Prayer – Why Should We Pray If He Is All-knowing?

John Calvin addressed the issue posed by the title in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He says it’s absurd to dissuade people from praying because God always knows our needs without us informing Him. To the contrary, Calvin cites Psalm 145:18:

The Lord is near to all who call on him,

    to all who call on him in truth. (ESV)

as the very reason that we should ask for His aid.

Calvin also shoots down the claim that it is unnecessary to ask for things He is ready and willing to provide. He cites Ps. 34:15:

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous

    and his ears toward their cry. (ESV)

to assert that God bestows His gifts liberally in answer to the prayers of His children so as to prove His love toward them.

However, Calvin doesn’t discount our laziness and outright presumption at times:

…Although it is true that while we are listless or insensible to our wretchedness, he wakes and watches for use and sometimes even assists us unasked; it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him:

First, that our heart may always be inflamed with a serious and ardent desire of seeking, loving and serving him, while we accustom ourselves to have recourse to him as a sacred anchor in every necessity;

Secondly, that no desires, no longing whatever, of which we are ashamed to make him the witness, may enter our minds, while we learn to place all our wishes in his sight, and thus pour out our heart before him; and,

Lastly, that we may be prepared to receive all his benefits with true gratitude and thanksgiving, while our prayers remind us that they proceed from his hand.

Calvin observes that we more earnestly desire continued answers once we’ve recognized He has answered our previous prayers. We identify His continual, active providence as His tangible demonstration of His promises to us through our experiences of answered prayer.

And so Calvin concludes that both of the following are true: Ps. 121:4

Behold, he who keeps Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep. (ESV)

And yet whenever He sees us insensible, or, may it not be, unbelieving, he withdraws as if he had forgotten us.

Stoning of Steven

The Lapidation of Saint Stephen, 1625, Rembrandt (1606–1669), in the public domain in the US

The Fourth Revolution – Lee Kuan Yew and the Asian Consensus

Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015) was founder and Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore. He started out as an advocate for Beatrice Webb’s societal view.

Lee shifted right to counteract communism and tighten control over Singapore. He ended closer to Hayek‘s views while developing a unique blend of authoritarianism, self-sufficiency, and meritocracy. In the process of his transformation, Lee Kuan Yew molded Singapore according to his principles.

As a result, Singapore has become the economic success it is today. Micklethwait and Wooldridge, the authors of The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State portray Lee and his Singapore as the model for the economic rise of China and the rest of Asia. They also pose the possibility that Singapore is the model for success of authoritarianism over democracy.

Asian Ascent

Singapore is a night-watchman state that provides its citizens with economic opportunities and control over how they fund their healthcare and pensions. In return, citizens must not challenge the social order.

Rather than Western democratic governance and generous benefits, Lee’s model is elitist, authoritarian, and parsimonious. This approach follows from Lee’s fundamental axiom: “human beings, regrettable though it may be, are inherently vicious and have to be restrained from their viciousness.”

Like Lee, other Asian nations sense that Western political dead lock and economic sluggishness point to the failure of liberal democracy. Additionally, their own economic growth puts them in competition with each other and good government seems to be the way to succeed. Asian nations are therefore looking at Lee’s model.

Although self-sufficiency is a core Eastern value, the entire experiment might derail as their populations prosper and age. Almost everyone eventually wants bread and circuses if they can get it.

The Singaporean State

“We decide what is right,” Lee once said. “Never mind what the people think.” “I do not believe that democracy necessarily leads to development,” Lee remarked to Philippine hosts in 1992. “The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions.” He also said, “what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy.”

To Westerners, Singaporean government looks like Plato’s Republic, composed of chosen guardians of society. Actually, it is modelled on China’s mandarin tradition of merit selected elites who rule administratively.

Singapore identifies individuals with potential early. It gives them scholarships and trains them afterward for service. Those that make it can receive pay packages upward of two million dollars per year. Those who don’t are thrown overboard.

This elite acquires over time both private and public administration experience. They apply best practice management techniques to both state dominated enterprises and government. They rotate between the two for the benefit of the citizens and shareholders that they serve.

