Simply stated, The Calhoun Institute exists because as the human population continues to expand exponentially, we find more and more that our large centralized governments do not scale well. Local culture, customs and preferences across the globe have been and continue to be trampled by centralization and consolidation. We believe there are better solutions for good governance that embrace differences, ensure minority peoples rights, protect organic nations and peoples. John C. Calhoun‘s theory of concurrent majorities may work in some places, peacefully breaking things apart into smaller pieces via secession or devolution may work for others. At the end of the day, the trend of greater collectivization is contrary to notions of true human freedom. Our purpose here is to highlight and discuss those facts and solutions.
This is a global problem, faced by many peoples.
The inspiration for The Calhoun Institute comes, in part, from The Abbeville Institute. The founding academics of that organization in 2002 observed:
“We were concerned that the Southern tradition is no longer taught in colleges and universities except as a function of the ideological needs of others. With few exceptions, the Southern tradition is presented as little more than the story of racism and slavery. Eugene Genovese, a distinguished historian of the South—a Northerner and a man of the left—has been a rare voice in criticizing this effort to purge the Southern tradition and its symbols from the American landscape. In the Massey lectures he gave at Harvard in 1994 he had this to say: ‘Rarely these days, even on southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South …. To speak positively about any part of this southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity—an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forbearers or to remember them with shame.‘”
The situation observed in 2002 has not changed for the better, in fact, it may be getting worse. In academia, professors like Dr. Donald W. Livingston, Dr. Clyde N. Wilson, CAPT (USN R) DR. John Coussins and others have retired and others of their generation will soon follow. The generation of scholars, writers, and professors that followed these men was shaped in the 1960’s and their understanding of history, Constitutional law and political philosophy is very different (and wrong) than the views held by the generations that preceded. This contemporary view supports a narrative that is contrary to both the historical record and common-sense. This narrative both supports what has become of the role of the central government and silences any voice contrary to the common their version of the story.
The goal of The Calhoun Institute is, therefore, to add another voice in the effort to thwart the revisionist and reconstructionist that would paint the South as a whole and Calhoun in particular as nothing more than bit players in the story of America and history. We hope to help inspire a new generation of scholars, researchers and ordinary people that question the story of our history told in numerous books, lectures and essays over the last forty-five years, and perhaps, raise up a group of thinkers/leaders/teachers to follow giants like Wilson and Livingston.
The lessons, trials and struggles of the sovereign States of American South in their bid for freedom to determine their own destiny should not be lost on history or ignored by other people and nations seeking to assert or reassert their sovereignty and independence simply because of the taint of slavery or modern interpretations of 19th-century morality. The principles of self-government, self-determination and organic nationhood are relevant and valuable today. Secession and devolution did not die in 1865 and no nation has ever successfully tried a version of concurrent majorities – these concepts should be looked at anew. They stand ready, validated by their historical, rational and legal legitimacy to offer solutions.
See Dr. Livingston’s explanation:
John C. Calhoun quotes
The Government of the absolute majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised. – Speech to the U.S. Senate (15 February 1833)
A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks. – Speech (27 May 1836); this is the source of the phrase, “Cohesive power of public plunder”
The truth is—the Government of the uncontrolled numerical majority, is but the absolute and despotic form of popular governments; —just as that of the uncontrolled will of one man, or a few, is of monarchy or aristocracy; and it has, to say the least, it has as strong a tendency to oppression, and the abuse of its powers, as either of the others.
War, in our country, ought never to be resorted to but when it is clearly justifiable and necessary; so much so as not to require the aid of logic to convince our understanding nor the ardour of eloquence to inflame our passions. There are many reasons why this country should never resort to it but for causes the most urgent and necessary.
By nature, every individual has the right to govern himself; and governments, whether founded on majorities or minorities, must derive their right from the assent, expressed or implied, of the governed, and be subject to such limitations as they may impose.
It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty.