Man’s ascension from the primordial swamp was a supreme act of faith. Into the void, unknowing of the bright, acrid climes, he crawled onto the pristine shores. The ocean lapped at his back, beckoning him to return to the chill comfort of the murky depths. An awakened spirit pressed him onward, emboldening his brave essence to plunge into the daunting nightmare to grapple the hazy light images and foreboding shadows.
What became man: a pre-possessed creature struggling to make sense of a world beyond innate recognition; here was a realm sweeping in scope, stringent in demands, both fantastical and dangerous. Leaving the blissfully ignorant schools of submarine existence, the essence of man struck out alone, into a baffling admixture of furious noise and scorching heat.
Ludwig von Mises‘ Human Action contains innumerable insights into the fallacies that mark the modern intellectual’s imagination. An exposition of the utopian bent of the most revered left-wing ideologues shows their elaborate theories rest on the sands of cloud-castles:
After the philosophers had abandoned the search for the absolute, the utopians took it up. They weave dreams about the perfect state. They do not realize that the state, the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion, is an institution to cope with human imperfection and that its essential function is to inflict punishment upon minorities in order to protect majorities against the detrimental consequences of certain actions.
With “perfect” men there would not be any need for compulsion and coercion. But utopians do not pay heed to human nature and the inalterable conditions of human life. Godwin thought that man might become immortal after the abolition of private property. Charles Fourier babbled about the ocean containing lemonade instead of salt water. Marx’s economic system blithely ignored the fact of the scarcity of material factors of production. Trotsky revealed that in the proletarian paradise “the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.”
Today’s disciple of environmentalism shows such a fantastical bent, when, for example, Barack Obama claims that he would lower the sea levels after his election, like of medieval English lore. But the broader point is that such utopianism cannot be refuted with real-world facts; the imperfections of the world, and even the harm caused by left-wing ideologues’ policies, are simply a call to arms to join the fray renewed, and with redoubled strength.
See also the NYT magazine article, “Still Sailing the Lemonade Sea” for a taste of the disillusion regarding and inability to accept the demise of official Soviet communism.
Radical and even violent extremism is being fueled by the social tensions arising between mutually incompatible worldviews; ideology being the psychological interpreter and motivator for men to take action in a complex environment. At his base level, man is an animal displaying instincts conducive to supplying needs, such as finding food, shelter, and a desirable mate. Yet in society, man relies on heuristics in order to make sense of others’ motives, and to act in one’s perceived self-interest in an environment of uncertainty.
A passage from Nietszche’s Beyond Good and Evil, an eminently enjoyable work, if not wholly wrong on the baselessness of morals, explains America’s moral implosion following the formal ending of the Cold War:
After all, “love to our neighbour” is always a secondary matter, partly conventional and arbitrarily manifested in relation to our FEAR OF OUR NEIGHBOUR. After the fabric of society seems on the whole established and secured against external dangers, it is this fear of our neighbour which again creates new perspectives of moral valuation. Certain strong and dangerous instincts, such as the love of enterprise, foolhardiness, revengefulness, astuteness, rapacity, and love of power, which up till then had not only to be honoured from the point of view of general utility–under other names, of course, than those here given–but had to be fostered and cultivated (because they were perpetually required in the common danger against the common enemies), are now felt in their dangerousness to be doubly strong–when the outlets for them are lacking–and are gradually branded as immoral and given over to calumny. The contrary instincts and inclinations now attain to moral honour, the gregarious instinct gradually draws its conclusions. How much or how little dangerousness to the community or to equality is contained in an opinion, a condition, an emotion, a disposition, or an endowment– that is now the moral perspective, here again fear is the mother of morals. It is by the loftiest and strongest instincts, when they break out passionately and carry the individual far above and beyond the average, and the low level of the gregarious conscience, that the self-reliance of the community is destroyed, its belief in itself, its backbone, as it were, breaks, consequently these very instincts will be most branded and defamed. The lofty independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, and even the cogent reason, are felt to be dangers, everything that elevates the individual above the herd, and is a source of fear to the neighbour, is henceforth called EVIL, the tolerant, unassuming, self-adapting, self-equalizing disposition, the MEDIOCRITY of desires, attains to moral distinction and honour. Finally, under very peaceful circumstances, there is always less opportunity and necessity for training the feelings to severity and rigour, and now every form of severity, even in justice, begins to disturb the conscience, a lofty and rigorous nobleness and self-responsibility almost offends, and awakens distrust, “the lamb,” and still more “the sheep,” wins respect. There is a point of diseased mellowness and effeminacy in the history of society, at which society itself takes the part of him who injures it, the part of the CRIMINAL, and does so, in fact, seriously and honestly. To punish, appears to it to be somehow unfair–it is certain that the idea of “punishment” and “the obligation to punish” are then painful and alarming to people. “Is it not sufficient if the criminal be rendered HARMLESS? Why should we still punish? Punishment itself is terrible!”–with these questions gregarious morality, the morality of fear, draws its ultimate conclusion. If one could at all do away with danger, the cause of fear, one would have done away with this morality at the same time, it would no longer be necessary, it WOULD NOT CONSIDER ITSELF any longer necessary!–Whoever examines the conscience of the present-day European, will always elicit the same imperative from its thousand moral folds and hidden recesses, the imperative of the timidity of the herd “we wish that some time or other there may be NOTHING MORE TO FEAR!” Some time or other–the will and the way THERETO is nowadays called “progress” all over Europe.
