The Portland Declaration
by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.
The Free World today is menaced not only by hostile armies, but by sets of ideas which either reduce man to a purely materialistic animal, or present a philosophy of doubt if not despair. The effect of these ideologies, if they are not opposed, must be to crush us, or at least to undermine our will to resist.
The Free World has to rise to this challenge and declare a firm, coherent, and consistent belief in its values, values well grounded and anchored in a great tradition, for which we ought to be ready to make sacrifices, to fight, even, if necessary, to die. Such a belief might be called a philosophy, a world view, or indeed an ideology; whatever we call it, we cannot hope to survive without it.
Webster’s Second International calls “ideology” (under 4b) a “systematic scheme of ideas about life.”
Outstanding thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic have insisted that man, for better or worse, is an ideological creature distinguishing himself from the beasts by having, besides reason and religion, a coherent and logical view interpreting his personal and social existence.
Yet since, for many, this comprehensive view tends to be incoherent and indistinct, traditional thinkers in the Free World have a duty to give it a more precise profile, form, and color. Carefully, though: what can be said critically about utopias can also be stated about ideologies: as concrete visions set in the future, they can be thoroughly unrealistic, achievable only by unreasonable sacrifices out of all proportion to their value to mankind. Or they can be legitimate goals.
Finally, we must have before us a guiding vision of what our state and society could be like, to prevent us from becoming victims of false gods. The answer to false gods is not godlessness but the Living God. Hence our ideology must be based on the Living God, but it should appeal also to men of good will who, while not believers, derive their concepts of a well-ordered life, whether they realize it or not, ultimately from the same sources we do.
The 26 Points
1. It is self-evident that this immensely complex universe cannot possibly be the result of billions of coincidences or chances — that it must have a creator-designer, a “Supreme Architect.” He Who is the eternally existing Master of this world has complete power over the universe, its laws, and its material existence. He is the Lord over life and death, the Father of Creation.
2. Of all His creatures — so far as we can reasonably know — only Man has an understanding, an appreciation, an ability to evaluate everything he perceives — morally, aesthetically, materially. Man can put everything “to use,” since everything to him is meaningful in some way, even suffering. A lion, to cite an instance, is to him aesthetically significant. Its fur is commercially exploitable. Tamed, it accepts the superiority of Man and can become his companion; as game it might bring excitement or fear. A rock, a painting, a toothache, a sunset, a piece of coal, a poisonous plant — nothing is devoid of meaning to Man, to whom perhaps not only the Earth, but also the universe has been given in stewardship — as a terrible responsibility. Therefore Man, a fallen, great but imperfect, creature, must also know his limits. The Tower of Babel should be our warning.
3. For these reasons it is not surprising that Man, created originally in the Image of God, is even after the Fall a creature unlike the beasts — a transcendent creature called upon to rise above himself. Man is more than “just man.” His personal drama cannot be terminated by his physical death, and the pagan existentialist’s claim — that life on this globe is in itself “absurd” — is perfectly justified. He lives in a world which is God’s, Man’s, and Satan’s, and where, within the limits of time and space, justice as well as personal fulfillment can, at best, be fragmentary. Man’s existence is basically tied to God, normally by the binding forces of a religion. He addresses himself to God most frequently by prayer; he finds himself bound by moral commands based on God’s word, made known to him by Revelation. Reason, intuition, and grace are the avenues to an invisible but traceable, almighty and omniscient, God, whose humble partners we are in the drama on Earth. And here let us keep in mind: If there is no personal God everything is permissible, and if God exists, everything is possible.
4. The word person comes from the Etruscan phersi, which meant the mask worn by an actor and therefore the distinct role he had to play on the stage — signifying also our uniqueness and our untransferable destiny. Everybody is indispensable, everybody is irreplaceable, however insignificant he or she may be. This uniqueness implies inequality as well as diversity. Our Holy Scriptures nowhere speak about equality since we are different in every respect — physically, intellectually, morally, spiritually. We are unequal also in the eyes of God, Who values the saint more than the inveterate sinner, Abel more than Cain. Our talents differentiate us as much as our efforts, our sex as much as our age group, our wisdom as much as our experience. We all equally share qualities but not in an equal amount. Adverbial equality is not factual equality.