With regard to social benefits, Lee had said: “westerners have abandoned an ethical basis for society…In the East, we start with self-reliance. In the West today, it is the opposite.” Western leaders made charity an entitlement: “and the stigma of living on charity disappeared.”

Lee also said: “When you have popular democracy, to win votes you have to give more. And to beat your opponent in the next election, you have to promise to give more away. So it is a never-ending process of auctions—and the cost, the debt being paid for by the next generation.”

Self-reliant Singaporeans pay a fifth [although the rate has varied] into the Central Provident Fund. Employers pay about fifteen percent more to the fund. Most of what a citizen receives from the fund (about 90%) is tied to what they pay in. Hard work is thereby rewarded.

Other countries are trying to duplicate Singapore’s success. Dubai has a modern financial district, exclusive shopping malls, state-run companies, a Government Excellence Program, and they use Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan  ‘s key performance indicators (KPI) as metrics of their progress.

China’s Rise

China shares Lee’s concerns about the west: democracy isn’t efficient, society and the economy need direction, and right governance means success and survival. It has the world’s second largest economy. It is the largest energy consumer, merchandise exporter, smartphone market, and foreign holder of US debt. China is home to the most of the world’s millionaires and billionaires and has accomplished the largest poverty reduction in history. Lee had said that China will reach its former prominence in thirty to fifty years but warned, if it pursued liberal democracy, “It would collapse.”

However, China’s leadership is not so credulous to ignore the fact that most cities use land grabs as a means to balance their budgets. While Shanghai is ranked at the top of OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), primary and secondary education receives short shrift when compared with bribing local officials. Old corruption, similar to early nineteenth century Britain, is pervasive.

According to the authors, China has tried to follow Singapore most closely in state capitalism and in meritocratically selected administrators (rather than democratically elected officials). China’s implementation of these two aspects of state control are good in part, say the authors.

State Capitalism

China’s state directed capitalism follows a long tradition from the East India Company to Korea’s Chaebol. However, they’ve taken control further. The authors quote the Party Committee of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC): “Where there are people, there are Party organizations and Party activities.” The state directs many state-owned enterprises (SOE)

The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) oversees the SOEs by appointing top executives, approving mergers, approving stock or asset sales, and drafting SOE related laws.

The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China controls more than 70 million personnel assignments throughout government and industry. In that role it compiles detailed and confidential reports on future Party leaders. It is a highly trusted and secretive agency at the institutional heart of the Party system.

According to the authors, the SOEs are still expected to compete abroad and use modern management techniques internally. They have to meet common industry wide strategic goals while exercising relative freedom in daily operational decisions. Company management informs government management and vice versa in what the authors call “joined-up capitalism.”

State capitalism is an instrument of foreign policy and initiative. SOEs fund eighty percent of foreign direct investment. Through loans from state banks, China has woven a web of foreign economic and policy advances. China is fostering Lee’s ideas through the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong (CELAP) which trains their best and brightest leaders. They also counterbalance Davos with the Boao Forum for Asia. This is how China exercises soft power.

However, SOEs are viewed by investors as favoring government interests over their own. Corruption is a disincentive for investment. SOEs can be forced to implement state policy. Further, SOEs attract capital that more independent Chinese companies might otherwise put toward more innovative use leading to faster growth.

The authors point out that intellectual and cultural freedom lead to breakthrough ideas and vibrant competition. Although some think that SOEs will wither away as the economy grows, others are not so sanguine. For state capitalism to work well, you need a strong and competent state. We’ve see how that’s worked in the past.

State Meritocracy

China originated the concept we in the West refer to as mandarin administration. They instituted formal civil service examinations in 605 AD. The authors quote a common saying, popular for a thousand years, that Chinese parents tell their children: “those who work with strength are ruled. Those who work with their minds manage others. Those who excel in scholarship become officials.”

China’s elite agrees with Lee Kuan Yew’s opinion that meritocracy offers more benefits than democracy such as long term planning and leadership succession without pressure to win votes at the expense of societal breakdown.