Though I agree with Rand that morals are grounded in Objective reality, as a matter of practicality, a useful way to think of the reception of morals is whom and what do they constrain?
During the Cold War, morality constrained the spread of communism through the U.S.’ self-proclaimed championing of freedom (as hollow in practice as that may have been at home). Socialist morality restrained the ability of individuals to labor freely, to trade, and to profit. After the end of the Cold War, America adopted much of the socialist morality, that is to say, the elites in government have sought to restrain the individual and perceive freedom as a threat to their power.
In this exquisite passage from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the French statesman not only presages political correctness, but the shallowness of American intellectual life, and the ideological war between anti-intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals.
When the ranks of society are unequal, and men unlike each other in condition, there are some individuals invested with all the power of superior intelligence, learning, and enlightenment, whilst the multitude is sunk in ignorance and prejudice. Men living at these aristocratic periods are therefore naturally induced to shape their opinions by the superior standard of a person or a class of persons, whilst they are averse to recognize the infallibility of the mass of the people.
Excellent video covering a lot of ground. I approve of virtually all the narrator’s framing.
The central planners are scrambling to hedge their once braggadocious claims that their massive intervention into the free market economy would bring about renewed prosperity and fuller employment. Meanwhile President Obama is revisioning history as one where it has been generally acknowledged the private sector is the main engine of economic and job growth, but even more government intervention is needed to ease the disruption and move America forward.
The problem with this phony narrative is that the only “sector” of the economy that has grown of late is the government. And the strongest sector of the economy before the Obama presidency, healthcare, has been seized, causing even more uncertainty as to what the central planners will confiscate next.
What men like Obama lack in results they more than make up for in hubris. Confident that the allied media will rehash their ready-made memes without critical opposition, either in the media or by the so-called opposition party, the most brazen bromides and warped narratives can be dispensed, only to be lapped up by the hoof-clapping sheeple.
A dose of reality is needed to counter-balance the arrogance of today’s micro-managing economists, who simply cannot leave the economy alone. It is not only counter-intuitive but profane to allow people to adjust their behavior in response to economic stress, and thus for the market to rebalance. The economy’s influence upon not only the public, but upon the careers of the central planners themselves is sacrosanct.
An excerpt from the full text of F.A. Hayek’s Nobel laureate speech will demonstrate both a humble and learned approach to the subject of economics, a field that has been utterly debauched by Keynesianism in recent decades. It has gone from a social science where one studies the effects of economic phenomena, to one where central planners attempt to direct the phenomena and determine the outcomes. The result, unsurprisingly, is a perpetual state of disorder and uncertainty.
