Welcome to Bennett's Study

From the Author of No Land an Island and Unconscionable

Pondering Alphabetic SOLUTIONS: Peace, Politics, Public Affairs, People Relations




UNCONSCIONABLE: http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/ http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/author/ http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/book/ http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/excerpt/ http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/contact/ http://www.unconscionableusforeignrelations.com/buy/ SearchTerm=Carolyn+LaDelle+Bennett http://www2.xlibris.com/books/webimages/wd/113472/buy.htm http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx? http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Contemporary leadership defiles Lincoln legacy of Liberal Democracy

 Virtues of democratic leadership: perseverance, self-limitation, humility
Excerpting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program and Professor of the Civil War Era Allen Guelzo spoke last month with Tom Mackaman of the World Socialist Web Site. This is some of what Dr. Guelzo had to say about the character and thoughts of America’s sixteenth president.

Slavery the retrograde institution poisoning the republic ─ keeping the American republic from realizing its full potential

verybody in the race of life ought to get a fair start and a fair chance ─ this was the star by which Lincoln navigated and the best example was his own life.


“Lincoln saw in the Southern elite a defection from Enlightenment bourgeois politics toward aristocratic rule.” The complexion and structure of the plantation aristocracy of the Old South ─ similar to Prussian Junkers (19th and 20th centuries’ pejorative designation for a member of the landed nobility in Prussia and eastern Germany) who were not great aristocrats but squirearchy ─ Lincoln saw himself arrayed against that.

“Lincoln sees American democracy as a last stand, what he calls the last, best hope. And if this goes down, we may so discredit the whole notion of democracy that no one will ever want to go this way again, and so this is the test.

It’s a test of whether or not we’ll have this new birth of freedom, if we’ll finally shuck off these last husks of aristocracy and move forward in the direction of democracy.

Add caption
That for him is the vital issue.

The Civil War was “a test [of] whether this nation or any other nation so conceived can long endure. Is democracy self-destructive? Are the aristocrats right: That the only way you’ll ever have order in society is to let them run things; That you cannot put rule into the hands of ordinary people because they’ll botch it from selfishness, egotism, and stupidity?”

Union-Slavery debate

“People today often want to separate slavery and say that Lincoln was interested in preserving the union and not in destroying slavery.

“That gets it exactly wrong. The two are as knotted together as a rope because the only union worth preserving is a union that has abjured slavery.

“So for Lincoln to get rid of slavery is to purge America of the aristocratic poison. He once said that slavery was the one retrograde institution that was poisoning the American republic, keeping the American republic from realizing its full potential.…”

Incompatible with Enlightenment

“Slavery says that there is a category of people that can never be allowed to rise, that cannot improve themselves no matter how hard they try because they will always be slaves.

“It’s very much the classic disjuncture between the Enlightenment and feudalism.

Feudalism talks about people being born with status, and everyone comes into this world equipped with a status. This status is either free or slave, serf or nobility, elect or damned, whatever.

“For the Enlightenment, people come into this world armed with rights; and

[t]he ideal political system is the system that allows them to realize those rights, to use those rights in the freest and most natural fashion possible.

From Declaration of Independence

Lincoln was not exaggerating “when he talks at Gettysburg about the country being founded on a proposition, that’s what he means ─ that he did not have a political thought that did not flow from the Declaration of Independence ─ and specifically that all men are created equal.”

y equal, Lincoln means “equality of aspiration. He spoke those words about never having had a political thought which did not flow from the Declaration in February of 1861, outside Independence Hall. He believed that what the Founders meant, what the Declaration of Independence meant, was that everybody in the race of life ought to get a fair start and a fair chance. That was the star by which he navigated, and the best example he could offer to anybody was his own life.
“[Lincoln] had come up from grinding backwoods poverty and by dint of his own effort, intelligence, and gifts, had risen to more than a modicum of success ─ not only success in financial terms, but success socially. In every respect he was his own confirmation of his theories.…”

Democratic leadership

Lincoln combines “virtues of democratic leadership.” As opposed to aristocratic leadership, which honors valor, physical prowess, and dominance, “democratic leadership is more about perseverance, self-limitation, and humility. What we see in Lincoln is a collection of the virtues we think are most important in a democratic leadership. 

“[Lincoln] presided successfully over this incredibly critical moment we call the Civil War. He kept the union together. He defeated the Confederacy.

Anyone who sits down for a moment to think about what the alternative would have looked like—a successful breakaway Confederacy—and how that would have flowed downstream has to be with impressed with what Lincoln was able to save us from.

There is in the end no intrinsic reason why the Southern Confederacy should not have achieved its independence. And if they had, that would have had serious implications for the later role the North American continent plays in world affairs.

Imagine a North American continent as divided politically and economically as South America.

This would take the United States off the table as a major world player, and then what would you do with the history of the 20th century?

…In the American context Lincoln imparted to liberal democracy a sense of nobility and purpose that it has not always had in other contexts. He makes democracy something transcendent, and especially at Gettysburg where he talks about the nation having this new birth of freedom.

“…At the end of the day this is what the Civil War is about—it’s about the preservation of liberal democracy. In the 1860s the United States was the last Enlightenment experiment that was still standing.”

Sources and notes

Professor Allen Guelzo
“Understanding Lincoln: An interview with historian Allen Guelzo,” World Socialist Web Site,
April 3, 2013 (Copyright © 1998-2013 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved), http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/04/03/guel-a03.html

Allen Guelzo spoke with Tom Mackaman of the World Socialist Web Site in his office at Gettysburg College on a Saturday morning in March.

“A large academic conference was being held that weekend at the college entitled “The Future of Civil War History.” Gettysburg, in southeastern Pennsylvania, was the location of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, and the city’s college is now one of the leading centers in the study of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln.

During the period addressed in this interview, the late antebellum and the Civil War, American capitalism and its political representatives, led by Lincoln, played a revolutionary role, confronting the reactionary leadership of the American South and its system of slave labor.

Within a decade of the end of the Civil War the class struggle between the triumphant capitalist order and the working class had supplanted the earlier struggle between ‘free labor’ and slavery as the decisive issue in American history.

Professor Allen Guelzo

Allen Carl Guelzo is Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program and Henry R. Luce III Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College

Born 1953 in Yokohama, Japan, Dr. Guelzo took his academic credentials, M.A. and Ph.D. in history at the University of Pennsylvania

Most recent publications (Allen C. Guelzo)

Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012)
Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas (with Michael Lind, 2009)
Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions, 2009)
Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (2008)
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004)
Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Library of Religious Biography) (2003)


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy

No comments:

Post a Comment