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A few weeks ago I wrote an article blaming Lewis Powell for today’s dysfunctional government inspired by the “Powell Memo.” After all, that memo was a blueprint that was instrumental in creating institutions and instruments to indoctrinate and mislead.

Last week Dr. John J. Theis, a Lone Star College professor took a group of activists to a symposium. Gar Alperovitz, a leading author and economist was one of the speakers. He discussed an America beyond capitalism. I wrote about it last week. We have since been discussing the topic of capitalism, crony capitalism, corporate capitalism, collectives, and other forms of worker-owned corporations.

In the process of those discussions, the inherent weakness of the average American in the American "democracy" became apparent. Dr. Theis suggested that I read founding father James Madison’s "Federalist #10." The first thing that is apparent is that James Madison was a great writer. James Madison concisely ensured that every word, every sentence was effective. The 85 Federalist Papers were written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

After reading "Federalist #10" one cannot help but view the founding fathers in a different light. Moreover, those like the Tea Party and the Republican Party, who wrap themselves in a type of rhetoric of adulation for what they believe was the founding fathers intent for the population, should rethink their position. It is well known that women, blacks, and nonlandowners had no vote. "Federalist #10" shows why a real democracy was the biggest fear of James Madison. It also illustrates why today’s plutocracy would sit just fine with the founding fathers. Those that defend the status quo feel they have the moral direction from the founders, however misguided.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

James Madison starts "Federalist 10" with his disdain for factions. He does not view them as necessary or warranted within a democracy.

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.
In today’s parlance, factions would be the NRA, the Sierra Club, the AMA, the AARP, etc. He calls the actions of groups like these mischiefs.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

James Madison makes known his biggest fear.
The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

In other words, unlike what much of the Tea Party believes, James Madison wanted an intrusive federal government that would protect the rights of property owners, the rich. But how is that attained if you want to give the semblance of a democracy? If the faction is a minority, he is not very concerned.
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.
What happens if the faction is the majority and not a minority?
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union. ...

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations

James Madison assumes only the elite would be elected by the peons. He assumes they would be more patriotic, intelligent, and more interested in the public good—read what is best for the rich. Most importantly is the phraseology used by James Madison, divide and conquer.
Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic, is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest?

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

When this document is read in the right context it is nothing short of amazing. James Madison was an elitist who was writing to other elitists who would be voting to ratify the Constitution in New York. It was assuring them that their interests would be best served with this Constitution. They had nothing to fear. The Constitution has a construct that prevents those who want a bigger piece of the pie from taking any of it from you.

Real democracy will not come to Americans until most Americans understand that the current state of government is designed. James Madison never expected those that represented the masses to vote in concert with the constituents. He makes that clear in "Federalist #10." A representative democracy can be purchased on the cheap. The plutocracy only needs to purchase 1 president, 5 Supreme Court justices, 67 senators, and 218 Congressional representatives—300+ million Americans, you all be damned. For this reason careful examination of those representing us must take on more urgency and scrutiny.

As long as Americans are somewhat content, stability is maintained. The continuous hoarding of wealth of James Madison’s class at the expense of the masses may tip the scale. It may make those checks and balances moot.

The intent of this piece is not to demonize the founding fathers in any way. It is to provide understanding of why to date the masses have little power and simply a semblance of democracy. James Madison secured the interest of his class as he assisted in the formation of the country. They all maintained the patriarchal belief that those at the top know best and must be the puppet masters. It is as if Michael Powell was just the architect of the building envisioned by James Madison that was built by the Republican Party and guarded by the Tea Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While it's useful to highlight (31+ / 0-)

    the real philosophical divide between Tea Partiers and the Founders, diary's like this remind us why it's not in our best interests to hold them in undue esteem.

    •  I completely disagree (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rktect, NBBooks, where4art, FogCityJohn, kurt

      Not holding them is esteem is just as dangerous because it has cut us off from our understanding of how our government works. So, for example, the principle of popular sovereignty has very radical implications that few appreciate any more because of dismissal based on fragments. And that is a problem. As I just argued here:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  Undue esteem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nosleep4u, PSzymeczek

        Not utter contempt.  Though I'd argue that government today functions quite differently than it did in the 18th century, and for good reason.

        I know I don't appreciate the radical implications of popular sovereignty because 1) I'm not a lawyer and 2) tl;dr.

      •  His idea of government is supremecy of the Law (4+ / 0-)

        The written Law, the Constitution, the consensus to be law abiding as a consensus to share the same ideals of what is right and proper and not to tolerate injustice which significantly affects the interests of the parties.

        My reading of his intent was that there should be a more perfect union of states, all the decision making power should be vested in a Congress, rather than the vested interests listened to by a king seeking money for war from a rich landowning oligarchy or aristocracy, decisions should come from a court rather than a mob, security from a militia of volunteers that takes arms in times of crisis rather than a military with a standing army, navy, air force, marines, and a military industrial complex perpetually profiting off of war so as to perpetuate it.

        What I think of as factions are all the parasitic corporations that have given themselves entitlements to your money; the phone company, the cable company, satellite tv, radio, the internet, utility companies, Wallmart, Home Depot, automobile makers, miracle miles of fast food franchises and auto parts stores, healthcare insurance, colleges and universities with ungodly tuition's and student loans that never pay off in those great jobs you were promised; not to mention all the government law enforcement and intelligence teams, homeland security, the FBI the CIA, the NSA, one hundred forty three more intelligence teams making sure their drones know where your drugs are coming from if not Wallmart, every one horse town now has to have a swat team with a tank.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:25:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We don't understand the Constitution at all (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yoduuuh do or do not, La Gitane

          We have ultimate authority under the Constitution. We just don't know it. I'm a constitutional lawyer so, I know (constitutional scholars recently rediscovered this). But the activist community has no idea.

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          •  I'm reading the article now, so I can't say (0+ / 0-)

            whether in the end Prof. Amar's arguments stand up (and since I'm at work, it may take a while to slug through). But I think I get the idea, and my initial reaction is, as Amar himself suggests, abject terror. Right now, today, a majority of US citizens would vote to establish Christianity as the state religion of the US. During the entire post-war period, and maybe even today, a majority of US citizens would have denied freedom of speech to Communists.

            And whether Amar is right or wrong (and I've read enough of his stuff in the past to have a lot of respect for him), the notion of popular sovereignty he discusses is totally inconsistent with the very idea of a Bill of Rights held by the Framers themselves. It's precisely because majorities might deprive minorities of rights we consider fundamental that we protect those rights using Constitutional provisions very difficult for government to change. I cannot imagine that, after spilling so much ink on precisely this argument, the Framers would have thought it was also OK for the people to do just what the Bill of Rights was designed to prevent.

        •  I think the founding fathers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NBBooks

          managed to create something radical - the idea that there is no divine right to rule over others - and something good enough so that the history of this country is of more and more groups of people fighting to get their share of it, so that only white men of property has widened to include other races and women. But it's a constant fight to keep our rights, and as the founders may have built a government to protect property (including human property), it was one that could expand, but which can revert, as it has done several times through our history if the rest of us don't fight to protect what we have fought for.

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:15:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  People do not understand popular sovereignty (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            yoduuuh do or do not, chmood, BigOkie

            We are sovereign. We control EVERYTHING. We could fire the President. We could fire all of Congress. We could fire the Supreme Court. And we could do it all by simply, majority vote. And mind you, we could control the rules of that election. We could provide that no money be allowed. That is what popular sovereignty means. We have the ultimate say. Nothing - NOTHING - is above us, not even the Constitution. Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered this. No one else knows. Now, of course, we were supposed to be doing this all along and we never once did it...so, it looks like we ruined the world. But wee could literally change ANYTHING we wanted by simple, majority vote. I happen to know this because I'm a constitutional lawyer. No one else knows it.

            •  We need rules to govern us and we need stability. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus, rktect, La Gitane

              Constitutions provide that and if everything were just by majority rule I shudder at the potential results.  Direct popular democracy is not the best IMO and if we are going to change our constitutional system then the Constitution itself gives us ways to do that in Article V.  Short of revolution we can't and shouldn't just fire our officials on a whim; that's what elections are for.  If this is your view then you don't strike me as a very good constitutional lawyer.

              •  I'd be happy to fire our House and half the Senate (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vadem165

                They don't do any work and they obstruct others who are trying to make things better. When they leave they can take the conservative supremes, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Kennedy with them.

                Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                by rktect on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 11:09:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm sympathetic.. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rktect

                  ...but I'm glad we don't have recall elections at the federal level, though I have to wonder whether there are days Obama wishes he could exercise the royal prorogative.  Justices would have to be impeached, but that shouldn't happen just for disagreeing with their rulings.

                  •  It depends on what you think the role of gov is (0+ / 0-)

                    If the role of the government is to strip away all regulation and protection from we the people so as to enable corporations as people to do as they will according to the dictates of Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn, then yes you should tolerate things like Citizens United.

                    If your perspective is that the 5th report of the IPCC is correct and even if we act decisively today to stop energy companies from putting more carbon in the air its questionable whether the tropics will be inhabitable in 2050 and 100 east coast cities with populations over 100,000 are in the areas of flood plain insurance maps where no coverage is possible, then maybe its time to take action.

                    Your thinking impeachment, I'm thinking drag a few of the climate change deniers spending FEMA money on a crooked real estate scam out in the street and shoot them, maybe the rest will get the idea.

                    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                    by rktect on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:23:00 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't like CU... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...though I understand the logic, but have come to the conclusion that we need to amend the constitution to undo it.  THAT is how we deal with SCOTUS decisions we don't like.  I'm not sure what real estate scam you refer to, but judicial independence requires that they not be penalized for decisions.  I reject in the strongest possible terms your call for violence and wonder if I should have hiderated on that account.

              •  You're misunderstanding, it seems (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bisbonian, vadem165

                WE, THE PEOPLE, are the ultimate authority.  WE adopted the Constitution to bind the GOVERNMENT, it was not imposed by government on us.

                'Course, the whole point of the militia/tea-party mess is to put up an agreeable FAKE popular uprising (busses provided by FreedomWorks, y'know), right up to the guns.  Based of course on a deep confusion between the Articles of Confederation, the Confederate States constitution, and the United States Constitution, but hey - what good are low-info voters if you're not planning to lie to them t o get your way?

                NONE OF THIS IS ABOUT MOB RULE, or governing by simple majority.  Listening to too much talk radio?  We have NEVER governed ourselves by simple majority rule, except in ad-hoc strictly local situations, and the hating on "democracy" & loving up on "republic" is just more of the same unhappy horseshit used to confuse and demonize, and to circumvent the rule of law by  our "representatives" these days.  We HAVE however ALWAYS selected our elected officials by simple majority;  haven't heard of anyone having a problem with THAT so far.

                Sounds like you're not in a position to gauge a constitutional lawyer's credentials...nor do y ou seem up to the challenges ahead.

                trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                by chmood on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:45:19 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you misunderstand me... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  chmood

                  ...which is why I recommended your comment because I basically agree with it.   We do need to do a better job of holding our electeds accountable through the election process and majority, or even first past the post, is fine for that.  I thought I was hearing that the Constitution is just a guideline rather than the supreme law which we could just ignore on a whim.

    •  300,000,000 guns (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlexDrew, Bisbonian

      At least the founding fathers made sure that Americans could have their guns. think of an America without guns. 300 million of them and counting.

      More gun stores than Starbucks. almost more gun shops as grocery stores.

      Americans dont trust their gov hence the need for assault guns, but yet they vote into office 90 to 95% of the same politicians into national office term after term.

      It gets better than they expect change from the same 90% bought and paid for by corp America and billionaires.

      Best kept secret in America: politicians are only a mirror and moral reflection of the voters.

    •  "....A Propensity to Violence..." (0+ / 0-)

      Sums it up nicely...only RATS behave in this manner...

      Weasels....

      If corporations are people, can we PWN them?

  •  Factions (24+ / 0-)

    In every interpretation I've ever seen of "Federalist 10," "factions" means political parties. That's how George Washington used the word in his farewell message as well. It may also mean specialized interest groups, but since they didn't exist in 1789 (what we had then were Federalists and a loose coalition of people with objections to one thing or another in the Constitution who we refer to now as the Anti-Federalists) it's difficult to make the categorical statement you made about them.