Recruitment starts at university rather than the factory. Candidates need to excel at the Central Party School and CELAP. Then they prove themselves as competent administrators by running a province (maybe as large as several European countries combined). More recently, these leaders are called to prove their business skills running an SOE.

Young leaders of the future, selected and promoted up the ranks based on merit, tackle big problems. They’ve had both government and industry experience. Increasingly, they have had graduate level training or work experiences in countries around the world. They conduct civil service in a business-like manner using best practices culled from successful examples proven globally.

The authors are quick to point out that elitism comes with problems. They cite the example of a deputy who was denied office space to meet with locals to conduct his part in an anticorruption drive. Ordinary citizens with legitimate grievances are hard-pressed to get a hearing with officials, let alone a satisfactory resolution. They vent their anger on one of many Weibo, a Twitter equivalent, complaining of inefficient government, failing schools, unsanitary hospitals, and inept officials.

President Xi Jinping sends leaders from Beijing into the provinces to instill order. But, citing a Chinese proverb, the authors point out: “the mountains are high and the emperor is far away.” And the leaders are not as meritorious as they would have everyone believe. Many in the upper echelons are “red princelings:” offspring of the Communist Party elite.

Inside or outside the party, leaders systematically accumulate wealth and privilege using their power. The authors cite an internet posting:

They drive top-brand cars. They go to exclusive night bars. They sleep on the softest beds in the best hotels. Their furniture is all of the best red wood. Their houses overlook the best landscapes, in the quietest locations. They play golf, travel at public expense, and enjoy a life of luxury.

But, the authors say, it is the same the world over. And it is, unfortunately.

A Reckoning

China’s economic and world power rise validates its authoritarianism to its people and many in the world at-large. It poses a challenge and viable alternative to the Western liberal democratic, capitalistic model. Singapore has managed its success on the strength of its now deceased leader. However, Asians, like the rest of the world, increasingly want a generous social safety net.

China’s economic growth is slipping as its population is aging. Corruption at the local level and vast unpaid (and unpayable?) debts threaten stability. Western impulses for bread and circuses already surge through its citizenry. Although there is hope that representative democracy might develop, the populace is so diverse that the center is sure not to hold. Censorship can prevent unrest only so long.

However, Asia as a whole is still trying to improve government. They have a fresh start and innovative technologies and techniques may yet provide efficient social services and governance (even if not democratic) that are responsive to their citizens. Singapore and the Nordic countries provide a way forward. If only the West would follow suit to revamp their now illiberal democracies.

Here is yet another presentation by the authors of: The Fourth Revolution: the global race to reinvent the state.

The Fourth Revolution: the global race to reinvent the state

A memorial tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

The Fourth Revolution – Beatrice and Sidney Webb Laid Foundations for the Welfare State

Last week, we reviewed the book: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State, by former Economist Editor in Chief John Micklethwait and Management Editor Adrian Wooldridge. This week, we summarize how two individuals: Beatrice and Sidney Webb, laid sure foundations for the third revolution: the welfare state.

***

Prelude

The world lurched leftward in second half of the nineteenth century. The British elite recognized their poor needed support to escape crushing poverty. More insidiously, they realized hands off politics had left them unable to, as Lloyd George would later phrase it in the early twentieth century, “…maintain an A1 Empire with a C3 population.” They were falling behind Germany with its successful government intervention in business and social welfare. In response, Britain embraced state activism.

Around the same time period, Abraham Lincoln said: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.” Some would claim him as progressive, others as aspirational .

Marx formulated his communist ideology over the same half century. He theorized that government was merely the way one class controlled another. Once classes were abolished, the government would wither, reduced to the administration of things. The form of government did not much matter to Marx.

By ignoring Thomas Hobbes’s statement [not original to him, of course] that a state is necessary for the peaceful conduct of human affairs, Marx prepared the way for dictatorships that treated people as nothing more than things to be administered. The next century would put Marx’s theories into practice.