5. We share with the beasts a craving for sameness and a gregariousness which makes us desire the company of people of our own age, sex, race, creed, political conviction, class and taste. But it is exclusively human to have a thirst for diversity, i.e., to be happy in the company of those who are different from us in every respect, as well as to travel, to enjoy other foods, hear other tunes, see other plants, beasts, and landscapes. The delight in the variations of creation distinguishes man from beast as much as religion or reason.
6. It is the low drive for sameness and the hatred of otherness that characterizes all forms of leftism, which inevitably are totalitarian because, defying the divine diversity of the universe, these ideologies want to convert us by force to sameness — sameness being the brother of equality. The leftist vision enjoins uniformity: the nation with one leader, one party, one race, one language, one class, one type of school, one law, one custom, one level of income, and so forth. Since nature provides diversity, this deadening sameness can be achieved only by brute force, by leveling, enforced assimilation, exile, genocide. All forms of totalitarianism, all leftist ideologies, reaching their culmination in the French, Russian, and German Revolutions, have gone that way — with the aid of guillotine, gallows, gas chambers, and Gulag.
7. “Right is right and Left is wrong.” On the Right are the person, freedom, spirituality, organically grown institutions. On the Left are the double-headed Leviathan of State and Society, conformity, uniformity, equality-in-slavery. In all languages — the Germanic, Romance, Slavic, and Altaic tongues; Sanskrit, Hebrew, and Japanese — right has a positive, left a profoundly negative implication. The Bible does not differ in this respect and transcends even anatomic facts; Ecclesiastes 10:2 says succinctly: “The heart of the wise man beats on his right side, the heart of the fool on his left.” Thus we have every right, in the light of language and tradition, to stick to our semantics.
8. God has created Man as man and woman, and scientific research in the last thirty years has revealed more psychological and biological differences than had been assumed in earlier times. Men and women are equally important, they are spiritually equal, they have mental characteristics which are never exclusively male or female but they represent in the light of statistics, existentially different forms of mankind with different though sometimes overlapping tasks. The traditional role of women in our civilization is basically the result of experience and accumulated wisdom; its accent is on love, affection, life-giving, child-rearing, all immensely important, priceless, and irreplaceable activities. But the extraordinary careers and achievements of individual women — rulers, writers, artists, doctors, lawyers, business executives, civic organizers — indicate that, besides their nature-given roles, they should not be excluded from other careers, although certain activities are in contradiction to their nature and detrimental to their dignity — those of the coal miner, shock-trooper, or hangman, for instance.
9. The family is the living cell of every society. It is based on affection, loyalty, and a specific type of friendship rather than on erotic infatuation or mere sexuality. It is ideally an association of two sexes and three generations: unity and variety are its keynotes. Sex, eros, procreation, education, character formation, and mutual aid are its basic tasks. It offers fulfillment to the patriarchal and matriarchal drives. State and Society must avoid all policies harmful to the family’s integrity and autonomy.
10. Society has a composite character and must beware of two dangers: of becoming totally one with the State (as happened in the rather oppressive Greek poleis); and of developing a conformist herd spirit destroying originality, hampering the development of the person, and thus creating a totalitarianism of its own through horizontal rather than vertical pressures. A healthy society is not a monolith but a natural organism of many layers with different functions, all necessary and indispensable, needing, respecting, and also loving each other, each with its own pride, its own characteristics, its own functions. This, however, does not imply a closed, but an open society, without a caste system and with free movement from layer to layer. Talent, achievement, dedication, personal discipline, character must be honored. Envy, group arrogance, resentment, lack of charity, are cancers in the body of a society, but the formation of elites in a constant process of crystallization (and elimination) ought to be encouraged. There is no healthy society without leadership, without guiding lights. And if these are of a negative order, the whole society will decay and collapse. Neither caste societies nor “classless” societies have been productive for any length of time.
It should, however, be remarked that Society no more than the State should ever become an absolute. Socialism, which inevitably results in statism, tries to make society absolute also. Nor should Society (in the sense of “human environment”) be made into an alibi for moral faults. The fairy tale that man, by nature, is good and that only Society can make him wicked must be rejected. We are called upon to make our stand against all collectivist forces and powers, be they political, social, or economic.
11. The State is partly the result of Man’s frailties and incompleteness. It cannot be dispensed with, but neither should it be deified and made an end in itself. Its job is to protect all persons against an overpowerful Society, against evil individuals or groups, and against the foreign enemy. It represents the bone structure of the nation; its legitimacy rests primarily on authority and, owing to the fallen nature of man, also on power. Within its domain there should be as much freedom as feasible, as much force as necessary.
