Innate Depravity

Political discourse reduced to bumper sticker slogans. It is something we experience every day in America, in the schizophrenic invective and gridlock of a rogue White House and Congress, and in a Supreme Court that kowtows to inherently unaccountable corporate power. This new and virulent strain of ideology is how the corporate entelechy of capitalism and totalitarianism deal with what historian Perry Miller once called “the complexity we now endure.”

As a eulogist of Mr. Justice Washington blandly said in 1830, the Supreme Court “is the regulating power of the complicated machine of our government; without it every part would be speedily thrown into disorder, and wildly run into confusion and ruin.” Confusion and ruin, I may remark, are the badges of innate depravity.

—Perry Miller, The Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War

Innate depravity—the human propensity for doing evil and not the idea that newborn babies and children are somehow tainted with evil natures, as in Children of the Damned or Rosemary’s Baby—is, I may remark, like predestination, the supreme or universal will of God, and irresistible grace, a central doctrine of Calvinism or Puritanism.

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