Rational Ryan

The Peikoff Endorsement

113 posts in this topic

should at least place all of Ayn Rand's works into the public domain so that they can be freely copied, quoted, translated, wiki-fied, analyzed, argued about, stored on millions of electronic devices, transcribed onto etched superalloy sheets (one of my ideas) that would last millions of years, and searched all around the internet.

I have no clue who owns these copyrights or the background of that ownership,...

Leonard Peikoff owns all Ayn Rand's copyrights as the sole heir of her estate.

... but Phil Oliver is making a hugely important point here. If a fund-raising campaign needs to be undertaken to buy out the copyrights, so be it. It ought to be a prime focus of organized Objectivism to get the work of Ayn Rand freely available and organized on the internet in its fullest possible extent, in as many languages as possible, as soon as possible.

If this is not near the top of the agenda for ARI, I wish someone would explain why it isn't so we can get to work and deal with the problem!

One more thought -- I think I've read comments like this from Phil before, and yet I've never seen much followup from others.

Phil has unique first hand experience as the publisher of the Objectivist Reserach CD Rom, and evidently some other endeavors like translations. Leonard Peikoff has put a lot of effort into putting everything Ayn Rand wrote into print that was suitable but not published in her lifetime and in getting the publishers to promote the books, but there are apparently a number of problems regarding more modern media and translations that Phil has encountered.

Phil, I want to publicly volunteer to sign on and contribute to any effort you might decide to put together to carry on this effort, and I publicly challenge others on this board to do the same! This goal is too important, and time is too short, for this issue to remain in the shadows.

Leonard Peikoff did donate the rights to Ayn Rand's recorded lectures to ARI and you can find them at the ARI website.

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But again, your claim was that only "a few" Christian Republicans wanted to ban abortion.

I guess this all boils down to what we mean by "a few" and I think that varies. Here in Southern California, and in most urban areas and blue states, most people are Christians and most are pro-choice -- including Republicans. In rural areas and red states, most people are Christians and polls show that there is more anti-abortion sentiment, but not all of that translates into the desire to make abortions illegal. In general, nation-wide, most people favor legal abortion although how many varies widely in various polls (link).

If there were only a few, then my point is: how in the world did Huckabee ever get as much support as he did?

Huckabee was not simply Mr. Anti-Abortion. He was also self-confident, funny, an underdog, a populist, etc. As with most candidates, different people liked or disliked him for different reasons.

I only said that Limbaugh was against abortion; I have no idea what his reasons are. However, again, I claim that his great popularity wouldn't be so great if there were only a few Christian Republicans who wanted to ban abortion, because if that were the case, his anti-abortion stance would be very unpopular with his listeners. (Also, I don't see the relevance in this discussion of the fact that he is popular with some Objectivists. There are so few Objectivists that they certainly do not constitute more than a miniscule fraction of his audience.)

It might also be that his immense popularity is due the fact that he is the kind of guy who reads from and recommends Ayn Rand and A.R.I. op-eds, that our sense of life resonates with him and with many in his audience, and the fact that we're atheists doesn't matter all that much to them.

I think the truth is that Rush has mixed premises and so do most of his listeners, but there are some genuinely good premises in the mixture.

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[Giuliani] had 80% support among California Republicans but he didn't participate in the early primaries and ran out of money. Maybe he'll do better next time.

Really?? Why in the world would he drop out if he had 80% support in California - surely if he was that popular he could have raised some more money. (Do you have a source to substantiate this claim - 80% sounds extremely high for any candidate to have.)

Rudy did raise a lot of money in California but dropped out because he was pinning all his hopes and money on the Florida primary and he lost it. As for the 80%, that is my own estimate based on what I saw as a Republican Party volunteer -- and Giuliani supporter -- in Ventura County where support for Rudy was 100%. I hear it was similar in predominantly Republican Orange County too. The national party did send us literature, bumper stickers, etc. for other Republican candidates, but I saw no interest and when Rudy lost Florida we had the same number of McCain, Huckabee, etc. materials on hand that we started with.

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I have split off several posts from this thread into a new topic titled "Kant and the Naval Academy" in the "Politics" forum here.

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I have split off several posts from this thread into a new topic titled "Kant and Plato as Cultural Influences " in the "Metaphysics & Epistemology" forum here.

I know that a topic like this has a tendency to drift, but I would appreciate it if posters would try to limit postings on this thread to Peikoff's ideas as they relate to the current election.

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[The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

... Every presidential candidate has been a Christian of one kind of another.

