The New Americanism: To Fight against Collectivism, Citizens Must Fight for a New Americanism: A Philosophy of Freedom That Actively Seeks Less Government and More Personal Responsibility. (Opinion Past)

Article excerpt

Mr. Welch delivered this speech at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1957, the year before founding the John Birch Society. He articulated a body of timeless principles for ordered liberty that he called "the new americanism." Those principles, already largely ignored by our elected officials in Washington, are almost completely forgotten today In fact, in the ensuing 46 years the contrasting "philosophies" between the typical conservative Republican and liberal Democrat have become more a matter of nuance than substance. Yet if the principles in "the new americanism" were relearned and reapplied, the political debate would shift dramatically and America would be on the road to greatness once again.

Seven hundred years ago Alfonso of Castile said: "Had I been present at the creation, 1 would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe." Alfonso was referring specifically to the rather absurd Ptolemaic explanation of our astronomical system. But his intriguing thought of personally taking a hand in remaking the world has been an obsession with man since our ancestors began establishing squatter's rights to the most attractive caves. And forty years ago, when I was the age of you young men, I used to quote Omar:

Ah Love! could you and I with Him
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things
Would we not shatter it to bits --
 and then
Remold it nearer to the Heart's

What each of us has in mind, of course, in making the world over, is not some cosmological purpose in which man is only incidental, but the dreams of man as the center of all consideration. And neither Alfonso nor Omar was thinking of changing man to fit better into the framework of his existence; but of changing that framework, of "improving" the universe, so that it would be better suited to human beings and their desires.

So let's suppose this morning that an all-powerful Creator has said to you or to me: "All right, here is the very wand of omnipotence, so far as your little universe is concerned. Remake it to suit yourself." What would we do?

Well, let's hope that we would immediately become conscious of the awesome and incredible responsibility; and that before decreeing a morning to break eternal, bright, and fair we would remind ourselves that there are men who like cold climates and some who like the rain. Let's hope we would be seized by such a care for the wishes and beliefs of other men as to constitute an almost infinite sense of noblesse oblige. We would then soon decide that before bringing about any changes in this scheme of things we needed the opinions and advice of a lot of our fellow human beings. And we would finally come to the conclusion that the total desires of the whole human race had to be considered before we should try to make everything for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Our first solicitude, therefore, before we started flashing the lightnings or rolling the suns, would have to be over man's sociological organizations on this planet. We would need to arrive at, or to see established, a system of government or governments that would be most responsive to man's most carefully and deliberately indicated wishes; that would offer each man the best opportunity to get out of his own life the most possible of what he himself believed to be most worthwhile; and that would enable the whole race of men to decide wisely, or at least fairly, what changes should be made in their physical environment. Our very first job would be to determine the kind, the quality, and the quantity of government that best serves man's needs for the present and aspirations for the future. This would have to be done, and such government or governments provided, before we could, in good conscience, make a single move with our wand towards otherwise reordering the universe nearer to man's desire.

So our supposing has now brought us to the task of writing or planning a Utopia. …