    •  I read that recently. (8+ / 0-)

      I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't realized that the Founders hadn't exactly endorsed political parties at all like we have now, and would very possibly have been horrified by a two-party system. (Though they certainly would've been horrified by anything approaching universal suffrage.)

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:23:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not all of them. (7+ / 0-)

        Not all would have been horrified by universal suffrage.  There was a diversity of thought.  It helpful to read all of the Federalist Papers; the letters between Jefferson and Adams; Abigail Adams' letters; Benjamin Franklin's writings; Dolly Madison' legacy and the many original papers from the era.

        It is also helpful and important to understand the context of their era - where political philosophy had come from and where it was going in the Revolutionary era.  The Founders were quite radical for their era.  The notion of suffrage was hugely radical and treasonous to the King.

        •  Really? I haven't done much (0+ / 0-)

          reading on this. Which ones wouldn't have been horrified by, say, black women voting?

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:26:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think that Abigail Adams would (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            onionjim, RandomNonviolence, suzq, offgrid

            have been.  She was strongly opposed to slavery.  She was also a power house political operator - and probably smarter than her husband.  I don't think that John Adams would have gotten anywhere without her.

            Similarly, Dolley Madison is viewed to have been an extremely influential political thinker and lobbyist (for lack of a better term).  

            James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights.

            This article is a pretty good overview of how much diversity of thought there was about the amendments to the Constitution.

            http://www.history.org/...
            Interestingly, there were some at the time who felt that by enumerating rights, the opportunity to create exclusions would be created.  I think of their wisdom whenever I hear an anti-abortion nutter argue that a woman's right to make choices about her own body is not Constitutionally protected outside of the R v. W Supreme Court decision.

            Read the Federalist Papers.  Also read Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and Hume because they were important influences on that era.

        •  Obviously (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Old Sailor

          the majority prevailed in keeping all but the wealthy out of government. Even if one could vote, it wasn't effective. It was state legislatures who selected national senators, and it was state appointed electors who decided the presidency.

          But the fact that the resulting document excluded the vast majority of the public from voting is what tells the real story. Just as today, there is a certain amount of theater in politics that occurred then. Some spoke eloquently of the Republic while enslaving people. Some worried about disenfranchising while treating their wives and daughters as inferiors.

          And to this very day, the wealthy class still dominates the political process. It has always been about protecting wealth, property, property rights, while the US took land ("property") from Indians, took Blacks as property, exploited women (as if property), and took by force 1/3 of Mexico (property).

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:13:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was designed as a representative (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, AaronInSanDiego

            democracy and not as a direct democracy.

            Our political process has become more open as time has worn on.  This country, until recently led the world in social and economic mobility for really what amounts to centuries.  

            The system may be rigged now, but I contend that that is not the fault of the Founders.  This democracy was always ours to lose and in recent decades we've done a damn good job of letting it go.  

            But you are free to believe that all was lost from the moment the Revolution began.  That, however, would wrongly absolve Americans alive today of the responsibility for the massive modern failure to protect and preserve this democracy.  That's called passing the buck.  It is a whiner's position.  Pointing back 235 years and blaming the Framers for our failures is IMO bullshit.

    •  Factions do appear to mean interest groups (8+ / 0-)
      But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views.
      In the highlighted portion above, Madison specifically defines "the most common and durable source of factions" as being capital. The line between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' is drawn in India Ink, as it were.

      While the special interest groups did not exist in the same form we have today back in 1789, they certainly did exist. They would have taken the forms of loosely (if at all) organized groups of merchants, large companies, nations, etc. What they didn't seem to have is our penchant for snappy acronyms!

      Unfortunately, he failed to be quite forward-thinking enough to realize that at some point, the various factions (such as religion and particular schools of various thought), would be able to organize in large numbers, with almost no regard to geographic and political boundaries, and without needing a huge amount of capital to do so, thus allowing the proletariat masses to undermine the Republican system he espouses.

      "Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest." - Emile Zola

      by SwordFishData on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:29:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  People are very clever about how to take property (0+ / 0-)

        First off nobody actually owns property any more, you are sort of allowed to use it for a while until some one takes it back by eminent domain or attaches it by foreclosing your mortgage  or liens it for taxes, or encumbers it with a mechanics lien, a constructive lien, an equitable lien, or just simply clouds your ownership with a slander of title. They can claim its abandoned, or should be because its contaminated, or too expensive to insure against flooding, or they can just sue you for it until you don't have any money left to fight them. People can take your property by adverse possession, by publication, on the grounds the public interest in running a highway, power line, pipeline, or railroad through it or putting some sort of secret military base on it, or an airport,a seaport, a hospital, or a city hall, or mining whatever is underneath it, or taking its air rights is greater than yours.

        A fairer redistribution of wealth and property is long overdue.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:10:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No one ever owned property (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberaltarian

          It was always takeable by a variety of means. Furthermore, eminent domain is exactly what you want: a way for society to redistribute property for the good of all.

          We do need a fairer distribution of property, but doubling down on the rights of the current owners is going the wrong direction.

      •  But he doesn't list "the rich" as an interest (0+ / 0-)

        and the divisions he talks about -- a moneyed interest vs a manufacturing interest vs creditors vs debtors -- are factions of different kinds of rich people against each other not a faction of rich people against the poor.

        Absolutely nothing in Federalist #10 indicates that Madison thought the interests of the poor or working class irrelevant.

    •  This discussion (19+ / 0-)

      occurred between some of us in a recent thread. Graeber has written about this at length in his book, The Democracy Project. When the country was founded, democracy was considered to be a dangerous, radical concept. The word appears nowhere in the entire constitution. Democracy frightened the wealthy ruling class, the bourgeoisie, because they were well aware that if the poorer citizens rose up, the wealthy class would be outnumbered ten to one, even a hundred to one.

      If you want to know who runs government and society, just look at which group is favored by the constitution and the laws.

      All one need do is consider which groups were excluded from voting: The poor. Women (who could not own property, and whom men feared would become a voting block to win more economic rights, Blacks and Indians, whom were either poor or were being robbed of their lands, leaving only one more group of poor to exclude: White males without property.

      Thus, in the first election, only 6% went to the polls. And they were basically the more well off in the colonies. And this was no accident. George Washington, then the richest man in the colonies, became the President.

      The factions Madison feared were the ones excluded from the voting booth. The poor, represented by women, Blacks, Indians, and poor white males, and this did create an incentive to declare all these groups incapable of governing, being too uneducated and inferior. Look at the language which I bolded in the excerpts below:

      But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views.
      Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest?
      A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.
      Back in that period, only the wealthy class could thus succeed in winning office, because the voters were a faction of property owners interested in securing the property from the working classes. Thus, those who wanted to secure "property rights" above all else, in terms of priority, were insured to be the ones to run the country. Once the ruling, class, the propertarians, had consolidated power, little by little, and not without violence and bloodshed, the disenfranchised won the right to vote. But by then it was too late, the wealthy class had sent its tendrils into every branch of government, as reflected in laws which benefit the rich.

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:43:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Best comment in a very astute thread. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen, Dragon5616, onionjim, cassandraX
        •  PlutocracyFiles comments are very good also. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen
          •  Aww thanks (0+ / 0-)

            Here's the thing. I'm a constitutional lawyer and I've discovered something that no one in the activist community knows. We are the supreme authority. We could change it all. Easily. BUT we've lost sight of it. Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered it. But no one else does.

            http://www.dailykos.com/...

            •  Are we all missing the point? (0+ / 0-)

              A common misconception about the civil war is that it was fought over slavery.  It wasn't.  It was fought over money and political power.  The South was afraid that the influx of new non-slave states would eventually overwhelm them in Congress, and result in infringements on their economic interests:  the plantation agricultural system of the Southern States, which they believed required slaves to be profitable.  

              And, the North fought the civil war not to free slaves (the North would never have invaded the South to free slaves), but rather to repel an invasion from the South, and to maintain the Union (i.e.  they didn't want to let the resources and territory of the South depart the country - and create new hostile foreign government on north American soil).  The end of slavery was a consequence for the South of losing a civil war that they started, nothing more.  This all represents a fundamental misunderstanding that most Americans have about the civil war.

              Likewise, most Americans have a fundamental misunderstanding of the founding of the nation.  This nation was not founded on the principal of democratic representation and enlightened resistance to the divine right of kings to rule us.  The revolution was about TAXES.  The colonial landowners resented paying taxes to London on which they perceived to receive no return.  They would have been perfectly happy to remain loyal British citizens, so long as 1)  they didn't have to pay taxes to England for England to use not for their benefit, and 2)  England had left them alone to manage/protect and administer their property as they saw fit.  When England interfered, taxed, and garrisoned the army in their cities to enforce that tax and interference, they rebelled.  

              Federalist 10 makes clear that this nation was founded by the colonial movers and shakers of their day, to protect themselves.  They did risk life and treasure for a better situation, and their revolution did benefit the masses indirectly (the masses were far better off, and "freer"  under colonial American governance than they were under English rule), but it was never about universal democracy or equality of "every" man.  They felt they were the "equal" of the King.  They did not necessarily feel they were the "equal" of the masses.  That doesn't make them wrong, but it also doesn't make them heroic birth-fathers of a higher, freer, more equitable state of human existence.  The fact that they created a better, fairer human existence was a consequence, a nice bi-product, of their original intent.

              That said, this was why and how the nation was founded, and for the most part, the conservative crusade has been about restoring the nation to this founding principle.  In this respect, the republicans are right.  It is un-American to fight for equality of outcomes, at the expense of unequal distribution of resources.  Makes you wonder if maybe,...if you disagree, you should just go live somewhere else.          

              •  Right (0+ / 0-)
                Makes you wonder if maybe,...if you disagree, you should just go live somewhere else.    
                   

                Except that many were here before this accord we call the Constitution occurred, many were brought here against their will, and many were kept from having a voice in the accord, which makes it therefore no accord at all.

                Is that what you're saying?

                "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                by ZhenRen on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:16:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Right on ZR (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen, Old Sailor

        You can hear the fear of peasant uprisings and he invented propaganda brainwashing right in the quote above.

        The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations
        There were others is those first days who had more progressive ideas, but I can't remember their names.

        A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

        by onionjim on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:56:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Too late? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Spock36, AaronInSanDiego

        You have it backwards. The government has always been in the hands of the rich, since the first government in Ur.

        What the Founding Fathers did is let the tendrils of true democracy creep into the branch of government. They were traitors to their class, even if they didn't know it. This is why we celebrate them.

        •  But we don't have true democracy (0+ / 0-)

          Unless the rich who have always dominated congress, the executive branch and the cabinet, are representative of the people.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:27:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  this whole diary is an obtuse view of the founders (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, AaronInSanDiego, learn, offgrid

        First of all, who was eligible to vote was not addressed by the constitution. that was left to the states and they varied widely. Only 6 actually held elections to pick their electors for the president at the time.

        What Madison thought is an interesting question but not one addressed in his writings on the constitution.

        When Madison speaks of debtors in the above paragraphs, he's not necessarily talking about poor people. Large plantation owners in the south routinely had to rely on large amounts of credit to finance the planting of crops which would be harvested and sold much later. This is why Jefferson, for instance, died in debt. Much of this credit came from Northern banks.

        It's hard for me to understand how people read this listing of various interest groups in any economy and then from that conclude that Madison meant for government to one interest group over another. He states specifically that government must find the balance between them.

        He does list three things he specifically opposes -- paper money, abolition of debt and equal distribution of property. I would say he was wrong on the first, but on the other two, there are strong arguments that the abolition of all debt and redistribution of land from the wealthy to the poor has bad effects -- effects that have been seen in other countries, particularly in Africa.

        That doesn't necessarily mean Madison would have opposed some level of debt relief in some cases or anti-poverty programs. In fact, I think quite the contrary.

        •  Valid points - "paper money" about fiat currency (0+ / 0-)

          I think the diary was useful on the "provocative" but agree that Madison had complex thoughts.  
          The reference to paper money probably was more about fiat rather than the notion of paper per se.  

          One thing we can assume is that the founders had more subtle thought than any superficial interpretation using modern context justifies.  Few of them had the binary braine "all or nothing" mentality in current legislators and their rhetoric.

          Conservatism is not an ideology but a cognitive disorder -- help find a cure!

          by learn on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 09:07:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The stupidity of the Framers was in thinking (6+ / 0-)

      that somehow political parties wouldn't form here.  They had already been in existence in England from the time of the succession crisis, when it was becoming apparent that James Stuart (the future James II, who was a Catholic) would succeed to the throne after his brother Charles II had failed to produce a legitimate heir (he had lots o' bastards, though).

      The two parties formed were the Whigs and Tories--the Whigs, short for whiggamore (from Scots Gaelic meaning "a horse thief who steals mares" i.e., an incompetent horse thief), and the Tories, from the Irish Gaelic toraidhe, meaning "bog trotter"--in other words, a very poor Irish homeless vagabond.  

      In the early 18th century, Robert Walpole had notoriously used what can only be described as "machine politics" to secure his position as head of the Whig party and was supported by George I as Prime Minister.

      ll of this was recent history for the Framers, yet they did nothing to check the power of political parties or prevent "factionalism" as they termed it.  

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:43:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's always been my read. (7+ / 0-)

      This passage is key:

      If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed.
      In other words, the subject of Federalist 10 is "majority" factions -- or the conglomeration of interests known then, and today, as "parties." Small interests aren't of much concern -- and in fact, Federalist 51 articulates the principle of pluralism (not by that name), in which competition between small interests makes democracy tick.
       

      You won't believe what this gay dolphin said to a homeless child. First you'll be angry, but then at the 1:34 mark your nose will bleed tears of joy.

      by cardinal on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:06:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  of course Madison feared democracy... he was 1% (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZhenRen, Dragon5616

    James Madison’s Majority Nightmare:  An engaged, enraged and impoverished rabble. ...and today it looks like the rabble are getting pissed...to read more on Madison's Fed 10 and Fed 51...
    What Fed 10 & 51 really mean...

    •  Nope - he wasn't 1% (6+ / 0-)

      Madison, Jefferson, et. al were wealthy, but not 1% wealthy. They owned estates that could be measured in acres; the 1% has wealth above many countries. None of them had the wealth of a county let alone a country. Oligarchic wealth is a very specific thing - our Founding Fathers did not have oligarchic wealth. They were wealthy by the standards of society; they did not have the kind of wealth that could buy entire nation's political systems.

      •  It doesn't matter if it was 1% (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dragon5616, Old Sailor

        or 10%. The fact is, the framers excluded the poor from having any voice in the new constitutional government by systematically disenfranchising them.

        Women could not inherit or own property, and were basically poor people dependent on wealthy men, thus wealthy men could dominate women as a class. They could thus manipulate (force) women into marriage for survival.

        Blacks were excluded, because they were numerous, most were slaves, and of course they would form a voting block against the owning class.

        Indians were being driven of their lands, of course they were excluded.

        Leaving only one remaining faction to exclude: who remained who were poor? How to exclude them, if not based on gender or color? Well, those remaining who were poor were easily singled out. Just exclude all people without property, and the deed is done. Only a small few remained: The wealthy class.

        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

        by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:12:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, what about popular sovereignty (5+ / 0-)

          The people were made the supreme sovereigns of the land. They were given the inalienable right to alter or abolish the constitution at any time, by simple majority vote. That's not disenfranchisement. That's the ultimate enfranchisement. The people can change the supreme law of the land - at any time - by simple majority vote.

          People often look back and see what wasn't included - women, slaves. But they don't look at how much of a step forward this was at the time. Perfect? No. But a major step forward? Yes.

          You can't enfranchise people more than making them sovereigns. You can't enfranchise people more than giving them complete control over the supreme law of the land - the law that controls all other laws.

          But because they were wealthy, we've lost sight of that. We could make any change we desire if we read what they had to say instead of dismissing them. But we make arguments like this post, which makes us blind to our own power. We are sovereigns. We control the supreme law of the land. That is the design of the system.

          •  What is was: (7+ / 0-)

            The bourgeoisie wanted to be free from the monarchy, but otherwise carry on as usual, dominating the working class.

            Sheez, Britain, whom Americans overthrew, have had universal health care for years, while we still fight for it.

            And its been that way ever since the founding. The rich do not willingly cede wealth and power. They will not wake up some day and ask for forgiveness, having had an epiphany.

            Anyway, try to get everyone to vote, and the states and federal government to hold this referendum to change to constitution. I don't think the ruling class will allow it. They will have a different interpretation, it will end up in the courts, it will not happen.

            The document does not give us power. We give ourselves power. Documents are agreements. Except that when that document was written, it was the agreement of a few to rule over the many by achieving hegemony of the propertied class, the elites.

            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

            by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:35:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  X2 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ZhenRen

              nosotros no somos estúpidos

              by a2nite on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:49:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  OK, here's the thing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FogCityJohn

              What if we really are the sovereigns? What if we control the supreme law of the land? What if we can change anything in the constitution at any time we want by simple majority vote?

              Well, it means we dropped the ball, not our Founding Fathers. And that we are continuing to do so. We can change anything we want at any time and we're not doing it? Why? Because we're convinced our Founding Fathers screwed us? And we'd rather do that than take hold of our own power? The system is: we have the ultimate control; we control the constitution; we can fix any problem the majority wants to fix. That is our system.

              Constitutional scholars lost sight of this, but have recently rediscovered it. No one in the activist community knows it. Why? Because we dismiss them. And apparently, we'd rather dismiss them than take hold of our power - which, by the way, is complete. We control the constitution. We control the supreme law of the land. We have the final and ultimate say. Looks to me like our Founding Fathers did their part - they gave us final say. We are the ones who are blowing it.

            •  We have ultimate power. (0+ / 0-)

              We just don't know it. Honest. I promise. Read this.

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

          •  I agree with you, but that's probably (5+ / 0-)

            largely to do with the fact that my college thesis was centered around a survey of how people of a given era look back at history and project their own cultural values and social mores thereby basically obfuscating the meaning and understanding of the past that they claim to be studying.

            American democracy was a HUGE experiment.  I think we'd do a lot better if people were more aware of that fact now.  There is some notion that it is "settled" and "done", but it is still evolving and changing.  Granted a lot of the shifts we have seen in recent decades have been pretty disappointing, but those things can be reversed and the Founders provided that leeway by design.

      •  They were certainly 1% in their time. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, ZhenRen

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:22:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, not exactly (0+ / 0-)

          they were certainly elite, but oligarchic wealth? vast inequalities? 1&ers? That's a different thing. Oligarchic wealth kills your democracy.

          My problem with this line of reasoning is this: It starts from the premise that we have vast inequality now; then it gets suspicious about the Founding Fathers (I knew it - they were rich guys); then the whole case is cemented based on a few passages from federalist No. 10 where Madison is talking about tyranny of the majority. And then, our Founding Fathers are dismissed and we lose sight of what the fix for this whole problem is.

          However, let's backtrack to the original premise: We have vast inequality now. In fact, we appear to have an oligarchy. Well, I agree that's a constitutional problem. However, it could be that it was designed that way OR it could be that it's just old. If it's just old - and not designed to screw us - could we fix it? Well yes, it turns out we can through constitutional amendment by popular sovereignty. However, we completely lost sight of this because this former argument made us dismiss our Founding Fathers. They knew the constitution would need to be updated and they gave us a mechanism to do it. And we don't know about it because we dismiss the Founding Fathers as elitist.

          What could be less elitist than popular sovereignty. It means the people are the sovereigns. The people have the ultimate control. The people can alter or abolish the constitution - the supreme law of the land - at any time by majority vote. But we have lost this knowledge. We could fix anything we want to, but we have lost this because of arguments like this post. We are the sovereigns; we control the constitution (by simple majority vote); that's what popular sovereignty is, that's what it means.

          •  Dude, "1%" means "1%". (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite, ZhenRen, ImpactAv, Old Sailor

            Madison, Jefferson et al were inarguably among the wealthiest 1% of their countrymen.

            Feel free to repeat yourself, but that won't change a fairly straightforward arithmetical fact.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:19:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know enough to comment (0+ / 0-)

              but what the heck?  Since I don't care about the NJ event...

              Maybe the oligarchic wealth that PlutocracyFiles mentions is really the top 1/10th of 1%.  Maybe most of the founding fathers were just the ordinary rich in the top 1%.

              An old parable: the Indian sees the Eagle above and the Rabbit below.  But the Rabbit sees the Eagle and the Indian as the same.

            •  Well, here's the thing (0+ / 0-)

              I think what matters about the 1% is that they can ruin our democracy. And that takes a special kind of wealth. It takes oligarchic wealth - the kind of wealth that can be leveraged to infect the entire process.

          •  They certainly didn't see themselves as the 1% (0+ / 0-)

            of today see themselves. They may have been literally in the top 1 percent of wealth in the country but they controlled nothing like the percentage of the nation's wealth that the one percent currently control. This seems likely to have influenced their world view.

            I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

            by tgrshark13 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:45:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, they weren't (0+ / 0-)

          The King of England.  The Pope.  The royalty of Europe.  The Capation Kings of France.  They were the 1%.

          Jefferson lived in a house much smaller than your average suburban McMansion of today.  He died broke and in debt, and was indeed, in debt most of his life.  Franklin was a small business man.  Washington was a landowner, but was also a military general.  They were rich in their day, but not royalty-rich.

          And, alone, none of them could change their circumstances with their wealth.  That, to me, is the essence of what the Left now calls the 1%.

      •  The division of wealth was a lot more level (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, Dragon5616, nicteis, offgrid

        Great wealth in the UK was almost entirely in the hands of its aristocracy.  And in a place where land was wealth, the good land was already in the hands of somebody.

        In 1780, very few people in the US had great wealth (by UK standards, someone like John Hancock wouldn't be that impressive) and land was fairly easy to get, if you were a freeman.

        Talking about the founders as "1%" is an anacronism.  We had gentry.  Rich squires, by UK standards.  Industialization would change that, and eventually the US would develop an aristocracy of wealth.  But that process was in its early stages in the UK, and would not become important in the US for decades.

        Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

        by mbayrob on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:22:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The very rich in the US were not like now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gbaked, Dragon5616

        sure there was quite a bit of disparity but the basis for the wealth was limited compared to today and the money in circulation and the value of goods and services was much lower per capita... production of everything was lower and much more of all of it was more local... interstate and international commerce was still substantial but cargoes were much smaller, risks were higher...

        So there were a lot of factors that made being very rich subject to a lot of limiting factors... but of course once wealthy that alone was a huge amount of power and leverage to stay wealthy, change laws and policy to suit your own interests and those of allies and of course increase wealth... but was all on a much more modest dare I say almost quaintly innocent scale... even when completely mercenary amoral people were involved who harmed those they cheated routinely...

        So Madison could not have imagined the .01% and up in today's USA... and the absolute harm they do the the nation and democracy and why unfettered Republicanism is so damaging.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:20:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The union that the Founders envisioned (9+ / 0-)

    was one of an enlightened, educated population of landowners that would make decisions on the behalf of their inferiors.  It's a dangerous and misguided concept.  It assumes that really smart and privileged people will do what's best for everyone instead of what's best for themselves, which is one of the foundational failings of pure communism.  

    the Founders feared the unwashed, uneducated masses, which was the whole purpose of creating the Senate in the first place (elected by state legislators not the people), and given the shameful level of education about civics, politics and public policy in America today they may have been right to have that fear.  Our democracy was never set up to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but that's what it is doing today...

    •  This is not to say, (7+ / 0-)

      and I think that those gentlemen were in error here, that wealth automatically confers intelligence, education and altruism.  Wealth does not preclude these things, nor does poverty prevent them by any means.  They felt that these qualities in a citizen were essential to a democracy, and that these qualities were part and parcel of the landowner.  They were wrong then and now...

      Jussayin...

    •  Not that you are doing this, but many call for a (5+ / 0-)

      'true democracy' rather than a Republic, which has some major pitfalls that I feel are not often addressed. In other words: be careful what you wish for. There are many issues that are supported by a sheer majority, which do not align with progressive principles at all. The easily persuadable electorate through the means of fear and manipulation make them supporters of many questionable liberties, and I myself do not want to see a 'majority rule' unless we can increase the knowledge on issues, and the participation of voters. One without the other is just as dangerous as a republic, where representatives' interests still lie in serving themselves. If we cannot increase the knowledge/participation of the electorate, than a republic is the best thing next to mob rule that there is. True democracy is always called for when people think their views are in the majority but as soon as they find they are not, there would be a LOT of buyers' remorse on the part of progressives, I feel.

