by Ian McLeod
–With Thanks And Highest Regards to the Late Mr. Nock
Whilst I’m occasionally mistaken for a conservative, as I have a preference for economic freedom and have some (but certainly not all) traditional cultural views, I am not a conservative because I have no desire to see my personal or cultural views legislated on anyone–and in fact reject every attempt even to legislate them on me or anyone else, as I believe the fictitious King Pausole’s laws are the only laws worth having: first “hurt no man,” then “do as you please.”
Conservatism is an utter failure in America, as this election cycle has proven. Once more Ron Paul has been destroyed by the Republican Party machine, and three identical candidates vie for a meaningless title. That was predictable. I am nominally a supporter of Paul, but I did not vote in the Alabama Primary and nor will I vote this November, except perhaps to write in “Zombie-Eisenhower” if I am feeling particularly cheeky on that Tuesday morn. But this cycle, I realized something whilst reading Facebook comments and news articles and blogs all across the Internet: the Ron Paul supporters do not realize how spurious their own opinions are, because they share one thing in common (if only tangentially) with the Party Establishment. While they are True Believers and the Establishment is not, this is true of the vast majority of Conservative voters (not the elected officials or media figureheads.) Conservative voters are gullible, not because they are idiots but because they are maleducated (because most Americans are maleducated, regardless of political affiliation).
Indeed, the Paul supporters, who are closest to traditional conservatives of yore, have a massive blind-spot. Again, and so I don’t seem as if I’ve gone Leftist, I find Progressives are equally maleducated, but do have an advantage in that they spend absolutely no time looking back to learn from history except to heap guilt on people who personally have nothing to do with dead and buried atrocities.
Now I understand that Ron Paul is a libertarian trapped in a Republican’s body. Believe me, I’ve been a reader of his for the better part of a decade: I was down with Ron Paul long before he was cool (I write this with utmost irony and sarcasm, of course.) But, you see, the Constitution itself is an anti-libertarian document. Why he hearkens back to it so much and with such fervor is beyond me at this point. People and their blind spots. The definition of mal-education.
You see, the Constitution was the product of a cynical coup d’Etat by the urban, mercantilist, creditor class (who happened to own vast tracts of land across the several states, and were owed quite a bit of money after they bankrolled that little revolution. The Madisonians and Hamiltonians were Madisonians and Hamiltonians precisely because stood to benefit most from centralization. Principle had nothing to do with it.) My question thus is, why do you call for a return to constitutional principles if those very principles are simply the enhancement and centralization of government power? Does revering a document which was itself the product of unprincipled opportunism not seem nonsensical, if not immoral? It’s a self-contradiction.
As we all know, this coup was led by Madison and Hamilton and perpetrated while Jefferson was in France. Patrick Henry “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, and it was tending towards Monarchy” and made it a point to no-show to the Convention. Sam Adams joined him.
In any case, the Constitutional Convention was convened under the false pretense of hammering out some irregularities in the original Articles of Confederation. Its stated purpose was not to replace the government entirely, but to make the Confederation run more smoothly. But as soon as it was convened, Madison, Hamilton, John Jay, and their cronies changed the agenda and the end result is what we have today: the Constitution of the United States. The only “framing” the framers of the Constitution did was of the terms of the debate–for the Federalists it had little to do with grandiose ideas or heart-felt principles, as it boiled down to power and money. And like most astute politicians, they were able to sell the public down the river in the name of “national defense” and “general welfare.” John Jay really laid out the agenda the most truthfully, and while I despise what he did I will not issue a damnatio memoriae for sharing the same birthday with him simply because he was honest about it: “The people who own the country should run the country.” That was the spirit behind the Constitution.
Oh sure, you can blame Lincoln, or Wilson, or Roosevelt, or Taft, or Obama for all the problems today–but the blame truly lies on the Constitutional Convention itself. The Presidents and Congresses and Courts have simply played the hand they’ve been dealt. It is important to remember that the document was not sent to the Continental Congress or the State Legislatures to be vetted before it was put directly to a popular vote–an odd thing for a country which only a few years prior was so determined not to succumb to the perils of democracy.
Now, if you’d prefer actual limitations on the power of central government, then acknowledge that the power of the purse itself must be returned to the state governments, as under the Articles of Confederation, with all the hardships and limitations that necessarily accompany it. Easy war, expansionism, imperialism, and your favored social issues will, by default become impossible to accomplish legislatively through the heavy hand of central government–but at least so will the legislative goals of your opponents, who are consistently better at manipulating the masses than you are.
The thrust of this is simple: anything less than pure antifederalism is mere posturing. You wish to “restore the Constitution” when in reality the Constitution is fine, it is working precisely as it was designed. It was designed to replace a loose-knit confederation that was more similar to Switzerland than to Britain at first–a confederation with painfully explicit limitations of powers with a centralized Federal-National government with only very weak powers. The Bill of Rights was, and is merely a Trojan horse–a sugar-coating to make the bitter pill of nationalism palatable. There was far more freedom and individual liberty under the Articles of Confederation. It was a flawed document, no doubt, but it erred on the side of the Everyman and of State and Local governments, rather than play with the fire of centralization. Conservatives and Progressives in America today are identical: you only differ in how much fire with which you’re willing to play. Neither of you question the wisdom of playing with fire in the first place, and for that you should be damned.
You conservatives should be less shocked and offended when the Supreme Court “legislates from the bench.” The Supreme Court, in fact, is doing precisely what a body of unelected lifetime appointees with unlimited power is designed to do. Jefferson saw it coming, and was dismayed.
You fail to see that an intentionally vague legal document is a dangerous thing. In vagary there is unlimited power to be seized. Progressives understand this better than you do. Indeed, Progressives are better at interpreting the “original intent” of the Constitution than any Strict Constructionist, as the “original intent” was an unprincipled power-grab by the moneyed class sold as increased security and better services at the expense of both social and individual liberty (the irony, the irony!) It would have been worse from the outset if not for the antifederalists who demanded a Bill of Rights to mitigate the damage from the inevitable compromises which ensued during the surprise convention. But even then, the Bill of Rights was a “go along to get along” measure, a bone already sucked dry of its marrow thrown to the antifederalists and Jeffersonians to keep the entire country from Balkanizing outright (as Washington predicted it would. Indeed, Washington believed the Constitution would not last 20 years. It probably would have been better if he were right.)
Conservatism in America fails precisely because it deifies the very thing which created all the problems about which Conservatives frequently complain. You look to a history that never was as you are too blinded by your romantic messianic visions of “founding fathers” or “framers” to see that they were people.. Some of them were great men, and most of them did great things, but as with most people who find themselves with far too much power and influence, they–especially Hamilton’s ilk but Jefferson was no saint either–used their power and influence to their own ends. They were human. There is no excuse over 200 years hence, for the wool to remain over your eyes. Why do you hold it there in the first place?
As you Conservatives look to a history that never was, your only comfort is that Progressives look to a future that will never be (but bless their hearts, they try.)
Politics in America is merely the blind leading the blind, and as great Suleiman the Wise wrote three-thousand years ago, both will inevitably fall to destruction.