From Hayek’s “The Pretense of Knowledge”:
In fact, in the case discussed, the very measures which the dominant “macroeconomic” theory has recommended as a remedy for unemployment — namely, the increase of aggregate demand — have become a cause of a very extensive misallocation of resources which is likely to make later large-scale unemployment inevitable. The continuous injection of additional amounts of money at points of the economic system where it creates a temporary demand which must cease when the increase of the quantity of money stops or slows down, together with the expectation of a continuing rise of prices, draws labor and other resources into employments which can last only so long as the increase of the quantity of money continues at the same rate — or perhaps even only so long as it continues to accelerate at a given rate. What this policy has produced is not so much a level of employment that could not have been brought about in other ways, as a distribution of employment which cannot be indefinitely maintained and which after some time can be maintained only by a rate of inflation which would rapidly lead to a disorganization of all economic activity. The fact is that by a mistaken theoretical view we have been led into a precarious position in which we cannot prevent substantial unemployment from reappearing; not because, as this view is sometimes misrepresented, this unemployment is deliberately brought about as a means to combat inflation, but because it is now bound to occur as a deeply regrettable but inescapable consequence of the mistaken policies of the past as soon as inflation ceases to accelerate. […]
Yet the danger of which I want to warn is precisely the belief that in order to have a claim to be accepted as scientific it is necessary to achieve more. This way lies charlatanism and worse. To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible; one might even feel that one ought not to discourage the overconfident because their experiments may after all produce some new insights. But in the social field, the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority. Even if such power is not in itself bad, its exercise is likely to impede the functioning of those spontaneous-ordering forces by which, without understanding them, man is in fact so largely assisted in the pursuit of his aims. We are only beginning to understand on how subtle a communication system the functioning of an advanced industrial society is based — a communications system which we call the market and which turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed information than any that man has deliberately designed.
Not the easiest read, but well worth taking in on a conceptual and philosophical level.
The French revolutionary phrase Liberté, égalité, fraternité is as well known as the bloody Jacobin terror that followed it. It soon became understood in the revolutionary period that among the three components of the tripartite motto, liberté was the most dispensable. While liberté and égalité were considered commensurate at first, due to the influence of Rousseau to name one source, égalité was redefined under the Jacobin regime to mean something akin to “equality of results,” as one can see in the writings of Babeuf, for example. The author Bardot made this point explicitly when he pointed out that the French temperament inclined more to equality than to liberty.
The French revolution would sweep away the Ancien Regime; but it would also clear the way for the tyrant Napoleon. Such is the record of extreme and rapid democratization since the days of Aristotle.
Though the 1848 revolutions would burst into flames across Europe, they were for the most part stamped out. Stale regimes like the Habsburgs and the Romanovs would survive for the imminent threat, in some part due to concessions and tributary reforms. The largely socialist uprisings had failed, for the time being.
The first instance of what Marx considered to be a seizure of power by ‘the workers’ was the Paris Commune, the French city’s provisional government that lasted a whole ten days in 1871. In some ways, it would become seen as an extension of the failed 1848 revolutions that Marx had participated in. Basically, the dysfunctional Parisian government operated much like the way Occupy Wall Street would run New York if it happened to take over the city government today. Though the Paris Commune’s temporary seizure of power is heralded in socialist paeans, the rift between Marxists and anarchists emerged quickly. The Paris Commune fell into disorder and became an anecdote in socialist lore.
Overseas in late nineteenth century America, the development of large trusts, formed quickly due to transportation innovations and mass marketing, lead to disquiet among the working class. Though people relied on the cheap and useful products produced by the trusts, and their lives were being much improved overall in terms of standard of living, they resented the disparity of wealth between themselves and the wealthy magnates. Since the United States was largely unexplored and competition was limited, working conditions were tough. The rule of law protecting persons and property was relatively weak, as immigrants were fairly unorganized and uninformed about how to defend themselves in court. Unions picked up the slack for people who could not always fight the cronyism of local politicians and judges allied with bug businesses. But a voluntary union of workers is a much different proposition than socialism or public unions extorting taxpayers by abusing the state. Socialism in some part was made less attractive due to the ability for workers to voluntarily associate in unions. Yet the kernel of labor collectivism remained a low level threat to capitalism that stuck around for years to come.
Such were the forces that gave rise to the Progressive Era, a time when dissatisfaction with aspects of the capitalist economy led to increased receptivity to socialist ideals. But the primitive ideology of socialism was infused with a new scientific luster. According to some readings of the political economy of Marx, the socialist state could be scientifically administered; but according to other readings, the socialist state would lead to more spontaneity, creativity, and freedom. It was unclear how such a paradoxical worker’s paradise would come about. If there was to be a spontaneous worldwide worker’s revolution, would they then demand to be scientifically managed by elites? Would everyone live and work as he or she desired, but with a raised level of community conscientiousness? How then would people’s wants and needs be met? A thorough research of Marxist literature will turn one away empty-handed. Marx did not bother to spend much time describing the perfect worker’s paradise; he was much more involved making sure the capitalist system was destroyed.
