Life, Toons, and Politics

{June 10, 2010}   A Disclaimer on the U.S. Constitution?

It’s official. The Constitution, as it was originally intended, with its strict limitations on government power and its recognition of individual rights, is null and void. According to Wilder publications, times have changed, and the Founders’ silly, outdated ideas are no longer relevant.

But, of course, the politically correct do-gooders won’t stop there. Every single document fundamental to our nation’s birth, heritage, and history is under attack. The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, and even Thomas Paine’s Common Sense are attached with the same happy little disclaimer.

It turns out, apparently, that an evolving society requires us to reject the principles and values we once cherished as the bedrocks of a free society. Self-government, free speech, gun rights, decentralism, private property, free enterprise, minimal taxation, local sovereignty, religious freedom, the right to life, and the right to be left alone are now mere remnants of a twisted, backward past in which men were stupid enough to believe that voluntary choice and faith in God were sufficient enough to operate society. Changing times call for us to renounce “outdated” ideas. Now is the moment for every compassionate human being to sacrifice their self-interests and their attachment to ancient ideals so that “progress,” “social justice,” and the “greater interests” of humanity can be achieved.

Oh, please.

We live in terrifying times. According to modern textbook authors, court historians, and college professors, not only were the Founders wrong about race and slavery, but they were wrong about everything else.

The Founders weren’t perfect – and neither was the Constitution, for that matter – but, human beings aren’t infallible. For what it’s worth, the Constitution was a pretty good document. Certainly, it’s better than the horrendous legislation currently pushed by our government pen-pushers. My only objection is that it didn’t go far enough in preserving individual freedom, even with all its limitations on centralized power. For example, it forced states to return fugitive slaves to their masters, and it authorized Congress to borrow money from abroad. The federal government was given the power to tax, and Congress was given the power to coin and regulate money. But no other document in the history of mankind has ever come close to the kinds of limitations on government power and guaranteed recognitions of God-given rights enshrined in the Articles of Confederation and, later, the U.S. Constitution.

Our forefathers fought a war against a highly centralized, authoritarian monarchy that had come to recognize rights, not as gifts from God or natural components of self-ownership reserved for the individual, but dispensations of government created at the stroke of a government pen and taken away at the convenience of the ruling class. The American Bill of Rights recognized individual liberty as already-existing, not granted. Bill of Rights or no Bill of Rights, Constitution or no Constitution, Declaration of Independence or no Declaration of Independence, our rights were considered an inalienable part of our existence regardless of what the ruling class or the majority of people thought was best.

The modern liberal claims that such ideas are outdated, that elected leaders, as representatives of our so-called “democracy,” have the power to do whatever is best for the “general welfare” or for the “common good.” These leaders, after all, were enthroned by the “will of the people,” and who could possibly be against the “will of the people?”

What the modern liberal fails to realize is that liberty isn’t the only “ancient” idea.

Liberals advocate things that have existed for centuries. Big government and centralized power are as ancient as man himself. As long as men have roamed the earth, there have always been those who seek to control others, to manipulate society to their utopian visions, to wield immense power at the expense of the unprotected classes. Near its empirical collapse, ancient Rome was sown with the seeds of tyranny – unrestricted democracy, a paternalistic welfare State, central economic planning, social programs that took from the haves and gave to the have-nots, price and wage controls, heavy commercial restrictions, crippling taxes, out-of-control spending, never-ending imperial warfare, political persecutions, the collectivization of industry, and skyrocketing inflation to pay for the costly empire. All of these things are considered “progressive” ideas today, but they have always existed. The Romans de facto abandoned their own constitution in favor of cradle-to-grave socialism. The modern liberal justifies his contempt for restrictions on government power the same way the Romans did. As Tim Case writes:

Both Cicero (De officiis – “On Obligations,” Book 3: chapter 2) and Tacitus (Annals, Book 14: chapter 44) advance the idea that political violation of moral law was not only permissible but required for the “public welfare.” Cicero declares that “there never can be such a thing as a conflict between expediency and moral rectitude.” Both these ancient writer’s thoughts reverberate in Machiavelli’s instruction that “… it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.” (The Prince, Chapter IV)

So here is the crux of the matter: “necessity” and “public welfare” stand as the excuses for the state to act outside the bounds of common decency and at the same time to become the archenemy of the population under its control.

It is “public welfare” and “necessity” that stood as the justification for the most barbaric acts of ancient state paganism: that of human sacrifice.

Tyranny is an ancient idea. Centralized power, economic planning from governmental authorities, and restrictions on individual liberty in the name of the collective have always been masked by terms like “public welfare,” “common good,” and “social justice.” The concept of divine guidance from “selfless,” “worthy” public servants has been a mythical falsehood perpetuated throughout the ages. Rome’s collapse was a consequence of the public’s willingness to accept a lifetime of guaranteed security in exchange for their personal freedom.

America’s Founding generation sought refuge from these dangerous, ancient, oppressive ideas. But somehow their ideas are irrelevant and “outdated” to the modern liberal because he prefers other outdated ideas that he thinks serve his purposes better.

For all the talk of not wanting to return to twisted, backward ideas, the modern liberal sure supports them.


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