Thursday, 17 March 2016


If there is one thing more than another which is hated by your breeches-pocket politician it is the process vernacularly described as "going down to the bed-rock"— in other words, searching out and establishing first principles. Like Peter Magnus in "Pickwick," he can "see no necessity" for such a procedure simply because it does not suit the life he aims at, and the aggressions upon his fellow-man he secretly contemplates. To such a man, therefore, the shallow word-coiner and phrase-maker are absolute God-sends.  "Mob rule," "counting of heads," "the Great Unwashed," &c, &c—such vapid sneers afford a plausible pretext for abandoning real enquiry, and giving free rein to the inherited acquisitiveness of the primordial ape. Yet, outside of politics, no one ever advanced himself without a knowledge of first principles. Who could follow a trade, or mechanical calling, in ignorance of such elementary truths as those which go to prove that "two and two make four," or that pine is lighter than water?
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 Are there then no first principles underlying the science of Government ? If so, this science must be the sole exception in human experience. Is this true, or is it false :— "That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ; that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; that, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that, whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organising its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
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 Now, is this true, or is it false? If false, who will undertake to demonstrate its falsity ? If true, the very basis, that is to say, the principles of modern Democracy are simultaneously conceded. What in thy whole range of Conservative sophistry and special-pleading dare you place against an utterance so august as this ? Read it side by side with that still nobler definition of the rights of man—"The Sermon on the Mount." Compare it with what Socrates; Plato, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius have handed down to us ; and, so doing, find we fleck or flaw !
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 It matters nothing that of those who drew up the "Declaration of Independence" were some who were blind to the fact that their institution of slavery was utterly inconsistent with their thesis! Man could always more readily discern truth than apply it. Nor are there principles avoided by reason of the fact that America has not wholly followed them up, but has become the focus of human greed. When Christ failed, was it likely  Washington should succeed? Granted that truth itself is but relatively true, and the central figure in political history now-a'making is the graceful, evasive, apologetic neuter! Shall such signal proofs of man's descent from some lower entity be permitted to undermine his hope and his happiness? As we have shown, our race has always proved more apt at declaring Truth than following it, but that this fact should be made the basis of a political gospel is repugnant to every human faculty. It would equally avail in favour of scant measure, and the unjust balance !
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Trace Conservative clap-trap back to its developing instinct, and you will find it to be nothing but a plea for the right of the specially-opportunitied, and the exceptionally-intelligenced to loot humanity to their hearts' content, with the sanction of Laws specially framed to that end, and without the sanction of anything else that our race has ever agreed to accept as high and holy—therefore binding on human conscience.
 H. Grant.

Tocsin 18 May 1899

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