The author of “all that exists deserves to perish” made several other theoretically fatal errors. While he predicted the formation of worker solidarity, which would prevent another widespread war like the Napoleonic Wars, nonetheless, World War I came and went. Though he predicted that socialist revolutions would be spontaneous, they were indeed all led “from above” by intellectual elites. And when he theorized they would occur first in the most capitalistic and advanced industrial economies, like England, in accordance with his teleological view of history, he was completely wrong; it was industrially backwards Russia that saw the first “successful” socialist revolution (if one can even call it that; I prefer the term putsch to signify its narrow base of support).
This is not to mention the theoretical flaws in his economic critique itself. Marx’s adaptation of Ricardo’s Labor Theory of Value failed to accurately quantify the prices of scarce goods and goods that were abundant but difficult to extract without technical equipment. In addition, firms need land and capital for production, not just labor. These must be taken into account when prices are determined. Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, a crucial foundation of his economic critique, has thus been nearly completely discredited and replaced with the marginal utility theory of value. In addition, Marx’s usage of the Iron Law of Wages, which claimed that as the capitalist economy advances, wages ineluctably decline towards subsistence was proven false; Marx failed to adequately account for the increase in standard of living resulting from mass production, and to acknowledge labor market competition’s effect on buoying prices, particularly important as an economy develops through specialization.
Marxism thus being proven in the early twentieth century to be the failed theory that it is, two innovations were developed to salvage Marx’s powerful worldview and to implement it politically. The first was Marxist-Leninism, and its peasant agrarian variant Maoism; the second was Cultural Marxism, which attempts to gloss over socialist and Marxist economic failings by switching to a cultural-aesthetic mode of capitalist critique, without ever acknowledging how socialism would specifically function better than capitalism in practice.
The horrific results of socialist revolutions is well-covered terrain and need not be expanded upon much here. Suffice to say, an estimate of 100 million dead, from war, manmade famine, and state “demicide” cannot be far awry; especially if we include the French Revolution, 1848 revolutions, Russian Civil War, and Chinese Civil War, along with Stalinist measures under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the despicable acts of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NaZis), the massacres and petty atrocities that took place behind the Iron Curtain. the Chinese Great Leap Forward, not to mention the socialist terrorism of Latin and South America, the economic disaster caused by communists in African countries like Ethiopia, southeast Asian nightmares like Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge – a checkered past indeed, and one socialists are quick to deny. Their usual defense is to exaggerate the relative horror of the NaZi Germany regime compared to other socialist and communist experiences (about 1/10 killed under communism, in any event), and to broadbrush the NaZis actions as “right-wing” without acknowledging the socialist and undeniably collectivist elements and the verifiable anti-capitalist bent of the party. One example of a lie about the NaZis is that they were anti-union; in fact, the party forced all citizens to be a part of the German Labour Front.
The sum of socialism in its purest forms is misery and mass murder; while the track record of capitalism in its true form is space provided for the individual to improve his own life, and the technological and economic progress that has resulted therefrom. While capitalism is a means to the individual’s end, socialism is a means for the collective’s end; and since the collective’s end is defined by the political and cultural elites, that often requires sacrifice of the many for the benefit of the few.
AWOL Civilization has been providing some real intellectual firepower to the right-wing (more accurately, anti left-wing) blogosphere, and we would all do well to grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and think along with him what it really means to be at war with the left. (Don’t get me wrong, the article is “concise” and to “hard-hitting,” as another reader put it.)
AWOL Civilization provides some excellent references and thoughts on how to strategize much more deeply than many of us have been. The following is an excerpt:
Think back to the election of Obama. Here we have the opposite case: a complete mastery of the strategic configuration of power. Obama did not launch the fundamental transformation of America; rather, America already was transformed, resulting in the desecration of the Oval Office that occurred in January, 2009. All the pieces were in place; the opposition had been neutralized before the first “shot” of the election had been fired. Sun-tzu may not have been pleased by the event, but he certainly would agree that the collectivists were following his advice to the letter.
Before the battle began, the outcome was decided. The script had been written; everyone played their part. Democrats confidently sallied forth, going for the jugular, employing every means at their disposal to win the battle. Republicans hesitated, vacillated, and equivocated.
As Sun-tzu explains,
Those that the ancients referred to as excelling at warfare conquered those who were easy to conquer. Thus the victories of those that excelled in warfare were … free from errors. One who is free from errors directs his measures toward [certain] victory, conquering those who are already defeated. [emphasis mine]
And further on,
The victorious army first realizes the conditions for victory, and then seeks to engage in battle. The vanquished army fights first, and then seeks victory.
