Harry V. Jaffa citations

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Harry V. Jaffa

Date de naissance: 7. octobre 1918
Date de décès: 10. janvier 2015

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Harry Victor Jaffa was an American political philosopher, historian, columnist and professor. He was the Professor Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University and a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute. Robert P. Kraynak says his "life work was to develop an American application of Leo Strauss's revival of natural-right philosophy against the relativism and nihilism of our times."

Jaffa wrote topics ranging from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas to Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and natural law. He has been published in the Claremont Review of Books, the Review of Politics, National Review, and the New York Times. His most famous work, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, written in 1959, has been described as "the greatest Lincoln book ever."

Jaffa was a formative influence on the American conservative movement, challenging notable conservative thinkers including Russell Kirk, Richard M. Weaver, and Willmoore Kendall on Abraham Lincoln and the founding of the United States. He debated Robert Bork on American constitutionalism. He died in 2015.

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Citations Harry V. Jaffa

„It was nearly inevitable that someone would turn to tribal Africa for some, at least, of this labor. It is paradoxical but true that a large measure of the labor that turned America into a sanctuary for freedom came from slavery. The slave trade that developed between North America and the west coast of Africa is one of the great horror stories of western civilization“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, God Bless America (2008), Slavery and the Human Story, Context: Slavery came to the English colonies in North America in the 17th century because the colonists found themselves in possession of a vast continent, needing only cultivation to make it the homes of millions of free, prosperous, God-fearing human beings. Those who came from Europe would be refugees from the tyranny and oppression of feudalism, divine right monarchy, and religious intolerance. But converting this vast wilderness into cultivated lands required labor. It was nearly inevitable that someone would turn to tribal Africa for some, at least, of this labor. It is paradoxical but true that a large measure of the labor that turned America into a sanctuary for freedom came from slavery. The slave trade that developed between North America and the west coast of Africa is one of the great horror stories of western civilization. It resulted also from the unlimited greed of the African chiefs who enslaved their brother Africans, and then sold them to white slave traders. They in turn sold them, for vast profits, into the new world.

„Dogs and horses, for example, are naturally subservient to human beings. But no human being is naturally subservient to another human being. No human being has a right to rule another without the other's consent“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Central Idea (2006), Context: The equality of mankind is best understood in light of a two-fold inequality. The first is the inequality of mankind and of the subhuman classes of living beings that comprise the order of nature. Dogs and horses, for example, are naturally subservient to human beings. But no human being is naturally subservient to another human being. No human being has a right to rule another without the other's consent. The second is the inequality of man and God. As God's creatures, we owe unconditional obedience to His will. By that very fact however we do not owe such obedience to anyone else. Legitimate political authority—the right of one human being to require obedience of another human being—arises only from consent. The fundamental act of consent is, as the 1780 Massachusetts Bill of Rights states, "a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good." The "certain laws for the common good" have no other purpose but to preserve and protect the rights that each citizen possesses prior to government, rights with which he or she has been "endowed by their Creator." The rights that governments exist to secure are not the gift of government. They originate in God.

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„A law is foolish which does not aim at abstract or intrinsic justice; and so is it foolish to attempt to achieve abstract justice as the sole good by succumbing to the fallacy to which the mind is prone, which regards direct consequences as if they were the only consequences. Those who believe anything sanctioned by law is right commit one great error“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
1950s, Context: Lincoln was again and again to refer to the proposition, 'all men are created equal', as an 'abstract truth', a truth which was the life principle of American law. The implications of this truth were only partially realized, even for white men, and largely denied as far as black men were concerned. Yet it supplied the direction, the meaning, of all good laws in this country, although the attempt at that time to achieve all that might and ought ultimately to be demanded in its name would have been disastrous. A law is foolish which does not aim at abstract or intrinsic justice; and so is it foolish to attempt to achieve abstract justice as the sole good by succumbing to the fallacy to which the mind is prone, which regards direct consequences as if they were the only consequences. Those who believe anything sanctioned by law is right commit one great error; those who believe the law should sanction only what is right commit another. Either error might result in foolish laws; and, although a foolish law may be preferable to a wise dictator, a wise law is preferable to both. Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln Douglas Debates http://archive.li/CFqbg (1959), p. 195

„DiLorenzo thinks that slavery was not the real issue in the Civil War, that it was the Whig economic program. Banks, tariffs, internal improvements, and what he calls corporate welfare. And he thinks that the slavery question was really only a sham that was not the real question; it was not the real issue. That's very strange for anybody reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates, since the subject of tariffs was never mentioned.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), The South was a Closed Society, Context: DiLorenzo thinks that slavery was not the real issue in the Civil War, that it was the Whig economic program. Banks, tariffs, internal improvements, and what he calls corporate welfare. And he thinks that the slavery question was really only a sham that was not the real question; it was not the real issue. That's very strange for anybody reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates, since the subject of tariffs was never mentioned. The only time the word is used, I think, is when Douglas says that the tariff was one of the questions that the two parties used to discuss. But the only subject discussed in the Lincoln-Douglas debates was slavery in the territories.