The Webbs

Living on her Victorian father’s fortune, Beatrice Potter (b. 1858 – d. 1943) was characterized as: “the cleverest member of one of the cleverest families in the cleverest class of the cleverest nation in the world.”

Beatrice met the tireless, brilliant, and homely Sidney Webb in 1890. She was swept off her feet by his vision for expanding government: “collective ownership wherever practicable; collective regulation everywhere else; collective provision according to need for all the impotent and sufferers; and collective taxation in proportion to wealth, especially surplus wealth.”

Beatrice Webb’s vision—the state as the epitome of reason and truth—enabled her to develop the ideology adopted by pro-statists worldwide. The state stood for: planning versus confusion, merit versus privilege, and science versus prejudice.

Her modus operandi to spread this ideology was one of progressive suffusion. Why cause revolution when the same change could be brought about more lastingly through subversion of society using propaganda and recognized committees of experts.

The Webbs founded the Fabian Society as guardians of this socialist transformation. They established the London School of Economics to train a global cohort of social engineers. The Webbs also founded the New Statesman, a weekly review of politics and literature, as the clarion of their revolution.

Since people are the constituents of the socialist state they wished to build, it made sense, the Webbs said, for Leviathan to regulate society’s reproductive practice. They embraced eugenics as eagerly as they did town planning. The Webbs trusted the judgment of professional experts over the “average sensual man” when it came to bettering the life of commoners.

They ingeniously formed the inchoate anxieties and idealism of their age into political action of all three major British parties. The Webbs pushed collectivism using Labour’s penchant for social justice, Liberal’s national efficiency, and Conservatism’s desire to preserve the Empire. Within a generation, they converted educated opinion to the view that the state must provide “a national minimum” of education and social welfare.

In the period 1905-1915, sympathetic British governments passed legislation that provided: free meals for needy school children (1906), old-age pensions (1908), anti-poverty budget provisions (1909), national sickness and unemployment insurance (1911), and sterilization for the unfit (1913).The Webbs helped enact redistributive taxation to pay for these programs and lessened the stigma of “Poor Laws.” The poor became “victims,” not layabouts.

The Webbs, through their vast influence, helped redefine classical liberal principles. Freedom, which used to mean freedom from external control, became “freedom from want” and equality before the law became “equality of opportunity” and, to a lesser extent, equality of respect. This shift required activist government intervention. The government now provided social services and primary and, to the talented poor, secondary education.

Propagation

The Webbs were not alone in this socialist revolution. A prominent liberal ally, John Maynard Keynes, advocated for government intervention to aid Adam Smith’s hidden hand of the market. Although he spelled out caveats to his philosophy, these were conveniently forgotten over the years. His philosophy, Keynesianism, still powers big government.

The British Statist model was adopted by Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, and Peron. They all blended Hegelian state worship into their dictatorships and used the state to control their economies. America, however, took a different turn under the Roosevelts.

Theodore Roosevelt (US president 1901-1909) acknowledged that the Webbs were right when they said that laissez-faire capitalism was over. He established regulatory bodies to constrain the power of corporations over the American people: “The Corporation is the creature of the people, and must not be allowed to become the ruler of the people.”

He was not a socialist. He saw capitalism for the wealth creator it was. However, he used state power to make it work better by suppressing “crony capitalism” which arose from the collusion of “corrupt politics” with “corrupt business.”

TR’s goal was to use the state to provide a “square deal,” a safety net in rough times, and to improve the quality of America’s workforce. By not embracing European style statism, with its comprehensive welfare state, he squared-the-circle through his progressive republicanism and saved the US from Europe’s excesses.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for his part, imposed tighter regulation instead of nationalizing broad sectors of the economy in the face of economic collapse and world war.

Establishment

World War II demonstrated big government’s ability to marshal all of industry to the service of war through detailed planning, financial incentives, and coercion. The same occurred on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific.

In post-war Britain, the Education Act, the National Insurance Act, and the National Health Service Act were formulated by a Conservative (Butler), a Liberal (Beveridge), and a socialist (Bevan), respectively. The Webb’s cross-politics approach was further validated when the Conservative Party, under Winston Churchill, returned to power in October 1951 and did nothing to roll back the welfare state.

