The John Birch Resolutions
by Robert Welch
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; and put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”
Both Christmas and a New Year will have arrived before you receive another bulletin. The period will soon be upon us when happy memories of the past, bountiful good will in the present, and noble resolutions for the future are proverbial expectations.
Let us, therefore, set aside for a few minutes our more immediate anxieties, while we give some solemn thought to a subject of more permanent concern. And that is the confusion between what is morally right and what is morally wrong, which is now being so widely and so skillfully created by behavioral pseudo-scientists and propagandists in the service of the Conspiracy.
That the problem is doubtless as old as morality itself can be surmised from Isaiah’s verse, written a few years before 700 B.C., which we have quoted above. That it has been a persistent affliction is confirmed by Cicero’s line in De Finibus: “Inability to tell good from evil is the greatest worry of man’s life.” Both Isaiah and Cicero, however, were writing of their own respective eras, when a vast breakdown in all moral values was visibly under way. And in both cases there were conspiratorially destructive forces helping along the movement.
Our real point is that, then as now, the confusion was not caused by any significant changes in what was honestly acceptable to the human conscience. There have been, even within the millennia of recorded history, substantial revisions, by at least some segments of the earth’s population, in some areas of the moral spectrum. One was the adoption by Mohammedans of the belief that it was a sin to drink alcoholic beverages. Another has been the gradual, if some times only theoretical, disapproval of concubinage in our Western Civilization. But no such basic change had taken place in the world of either Isaiah or Cicero.
What had taken place was an insidiously conducted rationalization, to befuddle the public and make sin seem merely a sophisticated fashion. Your editor does not know enough about the history of Judah in the days of Hezekiah to outline the features of that movement, or to name those whom Isaiah would have condemned – and maybe did. But there is no question about the nature or even the personnel of the conspiracy that produced the same effect in Cicero’s Rome. The campaign of erosion, first made dangerous by the Gracchi, and continued under the leadership of Marius, had already been in process for a hundred years. And the fomenters of revolution who now sought to destroy all tradition, all morality, and the whole Roman system, to whatever extent was necessary for their personal power and glory, included such scheming demagogues as Sallust, Catiline, and Julius Caesar – with Caesar the chief beneficiary of this undermining program.
And these protagonists of unlimited license, coupled with unlimited government welfarism, as vehicles for their drive to power, knew exactly what they were doing. For, as Tacitus emphasized only a hundred years later, a people can “be vanquished by their vices as easily as by force of arms.” Today the same dictum applies to ourselves, just as clearly as when Tacitus wrote it nineteen hundred years ago. It is because the collectivist conspirators of all eras really learn something from history – which the rest of the human race generally refuses to do – that we have looked briefly at these episodes and epigrams from the past. For they serve as at least partial prototypes and guides for what is happening right now.
In Cicero’s time the comprehensive movement to the left was still amorphous, rather than centrally controlled. The long continuing, self-perpetuating, tightly-knit Conspiracy, with tremendous organizational reach and power, which has dominated the Twentieth Century, would make Caesar’s treasonous designs on Rome look like a Huey Long naive fiasco – or Robert Kennedy’s fatal attempt to out-Communist the Communists – by comparison. The Insiders whom we oppose are infinitely smoother. But they are well aware that the elimination of all morality would remove one great obstacle to their enslavement of the human race. And they have chosen to carry out this destructive program by psychological procedures. We are being induced to “call evil good, and good evil”-while we pat ourselves on the back over our sophistication-exactly as did those who were so “modern” in the days of Isaiah.
To forestall this incredibly evil intent, it would be immensely helpful to have more of the American people understand better the nature and the relative permanence of basic moral principles. Therefore, as poorly qualified as we are for creating this understanding, we hope you will bear with us while we continue this sincere and earnest attempt. And please do not get mad with us if, in doing so, we must trespass once or twice on religious landscapes where there is some divergence of views even among our members. We seek only to establish conclusions and purposes concerning which all of these shades of religious belief are entirely compatible.
We begin by quoting once again, from Froude, that “morality, when vigorously alive, sees farther than intellect.”
There are many thousands among our members who believe this is because divine wisdom has been directly expressed in so many of the bases and components of our moral convictions. Examples would be the tablets which Moses brought down with him from the top of Mt. Sinai, or the recorded admonitions and exhortations which Jesus gave his disciples in the “sermon on the mount.”
Etymologically, however, the word morality means simply the body of manners and customs – the mores – of a people or of a civilization. So there are also many thousands of our members who believe that our moral codes are basically a distillation of all of man’s previously acquired wisdom and experience. They feel that over many long ages our ancestors, learning slowly and laboriously, with many tragic setbacks in their climb towards a more noble and humane civilization, have been gradually weeding out mistaken courses of conduct which were fully accepted in the past, and arriving at ideals which were more soundly based.
There are still other thousands-perhaps the largest part of our membership as a whole – who see no conflict between these two points of view. They feel that man is surely being inspired and guided in an “upward reach,” which is itself derived from the plans of a Divine Creator; that he must be responsible enough to learn from his transgressions, mistakes, and successes; and that even literal instructions given him more directly are merely a part of this divine guidance and inspiration.