Yeah, well, there is "goes to church on Sunday" Christians and then there is "Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs" Christians.

As Dr. Peikoff pointed out, Palin's selection was almost certainly motivated in part by an attempt to pander to the evangelicals. It is very scary when that extreme of irrationality of the religious right have come to have an entitlement to at least the bottom half of the ticket.

You know... if the Republicans were punished hard, as Dr. Peikoff suggested, until or unless they drop the right, then the Democrats would become the power holders, and the religionists would just migrate over to the Democrats and form a new wing there. And THEN we would have the secular socialists and the religious altruists under the same party tent, which would be sweet...

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If Immanuel Kant is the juggernaut who made the essential arguments that lead to the destruction of Western freedoms, then how is it that religion is suddenly the bigger enemy? Doesn't it make sense that removing the primary cause of the decline of philosophy, Kant, is the way to make possible the rise of Objectivism and capitalism?

After all, religious arguments are easily defeated. I have some idea about what might be going on, which would be an answer to my own question, but I'll save that for later.

I don't think Dr. Peikoff is suggesting that religion has somehow supplanted bad philosophers in intellectual terms. He was speaking politically, and stated that he sees the religionists as a bigger threat to American freedom than the more secular socialists.

Just observe the worst countries -- are they the secular socialist/communist dictatorships, or the religious/theocratic ones? Even the "democratic" theocracies like Egypt, or western-allied monarchies like Saudi Arabia are far more repressive places to live, in many ways, than, say, a country like China or maybe Cuba.

One fundamental aspect is that religion is predominantly intrinsicist, whereas socialist ideologies are perhaps more rational and objective (albeit wrong.) You can battle a morality that is mistaken, but there is no way to combat one that is Intrinsically Correct ("the Bible says...", "the Koran says...", etc.) FYI, Environmentalism is basically a religion, in this sense: it is almost completely an intrinsicist morality (earth is Good, existence of species is Good, climate unmodified by human activity is Good, etc. -- no one values pollution, so factor the objectively valid aspects out of "environmentalism", and you still have 95% of its content, which is pure intrinsicism -- and notice the religious-like tactics of its adherents, such as eco-terrorists, animal-"rights" activists, etc.)

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I don't think Dr. Peikoff is suggesting that religion has somehow supplanted bad philosophers in intellectual terms. He was speaking politically, and stated that he sees the religionists as a bigger threat to American freedom than the more secular socialists.

The majority of Americans have always been religious, but religion has not been a political threat up until now because we have a separation of church and state. The only change over the years has been that the separation has gotten wider than it used to be.

Just observe the worst countries -- are they the secular socialist/communist dictatorships, or the religious/theocratic ones? Even the "democratic" theocracies like Egypt, or western-allied monarchies like Saudi Arabia are far more repressive places to live, in many ways, than, say, a country like China or maybe Cuba.

The theocracies don't have a separation of religion and state and we do. That makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Unfortunately we don't have a separation of state and economics, as Ayn Rand advocated, and that makes us much more vulnerable to totalitarian socialism than to theocracy.

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Unfortunately we don't have a separation of state and economics, as Ayn Rand advocated, and that makes us much more vulnerable to totalitarian socialism than to theocracy.

AMEN!

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The theocracies don't have a separation of religion and state and we do. That makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Unfortunately we don't have a separation of state and economics, as Ayn Rand advocated, and that makes us much more vulnerable to totalitarian socialism than to theocracy.

Thank-you for this, Betsy, for pointing out this crucial distinction! While the First Amendment provides an explicit prohibition of government entanglement in religious and other matters of personal conscience (overlooked, even ignored, by many but still blazingly and solidly there!), no such barrier exists for the functional institution of totalitarian socialism at least in one of its more smiley-faced incarnations -- in fact, the very language of the Constitution itself (particularly that respecting the very vaguely defined notions of "interstate commerce" and "general welfare" -- in fact, they're not defined at all) has served quite nicely as the primary keys to that particular Pandora's box over the last 100-150 years.

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Some posts from this thread have been split off into a separate topic titled "Separation of state and economics" in the Politics forum. (link)

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This proposed amendment was voted down approximately 75% to 25%.

This means that about half of Republicans here voted against it (including me, incidentally).

Getting such measures on the ballot does not represent a "significant attempt". It's actually very easy to get such initiatives on the ballot here in Colorado and another of the initiatives this year was to make it a little harder to do so. Only a small fraction of the electorate has to sign a petition to get something on the ballot.

