Part 1 – Christopher Ferrara Interview
“Liberty, the God That Failed” (original air date 11 Feb, 2014)
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Some of you are going to have issues with this, and I think that’s why Mr. Ferrara needs to be a guest on programs like this. Proverbial envelopes need to be pushed from time to time, although I don’t really think he’s pushing an enveloped, not forward anyways. We’re harkening back to a day when things were a little different and maybe we should return to that, from what I have read thus far in the book anyway. The book is called Liberty, the God That Failed. I think that you’re going to find this very interesting. Christopher is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us, making his first stop to the program. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Some of you are going to have issues with this, and I think that’s why Mr. Ferrara needs to be a guest on programs like this. Proverbial envelopes need to be pushed from time to time, although I don’t really think he’s pushing an enveloped, not forward anyways. We’re harkening back to a day when things were a little different and maybe we should return to that, from what I have read thus far in the book anyway. The book is called Liberty, the God That Failed. I think that you’re going to find this very interesting. Christopher is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us, making his first stop to the program. Christopher, good to have you with us, sir. How are you today?
Christopher Ferrara: Good. Thank you, Mike, for having me on. I guess this will be a hot line today.
Mike: It is a hot line. As a matter of fact, I have to tell you that I have a dear, dear friend who spent ten years of his adult life fighting the diocese of New Orleans trying to convince them that they should drop their opposition, even though Pope John Paul II said they had to, and Benedict backed this up, that they should drop their opposition and let him host an Extraordinary Latin Mass at this very small parish in a very, very small town called Lacombe, Louisiana. Actually they kind of banished him to that town. They said: Okay, go and have your silly little extraordinary rite if you can find a priest to do it. He did. I don’t even know how he knew, but when he found out that you were going to be on, he actually wanted to make arrangements: Can I come in and sit in the studio and listen to that? Your reputation among men like David Simpson precedes you. Let’s get right into it, Christopher. Why Liberty, the God That Failed? Why did you write the book? Just give the folks at home and driving around just a little bit of a window into what you intend for them to learn or glean from your work.
Ferrara: I think the core of the book is a radical critique of the idea that in the modern era we have achieved at long last freedom from the tyranny of popes and kings and the true liberty that was denied to Western man during the long, dark ages in which men labored under the heavy yoke of the Catholic Church and people were being burned at the stake every hour on the hour. The thesis of the book is that in fact, not only I but certain libertarian scholars have said this, that in terms of the daily intrusions of government into our lives, the heavy hand of the State, it was less of that during the Christina centuries under kings were hemmed in by all kinds of customary limitations and protections than there is in the modern nation-state. I’ve been accused by certain critics, who usually haven’t read the book, of defending monarchy and a quixotic return to the medieval monarchical state.
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As a matter of fact, and this is one of the more controversial points in the book, monarchy has never left us. You have to be in a coma not to realize that the modern imperial presidency is a remnant of the monarchy, just as the anti-federalists said from the start. This monarch, the monarchical presidency, isn’t hemmed in by any traditional customs or limitations, and certainly not by anything as lofty as divine and natural law. That’s the foundation of my critique. The problem with liberty, its failure, the rampant nation-state that engulfs us today is not one of structure. It isn’t a question of this or that political remedy, nullification, secession, getting back to the Constitution. It’s fundamentally a moral and spiritual problem. It isn’t one of form; it’s one of substance. The Western world essentially has turned its back on God and his law. When that happens, no form of government is going to save us.
That’s the essence of the critique. I document that with historical examples of how, from the very beginning — and, again, this is predicted by the anti-federalists — the republic relentlessly expanded its powers. Almost immediately, as we see in such examples as the Whiskey Rebellion, the common people who engaged in the American Revolution in reliance of this promise of new and unprecedented freedom had a rude awakening. During the Whiskey Rebellion, you see people putting up liberty poles in the Western territories over the Alleghenies, thinking: Wait a minute, how can they come and take our distilleries and crush us with an army led by George Washington over a whiskey tax? Didn’t we just have a revolution over a tea tax that was comparatively trivial? They had a rude awakening. The rude awakening came in the form of sheer power that, as I said a moment ago, was no longer limited by anything as lofty as the law of God or divine and natural law. The book traces a trajectory, as the subtitle says, from the philosophy of John Locke, which basically unleashed upon the world the idea of a secular State in thought, to the creation of the secular State in practice. The trajectory ends with Obama.
