Whats the big deal with the founding fathers?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by D_Andreas Sukov, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. D_Andreas Sukov

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    I dont get it why there is such a focus in the US in what a bunch of guys from over 200 years ago, wanted or envisioned. I can understand how they are important, but seeing a responce on a thread saying, "it was against the founding father's intentions" all i can think is "so?".

    If someone can explain it to me id be very grateful. Please dont see it as an America Bashing, becuase im generally intrigued.
     
  2. exwhyzee

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    We can be a bit idealistic. We started this whole thing so deliberately...its the great experiment right?
     
  3. Drifterwood

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    John Locke could be considered one of the modern UK's founding fathers, but then I would guess that most Brits haven't heard of him, though he was a significant influence on the US Founding Fathers.

    We seem to have this thing about creation myths and over time the detail about founders becomes murky to say the least, if not deliberately rewritten. Whilst the founder of modern liberalism, Locke also made his living from the slave trade.

    When Nation building it is convenient to have an easy State version which is taught in State funded education. When serious historians look at the history they often find significantly conflicting realities. You will find good revisionist history on the early days and characters of the USA, but it is a difficult subject because in the minds of many, these men are super human and to criticise them at all is a type of heresy. An irony that I am sure Franklin would have enjoyed.
     
  4. HazelGod

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    Bingo. The men who founded this nation were scholars of social philosophy and believers in the ideas of the social contract. The government they framed was an attempt to enshrine those core values into an egalitarian framework while avoiding the failures and abuses of past forms of government, a notion that we still hold in high esteem two and half centuries later.

    While they might have been off with some of the particulars, they had the right idea overall...hence the reverence for their endeavor.


    What you should be thinking in that case is, "that idiot has no idea what the fuck he's talking about."
     
  5. Drifterwood

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    Reverence is an interesting word. Whilst I don't disagree, the danger is that their endeavour is transferred from being a secular framework to what some have called America's Civil Religion. The problems then are dogma, tenets of faith and any old scumbag trying to gain credibility by reference and self appointed relationship to the originals.
     
  6. HazelGod

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    You're absolutely right, and the catalyst for this phenomenon is the spreading ignorance, often willful, of the citizenry here with regard to anything not beamed through the television. I chose the term reverence specifically for its scholarly connotations...and partly to play on one of their names. :tongue:

    Lemon made a good point noticing the troglodyte in the Politics thread moronically spouting off about the fathers' intentions. It becomes a crutch for the ignorant to lean upon when they have nothing cogent to articulate, much like the religious zombies who fall back upon platitudes about "God's plan" and how he "works in mysterious ways" when faced with phenomena beyond their ability to comprehend.

    It's embarrassing to those of us who must share the label of countryman with them...and as I was saying to Mantis in your other thread earlier, it's a big part of why I'm coming to believe that voting should not be a universal, unqualified right of all people.
     
    #6 HazelGod, Apr 7, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  7. Joll

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    Didn't John Locke denounce his slave trade past? I think he had some sort of realisation of what he'd done/been party to, and wanted to change things; partly as a way of atoning for what he'd done, and also to ensure it never happened again. From what I understand anyway?

    Yep.
     
  8. Jason

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    Myths are part of a nation's identity. The USA has a particularly strong foundation myth in the Pilgrim Fathers. So does Canada ("Wolf the dauntless hero came"). The UK has myths around Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain and the blitz and D-Day, as well as myths relating to one of the four nations (Robin Hood and William Wallace come to mind). The events may or may not have happened, and are rarely presented in an impartial manner (they are myths not impartial history) but they are part of what gives people their identity.

    Myths can be destructive. Ireland is an example where each community has its own myths which stress the hurt they have received at the hands of the other community. But most of the time national myths are part of the cohesive force which binds a nation together.

    The USA can reasonably point to its founding fathers as inspired by an effort to build a better society than the ones they left. This thread develops through for example the American constitution. The myth of the founding fathers has become part of the American mindset leading to self-determination, self-responsibility and a lot of ambition within a Christian ethical framework. In many ways the Pilgrim Fathers are a metaphor for the moral and social construct of the USA. To say that something goes against the Pilgrim Fathers is a way of saying it goes against this modern construct.

    (I have to get on a soapbox - the EU has no myths. For this reason it cannot be a nation).
     
  9. Joll

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    EU does have myths - many untrue and deliberately calculated to foster a desired identity. :tongue: Not saying it's a country tho...
     
  10. HazelGod

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    I believe you have the right general idea, but you appear to use the terms pilgrim father (one not used here in the USA) and founding father interchangeably, and that's far from accurate...for numerous reasons.

    In the context of our national history, pilgrims denotes the Puritan colonists who fled England and other places to escape religious persecution in the early 17th century.

    When we speak of founders, we're generally talking about the group of men who declared our independence and constructed our Constitution during the Age of Enlightenment, more than 150 years later. To call their ideals and resultant governmental framework "Christian" is arguable at best, as these were men of reason, not of religion. Most consider them to have been secular humanists and deists...a far cry from the bible-thumping prigs who landed on Plymouth.
     
  11. conntom

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    And like someone said a long time ago..... when they figure out they can vote themselves benefits - it's over.

    Welcome to the end!


    As an American, what I find interesting is how much the "founding fathers" disagreed!
     
  12. conntom

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    Arguable is too generous. I don;t think it was even that. They seemed to believe in a higher power but beyond that - let's just say most of them would not be a part of the religious right - regardless of what the religious right would have you believe.
     
  13. CUBE

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  14. Drifterwood

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  15. Sergeant_Torpedo

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    The so called founding fathers were not idealists, they were opportunists. They preached equality for their kaeth and kin, bugger the slaves and native inhabitants. Their legacy lives on in the rapacious greed of corporate America. In a nation that claims democracy there is no opposition.
     
  16. Jason

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    Historians have no doubt written countless weighty volumes on their lives and deeds, and doubtless they were erring human beings as we all are. Many of history's heroes were probably in fact nasty pieces of work, and many of the bad guys really misunderstood good guys.

    But I think this misses the point. They represent an ideal. What they really were doesn't matter. Even whether they really existed doesn't much matter (think of Robin Hood in the English psyche). Rather it is the values and aspirations that people today attach to them, and the inspiration they can give to people today. They are a metaphor. A symbol of America.
     
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