Also, even though Colorado went for Obama by a sizable margin, every statewide attempt at a tax increase or to open a loophole in the current state spending restrictions ("TABOR" or Taxpayers Bill of Rights) was voted down.

So I don't think the voters of Colorado are for Obama and Soclialism as much as they were against the Republicans ridiculous performance the past 4 years (corruption, scandal, seeming loss of principle regarding small government) and disgust with the Iraq war.

Jawaid Bazyar

Many Objectivists who assert the threat of religion appear to reside in Colorado where there is a significant attempt to impose religious doctrine, such as the ballot initiative for a state contitutional amendment to define a human as a fertilized egg. While I agree that religion as a political movement today is not a significant threat in the country, I'm curious as to what your evaluation of the situation in Colorado is.

If I were in Colorado, I would fight against that constitutional amendment.

The issue is not the source of the idea, but that it is wrong idea backed up with a government gun. (For those concerned about the source of immoral laws, observe that almost all of them actually implemented recently have been promoted and justified on secular grounds.)

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And what would 50 years under the unbreakable power of THAT coalition do to the country?

But they'll never do it, because the socialists want the government to pay for as many abortions as possible, and the religious want women to be baby factories.

The Demoncrats could drop the women's libbers and bring in the religious nuts and then it would Game Over for America for a long time.

Alternatively, I think a significant fraction of Americans think the abortion question is settled and are starting to lean towards libertarianism, except that the principles of Objectivism are currently split between the two parties.

I wonder if anyone has done any polling on this? A lot of people I've talked to seem to support individual rights and limited government.

You know... if the Republicans were punished hard, as Dr. Peikoff suggested, until or unless they drop the right, then the Democrats would become the power holders, and the religionists would just migrate over to the Democrats and form a new wing there. And THEN we would have the secular socialists and the religious altruists under the same party tent, which would be sweet...

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I don't think Dr. Peikoff is suggesting that religion has somehow supplanted bad philosophers in intellectual terms. He was speaking politically, and stated that he sees the religionists as a bigger threat to American freedom than the more secular socialists.

The majority of Americans have always been religious, but religion has not been a political threat up until now because we have a separation of church and state. The only change over the years has been that the separation has gotten wider than it used to be.

Just observe the worst countries -- are they the secular socialist/communist dictatorships, or the religious/theocratic ones? Even the "democratic" theocracies like Egypt, or western-allied monarchies like Saudi Arabia are far more repressive places to live, in many ways, than, say, a country like China or maybe Cuba.

The theocracies don't have a separation of religion and state and we do. That makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Unfortunately we don't have a separation of state and economics, as Ayn Rand advocated, and that makes us much more vulnerable to totalitarian socialism than to theocracy.

Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it. And yet, here we are, due to the simple trick of redefining what the Constitution means. In that respect, I don't consider the Constitution any more of a protection against religious oppression than it's been a protection against "secular" oppression. Stack the Supreme Court with a few more religious conservatives, and the 1st Amendment can simply be interpreted away. Consider how the 1st Amendment hasn't been a de facto protection against censoring "offensive" speech nor restrictions on campaign financing (the censoring of political speech).

That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.

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Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it.

The Constitution was not primarily designed to support government interventions. It was created/designed to limit the governments power and keep American citizens from becoming servants of the state.

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Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it.

The Constitution was not primarily designed to support government interventions. It was created/designed to limit the governments power and keep American citizens from becoming servants of the state.

Yes. That's my point. The Constitution stands in opposition to government intervention into the economy, and yet we have massive government intervention.

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Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it.

The Constitution was not primarily designed to support government interventions. It was created/designed to limit the governments power and keep American citizens from becoming servants of the state.

Yes. That's my point. The Constitution stands in opposition to government intervention into the economy, and yet we have massive government intervention.

America is no longer a free country. It's a shadow of its former self. Thank you left wing "intellectuals" for your vision. We see now what you were getting at.

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The theocracies don't have a separation of religion and state and we do. That makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Unfortunately we don't have a separation of state and economics, as Ayn Rand advocated, and that makes us much more vulnerable to totalitarian socialism than to theocracy.

Nothing in the Constitution supports the vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so, and there's a great deal that opposes it. And yet, here we are, due to the simple trick of redefining what the Constitution means.

Of all the "vast government interventions into the economy that we've experienced over close to the last 80 years or so" which ones were justified by the Supreme Court on religious grounds and which on secular grounds?

In that respect, I don't consider the Constitution any more of a protection against religious oppression than it's been a protection against "secular" oppression.

Can you give a single example of "religious oppression" enforced or even allowed by recent court decisions?