      •  I always remind people (5+ / 0-)

        that it was a democracy-a majority vote- that sentenced Socrates to death...i think that is the reason that Plato always had his reservations about democracy and while I don't agree with Plato, I think that I understand him.

        •  It isn't tyranny of the majority I fear (4+ / 0-)

          For I am working class.

          It is tyranny of the majority that the wealthy fear.

          Far more disturbing is tyranny by the wealthy few, which is what we have today, and have had for several centuries of history.

          There is a way to keep the majority from having tyranny without turning our freedom and our wealth over to a small minority constituting the ruling class.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:00:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tyranny of the wealthy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite

            is what was feared in ancient Greece as well.

            People forget that Socrates was supported by the sons of the aristocracy (i.e. Plato).

            and unlike many of the other teachers that were imported to Athens, Socrates was Athenian born and bred, so there was a bit of xenophobia going on as well.

            So there is a real tyranny of the majority to fear.

            they're not mutually exclusive.

            •  As I said (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Old Sailor, bluehammer

              Throughout the last several hundred years, it has been tyranny of the wealthy class that has been the problem. And there are ways to keep the majority from tyrannizing the minority. This is what civil rights are about.

              The answer to the potential of tyranny of the majority is not turning over government to the wealthy, owning class. In fact, a careful read of Madison and his peers reveals they were afraid of the poor forming a faction against the rich. The wealthy class have been the ones primarily selling this idea that we should fear too much democracy, that "mob rule" would prevail.

              There are ways to keep that from happening without insuring the rich are in control.  

              "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

              by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:20:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Could someone give an actual example? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm still trying to think of a true example of a tyranny of the majority - or in modern parlance, a truly democratic regime that was legitimately elected democratically, then became a dictatorship.

            Before anyone suggests, Nazi Germany does not count - the National Socialists never had an absolute majority in Weimar, they were handed power they used to become Nazis.

            I suppose one example would be the Jim Crow South! But that was a subpart of America.

            •  Literally Hitler (0+ / 0-)

              Dispossessing a minority of property in favor of a majority. Hitler was elected - that was a mass movement. And you always see those types of movements in times of austerity - anti-immigrant, religious, racists, etc. That's why we protect minority rights against the "tyranny of the majority." It's a very common thing in history actually. A bigger group screws over a smaller group. That's all tyranny of the majority is.

              •  You're missing the essential details (0+ / 0-)

                Like I said before, the National Socialists never received an absolute majority in any election in Weimar Germany. Through back door deals and the threat of violence on the streets, they got the President of the Weimar Republic to give the Chancellor position to Hitler.

                They certainly had popular support, but they do not quite fit the definition of an elected tyranny - appointed tyranny, yes. I'm talking about the scenario where a government is democratically elected, preferably without extralegal efforts, and then engages in dictatorship.

                I know this has never happened, but it would be interesting in such a scenario if that 'elected dictatorship' was re-elected. Talk about an oxymoron!

            •  The Nazis Had A Plurality... (0+ / 0-)

              ...which is pretty much the same thing in a fragmented multi-party democracy like the Weimar Republic.

              On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

              by stevemb on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:40:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Any time that a civil right is put to a vote (0+ / 0-)

              anywhere.  Unpopular groups are denied full equality by a majority...

    •  Proportion of landowners high. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, IreGyre, Dragon5616, offgrid

      The early Republic also got around the "mischief of faction" via the Northwest Ordinance, which was a double redistribution of wealth.  

      The infamous redistribution, of course, was in swindling or stealing the land from the Native Americans.  

      Then came a socialistic distribution.  The Federal Government got its revenue largely from tariffs on imported goods.  The poor and working-class mostly made their own;  the rich imported and paid the tax.  These moneys were used to either purchase Indian lands west of the Alleghenies, or in military campaigns to drive them off.  The original purchase price in parts of Indiana was $2/acre.  These lands were surveyed (not cheap!) and sold at $1/acre.  Sometimes middlemen took an extra quarter.  

      For Americans who were not enslaved, this meant that owning property was well within reach.  A 40-acre lot would cost $50.00, or 100 days' wages at the time.  
       

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:04:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you were a white male (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Old Sailor

        and not an indentured servant you might be able to acquire property.

        50% of the population were summarily eliminated due to sex, a large percentage because of race, and of course, Indians, from whom we were thieving this "property" of which you speak, were not allowed to be part of this ownership.

        The excluded people were also "Americans," of course. Thus, from the very outset, it was a land of the haves being able to vote, and the have-nots (at least 80% or more) not being able to have a role in government over their own lives.

        Even if every white male had property (not at all the case) it would still have been about 10 or 20% ruling the rest. And of course, merely being able to vote meant little. It was the Washington wealthy establishment who controlled most of the wealth, and they picked the nominees. It was state appointed electors which decided the presidency in the beginning, and state legislatures who selected senators.

        So, the vote had little real power.

        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

        by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:00:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  While it may be dangerous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      montanamarine

      to assume that the wealthy and enlightened elite would do what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole,...there is absolutely NO historical evidence that the masses (re:  mob) will do what is in the best interest of the nation, even for a short period of time.  See examples:

      English Civil War
      French Civil War
      Russian Civil War
      Hitler, popularly elected by Germans in 1933
      China (Mao)
      North Korea 1950's
      Iran in 1979
      Afghanistan after the Soviets left

      ...and so on.  If the US were suddenly overturned and run by mass (Mob) democracy, we'd all be begging for the Oligarchs to rise up and restore order sooner than you think.  Want an example:  Napoleon.

  •  I believe this is flat wrong and dangerously so (12+ / 0-)

    Here's the problem. A republic is a balance of powers. So, the three powers are the police power, the power of wealth and the power of the majority.

    So, you have to consider property from all three of these perspective. From the perspective of the state, we have the Takings Clause. The Takings Clause states that the government cannot take private property for public use without just compensation. So, notice: the right of private property is not absolute in this context. The government can take private property for public use (but not to fill it's coffers), but the citizen must be given just compensation. This is a classic constitutional solution: the legitimate use is allows (private property can be taken for public use, i.e. to build roads), but the illegitimate use is prohibited (private property can not be taken to fill coffers) and the citizen is protected (just compensation requirement). So, THAT is the view of private property from the perspective of our first of three tyrannical powers.

    Now, we can consider the infamous tyranny of the majority argument. This is a lot of what was going on in the Federalist Papers, with all the bad talk about democracy. But this is the source of individual rights in our Constitution - it is the notion that the majority should not be able to oppress a minority. It is true that they were concerned with a wealthy minority following Shay's rebellion. But let's not let charges of elitism cloud our judgment. Tyranny of the majority is a very real possibility and protection of minority rights is important. A majoritarian strategy of dispossessing a minority of "life, liberty or property" is a real threat, especially in the face of persistent economic crisis. Following World War I, the Allies imposed brutal austerity on the Germans. In Economic Consequences of the Peace, Keynes condemned the harsh terms and predicted a second world war. Keynes was correct: Hitler's strategy to end Germany's economic suffering was to dispossess the Jews of their "life, liberty and property" and redistribute the property to the "Aryan" Germans (a strategy that was economically successful). Any time a population faces persistent austerity, there is a danger of mass movements promoting this type of majoritarian apartheid (whether it's racist, anti-immigrant, religious, etc.). That we currently see the rise of these types of parties in Europe is disconcerting, but, I think, predictable.

    So ok, the talk about tyranny of the majority is only our second of three tyrannical forces. The third is the power of wealth. And Jefferson did indeed worry about the power of wealth and wanted to limit inequality. They knew about and did not want to create an oligarchy.

    I do not think one can look seriously at the whole of our founding documents and conclude they intended to create any kind of tyranny. They certainly noticed problems with democracy - and there ARE historical problems with democracy.

    However, this very popular interpretation is not only wrong - it's dangerous. Once one assumes that the Founding Fathers intended to create something nefarious (which I deny), one loses hold of the fact that they gave to the people a method to fairly easily amend the constitution. The constitution is broken. However, it's not broken by design, it's just old. And if we can realize it's not broken by design, we can discover that we have a mechanism to fix it - an easy mechanism, in fact. But no one knows about it precisely because of this dismissal of our Founding Fathers. No need to look at what they say - they were just elitists (which is only true if there were no problems with pure democracy, which there are).

    I just wrote about that mechanism - that gets lost because of arguments like this - here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  Cromwell (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary J, betelgeux

      You don't have to go to the 20th century for an example of majoritarian tyrrany.  You can go back to the 1640s, and the English Civil War.  Which was closer to their time than the US Civil War is to us.

      Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, was a military dictator of England for about a decade.  In form if not in truth, he was a majoritarian leader, appointed by Parliament.

      The founders (and Madison in particular) write about Greek democracy and Roman republicanism.  But bet your sweet bippy, he and other intellectuals of his generation are thinking about the last time the English beat their own king on the battlefield.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:33:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. The sad thing is we have ultimate say. (0+ / 0-)

        We just don't know it. Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered it. But the activist community has no idea. We have the ultimate, final say under the Constitution. We could fix it all.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  Cromwell's Power (0+ / 0-)

        Cromwell was far from being a supporter of rule by the majority. His power ultimately derived from control of the Army. At several points in his career, he closed down institutions which were not serving his purposes (like the purged rump of the Long Parliament and the appointed Parliament with which he replaced it).

        There was a proposal, considered by the Army in the Putney debates, to base the new government on a broad franchise (at least for males). Cromwell and the other senior Generals turned down this radical idea.

        The Commonwealth and Protectorate regimes never really resolved a crisis of legitimacy. Having rejected both the traditional divine right of Kings and the popular sovereignty of the people, the regime rested on too narrow a religious and social base to be stable.

        It is quite doubtful that Cromwell would have won a truly free and fair election, either based on the traditional parliamentary franchises or universal manhood suffrage.

        There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

        by Gary J on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:41:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Note my wording (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gary J

          I said "appointed by Parliament".  I didn't say it was voluntary :-)

          He was "appointed by Parliament" in the same sense that Octavius Caesar was "appointed by the Roman Senate" as the head of the Roman Republic.  Which was, believe it or not, still legally a republic (as it would remain to be for about 300 more years).  And for the same reason:  Oliver Cromwell, like Octavian, was the head of an army that was within shouting distance.

          And yes, you are totally correct, Parliament did not really have a choice in the matter.  But hey, they did vote him in, didn't they?

          Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

          by mbayrob on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:53:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not even a Parliament (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mbayrob

            Cromwell was installed as Lord Protector, the first time, under the terms of a constitution drafted and adopted by the army entirely on its own authority.

            Extract from the BCW Project website.

            The Instrument of Government was a constitutional settlement drafted by Major-General John Lambert during the autumn of 1653 and adopted by the Council of Officers when the Nominated Assembly surrendered its powers to Oliver Cromwell in December. Lambert's original intention had been that the old constitution of King, Lords and Commons should be replaced by one of King, Council and Parliament. In discussion with a few trusted advisers after the abdication of the Nominated Assembly, Cromwell amended the Instrument to avoid reference to the royal title, which was likely to be unacceptable to the Army.

            Under the terms of the Instrument of Government, executive power passed to an elected Lord Protector, in consultation with a Council of State numbering between thirteen and twenty-one members. Cromwell was declared Lord Protector for life, though it was stressed that the office was not hereditary. He was required to call triennial Parliaments consisting of a single House of 400 members from England and 30 each from Scotland and Ireland, to remain in session for at least five months.

            ...

            The Instrument of Government was England's first written constitution. It was adopted by the Council of Officers on 15 December 1653 and Cromwell was installed as Lord Protector the next day. The First Protectorate Parliament duly assembled on 3 September 1654. However, the abrupt termination of Parliament in January 1655 meant that MPs never finished revising the Instrument of Government and so it was never legally endorsed. Doubts regarding its legal authority led to the resignation of the Lord Chief Justice Henry Rolle in June 1655.

            I do not think that we really disagree about the nature of Cromwell's regime.

            There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

            by Gary J on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:41:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope. Revolution that broke bad (0+ / 0-)

              A lot of interesting democratic theory behind the war (~Pym) but Cromwell and the army didn't see things that way.

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:18:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  The wealthy elites (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Berkeley Fred, Old Sailor

      Never respected this "Taking Clause" concept when it applied to the elites, themselves. Laws are mostly written to protect property of the elites from the poor, from whom they take it.

      The Takings Clause states that the government cannot take private property for public use without just compensation.
      This clause doesn't challenge the right to private property, it protects it from government encroachment by requiring just compensation. It is designed to protect wealth. Notice this didn't prevent the war against the Indians for their land, treating humans as property, or the war against Mexico (where we took 1/3 of Mexico), and the taking of property (surplus profit) generated by the working class for the wealthy class. Nor does it prevent using domination of property by the minority ruling class to enslave the working majority. In fact, the police powers are used by the state to enforce property rights. Just look which class has always been incarcerated: the poor.

      The takings clause protects the property owners and protects wealth. But the poor were not protected by this at all.

      The entire constitution protects the power of wealth. That's why one needed to have wealth (land) to be able to vote. That's why the wealthiest man in the colonies was elected the first president. That's why only 6% voted in the first national election.

      And our system does not protect poor minorities. In fact, poor minorities were excluded from the deal from the beginning. And when one combines those poor minorities (Women, people of color, Indians, poor whites without property) we end up with a majority. So they found ways to pit these minorities against each other, lest they combine and become a majority.

      It is easy to determine which majority they feared, and which minority they were really trying to protect by simply looking at which were oppressed by the very laws the founders created.

      The way to guard against tyranny of the majority is not by handing over power to the wealthy class. We can only do this by giving each person a direct voice in managing their own lives (participatory democracy), abolishing wage slavery of the working class, abolishing the tools of wage slavery (private ownership of the means of production), and socializing wealth. A society which balances individual sovereignty with egalitarian participatory communities using direct democracy (libertarian socialism), completely takes away the tools of a tyrannical minority and to some extent a tyrannical majority, since a tyrannical majority would have to override the system which guarantees its own freedoms and prosperity (libertarian socialism) to enslave a minority. Only by creating a society based on mutual aid and equality can we eradicate the tendency for one group to exploit another. Historically, it is profiteering of some at the expense of others that generated inequality, racism, sexism, the hegemony of the wealthy class. Remove the tools of this exploitation from the system, and it removes the inequality, and also this removes much of the motivations which cause ethnic and racial resentment, and sexism, as well as 90% of crime.

      I think what is really underlying some of the arguments in favor of our system is some people want to retain the potential to have significantly greater wealth than others, and thus they want to build this potential into the system. Even if it guarantees a wealthy minority continues to exist (and through that wealth, enslavement of the many), some who despite professing a support for "reform" and "fixing the existing system" really just don't want economic equality if it really means equality. And this leads to the one concept which insures the existence of the wealthy class: private ownership of the means of production. And with this, people can accumulate property (based originally in theft of lands by violence) and by this, they can exploit those who do not own such property. And this builds into the system tyranny of the minority. Abolish private property used in production, and most of the worst forms of tyranny are eliminated.

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:27:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree with your comments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      I was going to post a much more limited comment about how the diary has taken Federalist #10 and drawn conclusions that are at best debatable.

      Your point is well taken - Madison was balancing multiple concerns. Although perhaps a few like Hamilton would have supported the idea of a plutocracy, the majority of the drafters most certainly would not have. Madison certainly would not have.

      Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to www.edwardgtalbot.com and check out New World Orders

      by eparrot on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:28:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. I'm trying to get something out to people (0+ / 0-)

        Namely, that we have the ultimate authority under the constitution and just don't know it. It's very surreal to personally know this and know that no one else does. We could fix it all (should have been all along). But we know so little about our Constitution that we have no idea.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        •  a lot of people know it (0+ / 0-)

          but the reality is that relatively few voters actually vote primarily based on stated preferences. It makes the divide seem worse than it is (though Lord knows there is in fact a real divide)

          Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to www.edwardgtalbot.com and check out New World Orders

          by eparrot on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:11:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. No one knows this (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not talking about elections.

            I'm talking about the fact that we control the constitution. We could have our own election - without the influence of money - and change the constitution. We could make whatever rules we wanted for our election. We could make it absolutely free of corporate influence. And then, we could do whatever we wanted - we could fire the President, we could disband the entire Supreme Court. This says: We are sovereigns. We are the ultimate authority. We can do whatever we want by majority vote and we could set the rules of the election (no money, whatever).

            No one knows this.

    •  The republican principle is sound. However... (0+ / 0-)

      it has to be truly representative of public opinion to have democratic legitimacy. With gerrymandered House Districts, Senate seats representing unequal numbers of residents, and the Electoral College that - not just theoretically - can negate majority rule, and a Supreme Court that can change the outcome as a last resort without any concern for public opinion, it's very difficult to translate public will into effective action.

      •  What's more representative than popular sovereignt (0+ / 0-)

        We are the sovereigns. We control the ultimate law of the land. People just don't know it. Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered this. But the activist community has no idea. Our Founding Fathers gave us an easy way to change the constitution - we could overrule ANYTHING we didn't like. We could limit inequality. We could get money out of politics. We could do anything. And nobody knows. We're just gathering round bashing our Founding Fathers - people who made us sovereigns, in a very real way.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  Respectfully disagree about ease of amendments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      - First, only 17 since the Bill of Rights

      - Between the Bill of Rights and the Civil War, only 2 of minor consequence (11th protected States from federal courts)

      - After the Civil War, 3 seminal amendments - the 14th most of all. Arguably no social progress in America would be constitutionally protected without it. One could also legitimately say the old Constitution died and a brand new one came into being then.

      - The next 4 (16-19) were the most radical and consequential: income tax, direct election of Senators, Prohibition and the women's vote. Three out of four ain't bad!

      - The next 4 (20-23) repealed Prohibition and mostly affect the office of the Presidency (time of taking power, term limits, giving DC an Electoral College vote)

      - The last 4 (24-27), two were nothing to sneeze at (no poll tax, 18 yr olds can vote), but the others are again minor procedural changes (Presidential succession, Congressional pay)

      So the history of amendments since the adoption of the Constitution are that they are extremely infrequent, and generally not that radical, with the exception of the Civil War amendments and a ten year period between 1909 and 1919.

  •  The Founders were not good guys. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melvynny, DeadHead, a2nite, ZhenRen

    They weren't holy or sacred, though myth would have it so.

    Hard to have a government when one-third of your representatives are insane and the other two-thirds have been sold to the highest bidder.

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:25:54 PM PST

    •  perspective (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rikon Snow, METAL TREK, IreGyre, betelgeux

      Truth and beauty are a function of perspective.  For their time, from their lofty position, considering what was the prevalent form of European governments, our founders were qualified liberals.  One would hope they would think differently today.

      Actions speak louder than petitions.

      by melvynny on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:36:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ugh - this argument is so dangerously wrong (9+ / 0-)

      They actually were good guys. And they were trying to set up a government that did not produce any kind of tyranny. Now I agree we have a tyranny, but I do not believe that was by design. My argument is that our Constitution is just a late-18th century pre-industrial document that needs to be updated. The intent was good. And losing sight of that actually causes us to cut ourselves off from what the document WAS trying to accomplish and that it could be quite easily fixed. It is a very foolish to discard our own heritage. I agree it's not working. I agree one possibility is that is was not meant to work. However, there is another possibility: That it's old and broken and needs to be updated. But dismissing the Founding Fathers cuts us off both from understanding how our Constitution works and understanding how to fix it.

      •  I don't disagree. But there is an . . . almost (6+ / 0-)

        biblical . . . attitude toward the founders and their work that is (IMO) very dangerous.

        Hard to have a government when one-third of your representatives are insane and the other two-thirds have been sold to the highest bidder.

        by Rikon Snow on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:52:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh absolutely - this is not a holy text (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rikon Snow, betelgeux

          It is not unalterable. But if the constitution is the problem - and I agree that it is - then we need to fix the constitution. Well, actually, the Founding Fathers gave us a very simple mechanism to do that - constitutional amendment by popular sovereignty. But because they've been dismissed, it was lost to the academic world until recently. And, as far as I know, no one in the activist community knows about it. Why? Our Founders were elitist - so, they're dismissed.

        •  That is the stupidity of today: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rikon Snow, a2nite

          stupid today <> disingenuous yesterday.  You can't blame the founders if we've evolved into a nation of simpletons eschewing science and dreaming about magic.

          And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

          by ban48 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:14:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well actually (0+ / 0-)

            I think the problem is that we were supposed to update the constitution. So, we've kind of dropped the ball. And now it's just old. And we've forgotten what popular sovereignty means. Popular sovereignty means that WE make the rules. We control the supreme law of the land. We can alter or abolish our government at any time, by simple majority vote. But we've lost sight of this. No one knows about it anymore. Constitutional scholars only recently rediscovered it, but it is wholly unknown to the activist community.

            •  Simple majority vote? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Old Sailor, Berkeley Fred


              Actually, amending the Constitution is cumbersome.  An amendment must be passed by two-thirds of each House and then ratified by three-fourths of the States.  

              There is also the mechanism of a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of the states.  It is uncertain whether or not such a convention can be called on just one issue, or if said convention would be open to any and all possible issues.  

              "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

              by Yamaneko2 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:16:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Well, yes, that is what a democracy is. Rule (0+ / 0-)

              of law by vote - and HONORING your vote (which includes paying for what you voted for).  But a vast segment of our population can't get this through their thick skulls, which is why they attribute the constitution to divine intervention, because how else could it have been formed?

              Their stupidity <> founding fathers dis-ingenuity.

              And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

              by ban48 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 08:03:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  It's the modern version of Divine Right of Kings (0+ / 0-)

          You can't say that authority comes from God anymore. But you can say it comes from The Founders.

          •  Ah, but no... the authority comes from the people (0+ / 0-)

            Not the Founders. That's what popular sovereignty is. Authority is derived from the consent of the governed. Which is precisely why we can amend the constitution at any time by simple majority vote.

      •  No people who owned other people were not nice; (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen, Berkeley Fred, Old Sailor

        They were not good people. The Constitution was created for slavery & oppression couched in words of freedom & still has slavery in it. It was written to help evil rich people here have more local rule.

        The entire thing needed to be scraped after the civil war, but evil rich men won again.

        Money, guns & property are more important than people, then & now.

        nosotros no somos estúpidos

        by a2nite on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:18:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know the thing is (0+ / 0-)

          People that understand it and get it know that this is not true. MLK very much grounded his arguments in the language of our Founders. As did Lincoln when he went to war and freed the slaves.

          The foundation of our government is popular sovereignty. It means that we - the people - are the sovereigns. It means we can alter or abolish our government at any time by simple majority vote. We can make any rules we like. We control the supreme law of the land. But we've lost sight of that because of arguments like this. We've cut ourselves off from our own power because of distrust. We are the sovereigns - THAT is the system of government they created. Whatever we don't like, we can change.

          Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered this. But the activist community has NO idea. We could fix it all by simple majority vote and no one knows it because of arguments like this. The structure of our government is that we have the ultimate say. They gave us the ultimate whip in this game. The state and corporations are our servants. What could be more populist than that? They gave us the final and ultimate say. We are the ones dropping the ball; not the Founding Fathers.

          •  They did so out of political necessity (0+ / 0-)

            Lincoln because 40% of the North basically wanted the South to prevail, MLK because if he had used language any more radical, he'd have successfully been branded as a Communist.

            Popular sovereignty is fundamental, but remember what the requirements of constitutional change are: two-thirds of the House (many gerrymandered) and Senate (unequal representation among states). Also need three-fourths of all state legislatures (many also gerrymandered). What change to the Constitution could gather enough support to pass those hurdles?

        •  To be fair, there was some fundamental changes (0+ / 0-)

          Without the outcome of the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments would never have been adopted. I hope people who blithely talk about 'constitutional change' remember that; ratification of these amendments were literally at the barrel of a gun!

          Our problem today is that the requirements for constitutional amendments (2/3 of House and Senate, 3/4 of the states) means that nothing that doesn't have overwhelming popular support can be adopted. In one way that's good, but there are so many changes needed to the Constitution that large minorities will never agree to, we are literally stuck.

          Perhaps things will change in the far future, when fundamental demographic changes lead to new constituencies coming to power. But my guess is that a future democratic majority in power will have to push the text of the Constitution to the breaking point to make any progress towards true equality in American society.

    •  FounderBots everywhere are OUTRAGED. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rikon Snow, rexxnyc

      ;-)




      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:44:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They weren't all the same (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      betelgeux

      John Adams, for example, despite being despised by the British as a revolutionary, was scarcely a democrat. And Jefferson, despite being a propertied man and slaveholder, was later regarded by many as a dangerous radical. They did have real differences and this is why the election of 1800 was so contentious.

  •  different time (5+ / 0-)

    Communication and transportation advances have changed the equation.  Mass media unites and creates factions.  Going back 250 years for truth and justice is stupid--what's in the constitution has no more literal truth attached to it than does Genesis.

    More interesting to me is why Americans have been so docile for so long--or has history ignored acts against the government.  Why weren't slaves terrorists?  Why weren't former slaves violent?  Why haven't the poor been more disruptive?

    The first half of the 20th century with its suffragettes and union organizers was a flowering of what could be.  Reaganism snuffed that out--and the silent worker has seen growth stunted.

    I moved to NC, and am amazed that people fly both the American and Confederate flags.  We are a stupid people if we expect our lords will look out for us.  We really are sheep.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:26:20 PM PST

    •  YES!!! Different time. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melvynny, Chitown Kev

      I have argued that: 1) our Constitution is outdated; and 2) that is could be easily amended, here:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  corporations (0+ / 0-)

        Below, addenda needed to be added to our laws.

        Corporations are people--when they misbehave, their officers need to be jailed.  No individual should be allowed to accumulate an estate worth more than the average yearly income of 1000 people.  Right to work laws are unlibertarian and are thus illegal.  Anyone convicted of harassing, or limiting, voting rights, needs to be incarcerated.  Reagan's name needs to taken off the name of the DC airport!!!

        Actions speak louder than petitions.

        by melvynny on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:56:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I'm of the opinion that we need (0+ / 0-)

          a thorough modernization. The whole thing is just CLEARLY outdated. We actually have a mechanism to do that - constitutional amendment by popular sovereignty. But that mechanism has been lost because the Founding Fathers get dismissed.

    •  Amen. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite
      Going back 250 years for truth and justice is stupid--what's in the constitution has no more literal truth attached to it than does Genesis.

      Hard to have a government when one-third of your representatives are insane and the other two-thirds have been sold to the highest bidder.

      by Rikon Snow on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:57:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the Constitution was not written to (7+ / 0-)

    promote democracy--it was written to prevent it.

    That's why only white male property-owners (less than 10% of the population) were allowed to vote (and even then the Senate and President were not elected by direct vote).

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:34:51 PM PST

  •  Sir Edwin Sandys (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native

    A British Lord, part-founder of the Virginia Company and Progressive of his time set up elections of commoners in Virginia allowed to attend and vote at corporate meetings.
    The Virginia Company went bankrupt, but the House of Burgess was thought to be a nice concept.  Democracy is a pretty word, but vulture capitalism is far more powerful.  The question is how has our Republic lasted so long without the massive looting of the population we just experienced?  We do not owe our Founders total loyalty.  If we respect them we need to stay engaged and modify what they created to suit our times.  After the crash of the 1920's the wealthy were not sainted as they have been by the their captured Tea Party, Republicans, government they captured, media they own and the Supreme Court wrecking great damage on the US.

  •  democracy (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to really be a matter of trust. Can one Arab faction trust another with democracy? Can the citizens trust Republicans or Democrats with democracy? When  a nation has fair and equitable laws enforced without prejudice at least the train is on the right track. Protecting our citizenry and not corporations should be the priority of good government.

    •  democracy (like socialism) thrives on homogeneity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, myrmecia gulosa

      In a homogeneous society, everyone - or at least all freeborn men - "belong" and therefore is entitled to an equal or at least minimum share in the tribe's wealth and product, as well as a say in matters that affect the whole tribe: war, alliance, trade, etc.

      When distinct groups - with different identities and therefore presumably different agendas - emerge, politics rapidly degenerates to a simple struggle for power and economics changes from a model of sharing between people who rely upon each other to one of hoarding and defending resources: combining into "'They' cannot be allowed to take from 'us'!"

      Size also plays a role, in that large systems become more stable the more hierarchical they become ... while diverse systems become more stable the more clearly one group dominates all the others.  The dominant group need not force assimilation (in fact it'd be better if they didn't, especially the bigger and/or more diverse their empire gets), but they have the right to require it as the price of upward mobility, ensuring homogeneity at least among the only group that really matters.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:02:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Founding Fathers were relying totally on history (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, native

    Democracy and republicanism was virgin soil in the late 18th Century.  Ironically, the Founding Fathers were all looking back at the Greco-Roman world to chart a course for the new country, and their beliefs and agenda were totally shaped by that.

    They all knew the stories of the Roman civil wars between powerful patricians who financed their own armies - all Rome's armies were privately funded by the super-rich - to fight for their right to rule Rome: Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, etc.  They all knew the stories of the Roman mob - ignorant and endlessly demanding - who like little children would rally and brawl in support of whoever would fund the most "bread and circuses".  They all knew the stories of the Byzantine Greens and Blues who started as merely bitterly hostile clubs of chariot racing fans but grew into religious and political factions: the divide between which stretched from the ghetto to the Imperial Palace.  They all knew the slightly more recent stories of medieval peasant uprisings: great masses of humanity as aimless as they were indiscriminate in their violence ... with medieval aristocrats being no better, driving constant warfare and intrigue over which family would rule the same old stagnant and oppressive order.

    What the Founders called "factions" they thought would be more like Gangs of New York than political parties - with any stated agenda a distant second to chants and colors and fighting the other guys on the cobblestone streets of Boston and New York because they're there - all ultimately driven by the private interests of a handful of wealthy men whose only real desire is power for its own sake.

    Of course, they - like the Classical scholars they read - also thought democracy would only amplify these tendencies by bringing the great mass of the people into play: the territory to be fought over as well as the armies to do the fighting.  Better to keep the vote in the hands of the elite.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 12:43:21 PM PST

    •  No, I disagree (4+ / 0-)

      They were looking at Athens and Greece, but not through history as much as philosophy. The big influences were Aristotle, Montisque and Machiavlli. The theory of the government was republicanism.

      The theory is that there are three tyrannical forces: the police power, the power of wealth and the power of the majority. The idea is to balance government in a way that none of these tyrannical forces overwhelms the Republic.

      People look at their talk of majority and just freak out. But there are problems with the majority and minority rights are important. You have to look at every issue from all three perspectives. Constitutions are machines that are trying to prevent tyranny.

      We do now have a tyranny (a civil oligarchy to be precise). But it wasn't by design; the constitution is just a pre-industrial document that needs to be modernized to accomplish its purpose.

    •  The English Civil War (0+ / 0-)

      Democracy had a bad rap pretty much continuously once Phillip of Macedonia conquerted the Greek city states and put an end to it in Greece.

      But you don't need to go that far back.  All kinds of ideas were popping up in England during the civil war some 160 years before.  Including communist ideas and hostility to wealth and to authority of all kinds.  From Madison's point of view, bad things.  And top it off, the religious fanatics won (again, from his point of view) and established a dictatorship in the name of Parliament.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:41:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't read this the same way you present it. (7+ / 0-)

    Look at this quote:

    There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
    It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
    He is basically saying you can't have liberty without freedom to disagree.  He seems to be saying the that the proposed system would allow people to disagree and form factions, but not allow anarchy.  Do you really want absolute rule of 50%+1?

    And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

    by ban48 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:07:07 PM PST

  •  Citizens United magnifies inherent divisiveness (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yosef 52, a2nite, Musial

    I could be wrong but I see Madison's scheme (and the rationale for it) as the recognition of divisiveness, not the cause of it. The "republic" approach as against pure democracy was supposed to help protect individual liberty from being trampled by majority preferences (and whims), while at the same time allowing for majority views to also be factored in.

    The divisiveness is inherent; Mississippi and Washington State are, culturally, as if separate nations, as reflected in their political outcomes, and that is not caused by Madison. Where the problem lies, however, is, in my view, Citizens' United and other legislation that allows for the wealthiest citizens and corporations to be more influential than they should have been. Madison explicitly expressed concern about this possibility in Federalist 10; too bad it came to pass anyway.

    Ginny Mayer, Ph.D. Democrat CA State Senate Candidate - SD-35 (Orange County)

    by Ginny Mayer on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:11:41 PM PST

    •  Citizens United removes divisiveness (0+ / 0-)

      among the elites, or confines it within a very narrow range, requiring that electoral offices are purchased from the oligarchy. Madison gave Congress ample powers to defeat a Court-created oligarchy, certainly in the exceptions clause as a last resort, also in the guarantee clause. The belief that there is something wrong with the constitution follows from the fallacy that the Court has the last word on what's in it. Lincoln's response to Dred Scott, what started the civil war, shows otherwise, that if a republican democracy can be defeated by a Court, then it is already an oligarchy. Where we're at now. An obsession with the constitution is misguided unless to defend it against the Court.

  •  Methinks you mistake Madison's class. (0+ / 0-)

    I do not think he would have been terribly happy with the particular plutocracy we've got.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:18:39 PM PST

  •  A direct democracy, one in which every citizen (0+ / 0-)

    has a vote on every issue, would be an utter catastrophe in a nation of this size, diversity, and social complexity. Madison understood that and therefore, as he so convincingly argued in Federalist #10, a republic was the only rational choice for our nation's government.

    Can you imagine--can you imagine--the average person voting directly on treaties, complex tax bills, infrastructure legislation, and other mattes that require specialized knowledge? The solution for our wounded republican form of government is REFORM, not ABOLITION. If you think American society is torn by political controversy now, just wait until it becomes a "true" democracy. Only in a republic can the divisive tendencies of human society be controlled while individual freedom is protected.

    Heck, if I had my way, I'd abolish the referendum system in California, which has inflicted such damage on that state.

    There's a reason that no nation-state on the planet is a direct democracy. (Are the Scandinavian countries not free?) Even 5th century BCE Athens wasn't really one, and that's as close as one gets to an example. Direct democracy would be chaos and anarchy. It would be a formula for the collapse of the United States. Madison, in his brilliance, understood this. And I am grateful that he did.

    Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

    by Yosef 52 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:18:41 PM PST

  •  What is property? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpecialKinFlag
    The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results
    Madison says the protection of the "faculties of men" is the first object of government. He then immediately qualifies this by talking about the protection of "different and unequal faculties of acquiring property." He later specifically calls out "A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property" as improper or wicked, and implies these are "sinister views."

    But what is 'property'? What is it that gives some tangible or intangible things the quality of being ownable? I know we can make lists of property: money, real estate, buildings, patents, clothing, household goods, furniture, the stuff we carry around in our purses or pockets. But what is the essence of these things that causes them to be property and other things to not be property?

    Madison is correct: the unequal facility people have for acquiring property results in a class of 'haves' and 'have nots' (and Dubya's Base class of 'have mores'), and this leads to different class-based views and hence to factions.

    But perhaps the key to dealing with property, and all it's attendant ills and benefits, might lie in discovering what, exactly, we are talking about.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:23:13 PM PST

    •  Property = something law says you own (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco

      Property law says what your rights and responsibilities are to the thing that you own. It only make sense in the context of a functional legal system; if you live alone on a large island, you 'own' everything that you can physically keep in your possession. And as we all know, there is no such thing as absolute or unlimited rights:

      - Some things cannot be owned: people after the 13th Amendment; things like mathematical equations cannot be copyrighted.

      - Even things you create, may not necessarily be yours: if you work at a university lab and invent something, your employment contract may say you agree to turn over copyright to all inventions to the university.

      - Some property cannot be sold: body parts (with certain exceptions)

      - Property is alienable - i.e., you can transfer the legal rights and responsibilities you have in something to someone else - but in some instances, you cannot use the law to enforce restrictions you place on property. For example, you can transfer property to your children after you die by will. But if your will says it cannot be transferred if they marry a black person, or change religion, such a provision would be considered against public policy, and will not be enforced.

