If you believe in freedom and want to save this country, then a book promoted at Pajamas, Lee Harris's "The Next American Civil War," is a very bad book.
The Founding tradition of this country rests on one thing: the protection of individual rights.
All else follows from this, but nothing that Harris advocates follows from this.
Harris misinterprets the "general welfare" clause of the Constitution to promote the notion that we are a country founded on altruism. In historical context, the meaning of that clause is the opposite: that freedom begets the "general welfare" by protecting life, liberty and opportunity for the pursuit of happiness.
For anyone who wants to save the United States from despotism, almost nothing that Harris advocates is of value. In essence, his woeful ignorance of history, his mindless advocacy of "tradition" and egalitarianism, and his profoundly anti-reason obscurantism paints Harris as someone standing against everything the Founders fought for.
The Founders were not "traditionalists" -- they broke with over 2000 years of tradition to create the first society in history that placed the natural rights of the individual -- those necessary to sustain his life by his own effort -- above those of society, and defined a limited role for government. The Founders said, in essence: these rights are reserved for the People and government may not infringe them.
Some of the Founders were religious, others weren't, but all agreed: the "general welfare" isn't promoted by forcing people to do "good" for any undefined person who may or may not be worthy of help. The Founders weren't "altruists" in any modern, traditional sense.
The Founders were all advocates of Reason. They used their minds to study history and conceive a new society founded on Reason and Rights. This had never been done before.
They made some mistakes such as Jefferson's advocacy of public education -- understandable in a time when illiteracy was rampant. But they never made the mistake of thinking “civilization can pose a threat to freedom,” or that "science and technology" was a threat to freedom based on "unwise departures from well-worn traditions and for promotion of unnecessarily complex concepts".
I'll leave it for Harris to show us what he regards as a "complex concept". Perhaps he can have that conversation with Bill Clinton -- over the meaning of the word "is".
Public education today can be rightly criticized for many evils, and should be abolished (how? just sell them off and let people keep the taxes they now pay), but to assert, as Harris does, that public education promotes "consensus building and adulation of brains... as a superior route to success" is not just foolish, but a criminally ignorant distortion of history for the purpose of promoting the modern agenda of a theocratically-inclined Luddite, and an indictment of the anti-mind education Harris himself received.
One has to wonder if his book isn't some product of "The Onion" when he asserts that the primary "threat to liberty today as not emanating from Marxism... but from prosperous modern civilizations", while then going on to advocate altruism, egalitarianism, duty in the present and duty to the future, and civil war as the solution -- the main precepts of Marxism.
Yes, we do have other threats besides Marxism. We have threats from false philosophies in the Post-modernism era that advocate relativism, mysticism, blind tolerance to any creed (such as Islam, the most profoundly anti-mind creed today, though Harris seems determined to prove Christianity is more so), and a host of other wrong ideas.
The solution is not to be anti-intellectual, anti-philosophical and anti-mind like Harris. The solution is to use our minds to the best of our ability to identify a correct philosophy that correctly grounds our rights in reality and discovers the real meaning of the Founder's achievement. Listen to Ayn Rand's speech delivered to the graduating class of West Point to understand this fully:
As I said, Harris has written a very bad book. It could have been written by Karl Marx himself (or even the Islamist's patron, Mohammed) to dupe the Tea Party into accepting his premises, while counting on their ignorance and anti-intellectuality to miss the trick. What Harris misses is that most Tea Party types are exactly the opposite of what he advocates: they love this country, whether by conscious realization or not, for the profound intellectuality behind the creation of a government that (in its founding principles) valued their lives.
That Harris fails to grasp this simply shows the consequences of his willful rejection of reason, intellectuality and historical fact, in his pathetic attempt to reach a preordained conclusion. For anyone who might feel they are being sucked into this miasma, I suggest, in the spirit of Ayn Rand, you check your premises.