Rebirth of Reason

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Friday, June 10, 2005 - 3:54amSanction this postReply
You can google up ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS, or you can buy a book, perhaps the one edited by Ralph Ketchum.  The present Constitution was foisted on the people by a minority of insiders.  Strong arguments from the very men who fought the Revolution warned against the new Constitution.  Liberty as they knew it would be crushed by a centralized federalized republic.   The very adoption of this plan was illegal because the constutution of the time, the Articles of Confederation, had a provision for amendment.  Anything we have now -- the presidency, the income tax, votes for women -- would have been possible under the Articles.  However, unable to bring about their grandiose schemes for a centralized state, the federalists carried out a coup d'etat.

Read the anti-federalist papers and discover the dangers in electing a president by a special "college" rather than being chosen by the governors of the states.

Read the anti-federalist papers and discover the dangers in a bicameral legislature.

Read the anti-federalist papers and discover the inherent contradiction in a nominally independent "supreme court" (serving for life!) while the federal judiciary below is created by Congress -- an argument with relevance at this moment, at least.

For 150 years we have been intellectually dragooned with the propaganda of jacobin democracy via public schools that were modeled after those of Prussia.  So, we do not question votes for women, or the abolition of slavery.  We claim now that the "horse and buggy era" gave way to modern transportation and so we must inaugurate the president on January 20 -- whether or not all of the ballots are counted correctly.  Every amendment of the Constitution (except the first ten) has only demonstrated the inherent contradictions in this plan of government that turned our true republic into an oligarchy riding herd on a mob.

That all might be one way to look at things.  Perhaps this is another.

The Constitution was amended according to fixed and known rules to keep pace with changes in society and in the tools of mechanical arts.  Some changes -- such as votes for women, the abolition of slavery, and the income tax -- were fixes to an imperfect implimentation of the principles of the Revolution.  Other changes -- the inauguration date of the president, direct election of senators -- were the result of mechanical improvements no more radical and threatening than the creation of Time Zones.

Many amendments were offered over the last 200 years.  Some got farther than others.  Some were adopted.  Most failed.  That is how the republic works.

On a deeper, philosophical level, there is "the phenomenon of the apple."  Everything was fine, until we ate the apple.  Then, we were punished and here we are today, seeking salvation, redemption, and reunion.  If only we did not have direct election of senators, life would be much better, perhaps perfect as it was in the Garden of Political Eden. 

I cannot take credit for this discovery.  In Eric Hoffer's The True Believer, that line of thinking (if it is thinking) is exposed as a fallacy.  Hoffer says that a mass movement can succeed without God, but that no mass movement can succeed without a devil.  We once had a perfect world.  Then, the devil stole it from us.  However, if we do these things, we can regain that lost paradise, if not for ourselves, then for our posterity.  Communism promised a return to the primitive.  Capitalists also believe in a (nearly) perfect utopia of the 19th century which was stolen from us by "progressives" but if we write these things, and read them, and copy them, and pass them on, then some day, we can enjoy an even more glorious society of perfect justice.

Delineating the metaphysical from the man-made has some value.  However, at some level, the actions of other people are no more under your control than is the weather.  You can complain about the direct election of senators -- or granting the vote to ex-slaves -- or you can carry an umbrella when it looks like rain.

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Friday, June 10, 2005 - 5:08amSanction this postReply
Michael Marotta,

It's convenient to regurgitate the conflicting thoughts of others and never take a stand on any issue oneself.  It means one never has to defend oneself.  It also means no one gives a damn what you have to say.


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Friday, June 10, 2005 - 7:16amSanction this postReply

I think Jason is correct, take a stand, don't regurgitate tell us what you believe and why.

Other changes -- the inauguration date of the president, direct election of senators -- were the result of mechanical improvements no more radical and threatening than the creation of Time Zones.
I think this is definately more threatening that the creation of time zones.   Because Senators are now elected, they advocate not what is moral or what is best, but what will get them elected; and once elected they spend most of their time fund-raising and campaigning to be reelected.

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Friday, June 10, 2005 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply

Michael Marotta wrote:

The very adoption of this plan was illegal because the constutution of the time, the Articles of Confederation, had a provision for amendment. 
So what? What made the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation legal? In the eyes of loyalists, a substantial number of the citizens, they were not.

There is no ultimate standard for what is legal. "Legal" is whatever we choose to make legal.

Provision for amendments notwithstanding, the U.S. Constitution could in principle be scrapped tomorrow. It is not holy writ, any more than its predecessor. All that should matter to us is the efficacy of its replacement and the wisdom of making the change - in other words, does it serve our ultimate standard and highest value?  

Nathan Hawking

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 3:44pmSanction this postReply
Very few of the injustices warned of by the anti-federalists came to pass.  America became a totally different country than anyone could have predicted.  The dangers in a bicameral legislature or the dangers in a president chosen by electors chosen by the people or the question of whether the states or the federal government should set the standards for elections for federal offices, all of these were as irrelevant as the argument against direct election of senators. 

Furthermore, the direct election of senators was proposed to curb corruption.  For a generation, newspapers had referred to "the senator from Standard Oil" and "the senator from the railroads."  Progressives used these as indicators that America should become an "industrial democracy" where we are represented by workplace and market sector, rather than ward or state. 

Direct election of senators took the choice out of distant state capitals and put it in the ward and precinct where senators had to answer to all the people of the state.  In fact, at that time state elections were swung by powerful rural interests that over-rode the cities.  While we might honor the simple virtues of the honest farmer, the fact is that politically, farmers tended to favor more government intervention than did city workers who benefited more from free trade. 

Now, maybe there was a conspiracy in that, wheels within wheels.  Gabriel Kolko was a Marxist professor and his book The Triumph of Conservativism showed that progressive regulation of the marketplace only put government enforcement at the service of monopoly capital.  Progressivism served businesses that could not compete in the marketplace.  So, too, perhaps, the complaints against the purchase of state legislatures and therefore of federal senators was only a progressivist dodge to trick people into giving even more power to monopoly capitalists.

Personally, I agree that indirect elections are best.  However, that is a very general rule.  I just finished reading Medici Money and the Medici of Florence controlled a political process that involved random selections from preapproved lists drawn up by randomly selected people from preapproved lists.  The Florentines did everything they could to prevent one family or another from controlling the town -- and even so, one did.  So, too, with direct or indirect elections of electors who choose electors.  In politics as in physics, if you create a potential gradient, then objects will react to the forces in predictable ways.  Direct elections, indirect elections, random lots, or hereditary appointments, the result is the same: power flows.

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