Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Constitutional Attorney Jonathan Emord to the newsmaker line to discuss the historical perspective of socialism that has brought America where it is today.
Leahy: We welcome to our microphones. Jonathan Emord, a constitutional attorney and author of a book on the Constitution called The Authoritarians. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report with them. Thanks so much for joining us.
Emord: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
You served as an attorney in the Reagan administration, the FCC. You are the vice president of the Cato Institute. You’re our kind of guy. Thanks for writing this book.
Emord: You’re welcome. Glad to have done it.
Leahy: What is your main message here, John?
Emord: Well, we are at a critical juncture in the history of our country. Our founding principles are at stake. We have people who are desperately interested in acquiring as much power as possible and dictating every aspect of our lives.
And so we have to fight for our freedom as never before because if we don’t, we will lose it. This book, The Authoritarians is really a history of these people who desire to take control and not allow individual liberty to flourish because they’re threatened by it.
They view it as antithetical to their core beliefs and their assumption of power over others to prevent those others from doing things they find obnoxious. These are people who are utterly intolerant of others and have none of the core principles or values that define what it means to be an American.
They reject the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, for example, which is really the defining simple expression of what it means to be an American. And they don’t believe in representative government.
They believe in totalitarianism, and they are Marxist, and they’re not just in BLM and Antifa. Their sympathizers are in the executive branch and in Congress and really, even in administrative courts and in the judiciary.
So we’ve got to ferret these people out. We have to expose them and defeat them. And if we don’t, I’m afraid we’re going to lose our country.
Leahy: When did the authoritarian impulse enter into sort of the American experience?
Emord: It really started in the Antebellum South in the 1830s, when southerners who were interested in defending the institution of slavery found that they were stricken by a conundrum. They couldn’t advocate the second paragraph of the Declaration and the basic principles of liberty that defined America and stand up for Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration and also maintain slavery.
So they chose to reject those founding principles and adopt others. And what they chose to adopt was Friedrich Hagel’s doctrine of collectivism, which also justified slavery as a part of the normal historical development of a superior race defeating an inferior race and thereby ironically enabling the inferior race to benefit by association with the inferior race in the institution of slavery.
And so they used this to say slavery was a moral good. Slavery was the means by which a more advanced culture could continue to advance on the backs of an inferior culture. And this doctrine didn’t disappear with the 13th Amendment and elimination of slavery, but actually was used as a justification for new authoritarian measures in the development of the administrative state.
Academics from all of the major universities flocked to Germany and acquired an education in this doctrine of collectivism and also learned from their professors there to despise John Locke’s second treatise on government. Despise this notion of individual liberty and of liberty being a birthright from God.
And instead, identify rights as coming from the state and recognize that the greatest good that man can serve is in service to the objectives of the state. The state being run by experts, could dictate better than the individual and what was in that individual’s best interest.
This philosophy became the foundation for the creation of the federal administrative state in America, which was designed to defeat the Constitution structures on power, and enable unbridled power to be used to create this new utopia. That has been our burden since the progressive era and all the way to the present.
And that institution inside the government actually yearns for this authoritarian rule. Ever since the earliest days of the 20th century, looking forward to that day, which they see is coming now when there would be this authoritarian takeover and people would be essentially enslaved to the state.
Again justifying it on these collectivist principles that they are experts and know better than what you do, what is in your best interest so you can be enslaved to their will, and they view that as a moral good.
Leahy: John, I don’t believe I have heard a more succinct description of how authoritarianism arose in the United States than what you just gave us.
And what’s interesting to me, John, is you’re pinpointing the so-called 1830s from the South. John C. Calhoun from South Carolina, who made the false argument that slavery is a moral good.
That authoritarian streak. Let me see if you would agree with me on this. I see that continuing in the Democratic Party in the personification of Woodrow Wilson, who was, I think, the very first progressive authoritarian president that built up the deep state in 1913 when he was elected. And also was the guy that introduced segregation to the federal government. Do I have that right?
Emord: I believe you do. And I devote quite a bit of discussion about Woodrow Wilson in my book. When you look into his private writings and correspondence, he was very much a socialist. People are somewhat shocked to hear that. But indeed it is true.
And when it comes to these basic principles in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, he at a very young academic age was quite the scholar in favor of Friedrich Hagel by the way. He was taught by Hegelians, who had been educated in Germany.
Leahy: He got his Ph.D. at John Hopkins, I believe, where they were dominant.
Emord: Right. And he advocated this view that was repulsive to many at the time so he didn’t communicate it outside of elitist circles. But he said that the declaration was really just a document recording an event in history and that the second paragraph could be eliminated without losing anything of value.
And that’s because he believed in collectivism. And he said, for example, that his sympathies were the same as socialists and believed in the same ends as socialists did. But he just thought it was politically inappropriate to communicate to the public those sentiments overtly and that more could be done.
This was a popular way of thinking at the time, by the way, because it was very common in the labor movement in England that more could be done by incremental changes to achieve that socialism.
He thought that with the advent of World War I, there would be an ability to take over much in the private sector and turn it into government-controlled and planned economies. And that did, in fact, start to take place in World War I much to the delight of a number of socialists in the United States.
But it didn’t take hold in the sense that after the war, they thought there would be a celebration of socialism in this country like there was in Great Britain.
But it never came to pass. And that was greatly disappointing to a number of prominent socialists in the United States. Including Woodrow Wilson.
Leahy: And yet here we are, 2021 at the moment, John, it seems to me like the authoritarian impulse through the Biden maladministration has the upper hand. We’ve got 30 seconds. How do we fix this?
Emord: We have to recognize that that old man who has temporal and spatial awareness issues is actually very much mindful that he’s rendering this country a socialist state as fast as he possibly can achieve it. And we’ve got to stop that or else we’re going to lose this country. And we have to vote out of office these rascals.
Leahy: Well, I’m all in favor of that. John hey, an invitation to you. We need a judge next year for the 6th annual National Constitution Bee for 8th to 12th graders. Would you be interested in coming down here to Nashville and being one of our judges on that? $10,000. to the winner, by the way.
Emord: You bet!
Leahy: All right, John Emord. Thanks so much for joining us. Come back again, if you would, please.
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