All free nations are by definition “authoritarian” in their political as well as in their social and even in their family life. We obey out of love, out of respect (for the greater knowledge and wisdom of those to whom we owe obedience), or because we realize that obedience is in the interest of the Common Good, which, needless to say, includes our own interest. These motivations are not mutually exclusive. For the ruler, or for our parents, we might have love and respect; so also for our teachers. The manager might be respected rather than loved. To obey the traffic policeman “makes sense.” There is only one alternative to authority (which is lodged in us and is therefore an interior power), and that is fear, which comes from the outside. We then conform merely because we fear brute force. Fear is the lifeblood of tyranny. A Society which lives by fear alone is an unnatural Society in an unnatural State. Yet, we must never forget that, owing to Man’s fallen nature, the State has the right, even in a free country, to use fear and punishment — not as daily fare, but as a medicine, as a necessary sanction.
12. The State is always in danger of morbidly multiplying its cells, of assuming functions which properly belong to the person, the family, or to Society. (Society also can occasionally encroach on personal rights.) Whatever a person can do, he or she should do; the next step would be to turn to the family and then to the community. Only finally should the State be asked for aid — and the central power of the State asked only as the very last resort. This is called the “principle of subsidiarity.”
Therefore, it should also be understood that the ideal State is a federated State composed of political units with far-reaching autonomy (“states” in the American sense, Lander in German, regions or provinces in French). Regions, as well as persons, have a unique value; regions are often a more organic unit with a sharper profile than the Big State.
The gigantic, centralizing Provider State, wrongly called the Welfare State, takes over all functions of life with its inherent drive toward an increasing and swollen bureaucracy, and turns (in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville) “men into timid animals” bereft of all initiative, thus weakening the fiber of every nation to a deadly degree. A great catastrophe — history has them always in store for us — then leaves the people unable to rise again.
13. Good government rests on a variety of premises. Needless to say, the formula of Campbell-Bannerman — “Self-government is better than good government” — is senseless. Is medical self-treatment better than the services of a good doctor? The formula “the first right of a nation is to be governed well” comes much nearer to the truth. What we need is minimal government of the highest quality instead of what we now have in the Western world, maximal government of the lowest order.
This, however, means that the administration must consist of people of the highest possible quality. Administrative careers must be open to everybody who, as in the ancient Mandarin system, passes an entrance examination giving evidence, primarily, of wide knowledge and culture. During a probationary period the new administrator must prove that his theoretical knowledge can also be used practically, and that in applying the laws he will not permit (as a petty person would) the letter of the law to kill the spirit. Only when he can show that he understands his task as a public servant, that he has the common good as much in mind as the needs and problems of individual persons, should he be incorporated permanently into the hierarchy of the administration. China flourished for thousands of years (Taiwan still does) under the socially non-discriminatory, non-hereditary, but truly elitist mandarinate. Prior to 1918 the European nations benefited from a similar system, which in many countries excluded public servants from all political activities (including voting). He who served the Common Good had no business to participate in party strife.
14. There is no escape from “bureaucracy” or “technocracy.” In a scientific and technological age one cannot dispense with a skilled administration, which ought to have prestige and a level of remuneration minimizing the temptation of bribery. A body consisting of experts should have a positive share in the government. The precept of Plato still stands: Unless the kings are philosophers and the philosophers become kings, there is no hope for a well-governed nation.
A mixed government consisting of a “head,” a group of men of knowledge and experience, and the representatives of the people, is the standard, traditional political arrangement in the West. We would add a supreme court judging debatable issues not only from a purely constitutional point of view but also from a moral one.
The representatives of the people are not supposed to form a policy-making body. This is the task of the administrative government. Parliaments or legislatures should be merely legislative assemblies producing laws which, however, need a higher confirmation. The parliaments, moreover, ought not to be based on party lines (though factions will inevitably be formed), but should honestly strive to represent the country as a whole, not only by regions but also by layers, interest groups, occupations and professions, so that the government can know what the various segments of the population desire (or reject). Majorities and minorities can both be right or wrong. Parents would be stupid to lord it over their adolescent offspring and never listen to them; they would be equally stupid to defer to the wishes of three or four children because, in the family, they form a majority. A sound and frank dialogue between ruler and ruled is, similarly, of the utmost necessity.
