free.  

All people have the ability to be well-learned, wise and, as a result, distinguished.

Click here for the excellent John Adams page at the Univ. of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs.

The painting of Mr. Adams is by Gilbert Stuart and was completed in 1823.  

May 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, History | , , , , , | 1 Comment