Try spending a few hours watching the BBC or reading back issues of Newsweek. Block out your instinctive revulsion and put on your analysis hat. The people producing this material are very smart. Sit at the dust of their feet and learn how warfare is conducted. See how an entire civilization was brought to its knees without the use of a single gun.
How will we know that the art of war has been mastered by our own forces, by the anti-collectivist camp? I can think of at least one indication. We will know it when every day, every single day, we hear a Republican member of Congress, and a former cabinet official, and a presidential candidate, and a governor, declare without equivocation that the goal of the Obama regime, and of the Democratic Party, is to destroy America as we know it.
When that day comes, the compulsion to speak in this manner will be as strong (and natural) as the current impetus to surrender.
We must fight back against political correctness, and its guiding set of rules, Critical Theory. For one example on theorizing, see The Occupy Crowd’s Vague Goals and Marxist Critical Theory, and for how to counterattack it, see Shattering the Left: A Radical Critique of Critical Theory.
Bill Whittle should become a household name. At PJTV, he gives exactly the kind of systematic, well-thought-out, strategically oriented articles and presentations conservatives need to defeat the left.
We conservatives have to stop running around like chickens with our heads cut off every time the left launches an attack on one of us. But without a theoretical understanding of the left’s strategy and motivation, we’re doomed to keep chasing shadows.
There is a reason our country keeps moving inexorably left, regardless of who gets elected. And it’s not just because Democrats put up 100% liberal candidates, and Republicans put up 50% liberal candidates, as Ben Shapiro pointed out. It’s because the culture, Americans’ ideology, keeps drifting left.
Unanchored by anything except a superficial reading of The Constitution, with their wishful ideas of what it actually means superimposed upon it, Americans continue in the conservative majority, while voting in a powerful non-conservative minority.
If we are going to survive as a country, Americans who do not really get what the left is all about will need to get with the program. Bill Whittle is an excellent point man who can bring you up to speed.
H/T The Right Scoop.
Why aren’t more conservatives discrediting Karl Marx or other left-wing philosophers? We need to go to the core of the enemy’s philosophy (whether they know it is or not), expose it, systematically tear it apart, and leave it in tatters at their feet.
We’re in the twilight years of our nation’s spiritual transformation from liberty into tyranny, when people still live and enjoy the freedoms of the Constitutional system instituted by our Founders, meanwhile condemning that self-same system both in word and deed.
Let’s see how much people hate capitalism when there’s no malls to go to at the weekend, you have to stand in breadlines waiting for government food with “regime loyalty” vouchers in hand, you have no choice over where you work and it matters not how hard you work, and the only form of entertainment is that deemed state-friendly by the government-monopoly media.
Absence may make the heart grow fonder, as the old saying goes, but with the American public, absence makes the brain grow dumber. Most of our citizens have no clue of the kind of material deprivation, social insignificance, and political disenfranchisement that goes on in most countries. And they are mentally unable to associate other countries’ meager state of affairs with corrupt, overreaching, arbitrary, domineering government.
Even in impoverished states where government is inefficient and feckless, it is still brutal and heavy-handed on the issues that matter most to it. The Nigerian government may give you all the “liberty” you want, as the left defines it, but interfere with its oil production in even legal ways and see what happens.
But the left keeps repeating the same tired cliches about how limited government advocates wish we were Somalia. No, we wish the U.S. government would fulfill its promised role of obeying and uphold The Constitution. Expecting as much nowadays somehow makes one an “extremist.”
The obsession with wealth disparity is corroding our ability to appreciate the benefits of free market capitalism. The political left decries the billions at the disposal of the upper crust, and bemoans the impoverished around the world. They do not seem to recognize that the earth’s poor predominate in politically and thus economically unfree societies, while American citizens are almost universally rich by world standards. The explanation that Americans “stole” their wealth does not quite equate when one considers our country was once the productive engine of the world. Those days when we were the global supplier are but a faint memory under successive progressive regimes.
The effete intellectuals who esteem themselves peculiarly insightful because they are able to systematically conflate government coercion with free market economy, which is by definition the voluntary exchange of goods, services, and labor, are intellectually undoing the gains of Western Civilization, and particularly, The Enlightenment. With all their irrational, counter-intuitive, categorical imperative-driven theories, they are actually re-primitivizing human understanding. Perhaps this is what Hegel meant when he offered up his observation on the garnering of wisdom, which comes after fatal judgment is exercised. But that would seemingly contradict his teleological view of history as driven inexorably towards Freedom.