Stack the Supreme Court with a few more religious conservatives, and the 1st Amendment can simply be interpreted away. Consider how the 1st Amendment hasn't been a de facto protection against censoring "offensive" speech nor restrictions on campaign financing (the censoring of political speech).

None of the above were proposed nor supported on religious grounds. That kind of censorship, including proposals to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine" are all coming from the Left, aren't they?

That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.

So far, and for the most part, it's been able to protect us from theocracy -- but not from socialism.

That was my point.

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Can you give a single example of "religious oppression" enforced or even allowed by recent court decisions?

Wouldn't the recent Supreme Court decision banning (or restricting) partial birth abortions be an example like that? I mean, I don't think it's even remotely as bad as some of the left-inspired measures that have been taken, but it IS an example, isn't it?

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Can you give a single example of "religious oppression" enforced or even allowed by recent court decisions?

Wouldn't the recent Supreme Court decision banning (or restricting) partial birth abortions be an example like that? I mean, I don't think it's even remotely as bad as some of the left-inspired measures that have been taken, but it IS an example, isn't it?

No, it isn't. The Supreme Court did not ban such abortions. The Congress did on the grounds that it was a procedure that harmed the mother.

Even then, the Law itself affirmed:

(a) FINDINGS. --The Senate finds that --

(1) abortion has been a legal and constitutionally protected medical procedure throughout the United States since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)); and

(2) the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established constitutionally based limits on the power of States to restrict the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

(b ) SENSE OF THE SENATE. --It is the sense of theSenate that --

(1) the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)) was appropriate and secures an important constitutional right; and

(2) such decision should not be overturned.

Full text of the law (link)

A previous ban was thrown out by the Supreme Court because there was no exception for the health of the mother. The above law passed in 2003 allowed that exception and the Court let it stand it because there was no constitutional grounds to invalidate the law. In the case, there were no religious arguments of any kind presented by either side. Whatever the decision implies, the Court was certainly not "imposing religious oppression."

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That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.

So far, and for the most part, it's been able to protect us from theocracy -- but not from socialism.

That was my point.

Betsy, my point is simply this: if the Constitution hasn't protected us from socialism (or, to a more limited but still relevant degree, from censorship, or environmentalism, or animal rights, or any number of other unconstitutional government intrusions), then why do you assume it will protect us from religion? What's so special about the First Amendment's religion clause that makes it so much more powerful than the entirety of the rest of the Constitution?

And when you say "So far... it's been able to protect us from theocracy," isn't Dr. Peikoff's (and some others') argument that religion is growing in political influence? That it represents the new (or newly predominant) threat to our freedom? By that definition, the Constitution's separation of church and state simply hasn't yet been tested--and, there's absolutely no rational reason that I can think of to imagine that it will hold out against religion where it didn't hold out against socialism. The First Amendment's religious separation clause can simply be reinterpreted out of existence, just as has so much of the rest of the Constitution.

You can argue that Dr. Peikoff is simply incorrect, that religion is not growing in influence (in particular, within the Republican Party) and doesn't pose a legitimate threat, but to argue that the Constitution itself will somehow protect us where it hasn't protected us in just about every other instance seems profoundly mistaken. And if that's true, then arguing against theocracy solely on the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution is equally mistaken, and yet that seems to be the argument.

Saudi Arabia is a religious theocracy because Islam is the dominant philosophical influence, not because it lacks a Constitution. Similarly, it's only as America's dominant philosophy became altruist/collectivist that socialism was able to take root, and the Constitution did nothing to stop it. Put another way, the Constitution has relevance only insofar as the underlying philosophy supports it.

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That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.

So far, and for the most part, it's been able to protect us from theocracy -- but not from socialism.

That was my point.

Betsy, my point is simply this: if the Constitution hasn't protected us from socialism (or, to a more limited but still relevant degree, from censorship, or environmentalism, or animal rights, or any number of other unconstitutional government intrusions), then why do you assume it will protect us from religion? What's so special about the First Amendment's religion clause that makes it so much more powerful than the entirety of the rest of the Constitution?

For one thing, that it is actually IN the Constitution, unlike what I call the Narragansett Amendment ("Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade …") which should be, but is NOT, in the Constitution.

And when you say "So far... it's been able to protect us from theocracy," isn't Dr. Peikoff's (and some others') argument that religion is growing in political influence? That it represents the new (or newly predominant) threat to our freedom?

That's the most important reason not to worry about an imminent theocracy. With all due respect to Dr. Peikoff and those who agree with him, I think the idea that religion in growing in political influence or has any significant political influence at all compared to socialism or environmentalism, is just factually wrong.

