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A lament.

Murder is a crime against society, of course, including when committed by those whose duty it is to secure order. That is indisputable, as is that we should all treat each other with dignity and respect.

In discussing the Roman Republic and Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero in his 1940 Christianity and Classical Culture, University of Toronto historian and philosopher Charles Norris Cochrane describes Cicero’s thinking on the underlying purpose of an organized society. Cicero’s thinking is directly germane to another of many issues we face during these decidedly demoralizing days.

Cicero’s “creed finds appropriate expression in the twofold conception of order and freedom (imperium et libertas); and this he boldly identifies with the rights of property,” according to Cochrane. It was Cicero, rather than English philosopher John Locke, “who first asserted that the purpose of an organized society was to establish and maintain this principle,” Cochrane continues. This purpose unfortunately seems in dispute.

“The protection of cities”

Specifically, Cochrane quotes Cicero,

The primary concern of those responsible for the conduct of public affairs will be to make certain that every man is secure in his possessions, and that there is no invasion of private right on the part of government. … This, indeed, is the reason why states and republics have been created. For, though nature herself prompts men to congregate together, nevertheless it is in the hope of protecting what they have that they seek the protection of cities.

As some radicals currently discount the damaging effects of burning, pillaging, and looting, conservatives should stress how anti-Western—all the way back to the Roman Republic—this view really is. The chaos and anarchy of recent riots—and the either lazy or clumsy justification of it by their defenders, some supposedly well-credentialed—strike at the very heart of Western civilization’s organized republican political and social life. They threaten the principles and values on which it is based, as Antonio Francesco Gramsci would have recommended be done.

An accounting

In any full accounting of what has happened and why, one must wonder whether conservative philanthropy—of which we at The Giving Review have been a part for decades—dedicated enough resources, and in the most-efficient and -effective manners, to educate college students in history and political philosophy.

Or perhaps we had no real chance there from the start. Maybe the money, or more money or for longer, would have been better spent on the reform of teaching and curricula at the K-12 level. On parental freedom in education. School choice, where are you now when we need you? Rome is burning.

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