Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Republic, Not a Democracy

Those who delude themselves into believing our public schools and universities are telling the truth about the foundations of American government, or for that matter, teaching our youth how to think – ought to read through the stack of emails I regularly receive from educated individuals who passionately defend that which is absolutely false and totally nonsensical.

The latest came from a female New Yorker, responding to my article, "Blessed Tolerance: The ‘Virtue’ of a Republic in Decline," who worked herself into a lather over my suggestion that a "me first … anything goes" democracy is a shortcut to tyranny, and that a return to "liberty under the law," as per a republic, is what America needs if America expects to remain free.

I noted, summarizing Plato, that the ‘democratic man,’ overly fixed on his beloved self interest, first becomes tyrannized by his own lusts, and next tyrannizes everyone else in an unending attempt to satisfy his ever growing list of lusts – which can never be fully satisfied.

The point being, a society dominated by weak and undisciplined, brutish and unprincipled individuals is ripe for tyranny because slavery and tyranny is already their lot.

Welcome to human nature 101. When self-love and self-indulgence are ranked as the greatest of rights, and toleration for every sort of extreme as the highest of virtues, trouble follows. Morality, law, stability take a hit. Turbulence, anarchy, political opportunism come in their wake.

Why is that so hard to understand? This is why the founding father of modern communism, Karl Marx, initiated the battle cry of the Communist Manifesto, "We must win the battle of democracy!" And this is why the Father of the US Constitution, James Madison, opposed democracy, in these words:

democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. 1

"A republic", by contrast, … "opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking." 2

Get it? Communist Founder Marx wanted democracy, and American Founder Madison did not, for the very same reasons: democracies are unstable, violent, short lived political systems whose chief aim is the overthrow of private property.

But that is not all. Democracies have other problems, as well, especially in their outlook on equality. They seek to "reduce mankind," Madison warned, "[until they are] equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions." 3

That is, they preach and practice a false equality that, in the end, impoverishes and enslaves mankind economically, intellectually, and morally into one common miserable lot.

This is the exact opposite of the sort of equality the American Founders promoted. St. George Tucker, the author of the 1803, "View of the Constitution of the United States" (the first commentary on the US Constitution), explained what our founders meant by "all men are created equal":

By equality … is to be understood, equality of civil rights and not of condition. Equality of rights necessarily produces inequality of possessions; because, by the laws of nature and of equality, every man has a right to use his faculties in an honest way, and the fruits of his labor, thus acquired, are his own. But some men have more strength than others; some more health; some more industry; and some more skill and ingenuity, than others; and according to these, and other circumstances the products of their labors must be various, and their property must become unequal. The rights of property are sacred, and must be protected; otherwise there would be no exertion of either ingenuity or industry, and consequently nothing but extreme poverty, misery, and brutal ignorance. 4

Indeed, the American Founders rejected the equal ends approach to equality because such an equality, the equality of a pure democracy, produces precisely what communism has always produced: "nothing but extreme poverty, misery, and brutal ignorance, " even as it undermines the best in men.

The Republic our Founders gave us, by embracing true equality – meaning equality under the law, and equality of God given rights – produced the most ingenious, industrious, prosperous, happy, and enlightened people in history.

And so let’s not pussy foot around here. What, then, is the real object of a national educational establishment that has rewritten our history books, and imposed curriculum mandates that teach the rising generation that the American Founders gave us a democracy?

And, what, then, is this educational establishment’s real object when they use democracy as justification for a "me first, anything goes" agenda, that bans Capitalism and Christianity from their "anything goes" list?

Are we really naïve enough to believe that this fraud was perpetrated by men of pure motives, men and women who love American liberty so much that they feel compelled to lie about her foundations?

My ‘educated’ reader accused me of writing "an article supporting the end of our democracy." If she had been truly educated she might have said with Jefferson, "In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." 5

She might have said, "you are right, Steve. We are ‘a government of laws, not of men,’ 6 that is, a republic, not a democracy – and since ‘the best republics will be virtuous, and have been so’ 7 it is incumbent upon all of us to say ‘No!’ to false definitions of equality, and "No!’ to moral extremes that aim to undermine ‘liberty under law,’ in favor of ‘anything goes,’ on the way to absolute tyranny."

She might have said something like that, but she didn’t; and neither will millions of others similarly educated in this country. And so our work is cut out for us, isn’t it?

