Friday, April 21, 2006

The Federalist

I can't believe it, for fun I actually bought and am reading the Federalist Papers. If you know your history you know that the Federalist Papers were really just an adverting campaign promoting the then new Constitution. I kind of always took for granted (I was so lazy in school) that the Constitution has always just been there but back in the 1780s, the states, all 13 of them, particularly New York, were scared to death of the Constitution. They were afraid that the freedoms that they had fought and died for were going to be taken away by the new Constitution. Along comes John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison who under the pseudonym "Publius" start a barrage of letter writing to sway public opinion and eventually ratify the Constitution. Above and beyond the respected statesmen of the day, these three men's philosophical legacy has stood the test of time for over 200 years and could not be more relevant today then ever.

I'm only into Federalist Paper #6, but let me lay some passages on you that I find truly remarkable. Think about each and how they could apply today;

"For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."

Proselytes meaning converts (I had to look that up).

"The pride of states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify all their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting, or repairing their errors and offenses. The national government, in such cases, will not be affected by this pride, but will proceed with moderation and candor to consider and decide on the means most proper to extricate them from the difficulties which threaten them. "

How genius is that? The pride of men will not let them think rationally or change their opinion. John Jay was brilliant.

More John Jay (they being foreign governments);

"If they see that our national government is efficient and well administered, our trade prudently regulated, our militia properly organized and disciplined, our resources and finances discreetly managed, our credit re-established, our people free, contented, and united, they will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment. If, on the other hand, they find us either destitute of an effectual government, or split into three or four independent and probably discordant republics or confederacies, what a poor, pitiful figure will America make in their eyes! How liable would she become not only to their contempt but to their outrage, and how soon would dear-bought experience proclaim that when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves. "

Are we not a nation split over what to do about evil in the world? Is the divide in our country over the war not relevant to what Jay is saying?

Even more John Jay;

"Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers"

Can I get an "Amen Brother"!

Have I not said this time and time again? Our forefathers knew that some individual rights had to be sacrificed for the betterment of us as a whole. That we don't exist as individuals but more as members of a society. They instilled a basic level of rights that all people should have to enjoy a free life. The individual rights added later only seek to diminish us as a society.

If you can't tell, I am enjoying reading these although the pace is slow. Some words I have no clue what they mean so I have to stop and look them up. Sometimes one sentence can be a large paragraph and I lose what they are trying to say by them referring to the former and then referring to the latter. Generally speaking that's okay but sometimes the former may be an idea three or four lines above in the sentence. I end up going back and rereading to try to get their point.

Should I ever finish, my next read will be the Anti-Federalist Papers. Woo-hoo, sounds like a "barrel of monkeys" doesn't it?

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