On the continent, the state ran companies, universities, research institutes, libraries, and broadcasting corporations. In the closing days of World War II, international supervisory organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were created under Keynes influence as a result of the Bretton Woods international agreements.

***

As counterpoint, Philip Hamburger writes in his book about US executive branch agencies that administer regulations, Is Administrative Law Unlawful:

“There is a jarring disconnect between what is taught and celebrated in constitutional law and what is accepted in administrative law…” and “…[Only] the shell of [the American] republican experiment remains. Within it, however, another government has arisen, in which new masters once again assert themselves, issuing commands as if they were members of a ruling class, and as if the people were merely their servants. Self-government has given way to a system of submission.” [Emphasis mine]

Hamburger reasons that judicial pushback at the Appellate and Supreme Court levels is necessary to head off a more Lockean approach. Read more about Hamburger’s book in Myron Magnet’s City Journal book review.

Finally, here is another lecture and Q&A by Micklethwait and Wooldridge:

John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge, “The Fourth Revolution

The Revolt Against the Masses – A Review (Part 2) — by Bernhardt Writer

This week we tackle chapters 2 through 5. The chapters are titled:

2. Betrayal and the Birth of Modern Liberalism

3. Randolph Bourne Writing Novels

4. Three Trials

5. Giants in Decline

What I took away from these chapters is that a harrowing and confusing period in American history, World War I and its aftermath, divided those who sought social reform from those who, it pains me to say it, sought social cleansing and the rise of a new ruling class. Many of the individuals described in chapter one played a part during this time. The forces of lasting reform seem to have gone dormant in America and those for the other goal are, as yet, thwarted. Succeeding chapters will show how these latter forces strove to accomplish their agenda throughout the twentieth century.

This is my inadequate review and commentary of chapters two through five. Many quotes are drawn from Professor Siegel’s book and are supplemented by original sources when necessary.

A young progressive reformer, John Chamberlain, characterized the period prior to America’s entry into WWI as: “the years of Great Expectation when the Millennium, Woodrovian fostered, seemed just around the corner.” The Millennium alluded to was the thousand years of peace prophesied in the Revelation of John. It was not to be.

On July 30, 1916, at 2:08 AM, saboteurs caused a one kiloton explosion on Black Tom Island off the New Jersey coast, near Liberty Island, in NYC harbor. Two million pounds of munitions on their way to the allies were detonated through a series of fires.

This sabotage is viewed as the proximate cause for President Wilson to denounce Germany’s supporters in America as “creatures” of “disloyalty and anarchy [who] must be crushed.” He pushed for and got the Sedition Act of 1918 passed. The Sedition Act extended the Espionage Act of 1917.

The Act’s section 3 text called for in part:

Whoever,…when the United States is at war, shall wilfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces…or any language intended to bring the form of government… or the Constitution… or the military or naval forces… or the flag… of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute…shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both….

The incongruity between Wilson’s fighting the war to end all wars to make the world safe for democracy and his curtailment of liberties at home drove a wedge between progressives and those who would soon call themselves liberals.

President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on Germany on 2 April 1917

“For the freedom of the world”. President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on Germany on 2 April 1917. Color halftone photomechanical print, 1917.04.02 (photograph), 1918.12.21 (publication), Public Domain in the United States

In 1919, Walter Lippmann wrote, “The word liberalism, was introduced into the jargon of American politics by that group who were Progressives in 1912 and Wilson Democrats from 1916 to 1918.”

Whereas, pre-war Progressives hoped to reform a nation of immigrants grounded in the Protestant ethic, Liberals objected to wartime conscription, civil liberties repression, Prohibition, and the first Red Scare. They saw middle class values as a continuation of WWI repressions.

“Like most sensible people,” liberal Harold Edmund Stearns said, “I regard Prohibition as an outrage and a direct invitation to revolution.”

Randolph Bourne, noted in 1918: “The modern radical opposes the present social system not because it does not give him ‘rights’ but because it warps and stunts the potentialities of society and of human nature.”