Contrary to the vision of Hegel we are not moving towards Freedom, but rather towards Unfreedom. The same statist appetites lie in the heart of men, only now empowered by the mechanisms of frightening military hardware combined with advanced lightning-speed intelligence. Never in the history of man was there a greater need for philosophical enlightenment to set our ethics aright. Never before was there a need for Minerva to take flight before the sun sets on our great republic.
The United States was formed from the colonial rabble who defied a British Empire and established their own government, justified by reason and founded to defend their inalienable God-given rights. A little more than two centuries later, the Union is but a justification for the sundry governments to exploit their citizenry, and for the central government to exploit the states.
What remains of the philosophy that guided our founders remains embedded in the breasts of the patriotic, and all pretense to sharing the views of the broader electorate has been abandoned by our nominal representatives within the bounds of that swamp that became Washington D.C.. Throughout rebellions, wars, and depressions, Americans tended to hold fast to the view that government is best when it governs least. The observation that centralized government is necessarily a danger always requiring a watchful master animated local and state public discussions.
Though early stirrings of abusive national authority can be found in the cases of the draconian Alien and Sedition Acts and the chartering of the First Bank of the United States and the Second Bank of the United States, the sentiment of liberty was so strong in the American mind that oppressive measures and institutions could not persist long.
But one cannot overlook the long-term view of such an undeniable statist as Alexander Hamilton, who made glowing reference to “empire” in The Federalist Papers, and whose proposal for a central bank was rebuked at the Constitutional Convention, given that the colonial experience of such institutions was remarkably bad.
A haunting scene from the series John Adams illustrates well Alexander Hamilton’s plans to draw the republic ever closer together under the dominant authority of the federal government.
Hamilton’s vision has come true in many respects. We have incurred a colossal national debt through a central bank of sorts, and states are indeed closely bound to the national government. Federal grants to the states and state obligations due to federal mandates have reached monumental and indeed, unsustainable proportions. Due to such malignant institutions as the Federal Reserve Bank, a Hamiltonian throwback, the United States has debauched its currency and is monetizing the debts of the federal government, and thereby, through federal grants and spending, the debt of the states.
Regardless of what one might speculate about the reasons the federal government is dominating the political life of the country, the truth remains that Washington has acquired almost imperial control over the states of the country, effecting through red ink what it did not need to effect through red blood. When we have a monetary system itself based on public and private debt, instead of money as a “store of value,” as Mises defined it, then perhaps such a state of affairs is inevitable. Fiat currency, or money unbacked by wealth, after all, is money the government can produce and direct at will, knowing the citizens’ labor will follow it. When the control of money is taken out of the people’s hands, then the control of the economy will necessarily follow.
The real problem is that many Americans have retreated from that healthy skepticism of centralized authority so vital to retaining a free country. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” is a true dictum. We men also must acknowledge that the government itself is not comprised of angels, and assume politicians do not have our best interest at heart until they prove otherwise. Even if one group of politicians holding power in our stead is well-meaning, those who follow them in office may not be. Accumulation of power is a continual call for abuse by unprincipled politicians and an open invitation to corruption. If our politicians are incapable of restraining themselves while in government, we citizens must be more vigorous and vigilant checking the government for them.
This leads me to revisit the warnings of the Anti-Federalists, whose admonitions of the danger of a centralized government are clear, even if their political theory was occasionally less sound than most of our Founders.’ The words of George Mason are particularly stunning. From his “Objections to the Constitution“:
“Under their own construction of the general clause at the end of the enumerated powers, the Congress may grant monopolies in trade and commerce, constitute new crimes, inflict unusual and severe punishments, and extend their power as far as they shall think proper; so that the state legislatures have no security for the powers now presumed to remain to them, or the people for their rights. There is no declaration of any kind for preserving the liberty of the press, the trial by jury in civil cases, nor against the danger of standing armies in time of peace.
The state legislatures are restrained from laying export duties on their own produce; the general legislature is restrained from prohibiting the further importation of slaves for twenty-odd years, though such importations render the United States weaker, more vulnerable, and less capable of defence. Both the general legislature and the state legislatures are expressly prohibited making ex post facto laws, though there never was, nor can be, a legislature but must and will make such laws, when necessity and the public safety require them, which will hereafter be a breach of all the constitutions in the Union, and afford precedents for other innovations.
This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy: it is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.”
Let Mason’s words sound the alarm: Our nation is being usurped by a centralized authority, and the only solution is for the people and the several states to rise up and push back.
As posted on Political Crush.