Whether the head of state is identical with the head of the government, whether he is hereditary or selected, are matters of tradition and historical development. So are his (or her) prerogatives. He or she should, however, be properly trained and stand above all factions. The supreme court should be strictly nonpolitical and perhaps be elected by scholarly bodies (law schools, etc.).
The amateurism which has prevailed in the past can no longer be borne. We have to find new formulas combining first-rate expertise with personal freedom. There must be areas free from government intervention, personal “kingdoms” designed and protected for the development and fulfillment of the personality; the State must have boundaries which it will not be permitted to transgress.
15. Freedom is intrinsically connected with private property, and whatever goods or means of production exist must belong either to private persons (individually or in groups), or to political bodies (municipalities, “states,” central governments). There is no third way. To own property is Man’s God-given right and Man’s only chance to be materially free and to defend himself. Man is, by nature, an acquisitive and saving animal. Acquisition is the main motivation for hard work. Therefore an economy based on private enterprise and personal initiative will produce infinitely more than an economy based on state capitalism, in which managers and workers are bureaucrats and civil servants. This is not a theory but a fact we know empirically. Socialism, which can be explained to anybody in ten minutes, is a “clear but false idea”; the free-enterprise system, resembling an ocean of personal ambitions, is of enormous complexity — but it does deliver the goods. State capitalism and socialism have a deadening effect on the individual character as well as on the strength of the family, because they provide a Leviathan-like substitute for all families. They produce not a pluralist society, but sameness and equality in poverty, with a tiny, brutal power elite at the top. State capitalism is the result of a “constrictionist” outlook by power-hungry intellectuals, a system especially hostile to workers and farmers.
16. The primary educator is the family, but it can delegate the education of children to private or public schools, established by the community or the State, which then act as educational brokers. It is obviously not the task of the school to take physical care of children merely because the parents are absent from their homes, nor should the school provide too much in the way of activities which are not essentially of an educational nature. It would be a grave error to let the school take the place of the home.
The elementary schools should impart a solid basic education, the secondary schools (in the United States, high school and college) a comprehensive range of knowledge and not just a few subjects assorted according to the whim of the pupil. Graduate schools should be of the highest quality, and ought also to foster research. Discipline, devotion, and diligence should be the characteristics of any school, and students who cannot or will not keep up should be removed. It makes no sense to drag bored, unwilling, lazy mobs through the schools at the expense of the public. The years of mandatory schooling should be shortened, and subsequent schooling assume an intellectually (but not socially) “elitist” character. Parents who do not make use of the public schools should not be taxed to pay for them.
17. Nothing is more dangerous to freedom, as well as to religion and to the health of the State, than the identification of Church and State. The free Church in a free State is the ideal; caesaropapism or hierocracy (wrongly called theocracy) has always been an unmitigated evil. Even in societies where religious pluralism exists, such an order benefits one faith while treating others unjustly. However, the separation of State and religion should not preclude cooperation between them. Such cooperation has been practiced for generations in a number of countries to the benefit of all concerned.
The reasons are manifold. First of all, religion, as we have pointed out, is one of the distinguishing marks of Man. Secondly, there are no ethics truly binding in conscience other than those emanating from Revelation. All our ethics in the monotheistic world are derived from religious precepts, and the full recognition of the Natural Law is possible to most of us only in the light of religion. Hence there is a real and undeniable connection between the strength of religion and morality, and this in spite of the fact that in our Western Civilization nonbelievers (subconsciously following ethical commands laid down by the great religions) have often individually shown greater adherence to our ethics than the faithful. Yet, statistically, we know that the increase in crime is only too often the result of the evaporation of religious faith — as is evidenced in the Western world today.
However, religion (except in the case of a small, tenacious sect) cannot survive detached from the world and the marketplace. The modern state has invaded not only the marketplace but also social life to such a degree that clear lines of demarcation between State and Church can no longer be drawn. It seems necessary for the churches and the State to cooperate in certain fields. Even in countries with total separation of religion and State there are army and prison chaplains, and respect for, and public acknowledgment of, religious feasts — as for the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship based on Scripture. The various faiths also should be encouraged to cooperate among themselves and to emphasize what unites them: a common spiritual and ethical foundation which also, in turn, should inspire State and Society.
Care should be taken by the State to see that religion is taught in the schools — in one way or another. This is in the interest of the State. Regulations of course have to be different in different countries, yet it would be a fallacy to believe that a variety of religious beliefs automatically renders such a task impossible. Experience in many countries (some with and some without a religious establishment) clearly shows that solutions are possible with a certain amount of good will.
