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Harry V. Jaffa

Geburtstag: 7. Oktober 1918
Todesdatum: 10. Januar 2015

Harry Victor Jaffa was an American political philosopher, historian, columnist and professor. He was a 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 on 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. Wikipedia

Zitate 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
Kontext: 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.

„If a Southerner came across from Virginia to Pennsylvania and saw a black man that he thought he would like to have as a slave, he had to say, 'Well, that’s my runaway slave', and this runaway slave would then be arrested and confined, and then there would be a hearing before a federal commissioner. And the would-be slave owner could summon witnesses—as many as he wanted. The man accused of being a slave could summon no witnesses, had no counsel. And if the federal commissioner decided he was a slave, he was paid $10, and if he decided he was a free man, he was paid $5. It’s hard to imagine any law passed in either Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia that was more inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty than the Fugitive Slave Act.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), The South was a Closed Society
Kontext: There were eight of them that had laws trying to protect black people who were free from being kidnapped as slaves, because under the law of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act. If a Southerner came across from Virginia to Pennsylvania and saw a black man that he thought he would like to have as a slave, he had to say, 'Well, that’s my runaway slave', and this runaway slave would then be arrested and confined, and then there would be a hearing before a federal commissioner. And the would-be slave owner could summon witnesses—as many as he wanted. The man accused of being a slave could summon no witnesses, had no counsel. And if the federal commissioner decided he was a slave, he was paid $10, and if he decided he was a free man, he was paid $5. It’s hard to imagine any law passed in either Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia that was more inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty than the Fugitive Slave Act.

„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

Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln Douglas Debates http://archive.li/CFqbg (1959), p. 195
1950s
Kontext: 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.

„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)
Kontext: 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.

„But South Carolina does not repeat the preceding language in the earlier document: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

Quelle: 2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), p. 231
Kontext: South Carolina cites, loosely, but with substantial accuracy, some of the language of the original Declaration. That Declaration does say that it is the right of the people to abolish any form of government that becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established. But South Carolina does not repeat the preceding language in the earlier document: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'.

„You can not have free government if you can not bind the people who participate in the government to accept the results of the election.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

2000s, The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate (2002), Q&A
Kontext: You can not have free government if you can not bind the people who participate in the government to accept the results of the election. It is the exercise of our inalienable right to life that enables us, and justifies us, in forming legitimate governments. When those governments are formed, we cannot reject them because we don’t like the results.

„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
Kontext: 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.

„There cannot be a constructive diplomatic process between a tyranny and a democracy. The problem of Hitler could be resolved only by the destruction of Hitler.“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

After Hitler, Germany became a peaceful, democratic regime, able to join the neighbors it had once conquered in an equal partnership in the European Union. The Palestinians whom Arafat represents are like the Germans Hitler represented. The Palestinian Authority, like the Nazis, is a gangster regime that rules its own people by terror. More Palestinians have been murdered by their own government for expressing dissent than have died in action against Israeli Defense Forces in the Intifada. The bulk of the hundreds of millions of dollars we have poured into Arafat's treasury has been embezzled.
2000s, The Peace Process Is Dead. Let's Bury It (2001)

„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)
Kontext: 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.

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

—  Harry V. Jaffa

Quelle: 2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), p. 211
Kontext: [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.

„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
Kontext: 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.

„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
Kontext: 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.

„What was lost sight of was that the evil of the past, whether of slavery or of Jim Crow, was evil not because it was done by whites to blacks, but because it was done by some human beings to other human beings. The purpose of the law was to end evil acts“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

1990s, The Party of Lincoln vs. The Party of Bureaucrats (1996)
Kontext: Suddenly, however, remedies for something called 'racism' became the order of the day. The word itself, like 'sexism', is of recent coinage and will not be found in any older dictionaries. The civil rights movement, premised upon individual rights, suddenly became the black power movement, premised upon group rights. 'Affirmative action' became a euphemism for the baldest kind of racial discrimination. That whites had long enjoyed preference over blacks was now taken to be a justification for blacks having preference over whites. What was lost sight of was that the evil of the past, whether of slavery or of Jim Crow, was evil not because it was done by whites to blacks, but because it was done by some human beings to other human beings. The purpose of the law was to end evil acts, not continue them in the guise of 'affirmative action'.

„Negroes, whether free or slave, have always seen America itself as the promised land. Both Christianity and the Declaration of Independence embodied promise to all men. They saw no better or equal hope anywhere else, and certainly not in Africa“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

Quelle: 2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), p. 164
Kontext: There is a further and deeper reason why colonization failed and why all subsequent attempts to return Americans of African descent to Africa, even those originating solely within the black community, have failed. The reason is that the overwhelming majority of these Americans regard their destiny to be in the United States. They were, after all, sold into slavery originally by black tribesmen, who captured them in order to sell them, and who slaughtered the ones they did not sell. No resent of slavery, however profound, engendered any love of a mythical African homeland. To have asked them to return to Africa was not unlike asking American Jews whose parents or grandparents fled czarist or Stalinist tyranny to return to Russia. However involuntary their emigration from Africa, American Negroes, whether free or slave, have always seen America itself as the promised land. Both Christianity and the Declaration of Independence embodied promise to all men. They saw no better or equal hope anywhere else, and certainly not in Africa. The truth is that the slaves, ignorant and illiterate as they may have seemed, were far from unintelligent. The Bible that they heard about, even if they were not allowed to read it, contained stories that convinced them that the same God that had freed the children of Israel would free them. Jefferson Davis might have thought this to be mere credulity. Yet it certainly compared favorably with his own absurd reading of the story of Noah.

„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)
Kontext: 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.

„From that perspective, it was now for never or Southern independence, if slavery was to be preserved“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

2000s, The Speech That Changed the World (2009)
Kontext: The South knew that it would never in future possess the same power relative to the North that it did in 1861. From that perspective, it was now for never or Southern independence, if slavery was to be preserved.

„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

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.
2000s, God Bless America (2008), Slavery and the American Cause

„The achievements of this subculture, both in slavery and in freedom, are among the most exalted in human record“

—  Harry V. Jaffa

Quelle: 2000s, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), p. 162
Kontext: The subculture of American Negroes is perhaps the most deeply rooted of all American subcultures, since most black Americans are descended from ancestors who were on the North American continent long before those of the great majority of white Americans. And the blood of many of them is, in truth, mingled with that of the great white families of the colonial and Revolutionary periods. The achievements of this subculture, both in slavery and in freedom, are among the most exalted in human record. It is doubted whether any expression of the human spirit transcends the Negro spiritual.

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