      - Even if you own it, it can be taken away you for public purposes (eminent domain).

      The Constitution appears to give very strong protection to property rights. But that's the difference between law and politics - property rights are strongly protected in the text of the Constitution. In the real political word, those protections are words on paper, only as effective as politicians are willing to abide by.

      Hence the design of the Constitution: doubly protecting property rights by both enshrining it in the text, and by reducing the likelihood that politicians who would not favor property rights get elected.

  •  And probably the worst part is, those beliefs (0+ / 0-)

    and notions are only being reinforced, making it much harder to bring down.

  •  I have read and studied Federalist #10 (5+ / 0-)

    and many of the other essays contained in the Papers as well as a number of treatises and historical accounts.  I must conclude however that I have read few reviews or comments that convey a deeper misunderstanding of Madison and the Constitution than the above posting.

    •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spock36

      Recognizing that factions are inevitable and must be addressed is a long way from supporting a plutocracy as the diarist suggests.

      Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to www.edwardgtalbot.com and check out New World Orders

      by eparrot on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:30:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The dead hand legal doctrine applies. (0+ / 0-)

    The constitution was a brilliant advance from the articles of confederation but the political constraints of the time were paramount in its construction.

    We face a time where executive power and the rich, two of the three most powerful forces, are allied. If the third power, organized people powerful enough to scare the executive branch and angry enough not to be bought off by the rich, cannot place limits on the other two, we are truly in trouble.

    The canaries have been dying for quite awhile. It might be time to air out the mine. Let us hope that the air is freshened by protest and election, not bullet and guillotine.

    Yes, I'm the real Lia Whirlwind. Do you hear anybody else screaming?

    by Lia Whirlwind on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:48:19 PM PST

  •  Good diary, thanks. nt (0+ / 0-)

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:51:58 PM PST

  •  This is a fair assessment of the kind of thought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    that prevailed among most of the men who originally designed this government. However....

    I would also offer a cautionary reminder of Madison's introduction of the subsequent 10 amendments to the Constitution to be ratified - first conceived by George Mason in 1776 as The Virginia Bill of Rights, at the insistence of his friend, Thomas Jefferson. Some of the more forward-thinking players of the time must have realized that in order to survive as a democratic republic, certain components of their original vision for a governmet would out of necessity have to adjust to suit the future needs, aspirations and visions of the country. Neocons still insist that everything prior to 1793 is sancrosanct and not available for change - unless, of course, it involves firearms (the ongoing argument over an individual's "right" to own weapons of mass destruction), abortion (never addressed in the Constitution and therefore open season on women) or the forced insertion of religion in political decisions in direct conflict with Article 6, Section 3.

    One would think that after 300 years, ancient notions of entitlement and prejudice would have died. Damn... that nasty human nature thing trumps reason again.

    •  We have ultimate power under the constitution. (0+ / 0-)

      But no on knows it. Constitutional scholars have only recently rediscovered it. I promise, we do.

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  I think that using contemporary parlance, (0+ / 0-)

        one could consider the notion that the founders left an "easter egg" in the constitution....

        I read the review as suggested in your link - and was immediately reminded of the time 4 decades ago when I was just starting out as a field engineer. I'd just finished product technical training and I went out to my first service call, proud, stoked and determined to apply all that new-found training and impress the hell out of everyone with my troubleshooting skills and technical acumen.

        So after replacing the suspected failed components, I fired up the machine and it continued to malfunction - this time, in a different way in a different place. I broke out my FIP sheet (fault isolation procedure) to double-check my work and all seemed in order. After 90 minutes of trying to resolve the issue, the customer was becoming annoyed with me and so I reluctantly called the senior tech on the team who was nearby to help me understand what was wrong.

        After he arrived, he started up the machine and it proceeded to do the same exact thing as before. He opened it up and complemented me on how well I'd cleaned it and adjusted some of the components I'd replaced. Then he opened the assembly where the fault was occurring. He took one look at it, removed the part I'd replaced as a matter of recommended routine earlier that day and flipped it over. He buttoned up the machine, started it up and it functioned perfectly.

        As he left the room, he muttered something about the company needing technicians, not janitors...

        •  Ha-yes exactly-the Constitution has an Easter Egg (0+ / 0-)

          And no one knows it. It's basically our Founding Father's killing tyrants from the grave.

          The thing is.... we were supposed to update it all along. So, it was our fault (it's ALL our fault). We are sovereigns. We control the government; the government does not control us. We can overrule anything that happens that we don't like by majority vote. And nobody knows (a lot because of posts like this tbh).

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Because we're not a Democracy? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill

    This is why everyone should take history classes at a college level for at least four semesters.

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/

    by DAISHI on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:02:06 PM PST

  •  You've Got To Bear In Mind... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill

    ...what "democracy" means.  And to do that, you've got to read some of the inspriational documents for the founders, particularly Plato and Thucydides for their descriptions of the actions of the Athenian democracy during and following the Peloponnesian War.  That was a true democracy: votes of assembled citizens carried the day: and the democracy was manipulated to some very disgusting, French Revolution-style, actions.  That is the type of pure democracy that the founders wanted to avoid.

    To a certain extent, yes, Madison and other founders assumed that the members of government would be educated and have some wealth--owning property was a condition for voting, after all--so perhaps the modern concept of universal enfranchisement of adults and widespread education would strike them as revolutionary.  But I actually think those things are beside the point.

    The point is, Madison wanted to create a government which would resist easy, and frequently fatal, manipulation by one or a few--hence the inefficient division of powers between branches, and bicameral legislature, we have now.  Too great efficiency is capable of great evil, immediately and without recourse.

    But Madison was sensitive to the issue of income disparity.  When speaking of factions, he points directly to it: "But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property...The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

    He proceeds through a course of reasoning for why a republic is more useful for a large territory than a small, and writes: "The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States."  Clearly Madison didn't foresee the coordinated fundraising and publicity campaigns of today.  I do wonder if he would side against the disastrous Citizens United verdict which has enabled a small faction to dupe, if not a majority, or not even a plurality, at least a sizeable minority of citizens, enough to impede the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

  •  Libertarian fear of (and contempt for) democracy (0+ / 0-)

    is an old theme. Have been watching Fall of Eagles on youtube, a historical docudrama (genre?) of the end of the European empires - Austria-Hungary - the Hapsburgs, Prussia - Hohenzollern, and Russia - the Romanovs. Fascinating. The term 'liberal' was spoken consistemtly with contempt - despicable people, aristocrats who had democratic sympathies and empathy for the suffering of the common people. Queen Victoria and her family were on the liberal edge - they were already compromised by a parliament. Kaiser Wilhelm's wife was her daughter. She was isolated and neutralized for her  politics. (forgive me if my history isn't true to fact.)

    And it has been clear to me for a while that the 1%ers don't want some public consensus (us, elections) telling them how to make and spend their money. That's why the Kochs are waging political war against our demcracy. They're Libertarian. Democratic government has its roots in restraining wealth and autocratic power, and they hate it.

    Then the other day I tuned in to WFMU on a ride home from NYC, and caught Dave Emory inveighing on just that subject. He was connecting the Economist Friedrich Hayek -  a sage of the rightwing, the Ludwig von Mises Instute, a German philosopher named Hans-Herman Hoffe, all intellectual beacons of the Libertarians, plus the money shelter principality of Liechtenstein (Hapsburg?), and then threw in a speech Adolph Hitler gave to a group of 600 industrialists in Dusseldorf early in '32 on the same theme: democracy is anti-capitalist and leads to socialism and anarchy.

    Dave quoted heavily from a DownEastDem 2010 kos diary: Anarcho-fascism-the-libertarian-endgame [actually this series of Emory's "For the Record" programs is about Edward Snowden and Wikileaks  -  I'm not sure I want to hear it  - they're all in the WFMU archives if you do]

    May all be CT BS, but it makes too much sense.

  •  This diary cannot be condemned strongly enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spock36, NotGeorgeWill

    But at least it is an excellent example of how otherwise very well-intentioned people are repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, the knee, and even the head.

    First, at the level of practical politics - casting a blanket condemnation on the founders is going to attract what percentage of voters?

    Second, as commenters have noted above, it is not very smart to cut yourself off from understanding the roots of our government with a blanket condemnation.

    And "understanding" is key here. Supposedly we like nuance and historical context. Well, there is NONE here in the argument that the founders were out to protect only the interests of the rich, and shaft everyone else.

    For example, what exactly is meant by a "republic"? or by "democracy"? Lest we forget (and that seems to be the intent of this diary), in the 18th century, the foremost example of a democracy was ancient Athens. Athens - which had sentences Socrates to death. And which had been soundly beaten in not one, but two, wars by another ancient democracy, Sparta. And Sparta was not that much prettier to look at through the mists of history.

    By now, some three centuries later, the understanding and idea of democracy has shifted quite a bit.

    The founding of the US republic is quite extraordinary in world history. Yes, it was seriously flawed from the very beginning, with its slavery, and exclusion of women and the property-less. But the debate over the Constitution was the most intensive and sustained public inquiry into the principles, methods, practices - and practicality - of self-government in all of human history. I do not believe that there has been widespread inquiry and debate into the fundamental principles of government in the nearly three centuries since.

    And the school of thought behind this diary is entirely erroneous in its failure to understand what a radical shift the American Revolution and American Constitution effected in human affairs, and human relations. I think Joseph Ellis is absolutely correct - and is moreover making a very fundamentally important point - that in the oligarchical societies of Europe up until that time, Benjamin Franklin would never have become more than a local printer; Sam Adams would never have become more than a brewer; and Alexander Hamilton would never have overcome his roots as a bastard. The creation of the United States threw open the doors of opportunity to many, many more men than just oligarchs. And, in time, those doors would open far, far wider, to become all inclusive. I don't think you can make that observation of any other society if the American Revolution had not occurred.

    This school of thought is especially crippled by its failure to
    understand that the idea of capitalism was not fully formed until the middle of the nineteenth century. Karl Marx did the most to establish the modern usage of the word "capitalism." So, it is historically incorrect to assert that the United States was established as a capitalist economy. I have been arguing that a study of the classical republican theories on which the US was founded provides the broad outlines of the intended political economy of the United States. Outlining these precepts will help put individual citizens back in control of economic policies and processes.

    For example, corporate charters were originally written with very narrow and specific particulars as to the economic activity to be undertaken, and how that activity was to further the general welfare. It was not unusual for corporate charters to be revoked if a corporation failed to meet these particulars.

    The general thrust of what I am arguing is perhaps best expressed by noting that the three greatest threats to a republic were understood to be 1) a large military, 2) mob passions and 3) the rich. I place emphasis  on that last. And further note, that mob passions are often deliberately aroused and directed by the rich to achieve their own purposes - such as the bankrolling of the Tea Party in our own time. Remember the disruptions of local town halls in the initial reactions against "Obamacare" and the Obama presidency in general?

    Since the concept of capitalism antedates the establishment of the US republic, we should examine the historical development of capitalism with an eye toward the actions and intents of those who have never reconciled themselves to the American experiment in self-government. I suggest it will prove to be highly instructive to ask what cultural norms and ideological beliefs accompanied the infusion of funds from the City of London, which played so large a role in financing the early American economy. Indeed, one of the reasons Jefferson so adamantly opposed Hamilton was that Jefferson feared Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury was copying too closely the English system of finance and central banking, and creating a concentration of economic power that would eventually engulf the republic.

    The question then becomes: what did the people who clung to a desire for a feudalistic ordering of society economy do after the American Revolution? Not just in North America, but feudalists (or perhaps more accurately, anti-republicans) in Europe, do after the American Revolution? Certainly, they did not simply pick up their ball and go home. So, what did they do to put their own imprint on the subsequent development of the US economy and polity? To what extent did their actions bend that development away from lines that would have been more republican?

    In various city-state republics in Renaissance Italy, such as Sienna and Florence, there were laws which explicitly limited the height to which anyone could build their castles, towers, parapets, etc. The purpose of these laws was to make sure the rich could not render themselves completely safe from the anger of any mobs, and thereby ensure that the threat of a citizen uprising would be a check on the behavior of the rich.