There have always been persons who are intellectually or spiritually unable to accept any religious tenets and values. They should be treated with tolerance and compassion and, at the same time, encouraged to gain at least an understanding of the “practical” values represented by religion.
18. Ethnicity, race, and citizenship must be respected. Ethnicity, primarily but not solely distinguished by language, has a cultural character. Language, of course, affects our way of thinking, because thought travels on the rails of specific idioms. However, ethnicity involves not only language, but also customs, ways of thought, habits, food, and sometimes religion as well. It harbors rational as well as spiritual values. It is an integral part of a human being’s personality and can, normally, only be changed in one’s earlier years. Artificial “denationalization” is therefore an evil. It is also contrary to the principle of tradition.
Ethnicity must be distinguished from citizenship, which is a matter of legal status, changeable at any moment, but demanding loyalty. (Therefore in most countries new citizens take a solemn oath of allegiance.) It is also distinct from race, which is biological and unchangeable for an individual, although it may change in the course of generations.
Race is not intrinsically connected with ethnicity or citizenship, nor with religion or culture. It has, however, an effect on certain qualities — primarily, though not only, physical qualities. It is empirically obvious, after all, that very tall races produce better runners than very short ones, and that a sense of music is better developed among tropical than among arctic races. Yet, these and any other qualities in which races differ (like those in which men differ from women) are of a purely statistical, not a personal nature. Any discrimination based on ethnicity, race, sex, or religion in public life (which includes education) would therefore be illicit and should be ruled out. Persons have to be treated equally in order to evaluate their performance and their (obviously unequal) contribution to State and Society. “Equality” thus has not an intrinsic, but merely a procedural, value.
19. Tolerance can be exercised only by those who have well-grounded convictions (although it will not always be exercised even by them). For such people tolerance is an act of self-abnegation; although they are convinced that those who differ from them must be wrong, they nevertheless will protect their rights. Those who have no such convictions, but who espouse polite doubt, agnosticism, skepticism, or downright nihilism, can only be indifferent, not tolerant. The two are by no means the same, and history has demonstrated the intolerance of those who claim that truth either does not exist or is humanly unattainable. In the name of doubt they have persecuted or repressed those defending well-grounded convictions.
20. Traditions should be discarded only if they are found to conflict with truth. Even “neutral” traditions foster peace, consensus, and, above all, a feeling of inner and outer security. They regulate society. Changes are sometimes necessary, and so is an occasional revision of traditions. But change purely for the sake of change is to be rejected because it creates insecurity, and a sense of security is important to Man. Rapid changes may be indulged in superficial matters, but when it comes to fundamentals, tradition, which means permanence, is highly desirable.
21. Patriotism, not nationalism, is the ideal political attachment. The patriot is proud of and happy about his country and the variety of cultures, languages, races, institutions, estates and classes, traditions and opinions it harbors. The nationalist is in danger of considering himself (as part of a collective unit) superior to the members of other nationalities (ethnic groups). He comes dangerously close to the racist. His loyalties have taken on a horizontal rather than a vertical character.
Nationalism is a “natural” tendency: the nation is the cultural group one is born into (natus). The patriot, however, takes a supranatural, an ethical stand. He vows loyalty and affection to the country of his birth, of his forebears, or to an adopted fatherland. Indeed, there are great countries on this globe which have grown by virtue of choice and adoption on the part of their citizens rather than by birthrates.
Nationalism (and racism) have repeatedly created dissent, rebellion, and wars. The modern “popular” mass-war has ideological or nationalistic roots and sometimes even racist undertones. In Western civilization the wars before 1789 were largely conflicts between monarchs, fought by their paid volunteers; the peoples’ wars only came with the collectivist ideas of the French Revolution, which introduced conscription — “You all have the same rights, therefore you all have the same duties.”
22. Diplomatic, economic, cultural, and other relations between countries have always existed. Today we have in addition a number of international institutions. Many of them are of a political character; some are useful, others are useless if not downright harmful. The Red Cross and the World Postal Union are early, though very dissimilar, examples of practical international organizations. There are also, however, institutions like the United Nations, striving to establish something like a world government.
A government of that kind might some day come into existence, but in such matters kairos (a Greek term for the “right time”) is of crucial importance, and so are the nature, the structure, and the power of such an overarching institution. (The questions one would have to ask here are not dissimilar to those asked of men and women before marriage.) Such an august body, needless to say, requires common ideals, yet we are in many respects further from such common ideals than ever before in history. The official ideas and ideals moving, let us say, the USSR, Spain, Zambia, New Zealand, Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Italy are worlds apart. A world government today would be analogous to a marriage between children of different classes, creeds, colors, levels of intelligence, and moral qualities, motivated only by a precocious sexual attraction. Also, the notion of subsidiarity must be taken into consideration. A centralized (or even not so centralized) world government could try to destroy local cultures, traditions, and values, thereby depersonalizing big and small nations alike and establishing a dead level of civilization.
The present United Nations not only lacks a common denominator; it is also subject to the rule of mere numbers. The “peace-loving nations” that have full voting powers in it consist in their vast majority of countries in which corruption, illiteracy, tyranny, or a blend of all these is dominant. The United Nations has accepted sadistic, tyrannical governments while rejecting countries enforcing law, order, and justice. It has repeatedly refused to take a stand on decisive moral issues for purely political reasons. At the present stage any world government is out of the question.
23. For the defense of a country — essential as long as independent states exist — a standing army of volunteers is theoretically preferable to an army of conscripts. To be a soldier is a vocation like any other. To force a person to follow a profession for which he has no calling is a grave mistake. But if one major power adopts a system of conscription and general military training, other countries may be forced to follow suit. Whether such an emergency exists or not depends upon circumstances. Meanwhile, there is no reason to condemn a person for wanting to serve in another country’s army any more than for preferring another citizenship. “Soldier” after all means mercenary.
24. In matters of justice the notion of legal positivism — i.e., that whatever a state decrees is legally and morally right — is to be rejected. Justice is not equality, but Ulpian’s Suum cuique (“To everybody his due”). Yet the State should not promulgate laws arbitrarily. “Laws” (deciding what is right and what is wrong) have to be searched for and thus “discovered.” There are only two basic sources of law: Revelation and the (far less distinct) Natural Law. Recently, we have seen parliaments decreeing that a person starts to be a human being 28 weeks after his conception, and then changing it to 24 weeks. Such arbitrariness in fundamental matters has to be avoided. Judges and courts must be absolutely independent of governmental or popular pressures.
25. A man’s rights and duties are connected with his self-interest as well as with the Common Good, which is, successively, the good of mankind, of his own country, and of whatever groups he consciously belongs to (province, city, village, family, profession, civic association). A person has the right to choose his own occupation, his own religion, his own partner in life, his own employer or employees, his own residence, doctors, teachers, friends, and associates. He has duties toward the community he lives in — primarily toward the State, but also toward Society. He has to give a reasonable amount of his wealth or income to the State, and, if his conscience or his religion compels him, to the indigent part of society (which, for his act of charity, owes him gratitude). He has to contribute financially toward defense, and he might even be called upon to defend his country physically. To the State and its laws he owes loyalty and obedience, unless his (well-formed) conscience forbids him to do this. There are situations in which conscience prompts us to resist the State by legal or even illegal means.
26. Human freedom is not an end in itself. It can never be absolute. It is a condition to live and to act in. Nor is self-realization a legitimate human goal. One must make efforts to become a transformed person in the eyes of God. Nor can the pursuit of happiness on this Earth be a permanent aim of a believing person. Still, one can subscribe to the formula: “As much liberty as possible (without hurting the Common Good) and as much restraint as necessary (to protect the Common Good).” At the same time one has to realize that the Common Good (which always encompasses personal freedom) cannot be rigidly outlined. A complete consent will always be rare and a certain arbitrariness will always mark its definition.
What is the alternative to an ideology, a Weltanschauung, a public philosophy uniting the Free World? What could take its place as a uniting bond giving us enthusiasm, confidence, a common task and vision? Certainly not a refined skepticism or a readiness to compromise. And least of all a trial-and-error pragmatism. The chimpanzee, attempting to reach the banana with the help of wooden boxes, tries until he succeeds. Yet the pressure of time prohibits such a procedure for us. Above all, this approach is not truly human.
