This year I would like to embellish my Independence Day salutations with some Russell Kirk (from his chapter on John Randolph). I was particularly taken by these two quotes since they speak so strongly to our times. I wasted a fair bit of time writing some paragraphs to accompany them, but couldn’t escape the feeling that my words were detracting from the argument. So here they are without commentary.
When a people begin to think that they can improve society infinitely by incessant alteration of positive law, nothing remains settled: every right, every bit of property, every one of those dear attachments to the permanence of family, home, and countryside is endangered. Such a people soon presume themselves to be omnicompetent, and the farther their affairs fall into confusion, the more enthusiastic they become for some legislative panacea which promises to cut all knots in Gordian fashion.
Public vanity is turned to personal and class advantage by demagogues and clever speculators, so that government becomes a means for extracting money and rights from one portion of the population to suit the interests of men who manipulate the system. Good political constitutions alone do not suffice to resist this legislative maggot: first the delusion that the state is competent to regulate all things must be exploded, and then the power must be counterpoised against power, since mere parchment is no insurance against oppression.
Have a vigilant Independence Day!