Misplaced Faith

Dennis Linthicum

Misplaced Faith

I’d like to start with a recommendation. It’s been years since I’ve watched the classic movie, Ben Hur, with Charlton Heston. Although it comes to us from the late 1950’s, they produced a technological marvel that is still quite a masterpiece. The film swept 11 of the 12 Academy Award categories in which it was nominated, setting an Oscar record. So, if you didn’t get enough Easter Sunday goodies then I recommend getting a copy of Ben Hur.

I also have another recommendation, in the way of a book. The book is Witness an autobiographical account of Whittaker Chambers’ political and spiritual odyssey into, and out of, communism. If you are not familiar, Chambers was the lead witness in the Alger Hiss case investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The HUAC was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and organizations suspected of having direct ties to communist operators.

Chambers was an Editor at Time Magazine for nearly nine years following 10 years as a member of the communist underground working in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He narrates an insightful story of great personal intrigue, mystery and espionage that is unforgettable and is an immensely readable story of hope in our age of cultural unrest.

Chambers suggests that misplaced faith in government, science, education or materialism eventually leads many people to communism.  In their lives, people experience hardship, trouble, tragedy and sometimes bad-luck. They inherently understand something is not right with the world. People need a purpose in life. They need a purpose which goes beyond themselves where they can find meaning and identify with like-minded individuals. They have a natural desire to pitch-in and solve society’s problems.

Religion occupies this station for most people but when someone doesn’t feel any need for help from a higher power then they put their full faith into human institutions or ideologies. These ideological allegiances form the “isms” of our modern world, like progressivism, utopianism, pragmatism, collectivism, environmentalism, scientism with overtones of the class struggle, in elitism, egalitarianism, Marxism, socialism, and communism.

We have a tendency to forget that, groups follow leaders and concentrated power overtime degrades to become arbitrary, despotic and mindless. Even our own Constitution must be rigorously followed, or it will lose its guiding character because any power exercised by a majority can be just as tyrannical as that exercised by a minority. Ultimately, the weight of our human institutions must rest on their relationship to the individual.

Chambers takes time (800+ pages) to intimately identify the real problems of our modern world. He notes,

“religious rejection has taken a specifically political form, so that the characteristic experience of the mind in this age is a political experience. At every point, religion and politics interlace, and must do so more acutely as the conflict between the two great camps of men. … The most conspicuously menacing form of that rejection is Communism.”

The movement is particularly menacing because,

Witness Cover

“The Communist Party, despite occasional pious statements to the contrary, is a terrorist organization. Its disclaimers are for the record. But its record of kidnappings, assassinations, and murders makes the actions of the old Terror Brigade of the Socialist Revolutionary party look merely romantic.”

Chambers goes on to tell us that, “The Communist Party respects only force,” while, “Only terror terrifies it.”  His keen insight on this issue helps us understand the full faith and fervor of the progressive-left, the Antifa movement, new identity politics and the daily assaults on our constitutional form of limited government.

Chambers was astonished when he realized that the men he knew never took the New Deal seriously as an end in itself. Instead, “they regarded it as an instrument for gaining their own revolutionary ends.” Chambers draws the conclusion that the surface manifestations of the New Deal, “concealed the inner drift of this great movement.” The drift toward socialism was carried along by sincere people who supposed themselves to be simple liberal-minded individuals striving for justice, equality, the working-man and revolution. 

He labeled the New Deal as,

“a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social, and, above all, the power relationships within the nation. It was not a revolution by violence. It was a revolution by bookkeeping and lawmaking.”

This is why our national and state governments appear mired in inconsistencies. For 80 years we, too, have been gently guided along this path toward government control. We continually mistake self-governance as requiring more laws, more rules and a larger bureaucratic apparatus as the means to a better organized and more prosperous life. Yet the result is simply unwashed socialism.

Chambers concludes that the revolution of the New Deal was,

“made not by tanks and machine guns, but by acts of Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court … But revolution is always an affair of force, whatever forms the force disguises itself in. Whether the revolutionists prefer to call themselves Fabians, who seek power by the inevitability of gradualism, or Bolsheviks, who seek power by the dictatorship of the proletariat, the struggle is for power.”

In the first "Hundred Days" following his inauguration in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to pass many laws that brought new centralized planning and economic authority to the national government. However, the courts, following the dictates of the Constitution, realized that those initiatives were contrary to the founder’s intentions. Over the next 16 months, beginning in January 1935, the Supreme Court nullified eight of 10 major cases brought before them because of unconstitutional overreach.

After several years of political pressure some justices succumbed and changed sides while others retired, were removed from office, or died. All of their replacements were New Dealers. FDR’s policies brought an onslaught of collectivist activity into the halls of government. The public now takes for granted the unwieldy regulations, subsidies and habitual deficits which have plagued us ever since.

However, my letter today is about our future. We can learn from history. We can learn from our mistakes and our successes. We have the ability to change the critical spin of history, garner the support of our allies and lift the shield of faith in support of our Constitutional government.

Although our nation wants peace above all things, today we find ourselves in a struggle for our American heritage of Life, Liberty and our own just pursuits. As you consider ways for preserving our constitutionally federated Republic, remember – Freedom is always and everywhere preferable to slavery.

Best Regards,

Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/linthicum