„The origin of all constitutional rights, according to Lincoln, was the right that a man had to own himself, and therefore to own the product of his own labor. Government exists to protect that right, and to regulate property only to make it more valuable to its possessors“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
1990s, The Party of Lincoln vs. The Party of Bureaucrats (1996), Context: Bob Dole and Jack Kemp declared that the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln. But just what is the connection between the Republican Party of 1860 and that of 1996? The essence of slavery, Lincoln said, was expressed in the proposition: "You work; I'll eat." Upon his election as president, he was besieged by office seekers who drove him to distraction. Lincoln was blunt in his judgment of the great majority of them. They wanted to eat without working. Lincoln saw the demand for the protection of slavery and the demand for government sinecures to be at bottom one and the same. The origin of all constitutional rights, according to Lincoln, was the right that a man had to own himself, and therefore to own the product of his own labor. Government exists to protect that right, and to regulate property only to make it more valuable to its possessors.

„Nor is its influence by any means at an end“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), Context: This remarkable address conveys, more than any other contemporary document, not only the soul of the Confederacy but also of that Jim Crow South that arose from the ashes of the Confederacy. From the end of Reconstruction until after World War II, the idea of racial inequality gripped the territory of the former Confederacy, and not only of the former Confederacy, more profoundly than it had done under slavery. Nor is its influence by any means at an end. Stephens's prophecy of the Confederacy's future resembles nothing so much as Hitler's prophecies of the Thousand-Year Reich. Nor are their theories very different. Stephens, unlike Hitler, spoke only of one particular race as inferior. But the principle of racial domination, once established, can easily be extended to fit the convenience of the self-anointed master race or class, whoever it may be. p. 223

„But the Fugitive Slave Clause is in the Constitution, and Lincoln thought that any refusal to implement the right clearly defined in the Constitution would justify secession. You can't pick and choose which parts of the Constitution you like. Once you do that, then the Constitution is simply, as Jefferson said once, "a blank sheet of paper."“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), Q&A, Context: DiLorenzo thinks that it is a reflection on Lincoln's anti-slavery character that he supported the Fugitive Slave Act. But the Fugitive Slave Clause is in the Constitution, and Lincoln thought that any refusal to implement the right clearly defined in the Constitution would justify secession. You can't pick and choose which parts of the Constitution you like. Once you do that, then the Constitution is simply, as Jefferson said once, "a blank sheet of paper." Jefferson said that when he was contemplating purchasing Louisiana. And having said that by purchasing it he would make the Constitution a blank sheet of paper, he went ahead and purchased Louisiana.

„The civil rights establishment, led by the NAACP, fought the good fight that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. They fought that fight under the banner of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which reflected the equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. The classic statement of this principle is to be found in Justice John Marshall Harlan's dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson,“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
1990s, The Party of Lincoln vs. The Party of Bureaucrats (1996), Context: The civil rights establishment, led by the NAACP, fought the good fight that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. They fought that fight under the banner of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which reflected the equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. The classic statement of this principle is to be found in Justice John Marshall Harlan's dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous 1896 decision that enshrined "separate but equal" into constitutional law for more than half a century, "In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior dominant ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved".

„There is not now, and never has been any such difference between one human being and another human being, or whatever race or color, such that one is by nature the ruler of the other, as any human being is by nature the ruler of any dog or any horse. For this reason, legitimate political authority can arise only by the consent of the governed, and consent can never be given for any reason other than the equal protection of the rights of the governed. Hence equal protection is the foundation of all constitutionalism, even apart from its specific inclusion in the Constitution itself. For more reasons than one, Justice Harlan's dissenting opinion ought to have been the opinion of the Court in 1896; even more ought it to have been the opinion of the Court in 1954“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Logic of the Colorblind Constitution (2004), Context: Harlan's dissenting opinion in Plessy, that the Constitution was colorblind, and that it did not countenance different and unequal classes of citizens, was based upon a belief in the truth of the principle of equality in which the founders and Lincoln had so profoundly believed. But this belief had been buried by progressivism, and has not been resurrected, except by the intellectual heirs of Leo Strauss. On intellectual grounds, it has never been refuted, and ought never to have been abandoned. There is not now, and never has been any such difference between one human being and another human being, or whatever race or color, such that one is by nature the ruler of the other, as any human being is by nature the ruler of any dog or any horse. For this reason, legitimate political authority can arise only by the consent of the governed, and consent can never be given for any reason other than the equal protection of the rights of the governed. Hence equal protection is the foundation of all constitutionalism, even apart from its specific inclusion in the Constitution itself. For more reasons than one, Justice Harlan's dissenting opinion ought to have been the opinion of the Court in 1896; even more ought it to have been the opinion of the Court in 1954. As Professor Edward J. Erler has demonstrated in the pages of the Claremont Review of Books, the principle of equal protection has never become the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, nor has it been favored in the writings of conservative jurists.

