Category Archives: Bill of Rights

A Constitutional Anniversary to Forget

constitutionstupid

While not a jubilee year, last week marked the 230th anniversary of the US Constitution.  Naturally, most of its devotees enthusiastically praised the document which by now is seen on a par with Holy Writ itself.  An editorial from Investor’s Business Daily provides an example of such hagiography:

The Constitution’s beauty is that it not only delineates our rights

as Americans, but expressly limits and defines government’s ability

to interfere in our private lives.   This equipoise between citizens’

duties, responsibilities and rights makes it the defining document

or our nation’s glorious freedom.

 

But America is wonderful largely because of the Constitution and

those who framed it . . . .

 

What we have is too precious to squander . . . .*

Most of the piece laments about the widespread ignorance of its sacred contents among the denizens in which it rules over and encourages the unlearned “to bone up a bit on your constitutional heritage . . . .”  The editorial fails, as do most others on the Right, to understand that it is not a lack of knowledge of the Constitution’s contents among the populace which lies at the heart of America’s social, economic, and political problems, but the very document itself.

One of the main reasons why the Constitution continues to be so widely venerated is due to the deliberate distortion of history that its “founders” promoted and that generations of its sycophants have continued to perpetuate to this very day.  The official narrative runs that the Constitution was enacted because of widespread popular support for a change to the supposed inadequacies and deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation.

This is a myth.  Instead, the Constitution was a coup deliberately schemed by the leading political and mercantile classes to set up a powerful central government where ultimate authority rested in the national state.  The use of the term “federal” to describe what was created in Philadelphia in those fateful days was a ruse much like the banksters and politicos used “Federal Reserve” to describe the central bank created in 1913.  It was neither “federal” – a decentralized monetary order – nor a “reserve” of gold, but a monetary institution which could create money out of thin air and eventually eliminate the gold standard.

It was a similar political maneuver 230 years ago as a new American national state was established and touted as a decentralized form of government where power was evenly divided between state and national levels and between the different branches of the government itself  – “separation of powers.”  In actuality, however, the “federal system” was the elevation of central power at the expense of local authority which had previously existed.  Section VI of the Constitution says it all:

The Constitution and the laws of the United States  . . .

shall be the supreme law of the land; and the

judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the

Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Elementary political science has shown and plain common sense knows that any person or institution given “supreme authority” will misuse and abuse such power.  Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely is an undeniable dictum of human nature.  A truly decentralized system of governance would not contain a plank as “supreme law of the land” as part of its foundation.  Instead, real federalism would be dispersed, as it existed in the past in such political arrangements as confederacies, leagues, and, certainly, under the much maligned feudal social order.

Even the Constitution’s celebrated Bill of Rights is flawed and has proven to be ineffective in protecting basic human freedoms.  It is the federal government which enumerates and interprets what freedom individuals should possess.  Thus, the meaning and extent of individual liberties will be in the hands of federal jurists and courts who will invariably rule on cases in favor of the state.  The ensnaring of individual rights within the central government’s authority did away with the venerable common law which was a far greater defender of liberty than federal courts.

Just as important, the enactment of the Constitution, which brought all the individual states under it suzerainty, did away with one of the most significant checks on state power – “voting with one’s feet.”  When there are multiple governing authorities, if one jurisdiction becomes too oppressive, its subjects can move to freer domains.  This still happens on a local level as high tax and regulatory states such as California and New York have lost demographically to freer places like Nevada and Texas.  Yet, from the Federal Leviathan there is no escape, except expatriation.

Unless and until Americans and all the other peoples of the Western world who live under constitutional rule recognize that it is the type of government which is the cause of most of the political turmoil, social unrest, and economic malaise  which they face, there is no hope of turning things around.

*”Sturdy Constitution, ” Investor’s Business Daily, Week of September 18, 2017, A20.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

On the 225th Anniversary of the United States’ Bill of Rights

the-bill-of-rights

This December, 2016, marks the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution which would become known as the “Bill of Rights.”  To secure passage of the Constitution, the framers of the document (the Federalists) had to agree that it would contain explicit language on individual rights.

Ever since its ratification, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in which it is a part, has been hailed as one of the seminal achievements in the annals of human history while the political arrangements prior to it (primarily monarchy and aristocratic rule) have been sneered at and belittled by the Constitution’s hagiographers.   Moreover, the American Constitution has provided a model for the emergence of the nation state which came into its own after the French Revolution and the tragic breakup of Christendom.

History, however, if looked at outside the Anglo-American perspective has shown that far from a protector of individual liberty, the Bill of Rights has been mostly useless in defense of basic freedoms while the Constitution, that it is a part of, has been a vehicle for the expansion of state power to an unfathomable degree.

Despite the supposed guarantees of individual liberty within the Bill of Rights and the supposed limited nature of the Constitution itself, there has never been a more intrusive state in world history both domestically and in its myriad of interventions across the globe than the Leviathan that rests on the shores of the Potomac River.  And, the rise of American totalitarianism did not begin with the revelations of Edward Snowden and the other courageous whistle blowers of the recent past, but started soon after the new “federal” state came into existence with the passage of the Alien & Sedition Acts.  Each year since has witnessed the growth of state power at the expense of individual rights where now domestic spying and surveillance are part of the nation’s social fabric.

The primary reason why the Bill of Rights has been unable to secure basic liberties is because the federal government and its courts are the ultimate interpreters of the Constitution and its amendments as explicitly stated in Article VI, section 2, subtitled, Supreme Law of the Land:

This Constitution and the laws of the United

States which shall be made in pursuance thereof,

and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under

the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme

law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be

bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of

any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Since the central government is the final arbitrator of the document, any ruling or decision on particular laws or regulations which would impinge on individual rights will, for the most part, be favorable to the government itself.  And, due to man’s fallen nature, any such power will be abused.

The ratification of the Constitution in 1789 made in essence the individual states mere appendages of the central government.  While the Constitution’s sycophants boast of its “checks and balances,” a far superior bulwark against political repression is that of people “voting with their feet.”  Under the Articles of Confederation, when the national government was not the supreme law of the land, if a certain state became too tyrannical, at least in theory, and had the much neglected Articles remained in place, those persecuted could simply move to a more friendlier jurisdiction.

This would also hold true in the realm of taxation and regulatory policy.  Those political authorities who became too confiscatory in their taxing or enacted burdensome regulations could also see population outflows.  Similar activity goes on all the time currently as people flee high tax municipalities and states like California and New York to lower tax regions such as Florida and Texas.

For voting with one’s feet to be most successful, there needs to be a multitude of states and political jurisdictions.  In the current political climate, this would mean the breakup of the nation state.  Secession and political decentralization should thus be the goals of those who prize individual liberty and prosperity, not the celebration of constitutionalism and the supposed guarantees of personal freedoms under ideas such as the Bill of Rights.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com/