Madison, Tucker, Jefferson, Adams, Letter 24: A Republic, Not a Democracy
Steve Farrell

This one issue more than most goes unnoticed by the undereducated and those that choose not to read or think about real history. Democracy is all the “rage” now. We are engaged in a crusade of sorts to “democrartize” the world or at least all the small insignificant (except for their natural resources) nations.

John C. Calhoun discussed the issue of democracy in his Disquisition On Governemnt:

I call the right of suffrage the indispensable and primary principle; for it would be a great and dangerous mistake to suppose, as many do, that it is, of itself, sufficient to form constitutional governments. To this erroneous opinion may be traced one of the causes, why so few attempts to form constitutional governments have succeeded; and why, of the few which have, so small a number have had durable existence. It has led, not only to mistakes in the attempts to form such governments, but to their overthrow, when they have, by some good fortune, been correctly formed. So far from being, of itself, sufficient — however well guarded it might be, and however enlightened the people — it would, unaided by other provisions, leave the government as absolute, as it would be in the hands of irresponsible rulers; and with a tendency, at least as strong, towards oppression and abuse of its powers; as I shall next proceed to explain.

And further speaking on the dangers of “majority rule”

So deeply seated, indeed, is this tendency to conflict between the different interests or portions of the community, that it would result from the action of the government itself, even though it were possible to find a community, where the people were all of the same pursuits, placed in the same condition of life, and in every respect, so situated, as to be without inequality of condition or diversity of interests. The advantages of possessing the control of the powers of the government, and, thereby, of its honors and emoluments, are, of themselves, exclusive of all other considerations, ample to divide even such a community into two great hostile parties.

I have touched on this topic in a small way in several posts. In fact much of what I write relates directly to this one fundamental issue. It is simply incomprehensible that any nation could ever hope to attain greatness while saddled with the burden of the notion of Democracy.

Sure you say the US is already great, the preeminent power in the world.

“Unchecked by any rival,” is how Krauthammer described the new Rome (the US).

Pat Buchanan retorts:
Yet as one watches the Old Republic spend herself into bankruptcy, run up trade deficits that debauch her currency, decline to defend her own bleeding borders, permit rivals to loot her technology and cart off her manufacturing plants, America does in a way resemble Rome. But it is, unfortunately, the Rome of the late fourth century.
For America 2005, unlike the America we knew not long ago, has become a newly dependent nation, dependent on the Gulf for oil to run our economy, on imports for the necessities of our national life, on Beijing and Tokyo to buy the bonds to subsidize our self-indulgent lifestyles.

So our current power is temporal at best. I speak often of the moral corruption of many of our institutions. These are just symptomatic representations of a deeper ills.

The military has become weak and spineless (sure we can still kick the proverbial crap out of the best third world countries but do they really count). This demise is a direct reflection on society and what we value. The long and proud position of the commissioned officer has been replaced by selfish managers that for the most part neither understand nor accept commitment to principle. One only needs to look at the reams of evidence of wrong-doing and debauchery to understand this. Read my posts on "Vegitus Redux" or "My beef with the Air Force"

Our elected officials are often as comical as the sort of people that frequent a Jerry Springer episode. Find a real backbone among them (with rare and exceptional misfits).

Our chief religion is that of personal self interest. It is hard to even trust “religious” leaders in this regard. We are truly a people out only to better ourselves at most any cost.

We have forgotten our love for liberty. We have and do sacrifice all for some temporary benefit. We are all “afraid” of terrorist so we willingly give up all manner of freedoms to fight this “threat”. We want government services so we allow politicians to tax and spend OUR money and the birthright of our children. We are all “owed” something and we want the government to provide it. We sell our liberty for a few shillings.

We have accepted a public “education” system that no longer educates. Most high school graduates know little about the Constitution or what the nation was founded to be. You can be sure that they have spent countless hours during their scholastic careers learning about “other cultures” and touch feely nonsense.

Can people that would sell their liberty for temporary benefit and security; are not enlightened enough to understand their rights and place in the world; and answer to no god other than personal self interest be trusted with the franchise? If they are trusted to vote can a nation stand long that does not have in place a system that accounts for the corruption of the people?

I say that it is impossible for a nation to prosper under such circumstances. There was a time when Senators were not directly elected and when the popular presidential vote meant little. I envision a time, not so far off when we will eliminate the electorial college in favor of direct elections. As ineffective as the electorial college has become that will still be a sad day.

The plain fact is people are too selfish, stupid or lazy to make democracy an effective form of government. Democracy is the “kindest” form” of tyranny. Instead of one dictator telling you what to do, 51% of your neighbors perform this function.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialemEl Cid

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