The Words of the McKenzie Family

America's leadership crisis and how to solve it

Hal McKenzie
October 1971
(FLF Research Associate)

History has thrust America into a position of world leadership; but the degree of authority that America commands abroad depends upon the degree of authority that America commands at home. America is floundering in her foreign policy because her leadership is so confused that it cannot make the appropriate responses to world challenges, nor command enough respect from the American people to lead them in the correct direction. If we are to reverse this trend, we must uncover the root cause of our leadership crisis, work out the strategic solution, and vigorously carry it out as soon as possible.

According to Arnold Toynbee, civilization arises when a "creative minority," in response to a challenge, inspires and leads the people in a cooperative effort, centered on a common religious ideal. In order to maintain authority, these leaders must provide, generation after generation, capable leadership which continues to manifest the high standards and ideals which command love and respect from the people. To do this effectively, the leadership must cooperate with the people, welcoming the most capable leaders from the lower classes into its ranks.

Society disintegrates when the leadership loses its moral sanction; when it becomes alienated from the people, no longer creatively leading them, but merely holding on to its privileges and way of life at their expense. Then, what Toynbee calls the "rhythm of disintegration" begins: a ruinous pattern of conflict and confusion which culminates, as Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto, "in either a revolutionary reconstitution of society, or in the mutual ruin of the contending classes."

De Tocqueville noted in L'Ancien Regime, that the French aristocracy degenerated into a predatory caste, and was therefore destroyed in the bloody French revolution-the pattern for the later, bloodier Russian Revolution. The British aristocracy, on the other hand, reversed this negative trend by cooperating with the leaders of the lower classes in building democratic institutions. America originally followed this British tradition-therefore we had a relatively bloodless revolution, followed by a dynamic and stable republican system.

The strength of this system was well-known to Marx, who saw such class cooperation as a deadly enemy to his program of violent revolution in the French tradition. In Das Kapitial, he wrote: "The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the most prominent men of the dominated classes, the more stable and dangerous its rule." Ever since, the primary tactic of Communist movements has been to generate hatred and mistrust between leaders and followers in target countries so that when the "establishment" breaks down, they can establish their own dictatorship "of the proletariat."

The key factor in America's leadership crisis, then, is the breakdown of our civilization's Judeo-Christian moral bas,-, and the rise of conflict-oriented ideologies (such as Social Darwinism and Marxism-Leninism). The Christian humanism and natural philosophy of our founding fathers certainly didn't bring immediate perfection, but it did foster a respect for human dignity, a commitment to serve mankind, and to extend to others the benefits of freedom. The Judeo-Christian concept of the Family of Man under God helped prevent caste attitudes, and allowed immigrants, Jews, and eventually Negroes to rise to positions of authority. Also, the virtues of fair play, humility, support of the down-trodden and responsible activism made democracy possible. Without such virtues, violence and tyranny flourish.

However, Judeo-Christianity has almost been disintegrated in the massive scientific and industrial revolution which arose in the late nineteenth century. The turmoil of this age inspired mechanistic worldviews which denigrated Judeo-Christian values and upheld materialism and "survival of the fittest" as ultimate principles. This led to the justification and institutionalization of ideologies such as Social Darwinism and Marxism -- Leninism, which glorify conflict, hatred, brute power, and deceit as morally justifiable means of attaining humanity's goals. Thus arose the twin horrors of Fascism and communism.

While the former has been mostly subjugated with the defeat of Hitler, the latter has conquered over one-third of the earth's population, and is continuing its massive assault on the ideologies which developed around the world's Great Religions. Communism's intensive propaganda has blinded many people in the Free World to the immensity of its crimes, and has paralyzed many conscientious souls with confusion, self- accusation and moral relationism. America's leadership crisis can be overcome only if our country's youth rediscover the relevance of its moral and spiritual heritage. The recent upsurge of interest in Oriental religion and the "Jesus Movement" are indications of a trend in this direction. However, a spiritual renewal, in order to accomplish anything substantial, must be manifested in socio-economic-political reactions. What remains now is for spiritually concerned young people to see the relationship of their beliefs and experiences to world society-particularly to communism's attempts to destroy alternative world views and suppress man's spiritual search for God and self-fulfillment. And having seen this relevance, these young leaders must work diligently to gain prominent positions in society, and motivate others to reject dialectical and materialistic approaches to solving the world's problems.

Despite cries of gloom on every side, America can look forward to a very hopeful and exciting future, if only the positively oriented groups of individuals can mobilize, and develop the wisdom and experience necessary to carry the constructive revolution through to its goals. 

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