„In the decade from the Declaration to the Constitution every state north of the Mason Dixon line, and north of the Ohio River, either abolished slavery or adopted measures leading to abolition.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, God Bless America (2008), Slavery and the American Cause, But in 1793 the cotton gin was invented, shortly after the power loom in England. This was the onset of the industrial revolution. Almost overnight, a new industry or rather a series of new industries, proliferating worldwide, was born. It began with the growing of cotton but was followed by its manufacture into a wide variety of products, especially cotton cloth and cotton clothing. Suddenly, slave labor became vastly more profitable. In the decade before the Civil War, the value of slaves doubled. Once again, greed overwhelmed all other motives. From being regarded as a temporary evil, as it was at the founding, slavery came to be regarded as a positive—and permanent—good.

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„The central idea of the American Founding—and indeed of constitutional government and the rule of law—was the equality of mankind“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Central Idea (2006), Context: According to Abraham Lincoln, public opinion always has a central idea from which all its minor thoughts radiate. The central idea of the American Founding—and indeed of constitutional government and the rule of law—was the equality of mankind. This thought is central to all of Lincoln's speeches and writings, from 1854 until his election as president in 1860. It is immortalized in the Gettysburg Address.

„In its first sentence, the Second Continental Congress affirmed without equivocation that the idea of the ownership of some human beings by other human beings was an utter absurdity, and that to think otherwise was incompatible with reason or revelation. Thus from the outset—a year before the Declaration of Independence—the American people were committed to the antislavery cause, and to the inseparability of personal freedom and free government. The American people knew from the outset that the cause of their own freedom and that of the slaves was inseparable. This would become the message that Abraham Lincoln would bring to the American people, and to the world“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, God Bless America (2008), Slavery and the American Cause, Context: The Declaration of the causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms, on July 6, 1775, was the very first occasion for the American people to speak to the world with a single voice. In its first sentence, the Second Continental Congress affirmed without equivocation that the idea of the ownership of some human beings by other human beings was an utter absurdity, and that to think otherwise was incompatible with reason or revelation. Thus from the outset—a year before the Declaration of Independence—the American people were committed to the antislavery cause, and to the inseparability of personal freedom and free government. The American people knew from the outset that the cause of their own freedom and that of the slaves was inseparable. This would become the message that Abraham Lincoln would bring to the American people, and to the world, for all time.

„In no way did such condemnation imply a justification of slavery itself“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), Context: [S]lavery existed among the Americans largely because of the action of the crown. For the king to have been complicit in the importation of slaves into America and then to have attempted to use them in a war against their masters merited condemnation in its own right. In no way did such condemnation imply a justification of slavery itself. p. 211

„Well, it was not a semantic difference, it was a fundamental difference“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), The Right of Secession Is Not the Right of Revolution, Context: DiLorenzo in his book thinks that the right of secession and the right of revolution—that that's a semantic difference. Well, it was not a semantic difference, it was a fundamental difference. The right of revolution is referred to in the Declaration of Independence when it says, “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, the people have a right to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.” That is what has been referred to ever since as the right of revolution. It’s the right to resist intolerable oppression. It's the right to prevent anyone from being reduced under absolute despotism, which is what the Declaration of Independence says. And this Declaration gives a long catalog of the abuses, of usurpations of power practiced by the King and Parliament of Great Britain, which justified the colonies in their rebellion.

„They were breaking from the law of Great Britain“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), The Right of Secession Is Not the Right of Revolution, Context: Colonists did not, at this point, claim any privileges under the law of Great Britain. They were breaking from the law of Great Britain. They were appealing instead to the laws of nature and of nature’s God. And it was under those laws that they had the right to resist oppression.

„For Lincoln, the principle of human equality, "that all men are created equal", did not admit exceptions.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa
2000s, Is Diversity Good? (2003), Context: To allow slavery to be introduced into free territories, where it had not hitherto existed, was, Abraham Lincoln held, a very bad thing. His opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, held that it was a sacred right, belonging to the people of each territory, to decide for themselves whether or not to have slavery among their domestic institutions. According to Douglas, Lincoln wanted to destroy the diversity upon which the union had subsisted, by insisting that all the states ought to be free. But for Douglas himself, the principle of 'popular sovereignty' did not admit of exceptions. There was to be no diversity, no deviation from the right of the people to decide. For Lincoln the wrongness of slavery meant that no one, and no people, had the right to decide in its favor. For Lincoln, the principle of human equality, "that all men are created equal", did not admit exceptions.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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