Mike: That’s a bad ending, Christopher, I have to tell you. That’s a horror show.
Ferrara: What I do in the book is show that when you throw away the principles of limited political power, when you turn your back on them and create a rational republic whose constitution makes no reference to divine and natural law, makes no reference to God, it’s inevitable that majoritarian tyranny, unchecked by any higher principle, will produce the situation that we have today.
I think one of the more interesting sections of the book is where I discuss the movement of Evangelical Protestants, not traditionalist Catholics who go to Latin masses, but Evangelical Protestants in the 1860s, during and after the Civil War, who had conventions in places like Pittsburgh. The president of this group, called the National Reform Association, was at one time a retired Supreme Court Justice, Justice Strong. The purpose of this group was to level a series of accusations against the American system of government precisely along the lines that I’ve already indicated. It was, in terms of its organic law, Godless, did not tie itself and limit itself in its organic laws, beginning with the Constitution, through the higher laws. They were predicting at these conventions that sooner or later America would become, in her political life, a “Christless, Godless blank.” That’s a direct quote from their proceedings. There was nothing to stop the national government from becoming the government that ate human rights, in the true sense of the word.
Mike: The government that ate human rights, it almost sounds like one of those Godzilla movies that you might see coming out of Japan. In all seriousness, let me jump in here for a moment and guide the conversation and focus on a couple points I heard you make. Number one, the anti-federalists, as you correctly pointed out — I have read and am still reading a lot of anti-federalists, but I try not to use the pejorative because it was an insult in the day. They preferred to be called republicans. The anti-federalists, as they are derisively known, did, in many of their writings — and you can see this in Henry’s speech against ratification. You can read this in Governor Clinton’s essays as Cato. You can read them in the Brutus essays. You’re the first person I’ve heard actually pick up on this in recent memory. They did refer to Locke and Locke was not presented as a good guy. He was presented as a villain. Locke is the one that unleashed all this. Then if you fast forward a decade or so, what comes out of France? Locke produces Rousseau. Rousseau produces the attitudes that lead to the Jacobins arising, so it’s not just the Americas that are cursed with the failure of the secular State. The French were the first. Were the French the first then to see the horrid nature of the liberty the God that failed in their revolution?
Ferrara: In the sense that it was bloodier than the American Revolution. The reason for that is that the French revolutionaries, implementing the American model in France, encountered something that simply never existed in America: an entrenched Catholic social order that had to be eradicated because it stood in the way of the new model that had first been perfected and launched into operation in America. One of the things that’s interesting is, the admissions of John Adams toward the end of his life about what in fact he knew he had unleashed, and I quote him, where he says to Benjamin Rush, one of the second-rank founders and a very prominent one, “Have I not been employed in mischief all my days? Did not the American Revolution produce the French Revolution? And did not the French Revolution produce all the calamities and desolations to the human race and the whole globe ever since?”
Adams knew what was happening. He knew that this engine of government unrestrained by divine and natural law principles, unrestrained even by the limits that effected and limited the powers of monarchs, was going to cause calamity throughout the world. Elsewhere in the book, I talk about how he in his correspondence with Jefferson admitted that oceans and rivers of blood would have to be let loose before government on the basis of what he called rational principles could be established. In other words, there would have to be bloody revolutions in Europe, certainly in France, to destroy the Catholic social order that stood in the way of this brave new world we’re living in today.
You mentioned Brutus. Brutus is great. Brutus predicted that the government, and I’m quoting, “Will penetrate into the most obscure cottage, and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!” It didn’t take a sage to see that in its germinal form, the government that was created back then, by those 55 delegates in Philadelphia, had the potential and certainly would eventually become what it is today.
End Mike Church Show Transcript
Part I of this interview is presented FREE of charge for ALL listeners.