But, in a triumph for American free speech rights, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared, in Schenck v. United States (1919):

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic… The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

Yet, Harold Stearns wrote in his 1919 book, Liberalism in America: Its Origin, Its Temporary Collapse, Its Future:

In Soviet countries there is in fact no freedom of the press and no pretense that there is. In America today there is in fact no freedom of the press and we only make the matter worse by pretending that there is.

In the same book, Stearns wrote:

The root of liberalism, in a word, is hatred of compulsion, for liberalism has the respect for the individual and his conscience and reason which the employment of coercion necessarily destroys. The liberal has faith in the individual – faith that he can be persuaded by rational means to beliefs compatible with social good.

Sinclair Lewis, through his book, Main Street, gave cultural content to the label “liberal.”

About Main Street, Siegel says:

Main Street caught the post-war literary mood of disillusion perfectly. It distilled and amplified the sentiments of Americans who thought of themselves as members of a creative class stifled by the conventions of provincial life.

Lewis followed up Main Street with his satire Babbitt in 1922. At the end of the novel, the main character, George Follansbee Babbitt, says, “I’ve never done a single thing I want to in my whole life! I don’t know’s I’ve accomplished anything except to just get along.”

H. L. Mencken wrote:

It is not what he [George Babbitt] feels and aspires that moves him primarily; it is what the folks about him will think of him. His politics is communal politics, mob politics, herd politics; his religion is a public rite wholly without subjective significance.

He thought George Babbitt embodied what was wrong in society. Thus Mencken agreed with Lewis, who characterized Babbitt as: “This is the story of the ruler of America.”

In his 1927 New Republic essay “The Drug on the Market,” Waldo Frank said:

In a democracy, where castes are vague, where money-power has few manifest badges of dress or standard of living; where indeed millionaire and clerk go to the same movie, read the same books, travel the same roads, and where intellectual distinctions must be carefully concealed,” it is the “herd” that rules.

Three defining court cases took place in the 1920s. They were the 1924 Leopold and Loeb, 1925 Scopes, and 1926-27 Sacco and Vanzetti trials. Clarence Darrow defended the first two and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter argued for a second appeal to the Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court of the third one. Each trial helped shape case-law and how justice is carried out in America.

Leopold wrote to Loeb: “A superman…is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him, exempted from the ordinary laws which govern men. He is not liable for anything he may do.” Pleasure was their moral guide, as Nietzsche’s writings suggested.

During his plea to Cook County Circuit Court Judge John R. Caverly, Darrow asked:

Why did they kill Bobby Franks? Not for money, not for spite, not for hate. They killed him as they might kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they were made that way. Because somewhere in the infinite processes that go to the making up of a boy or the man something slipped, and these unfortunate lads sit here, hated, despised, outcasts, with the community shouting.

All the Leopold and Loeb trial documentation is available online. Darrow put Biblical morality on trial and survival of the fittest won.

As part of the defense, Darrow called Scopes’ student, Harry Shelton, to the witness stand to demonstrate that Scopes’ evolution lessons had not adversely him:

Darrow: “Are you a church member?”

Shelton: “Yes, sir.”

D: “Do you still belong?”

S: “Yes, sir.”

D: “You didn’t leave church when he [Scopes] told you all forms of life began with a single cell?”

S: “No,sir.”

Through several witnesses’ testimony, Darrow attempted to show no moral corruption resulted due to learning about evolution.

In rebuttal, Bryan turned Darrow’s logic against him. Bryan quoted the defense Darrow used in the Leopold and Loeb case to show that Darrow believed in education’s culpability in moral outcomes.

If this boy is to blame for this, where did he get it? Is there any blame attached because somebody took Nietzsche’s philosophy seriously and fashioned his life upon it? And there is no question in this case but what is true. Then who is to blame? ‘The university would be more to blame than he is. The scholars of the world would be more to blame than he is. The publishers of the world—and Nietzsche’s books are published by one of the biggest publishers in the world—are more to blame than he is. Your Honor, it is hardly fair to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university.

