Alan Keyes
Why I call them the 'elitist faction'
By Alan Keyes
January 19, 2015

My latest blog entry is a video inspired by a headline I saw in a newsletter from The headline said that John Boehner's re-election as House speaker proves that America has become an oligarchy. I was encouraged to see this, because it means that people are finally starting to focus on the real nature of the crisis we face as a free people. I was also pleased to see it as an indication of the fact that a much-needed word is starting to re-emerge in contemporary political usage. As people have rightly noted in regard to Islamic terrorism, it's harder to fight an enemy you refuse accurately to name.

My readers know that, in my analysis of the bid under way to consolidate oligarchic dictatorship in the United States, I refer to the forces pursuing this goal as the "elitist faction." The word oligarchy accurately captures the fact that what they do aims to replace constitutionally constrained sovereign power, wielded by representatives of the whole people, with the unconstrained rule of a powerful few. Even if those few happened to be the wise philosopher kings of Plato's ideal regime, such an oligarchy might or might not correspond to some rational standard of justice. Today's elitists abuse claims of scientific authority in an implicit bid to give the impression that they are clothed in some mantle of wisdom. But in practice they embody the mantra of superior power that Plato rejected early on in his famous work.

So what they are doing isn't objectionable simply because they are few. It's objectionable because of their contempt for true political equality. They want to reconstruct our government in light of the claim that the superior qualities that set them apart also set them above the constraints of right and justice. We can be thankful that it has been part of America's understanding of justice to respect the rights of the few when the true standard of right demands it. But power is not the true standard, because the exclusive preoccupation with power denigrates the moral basis of human community.

All cannot enjoy the perks of wealth, intelligence, beauty, strength, or extraordinary talent. Yet the very idea of human community points to something all human beings possess in common. No standard of judgment that fails to identify and respect this common good can claim to be just, for justice cannot be done to individual human beings without taking account of that which wholesomely substantiates and preserves the concept of their humanity.

Though it is often neglected, or only partially and obscurely understood, this requirement of justice is recognized as such in the famous words of America's Declaration of Independence when it says that "all men are created equal." In respect of their humanity, all humans are equal, else they would not deserve the name. And if all are human in this respect, we do no justice to humanity as such if and when we disregard the humanity of any individual.

In this respect, the existence of humanity acts as a constraint of justice on every human power whatsoever. Where humans are concerned, their humanity must be taken into account, or what is done is not done justly. No claim of wealth, intelligence, strength, or any other form of human superiority by itself justifies disregarding this constraint. Therefore, in terms of human justice, the idea of human community and the idea of human equality are all bound up with one another.

It has often occurred to me that this is why, in 19th-century America, pro-slavery propagandists sought to denigrate the humanity of the enslaved. They understood that, in terms of justice, no human being can logically be treated as a mere instrument of convenience. Unlike rabbits, dogs, or mules, humanity is not an external classification, for the sake of knowledge. It is rather the inner knowledge that what we are, we are for own sake, which is to say for the sake of being such as we are, with no other purpose or intention. This inwardly known conviction of the self-substantiating import of our existence is the essence of our self-consciousness, the special hallmark of the human condition.

Why is this fact of concern to human justice? Because in the end, human justice relies on the testimony of witnesses, and every human being bears witness to this truth. Though we cannot, in every circumstance, resist forces that act without regard for our humanity, yet on account of this inwardly known conviction about ourselves, we are inclined, in every circumstance, somehow to make it known that we protest. Other sentient, self-conscious beings may disregard our protest, from the arrogance of their superior power (or from fear of it), but they cannot deny its truth, not without denying in themselves the very humanity they disregard in us.

This is why it makes sense to poll the community when matters of justice are at stake. People won't always bear true witness to the fact that someone else is being unjustly abused, especially if they are the perpetrators or beneficiaries of that abuse. But in the absence of any such strong and directly compelling stake in the injustice, they will, within themselves, react against it, thereby seconding the motion of the abused.

Christ acknowledges this fellow feeling as an ordinance of God's law ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). Because many of them shared his understanding, America's founders framed our constitution of liberty formally to entrust the ultimate arbitration of sovereign disputes to decision by the people as a whole. In doing so, they implemented the premise of God-endowed right, the primordial premise of constitutional self-government. Properly understood, that right is essentially a matter of responsibility, not irresponsible freedom. It has to do with an inclination woven into our nature by our Creator: the inclination to become what it pleases God for us to be, as we bear, in His likeness the image that makes being human so much more.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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