    So, in the classical theory of republicanism, the rich were understood to be a threat to the survival of the republic, and appropriate laws were enacted. This was echoed in the early days of the American republic. So, my interpretation of The Federalist Number 10, is radically different. I would emphasize that, "The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation..." including most especially regulation of the rich.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:05:56 PM PST

    •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Berkeley Fred
      So, in the classical theory of republicanism, the rich were understood to be a threat to the survival of the republic, and appropriate laws were enacted. This was echoed in the early days of the American republic.
      All one need do is examine the laws originally embodied in the Constitution by this Republic to understand just who was intended to be in control, and who was excluded, and which "mob" was feared (hint, it wasn't the rich). And while we're at it, all one need do is look at behavior of those in government towards taking of land, even people, as property, from Indians, Blacks, and the Mexican State.

      It was the bourgeoisie who wanted freedom from the monarchies who created republics, and what was desired was a shift of power from the monarchs to the bourgeois ruling class. And that is why all but the bourgeoisie were barred from a place at the table.

      In almost every utterance, Madison spoke of his fear of "factions" threatening "property rights".

      A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual.  Hence it is that such 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.
      Never mind how that "property" was obtained or for that matter, how most "property" is obtained.

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:31:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ZhenRen - you really need to check this out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        I'm a constitutional lawyer. Constitutional scholars have only recently rediscovered this. We have the ultimate authority. We control the constitution and can alter or abolish it at any time by simple majority vote. And nobody in the activist community knows.

      •  Was the problem the rich, or the bourgeoisie? (0+ / 0-)

        And how do you explain that so many commoners in the United States were able to acquire property? And how do you explain the great attraction the United States had for immigrants? If the founders set about to create a system that benefited only the rich - or even just the bourgeoisie (and you're going to have to define that)  - seems to me they ended up doing a pretty poor job of it lots of the time.

        You want to replace the present system? Fine, so do I, But, what do you want to replace it with?

        I believe it is a serious mistake to condemn the entire legacy of the American Revolution and Constitution. I believe they gave mankind something it did not have before - a successful model for self-government by ALL people. There is no doubt that this was almost always an ideal, not the reality. But it was a very powerful ideal, and as an ideal, it still has great power today. Is there an alternative ideal you believe is better?

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:19:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Be careful not to overcredit America's legacy (0+ / 0-)

          The American Revolution was a colonial revolt, where local elites managed to force the mother country (which was far away) to give up their control. In my opinion the French Revolution was much more consequential, in no small part due to its radicalism and the fundamental changes it made to a long-existing society. Even today the spectre of what happened to Louis XVI still reverberates in the back minds of the elite, perhaps even more since the French Revolution's more dangerous progeny, communism, has passed on.

          And yes, the American Constitution was a marvel of political engineering. But the truth is, the carefully constructed compromises of its provisions failed to solve the fundamental issue of how to handle slavery. Slave states and free states mattered because of their importance in the Senate, and the Electoral College. We fought a devastating civil war over an issue no other imperial power at the time had any problem dispatching. When 40% of your country cannot accept the results of an election, and fights a war to be free of you, your political system and Constitution have failed catastrophically.

          Then the North won, and the Union was made whole. No one today regrets the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, but let's not forget, they were not adopted by the former states of the Confederacy of their own free will. All changes to the Constitution since have paled in comparison, though to our credit the income tax, direct election of Senators, and giving women the franchise represented a genuine progressive evolution of our Constitution.

          Now the Constitution protects and promotes private property, and it can't be denied that there has been a lot of opportunity for individuals to create wealth - initially by displacing the few preexisting natives and taking control of the natural resources without worrying about compensation. But today's 1% is a far cry from the nation of yeomans and farmers Jefferson envisioned. A Constitution that limits government power to prevent takings of private property, is now relatively ineffective in resisting the power of massive economic oligarchs and finance capital with global reaches.

          The American Constitution was a great thing when it was created, flaws and all. But as a model for contemporary democracy, as you know no other nation uses it, because it is fundamentally flawed. For one thing, the Presidency is arguably too powerful. If we were starting from scratch, I would have a parliamentary system.

      •  Historical context matters . . . (0+ / 0-)

        The Constitution expanded the franchise in a way that was more inclusive than anything that proceeded it on the same scale -- e.g. a nation of about 4 million covering 120,000 square miles around the date of ratification with more than one tenth of the population eligible to vote.  

        Property qualifications started to disappear within about a generation of the passage of the Constitution.  The Constitution itself did not codify a property qualification -- this is significant.

        Also the idea of "property" as we might understand it is not the same in 2014 as it was in 1787 and the way that a number of these framers reasoned -- from first principles -- isn't really that common for us either.  "Property" gets a lot of attention because it is viewed as a fundamental building block of civil society.  

        e.g. the property of the person -- not personal property separate from the person, but the body itself from which other forms of ownership extend.  

        This was part of the reason that there was so much effort to define women and racial minorities as not having the fundamental property right -- because once that was acknowledge, the consequences of that understanding also followed.  

        Even then a person is still working within the framework of a system of private ownership, which begins with the person.

    •  Since when was Sparta a democracy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NotGeorgeWill

      They were an oligarchy ruled by hereditary kings.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:30:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sparta was a mix, with the legislature democratic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NotGeorgeWill

        From Aristotle's The Politics:

        The Lacedaemonian [Spartan] constitution is defective in another point; I mean the Ephoralty. This magistracy has authority in the highest matters, but the Ephors are chosen from the whole people, and so the office is apt to fall into the hands of very poor men, who, being badly off, are open to bribes. (Emphasis mine).
            -

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:57:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The past is a foreign country. (2+ / 0-)

    This diary is an inappropriate and out of context interpretation of Madison's (and most of the Framer's) views. These documents must be judged in their own time and context, not ours in modern day.

  •  Of course and what's more (0+ / 0-)

    We need to tear up the Constitution so that our Dear Leader can rule as a god.

  •  No. Turns out we're to blame. (0+ / 0-)

    Founding Fathers gave us ultimate control of the constitution. But... we didn't know it and totally dropped the ball. Constitutional scholars have recently rediscovered popular sovereignty, but activist community has no idea.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Evil Men Can Make Anything Rotten (0+ / 0-)

    Poor Jesus, what religion and so called "Christians" have done to you.

  •  If the founders wanted to keep the poor down, (0+ / 0-)

    why did people like Thomas Jefferson support public education.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    And Jefferson didn't support it nearly as stridently or strongly as many other founders such as Benjamin Rush and John Adams.

  •  You are just wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill, AaronInSanDiego

    You fail to understand The Federalist No. 10.  Madison is arguing for a strong Federal Government--hence the name, The Federalist.  More specifically, he is actually arguing that it is a good way to control plutocrats.  
    The Federalist No. 10 was published in 1787 during the time before the Articles of Confederation, which took effect in 1781, were supplanted by ratification of the United States Constitution in 1789.  It is well known that the purpose of the Federalist essays was to advocate for ratification of the Constitution (Link1; Link 2).

    The Articles of Confederation purposely created a weak Federal Government, which quickly became unworkable, and led to things like Shay's Rebellion, which is likely one of the things Madison had in mind when he talks about faction.  Link 3.  The Constitution we have today was written--in great part by Madison--to try and remedy that weakness.  Link 4.

    When Madison says

    But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society
    he might as well be talking about the Koch brothers.  And what Madison goes on to say could be describing modern DC politics:
    The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.
    Madison talks about containing those interests through a form of representative government:
    To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed.
    Madison may well have been a slave-owning aristocrat whose sympathies might well in modern times run towards the plutocrats.  But the Federalist No. 10 provides absolutely no evidence in support of that proposition.
  •  factions more like parliamentary parties (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego

    I disagree with the analogy that Madison's factions would be the equivalent of the NRA or the Sierra Club, e.g. interest groups, he's more referring (more) to the equivalent of parliamentary parties, which by the nature of our system we've really only (mostly) had to deal with two, but even that doesn't really adequately correspond to his arguments, which obviously came early in democratic history and such referred to organizational dynamics persisting from authoritarian eras as well (if not more).

    free the information

    by freelixir on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:57:44 PM PST

    •  post super bowl (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego

      not sure that came out right, mixing thoughts there, but madison was dealing with a different time, more educated audience then (philosophically, in terms of understanding the heritage of why we were doing then what we were doing, which would be hard to imagine now, in context, since higher education now has become mostly utilitarian, to its detriment, and we are no longer culturally struggling for actualization, we are suffering the result of it)

      free the information

      by freelixir on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:14:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We Needn't Live For the Dead ... (0+ / 0-)

    We can cite the Founding Fathers, but they aren't religious figures.  They weren't supernatural.  They lived in a time that has absolutely nothing to do with us.  The Founding Father's way of life is as dead as they are.  There is no purpose in resurrecting their ideas if they don't benefit us, and, obviously, Federalist #10 doesn't benefit the vast majority of us and, therefore, should be consigned to history's shredder.  It isn't a crime.  It isn't affront. And, I Promise, The Founding Fathers could careless ....

    They.Are.Dead.

    We must do what is best for ourselves, families, friends, coworkers, and communities ... we have no obligation to James Madison.

  •  Great diary topic . . . (0+ / 0-)

    but as others have highlighted, this is a pretty obtuse reading of Federalist 10.

    It is absolutely critical to read historical documents in context -- at least if the end game is to understand what is actually meant.

    If you want to understand the meaning of "faction" as used by Madison, it helps to have some familiarity with Machiavelli, and Hume (a decent secondary source).  If you want to understand the meaning of "property" you need to have some understand of the term as defined by Locke.

    The way that I read Madison is that his commentary is as much descriptive as it is prescriptive.  It is not a defense of oligarchy, but as others have pointed out -- a defense of federalism.

    A person can think of "faction" as "minority" and "minority" as we might use the term, but that is way too reductive.  When I think "faction" I think of a regional faction that imposed a system of slavery and segregation with the tacit and sometimes active support from the federal government.  In the end were these systems ended by the states' themselves, or as Madison anticipated, did the change come about because a critical mass outside of those states pushed to protect individual rights inside those states?  This is part of the light in which a person should read Federalist 10.

    Also note that he talks about the rights of creditors and debtors.  An oligarch wouldn't trouble himself with the notion that there is such a thing as creditors rights.  Keep in mind as well this is the author of the original 14th amendment -- which was not included in the original Bill of Rights due to slave state objections.  Part of the context too is that the U.S. was one of the first nation's to end things like debtors prisons -- this started happening within the first generation after the enactment of the Constitution.  It is hard to appreciate just how radical this outcome was in those times when debtors prisons were the norm.  

  •  "Factions" were more akin to political parties (0+ / 0-)

    than interest groups focused on a single or a set of related issues.

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:00:18 AM PST

  •  I use "Constitutional purity" as a way to get out (0+ / 0-)

    of tedious arguments.

    I was pigeon-holed at a party once by a blow-hard libertarian who was really a Republican operative just trying to stay relevant in the pundit class.  

    "I'm a Constitutional purist!" he declared.

    "But the Constitution sets forth a process for amendment," I countered.

    "Only in the most rarest of circumstances," he barked.

    "Well, you've got to admit, it doesn't happen very often," I said."

    "I would have stopped with the Bill of Rights.  That's all you need, " he said.

    "That's great!" I replied.  No need to continue this meaningless discussion with you because you would not have granted me suffrage," I said, walking away.

  •  Lost in translation (0+ / 0-)

     Some words don't necessarily have the same meaning today as they did 230 years ago, especially when they're taken out of context from everything else that was going on back then.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:30:18 PM PST

  •  Even the Greeks who have been called the founders (0+ / 0-)

    Of Democracy, didn't believe in total democracy, they felt it was rule of the masses, which they saw as a negative aspect.

  •  This is an old diary and no one will read this com (0+ / 0-)

    comment but your fundamental premise is wrong.

    This article (and the book it reviews) has many statements by the founding fathers showing they were against the accumulation of power by moneyed interests.  For example, see Madison:

    James Madison, the Constitution's main author, described inequality as an evil, saying government should prevent "an immoderate, and especially unmerited, accumulation of riches." He favored "the silent operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigents towards a state of comfort."

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 09:09:36 AM PST

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