A better world: founder Robert Welch believed the combination of less government and more responsibility would bring about a better world--materially, politically, and spiritually.
In the struggle to preserve freedom, graphic descriptions of past and ongoing atrocities committed by the Total State have their place, as a warning of what awaits if we lose. But the freedom fight is not merely an effort to prevent the worst that can happen; it must also be an active struggle to achieve the best that we can imagine. This is why, for those who truly understand and cherish freedom, hope is an even stronger motivation than fear.
John Adams displayed an understanding of this principle in a letter to his wife Abigail. Writing after the War for Independence, but before the constitutional foundations of our republic had been firmly established, Adams observed: "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons must study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."
Founders vs. Conspiracy
The purpose of politics, Adams understood, was to keep government in its properly subordinate role, thereby leaving people free to build a better and more civilized world. And, like the other leading Founding Fathers, Adams recognized that the liberties he cherished were threatened by a conspiracy of evil men lusting to control government to enrich themselves at the expense of human liberty.
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Harvard historian Bernard J. Bailyn wrote of the Founders: "They saw about them, with increasing clarity, not merely mistaken, or even evil, policies violating the principles upon which freedom rested, but what appeared to be evidence of nothing less than a deliberate assault launched surreptitiously by plotters against liberty both in England and America."
In 1774, as the widespread sentiment favoring American independence began to coalesce, Adams declared that "the conspiracy was first regularly formed and begun to be executed in 1763 or 4...." To defeat that conspiracy, it was necessary for Americans to join in an organized, principled effort to expose it and defeat it. But it was not enough to tabulate the offenses wrought by the British Crown, or to offer gruesome (and plausible) warnings of the fate that would befall Americans were they to lose their bid for independence.
Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and others of their generation offered a vision of a better world. The Founders aspired to build a nation in which government would be limited to its proper role of protecting rights and property, thereby creating conditions in which freedom would flourish, innovation and creativity would be unleashed, and human beings would be able to develop their God-given talents to the benefit of all.
In terms of character, values, and ideals, Robert Welch was a blessed throwback to our Founding era. "I want for our country enough laws to restrain me from injuring others, so that these laws will also restrain others from injuring me," he declared during a 1964 debate with socialist leader Norman Thomas. "I want enough government, with enough constitutional sale guards, so that this necessary minimum of laws will be applied equitably to everybody, and will be binding on the rulers as well as those ruled."
Building a better world, Mr. Welch declared at the Society's founding meeting, inescapably means reducing the size and power of government. From the Society's beginnings its motto has called for "less government, more responsibility, and a better world." Beginning in 1966, this motto was embellished by explicitly recognizing a point implicit therein: "Less government, more responsibility, and--with God's help--a better world." As Mr. Welch pointed out in 1961, the JBS motto starkly contradicts the collectivist Conspiracy's vision of "total government, an absence of all personal responsibility, and a completely amoral world...."
Morality and Liberty
The effort to preserve traditional morality has always been central to the program of The John Birch Society, and from the beginning the Society has earnestly sought and abundantly received--the participation of patriotic individuals from many religious backgrounds. The Society provides them the organized means to work together in the freedom fight, in defense of all they hold dear including their religious convictions, without in any way compromising or diluting those convictions. "The whole key to our working together as one body, for those things which we do all believe in, is not compromise but tolerance," Robert Welch noted in 1965.
"We seek no doctrinal union ... [but rather] simple cooperation and mutual support, between men and women of good will and conscience, in forwarding those moral purposes which are held in common by them all," wrote Mr. Welch in 1961. "We begin our cooperation with a belief in absolutes, and an eschewal of relativity, as the foundation for morality."
If morality is "relative," how can individual rights be considered as "self-evident," God-given endowments? In the absence of absolutes, what can restrain human beings from injuring each other, apart from the brute force of the state? And with the state able to define its own role, what would limit its power?
"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence," wrote James Madison in The Federalist, No. 55. "Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form."
Preserving those divinely instilled qualities essential to freedom has always been, and always shall be, a central purpose of The John Birch Society. In the December 1970 issue of the JBS Bulletin, Mr. Welch summarized the Society's moral perspective in a list of 20 key principles he called "The John Birch Resolutions." The list began, appropriately, with the Golden Rule, and other key tenets of the biblical moral worldview:
* "I shall always do unto others as I would have them do unto me."
* "I shall always be truthful."
* "I will neither kill nor injure another human being, except in such circumstances that it is morally justifiable to do so.
* "I shall oppose, in every practicable way that I can, the widespread use or legalization of abortion, or of euthanasia.... For abortion, in plain language, is simply murder...."
* "I shall be a good patriot of my country."
* "I shall always participate in charity for the needy, to the full extent that my resources and my other responsibilities will permit.,.."
* "I shall not yield to any of the specific forms of immorality which the enemies of God and man are now trying to get widely practiced and accepted...."
Were these principles generally practiced today, government would have relatively little to do--and the amoral Conspiracy for global control described by Mr. Welch would find little if any social traction.
Too many Americans, anesthetized by consumer comforts and the illusion of endless material prosperity assess their situation in terms of what they are allowed to keep, rather than by what has been stealthily stolen from them--and by what they and their children stand to lose unless they organize to defeat those responsible for that larceny. The John Birch Society understands the enemy and offers a principle-based plan for defeating it. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that mankind's hope for a better world largely depends on the success of this epic undertaking.