The Scopes trial documentation is online. Darrow and the ACLU put Biblical creation on trial and Darwinian evolution won.

The Sacco and Vanzetti case concerned whether the two were guilty of a factory robbery and killing in support of the Galleanists, an Italian anarchist group that advocated revolutionary violence, including ongoing bombing and assassination in America.

Critical opinion assessed that they were railroaded because of anti-Italian prejudice and their anarchist political beliefs. The trials and various appeals were riddled with judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. Later investigations and admissions asserted Sacco was directly involved in the murder but both were involved with the group.

In October 1927, H.G. Wells wrote “Wells Speaks Some Plain Words To Us,” a New York Times essay that described Sacco and Vanzetti as “a case like the Dreyfus case, by which the soul of a people is tested and displayed.” He said:

The guilt or innocence of these two Italians is not the issue that has excited the opinion of the world. Possibly they were actual murderers, and still more possibly they knew more than they would admit about the crime…. Europe is not “retrying” Sacco and Vanzetti or anything of the sort. It is saying what it thinks of Judge Thayer. Executing political opponents as political opponents after the fashion of Mussolini and Moscow we can understand, or bandits as bandits; but this business of trying and executing murderers as Reds, or Reds as murderers, seems to be a new and very frightening line for the courts of a State in the most powerful and civilized Union on earth to pursue.

Prompted by the Sacco and Vanzetti case, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law in 1939 requiring a review of all evidence in first-degree murder cases. The review can result in a reduced conviction or a new trial based on the law and on the evidence or “for any other reason that justice may require.” (Mass laws, 1939 c 341).

Those supporting Communism and the Soviets used the Sacco and Vanzetti trial as a wedge to draw prominent liberals to their cause. Drawing on declassified Comintern documents, Stephen Koch, in his Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas Against the West, explains that Willi Münzenberg, the Comintern’s master propagandist, intended:

to create for the right-thinking non-Communist West… the belief that…to criticize or challenge Soviet policy was the unfailing mark of a bad, bigoted, and probably stupid person, while support was equally infallible proof of a forward-looking mind committed to all that was best for humanity and mankind by an uplifting refinement of sensibility.

Münzenberg thought the “the idea of America” had to be countered. Koch noted that Soviet sympathizers used events such as the trial:

to instill a reflexive loathing of the United States and its people, to undermine the myth of the Land of Opportunity, the United States would be shown as an almost insanely xenophobic place, murderously hostile to foreigners.

After Herbert Croly’s death in 1930, George Soule, The New Republic’s polemicist for economic planning, said Croly intended liberalism to be “a mental attitude, the faith in the pursuit of a new truth as the chief agency of human deliverance.”

Earlier, in Wells’ 1920 Outline of History, he writes, “There can be no peace now…but a common peace in all the world; no prosperity but a general prosperity, but there can be no peace and prosperity without common historical ideas.”

In 1924, Wells wrote the essay “The Spirit of Fascism: Is There Any Good in It?” In it, Wells wrote:

Moscow and Rome are alike in this, that they embody the rule of a minority conceited enough to believe that they have a clue to the tangled incoherencies of human life, and need only sufficiently terrorize criticism and opposition to achieve a general happiness…Neither recognizes the enormously tentative quality of human institutions, and the tangled and scarcely explored difficulties in the path of social reconstruction.

In 1928, Wells described his alternative in his book The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution (revised and republished as What Are We to Do with Our Lives?) where he states: “the freemasonry of the highly competent” ruling class would subject the masses to “the great processes of social reconstruction.” and, through their rule, “escape from the distressful pettiness and mortality of the individual life.” He also wrote:

We no longer want that breeding swarm of hefty sweaty bodies, without which the former civilizations could not have endured, we want watchful and understanding guardians and drivers of complex delicate machines, which can be mishandled and brutalized and spoilt all too easily.

If only words had no power to move mankind’s heart to actions which, in retrospect, are monstrous and despicable. But such is the choice we have as humans. The same choice, in kind, as that which we had in the Garden:

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:2-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

And so it goes.