RE: [Fwd: Claremont Institute Precepts: Planet of the Abes]

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 00:25:12 MDT

Harvey Newstrom writes

> Mike Lorrey wrote

>> Why do you seem to always start off your denounciation of any post you
>> disagree with by claiming that the website that is hosting the
>> information is owned by some allegedly extreme right wing organization?>

> I don't always do this, but lately we seem to be swamped with reposts from
> white supremacist organizations and religious organizations. These posts
> seek to garner support for racial or religious views that are contrary to
> science or Extropianism. The point above was not mean to imply that
> conservatism is bad.

I understand.

> My point was they [The Claremont Institute] are more than
> just conservative, they are specifically religious. They
> are specifically trying to reinterpret existing law and
> history to reshape the US into a Christian nation.

It would seem appropriate to debate the assertions made in the
article, rather than instantly dig into what you think the author's
personal agenda is, or what that of the group that he works for is.
Such investigations should be secondary, and later, IMO. Surely you
agree that what someone says should not be dismissed just because
the person also happens to be religious? But you began your
analysis, in your original post on this subject, with the words,

> Why is this stuff on the Extropians List?

> The Claremont Institute is not only a conservative organization, but it is
> specifically a religious conservative organization. They believe that the
> US was founded....

Well, I read the Glenn Elmers essay (appended below) and didn't see
anything in it religious. I didn't see anything in it that seemed
to go against Extropian principles, either. It might help if you
quoted parts of the article that you want to attack. (Precisely the
same issue came up with regard to the Fred Reed piece.) I suspect
that your whole approach is very firmly rooted in reality, but that
your priorities when attempting to analyze an article are a little

As I read it, the main claim of the article is that modern liberalism
didn't originate in the 1860's, but "It was John Dewey, Herbert Croly,
and Woodrow Wilson---not Abraham Lincoln---who gave us the principles
and practice of the modern leviathan state."

Lee Corbin

---------------------Original Essay--------------------------------

The Claremont Institute--PRECEPTS | August 7, 2001
Visit <> | No. 291

Claremont Institute Precepts: Planet of the Abes
By Glenn Ellmers

It is no longer spoiling the surprise, I hope, to reveal
the ending of the new Planet of the Apes movie: As Mark
Wahlberg, the human astronaut, returns to modern-day earth
his craft lands in Washington D.C.-specifically, he crashes
right into the Lincoln Memorial. He seems to be safe and
sound, back in the good old USA, until he discovers that
the nation's capital is now controlled by our simian
rivals, and Abraham Lincoln is an ape!

Many conservatives, surely, would not think a Washington
D.C. populated by monkeys an altogether offensive
metaphor. And some would even revel in the Great
Emancipator portrayed as a brutish, war-mongering sub
human. Indeed this was a common caricature of Lincoln
during the Civil War. Even today, Lincoln's reputation
among conservatives remains a source of unending
controversy- as our recent quarrel with Joe Sobran attests.
(For details, see,,, and

Though Sobran does not compare Lincoln to a simian beast
(to be fair, he also has words of praise), his critique of
Lincoln is severe. "Lincoln launched a bloody war against
the South, violating the Constitution he'd sworn to
uphold." But quite apart from the various and sometimes
complicated historical arguments about secession and "state
sovereignty," Sobran's anti-Lincolnism is wrong because it
completely misidentifies the origins of our current
occupying army: i.e., the legions of liberals who, like the
apes in the movie, exercise an unnatural dominion over
human society. Today's liberals don't, of course, look
like apes. Indeed, they are the beautiful people of our
time. But in their attitudes toward human liberty, the
enviro-thug gorillas, chimpanzee professoriate, and
orangutan feminists do seem almost of another species from
the men who wrote the Constitution and Declaration of

So is Lincoln, as Sobran and others claim, the prime
primate; the originator of unlimited government, social
engineering, and anti-constitutionalism? Or does modern
liberalism have an altogether different source? If we
conservatives are to preserve our rights, our liberties,
and indeed our humanity we must know the nature and basis
of the thing we are up against. This question, then, of
liberalism's origin, is of the utmost importance.

In the movie, the apes did not become dominant by any
natural process. They were created as the products of
scientific engineering by humans, who-at their peril and
ultimate destruction-challenged nature's order. In one of
the highlights of the movie, Charlton Heston plays the
dying father of the ape leader. In his last words he
reveals that "in the time before time," humans had been the
natural superiors and apes the inferiors. This is the
great secret of the ape society. Maintaining this secret
is one of the keys to the apes' control over humans. No
less today do our apes-liberals-maintain a secret about
their own origins and purposes. Only by exposing it can we
hope to understand and overcome the greatest obstacle to
reclaiming our country.

Sobran says his criticisms of Lincoln are meant to set the
historical record straight. In fact, his claim that big
government and social engineering began in the 1860s
preserves the liberals' self-justifying myth. Whatever
else he may present in his indictment, Sobran cannot
attribute to Lincoln the idea that the Constitution was
merely an 18th century document, and therefore out of date;
that natural rights were a "fantasy;" that modern life
because always changing-required a government that was
always growing; and that "progress" meant there was nothing
permanently true or right. But these were precisely the
opinions voiced by the leading American philosophers,
journalists, and politicians in the Progressive Movement.
It was John Dewey, Herbert Croly, and Woodrow Wilson-not
Abraham Lincoln-who gave us the principles and practice of
the modern leviathan state.

Within a generation, however, liberals realized that such
radical and honest talk revealed too much. They needed to
disguise their purposes in more patriotic language. One of
the first to recognize this was Franklin Roosevelt, who
spoke of modernizing the Constitution instead of rejecting
it. And rather than repudiating the natural rights of the
Declaration, liberals would come to speak of "adding"
rights-rights found not in our natural equality as human
beings, but created in and dispensed from Washington. Now
here is the secret: despite the softening of the rhetoric,
the liberal project remained the same. Americans would no
longer be citizens exercising sovereign control over their
government, but a mass of raw materials to be worked upon
by the government.

This project finds no foundation in Abraham Lincoln, and
Mr. Sobran does conservatives no favor by confusedly
placing it there. Space does not permit a complete
rehearsing of the arguments, but I refer you to Charles
Kesler's brief and excellent article, "Getting Right with
Lincoln" at

Professor Kesler shows that in his dedication to the
principles of the Declaration of Independence and
Constitution Lincoln is a valuable ally to modern
conservatism. Let us be sensible enough to enlist such
formidable help, and clear-eyed enough to see the true
adversary. The apes are gaining.

Glenn Ellmers is Director of Research for the Claremont

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Copyright (c) 2001 The Claremont Institute

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