Man is called to be Promethean in the etymological sense of the term. Promethean means to think first and then to act according to reasoned plans and ideas. Prometheus, however, had a brother, Epimetheus, Pandora’s lover, who acted swiftly and then reflected sadly on his action. We must remember that the Free World for a generation and a half has merely tried to parry the blows of the enemy. When it succeeded in thwarting an attack we shouted triumphantly, but it has never taken the initiative because it has never had a vision, a theoretical let alone a concrete aim. The nihilism which now plagues the still-Free World must come to an end if we are not to perish. The problem of survival is not a purely military one. Let us therefore in every respect be Promethean and not Epimethean. In Goethe’s words:
The day has not yet passed away,
But our time to act runs short.
Soon will the dark night have its sway
When ev’ry striving comes to naught.
The Portland Declaration: A Summary
In the Free World it has become imperative to formulate a vision based on a coherent outlook which can be shared by most of us. These, then, are the main points of such a creed in a short version:
1. Our immensely complex universe can only be the result of either mere chance or a conscious design. We believe that it has an Originator as well as a Designer — God.
2. Only to man can this world be meaningful in every respect: spiritually, morally, aesthetically, economically.
3. Only man is a transcendent creature. He realizes that, if there is a personal God, everything is possible, if there is no God, everything is permissible.
4. Every man or woman is truly a person and unique. No two persons are identical or equal, least of all in the eyes of God.
5. With the beasts we share a craving for sameness, but the delight in the variations of creation distinguishes man from beast as much as religion and reason do.
6. Sameness and with it the dislike of otherness is the hallmark of leftism: it is an evil totalitarian instinct which fashioned the French, Russian and German revolutions with their gaols, guillotines, gallows, gas chambers and Gulags.
7. In all languages, whether dead or modern, “Left” stands for negative, “Right” for positive principles.
8. Men and women are equally important, but their innate characteristics favor (and sometimes rationally preclude) certain occupations and vocations.
9. The family is the living cell of every society. (Man is the creature who knows his grandfather.) It is based on sex, eros. friendship, affection and charity, friendship being the most important factor because loyalty pertains to it rather than to sexuality or Eros.
10. A healthy society is not a monolith, but consists of various well correlated lasers and groups with different qualities and functions. However, neither society nor state should be permitted to become absolutes.
11. The state is the result of man’s frailty and incompleteness, Its legitimacy rests not only on authority but, due to Man’s fallen nature, also on exterior power. Authority rests on love, or respect, or rational insight, it is an interior force.
12. The state has an “annexationist” character tending toward centralization and the development of a Provider State. We must uphold the principle of subsidiarity. Action should always be taken by the smallest possible unit. starting with the person.
13. What we now have is maximal government of the lowest quality; what we need is minimal government of the highest order.
14. There is no escape from “technocracy.” Reason, knowledge and experience must reenter government at the expense of popularity and passions. Parliaments should faithfully mirror public opinion and might have purely legislative powers, but they must not become policy-forming bodies. Government should rest on first-rate expertise and respect for personal freedom.
15. Freedom is inseparable from personal property, socialism produces only equality in poverty.
16. The family can delegate its educational tasks to other bodies. Nobody should be taxed for educational facilities not used by them. It is, however, in the interest of the community that real talent (and diligence) should be fostered.
17. The identification of state and religion is pagan. Their separation, however, should not preclude cooperation because they have common interests and overlapping fields of action.
18. Ethnicity, race and citizenship are separate concepts, the first being cultural, the second biological, the third legal. They should not be confused. Legal discriminations or automatic preferences on account of ethnicity or race in the public-sector are plainly immoral.
19. Only a person with convictions has a genuine possibility to be tolerant. He who accepts no absolute values but clings to polite doubt cannot be tolerant but merely indifferent. He is morally defenseless in the face of evil.
20. Tradition, i.e., loyalty toward inherited convictions and institutions, which includes discarding obsolete or false ones, has a positive value.
21. The good man is a patriot and not a “nationalist,” he delights in the human varieties within his country.
22. Foreign relations require an enormous amount of knowledge and experience. They are intrinsically connected with our survival. International institutions can be of great value, but the United Nations in their present form and in the present state of our globe has often produced more harm than good.
23. Professional armies are, for various reasons, preferable to armies based on conscription, but if the latter system is adopted by certain world powers, others might have to follow suit — at least temporarily.
24. Legal positivism has no moral moorings. Justice is not equality but is based on Ulpian’s “to everyone his due.”
25. Man has rights as well as duties and these must be distinguished from acts of charity which might become moral, but not legal obligations.
26. Freedom is not an end in itself but a condition to live and to act in. “As much freedom as possible, as much coercion as necessary.” The common good marks the limits of freedom.