You can argue that Dr. Peikoff is simply incorrect, that religion is not growing in influence (in particular, within the Republican Party) and doesn't pose a legitimate threat, but to argue that the Constitution itself will somehow protect us where it hasn't protected us in just about every other instance seems profoundly mistaken. And if that's true, then arguing against theocracy solely on the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution is equally mistaken, and yet that seems to be the argument.

I wouldn't do that since, like you, I agree that cultural and ethical issues will ultimately prevail over anything in the Constitution.

The fact that almost all threats to freedom of speech have come from the Left and been rationalized on socialist or environmentalist grounds, rather than coming from the Right and based on religion, is just more evidence that that religion is not as strong a cultural force as some believe.

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That's the fundamental role that philosophy plays. Without the proper philosophical foundation, the Constitution's no better than the paper it's written on.

So far, and for the most part, it's been able to protect us from theocracy -- but not from socialism.

That was my point.

Betsy, my point is simply this: if the Constitution hasn't protected us from socialism (or, to a more limited but still relevant degree, from censorship, or environmentalism, or animal rights, or any number of other unconstitutional government intrusions), then why do you assume it will protect us from religion? What's so special about the First Amendment's religion clause that makes it so much more powerful than the entirety of the rest of the Constitution?

And when you say "So far... it's been able to protect us from theocracy," isn't Dr. Peikoff's (and some others') argument that religion is growing in political influence? That it represents the new (or newly predominant) threat to our freedom? By that definition, the Constitution's separation of church and state simply hasn't yet been tested--and, there's absolutely no rational reason that I can think of to imagine that it will hold out against religion where it didn't hold out against socialism. The First Amendment's religious separation clause can simply be reinterpreted out of existence, just as has so much of the rest of the Constitution.

You can argue that Dr. Peikoff is simply incorrect, that religion is not growing in influence (in particular, within the Republican Party) and doesn't pose a legitimate threat, but to argue that the Constitution itself will somehow protect us where it hasn't protected us in just about every other instance seems profoundly mistaken. And if that's true, then arguing against theocracy solely on the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution is equally mistaken, and yet that seems to be the argument.

Saudi Arabia is a religious theocracy because Islam is the dominant philosophical influence, not because it lacks a Constitution. Similarly, it's only as America's dominant philosophy became altruist/collectivist that socialism was able to take root, and the Constitution did nothing to stop it. Put another way, the Constitution has relevance only insofar as the underlying philosophy supports it.

A few points on this that I would like to make. The Constitution explicitly states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There is no explicit statement in the Constitution barring intrusion into the economy. Those elements of the Constitution that should be used to fight against socialism, such as the proper understanding of the "general welfare" clause in the preamble and Section 8, require an understanding of the political and ethical meaning behind the document. That knowledge has been lost after generations of students in state controlled schools dominated by pragmatism and teacher's unions. And the emergence of altruism as the major ethical standard within political discourse has solidified the trend toward statism. No such events have occurred that will support a trend to theocracy in anywhere near the immediate future.

Also, Dr. Peikoff's argument was not just the religion is a growing threat, but that it was an imminent threat and that the Evangelicals within the Republican Party were trying to establish a theocracy within the next 20 - 50 years, or sooner. You state that Betsy has argued "against theocracy solely on the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution is equally mistaken, and yet that seems to be the argument." I don't think that has been her argument. She clearly states "so far, and for the most part, it's been able to protect us from theocracy." (my bold)

Saudi Arabia is not a theocracy because Islam is the dominant philosophical influence. It is a theocracy because the law dictates that it is the only religion that may be practiced in the country, and other religions are ruthlessly and legally suppressed from public display.

The Constitution did much to stop socialism from taking root. Most of FDRs intrusions into the economy were overturned as unconstitutional during the New Deal era. The attempt to impose an income tax was overturned many times by courts, which is why there had to be a Constitutional Amendment. But, as you note, a document is only as good as the ideas supporting it. And statism was the trend. So courts eventually yielded to those who appoint the judges. So if you are going to argue that theocracy is a foreseeable threat, then you'd have to show some evidence in terms of the political, legal, and judicial activity in this country. And, in my opinion, there is very little of that going on outside of the Evangelical movement, which is a significant minority and has significant cultural opposition in this country.

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---------

There is no explicit statement in the Constitution barring intrusion into the economy.

-------------

As a matter of fact, there is an explicit permission in the Constituioon for the government to intrude into the economy.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

-----------------

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

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