We take no part in any argument over these or other views. For to do so would lead us into the realm of theology where we do not belong, and where we make no slightest claim to leadership. It is a cardinal principle of The John Birch Society that every man’s religious beliefs constitute a personal matter which is outside of our area of influence or involvement. It has been, and is, our great undertaking to bring into one body – for the first time in human history – truly good men and women of all sects, denominations, and creeds, who will work together with tolerant good will for those spiritual ideals and noble purposes which they do hold in common.
So, as stated in the Blue Book a dozen years ago, our concern is with morality itself, and not with the teleological foundations on which it rests. We simply believe that, however varied or profound may be the explanations underlying our sense of moral values, those moral values have a more universal authority and experience behind them than the pretentious conclusions of any particular intellect, or of even any vast coterie of contemporary intellectuals. We believe that basic principles, painfully and gradually drawn from the wisdom, the suffering, the aspirations, and the prophetic religious teachings, of countless centuries before us, are more trustworthy than supposedly brilliant but ephemeral fads and fashions in behavior which are inconsistent with these commandments or with all of this past experience.
Of course morality sees farther than intellect. Especially so when intellect is represented by nefarious “geniuses” who profess to believe that “God is dead.” Or who act as if God had abdicated in their favor. Today we have misguided children picketing their high schools in support of a claim that they are better able to decide what they should be taught than their parents, teachers, and school administrators. And we also have older and more evil children, in professorial robes and high positions, telling us that the so-called “situation ethics” which they have concocted is superior to the composite conscience of mankind.
All such combinations of audacity with ignorance would be supremely ridiculous but for one consideration. Cruelty is never funny. And your militant iconoclasts of all ages, who want to destroy what Kipling called “the gods of the copybook headings,” always have a streak of cruelty which enables them to find pleasure in their destructiveness. To enter into philosophic disputations with such childish (or deliberately evil) smart alecks is both foolish and futile. It is far better to rest your case, and be governed in your actions by those moral principles which are deep-rooted in the multiple faiths, the long experience, and the accumulated common sense that have supplied the spiritual foundation of our great Western Civilization.
Morality, when vigorously alive, sees farther than intellect. But morality is not only not vigorously alive today, it is so debilitated, confused, and brow-beaten that both its force and its foresight have become pitifully inadequate to the need. Amid all the babel of false tongues around us, even the basically good people sometimes find it hard to know what is right and what is wrong in a given situation. The sophistries of an evil Conspiracy have been presented so impressively and so cleverly that men with the most honorable intentions waver between the alluring promises of a completely phony “new morality” and the sound dictation of their own consciences.
So the time has come in fact it is long overdue-when many of the moral uncertainties of today, most of which have been introduced into our contemporary world by this satanic Conspiracy for its own evil purposes ought to be swept away. This guidance should be provided, of course, by our great religious bodies. But too many of them are now merely adding to the confusion, or fighting with each other (or even within themselves) over matters of dogma and doctrine. And it is imperative under present circumstances that somebody should put down in unmistakable language the primary features of a moral code to which all good people can readily subscribe.
It is not an easy task, nor a modest one. It is so presumptuous as well as difficult that any sensible man recoils from the attempt with fear and trembling. In fact your editor, on three occasions during the last few years, has embarked tentatively on this undertaking. Each time he has given up in due course, and thrown away all that he had written. In the present instance, however, because of so great a need, we hope to have fortified our courage with adequate resolution. And this determination has been made easier by the limitations which we have placed upon our effort.
We certainly do not approach this problem with the voice of a prophet. There is nothing created or added by ourselves in this long and fully accepted moral code which we shall be trying to outline and record. And we have no intention of setting forth rules of conduct for all mankind, under threats of punishment in either this life or hereafter for those who fail to follow our interpretations of what is good against what is evil. For while we believe that the strictly moral attitudes of all our great religions, and hence of all the peoples of the earth, are slowly but gradually converging towards one fundamentally uniform body of belief, we are well aware that vast differences do still remain – especially with regard to the personal relationships between men and women, for one outstanding example.
So the first limitation of our objective is to a recapitulation of essential elements in the recognized moral code for our Western Civilization. Then we narrow our field immensely further, by codifying only those moral principles, even of our western world, which are or clearly should be accepted and observed by those millions of good people who-whether they realize it or not-are in basic agreement with the views of The John Birch Society. And finally, we make even this exposition easier by simply setting forth the principles of conduct on which we believe almost all Birchers would readily agree, and which they would consider in toto as the ideal for their own behavior.
We propose, therefore, to let some imaginary but very dedicated Bircher speak for us all, so far as such unanimity of views on anything will stand up or is possible. Since he certainly would not be issuing “thou shalt not” edicts to others, we shall have him express his moral convictions in the positive form of “I shall.” And we still try to make clear the much broader sweep and deeper reach intended for his pronouncements, than would normally be expected of any such mere set of personal resolutions, by letting our spokesman have a few prefatory paragraphs to explain his aim and his hopes. That preface follows. And if there is repetition in his remarks of some things we have already said above, it is because such repetition is needed for clarity and emphasis when we are treading so dangerous a field.
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