What is virtue, as opposed to a virtue? Corruption for example, is a word often used, in accusing someone of not being true; but true to what? One needs to grasp principle as a basic truth; on which all other truths rest, before corruption can be applied. Once the truth is identified, it can be understood that the accused, has fallen away from and is not being true to principle Can it be a disagreement? Certainly it can. However, just because one believes something to be true, doesn't necessarily make it knowledge, it makes it true belief. Subsequently, corruption rolls off the tongue, as easy as virtue or corruption.
In western civilization; from Athens to America, even as today worldwide, is another word used; Republic. It has been used so often, to identify so many Countries, that Republic has and is, misconstrued with Democracy. Which is unfortunate.
Polity for example, is how societies organize into governing bodies. America's polity, is a bicameral system, having two legislative houses, voting on the passing of laws. This is neither a Democracy as America's founders understood it; and neither is it a Republic. For Republic is not a polity; but it is and has always been the remedy for political evils, from Athens to America. Thus, a Republic is a why, rather than a what. For example: America's Founder's without question, regarded America; especially after the Constitutional Convention of 1788, that America was to be a Representative Republic. So what happened?
Through the ages of western civilization, from Athens to America, as all republics arose to confront political evils; regardless of their new found polity; there has been a promise. A promise of virtue and the threat of corruption.
America's Founders knew this well. From a Classical Education, of a centuries old tradition, to Religion, and active citizenship, which all held that independent thought and action, was the highest virtue. Where ethics, morality, and a new commercial age; had the potential to unite Humankind; and free their political economy, from the misery of the British political economy.
The transition, of this heritage,—cultural, political, social, religious, and economic— that ultimately brought revolution and self-realization, was sprung from an intellectual and spiritually faithful civilization. Colonial, European, and classical history was America's history, in the sense that, the social evolution, and events from the Renaissance, led the revolutionary generation to make a break from the past. Not a divorce from the past; just a break; and to begin anew.
The History of Virtue and Corruption tells the story of the tens of thousands of Western Europeans who ventured to the North American British colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries. What were their customs of Law and education; religious, philosophical, or political thought?
The Founders’ ideas about the duty and obligation of government, came from more than five hundred years of English tradition. For it was their ancestors who brought their king under the law; and the revolutionary generation of the eighteenth-century, was determined to do the same, but this time, they would make a government of laws not of men. Privilege was out and merit was in. However, in the 1790s, a new political base emerged, with quite different ideas in mind. Subsequently, the great republican experiment, not only; DID NOT FAIL, it was never allowed to happen, before a new and different kind of authority and political base had changed the republican regime from within, immediately after the inception of the infant republic.
As the revolutionary generation stood in awe of what was happening, to their Revolution, they could only and quickly, distance themselves, as their republic unraveled about them.